For the Sisko/Emissary podcast you guys get points just for mentioning “Destiny” of the third season. Not enough people remember to list that episode as the one in which Sisko took that first step by reevaluating the idea of Bajoran prophecies and gave thought once more to the idea of being considered an Emissary of the Prophets. The latter idea gets thrust upon him again thanks to a scene in his Defiant quarters with Kira. The serious conversation between them leads to Kira admitting that although she did not want to believe it at first she does indeed believe he is the Emissary. It is a very important moment because not only does it somewhat change the dynamic in Sisko and Kira’s relationship, it also explained to us why Kira had being so rude and belligerent to as well as distrustful of Sisko early in the show’s run if she had believed that he was indeed an important religious figure of her people. By the way it is a fantastic and understated scene in one of the show’s most underappreciated episodes form the early years.
It was as if the writers for the episode realized there was this fantastic back story involving Sisko that was introduced in the very first ep of DS9 but had been virtually ignored for one and half seasons. Whoever came up with the idea to ignore the Bajoran religion storylines backlash that DS9 faced its first two years deserves tremendous credit because it gave Sisko a characteristic that separated him from Trek captains that came before and after, one that would be prominent in is storylines up to the final episode of the show. And not only did it alter the interactions to follow between Kira and Sisko, it also caused TPTB to start having Bajorans in general treat Sisko differently. During season two Sisko needed a legendary Bajoran soldier Li Nalas to help him push an agenda and to get the Bajoran people to hear him. A season after “Destiny” Sisko wouldn’t need anyone else to galvanize the Bajoran people because he could do it himself.
With that being said I think I have to disagree with any talk about TPTB having planned all of this. It is clear that DS9, unlike JMS at Babylon 5 was mostly making things up on the fly or plotting out things ahead of time at the beginning of each season. There isn’t any long arc planning from season one to season seven. How could there be considering all the changes in writers and producers from season one to season three? As I mentioned above the whole Emissary angle seemed to have been forgotten for the longest time before it was revisited. Not that I’m complaining. DS9 proves you can produce a great show with have continuity without having 75% of the arcs plotted out ahead of time.
The Emissary storyline became a plotline regularly explored starting with “Destiny” with at least one episode devoted to it each season. Each storyline seemed to raise the stakes and was improving upon what came before up until “The Reckoning”. The first 2/3 of that episode was pure brilliance and looked to be on its way as being the greatest Emissary-themed episode of them all. But it collapsed under the weight of a silly battle between Glowing Blue Eyes and Glowing Red Eyes. While there were other Emissary moments that followed that still reached greatness, I’m not so sure that overall the Emissary storyline completely recovered from that last 1/3 of “The Reckoning”. I liked the idea of the Pah-wraiths and even the Fire Caves but all the red eye stuff was unnecessary. And Sisko’s destiny ending up being jumping off a cliff with a sacred book? Um perhaps TPTB of DS9 should have followed JMS’ long arc approach when it came to that .In the beginning of the seventh season when Sisko was stabbed by a member of some Pah-wraiths cult, I thought would be terrific if Sisko could not “find rest on Bajor” because his presence would have led to some sort of religious war. I’m biased but that would have been a better idea than the Emissary storyline conclusion that we got. Just one man’s opinion.
Sisko was the one captain of the Star Trek franchise that put his personal life, his family life, ahead of Starfleet. Could you ever imagine Kirk or Picard marrying? No, but Sisko did it twice. He had a family that was more important than his career. Maybe that made him more opened to the idea of a spiritual awakening. Food for thought.