Jul 12, 2012

[TV] Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - Season 3

What first made me fall in love with Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is the fact that series was set on a space station as opposed to all the others which were set on starships. But this third season of the series finally changed that with the introduction of the U.S.S. Defiant to the line-up of the show. I suppose the writers were sick of taking so many adventures in those feisty little Runabouts.

But this was part of the build-up of the whole Dominion side of things and the coming war with the shapeshifting Founders. Thus the justification that some backwards space station on the fringes of the Federation merited a ship as powerful as the Defiant. And that's not necessarily a bad thing, I suppose. The long-running complications of the Dominion and the rather politically-charged nature of the series as a whole always helped define what made DS9 so distinct and gave the show its overall tone.

Love it or hate it though, this season was rather important as the show decided to give itself more focus and continuity than past Trek shows. In TNG the Enterprise had a new adventure pretty much every week. On DS9 the station was constantly dealing with a singular threat and was pretty much preparing itself for a seemingly inevitable war.

Synopsis: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was a science fiction TV drama created by Rick Berman and Michael Piller. It was the third live-action Star Trek series created and was nominated for many awards during its run.

At the end of the third season, we were introduced to the Jem'Hadar - the foot soldiers of a larger empire of sorts known as the Dominion. This season starts by exploring more about the Dominion, especially with the addition of the U.S.S. Defiant, the first Federation starship designed to fight the Borg. Apart from it''s above average degree of armament compared to other Federation vessels, the Defiant also holds the distinction of being the only Federation ship equipped with a cloaking device thanks to the Romulans. They considered the threat of the Dominion significant enough to warrant this form of technology exchange with the condition that the cloaking device only be used while in the Gamma Quadrant.

Now the series had its share of interesting highlights that helped make it memorable compared to previous ones. The episode House of Qwark had our favorite Ferengi bartender (Armin Shimerman) forming his own Klingon house. The ever-annoying Tom Riker (Jonathan Frakes) makes a return to the Trek franchise in Defiant as our "evil twin" manages to steal the Defiant in an effort to aid the Maquis. And we have the two-part episode Improbably Cause / The Die Is Cast that finally reveals more about Garak (Andrew K. Robinson), everyone's favorite "simple taylor". And I probably don't need to say anything more about Fascination apart from the return of Lwaxana Troi (Majel Barrett) and her continued infatuation with Odo (Rene Auberjonois).

Of course this season presents some of the more interesting homages in Trek history in the episode Through the Looking Glass, which brings us back to the mirror universe first revealed in the original Star Trek series. How they chose to expand on that classic concept and present just how much darker Deep Space Nine could be made for interesting television. Plus the writers wanted any excuse to have Kira (Nana Visitor) dressed in a leathery outfit. Then there's one of my personal favorites, Visionary, only because it presented a very intelligent use of limited time travel as a plot device. Poor Chief O'Brien (Colm Meaney) though.

You can feel the struggle of the writers to balance out the use of the Defiant across the episodes. On the one hand, it's a powerful set piece and it stands to make for some interesting changes to the narrative dynamic from prior seasons and of course much greater exploration of the Gamma Quadrant. On the flip side, too much use of the Defiant turns the series back into a more "traditional" Star Trek adventure, thus taking away from one of the core strengths of the series. So kudos to them for managing not to get too excited over the addition of this "little ship".

But it's also clear how the various actors have truly begun to grow and mature into their roles - and I'm not just referring to how tall Jake Sisko (Cirroc Lofton) gets. Kira doesn't quite shout as much as she used to and Bashier (Alexander Siddig) isn't quite as lecherous either. And of course the growing mythos surrounding Odo and his mysterious face known as the Founders provides for compelling dramatic material for the actor to use as a vehicle for his talent. Good job, sir.

On the whole, I still enjoyed the third season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. I had been initially worried about the addition of the Defiant and how it might spoil the mix of things, but I suppose my fears were unfounded. Thus the season made for a great expansion of the overall narrative and a key component in the larger sense of continuity for the franchise as a whole.

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  1. DS9 really needed an extra season to wrap things up. The last season seems really "rushed". I was very sad when it left the air.

  2. I think DS9 had one of the most well-developed meta-plots of all the Trek series. They really made an effort to create one large coherent story to play around in.