To celebrate the release of Star Trek Into Darkness, the Flickering Myth writing team look back at the classic sci-fi franchise. Next up for Star Trek Month is Ozzy Armstrong looking back at Star Trek: Deep Space Nine….
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (or DS9) takes place on a space station on the borders of enemy territories, far from the headquarters of the Federation. A spin-off from Star Trek: The Next Generation, DS9 unusually began while its parent series was still on the air and there were many episodes and characters which crossed over between the two shows, most notably the characters of Miles O’Brien and Worf. The show was often praised for its well-developed characters and its complex plots as well as recurring themes such as war and the line between faith and fanaticism.
DS9 is different from previous Star Trek outings due to a thinly- veiled similarity to the Nazi regime in World War Two, replacing the Gestapo and Jewish population with the Cardassians and Bajorans respectively. This allows a much darker tone and story development than in other Star Trek incarnations and does what Sci-Fi does best by showing the human condition in a fantasy conflict.
Further to this, the ongoing tensions and use of war as a backdrop make us feel as though every episode of DS9 is connected like no other version of Star Trek. This allows you to become much more heavily invested in all characters and as a result become a bigger fan of the Star Trek universe as a whole.
There are many things to like and to loathe about DS9 and the series has long been the subject of heated debates between many Trekkies. Whether discussing the merits of darker and more complex plots or mocking character direction and senseless plotlines, this show has the ability to be quite divisive.
Many Trekkies would say that there are an abundance of brilliant episodes to watch in this show which can cover a whole range of themes. Trials and Tribbleations is one such favourite which sees the crew transported in time to the era of the legendary Captain Kirk and the original Enterprise. This episode shows how much fun the Star Trek universe can be as our crew struggle to fulfil their mission while a deluge of cute and furry Tribbles plague the ship. This episode also splices new scenes with the original Star Trek episode to great effect so it seems our crew are actually alongside Kirk, Scotty and the rest.
Another personal favourite of mine would be Far Beyond The Stars. This episode sees Captain Sisko disappear into an incredibly realistic ‘delusion’ wherein he is a science fiction writer in 1950’s America. The episode provides us with a look at racism at its worst while expertly relating to the show’s current story arcs.
Unfortunately the show does have several poor outings, ranging from the stupid Time’s Orphan to the downright aggravating Valiant. In my opinion though, any DS9 episode where an alternate dimension is mentioned should be severely avoided. This recurring story arc seems little more than a poorly- executed excuse to dress up our actors differently and make them act in a way which is the polar opposite of the characters we’ve come to enjoy.
Further to this, there are several characters that the show could also do without, the two standouts being Ezri Dax and Keiko O’Brian. Keiko only seems to crop up to create some dramatic tension which – due to poor casting and lack of interest on our part – seems incredibly ham-fisted. Ezri on the other hand is an ill-conceived idea that never really took off and has left many DS9 fans angry that a show favourite (Jadzia Dax) isn’t around any more.
There are many stars in the show however and the two standouts have to be Gul Dukat and Elim Garak, both of whom surprisingly are not with the Federation but are in fact Cardassian. We meet Dukat early in the show and he becomes an excellent villain throughout due to excellent character development, clever storylines and superb casting. His ongoing battles against the federation and Captain Sisko, as well as his apparent affections for Major Kira, make him one of the more multi-dimensional characters in DS9.
Garak on the other hand is intriguing for entirely a different reason. We come to know him gradually through his dealings with other characters and learn slowly that there is more than meets the eye to this simple tailor. A supposed former spy and torturer provides us with much to think about while giving very little away and is ultimately a clever and much- needed addition to the show.
For a show that ran for over seven seasons and 176 episodes, it would be easy to become lost in the complex stories of DS9 or buried in the multitude of different conflicts and agendas. But somehow you can find yourself drawn in and connected throughout, making this an incredibly enjoyable viewing experience from start to finish.