Season 3 Summary

I used to think that Season 2 lagged a step behind Season 3.  After watching them with the critical eye of this blog project, I find that these two seasons are on par with each other.  However, the prime difference between the seasons, and what stuck out to me when I was younger, is that Season 3 truly introduces the viewer to the grand narrative of DS9.  I call this season the inactive period of the cold war with the Dominion.  In this season, the Dominion becomes an active player in the Alpha Quadrant, but their focus is on intelligence and powers other than the Federation.  Entire operations are spent just to gather intelligence (The Search, Eps. 3.1/3.2, and Heart of Stone, Ep. 3.14).  While it isn’t shown, the Dominion also spent time positioning Changelings in high places.  Given the claim by the Changeling in The Adversary (Ep. 3.26), I surmise that the four Changelings on Earth are positioned, as well as Martok’s replacement.  The crew are observing as well; they see how resourceful and how powerful Dominion agents can be.  Presumably, a single Changeling was able to destabilize both the Romulans and the Cardassians (The Die is Cast, Ep. 3.21); another was a hair’s breath from plunging the Federation into war (The Adversary, Ep. 3.26).  The crew also gained intelligence on the physiology of the Jem’Hadar (The Abandoned, 3.6).

The central narrative also has now solidly shifted away from the Old West tone and toward a political tone.  The Dominion maneuvers certainly are clear, but even the stories surrounding Bajor’s sovereignty take on these elements.  Kai Winn’s and Shakaar’s actions in Shakaar (Ep. 3.24) are of differing political motivations; the former sought personal power and galactic influence while the latter desired dignity and isolation for Bajor.  The Kai also has a galactic agenda in Life Support (Ep. 3.13).  The Old West tone does persist in some episodes.  The Maquis remain a band of outlaws fighting outside the main authority of the Federation.  The crew deals with the theft of the Defiant (Defiant, Ep. 3.9) on their own and with a mix of diplomacy and conflict.  Civil Defense (Ep. 3.7) leaves the crew at the mercy of mining technology, and the Cardassians offer help faster than the Federation.  But regardless, the episodes become more political, result in broader consequences, and survival isn’t against the frontier, but against an aggressor.

There are some great episodes here, but in my opinion, the pillars of this season are the two two-parters.  Past Tense (Ep. 3.11/3.12) is quintessential Star Trek storytelling.  It melds some a classic sci-fi element, time travel, with a modern social issue, poverty, in a way that challenges the viewer.  What I love about this episode too is that it has a distinctive DS9 tone; the episode ends with two heroes dead and the hope for change a long way off.  Improbable Cause/The Die is Cast (Ep. 3.20/3.21) are quintessential Deep Space Nine storytelling.  The deceptions within these episodes are brilliant, from Garak’s lies about blowing up his own shop to the quadrant-disrupting deception about the trap at the Founder’s homeworld.  The scene of Garak torturing Odo was fantastically done, and it portrays those more dark themes that DS9 is known for.  The kind of inner turmoil and moral compromise that Garak endures are the heart of what makes this series great.  As a single episode, Second Skin, was extremely fun to write about.  I really gained an appreciation for the kind of deceptions that Cardassians weave and how the Cardassians are artistic reflections of some in our modern day.  It is both humbling and terrifying seeing the reality that this art reflects.

Random Thoughts:  1) The equality I see between Seasons 2 and 3 are entirely from my higher view of Season 2 and not from any lowering of Season 3 after watching this time.  2) The episode Explorers (Ep. 3.22) is modelled after a voyage across the Pacific Ocean called the Kon-Tiki Expedition.  This was meant to show that the islands of the South Pacific could have become inhabited by a voyage from South America using an ancient craft.  Humans truly are amazing creatures with a deep abiding desire to explore.  Star Trek captures this beautifully.  I learned this after I wrote on that episode, and this is too neat to not include somewhere.

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~ by Joshua Black on May 30, 2017.

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