Worf goes missing and potentially dead at the start of Penumbra. The Defiant searches but needs to call it quit early due to impending Jem’Hadar threats. Due to her Dax symbiont’s connection with Worf, Ezri takes off in a runabout to conduct her own hunt. Back on DS9, Sisko finally proposes to Kasidy Yates (Penny Johnson), and they run into complications as they plan the wedding due to his status as the Bajoran Emissary. Meanwhile, the Founders continue to suffer from their plague, and the Vorta attempt to find a cure. Gul Dukat returns to Cardassia and launches his own plans.
For the most part, “Penumbra” feels like an artificial attempt to force Worf and Ezri together so they can uncomfortably interact. At least that serves more of a purpose than the average Ezri episode, but it still feels somewhat unsatisfying. The other plot lines help move things along better.
A continuation of the prior episode, ’Til Death Do Us Part finds more issues related to the Prophets. Kai Winn (Louise Fletcher) visits and seems to get a consultation from the Prophets. However, this isn’t quite what it seems. The Breen capture Dax and Worf, and they develop their relationship in captivity. Dukat’s scheme grows as well.
“Part” operates as a “plot-thickener” episode. A lot happens to develop the story, but no resolutions occur. Actually, that’s not true, as Sisko and Kasidy wed, but it seems clear the real action will occur in the future. Nonetheless, the program unwinds in a good way that leaves us interested in future material.
The Breen join sides with the Dominion and the Cardassians at the opening of Strange Bedfellows. This doesn’t sit well with Legate Damar, who sees matters slip out of his grasp. Spiritual matters continue to complicate things with Kai Winn, as we see the unfolding of Dukat’s plot. Lastly, Ezri and Worf deal with imprisonment.
“Bedfellows” continues to explore the overall storyline. Yes, it exists as another show that moves things ahead but without any resolution. That continues to remain intriguing, though I hope the series resolves the topics one of these days; the thickening plots are starting to get a little old.
The Breen attack Starfleet Headquarters in San Francisco early in The Changing Face of Evil. Damar ferments rebellion against the Dominion. Kai Winn turns to the Pah-wraiths and gives up on the Prophets. Ezri confronts her apparent love for Bashir. The Defiant goes into battle against a Breen counteroffensive.
“Face” doesn’t resolve much, but at least it gives us a bitchin’ space battle. And it’s about time: all exposition and no play makes Trek a dull show. Though still without conclusions, “Face” ramps up the action nicely and presents enough new intrigue to make it a good program.
When It Rains finds that the Federation needs to support Damar’s insurrection as much as possible, so they send Kira, Odo and Garak to teach them methods of rebellion. Bashir discovers that Odo’s infected with the disease killing the changelings but runs into problems with his attempts to find a cure due to Starfleet regulations. When Klingon Chancellor Gowron (Robert O’Reilly) visits DS9 to honor General Martok, he surprises the warrior with a declaration that he plans to take over military operations.
In many ways, “Rains” stands as another placeholder episode, but it does present some intriguing new threads. Elements related to the Klingons and the changeling plague take the story in new directions. These prove compelling and should become more interesting soon.
Gowron continues his offensive despite many failures in Tacking Into the Wind. Kira and company assist with the Cardassian rebellion and attempt to find how to adapt non-Klingon ships to resist the Breen weapon. Odo gets sicker as Bashir attempts to find a cure.
More intrigue develops in “Wind”, along with a pretty exciting mission. The Kira/Odo/Cardassian trek to learn more about the Breen weapon gives us a good piece that offers some nice action. Otherwise, the show motivates other elements well, especially as Worf takes it into his own hands to redeem the Klingon Empire.
Odo nears death so Bashir and company resort to Extreme Measures. They lure the shifty Sloan to DS9 to get the cure from him, but the secret agent attempts to kill himself before they can use a memory probe. Bashir takes a journey into Sloan’s brain before death occurs, and O’Brien comes with him.
“Measures” certainly offers an unusual way for the show to find a cure for Odo. It also seems clever and entertaining. The show presents a number of surprises and doesn’t always take predictable paths.
When the party with Kira, Garak and Damar attempts to lure additional conspirators in The Dogs of War, they find themselves in a trap and stuck on Cardassia Prime. They need to figure out what to do from there. In the meantime, Zek declares that he plans to retire, and it appears he intends to name Quark as his successor. When he learns of social reforms on Ferenginar, he rebels and declares he won’t take the position unless he gets what he wants.
With only one more episode to go, DS9 enters wrap-up mode, as it starts to send its characters in different directions. In that way, it feels a little forced, as it pushes the participants along with a few too many big events. Still, it’s an interesting path it takes.
Cast note: while many actors played multiple roles on different Trek series, I believe no one ever performed two roles on the same show prior to Jeffrey Combs’ stint as both Brunt and Weyoun.
A double-length episode, What You Leave Behind concludes the season and the series. The show presents a climactic battle between the Federation and allies against the Dominion, et al, via an invasion of Cardassia. It also wraps up any loose ends waiting in the wings.
While it lacks the elegance and cleverness of “All Good Things”, the conclusion to Next Generation, “Behind” finishes DS9 on a reasonably satisfying note. It does tie up most loose ends, though it leaves a few slightly unraveled. It also gets a little too sentimental at times, though I suppose we should expect that. In any case, it concludes the series well.
So that does it for Deep Space Nine. Overall, I think it provides a good series, though perhaps not as solid as Next Generation. Comparisons tend toward “apples and oranges” territory because of the many differences between the series. In addition to being ship-based and exploratory in nature, Next Generation largely focused on its captain. Data also received a heavy spotlight. While the rest of the main cast got their moments – Worf in particular earned a fair amount of attention – it was always clear where the series’ allegiances stayed.
DS9 was much more of a wild card. Unlike Next Generation or the original series, it definitely didn’t mostly concentrate on its captain. Sure, Sisko received much attention, but I never felt like he was the show’s main character. I don’t think DS9 had any primary role, as it formed much more of a genuine ensemble.
It’s interesting to examine the evolution of its characters. I think secondary participants like Nog and Rom enjoyed the greatest growth. Sure, the top-billed regulars developed over the years and were moderately different at the end of Season Seven than they were at the start of Season One, but some of the supporting roles really changed.
For the most appropriate comparisons, check out Quark/Rom and Jake/Nog. When the series concludes, Quark has clearly become warmer, nicer, and more “hu-man”, but he remains largely the same person, just with a little less edge. Rom, on the other hand, goes from moronic, buffoonish screw-up who lives off his brother’s generosity to becoming the husband of a babe who rules the Ferengis! If that ain’t development, I don’t know what is.
Then compare Jake with Nog. At the series’ start, Nog was nothing more than a somewhat mischievous pal to contrast with good boy Jake. By the end of the show, Jake changed very little. He was still the nice, clean-cut captain’s son. Yeah, he developed into something of a writer, but the series never seemed to know what to do with him. Season Seven’s Jake was taller than Season One’s, but otherwise you’d be hard-pressed to see any differences between them.
Rom, on the other hand, went from borderline juvenile delinquent to Starfleet officer! His journey seems more substantial than his father Rom’s, as he really develops into a very different person. Some may regard that as inappropriate, since people rarely change so substantially. However, this seems acceptable to me for a few reasons. For one, Rom was a kid at the series’ start, so big alterations become more natural. In addition, he wasn’t exactly well-developed at the beginning, so the writers couldn’t violate established traits easily; they didn’t really exist.
For depth of character, I’d probably pick Garak as the most intriguing. He was the series’ one real wild card regular, as you never really knew what he’d do or where his allegiances stayed. In an odd way, this made him the most believable character, as he was the one who didn’t always stick to a set roster of responses to various situations.
While the remaining characters didn’t change as much as the Ferengis or display the depth of Garak, they did develop relatively nicely, and that factor helped make DS9 a good series. As I noted, I probably enjoyed Next Generation more, but for character depth, DS9 had its predecessor beat.
DS9 also was the more ambitious series. For all my frustrations with the stop and start nature of the Dominion War storyline, at least the program attempted a fairly coherent theme over a long period of time. Next Generation had the threat of the Borg, but that plot never remotely occupied the show’s progress as did the Dominion. The way in which that story filled the series was impressive, and it gave the series additional depth.
Ultimately, I enjoyed the time I spent with Deep Space Nine over the past 10 months. It wasn’t my favorite Trek series, but it was the most ambitious and possibly the best.