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The five best Deep Space Nine episodes of all time!

The five Deep Space Nine episodes that defied typical Star Trek boundaries and defined the franchise's most daring and unorthodox spinoff series.

1. In the Pale Moonlight [Video clip]

There are decided differences between heroes and saints, and while Deep Space Nine tried to separate itself from its Trek forerunners by painting its characters as the former rather than the latter, "In the Pale Moonlight" is when the series finally embraced that distinction and found a whole new layer of storytelling, depth, and relevance.

Sisko and his Cardassian ally Garak are trying to convince the Romulans to join Starfleet and the Klingons in repelling the Dominion invasion of the Alpha Quadrant. They do so by first attempting to find proof of the Dominion's long-term intention to subjugate the Romulan Empire. The plan fails, so Garak convinces Sisko to manufacture the necessary evidence -- a moral concession that Sisko rationalizes by declaring that clearly the Dominion will eventually invade Romulus and the only way to save the Romulan people (and the Federation) is to bring them into the war before it's too late.

In the NextGen episode "The First Duty", Capt. Picard declared that Starfleet was above all devoted to the truth. Here, Sisko declares that Starfleet is devoted to protecting the Federation, truth be damned. From there, the moral line becomes grayer and grayer until Sisko finds himself complicit in what could be termed the assassination of a Romulan Senator -- a betrayal of his principles that not only brings the Romulans into the fight but, far worse, Ben Sisko can live with.

In this war, the ends justify the means, and Ben Sisko is a hero, but far from a saint. This is the day that Star Trek grew up, and no episode showed how much or how far DS9 expanded and enriched the franchise more than this one.

Disagree with the rankings, or simply want to relive some of your favorite DS9 moments? Hailing frequencies are open in the comments section.

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About

Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger -- amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can a...

15 comments
sirdulac
sirdulac

Kinda curious about the other 4 best episodes?

sniperlt
sniperlt

But DS9 was my favorite Stat Trek Series. Just becasue not all the characters got along. The station was not clean and tidy and did not work just as the occupants wanted it to al the time. The bad guys were not totally bad and the good guys were not totally good. Things were not as clear cut and black and white. Just like they are not so in real life.

RichA
RichA

For those trying to find the episodes on their favorite streaming service???and who are uninclined or too lazy to click the links to StarTrek.com kindly provided by Mr. Garmon???here's a summary of the [b]S[/b]eason/[b]E[/b]pisode numbers and air dates: [ol][*][b] In the Pale Moonlight[/b] S6/E19, 15 Apr 1998 [*][b] Duet[/b] S1/E18, 13 Jun 1993 [*][b] The Visitor[/b] S4/E2, 9 Oct 1995 [*][b] Far Beyond the Stars[/b] S6/E13,11 Feb 1998 [*][b] Trials and Tribble-ations[/b] S5/E6, 4 Nov 1996[/ol]

MyopicOne
MyopicOne

Sisko ended up being my favorite of the captains, too. And IMO there is a clear worst amongst them, too, and I can tell you [b]exactly[/b] [i]which[/i] episode in [i]which[/i] season made me abandon the series - that show provoked a HUGE debate in my office the next day. The one Jay is about to do...

marsha.hinnen
marsha.hinnen

Thanks for covering my favorite Star Trek in your "Best of" series (as well as your "Worst of"!). Some fans complain that it was boring for the storyline to be tethered to the space station, but I felt that setting the series among "ordinary people" rather than a starfleet vessel gave the series many more options for stong drama and nuanced characters. "Far Beyond the Stars" is my most favorite DS9 episode. Avery Brooks portrayal of Sisko was powerful - as much as I love all the ST captains, Sisko is my favorite.

pgit
pgit

Thanks, Mr. Garmon, your writing has overcome my lack of enthusiasm for DS9. I have texted this list back home to our entertainment system, and starting tonight my wife and I will begin watching the series in it's entirety, from the beginning. (I'm picking up the disks on the way home tonight) Actually, we may start with these 5 in your order as listed, then tackle the whole series including these ones when they come along. Your insight, and ability to put it into the written word in article form has convinced me there's more to DS9 than that 'European occupation' you mention. That arc irritated me whenever it reared it's head. But now I'll be looking for the humanity in Ben Sisko and where he breaks from the canon. (exemplified in Saint Picard) Good job. Good writing. Thanks.

xangpow
xangpow

If you watch the behind the scenes things of DS9 they talked about how there really was no way to explain the major differance between the Klingons of the 60' and the Klingons of the 90's. So they decided to just do a tongue-in-cheek thing and have Worf just say "we dont talk about that to other species." lol You know I never watched "Far Beyond the Stars" until it came out on dvd and I watched it just a few years ago. The funny thing was THAT was the episode that I realized that Benjamin Sisko was African-American. lol I never saw race in any of the characters in Star Trek. Everyone was either Human, Klingon, Bajoran, Cardassian. The color of the characters skin never entered my mind. I remember watching it thinking "Wait a min. But that means Sisko is...black? Well duh. How many episodes have you watched and NOW we realize this?" lol

P.F. Bruns
P.F. Bruns

Love the piece, and I generally agree with your main points. However: *originally had smooth foreheads *Chekov (Anton Chekhov was the famous Russian novelist who postulated that if an author introduced a pistol in the first act, it had to get fired in the third act.)

lehnerus2000
lehnerus2000

I agree with your choice Jay. :) War is what happens, when "The Rules" fail. You have to fight to win, or you lose.

ScottCarmichael
ScottCarmichael

I think "The Visitor" is the best DS9 episode just because of the emotion and bond you see between Jake and Sisko. But I think the best DS9 episode that isn't focused on father/son would be "In the Pale Moonlight" where Sisko basically has an official assassinated in order to get enemies to enter the war against the Dominion. In his mind, it had to be done for the greater good. You really get a sense of how dark, dangerous and desperate the galaxy had become and really, that's what DS9 was all about - showing the gritty underbelly of the Star Trek universe.

Jay Garmon
Jay Garmon

...we'll see if I'm so well received when I do "best of Voyager" next month.

Jay Garmon
Jay Garmon

...but glad to be of service to fandom. DS9 is far from perfect, but it made a conscious effort to do more with Trek than had been tried before. It's worth observing.

xangpow
xangpow

That is what drew me to DS9 and Babylon 5. Humans are NOT the crisp and clean race that has no faults. While it is a nice dream, the reality is that humans are fragile and full of faults.

lehnerus2000
lehnerus2000

I think they tried to explain smooth forehead Klingons in ST:E.

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