Thursday, November 24, 2011

Dominion Revealed On Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - The Complete Third Season!

The Good: Excellent episodes, Great character work, Outstanding acting
The Bad: The few episodes that stink, stink bad
The Basics: When the Dominion Threat is revealed as an enemy with teeth, the viewer gets 26 episodes wherein the Star Trek universe is shaken up.

Part of the problem with reviewing the DVD sets to the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine series is that the reader misses out on the nuance of the individual episode reviews. I strongly encourage readers who enjoy this review to go back and read my reviews on the individual Star Trek Deep Space Nine episodes from this season (see below). Ultimately, a season of any television series is only so good as the sum of its parts. Fortunately, the third season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is a season made up of excellent parts.

I entitle the third season of this great show "Dominion Revealed." Where season two (reviewed here!) alluded to the Dominion as a phantom threat, the third season brings the Dominion out into the open and allows us to see what the Federation is up against. As a serialized show, the third season manages to follow a pretty tight plot arc for the year.

The story goes like this: having met the Jem'Hadar at the end of the second season, Sisko decides the Dominion needs to see that the Federation will fight for what it believes. With that in mind, he gets a starship attached to Deep Space Nine. The Defiant is a warship and on its first mission (the season premiere "The Search, Part I and II"), it goes to the heart of the Dominion to locate the Founders. Following that, the station clears out as the Alpha Quadrant comes to fear the new menace on the other side of the wormhole. During this period, the Obsidian Order begins making some questionable moves ("Second Skin" and "Defiant"), Bajor and Cardassia sign a lasting peace treaty ("Life Support") and Sisko and Bashir take a detour to the early 21st Century. Odo reveals his secret ("Heart Of Stone"), Grand Nagus Zek has an encounter with the wormhole aliens and threatens to change Ferengi society ("Prophet Motive") and a two-parter concludes the alluded to Obsidian Order activity ("Improbable Cause" and "The Die Is Cast"). As the Dominion becomes more and more of a threat, the Alpha Quadrant seems to come together more and more with Cardassia becoming an ally and Bajor's government finally becoming something more than "provisional" ("Shakaar"). The season closes with a much-deserved promotion and a battle that is both creepy and psychologically terrifying ("The Adversary").

As in previous seasons of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the show remains quite focused on the characters. This is as season of growth and change for many of them. The highlights of the characters arcs are:

Sisko - He has resolved himself into a man of action, no longer contemplative and self-loathing. In the third season, Sisko grows fully into a person who will do things with a strong emphasis on defending the Federation and the first undertones of conflict with his religious persona in the Bajoran faith.

Kira - Manages to come to respect the Cardassians more than she, ultimately, trusts her own Bajoran leaders.

Dax - Discovers a whole new host and deals with the ramifications of all the past lives within her.

Odo - Finds his people and makes the hardest decisions of his life this season, revealing his innermost self to the viewers.

Dr. Bashir - Faces being 30 and little else.

O'Brien - He gets the crap kicked out of him, as per his usual. Though in the third season, O'Brien gets captured, beat up, wounded and/or killed in five of the 26 episodes, which is down from Season 2, he is also challenged in other ways, most notably being separated from his wife for much of the year.

Quark - Has more episodes than Bashir this season. This time around, he will save Ferengi society twice and strike a blow for getting Ferengi respect . . . by killing a Klingon!

Jake - Shows up. Ultimately, Jake's arc is done in teasers and brief acts wherein he goes from apprenticing with O'Brien to finding his own path; as a writer.

and the episodes are rounded out by Garak, who continues to grow more and more as the mysterious spy. In season three, Garak helps rescue Kira and Cardassia while still doing his best to get redeemed in the eyes of the people he still cares for.

The acting in season three continues to get sharper and sharper with the entire cast reminding the regular viewers (and educating those who are new to the series) how accomplished they can be.

Season three of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine represents the latest point where anyone may simply pick up a DS9 episode and get right into it. The opening of "The Search" does a retrospective of the season two finale and makes this set accessible to those who want a great show to watch without all of the build-up. The complete third season of Star Trek Deep Space Nine is a practical entrance to the series for those who want to get in when the action gets started. This season is less cerebral and works well for those type of viewers while continuing a steady sense of growth for those who are already committed to the show.

The DVD bonuses are a series of intriguing behind the scenes interviews and features exploring the aliens of DS9 and various episodes. There is a bonus disc on the Defiant in specially marked packages and the character focused on in the supplements is Odo in a wonderful interview that features great new footage of Rene Auberjonois.

The only real drawback to this collection is the season's two failures. "Meridian" was - and remains - a cheap knock off of Brigadoon, which was originally released to coincide with the Broadway revival of the play and "Destiny" ties for the worst episode of the series with the most obvious plot and an utter lack of intellectual challenge or originality.

Who will like the third season of Star Trek Deep Space Nine? Certainly more than Trekkers and Trekkies! Indeed, this is a set for anyone who likes adult drama, intelligent action stories and thoughtful science fiction. If you can get into any of those things, this set is well worth your dollars and your attention.

For a better idea of exactly what you would be getting in this boxed set, I have reviewed all 26 third season episodes and encourage you to read the reviews:
The Search, Part I
The Search, Part II
House Of Quark
Second Skin
The Abandoned
Civil Defense
Past Tense, Part I
Past Tense, Part II
Life Support
Heart Of Stone
Prophet Motive
Distant Voices
Through The Looking Glass
Improbable Cause
The Die Is Cast
Family Business
The Adversary


For other Star Trek episode, movies and DVD boxed sets, please be sure to visit my index page by clicking here!

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