Hey! Hallie here!
Currently I’m going through some stressful changes in my life, and that usually means that I’m heavily relying on episodes of my favorite Star Trek series, ‘Deep Space Nine’, to get by. I always love talking about this series when I get the chance, but I’ve also been showing my sister this series for the first time and receiving her first opinions on the characters. And really, starting out at the beginning of season one doesn’t get you the best look at pretty much any of the main characters. Especially Julian Bashir and Jadzia Dax, who both very obviously changed as the series went on. So if you want to get into the series and, like me, you need to get attached to the characters to fully enjoy it, what should you watch? I’ve come up with an episode for each of the main characters that showcase the best of their personalities and can be viewed without any prior knowledge of the series at all. Hopefully these give you a good idea of where to start!
Benjamin Sisko: Sisko is the captain of the series so it’s clearly important that you get comfortable with his character as soon as possible. The introductory two-parter of ‘Deep Space Nine’ actually doesn’t do too bad a job at getting you comfortable with Sisko, but it can be really slow or awkward at parts and there are certainly better episodes that show off his personality. At this point I feel like most fans would bring up ‘In The Pale Moonlight’, which is an excellent character study of Sisko. But the episode definitely requires you to know more of the nuances of his character in order to fully accept some of his darker sides shown in that episode. So instead I’m going to recommend you go over to the ‘Past Tense’ two parter in season three. Aside from being an amazing critique of the way we as a society refuse to deal with the homelessness problem that still runs rampant today, we get to see Sisko acting as a captain while completely out of his element. While trapped in a time that isn’t his own with the doctor of the station, we get to see Sisko both comfort and defend Doctor Bashir, take up a historical mantle in order to save the timeline and ensure a better future for everyone, and kick ass as the protector of some hostages. You get to see his full range as both a kind and caring captain, and a heroic badass. Plus, you get to see how little patience Sisko has for other people’s attitudes which is an essential part of the character.
Kira Nerys: This one is easy. Do yourself a favor and watch season one’s ‘Duet’. ‘Duet’ is an episode that gets brought up a lot when people talk about Kira and it deserves all the hype. Unlike ‘Past Tense’, this isn’t an action-heavy story. Instead, this one is essentially a series of incredibly well-written debates between Kira and a Cardassian criminal. It dives directly into Kira’s prejudice against Cardassians, the alien species that took over her home world and enslaved her people. It’s pretty understandable as to why she has a major prejudice against them and the show never calls into question her general reaction to them. But this episode puts some of her ideas to the test when the Cardassian she encounters turns out to be different from what she expects. I won’t spoil the episode for you, but I will say that it gives you a full idea of what Kira is like. Not only does it reveal quite a bit about her past in the Bajoran resistance and show off her complete fearlessness in the face of anyone who threatens her people, but it also shows you just how kind and compassionate she can be when the situation calls for it. This is a near-perfect Kira episode and one of my favorite episodes in the entire series.
Jadzia Dax: Season one Jadzia Dax feels like they were trying to make a Spock-like character. She’s very strait-laced, keeps her emotions mostly under wraps, and even openly states that she’s sworn off things like romantic relationships because they’re a distraction. All of that gets thrown out the nearest airlock by season two, which is why I recommend you go ahead and watch ‘Blood Oath’ in season two. ‘Blood Oath’ is the first episode that focuses on Jadzia’s connection with the Klingons, which will later lead to many more interesting episodes and a great connection with Worf. In this episode we learn that the last Dax host, Curzon, made an oath to avenge the death of a Klingon child who was named his godson. Jadzia, despite now being a different person, still feels an obligation to fulfill the oath. This episode gives us everything, from a struggle with her balancing her own life with the lives of the past Dax hosts, to her practicing with a Bat’leth, to her stubbornness and sense of humor finally coming through. And it all ends in an epic final battle. Jadzia really comes into her own by this episode.
Julian Bashir: Many, many people struggle with the character of Julian Bashir in the first few seasons of ‘Deep Space Nine’. He’s a naive womanizer who easily offends literally everyone on the station with his thoughtlessness. But don’t be too worried. This characterization was meant to show off his naiveté, but he starts moving past it by the end of season two, and season three Bashir finally feels like a character you’d want to call a friend. That said, I’m going to recommend an episode that’s towards the end of season two. ‘The Wire’ is one of the more popular episodes and an excellent look at not just Bashir, but also the resident tinker-tailor-lizard-spy, Garak. In the episode Julian’s slowly developing friendship with the mysterious Garak gets put to the test when Garak suddenly falls deathly ill. The source of his illness is a chip in Garak’s head that’s been providing him with a drug. Which means Bashir has to help Garak get through withdrawal symptoms in order for him to be cured. This episode gives us Bashir in full doctor mode. We get to see him dealing with the illness of a close friend by actively developing a cure and spending days upon days monitoring his patient. On top of that, we get to see how caring and understanding of a man Julian is as he’s faced with the moral ambiguity of Garak. And the best part? This episode laid the groundwork for a lot of the Garak/Bashir shipping that nearly resulted in the first gay Star Trek couple. If only.
Miles O’Brien: And now I have to introduce you to a concept that follows Miles O’Brien around in almost all of his solo episodes. The ‘O’Brien Must Suffer’ concept. Unfortunately for Miles, who doesn’t deserve any of this at all, a lot of his character building is done through some really traumatizing events. As an act of mercy, I’ll avoid sending you to something as messed up as ‘Hard Time’ and instead direct you over to what is technically both an O’Brien and Bashir episode in season two. Miles is dying from an illness for most of ‘Armageddon Game’, but he turns out all right without the amount of mental scarring we see in later episodes. This episode also benefits from the fact that it serves as the main event to kick off the friendship between Bashir and Miles, which means we get to see them discuss more personal things with each other in order to grow closer. In particular we get to see Miles talk about how much he loves his wife, which is very sweet, as well as his experiences as a soldier. In one of his best moments, we see his soldier-like bravery come out when he requests to be lifted to his feet when threatened with death, despite his illness, so he can die honorably. Still sad, but a very telling moment for the character.
Odo: This is another really easy one. The thing that makes Odo shine most as Chief of Security isn’t his fist fights. It’s his investigations. Which is why ‘Necessary Evil’ should be the episode you watch to get to know Odo. ‘Necessary Evil’, an episode towards the middle of season two, switches between his first ever case and a case that’s happening present day. Naturally the cases are connected, but their connection becomes more personal to Odo as the episode goes on. As we go back and forth through the two cases we see both the way that Odo puts together mysteries, and what he was like during the Occupation of Bajor contrasted by the ways he’s grown over the years. And amongst it all we get to see his strong friendship with Kira Nerys and the lengths he will go to for her. I won’t spoil the importance of his relationship with Kira, but I will say that these two are worth keeping an eye on. And if all of that didn’t sell you, we also get a good amount of Odo’s exasperation with Quark in this episode which is always rewarding.
Jake Sisko: This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Jake. Jake doesn’t get a ton of episodes to himself, but believe it or not, the episodes he does get are remarkably amazing. And unfortunately for you, some of them are really sad. Take ‘The Visitor’ for example, a season four episode that I’m 100% recommending to you. In ‘The Visitor’ Benjamin Sisko disappears in an accident and is declared dead, leaving Jake and the others to mourn his death. But Jake doesn’t quite believe his father’s dead and the mysterious, brief reappearances of his father confirm his theory. It slowly becomes clear that Benjamin’s trapped in some kind of time pocket that’s connected to Jake himself, preventing Benjamin from returning back to the accident. In this episode we watch Jake grow up and live his life. We watch him pursue being a writer, we watch the underlying intelligence and wisdom he frequently shows fully develop, and we watch him demonstrate his love for his father. Fortunately, all of the sadder parts of this episode get undone when Benjamin finally gets to return to the time of the accident. But all the points in between, where Jake patiently waits for his father to reappear, are heart-wrenching and show an undeniably emotionally-mature and persistent personality.
There are so many excellent episodes of ‘Deep Space Nine’, but I hope my list gave you some good stand-alone episodes (except for Sisko’s two-parter) that you can start with. Or if you’re going back through the series, I hope this gives you a good reminder of what the characters are like! I didn’t get around to talking about characters like Quark, Dukat, Nog, or Vic Fontaine so I might make another one of these. But until then, enjoy getting to know one of the best ensemble casts ever written! Really. They’re all so good.
Don’t do anything fun until I get back!