After my intro to my watching of Star Trek: Deep Space 9 + season 1 (1993) overview over here, let’s go over some individual episodes in some “capsule reviews“:
1×03: Past Prologue: “You know, Cardassian rule may have been oppressive but at least it was… simple”
The political situation is fleshed out more with a story involving Bajoran resistance cells (now designated as terrorists) and how Kira used to be involved with them. We also have a visit of the Klingon sisters Lursa and B’Etor (last seen in TNG: Redemption II) and we meet a Cardassian merchant of clothes and of secrets, Garak.
Several of the first episodes are like extensions of the pilot, with each episode loosely focusing on a particular character. Here it’s Kira. Kira is the character that has the most complex background, essentially a very close background to one of TNG’s most interesting characters: Ro Laren (introduced in TNG: Ensign Ro), especially given that the role should have gone to Michelle Forbes but she refused the commitment. An episode focusing on Bajoran rebels and Kira’s past comes naturally, but I found that DS9 pumped the drama a little too much too quickly, too much shouting and little problem-solving. It is a different show!
1×04: A Man Alone: “You’re his worst enemy.” “I guess that’s the closest thing he has in this world to a friend.”
Odo is accused of the murder of one of his many enemies, in what turns out to be a particularly inventive plot to frame him involving clones. Odo is almost lynched by an angry mob just because he was working with the Cardassians before and is presently quite harsh with the Bajorans; but mostly he is almost lynched because he is different, the only representative of his race and kind of a lone wolf. A nice episode about Odo.
Also, Keiko is all bored on DS9 as she has had to leave her work as a botanist in order to follow O’Brien; she finds a new calling as a teacher for DS9’s kids — there’s that and there’s also Odo’s mumbling about how annoying women can get which explains why he is single, all of this combines to make this not exactly the most empowering episode for women. Good nevertheless.
1×05: Babel: “Should have transferred to a cargo drone. No people, no complaints.”
O’Brien is very tired from all the repairs he has to do in order to get the station running well, and he unwittingly activates a virus that was lying dormant in the station — it turns out the virus was aimed at Cardassians, it was put there by Bajoran workers during DS9’s construction but they never got around to using it as Cardassians relentlessly killed or arrested Bajoran resistance! The virus first creates aphasia, which makes people unable to communicate with one another — initially I thought of a computer virus that breaks down the universal translator which, we often forget, is supposedly constantly running in the background, but it was a biological virus after all. Kira explores what became of past Bajoran “terrorists” and takes some extreme and questionable measures — by transporting that doctor onboard she exposes him to the virus without guarantee that there will be a cure, possibly condemning him to death. I really enjoyed this one! It has something for all the main characters and it is more tightly structured and edited than others.
1×06: Captive Pursuit: “I am sorry I have no vices for you to exploit.” “A challenge!”
A Gamma Quadrant reptilian alien arrives in DS9 and O’Brien tries to act all friendly — but it proves that the alien’s whole purpose of being is serving as prey in an interstellar version of hunting for its race’s class of aristocrats. Will the Federation save this alien’s life or respect the peculiarities of its culture in a time of first contact? O’Brien discovers that he does not have to follow orders to the letter, sometimes you can just leave your com-badge and be unavailable for duty. Sisko‘s support is not explicitly stated in dialogue but it’s there, in what is left implied; Sisko is definitively not Picard!
1×07: Q-Less: “You hit me… Picard never hit me.” “I’m not Picard.”
Vash (from TNG episodes I haven’t watched…) and Q pay a visit to DS9 and set up an auction of archaeological artifacts with Quark for…profit! A large part of the episode is just the writers giving as much witty dialogue as possible to John DeLancie (Q), with Q lamenting that he cannot find anyone with as good repartee as Picard! Actually Q’s and Vash’s long scenes together, using a single set and with other characters coming and going, are really good pieces of comedy, very theatrical and well-paced. Odo explains to Quark why he doesn’t understand this obsession with accumulating material wealth (he is quickly becoming a favourite of mine!) and Bashir flirts with anything that moves. A fun episode but that draws attention away from the main cast.
1×08: Dax: “What if I find out the answer’s yes?” “Then that answer is wrong.”
Remember the Trill fro TNG: The Host? Well the age change and sex change is present here too for Dax, which present a lot of potential for future stories. Funny that Dax keeps calling Sisko “Benjamin” (instead of “commander”) and Sisko is stuck to “old man” for Dax!
A trial tends to make for very memorable episodes (TNG: The Measure of a Man, The Drumhead). Here, Jadzia Dax is put on trial — or rather, Curzon Dax, or perhaps just Curzon — the trial is about how liable a Trill is for its past actions when the host has changed, and there is no clear answer. The focus of the episode is mainly Sisko driving the defense, he knows what outcomes he wants, facts be damned, and clearly asks for evidence to be found to justify his opinion — a very biased and “post-truth” approach!
Dax spends nearly all the episode silent, just listening to others accusing her or defending her; it is her role in this episode that dictates that, and it’s not easy to empathize with someone who doesn’t express herself. Being calm and rather introverted and of few words is part of her character overall, this is a tough writing choice that just does not make her very memorable (of course they cast a very beautiful women to balance that!), but it’s a character that grows on you as the series progresses.
The accuser of Dax is Gregory Itzin, aka the slimy President Logan from 24! His mother is Fionnula Flanagan, whom we also saw as Data’s “mother” in TNG: Inheritance. Actually there are so many actors from within Star Trek returning in other roles that I’ll refrain from referencing them, that’s what the extensive pages in Memory Alpha are for!
1×09: The Passenger: “What kind of fool are you?” “My own special variety.”
The galaxy’s worst criminal seems truly dead, but the alien that hunted him for twenty years is persuaded he faked his death — what if he find a way to be a stowaway inside one’s brain, à la Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde? We are led to suspect many people, from that alien hunter to the new security officer (who is directly at odds with Odo in some excellent scenes), until it turns out he’s inside Bashir. A fun Hitchcockian episode!
1×10: Move Along Home: “This is not what I signed up for!”
The first official reception for people from the Gamma Quadrant, and they just…want to play games at Quark‘s! (and frankly for a race from so far away I expected something more elaborate than yet another variation of humans with some funny eyebrows and light makeup) The aliens get Quark in his own game, using his greed to put the senior officers in their game, where they have to solve riddles to go into the next room à la Cube. It’s a nice concept, but it turns ridiculous quite quickly, between everybody jumping and singing a childish song and the final escape in the caves where the editor seems to have fallen asleep on his workbench, it’s a slog of an episode. Also, I noticed that, while Armin Shimerman is excellent as Quark, his makeup actually doesn’t allow him to change his expression that much — he is stuck into that wide-eyed grin of potential profit!
1×11: The Nagus: “Is the Grand Nagus here on business or pleasure?” “Is there a difference?”
Lots of Ferengi and lots of mentions of various Rules of Acquisition in this episode! The Grand Nagus convenes many prominent Ferengi to discuss profit opportunities in the Gamma Quadrant and surprises everyone when he passes the Nagus title to Quark — but it proves to be a test to see if the Nagus’s son is worthy of the title (it looks not). Meanwhile, Jake and Nog‘s friendship grows, at the consternation of both of their parents. A funny episode that fleshes out Ferengi culture more: they are sexist capitalists who would betray their own family for profit (and they do!).
The third and final part of DS9 season 1 is coming up very soon….