Paramount // 1998 // 1170 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Eric Profancik (Retired) // December 8th, 2003
"On the Enterprise, I was considered to be quite amusing."
"Well, that must've been one dull ship."
"That is a joke. I get it. It is not funny, but I get it."
-- Worf and Dax, "Change of Heart"
Season six was a year of dramatic change for Deep Space Nine. Many things happened to our characters in the midst of the war with the Dominion, and not all of those events unfolded as I had remembered. The writers took bold steps in developing the show and its deep array of characters and it was the year that our characters grew more than in previous years because of the harshness of the war. But there were also amazing moments of joy as some characters drew very close.
What surprised me the most, though, is how time has changed my perception of a few key events from this year. After watching these episodes for the second time, I came away with decidedly different interpretations of several crucial story points.
Note: This review includes extensive spoilers about the sixth season of Deep Space Nine.
Presented on this seven-disc set are all the episodes from the sixth season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Filled with many lyrical titles, the episodes are:
"A Time to Stand"
As the Federation experiences huge losses in the war, Dominion-controlled DS9 plans how to disable the minefield that is blocking the wormhole and preventing additional troops and supplies from being brought to the Alpha quadrant. The Federation discovers a key ketracel white manufacturing facility and sends Sisko and the Defiant to destroy the base.
"Rocks and Shoals"
Trapped in Dominion space after destroying the ketracel facility, Sisko and his crew crash on a deserted planet located inside a dark matter nebula. They soon discover they are not alone -- a dying Vorta and several Jem'Hadar are also there. The Vorta wants to bargain with Sisko to get off the planet, but the price may be too high for Sisko.
"Sons and Daughters"
Alexander (aging at an amazing, "soap opera" rate) joins the crew of the Rotarran but is having trouble being a true warrior. Back on DS9, Kira and Odo begin the new resistance against the Cardassians. Ziyal returns to the station.
"Behind the Lines"
As Sisko is promoted to Admiral Ross' adjutant, the Defiant is sent on a mission to destroy a Dominion sensor array. On DS9, the female Changeling visits Odo, who is quickly distracted by the link and jeopardizes the new resistance.
"Favor the Bold"
The Dominion has found a way to destroy the minefield, and the Federation determines that it must prevent that from happening. A massive armada of Federation and Klingon ships goes to retake DS9.
"Sacrifice of Angels"
It's the battle for DS9 and the wormhole as the Federation goes against a superior Dominion force. All seems lost when the minefield is destroyed, but Sisko goes into the wormhole and is able to get the Prophets to stop the Dominion fleet from making it through the wormhole. But, in return, the Prophets determine Sisko's ultimate fate.
"You Are Cordially Invited..."
In the aftermath of the battle to reclaim DS9, Worf and Dax marry. But, it is not easy for Dax, who first has to earn the favor of Sirella, the Mistress of the House of Martok. Only then can the marriage take place.
The mirror universe (Vedek) Bereil comes to DS9 under false pretense.
Four genetically engineered humans come to DS9 to visit with Dr. Bashir. We learn that not all engineered humans turn out as stable as Bashir; in fact, most end up mentally challenged. These four, very withdrawn from reality and society, are energized when Bashir tells them about the Dominion War. It turns out the five of them can make fantastically intuitive predictions on the war, which greatly disturbs Starfleet Command.
"The Magnificent Ferengi"
Moogie has been captured by the Dominion, and it's up to Quark, Rom, Nog, Brunt, Cousin Gaila, and Lek to rescue her. They travel to Empok Nor to trade a captured Vorta for Moogie.
While en route to a special jury for Dukat, the USS Honshu is attacked by the Jem'Hadar. Only Dukat and Sisko escape and are trapped together on a barren planet. A crazed Dukat tried to convince a wounded Sisko that he is not an evil man.
"Who Mourns for Morn?"
Morn is killed when his ship is destroyed in an ion storm, and Quark is the sole benefactor. It turns out Morn had one hundred bricks of latinum, but Quark may not be able to enjoy his newfound wealth.
"Far Beyond the Stars"
During Grandpa Sisko's first trip to DS9 and Cassidy Yate's return to the station, Sisko has a vision from the prophets. He finds himself transported to Earth in the 1950s where he is a writer for a science-fiction magazine. But, as a black man, he has to face and try to overcome the racial intolerance of the era.
"One Little Ship"
While Dax, O'Brien, and Bashir are exploring a spatial compression phenomenon in a runabout, the Defiant is attacked and taken over by the Jem'Hadar. The now-miniaturized runabout is the only hope to rescue the Federation vessel.
"Honor Among Thieves"
O'Brien is sent on a deep undercover mission to infiltrate the Orion Syndicate. He is successful, but he begins to sympathize with the cell's leader.
"Change of Heart"
With the Defiant on patrol, Dax and Worf are sent on a mission to retrieve an urgent message from a double-agent on Cardassia. But they soon learn the agent must defect or he will die. The two go to a remote Dominion outpost, but Jadzia is critically injured on the hike to meet up with the Cardassian. Worf must decide whether to save Jadzia or complete the mission.
"Wrongs Darker than Death or Night"
Dukat tells Kira that her mother was a comfort woman during the Occupation. Not believing him, Kira uses the Orb of Time to travel back and uncover the truth.
Under the guise of looking for a spy on DS9, Internal Affairs Officer Sloan (brilliantly portrayed by William Sadler, Die Hard 2, Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey) interrogates Dr. Bashir. However, there really isn't a spy on the station; Sloan is there to recruit Bashir to join Section 31 -- an ultra-secret organization within Starfleet that answers to no one.
"In the Pale Moonlight"
Tired of the mounting losses in the war, Sisko decides that the Romulans must join the war. With Garak's assistance, Sisko partakes in several dark tasks to accomplish his goal.
Bashir has a new holoprogram with a unique character, Vic Fontaine. Vic is a lounge singer in 1950s Las Vegas, but he is also fully aware that he is a hologram in the future. But even more than that, he is exceptionally intuitive and begins to counsel the crew. His first task: to bring together Kira and Odo.
An ancient tablet found underneath the lost city of Bahala speaks of the Emissary and the reckoning. No one knows what the tablet speaks of, and Sisko brings the artifact to the station. Soon, he is compelled to destroy the tablet, releasing a Pah-wraith. As a Prophet takes over Kira's body, the Pah-wraith takes over Jake's body, and it's a battle to the death to determine the fate of the celestial temple.
With Jake on hand to report, Nog has been asked by Starfleet to deliver a diplomatic message to the Grand Nagus; but their shuttle is caught in a surprise attack by the Jem'Hadar. Soon, they are deep in Dominion territory and are saved by the USS Valiant, a Defiant-class vessel. The ship, now commanded solely by Red Squadron cadets, was on a training mission when the war broke out. They decided to continue their mission to find a new class of Dominion vessel, but these cadets are in way over their heads.
"Profit and Lace"
Grand Nagus Zek has caused a civil war on Ferenginar by giving women the right to wear clothing. He's expelled to DS9, and it's up to Zek, Moogie, Quark, Rom, and Nog to prevent Brunt from becoming the next Nagus.
While on a picnic, the O'Brien family stumbles across a time portal. Young Molly accidentally falls into it, and everyone comes together to try and save her. They are eventually successful in finding Molly, but when they bring her back to the present, she has already aged ten years -- all of that time, she was alone. Now Miles and Keiko work to re-assimilate their daughter back into her old life.
"The Sound of Her Voice"
During a routine convoy escort mission, the Defiant picks up an audio-only distress signal. The Captain is trapped alone, six days away from them. As the Defiant speeds to her rescue, the crew of the Defiant talks with her to help her not be alone and pass the time. She helps Sisko and his crew work through their personal crises.
"Tears of the Prophet"
The Federation decides that it needs to take an offensive action against the Dominion, and Sisko is tasked with planning the invasion of Cardassia. The Prophets come to Sisko telling him he must stay with Bajor, but he is duty bound to lead the battle. Dukat returns to Cardassia with a plan to destroy the Federation. As Sisko and the fleet invade Cardassia, Dukat sneaks aboard DS9 with dire consequences.
In watching season six, I sometimes found myself shaking my head in wonder. Was this really Star Trek that I was watching? It's just so different from every other incarnation. And, I've said it many times before but it doesn't get old: Deep Space Nine is a great show that you should watch. Because it is different from every other spin-off, you never know what to expect. It isn't the same stolid characters in the fresh and rosy Federation. We travel in the gray in the DS9 universe.
But the writers knew that a perpetual darkness was not something that would always keep the viewers coming back. Though there is a devastating war going on, they knew they could not focus on that in every episode, or their fans could become bored or maybe even disenfranchised. You cannot beat on the drum forever before you annoy people. As such, one of the greatest positive changes dreamed up this year was the holocharacter of Vic Fontaine (James Darren). Vic was a self-aware hologram, programmed as a lounge singer in 1950s Las Vegas. When people needed to get away, they went to Vic's for some warm company and great entertainment. Trek has occasionally dabbled in music (Spock and his harp, Uhura and her singing, Worf and Picard doing Broadway), but this is the first time that they found someone who really knew how to sing. Darren's true talent was a refreshing change, so when the characters went into Vic's, you found yourself looking forward to the singing. Who would have thought there'd be a '50s lounge singer on Star Trek? But beyond the charm of Vic's singing, he became much more. Because he was a very special hologram, he was masterfully in tune with people. So, Vic became the station's counselor. People would find themselves going to Vic to help them through the hard times of the war. Vic's place became the perfect counterpoint to the darkness of the war.
And DS9 brilliantly handled the war. It wasn't solved in one or even a few episodes. As with the rest of the series, arcs developed and played out gradually. Entire multi-episode arcs fleshed out the pain and anguish of a true war. People dealt with the strife in realistic fashion. The war, much to our dismay, was not going well for our Federation. The Dominion seemed to be the superior force. And that, too, is a fascinating counterpoint in that our friends, the good guys, weren't winning. DS9 rarely took the easy path.
During season six, Worf's and Dax's characters became very prominent. At the end of year five, Jadzia said she would marry Worf at the end of the war. But, with the war not going well, the two took the first opportunity, the first lull in the action, to get married. It was a Trek first: two central characters tied the knot. (O'Brien and Keiko weren't central characters on TNG, but, if you persist, I'll note that their relationship has been explored on DS9 and not on TNG.) If you've read some of my TNG reviews, you may recall that I am not overly fond of the Klingons. They're excellent characters, but I feel they're overplayed -- a little of them goes a long way for me. So, I easily tire of the Klingon episodes.
And this is where my memory starts to come into play.
Knowing my predilection to be bored by Klingon episodes, I was not looking forward to "You Are Cordially Invited." It wasn't just the fact that it was a "Klingon" episode, but, like Quark and Julian, I wasn't fond of the idea of Jadzia and Worf marrying in the first place, and I had a vague recollection that I didn't enjoy the episode the first time. Memories, they can be a tricky thing. As I watched the episode, I was surprised to find that I liked it, quite a bit in fact. It was nothing like I remembered, and I found it to be one of the better tales of the year. It didn't matter that it was a Klingon episode, nor did it matter what I thought of the two getting together. My memory was wrong, and this was a fun episode that went where no Trek had gone before. It greatly expanded the characters and opened up more unexplored avenues for the writers -- as evidenced later in the year in "Change of Heart."
I could go on and say practically the same thing regarding the Ferengi episodes, but I won't. Suffice it to say, this year came to a mixed decision on the Ferengi due to the odd juxtaposition of episodes. On the one side, there was the excellent episode "The Magnificent Ferengi"; on the other, there was the silly, cross-dressing episode "Profit and Lace."
But now we get into the deeper and darker areas of DS9 -- major events that developed this year that had a profound impact on the direction of the series. There are two of them, and both also play a part in my memory game. The first is the death of Jadzia, and the second is the birth of Section 31.
Terry Farrell, who plays Jadzia, decided that season six would be her last with the franchise. I'm not certain we ever learned the true story of why she didn't want to sign for the final year (money? stagnation?), but it was a surprise and a blow to the fans -- not to mention a blow to Worf, who would now lose the second love of his life. At the time, I remember feeling somewhat bitter about her departure. Why couldn't she just do one more year? Why mess up a solid show? So, when the rumors bubbled up that she would die, I didn't shed a tear. I guess I felt that was a just outcome for someone who betrayed my show. Good riddance! Now, a few years later, with that bitterness and betrayal long vanished, I can look at the death of Jadzia in a whole new light. In this case, it's not so much a case of being deceived by my memory, but being overly influenced by lesser factors. Still, I expected to not care that Jadzia would die. I didn't expect anything to really change, but I was wrong. This time I was sad that she had to die, had to leave. Watching six years worth of episodes in a compressed amount of time allowed me to more fully appreciate every character's development and interaction. This time, without the onslaught of external emotions, I didn't want her to go. It was a shame. Her death, which was handled a bit lightly -- I feel it needed more gravitas -- altered the arc of the show once again. But, as in all things Trek, no one ever really dies. Jadzia was gone, but Dax would be back.
Trumping all of this in importance, however, is the creation of the dark and dangerous organization, Section 31. Star Trek has survived and flourished for decades because of the shows that tackle the tough topics, be it Vietnam, racism, homosexuality, or many others. Fans appreciate how the writers have been able to (usually) delicately weave social commentary into this science-fiction setting. That's what brought the show back to life in the '70s, and that's what helps keep it going today.
Trek has always been prescient. I'm not simply speaking about its uncanny knack for predicting technology; they've been also been able to tackle topics before they've hit the mainstream. In the case of Section 31, they addressed a topic five years before its importance would sink in. When Sloan first came to Bashir in "Inquisition" and talked about Section 31, I loved it. I was enamored by this shadowy group that set out to take care of dangers to the Federation. Back then, I remember believing how "cool" it was that such a group could be hidden within the Federation. Contrary to all we've seen before, the perfect Federation does have a dark side. To maintain the peace and stability of hundreds of worlds, Section 31 had to sometimes resort to undesirable means. What a fascinating concept. But fast forward to today, and I am no longer that fond of the implications of the rogue Section 31. I had every expectation of simply enjoying the episode as I had years before; I didn't have the slightest inclination that something would suddenly feel amiss. Yet, the concept of Section 31 has eerie similarities to what is going on in America today. Without being too political, I have been unnerved by some developments that have been implemented by my government in the aftermath of the tragedy of 9/11. Seeing an enigmatic group that answers to no one and can invade one's privacy at will makes me too nervous about unchecked power in my real life. I fear the lengths that some individuals may be willing to go to in the name of freedom, and I fear that their power could go one step too far. Do I have cause for worry? I believe I do. In the end, Bashir may have destroyed Section 31, for he realized the dangers of such an organization. Now, today, we must be careful that we don't end up crossing that dangerous line ourselves.
Star Trek continues to delight me, amaze me, and even make me think, even when I least expect it.
But it is now time to move past the social commentary and discuss the attributes of the DVD set itself. I'm going to sound like a broken record (does that cliché still work since there are so few record players in existence anymore?) because this set is as are all the others. There's nothing here to differentiate it from its predecessors. It's another pressing from the Paramount Trek mold. The full frame video is a duplicate of every other set out there: adequate color definition, pleasant details and saturation, and minimal transfer errors. For television, it's a nice transfer, but not as lush as we're getting used to. In my review of season five, I briefly went on about how the sound mix was so much better that year. Well, I have to take a step back and say that I think I was a bit too kind in my analysis. In going back, the sound in year five was the same as in every other year, except for a few well placed directionals. As such, year six is another copy of the same thing: no hiss or distortion, clear dialogue, and modest use of the bass and surrounds. With all the massive space battles, I really was hoping to get more.
The extras for this season are the same as for every other set: a half dozen featurettes and ten "hidden" Section 31 files. I'll say that the bonus items on this disc were a bit above average, as they hit interesting topics and discussed them from new angles. That's what fans want: new interviews and new information. Of course, we'd also love to see outtakes, deleted scenes, commentaries, and a real in-depth feature, but I guess we'll just have to keep on dreaming. The featurettes are:
* "Mission Inquiry: Far Beyond the Stars" (8.5 minutes): a good,
if too short, look at this brilliant tale of racism in America.
* "24th Century Wedding" (10.5 minutes): a chance to learn more about Trek's first, big wedding.
* "Crew Dossier: Julian Bashir" (14 minutes): perhaps the best dossier to date.
* "Crew Dossier: Quark" (15.5 minutes): It would appear that Armin Shimmerman takes his role a bit too seriously.
* "Sketchbook: John Eaves" (9 minutes)
* A photo gallery.
* The now-old Indiana Jones DVD preview trailer.
I am quite fond of this series and have nothing negative to say at this point. Instead, I would like to point out to you the episode "In the Pale Moonlight," the only A+ grade of the year. DS9 delves into the gray areas, and no other episode truly shows the ramifications of having to do bad things to achieve a good goal. See what it takes for Sisko to turn the tide of war, and see how he must come to terms with his actions.
Aside from a disappointing mirror universe episode and an odd cross-dressing Ferengi episode, the sixth season of Deep Space Nine is superb, intensely marching towards its inevitable end. Always doing more than simply scratching the surface, DS9 investigates the characters and the consequences of all its actions, rewarding the viewer with insightful and fully developed characters and situations. It is not the Star Trek you may be used to, and it is all the better because of that. As always, I wholly and highly recommend the series for your viewing pleasure. Take the time to watch the show, and you will be rewarded.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Season Six is hereby found not 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: 1998
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Mission Inquiry: Far Beyond the Stars
* 24th Century Wedding
* Crew Dossier: Julian Bashir
* Crew Dossier: Quark
* Sketchbook: John Eaves
* Photo Gallery
* Indiana Jones Preview
* Official Site