Two episodes from season 6 of the Deep Space Nine series. 'In the Pale Moonlight' sees Sisko deciding to call on old enemies the Romulans for help in the war with the Dominion. In 'His Way', Odo immerses himself in the lifestyle of the swinging nightclub singer, courtesy of the ship's holosuite. In his new guise, he finds it easy to win over a holographic Kira, but faces more of a challenge when he tries to use his charms on the real-life model.
From the outset, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
was about conflict. Producers Rick Berman and Michael Piller challenged the utopian ideals of Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek
universe to create something totally different from its predecessors. That meant no familial camaraderie, squeaky-clean Federation diplomacy, or beige décor. Instead they wanted inter-personal friction, ruthless enemies (Gamma Quadrant Imperialists--The Dominion) and rebellion at every turn. The DS9
concept was originally facilitated by introducing the Cardassian/Bajoran war during The Next Generation
's final days. After a muted first reception fans gradually came to accept the new look, but no-one liked Star Trek
without a starship and eventually the producers capitulated to viewers' wishes by introducing the USS Defiant
(an apt name) in Season 3.
Relying far less on technobabble than TNG, DS9 was unafraid to focus on matters of the spirit instead, demonstrating a gutsy independence from its parent shows. Taking up the gauntlet thrown down by Babylon 5, improved CGI space battles also became a fan favourite. Throughout the increasingly serialised story arc there were rebellious factions within the different establishments: Kira had belonged to the Shakaar resistance cell; The Maquis was Starfleet vs Cardassians; Section 31 was a secret Starfleet group; The True Way was a Bajoran group opposed to peace; the Cardassians had their Obsidian Order and the Romulans their Gestapo-like Tal Shiar. Yet for all its constant bickering and espionage (even Bashir got to be James Bond!), there was always some contemporary social commentary lurking: the Ferengi were used as a comedic foil to frown on materialistic greed; drugs were looked at via the Jem'Hadar foot soldiers' addiction to Ketracel White.
Perhaps Sisko summed up the real heart of things: "Bajor doesn't need a man, it needs a legend". A future vision that retains a place for religion and spirituality turned out to be Deep Space Nine's first best destiny. --Paul Tonks