The Cynics Corner

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

The Sixth Season in Review

by David E. Sluss

25 June 1998

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Well, another season of DS9 has come and gone, and it's time for us internet pundits to reflect on the season as a whole.

THE BOTTOM LINE: A real disappointment. This season had the potential to be the best Star Trek has ever seen, and probably the most innovative as well. Unfortunately, the on-again/off-again Dominion War Argh, combined with some truly terrible episodes in between (including one that I consider the worst in Star Trek history) resulted in a season that was a real letdown. The botched Dominion War Argh is an especially bitter disappointment and proved that either a) DS9's writing staff is no good at arc storytelling and/or b) They are being hampered in their storytelling by chickenshit Paramount Suits. The blame for the unusual number of real dog episodes this year lies squarely with the writers, though. In far too many cases, my initial reaction to an episode this year was "What were they thinking?" Something is seriously wrong in DS9-land, folks. I sure as hell hope that heads roll, asses are kicked, and changes are made for next season.




At this point, I'll make a few remarks about each episode. I'll also assign a Cynics Corner Rating (CCR) to each episode; for episodes that I reviewed during the course of the season, an original and final CCR will be given, since some of them have changed.


"A TIME TO STAND": a.k.a. "A Time Too Bland." A fairly strong episode, despite the troubling "three month gap" between this show and "Call To Arms," the fifth season finale. As was the case for the entire six-episode Occupation Argh, the most interesting things took place on the station. As far as the Starfleet mission goes, it works for the most part, despite some contrivances. The real downer is that the success of the mission, destroying the Dominion's only Ketrecel White Brewery, never seemed to have any effect on the war. So what was the point?

Cynics Corner Rating: 7.5 (down from 8.0)


"ROCKS AND SHOALS": A decent episode, but a somewhat over-rated one. A lot of this seemed like old hat, rehashing "The Ship" and "To the Death." Yet another misguided attempt to humanize Jem'Hadar goons fails abysmally.

Cynics Corner Rating: 8.0 (unchanged)


"SONS AND DAUGHTERS": This episode demonstrated that the writers didn't really have a grip on "arc storytelling." I guess that the Ziyal part of the show was to make her death later in the season more tragic, but it wasn't particularly effective. And the purpose of the Alexander part was to ... say, what was the purpose? On the bright side, the episode does feature one of the funnier lines of the year, albeit an unintentional one, as Martok says: "When a father and son don't speak, there is trouble between them." Nawww, ya think?

Cynics Corner Rating: 5.5 (unchanged)


"BEHIND THE LINES": In some ways this is the best episode of the Occupation Argh, but unfortunately the main event of this episode, Odo's betrayal, is totally whitewashed just a couple of weeks later, which begs the question, once again, what was the point?

Cynics Corner Rating: 8.0 (down from 8.5)


"FAVOR THE BOLD": A decent episode, the purpose of which was to move all the chesspieces into position for the end of the Occupation Argh. In some areas the set-up is a little too contrived, but it is largely successful.

Cynics Corner Rating: 8.0 (previously unrated)


"SACRIFICE OF ANGELS": a.k.a. "Suck-rifice of Angels," "Craprifice of Angels." My feelings about this episode are fairly well-known around these parts, although I never did get around to doing a proper Cynics Corner Review for it. In short, this episode is a tremendous letdown thanks to the literal deus ex machina ending delivered by the Prophets. And the "major Star Trek event" of Ziyal's death elicited a collective yawn from the viewership, since she was never a fully-realized character. Sadly, this episode set the tone for the rest of the season, and, frankly, the tone of most of my recent DS9 commentary. It was a real eye-opener for a sometime DS9 fan.

Cynics Corner Rating: 5.0 (previously unrated)


THE OCCUPATION ARGH: Before continuing with individual episodes, it seems appropriate at this point to comment on the six-part story as a whole, since it was supposed to be an arc, even if it didn't seem that way at times. I'm of the opinion that until the terrible, terrible ending, the Argh was actually pretty good, except for the woefully misplaced "Sons and Daughters." As I said earlier, the highlights of this storyline took place on the station. I found the various conflicts involving Dukat, Weyoun, Damar, Kira, Odo, Female Changeling, etc. to be very interesting. The Starfleet parts of the Argh were less interesting, largely because there didn't seem to be much of a plan behind their actions, or much impact from any of them. But the real crime of the Occupation Argh, aside from its bullshit ending, of course, is that it's effects are either forgotten or deliberately whitewashed. In the episodes that follow, one never gets a hint that the station had been under Dominion Occupation for four months, that the Ketrecel White shortage had any effect, that Odo had betrayed his friends, etc., etc., and the war itself, which we're told is ongoing, disappears for weeks at a time. It's a shame.

Occupation Argh Overall Cynics Corner Rating: 6.5


"YOU ARE CORDIALLY INVITED..." a.k.a. "You are Hopefully Inebriated..." A standard-fare Klingon Klaptrap episode, with Soap Opera Wedding Shenanigans as an added bonus. In addition, Odo's betrayal during the Occupation Argh is whitewashed thanks to an off-camera conversation in Dax's closet.Pass.

Cynics Corner Rating: 4.5 (previously unrated)


"RESURRECTION": a.k.a. "Interment." An absolutely pointless "Mirror Universe" episode, whose main purpose seems to be putting a Star Trek Welfare check into Philip Anglim's pocket.

Cynics Corner Rating: 3.0 (previously unrated)


"STATISTICAL PROBABILITIES": Despite all the contrivances and implausibilities of this episode (like Starfleet handing over top secret battle plans to the Humps, or Dumb-Ar and Dolly the Vorta meeting them alone in a shadowy cargo bay), this episode looks better in retrospect, if for no other reason than it is one of the only ones from mid-season to address the war situation head on. In addition, Bashir's genetically-enhanced talents are put to reasonable use, and, whatever you think of "Doctor Bashir, I Presume," you have to appreciate the fact that that episode's revelations haven't been swept under the rug, unlike so many other things.

Cynics Corner Rating: 6.5 (up from 5.5)


"THE MAGNIFICENT FERENGI": Whatever the writing staff lacks in talent, they have double in persistence. Why else would the continue to churn out two or three of the dreaded "Ferengi episodes" every year like clockwork. The good news is that this one is better than most; the bad news is that it didn't have to do much to accomplish that. And I hate to admit it, but Kevan's reanimated corpse was funny as hell.

Cynics Corner Rating: 5.0 (previously unrated)


"WALTZ": This could have been a top-notch character study of Dukat and Sisko. There's just two problems: 1) Rubber-room man Dukat isn't all that interesting a character anymore and 2) The actor portraying Sisko isn't terribly effective. Nonetheless, this episode turned out better than I expected, and Avery Brooks was better than usual. I could have done without the predictable and absurd escape of Dukat and Sisko's closing speech ("I have seen the face of eeeeeeevil").

Cynics Corner Rating: 7.5 (previously unrated)



Cynics Corner Rating: 4.5 (previously unrated)


"FAR BEYOND THE STARS": This episode was clever, intriguing, and well-executed. A gimmick show? Sure, but handled very well. Two major problems: 1) Avery Brooks' acting damn near sank it ("It's here! In my miiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiind") and 2) The story really came out of nowhere and serves a nebulous purpose. [Story idea: I was on newsgroup sabbatical when this episode aired and didn't catch any of the discussion about it, so bear with me if this idea has already been discussed. I understand why the writers used the SF magazine as its basis, but it doesn't really make sense that the Prophets would plant that particular scenario in Sisko's mind, if that is in fact what happened. I've always felt it would have made more sense for Sisko to have been the baseball player, since he loves baseball and, more importantly, the Prophets are aware of it. If they wanted to teach The Sisko a lesson of some sort, they should have used baseball, as Sisko used it to teach them in "Emissary." Oh well...]. Some people seem to think that this "vision" will tie in somehow to Sisko's "penance" on Earth next season; I have my doubts.

Cynics Corner Rating: 9.0 (previously unrated)


"ONE LITTLE SHIP": a.k.a. "One Little Shit." Appalling. I have to tell you, I've seen some laughable things happen on Star Trek over the years, but I've never laughed so contempuously at an episode as I did at this one. And when I wasn't laughing, it was because my jaw was dropping at the utter stupidity I was witnessing. The ship flying between the legs. O'Brien and Bashir standing next to giant paper mache diodes. Any number of other schticks done often (and done better) on "Land of the Giants" and "Dr. Shrinker." And the one halfways interesting idea in this episode, the conflict between the Alpha and Gamma Jem'Hadar, has apparently been summarily dismissed. I've been dropping hints in my posts over the last few weeks that I considered one of this season's DS9 episodes to be the worst in Star Trek history, and I'm sure my loyal following has been waiting on pins and needles for the episode to be revealed. Well, the wait is over. "One Little Shit" is it.

Cynics Corner Rating: 0.5 (previously unrated)


"HONOR AMONG THIEVES": A dumb idea (O'Brien undercover) salvaged by terrific performances.

Cynics Corner Rating: 7.5 (previously unrated)


"CHANGE OF HEART": a.k.a. "Change of Fart." Klingon Klaptrap, as Worf somehow manages to avoid the stockade for about the twelfth time in his crime-ridden career. Pass (gas).

Cynics Corner Rating: 4.5 (previously unrated)


"WRONGS DARKER THAN DEATH OR NIGHT" a.k.a. "Songs Longer Than Debt and Blight" (okay, so it doesn't make any sense, but it sounds good). A ridiculous and pointless episode that features the most inappropriate use of time travel in Star Trek history.

Cynics Corner Rating: 3.0 (previously unrated)


"INQUISITION": A decent episode, which sets up yet another plot thread that will probably never be followed up, i.e. Bashir's attempt to infiltrate Section 8 ... I mean 31.

Cynics Corner Rating: 7.5 (unchanged)


"IN THE PALE MOONLIGHT": A good episode, probably the high point of the season, despite the best efforts by Brooks to torpedo it with his acting. The followup to this episode isn't stellar, unfortunately, but the Romulan entry is mentioned intermittently. Unfortunately, Sisko's guilt at his treacherous actions is not.

Cynics Corner Rating: 9.0 (up from 8.9)


"HIS WAY": This episode was probably the most dreaded in Star Trek history, but it turned out a hell of a lot better than anyone thought it would. Still, there's no two ways about it, Kira/Odo just doesn't work at all.

Cynics Corner Rating: 7.0 (up from 5.8)


"THE RECKONING": a.k.a. "The Retchening" (thanks, W.D.Starr). We finally get a followup of sorts to "Craprifice of Angels," but unfortunately it's filled with just about every demon possession cliche you can think of. In retrospect, it does set up the season finale to a certain extent, and so I bumped it up just a little.

Cynics Corner Rating: 5.5 (up from 5.0)


"VALIANT": An episode filled with implausibilities and the worst group of guest stars outside of Voyager.

Cynics Corner Rating: 6.0 (unchanged)


"PROFIT AND LACE": Another attempt to sell the viewers on "Ferengi episodes" fails miserably. The first fifteen minutes or so looked promising and had some genuine laughs, but the episode rapidly degenerates into stupid slapstick, as most Ferengi episodes do.

Cynics Corner Rating: 3.0 (down from 3.9)


"TIME'S ORPHAN": a.k.a. "Time's Morphine." Gratuitous use of time travel, reset button ending, implausibly healthy wild girl, yadda, yadda, yadda. Colm Meaney again manages to salvage something from nothing.

Cynics Corner Rating: 6.5 (unchanged)


"THE SOUND OF HER VOICE": Positively phony. From the retconning of the crew "distancing themselves from each other" to the "shock ending," reeking of technobabble and gratuitous time travel, this episode is as phony as a three-dollar bill.

Cynics Corner Rating: 4.5 (up from 4.0)


"TEARS OF THE PROPHETS": a.k.a. "Fears for the Profits" (thanks, Matthew Murray). Extremely disjointed. This episode has a lot of things going on and tries to make a coherent story but fails miserably. The Prophets are gone, but there isn't time to really address the issue, because of all the time wasted on the Odo/Kira spat and the Quark/Bashir loserfest. Jadzia is dead, but reaction seems as lacking as the death scene itself did. In the end, this episode is a microcosm of the entire season: It's a mess, it wastes too much time on irrelevancies, and it lacks real drama.

Cynics Corner Rating: 5.0 (down from 5.5)



Those of you who read the Cynics Corner Review of Voyager's Fourth Season are familiar with the Cy Awards that were given out in various categories. I'm not sure at this time whether I'll do a complete set of those for DS9 or not, but in the meantime...

WORST EPISODE OF THE YEAR: Well, that's kind of obvious, based on the ratings above, and my comments: "One Little Shit."

BEST EPISODE OF THE YEAR: I gave two episodes a 9.0, but I'm going with "In the Pale Moonlight" over "Far Beyond the Stars" because it is more relevant to DS9's overall story.

Next: Season 7 Review  



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