DS9 Duffer's Guide
January 3, 2018 8:53 PM - Subscribe

Pursuant to my VOY Duffer's Guide post here and to the DS9 FPP on the green, I'd like to bruit a Duffer's Guide for DS9 as proposed in-thread. I assume my DS9 rewatch crewmembers have seen the FPP and thusly don't intend to crosspost into the rewatch at this time. Suggestions for episodes? I'll track down a couple commercially-sourced lists and crossref like I did before.
posted by mwhybark (13 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Submitted for discussion: my list. I went with "episodes to skip" because the list would be too long if I just listed "un-missable episodes."


Bold = one of the series' low points; seriously, don't watch this the first time through, and probably not the second either

A Man Alone, Babel, Captive Pursuit, Q-Less, The Passenger, Move Along Home, Vortex, Battle Lines, The Storyteller, If Wishes Were Horses, The Forsaken, Dramatis Personae

Invasive Procedures, Melora, Second Sight, Sanctuary, Armageddon Game, Paradise, Shadowplay, Playing God

Equilibrium, Meridian, Fascination, Life Support, Prophet Motive, Visionary, Distant Voices, Shakaar, Facets

Accession, Rules of Engagement, Hard Time, The Muse, The Quickening

Let He Who Is Without Sin…, A Simple Investigation, Ties of Blood and Water, Children of Time

Resurrection, One Little Ship, Honor Among Thieves, Profit and Lace, The Sound of Her Voice

Chrysalis, Prodigal Daughter, The Emperor’s New Cloak, Field of Fire
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 10:27 AM on January 4, 2018

Agree with almost all of them, except for Children of Time. One of my favorites. I certainly don't think it should be skipped, even if it's not part of any of the major arcs besides the Odo/Kira story.
posted by replayer at 10:59 AM on January 4, 2018

In order to incorporate your exclusions, CoB, I had to invert the polarity of the data particle. Figured I'd drop that in here, since why not?

I will be aiming more at a top-25 list than this, though. I do understand the urge to be inclusive - serialization, after all - but my thinking here is to provide a starter set that a curious viewer might work through before making the commitment to the whole show.

Cheeses of Brazil's Quality-Assured List of DS9 Episodes

S01E01&02 Emissary
S01E03 Past Prologue
S01E08 Dax
S01E11 The Nagus
S01E15 Progress
S01E19 Duet
S01E20 In the Hands of the Prophets
S02E01 The Homecoming

S02E02 The Circle
S02E03 The Siege
S02E05 Cardassians
S02E07 Rules of Acquisition
S02E08 Necessary Evil
S02E11 Rivals
S02E12 The Alternate
S02E14 Whispers
S02E18 Profit and Loss
S02E19 Blood Oath
S02E20 The Maquis, Part I
S02E21 The Maquis, Part II
S02E22 The Wire
S02E23 Crossover
S02E24 The Collaborator
S02E25 Tribunal
S02E26 The Jem'Hadar
S03E01 The Search, Part I
S03E02 The Search, Part II

S03E03 The House of Quark
S03E05 Second Skin
S03E06 The Abandoned
S03E07 Civil Defense
S03E09 Defiant
S03E11 Past Tense, Part I
S03E12 Past Tense, Part II
S03E14 Heart of Stone
S03E15 Destiny
S03E19 Through the Looking Glass
S03E20 Improbable Cause
S03E21 The Die is Cast
S03E22 Explorers
S03E23 Family Business
S03E26 The Adversary

S04E01&02 The Way of the Warrior
S04E03 The Visitor
S04E04 Hippocratic Oath
S04E05 Indiscretion
S04E06 Rejoined
S04E07 Starship Down
S04E08 Little Green Men
S04E09 The Sword of Kahless
S04E10 Our Man Bashir
S04E11 Homefront
S04E12 Paradise Lost
S04E13 Crossfire
S04E14 Return to Grace
S04E15 Sons of Mogh
S04E16 Bar Association
S04E20 Shattered Mirror
S04E22 For the Cause
S04E23 To the Death
S04E25 Body Parts
S04E26 Broken Link

S05E01 Apocalypse Rising
S05E02 The Ship
S05E03 Looking for par'Mach in All the Wrong Places
S05E04 ...Nor the Battle to the Strong
S05E05 The Assignment
S05E06 Trials and Tribble-ations
S05E08 Things Past
S05E09 The Ascent
S05E10 Rapture
S05E11 The Darkness and the Light
S05E12 The Begotten
S05E13 For the Uniform
S05E14 In Purgatory's Shadow
S05E15 By Inferno's Light
S05E16 Doctor Bashir, I Presume?
S05E18 Business as Usual
S05E20 Ferengi Love Songs
S05E21 Soldiers of the Empire
S05E23 Blaze of Glory
S05E24 Empok Nor
S05E25 In the Cards
S05E26 Call to Arms

S06E01 A Time to Stand
S06E02 Rocks and Shoals
S06E03 Sons and Daughters
S06E04 Behind the Lines
S06E05 Favor the Bold
S06E06 Sacrifice of Angels
S06E07 You are Cordially Invited...
S06E09 Statistical Probabilities
S06E10 The Magnificent Ferengi
S06E11 Waltz
S06E12 Who Mourns for Morn?
S06E13 Far Beyond the Stars
S06E16 Change of Heart
S06E17 Wrongs Darker Than Death or Night
S06E18 Inquisition
S06E19 In the Pale Moonlight
S06E20 His Way
S06E21 The Reckoning
S06E22 Valiant
S06E24 Time's Orphan
S06E26 Tears of the Prophets

S07E01 Image in the Sand
S07E02 Shadows and Symbols
S07E03 Afterimage
S07E04 Take Me Out to the Holosuite
S07E06 Treachery, Faith and the Great River
S07E07 Once More unto the Breach
S07E08 The Siege of AR-558
S07E09 Covenant
S07E10 It's Only a Paper Moon
S07E14 Chimera
S07E15 Badda-Bing Badda-Bang
S07E16 Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges
S07E17 Penumbra
S07E18 Til Death Do Us Part
S07E19 Strange Bedfellows
S07E20 The Changing Face of Evil
S07E21 When It Rains...
S07E22 Tacking Into the Wind
S07E23 Extreme Measures
S07E24 The Dogs of War
S07E25&26 What You Leave Behind
posted by mwhybark at 4:01 PM on January 4, 2018 [4 favorites]

"Our Man Bashir" is, on the one hand, absolutely skippable. On the other hand, it is also… kind of silly and fun? Like, it's skippable mostly because it has no bearing on anything, not because it's actually a bad episode (like, say, "Move Along Home")
posted by DoctorFedora at 11:38 PM on January 4, 2018

Agreed, DoctorFedora. I've of two minds about a LOT of these (also "Take Me Out to the Holo-Suite," which I'm personally fond of, and for which I justify its non-exclusion by the fact that it comes so late in the series that even a "duffer" will be fond enough of these characters to appreciate a light, hang-out episode—not to mention the limited time left before you leave them behind).

Maybe the polarity-reversed list should have a legend of its own, where "?" equals "If you've got the time, and something about this episode's lead character or plot summary strikes your fancy, it's by no means bad—just not strictly necessary the first time through."
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 2:15 AM on January 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

Forty one episodes shook out. Here they are ordered by season.

S01E01&02, Emissary: - CT: 6, HWR #4, SLG #8
S01E19, Duet: - CT: 5, HWR #7

S02E08, Necessary Evil: - CT: 3, HWR #19, WMF #8.
S02E23, Crossover: - CT: 5, SLG #12
S02E26, The Jem'Hadar: - CT: 4, SLG #17

S03E01, The Search Part I: - CT: 3
S03E02, The Search Part II: - CT: 3
S03E09, Defiant: - CT: 3
S03E11, Past Tense - Part I: - CT: 3, SLG #16
S03E20, Improbable Cause: - CT: 4, HWR #20
S03E21, The Die is Cast: - CT: 3

S04E01&02, The Way of The Warrior: - CT: 3, SLG #11
S04E03, The Visitor: - CT: 5, SLG #1, WMF #7.
S04E08, Little Green Men: - CT: 4, HWR #18
S04E10, Our Man Bashir: - CT: 3
S04E11, Homefront - Part I: - CT: 3, SLG #19
S04E12, Paradise Lost - Part II: - CT: 3

S05E01, Apocalypse Rising: - CT: 3
S05E04, Nor the Battle To the Strong: - CT: 3, SLG #4
S05E06, Trials and Tribble-Ations: - CT: 7, HWR #17, SLG #5, WMF #1.
S05E14, In Puragtory's Shadow - Part I: - CT: 4, SLG #7, WMF #2.
S05E15, By Inferno's Light - Part II: - CT: 4, SLG #7, WMF #2.
S05E25, In The Cards: - CT: 3, SLG #9
S05E26, A Call To Arms: - CT: 6, HWR #6, SLG #3

S06E01, A Time To Stand: - CT: 4, HWR #8
S06E02, Rocks and Shoals: - CT: 4, HWR #8, WMF #4.
S06E03, Sons and Daughters: - CT: 3, HWR #8
S06E04, Behind The Lines: - CT: 4, HWR #8
S06E05, Favor The Bold - Part I: - CT: 5, HWR #8, SLG #15
S06E06, Sacrifice of Angels - Part II: - CT: 5, HWR #8, SLG #2
S06E10, The Magnificent Ferengi: - CT: 3
S06E13, Far Beyond The Stars: - CT: 6, HWR #2, SLG #6
S06E18, Inquistion: - CT: 3, HWR #12
S06E19, In the Pale Moonlight: - CT: 5, HWR #1, SLG #10, WMF #3.
S06E26, Tears of the Prophets: - CT: 3

S07E01, Image in the Sand: - CT: 3
S07E02, Shadows and Symbols: - CT: 3
S07E07, Once More Unto the Breach: - CT: 3, HWR #13
S07E08, The Siege of AR-558: - CT: 4, HWR #15
S07E10, It's Only a Paper Moon: - CT: 4, HWR #14, WMF #6.
S07E25&26, What You Leave Behind: - CT: 5, HWR #9, SLG #18



I built a spreadsheet to keep track of this as the numbers of episodes being suggested by various sources were too high to not try to begin working from the entire episode base data set. I hand-scraped the ASIN and URLs of each episode on Amazon Prime Video and added them to the sheet. I copied the list of show and title info from Wikipedia and standardized on their titles. Most of the sources cited here, including Amazon, display occasional typos in their versions of the titles and may display minor stylistic variations.

In addition to Cheeses of Brazil's list in both positive and negative polarity posted upthread, I randomly searched for both lists similar to and sourced from some of the same venues as in the VOY DG but in addition for some less-well-known venues. My reasoning was that smaller sites might have a higher degree of passion.

The show's use of serialization created obvious headaches for the people that originally assembled these lists. In most cases, several interrelated episodes were treated and suggested as a highly-satisfactory story arc. In my list in some of these cases I chose to list each episode separately.

Den of Geek: unranked list of thirty episodes.

Geek.com: unranked list of 78 episodes.

Wired.com: unranked list of 16 episodes, and a bonus list of five 'skippable' episodes.

The Hollywood Reporter: ranked list of 25 episodes

Starloggers.com ranked list of 20 (or is it 23, or 26?) episodes.

weminoredinfilm.com: ranked list of 10 episodes.

I crossreferenced every episode in the series with the number of times an episode appeared in one of the lists and made note of the ranks assigned by each of the ranking venues. I arbitrarily cut off the list above at a minimum of three selection appearances in the list sets.

After each episode link, CT means how many times the episode appeared in the lists, and the abbreviations HWR, SLG, and WMF stand for Hollywood Reporter, Starloggers, and We Majored in Film. Each abbreviation shows the rank assigned by the source. In several cases, you will see individual sources have apparently assigned the same rank to several episodes. In general, that is because the original list treated those episodes as a single story unit.

I was really aiming for 25 episodes, but just as serialization made things hard for these original listmakers, it made it hard for me too. With the cutoff at 4 appearances, the list was at 21, and an interesting subset of 11 episodes was not showing up. These episodes were ones in which none of the ranking sources had selected an episode but three of the non-ranking sources did. In the end, I erred on the side of abundance.

I hope you have a moment to poke around the spreadsheet - I am uncertain if you can change the data in your displayed instance of it in such a way that the version I have is protected; it is set to view only. I think you should be able to make an editable copy.

posted by mwhybark at 4:42 PM on January 9, 2018 [3 favorites]

Oh, and interestingly, there was only one episode which appeared on all seven lists: "Trials and Tribble-ations," which, sure. But that also means that "In the Pale Moonlight," "The Visitor," and "Far Beyond The Stars" did not appear on at least one of the lists, which strikes me as somewhat inexplicable. "A Call To Arms" and "Far Beyond The Stars" were the only episodes with 6 appearances, which really surprised me, because I had to look up "A Call to Arms" to even know what the episode was about.
posted by mwhybark at 4:47 PM on January 9, 2018

"In Puragtory's Shadow," aargh! I sure hope the ASIN link works!
posted by mwhybark at 6:05 PM on January 9, 2018

Your impressively exhaustive methodology notwithstanding, I don't see how it's possible for even the duffiest of duffers to not watch the whole nine-part series-ending arc. PARTICULARLY "Tacking into the Wind". (Okay okay, "Extreme Measures" can definitely be skipped.)
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 12:15 PM on January 10, 2018

WRT COB's "skippable" list, I'd generally be more inclusive of episodes, but the one that I'd really go to the wall for is "Hard Time." Not an easy episode to watch, for emotional reasons, but a very good one in every aspect.
posted by Halloween Jack at 4:57 AM on January 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

It's interesting to me as well that it did not make the cut in my meta list. It's one of the strongest standalone episodes in all of the Treks.

It has little apparent impact the Chief's post-experience life, possibly because of that appears to have been the consensus way to treat O'Brien's infinite suffering - where we're shown the continuing impact on Picard's life in his Magic Flute incident, Miles is not written to highlight the impact of this particular lifelong sentence. Instead, we get gestures to indicate he may be contending with what appears to be a vague PTSD that he successfully manages with a pint and by having man-dates with Julien at the Battle of Britain.

Not satisfied with putting O'Brien through the wringer at least once a year for seven years, the writers' room underplays his trauma. It's his own special Hell.
posted by mwhybark at 6:31 PM on January 16, 2018

I concede those points. I've got nothing against "Hard Time" and it'd merit at least one of those ?s I referenced above. And now that I think of it, any list should definitely have at least one "O'Brien Must Suffer" representative, and as fun as "Tribunal" is, "Hard Time" is better, and should replace it if The List can only have one.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 5:28 AM on January 17, 2018

Ancillary material, crewpeople.
posted by mwhybark at 5:52 PM on February 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

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