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Season One:
-401/402: "Emissary"
-406: "Captive Pursuit"
-408: "Dax"
-409: "The Passenger"
-413: "Battle Lines"
-414: "The Storyteller"
-415: "Progress"
-420: "In the Hands
of the Prophets"

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Star Trek DS9 - Emissary

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Season One (Winter/Spring 1993):

20 episodes @ 45 minutes each.
Get your copy of this 6-disc DVD set from the links below:
Region 1, NTSC, U.S.
Region 1, NTSC, Canada
Region 2, PAL, U.K.
Region 2, PAL, U.K. (Slimline Edition)


(Star Trek - Deep Space Nine episode production codes 401 & 402 - the 2-part pilot story)
story by Rick Berman & Michael Piller
teleplay by Michael Piller

One of the best stories ever in the entire canon of the Star Trek franchise has to be the Deep Space Nine pilot story "Emissary". It is squarely centered on the new lead for the series - Commander Benjamin Sisko - and gives him the classic hero's journey while he explores both his inner personal issues and an especially wide variety of exciting external sci-fi environments, nicely realized with plenty of eye-candy. I rarely go through The Next Generation's sixth season without making the slight detour to watch Picard and O'Brien get involved with this adventure as well, since it is just so good.

The pilot not only sets in motion many of the characters and their arcs for this spin-off series, including those of many minor characters up to and including Morn, but it also sets up some precedents for how the show will deal with both Prime Directive considerations and how the flow of information will set up problems similar to many time travel stories when prophecies come into play.

Prime Involvement

Commander Ben Sisko's orders: To do everything short of violating the Prime Directive to see that the Bajorans become ready to join the Federation. Why? It helps keep the Cardassians at bay.

We seem to be on nebulous ground regarding the borders and jurisdictions in which our various levels of the Prime Directive can operate with the various races here. Cardassians are another space-faring race like the Klingons and Romulans, with territories that encompass many star systems. To what extent does the Federation consider involvement with them acceptable, and when does it become interference? As seen in the Next Generation's preceding "Chain of Command" adventure, the 2-part counterpoint to the Deep Space Nine pilot movie, making pre-emptive strikes to destroy metagenic weapons is somehow okay.

But then there are the Bajorans, who are also a spacefaring race with colonies of their own in other star systems, as established in their debut TNG episode "Ensign Ro". Starfleet goes so far as to create a permanent joint crew with the Bajorans on Deep Space Nine, and yet the Prime Directive still wants to dictate non-interference on some vague level. This is weird, to say the least. On DS9, Starfleet is VERY involved, so much so it's time to just simply put one's best foot forward at all times, and give up all pretence of either non-interference, or non-involvement. Joint Starfleet-Bajoran interest in creating a posture of strength against the Cardassians, or any other race that challenges them here, has really put them in the same boat.

Of course, if they really wanted to follow through on the "middle east" analogy that initially spawned the Cardassians and Bajorans, they should really all be the same race instead of two different ones, making it impossible to distinguish sides so easily. And if the Prime Directive was important, perhaps Starfleet shouldn't be getting involved with either one of them. But of course, this is Cardassia and Bajor; no need to make it an exact parallel of the middle east or anywhere else. By all means, let creative freedom reign supreme.

Information Through Time

Sisko also encounters aliens who are so different from us that he has to explain the humanoid experience of "time" to them. It is curious to see how this explanation contains within it the usual Star Trek conceit that leads to their most common problems with time. The baseball game is the scene where Sisko's explanation really resonates with audience and aliens alike, as he details all the different outcomes that could happen, and our interest in finding out which one will happen. I just don't know why he wants to call that "linear", like a pole, when in fact the shape is actually "branching", like a tree. If time flows from the roots through the trunk up towards the leaves, and the present moment is in the trunk, and we don't know which outcome on which leaf on which branch we will end up in for sure.... if that's the game, surely it's more than "linear". But then Trek writers love to get trapped thinking that time is linear, don't they? Hehe. When will they learn?....

What I really do love about this section though, is the exchange:

Sisko: "With each new consequence, the game begins to take shape."
Alien: "And you have no idea what that shape is until it is completed."
Sisko: "That's right. In fact, the game wouldn't be worth playing if we knew what was going to happen."
This points directly towards WHY we want choice and consequence to exist in the first place, and where suspense and tension come from in stories.

What remains curious as we go through the next seven years of this series, is what the aliens' view of all this REALLY is. It is strange that they should at first find Sisko's concepts of the flow of time so bewildering, while at the same time valuing so highly the idea of beings taking responsibility for the consequences of their actions. The entire concept of "consequences" seems to require a cause and an effect happening one after another in a sequence across time. As we dig deeper in the episode at hand, it becomes more evident that these Wormhole Aliens are so accustomed to recognizing consequence by being able to see the future as easily as the past or present, they can't imagine how creatures can take responsibility for consequence without being able to accurately see the future.

This story really went to town in making the first contact situation between Starfleet and the Wormhole Prophet Aliens feel like a first meeting between VERY different cultures and species, and is one of Star Trek's finest successes. But looking back on the entire 7 year exploration of the Prophets on Deep Space Nine, it does at first seem like the Prophets should have already been more aware of who and what their Emissary was when he first showed up.

But again, we need to think outside of the "linear" box, since we are dealing with a species that exists so far outside of time that they need to have the concept very carefully explained to them. There's no real telling what sequence of events makes the most sense to them, or what the flow of new information might look like to them. I think they really are meeting with Sisko for the first time from their point of view, and as a consequence of their early dealings with him here, then decided to set up the extra backstory that fans had to wait until season 7 to discover.

Indeed, there will be much to discuss concerning time-travel-related phenomena as this series progresses, phenomena that are primarily triggered by the Prophet Aliens existing outside of time.

And all this is just one more strand of a very rich tapestry that this pilot episode put into play. Excellent! Roll on, season one....

This Deep Space Nine Season One pilot story is available on DVD.
Click on the Amazon symbol for the desired disc format and location nearest you for pricing and availability:

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Season One (1993):

20 episodes @ 45 minutes each.

Get your copy of this 6-disc DVD set
from the links below:

DVD Extras include:

  • Crew Dossier featurette: Kira Nerys
  • DS9: A Bold New Beginning featurette
  • "Section 31" barely hidden featurettes
  • Quark's Bar - Penny Juday's props
  • Alien Artefacts - Joe Longo's props
  • DS9 Sketchbook with Rick Sternbach
  • Michael Westmore's Aliens
  • Original DS9 preview

Region 1 NTSC

Region 1 NTSC

Region 2 PAL

PAL, (Slimline Ed.)

Article written by Martin Izsak. Comments on this article are welcome. You may contact the author from this page:

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Read the next Star Trek review article: "Deep Space Nine, Season 1"

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