Monday, October 31, 2011

Dominion Rising In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - The Complete Second Season!

The Good: Wonderful plot arc, Great character work, Amazing acting
The Bad: One or two "bottle" episodes
The Basics: When a shadowy menace emerges from the Gamma Quadrant, the Federation has a new villain to contend with and Star Trek Deep Space Nine gets a fresh new life.

The Star Trek Deep Space Nine Season Two DVD set continues the trend of containing the entire season of a Star Trek show and that works especially well for Deep Space Nine, as it is a serialized television show. Whereas the first season of Star Trek Deep Space Nine (reviewed here!) could have been entitled "Bajor Rebuilding," the second season moves away from that and I consider it a season of "Dominion Rising." This begs the question, "What is the Dominion?" That is the question that dominates the season.

When last we left Bajor and Deep Space Nine, Bajor was without a spiritual leader and the leading factions within the religions were vying for power in a rather political way, one that threatened the safety of those on Deep Space Nine. When the second season opens, the problems have gotten worse and Bajor faces a brief, but important civil war. As soon as the Bajoran Civil War is over, Quark does some business for the Grand Nagus in the Gamma Quadrant and he learns about an organization there called the Dominion. Unsure what the Dominion is, the Ferengi open business negotiations with them through a third party. While one or two minor incidents (or episodes if you want to step back from it) occur, Deep Space Nine strengthens its position of importance in the Quadrant until a group of refugees pour through the wormhole. They reveal that the Dominion destroyed their planet.

Soon, the undertones are undeniable: there is a force in the Gamma Quadrant that the Federation does not understand and seems to be a menace to all who encounter it. As Odo seeks answers to his own existence, strange relics are found on a Gamma Quadrant planet. As the Federation draws closer to an answer of what the Dominion is, civil unrest occurs, forcing the Federation to turn toward its own borders. A rebel group strikes chaos in the new Cardassian/Federation Demilitarized Zone and the Federation find the peace threatened by a rogue group calling themselves the Maquis. As relations between the Federation and Cardassia become more and more tense as a result of citizen conflicts in the Demilitarized Zone, the Dominion finally reveals itself in an amazing display.

The twenty-six episodes of the second season are beautifully presented on the seven disc set. While the episodes continue the unfortunate trend in the Star Trek DVDs of strange track breaks (rather than have tracks that correspond with the acts of the episode, the episodes seems randomly broken up) they are great transfers with wonderful sound quality. The bonus features on the season two set are pretty much the same as those from the first season, save that the character focus is on Quark. This set provides us again with a rare opportunity to see behind the scenes of several of the episodes as well as contain all new interviews with cast and crew about the stories behind the episodes. Unfortunately, there are still no commentaries on the Star Trek Deep Space Nine episodes and, as I've said before, of any of the Trek series that could benefit from commentary, DS9 is it!

The second season of Star Trek Deep Space Nine benefited from a greater sense of purpose than the first season did. Indeed, the first season of Star Trek Deep Space Nine is an establishment of time and place and sets most of the major arcs in motion. Season two establishes the other major half of the Star Trek Deep Space Nine story with the introduction of the Dominion.

Still the focus of the series is on the characters and they continue to grow each in their own way as a result of their experiences. In the second season, each of the characters has something new to do or experience.

Sisko continues to heal from the death of his wife and this season, he falls in love, loses a good friend to the Maquis and works to become more comfortable with the various religious leaders of Bajor.

Major Kira becomes more comfortable with the idea that she is an important part of Bajor as a result of being the first officer on Deep Space Nine. As well, she falls in love with Vedek Bariel, who comes close to becoming the new Kai - or religious leader - of Bajor. She works for the best interest of Bajor and to that end tries to become more comfortable with Commander Sisko.

Jadzia Dax has a run-in with a Trill terrorist and loses her symbiont, at least for a time.

Odo comes closer to learning the truth of his origins in the second season. This is an important step for Odo as his search for his homeland is based on so few clues. As well, viewers are treated to a glimpse into Odo's past in the best episode of the season ("Necessary Evil").

O'Brien has come to accept life on Deep Space Nine and in the second season, he is tortured three times, facing his most horrific fears as he is captured by the Cardassians.

Dr. Bashir finally makes a connection with O'Brien and he becomes less awkward as a result.

Quark gets closer and closer to making it rich as he makes connections at the highest level of Ferengi Society and then with the Dominion in the Gamma Quadrant.

Jake continues to grow up on Deep Space Nine, doing normal young adult things like going on dates and going to school.

As the second season continues, the acting gets better and better. In the first season, the actors were feeling out their characters, trying to figure out who the characters were. In the second season, from the moment Quark opens the second season, it is clear that the actors are more comfortable with their roles. Each of the actors steps up at one time or another in the second season, though they deliver a continual series of performances that are, at the very least, good.

Avery Brooks, especially, steps up as Commander Sisko. Brooks slowly gives Sisko more and more animation. He is astonishingly good at infusing energy over the course of the season to go from more of a brooding sourpuss into a man who can make the tough decisions and act when necessary. Brooks defines Sisko as a man coming out of a long night of depression and his performance resonates with the subtlety the performer adds to it.

While the entire rest of the cast is great, the other stand out in season two is Colm Meany as Miles O'Brien. Meany plays O'Brien as wounded, ill, tortured and entirely bewildered in episodes where his character's plight is the focus of the episodes. Meany makes a definite human connection for the viewer with the series. He makes us believe in O'Brien.

This is a tight series with a great amount of character development and great acting. The Star Trek Deep Space Nine season two DVD set is essential for anyone who loves great science fiction. It is an important stepping stone in the tale of Star Trek Deep Space Nine.

Because this is a serialized show, it may be difficult to get into Star Trek Deep Space Nine with the second season, but it is certainly not impossible. In fact, in some ways the Bajoran Civil War arc that opens the season is more accessible than the series premiere. Given the near-impossibility of a perfect season, Star Trek Deep Space Nine season two does a great job. There are one or two weak episodes, though none come to mind right away except the Sisko love story "Second Sight," and the bang for the buck is pretty high, which makes this seven-disc set a value.

For a better idea of exactly what you would be getting in this boxed set, I have reviewed all 26 second season episodes and encourage you to read the reviews at:
The Homecoming
The Circle
The Siege
Invasive Procedures
Rules Of Acquisition
Necessary Evil
Second Sight
The Alternate
Armageddon Game
Playing God
Profit And Loss
Blood Oath
The Maquis, Part I
The Maquis, Part II
The Wire
The Collaborator
The Jem'Hadar


For other television reviews, please be sure to visit my index page on the subject by clicking here!

© 2011, 2007, 2003 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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