Season 1 Summary

When I first watched this season, I had actually seen most of Season 2 already. I found DS9 early in Season 2 and sorta watched that with reruns of Season 1 interspersed on off days (they showed DS9 twice a week where I grew up). Thanks to TV Guide and episode numbers, I was able to piece together the story of Season 1. When I was finally able to watch it in order (which was then I obtained the DVDs about a decade later), I really appreciated more strongly the Old West feel they were building in the first season. Lots of first contact with outsiders, building (or rebuilding) the infrastructure, sheriffs and petty criminals, unable to trust the home office (Federation) to send aid, etc. The station really felt like a town on the frontier.

The use of a station instead of a starship really changes the tone of a Star Trek series. In DS9, the frontier came to the crew (contrary to TNG where the crew went to the frontier). Since they are locked into a location, the crew has to face a lot more consequences to their actions. They can’t fly away to a new location and leave the consequences to their choices behind. The recurring issues with the anti-Federation factions with the Bajoran people are fantastic storylines that are enhanced because the crew lives with these people. Finding a solution isn’t just about helping them and moving on; rather it is about building together something both peoples can be proud of. And not everyone agrees. As we’ll see in the Season 2 opener(s), the consequences of this opposition to the Federation are felt more keenly. The station itself also begins to take on a personality. It’s a nascent feeling here in Season 1, but the Promenade in particular begins to get the feeling of a town square where cultures will inevitably clash. A sheriff’s office, a temple, a bar, a medical clinic, a tailor’s shop run by an outcast, and a school, all within a few hundred feet of each other.

I particularly enjoyed the storylines with Kira in this first season. I absolutely love redemption stories. Kira is striving toward becoming a new person without losing who she is at her core. Her Occupation scars run deep. Scars inflicted by both the Cardassians and by herself. She really struggles with the violence she used to help free her people. Since that defined her for so long (since childhood), to lose that feels like losing herself. Her faith journey is what shows her that her core, her Pagh, is not violent. The time on the moon with Kai Opaka (Battlelines, Ep. 1.13) shows her the futility of violence for the sake of violence. What she did during the occupation, while violent, was in service to justice. This makes all the difference. By the end of the season, she has made massive strides toward her new self: a woman of deep faith, a leader, and a woman possessing nonviolent strength.

Several elements of the show that I love are introduced. Bashir and O’Brien’s friendship, Kira’s faith journey, Odo and Quark’s love/hate friendship, Bashir’s unrelenting idealism, Jake’s coming of age, the villainous Winn Adami. This is the stuff well developed characters are made from.  In my opinion, it is elements like these that take it from a good show to a great show. These are the threads that tie together the individual episodes giving life to the whole setting. Without them, episodes become flat. The Storyteller (Ep. 1.14) would have been an immensely boring story if not for the interactions between Bashir and O’Brien. I see episodes like this as mostly vehicles to allow relationships to be seen, and the immediate conflict of the episode as fairly ordinary. This grows to even greater depths later (off the top of my head, The Ascent (Ep. 5.9) is a good example).

Overall, a good season by itself; even more so given the things to come. Kira really brings a lot to this first season. At this point, I would not have considered it the greatest piece of entertainment media to exist. Too many outright horrible episodes; I’m looking at you, The Passenger (Ep. 1.9).  But not for too long.  Ugh.

Comment 1: To reiterate something I mentioned in my post for In the Hands of the Prophets (Ep. 1.20), I tend to talk about the portrayal of faith from a Christian perspective. My intent is not to imply exclusivity regarding the faith angle. I simply write what I see in the show and what I personally draw out of it. I have every belief that DS9 is deep enough to provide insight to other faiths. I’ll leave it to followers of those faiths to find such insight.

Comment 2: The keen observer would note that there is a long hiatus, nearly 3 years, between my post on Dramatis Personae (Ep. 1.18) and Duet (Ep. 1.19). For my own sanity, I needed the time. In that time, I have gotten married, written and defended a PhD thesis, worked two jobs at once, traveled overseas, and changed jobs to something more stable. I think the hiatus was warranted.

Random Thought: 1) Favorite episode of the season: Duet (1.19).  Honorable mention: Emissary (1.1).

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~ by Joshua Black on July 18, 2015.

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