Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - Episode Guide - Season 1
As of this writing about two weeks before the premiere of Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek Guide can safely assert that no inaugural season in an ST series is at its best. On the plus side, STG may also state that season 1 of Deep Space Nine is the best of season of any spin off series of its kind.
Let’s face it: From The Next Generation through Enterprise, season 1 (and often 2 and more) come off as a warmup period; perhaps it’s the weight of expectations, perhaps it’s just an early lack of confidence in trying innovative concepts. Whatever the ailment, season 1 of DS9 turns out similarly: Those who dig on Star Trek will find DS9- (season 1) eminently watchable, it’s just that there are no real classics and the show still feels second-tier.
1-2. Emissary – Easily the greatest opening sequence to any Star Trek series leads into a series of introductions of both characters and environment. The easily-predictable highlight is the Sisko/Picard meeting, while the central plot involves the declaration of the commander as “Emissary to the Prophets”, where “prophets” refers to those beings believed by the Bajorans to inhabit the nearby wormhole. ***
3. Past Prologue – A former fellow resistance member of Kira’s comes to Deep Space Nine, as do the Duras sisters, still scheming away to seize control of the Klingon Empire. More importantly that all this, however, is the brief introduction of the completely awesome Garak. ***
4. A Man Alone – Aaaaaand here’s the first whodunit of Deep Space Nine. Odo is accused of murdering a convicted smuggler/trafficker. Sisko and Bashir play detective, and Odo is accused of the murder of a Bajoran murderer.
5. Babel – Every ST series is obligated to do the episode about language problems. Here’s Deep Space Nine’s contribution to the sub-sub-subgenre, and this one also includes the space virus trope! **
6. Captive Pursuit – An O’Brien-centric episode before the run of “Torture O’Brien” stories to come. An alien from the Gamma Quadrant fleeing … something befriends O’Brien. His hunters soon follow; phaser fights ensue. ***
7. Q-Less – If you think the upper-dimensional trickster Q makes a much better foil for Captains Picard and Janeway than the highly stoic Benjamin Sisko, you’re absolutely right. Sisko establishes with a knockout blow (literally) that he and Deep Space Nine will be having none of Q’s shenanigans. ***
8. Dax – Time for the only lighthearted humanoid in season one of DS9 to (sigh) get ultra-serious like the rest. Jadzia Dax, the symbiote’s current incarnation, is accused of a murder committed by a former incarnation. In instantly classic DS9 form, Sisko argues Dax’s case in a hastily-arranged hearing while Odo does some deeper investigation. ***
9. The Passenger – A criminal cheats death by, well, as Bashir puts it, “Hypothetically, Vantika's consciousness could be occupying someone else's brain while he waits for the deuridium to arrive. But whose?” And so goes most of the rest of the episode, with the befuddled Bashir hard at work. **
10. Move Along Home – The Wadi, folks from the Gamma Quadrant, arrive on Deep Space Nine and are soon cheated at the Dabo table. In response, they entice Quark into playing a game called Chula, which is kinda like Jumanji in that the crew must live though the abstract play on the board. Not only is this episode pretty nonsensical upon the slight bit of examination, it also completely muffs the ending that might have saved it, i.e. Quark masters Chula and gets the crew “home.” *
11. The Nagus – Here begins the development of the Ferengi as well as the run of Ferengi-centric episodes to come. Grand Nagus Zek, an elephantine-eared leader from the homeworld, arrives on Deep Space Nine to name Quark his successor, a too-good-to-be-true deal that Quark really should have sniffed out. Minus points here for a subplot involving Sisko’s anger at his son’s friendship with young Ferengi lad Nog. ***
12. Vortex – You think Deep Space Nine is gonna answer all your questions about Odo’s origin in a single episode? Ha! The questions about Odo’s origin are just starting to rise when a Gamma Quadrant alien intimates to Odo that he can get in touch with his people. ***
13. Battle Lines – Sisko, Bashir, Kira and the Bajoran spiritual leader (like the Dalai Lama – Space Lama!) go on a jaunt to the Gamma Quadrant, only to be shot down by a sentinel satellite orbiting the first planet they check out. The four attempt to make peace on the planet, torn by a war in which the soldiers are resurrected upon death by wanton nanotechnology, but fail. ***
14. The Storyteller – And, chasing the eternal war of “Battle Lines” comes another classic Star Trek trope: The killer cloud creature. In this one, said cloud can only be kept at bay by the storyteller of the title. Really quite silly and predictable stuff here. *
15. Progress – Kira attempts to get a farmer living on a Bajoran moon to clear off for mining purposes, which ends in a disappointing and unsatisfying conclusion. Meanwhile, Jake and Nog embark on a good old-fashioned capitalistic venture. ***
16. If Wishes Were Horses – Yet *another* Star Trek standard: Thoughts given physical form. In this one, some subatomic particle manifests creatures fictional and/or historical, including Rumpelstiltskin, alien jakdaws, a lustier Jadzia Dax and the awesome Buck Bokai, who’s worth a whole star on his own. ***
17. The Forsaken – Geez, if the Star Trek franchise runners could’ve figured out how to get Lwaxana Troi onto Voyager, they’d probably have done so as well. Here, the Betazoid ambassador attempts to sink her proverbial claws Odo after he solves a case of petty theft before her eyes. The subplot has Bashir attempting to entertain three other ambassadors. Finally, O’Brien and Dax chase a life form loose on the ship. ***
18. Dramatis Personae – Red herrings about a smuggler and an exploding Klingon ship lead to the story of a – get this – purple gas being psychically taking over the Deep Space Nine crew and visitors. ***
19. Duet – When a suspicious-looking Cardassian (Is there any other kind?) arrives at the station, Kira seeks to prove he is a war criminal. Naturally, of course, the man’s identity is not so simple as all that. ***
20. In the Hands of the Prophets – Topical episode! It’s science v. religion as DS9 schoolteacher Keiko O’Brien comes under fire for explaining that aliens – not gods – live within the nearby wormhole; Sisko attempts to act as peacemaker. Odo is investigating a murder which you bet is connected to the main plot line. ***