Season 2 Review
So, how much of a step up was season 2 from the first one? Behold the glory of the graph!
The average score for this season is 6.231, the highest score I have awarded to any season of Star Trek, although lower to the scores I gave to seasons 3, 4 & 5 of Babylon 5. It's a strong score, almost a great one, but this is a show still being held back by poor and mediocre episodes, particularly in the first half of the season. The trendline shows quite strongly that the second half of the season was rated higher than the first half, thanks mainly that that really strong run of episodes from Blood Oath
to The Jem'Hadar
This shows us why the score was so high, it's because of the impressive number of episodes that scored 8. Remove those episodes and the score would be roughly average, but the height of that bar compared with the lack of a similarly-sized bar on the left of the graph is what stands out. When this season was good it was really good, and when it was bad it was about average.
I rated seven episodes this season below average, two were average, and seventeen were above average.
Best episode: The Wire
Worst episode: Second Sight
Last season saw Fields as the runaway winner with Piller, Behr, and Wolfe all scoring below average. How will things change this season?
Fields ends his run as a staff-writer with an even more impressive score than last season's, an average of 7.75 out of four episodes. Hans Beimler's score is something of an anomaly as he only wrote one episode and wont be joining the writing-staff until season 4, so his score is 7 from the episode Paradise
. Piller is next, strongly improving his score to 6.5 out of four episodes. The most improved score is Ira Behr's, an average of 6.333 out of six episodes. Wolfe trails behind with a still above-average score of 5.4 from his 5 episodes. Now let's combine season 1 and 2's scores and see where that leaves the writers.
Peter Allan Fields leaves the show with a score of 7.571 out of seven episodes, which will be very difficult to beat. He'll write one more episode in season 5 (For the Uniform
), but that's unlikely to change his score much. Beimler's score is 7, but we can't read much into that from one episode. Michael Piller writes his final script for the show (officially) and bows out with a final score of 5.5 out of ten episodes. Ira Behr is next with 5.375 out of eight episodes. Wolfe gets a perfectly average score of 5 out of 8 episodes.
There's five seasons to go and with Ron Moore and René Echevarria joining the show next season there is still the possibility of Fields losing the top-spot.
Runabouts Lost: 2 (+1)
Form of... : 12 (+6)
Wormhole in Peril: 1 (+0)
Sykonee's Counter: 13 (+4)
Stupid French Things: 1 (+1)
Season 1 Average: 5.211
Season 2 Average: 6.231
Overall Average: 5.8
Voyager Average After 2 Seasons: 5.122
Enterprise Average After 2 Seasons: 4.882
Babylon 5 Average After 2 Seasons: 5.356
Michael Piller says that for season 2 he encouraged the writing staff to focus on the areas that made DS9 different from TNG, and that's the key difference between this season and the first. When the show focused on Bajor, Cardassia, or the characters we were usually in for a good hour of television, but when it focused on anomalies or aliens of the week we were usually in for a poor to mediocre episode. The writers' score graph for this season tells us more than which writer "won" the season, it also shows us that almost all the staff-writers outperformed the season average, and the main reason why Wolfe trails behind is because of his involvement with Second Sight
, a poor attempt at a TNG episode. The score this season appears to have been weakened by the freelance writers, most of whom contributed more general episodes that could have been adapted to work on the other Trek shows. But the staff writers were focusing on DS9's uniqueness, and that's where the season got its strength.
Is this one of DS9's greatest seasons? Before I would have said yes, now I'm less sure. Remove the poorer, inconsequential episodes and this is a very strong season, one that sets up much conflict for future seasons, something that's especially appreciable when you're rewatching the show. But there's still quite a few below-average episodes here, and while I may be viewing the future seasons with rose-tinted glasses, I don't think there's as many bad episodes in future seasons as there are here, and many of those seasons reach greater heights than season 2 managed.
While all seasons of DS9 could be labelled transitional seasons is some sense, I think that season 2 qualifies for it more than the others. This is the season where they experimented with more political stories, where they chose to focus more of their time on established races than establishing new ones, and it was the season where they let the bad guys win some stories. Season 2 was DS9's puberty: things got darker, more complicated, and less whimsical, but it could also be awkward and extremely frustrating. But at least it's not shitting its pants or rubbing its sticky fingers over everything like it did back in season 1.