Jul 19, 2012

[TV] Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - Season 4

Season 3 of DS9 gave us the "gimmick" of the Defiant. Season 4 gave us Worf. Why the writers thought this to be essential, I'm not entirely sure. But I did come to appreciate how the Defiant helped the storytelling of the series improve and so I knew that Worf deserved a chance.

He was never precisely my favorite character on Star Trek: the Next Generation - and I have to admit that I was never all big on the Klingon Empire either. But having the Klingons take on a larger role in thing given the coming war with the Dominion (we all know it to be inevitable) did present an interesting dimension to the whole affair that helped further shape the political landscape. And if it's one thing that DS9 has always had going for it, that would be a very, very rich political landscape.

But this fourth season did present us with more complex plots and a chance to finally have the characters evolve beyond their Season One selves. With everything that has happened to the crew, it's strange to note that very little has changed about them over the years and this season felt like the first real attempt to have them move forward and truly grow. And in that regard one has to respect what this season was all about if only for the additional development experienced by the characters.

Synopsis: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is a science fiction television series set in the Star Trek Universe created by Gene Roddenberry. It was the third live-action series to be created for the Star Trek franchise and was developed for television by Rick Berman and Michael Piller.

This fourth season started with quite the bang with the two-part episode Way of the Warrior, where we have the Klingon Empire taking more active steps to deal with the potential Dominion threat. This begins with a massive gathering of Klingon vessels at Deep Space Nine and culminates with Worf (Michael Dorn) being assigned to the station. There's naturally a lot more story involved there, but I sincerely do not want to spoil the episode for you readers who have yet to see it.

Now bringing the Klingons more and more into the DS9 story lines meant exploring a character angle that has always been a fan favorite - Dax's knowledge and pretty much love for Klingon culture and lore. And we really jumped into this with The Sword of Kahless, where we had Worf, Dax (Terry Farrell) and the Klingon Kor (John Colicos) venturing into the Gamma Quadrant in search of this mythical artifact. It did make for a rather fun romp, but I'll admit the fan in me will always enjoy the sight of Dax wielding a Bat'leth.

This season also had other quirky opportunities for characters to show their stuff like how Quark (Armin Shimmerman), Rom (Max Grodénchik) and Nog (Aron Eisenberg) find themselves in 1947 Earth in Little Green Men.  There was the silly holodeck episode featuring Doctor Bashier (Alexander Siddig) as secret agent with most of the command crew portraying the various characters in the simulation.

But of course the episode that best captures the core dilemma of the season at this point with the two-part Homeland / Paradise Lost. With the possibility that there are Changeling infiltrators within the upper echelons of Starfleet and the Federation itself, this puts everyone on high alert. Thus the expertise of Captain Sisko (Avery Brooks) and Odo (Rene Auberjonois) become essential to developing relatively effective countermeasures against Dominion incursions.

We also saw the evolution of relationships on various fronts. The episodes Indiscretion and Return to Grace both involve former enemires Kira Nerys (Nana Visitor) and Gul Dukat (Marc Alaimo) working together for various goals. Dax has her friendly banter with Worf. And of course we have the freighter captain Kasidy Yates (Penny Johnson Jerald) come into Benjamin Sisko's life.

On the whole the introduction of Worf to the regular DS9 crew wasn't too strange an event but not all that notable either. It probably didn't help that they had him pretty much tied to the fate of the Defiant more often than not and so the two served a similar purpose - both were present to given the show a bit more resonance with the prior shows while still allowing DS9 to be distinctly DS9.

This season had a lot of ground to cover and at times I felt it wasn't all that focused on its core goals. Yes, we all want the characters to grow and develop but it seemed a tad strange to me that they had so many trips to the Gamma Quadrant for this rescue mission and this effort to find a lost ship or whatever despite the prospects of war ever present. And the darn cloaking device of the Defiant never seems to be enough to keep them completely safe over there - not that they don't still resort to Runabout missions here and there.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is still a great series and this season provided some long overdue character development opportunities for everyone. The focus on the meta-plot could have been a bit tighter but then in comparison to other Trek shows this series still was one of the tightest. This season still gets 3.5 silly Jem'Hadar plots out of a possible 5.





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