Continuing my Star Trek rewatch, I’ve reached the end of Deep Space Nine season 3. It’s still a bit rocky, which I think is largely due to the awkward transition a lot of TV shows were going through at the time between trying to have each episode stand on its own and also trying to make each episode a piece of a larger overarching plot. Early seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fall into this same category.
I found the largely comedic episodes that focus on the Ferengi and Troi’s mom to be annoying, and unfortunately there are a lot of Ferengi episodes still to come. I also can’t help wondering why shape-shifters are considered a special threat when it’s already been established that alien species are easily able to impersonate each other using surgery. I have mixed feelings about the episode in which Bajoran prophecies come true. On the one hand, this makes the show more fantasy than sci-fi, but it’s also kind of cool.
Unlike the earlier Trek series, DS9 focuses more on characters and doesn’t feel the need to have a moral to each episode. Whether this is a feature or a bug is up to your personal preference. Moralizing can certainly get annoying after a while, so I personally don’t mind episodes which focus more on character and setting up future plot lines. Kai Winn is a good villain. She’s not evil just to be evil, she does what she thinks is best for her people. She’s just a bit misguided.
I like how the Cardassians are developed in the third season. Their culture feels more rich than that of the aliens in earlier Trek series. It’s also funny how they provide a twist on the human perspective. One Cardassian says you should always burn your bridges behind you since you never know who might be trying to follow. The moral of the story to the Boy Who Cried Wolf is not to tell the same lie twice. In Cardassian detective novels, everyone is guilty, the fun is figuring out who is guilty of what.
Past Tense is definitely one of the best Star Trek episodes ever. It comments on present-day homelessness, poverty, and lack of mental health treatment. One of the characters remarks that mistreating someone you hate is not as bad as ignoring people who need help because you stopped caring. I don’t think indifference is actually worse than hate, but it’s still something we should avoid. Another good line: “Treat people like animals, you’re going to get bit.” Also, when one character remarks, “It’s not your fault things are the way they are” another character responds, “Everyone tells themselves that. And nothing changes.”
Through the Looking Glass is another standout episode this season. It takes place in the mirror universe. It’s always fun to see actors playing different characters than usual. Sisko, who is usually celibate, gets three romantic interests in this episode. It was nice to see a different side to him, although since the people in the mirror universe think he’s someone else, consent is problematic.
Improbable Cause/Die is Cast is a good two-part episode focusing on the relationship between Garrick and Odo, which we usually don’t see. There are a few nice surprise twists and its gets pretty intense. It also moves the larger plot along, so it’s not just a one-off.
The Adversary a great season finale. The Dominion finally becomes a threat after lurking in the background for far too long. Paranoia abounds when the enemy can look like anyone, reminiscent of John Carpenter’s The Thing.
I’ve got to say, it feels like DS9 really starts to get good towards the end of season 3. We’re introduced to Brunt, Leeta, and Cassidy Yates who become important later. Sisko finally gets promoted to captain and finally grows his trademark goatee. Many Star Trek fans say The Next Generation got good once Riker grew his beard, and I think the same is certainly true of Sisko growing his.