Star Trek Deep Space Nine and Relationships

So, I believe it was last week when I mentioned I’d gone back to watching DS9. I’m a few episodes into Season 5 (watched two this morning, both of which I think I’ve somehow never seen before) and I was again struck by something that has been very noticeable this time around, and that’s the relationship between Captain Sisko and his son, Jake.

I think, as a kid and then later a college student, that I just lumped this in with the rest of the (admittedly, usually excellent) relationships which are, I would argue, really what makes DS9 work. But as a parent myself, rewatching these episodes (especially the tear-jerking season 4 episode “The Visitor”, which you should watch whether you’ve watched any other DS9 or not) have really resonated this time through. And they do a great job–any episode that has focused on Sisko and Jake has tended to be very strong. Kudos to everyone who wrote or acted or was related to them, because I do think it’s one of the best parent/child relationships I’ve seen portrayed on television.

DS9 tends to be people’s favorite or least favorite of the Trek series, probably because it’s so different. But because they have a “home base,” so to speak, it allowed them to do things differently, including a lot more focus on characters and relationships. I love the original series and Next Generation, but they’re more adventure of the week stories. Data and Spock are really the only characters whose background/feelings/growth are explored, and that’s because they’re the Other. DS9 does that to some extent with Odo, but almost every character–even side ones, like Rom or Nog–gets a character arc at some point.

And it explores family more too. There’s actually a lot of single father examples. Besides Sisko and Jake, there’s Rom and Nog and also Worf and Alexander at points. The O’Briens are a complete family unit with small children. They go into sibling relationships with Quark and Rom. And unlike Next Gen, where at times it’s not really clear where the children go during emergencies (or how they deal with the aftermath), these family relationships can be central in an emergency instead of being glossed over.

And I think, as an adult, I can appreciate this all more, both as good television and good writing skills. I stopped watching as a kid (I must have been 12 or 13) because of something silly which, in retrospect, was an opportunity for them to explore what happened when someone was isolated from their own type, even if they’d never really been home in the first place. To adapt to change. To live as something different but common, instead of being what you were and alone.

Anyway, if you want excellent ensemble television, with the occasional explosion or time travel romp, I highly recommend DS9. You do kind of have to watch it in order, though, to understand the multiseason Dominion War arc (and its predecessor wars with the Cardassians and the Klingons).

Fan of DS9, Squiders? Like Trek in general? Why or why not? Which series is your favorite?

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