Interlude: The Opening Sequence

The opening sequence of DS9 makes one major change, between Seasons 3 and 4, so now seemed like a good time to discuss the two variants. The sequence is reflective of the setting and tone, and the change happens while the show’s tone is transitioning. Some of the changes are subtle while others are much more obvious. The visual changes, such as adding the Defiant, were obvious. But the tempo change actually took me several years and multiple viewings to realize it happened. Despite the changes though, the core of the opening sequence is the same. The station remains the central focus of the sequence; the camera rotates around the station, as opposed to the station moving past the camera (as the Enterprise does in the opening sequence to TNG). This show is about a crew based in a single place where they must manage the changing situation around them and deal with the consequences of their actions. The steadfast nature of the station is prominent.

The first version of the sequence is the one that sticks most strongly with me, and it is the one I usually conjure in my mind’s eye. As the camera pans through the scene, there is mostly darkness, and the station grows in size as the camera approaches. The station is a bastion of light and activity in the literal darkness, as if it’s a fort in the wilderness in the Old West. This is the crew’s speck of home in an empty, distant place. There is permanency to the station’s presence that lays a bedrock for the setting. The station also has the feeling of being on the doorstep of the unknown. It is the origin for the lone runabout, and the sequence ends with a burst of light, color, and motion just outside the station. The wormhole is clearly a portal as the runabout goes through into an unseen beyond. There is absolutely this sense of the station being an unusual place that stands out against the blackness. The opening seconds with the comet and the quiet music is soothing, inviting, and calm. The song itself isn’t grandiose or attack the senses; it retains a quiet strength to the melody as it crescendos. I relate strongly to the song itself; the musical qualities mirror attitudes I want to cultivate in myself. The first version of the sequence was slower and fit the Old West style.

The changes that struck me first were the visual changes. The station is a much more active place from Season 4 onward. There are multiple runabout flying about, lots of ships docked at the station, and the Defiant is present. The station has changed from a bastion to a hub. Lots of activity surrounds the station, as it now is the epicenter of the Dominion threat. Science vessels prepare to head into the Gamma Quadrant on exploratory missions; the Defiant also heads to the unknown quadrant, but for defense and reconnaissance, not science. The change in the song took me several viewings to actually catch. The tempo sped up, and there’s some added melodic nuance and a strong beat. Both of these changes reflect the more urgent and tense nature of the show. I find the heavy beat symbolic of the Dominion threat; it is the narrative that runs throughout the rest of the series.

Random Thought: 1) The song itself actually has a physical soothing effect on me whenever I hear it. I’m sure it’s an interplay of nostalgia and lyrical quality, but it can act as a touchstone for me to recenter myself. 2) The order of billing starts with Avery Brooks, as the captain, followed by the rest of the crew in alphabetical order. 3) Throughout the series, there are changes to how the crew is billed. Promotions happen, Worf and Ezri are added, and Siddig El Fadil changes his name to Alexander Siddig.

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~ by Joshua Black on July 2, 2017.

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