Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Sixth Season
Original air dates: September 1997 – June 1998
Executive Producer: Rick Berman
Executive Producer: Ira Steven Behr
Station log: DS9 had already dedicated itself to serialized storytelling by the time the sixth season rolled around, but at the end of the fifth they committed themselves to something more significant: a war. The Dominion War commenced at the end of season 5 and did not stop until the show did at the end of the seventh. To show that this was serious business, they didn’t even resolve the Federation losing control of Deep Space 9/Terok Nor until the sixth episode of the season, and the Federation didn’t even manage to make a strike in Dominion territory until the season finale.
Change remained the order of the day, as well. Besides the station changing hands from Dominion control back to Federation control, we have Dukat having a psychic break and becoming first a prisoner of the Federation and then a rogue operative. Nog gets a field promotion to ensign, while Damar gets promoted to legate and takes over Dukat’s role as the Dominion’s puppet governor of Cardassia. Kira and Odo start up a relationship, while Worf and Dax solidify theirs by getting married, not long after Worf is reunited with Alexander. Betazed falls to the Dominion, and the Romulans ally with the Klingons and Federation.
Lowest-rated episode: “Profit and Lace,” DS9’s only 0, and is one of the most embarrassing hours in Star Trek history.
Most comments (as of this writing): “In the Pale Moonlight” with 91. Honorable mention to “Far Beyond the Stars” and “His Way,” which both got 81. And just in general—lotsa comments on this season’s episodes. You guys rock.
Fewest comments (as of this writing): “Resurrection” with a mere 20.
Favorite Can’t we just reverse the polarity?: From “The Sound of Her Voice.” The barrier that destroyed the Olympia and time-displaced Cusak’s communications is an exogenic field made of subspace metreon radiation, which is just like regular metreon radiation only subspacier!
Favorite The Sisko is of Bajor: From “A Time to Stand.” Sisko waits three months to contact his father and tell him that Jake chose to stay behind on the station. Joseph is, to say the least, not pleased about that, nor is he happy to learn that the war is actually going worse than the news service says it is. Sisko says Joseph didn’t raise him to be a liar, and Joseph retorts that he raised him to be a chef, for all the good that did.
Favorite Don’t ask my opinion next time: From “Rocks and Shoals.” Kira starts out the episode being someone really unpleasant: she shakes her head and tuts-tuts those crazy vedeks and their silly protests, and how could they possibly consider actively rebelling against an occupying force? That’s just crazy talk. Then Yassim kills herself and she remembers, y’know, who she is.
Favorite The slug in your belly: From “Wrongs Darker than Death or Night.” Dax tries to convince Worf to have another party in their quarters. She promises only 50-60 people, but Worf sees through that, knowing there will be 200 or so people jammed into their cabin. Dax’s promise that no one will smile does not work to convince him to accede, though he almost gives in until she suggests a dress-as-your-favorite-Klingon theme.
Favorite There is no honor in being pummeled: From “Waltz.” Worf refuses to disobey Kira’s orders to continue the search beyond the allotted time. When Bashir and O’Brien try to justify disobeying because they couldn’t understand her, Worf cuts through the bullshit, saying it would be dishonorable to disobey. Bashir snidely says that he doesn’t consider Worf’s honor to be more important than Sisko’s life, at which point Worf bluntly says, “You may leave the bridge, Doctor.” Honestly, after that attitude, Bashir’s lucky Worf didn’t toss his self-righteous ass in the brig. It was less about Worf’s honor, than the lives of the 30,000 troops they’re supposed to protect, but hey, they’re not in the opening credits, so it’s not like they’re people who matter or anything…
Favorite Rule of Acquisition: From “In the Pale Moonlight.” In exchange for not pressing charges after getting stabbed, Quark asks for his own clothes and M’Pella’s to be replaced, five bars of latinum to compensate him for lost business, and some cargo containers Odo is holding back because of import license issues to be taken care of. Once he declares it officially to be a bribe, Quark quotes the 98th Rule to Sisko: “Every man has his price.”
Favorite Preservation of mass and energy is for wimps: From “Who Mourns for Morn?” Odo takes great joy in snarking off at Quark throughout the episode, from making fun of his Morn hologram to making fun of his status as Morn’s heir meaning he hasn’t actually inherited hardly anything except for some stinky beets to his kicking Quark when he’s down when he realizes that the latinum’s been extracted from the gold.
Favorite For Cardassia!: From “Statistical Probabilities.” This episode establishes that Damar has replaced Dukat as the figurehead leader of the Cardassian government. Unlike Dukat, he has accepted the title of “legate.” Weyoun is also making no bones about his subordinate role—where he was willing to string Dukat along and let him believe that he was an ally rather than a minion, Weyoun makes sure to remind Damar just who’s pulling his strings.
Favorite Plain, simple: From “In the Pale Moonlight.” Garak is initially recruited by Sisko in the hopes that he would be able to perform a covert mission, and things get out of hand pretty quickly—but Garak declares that Sisko wanted Garak involved from jump precisely because he could do things Sisko himself would be repulsed by.
Favorite What happens in the holosuite, stays in the holosuite: From “The Sound of Her Voice.” Odo picks Paris in 1928 for his and Kira’s one-month anniversary date, with him in a tux and her in a flapper dress and appropriate hairstyle. (They both look fantastic, by the way.) Why two Bajorans (okay, a Bajoran and a pile of goo raised on Bajor) decide to go to an Earth city from 450 years earlier remains a mystery, though Quark does make an amusing comment about how Earth of the past is very romantic.
Favorite Victory is life: From “Behind the Lines.” Odo learns a whole bunch about the Great Link: on the homeworld, they mostly stay in the link, only occasionally taking other forms; they’re individuals but also collective; they don’t have names because they have no need of them (thus forcing your humble rewatcher to keep using “the female changeling”); etc.
Favorite Tough little ship: From “Valiant.” For reasons passing understanding, Starfleet assigned a Defiant-class ship—the most powerful battleship class in Starfleet by a damn sight—to a silly cadet cruise when war was in danger of breaking out. The levels on which this doesn’t make sense are legion.
Favorite No sex, please, we’re Starfleet: From “His Way.” After the notion that Odo secretly loved Kira was seeded in “The Collaborator,” stated by Lwaxana in “Fascination,” stated by Odo to the female changeling in “Heart of Stone,” to Quark in “Crossfire,” and finally to Kira (albeit by a centuries-older iteration of Odo) in “Children of Time,” and after dancing around it in “Call to Arms” and “You Are Cordially Invited,” the two of them finally actually become a couple in this episode.
Also, for the record, Nana Visitor singing “Fever” is sex on a goddamn stick.
Favorite Welcome aboard: Despite having the most crowded recurring character cast in Trek history, DS9 added three more this year: James Darren as Fontaine, Barry Jenner as Ross, and William Sadler as Sloan.
The usual suspects back for more include Cecily Adams (Ishka), Marc Alaimo (Dukat), Philip Anglim (Bareil), Casey Biggs (Damar), Rosalind Chao (Keiko), Jeffrey Combs (Weyoun and Brunt), Aron Eisenberg (Nog), Louise Fletcher (Winn), Max Grodénchik (Rom), Hana Hatae (Molly), J.G. Hertzler (Martok), Salome Jens (the female changeling), Penny Johnson (Yates), Chase Masterson (Leeta), Brock Peters (Joseph), Andrew J. Robinson (Garak), Wallace Shawn (Zek), Melanie Smith (Ziyal), and Tiny Ron (Maihar’du).
Returning guests include Hamilton Camp (“The Magnificent Ferengi”), David Drew Gallagher (“Valiant”), Thomas Kopache (“Wrongs Darker than Death or Night”), and Josh Pais (“The Magnificent Ferengi”). Appearing for the first time are Tim Ransom, Hilary Shepard Turner, Michael Keenan, and Faith C. Salie as “the Jack Pack” in “Statistical Probabilities.” Marc Worden becomes the latest person to play Alexander in “Sons and Daughters” and “You Are Cordially Invited.”
Other spiffy guests include David Birney (“Tears of the Prophets”), David Bowe (“Wrongs Darker than Death or Night”), Lilyan Chauvin (“Rocks and Shoals”), Tim deZarn (“Wrongs Darker than Death or Night”), Henry Gibson (“Profit and Lace”), Brad Greenquist (“Who Mourns for Morn?”), Leslie Hope (“Wrongs Darker than Death or Night”), Gregory Itzin (“Who Mourns for Morn?”), Michelle Krusiec (“Time’s Orphan”), Sidney Liufau (“You Are Cordially Invited”), Sarah MacDonnell (“Rocks and Shoals”), Ashley Brianne McDonogh (“Valiant”), Stephen McHattie (“In the Pale Moonlight”), Cyril O’Reilly (“Who Mourns for Morn?”), the great Iggy Pop (“The Magnificent Ferengi”), Howard Shangraw (“In the Pale Moonlight”), Christopher Shea (“Rocks and Shoals” and “The Magnificent Ferengi”), Nick Tate (“Honor Among Thieves”), Todd Waring (“Change of Heart”), and Bridget Ann White (“Who Mourns for Morn?”).
Special mention must be made of two superb performances, that of Debra Wilson using only her voice as Cusak in “The Sound of Her Voice,” and Phil Morris putting in a masterful turn as Remata’klan in “Rocks and Shoals.”
But the most impressive “guest stars” are all the opening-credits cast members plus recurring regulars Alaimo, Combs, Eisenberg, Hertzler, Johnson, and Peters who create all-new 1953 New York City characters brilliantly in “Far Beyond the Stars.”
Favorite Keep your ears open: From “Who Mourns for Morn?”
Favorite Trivial matter: The one for “Far Beyond the Stars,” just because that episode had so much stuff…
Walk with the Prophets: “Whoever controls Deep Space 9 controls the wormhole.” This has got to be the biggest roller-coaster of a season in Star Trek history. On the one hand, you have the season-opening six-part storyline that kicks the Dominion War into high gear and includes an impressive through-line of stories on the occupied station as well as stories involving the Starfleet crew (plus Garak) that’s a bit more hit (“Rocks and Shoals”) and miss (“Sons and Daughters”). You also have two of the best hours in Trek history in “Far Beyond the Stars” and “In the Pale Moonlight.”
Plus, while I’m not one to ding someone for a bad idea, there are a lot of bad ideas in this season. Some of them work—“His Way,” for example, is a terrible idea, but James Darren’s sheer charisma as Vic Fontaine leavens the self-indulgent absurdity of having him there—but most don’t. Whether it’s bringing Alexander back or bringing Bareil back (the world was assuredly not desperately crying out for a return engagement for either), or stripping Dukat and Winn of their nuance to make them capital-E evil, or crowbarring O’Brien into a Donnie Brasco riff for no compellingly good reason, or an entire episode focused on a gag character, or doing The Wedding Episode and The Shrinking Episode and The Tarzan Episode, or bringing back the Pah–wraiths, or the ill-advised introduction of Section 31 into the Trek universe.
And then there were all the other episodes that didn’t work: “Change of Heart,” which put Worf and Dax in a situation they never should have been in in the first place, or “Waltz,” which could’ve been a great Sisko-Dukat episode and instead set the latter character on a disastrous path, or “The Reckoning,” which utterly destroyed the science fictional alienness of the wormhole aliens for a tired good-vs.-evil setup with glowing eyes and ray beams, or “The Sound of Her Voice,” which was so good until the ending ruined it on every level, or the worst of them, “Sacrifice of Angels,” which gave us the lamest of deus ex machina endings.
Having said that, the great episodes were so great, some of the best scripts in Trek’s five decades. “Far Beyond the Stars” is a magnificent study of race relations in the context of science fiction, “In the Pale Moonlight” is a superb examination of the compromises war forces on even the best people, “Rocks and Shoals” is a devastatingly brilliant and tragic story on so many levels, “Valiant” shows the danger of believing your own bullshit when you’re young and stupid, “The Magnificent Ferengi” is a delightful action romp, and the station portions of the entire six-part opening arc is beautifully done.
Warp factor rating for the season: 6
Keith R.A. DeCandido is accustomed to a smooth ride, or maybe he’s a dog that’s lost his bite.