Friday, October 26, 2012

The Worst Ten Episodes Of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

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The Basics: Even a great show has its duds: these are the bottom ten episodes Star Trek: Deep Space Nine produced!

In the tradition of the Top Ten Lists I have for the other series’ in the Star Trek franchise, I figured that it was about time for me to revisit Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (reviewed here!) is a bit tougher to make a Top Ten List for (though I did, back when I was writing for another site, here!), largely because after a certain point, the show becomes heavily serialized and pieces of other episodes are required to get the most out of later episodes.

But, even for a perfect series, there are less-than-stellar episodes. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine had some duds, though none fell nearly as far as the bottom episodes from the other works in the franchise. For the Bottom Ten Duds Of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, one need only look to:

10. “Battle Lines” (reviewed here!) – Killing off characters can be a tough sell, but when the whole point of the episode is to bury a guest character it can be dicey. The series eventually got it right with episodes like “Life Support,” which has one of the most heartwrenching finishes of the franchise. But in the first season, in order to set off a perfectly reasonable religious schism that would play a part throughout the rest of the series, Kai Opaka needed to be lost. “Battle Lines” is the result and while it is an initially interesting idea, it replays exceptionally poorly. This is, arguably, the worst essential episode the series produced,

9. “Melora” (reviewed here!) – I admire the message of a handicapable officer, but the execution with “Melora” just sucks. It’s a sad thing when the b-plot (in this case, a disgruntled former partner of Quark’s returning to kill him) entirely overwhelms the character for whom the episode is named. I suppose the writers just really wanted their original characterization for the doctor on Deep Space Nine to see the light of day. This episode is the reason revisions get made (outside the budgetary constraints!),

8. “Fascination” (reviewed here!) – It’s a Lwaxana Troi episode and the real knife in the gut to fans is that it is Vedek Bareil’s penultimate appearance. After being part of this ridiculous “love spell” episode, I think I’d want my character dead, too,

7. “If Wishes Were Horses” (reviewed here!) – On The Simpsons, in one of the “Treehouse Of Horror” episodes, Springfield is overrun by the icons of businesses in town that become animated. The donut-eating Lard Lad, for example, goes on a rampage, stomping on everyone. The denizens of Springfield soon realize that they are fueled by the attention of the townspeople and a catchy jingle (with the simple lyrics “Just don’t look, just don’t look!”) solves the problem. “If Wishes Were Horses” is an equally simple and insulting episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Moreover, it raises nagging theoretical issues (much like “Where Silence Has Lease” did on Star Trek: The Next Generation) where fans can just ask, “If the solution to the problem was just imagining different readings on the consoles, doesn’t that mean everyone is still in The Matrix?!” I find myself wondering if, had the writers known where they were going with Bashir, they would have hinted at his secret in his fantasy here,

6. “Rules Of Engagement” (reviewed here!) – I admire taking narrative risks, especially in a show that usually tries to keep things gritty, realistic, and trending toward the tragic. But, not all risks pay off. “Rules Of Engagement” proves that. While most people I know would swap “The Sword Of Kahless” with this on this list, I like that “The Sword Of Kahless” doesn’t cheapen itself with a “magical” explanation – the characters all just become assholes in their pursuit of the sword. “Rules Of Engagement” relies on a conceit that makes no sense when one considers how efficient Odo usually is (seriously, writers, it takes him days to discover the ship’s crew had been dead for three months?!) and the comedic relief in it is just lame,

5. “Babel” (reviewed here!) – Talk about great ideas that replay poorly. “Babel” has no character development and a painfully simplistic plot. It does, however, have some pretty impressive acting. The fact that so many actors can speak mumbo jumbo the way they do in this episode is cool, but it’s not enough to save it,

4. “Meridian” (reviewed here!) – Sure, it was the “Brigadoon” episode and entirely lame for that reason, but . . . No, there is no “but” here. “Meridian” is a pretty silly one-shot romance episode focusing on Dax. In fact, the only reason to go back and rewatch the episode is to really have the knife twisted in when one considers how much the writers built up Jadzia’s youth and potential,

3. “Q-Less” (reviewed here!) – The most shameless attempt to exploit the Star Trek: The Next Generation audience. Damn,

2. “Destiny” (reviewed here!) – Usually, I consider this the worst episode. “Destiny” is a simple, obvious, prophecy episode and if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. A prophecy is made, no one really believes it, but it affects the way they act and lo and behold, by the end of the episode, there is a way to look at it where the prophecy actually came true! It’s a formula that is so beneath Star Trek: Deep Space Nine that it is shameful that they allowed an episode that relied upon such a “done” conceit to be produced. If Bajoran prophets were so good, how is it none of them made a clear, reasonable prophecy, like, “When you see the Cardassians coming on stardate XXXXX.X, destroy their ship or for 70 years, our people will be raped, killed, enslaved, etc.?” Despite the establishment of the communication’s relay on the other side of the wormhole, I wince each time I feel compelled to watch this episode,

And finally . . .

1. “Take Me Out To The Holosuite” (reviewed here!) – Objectively even worse than “Destiny” is the baseball episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Let us forget, for a moment, that the episode has the least-Vulcan Vulcans (including Vorik on Star Trek: Voyager) the franchise produced up until the liars in Star Trek: Enterprise. Let us completely disregard how the episode makes characters who have absolutely no emotional investment care about a ridiculous grudge match. We can try to believe that Worf, who nails flying drones when swinging his phaser rifle in Star Trek: Insurrection, would actually have issues with hitting a baseball and that he would not be a power hitter for Sisko’s team (we can try . . .), but the Sisko issues are just too much. In context, “Take Me Out To The Holosuite” makes Sisko and StarFleet look like a bunch of absolute idiots and simpletons. Within a year, Captain Benjamin Sisko has: pretty much lost his mind (“Far Beyond The Stars”), been tortured (“Waltz”), sent a married couple on a dangerous mission they completely botched (“Change Of Heart”), conspired, abetted multiple murders, and entirely violated the Prime Directive as well as a number of interstellar laws (“In The Pale Moonlight”), been forced to watch as his son was possessed by a malevolent entity after he destroyed a priceless religious artifact (“The Reckoning”), and lost his best friend in the universe and abandoned his post for months as a result (“Tears Of The Prophets”). Then, he becomes obsessed with a baseball game that causes him to injure his crew and act like an ass to a fellow captain and civilians living aboard his station (most of whom just want to help him out). Seriously?! How does StarFleet not fire this guy?! I love Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and I am a huge fan of Benjamin Sisko, but the fact that Bashir did not relieve him for being emotionally strung out absolutely unfathomable. “Take Me Out To The Holosuite,” with Sisko’s behavior in it, is the line too far in the progression of terrible shit that happens to Captain Benjamin Sisko and it is utterly unbelievable that after this point the military branch of the Federation would allow him to keep his post.

And it’s a baseball episode in the middle of a serious and engaging storyline. “Destiny” might insult genre fans, but “Take Me Out To The Holosuite” is just offensive to people who like decent television!

For similar lists, be sure to check out my:
Top Ten Episodes Of Star Trek
Top Ten Episodes Of Star Trek: The Next Generation
Bottom Ten Episodes Of Star Trek
The Worst Ten Episodes Of Star Trek: The Next Generation

For a comprehensive list of the Star Trek franchise, Best To Worst, check out my ever-growing Star Trek Review Index Page where the reviews are so organized!

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