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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

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What We Left Behind: Looking Back at Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, will take a detailed look at this historic series and consider the reasons why "fans all over the world are rediscovering and embracing the show with an enthusiasm rivaling the affection they feel for any other Star Trek series."   

I’m curious to see this documentary -- supposed to be released early this year.  Ever since Adam Nimoy quit the project, it seems Ira Steven Behr has been dragging his feet to complete the film.  Like many Trek fans, I think Deep Space Nine has been sorely underrated…. can’t recall seeing TV reruns of any DS9 episodes (or Enterprise either, for that matter) – only Next Generation and Voyager, besides the original series.  One thing does seem problematic-- Avery Brooks apparently declined to be interviewed.

Edited by phlox

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Links to our threads on the original TV series (1966-1969), the original movie series (1979-2002), Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994), Star Trek: Enterprise (2001-2005), Star Trek (2009), Star Trek into Darkness (2013), Star Trek Beyond (2016), Star Trek: Discovery (2017-present) and Star Trek 14 (in development). We don't seem to have a thread on Star Trek: Voyager (1995-2001).

Until a few months ago, I had never seen more than a few episodes of Deep Space Nine. But last year, I spent a couple months on bed rest after my surgery, and I decided to start watching all of the Next Generation episodes -- and once I was finished with *that* series, I decided to check out Deep Space Nine. And my goodness. I'm only four episodes away from finishing the series now, and I love it. Deep Space Nine is easily the best Star Trek series ever. It starts off fairly strong -- unlike all the other shows, every central member of the cast (and even a few of the key supporting characters) were there from the first episode (with the exception of Worf, who was with TNG at the time and did not join DS9 until Season 4) -- and it's got a seriously strong narrative momentum going as it moves towards its conclusion (unlike, say, TNG, which felt like it was twiddling its thumbs for most of its final season, which in hindsight makes the fact that most of the TNG movies were crap less surprising). I've been posting little blurbs about some of the episodes to my Facebook wall; maybe some of them would merit re-posting here. But I really, really like this show.

So, I am definitely primed to watch this documentary.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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Thanks for your thoughts…think you’ll enjoy the last few episodes. Many of the long story arcs are resolved in the 2- part finale, though (as I recall) at least one major issue is left up in the air, which I guess explains why Ira Steven Behr’s documentary theorizes on what an 8th season could have been like. One thing I really appreciated was how DS9 took spiritual themes seriously, developing their potential for both good and evil. Behr and Michael Piller deserve a lot of credit for combining science and faith, and exploring moral ambiguity--though hope is kept alive even in the bleakest times. Looking back, it almost seems that, for the US, Sisko’s leadership anticipated the Obama administration, and the “religious” terrorism foreshadowed the 9-11 attacks by militant extremists. Maybe that’s a bit of a stretch, but Trek often did appear to predict things (in technology anyway).

The light-hearted episodes stand out in my mind as well – Sisko’s baseball team, the return of the tribbles, Quark’s mother, Vic Fontaine’s Vegas lounge, etc.

Edited by phlox

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phlox wrote:
: Thanks for your thoughts…think you’ll enjoy the last few episodes.

I've got just two episodes to go now. (Actually, I've arguably got only *one* episode to go, since the last two hours of the series were a two-hour finale.) The third-to-last hour -- the last hour before the two-hour finale -- was an unusually comedic diversion with the Ferengi. (It's not unusual that the *series* have a funny Ferengi episode, but it does feel a bit weird in this final ten-hour stretch of the series, which is focused so heavily on wrapping up the Dominion War.) I remember watching the finale when it first aired back in 1999 -- it was one of only, like, three episodes that I watched when they were brand new (along with the pilot and the Tribbles episode) -- but I haven't seen it since then, so it should be interesting to revisit that episode with the entire series in mind now.

: One thing I really appreciated was how DS9 took spiritual themes seriously, developing their potential for both good and evil.

Absolutely! And not just with the Bajoran religion, which has been handled so well (oh, how I love Kira), but also with regard to the Klingons and the Ferengi (whose religions come off as *parodies* of religion to one degree or another -- I love the creation myth that gets recited at Klingon weddings -- but still, the point is, prayer and spirituality are all part of the picture).

: Looking back, it almost seems that, for the US, Sisko’s leadership anticipated the Obama administration, and the “religious” terrorism foreshadowed the 9-11 attacks by militant extremists.

Well, maybe. Sisko is black, and there's a religious aura around him because of the whole 'Emissary' thing (just as many people tended to project quasi-messianic fantasies onto Obama), but Sisko's ruthlessness in the course of fighting the Dominion and the Maquis (and his love of baseball!) arguably has a more Bush-like feel, especially when he essentially permits the illegal forced extraction of memories from that Section 31 guy.

It's interesting you'd compare the "religious" terrorism to the 9-11 attacks, though, because the "religious" terrorists in this series are the good guys, right? (I assume you're referring to the Bajorans. The Maquis may have tried to be terrorists, but they weren't religious about it. And the Cardassians end up taking tips from the Bajorans on how to be terrorists, but they're not religious about it either.)

: The light-hearted episodes stand out in my mind as well – Sisko’s baseball team, the return of the tribbles, Quark’s mother, Vic Fontaine’s Vegas lounge, etc.

The baseball episode was great, though the way the Vulcans and the non-Vulcans talk about each other, it does make you wonder if the Federation really *has* stamped out racism in the future... Speaking of which, I was never entirely sold on the Vic Fontaine stuff, but I was intrigued by the fact that Sisko, a 24th-century man, initially refuses to hang out in the 1960s casino environment because of how black people were treated in 20th-century America. That, and the episode in which Sisko imagines he's a 20th-century sci-fi writer, just might be the *only* times in all of Star Trek where racism *between humans* has been addressed directly. Usually it's allegorical (e.g. the TOS episode 'Let That Be Your Last Battlefield') or between species (like when Sisko tells Odo he's not telling the Changeling to do something for "racial" reasons). There's a two-part storyline in Season 3, I think, where Sisko and a few others go back in time to the 2020s (only a few years from now!), which is when the "Bell Riots" took place, but there's no racism in play there -- instead, the social unrest is strictly *class*-based, as we can see members of all races among the upper class *and* the dispossessed.

Side note: Last year, during the run-up to Star Trek: Discovery, some doofus wrote that Star Trek had lost its political edge in the 1990s. That person clearly hadn't seen Deep Space Nine (or, if they had, they weren't paying attention). The Bell Riots, the racism stuff, the gender-bending Trill stories, even the transformation of the Ferengi culture away from "free enterprise"... it's all there, even if it isn't as in-your-face "woke" as some millennials would like.

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4 hours ago, Peter T Chattaway said:

It's interesting you'd compare the "religious" terrorism to the 9-11 attacks, though, because the "religious" terrorists in this series are the good guys, right?

Well, my comparisons  were pretty limited...About the ‘religious’ terrorists, I was thinking mainly of the Pah-wraiths, who carried out attacks on the Prophets;  they abducted Kira and tried to assassinate Sisko.  The Founders/shapeshifters-- who were sometimes referred to as gods-- controlled the Dominion which waged war on the Federation.  But,  yeah,  they and the Pah-wraiths were not so much religions as cults radicalized toward violence.   Also I didn't mean to imply Obama resembled Sisko as Emissary....more like his tolerance  as mediator-- "there is room for all philosophies on this station."

All the DS9 actors were outstanding… just wish Terry Farrell hadn’t left the show.  Kira was portrayed as one of the most spiritually committed characters. “That’s the thing about faith…if you don’t have it, you can’t understand it. And if you do, no explanation is necessary. “  --Kira to Odo

Trekmovie said that Avery Brooks is actually very supportive of the project though he did not contribute  interviews.  Interesting bit from Ira Behr-- he said DS9 was “being told constantly that it was a dark show with dark themes, but it’s really a show about love and family.”

Edited by phlox

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phlox wrote:
: About the ‘religious’ terrorists, I was thinking mainly of the Pah-wraiths, who carried out attacks on the Prophets;  they abducted Kira and tried to assassinate Sisko.  

Ah, okay. I was actually surprised at how little of the pah-wraiths there was in this series. I had seen the series finale way back in 1999, and I guess I just assumed that, because the pah-wraiths were clearly a huge deal there, they would be a significant deal throughout the series. As it turned out, they are first mentioned in the Season 5 episode in which one of them possesses Keiko, and then they aren't mentioned *that* much after that until around the time Dukat hooks up with them in Season 6. (And then, of course, the series ended with Season 7.)

: The Founders/shapeshifters-- who were sometimes referred to as gods-- controlled the Dominion which waged war on the Federation.  

I thought the devotion of the Vorta to the Founders was pretty fascinating (as was Odo's reluctance to accept being called a "god", even when one of the Vorta defected to the Federation; it neatly paralleled Sisko's initial reluctance to be the "Emissary" for the Bajorans). And I wondered why the Founders had designed the Vorta to be so obsequious if they were just going to keep on pointing out that they didn't care about the Vorta's opinions of them.

: Also I didn't mean to imply Obama resembled Sisko as Emissary....more like his tolerance  as mediator-- "there is room for all philosophies on this station."

Ah. Well, I don't think Obama was all that different from Bush, in that regard. Bush had some preferences that limited the extent of his outreach, sure, but then, so did Obama.

And doesn't Sisko say that in the Season 1 episode where the Bajorans (including Kira!) object to the secularized teaching that Keiko is introducing to the Bajoran kids? When I first saw that episode back in 1993 (oops, I lied; I said there were *three* episodes that I had seen when they first aired, but this is the fourth that I can recall, now), I remember disliking the episode's easy equations re: fundamentalists=violence (and repressed sexuality; cf. Quark's comment on how much business the "orthodox" Bajorans give his holosuites) versus liberals=good. But watching it now, I found myself thinking that Bajorans like Kira -- who had just thrown off the Cardassian occupation -- would probably have been very inclined to think of the Federation as *another* occupying or colonizing force, and it seemed to me that the episode was sensitive to that, too.

And in the context of all *that*, Sisko's claim that there is room for "all philosophies" on DS9 rang a little hollow, in the way that idealistic principles sometimes do. I mean, Sisko is *angry* with Worf in that Season 4 episode where he learns that Worf was about to kill his brother in a form of Klingon ritual homicide -- a form of homicide that made perfect sense within the Klingon "philosophy" (and was actually requested by the intended victim, because of cultural standards re: honour and shame). Clearly Sisko doesn't *really* believe that there is room for *all* philosophies on DS9. He has his limits. (See also: the alleged Vulcan belief in "Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations", which doesn't actually match anything we've seen of Vulcan culture.)

: All the DS9 actors were outstanding… just wish Terry Farrell hadn’t left the show.

Yeah, she was missed. I didn't *mind* Ezri Dax, but she was strangely different from Jadzia. Where Jadzia happily embraced her dual nature -- part host, part symbiont -- Ezri was constantly distancing herself from Jadzia. Where Jadzia would have said "I" did this and that, when talking about the actions of Curzon etc., Ezri was more prone to saying "he" or "she" did that when talking about Jadzia, Curzon, etc. Or so it seemed to me. Of course, the series kind of sets this up by telling us that Ezri never trained to be a host in the first place; the symbiont was placed inside her (with her consent, I hope!) because it was an emergency situation and the symbiont would have died without her and there were no other potential hosts around.

: Kira was portrayed as one of the most spiritually committed characters.

I *loved* Kira. Oh, did I love her. Which surprised me, because she's not very likable in the earliest episodes. But I really, really liked the way her character developed over the years (with the possible exception of her relationship with Odo in the final season-and-a-half, which I had trouble "buying" at first, and which most of the subsequent episodes didn't press *too* hard; I am not at all surprised to hear that the actors objected to Kira and Odo becoming a couple, because that didn't really seem to be the direction their characters were going, but apparently the actors lost that argument).

One of many reasons why I like Kira is that she felt like the first female character the Star Trek franchise had really gotten "right". TOS and TNG were too deeply infected by Gene Roddenberry's rape-y fantasies (and as you may know, there is widespread speculation that the unnamed "executive" who raped Grace Lee Whitney back in the TOS days was Roddenberry himself; Roddenberry also did weird things like get his mistress to write the TNG episode in which a character played by Roddenberry's wife is kidnapped by the Ferengi for you-know-what reasons). I don't think it's a coincidence that two of the three original female leads in TNG both wanted out of that show by the end of the first season: Denise Crosby's character (who grew up on a planet with "rape gangs" and was *constantly* the object of various guest characters' rape fantasies) was killed, and Gates McFadden simply left the show for a while (and then she came back in Season 3 because one of the producers she found most objectionable had left by then, or so I have read). The one female lead who stuck around for Season 2 of TNG was Marina Sirtis -- and one of the first things that happened to *her* in that season is her character gets knocked up without her knowledge or consent by some presumptuous space alien. Ick, ick, ick all the way around.

Kira, thank God, was almost never compromised like that. She was a strong woman who gave as good as she got and made it very clear where the lines were drawn. But she wasn't all toughness; she had passionate relationships with Bareil and Shakaar (and, eventually, Odo), and some of her scenes with Sisko, where she opens up and admits that he isn't just a commanding officer to her -- he is also a religious icon -- are some of the tenderest, most heartfelt moments in the series. And oh, how deeply emotional it was when Kira had to navigate her relationships with Dukat and his daughter Ziyal. The character worked on so, so many levels. One of the few times I felt she had been "compromised", alas, was in that Season 3 episode with Thomas Riker, where *of course* Riker plants a kiss on her just before he's sent off to the Cardassian labour camp, and Kira... does nothing. I wasn't at all surprised that one of the notoriously sleazy Rikers would act like the nearest woman owed him a kiss, but I *was* disappointed that Kira let him get away with it. (DS9 owes its existence to TNG, but good grief, it's amazing how bad DS9 can get sometimes when TNG characters get involved. I refer to *guest* characters here; Worf and the O'Briens are wonderful, of course, and I was always happy to see Gowron. Possibly other characters as well.)

: Trekmovie said that Avery Brooks is actually very supportive of the project though he did not contribute  interviews.

I have heard that there is speculation that Brooks might not be all that well right now (some form of dementia or something). Apparently some fans wondered what was happening after they saw Brooks in that "Captains" documentary that William Shatner made. (I saw the documentary before I heard those rumours, but I don't recall thinking anything was too out of the ordinary there.)

: Interesting bit from Ira Behr-- he said DS9 was “being told constantly that it was a dark show with dark themes, but it’s really a show about love and family.”

Very true!

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Peter wrote:

       :: Clearly Sisko doesn't *really* believe that there is room for *all* philosophies on DS9.  Sisko is *angry* with Worf where he learns that Worf was about to kill his brother in a form of Klingon ritual homicide.

Good point….in the episode “Sons of Mogh”  Sisko does draw the line at murder. Maybe he accepts all philosophies (as taught in Keiko’s school), but not all practices.

Sisko to Worf: "I have given you both a lot of leeway when it comes to following Klingon traditions, but in case you haven't noticed, this is not a Klingon station, and those are not Klingon uniforms you're wearing. There is a limit to how far I'll go to accommodate cultural diversity among my officers and you've just reached it."

But also, as you noted, on the whole, Klingon and Ferengi  beliefs are treated more or less as parodies of faith. The Bajoran religion is the only one taken seriously. 

          :: the actors objected to Kira and Odo becoming a couple, because that didn't really seem to be the direction their characters were going, but apparently the actors lost that argument)

That was news to me, but I’d say the actors made the relationship convincing.  I loved  the episode (“His Way”)  where Odo takes courtship lessons from Vic Fontaine, and Vic tricks both Odo and Kira into a date on the holodeck.

        :: I don't think it's a coincidence that two of the three original female leads in TNG both wanted out of that show by the end of the first season

I agree that Roddenberry definitely had feet of clay… a creative genius but full of contradictions. 

I wonder how the documentary will treat the theme of faith.  Maybe DS9 suggested as a whole that religion becomes prominent when “paradise” is lost… -- the utopia and optimism of TOS and TNG gave way to a more subversive and fragmented universe … political cynicism and diminished expectations. Bajor never does join the Federation, maybe it was meant to stay apart from the secular world.

Another thing unique to the series was the way characters grew through change and matured –Sisko gradually embraced his role as Emissary. Odo found his way home to the Great Link.  Nog became a fine Starfleet officer.  Ezri and Bashir got together.  Worf is named ambassador.  Garak discovered he could serve a meaningful purpose. And others…The finale wrapped up many story arcs in a satisfying way.  I hope watching it after viewing the series from the start made more sense :-)

Edited by phlox

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