david g wrote:
I have been returning to DS9, trying to get a handle on it and to "get" it. I am a fan of all of the other Trek series except for ENT. I recognize the importance and the frequent brilliance of DS9. But I will confess to finding a lot of the episodes to be skippable.
These episodes range from the awful Ferengi episodes to episodes that focus on "character," which I often find surprisingly dull. For example, Dr. Bashir is perfectly acceptable in ensemble uses, but when he gets individual episodes, they are hopelessly uninteresting.
While the Cardassian occupation of Bajor and its aftermath can certainly be deeply fascinating at times, I also think that--with some exceptions like the great Dukat--the series generally failed to make Cardassian culture come alive, seem specific and truly interesting. This is a failure considering how much was spent on the Cardassians, who never get the richer treatment given the Klingons by Ron Moore.
It seems to me that the Dominion War plot was absolutely the best thing to happen to the series. The Changelings, especially as led by the great Salome Jens as the Female Changeling, are truly fascinating, as is the war and its multifaceted races and dimensions.
As a veteran of the VOY vs DS9 wars at the Trek BBS, I hope that my post is not interpreted as bashing, which really isnt my intention. I appreciate the great aspects of DS9 w/o being able to get past certain fairly huge lapses in its execution.
I agree--early Cardassians are just about being the bad guys. The acting in this regard, is horrible. They were always meant to be the bad guys. I think they did do some background on what life was like on the station in episodes like "Necessary Evil."
You seem to be missing the connective tissue, however, to the Dominion War. This is a show about oppression. The Bajorans are the peaceful race that laid down their weapons after taking them up to be assertive enough to defend themselves. They are what is supposed to happen when you find yourself oppressed.
The Dominion, the Founders in particular, are a human reaction--control what can hurt you--and therefore, have no respect for the enemy. They are a cautionary tale.
Take a side-Trek episode like "Captive Pursuit" about the Tosk and the hunters. This is what Bajor would be like if they never formed a resistance or had a belief in themselves as spiritual beings. Worth. "I am Tosk." That is an O'Brien episode where he uses his Starfleet training to show the Tosk that he should not be hunted. That's Starfleet's role in the universe before they face an existential threat in the Dominion.
And then lines like "Take a look at this people. It says something about this ship. It says we will fight, and we will keep on fighting, till we can't fight anymore!" come alive. It's about forming a Starfleet resistance to the Dominion. It says how we would handle being enslaved in the 24th Century.
The Ferengi are funny depictions of the same theme. They are there for comic relief, but it talks about oppression of women, workers rights, what the stakes are for a race in the Alpha Quadrant that isn't a power, and what commerce does to the ordinary decisions we would make more morally without it. For instance, Brunt hating Quark's whole family, demanding the Quark break a contract or kill himself in "Body Parts" and then three seasons later, after Quark is about to become Nagus, he shows Quark all the respect he can give him, even groveling. Or showing Quark's reaction to the continued threat to Deep Space Nine: "First it was the Cardassians, then it was the Dominion, now it's the Klingons! How is a Ferengi supposed to make an honest living in a place like this!" (The Way of the Warrior). And the overall arc of the Ferengi is that they are corrupted by the "sniveling hu-mans." Nog joining Starfleet Academy, Quark's affection for Odo, Bashir and O'Brien inspiring a Union, Rom joining the Bajorans, and Ishka softening Zek, Rom becoming Nagus. They are all moving, evolving, to a more Federation-like place. It's the effect that we can have on one another in a multicultural society. And there is always the old guard that never want to go into the more progressive era. Studies of multiculturalism have shown this. The home culture is seen as "in threat" by the "new ways."
If you have the theme down, you can see a little more of what they were trying to do with the show.