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Deep Space Nine at 25 – The Most Humanist of (Star) Treks

On Earth, there is no poverty, no crime, no war. You look out the window of Starfleet Headquarters and you see paradise. Well, it’s easy to be a saint in paradise. but the Maquis do not live in paradise. Out there in the Demilitarized Zone, all the problems haven’t been solved yet. Out there, there are no saints — just people.

– Benjamin Sisko, The Maquis, Part II

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is contentious.

Writer Ronald D. Moore has talked about the franchise as the bastard stepchild of the Star Trek franchise. Star Trek: The Next Generation actor Marina Sirtis has described it as little more than a hotel in space and not worthy of the franchise name. While the show was still on the air, Majel Barrett Roddenberry took the time to write a public letter denounced the show and its perceived connection to her husband’s legacy. This argument rages on-line even today, as fans argue about the series’ legacy and its place in the broader canon.

The charges against Deep Space Nine are clear. It is generally regarded as the most cynical of Star Trek spin-off shows, the series most likely to question and interrogate the underlying assumptions of the Star Trek universe. Deep Space Nine was the series that introduced and developed the Maquis, terrorists who splintered off from Starfleet. Deep Space Nine introduced the concept of Section 31, and the idea that Starfleet might be dangerous if left to its own devices. Deep Space Nine devoted its final two seasons to a war arc, a rejection of Roddenberry’s utopia.

However, these arguments are all based upon awkward presuppositions that reveal a lot about the assumptions of Star Trek fandom, and which tend to miss the forest for the trees. Deep Space Nine is a deeply humanist and optimistic piece of television, one has a great deal of faith in its cast and in people. As wary as Deep Space Nine might be about institutions and authority, Deep Space Nine fundamentally believes that people are good and that it is possible to peacefully coexist. The show simply acknowledges that this takes work, but believes it can happen.

The Star Trek franchise is renowned for its utopian idealism. At the height of the Cold War, it was radical to imagine that mankind might have a future at all. However, Gene Roddenberry and his production team dared to imagine a future in which people of various different backgrounds and origins might come together in service of the common good to demonstrate humanity’s limitless potential. This thread carried through into The Next Generation, which depicted what might be the most efficient workplace in the history of television.

Star Trek and The Next Generation never really questioned the mechanics of this approach, the particulars of how humanity elevated themselves from the complications of the modern world towards that idealistic future. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, to be clear. There is some value in imagining a better future on its own merits, in presenting an image of a world in which highly professional people can work together without any distractions or pettiness or ego. The utopian ideals of Star Trek are undoubtedly a good thing of themselves.

Still, there is something to be said for exploring how this future came to pass – for covering the space that lies between the modern world and that depicted in the franchise. Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Enterprise gestured at this as an interesting point of discussion, but neither adequately explored it. Voyager featured a crew of officers forced to work with a bunch of terrorists, but who gelled with one another as early as Parallax, the second episode. Enterprise dismissed famine, war and poverty in a throwaway line in the pilot, Broken Bow.

However, Deep Space Nine remains the only Star Trek series to explore these tough questions, to ask what happens when you strip away the core assumptions of the Star Trek franchise, to wonder what happens if you remove the handicaps that Gene Roddenberry imposed upon his fictional universe. What happens when people who are trying to get along come into contact with a force that won’t compromise? What happens when you apply idealistic thinking to a world that is recovering from a long and brutal conflict, and without the magic technology that defines Starfleet?

The core premise of Deep Space Nine was designed by Rick Berman and Michael Piller to circumnavigate those limitations that Roddenberry imposed upon the franchise. Roddenberry had insisted upon no conflict between Starfleet officers, so almost half of the cast of Deep Space Nine were not in Starfleet. Roddenberry insisted that humanity had gotten past greed and violence and hatred, so Deep Space Nine unfolded in orbit of a planet that was still dealing with the horrors of colonialism. These ideas were baked into Deep Space Nine from the outset.

Emissary established these conflicts quite clearly. Captain Benjamin Sisko was a war widower, who very clearly didn’t want to be on assignment. Major Kira Nerys had just fought to liberate her planet from the Cardassians, and so was actively hostile to the arrival of what she saw as another colonial power. Quark was a Ferengi business man embroiled in unscrupulous dealings, his nephew Nog arrested in the act of theft. Deep Space Nine was a great deal removed from the clean and sterile working environment of The Next Generation.

Unspoken in all of this was the understanding that things would improve, that characters would evolve and grow. Deep Space Nine allowed its characters to make mistakes. Odo wiped out an entire civilisation to protect Kira in Children of Time and almost doomed the Alpha Quadrant because of his devotion to the Great Link in Behind the Lines. O’Brien demonstrated racism towards Cardassians in Cardassians, and murdered his cellmate in a computer simulated prison sentence in Hard Time. These characters were imperfect and flawed.

However, the cast of Deep Space Nine got to change and grow. O’Brien was initially antagonistic towards Bashir in The Storyteller, but the two became best friends in the years that followed. Kira was introduced as a former terrorist who chaffed against the responsibilities of her official position in Progress and Duet, but eventually matured and grew to the point that she could safely assume long-term command of Deep Space Nine in the gap between Tears of the Prophets and Shadows and Symbols, and following What You Leave Behind.

This capacity for growth and change distinguished Deep Space Nine from the other Star Trek series, and applied as much to institutions as to people. In contrast to The Next Generation or Voyager, Deep Space Nine repeatedly used time travel to explore the inner workings of the franchise itself. Trials and Tribble-ations was a extended tribute to fandom as a concept, while Past Tense, Part I and Past Tense, Part II were episodes devoted to the question of how modern humanity evolved into the version of humanity seen in Star Trek.

Deep Space Nine seemed to argue that humanity was a work in progress, and that this would always be the case; perfection is a path rather than a destination. On The Next Generation and Voyager, there was a sense that mankind had finally reached some state peace, having emerged from the awkward growing pains of human history into something more stable and more consistent. On Deep Space Nine, there would always be challenges and hurdles for humanity to face. The key was not in vanquishing adversity, but it living with it.

Central to this approach was the suggestion that Starfleet itself was a flawed institution. Of course, mad senior officers had been a Star Trek staple for more than two decades by the time that Deep Space Nine premiered; Commodore Matt Decker in The Doomsday Machine, Captain Ron Tracey in The Omega Glory, Garth of Izar in Whom Gods Destroy, Admiral Mark Jameson in Too Short a Season, Admiral Norah Satie in The Drumhead. However, there was always an unspoken assumption that Starfleet itself was fundamentally decent.

This was largely down to the influence of Gene Roddenberry, who had served in the Air Force during the Second World War. Roddenberry had a tendency to fetishise military procedure and operation, and it makes sense that his version of Star Trek should reflect that military mindset; note the attention paid to court martial procedure in his scripts to The Menagerie, Part I, The Menagerie, Part II and Turnabout Intruder, or even the amount of attention paid to the proper procedure for welcoming a head of a long-extinct state on board in The Savage Curtain.

Roddenberry was the strongest influence on the earliest seasons of The Next Generation, and it reflects this obsession with the structure and framework provided by the Federation and Starfleet; Lonely Among Us and The Last Outpost play as some sort of weird human supremacy propaganda. Roddenberry famously argued that there was no need for a trial in The Measure of a Man, that when Starfleet demand that Data subject himself to a dangerous scientific procedure, Data should willingly and unquestioningly surrender himself to the institution.

Deep Space Nine did not allow to take these assumptions at face value, instead daring to poke and prod them. Benjamin Sisko was a veteran Starfleet officer, considered exemplary in his field; he longed for his son to follow him into the service in Shadowplay, fondly discussed career advancement with Eddington in The Adversary, and was considered to be the perfect right-hand man to Admiral Leyton in Homefront and Paradise Lost. The Starfleet uniform meant a great deal to Sisko, as much as it had to Picard or to Kirk.

However, Deep Space Nine repeatedly challenged Sisko’s assumptions about the importance of the uniform. For most the seven-season, Sisko found himself torn between his role as the Emissary of the Prophets and a representative of Starfleet Command; this was something that made Starfleet uncomfortable as well, as Admiral Whatley acknowledges in Rapture and Admiral Ross concedes in Tears of the Prophets. One of the big recurring threads across Deep Space Nine is the push and pull between those two sides of Sisko’s personality.

Sisko is initially skeptical about his role as Emissary, adopting a dogmatic Starfleet position and refusing to involve himself in Bajoran affairs too directly. However, Deep Space Nine begins to gradually push Sisko away from Starfleet and towards Bajor. Sisko is candid about how uncomfortable he feels in the role of Emissary, particularly as it affects his relationship with Kira; he acknowledges as much in Destiny and Starship Down. However, around the midpoint of the run, Sisko finds himself forced to fight to retake the role of Emissary in Accession.

In Rapture, Sisko sabotages Bajor’s admission into the Federation, contradicting his Starfleet orders in service of the Prophets; this proves to be the right call of action, allowing Bajor to sign a non-aggression pact with the Dominion in Call to Arms. In Tears of the Prophets, Sisko ignores a warning from the Prophets in order to do his duty as a Starfleet officer, a decision that ends in disaster in all forms. By Favour the Bold, Sisko seems to have decided to retire to Bajor rather than Earth. He even buys some land there in Penumbra.

This is not the only way in which Sisko finds his faith in the institution of Starfleet tested over the course of Deep Space Nine. In The Maquis, Part I and The Maquis, Part II, Sisko is shocked to discover that a life-long friend has abandoned the institution. Sisko takes the Maquis particularly seriously, responding to their betrayal of an institution that Sisko holds particularly dear; this might explain his fevered pursuit of Michael Eddington in For the Uniform, with Sisko resenting those who could walk away from Starfleet. Perhaps he is projecting.

Deep Space Nine repeatedly confronts Sisko with the suggestion that Starfleet is not as benign and altruistic as it might appear to be. When the Dominion capture the Defiant crew in The Search, Part I and The Search, Part II, they subject them to hallucinations depicting Starfleet’s decision to abandon Bajor to the Dominion. Sisko never questions the reality of the simulation, accepting that Starfleet might willingly sacrifice its ally, if it were to become politically expedient. Sisko also witness an attempted military coup by Starfleet in Homefront and Paradise Lost.

Of course, Sisko is not the only character on Deep Space Nine who is particularly invested in Starfleet. In many ways, Julian Bashir is the most archetypal Star Trek character on Deep Space Nine, the character who would fit most easily with the cast of The Next Generation, a point underscored by his extended guest appearance in Birthright, Part II. Bashir is the most earnest and sincere member of the senior staff on Deep Space Nine, the most outwardly confident and boastful crewmember. It is Bashir who mentions the Prime Directive in Battle Lines.

In the later seasons of Deep Space Nine, Bashir comes to realise that Starfleet is not as altruistic and idealistic as it might have appeared in The Next Generation. In In the Pale Moonlight, it is Bashir who files a formal complaint at Sisko’s moral compromises. In Inquisition, Bashir uncovers a cabal of special operatives who do horrific things in service of the Federation. In Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges, Bashir discovers that Admiral William Ross willingly worked with these operatives in furtherance of Starfleet’s long-term political objectives.

This is compounded by the recurring sense that Starfleet might hold some small sense of responsibility for the Dominion War. In The Jem’Hadar, Starfleet is warned to stay out of Dominion territory. Of course, this warning is delivered with an act of mass murder on New Bajor, so the Dominion can hardly claim the moral high ground. Indeed, it seems fair to suggest that the Dominion War was an inevitable result of the Dominion’s foreign policy, and that nothing short of destroying the wormhole could have prevented it.

Nevertheless, Starfleet continues to poke and prod the Dominion. In episodes like Meridian and Children of Time, the Defiant is still exploring the Gamma Quadrant. In Starship Down, the Federation is still negotiating arrangements in secret with members of the Dominion. In Destiny, the Defiant helps to establish infrastructure on the far side of the wormhole that could be seen as a building block for more colonial ambitions. The Founders are paranoid and xenophobic, but a lot of the Federation’s actions are clearly expansionist.

On the surface, this represents a very cynical view of Starfleet and the Federation, and it is tempting to argue that Deep Space Nine is thus cynical about the whole Star Trek endeavour. However, this seems to suggest that optimism of Star Trek is inseparable from the idea of a pure and unimpeachable Starfleet, that it is impossible to imagine an optimistic or hopeful future without an organisation like the Federation or Starfleet. This is a very reductive perspective on Star Trek, and a very narrowminded view of the future’s limitless potential.

Deep Space Nine is not just wary of Starfleet and the Federation, it is wary of power structures in general. Deep Space Nine is cynical about institutions and political entities. This is perhaps best exemplified in When It Rains… and Tacking Into the Wind, when the show parallels the arcs of Damar and Worf, forcing both characters to confront the fact that their governments and societies need to change or die; that the Cardassian Union and the Klingon Empire are corrupt institutions that need radical reform.

Deep Space Nine is skeptical about centralised authority, and those characters who would claim that power for themselves. Tellingly, two of the most overtly evil recurring characters are those motivated by the pursuit of that power. Winn Adami is willing to do whatever it takes to become Kai in In the Hands of the Prophets and The Collaborator, and seeks to consolidate that power by becoming First Minister in Shakaar. Similarly, Dukat is willing to sell out his own people in order to secure ascent back to power in In Purgatory’s Shadow and By Inferno’s Light.

Deep Space Nine has a decidedly anarchistic attitude, particularly in contrast to the more regimented and structured surroundings of the other Star Trek series. However, this is not cynicism or nihilism. Deep Space Nine refuses to invest its trust in centralised authority, but that does not mean that the series is a rejection of the humanism and optimism at the heart of Star Trek. Far from it. Deep Space Nine simply finds that humanism and optimism in people rather than institutions.

Deep Space Nine repeatedly suggests that individuals are fantastic, and capable of doing truly wondrous things. Somewhat ironically, given his fondness for order and his fascistic leanings, Odo finds himself betrayed and undermined by various institutions over the course of Deep Space Nine; he is marginalised by Starfleet in episodes like The Passenger and The Search, Part I, and even turned into a biological weapon in Homefront and Paradise Lost. However, Chimera makes it clear that Odo has more faith in Kira than he would ever hold in Starfleet.

In some ways, Julian Bashir embodies this philosophy. Bashir is the most optimistic and hopeful member of the primary cast, the character most clearly sculpted in the mold of Roddenberrian optimism. In theory, Deep Space Nine should deconstruct that archetype; certainly, Bashir comes in from no shortage of mockery and humiliation from his fellow crew members who react with varying degrees of frustration and bemusement to his enthusiasm and his self-assuredness. However, Deep Space Nine remains deeply sympathetic to Bashir.

In Hippocratic Oath, Bashir and O’Brien argue about the morality of freeing the Jem’Hadar from their ketracel-white addiction. O’Brien cynically argues that the Dominion’s ability to enslave the Jem’Hadar is in everybody’s best interests, while Bashir rejects this notion out of hand. Bashir believes that the Jem’Hadar have the right to self-determination and that they can be redeemed if they are freed from the control of the Founders. Hippocratic Oath ultimately vindicates Bashir, with the freed Goran’Agar laying down his life to let Bashir and O’Brien escape.

In Our Man Bashir, Bashir finds himself playing a retro espionage-themed holoprogram with Garak. Garak is a former Cardassian spy, and so balks at the romanticisation of his trade. When the program inevitably goes astray, Garak chides Bashir for his optimism and hope. Garak argues that part of being a spy is the art of moral compromise and self-preservation, that it is impossible for Bashir to save everybody, no matter how appealing that fantasy might be. Again, Our Man Bashir vindicates Bashir by allowing him to save everybody in direct contradiction of Garak.

Similarly, The Quickening presents Bashir with another crisis. Bashir is convinced that he can cure a deadly plague that has affected an entire planet’s population. However, a disastrous mistake leads Bashir to question his abilities and his optimism. In the end, it is revealed that Bashir cannot cure the disease, but he can develop a vaccine; he cannot cure those already afflicted, but he can ensure that the next generation of children will be born free of the eponymous disease. Indeed, The Quickening ultimately vindicates Bashir against his own self-doubt.

People are the key. While the Cardassian Union is corrupted and decayed, Deep Space Nine suggests that hope for Cardassia’s future might be found in the redemption of former nationalists like Garak and Damar. Gowron’s ascent to the High Chancellorship epitomised the long-term decline of the Klingon Empire, but there is still the possibility of redemption through the actions of good men like Martok and Worf. Deep Space Nine repeatedly argues that people are the most important thing in the universe, and that institutions can obscure or distort that.

After all, one of the most heretical early decisions taken by the writing staff on Deep Space Nine was the reintroduction of money into the post-scarcity economy suggested by The Next Generation. The concept of “gold-pressed latinum” was introduced in The Nagus, and Deep Space Nine built both In the Cards and Treachery, Faith and the Great River around the concept of a barter economy. On the surface, this would appear to represent a betrayal of Roddenberry’s utopianism.

However, there has always been something deeply unsettling about this aspect of Star Trek, the assumption that a peaceful and utopian world might only be possible after mankind has conquered all of its demons. It is fun to imagine what humanity might look like after war and after greed, but that ignored the fact that war and greed are two fairly fundamental parts of the human experience and that removing them from the equation reduces any optimistic future to something more fantastical than Romulans or Klingons or Ferengi.

The Next Generation often bordered on technological determinism, suggesting that utopia did not rely on any fundamental shift in how people behaved, but rather on the invention of fantastic technology like the replicators or the warp drive. In fact, history even goes so far as to suggest the opposite; developments with incredible potential to further human knowledge and to raise human living standards are frequently squandered on war and violence. The space race was built on the science behind military rockets. The atomic age unleashed the nuclear bomb.

As such, Deep Space Nine is arguably justified in removing these handicaps on Star Trek‘s utopian future. It is fun to imagine what humanity might look like when everybody has everything that they want, but there are limits to its utility; one may as well imagine a future in which everybody shoots laser from their eyes or can click their fingers to make David Bowie music play. Deep Space Nine wondered what might happen if the characters and institutions in the larger Star Trek universe were forced to confront these realities that had been written out of the franchise.

In the Cards and Treachery, Faith and the Great River both demonstrated how people interact with one another and explored the network of unlikely connections that formed between individuals within a larger galactic social environment. Star Trek and The Next Generation suggested that people might be fundamentally decent to one another if money and trade were removed from the equation. Deep Space Nine suggests that fundamental decency is possible even within a basic barter economy, that decency is not contingent on replicators.

This approach carried over to the way in which Deep Space Nine tackled conflict. Even in a post-scarcity economy conflict is inevitable, because there will always be something unique to fight over and there will always be those who refuse to compromise. In the early seasons of Deep Space Nine, episodes like The Maquis, Part I and The Maquis, Part II looked at the lives of individuals who had been dispossessed as part of peace-keeping arrangements between major powers. The reality of diplomacy and negotiation is compromise, but what if people refuse to compromise?

In an ideal world, on close to that represented by Star Trek, people would be entirely rational and objective actors who understood the benefits of compromise. However, for various reasons, politics make this ideal world impossible. It is impossible to completely trust a rival in any negotiation, to trust that they are acting in some greater interest than their own strategic objectives. Similarly, it is impossible to approach heated emotional and symbolic matters like nationalism or religion with a purely objective eye.

Deep Space Nine understands this. The Federation does not actively seek out the Dominion War. Over the second half of the fifth season, the conflict simply becomes inevitable in the same way that the Second World War was arguably inevitable. The Jem’Hadar massacre the Maquis in Blaze of Glory, attack Klingon ships in Soldiers of the Empire, and Federation ships begin disappearing in In the Cards. There is a sense that no peaceful compromise can be reached with the Dominion, that the Dominion represent a foe that presents no alternative to warfare.

War on Deep Space Nine is not glorious or heroic. It is brutal and depressing. A Time to Stand suggests that Starfleet is not an organisation built for this sort of long-term conflict, and that its officers are not trained to handle the long-term stressed. Deep Space Nine has a number of episodes built around big space battles, like Sacrifice of Angels or Tears of the Prophets or The Changing Face or Evil or What You Leave Behind, but the bulk of the Dominion War is a much quieter affair. It is long periods of waiting, punctuated by bursts of sheer horror.

Part of this is undoubtedly down to the budgetary concerns of nineties television, but it also reflects the philosophy of Deep Space Nine. War is not something to be celebrated. The Dominion War exerts a heavy psychological toll on those who wage it, from Benjamin Sisko’s near-breakdown in Far Beyond the Stars to the grim routine of reading casualty reports in In the Pale Moonlight. Episodes like The Siege of AR-558 demonstrate the consequences of long-term exposure to conflict, while It’s Only a Paper Moon focuses on Nog’s recovery from a horrific combat injury.

In fact, the Dominion War demonstrates considerable empathy for all sides in the conflict. Even Sisko seems to feel some measure of compassion for the enemy troops caught in his ambush in Rocks and Shoals, mourning the senseless loss of life. In Strange Bedfellows, the audience juxtaposes Damar’s heartbreak at the Cardassian casualties to Martok’s elation at a Klingon victory. In What You Leave Behind, Sisko and Ross pointedly refuse to share a toast with Martok over the battered and broken bodies of fallen Cardassians. War is tragedy.

The core point of the Dominion War is to ask how these characters in these circumstances react to the pressures of an inevitable political reality that the rest of the Star Trek franchise had largely chosen to simple avoid. After all, humanist principles are great in theory, but what use are they if they are never truly tested? What greater crucible could exist for the franchise’s hope and idealism? Deep Space Nine takes the core beliefs of the Star Trek franchise and applies incredible pressure to them, effectively stress-testing Roddenberry’s idealism.

The Dominion War does put cracks in the facade. Characters do compromise in places, most notably Sisko in In the Pale Moonlight and Ross in Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges. However, by and large, the characters emerge from the crucible with their humanity intact. During the final run of episodes, Bashir discovers that a rogue group of Starfleet officers designed a plague to wipe out the Founders. The senior staff are all horrified by this revelation, and by the discovery that some section of Starfleet would condone attempted genocide.

Tellingly, What You Leave Behind chooses to end the Dominion War with an act of kindness rather than cruelty, compassion rather than contempt. The Female Changeling is dying from the illness, and has ordered a genocide on Cardassia Prime and instructed her troops to fight the Federation to the last man. The Dominion has already lost the war, but it will inflict heavy casualties upon its enemies. However, Odo chooses to do the right thing. In contravention of Starfleet’s orders, Odo shares the cure for the disease with the Female Changeling.

Even the imagery is telling, Odo extending his hand towards a dangerous enemy in a gesture of peace and reconciliation. Odo cures the Female Changeling, who orders her troops to surrender and who offers to stand trial for what she has done. This is a moment of pure Star Trek idealism, in which compassion towards an uncompromising adversary serves to save lives. It is a moment that invests a great deal of trust in individuals rather than institutions, and which demonstrates the Star Trek spirit at the heart of Deep Space Nine.

Deep Space Nine is a story about the humanism at the heart of Star Trek, and about the importance of holding on to that even in an imperfect world. In its own way, Deep Space Nine is the most idealistic of Star Trek series, because it dares to suggest that it is possible to live a good life in a world that is not always good.

8 Responses

  1. This is why I love this series so much. DS9 challenges the perfect future depicted in TNG. It shows us that even in such a future and civilisation, there will still be things that happen which will cause conflict, pain and anger. The characters in DS9 are tested to their limits but the Starfleet principles and the equal, happy, and idealistic ideals prevail for the most part. It shows that morals and decency usually win over greed, hatred and rage.

    I have never understood the criticism of this series. Go back to TOS and you see war, conflict, rage, war etc. Take a look at one of the franchises most beloved characters, James T. Kirk. Captain Kirk was trigger happy and he was always itching for a fight (doesn’t that go against the peaceful utopian society that Starfleet was supposed to represent?)

    DS9 simply took those themes and increased them. I actually think DS9 helped make Star Trek realistic and gritty, it was no longer simply a Sci-Fi series, it was a series that tackled some very deep issues and had themes that viewers could identify with (war, persecution etc).

    Perhaps people were uncomfortable with how grey some of the characters were? (Garak and Kira for example)Characters who had a blend of good and bad within them; sometimes they did things you didn’t agree with, and then other times they were heroic and things they said and did were correct, saved lives and were completely necessary.

    DS9 has some of the best characters, writing, storylines and actors in the entire Star Trek franchise. It also focused on strong female characters and allowed them to take centre stage for a change.

    • Yep. Kira is the franchise’s best female character, by some considerable distance. The two Daxes are probably second (and third, if you insist on splitting them).

  2. This makes the finale What You Leave Behind . . . all the more poignant in my mind. O’Brien resigned from the perfect assignment, the Enterprise to join a small space station and when we look at the things he does there, white water rafting, holographic war games, it’s clear he views his tenure as some kind of holiday. Bashir on the other hand, failed to get his dream assignment, his Enterprise and is stuck at the station. However, at the end of the series, O’Brien, proof that Starfleet officers could be racist and someone who bonded with a criminal, decides to go back to Starfleet, to teach and perhaps improve the next batch of officers whereas Bashir stays on the station where he found love and friendship. O’Brien even leaves the Alamo soldiers behind, putting away his childish things. Worf’s arc is mainly about learning that he doesn’t fit in even with the Klingons, so he becomes a ambassador, permanently sticking himself between two worlds and assuming a position that we can assume is very knew to the war loving Klingons. Odo, Kira and Sisko, all show growth by assuming responsibilities to greater causes that they once shirked, Odo sacrifices his human life to ensure peace in the Gamma Quadrant, Sisko saves Bajor by ascending to the spiritual realm that he ran from and Kira takes control of the literal representation of the occupation of her people, but of course on her own terms, finally a Bajoran in control of Bajor.
    Now I need to go cry because woof that episode does a number on ya.

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