The SmarK DVD Rant for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Season Six

The SmarK DVD Rant for Star Trek Deep Space Nine – Season Six

– OK, so I take a while between reviews. So sue me.

Anyway, for those just hopping onto the train now, DS9 was a show I ignored during its initial run in favor of Babylon 5, thanks to peer pressure from the computer nerd set in university, but watching the first five seasons on DVD has now convinced me that the Trek space station drama was in fact the superior product. And now hopefully I can wrap up the final two seasons before another year elapses.

The Film

Picking up with Sisko and his crew booted off the station by an invading Dominion force, this season delves further into the dark side of the Dominion War and ends with the death of a major character as a result of a contract dispute. Nasty way to go. But in the middle, there’s a wedding, so it’s not all doom and gloom. Just mostly.

Disc One

– A Time To Stand. Sisko’s reward for all his years of service are a “promotion” to Admiral Ross’ bitch, as he’s taken off the Defiant and Dax is put in command for the time being. But on the bright side, they get to take the captured Jem’Hadar ship from season 5 into action and see what it can do. The plan is rather simple — fly the ship into Dominion space and nuke a giant storehouse of Ketracel White, the drug without which the Jem’Hadar cannot live. Things of course end up a bit more complicated than originally planned, and Sisko and his merry band wind up on the wrong end of a premature blast, stranded 17 years away from Federation space in a crippled ship. Meanwhile, on the station, Gul Dukat and lapdog Damar find their attempts to revert to the old ways with regards to treatment of Bajorans constantly foiled by Weyoun, who is doggedly determined to actually honor the treaty that Bajor signed with the Dominion. Some people just can’t be reasoned with, I guess.

– Rocks and Shoals. Crashing their ship on a world that seems to be abandoned, Sisko and crew discover that in fact there’s other inhabitants already there: A group of REALLY humorless Jem’Hadar and one dying Vorta. Nog and Garak make this discovery themselves when they’re captured while doing recon work. So it leads to Sisko offering to trade himself for their return, which is just fine with snotty Vorta Keevan, who then confesses his plight over the dwindling K-White, and offers a deal. He’ll give up the plans of the Jem’Hadar’s big sneak attack the next day in exchange for Sisko and his crew slaughtering them like hogs, so that way they can have an honorable death instead of going after each other like a bunch of dying junkies. Sisko tries to talk the honorable Remata’Klan, leader of the Jem’Hadar, out of the suicide mission, but obedience is victory and all that, and Keevan ends up as the only survivor, just like he wanted. He’ll get his later, don’t worry.

– Sons and Daughters. With DS9 still in the hands of the Dominion, Worf is serving on Martok’s ship, and a group of raw recruits surprisingly includes his estranged son, Alexander Rozhenko. Sadly, he’s even more of a whiny little wuss than he was when last we saw him in TNG. And just how fast do Klingons age, by the way? Alexander was only like 5 years old when TNG ended. Anyway, Alexander wants to be a great Klingon warrior, thus contradicting his previous thoughts on the matter, but the other Klingons keep teasing him, insinuating that he drinks ROOT BEER. With a nice scoop of ICE CREAM. Of course you know, this means war. Hey man, Worf drinks prune juice and I don’t see anyone giving him shit over THAT. Anyway, Alexander is a total screwup and Worf and Martok have to team up and give him a talk about the way things are and stuff. And on the station, Ziyal returns from Bajor and gets used for some emotional blackmail against Kira by Dukat. I really don’t like what they did with Alexander here. Can you imagine how cool a Trek series set another 20 years in the future would have been? You could have had all the kids of the TNG guys, with grizzled captain Wesley Crusher, action hero Alexander, love interest Molly O’Brien, another version of Dax and whatever spawned from Tom Paris. The OC crowd would have eaten it up. Anyway, I digress.

– Behind the Lines. Sisko gets deeper into the command crowd on the Starbase, coming up with a suicide mission for Dax and the Defiant, but he’s itching for command of his space station again. On said station, Kira starts up a new resistance, with herself and Jake and Odo, but the mysterious female shapeshifter shows up again and uses the one thing no man can resist — nookie — to turn Odo away from the true path. Kira confronts him about it and he promises not to hit that shit again, yo, but when Rom needs his help to prevent Damar from deactivating the minefield around the station, Odo is off “linking” (as you crazy kids call it these days) and Rom is in big trouble. More importantly, do shapeshifters need protection?

Disc Two

– Favor the Bold / Sacrifice of Angels. It’s another two-parter, as is the standard for this series. With things going badly for the Federation and Sisko going stir crazy in his office, he comes up with a plan to restore morale: Taking back DS9. Well, easier said than done, but it’s about time anyway. However, even though there’s an entire fleet of Starfleet ships, there’s even more Jem’Hadar ships waiting, and even MORE waiting to come through the wormhole once that minefield is down. Ziyal goes to daddy and tries to plead for Rom’s life, but Dukat is just in too bad of a mood to listen. Speaking of being in a bad mood, Damar keeps going after Ziyal, leading a pissed off Kira to kick his ass, and boy does THAT lead to an awkward conversation with Gul Dukat for the poor guy. Things are looking pretty bleak for the invading Federation force, but a last minute assist from the Klingon Empire allows the Defiant — and only the Defiant — to punch through the wall of Dominion ships and make it to the wormhole, as Damar deactivates the mines. So left with no choices left, Sisko flies into the wormhole and decides to destroy it. That leads to yet another bizarre conversation with the Prophets, and they agree to help him — for a price to be exacted later. The entire invading fleet is thus wiped out in transit, and the Federation is easily able to reclaim the space station. However, during the retreat, a bitter Damar kills Ziyal, leaving Gul Dukat off his rocker and a prisoner of the Federation, alone again, naturally. This was suitably epic, and it was too bad to see Ziyal go for no reason, but war is hell.

– You Are Cordially Invited. Thankfully things lighten up a bit after all that, as it’s wedding time! This one follows two paths — Dax meeting Worf’s domineering and bitchy “mother-in-law”, and Worf taking the boys into the holodeck for a Klingon bachelor party. Of course, since it’s a Klingon party, it involves fasting, pain, self-abuse and hanging over hot coals for hours at a time. Dax, sick of the endless rituals and recitals that come with entering a Klingon house, decides to blow off some steam with a staggette party and some drunken debauchery (the best kind of debauchery!) and that of course leaves things even more strained with the in-laws and the wedding OFF. Bashir and O’Brien decide to celebrate with a big dinner, but it’s only pre-wedding jitters and they don’t get off that easily. Thankfully, the wedding goes off as planned and the house accepts Jadzia after all, so Julian and Bashir can get on with beating the hell out of Worf. Fun stuff all around.

– Resurrection. Well, it’s another visit to the mirror universe, sort of. This time around, a mysterious stranger beams into the station and tries to kill Kira, and we are of course shocked to see that it’s…Vedek Bareil? Well, apparently he’s not dead in the other universe, and in fact he’s not even religious there either. But still, despite him not being the man she knew and possibly being a rogue and a thief to boot, that’s still not enough to prevent her from screwing him at the earliest possible opportunity. And you thought Odo had poor judgment in those things. And in fact, although Bareil seems to be looking to accept his newfound role as religious icon of Bajor reborn, Things Are Not What They Seem. It just goes to show: Never trust the mirror universe people.

Disc Three

– Statistical Probabilities. This one examines the questions of what to do with genetic supermen once they’ve been created. Bashir meets and bonds with a bunch of freaks who were tinkered with as babies and then locked away in asylums for the rest of their lives, because of the little thing known as the Eugenics War and all. Well, they feel this is unfair, and bring Bashir into their little group for some exciting wartime projections. This leads Julian to conclude that the Federation should just surrender to the Dominion right now, because none of them could possibly be wrong! This one introduces Damar’s new role as the figurehead of the Cardassian government, with Weyoun of course running things from the sidelines. Pretty much a filler episode to hammer home how plucky the Federation is and stuff.

– The Magnificent Ferengi. Another filler episode, although a fun one, sees Quark dejected because his negotiation exploits aren’t celebrated like recon missions into the Cardassian borders are. So when his mother is kidnapped by the Dominion, the Grand Nagus asks him to rescue her (all off-camera, sadly) and he assembles a crack strike team of Ferengi to do the job. Well, sort of crack, I guess. There’s Quark, Rom, Nog, Quark’s loser weapons dealer cousin, Brunt (ex-FCA), and a psychopathic “eliminator” who wants a challenge. About 2 minutes into the mission, they realize they have no chance, and then about 4 minutes into the mission they accidentally shoot their own hostage (Keevan, returning from the second episode of the season), so really things aren’t looking too good them. Especially when IGGY POP is the Vorta they’re facing off against. Luckily, what they lack in skill and courage they make up for in dumb luck, and everything works out in the end. Iggy ruled it here, nuff said.

– Waltz. Sisko and Gul Dukat are having a chat on his prison ship, when the Dominion attacks and everyone is pretty much dead except for them. So they’re stranded on a planet in the middle of nowhere, and Dukat is out of his damn mind, to say the least. Kind of like DS9 meets A Beautiful Mind, ya know? Sisko manages to keep it together, but is badly injured and Dukat has no intention of actually using the distress beacon that survived the crash, so Sisko is left to argue with Dukat and his 3 extra personalities in order to save his own skin. This leads to some primo one-on-one acting chops between the two, as Dukat goes even CRAZIER and vows to destroy Bajor if it’s the last thing he does. Sisko gets rescued, but Dukat gets away, more insane and dangerous than ever. But much like Michael Eddington, Sisko vows that it’s either him or Dukat, and I wouldn’t bet against the bald dude.

– Who Mourns for Morn? Bah, more time-filling silliness with Quark here. Morn, the charming barfly who never says a word on camera, has apparently died and left a fortune to Quark, but a host of shady characters seem determined to prevent him from getting it. So it turns into a big heist episode and everyone reveals their true alliance, and in the end Morn isn’t dead after all. Har har. Been there, done that.

Disc Four

– Far Beyond the Stars. Probably one of the most highly-regarded episodes of any of the Trek series, this one has very little to do with space and a lot to do with racism. Sisko, feeling the stress of the war and the job, finds himself hallucinating again, and this time finds himself in 1950s San Francisco, writing pulp sci-fi stories for a cheap magazine. All the major players appear in different roles than usual, and you get to see all the regulars appearing without their usual monster makeup and playing it very light-hearted for the most part. However, when Benny writes a story about a Negro captain of a space station 400 years in the future, things take a decidedly heavier turn, and his life starts going downwards and we learn about how hard it would have been to be a writer and a black man in the age of segregation. Probably notable for being the only time in the history of Star Trek that you’ll hear the word “nigger”. I don’t know if it was quite as poignant and well-acted as “The Inner Light” (especially with Avery Brooks doing the standard over-the-top acting job at the end), but it was in the same vein and stands as one of the best pieces of work ever done by the Star Trek creators. And let’s face it, casting Weyoun and Dukat as corrupt cops was a stroke of genius.

– One Little Ship. Oh my, back to the Star Trek silliness, as a trip through a spacial anomaly leaves a runabout with Dax, Bashir and O’Brien shrunken to the size of a coffee cup, and the Dominion invading the Defiant. And of course, the only ones who can stop them are the tiny officers. And of course we get giant props right out of a Batman TV episode and lots of technobabble from the Defiant crew as they struggle to fool the Dominion into thinking they’re cooperating with fixing the warp drive while actually trying to take over the ship again. An interesting subplot sees the “Alpha” Jem’Hadar, bred in our quadrant to fill the ranks left empty by the wormhole debacle, bullying the elder “Gamma” Jem’Hadar, foreshadowing something, I think.

– Honor Among Thieves. I’m not sure whether this came out before or after Donnie Brasco, but it’s almost a word-for-word ripoff of that basic story. Chief O’Brien (Donnie Brasco) goes undercover for the Federation (FBI) to infiltrate the dreaded Orien Syndicate (Mafia). He establishes himself as a “fix it man” (jewel fence) who’s down on his luck, and thus befriends local kingpin Bilby (Lefty), who acts like a jerk but is actually a family man who wants to bring O’Brien into his circle of friends because he’s an honest guy instead of the usual kiss-ass. However, he answers to the super-evil Ramus (Sonny Black), and witnesses for (vouches for) Miles. But when O’Brien finds himself getting too wrapped up in the role and sympathizing with the enemy, the Federation decides to pull him out, which means that Bilby is as dead as if Miles had pulled the trigger himself. He tries to warn Bilby by exposing his own secret, but that would just result in Bilby’s whole family getting offed by the Dominion, so he decides to suck it up and do the suicide mission against the Klingons anyway, so at least his children won’t be killed. In the movie, Lefty was killed, but in real life he survived, so at least this varies from that premise somewhat. Still, if you haven’t actually seen Donnie Brasco, this was good stuff, with pretty much no appearance from the space station at all.

– Change of Heart. This one examines why married couples don’t often undertake top secret commando missions together. In this case, Worf and Dax get assigned to babysitting a Cardassian double agent who wants to get pulled out of the firing line, but there’s one problem — he’s stuck on a backwater planet with transporter jammers preventing anyone from just yanking him out. So Dax and Worf, in the midst of their usual bickering over choice of vacation spot, decide to make a honeymoon out of the trip as they mount an extraction plan. How romantic. Sadly, the Jem’Hadar attack once they get there and Jadzia is left shot and bleeding due to an anti-coagulant in the disrupter. Now, normally I don’t take issue with Star Trek science, but wouldn’t cauterizing the wound be the easiest solution? I assume they still have fire in the 24th century. Anyway, with Dax dying, Worf has to decide between duty and wifey, and makes a rather surprising call, actually. And it’s one that pretty much guarantees that he’s out of command consideration for the rest of his career. Ouch. There’s also a dumb storyline with Bashir and O’Brien trying to double-team Quark at Tongo, but it peters out halfway through and isn’t mentioned again.

Disc Five

– Wrongs Darker Than Death or Night. Man, who thinks up these titles? Anyway, Gul Dukat, ever the charming sort, calls Kira out of nowhere to inform her that her mother was a whore who spent the Occupation years as his lover. What a guy. So Kira naturally visits the temple on Bajor and uses the Orb of Time to travel into the past and find out what the hell is going on. And her mom is Jack Bauer’s wife! Ahem. So she lives out the life of a random woman on Bajor, and gets captured along with her mom and put to use on Terok Nor as “comfort women” (aka whores) for the Cardassians, but quickly comes to realize that mom LIKES it. And she’s in love with Dukat, in fact, as claimed by him. She decides to then get a bomb and KILL HER OWN MOTHER to rectify the situation, but then changes her mind because mommy whoring herself out puts food on the table back home. Man, there’s some really screwed up moral priorities on that planet. All I gotta say is, that’s one family that needs Dr. Phil.

– Inquisition. More paranoid quasi-fantasy stuff with Dr. Bashir, although rooted in reality this time. A special agent from Starfleet is questioning everyone on the station about potential security leaks to the Dominion (played by the always creepy William Sadler) and Bashir seems to be target #1. And really, he makes some good points — he was a prisoner of theirs for weeks, sympathized with the Dominion when he was trying to cure the Jem’Hadar, recommended surrendering to the Dominion earlier in the season, and generally had a lot of questionable decisions. However, the interrogations step further and further outside of the boundaries of his rights as a citizen, and finally he snaps and discovers exactly what’s going on. And that’s where we’re introduced to the mysterious Section 31, a very cool idea that shows it’s not just the other guys who are doing the things we think we would never do. I gotta say, between the time-travel cops introduced in season 5 and these guys, there’s tons of series ideas that they’re just pissing away with offhand mentions. Anyway, this was standard Brannon Braga-esque “everyone is out to get me” stuff.

– In The Pale Moonlight. Speaking of messed up moral priorities, this one shows that Sisko is definitely not the boy scout that Picard or even Kirk were. Ben decides that it’s time to get the Romulans into the war on their side, no matter what. And because the Romulans are all about the cold logic, they’ll need evidence that the Dominion is going to betray them. Well, there is no evidence, so Sisko goes to Garak for the next best thing — faked evidence. Oh my. This leads to a series of very questionable decisions on Sisko’s part, as he constantly uses the “ends justify the means” argument to rationalize the lies he’s telling, but it falls through and the Romulans look to be stronger than ever on the side of the Dominion. Until Garak turns the tables on them in a way that actually caught me off-guard — by killing the diplomatic envoy and framing the Dominion. YIKES. And Sisko’s reaction to it all (as he basically admits that he’s an accessory to murder and then shrugs it off) really made him look like a grade-A asshole too. To repeat: War is HELL. A really good episode, but a really depressing one. And now the Romulans are on the side of good. Notable here because Betazed falls to the Dominion, the first major “real” planet used as a plot device in the war.

– His Way. A new character is introduced here — Vic Fontaine, lounge-singing and self-aware hologram. And after that last episode we need something uplifting. Vic was created by Bashir to unwind in the holosuites, but Vic’s unique insights into the relationships of the people he meets leave Odo wanting some advice for the lovelorn himself. So Vic takes him under his wing, as we get some very nice acting from Rene Auberjoinois with Odo hamming it up on the piano, and Vic slowly preps him for asking Kira out to dinner. When it happens, it looks like it’s gonna be another double-swerve disappointment, but it’s not, and after six years they finally pull the trigger on the Kira-Odo relationship. I’m a sucker for stuff like that, what can I say?

Disc Six

– The Reckoning. While Kira and Odo are busy playing kissy-face with each other, Sisko learns of an ancient burial site on Bajor that would probably cause more of his hair to fall out. If he had any left. Seems that the prophets left yet another mysterious list of demands 10,000 years ago, this time personally addressed to Sisko on a stone tablet. Man, just use Fed-Ex. Anyway, using typical Sisko logic, he brings the tablet back to the station for examination, and the more they translate it, the more dire things are sounding. Apparently the Reckoning is coming, kind of like Judgment Day but with the names changed for legal reasons. However, Kai Winn hears that he’s bogarting a precious artifact, and her jealousy over his ability to speak with the gods rears its ugly head and she starts filing protests. What a bitch. Sisko decides to give it back, but first gets “compelled” to smash it into a million pieces. Well, that’s a pretty big coincidence. The good and evil gods are thus released, and they decide to use Kira for one side and Jake for the other, leading to the big special effects battle for all of humanity. It ends in a screwjob, however, when Kai Winn cheats and drives them out of the station just as the prophets are about to win, leaving the evil Pah Wraith floating around the galaxy to no doubt cause trouble later. I’m not big on the whole Bajoran religion thing, because as many people in the show point out, Sisko gets overly wrapped up in his role as Emissary and not enough in his role as ass-kicking captain.

– Valiant. Now we steal from Lord of the Flies, as Jake and Nog are on a mission to Ferenginar and get attacked by a Dominion ship, leaving them beat up and stranded in space. However, they are rescued by what looks like the Defiant, but turns out to be the Valiant. It seems that the Academy’s elite group of snotty cadets, Red Squad, was given a ship of their own to act as crew for while actual officers supervised. However, all the grown-ups were killed and now all that’s left are the insufferable cadets, trying to carry out previous orders alone. Starfleet is apparently unaware of this development, so they’ve been out there for 8 months. Nog immediately takes to the new situation, becoming chief engineer, while Jake macks on a cute white girl, and it gets him thrown in the brig. Man, what is this, Alabama? By the time the “captain” explains his big plan for destroying the Cardassian battleship they were supposed to be tracking, you just want to smack him around a bit. But that’s OK, because fate is about to do the same thing, as the arrogant cadets are all “We’re invincible and we can do anything because we’re Red Squad!” and you can just see the ending coming a mile away. Remember in TNG when they had the Red Squad plot and they all ended up stripped of their rank as punishment? Well, not on THIS show, as this time the entire ship ends up slaughtered, and the Cardassians even shoot down the ESCAPE PODS. Man, that’s COLD. Jake and Nog and the chick all escape, of course, and even after the entire ship was murdered and destroyed, she still can’t let go of the hero worship.

– Profit and Lace. More Ferengi stuff drags things down a bit, as Grand Nagus Zek visits again, this time with Quark’s mom clearly in view as his partner. However, it seems that after passing a new law allowing women to wear clothes and thus earn profit, the planet rebelled against him and put Brunt (FCA) in charge instead. Yes, Grand Nagus Brunt. The solution is of course to put Zek back on the throne again by convincing a powerful cola salesman to vote for Zek, and this entails a silly sex farce where Quark has to be turned into a woman and seduce him. Definitely not a highlight of the season, and we’ll leave it at that.

– Time’s Orphan. Time travel stories give me a headache. While vacationing on some planet, Chief O’Brien lets Molly go play in a cave and is horrified to watch her drop into a big energy pit and disappear. Luckily he doesn’t freak out and discovers that it was only a giant time-travel portal. Whew. At least it wasn’t one of those old fridges or something. Anyway, some quick technobabble results and the rescue party pulls her out of the ancient past, but does it 10 years too late. So now Molly is an 18-year old feral hottie whose been surviving alone on a deserted planet for most of her life, and she can’t speak English anymore. I’d have to disagree that 10 years alone would be enough to drive her nuts and have her hanging from trees, but it’s sci-fi, so whatever. Anyway, she doesn’t take to station life too well, and soon stabs a guy half to death after an incident in Quark’s bar, leaving everyone out to get her. Miles’ solution is to send her back into the past again and thus give up his daughter forever, but once she gets back there, she finds her younger self at the moment that she originally got there, and sends her back to basically erase the entire thing from history. If I have to think about the temporal mechanics behind this stuff too much I start to get the cold sweats, so we’ll move on.

Disc Seven

– The Sound of Her Voice. One last mellow episode before the big finale, as the Defiant is cruising around the galaxy and finds a distress signal from a planet six days away, by a stranded captain named Lisa who has five days of oxygen left. So they boot it out there, talking to her on the cosmic CB radio the whole way while learning valuable things about themselves because her incessant prattle is supposed to be helpful or something. Anyway, they get there and it turns out that she’s been dead for 3 years and there was a time-travel field around the planet that allowed them to talk or something. Total filler episode.

– Tears of the Prophets. Things wrap up after those few mellower eps with a big swing back into the war again, as Starfleet decides to finally stop screwing around and invade Cardassia. However, Gul Dukat has been studying Bajoran religion, and he too can play around with unleashing the Pah Wraith that was originally let loose by Sisko a few episodes ago. However, it takes him over, because it has a bigger agenda. With the invading force punching through the Dominion’s defenses around Cardassia, Dukat heads for the wormhole, hoping to get rid of the prophets and allow reinforcements to finally come through again. He makes a stop on DS9 and kills Dax out of nowhere first, though. Well, at least he apologizes for it afterwards. The conquering heroes blow the shit out of Cardassia and take it over, but Dukat’s alien flies into the wormhole and closes it instead of opening it, so now no one can go through. Whoops. Well, insanity will do that to you. And as the season wraps up, Sisko has had enough of the whole thing and decides to go home to Earth and work at the restaurant until he knows what he should be doing.

Kind of a bittersweet finish to the season, which is typical for the show, although this finale felt like more of a mashed-together storyline than some of the others have been. Especially since the tone of the show was light-dark-light-dark all season and never really built strongly to anything. Although still really good, I actually found season six a disappointment compared to the high standards set by the fourth and fifth.

The Video

Pretty much on par with the last couple of seasons of TNG, this is pretty much as good as the Trek universe is going to look outside of the feature films. Colors are spectacular and contrasts are strong. There’s some serious compression artifacting during black portions and scene transitions, however, and I could make out matte lines in a lot of the SFX shots in space at times, but that was getting better with more of a shift to digital effects by that point. I don’t know if it was just my player, but there were also a lot of episodes where the video stuttered during space scenes.

The Audio

To be honest, I’m starting to get disappointed in the 5.1 mixes presented by the DS9 sets. I find the audio a lot more quiet than the TNG ones, and everything seems to be coming from the center channel except for brief forays into space where you get the occasional “whoosh” of the ship (except there’s no air in space, but that’s another argument…).

The Extras

As with the TNG releases, you get about 90 minutes worth of featurettes and documentaries. I’ve heard of major spoilers in them for the later seasons, so I’m going to avoid watching them until I’ve seen the entire series on DVD and then go back and do them later, because I’d like to experience things blind. I’ll assume it’s the same rating as the TNG releases.

The Ratings

The Film: ****1/2
The Video: ***1/2
The Audio: ***1/2
The Extras: ****

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