Our reviews of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Season One (published April 8th, 2003), Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Season Two (published May 23rd, 2003), Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Season Three (published September 6th, 2003), Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Season Four (published November 3rd, 2003), Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Season Five (published November 11th, 2003), and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Season Six (published December 8th, 2003) are also available.
"To the best crew any Captain ever had: This may be the last time we're
all together, but no matter what the future holds, no matter how far we travel,
a part of us—a very important part—will always remain here on Deep
Seven years. Seven years filled with a rich tapestry of characters, plots, and shows. Seven years of fun and drama all tied wonderfully together by tales of Prophets, Changelings, and war. The saga of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine kept fans riveted with its fresh take on the Star Trek universe, but seven years was not enough. Though never fully appreciated during its time, DS9 is the best of the five series. I've just been able to make that determination after spending the last year watching the episodes in order for only the second time. Being the black sheep of the family has done this show a great disservice, for it's rarely been in syndication. People have not had the opportunity to savor the delights of the show. Even now, few people outside its core fan base will realize the depth and beauty of DS9 due to the high price tag on the DVD sets. Unfortunately, they are missing some of the best science fiction to come along in quite a long time.
NOTE: This review contains extensive spoilers about the seventh season of DS9.
Facts of the Case
This seven-disc set contains all 25 episodes of the final season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
"Image in the Sand"
"Shadows and Symbols"
"Take Me Out to the Holosuite"
"Treachery, Faith, and the Great River"
"Once More Unto the Breach"
"The Siege of AR-558"
"It's Only a Paper Moon"
"The Emperor's New Cloak"
"Field of Fire"
"Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges"
"'Til Death Do Us Part"
"The Changing Face of Evil"
"When It Rains…"
"Tacking Into the Wind"
"The Dogs of War"
"What You Leave Behind"
I sit here a few days after finishing "What You Leave Behind," and I'm sad—sad in a couple of ways. First, I'm sad because I'm done with the series. I've had the pleasure over the last year to watch every episode of DS9 for only the second time since they originally aired. It's been wonderful to reacquaint myself with my friends from this wonderful series. Paramount really needs to treat this series better, for it is strong and deserving of a wider audience. It needs to be put into syndication so that more people can realize what they've unfortunately missed. I hear that SpikeTV will finally start airing the show sometime between 2004 and 2006. I guess that's a start.
On the other hand, I'm also sad because I'm terribly disappointed, once again, by the ending of the series. When I watched it nearly four years ago, I wasn't satisfied. This week, after hoping time would alter that perception, it didn't. It's a terrific letdown after such a thrilling ride. Over the years, the show created a vast mythology of Prophets, Vortas, Founders, and more. It was a sweeping tale that led the Federation into a terrible war. We'd been introduced to dozens and dozens of characters, and within the confines of the final episodes of year seven, everything had to resolve itself. And it did, but not to my satisfaction.
In one of the bonus features, it is said that the writers really needed five more episodes to close out the show. I agree. Actually, I believe the show needed an eighth season. This idea of running Trek shows for only seven years boggles my mind. The Next Generation was wildly popular and could have easily gone a few more years, but no, we had to jump ship and take them to the big screen to cash in on that popularity. Deep Space Nine, though not as popular, simply needed more time to more satisfactorily tie up the multitude of loose ends made over the years. Five episodes? Seven years? Neither would have been enough. Star Trek has always treated us to 26 hours of television per season (except in the rare occasion of season two of TNG and season one of Voyager). In year seven of DS9, there were 25 distinct episodes, with "What You Leave Behind" being a special two-hour series conclusion. For the first 15 hours of this season, there was little mention of the great Dominion War. Episodes revolved around other fan favorites like the alternate universe, the genetically engineered humans, and Vic Fontaine. Further, the first few episodes of the year also had to take time to settle the cliffhanger from Season Six and to flesh out Ezri Dax, which I'll talk about a bit later. It wasn't until we get to "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges" that the writers realized that they were running out of time. The stories had to begin to resolve all the plots. That's why in my episode descriptions above, I make "joking" references to warp speed: so much had to happen in so little time. Because of that, the episodes didn't gel like they had in the past. The quality of the writing fell at the expense of resolving the series. That's why there are far more "C" grade shows in this year than in any other year I've reviewed. Though it pains my to say this, "Take Me Out to the Holosuite" and "Badda-Bing Badda-Bang" should not have been written. They are great and fun episodes and some of the best of the season, but they take up needed time. Energies were misdirected and the series doesn't come to a proper end.
And what about all of the characters that we've grown to love over time? For the most part, their new paths are logical and agreeable. But some fates just don't sit all that well, most notably that of Captain Sisko. I'm not going to discuss his exact fate ("But, why not?" you ask, "you've already spoiled just about everything else from the season"), but simply said, I've never liked it. Granted, it's a bold and unique way of resolving his role as Emissary, but I would have greatly preferred something related to that home he was going to build on Bajor. Our Captains are meant to always be on the front lines, boldly going where no one has gone before.
The other remarkable event of the seventh season involves the change to the Dax character. As you know, Terry Farrell opted out of playing Jadzia Dax for the final season, so the writers decided to bring in Nicole deBoer (Cube, The Dead Zone) and create Ezri Dax. First, I know that I am in the minority, but I find Ezri to be far more attractive than Jadzia. Given a choice, I'd pick Nicole every time. But, since I'll never be given that choice, I'll continue to dream. Moving on. Unlike Jadzia, Ezri's character was of a Trill that had not gone through the initiate training. She was the only Trill onboard the starship carrying Dax, and the Dax symbiot had to be implanted. As a result, Ezri's character is nervous, bumbling, lacking in self-confidence, and simply an all-around mess. Unsure of who she is and who she wants to be, Ezri is nothing like Jadzia. The transition from one Dax to the other was handled with remarkable aplomb by the writers. They took several episodes to smoothly integrate the character into the fold, keeping her the same yet different from Jadzia. It was an expertly performed transition. But, on the flipside, the time devoted to the new Jadzia, most notably in "Prodigal Daughter," slows down the momentum in resolving all of the other threads, as previously mentioned.
Moving on to the discs, this batch is like every other Star Trek season release that has come before it. If you've seen one, then you've seen them all: it's nothing spectacular, and it adequately delivers the episodes to the fan at home. Aside from some heavy grain in "Penumbra," the discs are clean with satisfactory transfers; the video contains solid colors and good details and contrast, while the audio has clear dialogue without hiss or distortion and the usual minimal use of the surrounds and subwoofer. And, as in Season Six, with the abundance of space battles in this series, an encompassing Dolby Digital 5.1 mix really would have been appreciated.
The bonus materials on this last batch are a touch thinner than in previous years, which is greatly disappointing considering the amount of topics that could have been addressed for a show with such lofty ambition. Your choices of special features are:
• "Ending an Era" (15 minutes): A strong featurette
that nicely details Sisko's arc as Emissary and how it tied the series together.
It's a heartfelt look at the show that clearly expresses the sincere love
everyone had for putting it all together. It also has some interesting
behind-the-scenes footage on the making of "What You Leave Behind."
There's also a boring photo gallery, an inappropriate trailer for The Adventures of Indiana Jones, and the requisite "hidden" Section 31 files, which nicely give a few minutes to the supporting characters. Missing once again are any commentaries, bloopers, deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes footage, or epic documentaries on the series.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Just a few random thoughts from this year:
• The baseball episode, "Take Me Out to the Holosuite,"
was a lot better this time around. I remember being thoroughly annoyed by this
non-arc story so early on in the season. But, knowing what to expect, I
appreciated this one more this time. The same is also true of "Badda-Bing
I am very sad to once again be at the end of this fabulous series, honestly the most original, the most innovative, and best of the five. Deep Space Nine tried a new twist on the tried and true Trek formula and succeeded, boldly expanding the Trek universe more than any other since the original. To compensate for my loss, I've recently gone out and picked up a few DS9 books that I haven't read—which, as you Trek fans know, are the only books left in the Trek universe that are actually written well. Hopefully they'll be enough to wean me from my year-long addiction.
As I've been saying for several seasons now, you really should be watching this show. It's a wonderful variation of the Trek universe, with excellent characters and a riveting plot. Though it doesn't come to fruition as nicely as I would have hoped, it is still definitely worth your time. Buy the series and immerse yourself in the tales of Captain Benjamin Sisko and his faithful crew aboard Deep Space Station 9.
The court hereby declares that Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is the finest incarnation of Trek and thereby not guilty on all counts.
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Scales of Justice
• "Ending an Era"
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