Top 10 Episodes: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Season 3
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The red-headed stepchild of the franchise. A series that has often been deemed “too dark”, too political for Star Trek. How exciting can a show in space be without a ship and takes place entirely on a station?
All that can be said is, don’t knock it until you try it.
And it’s true – for the first two seasons of the show, DS9 just wasn’t that good. The characters were still rigid or annoynig, the stories were just downright weak. But then Season 3 came along, and everything started to turn around. From Season 3 right until the end of the series, Deep Space Nine would rival some of the best Trek ever, and weren’t afraid to take chances along the way.
Since there weren’t enough episodes in seasons one & two to compile a Top 10, we start with season three.
Here are the Top Ten Episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Season 3.
10. Through the Looking Glass
Kudos to Deep Space Nine for picking up on an open thread that The Original Series had started over 25 years earlier.
Revisiting the parallel universe that we first saw in the TOS episode “Mirror, Mirror” is something they would do more than once on DS9, and it’s always fun to visit. Sisko goes video game style at one point with the dual-wielding Klingon disruptors, and another series crossover takes place as Tuvok from Voyager makes an appearance in this episode, although his part is extremely small and almost pointless.
9. The Search, Part I
A very good way to kick-off season 3, with everyone involved and the introduction of some characters that will have both minor & major impacts on the show down the road – even all the way to the series finale.
The introduction of the Defiant complete with a cloaking device (!) is just the extra boost the show needed after two faltering seasons. Runabouts are all fine and dandy, but now the crew has a real ship to broaden the show’s horizons. Only downfall of this season premiere is how Odo turns into a 10-year old when it comes to what he feels he needs to do. Rather annoying.
8. The Adversary
For the season three finale, the show wanted to plant the seed that the Founders really were a much larger threat than originally thought, and create a little paranoia while they were at it. (And do their best The Thing impression.) The crew is responding to an escalating situation in a hostile system when it turns out there is a Changeling on board the Defiant who starts to wreak havoc. Doubts are cast as everyone begins to suspect each other of not actually being who they say they are. Odo is in a bind too because he doesn’t want to harm one of his own (no one has ever done that among his people before) but also wants to protect his friends and shipmates. While there is no real cliff hanger, there is an unsettling note the audience is left to contemplate as they await the start of season four.
Also in this episode Sisko is finally promoted to Captain, a move to try and change the character’s appeal. Being a Commander was one thing, but finally having the rank of Captain brought Sisko up and garnered him the respect he should have had since day one from Trek fans. Now he could officially join the ranks (pun intended) of the Kirks and Picards before him.
Ah, time paradoxes.
O’Brien is accidentally flooded with radiation that causes him to travel 5 hours into the future every few hours. It comes in handy as each time it helps to prevent a disaster of some kind from taking place. (Luckily the inhabitants of DS9 lead exciting, danger-filled lives.) The circumstances of this one (as is the case with most time-related episodes) will certainly have you thinking. Quark has some good lines, and there is a fun scene between Odo and Sisko where the former takes the long way around to inform the Commander of his conclusions.
An excellent way to cross over multiple Star Trek franchises.
Using a character like Thomas Riker (who for all intents and purposes is identical to William Riker) was a great way to catch the audience off-guard. This wouldn’t be the last time Jonathan Frakes appeared in a Star Trek spin-off, and in fact when all is said and done the only series he DIDN’T appear in was the original. After stealing the Defiant Riker carries out a mission on behalf of the Maquis, a rebel group of Federation citizens against the Cardassians. This situation forces Sisko and Gul Dukat to work together to try and bring Riker and the Defiant in. These two characters have quite the interesting relationship throughout the series, at times butting heads, other times being reasonable with each other. This occasion is only another thread in the tapestry they will weave right up until the end of the series.
5. Second Skin
A great episode for Kira to use all that emotion she has pent up.
Kira is kidnapped by Cardassians and they attempt to make her believe she is a Cardassian herself and has been on an undercover mission for the past 10 years. Nana Visitor puts in a pretty good performance. Another highlight of this episode is Garak; an extremely compelling character whom you never can tell is speaking the truth or not. His character will quickly become a stand-out and a favorite for many as the series goes on. A touching ending rounds out a solid installment.
4. Past Tense, Parts I&II
Combining this two-part episode into one entry, “Past Tense” is an interesting take on humanity’s future, and may have actually hit a little too close to home (by pure coincidence) at the time the episode originally aired.
The familiar “transporter accident” method is used here, sending Sisko, Dr. Bashir and Dax into Earth’s past. However, while Sisko and Bashir awake in a segregated part of town inhabited by the unfortunate and unemployed, Dax is discovered by a member of well-off society, and is taken care of by a generous host.
While the basic storyline is about Dax reuniting with Sisko and Bashir and them finding a way back to their time, it is the commentary on society and how close we are to actually making this fictional show a sad reality that is the most compelling. The stakes are instantly raised when an important figure from their history is killed as a result of Sisko and Bashir’s interference. The two officers realize there is only one way to set things right: Sisko must assume of the identity of the fallen hero and carry out his deeds to be sure that change happens.
Kira and O’Brien’s trips to the past to track down their missing comrades offers some light moments, and Clint Howard makes his second guest appearance on Star Trek. His first occurred 29 years prior on The Original Series when he was 7.
At the heart of this episode is just a good father and son story.
After returning from a trip to Bajor, Sisko (sporting a brand new goatee, the first appearance of the character’s image overhaul that was long overdue) is inspired to build a solar sail ship that the ancient Bajorans made and try and recreate the flight they took hundreds of years ago. Sisko invites his son Jake to come along who initially turns him down, but then ends up coming along for the ride where some good father/son time is spent. Jake shows and tells his father his interest in writing, and also thinks it’s time his dad found a girlfriend and offers to set up Benjamin with someone he knows.
A good scene from the B-story revolving around Bashir has the good doctor and O’Brien sharing a drunken night after Bashir had been spurned by a former classmate earlier that day.
2. The Die is Cast
Concluding what “Improbable Cause” started; “The Die is Cast” is a good preview of what’s to come when it comes to larger space battles in the Star Trek universe.
As technology continued throughout the 90’s, Deep Space Nine was privy to some of those advancements where The Next Generation was not. It used to be a rarity if you saw more that 3 or 4 ships in the frame during a battle sequence during the TNG days, but now we are seeing many more ships and much more complex shots during those sequences. A respect starts to form and deepen between Odo and Garak in this episode, and we get start to get a bit of a taste as to how big a threat the Founders will be.
1. Improbable Cause
The start of a great 2-parter, centering around the mysterious Garak.
His character is very mysterious. Being a former member of the Obsidian Order, (the Cardassian equivalent of the CIA or British Intelligence) and his knack for never telling the truth creates a great air of mystery around him. Bashir is especially fascinated, as a friendship has started to form. This particular episode starts with a bit of a bang, as Garak’s tailor shop is blown up, with the Cardassian narrowly surviving. Odo launches an investigation and it turns out that the person responsible for the explosion was none other that Garak himself! The investigation continues and a mission to save Garak’s former mentor (and also the one responsible for his banishment to Deep Space Nine) begins. The man in question is Enabran Tain, and he’s a rather interesting character himself being the former HEAD of the Obsidian Order.
If the voice of the informant that Odo goes to visit sounds familiar, he also played Galt in The Original Series episode “Gamesters of Triskelion.” Also, there is a fantastic moment between Bashir and Garak just before the latter leaves for his away mission.