And now: the third season. This post is a few days late because I was running from the truth. And the truth, Internet, is that I want you to watch every episode. The first episode I cut from the list was a relatively easy call. The second broke my heart a little. By the third, I was at a total loss. I just started hacking and slashing the things I love. I cut an episode with Garak in it. Ignore this post, Internet. Watch it all.
3×01-02: The Search parts 1& 2
Part 1 of this pair is about the futility of bargaining with any organization that calls itself something like The Dominion, and also about the social dynamics of a pudding-based species. Part 2 is an episode about how everyone subconsciously trusts and respects Garak, but is too shy to tell him so. Once again, I am not even making this up.
These episodes whittle further down to the core of these characters, to how ugly they can be, how obstinate, and how morally courageous. Most importantly, we get to meet the USS Defiant. Just don’t get too attached.
3×03: The House of Quark
I’m just going to spoil this because it’s amazing: Quark marries a Klingon. How can you not watch that, how, how, how, how.
And in a sincerely unexpected twist, Doctor Bashir gives good relationship advice.
3×05: Second Skin
This show is full of the loss, adoption, and construction of family, and this episode covers each of those bases. As Americans are about to remember on Thanksgiving, any good family reunion requires deception, yelling, the danger of physical violence, and Cardassians. At least, that’s what my Thanksgiving is going to be like.
3×11-12: Past Tense parts 1&2
Due to Science, Sisko and Bashir are sent back in time to attend Occupy San Francisco. Dax befriends Bill Gates.
Actually, you know what, I don’t want to be flippant about this one. If you’ve ever doubted that genre television can be socially and politically relevant, can be substantive, can be enduringly important, then watch these episodes.
More importantly, if you can’t fathom why people protesting on the streets are worried, cynical, pessimistic, scared about the future, why they’re trying to do something to change it, then watch these episodes.
3×13: Life Support
So for a while now Kira’s had this really boring boyfriend, and I’ve been ignoring him on account of how boring he is. In this episode, however, he’s actually likable! He’s especially likable at the end. Kai Winn helps his to become more likable, and so I like her more too! There’s a lot of liking going on in this one.
3×18: Distant Voices
Bashir dreams extensively about growing old with Garak.
And then this happens.
He has his napkin tucked into his collar, people. Elim Garak, former Cardassian oppressor, has tucked his napkin into his collar for the duration of this meal. This meal of Kraft Easy Mac and coffee. More than tucking, he has folded the napkin so that it doesn’t ruin the lines of his outfit, but rather forms a sort of napkin-cravat hybrid. Feared by the Federation, scorned by the Cardassian Empire, Elim Garak tucks and folds his napkin, savors his Easy Mac, and does not give a single fuck.
3×19: Through the Looking Glass
We return to the land of everyone’s a huge slut! Sisko faces down Mirror!Bashir’s horrifying wig.
3×20-21: Improbable Cause and The Die is Cast
God, these episodes. Especially in the first, there’s just not a moment wasted. Which is apt, in a two-parter that’s all about control. Odo and Garak, two characters near-pathologically obsessed with controlling how others see them, see each other get torn right down to the bones. It’s brutal. It’s essential.
Oh, and in Garak’s absence, Bashir tries to see other people. It’s rough.
3×23: Family Business
This cast, Internet. This cast is just having a ball and looking good doing it.
So it turns out that joined Trill all go through this ritualized therapy session where they commune with their past selves by allowing dead people to take over the bodies of their living friends. Human therapists, take note: this is a great practice!
Amidst these undead slug people, and the really very wonderful b-plot concerning Nog’s Starfleet aspirations, we have a simple story of people who just need to know that someone believes in them, in their potential certainly, but also in their present person, the worth of who they are in this moment. For all the talk that DS9 is the darkest Trek, episodes like this show its very Roddenberry, humanist heart.
3×26: The Adversary
In which shit begins to get real.
From the first season to the last, there is a slow burn of building paranoia, and in this episode it begins to come into the forefront. In a great set-up for the fourth season, this episode pokes and jabs at the delicate trust that’s been built between the mixed Starfleet and Bajoran crew. The erosion of the Federation crew’s easy and passive morality begins. And a Bolian gets a speaking role.
In the next post: WOORF! Dax’s ex-wife! Fake secret agents! Real secret agents! Garak wears a tuxedo! Dukat becomes a pirate! Bashir is the worst doctor ever! Sisko’s dead wife! Changelings everywhere! WOOOOOORF!