I Think Star Trek: Ds9 Actually Gets Good Before Worf Shows Up

Advertisement

I think Star Trek: Deep Space Nine actually gets good before Lt. Commander Worf (Michael Dorn) shows up in DS9 season 4. Challenges like Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s inevitable comparison to Star Trek: The Next Generation and uncertainty about DS9’s space station setting mean it takes time before Deep Space Nine figures out the type of show that it wants to be. Besides successes like Commander Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks) meeting Bajor’s Prophets in DS9’s pilot episode, “Emissary”, and DS9 season 1, episode 19, “Duet”, which examines Major Kira Nerys’ (Nana Visitor) prejudices against Cardassians, the first season of Deep Space Nine can be forgettable.

Common advice to new viewers is that the first three seasons of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine are worth skipping or slogging through, because DS9 doesn’t really get good until Deep Space Nine season 4. Lt. Commander Worf’s arrival in DS9 season 4, episode 1, “The Way of the Warrior”, drastically changes the dynamics of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s cast, and Deep Space Nine season 4 represents the escalation of the Dominion War, which dominates the remainder of DS9’s run. There’s no doubt that DS9 season 4 is excellent, but there are earlier signs that Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is some of the best Star Trek there is.

Character Arcs In DS9 Season 3 Prove Continuity Works In Star Trek

Star Trek: DS9 Season 3 Zeroes In On Character Relationships To Build Great Stories

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine season 3 slowly builds its own continuity with smaller character arcs that prove serialized storytelling actually works in episodic television, and in Star Trek in particular. Episodes that seem like filler on the surface contain important beats that tell stories across episodes, like Odo’s (Rene Auberjonois) growing feelings for Major Kira in DS9 season 3, episode 10, “Fascination”, and episode 14, “Heart of Stone”; or the slowly unraveling mystery of Garak’s (Andrew Robinson) Obsidian Order history in DS9 season 3, episode 7, “Civil Defense”, episode 20, “Improbable Cause”, and episode 21, “The Die is Cast”.

Relationships and friendships start mattering more in DS9 season 3.

While the characters in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine have never been particularly static, DS9 season 3 doubles down on the concept of character growth by maintaining continuity. Relationships and friendships start mattering more in DS9 season 3, like the way Kira still grieves Vedek Bareil (Phillip Anglim) throughout the season, Chief Miles O’Brien (Colm Meaney) and Dr. Julian Bashir (Alexander Siddig) form one of Star Trek’s best friendships, and Jake Sisko’s (Cirroc Lofton) influence on Nog (Aron Eisenberg) makes the young Ferengi determined to join Starfleet. All these smaller, individual story lines act as a test run for epic ongoing plots that have become a hallmark of DS9’s excellence.

Star Trek: DS9 Season 3 Sets Up Multiple Important Storylines

The Alpha Quadrant Response To The Dominion Matters To Later DS9 Seasons

The Dominion War ramps into high gear in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine season 4 because of key setups in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine season 3. After encountering the Dominion late in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine season 2, DS9 season 3 establishes how different Alpha Quadrant powers respond to the looming threat. Starfleet takes a wait-and-see approach while arming Sisko with the fully-armed USS Defiant, and sends Lt. Michael Eddington (Ken Marshall) as a trusted security officer to counter Constable Odo’s authority. The Cardassians and Romulans form an alliance to pursue the Founders. After a Cardassian peace treaty, Kai Winn (Lousie Fletcher) destabilizes Bajor with power grabs.

As tension looms with the Dominion, the characters and galactic powers on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine unravel mysteries and become more tight-knit in stronger alliances. Seemingly disparate political plots are woven together throughout Star Trek: Deep Space Nine season 3, with these different threads pulling tight on each other to influence the shape of the overall story. The serialization, complex character dynamics, and intricate political plots that elevate Star Trek: Deep Space Nine are all present long before Lt. Commander Worf’s arrival in DS9 season 4, and that’s why I think DS9 actually gets good in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine season 3.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement