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Season Seven:
-551: "Image in the Sand"
-552: "Shadows and Symbols"
-561: "Prodigal Daughter"
-567: "Penumbra"
-568: "'Til Death Do Us Part"
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Star Trek DS9 Season 7

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Season Seven (1998-1999):

24 episodes @ 43 minutes + finale movie @ 91 minutes.
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. (regular)
Region 2, PAL, U.K. (Slimline Edition)

Image in the Sand / Shadows and Symbols

(Star Trek - Deep Space Nine episode production codes 551 & 552)
written by Ira Steven Behr and Hans Beimler

Among its many other accomplishments, this story advances the mythology of Sisko as the Emissary and gives us the biggest clues ever as to what the writers mean when they say that both the Prophets and the Sisko are "of Bajor". On some levels it feels like a rewriting cheat, but once you factor in the idea that the Prophets exist so far outside of time that they need to have the concept of linear existence very carefully explained to them, and we still really don't know what the flow of new information looks like to them, the entire set-up detailed in this story could indeed be something they worked out "long after" they first met Sisko in "Emissary", by whatever standards "long after" might mean to them.

Personally I think it might have been a little too "on the nose" and literal a way of factoring in Bajoran/Prophet heritage. A more spiritual re-incarnated soul idea would have felt more appropriate, with applicability left more open to wider interpretation. But this still works. Either way, it shows how we are all connected more than we realize, which in turn tends to dilute the jurisdiction of concepts like the Prime Directive and helps to get us involved with each other. The question then becomes more about making that involvement the best it can be, and putting our best foot forward at all times.

And this episode also contains another good example of Bajor benefiting from not being an official part of the Federation. This time it's not about putting on a show for the Dominion, but for the Romulans. Colonel Kira has all the proper legal freedoms to challenge the Romulans today, where she probably wouldn't if Bajor had joined the Federation. Either way, it's nice to see the Federation learn something from Bajor about standing up for important values in the face of their regulations and chains of command. Perhaps that merely would have come about in a different way had Bajor been a Federation member. We can only speculate.

Costumes are worth noting in this story. Newly promoted Colonel Kira gets the most revolting thing she has ever been asked to wear on DS9, particularly as it looks more like a joke than any kind of uniform for the person in highest authority on the station. Moving more towards her uniform from the pilot episode would have been a much better idea. On the plus side are the desert Starfleet uniforms that feature here, which actually look like something that would successfully keep people cool in a harsh and hot environment.

Ezri Dax also makes her debut in this story, and is remarkably adept at skipping over most of the problems associated with the "regeneration" process of changing actors on Doctor Who and other sci-fi shows. She mostly just gets a bit of nervous babbling, which is delivered in a charming fashion. Though there are reportedly a few distasteful moments, these are smartly kept off screen. And the makers of Matt Smith's debut on Doctor Who could learn a lot from the way Dax's change of taste is portrayed on screen. This is the way it should be done.

While Ezri may end up with a bit more than her share of stories throughout season seven's rotation, she ends up as a worthy addition to the cast this year, and perhaps one with the most obvious potential for doing new, interesting stories.

Prodigal Daughter

(Star Trek - Deep Space Nine episode production code 561)
written by story editors David Weddle & Bradley Thompson

Something that sneaks up on you and only reveals itself at the end of this tale is the philosophical principle (specifically one of the chief emotional pre-cursors) that caused the creation of the Prime Directive as someone's idea of a good thing in the sixties. It's the simple question of involvement, and whether it is best to be more involved or less involved. No matter that there are no major interstellar political organizations deciding courses of action for themselves here.... in fact, it's probably all the more poignant because it arises purely out of family dynamics. It's so much more relatable that way, and believable too.

I like the minimalist way that the scenes at the end are written as well. The mother's lines are so powerful because she displays such a sharp contrast in this last scene to her behaviour in the rest of the episode. Here at the end, she says so little, and she's asking a question instead of being sure of herself - showing for the first time that she places greater faith in Ezri's judgment of the situation rather than in her own. And the mother's question becomes the one that haunts Ezri, the one she asks of herself afterwards.

What we don't quite get here, and what the resolution absolutely explodes with inside my own head, is the quantum complementary solution to some of the most basic interactivity questions in the universe - namely: Is this my fault? How much of this am I responsible for? What should I have done? What can I do now? Am I helping or interfering? Should I stay uninvolved?

The people around you are responsible for creating their own messes, and you don't have to take responsibility for that. However, there are countless doubles of all of them making slightly or wildly different choices in alternate timelines. Because you are choosing your way through those timelines as you live, you have lined up with the specific versions of all those people that best complement what you need next for your own growth. So there is always something in it for you, some message pointing things out to you, some opportunity for you to learn to do better. No need to get all paranoid about hidden messages, because your emotions will guide you to the items most strongly related to your own issues. And I think we each do best when we put blame aside, stop worrying about past responsibilities, and just focus on what we can do presently that would best help. We won't always get the best answer each time we ask, but if we go through that process with openness, balancing our courage and compassion as best we can, the process will take us closer and closer until we've got any problem solved.

I got all that out of "Prodigal Daughter"? Well, I had a lot of that inside already, and this episode triggered it to come out. Live long and prosper, Star Trek!

These Deep Space Nine Season Seven prime directive 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 Seven (1998-1999):

24 episodes @ 43 minutes
+ finale movie @ 91 minutes.

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

DVD Extras include:

  • Crew Dossier featurette: Benjamin Sisko
  • Crew Dossier featurette: Jake Sisko
  • Ending an Era featurette
  • The Last Goodbyes featurette
  • "Section 31" barely hidden interviews of
    DS9's recurring guest cast
  • Photo Gallery


DVD Canada



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

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Don't miss the next Star Trek review article: Deep Space Nine's 10-part Finale

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