Season Six Review

Hey folks! Having now watched and absorbed the entire sixth season of Deep Space Nine, here goes my Season Review. The format ought to be familiar ('cos I've pinched it from other reviewers! ;-)); first I'll go through each episode individually, give a quick review and a score out of 10 (sometimes amending my original ratings). Then I'll plunge into a general analysis of the year as a whole, looking at, well, just about everything. Here goes…


Season Six Episode Reviews
A Time to Stand
S6, Episode 1
Written by: Ira Steven Behr & Hans Beimler / Directed by: Allan Kroeker
Click here for Original Review
"There's something I just don't understand. You're always telling me that space is big; that it's an endless frontier, filled with infinite wonders...well, if that's the case, you'd think it would be more than enough room to allow people to leave each other alone..."
"It just doesn't work that way. It should, but it doesn't."
-- Joseph and Ben Sisko

An exceptional season premiere which does a great job picking up from the stunning fifth season finale and weaving the various plot threads into what promises to be a tantalising story arc. Plot-wise A Time to Stand is rather lightweight, but this isn't a problem; it transcends plot, and by focussing on character interaction and how the war is affecting the characters there's a very fluid feel to the episode. In spite of some clunky exposition (mainly involving the lapse of three months), everything flows. Instead of the characters being there to move the plot from A to B, it feels more like the plot is there to service the characters -- and I like that.

Speaking of the characters, much of the characterisation sparkles, particularly on the station (which actually proves more interesting than the "Front lines"). Jeffrey Combs is a delight as Weyoun, and the Dukat/Weyoun exchanges are superb. Quark comes across very well and the Kira/Odo interaction hasn't been as strong in years -- perhaps because Kira hasn't been as strong in years. The most memorable scene was the Kira/Dukat office exchange, which was worth its weight in latinum. Dukat has never been as menacing, although the fact he's got girlie hair (that is especially noticeable in that particular scene) kind of blunts the impact a wee bit! Another excellent scene was the Ben/Joseph Sisko vignette, which brought things across on a very human level. The little character pieces were impeccably performed, all the details were nicely incorporated and the build-up to the adrenaline-pumping final act was quite effective. A very strong start to the season.

(Original Rating: 9.5) Final Rating: 9

Rocks and Shoals
S6, Episode 2
Wr: Ronald D Moore/Dir: Michael Vejar
Click here for Original Review
"Are you really willing to give up your life for "the order of things"?"
"It's not my life to give up, Captain. And it never was."
-- Sisko and Remat'Iklan

Rocks and Shoals is easily the strongest segment of the Occupation Arc and one of Star Trek's finest outings to boot. Ron Moore's excellent script is dark, daring and intelligent, forcing us to stop in our tracks amidst a life-and-death struggle to look into the face of the enemy and ask ourselves whether we can still pull that trigger. The portrayal of the Jem'Hadar, particularly their leader Remat'Iklan (nicely brought to life by Phil Morris), is three-dimensional, sympathetic and poignant as we realise that although they are by their genetically-engineered nature killers, they are also victims whose very existence is used and manipulated by the Dominion hierarchy to its own end.

Especially interesting is Sisko's wrenching moral dilemma which was clearly not as easy for him as he let on. "We are at war," he tells his men. "And when it comes to a choice between them and us there is no choice." Obviously true, but this is the first time Sisko has had to turn his back on his moral values and serves as a fascinating prelude to the events of In the Pale Moonlight. The episode masterfully builds to one of the darkest, most powerful endings we've ever seen to a Trek episode (and not one you'd never see on any other show but DS9). The Kira sub-plot is equally compelling and well-executed as she slowly realises she has become the very thing she hated the most during the previous Occupation -- a collaborator. The scene where Yassim hangs herself on the Promenade is one of the most shocking, jaw-dropping moments I've ever seen on Trek.

This really is a little masterpiece; the performances are excellent, the writing perfect, David Bell's score is beautifully dark and intense and Michael Vejar's stunning, cinematic directing is absolutely first-rate, standing to mind as the best directorial work of the year. Excellent.

(Original Rating: 10) Final Rating: 10

Sons and Daughters
S6, Episode 3
Wr: David Weddle & Bradley Thompson/Dir: Jesus Salvador Trevino
Click here for Original Review
"You don't like the dress?"
"The dress is fine, I don't like you."
-- Dukat and Kira

Hmm. Whereas the previous episode was the best instalment of this story arc, Sons and Daughters is the only real blip. Yes, it's about time that we finally dealt with the "Alexander issue", but now is not the time nor the place -- if it weren't for the sub-plot which reintroduces Ziyal, this episode could have been jettisoned from the Arc entirely.

At times there are some sparks of genuine emotion between Worf and Alexander, but generally the episode is lacklustre and quite ineffective. We never learn why Alexander is aboard the Rotarran nor what exactly motivates him and there's an unfortunate lack of remorse on Worf's part for being such a dreadful father. Coupled with a gobbedly-gook Klingon ritual which is used to resolve the plot this rather guts whatever potential the story had. Luckily the ever-entertaining J.G. Hertzler is on hand to lift every scene he appears in, but what this episode really needed was Dax -- I'm sure it wouldn't have been too much to have had her stay aboard the Rotarran for a couple of days. Notably the writing, directing, performances and even the music and effects are all a step down from previous and succeeding episodes.

(Original Rating: 6) Final Rating: 5.5

Behind the Lines
S6, Episode 4
Wr: Rene Echevarria/Dir: LeVar Burton
Click here for Original Review
"You mean if I had to take command I would be called Captain, too?"
"Cadet, by the time you took command there'd be nobody left to call you anything!"
-- Nog and O'Brien

Behind the Lines was a pivotal episode in the arc, introducing a further twist in the arrival of the Changeling leader who corrupts Odo, making him turn his back on Kira just as he is needed the most. For the most part the plot is beautifully executed, with outstanding performances from Rene Auberjonois, Nana Visitor and Salome Jens, coupled with an unforgettably chilling cliff-hanger which leaves us wondering how Odo can ever be the same again. It all works splendidly, but...

It's also the source of one of the season's biggest problems, for despite this exceptional set-up, within two or three episodes it is all shoved under the carpet and forgotten about. Did the writers chicken out of whatever they were planning to do with the character or was the set-up just too ambitious? Either way it's the root of a pretty major grievance I have with the arc. Still, in itself Behind the Lines remains a strong episode with great acting and some splendid directing directing by LeVar Burton (the sequence where Rom is caught for his attempted sabotage is nail-biting). The sub-plot is decent stuff although the fact that Sisko is back in command of the Defiant in the very next episode makes it somewhat redundant.

(Original Rating: 8.5) Final Rating: 8

Favor the Bold
S6, Episode 5
Wr: Ira Steven Behr & Hans Beimler/Dir: Winrich Kolbe
Click here for Original Review
"There's an old saying; fortune favors the bold. Well, I guess we're about to find out..."
-- Sisko

Favor the Bold is an excellent build-up to the conclusion of the arc. It deftly juggles a multitude of plot-lines all at once and highlights the best of this story arc, demonstrating the wealth of character development and multi-layered plotting. It bounces plot against plot brilliantly and never drops the ball once while suceeding in cultivating an atmosphere of foreboding doom, the feeling that pretty soon all hell is about to break loose.

The characterisation is the main highlight, with new depth and dimension added to the characters of Quark, Rom and even Ziyal. There's some interesting development in the Dukat/Ziyal relationship, Kira gets to once again regain the strength of character she had in DS9's earlier seasons and, in an episode highlight, she gets to beat the hell out of the unfuriatingly smug Damar. Rom's determination to save the Alpha Quadrant (even if it means sacrificing his own life) was a nice touch as were his attempts to enlist Quark, and the Dukat/Weyoun scenes were equally enjoyable. While most of the best scenes took place on the station, we also got a pivotal scene for Sisko where he tells Admiral Ross that whilst "I will go wherever Starfleet sends me, when I go home it will be to Bajor". It's wonderful to see how much Sisko has grown to love and feel a part of Bajor since he first arrived as a man who wanted desperately to be anywhere but there. His plans to build a house on Bajor were particularly revealing.

The only thing that felt a bit "off" was Odo and the Founder's dirty weekend where it's revealed Odo has just taught her how solids experience intimacy ("so that's how humans do ie, eh? Now we've covered Bajorans, humans, Klingons and about we try Cardassian next?"). Already we're starting to see Odo have second thoughts about his allegiances, so at least that gives next week's turnaround a bit of foreshadowing.

(Original Rating: 8.5) Final Rating: 8.5

Sacrifice of Angels
S6, Episode 6
Wr: Ira Steven Behr & Hans Beimler/Dir: Allan Kroeker
Click here for Original Review
"A true victory is to make you enemy see they were wrong to oppose you in the first place!"
-- Dukat

I'm well aware that some people were disappointed by this conclusion to the Occupation Arc, but I must digress I found this one of the most entertaining episodes of the season. It's true that the break-neck pace sometimes meant that less time was spent on certain elements than perhaps should have been -- notably Odo's redemption which seems a bit easy. But there is more said on the faces of Auberjonois and Jens than is written in dialogue and a tragic tinge to Odo's decision as he tells Kira "the Link was paradise but it appears I'm not ready for paradise". At the time I had hoped we'd see more fall-out from this in subsequent episodes, but that we don't isn't so much the fault of this episode as the writers' decision to discard the issue.

The rest of this was absolutely riveting, however. The plot kept taking unpredictable twists and just as it seemed to be heading in one direction it veers off into another (such as Kira's arrest and Rom's failure to stop the destruction of the minefield). Some people took issue with the use of the Prophets as a resolution -- yes, it is a dues ex machina, but it was also clever, unpredictable and perfectly logical for Sisko to ask the Prophets for their help in stopping the enemy reinforcements. The "penance" the Prophets exact is fascinating and opens a whole host of possible storylines for the future. But perhaps the best part of the episode was the shattering effect on Dukat as the Dominion is forced to abandon the station. The sudden chaos was exceptionally effective and Dukat's descent into madness was absolutely beautifully-handled, with the directing, music and Marc Alaimo's tour de force performance making for absolutely captivating television. The death of Ziyal was devastating and the final sight of Dukat, huddled in a cell incoherently babbling to his deceased daughter was surprisingly moving. Again, this held a lot of potential for future development, though I'm not quite sure I'm happy where the writers decide to take the character from here (see Waltz and Tears of the Prophets).

The special effects were just stunning, easily the best I've ever seen on Trek (and that includes the films, which ironically have about fifty times the budget!). There was some great material here for Quark as he musters the courage to execute a dangerous jail-break. It's been a pleasure to see the character grow by virtue of serious character development. The directing is first-rate and David Bell's dark, brooding music magnificently underscored a tremendous ambience of impending doom. Although the resolution to Odo's storyline was a bit fudged over and the scene where everyone returns to the station was a bit overdone, Sacrifice of Angels is nevertheless an entertaining, gripping, edge-of-your-seat experience -- and considering the primary purpose of television is to entertain, that counts for a lot.

(Original Rating: 9.5) Final Rating: 9

You are Cordially Invited
S6, Episode 7
Wr: Ronald D Moore/Dir: David Livingston
Click here for Original Review
"There are six trials we must face...this is the first, depravation. We now begin a fast that will continue until the day of the wedding."
"What are the other five trials?"
"Blood, pain, sacrifice, anguish and death."
"Sounds like marriage alright..."
-- Worf, Sisko and Bashir

And so we have the historic wedding of two Trek regulars, namely Dax and Worf. I was never especially enamoured by the pairing back in the fifth season, but You are Cordially Invited is an enjoyable romp and a particularly refreshing change-of-pace following the rather dark episodes that preceeded. The cast are all terrific, O'Brien and Bashir get some great lines (as they hang over a pit of burning coal and plot Worf's death!) and J.G. Hertlzer gives another terrific performance as Martok, ably supported by Shannon Cochrane as Dax's bitchy prospective mother-in-law, Sirella. As for Worf, he's the usual dour prat but there is some humour as Martok pokes fun at his sense of humour (or lack thereof) and Sirella is evidently disgusted by his presence. The real star of the show is Terry Farrell, who is simply marvellous and delivers an energetic, witty and charismatic performance as the rowdy Trill. A highlight is the touching Sisko/Dax scene toward the end.

The only disappointment is the rushed "reset button" resolution of the Odo/Kira conflict. Whilst I'm glad it wasn't dropped entirely it would have been nice to have heard some of that conversation in the closet (just a couple of well-written lines exploring their feelings would have been enough). Rest assured, the whole incident is long-forgotten hereon. But that's just a minor niggle and when it eventually comes the wedding scene is surprisingly well-written and poignant with a moving story about how the Klingon Gods were destroyed by the love of the first two Klingon hearts. Great fun.

(Original Rating: 8) Final Rating: 8

S6, Episode 8
Wr: Rene Echevarria/Dir: LeVar Burton
Click here for Original Review
"Sometimes your taste in men frightens me!"
"I'll be sure to tell Worf you said so."
"Tell me what?"
"Don't be so nosey!"
-- Kira, Dax and Worf

Well, I can see what the writers were trying to do -- bring Kira face-to-face with a dead lover (or more specifically his Mirror universe counterpart) and explore her feelings toward this different, yet intimately familiar person. Right enough, this could have been quite powerful, but sadly Resurrection falls utterly flat on its face. The script is dull, ineffective and riddled with plot-holes (which I won't go into for lack of space) and worst of all, there's absolutely zilch chemistry between Nana Visitor and Philip Anglim.

There's more damage than good done to Kira's character as we're left to wonder just  how dense one woman can be -- not to mention insensitive as Odo's feelings get no consideration (she even asks Bareil on a date right outside Odo's office). The once-enjoyable Intendant pops up for no reason other than making Bareil choose between the two ladies in one of the most tedious, wordy and completely ineffective anti-climaxes the show has ever had. There are a couple of good scenes, the best being Dax and Worf's dinner party and there's an enjoyable scene in Ops where everyone is eager to learn how Kira's date went (given this is a close circle of friends, this rang particularly true). Sadly it just isn't enough to redeem an exceptionally lacklustre forty-five minutes.

(Original Rating: 4) Final Rating: 4

Statistical Probabilities
S6, Episode 9
Wr: Rene Echevarria/Dir: Anson Williams
Click here for Original Review
"Surrender is not an option. Now I'm happy to hear your group's advice on how to win this war but I don't need your advice on how to lose it."
-- Sisko

A modest, quiet little episode but a gem nonetheless. First of all, I love the "Jack Pack" (as they've been christened). They're a colourful, quirky bunch of oddballs and they're both written and played with just the right amount of zany energy. The episode itself starts off as an intelligent, thought-provoking discussion of the moral and ethical implications of genetic engineering -- which is a very relevant topic right now, what with scientists weighing up the pros and cons of producing clones for spare body parts (I tend to agree with the Trekkian argument that it's invariably a bad idea).

The story then veers into a fascinating exploration of the Dominion war, hammering home the fact that things are pretty bleak indeed. OK, so some of their predictions were a little implausible (in terms of how they were worked out) but it's great to see Weyoun and Damar again and the final realisation that "it only takes one person to change the course of history" could well have some relevance next season, I suspect. Throw in some wonderful scenes between O'Brien and Bashir and some interesting character development for the good doctor and you have a compelling, intelligent little drama bolstered by some nice performances and directing.

(Original Rating: 8) Final Rating: 8.5

The Magnificent Ferengi
S6, Ep 10
Wr: Ira Steven Behr & Hans Beimler/Dir: Chip Chalmers
Click here for Original Review
"A child, a moron, a failure and a psycopath! Quite a little team you've put together."
"What do you want, Brunt?"
"I'm here to sign up."
-- Brunt and Quark

This is just a delight from start to finish; easily the funniest Ferengi episode since Little Green Men two years ago. OK, so the plot is questionable in terms of logic and it's not especially taxing on an intellectual level, but there are lots of wonderfully funny touches, from a gung-ho Nog trying to train the bunch of Ferengi misfits, to their hilarious ineptitude during the holosuite simulation and their lively banter is enjoyable and keeps the episode moving along smoothly. The actors are all tremendous and there's a bizarre but entertaining cameo by Iggy Pop as Yelgrun the Vorta. Throw in a surprising twist where the bungling Ferengi accidentally kill the hostage they are exchanging for Moogie and a morbid but hilarious conclusion where they try to rig the corpse with electronic impulses to make it looks like he's still alive ("What have they done to him?!" gasps a shocked Yelgrun). It's one of the funniest scenes I've ever seen on Trek, though I guess a dark sense of humour would be an asset! Magnificent.

(Original Rating: 8) Final Rating: 8

S6, Episode 10
Wr: Ronald D Moore/Dir: Rene Auberjonois
Click here for Original Review
"I think you're an evil, sadistic man who should have been tried as a war criminal years ago, put up against a wall and shot."
"You probably agree with Major Kira, don't you Benjamin? I am the former prefect of Bajor, an evil man who sent thousands of Bajorans to their deaths to satisfy his own sadistic desires?"
"Of course he agrees with me...and it was millions."
-- "Kira" (Dukat's hallucination) and Dukat

DS9 does Misery. Very well too, although as I stated in my original review, I'm left rather uncomfortable by some of the moral underpinnings and what this episode actually means for the character of Dukat. The first thirty-five minutes present a fascinating exploration of Dukat's madness, illustrating his mental state with clever use of his "inner demons" which take the form of Damar, Kira and Weyoun, each of whom represent a different fragment of his psyche. This part of the episode is excellent.

But in a scene towards the end Dukat goes from defending his actions during the Occupation, claiming he cared about the Bajorans and tried his best to help them to a torrent of rage, telling Sisko that he "hated everything about them" and that "I should have killed every last one of them! I should have turned their planet into a graveyard the likes of which the galaxy has never seen! I should have killed them all!!" Considering the previous half hour had been spent building up Dukat's insanity until it came to boiling point, I was surprised when we were supposedly meant to accept that this is the "real" Dukat speaking and that he is, as Sisko put it, "truly evil". Part of the Dukat's appeal has always been the complexity and ambiguity of the character and "Waltz" unravels that ambiguity whilst also raising the question of where you draw the line between "insanity" and "evil". How can you call someone who isn't entirely in control of their mental faculties purely evil? It's obvious that the writers are now trying to set up Dukat as Sisko's arch enemy which is all good and well, but let's see him retain some of those ambiguous "shades of grey" which have served the character so well for so long.

Still, for the most part Waltz remains an intriguing, intense and beautifully-acted drama. We're treated to some compelling interaction between Sisko and Dukat, good directing by Rene Auberjonois and a truly outstanding performance from Marc Alaimo as the deranged Dukat. If the writers had been a little more clear on what they were trying to say about/do with Dukat Waltz could have been one of the DS9's finest.

(Original Rating: 9) Final Rating: 8.5

Who Mourns for Morn?
S6, Episode 11
Wr: Mark Gehred-O'Connell/Dir: Victor Lobl
Click here for Original Review
"I wonder who came up with the idea of suspending liquid latinum inside worthless bits of gold?"
"Probably someone who got tired of making change with an eye-dropper."
-- Quark and Dax

OK, as an occassional running gag Morn works fine, but drag it any further than that and you're really stretching it. Based entirely around Morn and his supposed "back story" this episode is pretty forced and lame -- the stretch marks of a single joke being dragged too far are very much in evidence. At times it's amiable and there are one or two amusing touches (such as the two "mafia" brothers and the final shoot-out) but I'm afraid the script is dull and wordy and the laughs precious few and far between. We've seen Quark-getting-in-over-his-head many times before and it's been done far more effectively than this. Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad episode by any means, but it left me feeling rather indifferent -- and bored, which is never a good thing.

(Original Rating: 5) Final Rating: 5

Far Beyond the Stars
S6, Episode 12
Wr: Ira Steven Behr & Hans Beimler/Dir: Avery Brooks
Click here for Original Review
"Oh come on, Benny -- your hero's a negro Captain, the head of a space station for Christ's sake."
"What's wrong with that?"
"People won't accept it, it's not believable!"
-- Douglas Pabst and Benny Russell

Wow, what can I say? This is the best episode of DS9 since The Visitor two seasons ago, and one that has few rivals before or since. It's an episode that works on so many levels, whether as a powerful exploration of racism, a loving nod to the core ideology of what Star Trek is about, or as a plethora of cryptic symbolism and prophecy of things yet to come. I guess it's as simple or complex as you want it to be -- on the surface it's the story of a struggling science-fiction writer living in 1950's Manhattan who dreams of a better future where there is no racism, and who believes he can help change the world through his story. This could well be the very best period drama Trek has ever done; the sets, props and costumes are assembled with such masterful attention to minute detail that there's a very tangible sense of atmosphere -- for all intents and purposes you could be looking back in time to 50's New York.

This is actually the first time Trek has dealt with the issue of racism right-out and it's handled with sophistication and intelligence. The story of Benny's struggle to pave the way for a better future is beautifully-executed on just about every level, making for a moving drama that will leave you thinking long afterwards. The coda questions who exactly Benny was; was he merely "the dream", a symbol from the Prophets representing Sisko (his struggle against the evils of racism directly mirrors Sisko's fight against the Dominion), or was he in actual fact "the dreamer" ("what if we're all figments of his imagination?" asks Sisko)? The episode leaves us to draw our own conclusions, but I see it as a loving nod to Gene Roddenberry, the dreamer, who like Benny, created a vision of a better future that is Star Trek. Incidentally, this is not the last we'll see of Benny Russell (as you will know if you've already seen Shadows and Symbols). And I have a feeling we'll be seeing him again before the end of the series…

This episode featured some absolutely outstanding characterisation and performances. The entire cast (with the exception of Michael Dorn who is a trifle bland) is excellent, with stand-out performances by Rene Auberjonois, Cirroc Lofton and Armin Shimerman in particular. But the real star of the show is Avery Brooks who gives what may well be remembered as his best performance (and ironically, it's not as Ben Sisko!). He successfully creates a character in many ways similar to Sisko, but one who has been less fortunate in life and has suffered severe hardships and knock-backs. He was especially moving in the scene where Benny breaks down in a torrent of rage and despair -- he truly brought a tear to my eye. Brooks also directs and does an equally splendid job; visually the episode is stunning and technically it's flawless. He brings real passion and love to an episode that I believe was close to his heart and he deserves real credit for that. An absolutely beautiful episode -- one of the best of the best.

(I recently picked up a copy of the novelisation by Steve Barnes and it's absolutely brilliant -- I can highly recommend it to anyone. Mr Barnes does a tremendous job fleshing out an already excellent script and brings some fascinating insight to the story of Benny Russell.)

(Original Rating: 10) Final Rating: 10

One Little Ship
S6, Episode 13
Wr: Bradley Thompson & David Weddle/Dir: Allan Kroeker
Click here for Original Review
"I do not see what is so humourous about being small."
"Neither do I!"
-- Worf and Nog

As I said in my initial review, my heart sank when I read the plot outline of this episode -- a runabout is shrunk to the size of a shoe and must single-handedly rescue the Defiant. But One Little Ship is one of the season's biggest surprises -- whilst not a stand-out it nevertheless executes a rather stupid premise with just the right tongue-in-cheek sense of fun that provides a genuinely entertaining, funny episode that thankfully never takes itself too seriously.

It has the irreverent tone of a Summer blockbuster movie in that it's kinda stupid but a whole lot of fun with special effects and witty one-liners galore. The sub-plot involving the Jem'Hadar ambushing the Defiant is handled well and there's an interesting revelation about a new breed of "Alpha Quadrant" Jem'Hadar who come into conflict with the old "Gamma" breed. Oddly there has been no follow-up to this so far, but I'm assuming there will be some significance next season. There are some supremely funny moments particularly Bashir and O'Brien's amusing banter (O'Brien: "You mean I'm going to be this bloody tall for the rest of my life?!" Bashir: [correcting him] "This bloody tall, actually."), Worf's poetry was rather cute and I loved Dax's understated reaction upon seeing a Jem'Hadar on the Defiant ("that's not good…") -- oh, and who can forget the wicked joke Odo and Quark play on Miles and Julian when they get back to DS9 ("are you sure you're back to your normal height? It's just you both seem several centimetres shorter...")? Don't give this one too much thought, like The Magnificent Ferengi, just switch off your brain and enjoy.

(Original Rating: 7.5) Final Rating: 7.5

Honor Among Thieves
S6, Episode 14
Wr: Rene Echevarria/Dir: Allan Eastman
Click here for Original Review
"Gentlemen, we've just robbed the bank of Bolius!"
"I was thinking of opening an account there..."
"Maybe you should go with another bank."
"One with better security!"
-- O'Brien and Bilby

Plot-wise this is derivative at best and you might well be forgiven for experiencing a pang of deja vu but luckily Honor Among Thieves is executed with just enough panache to rise above its tired origins. The core of this episode is the friendship between Miles and Bilby and it develops realistically thanks to the brilliant performances of both actors. I expected no less from the ever-reliable Colm Meaney but Nick Tate was every bit as good, succeeding in creating a rounded, three-dimensional character that we genuinely cared about (something that often proves a challenge for actors when they have only forty minutes to do so). The conclusion where Bilby discovered the truth about Miles was a classic and utilises Rene Echevarria's sensitive scripting and the talents of Meaney and Tate to amazing effect. You can tell that Bilby is deeply shaken by his friend's betrayal ("I should have known you were too good to be true") and it's equally painful for Miles who never wanted any harm to come to Bilby. Bilby's decision to sacrifice his own life to save his family made for a nicely underplayed, yet moving, tragic coda. The plot itself is pretty much by-the-numbers and the involvement of the Dominion was perhaps a bit superfluous but at it's heart this is an episode about friendship and conflicting loyalties -- and on that level it's a gem.

(Original Rating: 8) Final Rating: 8

Change of Heart
S6, Episode 15
Wr: Ronald D Moore/Dir: David Livingston
Click here for Original Review
"I do have a sense of humour! On the Enterprise I was considered quite amusing."
"THAT must have been one dull ship!"
-- Worf and Dax

I doubt Change of Heart is an episode that will do much to excite the "War Crowd" or the Space Battle fans, but as far as I'm concerned this was one of the season's unexpected highlights. It works wonders when it comes to exploring Dax and Worf's relationship, and the pair of them have finally developed the depth and chemistry that is pre-requisite in a convincing on-screen romance. OK, so there's not that much to the plot, but it's eloquent in its simplicity and I found it a surprisingly moving, sincere look at love, duty and sacrifice.

Terry Farrell gives a painfully convincing performance as the injured Jadzia, and whilst I felt that Michael Dorn could have put more effort into his performance, we finally see that Worf has overcome his attitude problem and for once is unafraid to show just how much he loves his wife. As I said in my original review, this is one of Trek's most effective love stories, about a million miles from that old "romance of the week" formula, instead; "This is about an ongoing, deepening relationship between two people who would sacrifice it all for each other. It was beautifully done and it felt genuine and moving. It almost had the feel of a Shakespearean love story. Really, this is quite a beautiful episode."

(Incidentally, Terry Farrell has stated in an interview that she wished they had used Change of Heart as her final episode and I agree that it would have worked a lot better. They'd just have had to change the ending -- make it that Bashir couldn't do anything for Jadzia after all, making Worf's sacrifice in vain. Now that would have been a lot more effective than what we got in Tears of the Prophets.)

(Original Rating: 9) Final Rating: 9


Wrongs Darker than Death or Night
S6, Episode 16
Wr: Ira Steven Behr & Hans Beimler/Dir: Jonathan West
Click here for Original Review
"Let's just say this is not the first time I've seen this little melodrama."
-- The Cardassian Legate
(OK, so I changed the wording a little where appropriate!)

Well. This is certainly a very watchable episode courtesy of the excellent acting (especially impressive were Nana Visitor and Leslie Hope), strong directing, some interesting moral questions and a plot that moves at a fair pace, remaining engaging throughout. Unfortunately it's all undermined by the fact it's BADLY WRITTEN. Whilst the idea of Kira learning a secret about her mother's past that distorts the lofty image she always had of her has potential, Behr and Beimler have used questionable means in their construction of this premise. I didn't care for the fact that it happened to be, of all people, Dukat that "stole" her away (must be a very small universe; the fact the episode is set on DS9, sorry, Terok Nor, confirms this) and whilst I can understand that Kira would be upset about this, it's just stupid to think that Sisko and even the Bajorans that keep the Orbs, would allow her to go back in time, essentially to check out who her mother was sleeping with!

The situation with Meru and Dukat was reasonably done with just enough moral ambiguity, but what the hell has happened to Kira? She seems utterly unable to comprehend that there were no clear-cut answers when it came to the Occupation (a lesson she doesn't seem to have learned from such episodes as Duet, Necessary Evil, Things Past and Ties of Blood and Water). The climax where she tries to kill both her mother and Dukat was hideously misguided and served only to make her look like a complete idiot -- regardless of the consequences such an act would cause in the time-line, she would be committing pre-meditated MURDER. In Blood Oath she claimed deep remorse over the murders she committed during the Occupation, but her casual decision to murder her own mother just because she didn't approve of what she was doing, makes you wonder. A lot of these plot and characterisation problems could have been avoided if this had only been an Orb vision as opposed to actual time-travel -- I know I'd have felt a lot more comfortable with the episode that way. Based on plot alone I'd hate this episode, but as I said above, it's slightly redeemed by the strength of the acting and directing which make for an entertaining, if fundamentally flawed episode.

(Original Rating: 5.5) Final Rating: 5


S6, Ep 18
Wr: Bradley Thompson & David Weddle/Dir: Michael Dorn
Click here for Original Review
"Do you remember the first time I offered you scones?"
-- Weyoun to Bashir. Don't ask, it just sounded funny!

Another strong episode for Bashir, who is this time put through the wringer and accused of being a Dominion spy. At times the script is a little too wordy, but through excellent use of continuity writers Thompson and Weddle do a brilliant job of building up a very incriminating case against Bashir. There are numerous references to previous events interwoven that when considered in light of the charges against him, make Bashir's loyalties look rather shaky. It's so difficult to pull off this type of episode (ie, a member of the crew is accused of murder, espionage, etc) because we know they're innocent. Inquisition succeeds in making us actually think twice about whether or not we know Bashir as well as we thought we did -- remember last season when we were all shocked to learn he was genetically enhanced! Between that, and the surprisingly number of times that Bashir has been in a position where he's tried to actually help the Dominion -- including the time he was captured by the Dominion and replaced by a changeling, his sanctioning of the Jack Pack's conclusion that Starfleet must surrender and the time he tried to help Jem'Hadar soldiers break their drug addiction in Hippocratic Oath. But my favourite reference was to his jail-break from the prison camp in last year's By Inferno's Light which apparently even the writers thought was unlikely!

The twist takes a completely different turn, however, introducing a covert intelligence branch within Starfleet (Section 31) that is prepared to use ruthless means in order to protect Starfleet security. Our introduction to Section 31 is handled well and the ethical questions it poses are fascinating, offering a look into the darker side of the Trek universe. Michael Dorn does a decent job directing, though I still think a more experienced director might have been able to tighten the pace and atmosphere somewhat, but it holds up pretty well nonetheless. I don't think I'd rate this as one of Alexander Siddig's best performances (he seemed distant and uncomfortable a lot of the time and I'm not sure it was intentional) but Jeffrey Combs is terrific and I must commend William Sadler who is absolutely brilliant, stealing every scene he's in. On the whole, this is definitely a strong episode, but I can't shake the feeling that with better use of directing and editing it could have been even more effective.

(Original Rating: 8) Final Rating: 8

In the Pale Moonlight
S6, Ep 19
Wr: Michael Taylor (Story: Peter Allan Fields)/Dir: Victor Lobl
Click here for Original Review
"That's why you came to me, isn't it, Captain? Because you knew I could do those things that you weren't capable of doing. Well, it worked! And you'll get what you wanted -- a war between the Romulans and the Federation. And if your conscience is bothering you, you should soothe it with the knowledge that you may have saved the entire Alpha Quadrant - and all it cost was the life of one Romulan senator, one criminal...and the self-respect of one Starfleet officer. I don't know about you but I'd call that a bargain."
-- Garak to Sisko

Dark, intense, powerful and captivating from start to finish, In the Pale Moonlight is an absolutely phenomenal episode. This is a taut, beautifully-writted story which, eschewing any gimmicky stunts or space battles, relies squarely upon the talent of the actors and director in bringing the script to life. And an amazing job they do, too. Victor Lobl's directing is frame-for-frame perfect and the acting is outstanding -- Andrew Robinson gives perhaps his best performance as Garak and Stephen McHattie is just a delight as the scene-stealing, supremely snide Romulan Senator Vreenak. Avery Brooks carries the episode beautifully, delivering an absorbing, beautifully observed performance. He only occasionally overplays the "anger" quotient but I've no doubt that a lot of the success of this episode is due to Brooks. He is a man who has the ability to hold your attention and he channels such energy and passion into the role, very effectively conveying the barrage of emotion that Sisko experiences as he descends deeper into the web of deceit that he himself has spun.

This is a pivotal character piece for Benjamin Sisko and in line with the "season of Sisko torture" he has to make some very difficult decisions. At times it's allayed by the fact that, difficult though his choices are, we at least know he's doing the right thing. The fact that Starfleet has given the plan their blessing ought to alleviate his burden a little but it doesn't -- for this is a man who's been forced to violate his very principles and stoop to very questionable means to achieve his aim, as he says at one point "My cause was righteous, my intentions were good. In the beginning, that seemed like enough." Truly excellent stuff.

(Original Rating: 10) Final Rating: 10

His Way
S6, Ep 20
Wr: Ira Steven Behr & Hans Beimler/Dir: Allan Kroeker
Click here for Original Review
"It's time to have some fun!"
"What's FUN got to do with Major Kira?"
"I'll pretend I didn't hear that..."
-- Vic Fontaine and Odo

I'm well aware that fan opinion is very much polarised when it comes to His Way but I thought it was an adorable episode; romantic, funny and so beautifully performed -- with terrific music, too! The novelty factor may have worn off a bit now, but I still think it's a refreshing change of pace after a particular angsty run of episodes. James Darren is wonderful as Vic, not only is he a good singer but he brings a great deal of fun and charm to the role (although I'm not at all sure the character should have survived beyond this episode, particularly given the way he was shoehorned into the season finale). It's rather touching to watch Odo's self-enduced isolation melt away as Vic teaches him to loosen up and the stuff with he and Kira is cute and romantic, if shallow.

I guess that's the only real problem with the episode, it's so intent on having fun that it eschews any sense of depth. It's true that here the Odo/Kira relationship lacks the depth and resonance that previously underlined their friendship. We saw a glimmer of it in The Reckoning so here's hoping that it's something that they will reclaim in the seventh season. At times the characterisation is way off-note -- nowhere moreso than the final "kiss" scene on the Promenade. There is no way in hell Odo would ever grab Kira and kiss her like that on front of all those people on the promenade. No way. The dialogue was also pretty cheesy as well ("who needs dinner...Why don't I just kiss you right now?" Puh-lease!). But who cares? His Way is a wonderful, charming, feel-good episode that's just bound to bring a big smile to your face (or, if you're one of those who hate the episode, then a pain in your stomach!).

(Original Rating: 9) Final Rating: 8

The Reckoning
S6, Ep 21
Wr: Bradley Thompson & David Weddle/Dir: Jesus Salvador Trevino
Click here for Original Review
"I had a pretty good idea what this was the moment I laid eyes on it...that confirms it. It's a slab of stone with writing on it!"
-- Dax, getting a little sarcastic

The Bajoran Emissary arc has been one of the most compelling aspects of DS9 from day one. My only problem is that since the third season it's also been a sadly neglected arc, shoved into the background in favour of Klingon posturing, farcical Ferengi capers and a higher action quotient. It was last season's brilliant Rapture that brought this plotline back into the forefront and reassured me that it would again become a key component of the show. The Reckoning marks a very welcome return to Bajoran issues and in particular, Sisko's fascinating relationship with the Prophets which had already been given consideration this year with Sacrifice of Angels and Far Beyond the Stars.

I'm pretty certain that The Reckoning is a key episode is DS9's continuing narrative, introducing the time of  Reckoning -- a battle that must be fought between the Prophets and the Pagh Wraiths (which were introduced in season five's The Assignment). It's a fascinating concept, and the sweeping, epic scope nicely equates as Star Trek's "Armageddon"; this is the ultimate showdown between good and evil. It's well set up, despite one or two niggles, such as the question of what on earth a Prophet and a Pagh Wraith were doing stuck inside a statue (huh?) and the decision to show the possessed Kira and Jake with glowing blue and red eyes and synthesised voices was a little OTT.

The episode beautifully builds to its thrilling climax which is slightly undercut by an abrupt ending where Kai Winn basically stops the battle mid-way with the aid of some technobabble. I can't quite call it a "reset button" ending because the plot is picked up again in the season finale Tears of the Prophets, so it's more of a "pause button" ending which I suppose is acceptable, if a little jarring. It's great to see Winn again, but the character seems to have regressed somewhat; it's almost as if Rapture never happened. The Odo/Kira relationship gets some consideration and there's a beautifully-scripted exchange where they discuss Faith. "I don't know how people get through the day without it," she tells him. "We manage," replies Odo. "Besides, I do have faith in some things." "Such as?" "You." Aww!

(Original Rating: 8.5) Final Rating: 8

S6, Ep 22
Wr: Ronald D Moore/Dir: Michael Vejar
Click here for Original Review
"He may have been a hero. He may even have been a great man. But in the end, he was a bad captain."
-- Nog about Watters

Once again, I was left feeling profoundly indifferent by this tragic tale of a ship full of cadets whose desire for heroism leads to their eventual downfall. There was a lot of potential there but there's very little that actually worked all that well. For a start I didn't find the Red Squad Cadets remotely likeable enough to be sympathetic (except for Dorian, but even that angle felt rather forced) so to be honest, I really didn't care what happened to them. I'm not quite sure where exactly the problem lies; whether it's the script (with it's numerous plot holes), the performances (which were hit-and-miss, Cirroc Lofton, Aron Eisenberg and Paul Popowich were good, but some of the Cadets were poor), the music (which was wishy-washy and woefully inappropriate, sounding at one point more akin to a parody like Police Academy) or the directing (let's just say it's hard to believe that this is the same guy that directed Rocks and Shoals). It's probably a combination of them all. One thing is clear, despite an interesting premise and one or two nice touches, there was virtually nothing to bind it all together -- the episode completely and utterly lacks the passion and energy that it so desperately needed and, as such, leaves very little mark. Bottom line is, I just didn't care. Sorry.

(Original Rating: 5) Final Rating: 5

Profit and Lace
S6, Ep 23
Wr: Ira Steven Behr & Hans Beimler/Dir: Alexander Siddig
Click here for Original Review
"You may be a lousy son, but you made a terrific daughter."
-- Moogie, to Quark

While many people buried their heads in their hands when they heard that Profit and Lace was to feature Quark-in-drag, I gave writers Behr and Beimler the benefit of the doubt and assumed that they'd tailor an entertaining, funny episode out of it. How I was disappointed. Despite one or two amusing touches, this is an abysmal episode -- a woefully unfunny, offensive, pureile piece of trash that utterly  wastes the considerable talent of all involved. Laugh? I wanted to cry. But I'm not, I'm just going to chalk this one down to experience and try and forget it was ever made. We all have our bad days (some more than others, I might add), which I can accept. I guess I just wasn't expecting one quite this bad. Bleuh.

(Original Rating: 2) Final Rating: 1

Time's Orphan
S6, Ep 24
Wr: Bradley Thompson & David Weddle/Dir: Allan Kroeker
Click here for Original Review
"I can't believe how much [Molly's] grown since last I saw her."
"Look who's talking. What have you been eating since I've been gone?"
-- Miles and Keiko O'Brien

A reasonable episode, but not nearly as good as it could have been. It lacks the passion and emotion it needed to be an effective human drama. I'm can't help but think the plot was too ambitious for a forty-five minute episode; the story of wild-Molly's gradual rehabilitation was something that obviously had to take place gradually and over a long period of time, but within the confines of a single episode that doesn't really come across, making it feel rather forced. It's capped off with an iffy, morally dubious resolution that serves only to reset the entire situation, leaving a rather unsatisfying taste in the mouth. But it's still an entertaining episode and whilst on the whole the O'Briens' dilemma wasn't nearly as involving or heart-wrenching as it ought to have been, there are some effective moments during Molly's rehabilitation and eventual relapse.

The writing and directing is functional if unstartling and the performances are reasonable, although the usually brilliant Colm Meaney seems distant and uninterested which doesn't help matters much. The Worf/Dax sub-plot is cute although I can't help but wonder about Worf; if he wants to prove he's a good father that's fine, but he might want to start with Alexander (Worf: "Alexander who?"). Having revisited Sons and Daughters it's evident that he was a dreadful father to the poor boy and he offers little apology for that fact. The man's selfishness and complete disregard for his only son never seems to amaze me.

(Original Rating: 6) Final Rating: 6

The Sound of Her Voice
S6, Ep 25
Wr: Ronald D Moore/Dir: Winrich Kolbe
Click here for Original Review
"Some day we're gonna wake up and we're going to find that someone is missing from this circle. And on that day, we're going to mourn..."
-- Miles "Nostradamus" O'Brien

Another episode that doesn't quite scale the heights promised by its premise but is quite enjoyable nonetheless. There's nothing wrong with the idea of the crew talking about themselves to an outside voice (in this case a marooned Starfleet Captain) but Ron Moore's script doesn't really go anywhere. About the only insight of any interest is O'Brien's admission that over the past year the crew have grown apart, which has been noticeable in previous episodes as well as the way this episode is structured (the characters spend most their time in their rooms alone). Apart from that all that was on offer was Sisko moaning about his love life (zzz) and an odd suggestion that Bashir is a detached, "God-like" doctor who never pays any attention to his friends (huh?).

Depending on your opinion, Lisa Cusack was either a refreshingly different take on a Starfleet Captain or exceptionally annoying in a what-the-hell-will-it-take-to-get-you-to-shut-up kind of way. The twist at the end did little to justify the build-up and left me scratching my head, wondering why. Did it add anything to the actual story? Nope. Did it actually mean anything? Not where I'm sitting. It felt like a twist added for the sake of a twist. The final funeral scene felt forced not only because I doubt anyone really cared much about Lisa, but the "look what she's shown me about myself" aspect was a bit stilted. Apparently this scene was meant as much for Dax as anyone (as is hinted in O'Brien's final speech) but I still think that having the characters mooning over the death of a complete stranger whilst we see NO reaction to Jadzia's death in the next episode is getting priorities muddled just a little. The episode is well-executed; the acting and directing are first rate, the music and special effects are gorgeous, with just a little more work in the script department this would have been a lot more effective. Forgot to mention the sub-plot -- it's actually more entertaining than the main plot, adding some much-needed fun and lustre.

(Original Rating: 6.5) Final Rating: 6

Tears of the Prophets
S6, Ep 26
Wr: Ira Steven Behr & Hans Beimler/Dir: Allan Kroeker
Click here for Original Review
"All this talk of Gods strikes me as nothing more than superstitious nonsense."
"You believe the Founders are Gods, don't you?"
"That's different."
"In what way?"
"The Founders ARE Gods."
-- Weyoun and Damar

Whilst I'm glad we've finally got back to the "Serious Stuff" I'm afraid I've mixed feelings about this episode. There are certainly some powerful moments, but its main problem is that it tries to cram far too much into the space of forty-five minutes. Which wouldn't be so bad in itself if the writers had chosen to focus on WHAT WAS IMPORTANT! Yup, in spite of all else that went on, Tears of the Prophets will forever be remembered as the episode where Jadzia dies. I can't say I like how they handled her death, either -- the scene where she's [umm, whatever it is Dukat does to her] is pretty high on shock value, but her death bed scene was rushed and apart from Sisko we don't see anyone react to her death. What makes it so unforgivable is that the first half of the episode is riddled with pointless character pieces such as Odo and Kira's first argument (whoopee), Dax and Worf's decision to have a baby (a cheap shot) and Bashir and Quark moping about the holosuite like jealous schoolboys. Oh, and a song by Vic is also crammed in, evidently just for the sake of it. It all felt like filler, and I'd much rather they'd either made this a two-part episode or dispensed with the filler entirely and spent the time on fleshing out the ending.

It's still an undeniably entertaining episode and whilst it feels overloaded it's certainly a step up from the string of lacklustre episodes that preceded it. There's some development in the war (which must have made certain fans incontinent with excitement ;-)) and the Prophet/Pagh Wraith battle of The Reckoning takes a turn for the worse (Pagh Wraiths 1; Prophets nil). Oh, and Dukat shows up but along with those red eyes and that synthesised voice is sadly degenerating into a cartoon villain.

The strongest aspect of the episode was Sisko's Big Decision between Starfleet and the Prophets (it's been long-coming) and the fact that he makes the wrong choice. He sees himself as responsible for Dax's death and the loss of the Prophets and following the horrendous year he's had (see Rocks and Shoals, Waltz, Far Beyond the Stars and In the Pale Moonlight) this is the straw that breaks the camel's back. He leaves for Earth on a leave of absence in an effectively downbeat, poignant ending to the season -- one that, as I mentioned in my original review, was foretold in Far Beyond the Stars. At the end of the day, I like what this season finale does, I just don't like how it does it. It needed more focus and less fluff, a criticism which could equally be labelled to the season as a whole.

Goodbye, Jadzia. We'll miss ya.

(Original Rating: 7) Final Rating: 7

General Commentary

Whew! I've probably already said more than I ought to have. Assuming anyone's actually still awake (:-) here's a quick run-through of the season as a whole...

My one word summation of the sixth season would have to be "ambitious". The writers have finally decided to completely break free of the conventional Trek "mould" and really play to DS9's strengths. The opening war arc (which I'll call the "Occupation Arc" hereon so as not to confuse) represents what the show really should have been all along; a series that is largely composed of individual compositions which are linked by ongoing storylines and plot arcs. Conceptually, DS9 is not a series about flying off around the galaxy having one-night stands (hey, don't snigger! You know what I mean! :-)), it's a much more down-to-earth, reality-based show about living with the consequences of your actions. I remember back when DS9 began a lot of people bemoaned the fact that because the series is set on a space station, it would be boring because "it doesn't go anywhere". The ironic thing is that DS9 has gone further than any of the other Trek shows -- in terms of storytelling, that is. The boldest and most courageous of the spin-offs, DS9 has taken the franchise into fascinating new territory. Where else on Trek have we had such deep and textured characterisation with characters that actually grow and evolve and, not to mention complex, compelling storylines that span the entire length of the series, lending purpose and direction to the show as a whole?

A lot of the "war mongers" out there (my affectionate nickname for those fans that are obsessed with all things war) seem to think that the war with the Dominion is the best thing ever to happen to the show. I don't think that the actual war is, but more the fact that it has provided a solid focus for the series (and presumably the writers). It ties together with DS9's other plot strands, such as the Bajor storyline (more specifically the Prophets and the Pagh Wraiths right now), Sisko's dual role as both a Starfleet Captain and the Emissary of the Prophets,  the Odo/Founders arc and there are various other character pieces that are being developed alongside. The best evidence of this was the Occupation Arc which kicked off the season and which, despite one or two flaws, beautifully combined all the show's main storylines and character arcs. I was impressed. It was like concentrated, undiluted DS9 and I only wish it had lasted a while longer!

Yup, the season did go downhill a bit from there, but after such a superb kick-off, the ball had to drop sometime. Whilst the Occupation Arc proved that fortune most certainly does favour the bold, the ironic thing is that for all it's ambition, the season's main flaw was that it wasn't ambitious enough! The almost apocalyptic events of Call to Arms and the Occupation arc seemed to promise that DS9 would never be the same again. Not so. Whilst there were consequences from the arc it seemed the writers wanted to have their cake and eat it. Sure, we got constant references to the war, but we were basically back to square one and apart from one or two important developments that advanced the overall narrative, the second half of the season in particular lacked focus. Whilst the excellent Occupation arc buoyed the first half of the year, the second half (particularly toward the end) definitely suffered something of a slump. Only four (if you include Inquisition) of the last thirteen episodes had any actual relevence in the big picture of things which in itself would have been forgivable (if a little frustrating) but they weren't an especially strong batch of episodes (only five of them scored a rating of 8 or above).

I think the problem could well stem from the fact that it wasn't until well into the season that the show was renewed for a seventh season. Up to that point the writers had assumed that the sixth season would be the last and had presumably mapped out the last half of the season as the "home run". When they learned they had another year I assume they wiped the board completely and decided "oh well, let's not panic. I'm sure we'll be able to fill the time somehow. Hey, why don't we do a couple of O'Brien episodes? That'll be cool, he never lets us down. And…um, we could throw in another Occupation episode for Kira, those are usually pretty good. We also need our Annual Bajor Episode (TM) and we could do another Ferengi episode. Remember that crazy idea we had about Quark as a woman! Yeah, let's do that. I guess we could also get Kira and Odo together, if only to give Odo something to do…" Maybe I'm being harsh, but it seems to me that could well have been the line of thought, for the latter half of the season felt a bit like it was stitched together to fill space.

Can I just say that I think the Paramount/Viacom executives deserve a big "boo" for stifling the creativity of the writers. Originally Ira Behr and co wanted the Occupation Arc to have lasted at least ten episodes instead of just the six, but they weren't allowed. I know that they were also told to tone down Tears of the Prophets and that the Prophets had to return at the beginning of the seventh season as opposed to half-way through as the writers originally planned. A friend also informed me that originally Wrongs Darker than Death or Night was to have been a vastly different story, and Kira went back in time to investigate experiments which were allegedly being performed on Bajoran children during the Occupation. This idea was nixed as being too dark. Which it is, but it would have been a lot more interesting (and sensible) than Kira hopping back in time to monitor her mom's sex life (!). So, this is to the big Paramount execs: lay off! You're not writers, you have no business censoring writers. There, glad to get that off my chest.

Another thing I noticed about the season was a tendency to introduce new storylines and characters just when we were wanting to get back to our existing DS9 "core". This isn't a bad thing, just a little odd. In the latter half of the year, we met Vic Fontaine, Odo and Kira embarked on a relationship (which I don't object to at all, it just would have been nice to have seen a little more of our newly weds). We were introduced to Benny Russell and his "reality", Section 31 and the Prophet/Pagh Wraith Reckoning -- all of which are major new storylines which I am pretty certain will figure into how the show will end. This strikes me as a bit odd; were these originally part of the plan as to how DS9 would end? Were they just going to be introduced in a lump toward the end? I guess I can't really comment further until I've seen the end of the seventh season (sob!). I just wonder whether these were going to be introduced all along or whether the creative team were getting a little bored with what they had and decided to spice things up a bit?


A good year for some, not so good for others.

Sisko: A great year for Ben Sisko who, of all the cast, was the best utilised. Across the past six years the character has had a rather bumpy, uneven ride. In the first two seasons he was under-written and under-played, coming across as a rather flat, uninteresting chap. The writers made a concerted effort to beef up the character in the third season but it wasn't really until season four that I developed a "feel" for the Captain. During the fifth season and particularly the sixth, the writers seem to have developed a very good idea of who Sisko is, where he's going and what they're going to do with the character. They have nicely developed the character this year, largely by putting him through the wringer and the character growth and development has felt natural and unforced. His arc as the Emissary, a true highlight of the series, has been developed beautifully and I very much look forward to seeing where it goes from here. Yup, it's been a fabulous year for Sisko and it's a particularly telling sign that the best episodes of the year were all primarily Sisko episodes. Kudos to the writers and to Avery Brooks who has given consistently strong performances throughout the year, clearly relishing the quality and quantity of material being sent his way.

Kira: The Occupation Arc was excellent for the character, as she reclaimed some of her lost passion, showcasing the inner strength and determination that must have driven her during the Cardassian Occupation. Sadly after that she was either relegated to the background or given some of the year's worst episodes that not only undid the splendid work of the Occupation arc but also undermined the very character. Resurrection made her look far too naïve. Yeah, I know love can do that to do, but the fact she allowed herself to fall in love with someone from the Mirror universe, no less, was a serious error of judgement (when has ANYONE from the Mirror universe been remotely trustworthy?) Even worse was Wrongs Darker than Death or Night which portrayed her as a vindictive, homicidal maniac who tried to murder her own mother!! Still, I love Nana Visitor and I love the character so I won't give up on her -- I just hope the writers try a little harder next season.

Odo: Again, started off the season well with the Occupation arc. His seduction over to the enemy side was fascinating and well-executed, but his redemption all too easy. The character was back to his usual self within a few episodes despite the fact that Behind the Lines seemed to promise the character would never again be the same. The lack of follow-up to this storyline was very disappointing. Apart from that it was a very quiet season for the character who only featured heavily in one other episode, His Way. This saw him finally "let go" and come out of his shell and following years of angst and despair that was most welcome and pretty touching. So far his relationship with Kira has been charming and amiable but nothing more (I'd like to see some more depth and passion next season, please).

Dax: I'm gonna cry, do you want me to cry?!! Oh dear. If the writers had tried to come up with just ONE episode (sans the Klingon baggage) that explored the character and gave Terry Farrell the chance to act then it's very likely she'd still be here. But no, they wasted the character, using her merely as a tool to help Worf integrate into the show better. The character deserved better than that. I've no doubt that when we look back at DS9 in years to come one of the most disappointing aspects will be the writers' abandonment of poor Jadzia. Mercifully at least I started to warm to the Dax/Worf relationship and we got the excellent Change of Heart which was a surprisingly poignant look at their love. But most the year Jadzia was treated as little more than "Worf's wife". I don't blame Farrell for packing her bags, I would be too. Jadzia's eventual death was handled poorly, leaving a bitter taste in the mouth. No matter how good Nicole deBoer may prove to be as Farrell's replacement, I very much doubt I'll come to love Ezri the way I loved Jadzia.

Worf: Yes, well. There's been a big improvement in Oscar the grouch, and I certainly don't hate him as I did in season five. I've a feeling that it was Dax who made him bearable as the character was at its best when exploring his relationship with Dax -- as evidenced by Change of Heart. There were even moments in that episode where I felt myself liking him!! Without Dax I'm not sure what will become of the character and I don't much care. Ship him off to the Enterprise, I say. He doesn't gel with the other characters and adds absolutely nothing to the show.

Bashir: A good year for the good doctor. Those cynics who claimed we'd never hear any more of his genetic enhancement can scoff their words! We had two excellent episodes for Bashir, Statistical Probabilities and Inquisition, both of which put the character (and his history) to absolutely excellent use. I will now go on record as saying that last season's revelation about Bashir's genetic status was a stroke of genius. It's not only made him a whole lot more interesting a character, but opened a veritable host of possibilities for him. His connection with Section 31 could well make him a pivotal character in the grand scheme of things. Excellent work there.

O'Brien: O'Brien's still O'Brien. And that's good, but there hasn't been much in the way of development. He's still been given his annual quotient of "torture episodes" -- two this year, as a matter of fact, but neither quite as good as the classic Hard Time. Whether or not the character is "going" anywhere, the excellent Colm Meaney is always a most welcome presence and I'm very glad those rumours about his departure were just that -- rumours. His friendship with Bashir is always delightful to watch, and I do hope we see Keiko and the kids again before the end of the series.

Quark: Hmmm. After some superlative (and serious!) character building during the Occupation Arc they kind of squandered by returning him to his usual, shallow, profit-obsessed old self. I didn't mind The Magnificent Ferengi not only because it tried to bring a darker element to the comedy but because his newfound heroism seemed to stem from his acts of bravery in Behind the Lines and Sacrifice of Angels. But then we had the dull, ineffective Who Mourns For Mourn? and the absolutely dreadful Profit and Lace which rather undid the good work in the first half of the season. Poor Armin Shimerman, I know how disappointed he is by this. I guess we'll just have to wait and see what's in store for the seventh season. For Quark, the sixth was a mixed bag.

Jake: Jake who? Oh, Jake! I'd forgotten about him -- the writers evidently have, anyway! His role in the Occupation arc was superfluous and wasted and he's been given virtually nothing to do all year bar the lacklustre Valiant. And what we have seen of him is hardly cause for celebration -- the "I'm a reporter" material is wearing very thin and starting to get annoying. Cirroc Lofton is a terrific young actor (just look at Far Beyond the Stars), but his talent is being wasted right now. The character needs attention NOW.

Dukat: Another hmmm. Again, I loved the stuff during the Occupation arc, but since then things have been pretty patchy. I wholly commend the writers for attempting to develop the character but thus far the development seems forced rather than natural. Waltz was a very strong episode, if morally dubious. Casting such a harsh judgement on the character (he's truuuuuuuly evil, you know!) is an injustice. His appearance in Wrongs... is best left ignored. And in Tears of the Prophets, whilst I liked the gist of the Pagh wraith storyline, Dukat behaves like a cartoon villain, intent on "destroying Captain Benjamin Sisko once and for all". Gone are the "shades of grey" that previously shrouded the character and made him such a multi-faceted, fascinating villain. Marc Alaimo does a terrific job as always, but I am concerned about this character.

Garak: One fabulous appearance in In the Pale Moonlight. Apart from that Garak has been wasted by the writers. I wish they'd either DO something with him, or write him out on a dignified note. He's too good a character to linger away with, giving on Token Appearances (tm) every so often. Andrew Robinson deserves more.

Then we have the rest of the supporting cast, including Nog, Rom, Martok, Weyoun, Damar, Leeta, Kai Winn, the list goes on. Don't have time to go into each in detail, needless to say I love the lot of them. None of them are given as much focus or attention as the regular cast (at least that's the theory) but their presence adds a lot to the show. We need them, we love them!

That's just about all I have to say. To sum up, the sixth season was certainly a strong year (particularly the first half) and it took the Star Trek franchise into bold new realms of storytelling. The lack of focus in the latter half and a smattering of weaker episodes that didn't live up to the high standards set by the fourth and fifth seasons did tend to lessen the impact a fair bit. But even though this wasn't DS9's strongest season the show still ranks as one of my all-time favourite TV shows. And you can't say more than that. Here's looking to the seventh, and sadly final year…

But before I go, here are my DS9 SEASON SIX OSCARS as voted by...well, me. I'd be very interested to hear what you're awards would be if you disagree with my choices. Here goes...

BEST EPISODE: Far Beyond the Stars

WORST EPISODE: Profit and Lace. Possibly the worst episode of the entire series. Yuk.

BEST PERFORMANCE: Avery Brooks for Far Beyond the Stars. You made me cry, man!
(Other strong contenders were Nana Visitor for Rocks and Shoals, Terry Farrell for Change of Heart and Rene Auberjonois for Behind the Lines.)

BEST GUEST PERFORMANCE: Marc Alaimo for "Waltz".
(Bubbling under: Andrew Robinson for In the Pale Moonlight and Nick Tate for Honor Among Thieves.)

BEST DIRECTING: Michael Vejar for Rocks and Shoals.

BEST WRITING: Michael Taylor and Peter Allan fields for In the Pale Moonlight.

BEST SPECIAL EFFECTS: Sacrifice of Angels Wow!

BEST MUSICAL SCORE: David Bell for Rocks and Shoals

BEST PRODUCTION VALUES: The almost cinematic Far Beyond the Stars for outstanding sets, costuming and make-up.

BEST COMEDY EPISODE: The Magnificent Ferengi. The manic attempts to make Keevan look like he was still alive were just hilarious. Can't remember the last time I laughed as much over a Trek episode.


WORST CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT: Kira's homicidal urges in Wrongs Darker than Death or Night had me very worried.

AWARD FOR UTTER POINTLESSNESS: Resurrection. Ill-timed, ill-considered and did anyone really care?

TORTURED SOUL OF THE SEASON: This used to be primarily Odo's award, but this year he happily hands it over to Sisko, who's had a truly devastating year.

COUPLE OF THE YEAR AWARD: Dax and Worf. I was as astonished as anyone when their relationship started to develop depth and resonance.

HIGH POINT OF THE YEAR: The Occupation Arc that opened the season.

LOW POINT OF THE YEAR: The abrupt departure of Terry Farrell at the year's end.

OUTSTANDING AWARD FOR ACHIEVEMENT: This award goes to Terry Farrell for six years of excellent work as the much loved Jadzia Dax. Best of luck for the future, Terry.

That, I do believe, just about covers it! Thanks very much for reading. Look out for reviews of the early seventh season coming your way sometime soon. Cheerio!

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