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  • Ric Crossman

4.1 War And Peace

Deep Space Nine Season 1 Retrospective

The Season One cast.

Deep Space Nine is fundamental to the IDFC project, in the sense that it’s why the project exists at all. It’s alone in the six Trek shows covered in that I knew going in I’d seen every episode of, and more than once at that. The idea for IDFC in general germinated from wanting to prove my partner wrong in her sincere but utterly unsupportable opinion that Voyager was the better show.

And while for obvious reasons I can’t claim that my own opinions as expressed via IDFC prove my own opinions as expressed via playful arguments over the washing-up, I hope I’ve argued my case well enough over the last six years/nine months (depending when/where you started read). As subjective as my orderings are, quality isn’t entirely in the eye of the beholder. This season is so stuffed with solid episodes, a story as strong as “The Storyteller” ends up as the median point, quality-wise. A delightful meta-tinged exploration of how stories link us to our heritage and help us hold back the darkness, which also begins the O’Brien/Bashir bromance that’s among the highlights of the entire show. And half the other episodes are better.

As satisfying as it’s been being able to put together so strong a case so early in the show’s history, though, I have to confess to a degree of surprise. Expecting someone to win a marathon isn’t the same as expecting them to be ahead at all times. First seasons are where you’d expect most shows to have their greatest number of fumbles, and I remember this show having more than most.

I had remembered wrong. DS9 is fundamental to this project for another reason. I have some mistakes to own up to, and to make up for.

Obviously, every entry in this series is a fundamentally personal one – these are my opinions. Someone once said the longer a review goes on, the more you learn about the reviewer, and the less you learn about the reviewed. I’m well aware that my reviews, both separately and on aggregate, tend to go on for a quite a way.

This post is going to have to be a step beyond even that standard level of self-involvement, though. There’s just no way for me to talk about the early days of Deep Space Nine without discussing the context in which I first experienced it. Come with me now on a trip to the grim darkness of the recent past. The decade of desaturation. The time that joy forgot.

Let’s party like it’s not yet 1999.

One More Combination

In a lot of ways, the spin-off’s first spin-off arrived at just the wrong time. I was ten when TNG was first broadcast on the BBC, and fifteen when they did the same thing with Deep Space Nine. Five years is a huge difference, at that age. In my case, it meant the difference between simply knowing if an episode was boring or exciting, and being able to actually pinning down what did and didn’t work for me. The first stirrings of critical thought, in other words, beyond choosing a direction for my thumb to point in.

As a result, I was able to pin down precisely what wasn’t working for me about Sisko’s early adventures in a way that would never have occurred to me to try with Picard’s. The older show’s dreadful (though dreadfully popular) first season was a distant, half-understood memory, and I did precisely what IDFC has set out not to do – I compared TNG in its pomp to DS9 in its infancy.

I found the latter wanting.

In retrospect didn’t help that, like so many teenage boys, I was committing the error of mistaking dissatisfaction for sophistication. More was at play than my own development, though. The landscape of ’90s television needs considering as well. In its bid to be crowned the viewing public’s favourite regular supply of space operatics, TNG ran essentially unopposed. No American show (other than a smattering of children’s cartoons) could have said to be placed in the same pigeonhole since Buck Rogers had come to a close five years previously. The next US show to be cut from the same sloth was Deep Space Nine itself. Frankly, I’m not sure how much of the show’s ubiquity over its first two years can be put down to anything other than the fact that you either watched TNG, or you watched nothing with spaceships in it at all. The programme was like a town that rose up around a watering hole in a desert. It might have ended up a nice place to live, but at the start all it needed to do was not poison anyone.

Deep Space Nine was born into a different landscape. It had to compete with its immediate predecessor in a way that show didn’t really have to with the original. More than that, though, DS9 wasn’t the only genre show to debut in 1993. Babylon 5 broadcast its own pilot in the form of a TV movie just seven weeks after “Emissary” was aired, offering not just a new space opera show, but a new space opera universe. Then, just over a fortnight before DS9 began its second season, America was introduced for the first time to Agents Mulder and Scully, and “sci-fi”, whatever that was, was suddenly once again “sexy”, whatever that was either.

X-Files and Deep Space Nine shared almost no DNA (the similarities between the two space station shows are obvious even beyond being able to call them “the two space station shows”), but DS9 still found itself competing for sunlight in a suddenly crowded arboretum, even though it had begun its growth first. Or at least, it had in America. As a Teesside kid without access to a satellite dish, the shows arrived on my own screen in a rather different order. For whatever reason – likely because of the ludicrously good business it was doing – The X-Files leapfrogged DS9, appearing on the BBC months earlier. Babylon 5’s arrived ahead of its competitor too, this time on Channel 4, possibly as counter-programming to the Beeb’s grip on the Trek franchise. A friend taped “Emissary” for me, but otherwise I didn’t actually get to see any DS9 until after I’d seen both the other show’s first seasons.

And I think that made a pretty hefty difference. On the most trivial level, I’d already gotten into a show about an interstellar port trying to keep the peace amid alien races who despised each other, giving me one more yardstick with which to beat DS9. [1]

The fact that yardstick existed doesn’t explain why the newest Trek show didn’t come out ahead in my comparisons, though.

We return to the importance of timing.

Confessions Of A Teenage Nihilist

The ’90s was a decade of almost all-pervading cynicism. There’s no shortage of possible causes for this. Personally, I’d put it down to lag-time and signal loss, with 90s television aping 80s cinema’s howls of rage against the Reagan era, without recognising how much of the accompanying excesses were intended as parody. The problem with creating as brilliant a satire as Robocop is that a lot of people are going to miss the point completely, concluding what made it work was building cyborgs and handing them guns.

These bleak, point-missing category errors then marinaded in the contemporary political situation, itself flavoured by Reaganism through a libertarian insistence that governments are by definition inimical to the interests of the people (note both Babylon 5 and The X-Files have ongoing storylines about sinister governmental agencies who one way or another are controlling society, to the people’s detriment). Added to that was the growing realisation that winning the Cold War against the now-collapsed USSR had made no damn difference to the average person in the West. Things were just as awful as they’d always been.

A decade without an officially-designated existential threat was leading at least some people to start asking the right questions – libertarians aren’t wrong to not trust the government, they’re just wrong from top to bottom on the reasons why. For every person who realised maybe it wasn’t the growing threat of communism that explained why capitalism hadn’t been able to do anything for them lately, though, there were a dozen more whose paranoia was turned inward. I don’t think it’s at all a coincidence that US television never really tried to make bank off the success of TNG. The space opera revival never really got going – not until the new millennium, when the west had (or could tell itself had) an identifiable external threat once more.

As a politically-charged aesthetic, it stank. But with it hanging heavy in the air everywhere I went, it was a stink I’d learned to filter out without realising it. Worse, like some primate Sir Didymus, inhaling joyously beside the Bog Of Eternal Cynicism, I mistook the stink for fragrance.

Which was a problem. Governmental conspiracy theories have an inherently reactionary nature to them, in at least two ways. First, they discourage people from thinking there’s any point in even trying to fight to improve matters. Second, they create an entirely fictional enemy to blame for the worst excesses of the ruling class, thereby letting the actual enemy off the hook. Third, they allow straight white lads who have nothing but their brains going for them to convince themselves that they’re smarter than everyone else. That only they see how everything is bleak and pointless, while lesser minds refuse to grasp the hopelessness of life.

This then collided, churning and frothing, like two rivers polluted past the point they could sustain life, with a second standard error among young male geeks -mistaking knowledge for intelligence. Carter and Straczynski didn’t just share a fundamental cynicism, they built the apparently episodic nature of their shows atop deep – or seemingly deep – ongoing mysteries, teased out across multiple years. Babylon 5 had pretty much revealed its hand by the end of its third season, which coincidentally was about the time it became clear The X-Files had no intention of ever doing the same. By then, though, the damage had been done, and Deep Space Nine itself was trying something broadly similar.

Between them, the two shows formed the forefront of genre shows that were comfortable insisting episode order was relevant. The season arcs of shows from Buffy to Doctor Who owe at least something to Carter using his finales to change the rules of the game each year. Reasonable geeks can disagree about the extent to which this has been to the genre’s benefit on aggregate, but the option to season a shish kebab of episodic instalments with a pinch or two of serialisation strikes me as a useful culinary technique for those who cook up our television.

Alas, it also created a brand-new form of insufferable fans, for whom one’s engagement with the show was measured by how much one knew about its slowly unfolding secret history. Any and all aesthetic considerations were pushed aside, with each episode judged purely on how many more puzzle pieces were found scattered on the carpet abandoned by a curtain rolling back at agonisingly slow speed.

Regardless, even for those who thought this a bridge too far (and even past me could tell “I have access to more episodes than you” was a BS metric for engagement), the idea of a television show that made a virtue of completism and fact retention was a terribly attractive one to a an awful lot of geeks, including myself. Deep Space Nine's early determination to work in any order felt like an embarrassing relic of a past deservedly left behind.

The Primary Colour Directive

Such was the terrestrial television landscape, and the personal ground, upon which Deep Space Nine attempted to sow its seeds. The reasons it failed to take root is clear by now, I’m sure. The seeming failure to hit the cruising speeds of mid-period TNG from a standing start. The apparent return of the hated “reset button”, which left every episode ending with everything in an essentially identical orientation to where it had started.

Even the way it looked grated on me, its swirl of primary colours seeming gaudy and even childish in comparison to Babylon 5’s muted tones, or the desaturated, grungy palette of The X-Files.

Above all, though, it was the optimism that I couldn’t digest. TNG’s positive predictions for the future matched the sunny disposition of my ten-year-old self, before puberty and the emergence of chronic mental health issues hammered my brain into a new shape. Deep Space Nine felt like an attempt to stubbornly cling to a view of a future that my experiences, my hormones and brain chemistry, and essentially the entire world seemed to have conclusively proved ridiculous. To paraphrase a similarly self-obsessed and truculent British kid, it said nothing to me about my life. Earnestness was corniness, faith a delusion. God was empty, just like me.

I’d like to think I eventually turned my ship of inner fools around, that I pulled myself out of the death spiral of aggrieved self-absorption that led to, say, Morrissey associating himself with the far right in some desperate bid to find ways to still feel persecuted despite being a multimillionaire. Mind you, I am basing pretty much the whole of this essay on how it felt to be me in 1995, so I guess it’s a debatable point.

Still, I’ve started so I’ll finish. By the time I began watching DS9, I was at least starting to rally from the series of knocks caused by my changing body and brain (along with some truly horrendous experiences early in secondary school). The metaphorical scar tissue covered so much of my brain that a return to the status quo ante was simply unimaginable, though.

Optimism had been almost completely expunged from my system, replaced with an angry defiance to simply refuse to give in.

Little wonder that I got so much out of Deep Space Nine’s later seasons, then.

Rival Schools

More than any of Trek show (other than arguably TNG), considering the comparative quality of Deep Space Nine‘s first season means engaging not with just its sister shows, but with its own later development. In most tellings, the show was a game of two terribly unequal halves. I mean that both in the sense that the halves are not equal in length – most put the split between the show’s second and third seasons, though a case can be made to push it forward to the beginning of season four – and in the sense of its perceived quality.

There are two principle schools of thought regarding the show’s somewhat cut-and-shut nature. There are those who think the show grew up, realised some hard truths about the way of the world, and finally came into its own. On the other side are people who argue the show eventually lost its way, drowning out the franchise’s quintessential optimism with quantum torpedoes and shouting matches, because that seemed easier to write.

The former position was the conventional wisdom at the time. I remember SFX Magazine going so far as to state that “The Way of The Warrior” – Deep Space Nine’s season four premiere, which famously only took time out of throwing Klingons and explosions at us to stick its females stars in swimwear – was a deliberate attempt to ape Babylon 5‘s critical (if not necessarily commercial) success.

If that were the aim, then it certainly seemed to work, at least at the time. it could even be argued the shake-up kept the show alive, though it’s impossible to prove the counter-factual, and the show didn’t really slow the rate at which it was shedding viewers until it reached its fifth year.

It certainly not a position which seems more obviously plausible than the idea the show was strongest in its early days: that the Defiant allowing the show to change course into the realms of the war drama ended up killing Roddenberry’s vision of the future. What if the restrained, contemplative stories that frequently represented the best of TNG had been burned away forever in a barrage of phaser fire? What if the sweeping exploration of the human condition had been reduced to an endless series of questions about when we should pull a trigger, and on how large a gun?

There are definitely distressingly large amounts of evidence that the franchise lost what made itself unique at some point just after the death of its creator. The process arguably reached its nadir with Enterprise’s third season, which began production a few months after the invasion of Iraq, and featured a year-long storyline about Starfleet having to regretfully invade another culture’s territory in order to ensure an unprovoked and massively destructive attack against them could never be repeated.

It took more than fifteen years to bounce back, long enough that the original version of this essay was written by a Ric still waiting for that to happen. First, Roberto Orci insisted that the bleak, murky unpleasantness of Star Trek Into Darkness was necessary because a post 9/11 world wasn’t one in which optimism could function, as though literally nothing had happened before 1966 which might have shaken one’s faith in humanity. And Picard and the first two seasons of Discovery had their share of optimistic moments, both of them seem convinced that the franchise has to be based around galaxy-threatening crises, ones that necessitate people yelling from beneath brows so furrowed they could belong to pre-augment Klingons. It wasn't until the third year of Michael Burnham's journey that we returned to exploring what humanity could be at its best - in a season which included a wake for a war criminal.

This Ain’t America

Both the claims that the Dominion War saved the show and that it poisoned show and franchise can be argued, then. Neither quite get it right either, though. I don’t know if I’ll actually ever get around to writing up the Worf era of DS9 – it’s taken almost six years just to get to this point, and four new Trek shows have debuted along the way, with a fifth in production – so I’ll plant my flag now. As far as I’m concerned, both halves of the show work more or less equally well, and for broadly similar reasons. We can, in fact, use the qualities that made the second era of the show work, and track backwards from there to see just how many of them were present all along.

Phase two of Deep Space Nine isn’t just about how the Federation at war is more exciting than the Federation at peace. It’s about how a society that believes itself consummate open-minded peace-makers can fight an enemy that threatens to annihilate them, without compromising themselves so much they lose what makes them themselves in any case. In broad terms, this is a familiar set-up: how do we beat the enemy without becoming the enemy? What makes DS9’s approach to it work better than it’s sometimes given credit for is that this idea is engaged with honestly.

Consider “Rules Of Engagement", in Season 4. Worf is commanding the Defiant in the middle of a battle with Klingon warships, sees another Klingon vessel decloak in front of them, and orders it destroyed before it has a chance to open fire. Tragically, the new arrival turns out to have been a civilian transport, or at so it appears at the time. Later it turns out the ship was entirely uncrewed, and remote-controlled by the military as part of a plot to discredit Worf.

While he’s delighted his officer is exonerated, though, Sisko is unequivocal – Worf was absolutely wrong to have opened fire. He was in the middle of fighting the Klingon military, saw a Klingon vessel using Klingon military tech to arrive in an area of space perfectly matching Klingon military ambush tactics, and knew that if he didn’t respond immediately, the battle, his ship, and everyone under his command could have been killed. And none of that matters. Starfleet officers do not fire on unidentified vessels. It is not who they are. If that gets them killed, them’s the breaks. Worf and everyone else holding a Starfleet commission knew what they were signing up for.

Compare this with the season one finale of Discovery, in which Starfleet demands the main characters commit an obvious war crime, so that our heroes can appear virtuous for taking the extremely principled moral stance of not murdering billions of civilians. The problem here is pretty clear: if your frame so obviously vile and unacceptable an action as something your characters will at least briefly consider, you don’t stress the extremity of their circumstances. You just make clear that there are a host of war crimes short of pan-continental obliteration that you don’t think your heroes would think twice about.

It’s the difference between interrogating what warfare might entail if we were better, and interrogating what warfare might entail if the enemy were worse. DS9 committed itself to discussing what the ideals of Starfleet mean in the context of warfare, as opposed to what the ideals of America mean. And really, when your country levelled two city centres and wiped out between 100 000 and 200 000 civilians to hasten the end of a war it was already comfortably winning, you probably do have to argue crossing the line into unacceptability only occurs when destruction reaches the planetary scale. Unless you want to do something as radical as actually interrogating your own past, that is, something that for the longest time post 9/11 Trek seemed absolutely determined not to do anymore.

Deep Space Nine, then, was almost the last gasp of the franchise’s desire to actually explore how humanity might be able to become something better, not just when times were good, but when they were otherwise. And that dedication to self-interrogation didn’t arrive alongside the discovery of the Founders. Here, at long last, we return to DS9’s first season. Because what it does, essentially uniquely in Trek history, is fully flesh out a second culture that the Federation is then compared to.

Confusion In The Marketplace

You might think that the “essentially” in my last sentence doing a lot of work. And true, while there might be a body of work that’s had more success in producing recognisable fictional non-human cultures (as distinct from non-human races) than Trek, I’d really need to see the maths on that. But there’s a strange new world of difference between a show in which other cultures appear, and one in which another culture is fundamental to the setting. Oftentimes, the alien customs and politics that surfaced in TNG allowed our heroes to catch glimpses of themselves in distorted mirrors. With those mirrors being left light years behind at the end of each episode, though, glimpses were all that there was ever time for.

This is perhaps part of what Ira Steven Behr meant when he said that the problem with Next Gen was that it always got to shoot off somewhere else for the following week. Introspection never had to last any longer than the events of the episode that prompted it. The inhabitants of Deep Space Nine lack that luxury. They can’t use a change in location as a substitute for change in outlook. Growth and change are fundamentals of the show in a way that hasn’t been true before or since. Hell, even the station itself undergoes this process. It used to be called Terek Nor, after all.

Of course, just because the show was primed for such development didn’t guarantee it happening. The USS Voyager wasn’t a static location – though the fixation on its position as “far away from home” arguably made the show closer to DS9 than TNG in that sense - but the inclusion of the Maquis as crewmates absolutely gave the show the tools it needed for mutual reflection and growth through synthesis. It took Voyager all of two episodes to decide that sounded too much like effort.

It would be impossible to aim the same criticism at the first season of Deep Space Nine. I mentioned earlier that the show came under flak from multiple sources (including me) for committing to the reset switch in an era that was finally beginning to leave the practice behind. Look more closer, though, and we can see that this was never true at all. The season absolutely changes as it progresses. It’s just that those changes are emotional and inter-relational, rather than a list of clues we’ve acquired and people we’ve seen shot. You couldn’t swap “Past Prologue” with “Battle Lines” in the episode order, or “A Man Alone” with “Vortex”. Despite doing nothing to change the show’s political scenery, “In The Hands Of The Prophets” couldn’t come anywhere else in the season other than at the end.

What gives us an ordering for this season isn’t the chronology of external events. It’s what stage the characters are at on their journey to understand each other, and themselves. About how they figure out how to work together. Even if, at first, they’re only doing so because they know they can’t get away from each other. Each fight Sisko and Kira have is tempered by the knowledge they both have to show up to work again the next day. You can only singe a bridge so much before you can’t risk walking across it anymore. A similar thing can be said about Odo. His drive to find where his species originally hailed from is critical to his personality, but he was raised in Bajoran society, and “wears” a Bajoran uniform on a Bajoran-owned space station.

This is a microcosm of the broader state of play. Sisko needs to work with Kira, Lieutenant Primmin needs to work with Odo. Even O’Brien needs to find a way to manage the Bajoran complement of his engineering team so they can both do the job and attempt zero assassinations during the working week. But it’s not just about getting through the day without anyone threatening to quit. It’s about the Federation proving it can tolerate a radically different but equally valid culture. How do they prove that they are different from the Cardassians in kind, and not just in degree? How do they prove that they understand the difference between respecting a culture and attempting to assimilate it into their own? Or even just show that Bashir is an outlier in thinking about the Bajoran system only in terms of how far away it is from anything actually important?

Often this is expressed in terms of boundaries – which aspects of the station and the surrounding space come under Federation control, and which are in Bajor’s purview; should the station’s educational system follow the Bajoran model of fully-integrated spiritual teaching, or does the Prophets’ influence end at the threshold of Keiko’s schoolroom? Other times, as with “The Storyteller” or “Progress”, or even “Duet”, it’s about figuring out which situations need the Federation to take a back seat, and which times it needs to butt out completely. The goal is to recognise respecting others is about more than offering help when it’s asked for – it’s about not pushing help on those who haven’t asked for it. Stay in your space lane, buddy.

By its very nature, this is a long-term, and not particularly flashy project. Building up strong diplomatic relationships with a suspicious but not unfriendly people isn’t going to involve a lot of explosions or punch-ups. You can’t frame “How can we work towards being friends” as an intriguing mystery – indeed you arguably need openness above all else.

As I say, this didn’t match up with the zeitgeist. But that says more about the ghosts of chronology than it does about the show. Consider the fact that Deep Space Nine premiered just two years after the collapse of the USSR, and a resultant uptick in the number of independent nations in Europe and Asia. It neither requires nor implies a defence of capitalism or the West to recognise the Soviet Union was more than half a century past the point where its behaviour could be defended. Suggesting the Cardassian Union could function as an analogy for Stalinism as well as for Nazism does history no egregious disservice [2]. The dozen-plus new countries that sprang up following the USSR’s collapse can quite easily be considered as at least approximately analogous to Bajor. Gorbachev’s resignation and the end of the country he had presided over led to the West scrambling to gain influence in the territory revealed by the retreating waves of Russian influence. Ostensibly, we were helping these new nations bloom amid the wreckage of Lenin’s dream. In reality, the two aims were to prevent any chance of a Russian resurgence, and access to new markets now that capitalism had won the PR war. The actual needs of the populations in question were either assumed to happily coincide with the needs of their new Western friends, or else ignored entirely.

This was the global context at play as Deep Space Nine debuted, hoping to point out that you can help a newly independent people without trying to drag them under your own influence instead. That if you want to be the good guys, you need to do better than just being less brutal than the last lot. That actually, that last lot didn’t need replacing at all (they needed to be gone, but that's not quite the same thing).

If TNG was a reaction to the horrifying rise of Reaganism, Deep Space Nine was a response to what seemed to be its final victory. A warning that a world in which capitalism had won wasn’t one in which there were no more struggles to contend with. Us versus Them had become Us vs Us – not a civil war, but a war within ourselves, in which defeat would lead not to our domination, but in allowing ourselves to dominate somebody else.

Which is to say, of course, that DS9 was at its most relevant, its most important, not when the Federation was fighting the Dominion, but when it risked being the Dominion. Later years forgot this, alas – even the second season, which only mentioned the upcoming Big Bad twice before its final episode, expanded its focus and lost sight of what made it so special in the process.

Conspiracy theories turn you inward. They tell you the majority of the world can’t be reasoned with, and they’re built on the assumption that there aren’t any actual, fully visible examples of colossal, murderous malfeasance to fight against. On top of all that, they tell you to “Trust no-one” (a line Babylon 5 at one point borrows from The X-Files, playing around with it without actually dismissing it). That’s an utterly appalling and damaging message. It would be hard, indeed, to come up with a worse mantra if you’re actually interested in curbing government incompetence/evil. Collective action is all we have. You have to trust people. Not always, not blindly. But it has to happen. No person is a remote, heavily-guarded island, and a nation that forgets that fact is one that’s easier to control. What, you think the paranoia the Stasi spread worked against their instincts? Retreating into yourself doesn’t keep you safe. It just guarantees a war without end, because those enemies you haven’t simply imagined are actually helped by your approach.

Season 1 of Deep Space Nine rejects this completely. It has no interest in shadowy manipulations or performative paranoia. The only Bajoran position Sisko will vocally oppose is that of isolationism. The risk is not that of losing a secret war, but of screwing up the public peace. It’s about the importance of honest diplomacy, and how nothing of any worth can be built without listening to each other about what we need, and what we absolutely don’t need. It’s about how peace still needs the peacemakers.

Yes, blood and flame are easier ways to generate excitement, but then heroin and barium meals are an easier way to lose weight than regular exercise. Easier doesn’t mean better, and darker doesn’t mean smarter. Deep Space Nine was perfectly positioned to speak to our times, but those times were complicated, and nuanced, and required self-restraint, so barely anybody cared to listen. It was just too satisfying to fret about ourselves, ignoring the needs of the rest of the world until someone got mad enough about it to become an obvious enemy again.

For all the talk to the contrary, it was never Babylon 5 that offered the last, best chance for peace. It was Deep Space Nine.

And if it failed, then the failure was ours.

[1] This isn’t the place to relitigate Straczynski’s claims that Paramount, having listened to but rejected his pitch for Babylon 5, then ripped it off in order to create Deep Space Nine. All I’ll say here is that while I think Straczynski overstates the case, that doesn’t mean the case isn’t there.

[2] This also isn’t the place to discuss how best to map the Cardassians onto the various brutal autocratic governments that arose in the twentieth century – and clearly it would be foolish to suggest there’s one clear equivalence here. I’d note though that the Cardassian shenanigans in the Demilitarized Zone aren’t at all difficult to see as analogous to using client states and paramilitary groups to fight a Cold War against the Federation.

Episode Rankings

Rewatch List

(Underlined episodes are particularly good)

Emissary Past Prologue A Man Alone Babel Captive Pursuit Dax The Nagus Vortex Battle Lines The Storyteller Progress The Forsaken Dramatis Personae Duet In The Hands Of The Prophets

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