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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 Season 1

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)

Captive Pursuit

(Star Trek - Deep Space Nine episode production code 406)
story by Jill Sherman Donner
teleplay by Jill Sherman Donner & Michael Piller

This episode represents first contact between our Star Trek family of characters and the people of the Gamma Quadrant on the other side of the newly established Wormhole shortcut passage. It also turns out to provide a nice focus for Colm Meaney as Chief Miles O'Brien as the central protagonist, as he forms an enjoyable bond with the guest alien of the week.

Before long, the Prime Directive is involved in a complicated tangle of figuring out the right thing to do. There are a lot of parallels here to the fifth season TNG episode "The Outcast", in that the Federation could grant asylum and easily feel like they were now able to do the right thing without violating their highest law, IF our guest alien would simply ask for it. And he refuses to. The issue is a little more on the nose and more clearly spelt out here than in "The Outcast", which is good.

"Change the rules!"

It is a nice moment to see Chief O'Brien come up with this idea. Indeed, perhaps the entire Federation would be better off trying this out. I'm not sure how he ever thought he would get away with it and still wind up working for Starfleet in the next episode....

But it's also a bit hypocritical to see Sisko chewing him out for it at the end, since Sisko basically followed his lead and made the same choice himself.

Did we really get a Prime Directive violation here though? As O'Brien points out in part, Starfleet actually gave these two parties what they had said they both REALLY wanted, instead of what they felt they deserved they could ask for. Perhaps good relations are all about seeking first to understand at a level of enough depth that you can truly offer people what they really want, and showing them that they do deserve to ask for it. Nice one.

Now if only we can get Starfleet and the Federation at large to continually better itself and put that idea on a pedestal in place of their Prime Directive, instead of making people like O'Brien and Sisko dance through such strange hoops to get there, all will be peachy.

Season One: Prime Directive Jurisdiction

Deep Space Nine continued to iron out several nagging questions over the jurisdiction of various laws, which inform how the Prime Directive among other things is carried out.

Episode 408: "Dax" has an alien society attempting to extradite one of Sisko's Starfleet officers for trial, and they have a valid treaty with the Federation allowing them to do so. BUT, they don't have such a treaty with Bajor, and Bajoran law rules the day and must first be satisfied. Nice one. Perhaps Bajor would be better off not joining the Federation and remaining a sovereign planet.

Episode 409: "The Passenger" also has a good scene where Sisko reminds a new Starfleet officer that they are basically guests of the Bajoran government while they operate on Deep Space Nine. Which may allow us to tackle the most subtle layer of the Prime Directive....

The crudest layer of course is that pre-warp societies should not even be made aware of the Federation's existence, while a middleground layer is used with the societies that do mingle with the rest of the galaxy in outer space, yet are too uncivilized to warrant any significant involvement of trade or sharing of technologies. But here with Bajor, a society that they hope shares enough of their values that they will shortly join the Federation, Starfleet allows a mixed crew, and must have some kind of trade agreement whereby its officers can use some kind of expense account to pay for meals at Quark's bar, or whatever else may be offered on the Bajoran promenade.

What we can point to is that Bajor's "Provisional Government" did ask for the Federation's help, specifically Starfleet's help, and so the Trial of a Time Lord authority-request precedent is in operation in the background here, allowing great Starfleet involvement without violation of the Prime Directive. A very interesting arrangement, leading to a rich source of story possibilities. Nice.

Battle Lines

(Star Trek - Deep Space Nine episode production code 413)
story by Hilary Bader
teleplay by Richard Danus & Evan Carlos Somers

The Prime Directive gets mentioned here, as Sisko defends his interpretation. Basically, he's all about making his call on the basis that the people on this moon are a society of their own, rather than still prisoners of the society that put them there. Sisko gives them the benefit of the doubt, until they clearly prove they're not quite ready for it yet. And in any case, outright rescue by Starfleet proves scientifically beyond anyone's ability.

What is really far more interesting is Major Kira's wild indulgence in the locals' fight, which really stands out as something no Prime-Directive-conscious member of any previous Star Trek cast would do. Which brings up the whole question of whether or not Kira (or for that matter Odo) should be bound by the Prime Directive in any way on any mission. Technically, they are serving in a chain of command under a Starfleet officer, so Sisko may insist that the Prime Directive be observed. But on the other hand, Sisko commands DS9 at the invitation of the Bajoran government, who have not adopted the Prime Directive yet, and may decide not to do so. Additionally, does the Bajoran government count once we leave Bajoran space? Is Kai Opaka here enough of a representative of Bajoran authority that her take on Prime Directive issues could override Sisko? Perhaps this is time to hand it to Michael Piller and Rick Berman for creating a good tangle that is rich with story possibilities.

In the end, this story makes a lot of good points about ideal responses and levels of involvement in other people's problems and conflicts, while not bringing up the Prime Directive as often as they might have. Good call, as the Directive often just makes things less clear. Technically, I don't think we had any Prime Directive violations here, and DS9 produced another episode far better than what its trailers may have led us to anticipate.

The Storyteller

(Star Trek - Deep Space Nine episode production code 414)
story by Kurt Michael Bensmiller
teleplay by Kurt Michael Bensmiller & Ira Steven Behr

This is a weird tale for many reasons, but especially so for the blatant involvement of two Starfleet officers in some very superstitious affairs in a Bajoran village. The Federation may want to rethink Bajor's application to join if this village represents typical Bajoran thinking. But, the authority-request precedent holds yet again, as the people in charge of the village ask for help, and Bashir and O'Brien answer. Too bad O'Brien didn't go further and reveal the secret to the people. It seemed like it made more sense as a one-off lesson to them, not something that should be repeated annually.

Sisko, Jake, and Nog also have a lot of Bajoran problems to assist with here, though on far safer terms. All in all, this episode seems to be just taking a few more steps in that long journey of helping Bajor move closer to being worthy of joining the Federation.


(Star Trek - Deep Space Nine episode production code 415)
written by Peter Allan Fields

Now we come to one of Deep Space Nine's worst episodes. Although the sub plot for Jake and Nog is a lot of decent fun, the main A-plot is working very hard to turn Major Kira into a bureaucratic jerk, and resorts to way too many brainless contrivances to try to achieve that unworthy goal.

First of all, it's hard to see how the Bajoran government and its energy commission could possibly be in the right here. It goes beyond Spock's old Vulcan adage of the needs of the many outweighing the needs of the few. Bajor should consider itself damn lucky to have a moon with breathable atmosphere, fertile soil, and no other known sentient lifeforms. This moon should be set aside for colonization. Instead, they want to completely wreck its ecosystem? And for what? Are they so desperate for "energy" that they can't wait one short year (how long is the Bajoran year anyway?) to put their environmentally safe and friendly option into operation instead? One year (even if a Bajoran year is equivalent to as many as four Earth years) is not an unreasonable amount of time to develop a massive energy project such as the ones proposed in this episode, and compared to the billions of years it took for the moon and its ecosystem to develop and mature, the right answer here should be a no-brainer. To borrow Nog's line of thinking from this same episode, someone does indeed have a lot to learn about opportunity. The opportunity for the long term of this moon far outweighs the outright idiotic desperation of the short term.

We also have to wonder who really has jurisdiction over this moon - the settlers who live there, or the governments of the planet. Back in "Battle Lines", Sisko was prepared to treat the inhabitants of that moon as a separate society from the one that had spawned them. Perhaps the same should apply to the settlers here. It seems obvious that the Bajoran government and its energy commission have not reached a fair agreement with all those involved. Sisko should be warning the visiting minister and the Bajoran government at large that pushing the desperate version of this project through would not be helping any application they may make later on for Federation membership.

Now, big issues aside, next come the production contrivances. Firstly, can the cast manage to come up with a definitive pronunciation for the moon's name? I count at least half a dozen different ones here, with none of them emerging as a definitive one. This could have used some ironing out in rehearsals.

Even worse, as someone who grew up in a family ceramic tile business, it pains me to see the sloppy narrative, design, and production work surrounding that outdoor barbecue with the hexagonal tiles, which is forever burned into my brain as a symbol of the episode's idiocy. Hexagons are much more difficult to work with than traditional squares when used to fill a neatly pre-defined shape, as is attempted here, and will involve many more specially cut pieces along the many edges. Realistically speaking, considering this design, you'd likely end up with more cuts than full pieces. But we're going to be watching two ACTORS do this job, so they won't bother with any cuts at any point. The kiln shape has been unbelievably doctored to show where they should put each piece beforehand. This is also a job that calls for a seriously heavy-duty mortar, since the tiles are thick, and will have to withstand the high temperatures of the fire when the barbecue is eventually lit. Instead, it looks as if they are using some light-duty factory produced mastic glue for thin bathroom wall tiles. They should at least show the brand-name factory pail it came in when it was imported from Bajor, instead of pretending that our settler friend mixed it from the local clay or something. I'd guess the tiles themselves are also imports, since even if this moon had its own tile factory, the population prior to evacuation wasn't large and diversified enough to get demand for hexagonal tiles higher than demand for square ones - it's too much of a luxury item.

I really laugh when they put the "last" piece in and say that they're done. Ah, guys? Do you not see a whole row of small cut pieces missing along the top? How sloppy do you want your workmanship to look? Ah well, anything less than a full tile is beneath their level of inspiration and beyond the abilities of the actors I suppose. No cutting tools here today. Worse, they give their tiles no time to set, much less cure, before they think they should fire up the beast. Whoa!! That's asking for trouble! I'll bet Kira's tiles will fall off first, since she is NOT putting enough mortar (pardon me, glue) on tiles of that thickness.

Then she blows the whole useless thing up, and carefully torches the cottage on all the pre-defined flammable bits. Really silly.

If anything, this episode built a lot of anticipation that our regular crew would get their act together and get the energy project on track with the slower environmentally-friendly alternative that also works for the settler that Kira bonds with. Instead we waste time watching actors fuss around very unconvincingly with these tiles on a stove and a set designed for the torch, and then blunder brainlessly into a stupid conclusion. How much of the production budget was wasted here, considering that the next two episodes are bottle shows featuring only the DS9 station itself?

At least our main guest star has an enjoyably written character which the actor delivers with enjoyable charisma, and Nana Visitor plays well off of him. Too bad that wasn't enough to salvage a story that pushed her character so far and so awkwardly into a stupid direction.

In the Hands of the Prophets

(Star Trek - Deep Space Nine episode production code 420)
written by Robert Hewitt Wolfe

Deep Space Nine episodes improve vastly towards the end of the first season, until this single-episode finale becomes an absolute triumph.

Of primary interest is the philosophical territory of pure science vs. spiritual interpretation, which is very well handled in this episode, and very organically ropes Keiko O'Brien into what is possibly the best episode she ever got on Star Trek.

We also get our introduction to the important recurring characters of Vedeks Bareil and Winn, both of whom make good first impressions. Louise Fletcher as Vedek Winn in particular gives a knock-out performance here, very reminiscent of Nurse Ratchet from "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", and always seems to be taking good points that one step too far to create all kinds of irritability and tension. She's very well cast, and they made good use of her character by bringing her back so often to the show in further years.

Sisko also gets a chance to shine as someone with a very good Trekkian balancing viewpoint, and delivers one of his best speeches in a very believable and moving scene with his young son, as well as having a key role in the unfolding plot. Most of the other regulars are also used well, with Miles O'Brien heavily involved with several plot strands, and Odo demonstrating many of his better investigative skills.

And so, season one ends with what is probably the best episode since the pilot, leaving one hopeful for all the other great DS9 episodes yet to come....

These Deep Space Nine Season One stories are 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 2"

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