Pilot Star Trek: Deep Space Nine liveblog: "Emissary"

With a week to go before Halloween, what could be more appropriate a watch than the pilot episode "Emissary" of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Oh, you mean an actual horror TV show or movie? Even a horror-themed episode of Star Trek like "Catspaw" or "Schisms" or "Wolf in the Fold" or "Night Terrors"? Or the more horror themed DS9 episodes like "Empok Nor" or "Distant Voices"?

Nah, "Emissary" it is. So here we go. First a few housekeeping things. For one, this is going to be the Netflix version of the show. For another, since the event itself isn't itself "live" I'm actually able to stop and pause in order to type out a full thought, so if you're following along partway through this event on Saturday October 24th evening (Edmonton time) you may find you've gotten far ahead of me. I can also stop for bathroom breaks, phone calls, etc.

So with all that underway, let's get things moving. Here's the first episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

0:05: We start with a Star Wars themed opening crawl. It's Stardate 43997, and the famed Battle of Wolf 359 is underway.

0:28: It's Martok, but he's a Vulcan! We see some of Paramount's $12M in operation as what at the time was the most exciting battle sequence ever shown on a Trek TV show is presented to us. I remember first watching this in 1993 and being very impressed. Who knew how much more would come over the next 7 years?

1:44: The U.S.S. Saratoga is about 2 minutes from a warp core breach. Martok is dead and first officer Benjamin Sisko is working on evacuating the civilians to escape pods. Wait, why are there civilians? I remember this bothering me in 1993. The Galaxy-class ship was supposed to be the first Starfleet ships that had families, and at least there it made sense: 42 decks and a 705m long superstructure. Lots of room for families and creature comforts and the like. This is a 100-year-old Miranda-class ship (or at least a variation). There shouldn't be room for families on this ship. Also, couldn't they have been evacuated first? Starfleet (Admiral Hanson himself perhaps?) picked Wolf 359, it's where the Federation fleet was lying in wait. Wasn't evacuating civilians (even ones who logically shouldn't be there) part of the plan?

2:34: Sisko is looking for Jennifer as a ship explodes in the window. This could have still happened in my scenario: just have Jennifer be part of Starfleet, and leave Jake out of this for now.

2:52: Jennifer is already dead: Felicia Bell is just laying still with her eyes closed in what will be the most authentic acting job she ever does.

3:31 Containment failure in two minutes as Jake is carried away and Sisko is pulled away from his dead/dying wife against his will. She's trapped and they couldn't free her. This whole sequence really is running much too long.

4:14: Sisko's pod is ejected as he watches the Saratoga, Jennifer's body still aboard, explodes.

4:35 Stardate 46379.1, three years into the future.

4:55: We get our first good look (and should be first look) at Sisko's son Jake played by Cirroc Lofton. We also get our first look at calm communicative Sisko, as he lies off his ass assuring Jake that other kids will be around.

5:30: Surprising nobody we discover this is a holodeck.

5:51 We get our first long look at Deep Space Nine, the Cardassian station (in orbit of Bajor) that will be our home for the next seven years and 177 episodes.

6:00 Exactly six minutes in (could have trimmed 60-90 seconds on the Saratoga) we start the Deep Space Nine theme song with the nice CGI comet and a runabout, with fading shots showing us the space station. The keen eye will notice no sign of the planet, but probably wouldn't think anything of it. I like this theme song and it's a shame that (like the series) it's the black sheep of 90s Trek: it rarely gets covered in orchestral presentations or remixed by YouTube fans like TNG or Voyager are.

7:55: Sisko records his log entry and we see the Enterprise-D docked at the station, but no sign of the ship Sisko arrived on for some reason. Ben gives us the basic background to the show: Starfleet is going to be running the station at the request of the provisional government of Bajor, recovering from being conquered by the Cardassians who have just left. I admit I forget if the details of the Cardassians leaving Bajor was explicitly tied to the Federation. It would be nice if this was made clear, and if so it could have been used to really help nuance some of the Bajor-Federation tensions in the early season. Kira and the Bajoran resistance likes to think they made it too annoying to remain on Bajor, but more likely the Federation pushed them to abandon the planet during the peace talks. Remember, during the first season of TNG there was an ongoing war between those powers.

8:39: Sisko: "Why hasn't anybody cleaned this up?"
O'Brien:"We've got all available personnel assigned to repairing primary systems, sir".
I like how Colm Meany has that patented O'Brien barely-contained exasperation already at the ready. "Dude, we've got more important things to worry about". I also like how "Production Designer: Herman Zimmerman" is on screen when we get a wide sweeping shot of the Promenade set that he so loving built/stole from the Babylon 5 zoccolo concept. Yes, I'll be bringing a few of these things up.

9:20 Bajoran monk guy (not a Vedek, from what I can tell) asks Sisko to enter the temple and meet the Prophets. Sisko delays it and we needlessly get a shot of monk guy looking back suspiciously at Sisko. He literally never ever becomes any sort of threat or problem to anybody.

9:57: Jake doesn't like how his bedroom only has a cushion on the floor, and O'Brien suggests bringing a bed over from the Enterprise. This raises an interesting problem: if the starship with all the replicators is right there, why don't they requisition a lot more stuff that they'll need while it's handy? All the Starfleet quarters should be getting new furniture and maybe a few more fancy 24th century toys.

10:03: "Captain Picard needs to see you as soon as possible" O'Brien says. Sisko's look tells us that he isn't going to arrange for possible to be anytime soon.

10:09: The medical and science teams arrive "tomorrow". This is after Star Trek: Generations so it would be a nice callback if the episode could make it clear this took place on Monday.

10:21: The food replicators (wait, Cardassians have those? then why need the mining station?) are down and O'Brien says there are plenty of rations. Well can't the Enterprise bring some real food too? Can't Guinan cater the whole place for a couple days?

10:52: Our first look at a busy Ops and the elevator that inexplicably is open for the last part of route. Gul Dukat's old office is upstairs in case you didn't get that the prefect should be looking down on everybody else.

11:26: The environmental controls are stuck at +32C. Maybe it's just me (it's presently -8C in Edmonton) but these California people don't understand how noticeable hot temperatures really are. Sisko asks if it's warm. At 32C you don't have to ask. The movie Star Trek: First Contact is even worse, where LaForge notes it's "unusually warm" when the Borg bring the temperature up to +39C in Engineering.

11:40: Sisko's about to visit Kira. O'Brien asks if he ever served with any Bajoran women, and he's obviously referring to Ensign Ro who was supposed to take Kira's role when the show was first envisioned. To my mind Bajorans shouldn't be in Starfleet if the planet isn't member of the Federation: Data and Worf were obviously Federation 'citizens' regardless of their racial heritage. Not so Ro or any of the Bajorans we meet in Starfleet throughout TNG/DS9/Voyager. Kira being outside Sisko's direct command will be useful later. O'Brien, of course, worked with Ro before: specifically he and her interfaced often in the TNG episode "Disaster" where O'Brien had to be the go-between between Ensign Ro and Counsellor Troi. Apparently all Bajoran women are "fiery" which is a fancy word for "giant bitch".

11:58 Here's the infamous Major Kira Nerys. We get our first look at Nana Visitor's crazy pilot episode hairstyle. She's deliberately playing up her anger with Sisko and he's being Roddenberry-era calm and serene. She basically explains how she is against Starfleet running the show, that she and the provisional government disagree a lot, and how she was a fighter for independence. Here's her full backstory for us, and she notes that the Cardassians 60 years ago came to Bajor pretending to be like the Federation. Why, I'm not sure: they were quite clearly an invading power. Sisko's "let's work together" speech is interrupted by a security issue on the promenade

14:05: We get our first look at Odo as played by the late/great René Auberjonois. His makeup looks especially horrible as he confronts Nog and his alien co-criminal who tries to kill Odo for apparently no reason other than to show off the (at the time) cool shapeshifting effects. He then tries to run, Odo stops him, and Sisko phasers everybody into silence. For those keeping track, the Babylon 5 pilot also featured a scene like this ("no dust!") with the commander going down to get involved in a law enforcement matter. Odo says he doesn't allow weapons on the Promenade which apparently won't ever come up again: he allows armed deputies and later armed Jem'Hdar aswell.

15:49: Quark (in Rom's nose) shows up to unsuccessfully barter for Nog's release. Sisko describes plea bargaining as an "old Ferengi legal tradition" he plans to exploit.

16:15: The infamous Sisko-Picard scene on the Enterprise-D sets where Sisko really hits Picard by mentioning Wolf 359, but I still can't get over how Patrick Stewart mispronounces "Bajor". Picard helps set the tone by pointing out the Federation -- an organization of hundreds of planets -- can barely provide relief efforts. He talks about factions of Bajorans at each other's throats which doesn't really come up in the series,and how Sisko's job is to help Bajor enter the Federation as long as he doesn't violate the Prime Directive. Picard, who serves in an ideal environment, reminds Sisko that he might be assigned to non-ideal environment. Sisko angrily tells Picard he'll do his job until he quits and Picard lets him leave.

19:35 Quark and Odo do some of their patented bickering. The interactions between the two always stand out in the first season. Sisko assures Quark that he's going to work under Bajoran rules,then says he must run honest games. I'm sure those two are in alignment, but is Sisko 100% sure of this?

20:32 "When governments fall people like me and lined up and shot" says Quark. He's sort of right, he's a victim in the second season when the provisional government comes closest to falling: however Quark's prediction it would soon fall was way off: even Jaro's coup wasn't really jeopardizing the provisional government itself.

22:40 Only Kai Opaka can prevent civil war on Bajor, because religion holds them together. "The Storyteller" later in this season will contradict this. Creepy Bajoran monk comes back and says "it is time", leading Sisko away to what turns out to be Bajor and Opaka. Kira gives a look with a music sting, but she can't possibly know that where he's going can she?

24:30: Opaka says Sisko's arrival was long-anticipated. It wouldn't be until the Sarah Sisko storyline in the seventh season before we'd know how true this was. Opaka explores Sisko's "pah" which sounds just like the Klingon word for "zero" which bothered me a lot in 1993. Opaka calls it their "lifeforce" less then 10 minutes after Patrick Stewart appeared on the show.

25:10: The "emissary" thing is brought up. Opaka seems both surprised and nonchalant about this revelation at the same time. She really should sell more how crazy this emissary discovery is, whether or not she expected it (which the episode doesn't make clear).

26:20: We get our first "prophet vision" where Sisko in hot sand meets a suntanning Jennifer. Felicia Bell is holding her open swimsuit on to avoid showing us her goods, and she's talking which means she's showing how bad of an actress she is. Sisko is realizing he's re-living the moment they met and she's living as if it was really that time. To be fair, Avery Brooks isn't doing a great job in this scene either, we get a yelp for no apparent reason.

28:40: Sisko mentions he graduated from Starfleet: Jennifer told him her mother assured her to avoid Starfleet officers, but this could easily be fixed in my "no civilians on the Saratoga" concept. Sisko mentions his father in the past tense for the first time, and creeps out this version of Jennifer before the vison ends and Sisko is back on Bajor. Was this just a vision? This isn't the Orb of Time which is currently on Cardassia waiting to be taken back in the "Trials and Tribble-ations" episode. Memory Alpha says this is the Orb of Prophecy and Change, so why is it showing an alternate version of the past where Sisko appears to interact with Jennifer as if he was really travelling through time?

29:53: Opaka mentions that this is one of nine orbs, and the other 8 are with the Cardassians. She mentions the Celestial Temple and decided Sisko needs to find the wormhole and stop the Cardassians from deciphering the orb's secrets. The problem is that these two things are totally different: Sisko finds the temple in this episode, but can't stop Cardassian scientists from prodding orbs light-years away. Opaka says Sisko must warn the prophets. Yet again, this journey doesn't achieve the goal she assigns to it.

32:11: Quark's bar is open! And it's a flurry of activity with aliens drinking and playing games and getting their fortunes read and Sisko grabs a seat next to Morn.

32:56: Sisko asks about the local synthale. Quark's response: "You won't like it. I love the Bajorans, such a deeply spiritual culture, but they make a dreadful ale. Never trust ale from a god-fearing people". Apparently DS9 writers are unaware of Trappist beer traditions.

33:34: Half an hour in, another starship arrives with Bashir and Dax. We see Bashir's aggressive flirtation with Jadzia which will be an annoying character trait for the first third of the show's run. Jadzia apparently is 28. Sisko and Dax do a bit of discussion about how she used to be Curzon but seems to handle it very well. I know a large number of reviewers have mentioned this already but the show really missed a chance to start the season off with Curzon: if not a permanent part of the crew at least bring him in for episode 3 or 4. You could even establish Jadzia as the science officer with the knowledge that she would be taking over the Dax symbiot when Curzon died in the pilot, and make it clear that was going to happen very soon. Then we could get some time with Jadzia as Jadzia, some time with Curzon Dax,and then at the end of that episode where Curzon dies meet the new Jadzia Dax. Ideally we'd even get one last scene of a dying Dax-less Curzon interacting with Sisko. It would help too for them to properly establish how the joining worked. As TNG showed us Trill, we expect that this person Sisko is talking to is 100% slug. DS9 would never quite decide how they wanted the relationship.

34:54: "Real frontier medicine". This is the infamous scene where Bashir talks about the adventure and the heroism on the frontier and Kira smacks him down for it. "This wilderness is my home": Kira tries to play up the "this is the centre of the universe to us" angle which never really satisfied me. Sorry if it bursts Kira's bubble but Bashir is 100% right. For Christ's sake the station's name is "Deep Space Nine": what did you think "deep" was in reference to? The Bajorans really are simple folk compared to the Federation and he is going to the edges of the map. We never get a good sense in the pilot and much of the show, but you get the sense that Bajor is opening new areas of space for the Federation to explore even before the Gamma Quadrant becomes part of the "backyard" as well.

36:03 Sisko and Dax and studying the orb combining the monk's research with what's clearly Cardassian scanners. Why not bring a better (presumably) Federation one over from the Enterprise? Or go over there during the couple hours you have before they are scheduled to depart? Sisko seems to think it's a race to analyze it before the Cardassians discover orb secrets. But are they? And are they likely to discover the wormhole?

36:53: Here's a brief orb scene of Jadzia getting the Dax symbiote. Unfortunately we don't learn anything about any of the 3 characters in this scene (Jadzia, Curzon, Dax slug) as none of them have any real conversation. What a waste.

38:30: O'Brien on the Enterprise-D bridge: he's in his TNG uniform and debating going into the Ready Room. Apparently Picard's working the night shift today, since none of the senior officers/TNG lead actors are on the bridge. O'Brien instead goes to Transporter Room 3 where Picard himself beams our TNG/DS9 crossover character over. It's a nice sweet moment. In retrospect it would be nice for Picard to say "you sure you don't want Worf to come join you?

40:14: The TNG theme plays and the U.S.S. Enterprise sails away.

40:22: We come back from commercial break with menacing music and a Cardassian ship on the viewscreen. This was an awkward transition, we as the viewer feel like we missed something. Gul Dukat wants to beam aboard and O'Brien in his DS9 uniform mentions it's a funny coincidence that the Enterprise just left 8 seconds ago. For us literally it did: don't they have sensors? Didn't they at some point detect a Cardassian ship in or en route to Bajoran space? Are the Cardassians even allowed in Bajoran space? They really should play this up more.

41:30: Dukat tells us how much he wants his office back. Don't worry, Dukat, you'll get it. Sisko grants him an open invitation and this is still Bajoran space and I'm still bothered by this. However soak up the scenery chewing wonder of the legendary star of Tango and Cash Marc Alaimo, who has perfectly nailed his creepy "hero of Star Trek: Terok Nor" persona right from the get-go. It's worth noting that Alaimo's IMDB photo page shows none of the photos of his non-Trek roles: just Gul Dukat and an aged Alaimo at conventions. Here's a photo of him in his prime

41:52: Poor defense systems (this will be a problem for a while) and a remote frontier outpost. Dukat implicitly threatens Sisko and discusses how he knew about Opaka and the orb, and all I'm thinking is even the guy who's empire lives next door to Bajor acknowledges he lives in the middle of nowhere and is less frustrated about this than Kira was.

43:20: Dax is telling Sisko how she thinks that the celestial temple might be in the Denorius Belt. It's a charged plasma field that nobody would want to be anywhere near in the 24th century, and it's where five of the orbs were found. I thought all the orbs fell from the sky on Bajor itself, not stumbled across in open space. Also, minor quibble, but if this dangerous Denorius Belt is really where the wormhole is located then why doesn't this come up at any point in 175 of the next 176 episodes (it is a plot point in "Times Orphan")? Memory Alpha describes the Denorios belt as akin to the asteroid field between Mars and Jupiter which doesn't track with what Dax is telling us here. Sisko says they need to sneak past the Cardassians to find the temple. I'm unsure why they can't wait.

45:00: Sisko has Kira and O'Brien shut Quarks Bar down so they can force the Cardassians to put their winnings into an Odo-bag. Was violating the agreement with Quark the only way Sisko could think to encourage the Cardassians to take something aboard their ship with them?

46:18: Enjoy that Odo morph effect: won't see it again for half a season.

46:59: We get our first look at the Runabout-class vessel and its docking bays.

47:30: Odo disables the Cardassian vessel which is technically an act of war. Odo then beams back aboard after O'Brien does his best Arthur Fonzerelli impersonation by kicking the console. Hopefully the Cardassians don't detect the residual transporter trace and all that technobabble that helps our team figure out a transport happened hours days months ago.

48:33: "Sensors are picking up unusually high proton counts". Protons are the basic building blocks of matter. So shouldn't she be saying "I'm picking up an object and/or a large number of objects"?

49:00: Roughly halfway through the episode we get our first look at the Bajoran wormhole. After being tossed about inside the wormhole (which never happens again) they find themselves in unfamiliar territory. Majel Barrett identifies the closest star system as Dedron. Despite this being 70,000 light years away Sisko seems to recognize the name. Also bizarre, apparently in the 22nd century Earth was able to send probes into the Gamma Quadrant. Why they didn't mention this as being from an astronomer looking through a telescope? It could still be in our future without this bizarre idea of a "Quadros 1 probe". Why didn't the Dominion blow it up?

50:37: Sisko stumbles across the truth: "Stable wormhole" a lot faster than he probably should have. He reminds me of the Jeff Goldblum character on South Park. Or Batman in the 1966 Adam West TV show figuring out Riddler's clues.

51:35: There's an atmosphere inside the wormhole. Did the prophets just temporarily put this here, and the ground and everything? Again, this rocky matte painting er I mean planetoid never comes up again.

52:30: She sees a beautiful paradise, he sees a rocky hellhole. It's like modern day politics encapsulated in this one scene: everybody gets their own planet to observe.

53:29: Sisko and Dax both get shocked by a floating orb and Dax sees Sisko's worldview before disappearing. Avery Brooks has to roll around a lot and pretend he's seeing optical effects yet to be added.

54:20: Sisko gets a whited out prophet-vision, while an orb-shaped glowing object leaves the wormhole headed for DS9 and apparently also Bajor. This is a 3hr trip,and somehow within seconds it can make it to Bajor.

55:00: O'Brien beams it aboard and it turns out to be....Jadzia! 1993 me is screaming how the Trills cannot be transported.

55:48: Sisko's prophet visions arrive. Jake, Picard, Opaka, and Jennifer communicate with Sisko who figures out he needs to communicate with them rather quickly. They apparently don't understand time.

57:02: In Ops they try to mount a rescue operation, but the Cardassians are already heading there. Kira wants to move the station for some reason, and wants it done ASAP. Jadzia and O'Brien plan to lower the station's intertial mass in order to manuevre and request backup from Starfleet.

48:42: Odo demands to come along with Kira/Dax/Bashir because he wants to explore the Denorious Belt with them and hopefully learn about his mysterious past.Does he have a mysterious past? Yes, because he just finished explaining it to us. Shouldn't he and Kira have discussed this earlier, and he could just make reference to it in a way that informed the audience but also was less clunky?

59:35: Picard, Locutus, and some baseball player are now angrily insisting that Sisko be destroyed. We get to see Sisko and Locutus spar on the Saratoga bridge. Vulcan Martok somehow has no dialogue. What a shame. Anyways Sisko tries explaining time to them and I'm already bored. I was also bored in 1993.

1:02:20: O'Brien argues with the Cardassian computer and begins to move the station out of Bajoran orbit. Things aren't going well.

1:03:10: O'Brien is manually doing something to avoid having the station blow itself apart. It works. DS9 was almost destroyed and we saved it at the last minute. During the first two seasons this happened way more often than it should have.

1:04:08: Odo makes reference to Dukat not being rational and sensible. This is a decent line but it isn't even remotely true with what we've learned about Dukat. He can see reason perfectly fine, he just filters it through being evil. Likewise Dukat mentions that the aliens will be less hostile to Cardassians, and he should know that's not likely going to be a problem. Dukat is concerned that Sisko is negotiating with the prophets for Federation advantage which seems a much better argument. "So much for reason" Odo remarks,but again what Dukat just talked about was very reasonable from his perspective. As a final note, how does Dax know that there was any lifeforms inside the wormhole? Sisko met them after she left.

1:06:03: Sisko tries to explain to Prophet!Jennifer how time works and how the real Jennifer is dead. Sisko and Prophet!Jennifer watch past Sisko/Jennifer discuss having children aboard a starship which again should only involve Galaxy-class ships. Brooks isn't really nailing how weirded out he is that he's talking with his dead wife. I guess this experience helps explain why Mirror!Jennifer didn't phase him very much three years from now.

1:08:53: Sisko's vision is disrupted by the Cardassian ship entering the wormhole. Every time another ship enters it apparently bothers the prophets. How this jives with their not understanding linear time issue is an exercise for the reader.

1:09:03: The Cardassian ship enters the Gamma Quadrant but as the Runabout approaches the wormhole seems to explode and they pass through the event horizon without going in. The prophets angrily tell Sisko that he doesn't appreciate the consequences of his actions, which is totally a linear time thing.

1:10:03: Vulcan Martok finally speaks! J.G. Hertzler's voice never fails to impress. He says something about not knowing consequences before they happen, which I guess resolves the plot hole I just had.

1:10:47: Prophet!Jennifer is impressed by the concept of procreation. But we know from Sarah Sisko that they know all this sort of stuff. On a 1930s baseball diamond complete with old cars the prophets want to understand the game. "I was afraid you'd ask that" says Sisko trying to explain baseball to aliens who not only don't understand baseball or cricket but indeed not time itself. Poor bastard.

1:12:03: Sisko using baseball to teach them time and the value of uncertainty is actually a pretty good plot point. Why Sisko brings it back to "being humans" is a little weird seeing how most alien races (especially in the Federation) all think much the same way.

1:13:29: Three more Cardassian warships are coming in, and Kira wants to disguise the lack of weaponry on the station.

1:13:50: The Cardassian commander is furious about Dukat's missing ship and doesn't believe Kira's wormhole talk because they don't detect any wormhole. However, stable wormholes are the exception not the norm: so why is he insisting that it no longer present is evidence of a problem.

1:14:49: Red alert! Shields (such as they are) are raised, the Cardassians demand surrender and cutoff communication with Starfleet. This is a pretty major act of war against the Bajorans and the Federation, they really should play that up more. Does he have authorization from Central Command to launch this attack? Can't one of the Federation people push this issue? Kira wouldn't understand interstellar politics but Jadzia has a slug inside her with decades of history negotiating treaties on behalf of the Federation! This topic should really come up: I know that the frontier setting requires a little rougher a universe, but this really makes no sense. Playing up that he should really ask for permission and he sends one of his ships away from the jammed communication area to request the order to fire would give a more organic ticking clock element.

1:15:15: Kira: "I need at least a day to make the necessary preparations."
Jessad: "You have one hour".
Or, instead, we can get this sort of cliched writing.

1:1602: Odo is going to evacuate people to shelters since the shields can't cover the whole station. Bashir can't believe the Cardassians will attack this station. O'Brien, who of course fought them, argues differently. This is a less convincing handwave of my plot hole than the last time. This isn't Setlik III Miles: for one thing that happened during an actual war. You've got a peace treaty with the spoonheads now and you should be trying to use this fact to resolve the problem. O'Brien and Kira don't want to surrender though and the Enterprise is about 20 hours away.

1:16:44: Sisko keeps finding himself on the burning Saratoga looking at a dead Jennifer,and he and the prophets both accuse each other as always being the ones who bring this particular vision quest to the forefront. Prophet!Jennifer seems to be figuring things out, and she helps Sisko understand that in a way he never stopped living in the moment of her death.

1:19:03: "No, it is not linear". Way to bridge the gap between the two species there Benjamin.

1:20:05: Kira wants to fire six photon torpedoes across Jessad's bow as a warning shot. Problem is, that's their entire supply. "We're not going to win this battle with torpedoes, Chief"

1:20:51: Jessad and Kira spar: she's reminding him that she's a resistance fighter who has been fighting against them all the time and isn't going to default to a diplomatic solution. Thanks to O'Brien's tinkering the Cardassians penetrate the thoron field and discover thousands of photon torpedoes and fully armed phaser banks. It's all a ruse though, and Jessad sees through it instantly. As a nice callback, in "Way of the Warrior" the Klingons assume the same ruse only this time it turns out the Federation did arm the station.

1:22:14: Jessad and his first officer argue: the fourth order can arrive in a day, but so can Starfleet. The Cardassians call them in (I thought they had jammed communications) and go into tactical position. The first officer asks why risk a confrontation, and this plot hole gets pulled a little wider. What if Central Command says "wait you want to declare war on the Federation over one ship going missing without any evidence they did anything to it? And it's just Gul Dukat who half of us hate anyways? No. Let them sit in front of what every piece of information we have is no stable wormhole. You're ordered to stand down"?

1:22:40: The Cardassians open fire. This is different than the Babylon 5 pilot where the Vorlons showed up and threatened the station without opening fire. Odo is guiding Morn and some others to safety. O'Brien rigs the phasers to produce one decent strength blast.

1:23:31: The Cardassians cause a lot of damage with their shots, blowing up half the Promenade and causing a lot of stunt men to fly around on wires. One of the stunt men is dressed as a Cardassian which makes zero sense. Was that Garak? One of the leftover soldiers on shore leave? Also at least two people appear to be dead from falling pillars: shouldn't there be consequencess? The ruptured fuel conduit really was an excuse fora lot of pyrotechnics and exploding miniatures, but it at least showed more destruction than a typical episode could. I recall the Star Trek: Voyager pilot doing a lot of this too, which is really ironic seeing how little the ship took damage over the following 7 years ("Year of Hell" and "Equinox" notwithstanding).

1:24:04: Wait Bashir wasn't down on the Promenade where he would be needed?

1:24:38: "You and you, you've just become nurses". Oh, wait, that was Chekov's line in Star Trek: Generations.

1:25:12: The exact second Kira is about to order surrender, Dax's sensors pick up the neutrino emissions signalling the wormhole is activating. The wormhole then waits twelve seconds so that Dax can explain all of this and Kira can order it be put on screen.

1:25:40: The Rio Grande comes out with the Cardassian ship in tow. We did see earlier when they entered the Gamma Quadrant they had some sort of sparky problems on their hull. I guess this disabled them? Until the same time that Sisko and the wormhole aliens reached an understanding? Or did they hold Dukat's ship in place on the return trip? Or did they let Sisko through to tractor the Cardassians back? Why didn't Sisko ask to go to our side first? Was there something specific with the Cardassian ship that they didn't get through the wormhole with their systems intact?

1:26:10: Dukat tells the other Cardassians to stand down. See Odo? He's reasonable.

1:26:39: Bashir says 13 injuries and no fatalities. Dude I saw a giant piece of metal land on a guy who's eyes were closed as he lay on the ground. What are you talking about?

1:26:50: Jake's okay (except he shouldn't be wandering around). Sisko the Emissary walks among his people surveying the damage much like Guiliani did after 9/11.

1:27:22: The Enterprise rolls back into town as Sisko explains the prophets "have agreed to allow safe passage for all ships travelling to the Gamma Quadrant". So when the Dominion start coming through in Season 5 can't he negotiate a new deal? "Please don't allow those ships"?

1:28:10: Picard says it was the Runabout towing that ultimately ended the fight, even though Dukat ordered it. Sisko warns that the strategic value means the Cardassians are going to be causing problems, but Picard now pronounces "Bajor" correctly and assures it's now on the map. Maybe he only mispronounces obscure and unimportant planets? Also, ever since the episode "Ensign Ro" it has been clear that Bajor was "on the map" as far as the Federation is concerned. But at least now DS9 is an important outpost. Maybe lose the "deep"? Sisko tells Picard not to ask Starfleet to replace him after all, he thinks he's where he belongs. They shake hands, and Odo and Bashir walk the Promenade. Kira assures Quark that he's not allowed to cheat anymore because he's a "community leader". In other words, I was right earlier: Bajoran law in theory permits dishonest casino games. Imagine if she went against Sisko's plan for honest games only. Dax/Sisko/O'Brien discuss the work ahead of them as we boldly sit where no man has sat before with three Talarian warships from TNG hanging around pretending to be science vessels.

So that, my friends, was the opening to Deep Space Nine. This and "Broken Bow" are probably the best pilot episodes of modern Trek. I prefer this one: it has some clunky moments especially in the first third, but all and all it's a good intro to the show. As I and others have noted, it's Denise Crosby-proof: Bashir is really the only character who wants to be there (and ironically is the one the stuido wanted to get rid of). Borrowing from JMS' Babylon 5 novel-in-space concept there are ways to easily replace any actors who aren't working out or characters you want to retool. Sisko doesn't want to be there so he can request a transfer. Kira doesn't want to be there, the provisional government just wanted her out of the way and could always find a Li Nalis. Dax could (and will) die and be replaced by another actress. Quark is only there due to blackmail. O'Briens wife could force him to leave. Jake might be sent away for his own safety. And finally, Jeffrey Combs could show up on screen one day and say "hey everybody, it's me Odo, what do you think of my new face"?

A lot of plot points were introduced and the writers given enough leeway to decide what to do about them. Like a Teddy Ruxpin crystal, you can always find a new orb to advance some crazy plot when you need to meet Jim Kirk or your Mom or just have a Ferengi episode. Sisko is the Emissary of the Prophets but they don't really delve into what that means. We don't learn anything about the Gamma Quadrant itself in this episode either, so deciding if it's a wasteland of primative Kazon or Borg space or Dominion territory or whatever is left to the future as well. (Though this probably should have been decided before this episode aired, even if it didn't get into it). Our lead character has a strong narrative and character arc, Kira learns to accept that the Federation ain't all bad, and O'Brien gets to be hard done by. Odo and Quark get to feud.

Good work guys. You earned your shift in the writers room today. It's quitting time, why don't you all Move Along Home...