I put this on at 3 in the morning with the intention of only watching the opening sequence of the battle with Locutus, and two hours later I realised I'd sat through the whole thing.
I got caught up in it. Been a long time since I saw it.
It's strange looking at things with hindsight. In particular, Kai Okaka's insistence that finding the phophets is "the journey you [sisko] have always been destined to take". Ties in quite neatly with the events in the last few seasons.
"Emissary" has also got a great, theatrical feel about it. I can see why director David Carson was tapped to do "Generations". He does some amazing work with the camera here, in particular a lot of single-take scenes. Sisko's introduction to Ops is excellent, starting at the turbolift, the camera follows Ben and Miles through a nearly minute long scene without a single cutaway to a close up. There are multiple times this kind of thing happens in the episode, and I think it's great. It really lets the performances breathe.
I can't really blame Ben for being a bit pissed with Picard/Locutus (though it's fair to say Picard comes out of the scene with more sympathy... he looks utterly dejected when Ben leaves him alone). The scene where Miles goes back to the Enterprise is a bit odd because he's back in TNG uniform after having already spent the entire episode thus far wearing his DS9 duds. Would he really change back to his 'Starship fatigues' simply because he's popped back over to the Enterprise? I think this whole sequence would be a good candidate for cutting in the two-hour syndicated version (I've never seen it, don't know if it was or not), it's a nice scene but feels a little out-of-flow with the rest of the storyline.
I like the way Bashir and Dax are introduced a third of the way through. Michael Piller claimed he did this after rewatching "Farpoint" and realising that Riker, Geordi and Bev aren't introduced until several acts into the script. It helps to segregate the action a bit, because we aren't introduced to everyone at once. We already know Sisko, Kira, Odo and Quark quite well by the time Bashir and Dax come aboard. I thought Terry Farrell's performance was a little off, but I think that's mainly because I'd forgotten what Dax was like at the beginning. The 'fun loving girl' we know her as came later.
Avery Brooks is superb in every scene, but particularly with all the time hopping. He truly sells the scenes where he's speaking to the prophets, it's an astonishing performance considering that all the individual segments (Jake by the river, aboard the Saratoga, on the beach, etc) were evidently shot days or maybe even weeks apart. He's definitely more of a boy scout earlier on in DS9 though compared to what came later. More in tune with TNG. The other truly outstanding performance is Nana Visitor, who veritably spits her lines about Cardassians. You go girl! I forgot how strong the Quark/Odo interplay was from the very start too.
As I say, I only intended to watch it for two minutes, but ended up watching the lot. I got intrigued. It really holds up as great television, maybe even Star Trek's best pilot?