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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Season 7 (Review)

The seventh season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is a remarkable accomplishment.

The seventh season is not perfect by any measure. Taken as a whole, it lacks the consistency that made the fifth season one of the best twenty-odd-episode seasons of television ever produced, particularly in a dire mid-season run of episodes that includes Prodigal Daughter, Field of Fire and The Emperor’s New Cloak. The fifth season (and even the sixth) never hit a run of three consecutive episodes that drag that hard. Similarly, there are moments when the production trips over itself during its epic run of ten closing episodes.

Similarly, it lacks the sheer quantity of all-time great episodes that made the sixth season so exciting and compelling, like that opening six-episode arc or Far Beyond the Stars or In the Pale Moonlight. However, the seventh season does quite well for itself; episodes like Treachery, Faith and the Great River, Once More Unto the Breach, The Siege of AR-558, It’s Only a Paper Moon, Chimera, Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges and Tacking Into the Wind are massively underrated and count among the best episode that the franchise ever produced.

However, the seventh season has a very clear sense of direction and purpose. After all seven years is a long time on television. By the time that the other Star Trek series hit that mark, there was a sense of exhaustion creeping in around the edges. The final season of Star Trek: The Next Generation often felt aimless and meandering, the production team waiting to transition to feature films. The final season of Star Trek: Voyager felt similarly worn out, a faded photocopy of an approach that had worked on the previous three seasons.

In sharp contrast, the seventh season of Deep Space Nine knows roughly where it is going. From the opening scenes of Image in the Sand, the production team are cognisant of the fact that the curtain will be coming down at the end of the season. As a result, the seventh season is written with an ending in mind. The writers might not have known that ending from the outset, and were still working on it even during the sprawling final arc at the end of the year, but they knew that it existed and was waiting twenty-six episodes in the future.

As a result, the seventh season of Deep Space Nine has a very strong sense of identity and compelling sense of urgency. These attributes distinguish the season the final years of The Next Generation and Voyager, but also mark it out as one of Deep Space Nine‘s (and the franchise’s) strongest years.

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The X-Files – Season 7 (Review)

This September, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the seventh season of The X-Files and the first (and only) season of Harsh Realm.

The seventh season of The X-Files feels like the end.

Indeed, going into the season, the production team were quite certain that it was going to be the end. Chris Carter and David Duchovny had signed two-year extensions to their initial five-year contracts that would expire at the end of the season. David Duchovny had signalled that he was unlikely to return for an eighth season. Frank Spotnitz suggested that the writing staff were approaching the seventh season like it was their last time working with these characters on this show.

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Gradually, however, things changed. As the seventh season continued, it became more and more likely that it wouldn’t be the seventh season of the show. Most obviously, Fox endured one of its worst seasons on record; there was simply no show that could hope to replace The X-Files in the network’s line-up. As a result, there was a clear urge to continue the show into an eighth season. However, the production team could not commit to the possibility because David Duchovny was in the midst of an on-going lawsuit against Fox.

As a result, the entire seventh season occupies a hazily-defined realm between life and death. As the season goes on, it feels more and more like the seventh season is hedging its bets; that the production team might be happy to move on to other projects, but are not entirely ready to give up on The X-Files yet. Watching the season in hindsight feels weird; it often feels like the production team want to bring the curtain down, but are unwilling to definitively or conclusive wrap up all the threads.

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If the sixth season of The X-Files fixated on the show’s immortality and timelessness, the seventh season plays as a reaction against that. The seventh season is very keenly aware that everything must end and that The X-Files‘ cultural moment might be fading. There is something mournful and morose about the seventh season, as if The X-Files is watching itself slip away into history. After all, this was the point where the show became readily available on DVD and where Duchovny was engaged in a lawsuit over syndication; The X-Files was becoming a legacy concern.

The seventh season is about death and undeath.

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