Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Search, Part 1   Rewatch 
October 1, 2015 11:56 AM - Season 3, Episode 1 - Subscribe

Season 3 Premiere: Sisko takes an untested Starfleet warship into the Gamma Quadrant in an attempt to find the Founders of the Dominion.

Trivia

* In The Birth of the Dominion and Beyond featurette found on the DS9 Season 3 DVD, Robert Hewitt Wolfe explains the structure and organization of the Dominion: "The Gamma Quadrant isn't empty, it isn't just a bunch of planets. It's bound together by the Dominion, a very very tough, very smart, very old civilization, run by the mysterious Founders, who are experts in genetic engineering, and who turn out to be Odo's people, the Shapeshifters. They then go and engineer these slave races that do their bidding. Essentially, the two main slave races were the 'carrot' and the 'stick'. The carrot being the Vorta, who would come to your planet and say "Hey, you're nice people, here's some M-16s and some popcorn, and whatever else you want baby, alcohol, fire-water? All you have to do is sign this little contract and we'll make you cool". Then there's the Jem'Hadar. So the Vorta say "Oh, you don't want to play ball? Then meet these guys. They're gonna kick your ass"."

* First appearance of Salome Jens as the Female Changeling. Also the first time we see Romulans in Deep Space Nine. Also, Ronald D. Moore's first episode.

* First episode where Sisko expresses a love for Bajor and his refusal to allow it to fall, under any circumstances.

* Of the creation of the USS Defiant:
-> Robert Hewitt Wolfe points out, "Bringing in the Defiant was based on our own internal perceptions of something that would make the show better. It was not based on ratings."
-> Ira Steven Behr: "We'd created villains who were that powerful, and all we had floating around as the thin red line of defense against this possible invading army were three runabouts."
-> Science consultant André Bormanis: "I liked the idea of getting away from the concept that all Federation technology was squeaky clean and perfect. The Defiant has its problems because it's a prototype. it was hastily put together in the face of the Borg threat."

* After deciding not to make T'Rul a recurring character, the producers also decided not to use the cloaking device beyond "The Search, Part I". So certain were they that it wouldn't be used again that they even informed production designer Herman Zimmerman and director of photography Jonathan West that they didn't need to design an elaborate lighting rig with "normal" and "cloaked" lighting, because the dimming "cloaked" effect would only ever be seen once. So, West had his crew simply manually change the lights for the scenes under cloak. Of course, the cloak was employed many times after that, but the set and the lighting rig were never redesigned, so every time the ship went under cloak, West had to have his crew manually change all of the lights, something which he was quite annoyed about.
posted by zarq (30 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Also the first appearance of Lieutenant Commander Michael Eddington.
posted by zarq at 11:57 AM on October 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


* First episode where Sisko expresses a love for Bajor and his refusal to allow it to fall, under any circumstances.

Sisko's changing relationship with Bajor and his responsibilities toward it is something I didn't really pick up on much when I first watched this show as a kid - but when I rewatched it as an adult, it was one of the things that really elevated the series for me.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:57 PM on October 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


Also the first appearance of Lieutenant Commander Michael Eddington.


Asshole!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:07 PM on October 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also the first appearance of Lieutenant Commander Michael Eddington.

AKA Guerrilla Barclay

Yeah, DS9 starts to distinguish itself here.
posted by thetortoise at 2:21 PM on October 1, 2015


I remember that scene of Odo meeting the lake of shifters. It's too bad they didn't find some way of giving the rest of the shapeshifters some variation on Auberjonois' hair & make-up. (Maybe they used up all their creative energy on Dax's ludicrous hairdo, thank goodness the Tor.com recap says it's only here for the two-parter)

I don't remember the Eddington character at all, did not like him so far. (I don't know if I should ask what "Guerrilla Barclay" means, or just wait and see. I always enjoyed Barclay episodes, and imdb shows Eddington is only in 9 episodes of DS9.)
posted by oh yeah! at 6:16 PM on October 1, 2015


I don't know if I should ask what "Guerrilla Barclay" means, or just wait and see.

Wait and see; that's me being spoiler-y, sorry. Eddington is annoying and not a big woobie like Barclay, but I'll get into my suppositions about the character influences at a more appropriate time.
posted by thetortoise at 6:47 PM on October 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


Trek's penchant for mirror universe episodes has helped me come to a realization about their greatest enemies of the Federation: they're the Federation, but interpreted as its worst self.

The Borg, and the Dominion.

One of two major complaints about the Federation is that it's cloying, yet attractive. It draws people in and changes their value system,their cultural distinctiveness, into homogenized Federationness.

Can you imagine a season 7 Quark or Garak without the Federation's corrosive influence on their strongly-held Ferengi and Cardassian identities?

The Borg, in a funhouse mirror.

The other major complaint it that it's the human club for humans. That the Federation exists as a cover for human values and human dominance under the guise of benevolence, peace and exploration. Starfleet in particular - primarily staffed by humans, run from Earth, and as the diplomatic and military arm of the Federation, does the heavy lifting in relations with other powers.

The Dominion, as through a glass, darkly.

The Dominion is what the Federation could have been, is in the eyes of its enemies, or might yet become.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:54 PM on October 1, 2015 [7 favorites]


Trek's penchant for mirror universe episodes has helped me come to a realization about their greatest enemies of the Federation: they're the Federation, but interpreted as its worst self.

The Borg, and the Dominion.


Don't you see? We're not so different, you and I...

The actor who played Eddington was also the (sort of lame) lead in the (sort of OK) early '80s sci-fi/fantasy epic Krull, which has another noteworthy Trek connection: James Horner's score is reeeeeeeally similar to his score for Wrath of Khan.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 4:16 AM on October 2, 2015


Talking about the Borg here makes me think that it's kind of odd they never showed up on DS9. Sisko had a hell of a history with them; they killed his wife and started him down a dark path that lasted years. It took meeting the Prophets and becoming the Emissary to turn things around for him.

It's surprising that with the show's ratings troubles they never had a cube show up. It would have been a dramatic development, certainly. There weren't even many references to the Borg, which is odd given what a huge, ongoing threat they were for the Federation. Wouldn't the Borg have wanted to fly through that wormhole and assimilate some of the tasty planets on the other side of the galaxy?

I presume the writers talked about it but decided against it for some reason. Maybe they felt like Voyager had kind of inherited the Borg from TNG, and they didn't want to overexpose them as bad guys. I can kind of see that, but it also feels like a shame. We never got to see what Sisko felt about the Borg, how he'd respond to one of those "you will be assimilated" messages on the viewscreen.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:11 AM on October 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Plus, the Defiant was built in response to the Borg threat. Would have loved to see it take on a Sphere.

Speaking of which, the Defiant became one of my favorite Star Trek ships when DS9 originally aired. On rewatching this I almost cheered when it decloaked, then got a little sad with how badly it fared in its first fight. Everything about the ship is so un-Trek like.

It was great to see all the build up toward the Dominion. Mentions here and there throughout a handful of episodes before they show up. You don't see that sort of continuity in a lot of shows (especially at the time this aired). Then when we do meet them, it doesn't devolve into war right away. There's this game of cat and mouse as each side tries various politics and spying and sneak attacks.

The threat of the Dominion lingers for a long time, where a lesser show might have not given it all the time it deserved.
posted by 2ht at 6:05 AM on October 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


The Defiant was a beautiful ship, and because it was compact and highly maneuverable, it was a lot of fun to watch.

There's a wonderfully graceful battle scene in "Shattered Mirror," (spoilers) where the ship is weaving in and out of the station's pylons.
posted by zarq at 8:21 AM on October 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


One of two major complaints about the Federation is that it's cloying…

So you're saying it's like root beer?
posted by nathan_teske at 3:00 PM on October 2, 2015 [9 favorites]


...do you think they'll be able to save us?
posted by zarq at 3:16 PM on October 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


DS9 starts to distinguish itself here.

Yes. This is where it started to get interesting.

And where it stopped being Star Trek.
 
posted by Herodios at 8:39 PM on October 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


And where it stopped being Star Trek.

I don't agree with that a bit. Everything in the Berman era builds on what came before. You may object to how Trek evolved in that era, but DS9 was very much the child of TNG, which was very much the child of TOS. Star Trek is one big, sprawling franchise with all kinds of connections between the various shows and movies, it's hundreds of hours of one big story really... and then we hit the Abrams movies, which were Trek in name only and actively worked to destroy all that came before and annoy and alienate fans of the Trek that had been going since the 1960s. THAT is where Trek stopped being Trek.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 10:13 PM on October 2, 2015 [14 favorites]


And where it stopped being Star Trek.

I basically cannot favorite what Ursula said hard enough: Deep Space Nine was everything I loved about the Star Trek franchise. It was thoughtful, it was diverse and it engaged in a lot of social commentary, some of it very unflattering. It really showed how the Trek universe could be used when it wasn't shackled to the 'weird planet of the week' format or Roddenberry's insistence that people be perfect. (McCoy and Kirk were far from perfect, flawless people - the old show pretty much revolved around the power trio arguing.)

I also agree that the rest of the shows that aired were also Trek: Voyager was basically the whole 'weird planet of the week' distilled to its glossy, soulless, reset-button loving conclusion. Enterprise floundered badly, but the basic ingredients were all still there, and it was interesting in the end.

NuTrek is indeed where Trek stopped meaning the same stuff in any way, shape or form.
posted by mordax at 11:22 PM on October 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


I kinda agree with all of you here. TOS and TNG are necessary foundations for the narrative of DS9, and are all part of an intertextual structure where knowledge of each show deepens comprehension of the others. But somewhere around late season 2 and the beginning of season 3, DS9 takes a hard left turn in the Star Trek universe and doesn't resemble anything that came before. It retains enough of the progressive dream of the earlier work (no grimdark SF here) while combining it with a hard-nosed political realism. (Disclaimer: my favorite TV show of all time, might be a little biased.)
posted by thetortoise at 11:31 PM on October 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


(It is so hard to hold my love in for this show and wait for the appropriate episode. At some point you all are going to get a giant feelings-dump about how Gul Dukat is the greatest villain since Milton's Satan. I apologize in advance for that.)
posted by thetortoise at 12:04 AM on October 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


DS9 does stand apart from the other series in various ways. It was the franchise's most serialized series for one thing, and it went darker than any of the other Treks. (MUCH darker than TOS, TNG or Enterprise, although Voyager got surprisingly dark sometimes. I like Voyager a lot but I'm not gonna derail with yet another defense of that show.)

TOS was very much about looking at contemporary problems through a sci-fi lens, and DS9 did that a lot too. (TNG and the other shows did it sometimes, but not nearly as much as TOS or DS9.) The homeless city two-parter and Far Beyond the Stars were about Big Issues in ways that probably would have made Roddenberry proud. They're preachy but powerful and they are so Star Trek.

One of the writers of the show quipped that their fans were the cult within the cult. I think that fits. I suspect that somebody could enjoy DS9 without ever seeing any of the other Trek shows, but I think it's a much richer experience for Trekkies. DS9 is the show that says, "Well, we've built a whole little universe here. Now that we're settled, let's see how this stuff really works." So you had Section 31 and other things that looked at the dark side of this utopia, the cost of maintaining it.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 12:08 AM on October 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh, Far Beyond the Stars is probably my favorite episode of all, and is to this series what The Inner Light was to TNG. It's also the perfect example of DS9's relationship to the Roddenberry canon, because it continues the progressive dialogue-- affirming the connection between Uhura and Sisko-- while articulating why the TOS postracial ideal is a non-starter. And is a great example of how DS9 actors had greater creative input than in the previous two series (I still need to watch the rest of Voyager so I can talk intelligently with Ursula Hitler about it, sorry!). Okay, okay, I will wait until we actually get to that episode, fine...
posted by thetortoise at 1:02 AM on October 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


while articulating why the TOS postracial ideal is a non-starter.

Could you elaborate on that? To me the episode seemed to be saying that an actual Trek-style post-racism society was something to aspire to, that something like it is essential for human evolution. Sisko's reality was only a dream for a man like Benny Russell, and we see how terribly sad and unfair that is. Russell is some strange reflection of Ben Sisko, but there's no place for a Ben Sisko in Russell's time.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:53 AM on October 3, 2015


Could you elaborate on that?

Yeah, though probably too much!

Benny dreams of a Trek-style egalitarian future without racism, true. What's significant here is that this future does not-- and cannot-- erase history. TOS was made in the midst of the Civil Rights era; that context is essential to the show, but it can only play out in subtext and metaphor, both because racism dictated what could be shown on television and because of Roddenberry's commitment to portraying a postracial future. So Uhura is an iconic figure and yet there's a tension there, where you can tell that Nichelle Nichols is breaking new ground and in the middle of a specific historical moment, but Uhura just looks like a woman doing her job. DS9 digs into that tension a little, and Far Beyond the Stars is the episode that really explores it.

Sisko's connection to Black history sets him apart from other Trek characters of color (and is one of Avery Brooks' major contributions to the show). He doesn't live in a colorblind world; he has a family, a culture, and a complex relationship to his people's history that comes out in episodes like the Ocean's Eleven one that I totally can't remember the name of right now. Far Beyond the Stars states it outright: there is no Sisko without Benny, and we shouldn't read the character without him.

This is a whole 'nother subject, but that's one of the big themes of DS9, that the past, specifically a past of oppression and subjugation, cannot be erased through social change and diplomacy, and that those relationships must be seen and considered before they can be transformed. It's the Trek most informed by postcolonial thought. We see the effects of the Cardassian occupation of Bajor, how it has affected both peoples' sense of identity, and then we see the efforts of the Dominion to extend its reach to a new quadrant, and we look at it through that lens. And then we think about what exactly the Federation's place is in this universe. As the man of twists and turns says above, Star Trek has a penchant for mirrors.
posted by thetortoise at 6:53 AM on October 3, 2015 [11 favorites]


But somewhere around late season 2 and the beginning of season 3, DS9 takes a hard left turn in the Star Trek universe and doesn't resemble anything that came before.

Yes. There is simply no way that a multi-season intragalactic war fits in with what Star Trek was all about. DS9's Forever War is about as far from the ideals expressed in "The Corbomite Manuoever" as can be imagined.
 
posted by Herodios at 2:21 PM on October 3, 2015


Would have loved to see it take on a Sphere.

There was the opening of First Contact
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:36 PM on October 3, 2015


There is simply no way that a multi-season intragalactic war fits in with what Star Trek was all about. DS9's Forever War is about as far from the ideals expressed in "The Corbomite Manuoever" as can be imagined.

Except that "The Corbomite Maneuver" was only the first episode of the series (the first produced, not the first aired), and even TOS was starting to change during its relatively short, three-season run. That's why you had "A Private Little War", which aired just days after the start of the Tet Offensive, and was about as blatant a Vietnam War allegory as you can imagine without the planet literally being called "Zietnam." (As it was, the planet's name, not mentioned in the episode itself, was "Neural"--not as in neurons, but as in "neutral", and a bitterly ironic one given its status as a proxy battleground for the Klingons and the Federation.) It is, in fact, one of the most downbeat Trek episodes ever, as there is no end in sight indicated for the proxy war. Even before that, you had "Errand of Mercy", which created the Klingon-Federation Cold War by introducing the Organians, who acted as a sort of metaphor for the nuclear deterrent by threatening to reduce both the Federation and the Empire back to the Stone Age (or at least the pre-First Contact Age) if they didn't play nice.

So, yeah, if you believe that Trek was all about always being able to find a peaceful solution regardless of how hopeless the situation was, nope, sorry, not really. That was the ideal, sure, but sometimes you had to do what you could with what you had. What Trek was (and is, although JJTrek hasn't really lived up to this much)really about is, to quote Bowie, turning to face the strange, and accepting confronting one's own prejudices and preconceptions and changing them as a condition of growth and evolution. It's about a combat veteran of the war in the Pacific putting a Japanese officer (played by a Japanese-American actor who'd been in an internment camp as a child during that same war) on the bridge. It's about responding to the complete white maleness of the American astronaut corps of the sixties by putting a black woman on that same bridge. It's about responding to the Cold War (and the recent Cuban missile crisis) by putting a Russian on that same bridge. Twenty years later, it's about hammering the same point home by introducing an omnipotent character who states that humanity will be judged by how well they respond and change in response to threats the likes of which they have never encountered, and driving that point home by hastening the first contact with a civilization that cannot and will not negotiate with them in any way, shape or form, and is hegemonic to a degree that even the Klingons wouldn't dream of being.

And DS9 raises the stakes even further by putting the Federation in a real war, one that will last long enough to threaten to turn the Federation into something that would resemble its former self in name only, if it even survives. (For all of the shocking devastation of the Battle of Wolf 359, the Borg incursion was over in days.) The plain fact is, the Federation and its allies will have to change in order to survive, so the real question is, how much do they dare to change, and in what ways? What's clear is that the methods, goals and ideals of the previous century aren't going to be any more help to their present situation than the ethos of mid-sixties America was going to be relevant to a show being produced in the mid-nineties. If that means that Trek turned into something that you don't like, well, sorry you feel that way. But I was a fan of the original show that started watching during TOS' original broadcast, I bow to no one in my adoration of it, and DS9 is my favorite Trek, for the reasons outlined above. It did what none of the other shows did, and went places none of the other shows went to, because it took bigger chances.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:03 PM on October 3, 2015 [10 favorites]


I was thinking about it, and maybe the only way that DS9 marks a clear break from the rest of Trek is that DS9 suggests that some foes can't be reasoned with. In the other Treks, even the most frightening, bloodthirsty foes eventually become friendly with humans or at least we see that they're not all psycho monsters. It happened with the Klingons, the Ferengi, even the Borg eventually gave us Hugh and Seven of Nine. (As a group the Borg were scary monsters, but as individuals they were victims who could still be freed from the collective and become rational again.) Over and over again, Trek suggests that if we sit down and talk it out, eventually we can work out our differences.

But with the Founders and the Jem Hadar, DS9 brings us foes who simply cannot be reasoned with. (The Vorta eventually turn out to be kind of tragic, yet another species suffering under the Founders.) The Founders are xenophobes, and while they are eventually beaten there's no sense that they're interested in becoming friends. They quit fighting only because they had to. When Odo tries to raise a Jem Hadar child to be non-aggressive he finds that the poor kid is simply bred to be a killer, he can't get beyond bloody murder and doesn't want to. In fairness we do see other, older Jem Hadar who are a bit more rational and Odo is proof that some members of his species are capable of mercy. But as I think it over, the Founders and the Jem Hadar are never "humanized" (for lack of a better word) in the same way that the other villainous races of Trek were. Their implacable evil is rather un-Trek-like.

With the other Trek races, if you got stranded on a planet with one of them you'd probably eventually work together to find some way to get rescued and you'd end up telling stories to each other around the campfire. All of the aliens eventually get some story like that, where we see that we're really not so different after all, you and I. With a Founder or a Jem Hadar soldier, you're shit out of luck. The more you get to know them, the more frightening they get.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:21 AM on October 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


But I was a fan of the original show that started watching during TOS' original broadcast, I bow to no one in my adoration of it, and DS9 is my favorite Trek, for the reasons outlined above. It did what none of the other shows did, and went places none of the other shows went to, because it took bigger chances.

Flagged as fantastic, as I am unable to offer a standing ovation.

I was thinking about it, and maybe the only way that DS9 marks a clear break from the rest of Trek is that DS9 suggests that some foes can't be reasoned with.

That happened in other iterations of Trek, but the thing was, they had to either wrap the story up in a neat little bow at the end, or have the crew shout, 'But the Prime Directive' and warp away at the end of the episode. Like... in "The High Ground," the crew of the Enterprise essentially gives up, and it's hardly unique.

Also, the Jem'Hadar were leashed a lot looser than anybody liked to admit: in "To The Death," there's a whole crew in open rebellion, and the 'friendly' Jem'Hadar kills his Vorta. Really, the thing with Odo and the baby wasn't tragic because the Jem'Hadar are doomed to be monsters, it was tragic because of Starfleet's squeamishness with regard to genetic engineering: the baby was suffering from a programmed condition, and they addressed it with talk therapy instead of the necessary - but taboo - physical tools needed.

Someone probably could've cracked freeing them in time. There was even that one Jem'Hadar who insisted Bashir try.

I also feel like Odo's decision to stay with the Great Link was going to work. He certainly believed it, and the whole thing really was a mirror of the Hugh situation: one person being able to make a difference in a seemingly intractable population is a very Trek-ish ending beat.

Given time, it seemed pretty clear to me that the Dominion and the Federation could enjoy the tense version of peace they had with the Klingons, Romulans, Cardassians or any other former enemy they'd come to an arrangement with, which could've led to those campfire moments... someday, anyway. I mean, Weyoun was affable enough when he wasn't trying to kill anybody.

It just wasn't the part they were interested in exploring in the time they had. (Showing Cardassia's fate felt like a much better bookend to the series to me anyway.)
posted by mordax at 12:25 PM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Mordax, you have handily refuted pretty much all of my points. But in my defense it wasn't like I had some big theory I'd been nursing along for years and was really confident about, it was more like the other day I stopped and went, "Hey, now that I think of it..."

I'd forgotten that the Jem'Hadar had sought to be de-programmed. Was the prospect of tinkering with the genetics of the Jem'Hadar kid ever raised, in that episode?

I singled out that episode because at the time I remember being a little disturbed, thinking the symbolism suggested that some people (or races) are just born bad and can't be redeemed. It's tricky because we're talking about a genetically modified race of aliens and in the context of that story it makes perfect sense that you couldn't just take a random Jem'Hadar kid and raise him to be a polite Federation citizen, but if we step back from that and see it as a story that's really about humans, the symbolism gets creepy. But if they talk about his aggression as a thing that's been forced on him and is potential curable, that does give it a different flavor.

I singled out the Vorta as victims of the Founders, because while the Vorta could be pretty sinister in their own right they were also witty, complex and sad. You had the feeling the Weyouns really wanted everybody to get along and they hoped to avoid all the bloodshed. (And there was that episode where one of the Weyoun clones came out wrong and was a much nicer guy.)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:10 PM on October 6, 2015


Doh. I stupidly edited out the part of that sentence where I said I singled out the Vorta as victims of the Founders because they started as little forest-dwelling hobbits and were modified into these oily salesmen types, to suit the Founders' needs.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:33 PM on October 6, 2015


I'd forgotten that the Jem'Hadar had sought to be de-programmed.

I'd dispute that characterization. It's not so much that they sought to be de-programmed, they simply wanted to be free of the physiological dependence on ketracel white.

Along with the very first Borg encounter, the concept of the Jem'Hadar completely free from ketracel white is one of the most terrifying moments of the Trek universe.
posted by rocketman at 7:24 AM on October 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


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