Deep Space Nine is the Best Trek and You’re Wrong for Thinking Otherwise
Much like Amy, Star Trek was this thing I did with my dad. I grew up watching TOS re-runs with him (and some terrible VHS copies he’d recorded, I think). I went to see everything from Wrath of Khan through Final Frontier in the theatre with him. I sat on the couch next to him and watched TNG when it was new. We still make Star Trek jokes at each other and it’s kind of our thing. Well, one of our things.
But I never really felt like TNG was my Trek, if that makes sense? I didn’t care for most of the characters (except for Q) and for the most part, I thought it was just boring. I watched it, but I didn’t CARE about it. My senior year of high school, I moved back to California to live with my dad, and started watching Voyager with him. He didn’t like Deep Space Nine, so that was never on our television.
Voyager was okay. I mean, I didn’t hate it, but I also didn’t love it. I mostly watched it cos it was on, and it was a Dad Thing.
The first episode of Deep Space Nine I watched was the finale. While heavily pregnant with my oldest. I had zero idea what the fuck was going on. Who is this guy that was just celebrating that is now pushing this other dude into a pit of fire? Wait, why is he waking up in Timeheart? What does that mean, that he might be back yesterday? Wait again, who the fuck is this smushfaced guy, why is he wearing a tuxedo and wading into a dirty lake? WHY IS THE PRINCIPAL OF SUNNYDALE HIGH PLAYING SOLITAIRE WITH A HOLOGRAM?!
Luckily, it started airing in syndication at, like, 2 am on one of the few OtA channels we received (we had no cable or internet, womp womp) and I was able to start from almost the beginning. So I would stay up until the wee hours of the morning, watching the two episodes that would air on UPN. And it was this thing that I did while I was pregnant and couldn’t sleep. And then when I had a newborn and was nursing during those same latenight hours. And I watched it through to the end and then started over again when it did. I think I did this three or four times in a row (it’s also why I’ve seen Voyager so many times, sometimes I wasn’t able to reach the remote cos of the baby on my chest).
At some point during my first full watch of this series, it became the Trek that defines Trek for me and here are a few reasons why.
Its mostly non-episodic structure.
TOS and TNG were both big fans of the bottle episode. While that’s great for what they were, DS9 had multiple arcs, some of which spanned the entire series. I am talking from the very first episode (which plops us down somewhere in the middle of the Bajor/Cardassia fuckery) to the very last (in which there is still fuckery going on, but it’s not the SAME fuckery).
With the previous iterations of Star Trek, you could watch an episode here or there and not feel like you’d missed out on much. Not so here. You start yourself somewhere in the middle and you’re all “who the fuck are the Prophets? What is this Dominion War? WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON?!”
Bring that shit to me, man.
Deep Space Nine is…a deep space space station. It’s situated at the mouth of a stable wormhole to another part of the galaxy. This means that they boldly go…nowhere. Instead, the dramz comes to them. It’s not a matter of “Hey, let’s check this weird planet out and learn a few lessons about humanity and ourselves,” but more of a “Let’s throw all these weirdos who come from completely different cultures together and see how they get along.”
It’s basically the Real World. In space. But not shitty, cos I know that makes it sound terrible.
Tinker Tailor Obsidian Order-er Spy
We meet Garak at the very beginning of the first season where he gets a little flirty with Dr Bashir (super sad backlash made them drop this aspect of his personality).
He was immediately intriguing, and only grew more so as the show progressed. In a series full of complex characters who actually GREW, Elim Garak was one of the most complex. He was abused as a child, then went to work for his father as a member of the feared and ruthless Obsidian Order. Was exiled from his native Cardassia for reasons that were never really clear, then became a spy for the Federation, and yet…were we ever really sure whose side he was on? Garak’s. He was on Garak’s side and that is what I love most about him.
What is it good for?
Deep Space Nine brought our first legit Star Trek war to our screens. Not just occasional skirmishes with other species, but an actual war that went on for SEASONS. Ofc people died, but the people who lived were forced to face some serious ethical dilemmas that weren’t always present in other iterations of Star Trek. DS9 is more morally grey than other Treks and I think that’s a major part of what made the show so fascinating.
Death of the author.
Gene Roddenberry wanted his utopian Federation to have moved past the need for religion. TOS and TNG frequently showed science trumping religion, which for the most part I am cool with, however I’ve always found the combination of religion and space to be super fascinating (Have you read The Sparrow? You should read The Sparrow). Whether it’s coincidence or not, Roddenberry passed in 1991, and shortly thereafter we had a Trek series where religion was a major running theme. In the s1 finale, Sisko’s son Jake mentions that he thinks the Bajorans’ belief that what the Starfleet-types call the wormhole aliens are gods is stupid. Sisko immediately shuts that down with “It may not be what you believe, but that doesn’t make it wrong. If you start to think that way, you’ll be acting just like Vedek Winn. Only from the other side. We can’t afford to be that way, Jake.”
Jeffrey Motherfucking Combs, man.
I have mild prospagnosia. It means I have a hard time recognizing faces without context. I can see an actor in twenty different movies and have no fucking clue who he is. I’m amazing at voices, though, which is one reason shows with heavy makeup are fantastic for me. Jeffrey Combs was not only Weyoun, but Brunt and Kevin Mulkahey and Tiron and and and; he appears in a scene and I drop everything cos I would recognize that slinky voice ANYWHERE. Oh, haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay, Weyoun! [sigh] Unf.
Soooooo…idk. There will never be another Trek I love more than Deep Space Nine and you won’t change my mind. Unless it’s, like, all Jeffrey Combs in every role? And then maybe. MAYBE.
Tell me I’m wrong and I will fight you, no joke.