Through the conclusions of seasons four of TNG, DS9, Voyager and Enterprise, the race for my favorite Trek series is pretty close between three of these. Star Trek: Voyager is in last place; that’s my only certainty today. Which Trek series comes out on top changes from day-to-day, according to my mood.
With three episodes that made it to my All-Time-Best Trek list in Season 4, it’s entirely possible that DS9 was my favorite series in this season (at least, that’s how I feel while writing this review). If pressed for an answer right now, I’d say Enterprise was #2, TNG #3 and Voyager #4. This ranking is for seasons four alone, not for the entire series. When I complete the seventh seasons of the other series, I’ll give a final ranking of the shows.
I am surprised that I like Deep Space Nine so much. True, I ranked it #2 for Season 3, behind Enterprise. I knew I liked it. However, I was certain that TNG would edge out the others during this season. It was a good season. It’s just that the fourth seasons of DS9 and Enterprise were better. For the first time since I began this project, I’m entertaining the possibility that TNG will not be my favorite of the Trek series, and it boggles my mind.
So, we had a series I was already inclined to watch. Sisko got his captain’s pip at the end of Season 3 since he already had the Reliant, his own ship. But, this season Worf joined the cast. Worf was always one of my favorite TNG characters, especially as his character was fleshed out by Ronald D. Moore. His addition to the DS9 cast changes the dynamic of the show somewhat. For the better, I think.
The first 4-star episode in this season was Episode 4.1 “The Way of the Warrior,” which introduces Worf to the show. It also brings the rest of the Klingons back as Federation enemies, heightening the drama around Terek Nor and the Dominion.
The next 4-star outing immediately followed this one. Episode 4.2 “The Visitor” introduces Jake Sisko as an aging writer, living in the Louisiana bayou. Tony Todd, a Trek veteran, plays the elder Jake to the hilt. This is more than a flashforward story, however. It’s a semi-ghost story and an alternate timeline story. It has no effect whatsoever on the serialized elements of DS9, as no one will know this particular timeline existed once things are straightened out. But, it’s a good story well-told.
After the season began with two episodes that immediately made it to the All-Time-Best list, my expectations were high for the remaining episodes. I wasn’t disappointed. I haven’t computed an average score for the episodes, but it looks like DS9 may have edged ahead of Enterprise, even if it was just by a nose.
The third 4-star episode was an odd one that centered around O’Brien, who was arrested and sentenced to spend what felt like 20 years in a virtual prison. This was Episode 4.18 “Hard Time.”
Other interesting things that happen during the season:
Gul Dukat had an illegitimate half-Bajoran daughter, Tora Ziyal, whom he finally acknowledges as his own, even though it has major repercussions in Dukat’s personal and professional lives. Later, Tora Ziyal comes to live on DS9.
Jadzia Dax has a reunion with Lenara Kahn, the wife of her former host. The show flirts with a lesbian relationship, but that ultimately doesn’t pan out.
Nog begins his cadet training at Starfleet Academy. Along the way, he, Quark, Rom and Odo crash land their shuttle in 1947, where they become the famous Roswell aliens.
Worf, Dax and Dahar Master Kor find the Sword of Kahless in the Gamma Quadrant.
Captain Sisko briefly gives up his role in Bajoran faith as the Emissary. But, it turns out he is the Emissary.
Sisko has to travel to the mirror universe to help battle the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance. And he gets to see his wife die again.
Sisko’s girlfriend, Kasidy Yates (Penny Johnson, now the doctor on The Orville) turns out to be a Maquis smuggler. Yates is sentenced to six months in prison. And, while never a main cast member, the character security officer Michael Eddington had been on the series for a while when he was also revealed to be a member of the Maquis.
Keiko O’Brien becomes pregnant with Miles’ second child. After an accident, their baby is transferred to Kira Nerys’s womb and she must carry it to term.
Quark is tricked into breaking a contract with another Ferengi, which results in the revocation of his business license and loss of his accumulated goods. His DS9 friends help him to get set up in business again.
Odo is put on trial by the other Changelings because he killed another Changeling. He is found guilty and sentenced to becoming a human. He’s still human at the end of the season and finds clothing to be scratchy. During this same mission, Garak tries to take over the Defiant to destroy the Founders; he fails and is sentenced to six-months incarceration. It seems the penalty for almost everything is six months.
As the season is ending, tensions continue to escalate between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. But, Odo realizes that Gowron has been replaced by a Changeling.
A lot of exciting stuff happened in Season 4. I’m liking the space station setting and the characters more and more. Even Gul Dukat has managed to earn some respect from me. The conflict with the Dominion and the Klingons is percolating nicely, and I look forward to seeing what happens in Season 5.
Another highly-recommended season of Trek from me.