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Season Two:
-422: "The Circle"
-429: "Second Sight"
-433: "Armageddon Game"
-438: "Profit and Loss"
-440/441: "The Maquis"
-444: "The Collaborator"

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Star Trek DS9 Season 2

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Season Two (Fall 1993-1994):

26 episodes @ 45 minutes each.
Get your copy of this 7-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)

The Circle

(Star Trek - Deep Space Nine episode production code 422 - season opener, part 2 of 3)
written by Peter Allan Fields

Deep Space Nine's second season opens with an ambitious 3-part story, introducing their soon-to-be staple practice of partly disguising each episode with its own individual on-screen title. Although I really like the plot of this story, and the series' regulars all do well within it, it often seems to be dragging itself along at a pace that is just a bit too slow.

Personally, I think the performances of the guest characters are a little too inanimate in this three-parter. The character of the newly rescued navark Li Nalas is pretty much scripted that way, and had to remain that way to make certain worthy thematic points, so that's all well and good. But Minister Jaro, the ambitious high-ranking politician we see, although having a nice sense of calm, charismatic power, is just a little too dead-pan to maintain much excitement for the story, while Vedek Bareil strangely seems to be much more stiff than usual. The regulars are really up against it trying to infuse the rest of the story with energy, but Quark leads the charge with comic relief, while Odo, Kira, Dr. Bashir, and Vedek Winn all give the drama suitable boosts when they can.

Our focus today will center on the second of the three episodes, titled "The Circle", particularly the end when the Prime Directive is mentioned. I was very sadly shaking my head as I laughed at the opinion expressed through an Admiral Chakotay, who turns out to be some young white Caucasian dude completely unrelated to the character of similar name that had not yet debuted on Star Trek Voyager. The Chakotay here in "The Circle" seemed on the surface to have no memory of what happened in the TNG season four cliffhanger / season five opener "Redemption", which is sad because the situation has repeated itself verbatim.

In "Redemption", our Federation characters believed that the Prime Directive prevented them from interfering in a Klingon civil war, which is fair enough. BUT, if it could be proven that the Romulans were involved, that would be a different story, and the Federation could jump right in.

Well, here this upstart Chakotay tries to insist that the Prime Directive should force Sisko and company to haul out and not take sides in the violent coup about to change the fate of Bajor, and he does this AFTER our crew has presented good evidence that the Cardassians are not only supplying arms but indeed have set the whole plot up.... all without any Bajorans really knowing who was pulling their strings. Time to let the truth rule above secrecy, and chuck that damned two-faced label for ethics whose meaning changes with every passing gust of wind.

If there is a point to Starfleet's stand today, it may very well rest on the Trial of a Time Lord authority-request precedent. Because Gowron had the best claim to speak on behalf of the Klingon Empire and repeatedly requested and begged for Federation support, perhaps that helped make Starfleet's involvement okay in that situation. But here, there is no member of Bajoran government to be seen requesting any Starfleet help - instead Starfleet is being kicked off the station. An interesting way to go this time around, not that our heroes will let that stop them from getting involved on the truthful side of the issues. Kira and Odo are well within their jurisdiction to remain active participants, and it's great to see their new friends support them. Nice one.

This opening three-parter may require a bit more patience from its audience than other episodes of DS9, but in the end, it turns out to be a fairly satisfying story.

Second Sight

(Star Trek - Deep Space Nine episode production code 429)
story by Mark Gehred O'Connell
teleplay by Mark Gehred O'Connell & Ira Steven Behr & Robert Hewitt Wolfe

One of the biggest challengers of the Prime Directive has to be the entire concept of terraforming, and this episode features a particularly loud character who loves to ride a wave of glory for all the terraforming feats he is able to achieve.

Of particular interest in his latest stunt of reigniting the dead star Epsilon 119 is the fact that he's basically going to pull it off by ramming a package of proto-matter into it. This sets off a red flag. Back in Star Trek III, Dr. David Marcus was embarrassed to admit he had used proto-matter in the Genesis Project, after which Lt. Saavik chewed him out for violating the ban that all known scientific bodies had agreed on to prohibit use of such dangerously unstable stuff. Has such a ban now been lifted as we come to this episode some 70 odd years later? How is it that today's scientist can boast about using it and get away with it so proudly?

We may also have a conundrum concerning dates. Sisko says that this is the fourth anniversary of the battle of Wolf 359 when he lost his wife. The battle was stardate 44001 at the beginning of TNG's fourth season. If Star Trek meant to have exactly 1000 stardates for every Earth year, today should be stardate 48001, yet Sisko's log is 47329.4. Another easy variable comes from questioning whether or not Sisko intends to count in Earth years, or Martian years (he was stationed at the Utopia Planitia shipyards between Wolf 359 and his assignment to DS9), or Bajoran years, or what. Today's stardate seems to better indicate one year after the DS9 pilot episode, when his issues over his wife's death debuted on TV.

Armageddon Game

(Star Trek - Deep Space Nine episode production code 433)
written by Morgan Gendel

It's the kind of society that the Federation might not want to touch with a 10-parsec barge pole: two sides at war, and using biological weapons against each other. Except that now they want to try for peace, and could use some Federation help in figuring out how to destroy their biological weapons stockpile. And so it's Dr. Bashir and Chief O'Brien to the rescue.

I suppose we'll have to rack up another point for the Trial of a Time Lord authority request precedent allowing us to bypass any Prime Directive arguments in this one.... although O'Brien and Bashir must be spending most of the episode wishing they HADN'T got involved.

I suppose we should also be thankful that none of the absolute illogic of the first season TNG episode "Justice" is around anywhere in this one, trying to extradite Starfleet officers into the custody of this still-not-very-evolved society. In fact, none of the issues in this story get muddled with ill-defined labels, such as the Prime Directive, and the script articulates its concerns more directly and cleanly. Nice.

In the end, this is quite a decent episode, giving each character some good material and helping to define Dr. Bashir in particular, who was glossed over a little too much in the first season. Although the middle act may give the impression that it will be slow, it turns out that there are too many characters in play for that, and many interesting avenues are explored. Not the greatest episode ever, but a good one.

Profit and Loss

(Star Trek - Deep Space Nine episode production code 438)
written by Flip Kobler & Cindy Marcus

This episode sees matters internal to the Cardassian Empire spill over onto our favourite space station. It's actually a very nicely written, engaging, organic drama during the opening and middle acts. The final act, however, seems to introduce extra obstacles that don't quite make sense and don't really need to be here, except perhaps to make sure that Sisko and Odo get something to do this week.

Sisko has plenty of good reason to not get involved. The three wanted Cardassian fugitives have been the most peaceable and agreeable of guests, so he has no outright reason of his own to arrest them. Further, the Prime Directive would tend to keep him and all those under his command from interfering in Cardassian affairs.

But, the Bajoran government sees fit to have the final say here, ordering Sisko to arrest the fugitives, and he and Odo reluctantly comply. It seems like it would have been more in Bajor's interests to support the fugitives by doing nothing instead. And it is strange that Odo wouldn't figure all this out without this week's lead protagonist Quark going through a lengthy begging routine trying to change his mind.

The conclusion also seems to leave some loose ends dangling. Surely the Cardassian soldiers on the nearby ship will be hopping mad trying to find out what happened to their commanding officer, triggering an investigation by Odo and the security staff on DS9. Exactly how will that get defused? I suppose Quark will lie successfully, and the three escaping fugitives will unfairly get the blame, while the killer walks the station smiling. This ending is a bit more chilling than it first appears, when you stop to think it through.

The Maquis

(Star Trek - Deep Space Nine episode production code 440 & 441)
story by Rick Berman, Michael Piller, & Jeri Taylor (the creators of the upcoming Star Trek Voyager)
with story help & teleplay by James Crocker on Part One,
and story help & teleplay by Ira Steven Behr on Part Two

Gene Roddenberry's vision for Star Trek as a future where old petty conflicts have been laid to rest and an idyllic, peaceful society is now status quo really gave writers a problem. Without reliable conflicts, how could they create 52 riveting episodes per year in this universe? Michael Piller in particular seemed to be pushing to create cultural pockets within that universe that would be ripe in spawning long-term conflicts without easy answers. The creation of a border realignment between Federation and Cardassian space was a logical extension of the usual Deep Space Nine arena, which provided some material for some final Next Generation episodes, while the rebel Maquis elements would go on to fuel the make-up of "half" of the crew on the new Voyager series.

It is too bad though, that so many of the tenets of Roddenberry's world had to be forgotten, along with a sense of consistency with what was going on, to continue this Maquis farce.

This story really begins with the season seven Next Generation episode "Journey's End", and the treaty that perhaps doesn't so much realign the border with Cardassia as it does define it for the first time that both sides can agree on. However a lot of colonies end up on the wrong sides of the new border. Watching this situation's debut on Deep Space Nine really doesn't leave this treaty looking like it makes any sense, but add a viewing of "Journey's End", and it starts to look a little bit better.

Who's your citizen?

It is important to note what "Journey's End" tells us about this situation. The Federation's default plan is to evacuate all its citizens and move them to new homes on their side of the border. It is unbelievably arrogant in thinking that that is the only solution, and that it is their business to force this decision onto the colonists, when there is such an obvious other choice that each colonist should be open to make. In the end, the colony on Dorvan Five DOES make that choice, with the peaceable agreement of Captain Picard of the Federation and Gul Ivec of the Cardassian Empire. The Dorvan Five colony GIVES UP ITS FEDERATION CITIZENSHIP in order to stay where it does. Granted, Picard and Ivec still need to get this agreement ratified by their respected governments, but in effect, Dorvan Five is cut loose, no longer aligned with the Federation.

Now we come to the story in "The Maquis", where it seems that many other colonies have followed suit. Their people have not been evacuated, they have stayed put in Cardassian Space. So how is it that Admiral Nechayev can come to Deep Space Nine, get in Sisko's face, and insist on emphasizing, twice, that all these people are still citizens of the Federation? They don't live in the Federation anymore. They are either Cardassian citizens if the Cardassian Empire will have them, or squatters in Cardassian space. Perhaps they can now claim, legitimately, to be independent societies. Not only do Nechayev and Starfleet and their chain of command have no business trying to boss them around, but the Prime Directive now applies as well. If the colonies want to declare war on Cardassia, that's totally up to them. Starfleet is limited to policing Federation sympathizers from selling them arms, or offering to help them negotiate their differences with the Cardassians, which requires a much more open and understanding stance from them. All this makes the original border treaty kind of useless, because there is still fighting and there is still negotiating. The voices of these colonies needed to be taken into better account back then, and the issues that create conflict in the first place won't simply vanish because the name of peace comes up. Issues need to be dealt with.

So this story, while having its good moments, turns out to be two episodes of much exposition of this weird situation without really coming up with an engaging conflict that makes me want to root for the Starfleet characters. The political and moral arguments are really falling flat and failing to see the obvious.

Where the story has potential is in investigating the mysteries of who's supplying arms to whom, and what the agenda of the Cardassian high command really is. Our Starfleet crew is well within their rights to prosecute the Maquis for bringing their war into Federation space, or target Federation sympathizers who smuggle arms or equipment to them. In terms of morals and philosophies, perhaps the many characters need to learn to not judge citizens by their external appearances or biological heritage - just because someone is Human doesn't mean they are automatically a Federation citizen, in the same way that just because someone is obviously of Cardassian descent, it doesn't automatically make them part of the Cardassian Empire. The situation here still produces many great story possibilities. But the possibilities that were pursued in this two-part adventure were not pursued particularly well.

The Collaborator

(Star Trek - Deep Space Nine episode production code 444)
story by Gary Holland
teleplay by Gary Holland & Ira Steven Behr & Robert Hewitt Wolfe

This episode sees Vedek Winn trying her best to tempt Sisko into violating the Prime Directive to help her political struggles on Bajor. Nice to see Sisko sidestep that trap so gracefully.

Does Chief O'Brien fare as well when he helps Kira and Odo piece the evidence together that will decide Bajor's religious leadership? Hard to say.

In any case, this episode is a bit of a bummer, since corruption wins out over truth. I can't say I'm all that fond of Bareil's choices, holding the past sacred while saying to hell with the present (and possibly the future). He may be the better man for the job, thanks to his rival being as spiritual as nails scraping across a chalkboard, but he's not too bright by any stretch. A lot of DS9 episodes this season seem to have great potential, but no real point to them. Star Trek was losing its essence here.

Thankfully, things returned to much better form for the season two finale, which launched into a really good third season.....

These Deep Space Nine Season Two 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 Two (Fall 1993-1994):

26 episodes @ 45 minutes each.

Get your copy of this 7-disc DVD set
from the links below:

DVD Extras include:

  • Crew Dossier featurette: Jadzia Dax
  • New Frontiers - story development
  • "Section 31" barely hidden featurettes
  • New Station, New Ships featurette
  • Michael Westmore's Aliens
  • Sketchbook S2 (w. Rick Sternbach)

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 Three"

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