I’m not burying the lead here. Season 5 of DS9 was my second-favorite fifth Trek season among the Next-Gen era shows. TNG finally took over the #1 spot. Which leaves DS9 picking up the silver medal this season, after taking the gold in Season 4.
What’s surprising is that it was such a tight race for second-place, because Voyager was a definite contender. DS9 earned its place by having one All-Time Best Trek episode, with “Trials and Tribble-ations,” and no episode scoring fewer than 3-stars.
If I’ve never mentioned this before (and even if I have), I have become a fan of this series, even though I never watched a single episode when it was on the air. We still have two more seasons before I really have to think about this, but it is conceivable that Deep Space Nine could end up being my favorite of the Next-Gen era series.
Once I’ve finished this Boldly Going project next year, I’ll give my rankings for everything TV Trek. I’m thinking separate rankings for favorite episodes, series, and captains. Unless I change my mind, which I always reserve the right to do.
Executive producer and writer Ira Steven Behr has said that DS9’s fifth season was all about moving back towards making the Founders and the Dominion the enemies of the Federation, not the Klingons. This had been the trend all along in the third season, but Paramount had wanted to shake up the show. As this led to the introduction of Worf to DS9, this was ultimately a positive thing, in my opinion, although returning our focus to the Dominion did feel like the right decision.
This was a solid season of Trek and I enjoyed it, but it was not as focused on a through-story as I would have preferred. That being said, a lot of great things happen during the season.
As the season opens, it turns out that Gowron wasn’t the changeling after all; it was Martok. Odo is adjusting to being a solid as the cliffhanger issues are resolved.
The DS9 crew recovers a crashed Jem’Hadar ship.
Worf develops a crush on Quark’s ex-wife, unaware that Dax has feelings for him. At the same time, Chief O’Brien and Major Kira seem to be having an emotional affair. She is carrying his baby, you know.
Jake Sisko has his own Red Badge of Courage moment. War, as it turns out, is Hell.
An alien takes over Keiko O’Brien’s body and holds it hostage while making O’Brien attempt to kill the Prophets inside the wormhole. This reminds me of O’Brien’s body being taken over by an alien presence during Season 5 of TNG. Star Trek writers wouldn’t be recycling ideas, would they?
Sisko and team go back in time to mingle with Captain Kirk and some Tribbles. We also learn that the Federation has an entire division dedicated to Temporal Investigations, where Capt. James T. Kirk is not held in high regard.
Worf and Dax become a couple. Their shipping name is either Wax or Dorf. Pick one. They vacation on Risa, where Worf reveals a surprisingly off-putting puritanical side.
Forgetting that we just had a time travel episode, Sisko and a few others time travel to the past again, where we discover that Odo had three innocent Bajorans executed during the Cardassian occupation. Bad Odo.
Odo and Quark crash land on a planet and have to climb a mountain to get home.
Sisko begins having visions, and he prevents Bajor from joining the Federation because he’s seen that this would destroy Bajor if they did so now. He was foreshadowing the upcoming Dominion War, I think.
A few weeks before having the O’Briens’ baby, Major Kira has to track down a Cardassian who has been executing members of her old resistance cell.
With everyone getting baby fever, Odo attempts to nurse an infant changeling back to health. He doesn’t succeed, but the infant melds with Odo before “dying,” which gives Odo back his shapeshifting abilities. We knew they weren’t gone forever, didn’t we?
Sisko tracks down and arrests the traitor Michael Eddington. Later, Eddington tricks Sisko into releasing him. Eddington manages to redeem himself somewhat before going out in a blaze of glory.
Garak and Worf track a signal from Enabran Tain to a Dominion prison and are captured themselves. In the prison, they discover the real Martok (who had been replaced by a Changeling) and also Julian Bashir. Yes, Julian has also been replaced by a Changeling. Surprise. Tain acknowledges Garak as his son before he dies, and the fake Bashir is revealed and killed.
Gul Dukat becomes a bad guy again. For which I am grateful. I didn’t want to like or respect Dukat, which seemed to be the direction we were heading. He negotiates Cardassian entry into the Dominion, which effectively ends the Federation’s war with Klingon, reinstating the Khitomer Accords and restoring their alliance.
We discover that Bashir is a genetically altered human. He is more coordinated, stronger, and even smarter than he has let on up to this point. A better darts player as well, it seems.
Quark discovers that his mother and the Grand Nagus are having a love affair. He manages to sabotage it, but then makes everything right again.
Worf assists Martok in rescuing a Klingon ship from the Jem’Hadar. Afterward, Martok makes Worf a member of his House.
More time travel shenanigans. The crew discovers an alternate timeline in which the Defiant is thrown back in time and crash lands, a world of eight thousand people created by the survivors of the crash. The alternate version of Odo confesses his love to Kira and effectively destroys the alternate timeline by saving the present-day version of our crew.
Jake and Nog spend an entire episode getting into trouble in order to cheer Ben Sisko up with a baseball card.
Sisko, as the Emissary, convinces Bajor to sign the nonaggression pact with the Dominion in order to keep them out of the upcoming war. The crew of DS9 mines the mouth of the wormhole to prevent further Dominion ships from coming through, and then the Dominion attacks. The crew, including Garak, escapes from the station on the Defiant. Odo, Kira, Quark and Jake stay behind as the station is occupied. As Season 5 comes to an end, the Dominion War has begun, a season later than originally intended.
As this dry synopsis demonstrates, a lot of stuff happened this season, and a lot of it was very good, even if most of it wasn’t great. The best of the season was those things that led to the beginning of the Dominion War, which means the rest was filler. I don’t mind all of the character notes, but it really wasn’t necessary to spend more time on Feringinar or to discover that Julian Bashir is a GMH (that’s genetically modified human). While I liked the subplot about the burgeoning romance between Worf and Dax, I didn’t feel the same way about the O’Briens having a baby with Kira. Everything just had a scattered, unfocused feel.
If you asked me to sum up what Season 5 was about, I don’t think I could do it. What I’m saying is that I prefer the more serialized components of DS9 over the episodic ones. But, I’m also saying that I don’t hate any of it.
Overall, I’d give this season 3 stars, leaning towards 3.5 stars. A middle-of-the-road score that I think is fitting.