Paramount // 1996 // 1170 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Eric Profancik (Retired) // November 3rd, 2003
Quark: "What do you think?"
Garak: "It's vile!"
"I know. It's so bubbly and cloying and happy."
"Just like the Federation."
"And you know what's really frightening? If you drink enough of it, you begin to like it."
"Just like the Federation."
Star Trek: Deep Space 9 (DS9) is a better show than you think. Because it was the first Trek franchise not set on a Federation starship, many people didn't give it a chance. Because it also came out at the same time as Babylon 5 and exhibits several of that show's characteristics, many people didn't give it a chance. Because this series has never enjoyed heavy syndication like its sibling shows, many people haven't had an opportunity to give it a chance.
DS9 is a better show than you know. Filled with a multitude of fascinating characters and rich and arching plots, this second spin-off series is more insightful, more fulfilling, and more enjoyable than most of the other series. Many would even be willing to state that DS9 is the best and most rewarding of all the Trek shows.
I'm not sure if I'm willing to go that far, but I do derive great satisfaction from this show. With its release on DVD this year, this is the first time since the episodes originally aired that I am watching them. I've been viewing every episode in order, and it has been a wonderful and refreshing experience. It has honestly been fun to watch Deep Space 9 from the beginning and watch all of the characters and threads slowly develop and come to fruition.
Presented in this seven-disc collection are all 26 episodes from the fourth year of the series. They are included in production, not air date, order.
"The Way of the Warrior"
Worf, from The Next Generation, has been assigned to Deep Space 9 as a Strategic Operations Officer. With the growing tensions between the Federation and the Klingons, Sisko hopes Worf can provide insight into averting a full-scale war. But war almost seems inevitable when a fleet of Klingon vessels attack the space station.
Special Moment: The space station is fully armed and ready to kick some Klingon butt!
A group of Jem'Hadar holds O'Brien and Bashir hostage. Surprisingly, they are not killed or mistreated. It seems the Jem'Hadar have a secret purpose, to which Bashir can be of some use. O'Brien doesn't like the fact that Bashir begins to help the enemy.
This is one of the finest episodes of the entire series. Sisko is killed aboard the USS Defiant, and Jake is there to witness the tragedy. We watch as Jake deals with the tremendous pain of losing his father. But we soon discover that Sisko may be alive, and Jake dedicates his life to finding a way to save his father, who is actually trapped in subspace. Over the many years from teenager to old man, we witness Jake's single-minded determination in rescuing his father.
Special Moment: The heartfelt final reunion between an old Jake and his father. It'll bring a tear to your eye.
Gul Dukat and Kira work together on a mission to find a Cardassian ship that disappeared during the Occupation. Kira is looking for Bajoran survivors while Dukat's motives are hidden. When they do find the ship, a startling discovery is made about Dukat's past that will have dire consequences on his life as a military leader.
A classic Trek morality play, Dax must come to terms with her feelings for a past lover. By Trill law, Dax is not allowed to have contact with this person, who was actually her wife under a previous host. But the two realize they are still in love, and they begin to wonder if they will disregard their traditions and let their lives intersect once again. Is their love strong enough to allow them to be ostracized from their home world?
Special Moment: A moment of infamy when Dax and her female lover share a very impassioned kiss.
During trade discussions with a new race in the Gamma Quadrant, the Defiant comes under attack from the Jem'Hadar. During the battle, the ship is heavily damaged, Sisko is critically injured, many crewmembers are killed, and many others are trapped. Fleeing into the atmosphere of a gas giant, Worf must find a way to defeat the enemy.
"Little Green Men"
Nog has been admitted to Starfleet Academy, and Quark has agreed to use his newly acquired shuttle to ferry his nephew to Earth. While Quark, Nog, and Rom are en route, they soon learn the ship is booby-trapped. Quick thinking by Rom saves them from death, but his actions inadvertently cause them to be transported back in time to 1947. They land in Roswell, New Mexico, where the US Government captures the aliens.
"The Sword of Kahless"
Kor, an old friend of Curzon Dax, returns again to DS9. While there, he convinces Dax and Worf to join him on a quest for the long lost sword of Kahless. The three embark on a quest to return the sword to Q'onos, to restore dignity and unity to the Klingon Empire.
"Our Man Bashir"
While enjoying a new spy holonovel, Bashir gets unexpected company from Garak, who wants to see how Bashir has fun in his off time. But a shuttle accident forces Worf and Commander Eddington to use the holobuffers to store the transporter signatures of Sisko, Dax, Kira, and O'Brien, who become characters in Bashir's spy game.
Evidence begins to mount that the Changlings have invaded Starfleet. Being the most knowledgeable individuals on the subject, Sisko and Odo are called to Earth to help ascertain the threat and begin to implement measures to protect Earth.
War with the Dominion seems inevitable, and Starfleet implements martial law and mandatory blood screenings -- and some citizens are not comfortable with these measures, including Sisko's father. Sisko later discovers a plot under which key individuals in Starfleet are manipulating the facts to unnecessarily increase the military presence on Earth.
Bajoran First Minister Shakaar arrives on DS9, and Odo must ensure his protection. All the while, Odo's feelings for Kira are intensifying, and he ponders whether to pursue them. But Shakaar and Kira are old lovers, and they begin to see each other again. Odo's jealousy of the two hampers his security measures, as he's unable to concentrate fully on his duties.
"Return to Grace"
Dukat, who has been demoted because of his actions in "Indiscretion," now enlists the help of Kira in an attempt to regain some of his lost power.
"Sons of Mogh"
Because Worf has sided with the Federation in the brewing conflict with the Klingons, the House of Mogh has been dishonored in the Empire. Kurn, Worf's brother, living without honor, asks Worf to kill him, which will bring him honor in the afterlife. Worf agrees, but he must face the consequences of his actions.
"The Bar Association"
The workers of Quark's are tired of being taken advantage of, and in an effort to rectify that situation they form a union, headed up by Nog. But this is illegal in Ferengi culture, and Brunt, from the Ferengi Commerce Association, arrives to quell the union one way or another. If Quark doesn't get rid of the union, he will die.
Sisko has never been comfortable in his role as Emissary to the Bajorans, so when a Bajoran man mysteriously comes out of the wormhole and claims he's the Emissary, Sisko is more than happy to relinquish the title. But, when the new Emissary begins to bring back measures from 200 years ago, Sisko realizes it will threaten Bajor's admittance to the Federation. Seeing no alternative, Sisko must reclaim his title.
"Rules of Engagement"
While in command of the Defiant, Worf finds himself under attack from the Klingons. During the battle, Worf mistakenly destroys a Klingon civilian freighter. As a result, he is brought up for charges of murder. An extradition hearing is convened, and Sisko must uncover the truth of what happened during the battle.
O'Brien is tried and convicted of espionage against the Argrathi. Their form of punishment is unique in that the convicted do not serve any real jail time, but, instead, memories of jail are embedded into their minds. O'Brien is sentenced to 21 years. After the memories are implanted, O'Brien has trouble re-adjusting to his real life.
Special Moment: A powerful performance by Colm Meaney (Die Hard 2, Mystery, Alaska, Con Air), who's finally given his moment to shine after starring in both spin-offs.
Sisko is lured into the mirror universe, where the Terrans have taken over DS9 and are building their version of the Defiant. Although they stole the plans, the Terrans cannot get the powerful ship working. But time is running short because the Klingon-Cardassian Fleet is headed to DS9 to squash the burgeoning rebellion. Sisko has 48 hours to make the Defiant operational.
A mysterious woman comes aboard DS9 and takes an immediate interest in Jake. Over countless years she's known artists and helped them realize their full potential. She sees that potential in the budding young writer and quickly makes his acquaintance. But while she helps Jake write, she is also slowly killing him. Elsewhere on the station, a pregnant Lwaxana Troi has returned to the station looking for help from Odo. She's hiding from her husband, who wants to take their child away from her.
"For the Cause"
Sisko's world is turned completely upside down when Odo and Commander Eddington inform him that Kassidy Yates may be a smuggler for the Maquis. But, that is only the tip of the iceberg: Sisko eventually learns the truth about how the Maquis have been using his station for their needs.
Special Moment: Commander Eddington's security measures.
While in the Gamma Quadrant, Kira, Dax, and Bashir intercept a distress signal from a nearby planet. Upon beaming down, Bashir finds a people infected by a genetically engineered plague. Everyone on the planet is infected, and the disease is 100% fatal. In his arrogance, he believes he can quickly find a cure. But Bashir learns a humbling lesson that he is not a miracle worker.
"To the Death"
Vorta Weyoun has a proposal for Sisko: collaboration. A renegade group of Jem'Hadar has discovered an Iconian Gateway. In their hands, the Jem'Hadar could take over the galaxy. As such, Sisko works with Weyoun and his Jem'Hadar to destroy the Gateway.
Special Moment: Weyoun makes his first of many memorable appearances.
Quark believes he is going to die in a few days. Maintaining Ferengi custom, he sells futures on his desiccated remains. But when he learns he was misdiagnosed, he cannot break the contract, as it's Brunt who has bought all of his remains. Brunt hates Quark because of his actions in "Bar Association." Seeing an opportunity to destroy Quark, Brunt will take the opportunity and not give Quark any chance of escape.
Odo has been infected with a mysterious disease that won't allow him to retain his form. It turns out the Founders infected him to get Odo to return to the Great Link to face trial for killing another Changling.
I was exceptionally dismayed when season four first premiered back in 1996. As a fan from the first episode, I didn't like the fact that the producers felt it necessary to bring Worf on board the station. It was an obvious ploy to try and bolster ratings by bringing over an immensely popular character from The Next Generation. I personally felt that the series was doing well on its own, with its rich and textured characters and imaginative, interweaving storylines. Coming into its fourth year, DS9 was a very strong show that didn't need any propping up from its predecessor.
But that's not how it all played out, is it?
Klingons are overplayed in the Trek universe. There have been so many episodes about Worf and his people that I'm just tired of the race. I know I groused about this in one of my numerous TNG DVD reviews, so I won't go on too much about it here. Simply, there's a multitude of alien races out there, so let's spread it around. Besides, Worf is already one of the most fleshed-out characters in Trek history, so let's share the love.
With Worf coming to DS9, it was inevitable that we would be bombarded with even more Klingon episodes, and we were. This is not to say that they are bad, it's just that it's getting old. DS9 had found a way to stand alone, free of the confines of the ship-based Trek format, yet that could have all been destroyed with Worf's presence. Fortunately, my worries were mostly unfounded. Though there were too many Klingon related stories over the next four years, Worf did not dampen the ebb and flow of the established show. Before Rick Berman and Brannon Braga came along and ruined the franchise, Worf actually found a way to enhance the already strong series.
In watching all of the episodes in order, I must reiterate how much fun it has been getting reacquainted with this old friend. It had been far too long since I had the pleasure of watching these episodes, and seeing them again was almost like the first time. Of course, I have a pretty good idea of where each episode is going, but it's re-experiencing all the subtle interactions among the characters that's been most rewarding. As most know, by the end of the run of the series, DS9 had created a huge family of supporting characters, each with an impressive story arc and history. This full complement of personnel truly makes this series special. Each character adds diversity to the DS9 universe, and people are a far more important ingredient in the franchise than in the previous series.
But I do have to say that season four is the weakest to date. I'm still working on season five and do not really remember all of seasons six and seven, and even though there are a few exceptional episodes ("The Visitor"), I was a little bored with this year. It is by no means a bad year, as evidence by the grades, and the episodes definitely propel the story arc forward, but I wasn't as impressed with this batch of shows as in earlier seasons. Many of the episodes seemed inconsequential and didn't play as well as other efforts.
By now, I think we all have a pretty good idea of what to expect from Paramount in its television transfers. Of no surprise is that Deep Space 9 Season Four is another cookie from the cutter. As always, the full frame video is good with no exceptional qualities. You'll get nice colors, pretty good blacks, and some nice details, but you'll also get some shimmering, grain, and fuzzy details on occasion. It looks like every previous Trek DVD release. On the same note, this season four sounds just like all of the previous Trek DVDs too. I keep hoping for the audio to get better, but it has yet to happen -- but there is a light at the end of the tunnel! The dialogue is clean, directionals are modestly used, and the subwoofer gets minimal use. It's a relatively tame Dolby Digital 5.1 mix.
For the bonus materials, season four follows the traditional layout of the DS9 releases, with a handful of featurettes and those "hidden" Section 31 files. Each of the featurettes runs about 15 minutes, and is filled with some mildly interesting information. It's nowhere near as informative as I'd like, but as a Trekkie, there isn't much I don't already know. The featurettes are: "Charting New Territory: Deep Space 9 Season Four," "Crew Dossier: Worf," "Michael Westmore's Aliens: Season Four," and "Deep Space Nine Sketchbook: John Eaves." One of these days, I still hope for something more: an audio commentary, a text commentary, some deleted scenes, a gag reel, or a truly breathtaking behind-the-scenes documentary.
I have no further negative comments to make about this year, so I'll just take a final moment to give kudos to perhaps my favorite character on the show, Garak. Never giving a complete answer, always hiding in the shadows, but still an ally to the station, Garak is a mesmerizing character whom you don't truly know or understand. After four years, who is he? What does he want? Whose side is he on? Television needs to develop more complicated characters like Garak, instead of the simple, color-by-number caricatures we're constantly shown.
Deep Space 9 is a better show than you realize. There are a multitude of great characters, a compelling story arc, and plenty of action and drama for any sci-fi fan. Though many of the shows are self-contained, you'll miss much of the subtle history if you try to jump into the series at this point. It is truly best appreciated when you've watched it all from the beginning. You can observe how the characters change over time; you can see how subtle stories are connected over various episodes over various years, and you can simply experience Trek free from the confines of a starship -- though the Defiant is one great little ship.
I wholeheartedly recommend the entirety of the Deep Space 9 series to anyone. Unfortunately Paramount has slapped a pretty hefty price tag on each year's set, but if you can afford it, you'll be rewarded with some of the best stories the franchise has ever produced.
In accordance with Cardassian law, Star Trek: Deep Space 9 The Complete Fourth Season is hereby found guilty on all charges.
Review content copyright © 2003 Eric Profancik; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 1170 Minutes
Release Year: 1996
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Charting New Territory: Deep Space Nine Season Four
* Crew Dossier: Worf
* Michael Westmore's Aliens: Season Four
* Deep Space Nine Sketchbook: John Eaves
* Section 31 Hidden Files
* Official Site