1). A Year in Deep Space (9):
A 1997 final draft script from Star Trek Deep Space Nine.
5. Jammer’s Review:
1). A Year in Deep Space (9):
A 1997 final draft script from Star Trek Deep Space Nine.
5. Jammer’s Review:
Over the summer, Netflix added all of the Star Trek series to it’s instant service–well, all but one: Deep Space Nine. This made me sad, because DS9 was my favorite, but I figured it would be a good opportunity to catch up on Voyager and Enterprise, which I watched some of (two seasons and one season, respectively) but never really got into. I tried, and quickly remembered why I’d stopped watching those shows (Neelix and implausibility, respectively). I was already in a Star Trek mood, though, so I went back and started watching The Next Generation. I really enjoyed this series while it was on TV–it’s final season ended my senior year of high school, and my friends and I were all Star Trek nerds–and in rewatching some of the old episodes I was delighted to see that they held up over time. It wasn’t just nostalgia that made me like them in high school, and in fact many of the episodes I remember as kind of boring turned out to be pretty great once I watched them with a more discerning eye.
Last night, having just watched “Pen Pals” from season two (specifically because it was recently covered in Tor.com’s TNG rewatch), I decided on a whim to do a search for DS9, just in case Netflix had added it to the Instant Streaming options. TNG is great and all, but the episodic nature of it was really starting to get to me. I wanted the depth of an ongoing story, and the darkness and tension of DS9′s murky political minefield. What could it hurt? I pulled up the search window and…it was there! My sweet, precious Deep Space Nine! I went straight toward the end of season two, when the long-form story just starts to get going (a two-parter about the formation of the Maquis, a resistance/terrorist organization) and started watching.
I love this show so much. We start that episode by watching someone plant a bomb, and then instead of watching it explode, we jump to the control room and listen to Dax and Kira have a snarky, half-friendly-half antagonistic conversation about dating. Not only does this serve as a perfect example of the Hitchcock Principle (“Suspense is when you know there’s a bomb but it doesn’t go off”), its wonderful character development, and nicely humorous. Then the bomb goes off and a ship explodes, and the entire sequence is a perfect, representative slice of DS9: darkness, conspiracy, humor, character, and mundane life. These characters didn’t have time to catalog anomalies and dork around with the Prime Directive, because people were setting bombs on their ships. It was all they could do to keep their heads above water while the darker forces of the universe did everything it could to destroy them. And in the midst of it all they do their best to live a normal life.
The first two seasons of Deep Space Nine were still trying, albeit half-heartedly, to mimic a normal Star Trek show; you still got a lot of political stuff (I can’t even count the number of people I’ve talked to who hate the show based solely on its early preoccupation with Bajoran politics), but there was a lot of “Anomaly of the Week” type stuff. I’m not saying that the other Trek shows were frivolous–they’re well-known and well-loved precisely because they deal with weighty issues like ethics and responsibility. The difference with DS9 came in its tone, which was dark and tense and far more bleak than the others. Every Trek show has tricky questions, but DS9 has questions with no good answers–and, more importantly, consequences that come back to haunt the characters for years.
The TNG episode “Pen Pals” is a great example. Data accidentally contacts a young girl on a dying planet, resulting in a fascinating quandary over the Prime Directive: do they save her? Do they save her planet? If saving her will irrevocably destroy her culture, is it still worth it? If the only other option is death, does the Prime Directive even matter? They wrestle with this back and forth for an hour, and it’s great science fiction, and then in the end they choose to save her planet and–here’s the kicker–wipe the girl’s memory. They broke the Prime Directive by directly interfering with a developing culture, and then there were zero consequences, and then they flew away and never thought about it again. All of their deep, philosophical theorizing was interesting, but ultimately meaningless.
Deep Space Nine doesn’t have that kind of crap. If they mess with something and cause a problem, they’ll have to deal with it, probably several times. They’re a space station, so they can’t just fly away to a part of space they haven’t ruined yet. The Maquis I mentioned earlier were a resistance group forged by the events of a TNG episode: the Federation came to a political agreement with the Cardassians, resulting in a demilitarized zone that displaced a lot of people. Colonists in Federation territory suddenly found themselves, and the homes they’d given so much to build, under enemy control. TNG never really dealt with this, but DS9 used it all the time. The colonists felt betrayed, and when the Cardassians exercised what the colonists considered to be unfair control, they formed a resistance movement and/or terrorist organization. They blew stuff up and killed people, and the DS9 characters couldn’t just wipe anyone’s memorizes or reroute power to the deflector array, they had to hang around and deal with it and try to make peace in an impossible situation.
In season three, Deep Space Nine embraced its long-form nature and went whole hog, starting a massive war that consumed not only the Federation and the Cardassians, but the Klingons, Romulans, and a new alien nation called the Dominion. The one where the Romulans join the war is one of the best episodes ever: the Federation is losing the war and needs more help, so they order DS9′s captain to enlist the Romulan’s help as allies through “any means necessary”. If he doesn’t get their help, the Federation will be destroyed–but the only way to get their help is to break his own set of ethics in a profound and terrifying way. There are no easy answers on DS9, and the implications of his decisions in that episode haunt him forever.
I don’t know why I’m telling you all of this–I can’t convince you, objectively, that a piece of art is “good.” It’s on Netflix now, so watch it for yourself. Perhaps it would be simpler to say that DS9 has my favorite characters of any Star Trek show and leave it at that. Perhaps it’s enough to point out that DS9 was run, in part, but Ronald Fracking Moore, who also ran the reimagined Battlestar Galactica. Whatever convinces you to try it, try it. It’s my favorite Star Trek show ever.
(And that makes it the best.)
The couple: Worf, half-Klingon Strategic Operations Officer on DS9, marries Jadzia Dax, a Trill whose combined lives include five previous marriages.
The premise: Worf wants to get married on the Klingon home world after the Dominion War ends, but Dax convinces him to do it in Quark’s bar on DS9. Worf and Dax gear up for a traditional Klingon wedding, but the matriarch of the House of Martok opposes the marriage.
The inevitable sequence of mishaps: While Worf goes on his four day long bachelor party with Sisko, Martok, Bashir, and O’Brien, House of Martok matriarch Sirella judges Dax’s worthiness as a potential wife for Worf. As Dax isn’t a Klingon, Sirella finds her completely unsuitable. The bachelor party turns out to be incredibly uncomfortable, involving six trials on the path to Kal’Hyah – deprivation, blood, pain, sacrifice, anguish and death. During Dax’s bachelorette party, Sirella shows up and demands that Dax perform a ritual. Dax refuses, she and Sirella come to blows, and then Worf insists that Dax beg Sirella’s forgiveness. Of course Dax won’t do that, and she tells a depressed Worf that she won’t participate in his traditional Klingon wedding, whereupon he calls the whole thing off. Finally, Martok convinces Worf to apologize to Dax, and Sisko convinces Dax to apologize to Sirella, so the wedding goes ahead.
The clichés: Judgmental and demanding mother-in-law, obsession with details, unexpected cultural rituals, crazy bachelor party, briefly cancelled wedding, blood rituals (okay, for a Klingon it’s cliché).
The bridesmaid dresses: Klingon weddings don’t have bridesmaids, but they do have men who symbolically attack the newly married couple with clubs immediately after the ceremony. So, you know, basically the same thing.
And in the end…: Happily, Sirella accepts Dax into the House of Martok and Worf is able to have the Klingon wedding of his dreams.
The verdict: The strange thing about this episode is that while the entire wedding rests on several crucial apologies (Worf must apologize to Dax for being intolerant, Dax must apologize to Sirella for being insufficiently humble), neither of those apologies happen on screen. The big emotional payoff for each character is when someone else convinces them that apologies are in order, and then completely skips over whatever Dax actually says to Sirella to gain acceptance. Much as I enjoy the subsequent Klingon ceremony, (bride and groom ceremonially attack each other, two Klingon hearts beat as one, gods tremble, etc. etc.), I feel like the episode misses something important in skipping those apologies. Realizing you should say you’re sorry is the easy part – actually saying it is usually much harder. In any event, Worf and Jadzia Dax’s marriage goes very well until Jadzia is killed by Gul Dukat and another Trill joins the Dax symbiont. Then things get understandably awkward for a while.
Gabby Nicasio 11/03/2011 5
It’s come to my attention that there are several people in the world, a not-insignificant number of people, a handful of lonely, sad, socially isolated people, who have never seen Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
I’m here to help.
The plan is this: this post will serve as a primer on the series. I’ll then follow up with one post per each of the seven seasons, and these will detail which episodes are essential viewing. Any not listed can, in theory, be skipped. If you’re a jerk who doesn’t care enough.
You may ask what will constitute “essential viewing”. The answer is: my completely biased opinion. This post should also serve as a primer for what my particular biases are. Believe me, it’ll become very, very clear.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is a show in which everyone makes horrible decisions, and then tons of people die. It is my favorite show. The series takes place in and around the space station Deep Space Nine. (Hey! That’s the name of the show! ) The station is Cardassian-built, Bajoran-owned, and Federation-run, and if that sounds like a mess, then you’re already following along quite nicely.
This fixed location for the series allows the show to delve immediately and deeply into the local politics of the region. There are three main players in local politics. Guess who they are. Go, on, I’ll wait. Okay here:
The Cardassian Union
Also and more accurately known as the Cardassian Empire. Cardassians are Space Russians. They have crocodilian scales, slicked-back hair, and are given swagger lessons in grade school. At the time when the first season begins, they’ve long been living under a fiercely-enforced military leadership. Their civilian government employs a brutal and crafty intelligence service, the Obsidian Order, who make it their business to know what you ate for dinner three Tuesdays ago. They keep a file on your bowel movements. They have read your fanfiction, and they’re not impressed.
Cardassians are passionate about durable fabrics, pointy architecture, saunas, and oppression. They are the best. They are the absolute best.
At the start of the series, the Cardassians have just pulled out of their 60-year-long occupation of Bajor.
A pool filled entirely with Bajoran tears.
Is a lovely planet filled with sad people who look a lot like Ensign Ro.
During the Cardassian occupation, Bajor was strip-mined, its people forced into slave labor, and upwards of 10 million of its citizens were killed. Which explains the sadness. The Bajoran Resistance used guerrilla warfare tactics to oppose the occupation, and eventually the pressure was too much. The Cardassian civilian government called for a military withdrawal.
Bajorans love earrings, religion, armed rebellion, and shoulder pads.
At the start of the series, Bajor has a wobbly provisional government and a militia that is largely made up of former Resistance members. Because of their tenuous political and agricultural situation, they’ve accepted some help from the Federation.
The United Federation of Planets
If you don’t know who these people are, then I’m not sure what you’re doing here. For the purposes of watching DS9, just think of them as NATO. Think of them as Space NATO.
The Federation is very fond of paperwork, jumpsuits, ignoring its own Prime Directive, and maintaining an enduring, naive sense of smug superiority. But mainly jumpsuits. They just cannot get enough of jumpsuits.
Here is one of Jake Sisko’s least garish jumpsuits.
In this space I was going to talk about all the main characters, of whom there are many. But then I remembered I was supposed to let my bias run free, so instead this will just be about Garak.
Is a tailor. Although word on the Promenade is that he used to be a spy. Or is still a spy. Word in Garak’s shop of tailored fineries is that he used to be a gardener. Then again, maybe he’s a political exile. Or a political refugee. Or an exiled spy. Or an exiled gardener? Maybe he’s with the Fashion Police. Maybe he’s a Romulan Princess. These are all distinct possibilities.
Garak is the only remaining resident Cardassian aboard DS9. He is the best. Cardassians are the best and Garak is the best Cardassian, so he is extra best. This is very important. You should write this down. There is not an un-fabulous scale on Garak’s grayscale body.
Let’s look at him again, shall we?
Oh yeah and there’s a wormhole.
This will cause no trouble whatsoever.
It connects one side of the galaxy to the other. No big deal. You shouldn’t be worried about that old thing at all.
So! To sum up! If you like:
Along with speaking English, most intelligent aliens look a remarkable amount like humans. It is amazing that creatures developed so similarly, even though we lived in different planets and different galaxies. Even the Breen, a species in Star Trek whose bodies are never seen except completely encased in suits, are bipedal. The Breen are mysterious, with only guesses regarding why they wear the suits and what they look like underneath. They seem so foreign, yet at the same time, so similar in their two-legged-ness. Not only are they bipedal, but like humans, they also have two arms and one head. I know that the Alien Actors Guild (AAG!) only allows bipedal aliens to join, making it extremely difficult for film or television to employ non-bipedal creatures. However, producers could make more effort towards equal representation of the non-bipedal variety.
Farscape does the best job so far on Earth at including aliens with multiple extremities in major and positive roles. Pilot is one of the few non-bipedal aliens to serve as a main character. Moya, the spaceship, is also without legs, although with great propulsion, and is a major element in the show. Indeed, the series could not exist without some form of Moya. I hope she asked for a raise. Although Rygel XVI isn’t exactly without two legs, the fact that the deposed Hynerian leader flies around on his Thronesled most of the time, rarely walking or showing his legs, makes him appear non-bipedal at times.
Shows are making progress towards the inclusion of more or less legs. However, it will be a long time before the leggy or leggless creatures feel accepted in the hearts of earthlings.
It may be British English, American English, or Australian English, but indeed, most aliens speak English. Perhaps this all began because “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” many spoke English. Maybe that’s where we learned the language from. At the time of the Stargate film in 1994, aliens in the Stargate universe did not in fact speak English. Between 1994 and the beginning of 1997 series, aliens in multiple galaxies had all learned English. Perhaps Daniel Jackson taught them while he was living on another planet or they simply heard Earthlings were coming (just the American English speaking kind) and they wanted to be prepared. I appreciate the effort, especially in such a short time.
There are a few aliens out there who don’t speak English, such as all sorts of species in Star Trek and in Farscape. Apparently those crews were able to travel far enough to find areas of space that English hadn’t pervaded, at least until a wormhole brought Ben Browder and Claudia Black to Stargate Command and the world of English-speaking aliens. Oddly though, the translator microbes in Farscape gave an Australian accent to those speaking, even though the listener spoke with an American accent. What an odd translation quirk!
The tenacious Star Trek crew was able to understand alien-speak via the “universal translator.” The universal translator worked on the basic scientific principle of magic. With a click of a button, magically everyone could understand each other and the camera could record English-speak. For the uninitiated, “universal translator” is code for “writers’ pitiful attempt to deal with alien communication problems.” At least they made an attempt, albeit a sad one.
The influence of English across the universe is amazing and unbounded. With this sort of power, I don’t see how non-English speaking cultures here on Earth have any hope.