Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Emissary   Rewatch 
April 27, 2015 12:59 AM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. . . . Commander Benajmin Sisko gets sent to his new, unwelcome assignment aboard a space station in the Bajoran sector where he meets some hostile aliens. One of whom is his First Officer. A surprising discovery is made which will ultimately affect the balance of power in the entire quadrant. Sisko also makes contact with two people who have changed form - his new security officer and a very old friend. Much hostility and change ensues, both in his personal and professional lives.

Will the Bajoran provisional government hold up? Will the Cardassians re-take Terok Nor? Will the new Doctor ever manage to get his foot out of his mouth? Watch, and find out.
posted by Solomon (51 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I think Emissary is the best Trek pilot - such a strong story, while also setting up a more complicated premise than any other Trek series. There was so much discussion when it originally aired about whether Deep Space Nine was really "Trek" - since they didn't go anywhere. Fandom fought about that a lot. Sort of maddening, really. It was different, sure, but every character is very clearly delineated and we learn a lot about Bajor, the station, Commander Sisko and broad brushstrokes of the other characters. The show really knew what it was - and then built on that foundation season on season.

"You exist here" is a really strong concept - Sisko is the sum of his own personal history (and including the Battle of Wolf 359 is genius), plus it's a defining statement for the show.
posted by crossoverman at 4:17 AM on April 27, 2015 [6 favorites]

I can't remember if I saw the pilot when this first aired, but I'd agree that it's a really strong pilot. There's the normal pilot bugs to be worked out, but they have a decent sense of the characters (especially Sisko obviously) and a good sense of the foundation they wanted to build for the show. In sum it exceeded by low pilot expectations by a good bit.

(and including the Battle of Wolf 359 is genius),
If they hadn't done the Wolf 359 thing the way they did I would complain that the appearance of Picard and the Enterprise felt a little contrived, but I really liked what they did with that. Honestly, after the whole Locutus thing Picard might should have considered retirement; the fleet is now going to be full of people who know him as the person who killed their friends and comrades (or family because Starfleet makes the dubious decision of putting whole families on their warships). I don't remember if we get that perspective much on TNG, but getting it from the main character on a new show is a really strong choice.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:25 AM on April 27, 2015 [5 favorites]

Starfleet makes the dubious decision of putting whole families on their warships

At this point in the Star Trek canon, Starfleet doesn't have warships. When they get one, it's definitely not family friendly.
posted by sparklemotion at 6:54 AM on April 27, 2015 [6 favorites]

Well, the dubious decision of not evacuating noncombatants from their non-warships.

Sisko's conversation with Picard really drives home how different this series is going to be. Not only is the commander black and we're on a space station, he has significant family obligations and maybe doesn't even want to be a Starfleet officer anymore! And there's a significant religious component!

And that pylon design sucks. Keep your docked ships outside the structure.

That look Kira gives Dax when Bashir asks her to dinner!
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:42 AM on April 27, 2015 [3 favorites]

Is this an everyone episode rewatch or just highlights?
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 7:48 AM on April 27, 2015

And we get a Commander instead of a Captain.
posted by drezdn at 8:55 AM on April 27, 2015

So, I'm now able to create a stable warp field.

I haven't seen very much at all of TNG (anyone want to start a rewatch project?), and having Picard give Sisko his orders just seemed a little odd to me. I get that it's good for continuity of the franchise, but Picard just happened to be nearby to give Sisko his orders...? Not buying that. Also, why did Sisko change his mind after chatting with the Prophets? He was dead against staying before his vision.

I like the concept of the Prophets, in that they're beings with the ability to mess with things to suit their own ends, and are something of a Q-analogue. I did get a little bored at how much time Sisko spent talking with them, though.

The structure of the station is peculiar. I guess it's easier to generate a spherical shield than an oddly shaped one. I do wonder how they managed to get more than one large ship on a pylon at a time.

Kira is an interesting character who isn't going to back down from a fight come what may. It's good to see a woman who has a backstory and isn't just set dressing.

Ik ben afgesneden, we're doing all of them.
posted by Solomon at 9:34 AM on April 27, 2015

Ships can also dock on the outside of the ring.
posted by drezdn at 9:41 AM on April 27, 2015

Ships on the outside of the ring always seemed a little odd to me. The Defiant, for example, from that I've seen, doesn't have a large enough access point at the front of the ship to allow access, but that's where the docking port on the station opens. How does it all work?
posted by Solomon at 9:45 AM on April 27, 2015

The docking clamps are made from the finest handwavium the Cardies could afford.
posted by drezdn at 9:56 AM on April 27, 2015 [8 favorites]

The timelines are a bit weird, too. The Orbs appeared 10,000 years ago, but the Bajorans have been engaged in Prophet-worship for much longer than that. Perhaps the Prophets communicated with them in some other fashion before that.
posted by Solomon at 10:05 AM on April 27, 2015

Maybe the Orbs are like the "New Testament"? (I'm sure people have thought of this before.)

When I watched this on original airing, I was blown away by how much I liked it. On 21st century rewatch, I'm surprised how well it stands up. Lots changes over the next 7 seasons, but it definitely still feels like "the same show", both in characterization and quality. The same cannot be said for the first season of TNG and the later years.

And honestly, I'm still blown away how ballsy it is to have the protagonist of your spin-off be somebody we've never met before who HATES a beloved character from the host show.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:48 AM on April 27, 2015 [8 favorites]

One thing that really impressed me was that, while the writers may not have had plans for all of them in place, almost all of the major players throughout the run of DS9 are in the pilot, including people who seem incredibly insignificant at the beginning (like Nog).

The two biggest characters that don't appear are probably Worf (for some reason I always forget that he doesn't show up for a few seasons) and Garak.
posted by drezdn at 10:55 AM on April 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

I wonder how much, if at all, the writers were influenced by the recent & ongoing Yugoslav Wars with the Bajoran storylines?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:59 AM on April 27, 2015

I'm so digging in on this thread later, but since this colors my experience of the first season so much at this point let me just get this out of the way early:

For those who don't know, I wrote, mostly in 2013 and a bit in 2014, a couple hundred strips of a comic called Larp Trek, the premise of which is that DS9 is in fact just a pen-and-paper roleplaying game Geordi's DMing for the crew of the TNG Enterprise after the holodecks go down sometime in the middle of season 3.

I do a bunch of character-selection setup starting from the first strip, but the game itself begins properly with the 22nd strip, and the next probably forty, if I remember right, are all digging through Emissary before it moves on to shorter episode-by-episode arcs and the occasional non-story distraction.

I wasn't sure what I was doing with the comic when I started, but it ended up being a lens (albeit a pretty intentionally goofy one) through which I took a closer look than I had previously at a lot of the series-specific and franchise-spanning character and narrative themes of the series. It's the sort of thing that people seemed to enjoy sometimes even if they weren't particularly familiar with the details of DS9, but taken in conjunction with a fresh viewing of a given episode the details of the dialogue in the strip (and my running commentary on the associated blog posts) come through a bit more.

I don't know if it's weird for me to include these on a regular basis as "recaps", but it's definitely a pretty good representation of my thoughts (at least as of a year or two ago) on what the series does in this first season.
posted by cortex at 10:59 AM on April 27, 2015 [14 favorites]

Worf (for some reason I always forget that he doesn't show up for a few seasons)

Both the in-universe and meta reason for this is that Worf had a perfectly good job on board the Enterprise D on TNG until it (and the franchise, TBH) got destroyed in the movies.
posted by sparklemotion at 11:02 AM on April 27, 2015 [3 favorites]

Such a great array of characters. Putting a Trill in the crew creating the chance to explore the duality of the species, a shapeshifter of unknown origins, and a Bajoran revolutionary. They set up the series so well. And the ferengi!! It was great to add some depth to their species.

Not that I would ever complain about Kira and her character, but at the time, I remember being bummed that they didn't put Ro Laren (sp?) in the show. Seven seasons of Ro would have been terrific. But Kira's character and her role with the Bajoran forces made a lot of sense.

I have been wanting to do a re-watch of DS9 for a couple of years (unlike TNG, where I can recite whole episodes from memory, I've seen it so many times; I only really watched DS9 during its original run) so thanks for getting this underway!!!
posted by dry white toast at 11:02 AM on April 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

I wonder how much, if at all, the writers were influenced by the recent & ongoing Yugoslav Wars with the Bajoran storylines?

Signs point to yes! And a contemporary review from the LA Times:
Despite all the quantum metaphysics, there's no questioning the overriding hokum quotient in a show chock-full of such lines as "I have been fighting for Bajoran independence since I was old enough to pick up a phaser!" So it ain't "Solaris." It's soapy fun, flirts with actual ideas and has great stereo-surround effects during the explosions. Fasten your seat belts, it's going to be a bumpy "Nine."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:07 AM on April 27, 2015

I remember being bummed that they didn't put Ro Laren (sp?) in the show

Kira's role was originally written to be Ensign Ro, but Michelle Forbes didn't want to be stuck on a regular TV series schedule.

Given that I always found Ro to be a little bratty, I think that the change to Kira and Nana Visitor was great, especially given everything that they manage to do with the character.
posted by sparklemotion at 11:07 AM on April 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

In my headcanon, Garak is in every show. He's watching. From the shadows. Quietly.
posted by Solomon at 11:08 AM on April 27, 2015 [30 favorites]

I seem to recall reading somewhere that Visitor decided to stay in character for her audition, and the producers thought she'd be perfect for the character, but hell to work with.
posted by Solomon at 11:10 AM on April 27, 2015 [3 favorites]

Found it. Also, the comment I made at 7:08PM will be referenced later.
posted by Solomon at 12:18 PM on April 27, 2015

Ooh, I'm so glad we're doing a rewatch! I just rewatched everything over the last few months as part of my late pregnancy/stuck on couch breastfeeding phase. I really enjoyed it.

I think the thing that stuck out most to me from the pilot was that, having originally watched TNG, DS9, and Voyager throughout my childhood, I was horrified to find that I'm now (just barely) older than Dax and Bashir were when they came onboard. It's like when I realized I was finally older than the Ninja Turtles. Just somehow doesn't compute.
posted by olinerd at 2:23 PM on April 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

Did a rewatch a couple/few years ago. Possibly on the strength of Cortex' project. I remember enjoying it and liking it more than watching it on/off (mostly off) during the original run. Might give it another go.

Cortex - yes! if you're up to it. I enjoyed the heck out of LARP Trek, but you moved onto other creative projects after a while.

Ro Laren or Kira Nerys
posted by porpoise at 4:01 PM on April 27, 2015

I'm really happy that we're doing this too!

It's just such a brave way to start the show -- audacious, really, in the way it breaks from the very popular TNG. You can tell that the writers were eager to do everything they weren't allowed to do with Picard and company: to deal with trauma, to present heroes with painful pasts and careers that aren't going well, to really engage with relationships between parents and children, to watch people evolve.

Sisko comes out of it more or less fully formed, except for the beard, and it's exciting to see how incisively he takes the station's measure, how he balances calculation and genuine warmth in his introductions to the station's crew and civilians. Sisko is openly calculating, if you will, honestly calculating, at least at this point in his career. He wants you to know that you're worth a little bit of courting, and that he enjoys the process.

Really, it's impressive how many of the characters also feel like they're ready, except for Bashir (who I think the writers are still scrambling to define, and whose transformation into a shrewd and relentlessly stubborn man reads more like a retcon than an evolution to me) and Dax (who always seems to be explained more than shown to us, a problem that never goes away).

(Cortex, LARP Trek has done so much to make me reconsider TNG and DS9. I really enjoyed the project and the new perspective it's given me on all the characters, especially Troi. You gave the character a joy and intelligence which she only gets to show a little bit on the series, but which I now will always believe are there even during her most thankless scenes.)
posted by thesmallmachine at 4:02 PM on April 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

Kira. Well, mirror universe Kira if I'm allowed to pick that, but Kira either way.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 4:23 PM on April 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

Kira vs. Ro is a hard question. But I am a Kira woman all the way, and I believe that Nana Visitor can do anything, yea, even unto convincing us that she's in love with Odo and that she's totally into Odo's choice to express his love via a loose Cyrano scenario involving the Rat Pack, because that's a thing two aliens would definitely do.

Also that fucking sneezing thing.
posted by thesmallmachine at 4:44 PM on April 27, 2015 [7 favorites]

Kira vs. Ro: Kira. I like Michelle Forbes' acting, but Kira was a much more multi-faceted character than Ro. Kira's probably my favorite character in any Trek series.

Emissary: Mr. creepygirl and I started watching DS9 a few months ago. It was the first time I'd watched DS9 since it was on the air, and the first time ever for him.

What I remember from the first watch of Emissary was being blown away by it. Sisko hates Picard, for perfectly understandable reasons! The best-of-the-best doctor gets a well-deserved smackdown for his arrogance! The aliens seem really alien, and not just some actors with prosthetics slapped on! And "you exist here" and Sisko's admission, "time is not linear" created an emotional gut-punch in that TNG had never delivered to me.

On rewatch, I was surprised how long it takes to get to the stuff I remembered best: the discovery of the wormhole and the encounter with the wormhole aliens. I was a little worried that Mr. creepygirl would lose interest, but he actually needed all of those character introductions, and was patient with it.

I know that this was the first time I'd seen the device of "one entity talks to a character, taking on the appearance of people that character knows", and I thought it was the best thing ever when I first saw it. Now that I've seen it on other shows like Babylon 5 and Buffy and it doesn't seem quite so novel, and I noticed things like how wooden Felicia Bell's performance was in those scenes.

But "you exist here" and "time is not linear": still an emotional gut-punch.
posted by creepygirl at 5:21 PM on April 27, 2015 [4 favorites]

Kira vs. Ro is sort of a hard one to really argue; there's so much more Kira to judge from because she was the one with seven seasons as a major cast member, and how much different would Ro-as-Kira's eventual relationship with Bajor, Cardassia, the Maquis, Gul Dukat, etc. have played out if they'd built the character around what we knew of Ro instead of being able to start from scratch with Kira like they did? Maybe the whole thing would have more or less converged.

I think Michelle Forbes does menace better than Nana Visitor does—Kira is a fun and complicated character and Visitor did righteous anger perfectly fine, but Forbes at her tight-lipped best just comes off more convincingly like someone ready to commit some cold-blood murder and not blink. So it's easy for me to imagine Ro-as-Kira as being a more convincing distillation of the hardened guerrilla, the kind of genuinely scary Never Say Die that felt a little softball coming from actual Kira for me. But Ro-as-Kira probably would have been less fun, and less funny, as a result of that sort of threatening heaviness.

And honestly the softball feeling of Kira isn't even so much about Kira as it is about Star Trek, which she fit pretty well; the more brutal, more on-edge Ro-as-Kira I'm imagining is as much as anything what I'd expect from Ron Moore's later Galactica work, which is exactly where part of that impression of Michelle Forbes comes from for me, with her tough-as-nails Admiral Cain.
posted by cortex at 8:56 PM on April 27, 2015 [8 favorites]

Yes, DS9 rewatch! I am totally onboard!

I also came to comment that we should try and align the correct Larp Trek strips with the threads...
So I wholeheartedly support that. (Also I really enjoyed Larp Trek and would not at all mind if there was more of it)

Sisko is my favourite captain of all the trek captains. I think he is the most rounded character and I just like his slightly sarcastic command style.
I don't think any sci-fi show has such a strong opening season. There are a few mis-steps to look forward to, but compared to TNG or SG1, DS9 stands up so well.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 4:23 AM on April 28, 2015

Yes, the thing about the first season is that overall, it's pretty strong - but compared to where it goes, even just in the second season, the first season pales in comparison.
posted by crossoverman at 4:52 AM on April 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

I watched basically all of TNG when it originally aired, from Farpoint on. But the first couple episodes of DS9 didn't sit well with (teenaged) me at the time. I guess I wanted my sci-fi crew to get along. Later, maturer Me quickly decided I'd been a fool, and that this is the best Trek series and probably the best TV series set in the future.

That said, I think a strong case can be made for "Move Along Home" being the worst (non-J.J.) Trek outing. Worse even than "Threshold," maybe.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 6:51 AM on April 28, 2015

Terrible Jake Sisko Outfit Count: 1 (though I notice he is wearing a ridiculous vest even in his very first scene).

I liked that they didn't over-explain the relationships between Kira, Odo, and Dukat. It's shown by dialogue that they have a history, but it's not stated outright.
posted by chaiminda at 6:55 AM on April 28, 2015 [4 favorites]

I don't remember if we get that perspective much on TNG, but getting it from the main character on a new show is a really strong choice.

And yeah, that! The use of Picard as a foil for Sisko's intro was great. I rambled a bunch after this strip (which is also one of my favorite early bits in the comic, getting to mess around with Picard like that) about how much that whole deal struck me when I rewatched the pilot a couple years back. Core bit on why it was such an interesting twist on the normal "genial cast member from main franchise series eases us into transition to new spinoff" thing you'd see on TV:
So the DS9 pilot’s meeting with Picard, with the focus on Sisko, was a great way to simultaneously do two things.

1. It put the perspective of the Trek viewer outside that familiar and forgiving Enterprise/Picard-centric view of that whole Borg mess and got us to see things from the perspective of someone who saw his wife, his ship, his friends and crew-mates, really his whole military and civilization, radically threatened by an assault led by a man who, somehow, is nonetheless here a few years later, still a decorated and uniform ranking officer, giving Sisko orders. Suddenly the Borg assault wasn’t just a season cliffhanger event, wasn’t just A Bad Thing That Happened To Jean Luc.

2. It put us really on edge as viewers encountering this new Star Trek franchise after being accustomed to liking, and siding with, Picard et al and experiencing mostly interpersonal harmony and cooperation from major Starfleet cast-members. Here’s your new protagonist. He hates your old one. For killing his wife.
It's a clever and ballsy move.
posted by cortex at 8:05 AM on April 28, 2015 [4 favorites]

Started re-watching this on my own a few weeks ago, first time since I was a kid when it aired. After the pilot I texted my dad, also a lifetime Trekkie, how I thought that DS9 understood Trek in a fundamental way. They spent something like 10 minutes with Sisko trying to explain to these non-corporeal beings how time and life and memories work, and in the end learns more about humanity and himself.

This was a great pilot overall. It did well for introducing the characters, establishing existing relationships between them so we're not lost but allowing for more exploration later, setting up a lot of plot elements that would run through at least the next few seasons.

What also stood out to me - episodes are 45-46 minutes long and include a full 2 minute long intro sequence. Such a stark difference to today's TV shows where you're lucky to get 41 minutes of show time and show intro sequences have largely been reduced to 15 seconds.
posted by 2ht at 9:14 AM on April 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

For those who don't know, I wrote, mostly in 2013 and a bit in 2014, a couple hundred strips of a comic called Larp Trek, the premise of which is that DS9 is in fact just a pen-and-paper roleplaying game Geordi's DMing for the crew of the TNG Enterprise after the holodecks go down sometime in the middle of season 3

Kid, I've flown from one side of this Internet to the other, and I've seen a lot of nerdy stuff, but I've never seen *anything* quite as nerdy as this.
posted by entropicamericana at 2:13 PM on April 28, 2015 [4 favorites]

episodes are 45-46 minutes long and include a full 2 minute long intro sequence

26 episodes per season, too. I think the trend toward shorter seasons in recent US television is generally a good thing, but having that much time does give the show a lot of room to breathe and establish those character moments.
posted by Kosh at 5:26 PM on April 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

Terrible Jake Sisko Outfit Count: 1 (though I notice he is wearing a ridiculous vest even in his very first scene).

Apparently in the 24th century, no child is allowed to dress well. (Also see: Crusher, Wesley)
posted by dry white toast at 7:26 PM on April 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

I wonder how much, if at all, the writers were influenced by the recent & ongoing Yugoslav Wars with the Bajoran storylines?

I think, in general, Deep Space 9 feels more like it's pulling from a contemporary or comparative politics capstone, vis TNG or TOS's political philosophy classes and Voyager's poli-sci club mixer. It is, I think, also the Trek series that engages most with LGBT themes (which I'm sure we'll discuss more throughout the rewatch), though that still comes out to frustratingly vague and in some cases kind of eyebrow-raisy (evil bisexual Mirror Kira, that regrettable Ferengi Tootsie episode.) Garak and Bashir's flirty moments and Dax's rekindling with her wife and general implied genderfluidity are much-discussed, but Odo's arc is also has a lot that can be read as metaphorical queerness.
posted by kagredon at 1:06 AM on April 29, 2015 [3 favorites]

that regrettable Ferengi Tootsie episode

This is so obviously the best phrase I will read today that I had to do more than just favorite the comment.

And yeah, the more we can link to related LARP Trek comics as part of these, the better - and not just because it will save my the embarrassment of thinking a comment I read there was an original thought I'd had recently.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:00 AM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

As much as I like Michelle Forbes as an actor, I just can't imagine DS9 being DS9 with the character of Ro Laren instead of Kira Nerys. So much of what I like about the show — especially in the early seasons — comes from the specifics of Kira: her position in the Bajoran militia, not Starfleet; growing up on Bajor, not refugee camps; her time as a terrorist (and, man, that's something that would never get made today); her history with Odo. We get to see Kira grow into respecting the Federation from square one, and for Ro much of that would be backstory.

As for the episode itself: I was relatively young when it first came out, and the meaning of "you exist here" went pretty well over my head. It wasn't until I re-watched it again, well into adulthood, when it started to hit home. I still think it works a bit better in theory than in execution, though. The scenes in the wormhole drag a bit, and the episode cuts just short of showing us the moment where Sisko accepts that in order to get over Jennifer, he has to leave earth. It's implied, but it's also a big emotional moment for Sisko, and leaving it out is less dramatically satisfying.

A few other thoughts:
  • Nothing says "you're not watching TNG anymore" like the fact that there's no conference room. (It doesn't show up until season 2.)
  • "You know, at first, I didn't think I was going to like him" is my favourite line in the episode. Odo's subdued skepticism of Starfleet is a nice balance to Kira's open displeasure.

posted by Banknote of the year at 10:05 AM on April 29, 2015 [4 favorites]

It seems like a huge mistake for the Federation to not have some sort of large ship stationed at DS9 for defense purposes, but I suppose the Bajorans might have requested them not to.
posted by drezdn at 10:14 AM on April 29, 2015

I really wish I could get all my thoughts about DS9 and this particular episode, to contribute something meaningful to the discussion. Hopefully, I'll manage it sooner or later. But I did want to add a bit:

1) Larp Trek is one of my favorite things ever. I miss Larp Trek a lot, and anyone who hasn't read it yet should.

2) A while ago I did an FPP about Rappin Jake Sisko, who showed up in the comment threads in the AV Club's reviews of DS9 episodes with incredibly clever and impressive poetry. Here's the FPP. Here's a blog that records and annotates all his poems.

Rappin Jake Sisko didn't show up so regularly for the early seasons of the show.... But I'll try to keep up with links to the pertinent poems, when we get to them. They really, really are worth it.
posted by meese at 10:28 AM on April 29, 2015 [5 favorites]

I've not seen very much at all of TNG, and I'd never heard of Ro Laren before, but Youtube searching brings up this pretty awesome scene.

I really need to watch TNG.
posted by Solomon at 10:44 AM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

I definitely felt the absence of Ro when I started to watch the show, knowing that had been the original plan, but after having seen her be developed over the entire series, I have to pick Kira, and I think Banknote of the year is right that Kira's hostility to Starfleet and history with Dukat and Odo are important factors that would have been lost or substantially different with Ro.

(actually, what would've really been awesome is if post-defection Ro filled Chakotay's role on Voyager.)
posted by kagredon at 11:05 AM on April 29, 2015

(actually, what would've really been awesome is if post-defection Ro filled Chakotay's role on Voyager.)

I hadn't noticed the backstory parallels between Chaoktay and Ro before, and, yeah, that could have lead to some great stories. But it would also mean leaving Ro to the mercy of the Voyager writing staff... *shudder*.

One more thing this episode does well: It's very clear that we're the aliens, not them. Even though the episode is centred around Sisko, there are so many reminders that he's an outside player in someone else's story: Quark giving Sisko and Jake the evil eye when they first come aboard, the Cardassian architecture and climate, Odo calling Sisko out for breaking his rules, Dukat's old office, Opaka defining Sisko's identity for him. (And Sisko spends so much of this episode reacting that he could easily come across as a wet rag. Kudos to the writers and to Avery Brooks for the strength of character that comes through.)
posted by Banknote of the year at 1:21 PM on April 29, 2015 [6 favorites]

I've probably watched seasons 3-7 over a dozen times, but haven't seen much of the first two seasons in a long time, so I'm enjoying the "excuse" to go back. Some random thoughts:

Intentional or not, it seems that a lot of the rough-patch character moments that you'd expect from a pilot were carried over into whole-series arcs. Some weren't. Quark's speaking style, etc, obviously gelled over the course of the first season or two (watch this, then something like Those Magnificent Ferengi back-to-back for a mind-trip)... but it was nice to see the writers immediately differentiate his characterization from TNG Ferengi - - concern over his nephew (at least, enough to tip the balance of "stay or don't"), willingness to help the sting op and get Odo on Dukat's ship, etc (yes, yes, coercion was probably involved there too, but he could have dicked it up anyway).

First encounter: Dukat 1, Sisko 0. Man, I know that it's most of the point of the episode, but Avery Brooks looked seriously unhinged with anger for so much of this that I really appreciate his range that develops by the end of the series (I mean, yeah, anger's still a bit part of it, but there are levels of anger... quiet-murdery-anger, stage-shouting-anger, jutted-jaw-rage, etc...)

Anyone else notice that the lighting for this episode was pretty poor? That is, I like that they made a point to differentiate the abandoned Cardassian station from the TNG-clean Enterprise, but man, it seems like half the scenes were illuminated by a single can light (or strobe) popped up to 11... even in places like Bajor or one of the runabouts.

The wormhole is a fucking cool plot device. It got 12 year old me to read A Brief History of Time, then devour everything I could get my hands on to "understand" more. Between getting me to look up the concept of a wormhole and think about non-linear existence, this show is probably responsible for way too much of my interest in physics as a kid... ... and not a small amount of disappointment when learning that the answers to most of my questions were "Could be. We don't know!"

Dax. Dax, Dax, Dax. I can't tell if it's Mrs. Farrell, or the lines they give her but so many of the Dax scenes are so. very. stilted. Then again, nobody sounds particularly suave saying "we could ::something something::deflector generators::something something::tachyon emitters...", especially for the first time. On that note - anyone know offhand if the majority of the cast have theatre backgrounds? I know Mrs. Visitor and Mr. Brooks do, but throughout the series, it does seem there's juuuuuust a bit of over enunciation and slightly-too-long pauses between lines. Might just be a style the directors chose, or a side effect of running episode-a-week, so you don't know lines well enough to anticipate and flow as cleanly as more "natural" conversation.

I really like Nana Visitor, and by the end of the series, she's one of my favorite characters, but they really did seem to just say "Make her an angry asshole, we'll figure out nuance later if we get picked up".

Mr. Auberjonois plays an irritated schoolmaster so well. Some of my favorite moments throughout the series are his back-and-forths with Mr. Shimmerman and the eye-gleam of schadenfreude usually present throughout.

As much as the Mopey O'Brien bits seemed to be a wink to the audience of "No, no we're REALLY NOT TNG", I did like watching the difference in Mr. Stewart's demeanor towards "his" transporter chief vs the "Oh shit, this is ... uncomfortable, let's okay, let's kick back into ultra-formal" feeling with Sisko.

I'd forgotten that they transported Orb-Dax back to Ops. Magic Glow-Jewels!

Sir vs Ma'am to a ranking female officer. Every pilot episode they forget to write a style guide that standardizes proper honorifics.

Rocks. The promenade ceiling (ah, thank you Dax, it's a fuel conduit)... is filled with rocks. Sigh.

Also, I'm a bit late to the party on the Ro Lauren discussion, but I enjoy the series of books that post-dated the series finale... I think she had a rich and interesting enough inner monologue to be a great character, but one that fit better on a book page than a TV series... nothing against Ms. Forbes at all, but the character was a loner enough that it would have been awkward to spill her guts about the inner turmoil that made her interesting (the "oh holy crap, am I running away with Quark?" conversations excepted...)

... there were a lot of nitpicks, but I fucking love DS9. This was a great pilot. I can't wait for Garak next episode.
posted by Seeba at 4:45 PM on April 29, 2015 [3 favorites]

I really liked Farrell's portrayal of Jadzia Dax. She seemed to delight in the role, and it comes through more so when she's playing "old man" with Sisko. Farrell was light-years better than whoever played Esme Dax.

Good to see Kai Opaca again. I hadn't realized that she was only in a handful of the episodes before she was killed off.

Man, I have to stop getting attached to minor characters. They don't stick around.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 7:18 PM on May 1, 2015

influenced by the recent & ongoing Yugoslav Wars with the Bajoran storylines?

When they were introduced in ST:TNG, the Bajorans felt strongly like Space Palestinians. They live in refugee camps, they're caught between bigger warring parties. But DS9 turns them into something much more complicated and interesting than a parody of a real world scenario. I think the Yugoslav Wars definitely influenced how people viewed the show, if not the writing, but I'm not sure there's any direct carryover.

The strongest part of the pilot to me was the overtly religious nature of it. Religion generally doesn't feature in sci-fi, particularly at the time this show was written. I love the whole question of Sisko as a prophet. (Coincidentally, this reluctant-icon story is one of the strongest themes in Dragon Age: Inquisition, a game I'm playing now.)
posted by Nelson at 10:03 AM on May 4, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'm a few episodes into a first watch of DS9 and am psyched that there's a whole rewatch series to enjoy as I go. Thanks, y'all!
posted by asperity at 10:35 PM on November 14, 2019

Rewatching DSN and reading along
posted by bunderful at 5:23 PM on June 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

« Older Last Man on Earth: The Tandyma...   |  Mad Men: Time & Life... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments