Season 6 Review
The trendline in this graph starkly expresses what I've been saying about season 6 for the last few weeks; it starts out great and goes downhill. Glancing through the old graphs from all the shows I've reviewed, this is the steepest decline of them all. The overall average for this season was 6.423, which is still a pretty strong score, but it's a considerable decline from season 5 and just fractionally ahead of season 4. If we break the season into two halves of 13 episodes, the first half has an average score of 7.231, which would have been the highest average I ever awarded a season. The second half has an average score of 5.615. That's not a bad score, but it's closer to season 1 than any of the seasons that came since. That's a crazy disparity between the two halves, especially for a show that has been consistent or improving for most of its run.
Like last season, I rated six episodes this season as absolute classic episodes, but this season has the highest number of below average scores since season 2. Six episodes were rated below average, three were average, while seventeen were above average.
Best episode: In the Pale Moonlight
Worst episode: Profit and Lace
No new writers this season, but the departure of Robert Hewitt Wolfe has led to Ira Behr teaming up with Hans Beimler. Does that change anything?
Ron Moore maintains his lead with a score of 7.333, with René Echevarria a little behind with a score of 7. Behr and Beimler both get a score of 6.222 this season. Bradley Thompson and David Weddle are at the bottom of the table with a score of 5.2.
Last season, Ron Moore won a technical lead over Peter Allan Fields because they were tied with Moore having more credits overall. This season, Ron Moore officially moves ahead with an average score of 7.273, which gives him a lead of 0.023. Echevarria is next with a score of 6.812, which is well ahead of DS9's average score so far. Wolfe remains on 6.187. Beimler moves up to 5.944, while Behr moves up to 5.927. Thompson and Weddle move down to 5.571, slightly ahead of Michael Piller's 5.5.
With one season to go, Ron Moore needs to keep his game up to win the race, but Ron Moore doesn't seem like the sort of guy to screw things up in the final season, does he?
Runabouts Lost: 8 (+1)
Form of... : 33 (+2)
Wormhole in Peril: 9 (+2)
Sykonee's Counter: 35 (+1)
Stupid French Things: 5 (+1)
Season 1 Average: 5.211
Season 2 Average: 6.231
Season 3 Average: 6.192
Season 4 Average: 6.4
Season 5 Average: 6.808
Season 6 Average: 6.423
Overall Average: 6.257
Voyager Average After 6 Seasons: 4.889
Enterprise Overall Average: 5.206
Babylon 5 Overall Average: 6.121
As explained earlier, season 6 is a season of two halves. The first half of season 6 is my favourite run of episodes in all of Star Trek, it was ambitious and exciting with some fantastic arc developments and character stories. The occupation arc was a huge success and defined what's best about DS9. But the second half of the season was the weakest DS9 has been since the first half of season 2. The show lost its direction, and all the ambition shown in the first half of the season evaporated into a fog of meaningless fluff. It wasn't all bad, In the Pale Moonlight
is easily one of Star Trek's best episodes, but the show lost track of where it was going and what it was trying to achieve, so much so that the season finale seems like it came out of nowhere.
I've been saying for the last few seasons that DS9's biggest problem is that it's stuck between being a serialised show and an episodic one, and season 6 strains this problem to the point of incredulity. To twist one of the show's own speeches: "People are dying out there, every day! Entire worlds are struggling for their freedom! And here I am playing dress-up in 1960's Vegas.
" That version of the speech doesn't quite have the same impact, does it? Some light-hearted episodes are welcome, they prevent DS9 from becoming as bleak as nuBSG would become. (I love nuBSG, but Star Trek should never be that depressing.) Sadly, there's just too much fluff this season, and some of it goes too far. It's hard to take the threat of war seriously while Quark is exposing his boobs as part of a crazy scheme.
Why the second half of this season struggled, we can only guess. Maybe the occupation arc burned out the writers and they floundered in their attempt to produce 26 episodes for the season. Maybe there was an edict from on high that the show needed to focus more on episodic stories and the writers struggled to get excited for that stuff. Maybe they were holding back most of their ideas for the final season. Whatever the real reason was, what could have been DS9's best season has fallen back into second place. With one more season to go, DS9 needs to change course once again and attempt to bring back the excitement that the occupation arc brought, because if it continues down this path then the show will be going out with a whimper, and not the bang it deserves.