TV Review – Best of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

The Way of the Warrior (original airdate: October 2, 1995)
Written by Ira Steven Behr & Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Directed by James L. Conway

The original plan for season 3’s finale and season 4’s premiere was to do a two-parter about Changelings infiltrating Earth. Paramount execs didn’t want a cliffhanger, so that story got pushed to later into season 4. Ratings had been falling for Deep Space Nine in season 3, so something needed to be done to shake up the status quo and inject some new story seeds into the show. The first idea was to have the Vulcans leave the Federation over ideological conflicts, but then it shifted to the Klingons. Ira Steven Behr came up with a Klingon arc for multiple seasons that would bring the adversarial species into the conflict between the Federation and the Dominion.

A narrative bridge needed to exist to link DS9 and the Klingons, and it was decided to bring on Commander Worf from The Next Generation. Behr posited that after the events of Star Trek: Generations and the destruction of the Enterprise, Worf’s home was destroyed and needed a new place to plant his roots. There was legitimate worry that Worf’s addition would cause him to overshadow the characters already established on the series. The showrunners had a larger arc in mind with the Dominion and didn’t want to just become a TNG rehash, which I think they successfully avoided.

The Klingons are spurred on by paranoia over the Dominion’s movement on Federation space. Garak, leader of the Klingons, brings a force into Bajoran space to patrol the wormhole. The Klingons begin stopping all vessels traveling through this sector and forcibly boarding the ships to inspect their crew and wares. Sisko tries to stop them but finds his negotiation skills with the Klingon armada lacking. Worf is called in to act as a liaison and help broker an understanding between the two parties. Ultimately, the Klingons get fed up with what they see as Federation unwillingness to tackle the Dominion and break the peace treaty.

It was a breath of fresh air to see Worf again, and I think the series handles his presence well, not letting it become a takeover. The Klingon conflict was one of my favorite things I remember from DS9 episodes I saw as a kid. There’s a love interest for Sisko in this episode that I assume was a carryover from a season 3 plot arc. I didn’t think it worked too well just because of Sisko’s position on the station, and his girlfriend is some kind of trader? The main plot, though focused on the developments with the Klingons, is pretty fantastic.

The Visitor (original airdate: October 9, 1995)
Written by Michael Taylor
Directed by David Livingston

The concept of this episode came out of a real-life incident where a teenage fan showed up at J.D. Salinger’s door in 1980 and got an interview with the reclusive author. Jake Sisko is an aged and dying man living in a Louisana bayou. He’s visited during a rainstorm by a young woman who proclaims he’s an author who changed her life. She’s come all this way to learn why he stopped writing. Through flashbacks, we see an incident where Benjamin Sisko is phased out of the time stream and appears to Jake throughout his life intermittently. Ben never ages while Jake grows older and older. After abandoning his career as a writer, Jake devotes himself to a study of physics to find a cure for his dad’s condition. He knows that the solution would mean his timeline being erased.

Tony Todd (Candyman) plays old Jake and brings a lot of pathos to the role, it’s genuinely heartbreaking when he passes away at the end of the episode even though we know this is just a parallel universe story where things get restored. This ends up being one of the more emotional episodes of the series, touching on and developing the relationship between Ben and Jake. Part of the episode takes place in the same period of “All Good Things…”, The Next Generation finale, so uniform designs were reused from that episode to create a continuity of the Federation’s future.

Little Green Men (original airdate: November 13, 1995)
Written by Ira Steven Behr & Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Directed by James L. Conway

1995 was the 50th anniversary of the Roswell incident where some unknown object crashed outside the town of Roswell, New Mexico. Since then, a whole industry has risen up out of speculating that this was an alien visit to our planet. To have some fun with that, the DS9 writers decided to do a humorous episode that sent Quark, Rom, and Nog back in time to become the very extraterrestrial trio that stories around Roswell speak about. The humans they meet are all 1950s B-movie archetypes: the paranoid general, the kind-hearted nurse, the pipe-smoking professor.

One element the script leans into for some good laughs is humanity’s predilection for cigarettes during the mid 20th century. As the humans observe the Ferengi through a two-way mirror, they are puffing away on smokes to a near ridiculous degree. Quark opines about how humans are incredibly foolish to do this, but if they’ll smoke poison, then he has a real chance to become rich in the past. It becomes even more absurd when he has the atomic bomb explained and realizes this species is intentionally irradiating its own planet.

One of Steven Ira Behr’s motivations for some elements in this episode is the causal way James Cameron’s True Lies uses an atomic bomb explosion as an aesthetic background. Behr felt it was an irresponsible representation of such a dangerous force. He decided to write in a stupid ending to show how absurd this weapon of death was portrayed in popular media and had it responsible for saving Quark and crew, propelling them back to their time in the 24th century.

One thought on “TV Review – Best of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”

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