Star Trek: Deep Space Nine In 82.5 Hours

Max Temkin
Jan 3, 2016 · 23 min read
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Your friends for the next 82.5 hours.

A little bit about Star Trek

Deep Space Nine was born out of the politics of the Next Generation writers’ room, which writer Tracy Tormé described as “an insane asylum.”

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“Get the captain laid!”

A lot of frustration and conflict

DS9 is essentially a Western with an ensemble cast. Writer Robert Hewitt Wolfe said, “We had the country doctor, and we had the barkeeper, and we had the sheriff and we had the mayor, we had it all, it was all there. We had the common man, Miles O’Brien, the Native American, Kira.”

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One of DS9's best friendships, Nog (Ferengi) and Jake (Federation)

“What does that mean, exactly?”

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Morn knows what it all means.

But is it any good?

I think one of the worst knocks against Star Trek is that it can be extremely hokey — full of what Ronald D. Moore described as, “stock characters, techno-double-talk, bumpy-headed aliens, thespian histrionics, and empty heroics.” Moore once described a “Trek clichés” board in the Next Generation writers’ room:

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Dr. Bashir and Major Kira

What you should know going in

  • Deep Space Nine is a direct sequel to Next Generation, and you’ll like it more if you’ve seen TNG. Part of the fun of DS9 is continuing plot threads and seeing characters from TNG. I wrote a guide to watching Next Generation in 40 hours that will cover everything you need to watch Deep Space Nine.
  • Deep Space Nine is a political show, and the politics are complicated. The show will ask you to care about many different political systems interacting with one another — it’s not confusing, but if you pay attention, it’s really fun to see how the Klingon, Bajoran, Cardassian, and Ferengi political situations change over time.
  • The two-part pilot episode, Emissary, is excellent. Deep Space Nine stands alone as the only Star Trek show to have a good pilot.
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Season one’s nadir, “Move Along Home.”
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Captain Sisko shaving his head is Deep Space Nine’sGrowing the Beard” moment
  • I have tried my best to condense Deep Space Nine into a list of essential episodes, but the show works as a cohesive whole. Skipping episodes of DS9 isn’t like skipping episodes of The Wire, but if you like the pilot and want to see more, I encourage you to throw out my episode guide and watch the whole thing straight through. Avoid spoilers if you can— DS9 is full of great surprises.

How I picked episodes

In my guide to Star Trek: The Next Generation, I recommended about forty hours of essential Star Trek viewing. I tried to get DS9 down to forty hours, but I couldn’t do it — it has twice as many unskippable episodes as TNG due to its continuity and overall excellence. Here’s the story lines I focused on in assembling this guide:

  • The Maquis, and how the Federation deals with internal agitation and dissent
  • The Dominion, Deep Space Nine’s main adversary
  • The Klingon Empire, and the political situation on Qo’noS following the events of Next Generation (did I mention that you should watch Next Generation prior to DS9?)
  • The Ferengi; these characters are the most special to DS9, something that no other sci-fi show could ever pull off
  • “O’Brien Must Suffer” episodes — evidently, Colm Meany was so likable as chief engineer Miles O’Brien that the writers went to great lengths to put him in at least one horrible situation each season. Writer Robert Hewitt Wolfe said, “If O’Brien went through something torturous and horrible, the audience was going to feel that, in a way they wouldn’t feel it with any of the other characters. Because all the other characters were sort of, I wouldn’t say larger than life, but nobler than life, but O’Brien was just a guy, trying to live his life and so if you tortured him that was a story.”
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O’Brien must suffer; sometimes he must also tear his pants.

Season 1

The first season of Deep Space Nine focused on attracting Next Generation viewers at the expense of finding a direction of its own. As the station grew into a busy hub of travel and commerce, it became an easy trick for the writers to bring a Next Gen character through for the week.

  • S01E02: Emissary, Part II
  • S01E03: Past Prologue
  • S01E04: A Man Alone
  • S01E11: The Nagus
  • S01E13: Battle Lines
  • S01E19: Duet
  • S01E20: In the Hands of the Prophets

Season 2

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Season 2 establishes one of Star Trek’s greatest characters, Elim Garak.
  • S02E02: The Circle
  • S02E03: The Siege
  • S02E05: Cardassians
  • S02E07: Rules of Acquisition
  • S02E08: Necessary Evil
  • S02E12: The Alternate
  • S02E14: Whispers
  • S02E20: The Maquis, Part I
  • S02E21: The Maquis, Part II
  • S02E22: The Wire
  • S02E24: The Collaborator
  • S02E25: Tribunal
  • S02E26: The Jem’Hadar

Season 3

In 1994 some of Deep Space Nine’s staff left to produce Star Trek: Voyager, including showrunner Michael Piller and director of photography Marvin Rush. Next Generation ended, and some of TNG’s strongest talent joined Deep Space Nine, including Ira Steven Behr as showrunner and Ronald D. Moore as supervising producer. Here is a great metaphor for how this new talent affected the show: DS9's new director of photography, Jonathan West, began to shoot with telephoto lenses, which collapse the field of view and bring more of the set and extras into focus. This is the season where all of the politics and texture of the show that were previously in the background start to pay off in a big way.

  • S03E2: The Search, Part II
  • S03E3: The House of Quark
  • S03E05: Second Skin
  • S03E06: The Abandoned
  • S03E07: Civil Defense
  • S03E13: Life Support
  • S03E14: Heart of Stone
  • S03E15: Destiny
  • S03E16: Prophet Motive
  • S03E17: Visionary
  • S03E20: Improbable Cause
  • S03E21: The Die is Cast
  • S03E22: Explorers
  • S03E23: Family Business
  • S03E24: Shakaar
  • S03E26: The Adversary

Season 4

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A new addition to the cast in season four.
  • S04E02: The Way of the Warrior, Part II
  • S04E03: The Visitor
  • S04E04: Hippocratic Oath
  • S04E05: Indiscretion
  • S04E07: Starship Down
  • S04E11: Homefront
  • S04E12: Paradise Lost
  • S04E14: Return to Grace
  • S04E15: Sons of Mogh
  • S04E16: Bar Association
  • S04E17: Accession
  • S04E19: Hard Time
  • S04E22: For the Cause
  • S04E23: To the Death
  • S04E25: Body Parts
  • S04E26: Broken Link

Season 5

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One of Deep Space Nine’s iconic episodes, Trials and Tribble-ations
  • S05E02: The Ship
  • S05E05: The Assignment
  • S05E06: Trials and Tribble-ations
  • 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
  • S05E19: Ties of Blood and Water
  • S05E21: Soldiers of the Empire
  • S05E23: Blaze of Glory
  • S05E24: Empok Nor
  • S05E25: In the Cards
  • S05E26: Call to Arms

Season 6

Here’s the big payoff season for the Dominion storyline. The first seven episodes make a single plot arc that opens the season, and I think you can see some of the DNA of Battlestar Galactica here. Waltz and In The Pale Moonlight are great Star Trek moral quandaries designed to push Sisko to his limits, many fans consider Pale Moonlight to be the best episode of DS9. If you were hoping to see Iggy Pop as a Vorta, The Magnificent Ferengi is your chance. Far Beyond the Stars is just an incredible standalone episode that the whole cast shines in, but especially Avery Brooks.

  • 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…
  • S06E10: The Magnificent Ferengi
  • S06E11: Waltz
  • 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
  • S06E26: Tears of the Prophets

Season 7

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It’s never fun to say goodbye to these characters.
  • S07E2: Shadows and Symbols
  • S07E3: Afterimage
  • S07E6: Treachery, Faith and the Great River
  • S07E8: The Siege of AR-558
  • S07E9: Covenant
  • S07E10: It’s Only a Paper Moon
  • S07E14: Chimera
  • 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: What You Leave Behind, Part I
  • S07E26: What You Leave Behind, Part II

Maxistentialism Blog

Longish writing from Max Temkin, a designer in Chicago, Il.

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