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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Image in the Sand (Review)

There is an endearing sense of symmetry to the seventh season premiere of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

The writers who worked on the show have been quite candid about their creative process. In particular, most of the production team would acknowledge that the show was heavily improvised rather than planned in advance. While the creators had a sense of the direction in which they wanted to move, they did not have a clear destination in mind until quite late in the journey. This was quite obvious looking at a number of the strange narrative detours that the arc took, most notably Gul Dukat’s time as a space pirate between Return to Grace and By Inferno’s Light.

A Time to Sands.

At the same time, as the seventh season began, it seemed like the writers working on Deep Space Nine had a much stronger idea of how they wanted the series to come to a close. Image in the Sand and Shadows and Symbols feel like a very clever structural choice for the seventh season premiere. They exist at once as echoes of the arc that opened the sixth season and as preludes to the story that would conclude the seventh. They exist as bookends to these two chapters of the larger series, feeling almost like the exact midpoint of a larger story.

Positioned approximately half-way between the epic six-episode arc that opened the sixth season and the sprawling ten-episode narrative that would draw down the curtain at the end of the seventh season, Image in the Sand and Shadows and Symbols feel like a much smaller affair. However, they are still well-observed and well-written, covering a lot of thematic and narrative ground in a way that contextualises what come before and sets up what will follow.

“Play it again, Sisko.”

It is perhaps too much to describe Image in the Sand and Shadows and Symbols as “low key” episodes in the larger context of Deep Space Nine. After all, these episodes feature the reopening of the wormhole, a stand-off between the Romulans and the Bajorans, a daring Klingon raid on the Dominion shipyards, and Sisko’s return to duty. That is a lot of narrative ground to cover, particularly when all of the character beats are brought in; Worf’s mourning the loss of Jadzia, Sisko regaining his faith, Ezri introducing herself, Kira taking command.

Still, while a lot happens in the episodes, the scale is noticeably smaller than it had been at the start of the sixth season. The Dominion War has been raging for a year, lacking the novelty that it had in A Time to Stand. There is no fleet looming in the background, ready to change the course of the entire war, as there was in Sacrifice of Angels. Most pointedly, everything is back to normal (or at least close to normal) by the end of the second episode. While a lot happens, this two-parter feels smaller than the epic narratives opening the sixth season and closing the seventh.

Cut for time.

In The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, writer Ira Steven Behr acknowledged that there was a conscious choice to keep the seventh season premiere relatively small in scope:

As we started the final season, we made a very bold and perhaps stupid choice, although I’d do it again. We wrote the quietest opening episode we’ve ever done on the show. If you look back at the first episode of every season, after the pilot, you’ll see The Homecoming, which was the first hour of a three-parter, then The Search, Part I, The Way of the Warrior, Apocalypse Rising and A Time to Stand. All big shows with a lot of stuff going on. But this time, we decided we were going to play with the audience’s expectations and give them something smaller, more intimate, quieter. A reflective breath, so to speak.

That is definitely the case. While there are a lot of things happening in Image in the Sand and Shadows and Symbols, there is never a single plot element that feels particularly apocalyptic of itself.

What ales you.

There are a number of reasons why this approach makes sense. The most pragmatic reason is tied to the issues with the sixth season as a whole. On an episode-by-episode basis, the sixth season of Deep Space Nine is one of the strongest seasons in the history of the franchise; few seasons could boast a line-up that could measure up to Rocks and Shoals, The Magnificent Ferengi, Waltz, Far Beyond the Stars, Inquisition, In the Pale Moonlight and Valiant. However, there were some structural flaws with the season when examined as a whole.

Most obviously, the sixth season of Deep Space Nine opened with one of the most audacious narrative experiments in the history of the franchise. For six episodes, the ensemble was broken up and Sisko was exiled from Deep Space Nine. Nearly a quarter of the season was given over to an epic story about Sisko fighting to retake Deep Space Nine as the Dominion plotted to disable the minefield and flood the Alpha Quadrant with ships and soldiers to overwhelm their enemies. It remains a stunning storytelling accomplishment.

“Don’t worry, Colonel. The Romulans still haven’t asked where T’Rul went.”

However, the biggest problem with the sixth season was that the production team had no idea where to go after that introductory arc. The sixth is populated with strange lighter episodes like You Are Cordially Invited…, Who Mourns for Morn? and One Little Ship, not to mention strange tangential distractions like Resurrection or Time’s Orphan. Once Sisko retook the station, there was no sense of momentum powering the season, to the point that several key members of the recurring cast disappeared for massive stretches of the years.

Opening the seventh season with a smaller two-part story avoids this problem. Even if the audience treats Tears of the Prophets as a prologue to the two-parter, it is nothing especially notable; the second season of Deep Space Nine opened with a story comprised of The Homecoming, The Circle and The Siege. Things get back to business as usual fairly quickly, allowing the production team to establish a status quo very effectively without undercutting any sense of forward movement.

Who knew ’til death do us part was such a big caveat?

There are other reasons why the production team might have chosen to go “small” with the seventh season premiere. Most obviously, storytelling real estate was at a premium in the seventh season. The production team understood that the seventh season would be the final season of Deep Space Nine, and so there were a lot of loose ends to be tied up. There were only twenty-six episodes between Tears of the Prophets and What You Leave Behind. There was a lot of ground to cover, and not a lot of time in which to cover it.

There was also a sense that the writers going into the seventh season had a rough idea of where they wanted the series to go. Ira Steven Behr had been seeding ideas for the final season into various episodes in the sixth season, bringing Odo and Kira together in His Way because he knew that he wanted to break them apart in What You Leave Behind. While some franchise shows might lose their way in their seventh season, exhausted and drained by the work already done, Deep Space Nine was instead invigourated by the promise of an ending.

Torpedoing any chance of peaceful coexistence.

Ronald D. Moore acknowledged as much in The Fifty-Year Mission, explicitly contrasting the final season of Deep Space Nine with the final seasons of other series in the franchise:

Knowing we could give Deep Space Nine an ending allowed us to tilt the show toward a goal for the latter part of the season. Actually, for the last few seasons. To say, “It’s going to end there, where do we want the characters to be at the end of the saga?” Having an end point made you look at the series and the characters as a whole. On TNG, we didn’t really do that. I’m embarrassed to say we didn’t even talk about the finale until well into the seventh season. We were deep into it before serious discussion began on what the finale would be. But Deep Space Nine had a very different feel to it. We knew this was the last season. We had been talking about it for a couple of years; about various things we could do and ways we could go.

Whereas a lot of television shows spin their wheels coming into a seventh season, having already produced one hundred and fifty episodes, Deep Space Nine was eager to get down to business.

“This doesn’t look anything like the photo on her Memory Alpha page.”

Image in the Sand and Shadows and Symbols demonstrate that eagerness, that desire to get things back to a steady status quo so that the writers can begin aligning the last set of stories to focus on these characters. After all, there was every possibility that any seventh season episode focusing on a particular character could also be the last episode to focus on that particular character. Everything had a lot more heft than it might otherwise, a stronger sense of purpose. There was no time to waste.

This issue would be compounded by the decision to close the seven-year run of Deep Space Nine with a ten-part galactic epic. Even allocating two episodes to the premiere meant that there would only be fourteen standalone episodes in the seventh season. Just over half the season would be comprised of conventional done-in-one narratives. While that is no big deal in the world of modern television, it was striking in the context of nineties syndicated science-fiction. So limiting the sprawl of the season premiere made pragmatic sense in that regard.

A familiar song.

Indeed, these structural factors underscore the positioning of Image in the Sand and Shadows and Symbols in the context of these final two seasons. The two-parter falls roughly half-way between the six-episode arc opening the sixth season and the ten-part narrative closing the seventh season. Were somebody to fold the final two years over, treating those epic stories as suitably impressive bookends, then Image in the Sand and Shadows and Symbols would sit approximately on the folding line.

As such, there is a very clever sense of structural symmetry to all of this, a familiar sense of repetition to the plot details and thematic arcs. It never feels like Deep Space Nine is repeating itself, or stalling for time, but most of the major plot developments are set up in such a way that patterns emerge. The further back that one stands from Deep Space Nine, the more likely it is that they will recognise familiar beats and rhythms. Observing Deep Space Nine from a distance, there is a clear sense of history moving in arcs.

Take your jumja and stick it.

This is true in a number of different ways. Most obviously, there is that stunning structural parallel of the show beginning with Starfleet arriving on Bajor to find it in ruins following the Cardassian Occupation in Emissary, only to end with Starfleet arriving on Cardassia to find it in ruins following the Dominion Occupation in What You Leave Behind. Dukat rises and falls repeatedly over the course of Deep Space Nine, but finds himself doomed by his stubborn refusal to take responsibility for his own actions or to acknowledge his own misdeeds.

This is also quite apparent when dealing with the Prophets. They exist outside of linear time and seem to perceive it almost all at once. From their vantage point, it makes sense that they sound understand the rhythms and beats of history. As such, a number of their prophecies are ambiguous in nature. They could apply to any number of events across the run of Deep Space Nine, underscoring how familiar some of the story beats are. These developments mirror one another so readily that they might be confused.

“Worf could use a good wine.”

The locusts shown to Sisko in Rapture are undoubtedly the Dominion ships invading the Alpha Quadrant, but do those prophecies refer to the Dominion coming through the wormhole in In Purgatory’s Shadow or their taking of the station in Call to Arms? When the Prophets threaten to exact a price from Sisko in return for their assistance in Sacrifice of Angels, are they referring to the events of Tears of the Prophets or What You Leave Behind? Does it have to be one event? Could it be multiple similar events?

Even the overall plotting of the show is full of reflections and parallels drawn from real-world history. The Dominion War is at once the Second World War and Vietnam, the collapse of Cardassia is the decay of the Weimer Republic, the Cardassian Occupation is the Holocaust. There is a sense that many of the epic events depicted in Deep Space Nine have happened before and will happen again. Even the Bajoran blockade of Derna in Shadows and Symbols is clearly meant to evoke the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Cult television.

In Action!, the creative team candidly acknowledge that they would draw from the broad strokes of popular history in constructing these sweeping galactic events:

“It’s not that we use them as blueprints,” explains Beimler. “It’s more like, if don’t learn the lessons from history, you’re condemned to repeat them. So you have to take details from history and use them as a starting point. If you understand the dynamics of those details, then you can move on to your own dynamics.”

It lends a sense of narrative weight to all of this, a sense that there is some familiarity to the patterns of behaviour and response, even in a world populated by Klingons or Romulans or Breen.

The end is Kira.

This notion certainly fits with the theology of Deep Space Nine. Dating back to Emissary, the series established that the Prophets exist outside of time itself. They have no sense of time as a river that flows in a particular direction, instead treating it as a still body of water from which they might draw at any given moment. This idea is suggested in Shadows and Symbols, when the Prophets reveal that they were inspired by their encounter with Sisko in Emissary to ensure that he would be born. Time does not move in a linear or logical fashion for the Prophets. It just is.

It is worth noting that these philosophy would have a profound influence on Ronald D. Moore’s reimagining of Battlestar Galactica. Moore would infuse the Cylons with a sense of religious purpose, and in the believe of recurring patterns of events. “All this has happened before and will happen again,” the Cylons repeat throughout the run of the show. Indeed, one of the series’ central twists is the overlap of past and future, catching the audience off guard by revealing what looks to have been the future might actually have been the past.

Worf is hung up over Dax.
O’Brien is just hung over.

This idea ties back to the notion of “eternal return”, a philosophical concept rooted in various religious belief systems. The Mayans and Aztecs believed in some pattern of eternal return, while it is also core to Indian belief systems like Jainism, Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism. It was popularised in western philosophy by Friedrich Nietzsche, who argued in Notes on Eternal Recurrence:

Fellow man! Your whole life, like a sandglass, will always be reversed and will ever run out again, – a long minute of time will elapse until all those conditions out of which you were evolved return in the wheel of the cosmic process. And then you will find every pain and every pleasure, every friend and every enemy, every hope and every error, every blade of grass and every ray of sunshine once more, and the whole fabric of things which make up your life. This ring in which you are but a grain will glitter afresh forever.

Nietzsche seemed to imagine human history as a series of repetitions, of patterns of behaviour that could not be escaped, a chain of cause and effect that was self-perpetuating and self-enabling. There is something disconcerting in that belief, eroding as it does the notion of choice and free will in the context of human existence. If human behaviour effectively plays on loop, then what is the point of it all?

“Sorry, am I disturbing you? I was just standing here ominously, minding my own business.”

In some ways, it makes sense to tie these concepts to the Bajoran religion. In the earlier seasons of Deep Space Nine, the Bajoran religion was consciously influenced by eastern belief systems like Buddhism more than western belief systems like Christianity. A lot of this was likely down to the influence of creator Michael Piller, who was heavily influenced by the New Age movement during the middle years of the nineties. Piller’s New Age interests are perhaps most clearly reflected in his work on Star Trek: Voyager, in episodes like The Cloud or Tattoo.

The later seasons of Deep Space Nine, following Piller’s decision to step back from the day-to-day running of the television franchise, moved away from this portrayal of the Bajoran religion. Bajoran spirituality became increasingly westernised, with the introduction of devil figures in The Assignment and of millennial eschatology in The Reckoning. There are certainly shades of this in Shadows and Symbols, when Sisko discovers that his own history is more akin to Jesus Christ, a messianic figure born of the union of human flesh and divine will.

Kira will be brief.

Still, this emphasis on eternal return and repetition feels like something anchored in the original conception of the Prophets and the Bajoran religion, an aspect of Deep Space Nine that can be traced clearly back to Emissary. Still, that sense of repetition and reiteration is a key element of the sixth and seventh seasons, a sense that the characters on the show are moving through the same beats in what amounts to an elaborate rehearsal for the end of What You Leave Behind.

Although different in terms of context, scale and plot, the endings of the fifth, sixth and seventh seasons are very similar in broad strokes. The endings of Call to Arms, Tears of the Prophets and What You Leave Behind can be summarised rather neatly: Sisko leaves the station and the crew, Kira remains on Deep Space Nine, Sisko promises to return. In both Call to Arms and Tears of the Prophets, the Bajorans are literally cut off from the wormhole, whether through the minefield or through the attack by Kosst Amojan.

Picture perfect.

Of course, there are variations along the way. Sisko is forced to retreat by the Dominion in Call to Arms, by a crisis of faith in Tears of the Prophets, by his duty to Bajor in What You Leave Behind. Kira remains first officer under Dukat in A Time to Stand, but takes over command of the station in Image in the Sand and What You Leave Behind. Sisko is so sure of his return in Call to Arms that he taunts Dukat by leaving his baseball, but his promise to the little girl at the climax of Tears of the Prophets is a lot less certain and no date is offered in What You Leave Behind.

To be clear, this is far from the only sense of eternal return and recurrence within the framework of Deep Space Nine. On an individual level, many of the characters on Deep Space Nine find themselves drawn back into familiar patterns and behaviours when they really should know better. This is most obvious with Dax, and the literal reincarnation made possible by the Dax symbiont. Although it was by accident rather than design, it seems appropriate that Dax should die and be reborn in the middle of this large cycle.

“Who is Dax?”

Indeed, Image in the Sand treats the introduction of Ezri Dax as an event with religious significance rather than anything rooted in Trill biology or culture. (Even O’Brien seems somewhat vague on the mechanics of death in Trill society, making passing reference to “wherever it is that Trills go when their time is up.”) Sitting over Jadzia’s coffin in Tears of the Prophets, Sisko laments, “Why aren’t you still here Jadzia?” Sitting in the restaurant in Image in the Sand, he explains, “I was thinking about Jadzia. She always used to be here to help me sort things out.”

Ezri shows up at the end of Image in the Sand, right on time to join their expedition to Tyree. The timing is conspicuously perfect. More than that, her presence seems to reassure Sisko. “Aren’t you glad you brought me along?” she sarcastically asks Jake after getting “space sick” on the runabout. Jake responds, “Actually, I am. My dad seems a lot happier ever since you showed up.” It is heavily suggested that Sisko is granted renewed enthusiasm and purpose by the arrival of Ezri Dax, the implication being that her mere presence is living proof that his mistakes can be undone.

Sisko clams up.

Although governed by less rigid schedules, there are recurring patterns in the lives of the characters on Deep Space Nine. The hypothetical Jake Sisko in The Visitor lost his father in a manner similar to how Jake will lose his father in What You Leave Behind. In Ties of Blood and Water, Kira struggles with her surrogate father’s mortality as she did with her biological father’s. In Children of TimeBehind the Lines and Chimera, Odo betrays his friends in pursuit of his own emotional satisfaction. Dukat abandons Terok Nor in Emissary and retakes it in Call to Arms.

Image in the Sand and Shadows and Symbols even make repeated references to certain past events (and to key earlier dialogue) as a way emphasising how history tends to rhyme on Deep Space Nine. When the crew struggle to help Worf, Bashir hits on the idea of drawing in Martok. “Who better than a Klingon to help a Klingon?” he ponders, in a nice nod to The Way of the Warrior. In the fourth season premiere, the crew struggled to figure out Martok, until Sisko hit on the idea of drawing in Worf. “The only people who can really handle the Klingons are Klingons.”

Klingon intervention.

Similarly, at the climax of Shadows and Symbols, Kira forces the Romulan Star Empire to blink. “Remind me never to play poker with you,” Admiral Bill Rose concedes, both impressed and terrified at her resolve. This clearly echoes a similar scene in Emissary, when Kira stares down the forces of the Cardassian Union. “Remind me never to get into a game of Roladan Wild Draw with you,” O’Brien reflected after watching her in action. There is a sense that Image in the Sand and Shadows and Symbols are consciously aware of this repetition and reiteration.

While this idea of recurrence is a key part of Image in the Sand and Shadows and Symbols, it is not the two-parter’s only engagement with the idea of linear time. The story very cleverly splits up the primary cast, ensuring that every credited regular is actively involved in some plot or another. As Sisko reflects to his crew on returning to the station in Shadows and Symbols, “I heard you’ve all been pretty busy yourselves.” Sisko reopened the wormhole; Kira faced down the Romulans; Worf destroyed the Dominion shipyard.

“We’re gonna take this convoy, across the Alpha Quadrant. CONVOY!”

What is particularly interesting about these three plot threads is the way that Image in the Sand and Shadows and Symbols synchronise them. Sisko opens the Orb of the Emissary just in time for Kira to see the wormhole reopen, when seems to happen at the exact same moment that O’Brien triggers the solar flare. Deep Space Nine repeatedly suggests that time does not flow in a linear arrow of cause and effect. While the climax of Shadows and Symbols is a superbly orchestrated narrative beat, it also suggests a deeper connection between the characters of this world.

In some ways, the events of Image in the Sand and Shadows and Symbols could be seen as a dress rehearsal for the events of What You Leave Behind. Kira is effectively given a three-month rehearsal for her role as station commander. In the teaser to Image in the Sand, she acknowledges as much to Odo. “It comes with the job,” she reflects on her own changed demeanour. “Sitting in the Captain’s chair, having that kind of responsibility, it focuses you.” There is a sense that Kira is more prepared for the end of What You Leave Behind by this experience.

Worf doesn’t have the bottle for this.

In some ways, the production team are very clearly preparing the audience for the end of the series as a whole. Neither the original Star Trek nor Star Trek: The Next Generation had definitive endings. They had final episodes, but they did not have endings. Kirk’s Enterprise warped away like it was business as usual at the end of Turnabout Intruder, no sense that the crew’s time together was coming to an end. Picard’s Enterprise got a more appropriate final story in All Good Things…, but even that ended with a sense that the adventure continues.

Deep Space Nine would be the first (and arguably only) Star Trek series to end with the break-up of the family unit. Characters would die, characters would separate. Members of the regular cast would go “home”, while others would transcend. While All Good Things… could neatly segue into Star Trek: Generations, the events of What You Leave Behind made the prospect of a continuation or feature film franchise difficult to imagine. What You Leave Behind would be an ending, in other words.

The mother of all abandonment issues.

In theory, Voyager would also have a similar and definitive ending, but the decision to cut to the closing credits of Endgame right as the crew arrive in orbit of Earth robs the ending of any sense of permanence. Logically, the audience knows that these characters are unlikely to remain together on this ship after completing their journey home, but the production team deliberately avoids dealing with that fallout. In contrast, about half of What You Leave Behind is dedicated to the idea that what this group of people had together is definitively over.

As such, the decision to break up the primary cast in both Call to Arms and Tears of the Prophets cleverly foreshadows the ending of What You Leave Behind. The audience understands that these are not characters who will always be together, because fate has already made a point to separate them repeatedly. Even though they are drawn back together at the end of Sacrifice of Angels and Shadows and Symbols, and even if Dax finds her way back to the crew, there is sense that the centre cannot hold indefinitely.

Digging for meaning.

This rushed repetition in the final seasons of Deep Space Nine could be read as an expression of millennial anxiety in the last decade of the twentieth century, a sense that this eternal return is growing faster and faster. As Jean Baudrillard argues in In the Shadow of the Millennium:

History, for example, ends with information and the creation of the instantaneous event. The increased speed of modernity, of technical development, and of all formerly linear structures creates a turbulent shift and a circular reversion of things which explains that, today, nothing is irreversible. The retrospective curving of historical space, which in a sense resembles the recurrence of physical and cosmological space, is perhaps the big discovery of the end of the millennium.

There is no small irony in this, in the idea that the flow of time is something which does not exist at all for the Prophets and which seems to be moving faster and faster for the characters caught in the currents. It took Dukat five years to retake Deep Space Nine, but Sisko loses it three times across two seasons.

A stab in the dark.

This fixation upon eternal return could be seen as a counterpoint to the existential millennial anxieties faced by Voyager. In many ways, Voyager was more firmly anchored in the nineties than Deep Space Nine, more obviously of its cultural moment. Over the course of its run, Voyager seemed to worry that the human race had found itself positioned at “the end of history”, at a point where the future was stable all but assured, while history itself was prone to attack or subversion. This idea plays out in stories like Remember, Distant Origin and Living Witness.

While Deep Space Nine was less firmly rooted in the cultural moment of the nineties, the series still reflected certain contemporary concerns. After all, The Reckoning was in many ways a treatise on millennial eschatology, a reframing of the Bajoran religion to more concretely reflect certain schools of fin de siècle anxieties. The increasing reference on eternal return in the closing seasons of Deep Space Nine, of patterns of behaviour and of prophecy or destiny, could be read in a similar context.

Scratching an etch.

That said, there is a certain clumsiness to some of the writing in Image in the Sand and Shadows and Symbols, perhaps reflecting this theme of recurrence and repetition. The seventh season premiere seems very heavy on exposition, perhaps reflecting a desire to bring the audience back up to speed after the summer hiatus. There are several points in the two-parter when characters explain self-evident details to one another, or where they tell one another things that both of them should know.

The characters repeatedly and explicitly outline how much time has passed since Tears of the Prophets. In the teaser, Kira references that she was promoted “two months ago” and that she hasn’t heard from Sisko in “three months.” Only a few scenes later, and still within the teaser, Jake reiterates that his father has been in a depression for “three months.” This all feels rather heavy-handed, particularly when the references come so quickly after one another, and when details like Kira’s changed uniform and hairstyle do a much better job underscoring the passage of time.

“We need to say something important to ensure that this scene makes it into the final cut of the episode.”

The scenes between Weyoun and Damar also suffer from this, in large part because those scenes seem to have to justify their existence in plot terms. Weyoun and Damar banter brilliantly, and get a number of cutting remarks, but there is a strong sense that the only reason the writers can justify cutting away to isolated characters Dominion headquarters on Caradassia Prime is by saturating the scenes with exposition. After all, Weyoun and Damar are not in a position to directly interact with any of the regulars.

As a result, the pair get some clumsy dialogue. “Somehow, releasing that Pah wraith into the wormhole has shifted the momentum of the war into our favour,” Weyoun states at one point, which is a strangely vague thematic observation for a military leader to make. Later, Weyoun rushes in to tell Damar about the events of the subplot focusing on Kira and the Romulans. “Have you heard?” he asks. “The Romulans have taken over a Bajoran moon and heavily fortified it.” He elaborates, “This is the sort of unfortunate situation that could destroy an alliance.”

Sisko is back in the fold.

Perhaps these clumsy dialogue touches reflect the production team’s anxiety about dumping the audience back into an on-going plot after a three-month break. Maybe they demonstrate how much more trust contemporary television writers have in their audience. They might even demonstrate that there were still ways in which Deep Space Nine was a conventional plot-driven show, in that it had to use that plot exposition as an excuse to spend time with two beloved characters played by two fantastic episodes. Still, they do not diminish the episode too much.

Image in the Sand and Shadows and Symbols might be a lower-key introduction to the final season than fans have come to expect, but they are still effective set up for the year ahead.

You might be interested in our reviews of the seventh season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:

7 Responses

  1. Great entrance by Nicole. Of course, all of her scenes are good, I cannot think of a bad Nicole scene.

    (In the next episode, It’s impossible to watch Ezri without thinking of regeneration sickness. Especially the bit with the replicator. What, are you trying to poison her?)

    • Nicole de Boer is fantastic.

      Confession: I much prefer Ezri to Jadzia, in part because de Boer is a stronger actor and in part because Ezri is a more interesting concept.

  2. As always a great review/analysis Darren that I’ve only just had a chance to catch up with. While it doesn’t have quite as many of my favourites episodes as 5 or 6 I love this season, and I too am an Ezri fan. 🙂

    • Thanks Ross.

      I do think the seventh season has the advantage of being a lot more consistent than the sixth, and a lot more evenly paced. Plus, it has a number of episodes that I’d contend are massively underrated, whereas I think the fan consensus for most season six episodes is about right. (Valiant and The Sound of Her Voice are maybe the sixth season’s only underrated episodes>)

  3. The beginning of the 7th season is one of my favorite openings of a Star Trek season. It is the antithesis to season 6, being much calmer and less plot driven. The surprising, swift and understated introduction o Ezri fits well to this mood. Weyoun’s utterance to Damar that “too much imagination can be dangerous” forebodes Damar’s arc over the season in a nice way – as does the tranquil and quiet mood the whole season. There are many “slower” episodes in the season – “Prodigal Dautghter”, “Take me to the Holosuite”, “Afterimage”, and so forth – that I like a lot. I love the great battles and epic moments, but the change of pace is, especially from an “older” perspective, very refreshing. As to your, Darren, remark about the recurring patterns in DS9: Ezri herself says so: “It will be just like in old times. Except different.” I recommend the book by Mircea Eliade about the myth of eternal reccurence which gives ample proof that this concept is dominant in nearly any ancient culture – a great read.

    As a side note: I remember how cool Sisko’s padd and facial recognition programme was back then – today even my cheap ultrabook is thinner, and has a better resolution. Unfortunately no LCARS OS though…

    • Yep, I have a huge soft spot for the seventh season, and think that it is horribly underrated by fans and critics. Especially in comparison to the sixth.

      • Couldn’t agree more. But I even have soft spots for TNG and VOY last seasons. I somewhat like the last episodes, where the shows have clearly evolved or are at the last optical and atmospheric stage in their life. Even misfits and clunkers (“Sub rosa” aside, I am afraid” are tolerable for me. Maybe I just like the number 7.

        But DS9’s last season has few letdowns, and the more average episodes all have at least some interesting twist or idea. DS9 managed to improve to old form after the latter half of season 6, but with new faces and rythm.

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