Apr 23 2013 3:00pm

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch: “Emissary”

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine rewatch on Tor.com: Emissary“Emissary”
Written by Rick Berman & Michael Piller
Directed by David Carson
Season 1, Episode 1
Production episode 40511-721
Original air date: January 3, 1993
Stardate: 46379.1

Station log: We start three years in the past, with the Battle of Wolf 359. Locutus of Borg—the assimilated Captain Jean-Luc Picard—requests Starfleet’s surrender. We see the battle from the POV of the first officer of the U.S.S. Saratoga, Lt. Commander Benjamin Sisko. The Saratoga’s shields are drained by the Borg, and the ship is quickly trashed. The captain is dead, and the warp core is going to go in four minutes. Sisko calls for evac, then goes to his quarters to find his young son Jake unconscious and his wife Jennifer dead. The tactical officer has to literally drag him away from Jennifer’s corpse. Sisko watches the Saratoga explode from the escape pod.

Jump ahead three years. Sisko is now a full commander and has been assigned to Station Deep Space 9 in orbit of Bajor. The Cardassian Union has withdrawn from Bajor and the provisional Bajoran government has asked the Federation’s assistance in administrating the space station. Jake isn’t thrilled about the new assignment—why can’t they live on the planet instead of some old space station?—but is placated by Sisko’s assurance that there’ll be other kids there.

The Siskos arrive and are met by Chief Miles O’Brien, transferring over from the Enterprise—which is docked at the station—to be the new chief of operations. The Cardassians trashed the joint before they left, and it’s a total mess. Priority has been to fix ship’s primary systems, which is why the Promenade is still a mess. A lot of the shop owners are packing up to leave.

Sisko encounters a Bajoran monk, who invites him into the temple. Sisko politely declines, and then we get a lengthy mysterious closeup of the monk so we all know that he’ll be important later (except he won’t, but his request will be).

O’Brien tells Sisko that Picard wants to see him. Meanwhile, Jake is not happy with their quarters—no bunk and the replicators are offline—but Sisko just tells him they have to rough it for a while, and Jake reluctantly goes along.

Reporting to ops, Sisko goes to the prefect’s office and meets his Bajoran attaché Major Kira Nerys. She has just finished arguing with one of the provisional government’s ministers, and she makes it clear that she really really really doesn’t want the Federation here, viewing them as no better than the Cardassians. She fought all her life for Bajoran independence, not Bajoran dependence. Their conversation is interrupted by a break-in, and Sisko and Kira help Odo—the chief of security and also a shapeshifter—stop two thieves. The younger of the two thieves is a Ferengi, the nephew of Quark, who owns the local gambling establishment. Quark requests that Nog be released to his custody, as they’re departing the station soon, but Sisko refuses, ordering Odo to take Nog to the brig with the other one.

The Enterprise again requests Sisko’s presence to meet with Picard, and Sisko reluctantly does so. He’s utterly hostile to Picard—and Picard recoils from Sisko’s explanation of how they “met” as if he’s been slapped—and the captain’s explanation of the commander’s assignment is tense. Sisko’s mission is to get Bajor ready for entry into the Federation. Sisko also reveals that he’s considering resigning his commission and returning to Earth, a more ideal environment to raise his son. Picard says he’ll look into a replacement.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine rewatch on Tor.com: Emissary

Sisko meets with Quark in Odo’s office. Quark wants Nog released. Sisko is willing to do so—if Quark stays. If he steps forward and says he’s sticking around, then others will follow. Without that, the Promenade becomes a ghost town. Quark is not eager—he feels the provisional government is way too provisional, and he doesn’t think he can operate under Starfleet rules—but ultimately he agrees in exchange for Nog’s freedom. Sisko plays him like a two-dollar banjo, and Odo admits to Quark that at first he had thought he wasn’t going to like him.

Kira is doing cleanup work on the Promenade. Sisko jumps in to help, making it clear to Kira that he’s more than happy to get his hands dirty. Kira says that Quark is right about the government. The only person who could unite the factions is Kai Opaka, the Bajoran spiritual leader, but she lives in seclusion. However, right after this, the monk shows up. Opaka has invited Sisko to Bajor to meet with her.

Opaka—after grabbing Sisko’s left ear and asking him if he’s explored his pagh, or life force—brings him to a secret underground chamber. She opens a Tear of the Prophets—an orb—and suddenly Sisko is on a beach, re-living his first meeting with Jennifer. When the orb experience ends, Sisko is devastated. Opaka explains that there are nine orbs that have appeared in the sky over the past 10,000 years. The Cardassians have all the others. Opaka gives Sisko the orb and says that he must find the Celestial Temple of the Prophets before the Cardassians do, and more than once refers to him as the Emissary. She also says that he must find the temple, not for her, for Bajor, or for the Federation, but for his own pagh. (She also makes it clear that she can’t even consider trying to unite her people until the temple is found.)

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine rewatch on Tor.com: Emissary

Returning to the station, Sisko finds that Quark has indeed reopened, and the bar is going strong, with gamblers, drinkers, and musicians all cavorting along. A ship arrives with the chief medical officer and science officer. Kira takes Dr. Julian Bashir to what’s left of the infirmary. Bashir geebles to Kira about how he asked for this assignment, thrilled at the notion of “frontier medicine” in the “wilderness.” Kira slaps him down in short order, reminding him that this “wilderness” is her home. Bashir thumphers a bit before Kira leaves.

Sisko takes Lieutenant Jadzia Dax, his new science officer, to the lab so she can study the orb. Dax is a Trill, a joined species, and her previous host was Sisko’s old friend Curzon Dax. To that end, Sisko calls her “old man,” and when she starts her study of the orb, it gives her a flashback, too, to when Curzon died as the Dax symbiont was implanted in her.

O’Brien takes his final walk through the Enterprise, and Picard himself beams him over to the station in a cute reversal of their usual roles.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine rewatch on Tor.com: Emissary

As soon as the Enterprise leaves, a Cardassian ship arrives commanded by Gul Dukat, who was the prefect of Bajor. He verbally fences with Sisko in the office—which had been Dukat’s office until two weeks ago—and Dukat also makes it clear that he knows Sisko visited Opaka and came back with an orb.

Dax finds a correlation among the various bits of data surrounding the orbs and thinks the temple might be in the Denorios Belt, a charged plasma field that most ships avoid like the plague, as it’s a navigation hazard. Sisko wants to investigate, but not while the Cardassians are watching. So Odo infiltrates Dukat’s ship, sabotaging their sensors while Sisko and Dax board the Runabout Rio Grande—one of three small Starfleet ships assigned to the station.

The Rio Grande explores the Denorios Belt and they suddenly find themselves in an opening in space. They disappear off of DS9’s sensors, and eventually come out in the Idran system—which is in the Gamma Quadrant, 70,000 light-years from Bajor. It seems to be a wormhole, though it behaves in no way like any wormhole Dax is familiar with. It might have been where the orbs came from, in which case the wormhole’s been there for ten millennia. That would make it the first stable wormhole known to exist.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine rewatch on Tor.com: Emissary

To Dax and Sisko’s surprise, the runabout slows down and lands on a Class-M planet—which should be impossible inside a wormhole. They exit the runabout; Sisko sees a barren wasteland, Dax sees a beautiful forest. Dax is changed into an orb and sent back to DS9, while Sisko communicates with—someone. They talk to him via images from his memories—Picard (as himself and as Locutus), Jake, Opaka, Jennifer, some baseball players, the Saratoga crew—and Sisko is forced to explain the concept of linear time to them, as they apparently exist in all times. The wormhole aliens do not understand linear existence at all.

Kira mounts a rescue mission on the Runabout Yangtzee Kiang, and also instructs O’Brien to move the station to the mouth of the wormhole. Bajor needs to stake a claim to this wormhole, a claim that Kira reluctantly admits will be stronger with Federation backing. However, Dukat’s headed to the Denorios Belt also.

After Dukat’s ship goes through the wormhole, the aliens close it before the Yangtzee Kiang can enter it. The aliens are furious at the constant intrusions. Sisko uses baseball to explain his existence—you throw a pitch not knowing what will happen. The aliens don’t get how they can revel in their ignorance of what will come, but Sisko explains that that defines human existence. But the aliens still don’t understand why Sisko “exists” in one particular “place,” that being the memory of Jennifer’s death on the Saratoga. Sisko insists he wants to be somewhere else, but the aliens say that he keeps leading them there. He watches as the tactical officer dragged him away from Jennifer’s corpse, and Sisko finally gets it—emotionally, he never left the Saratoga. Every times he closes his eyes, he sees Jennifer’s broken body. He hasn’t figured out how to live without her—he hasn’t been able to hit that particular pitch.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine rewatch on Tor.com: Emissary

Kira returns to the station just as three Cardassian ships led by Gul Jasad want to know what happened to Dukat’s ship. Refusing to believe Kira’s wormhole story and assuming Dukat’s ship to be destroyed, Jasad demands DS9’s surrender. The Enterprise is still 20 hours away. So Kira bluffs them—O’Brien spoofs their sensors so the Cardassians think the station is heavily armed and defended, and Kira herself makes it clear that, while a Starfleet officer would admit it was a lost cause, Kira’s a Bajoran whose been fighting lost causes all her life. So bring it on....

However, Jasad refuses to believe that the station’s armed and attacks. The station is heavily damaged—but then the wormhole reopens as Sisko flies the Rio Grande through the wormhole, Dukat’s powerless ship in tow. The Cardassians withdraw after the Enterprise arrives. The aliens have agreed to allow ships safe passage through the wormhole, which suddenly makes Bajor a critical port of call. Ships will be flying through the wormhole in droves to explore the Gamma Quadrant.

Sisko meets with Picard and assures him that he won’t be resigning any time soon. Picard wishes him good luck and goes on his way back to his own show.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine rewatch on Tor.com: Emissary

Can’t we just reverse the polarity?: O’Brien uses a thoron field to block sensors knowing that the Cardassians will penetrate it and discover his duranium shadows that fake weaponry and shields far greater than they actually have.

He also has trouble beaming Odo off of Dukat’s ship, but it able to get the transporter working after kicking it. Percussive maintenance FTW!

The Sisko is of Bajor: Sisko is told by Opaka that he is the Emissary—which doesn’t get as much play in this episode as you’d think, given the title, but will become important later—and that he must find the Celestial Temple of the Prophets. He apparently does, although this episode doesn’t make it explicit that the wormhole aliens are the Prophets whom Bajorans worship.

Don’t ask my opinion next time: Sisko apparently requested a member of the Bajoran Militia to be his first officer. Kira is acerbic and unfriendly, but she also handles things expertly while Sisko is making first contact, moving the station to the wormhole mouth and holding off the Cardassians until Sisko’s return. It’s obvious that she got this assignment because of its distance from Bajor itself, as she disagrees with the provisional government on most things, so they sent her into orbit.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine rewatch on Tor.com: Emissary

The slug in your belly: This is Sisko’s first time meeting the new host of the Dax symbiont, Jadzia. The orb shows us the last moments of the previous host, Curzon—Sisko’s old friend—and the implantation of the symbiont into Jadzia.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine rewatch on Tor.com: Emissary

Rules of Acquisition: Quark is all set to leave the station as he fears the provisional government won’t last a month, and “when governments fall, people like me are lined up and shot.” But he does stick around in order to get Nog out of jail.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine rewatch on Tor.com: Emissary

For Cardassia! Dukat wastes no time in returning to his old stomping grounds to remind Sisko that he’s nearby and that his intelligence sources on Bajor are still quite good, mentioning that he knows that Sisko visited Opaka and brought an orb back. It’s clear that withdrawing from Bajor was not his idea and occurred over his objection.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine rewatch on Tor.com: Emissary

Preservation of mass and energy is for wimps: Odo changes his face to its liquid state in order to not be hit in the face with a flail. Later, he changes into a bag that Cardassian winnings are put into so he can infiltrate Dukat’s ship.

No sex, please, we’re Starfleet: Bashir awkwardly asks Dax out on a date as they board the station to Sisko’s amusement and Kira’s disgust. Speaking of Kira’s disgust, Quark tries to hit on her; her threatening refusal only turns him on more. Sisko met his future wife on a beach shortly after he graduated Starfleet Academy; he was taking lemonade to some friends, but the sand was too hot on his bare feet and he took refuge on Jennifer’s blanket. Later, he proposed to her while on a picnic in the park where little kids were playing.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine rewatch on Tor.com: Emissary

Keep your ears open: “This’ll be perfect! Real frontier medicine!”

“Frontier medicine?”

“Major, I had my choice of any job in the fleet.”

“Did you?”

“I didn’t want some cushy job or research grant. I wanted this! The farthest reaches of the galaxy, one of the most remote outposts available. This is where the adventure is, this is where heroes are made—right here, in the wilderness.”

“This ‘wilderness’ is my home.”

“I—I didn’t mean—”

“The Cardassians left behind a lot of injured people, Doctor. You can make yourself useful by bringing some of your Federation medicine to the natives. Oh, you’ll find them a friendly, simple folk.”

Bashir being an arrogant, pompous ass and Kira taking the piss out of him.

Welcome aboard: The big guest star, of course, is Sir Patrick Stewart as Captain Picard (and also Locutus of Borg). Just as DeForrest Kelley appeared in TNG’s “Encounter at Farpoint” to pass the torch, and just as Armin Shimerman will appear in Voyager’s “Caretaker” to do likewise, Stewart shows up here to give Sisko his mission.

In addition, several folks show up in what will become recurring roles: Marc Alaimo, playing his second Cardassian, Gul Dukat (having played the first-ever Cardassian, Gul Macet, in TNG’s “The Wounded”); Camille Saviola as Kai Opaka, Bajor’s religious leader; Aron Eisenberg as Quark’s nephew Nog; and Max Grodénchik as “Ferengi pit boss,” a role that will solidify in a couple of episodes as Rom, Nog’s father and Quark’s brother (Grodénchik previously played two other Ferengi in “Captain’s Holiday” and “The Perfect Mate” on TNG). Also, Felecia M. Bell plays Sisko’s wife Jennifer, a role she’ll return to (kind of) in “Through the Looking Glass” and “Shattered Mirror.”

The captain of the Saratoga is credited to John Noah Hertzler, better known as J.G. Hertzler, who will later return as General Martok (among other roles). April Grace reprises her role from TNG as an Enterprise transporter chief. Majel Barrett continues to be the voice of Starfleet computers (on the starships and runabouts), but the space station computer voice is done by Judi Durand. (The show will continue to use both actors, Barrett for all Starfleet computers, Durand for all Cardassian ones.)

Trivial matters: Just like every other Trek spinoff pilot episode, “Emissary” was novelized. Emissary was written by J.M. Dillard (who also novelized six of the eleven films, and would go on to novelize the Enterprise season-spanning two-parter “The Expanse” and “The Xindi”). Dillard was able to include other members of the Enterprise crew beyond Picard to say goodbye to O’Brien. There are also several scenes with O’Brien’s wife Keiko, which were cut from this script but will be seen in “A Man Alone.”

The teaser takes place during TNG’s “The Best of Both Worlds, Part II,” and for the first time dramatizes the Battle of Wolf 359. The rest of the episode takes place between the TNG episodes “Chain of Command, Part II” (which set this series up to an extent, establishing that the Cardassians had pulled out of the Bajoran sector) and “Ship in a Bottle.”

O’Brien references the Setlik III massacre, established in “The Wounded.” O’Brien’s past experiences against the Cardassians will continue to be a recurring theme on the show.

During the Cardassian attack on the station, Bashir instructs Odo to put pressure on a wound while Odo thumphers a bit—this is a callback to a similar scene in the 1970 movie MASH, where Rene Auberjonois played Father Mulchahy and was asked by one of the doctors to put pressure on a wound.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine rewatch on Tor.com: Emissary

All the Bajorans we see in this episode wear earrings on their right ears, and a religious ritual we see performed is the grabbing of the left ear. This is mostly notable because Ro Laren on TNG wore her earring on her left ear, which will later on be established as being the tradition of the Pah-wraith cult who are opposed to the Prophets. The novel Avatar Book 1 by S.D. Perry would establish that Ro is not a Pah-wraith cultist (as some fans thought might be the case), but rather she just wore it on the other ear so vedeks would stop yanking her lobe.

Armin Shimerman’s prosthetic nose wasn’t ready in time for shooting, so his nose looks different from how it will look in every other episode. He was using Max Grodénchik’s nose, making his face look much flatter.

The crew of the Saratoga and Sisko’s time aboard her is explored in more depth in the novel Saratoga by Michael Jan Friedman (who did a similar thing with Picard’s time on the Stargazer in the novel Reunion). The captain of the ship was identified in that novel as Saros, though the Dillard novelization Emissary and the short story “Requital” by Michael A. Martin & Andy Mangels in Tales of the Domininon War named him Storil, and the videogame Crossroads of Time called him Sutik. The tactical officer was named Hranok in the Emissary novelization and Zar in Saratoga; your humble rewatcher solved that particular conflict in the eBook Enterprises of Great Pitch and Moment by saying his full name was Hranok Zar.

Walk with the Prophets: “Commander, please enter—the Prophets await you.” On the one hand, this works nicely as a pilot episode, introducing the new characters fairly well, establishing the status quo and setting everything up nicely. On the other hand, as a story, it doesn’t have much life to it.

The most compelling parts of the episode are where we get to know who these people are. Some of these work better than others, of course. Bashir and Odo in particular are basically given long speeches explaining their characters, a classic case of telling when we should be shown it, but there isn’t really much of an opportunity for the latter. (Amusingly, Bashir’s character infodump does more to illuminate Kira’s character than Bashir’s.)

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine rewatch on Tor.com: Emissary

Sisko in particular is very obviously different from the other two Trek commanders we’ve seen, in part because he’s a family man. Kirk and Picard were very much above-it-all-type commanders—lamented by Kirk in “The Naked Time” and Picard in Star Trek Generations—but Sisko spent his entire career married and most of it also with a kid. His relationship with Jake in the present and Jennifer in his memories makes him a very compelling character. His manipulation of Quark is very entertaining, and the slow burn in his first scene with Picard is devastating. Avery Brooks is maddeningly inconsistent, though. He handles quiet anger, amusement, and affection superbly. Every scene with Cirroc Lofton’s Jake conveys a strong father-son bond (which would become one of the show’s most compelling features), and the two scenes with Sir Patrick Stewart are magnificent (it’s only a pity these two fine actors weren’t given another opportunity to be on screen together). Stronger emotions, though, tend to trip him up—neither his screams to not leave Jennifer at the beginning of the episode nor the catharsis he undergoes when watching that happen at the climax are especially convincing. Ditto his breakdown after the first orb experience. There’s also this odd head tilt he does that just seems like a bizarre affectation.

The race to the Celestial Temple is also unconvincing. These things have been around for 10,000 years, but now everyone’s in a rush to find it? It just seems horribly constructed, an excuse to put the pieces in place.

The main characters work well. After the idealized humans of TNG, it’s a refreshing change to have characters with a bit more acid in them. Kira and Odo both introduce themselves to Sisko as obnoxiously as possible—the former by snottily declaring that he probably wants the office, the latter by angrily asking, “Who the hell are you?”—and Quark has to be blackmailed to stay. And even the Starfleet officers have their facets: Sisko has to raise a son in this mess, O’Brien has to in essence rebuild the station from scratch (his arguing with the computer is great fun, as is his percussive maintenance on the transporter), Bashir is a naïf who gets off on the wrong foot with almost everyone, and Dax is the latest in a long line of people who’ve lived a single and dual life at the same time.

Surprisingly, given how compelling they would become, Dukat and Opaka don’t make much of an impression here. Marc Alaimo mostly just gets to sneer a lot; Dukat will get so much development in seven years (not all of it good, but still) that it’s a surprise to see how lifeless he is here. He makes no more or less an impression than Joel Swetow as Jasad, both of them twirling their mustaches as generic baddies. As for Camille Saviola, she bring gravitas to the role of Opaka, but all the kai does in this episode is speak in that cryptic way that TV writers think religious figures should speak in and contrive an excuse for Sisko to find the wormhole.

Still and all, this story does set the show up well, even if the actual plot leaves a bit to be desired.


Warp factor rating: 6

Keith R.A. DeCandido has written a bunch of DS9 fiction, among them the novel Demons of Air and Darkness, the short novel Ferenginar: Satisfaction is Not Guaranteed in Worlds of DS9 Volume 3, the novella “Horn and Ivory” in What Lay Beyond, the second portion of the crossover series The Brave and the Bold, the short story “Broken Oaths” in Prophecy and Change, the TNG/DS9 crossover eBook Enterprises of Great Pitch and Moment (part of theSlings and Arrows miniseries), the DS9/Starfleet Corps of Engineers crossover eBook Cold Fusion (reprinted in the collection Miracle Workers), and has also worked DS9 elements into several other novels, stories, and eBooks, because he’s just that crazy.

jeff hendrix
2. templarsteel
i liked DS9 it was a fun show but a depture from TNG in the first two seasons. On a side note DS9 was on before B5 on my fox provider
Uncle Mikey
3. Uncle Mikey
"Emissary" is, in my opinion, an example of how you can never QUITE trust Star Trek pilots.

I think "Emissary" is actually pretty good (especially when compared against "Encounter at Farpoint"), and better than a great deal of DS9's 1st and 2d seasons, which makes it deceptively good. That said, compared to how good DS9 gets LATER, Emissary is weak; but its weaknesses are the inherent weakneses of pilots. They almost have to show us certain things if only so they have an excuse to build the models and sets for later use -- an awful lot of what gets used in the first two seasons of a show is built on the pilot's budget!
4. Ithilanor
Best pilot of any Trek series, easily. Most of its problems are due to the baggage of being a pilot, and having a lot to introduce - DS9's very different setting means that there's more to cover than if it was more similar to TNG/TOS. Sisko and Picard's scene is absolutely great, managing to develop both of their characters.
Also, this is, for me, probably the scariest the Borg ever get. They come in to Sisko's life, screw it up, and move on without caring or even noticing. That's the Borg at their implacable best.
Joseph Newton
5. crzydroid
I'll have to watch this one again, but in my memory, I thought his strong emotions ("Everytime I close my eyes, I see her like this!", "No, it's not linear,") were especially compelling and they sold that scene for me. In general, I think Avery Brooks is one of my favorite actors, based mainly off of his performances in later episodes, such as in season 6. I just think he does a great job of making Sisko seem like someone who doesn't take any crap from anybody, and you can believe it. On the flip side, as you said, he also plays a very good father-son dynamic.
Uncle Mikey
6. Ser Tom
And we're off!

It's a pleasure to be with you, krad, on this ride from the beginning, rather than catching it most of the way through as I did with TNG. I remember seeing this ep. when it first aired. I was quite thrilled to see the expansion of the Star Trek universe. The franchise had really hit the big time. I was intrigued by the mystery of the Prophets and the orbs. There were some very interesting hints at things to come.
Uncle Mikey
7. ChrisC
Leaves a bit to be desired indeed, but it's still the best pilot of the franchise after The Man Trap (Torie rating 4); Encounter at Farpoint (krad rating 4) and Broken Bow taking a dump over established canon from the get go! Voyager's Caretaker comes close for backstory efficiency (will we see a future krad rating?); but come on - wolf 359 battle, Picard handing the torch over to the main character, instead of Quark chatting with the supporting cast - Emissary nails it.
Uncle Mikey
8. Xander
Long-time reader, first time poster!

A little nugget of trivia, in case you didn't know: when the episode was broadcast in two separate parts, the wormhole opening at the end of the start credits did not happen on episode one. Like in the series itself, it didn't appear on the credits until it appeared on screen.
David Levinson
9. DemetriosX
This was a very good introduction to most of the characters and generally where it misses has more to do with the characters not being fully developed yet or the actors not being fully integrated with who these people are. Avery Brooks was something of a revelation. I only knew him as Hawk from the Spenser for Hire and A Man Called Hawk series and wasn't sure what to expect. I always liked Hawk but he certainly didn't seem like Starfleet material.

Still, it was a good start and presented a lot of questions that, admittedly, I didn't really expect them to answer or to have even thought about. I was stunned when they actually knew where Odo came from and how his origin fit together with everything else. Long arc storytelling had never really been a part of the Trek universe (except for the Klingon arc in TNG) so it was a surprise to find it here. I think that may be another reason a lot of people thought Paramount had appropriated JMS' B5 pitch.
Christopher Bennett
10. ChristopherLBennett
I disagree about "Emissary," Keith -- I think it's the best Trek pilot of all, and one of the best television pilots in general. Most pilots -- at least for modern shows with continuity -- are mostly just setup, a beginning that sets arcs and relationships in motion but doesn't really resolve much else. So they can be unsatisfying except as parts of a bigger whole. But "Emissary" works very well as a self-contained story. Its main character goes through a complete emotional arc with a real resolution, something that changes him in a meaningful way, while also serving as a setup for a continuing series. I've always thought that was a superb piece of plotting on the late Michael Piller's part.

It also has a mostly superb cast and production values -- I love Dennis McCarthy's score, and the Promenade is one of the most amazing sets ever built. I disagree about Avery Brooks's performance here; I always found it fascinating and compelling. I love his vocal delivery in those emotional scenes you mentioned. Sure, it felt a little stagey, like he hadn't yet internalized the character and was falling back on technique to convey the emotion, but he just used his voice so brilliantly, like he was almost singing the lines. As with so much of what William Shatner does, you could tell it was an actor giving a performance, but it was a really skillful and well-crafted performance and I admired the artistry of it.

There were a couple of casting bits I wasn't so happy with. I didn't think much of Nana Visitor's performance here; to me her manner came off more as annoyed soap-opera diva than battle-hardened terrorist. I didn't get the feel from her that she was someone who'd lived through the kind of hell and hardship that Kira was supposed to have faced; her performance was just too shallow. She certainly got better over time, but in "Emissary" she just hadn't found the character yet.

I was also very disappointed in Felecia Bell as Jennifer. It seemed she was cast only for looks rather than talent. She was gorgeous, but her personality came off as so bland that you couldn't see any reason why Sisko would love her so deeply. They should've cast more for strength of character and screen presence than just how good she looked in a bikini. Bell got better in her return appearances, but never felt like she was an ideal choice for the role.

I think my favorite scene was the baseball sequence in the wormhole, Sisko's speech about why humanity explores. It was a classic bit of Trek philosophy, but delivered in a fresh way, and tying into Sisko's emotional story too. Plus McCarthy's musical cue in the scene, "Passage Terminated," is just beautiful.

As for why everyone was suddenly looking for the wormhole, I think the Cardassians were only looking for it because they realized Starfleet was looking for it. They sensed that Sisko was after something that could be of strategic value to possess, and they wanted it first.

It's always bugged me that the show never explained the Bajoran ear-grabbing thing. Do they actually have some kind of touch telepathy, or is it just that the religious leaders believe they can read a person's pagh by grabbing their ear? The show never made that clear, though later seasons did pretty much imply that it was a real ability. But if so, what is its nature?

In "Can't we reverse the polarity?" you left out my favorite technical trick: using a low-level warp field to reduce the station's inertial mass so it would be easier to accelerate. This is basically how impulse engines work according to the TNG Technical Manual, and was also the basis for the sublight drive in Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda, which was developed by DS9 veteran Robert Hewitt Wolfe. I'm not sure it would really work, though, since the reaction mass would also have its mass reduced by the warp field, and upon leaving the field its mass would return to normal and its velocity would drop commensurately, removing any benefit from the thrust. It could work if the thrusters were outside the mass-reduction field, but that wasn't what was shown here.

And shouldn't Odo's category say "Conservation of mass and energy" rather than "Preservation?" I've never before heard the latter used in that context.

And what the heck is thumphering, anyway?
Erik Harrison
11. ErikHarrison
DS9 aired as my parent's marriage fell apart. I watched the first season religiously, as much because my parents (Star Trek fans, both) would let that time be sacred from arguments as for the show itself.

Then they divorced, and the TV got cancelled and I never saw what happened next. I'm going to watch along with the rewatch, but I'm going to be careful with the comments. Looks like DS9 is sufficiently serial that spoilers have more power here than in TNG.
Karen Fox
12. thepupxpert
I just re-watched the whole series on Netflix, finishing up late last year. I had re-watched TNG previously and now am on Voyager although I'm getting bogged down a bit with not enough time but still working on it. I thought about watching Enterprise next but never really got into that show and not sure I'll have the time to do that. This is so detailed thanks and I look forward to more postings.
Uncle Mikey
13. Deborah Rose
The first time I watched Emissary, I was a bit dissapointed bythe relative lack of action. Over time, I have come to appreciate how well this episode established the broad strokes of the main characters, and still leave time for their development. I liked the darker tones, and the balance of politics and religion drove the story. In a franchise which tended to ignore religion, DS 9 quickly established that religion would play a role in the lives of the characters as it does in our real world.and whatever it's flaws, it was much easier to watch than journey to far point.
All in all, I would have scored this one a bit higher, but other than that I agree with the review.
Christopher Bennett
14. ChristopherLBennett
@7: "The Man Trap" wasn't a pilot. "Pilot" doesn't just mean the first episode shown; that's a premiere. A pilot is an episode made as a "demo" to sell a series. The pilots of TOS were "The Cage" and "Where No Man Has Gone Before." "The Man Trap" was actually episode 6 in production order, but NBC chose to air it first because it had a scary monster and that's what they thought science fiction was about.

@8: There was no wormhole in the opening titles of the 2-hour version of "Emissary" either. And I always liked how the titles fit in there -- the teaser ends with our first shot of the station, then the main titles give us an extended flyover of the station, then Act 1 picks up with an exterior shot of the station, so it feels almost continuous.

@9: That perception of "long arc storytelling" with Odo is something of an illusion. At this point, they had no idea who Odo's people would turn out to be. The decision to make them who they were (to be ultracautious about spoilers) was made much later in the game.
Uncle Mikey
15. Jon Johnson (Sir)
I remember falling over my tongue when Nana Visitor made her first appearance as Kira Nerys. Practically started to watch the show just for her! Unfortunately for me, as the seasons progressed, the character's acerbic personality and scenery chewing/weighing emotional baggage made it almost impossible to overcome. Hooray for the Mirror Universe! Well, the first DS9 trip, anyhow.
Matt Hamilton
16. MattHamilton
Yes, it has it's "Ship in a Bottle" type episodes, or in this case, Station in a bottle, but it is largely serialized so yeah, watch yourself with the comments if you're watching for the first time. That being said...

...I liked Emmisary quite a bit. The look on Picard's face when he realized that, as Locutus, he had killed Sisko's wife and that Sisko had not quite worked through the grief to realize that Picard was an unwilling participant was heartbreaking and brilliantly played by Sir Patrick Stewart. WIth that, I also kind of agree that Avery Brooks' delivery is strange at times. Grief and anger he does well, very well. But other things come out as if he's playing to a room of people and kind of take me out of the moment. He gets much better over time and he grows into his character very well. Basically, by the time he shaves his head and grows his beard back, he's all SISKO! But I think that some of his lines in the linear explination were great and delivered well.

Marc Alaimo...I can't say enough about this man and his character. YOu're right that Dukat wasn't given enough to do in the Premier, but there was a lot to get to so I get that totally. But I love Alaimo and I love Cardassians. They are a perfect metaphor, allegory and everything and a lot can be done with them (such as in Andrew Robinson's excellent book A Stitch in Time). I also really appreciate the make up. They took their time when they created the Cardassians and they just went with it. Instead of them being a "Forehead of the Week" alien, like in so many of TNG's early years (see the original Trill for what I mean) they have a full character just in the way they are designed and they all look different, like the Klingons. They are made very well and in the hands of men like Marc Alaimo, they are played very well too.

I never, after seven years, fully appreciated Nana Visitor as Kira. I don't think that she is a terrrible actress but I don't think she is great either. I never fully believed she was a former terrorist (a word I have a huge problem with here in this series) and someone who has lived through terrible hardships either. She comes across more as a rich girl who's used to getting what she wants and suddenly finds herself in a situation where she might actually have to work for her desires. She just sort of whines and "Thrumphers" lol. I always heard that they wanted Major Kira's character to actually be Ro Laren. I don't know how true that actually is but one can kind of see how that would have worked with the type of character she is. (Much like the character of Paris in Voyager and how it was supposed to be Lacarno).

Odo is always great in my opinion. I think he is played very well though some of his story arcs over the next seven years I find to be dull but certainly not all, not even most, of them.
QUark wasn't given much to do here but what he had was great and we'll see some awesome things come form Armin Shimmerman over the next seven seasons (as he pulls double duty between DS9 and Buffy the Vampire Slayer for the first couple of years of DS9's run).

I can't wait for the rest of these rewatches. There are so many great episodes of Deep Space Nine and so many great topics that they tackled; some were very dark and very un-Trek-like! That being said, it does have a couple of the WORST episodes I have ever seen (all my opinion, obviously) but we'll get there when we get there and I'm interested to see how my opinions differ, if they do at all, from our Humble Rewatchter's as well as the rest of you guys. Can't wait! Let the journey continue...
Uncle Mikey
17. RyonCollins
DS9 is by far my favorite Trek Series. I am surprised that no one mentioned the casting of a black actor as the "captain". This continued the Trek tradition of doing things that are not normally done on TV. Here is a show without a ship, with religion, with flawed humans and an African American as the lead actor whose character also is a single dad! I'm white and I loved seeing this as a number of my black friends took great pride in seeing this. Correct me if I am wrong, but this had never happened on a Sci-Fi show.

As for the episode itself. I agree mostly with you on the negative parts. However, the negatives are few and can be dismissed by how good the series ultimately becomes. I cannot wait for CBS gives DS9 the blu-ray treatment like TNG is getting. The Pilot episode even on DVD is pretty dark and grainy. The wormhole as beautiful as it is is going to look amazing with the white glove treatment!
Uncle Mikey
18. Mac McEntire
I’ll agree that the first half of the pilot is a little clunky, and the Magical Expository Flashback Orbs are awfully convenient, but there’s a lot to enjoy here. The time-twistiness inside the wormhole blew my mind when this first aired, and I guess it still does. All the scenes in and around Quark’s bar in the pilot really hit home the old-timey “frontier town” feel, which I hadn’t recalled being so prevalent.

I remember wondering at the time if the Bajorans would have the staying power of Vulcans or Klingons, but now I can’t imagine Trek without them. You’d think Gamma Quadrant episodes would be the cool ones, but it’s the Bajor vs. Cardassians stuff that was/is the most compelling.

Also, you’ve got to love the perfect comedic timing on O’Brien’s “What shields?”
Uncle Mikey
19. Gilbetron
I love DS9, but I have to admit that I'm a bit ambivalent about the pilot. It's not bad, but it has a languid pace. I have introduced many people to DS9, but I usually skip over most of the first season (not that there aren't really good episodes along the way, many of which I personally love) in favour of showing them "Duet." That episode never fails to hook them.
Jordan DeLange
20. killtacular
Ok, I gotta agree with the last bit of 10. What IS thumphering? I googled it and basically there are only 3 (!) total hits on the internet. One to this post, another to an old TNG rewatch post, and another to Krad's book "Serenity."

Inquiring minds want to know the origin of this Kradism! :)
Alan Courchene
21. Majicou
Oh, Deep Space Nine, series of my heart.

I don't remember what my reaction was to individual characters or actors in 1993, but ultimately there wasn't anyone in the expansive DS9 cast that I hated seeing, no "Oh, not this guy again." I do know I was every bit as hooked as I had been by "Encounter at Farpoint," regardless of the relative quality of either episode to their series. Then again, I wasn't all that critical as an 11-year-old, and honestly I'm not nearly as critical (of pop culture, I mean) now as the Internet seems to assume I should be.

On a Trek-related side note, because I'm not going to read the other post, why'd they have to premiere Into Darkness so ding-dang early? Years of secrecy, and now I feel like I'm going to have to enter radio silence so some jackass doesn't spew spoilers into my eyeballs. Not Tor, of course, but it's the wilderness out there.

Oh, and "thumphering" is, uh, well, you see, it's not a--um, what I mean is that--you know, it's kind of, uh, a thing where you don't really, um, you see, yeah.

Though it is more commonly "phumpher," of apparently Yiddish origin (what a great language!)
Jordan DeLange
22. killtacular
@ (following up on)

It DOES seem to be used consistently in all three places, however (meaning something like "to awkwardly flail around in conversation" at a first guess).
Jenny Thrash
24. Sihaya
"The rest of the episode takes place between the TNG episodes “Chain of Command, Part II” (which set this series up to an extent, establishing that the Cardassians had pulled out of the Bajoran sector) and “Ship in a Bottle.”

So Picard goes from one psychological beating to the next. Troi's clearly a heckuva counselor, since he's still sane.
Keith DeCandido
25. krad
Quoth Christopher: "I disagree about 'Emissary,' Keith -- I think it's the best Trek pilot of all, and one of the best television pilots in general."

Agreed on the former, though the competition is not exactly stiff, but not so much on the latter.

It's interesting, I was expecting to be more favorably disposed toward it on rewatching it than I wound up being. It's a good introduction to the characters and setting, but it's a really terrible story. I honestly hadn't remembered that the plot was this much weak tea.

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Shelly wb
26. shellywb
My problem with the pilot is that they tried so hard to make the characters dark and different that they included very little that I liked about them, and with a bad first impression many really didn't grow on me. Did they have their senses of humor surgically removed as a condition of working there? (How could anyone take the joy out of a tribbles episode? That was painful to watch...)

I also think Avery Brooks' acting is very odd. Half the time I have no idea what he's trying to convey. I do like his interactions with Jake though. Those are one thing I do like about the series.

I watching season 5 now. I'll see this through to the end, if only to complete all the ST series. But I do think it's getting better. I'm looking forward to reading your takes on the episodes.
Christopher Bennett
27. ChristopherLBennett
@26: Wow. I thought DS9 was the funniest Trek show since TOS. It had a great sense of humor, though it sometimes took it too far.
Uncle Mikey
28. Kasiki
The trouble I had with DS9 is simply the differences from TNG. This was the fist Star Trek Series I got to watch from its start. As an adult, I can understand the things needed to differentiate it from the past while still having options for the future, but 20 years ago, and still not a teen, they were tough things to overcome. I am not sure if it was a belssing or curse that TNG was still on. Standards were high, characters had developed on TNG to much fan support, and now a new show had to try to match it practically imediately.

One of the best moves in the episode borders on the cliche in that by moving O'Brian from Enterprise to DS9 there was a little anchor/ emotional investment from one show to the other( at least enough to get the ball rolling a little quicker). And because it was a recuring character being upgraded to a primary character, the status quo on TNG stayed the same.
Uncle Mikey
29. TBonz
Love this series. Came close to dethroning the original series as my favorite, instead it became a very close second.

I loved that it wasn't so goody-goody as TNG was. And some of the secondary characters were just plain outstanding.

Kira Nerys is the Trek character most like myself and I'm still steamed that Hallmark never did an ornament for her.

DS9 was dark, but it could be funny as hell. It will be a blast reading these reviews. I must get my DVD player hooked up (new residence) so I can watch before each review.
Uncle Mikey
30. Mea
Loved learning the detail about the computer voices.

Interesting to read the more critical perspective of authors in the franchise talking about plotting weaknesses, but as someone who doesn't have to think too critically about plotting a story (and who went back to watch season one after realizing I had seen later episodes but not the beginning) my reaction was pure enjoyment. I was focused on seeing the characters meet eachother and I loved it.

On whether Nana Visitor makes a convincing case for what her character has experienced: the thing that always throws me in real life is when I learn a shocking backstory and am flummoxed by how the mild mannered well fed suburban person doesn't at all display the past trauma they have experienced (I am particularly thinking of refugees I tutored who would just FLOOR me with their stories). So having Kira flash statements about her past but not particularly display it in her daily behavior matches my understanding of (some) people in the world. Also, a tough woman character who doesn't prance around in silly outfits and ridiculous heels - SO loving that cleavage is not on display and that she gets to snark at Bashir in episode one. Love it.

And interesting that the Odo storyline wasn't figured out.
Uncle Mikey
31. Patrick Depew
I stumbled upon the TNG rewatch quite by accident through a link on Wikipedia. That was late last year when I had decided to begin my own watch of the series since I realized it was on Netflix and I had probably not seen all of the episodes. By the time that rewatch finished, I had almost eclipsed it, but I intentionally stalled so that I would not.

One thing I did begin to do while still watching TNG was to also begin watching DS9 due to the few crossover appeareances that happened on TNG. I finished TNG last month, but as it is I'm now already well into season 3 of DS9. I'm just going to end up ahead of the game this time, I suppose.

With all that being said, I really enjoyed the TNG rewatch and am certain I'll enjoy this one as well.

As for "Emissary," I found it pretty standard as far as pilots were concerned. A lot of "here are the characters and here are their defining characteristics." I felt that the only character who wasn't clearly defined in this episode was Dax, and maybe that was intentional due to the nature of her species.

The scenes that I enjoyed the most in this episode, unfortunately, dealt with Picard. The first scene between he and Sisko is extremely tense and uncomfortable. Frankly, it always bothered me how Sisko treated Picard. I understand you lost your wife, but Picard can't really be held accountable for that. It's not like he acted willingly at Wolf 359. I remember watching this when it first aired, I was 12 at the time, and I really wanted Worf or Riker to burst into the room and slap Sisko around. It's a bit of a shame that Picard never reappeared on DS9. It would have been interesting to see how their relationship might have developed. I feel that even if Picard saved Sisko and Jake's lives 50 times over Sisko would still resent Picard eternally.

The other scene I really liked was Picard coming into the transporter room to beam away O'Brien. I thought it was a touching, well-played scene that reinforced O'Brien's importance to the Enterprise even though he was just a recurring character there. O'Brien has always been one of my favorite Trek characters, so getting such an appreciation from his Captain was a pretty big deal.

I always liked the dynamic between Sisko and Jake. I've always found parental relationships on most TV shows to be tricky. I never once doubted that these two were father and son, however. This was one of the things I felt they got right from the beginning.

Overall I found this episode interesting in its premise. Frankly, I've always found the prophets stuff to be a little tedious but I felt that at least they gave you an idea of what their relevance was supposed to be.

I think DS9's first season ends up being a little strong than TNG's first season, but the growing pains are still evident in DS9, too. Why else would you have recurring TNG characters like Q, Vash, Lursa, B'etor, Lwaxana appear if not to remind people what show they're watching?

Definitely looking forward to this rewatch playing out to see if my feelings about the episodes match Krad's.
Uncle Mikey
32. Ashcom
DS9 was always my favourite of the ST series, but for some reason I've never gone back to it. I started my rewatch a while ago, and have been surprised as I've always advised people, if they watch it, that if Sisko's head is bald it will be a good one but if he has hair it might be a bit dodgy. However, rewatching, I think I misjudged the early series, there are some dodgy episodes but in general it's much better than I remember it being.

I remember though, when it started, being relieved by the nature of the characters, the pettiness and backbiting, the obvious fact that they had their own agendas. These felt more like real people, like the kind of people I know, than the "goody-two-shoes" TNG crew. Even Dr Bashir, who makes one of the most irritating first appearances of any major TV character and doesn't get much better for a while. Because let's face it, in any group dynamic you find yourself in, there is always going to be at least one person who bugs the hell out of you.

Lastly I would just like to mention that as well as being my favourite of the series, DS9 has far and away the best credits sequence. The slow, sweeping shots of the station, the station design itself, and the slightly portentous music, give a real sense of how different from other ST this will be.
Uncle Mikey
33. Athersgeo
I tend to agree with you, Keith; the plot of Emisary is extremely weak, but, for all that, it's one of my go-to episodes of DS9 because while the plot is weak, the characters are really strong and engaging.

The one thing that frustrates me (and it frustrated me as a 15 year old when I watched its premiere so this isn't a revalation that hit me as an adult!) is just how frelling long it takes Sisko to figure out what the Prophets mean when they keep taking him back to the Saratoga. It's the one piece of the episode that makes me want to shake the character and ask how dim are you?!! Granted, the episode would have been rather shorter if he HAD figured it out quickly, but........

I also tend to agree with you about Avery Brooks' acting. I'm not someone who's generally hypercritical, but there is definitely something unconvincing (overdone?) about his screams as he's dragged away from Jennifer in the opening prologue. It's something that definitely improves both as the season and the series goes on, but here it does jar a little.

Lastly, the thing I love above all about all the characters (Starfleet or not; human or not) is that none of them are perfect. They've got spots on the characters and blind spots and I knew, watching Emissary when it first aired, I was going to absolutely love this show. I liked TNG (which is why I sat down to watch the DS9 premiere), but this was a show I could love.
34. soupytwist
I remember being completely "oh woah, yeah, of course" at the idea that Sisko wouldn't see Picard as the hero and good guy that I did. It's one of those things where I intellectually knew that that would be the case, but the people that Locutus hurt weren't nearly as immediate to me, so having one of those people be the captain really made me sit up and take notice. I loved it. And his relationship with Jake is just lovely and so believable! Much more believable than the romance flashbacks themselves, I thought - not that the romance is the point, so it's fairly easy to handwave, especially as it's not the worst ever as far as that goes.

I am also kind of astonished at how much I ended up liking Bashir, cause wow, initially he really is such an annoying jackass! I was entirely on Kira's side on that. (I am really glad I ended up liking him, though, he's a great character.)

Also, I love Rom kind of a lot and I am really glad they ended up doing more with him than this implies. Even though it ends up making Quark's complaints about his brother being stupid look, well, stupid. I mostly choose to think he was just being an ass while saying that. :)
Chris Nash
35. CNash
And so it begins! I'm very happy to be watching along with you on this; DS9 has always been one of my favourite TV series, and it's been a long time since I've watched it all in order.

Now, "Emissary". I agree that it doesn't have a particularly strong story - it's all setup for the series' future plot elements, like the Orbs, the wormhole, the aliens/prophets - but what always captivates me about this episode is the character moments. The first half of the story is all about introductions, and each of the principal cast gets something to do - although Dax and Bashir aren't really given a spotlight here, and Odo's scenes are great at setting out his personality ("Who the hell are you?!") but a painful case of "tell" rather than "show" with his backstory. We start to get a sense of who each of these characters are; this (in my experience) is uncommon in other pilots, which tend to focus on a single "main" character and pick up on the rest in later episodes.

Sisko, as Christopher said, undergoes a complete, self-contained character arc. He starts off angry at the world, unable to move on from Wolf 359 but determined to make the best of it for the sake of his son, then as the episode goes on and he gets to know the people on DS9, we can see his initial trepidation about taking the assignment start to fade... and then his experience with the wormhole aliens (though overlong and repetitive - I was getting sick of Sisko saying "As humans, we do X" and the aliens replying "X? What is X?"; it felt a bit like padding) helps him accept Jennifer's death and start to move on. I've always enjoyed Avery Brooks's acting; he does have a tendency to overact somewhat with emotional scenes, but his overall portrayal of Sisko is of a passionate man who's normally reserved and thoughtful, but not afraid to show the depths of his emotions - very different from the previous Trek captains.

There's probably a lot more I can say about "Emissary" - I know I had a lot more thoughts on the episode while I was watching it - but I don't want to ramble on too much. Next up is "Past Prologue"; I look forward to rewatching it!
Jason Parker
36. tarbis
Most of the problems with "Emissary" come from being a pilot. The actors don't know their characters (see Brooks overacting), the writers don't know where the characters are going, tone needs to be set, and a thousand plot elements need to be introduced. "Emissary" does it better than most, but still suffers from all of those problems.

What this episode did well is set up DS9's themes, differences, and similarities from the parent series. The themes of consequences and facing both past and future are hammered home by the first meeting with Picard (What Jean Luc thought bygones would be bygones after Wolf 359?), Bajorian politics, and the nature of the wormhole aliens. Difficulties between characters is a major difference from previous series and is foregrounded by having most of the initial conversations turn into some version of "go screw yourself." However the episode also makes it clear that you are still watching Star Trek by including some Kirk-like cheating and explaining humanity to truly alien beings.

Overall I consider it to be a success and even the parts that didn't work so well were fixed by the end of the first season.
Uncle Mikey
37. Tony Caselli
I loved the TNG Rewatch, and am even more excited for this DS9 Rewatch! I have to say, I was a little unsure when this show first aired, and I watched the first handful of episodes and it didn't grab me and become "must see tv", so I drifted away for a bit. Maybe a year later I started watching again, and was hooked for good. I was amazed that, over the course of the series, DS9 became my favorite of all the Trek tv shows (Despite my love for TOS and TNG)!

Glad you're still here and doing these rewatches, Keith! (And even though I'd never heard of anyone "thumphering" before, I knew exactly what it meant the second I read it. Love it, I'm totally stealing it! *grin*)
alastair chadwin
38. a-j
Agreed that 'Emissary' is by far the best Trek pilot, though as krad points out above, the competition isn't particularly strong.
I love the story though the 'what is linear time' stuff does end up sounding too much like the kind of 'what is this thing you call love' dialogue that '50s SF films are accused of having.
The Sisko/Picard argument is, I reckon, a masterclass in television acting. Watch Patrick Stewart's shock then growing irritation and final serious discomfort when he realises he has accused a fellow officer of planning deliberate dereliction of duty. Watch Avery Brooks burning contempt and loathing of the man who killed his wife. And never once do they raise their voices or their hands. A joy to watch and (discuss?) the best acted scene in the whole Trek franchise.
Am I right in thinking that this was Terry Farrell's (Dax) first acting role? If so, she is surprisingly good especially, as Memory Prime tells us, she arrived 11 days after the rest of the cast and so mangled her dialogue that she hoped to be sacked.
The only bit of pilotitis that sticks out for me is the clumsy Odo speech about the mystery of his origins. Otherwise I liked the way the characters were introduced though Bashir is played as too irritating and I did wonder why a fairly minor posting (science officer to a station with a primarily political purpose, to get Bajor in the Federation) should be given to an officer with 300 years of experience. I also noted the 'the orbs have been appearing for 10,000 years but no-one's looked at that bit of space before' as distinctly clumsy.
Still, great things to come.
Chin Bawambi
39. bawambi
Nice work Keith. I was able to stay fresh with TSG because one of the few things my cable does well is show a lot of Trek. However, I might have to break down and buy a lot of Blu-Ray of the various series to stay up with the reviews this time.
Christopher Bennett
40. ChristopherLBennett
@38: No, it wasn't Terry Farrell's acting debut, not by a long shot. She'd been acting on TV and film for a full decade before DS9. Her first notable role was as a regular in the short-lived 1984 series Paper Dolls, a nighttime soap about the modeling industry, where she played one of the featured models (building on her real-life modeling experience). Other notable roles include the Anne Francis character in the 1986 Twilight Zone's remake of the original's "The After Hours"; the Cat in the second failed pilot for an American adaptation of Red Dwarf (though I believe it was just a short concept film rather than a full pilot episode); the title character in Quantum Leap's fourth-season finale "A Leap for Lisa"; and the female lead in Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth in 1992, just months before DS9.

Didn't Dax get the DS9 posting because Sisko requested her? And while she was essentially 300-plus years old, she didn't have that much experience as a Starfleet officer. Most of her prior hosts were civilians.
Tom Voss
41. BelterTom
The Picard Sisko argument was a great signal early on that things were going to be different on DS9. I am really looking forward to this rewatch as DS9 has been the Star Trek series I rewatched the most previously. Hopefully, that means I will have a few relevant things to say along the way.

I sort of loved the Bashir introduction because throughout TNG I got the sense that a lot of starfleet officers had this sense of superiority. We in the federation are superior and out roughing it with these rustics. The reality being that that those rustics all have their own fully developed societies and do not see themselves that way. Watching Bashir get disabused of his notions throughout the series is always a treat.
Keith DeCandido
42. krad
Patrick Depew: You should read my TNG: Slings and Arrows eBook Enterprises of Great Pitch and Moment. :) That teams Picard and Sisko up in a story that takes place just prior to First Contact and "Rapture," and has the two captains working together to try to convince Gowron to re-ally with the Federation. I addressed some of the issues you bring up regarding those two characters.

a-j & Christopher: It wasn't that it was Farrell's first acting gig, as Christopher explained, but rather that she was a last-minute add-on to the cast. The original intent was to have the character eventually seen in the episode "Melora" be the science officer, but it proved too difficult to budget for that character. They managed it for the one episode, but couldn't make it work as a regular, so they went with a Trill instead.

Amusing, actually, that two characters who were last-minute additions to the cast -- Dax and Worf -- wound up a couple... :)

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Uncle Mikey
43. shellywb
@27, there are a couple of characters that I think are quite witty, particularly among the Cardassians, and Dax, but overall I get the same feeling I had from Battlestar Galactica: that the characters lost their senses of humor somewhere along the way. That leads me to wonder if Ron Moore just isn't comfortable with that being an integral part of the lives of the characters on his shows. Or maybe he just knows it's not his forte because when he does try it, at least on the episodes I've seen, it tends to fall miserably flat. Joss Whedon is my idea of someone who melds dark/serious and light very well.
Uncle Mikey
44. Tesh
Regarding Avery Brooks' acting, I remember reading an interview with him where he seemed pretty peeved about the part. He thought it absurd that he was floundering in front of a bluescreen with CG aliens when his not-too-far-removed ancestors were impoverished slaves. He just seemed like an angry, bitter man. (Which seems to be an influence in-universe later on when Benny shows up.) That works for the part, I guess, but it also might explain some of his disinterest in some of the less angry parts of Sisko's life, and his focus on his ancestry might be part of why the Ben/Jake relationship works as well as it does. Family is important (and key to my favorite episode of the series).
Uncle Mikey
45. Codefox
I've always called TNG my favorite science fiction show ever. During the rewatch I'm not sure that I thought that it completely stood the test of time as well but when it was great, it was truely other-worldly.

DS9 feels more mature from the outset. I never did finish the final season growing up since I was going away to college at the time so that interrupted my final season of watching 8) But as a pilot, Emissary blows away what TOS and TNG gave us. Though it will be interesting to see if I think the closure at the end of DS9 is superior to the closure of TNG. I think the pilot of TNG is elevated by its grand finale.

The scenes with Picard and Wolf 359 are still amazing to me. The effects aged pretty well and seeing that battle is pretty chilling. For me, since I ignore Voyager as part of my personal canon and the movies all were at best mediocre, the Borg is what they were in TNG. Scary and alien. They were really one of the most alien races ever conceived for Trek. This was really the last time we ever see the Borg as the scary, unbeatable menace.

The Emissary story itself was and still is pretty neat to me just because it goes so far afield from standard Trek. Religious aspects of Star Trek? I also thought the wormhole aliens were cool...instead of being like the Q which were timeless and omniscient, these were aliens that couldn't even comprehend our existence.

I'm looking forward to this rewatch...I never saw any of DS9 again after the show ended.
Christopher Bennett
46. ChristopherLBennett
@44: Did they really have any CG aliens on DS9 other than Changelings? The overwhelming majority were Michael Westmore makeup creations.
Uncle Mikey
47. Tesh
@46 That struck me as odd as well. *shrug* Maybe I'm remembering the interview incorrectly. It was in print, but I can't find record of it at the moment.
Christopher Bennett
48. ChristopherLBennett
@47: Well, people these days tend to use "CGI" as a synecdoche for all special effects, which aggravates me no end.
Rich Bennett
49. Neuralnet
Wow, I distinctly remember watching this premier with a bunch of fellow grad students and spouses that were all Trek fans. I remember everyone, myself included, loving the scene between Sisko and Picard. It was so refreshing to see someone hate on Picard a little bit, and I think we were all a bit surpirsed when we releaized that there may be a whole group of starfleet people out there that dont like Picard since they remember him as Locutus and associate him with friends/family dying.

I loved the idea of a mix of families, random aliens and star fleet personel on the show. I think you could see the potential for the Quark character/bar scene right away. Everyone was excited to see the O'Brien character developed more since he seemed like a throwback to Scotty.

other random thoughts... My friends and I all hated the doctor at first. And I remember everyone not really knowing what to make of this whole Emissary/prophets business. I am pretty sure when I first saw this episode that I figured it was just a way to set up finding the worm hole and would never come up again - LOL
Uncle Mikey
50. Tesh
@48 I hear you. My college degree is in Pixar-style computer animation and movie making. I've heard a LOT of misunderstanding of the process.
Mike Kelmachter
51. MikeKelm
In a way DS9 was a huge risk for the Star Trek Universe, because simply put nobody is boldly going anywhere. They're literally sitting on a space station at the edge of Federation space and there aren't any strange new worlds to go find. But what this show had that neither the original series nor the Next Gen had was conflict. There was conflict amongst the characters in spades. The commander doesn't want to be there, the first officer doesn't like the commander, the security officer doesn't like anyone. Because we aren't in the Federation, there is an economy and some do better than others. There's a Ferengi bartender who is the security officer's nemesis and always has a scheme going on. The ops officer has a pissed off wife. The only people happy to be here are Dax, who just seems like she'd be happy anywhere, and Bashir, who is a naif who thinks this is a big adventure.

If the Enterprise was the pinnacle of the big shiny, happy fleet, this is probably what normal Starfleet duty is.
Uncle Mikey
52. tigeraid
So happy to see this rewatch, really looking forward to it.

I can recall as a kid, recording this episode on VHS, and watching the chilling opening sequence with the Saratoga explode over and over. Avery Brooks' acting job still sticks with me.
Uncle Mikey
53. tigeraid
Also, I'm looking forward to seeing everyone's thoughts on Kira's character development through the show. She is my favourite all-time Trek character, with "Duet" starting that love affair off for me. But I get the feeling others don't like her, and still others find her annoying. Shame.
Christopher Bennett
54. ChristopherLBennett
@53: Oh, Visitor did definitely get better as Kira, as I said. It's mainly early on that I found her unconvincing, especially here in "Emissary." It took her a while to get into the role. And having episodes like "Duet" to enrich and deepen the character probably helped her a great deal.
Uncle Mikey
55. CounsellorDeannaTroi#1Fan
First of all, I really liked this pilot episode and would have rated it a 7 or 8. Although the plot is not amazing, it does create a lot of interesting character introduction that makes you want to know more about them and continue watching. The mystery of the wormhole is particularly compelling, as well as the mystery of Odo's racial heritage. I remember when this series began, I was in 6th grade the mystery about Odo's racial was the main thing that kept me watching because he was so unusual (shapeshifting) compared to other characters on TV at that time.

Another thing I found compelling about this series (and I don't think it is a negative thing) is how unlikable Cmdr. Sisko was, especially in the beginning of the series. I thought he became more likable as the series progressed and his character grew a lot. He is extremely different from Capt. Picard, who was well-liked and admired by the crew. I found Sisko to be abrasive, pompous, condescending, and very dismissive towards his crew. You almost never hear him praising anyone for doing a good job, either. Loving to hate a character can often be a reason why people tune into a show. It can make for good entertainment.

I think if I were forced to work with someone like Sisko, I'd go on suicide watch!

One thing I wish the creators did was have more crossover between DS9 and TNG. In particular, it would would have been really cool to have seen Reg Barclay and Deanna Troi brought over to the station after TNG ended.

I think Reg Barclay's neuroticism and intense attention to detail would have been the perfect dramatic foil for Sisko's personality.

And I also think that Deanna Troi would have been the perfect dramatic foil for Kira. They sort of have polar opposite personalities and it would have led to some amazing interaction. I always felt that Nana Visitor and Terry Ferrell had poor on-screen chemistry and although I liked Dax's character, I found her portrayal of Dax to be rather bland and unengaging.
Dante Hopkins
56. DanteHopkins
Ahh Deep Space Nine. Should also be noted that this year marks the 20th anniversary of this landmark Trek series, so this rewatch is perfectly timed.

I second Ser Tom's sentiment about gettin in on this one from the start, much as I did in 1993, catching up on TNG's previous seasons through syndication, but watching DS9 from the start. As an African American, it was fricking awesome for me to see a black man leading a Star trek series, indeed as stated previously, a sci-fi show period. More than that, Sisko's presence, like Picard's, is so powerful and reassuring without being overbearing. Avery Brooks gave Sisko so much nuance, even in this pilot episode. I faithfully watched both shows on the weekends.

I was glad they brought the O'Briens over from TNG, as I had always like Chief O'Brien, but of course he could only be seen on TNG when the main cast had to beam somewhere or someone onboard. Here, we could see the gruff, ill-tempered, impatient O'Brien in all his splendor. I also loved how they introduced the new characters, making it clear that this would not be the hold-hands, sugary-kumbaya lovefest we've grown used to in previous Trek. From Kira, Bashir, Odo, Quark on, we now had characters who could be gritty and real, or WAY too much of a good thing, i.e Bashir. In January 1993, 12-not-quite-13-year-old me loved every second of it.

I totally agree with CLB's review, although I have to admit I enjoyed Felecia M. Bell as Jennifer (of course I was 12 and noticing pretty girls at the time, so that could explain that:)) And Keith, glad I get to disagree with you (as I figured I would) from the beginning. Avery Brooks' performance was superb here. Sisko's scene where he realizes he never left the Saratoga brings me to tears when I watch it (and brought 12-year-old me to tears as well.) Brooks conveys Sisko as a man of deep feelings right from the start, without having to overly state Trek principles.

I loved this episode and this series because it took Trek in a new direction, which is what Trek at its core is all about. For me, this debut was a solid 9.
Uncle Mikey
57. CounsellorDeannaTroi#1Fan
I will add, however, that many of the actors on this series had wonderful chemistry with each other.

The scenes with Bashir and O'Brien were some of the best on-screen chemistry I ever saw in Star Trek. I thought the two actors were really believable in their characters' friendship, and it was one of the things I most looked forward to each week.

The father-son relationship between Jake and Sisko was also really well done.
Rowan Blaze
58. rowanblaze
So if you do decide to include a Bashir category, KRAD, I change my vote to "Frontier Medicine." :) He was all about sticking his foot in his mouth those first few seasons.

Being out of the country at the time, I missed the debut of DS9. And it never really clicked for me; though I caught episodes here and there, and felt many were superb. Brooks does a great job with simmering emotions, but his outbursts always seemed a little contrived.

And I liked Visitor's Major Kira. I didn't feel she came across as a rich girl who usually gets what she wants, but someone used to taking or doing what she wants with little input from a rather loose command structure. Someone like that will naturally have a lot of trouble with bureacratic politics.

I'm already a little behind on this rewatch, having only seen about half the episode recently. I'll have to watch again, at least from where I left off. Looking forward to the rest of the entries, though.
Uncle Mikey
59. Nor'easter

One thing you omitted about Odo was that in this episode he addresses Sisko as "Sisko" rather than "Commander." I don't remember in which subsequent episode that changes.
Dante Hopkins
60. DanteHopkins
@59, Odo would eventually call Sisko "Commander", indeed in the first tew episodes of season 1, though the relationship with Sisko and Odo would be a little strained at first, Odo having to adjust (somewhat) to Starfleet protocol.
Jenny Thrash
61. Sihaya
@51: "If the Enterprise was the pinnacle of the big shiny, happy fleet, this is probably what normal Starfleet duty is."

Gee, I hope not. I'd quit a workplace stuffed with coworkers like DS9. I think the show swung from one extreme on TNG to another on DS9. It took a long time to find middle ground - characters who respected each other even if they disagreed vehemently about stuff that was important to them. "Stargate:SG1" managed this out of the gate and for the first few years, but they already had two established characters from the film to carry that conflict.
Phil Parsons
62. Yakko
@31 Like others here I LOVED that Sisko still held so much contempt and anger for Picard's actions as Locutus. I think if TNG were being made in the serialized TV landscape of today then it would probably take an entire season for Jean-Luc to get his command back after the events of "The Best of Both Worlds". In 1990 I was amazed that TNG even took a week to give us "Family" to show fallout from those events since usually no matter what happened everything had to be back to normal for the next episode so the show could be syndication friendly in reruns. Given the devastating losses suffered at Wolf 359 and the general fear of the Borg at Starfleet Command it was always much more realistic to me that many officers would think like Admiral Satie in "The Drumhead" and Sisko in "Emissary" and not forgive so easily.

@55 Every Trekker I've ever known who has served in the armed forces has told me that of all the Trek captains it is Sisko as portrayed by Avery Brooks that rings the truest to them as a representation of a military commander. I wonder if that factors in to your assessment of him in the early episodes. Of course, I didn't find Picard to be particularly likable in the beginning of TNG's first season either.
Uncle Mikey
63. CounsellorDeannaTroi#1Fan
@62: It was established WAAAAY back in the Original Series that Starfleet is not a military organisation; it is an exploration and diplomatic organisation. The purpose of Starfleet was to explore the galaxy and engage in dialogue with new species they encountered, not to engage in military excursions. While Starfleet does indeed engage in conflict when pressed, it is done in defence, and it is not its primary mission.

If I were forced to choose a captain to serve under, it would have been Captain Janeway. I felt she was the most resourceful and understanding of the four Star Trek captains I saw.
Mike Kelmachter
64. MikeKelm
A thought/question on Dukat... Was he always intended to be a major antagonist, or was he intended to be like Macet- a disposable bad guy? As our intrepid reviewer pointed out, he's not very deep here... Just a generic sneering bad guy. It isn't until later seasons where he gets fleshed out into a much more multifaceted bad guy, before hopping aboard the crazy train for the last season?
Uncle Mikey
65. Nor'easter

I know that Odo does ultimately address Sisko as "Commander," and I'm sure you're right that it's relatively in Season 1. That's why it was so jarring to see him use "Sisko" when I watched a re-run of "Emissary" several years ago after having seen the entire run of DS9.
Keith DeCandido
66. krad
Quoth CounsellorDeannaTroiFan: "It was established WAAAAY back in the Original Series that Starfleet is not a military organisation; it is an exploration and diplomatic organisation."

Actually, no, that wasn't "established" until TNG. Kirk in fact specifically said on the original series that he was a soldier and not a diplomat.

Also the statements made on TNG that Starfleet isn't a military organization are total bullshit. Later in life, Gene Roddenberry got "military" confused with "militaristic." But Starfleet is an organization with a rank structure which cannot be violated and which punishes crimes internally by courts-martial. That's the definition of a military organization, and to say otherwise is to not at all understand what the word "military" means.

(Sorry, pet peeve of mine...)

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Kit Case
67. wiredog
NOAA, the guys who run the National Weather Service, has a quasi-military Commissioned Corps.
Chin Bawambi
68. bawambi
One of my favorite ways of looking at DS9 is a Navy faux SNL commercial. Port of Call: Bayonne. It's not just a job its $96.78 a week.
Uncle Mikey
69. Tim Rexe
It's interesting because Emissary is an unusually quiet pilot for a Star Trek show if you compare to the pilots of TNG, VOY and ENT. Emissary establishes the character based story telling the DS9 would become known for over its seven year run. I do find it a bit ironic that the show with the most quiet pilot, would become the most complex of all the Trek series to date.

I remember watching this opening episode and not liking it. It was such a departure from TNG it's unfortunate the show had a rocky start in terms of quality because I think had the shows been as good as they would become around the 3rd season, I think DS9 would have been a bigger hit.
Matt Hamilton
70. MattHamilton
@KRAD, that's always been a pet peeve of mine too. To say that they aren't military, what with Naval ranks, giant ships with enough weapons to destroy a planet many times over and court martials. But you're right...it's a military orginization with diplomatic personell. Just like a good military, they don't long for war, but if it happens, they are there and trained well. War is a possibility and has happened in Federation history so why wouldn't they have a military?
Christopher Bennett
71. ChristopherLBennett
It's worth noting that a number of military organizations engage in science, exploration, humanitarian missions, and the like during peacetime. Not to mention the US Coast Guard, a branch of the military whose primary duties are maritime law enforcement and security, maritime safety and rescue operations, and marine environmental protection. Starfleet is basically the Coast Guard in space, but with a larger scientific and diplomatic role. It's military, it's just not warlike.
Dante Hopkins
72. DanteHopkins
@65, It isn't so jarring when you think of Odo at that stage, having dealt with the Cardassians for years and now suddenly having to deal with Starfleet.
Matt Hamilton
73. MattHamilton
@71 Yeah, that's sort of what I mean when I was saying any good military doesn't long for war, but they have other mandates. You just said it better.
Christopher Bennett
74. ChristopherLBennett
@73: What confuses the issue, though, is that Starfleet has always been treated as the sole military organization that exists in the Federation; there's nothing more specialized for combat, there's just Starfleet. In Enterprise we had a clearer delineation between the United Earth Starfleet as a scientific organization and the MACOs as a Marine-like infantry, but even there you have to wonder why there wasn't a separate UE space navy specialized for defense and combat. And in DS9, as we'll see, Starfleet is responsible for all the war stuff -- even ground troops in the war are Starfleet personnel. One really would expect, if you have a military organization whose primary mission is basically the Coast Guard crossed with Woods Hole, that you'd also have other military branches corresponding to the Army or Navy or Marines.
Mike Kelmachter
75. MikeKelm
I sort of see starfleet as the Umbrella organization- figure somewhere between the end of Enterprise and the start of the Original Series, they took Starfleet, the Macos, and probably some elements of the other members of the Federation and turned it into an overarching organization and called it "Starfleet." But I figured within the big starfleet you still have ground troops, as well as scientific vessels (think NOAA), engineering vessels (The Army Corps of Engineers), cargo vessels (merchant marine), military focused vessels (Defiant class), multi-purpose vessels (Galaxy Class).

So far we've seen the Enterprises, which is the Navy meets Woods Hole (as CLB put it) but there are probably other vessels with a more military focus that spend their time doing less exploration and more military like missions (anti-Pirate patrols, convoy protection, etc) and pure science vessels.
Tom Voss
77. BelterTom
My memory may be foggy on this but I think there is some discussion about Starfleet needing to look to more military style vessels after their encounter with the Borg at Wolf 359. Thus, we get the Defiant. Perhaps Starfleet was this overarching umbrella organization that was focussed solely on exploration and confident in its security until the Borg came along. At that point Starfleet realized it needed to be more prepared for the military side of their operations.

I think that whenever we look too closely at issues of numbers of ships, personnel, military stength, etc. the Star Trek shows run into a few problems. Thankfully, we have the many great novels that clear some of those things up for us.
Matt Hamilton
78. MattHamilton
I would think though, that with all that happened in Enterprise and certainly in TOS that Starfleet and the United Earth Government would have been more prepared. I can't see them just sitting around going "La la la" and then suddenly the Borg come and then they realize it. They had been in decades of Cold War with the Klingons (as well as actual battles), had battles with the Romulans as well as a war, War with the Zenkethi and Cardassians and a whole bunch of other one shot battles like Picard whhen he invented the Picard Manuver. Starfleet was pretty well ready for battle, just not something as monsterous as the Borg.
Tom Voss
79. BelterTom
@78 Agreed as to all that. I think some of the Starfleet as military issues pop up a bit later in the show (of course) so I think we will be able to dig into this as the rewatch goes on. Should be lots of fun!
Nick Hlavacek
80. Nick31
It's interesting, but the way I remember the interaction between Picard
and Sisko is very different than what's being described here. Admittedly I haven't had a chance to watch this one since I first saw it some 19 or 20 years ago, but to me it seemed that Picard was more the antagonist in the relationship. Sure Sisko was carrying a grudge for what happened at Wolf 359, but Picard was the one who couldn't get past that. He just seemed offended here that anyone could possibly have any hard feelings towards him and didn't undetstand at all why one might be ambivalent about being shuffled off to some distant back side of nowhere disaster of a station where they would constantly be expected to make bricks without straw. That led him to be totally dismissive of and disrespectful to Sisko. I suppose I'll have to go watch it and see if my memory is that far off. :)
I loved Avery Brooks' performance in this series. He gave Sisko depth from the very beginning that other characters took several episodes (or seasons) to gain.
One other point I liked about this show is how much the stories would rely on the characters ingenuity to resolve problems. Unlike the Enterprise, which is usually displayed as the peak of technological development where everything works perfectly (most of the time), DS9 was more the WD-40 and duct tape type of engineering that was failing as often as it was working. They didn't have the magic gizmos to make everything right, so they just did the best they could and moved on. Kind of like the real world.
Christopher Bennett
81. ChristopherLBennett
@75 & 77: Yes, I'm perfectly aware that Starfleet is presented as an umbrella organization that encompasses all facets of the military role. My point is that I don't agree with the choice to portray them that way -- that it would've made more sense if the creators of the franchise had depicted a variety of more specialized military branches rather than just lumping it all under the Starfleet rubric. Jack of all trades is master of none, after all. If it makes sense for the real-life United States to have a separate Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard, why wouldn't it also make sense for the Federation to have a similar degree of specialization? What's the advantage to the "single umbrella organization" approach? I think the creators of the shows missed an opportunity here, that they oversimplified things by having Starfleet be responsible for everything, and that it would've been more plausible and more interesting if they'd given the Federation other military branches besides Starfleet.
Uncle Mikey
82. CounsellorDeannaTroi#1Fan
I guess I've always viewed Starfleet different than you, Keith and Christopher. I think their combat role in the galaxy is more of a police force than a military force. The police (usually) use their weapons purely for self-defence, as Starfleet does, and we don't see them declaring war on people (they fight in wars when other species attack them).

Their role comes across as law enforcement rather than military. And the way they perceive themselves comes across that way too.
Keith DeCandido
83. krad
Nick31: You really need to watch that scene again, because what you describe doesn't even come close to matching what I watched on Tuesday. :)

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Christopher Bennett
84. ChristopherLBennett
@82: You misunderstand what I'm saying. Yes, I agree completely that Starfleet's role is defensive and not aggressive, and I wholeheartedly approve of that. Yes, Starfleet is the police or the Coast Guard. But the point is, you don't rely solely on the police or the Coast Guard when a war breaks out -- you call in the combat forces, the Army and Navy and the like. Maybe it would make more sense to keep Starfleet focused on exploration and diplomacy and protection and safety, and have a separate branch or branches of the Federation military that would train specifically for combat and would be activated on those (hopefully rare) occasions when wars can't be avoided.
Uncle Mikey
85. CounsellorDeannaTroi#1Fan
Christopher, do you consider the United Nations a military force?

It was my understanding that Roddenberry modelled Starfleet and the Federation after the current United Nations and it is supposed to be an allegory to it.

The United Nations has military-grade weapons, a strict chain of command, internal discipline, scientific and diplomatic missions, a code of regulations, and a lot of member states. That sounds a lot like Starfleet.

I am originally from Poland, (but live in the US) and you will be hard-pressed to find a European that considers the United Nations a military body. We view it as a peacekeeping and diplomatic body who merely monitors and polices conflict zones.

It's in style in some ideological circles in the United States to view the United Nations as an international military force, but that's not how it's seen from a global perspective.
Christopher Bennett
86. ChristopherLBennett
@85: What? Of course not. The United Nations is an international organization. It has peacekeeping forces that work for it, but they are not synonymous with it; they are subsidiary groups within a larger organization. By the same token, the US Navy is not the United States; the New York Police Department is not New York City; mall security is not the mall; and a club's bouncer is not the club. They are employed by it and act on its behalf.

You're making the all-too-common mistake of talking about the Federation and Starfleet interchangeably, as if they were equivalent. They're not. The Federation is a government; Starfleet is an organization that works for that government. One is civilian, the other military.

And as portrayed onscreen in the later shows, the Federation is much more like the United States or the European Union than the UN. It's a centralized, federal government with sovereign authority over its member states, something that the UN is categorically not.

And you're still completely failing to understand the point I'm making. I'm not saying anything about the definition of a military. We've already established in this discussion that there are some military organizations that are geared more toward combat and other military organizations that are geared more toward non-combat roles. The US Coast Guard is a branch of the military, but it is not a combat force. But the US has other military branches that are combat forces. Starfleet is meant to be equivalent to the Coast Guard, albeit with added scientific and diplomatic functions. It's not primarily a combat force -- but it has been portrayed as taking on that role when it had to. Which strikes me as unrealistic, because it's like presenting a version of the US that places its entire national defense in the hands of the Coast Guard because it has no separate army, navy, or air force.

And I am absolutely not saying that I want Starfleet to be more combat-oriented. I'm saying just the opposite -- I want it to be less combat-oriented. I want there to be other organizations that handle the combat stuff when necessary so that Starfleet can be more specialized for the stuff I like better, the science and diplomacy.
Uncle Mikey
87. CathyG
First time watching this show. Thanks for hosting this, Keith!
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
88. Lisamarie
We just watched this one today, and so far, so good. Even though I love TNG (and Q), I have to say this is a much better episode than Encounter at Farpoint. Quark so far is one of the few Ferengi I can actually enjoy watching. I also enjoy Kira so far, and really like Sisko and the idea of a single-father captain and what that might mean for the show. I enjoyed his character arc in this episode, and also thought his last scene on the Saratoga ("It's not linear") was really moving. Agreed that the overall plot wasn't the greatest - even after watching it I wasn't totally sure what the 'Orbs' actually were and how that tied into the Wormhole or the Bajoran religion. But I AM looking forward to seeing how religion is addressed in this show. I still miss Data though ;) (PS - sorry for the big block of text, for some reason my Enter key isn't working in the text box)
Joseph Newton
89. crzydroid
Ok, so we did go ahead and get the first disc from the library. I would say that I still mostly like Avery Brooks acting style (though he hasn't quite got some of it at this point, but I'm thinking more of his conversations with Jennifer in the orb). I actually think the scene where he is being dragged away from her body is under acted--I'm pretty sure if I came across my dead wife I would let loose a wail of utter agony. Karl Urban's Eomer when he sees Eowyn's unconcious body is probably more of what he should've gone for.

On the Prophets: I find it very problematic when stories try to conceptualize a being that exists outside of our perception, because we think about everything from within our own perception. The Prophets being outside of linear time is hard to swallow here because the whole conversation indicates they do have some understanding of linear time. When the one Prophet realizes what he means by death and is explaining it, "she" says "the termination of their linear existence." How do they know what "termination" is? When she says that to them is she actually explaining that death means "Schrodinger's cat?" Also, don't they know the answers to their questions already? Why are they confused by him, when they already know of their future experiences of him. They operate within the framework of a sequence of events, which is linear time.

Also, the fuel lines on that station must have some pretty good shielding. If a gas line in real life blew up, it would cause a lot more damage than what that fuel line did to the promenade.
Joseph Newton
90. crzydroid
@88: You have to click the "compatibility mode" button, because the boxes on this site don't work right in IE10 otherwise.
Nick Hlavacek
91. Nick31
@83 I'll take your word for it (although I definitely will watch again if I get the chance). :) I'm more than willing to admit my memory isn't what it used to be, and that it was probably skewed by the fact that I liked Sisko much better as a commander than Picard.
Uncle Mikey
92. DougL
Looking forward to this, I don't like DS9 more than B5, I like them both, if that doesn't make me much of a geek, whatever.

The show went off the rails a bit later, but the whole DS9 at war arc was really well done and I enjoyed it.
Uncle Mikey
93. stardreamer
First, I want to say something that no one else has mentioned: the theme music for this show is completely awesome! I fell in love with it on first hearing, and to this day it remains my favorite of the Star Trek themes.

Secondly, ISTR hearing somewhere that Alexander Siddig had some input into the character of Bashir, and chose to take on the challenge of having him be an annoying twerp at first so that there would be a lot of room for the character to grow into. I consider Bashir to have the second-most-major character arc over the course of the series; the only one who gets more character development is Rom, who (SPOILERS REDACTED).
Phil Parsons
94. Yakko

You think so? I didn't know it had its fans. Although DS9 is my favorite Star Trek series I've always liked its opening title sequence the least (until Enterprise, that is - sorry Diane Warren but I'm afraid I just don't have faith of the heart).

The original show's opening credits are without peer. I cannot bring myself to criticize them except to say when they re-recorded Alexander Courage's theme music for the remastered episodes (especially with the vocalist for seasons two and three) it just got even better.

I've always been a little on the fence with The Next Generation. Jerry Goldsmith's Main Title theme from Star Trek: The Motion Picture is certainly iconic and the version recorded for the opening credits of TNG is perfectly done but I always knocked them a point for not having an original piece of music. When Star Trek V came out between TNG's second and third season and re-used the theme for their credits it almost felt to me like the movies were telling the TV show to shove it. "Don't forget this is OUR music assholes!" The flybys of the ship in imitation of the original series were hardly eye candy either.

For me, though, the titles for Star Trek Voyager were just amazing. That title track is one of my favorite pieces of music Goldsmith ever wrote in his long career and the visuals are so gorgeous and so well matched to the melody that it's the one sequence I stop and watch whenever I'm revisiting an episode.

But DS9? I want to love it as much as you, stardreamer, cuz I think the show itself is an amazing body of work. But the various pans across the station are largely uninteresting (though I do love the little spacemen working on the upper docking pylon) and Dennis McCarthy's theme itself is barely melodic. They tried to fix that in the fourth season by increasing the tempo and adding some percussion to make it sound more adventurous but the result was just muddled.

I do agree, however, that Bashir gets quite a character arc though this is a show that's filled with them - look at what Odo goes through.
Christopher Bennett
95. ChristopherLBennett
@94: Ohh, I remember hearing people criticize ST V for copying "TNG's" theme music, unaware that it originated in TMP.
Keith DeCandido
96. krad
The opening music for DS9 never did anything for me, mainly because I preferred "Fanfare for the Common Man" when Aaron Copland did it. *wry grin*

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Amy Renold
97. AmyR
This is another brick in the (sci-fi) wall :)
Uncle Mikey
101. Data Logan
The thing that always disappointed me about "Emissary" was the rushed ending. It always felt to me that there was so much more to say and do after Sisko returns from the wormhole, but the episode basically just skips a week or so and goes on with business. Most of what I felt was missing was the implications for the Bajoran people. We never get Kai Opaka's take of Sisko's meeting with the Prophets. Or Sisko being "outed" to all Bajorans as the Emissary. That would have been a significant scene for Kira, as she learns that her new alien boss is also a significant religious figure for her. But I guess the show wasn't ready to focus on all that Bajoran religious stuff yet. Someone did write this story once, I just can't remember right now where I read it. Probably the DS9 anthology Prophacy and Change.
Christopher Bennett
102. ChristopherLBennett
@101: That rushed ending is a harbinger of what's to come. I have that same problem with the series as a whole: The finale was too abrupt and failed to address all the questions that remained and issues that weren't resolved. (Although Voyager's finale was even worse in that respect.)

And yes, the story you're thinking of must be "Ha'mara" by Kevin G. Summers in Prophecy and Change. It feels to me like the episode 2 the series should've had.
Uncle Mikey
103. USER
"taking the piss out of him." Groppler KRAD, you anglophile son of a moonspider.
Uncle Mikey
104. USER
Wow, right out the gate with Avery Brooks bashing. Yeah, Avery has an odd way of showing anger and sadness, but that's cuz Avery Brooks is an eccentric, unique duck and hence the Sisko is an eccentric, unique duck. A good choice for casting because in terms of more conventional leading man classical gravitas, they would never be able to top the Stewart. So, I like that our new Captain, er Commander, is sort of a weird dude. Also a plus is that Avery had mixed feelings about doing Trek which lent itself very well to the fact that Sisko had mixed feelings about being on DS9. And his head tilt etc. is endearing and true to the mannerisms of real folk as opposed to Canadian or British Shakespearians. RESPECT THE SISKO.
Keith DeCandido
105. krad
I respect the Sisko quite a bit, and I love Avery Brooks as an actor, but he's not perfect. It's not "bashing" to criticize someone, and the paragraph where I discuss his performance has a lot more positive in it than negative, yet you dismiss it as "bashing." Feh.

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Uncle Mikey
106. DougL
I just rewatched the whole series. The ground between Kira and Sisko started to break as soon as the Vedic or Monk or whatever came to get Sisko, the look she gave then was very telling.
Uncle Mikey
107. Black_Goat
I realize I'm way late for this, but just wanted to chime in and say that I recently started watching DS9 after years of having it recommended to me. I'm not much of a Trek person (this will be the first one I watch all the way through), and I'm only about halfway through the first season (last episode watched was "Vortex") but I'm really enjoying it so far (technobabble and some questionable acting and plots aside).

On "Emissary":

- Love the basic setup of the show, i.e. the Bajoran/Cardassian situation, the wormhole, and Sisko's role as apparent emissary. It's left a little vague about whether the wormholians are the Prophets or not (I've been spoiled), which I don't mind. What I do mind is how subsequent episodes have not thus far been mining these concepts fully, but I'm sure that changes.
- Avery Brooks is both awesome and *terrible* over the course of this episode. Liking him more as the season goes on. In particular, he's good with angry Sisko and sly Sisko.
- And this episode more or less makes all the regulars compelling!

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