Rewatching "Emissary"...

Discussion in 'Star Trek: Deep Space Nine' started by Lance, Jul 19, 2013.

  1. Lance

    Lance Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    May 9, 2012
    The Enterprise's Restroom
    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. :lol: 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? :techman:
  2. Tosk

    Tosk Vice Admiral Admiral

    Jan 7, 2001
    On the run.
    Answer to last question is "Yes." :)
  3. JarodRussell

    JarodRussell Vice Admiral Admiral

    Jul 2, 2009
    I saw it like two weeks ago. It's amazing.
    Sisko meeting the prophets and his explanation of what being human (or rather linear) is all about is one of the best scenes in Trek history.
  4. Roboturner913

    Roboturner913 Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Jan 8, 2011
    I've heard people say they don't like that Sisko was made to be a Prophet himself. Well if you watch this episode it makes all the sense in the world.

    The writers definitely had a notion of what they wanted to do with the characters even this early on. A few things were a little "off" as opposed to what we would get used to in season 1, hair and makeup, certain vocal deliveries, BUT almost all of the characters fit into their roles very early on.

    Definitely the best and most tightly focused pilot of all the series. There is hardly a wasted scene.

    As an aside, I pretty much know the entire episode by heart. Before the DVD's came out I bought the VHS for some outrageous price at a Suncoast. $26.95 or something like that. Since that was the only one I had, I must've watched it at least 50 times over the years. But I can still watch it and not get too bored even now.
  5. dub

    dub Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Sep 13, 2012
    Location? What is this?
    It also, perhaps unintentionally, serves to allow the viewers to get good, long looks at the set and discover where everything is. Cutting away, it's hard to get your bearings sometimes. I rewatched recently and specifically remember in the scene you mentioned with Sisko and O'Brien, I was looking up at those beautiful windows they placed high on the set (which they made sure to show off in that scene). It was really a beautiful and artistic set design. Love it.

    And that's not what you would expect, which is really a great preview for what was to come in this series. Brilliant!

    Thanks for the fun post!
  6. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Aug 26, 2003
    Yup, Miles' goodbye scene with Picard is gone in that version. And good riddance.

    Perhaps the only thing that left me wanting here was the thoroughness with which Sisko's "Jennifer issues" were resolved within the pilot episode(s) already. It's not until the second Mirror Universe romp involving Sisko that we really return to the fact that the reason he raises his son alone is because his wife got killed.

    Should we perhaps consider Sisko's "miracle healing" a feature rather than a bug - a religious experience that by its sheer emotional impact keeps him addicted to Bajor and its Prophets when all logic should send him asking for a transfer? But the later episodes don't seem to bear this out, as they rather suggest Sisko stays because he is a man of duty, and perhaps of destiny.

    Timo Saloniemi
  7. YJAGG

    YJAGG Captain Captain

    Jun 3, 2013
    Baltimore, MD
    it's funny but when I go watch an episode on Netlix, its DS9
  8. Jerikka Dawn

    Jerikka Dawn Commander Red Shirt

    Jul 1, 2004
    I agree this is a great episode/premier. Even though it seems everyone is learning their characters and getting familiar with the show, the characters still seem to be very much the logical origin of what we see them all become later in the series.

    Said another way -- while it seems the actors were just getting used to their characters, it also seems they had a really good idea of who their characters were. It seems they just got better from day 1 until WYLB.

    I *really* like watching this episode right after the last few episodes of the series because I'm amazed at how far all the characters have come by the end.
  9. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Commodore Commodore

    Jun 19, 2013
    Containment Area for Relocated Yankees
    I watched a few scenes of it yesterday with my son. I don't know how fair it is to call it the best of the pilots: DS9 was definitely standing on TNG's shoulders, so I think it has an unfair advantage. What stands out is that major emotional issues were already well established. Family was already a compelling issue. Each character was immediately invested in a position. And it established a compelling villain.

    Perhaps what is unique about The Emissary is that, at its heart, it is a character study. While the Prophets curiousity about human nature has the esotericism that typifies many ST episodes, so much of Sisko's psyche was revealed in the process. Indeed, I found the question of dwelling on the past to be poignant (almost too much).
  10. Anwar

    Anwar Vice Admiral Admiral

    Dec 11, 2006
    Moncton, NB
    Yep, Emissary is the best of Modern Trek's premieres'. Good intro to all the characters, gave Sisko an opening character arc, interesting ideas about aliens who exist in time as we exist in space, intro to Dukat as the villain, etc.
  11. Bamarren

    Bamarren Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Oct 16, 2012
    Mekar Wilderness
    After reading this thread I went back to watching it yesterday and have to say, YES, it is definitely the best pilot of any series. In fact, after watching all the pilots out of sheer interest recently, I find this, then VOY then ENT, strangely with TOS and TNG lagging in last as it just wasn't all that great.

    Having finished watching the whole of DS9 about a year ago it was great to go back to the start and see where they all started from. When I finished the series, I wasn't really keen on the whole Sisko-Jesus-esque thing, but looking back on it now, it's clear that was being put in place even from the very start.

    All of the characters start off leaving the viewer itching to find out their stories and intrigued as to where the series might go, Opaka started out strange but you warm to her, and Kira certainly set her stall out early.

    Gul Dukat makes a great entrance and makes himself out to be shifty yet in a strange way likeable at the start.

    That scene with Picard and Sisko is really something after not having seen it in a few years. Sisko feels he is to blame yet Picard is still haunted by what the Borg did to him. Two great actors coming head to head, both on the same team yet one almost wanting to lunge at the other.

    So much of Emissary seemed to make sense now having seen the whole seven seasons, in fact, I actually wish I went back to watch the pilot when I finished DS9 because a few things make that little bit more sense the second time.

    Great intro to a fantastic series.
  12. Toxteth O´Grady

    Toxteth O´Grady Captain Captain

    Feb 19, 2006
    Illinois, USA
    Yeah, "Emissary" is one of my most re-watched episodes and the best Trek pilot for all of the reasons given in this thread. Only "The Cage" comes close to beating it when comparing the other pilots.

    Ben's struggle just pulls you in from the start. It was smart of the writers to show us how he lost Jennifer. Those scenes were some of the most powerful in all of Trek. And the moment when he breaks down and realizes that he can't let go of her was some of Avery Brooks' best acting.
  13. SpHeRe31459

    SpHeRe31459 Captain Captain

    Apr 9, 2013
    Sacramento, CA
    Love that portion of "Emissary", the baseball game, how the prophets are confused/intrigued about why he's constantly pulled back to the Saratoga and his sorrow over Jennifer's death, it's all fantastic.
  14. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

    Nov 22, 2012
    Melakon's grave
    It also says something for the integrity of the production staff that they didn't have Sisko re-unite with Jennifer in the series finale. A more hackneyed series would have tried to make some big deal about it going full circle.
  15. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Commodore Commodore

    Jun 19, 2013
    Containment Area for Relocated Yankees
    DS9 had already revisited its raison d'être in Far Beyond the Stars asking whether it's worthwhile to have hope for the future. There was not need to revisit the beginning, which All Good Things did. Moreover, it was committed moving the family lives of the main characters forward. I think it would have been worse if Cassidy Yates had been killed in the finale.
  16. asp7485

    asp7485 Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Nov 5, 2005
    The one thing I appreciate about the Miles goodbye scene in the pilot is that its nicely paralleled in the finale with him again leaving - this time the station.
  17. DalekJim

    DalekJim Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jun 22, 2009
    Great Britain
    Such a terrific pilot. Only The Cage beats it.

    The portrayal of the Prophets is so much better than it is later in the final season. They're truly alien and interesting.
  18. Maj. Kira Nerys

    Maj. Kira Nerys Ensign Red Shirt

    Jul 24, 2013
    What I love about Emissary is that it shows right in the beginning that it really defines the characters. That's something TOS and TNG didn't quite manage. But as someone wrote above you already know them in the middle of the episode and there is room for conflict between them.
    What I also like about Emissary and about DS9 in general is that at the end of one episode there's no "All is well". Kira and Sisko take quite some time and a number of episodes to like each other, while Riker and Picard are in perfect harmony at the end of the first episode. And I think, that makes DS9 very believable.
    And then there are some scenes that are just great. Kira's and Sisko's first meeting, the scenes with the prophets.
    I must have watched that episode twenty times at the least.
  19. TheSubCommander

    TheSubCommander Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    May 5, 2013
    The thing I remember most about this Episode is how much hatred Sisko had for Picard, initially. It almost appears it is taking everything in him not to just grab Picard by the throat and strangle him! On one hand, you can understand Sisko, but I felt really bad for Picard in that scene, too. Definitely changed that "We're one big happy fleet," concept!
  20. DalekJim

    DalekJim Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jun 22, 2009
    Great Britain
    I think it was very brave for them to have done that, as having Sisko treat the fan-favourite Star Trek captain badly could easily have made him unlikeable.