Friday, March 2, 2012

The Dominion War Is Chronicled In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Season Six!

The Good: Plot, Character, Acting, Special effects, Themes
The Bad: None, this is a perfect season!
The Basics: Undeniably a dramatic force to be reckoned with, the sixth season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine achieves perfection and establishes the series as a true original and classic.

If you are not into Star Trek: Deep Space Nine by now, don't bother starting with this boxed set. If you do, you'll only get about ten percent of what is actually going on in the show. Indeed, though the show is heavily serialized, it does very few recaps, working on the assumption that you saw the episode that preceded the one you're watching now. The sixth season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is a reward for all of those people who stuck with the series through its rockier early seasons. And what a reward it is!

Opening months after the fifth season finale, the sixth season finds the Federation and Klingons losing the war against the Dominion. Kira, Odo, Jake and Quark live under Dominion-occupied Deep Space Nine while Sisko works to try to take back the station. And after a few episodes, he actually succeeds, but it's a big, bloody season and the retaking of Deep Space Nine is only the beginning. The season continues with the spiraling effect of the war consuming everything until the season finale when it finally consumes one of the main crew permanently.

This is a war story.

This is a big, ballsy, bloody war story. If you liked Return Of The King (reviewed here!), imagine watching an incredibly long movie where you liked the characters even more than the denizens of Middle Earth and that the battles they fought did not go so well. There is no army of the undead in Deep Space Nine to step in and aid Sisko in smiting the Dominion. There are Prophets and they come into play, but they exact a penance, something that does not happen in the Lord of the Rings. In short, the sixth season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is an epic war that pits good against evil in such a way that makes it almost impossible for good to win. As the season progresses, it becomes about the compromises the forces of good make in their ideals to attempt to win. It's quite telling watching Bashir work with a man who protects the Civil Rights of the Federation by using means that thoroughly undermine them ("Inquisition"), Sisko blackmail, lie and cheat to try to get allies ("In The Pale Moonlight") and Kira ally herself with a collaborator ("Wrongs Darker Than Death Or Night").

The sixth season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine rides on the characters, as always. Here is how the sixth season finds them evolving:

Garak - Works closely with the Federation, even aiding Sisko in getting the Romulans to join the war ("In The Pale Moonlight"),

Rom - Prepares to make the ultimate sacrifice to insure that the Dominion does not bring down the wormhole ("Behind Enemy Lines") and then to rescue his mother ("The Magnificent Ferengi"),

Nog - Is promoted to Ensign and continues to exemplify what it is to be a StarFleet officer,

Gul Dukat - Makes policy for the Dominion during the Occupation and with the loss of Deep Space Nine, he loses everything ("Sacrifice Of Angels"),

Quark - Schemes to protect the Ferengi Alliance from falling apart ("Profit And Lace") after taking the biggest risks of his life in rescuing his mother ("The Magnificent Ferengi"),

O'Brien - Is reunited with his family and commits utterly to keeping them safe from now on ("Time's Orphan"),

Jake Sisko - Becomes a full reporter for the Federation, working to expose the truths of the Dominion occupation,

Dax - Marries Worf ("You Are Cordially Invited. . .") and learns that that complicates her life immeasurably ("Change Of Heart"),

Odo - Goes over to the dark side ("Behind Enemy Lines"), until his love for Kira is finally realized ("His Way"),

Bashir - Suffers greatly under the burdens of war and seeks out kindred genetically enhanced people ("Statistical Probabilities") and finally becomes the spy he always fantasized about being ("Inquisition"),

Worf - Marries Dax and works to try to end the war against the Dominion using force, a choice that will cost him ("Tears Of The Prophets"),

Kira - Becomes a terrorist once again to free her people from Dominion rule ("Favor The Bold") and in the shadows of that, learns a family secret that leaves her shaken ("Wrongs Darker Than Death Or Night") until Odo makes his move ("His Way"),

and Sisko - Finally reveals the full potential of being a religious figure with a relationship to the Prophets ("Sacrifice Of Angels"), a move that changes the face of the war. As he sacrifices everything to win the war ("In The Pale Moonlight"), a heavy price is exacted for his powers that leaves him broken ("Tears Of The Prophets").

If you are a fan of science fiction, it does not get better than this. If you're a fan of great drama, this will be compelling as well. If you remember how horrible you felt for the heroes in The Empire Strikes Back, when it seemed they had lost everything, then you are ready to get a new standard to play by. The sixth season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine pushes the characters to the brink of destruction, giving them very few victories and souring the few they do achieve.

Why would you want to watch this, then? It sounds wholly depressing. Well, it's bound to make you feel better about yourself. After all, seeing how bad the situation is for the crew of Deep Space Nine makes the current political climate of the U.S. seem almost tolerable. But in the longer term, the sixth season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine reveals to the viewer how much we can root for an underdog, how much we can push for success against all odds. In "Statistical Probabilities" and "A Time To Stand" we actually hear the odds of the Federation winning the war and they are pathetically slim. The nice thing is, like all great drama, the series does not abandon that idea. Things don't just suddenly go well for the crew. This is an ugly war and it is easy to get immersed in it in this boxed set and yearn to see how it turns out.

The war is broken down into stories, though it is a rather encompassing event throughout the entire season. The range of episodes runs from absolute horrifying war story ("Rocks And Shoals") to romantic comedy ("His Way") to farce ("Profit And Lace") to political intrigue ("In The Pale Moonlight"). There are family sagas ("Time's Orphan") and interstellar battles ("Sacrifice Of Angels") and a brilliant episode that reminds us of the importance of communicating our love to our loved ones ("The Sound Of Her Voice"). In short, while there is a war that dominates the storyline, there is something for everyone in this season and it's refreshing to see such a mature, adult series.

Part of what accomplishes that mood is the caliber of actors. The actors here are adults acting with adult determination, securities and ethics. There aren't easy ways out in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and that is assured through the stern facade of Avery Brooks, the grim determination Colm Meany puts into O'Brien, the sadness Rene Auberjonois infuses into Odo. Alexander Siddig does an amazing job, from the very first episode of the season ("A Time To Stand") in establishing how the war has affected his character. Siddig plays Bashir as a man beaten down of months of watching bloodshed, exactly what one would expect of a doctor during wartime.

The sixth season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is a rare perfect season of television and while it may be essential to see the prior five seasons, the investment (in time, emotion and money) more than pays off in the sixth season. This boxed set with excite and stimulate you and leave you wanting to rush out for the seventh - and final - season of this great epic.

For a better idea of just what this boxed set contains, please be sure to visit my reviews of the episodes from this season. They are:
A Time To Stand
Rocks And Shoals
Sons And Daughters
Behind The Lines
Favor The Bold
Sacrifice Of Angels
You Are Cordially Invited . . .
Statistical Probabilities
The Magnificent Ferengi
Who Mourns For Morn?
Far Beyond The Stars
One Little Ship
Honor Among Thieves
Change Of Heart
Wrongs Darker Than Death Or Night
In The Pale Moonlight
His Way
The Reckoning
Profit And Lace
Time’s Orphan
The Sound Of Her Voice
Tears Of The Prophets


For other Star Trek reviews, please be sure to visit my index page on the subject for an organized listing of all those reviews!

© 2012, 2004 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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