As the sixth season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine opens, the Federation is well into a war against the Dominion-Cardassian Alliance. The war is going badly for the Federation and it sends Captain Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks) on a mission to destroy the ketracel-white, the drug to which the Jem’Hadar – the Dominion soldiers – are genetically addicted. Though they succeed on their mission, they are stranded well into Dominion territory and soon captured.
This is a season that explores the dark side of war – any war. People I’ve come to like and admire over the past five seasons, such as Captain Sisko and Miles O’Brien (Colm Meaney), must question and sometimes abandon many of the philosophies that made me think so much of them to begin with. It’s a much darker theme than we are used to from Star Trek as it always seemed to follow the idea that humans in the future are perfect. Here, we see their faults.
The Changeling Odo (Rene Auberjonois) is torn between his own people and those that he calls his friends. His loyalty falters, forcing him and the Bajoran Kira Nerys (Nana Visitor) to be on opposite sides, and also putting a damper on their growing feelings for each other. Couple that with learning that her mother was Gul Dukat’s lover in the episode Wrongs Darker than Death or Night and it’s a rough season for Kira, continuing the darker theme that started the season off.
Meanwhile, the Federation makes plans to retake Deep Space Nine as a big morale booster in the war, or die trying. Dr. Bashir (Alexander Siddig) helps a group of savants who can possibly predict the future through the use of equations in helping the Federation. When their prediction spells certain doom and the loss of billions of lives, it’s rejected by the Federation. Later on, in the episode Inquisition, Bashir is interrogated by the mysterious Section 31 and then asked to join this Starfleet Intelligence Organization that is not under anyone’s control.
The season is not without it’s lighter and more fun moments. You Are Cordially Invited… features a traditional Klingon wedding between Worf (Michael Dorn) and the Trill, Dax (Terry Farrell). Dax has always had a good relationship among Klingons, even helping the great Kor carry out a blood oath, but finds out that marrying into the Klingon ways and being accepted is much more difficult. Their love is later challenged when they are sent off on a mission together in Change of Heart and Worf must choose between completing the mission and saving his wife’s life.
There is a take-off of The Magnificent Seven aptly titled The Magnificent Ferengi in which Quark and Nog lead a group to rescue their mother from her imprisonment at the hands of the Vorta. Bashir creates a holosuite program set in 1960’s Las Vegas, complete with it’s own lounge singer, Vic Fontaine.
In Who Mourns for Morn, Quark (Armin Shimerman) inherits the entire estate of Morn, an icon in Quark’s bar, but about whom little is known. As Quark digs into the being’s history looking for assets, he uncovers a sinister plot surrounding his death. As if this isn’t enough for the Ferengi to deal with, he’s turned into a female Ferengi in Profit and Lace.
A ground-breaking episode, Far Beyond the Stars features the cast in a different setting. Sisko begins having a vision of being Benny, a science-fiction writer in 1953 New York and coming up against the racism of the time. Neither he nor Kira, who is a fellow writer, can reveal their true identities as the publishers feel the public won’t accept a woman or black writer. To this end, Benny begins formulating the story of Deep Space Nine.
The mirror universe is once again drawn into the picture. This time, it’s with the counterpart of Kira’s former lover, Vedek Bareil. Nog must decide between following the charismatic leader of a rogue Starfleet squadron or listening to his friend, Jake in Valiant.
As the season winds down, there is a crisis even though the tide of the war seems to be turning. One of the regulars has been killed, and Sisko blames himself. Needing time to understand his place in the universe, he abandons Deep Space Nine to reconcile his feelings of self-doubt and guilt.
The season has a nice story arc as many of the episodes tie together to create one story. Not quite as serialized as Babylon 5 was, the overall story still relies on a prior knowledge of what’s been going on. There are many more characters on the canvas. Each have their purpose and don’t seem to be used gratuitously, and some are no longer among the living by the end of the season. That might be expected for some of the recurring characters who aren’t used as much, but to see a regular character killed off was something not done since the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
The pace during the whole season is good as well. It seems that the more comic episodes are purposely scheduled right after some of the more deep, heavy episodes which keeps the season from being too much of a downer, despite exploring so many of the dark issues associated with war.
Disc One contains the episodes A Time to Stand, Rocks and Shoals, Sons and Daughters, and Behind the Lines.
Disc Two contains the episodes Favor the Bold, Sacrifice of Angels, You Are Cordially Invited…, and Resurrection.
Disc Three contains the episodes Statistical Probabilities, The Magnificent Ferengi, Waltz, and Who Mourns for Morn?.
Disc Four contains the episodes Far Beyond the Stars, One Little Ship, Honor Among Thieves, and Change of Heart.
Disc Five contains the episodes Wrongs Darker than Death or Night, Inquisition, In the Pale Moonlight, and His Way.
Disc Six contains the episodes The Reckoning, Valiant, Profit and Lace, and Time’s Orphan.
Disc Seven contains the episodes The Sound of Her Voice and Tears of the Prophets as well as the Special Features.
Mission Inquiry: Far Beyond the Stars is a look at a milestone episode for Deep Space Nine which took a look at racism in the 1940’s through the eyes of a fledgling science fiction writer. This features interviews with many of the cast and crew about what it was like for them to be involved in this particular story.
24th Century Wedding takes a look at the episode You Are Cordially Invited… when Worf and Dax were married. Again, there are interviews with members of the cast and crew, including Michael Dorn and Terry Farrell.
Crew Dossier: Julian Bashir has interviews with Executive Producer Ira Steven Behr and Alexander Siddig who portrayed the character. In addition to looking at the character of Dr. Julian Bashir, it also looks at the deep friendship between Dr. Bashir and Miles O’Brien as well as the Cardassian, Garak.
Crew Dossier: Quark is an overall profile of the Ferengi, Quark and features an interview with Armin Shimerman who portrayed the character. There are also interviews with the other castmembers about the character and actor which talks about the evolution of Quark throughout the seven years of the series.
Sketchbook: John Eaves has Illustrator John Eaves looking at many of the drawings used for the season to figure out how certain sets would look, as well as props used. A highlight is his input on the magazine covers used in the episode Far Beyond the Stars.
There is also a Photo Gallery with stills from various episodes throughout the season.
The Indiana Jones Preview Trailer is already outdated as of this writing, as the boxed set for that series of films has already been released. It is a nice incentive to buy the series if you haven’t yet, though.
The Hidden Files are also back once again. These are generally short snippets which I’ve finally figured out are probably from the interviews conducted with the cast and crew throughout the making of these DVDs. What these seem to contain are some memories or terrific commentary a particular member of the cast and crew might have about a certain episode or some insight into a character. These don’t fit in anywhere else, but instead of these ending up on disappearing, they were included as Hidden Files. Tehre are ten of these in this particular collection, such as Rene Auberjonois talks about portraying Odo and guiding his character, or about Nana Visitor getting to sing Fever in the episode His Way.
All of these collections are well worth having. Though darker in tone than the rest of the series, the sixth season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is well worth having. It contains some truly extraordinary material such as Far Beyond the Stars which is one of those episodes you can’t help but look at and wonder why this series – and some of the actors – never got any formal recognition in the way of awards.
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