This season opens with a very different atmosphere than has really ever been seen before on Star Trek as the Federation is preparing for a drawn-out war with the Dominion. This won’t be the two-episode “war” with the Borg that was seen in Star Trek: The Next Generation, or the almost hidden “war” with the Klingons seen in the original series. Instead, the show attempts to depict what a war in space will be like.
Speaking of the Klingons, in the first episode, the space station Deep Space Nine is swarming with them. They have come to help the Federation fight the Dominion, led by General Martok who will become a recurring character in the series. To help deal with the volatile situation between the two races, Captain Benjamin Sisko requests the presence of Lt. Commander Worf, the Klingon serving on the Enterprise during the run of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
By bringing in a character who was a fan favorite for so long, the producers of Deep Space Nine added a new dimension and some excitement to the show in its fourth season. Series fans who may have tuned out before now were baited to take another look. It also draws in a different story involving Worf and the Klingons, as well as developing the relationship Dax has had with the Klingons.
That’s not to say the war with the Dominion is forgotten. The Jem’Hadar are a continuous theme throughout the season as they make numerous appearances in various settings. Among them, Chief O’Brien and Dr. Bashir deal with a stranded group of them in Hippocratic Oath. The episodes Homefront and Paradise Lost deal with the Dominion trying to use humans’ own fears and paranoia to help it conquer Earth.
There are some terrific, stand-alone, character-driven episodes this season. The Visitor develops the relationship between Jake Sisko and his father in a tremendous way with a great deal of emotion between the two. In the episode Rejoined, the Trill, Dax, challenges one of her society’s taboos. Trills are actually two beings, a humanoid body inhabited by a worm-like symbiont. The symbionts live much longer than the humanoids and often inhabit quite a few during their lifetimes. The Dax symbiont comes in contact with a symbiont that was once its spouse, and the possibility of renewing the relationship is explored. Both are now in female bodies, so it’s interesting to see it as an allegory for our own societal taboos, not to mention one of the first female-female passionate kisses on television. In the episode Indiscretion, the Cardassian Gul Dukat reveals that he sired a daughter with a Bajoran mistress and faces the ramifications of that. Eventually, the girl becomes a recurring character and lives on the space station with Major Kira.
Chief O’Brien is also given a great story where he is convicted of espionage by an alien race. Rather than actually sentencing him to time in prison, his brain is altered to believe he spent that time in prison. The mirror universe is visited once again in Shattered Mirror. During the season, the station also receives visits from Lwaxana Troi and the Klingon Kor. Dr. Bashir must deal with a society who have suffered through a disease passed on from generation to generation.
A classic and fan-favorite from this season is Little Green Men in which it’s learned that the Ferengis Quark, Rom, and Nog, and the Changeling Odo were actually the aliens that crashed at Roswell in the 1940s. Our Man Bashir has also been a fan favorite as Dr. Julian Bashir uses a holosuite program to become a James-Bond-like spy during the 1960s.
The season ends with Broken Link, an episode that I think was the best cliff-hanger for this series. It draws together practically all of the major events of this season while at the same time setting up new problems for the people inhabiting the station to overcome.
Disc One contains the episodes The Way of the Warrior, The Visitor, and Hippocratic Oath.
Disc Two contains the episodes Indiscretion, Rejoined, Starship Down, and Little Green Men.
Disc Three contains the episodes The Sword of Kahless, Our Man Bashir, Homefront, and Paradise Lost.
Disc Four contains the episodes Crossfire, Return to Grace, Sons of Mogh, and Bar Association.
Disc Five contains the episodes Accession, Rules of Engagement, Hard Time, and Shattered Mirror.
Disc Six contains the episodes The Muse, For the Cause, To the Death, and The Quickening.
Disc Seven contains the episodes Body Parts and Broken Link plus the Special Features.
The menus for all of the discs are the same cool-looking interactive graphics giving the feel of being on the station and using one of the terminals there. I especially like the interactive menu for the Special Features which depicts the station and gives the appearance of looking in on various locations.
Charting New Territory gives an overview of the season. The creative staff talks about the path the series takes this season and some of the motivations behind it. The biggest change comes when Worf is assigned to Deep Space Nine. This move draws in the Klingon story where the staff wanted to concentrate on the Dominion/Cardassians/Bajor, so it involved some shifting of gears. They also discuss the episodes Rejoined, Little Green Men, Our Man Bashir, The Visitor, and the season-ending Broken Link.
Crew Dossier: Worf has Michael Dorn (the actor who portrays the Klingon) talking about the character and how he plays him. Every situation with Worf becomes interesting for him, rather than feeling typecast. Dorn infused Worf with an edge during the series to give off a feeling of superiority over what’s going on around him on the station. He talks about the Dax/Worf relationship developing over time and what that felt like. He also talks about working on the Star Trek: The Next Generation movies & being on Deep Space Nine.
Michael Westmore’s Aliens has the makeup supervisor talking about the use of molds and appliances in makeup. The makeup special effects really took a big turn in this season as Wetsmore got a lot more work.
Deep Space Nine Sketchbook shows illustrations for sets, CGI, and effects for the various episodes.
In the Photo Gallery there are around 3 dozen stills from the series
Also on this disc is the Indiana Jones Preview Trailer which is a preview of the Indiana Jones 4-disc DVD set coming in November 2003 just in time for Christmas. I think I have to have it, so they probably did right putting it on here, although I’d rather have more Star Trek-related material instead.
Section 31 Hidden Files are still on this disc. It mainly deals with episodes of the series: Rejoined, The Quickening, Little Green Men, Our Man Bashir, The Visitor, The Sword of Kahless, and The Sons of Mogh are shown with interesting facts about the development of these episodes or the episodes themselves/ There are also interviews with Chase Masterson (Leeta), Robert O’Reilly (Gowron), and the visual effects coordinator for the series.
This was definitely one of the best seasons of this series. The introduction of Michael Dorn to the cast was a terrific move. It’s also a season where the writers began using more of a continuing story arc and viewers would start needing to see key episodes to keep up with the story.
Paramount did a good job with the DVD set. I still have my usual complaint about too much promotional material at the end of the Hidden Files, but they do seem to have cut down a bit. The Indiana Jones Preview Trailer could have been left off – it’s going to be dated in just a few months. Other than that, the episodes are terrific in their uncut format and the set is great fun to watch.