Monday, 7 April 2014

Overview: Star Trek Deep Space Nine

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The most epic space-station on TV. From Wikia
Written 8/12/13.

A lot of Star Trek's development comes back to "Gene Roddenberry's vision" - the utopian, futuristic society that he lay down with the original series. The Next Generation, created by Roddenberry shortly before his death, was an attempt to both bring the franchise back and capture that vision more successfully. In 1993, as The Next Generation entered its sixth and penultimate season, a second spin-off appeared - Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, which took the previous two series' focus on space exploration and instead focussed on the politics surrounding a single, eponymous space-station. The result is a show which not only divides the fandom, but contains some of Trek's best and worst moments. Mainly best, but that's a matter of opinion.
     Initially focussing on the resettlement of a Cardassian space station by the Bajorans they opressed and the Federation who helped free it, we discover in the pilot that the planet Bajor is adjacent to a stable Wormhole which leads to the Gamma Quadrant, the other side of the galaxy. (But a different other side than Voyager's other side of the galaxy.) Over the course of the series they develop themes on religion, with Bajor worshipping the near-omnipotent aliens that live inside the wormhole, as well as in later seasons focussing on political battles with a powerful Gamma-Quadrant empire known simply as The Dominion. There are also a dozen or so mini-arcs running throughout the series, from a war with the Klingons to the near-collapse of the Ferengi economy.
     The first two seasons of DS9 aren't the best in the world - the show was still picking up on how to effectively write a show that stayed in one place, and similarly to Red Dwarf, they later introduced a spaceship, The Defiant, in order to keep things varied. While a lot of the episodes in the early seasons end up being a little formulaic, the character development that they provide mixes together well and acts as a fairly stable backdrop to what happens as soon as we hit Season Four onwards, in which nearly every other episode is an important, arc-changing reflection on the present political situation. The plot of DS9 is one of the most engrossing of any of the Trek series, and that's simply because the continuity is so well done and the characters so worth investing in.
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From diplomats to terrorists to gods to businessmen,
DS9 has it all. From jornadanasestrelas
     And what a varied cast of characters. While the show's pitch was built upon the idea of African-American single-dad Benjamin Sisko raising his son on the "Frontier", the rest of the show's cast (bar a few) all have very interesting quirks which ensures that they're all fairly interesting by themselves. This of course makes character-centric episodes very different and the show very variable - one episode you could be exploring the breeding caverns of Trill and discussing the merits of sentient symbionts, the next you could be on the ridiculously capitalist Ferenginar discussing the links that Capitalism has to systemic oppresssion. One thing DS9 almost never does with its moral quandries is make things easy - one of the best ever episodes, In The Pale Moonlight, is all about trying to get a powerful political power into a war, by any means necessary.
     Outside of its main arcs, it's also well-known for its badass Captain, Benjamin Sisko, and for exploring the Mirror Universe again for the first time since The Original Series. And, more importantly, Deep Space Nine took Next Gen's balanced view of Roddenberry's vision and looked it over with jade-tinted glasses. This was the Star Trek Universe behaving like the real world, with politics and warfare and death on a huge scale. And from its Old West roots through to its thick and delicious sci-fi explorations, Deep Space Nine is one of the most complex and brilliant shows in the Star Trek arsenal. And that needs to be remembered more.

Thanks.

1 comment:

  1. Strong words on what was a great series!

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