A.k.a. Deep Space 9, is the setting for the television series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. It is a space station located at the mouth of the only known stable wormhole in the alpha quadrant. The wormhole leads to the gamma quadrant, home to many a new species, most notably the ruthless Dominion and their Jem Hadar soldiers. The station is officially Bajoran, but is run jointly with the Federation, and is captained by Benjamin Sisko, a Starfleet Captain.

Deep Space Nine was constructed by the Cardassians during their occupation of Bajor to exploit the planet for mining purposes. Gul Dukat was the commanding officer of the station up until the Cardassians retreated from Bajor. It was called Terak Nor by the Cardassians during the occupation as well as when they recaptured the station during the Dominion War. The station was later recovered by the Federation. Remember, all of this is part of Gene Roddenberry's fictional Universe.

I love all the other Star Trek shows. Yes, I even love Voyager. But I've never liked Deep Space Nine. Why? Well basically, it's just a shopping centre/mall in space. Deep Space Mall. Boring. Without being overly pedantic (okay, maybe I am), surely "Star Trek" would imply a journey, a voyage of discovery, involving stars, as in "travelling past them". Not this series. This is just a cheesy, third-rate mall with a bad paint job.

You've got a big mall that doesn't go anywhere, a bunch of boring characters, and a whiny Bajoran with a funny nose who, when confronted with any problem, starts whinging "But what about the Bajorans?"

The whole Cardassian thing is extremely heavy handed, as well - "ooh, they're like the Nazis, or countries that have, like, political prisoners and stuff, how clever, it's so relevant"... My arse.

Update: Ooh, an updated writeup! Hark at me! Ahem. I am not an obsessive Trek fan, dismayed that it's not set on a ship called Enterprise. I do not dislike the show purely because it does not go anywhere. I dislike it because it is boring, grim, miserable, full of dull characters, duller storylines, heavy-handed metaphors, and bad lighting. I am a Trek fan, yes - but while I love watching the shows, I have a life outside of this. I understand that none of it is actually real. I get that faster than light travel and the transporters won't ever happen. It's just a boring, waste of a TV series, and I don't like it. I've tried many times to get into it, watched a couple of seasons, but it just doesn't do it for me. There's no big analysis of why I am wrong needed here, I just don't like the damn thing.

But of course, like most things, it has a few redeeming features: Odo, who is the closest thing this has to a classic character. This is probably more to do with Rene Auberjonois' acting, but he gets the best lines too (I remember him from Benson, bizarrely enough). Quark's always good for a laugh. Porn holosuites - nice! And the anniversary episode where the crew go back in time to the Tribbles episode was absolutely hilarious. But I still can't watch it. Sorry.

Ah, DS9, the poor, misunderstood middle child of modern Trek incarnations.

For a show that allegedly GNDN, it managed to accomplish the following things:

  • Introduce religion, or perhaps more properly faith as a viable motivating cultural force in the created Star Trek reality. Previously in Star Trek, it had been mocked and sneered at, called myth and mysticism, strongly implied that a culture with a strong sense of faith was somehow inferior to the rational-to-a-fault United Federation of Planets.
  • Portray a realistic, loving relationship between a father and son in Benjamin and Jake Sisko.
  • Portray a realistic, non-sexual friendship between Sisko, male, and Jadzia Dax, female (well, most of the time).
  • Show us that, unlike every other Trek show, one's decisions do have consequences. In other words, the show managed to avoid the dreaded Reset Button syndrome.
  • Wasn't afraid to confront the fact that a Klingon as portrayed in the 1960s looks different from a Klingon today.
  • Managed to make the Ferengi tolerable, once in a great while.
  • Oh, yeah, and for a show about a place that just sits there it managed to make the space station a strategic flashpoint in a Cold War with The Dominion that eventually turned hot and embroiled over three quarters of the entire galaxy, effected real political change in just about every major power in the Star Trek universe, actually managed to promote its officers from time to time (Will Riker has held the rank of commander for how long now? Nearly fifteen years??), and transformed the lead character from a wooden, gloomy man obsessed with his wife's death to a vibrant capable leader and religious icon who ended up as a creature who is not shackled to the bonds of linear time.

    Yeah, it was a pretty boring television show, all right.

    Update 14-Jul-2001

    It appears, with the advent of the newest Trek spin-off called Enterprise that the powers that be at Paramount Studios have no clue what to do with the post-DS9 universe, electing instead to go back in time to pre-TOS days. Sigh. We could have had the struggle for galactic unification ... extragalactic exploration ... all kinds of good stuff. Instead ... we're still stuck with Klingons and Vulcans. Sigh.

    27-Mar-2002

    Okay, so sue me, I actually think Enterprise shows a lot of potential, thanks mostly due to Scott Bakula and Linda Park. Also a certain noder works on the show. Don't want to piss them off, do I? ;-)

  • I have to take several of the points against DS9 on right here and now.

  • The hero or heroic group does not have to make a physical journey so much as a spiritual or experience based one. Go back and reread Jospeh Campell’s Hero With A Thousand Faces or The Power of Myth. Time and time again little minds always equate the heroic call to journey as a travel based journey. Space is only one dimension of experience. Go read Herman Hesse’s Glass Bead Game (Magister Ludi) for more on experience and expansion thereof.

  • DS9 the station may have “sat” there but the characters in it moved across time, space and experience.While other Trek show characters simply mouthed the required catch phrases (“make it so” “blah blah blah logical” “I cana change the laws of phsyics”) DS9 characters had to grow, had to expand, had to come into conflict not just with the swirling universe around them but the swirling turmoil in their own selves.

    Once again we are hitting on the narrow minded ideas of what makes a Star Trek Production good.

  • Besides the many great topics hit on by WolfDaddy take a look at how they dealt with the issue of Race. Many times the plot of a show or arc of shows had to do about a characters race and the conflicts they have in being that race.

    The Captain himself has to come to grips with this in the alternate flash back universe of Benny, the black science fiction writer living in the middle of the 20th century.

  • DS9 also looked under other unseemly issues that most of the other Trek shows glossed over. In the other Trek shows the Federation were a group of happy content citizens whose every basic need is catered to. In DS9 we finally see the cracks in the Federations shiny armor. People are still fsked up, people are still people rather than holier than thou walking talking good will ambassadors.

    I can see where many die hard Trek fans would find this a bad thing. They were happy knowing they were part of a just and right thinking future and here DS9 comes along to tell them all is not as it seems.

    Have you ever been to a movie house full of die hard Trek fans? Watch and listen to them. They will cheer as certain catch phrases are used, start citing chapter and verse detailed factoids as to way such and such cant be happening ,

    “well in the third season shows 23 it was clearly shown that Sub Commander Thalls second half sister was on that planet when it was destroyed by speices 776523 and so that character can not be in this movie because that would cause a rip in the space time continuity

    and will have this warm happy glow on their faces no matter how bad the movie or show was. Why? Compare and contrast the audience in a Jimmy Swagart revival or in the audience of any evangelical church gathering. See something interesting? I knew you would.
  • dammit, quit whining and node the damn show!

    STAR TREK
    DEEP SPACE NINE

    The Plot, In Brief

    DS9 is about a space station located next to a wormhole that leads to the other side of the galaxy. It was originally built by the Cardassians as Terak Nor, part of their operation to enslave the people of the planet Bajor. Eventually, the Bajorans managed to get rid of the Cardassians, but they couldn't take care of the station on their own, so they called in the United Federation of Planets (which includes the homo sapiens of Star Trek) to run the station for them.

    Until the Federation showed up, nobody knew about the Bajoran wormhole. When it suddenly appeared, the Federation sent a ship into it, and met a crazy empire from the Gamma Quadrant called the Dominion. The first season of DS9 basically introduced the Dominion and the Bajorans: the actual Dominion War began in the second season, when DS9 fans got to meet the Dominion's slave soldiers, the Jem'Hadar.

    Around this point, Star Trek: The Next Generation ended, so DS9 began flexing its muscles. For the third season, the station was given a way-cool starship with a cloaking device, called the USS Defiant. With their new ship, the DS9 crew were able to learn about the changelings in charge of the Dominion, called the Founders.

    Then came the fourth season premiere, "The Way of the Warrior," which was one of the best Star Trek episodes ever. The Klingon Empire began plotting to invade Cardassia, which just had a coup of sorts and was being reorganized under a civilian administration. DS9 brought in everyone's favorite Klingon, Worf, and then ended up helping the Cardassians to fight off the Klingons. After the episode, Worf stayed on the series and became a regular character. Rock on.

    The Cardassians went on to become part of the Dominion, so the Federation, Klingons, and Romulans teamed up (again) to fight the Dominion, Cardassians, Breen, and Vorta. This war took up most of the last four seasons, and ended when the Federation released a powerful biological weapon on the Founders, and the DS9 crew used their know-how to extort a peace treaty from the Dominion in exchange for the cure. By the end of the series, the entire galaxy was pretty much wasted... but that was what made the show fun.

    Cast

    • Cdr. (later Capt.) Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks): DS9's commanding officer, a deep-voiced fellow born in Louisiana. He has an army brat son, Jake Sisko, by his late wife, Jennifer Sisko, and he also has a recurring girlfriend named Kassidy Yates. Because he was the first person to go into the wormhole, the Bajorans call him "Emissary" and revere him as a spiritual figure.
       
    • Maj. (later Col.) Kira Nerys (Nana Visitor): She heads up the Bajoran administration on DS9. She was one of the leaders of the Bajoran militia during the resistance, so she's very hard-assed and she complains about Bajor's squabbling parochial government a lot. She also, understandably, despises the Cardassians. She has an ongoing subtle flirtation with Odo which fanfic writers love to play with.
       
    • Odo (Rene Auberjonois): DS9's security chief. He's a Founder, although he didn't know this until the middle of the series, as he was found floating in space and brought to a laboratory on Cardassian Bajor. Like the other Founders, he's a shapeshifter: in his ground state, he looks like a puddle of ooze. This makes him a handy plot device, although you don't see the effect that often because he doesn't like to shapeshift in front of other people.
       
    • Lt. Julian Bashir (Alexander Siddig): DS9's medical officer... fresh out of medical school, but he became a pretty good doctor once he was in the field. Later in the series, we find out that he was born with a learning disability, and that his parents had him genetically enhanced.
       
    • Lt. Jadzia Dax (Terry Farrell): DS9's science officer and resident hot chick. She's a Trill, so she has a several-hundred-year-old worm living inside her, which has previously been inside men. One of these men, Curzon Dax, was one of Sisko's friends back in the day, so Sisko often calls Dax "old man." She fell for Worf mid-series and eventually married him, but her character was then killed off and replaced by Ezri Dax. Those Trills are handy plot devices.
       
    • Officer Miles O'Brien (Colm Meaney): DS9's chief engineer, who was brought over from TNG. He's not exactly as stereotypical as, say, Scotty, but he still likes darts, has a short temper, and spends a lot of time in the bar. He is married to Keiko O'Brien, and he has a daughter named Molly O'Brien.
       
    • Quark (Armin Shimerman): Quark is a Ferengi, which basically tells you all you need to know about his character. He's ugly, greedy, sexist, and constantly getting himself into trouble, but the administration often finds uses for him. He runs the station's bar, which also has a casino and miniature holodecks where patrons can get their freak on. He has a brother named Rom, who has a son named Nog.
       
    • Lt. Cmdr. Worf (Michael Dorn): Son of Mogh, brother of Kurn, bad-ass in general, only Klingon in Starfleet, likes prune juice, widower of Jadzia Dax.
       
    • Ens. Ezri Dax (Nicole de Boer): She was brought in toward the end of the series to replace Jadzia: since she was the only Trill nearby when Jadzia died, she was the only host that could take the Dax symbiont.
       

    My friend's father and I recently noted that nearly the entire cast of DS9 is, in some way, alienated or exiled from their own people. To wit:

    • Elim Garak - Disgraced Cardassian operative living in exile as a tailor on DS9.
    • Worf - Confused dual role as Federation officer and Klingon warrior. Disgraced and stripped of all title, lands and ships. (The Sons of Mogh (DS9))
    • Dukat - Stripped of command and bumped down to captain of an ore freighter. (Return to Grace (DS9))
    • Jadzia Dax - Risked exile from Trill society by violating reunification taboo. (Rejoined (DS9))
    • Quark - Ejected from Ferengi Commerece Association for acts of philanthropy. (Body Parts (DS9))
    • Odo - Shape-shifting alien stranded among "solids", and looking for his people. When he finds them, he discovers that their morals are abhorrent to him, and finds himself fighting against them.
    • Julian Bashir - Product of illegal genetic engineering. Nearly ejected from Starfleet medical. (Doctor Bashir, I Presume (DS9))

    While in TNG Worf served as a token representative of the Klingon race, his role on DS9 is very different. As war brews between the Klingon Empire and the federation at the beginning of Season 4, Worf alone becomes the one to take a principled stand against his own people. Even Sisko is forced to take sides when the interests of the Federation run in conflict to the Prophets, with whom he has developed a relationship.

    I think the point here is the importance of individuality and the strength to resist the forces of groupthink and the herd mentality, which is interesting to see coming from such a militaristically oriented show.

    Pint: You missed a couple - O'Brien's posting to DS9 alienates him from his wife and child. Sisko is distanced from the memory of his dead wife. Quark is also physically distanced from the profit that defines his race. Kira's role as politician is at odds with her militant nature and the spiritual centering of her home planet.

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