STAR TREK At 50: Deep Space Nine - EMISSARY

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Every week throughout 2016 we'll be looking back at a Star Trek episode picked out as a favourite by one of our team or by a guest contributor. Today Si Shepherd looks back at the pilot episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.


Star Trek: Deep Space Nine began with a space battle between The Borg and The Federation at Wolf 359. We get to see the saucer section of Admiral Hanson's Excelsior Class cruiser being vaporized by Locutus of Borg.

At this time Benjamin Sisko is a Lieutenant Commander on The Saratoga, a Miranda-Class ship like The Reliant from Star Trek II, taking orders from a Vulcan, the Bridge has been patched together to become a battle bridge. Sisko's wife Jennifer is killed. A Bolian Ensign drags Sisko away from the body and as he watches from an escape pod, Sisko's whole world is destroyed.

Well sign me up for seven seasons!


Three Years Later, Commander Sisko is assigned to the Bajoran Space Station, and we get our first look at DS9 through the window of the ship Sisko and his son Jake are traveling on. As Sisko walks through the station for the first time it seems that the Cardassians have left few things intact, but there is junk piled everywhere, and most of the systems are offline.

Upon meeting Major Kira Sisko makes the mistake of asking her what's wrong, and he gets a bellyful before an alarm goes off in The Assayer's Office. A small Ferengi Child named Nog is robbing the place, with the help of some alien gang-banger. In comes Chief of Security, Odo, and the thug tosses some nasty-looking spiked weapon at his head, but surprise! Odo's head turns into jelly and the weapon passes right through!


Most of the merchants on the Promenade area of the station are leaving, and Sisko needs to find a way to get them stay so he uses the incident with Nog to force the cooperation of Quark, Ferengi owner of the Gambling Joint, who was also packing up. Nog's incarceration forces him to stay and be "Community Leader!".

So we have a "Hooman", a Bajoran, an Unknown Alien Shapeshifter, and a Ferengi, all having a discussion. And from that moment on it becomes the standard for seven years of the most amazing adventures.


Sisko finally responds to a summons by Captain Picard. His dislike of the Enterprise Captain is more than evident, after all it was Picard as Locutus who caused the death of his wife. But still, he is his senior, and Sisko knows the chain of command. Picard gives him his orders - get Bajor ready for Federation Membership. Sisko tells Picard he is considering leaving Starfleet, "In the Meantime" but he will do the job he was commanded to do.

Sisko meets Kai Opaka (Camille Savoilla), the spiritual leader of Bajor, who gives him the most sacred object of Bajor - The Orb of Contemplation, the last remaining Orb. When she exposes him to it he is brought back to the day he met Jennifer on Gilgo Beach.


The final two Starfleet officers arrive at DS9 - Doctor Bashir and Lt Jadzia Dax. Sisko puts his "Old Friend" Dax (although Jadzia is only 28, she has the memories of a 300 plus year old Trill Symbiote, plus those of Curzon Dax, Sisko's Mentor) to work studying the orb and this leads them to the sight of an anomaly which turns out to be a stable worm hole to the Gamma Quadrant. As the two of them return they find themselves on a strange planet in the worm hole; could this be the Celestial Temple?

When the people on DS9 learn of the worm hole the race is on to lay claim to it. The Crew struggle to move the station to location of the worm hole before the "bloody Cardies" can get there, as whoever can control that space will be in charge of a staging post for exploration and trade with the Gamma Quadrant.


In the end, Bajor gets control of the worm hole and the Prophets agree to let the Federation use it. Sisko tells Picard he has changed his mind and will stay with Starfleet.

It's clear from the outset that Deep Space Nine was going to be vastly different from anything we'd seen on Star Trek before. The early synopsis for the series stating it would have "no Enterprise", "political intrigue", and "a darker edge" all had me worried - it just didn't sound like Star Trek to me! But Deep Space Nine turned out to be the most complex, broad and innovative offering to come out of the Trek franchise.

The special effects, script and directing of Emissary established the very high standard that Deep Space Nine would maintain almost perfectly in its seven year run. Although some of the acting in this first episode was occasionally a little stiff, given the scope of vision, and the newness of the very complex characters portrayed, I think this is understandable. The cast would go on to gel perfectly, and become, for me, the ultimate ensemble the franchise ever presented. It helped that DS9 developed an almost serialised style to it, as you became more invested in their story arcs as the years went on.


The Emissary is a worthy introduction to a very new, and very different Star Trek series. I'd argue it's the strongest pilot any Trek series offered, and it's interesting to go back and watch it again with the benefit of knowing the characters developments over the coming seasons, as they never really wavered from what was laid down here in the opening episode.

Which is your favourite Star Trek episode (from any series)? If you'd like to share your love for a particular story, and would like to write about your favourite (either a paragraph or two, or a full blown 500-1500 word article) then please contact us at warpedfactor@live.com and put Trek@50 in the subject bar. We'd love to hear from you.
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