As I am easing into the final season of Star Trek: Deep Space 9, I believe I’ve already crossed the pinnacle of the series in Season 4. It has been the best season of the show so far, I think. I’m withholding judgment (no, I’m not), but it’s unlikely that Season 7 will be better.
No DS9 episode from this season made my All-Time Best Trek list. However, no episode scored less than 3 stars on my personal scoring system either, which means the season was middle-of-the-road, at best. Looking over my review of Season 5, I see I ranked the entire season 3 stars, leaning towards 3.5. Season 6 is also 3 out of 5 stars, but it’s not leaning towards anything. It’s a solid three. It doesn’t have a “Trials and Tribble-ations” to elevate the scoring, and less than half of the episodes rated a 3.5.
Certified mediocre. Still better than “rotten”.
“Average” Trek is still Trek, and slipping into the season was like putting on a well-worn pair of jeans or an ugly-but-comfortable ball cap. We know the characters already, and the station is a familiar space. At this point, I understand the characters well enough that I could write my own series script, which comes in handy for a show that’s been off the air since the summer of 1999. It would have to be a time travel episode.
As Season 5 was ending, the Dominion War was beginning in earnest with the mining of the wormhole entrance. The wormhole, which has been Deep Space 9’s raison d’etre since the show began, becomes an inaccessible non-player in this season. In fact, we don’t go to the Gamma Quadrant a single time this season. I didn’t miss it. All the action was on this side of the wormhole.
Season 6 begins 3 months into the Dominion War, and things aren’t going well for DS9, which is Terek Nor once again under Cardassian (and Dominion) control. Odo, Major Kira and Jake Sisko—as non-members of Starfleet—have remained on board the station. Of course, they will eventually form a Resistance presence there. Every other character is out fighting the war, at least until Captain Benjamin Sisko leads the charge to re-take DS9.
I loved the serialized aspects of this season. If the entire season had concentrated solely on the Dominion War, from start to finish, I may have ranked it higher than I did. The Dominion War wasn’t enough fodder to fill 26 episodes, though.
There were some highlights, even among these non-war-focused episodes. I liked the fact that Worf and Dax married, even though this is tempered by Dax’s death during the season finale (this can’t be considered a Spoiler after two decades: even I knew it was coming).
Episode 6.11 “Waltz” featured Sisko and Gul Dukat stranded on a deserted planet together, and was a good episode.
Episode 6.13 “Far Beyond the Stars” was an exceptional episode set in 1950s Earth, and was a fun diversion. I previously reviewed it here, if you’re interested.
In episode 6.15 “Honor Among Thieves” O’Brien infiltrates the Orion Syndicate to find a Starfleet informant and finds his Donnie Brasco moment. Colm Meaney is a fine actor who rarely gets to showcase his craft.
In episode 6.16 “Change of Heart” we get to see whether Worf would choose love over duty, and the answer is a satisfying one that, again, is tempered by the finale.
“Inquisition”, episode 6.18, had some great Bashir moments as the good doctor is accused of being a spy for the Dominion.
I even enjoyed the fact that Odo and Kira became romantically involved during this season. We’ve watched Odo pining away over Kira for years, and this new character development felt right.
I wanted to accentuate the positive. But, there were things I didn’t particularly care for this season as well.
Most of the Ferengi stories were irrelevant (if you don’t mind a Borg quote).
I didn’t actively hate the holosuite Vic Fontaine stuff, but it was close. It reminded me of Joe Piscopo’s turn as the Greatest Comedian Ever on TNG.
I honestly could have done without Worf’s son Alexander returning, even though I often wondered where he was. I know this seem contradictory. Perhaps you can understand my dilemma.
The Honey, I Shrunk Dax, O’Brien and Bashir episode was just noncaloric fluff.
In episode 6.17 “Wrongs Darker Than Death or Night” in which Major Kira travels through time to find out that her mother was actually Gul Dukat’s lover has to be the worst time travel episode I’ve ever seen, with no real impact on the present after its over.
O’Brien’s family returns and I’m reminded that I like O’Brien more when his family is away (I don’t think that makes me a bad person).
And, finally, all the Emissary/Bajoran religion stuff ramps up this season, and I’ve just never liked any of it much. Add to this anti-predilection the fact that Dukat gets temporarily possessed by a pah-wraith and succeeds in killing Jadzia Dax, and the needle moves from “Dislikes Bajoran Religion” to “Actively Hates Bajoran Religion.” I realize that Bajoran faith is a prime motivating force in the series and I hope to stop hating it at least mid-way through the final season. We’ll see how that plays out. At the moment, it still stings.
It’s also wrong to blame the show itself when Jadzia’s death was prompted by the actress making the decision to leave the show to join the Ted Danson series Becker. Sadly, I first knew Terry Farrell as “Reggie” Kostas. Her leaving still affects how I feel about this season, though.
A mediocre season with a few highpoints. Not much more to say about it.