Previously: A primer on the series.
And now: What you need to know about the first season.
My mother requests that we begin this post with a link to the ST: Deep Space Nine opening theme song.
Take a good, long look at that monstrous, stately space station.
Prepare yourself to love it.
The series begins with a quick recap of the relevant events from Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes “The Best of Both Worlds” parts 1 and 2. In short: Locutus of Borg (aka Captain Jean-Luc Picard) used his insider knowledge of Starfleet’s tactical capabilities to utterly slaughter the Federation fleet. 39 ships and more than 10,000 people were lost.
It was super awful badtimes.
Among the dead was Jennifer Sisko. It’s her husband, Benjamin Sisko, former first officer aboard the lost USS Saratoga, who will be in charge of Deep Space Nine.
We good? Okay, let’s go.
1×01-02: Emissary parts 1&2
I know, I know. 90-minute pilot. One of the desires I have while beginning to watch massive, already-aired TV shows is to skip immediately to totally loving it. And, to do that, I usually have to skip over something like a 90-minute pilot, or at least skim through it. You are perfectly free to do that now.
But here’s what you’ll be missing:
- Sisko resenting the hell out of Picard. It’s beautiful. Their scenes together, which could have been a simple info-dump, instead become a study in simmering bitterness. Especially if you’re coming to this series after watching TNG, it’s a jarring and wonderful thing to see Picard cast as the villain.
- Avery Brooks meowing like a cat.
- Everyone’s terrible pilot episode makeup.
- Dr. Bashir as the mouthpiece of the most horrifyingly colonial, patronizing, and naive attitudes that you may have heard from young Westerners who “spent a few months in Africa” or “found the real India last summer”. Early-seasons Bashir is often the Federation at its worst. It’s awesome.
- Chief O’Brien finally getting to leave the transporter room of the Enterprise. This marks the last time I’ll care about O’Brien for the next season or so.
- Terrible pilot episode CGI. You can barely tell that Odo’s supposed to be made of pudding.
- Witnessing non-linear beings begin to understand linear existence. COME ON, SCI-FI FANS! THAT’S FREAKING AWESOME.
1×03: Past Prologue
Here is where the action begins. And by “the action” I obviously mean “Garak”. Once upon a time, the writers of this series sat around thinking to themselves, gee. Julian Bashir sure is unlikeable! What we need, they thought, is a grounding relationship for him. Something that people can really invest and engage in.
So then there was Garak. I am not even making this up. In any case, this episode contains their meet cute.
I’m relatively sure a couple non-Garak things happen in this episode, but I’m guessing they’re few, and to be perfectly honest I couldn’t care less. I think it’s about Bajor. Whatever.
Oh, and I promise that Garak doesn’t always dress like a watermelon. That will never happen again. I apologize.
1×05: Captive Pursuit
This is a very good representation of how DS9 does monster-of-the-week episodes. It’s pretty adorable. O’Brien learns to be slightly less speciesist. Tosk is Tosk.
1×10: Move Along Home
Do not watch this episode.
I am not kidding.
1×17: The Forsaken
Yeah, I just skipped half the season. And I like this season! But I’m being real with you, internet. The rest of the season is okay, but this is an episode that will make you care about a man made of pudding. More than that, it makes you really, really like Lwaxana Troi. And that is something special.
In the B-plot: Chief O’Brien adopts a giant Tamagochi.
There are Cardassians in this episode.
1×20: In the Hands of the Prophets
This season is a bit shorter than the rest, and it ends here, with an object lesson on the dangers of forcing a creationist bias into education. Spoilers: this practice ends in tears.
I will admit, this is a quiet choice for a season finale. It’s a deceptively quiet episode. What it does well, though, is crystallize the tension that exists between the Bajoran religious establishment and the Federation citizens who live on DS9. The very basic differences in their motivations, the difficulty both sides have in seeing past their biases, and the care Sisko takes to adopt a Bajoran perspective, all these persist and evolve as themes through every season.
But what is Jake wearing.
Jake must be stopped.
In the next post: Secrets! Lionel Luthor! Drug abuse! Ill-advised away missions! Imaginary girlfriends! Mirrorverse! And Garak dresses like a watermelon again, I totally lied about that. But it’s only once more.