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The five worst Deep Space Nine episodes EVER!

The five most wormhole-sucking episodes in the history of Deep Space Nine, complete with unforgiving breakdowns.

Deep Space Nine was perhaps the most ambitious of the Star Trek spinoff series, abandoning the starship concept for life aboard a space station, boldly staying where no man had stayed before. Alas, ambition leads to failure as often as radical success, which is where these five wormhole-sucking episodes come in.

5. The Muse [Video preview]

Most Next Generation guest stars never found a comfortable place aboard Deep Space Nine, but none moreso than Majel Barrett's Lwaxana Troi, the oversexed unfiltered mother of the Enterprise's empathic counselor. Lwaxana pined for Constable Odo, bulldozed Captain Sisko, and -- in this indescribably cloying episode -- staged a marriage of convenience to steal her unborn child from her alien baby-daddy. And that's just the B-plot!

Back over in the main storyline, Jake Sisko (heir to the Wesley Crusher throne of fan-patronizing youth-oriented plot gimmicks) is preyed upon by an alien who steals the brain energy from the artists whose work she psychically inspires. Sort of like alcohol did for Hemingway, if alcohol was a quasi-hot alien babe you can't resist. Yes, the metaphor was that brick-to-the-head obvious.  Sadly, we had no similar meta-Muse for the screenwriters of this episode; they would have benefited from either additional inspiration or early demise (preferably both).

4. Valiant [Video preview]

Remember the previous rant about youth-oriented storylines designed to "appeal" (read: condescend) to Star Trek's many starry-eyed young fans who dream of being in Starfleet themselves? Here's the reducto ad absurdum fallout of that line of thinking. Jake Sisko and Nog find themselves aboard the USS Valiant, a Defiant-class warship crewed entirely by teenage Starfleet cadets. (It takes a wildly implausible infodump to explain how Starfleet was dumb enough to let unproven kids have detached command of a Borg-smashing escort vessel.)

Drunk with power, said cadets attempt to single-handedly take on a Jem'Hadar battlecruiser -- despite a blandly delivered warning from Jake, who smugly namedrops his dad -- whereafter the big bad universe fatally smacks the Valiant down. Seriously, like a few dozen kids die. Moral of the story: Arrogant talent is no substitute for humble experience. Moral of the episode: Talking down to the audience makes for pedantic television.

3. Move Along Home [Video preview]

You know it's going to be a long episode when the premise is blatantly lifted from a Silver Age Justice League comic. Quark introduces the first alien delegation from the gamma Quadrant to the novel concept of rigged casino games. Said aliens respond by magically entrapping Dax, Sisko, Kira, and Bashir in a labyrinth so un-Gordian that it makes the classic Red Box Dungeons & Dragons set look like a masterpiece of byzantine gamemap design. The aliens then force Quark to use the captives as gamepieces in a chess match for their lives.

The rules of the game are never explained, the mystery is drawn out painfully long, and the acting is atrocious. Oh, and in the end, the hostage-taking was just a ruse to prove some point to Quark, and also ruin the chances of anyone in the Alpha Quadrant to ever take the game (or aliens) seriously again. To quote the WOPR, the only winning move is not to play. And by that I mean this episode. Ever.

2. Profit and Lace [Video preview]

The Ferengi have always been rather hamfisted caricatures of 1950s male businessmen -- arrogant, greedy, ruthless, sexist, and amoral -- sort of like Don Draper gene-spliced with a Morlock. Trying to reform these clumsy archetypes invariably leads to preachy episodes and, in this case -- to our abject horror -- Quark dressing in drag to impersonate his own mother. The Grand Nagus, played by a wasted (probably literally) Wallace Shawn, has decided to allow Ferengi women equal rights, which includes such stunning reforms as owning property, wearing clothes, and forcing Ferengi men to chew their own food.

The Nagus's moral conversion came as a result of sleeping with Quark's mother -- a triumph of women's liberation if ever there was one. Unfortunately, Mama Quark has a heart attack immediately after being held up as the example of strong Ferengi womanhood, forcing Quark to fake out the Ferengi elders while cross-dressing. Because women can only earn their freedom when their sons step in, right? This plays far more like an outtake from Bosom Buddies than it does an homage to Some Like It Hot. An episode to be enjoyed only ironically, which is to say while drinking heavily.

1. Let He Who Is Without Sin [Video preview]

When a stunt casting guest spot by Vanessa Williams is the best thing you can say about an episode, you know you're in for a painful 42 minutes (plus commercials). On its face, the premise is comedic gold: Take stick-in-the-mud Worf and throw him on Risa, the hedonistic pleasure planet made famous on NextGen. Double down on the slapstick potential by making this a double-date vacation for Worf, Dax, Bashir, and Leeta -- with Quark playing fifth wheel! Alas, what results not only isn't funny, it isn't watchable.

All the relationship foibles between Worf and Dax are amped up to 11, and rather than deal with this out-of-nowhere pettiness, Worf A) joins with an anti-pleasure terrorist cell and B) reveals he once committed manslaughter during a childhood soccer match. Laughs all around! Oh, and in the B-plot, Leeta and Bashir are having a "traditional" breakup of revenge-flings, while Quark cruises the singles scene for Ferengi fetishists. Yeah, seriously. Don't just cast the first stone, cast this entire episode into a black hole and never look back.

No doubt, you have your own list of drop-dead indefensible DS9 episodes. Let's get it all out of our system 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...

55 comments
subcidr
subcidr

Why does everyone hate on "Move Along Home?" Maybe I appreciate this episode more because I like the idea of a "real life" board game. If there were consequences, it wouldn't be a game would it? You even get to see Quark have a moral dilemma. You also find out that Avery Brooks can carry a tune.

revelated
revelated

If you're a male, this episode just has to grate at you. Having to watch Kira literally endanger a child that's not hers in order to do an investigation she has no business doing, is the most infuriating thing I've ever witnessed on Enterprise...even more than Wil Wheaton's last TNG episode.

SBGreene
SBGreene

This is the worst episode ever made for DS9. I'm sorry, ancient Bajorans made it to space creating a spaceship with hand cranks and space-sails? Please!

pc boss
pc boss

It is so hard to choose which episode is bad.. they all were. Weak actors and silly plots..

suziep12
suziep12

I must have mentally blocked most of the bad episodes or purposely "missed" them by having a life in college. I sometimes feel like I am the only DS9 fan out there. I hope that isn't true!

rocket ride
rocket ride

Why is CNet/ Geekend so fixated on those two franchises to the exclusion of everything else? Both are far too mainstream to be really geeky. DS9, IMHO was the best series of its franchise-- I think having the competition of B5 did both shows a world of good.

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

Odo's race and its army of meth heads, DS 9 hit a low it couldn't bounce back from. There are no worse episodes than that entire plotline.

P.F. Bruns
P.F. Bruns

I'm not saying Lwaxana Troi is my favorite character--and a little of her went a long way sometimes, but there were times when she could be genuinely touching. The custody battle could have been better handled to maximize the cultural drama and emotional impact, but is a perfectly understandable plot to work into a storyline. I also thought Jake Sisko was a much better character overall, especially by season 4, than Wesley Crusher was. In particular, the fact that Sisko makes a clear decision not to follow in his father's or grandfather's footsteps, but instead to tell stories about the galaxy around him--in fact, he's the first writer used as a recurring character in Star Trek, if I'm not mistaken!--gives him a clear edge. Plus, he's almost never the "save the station" character. That alone makes him better in my book. He's not a perfect little cookie-cutout of his father, and by the end of the show, is a very deep and complete person ready to stand up and make his way in the postwar galaxy. He is very much his father's son, but will never be the iron-willed Starfleet officer type, and he and Captain Sisko have each made their peace with that, and grown closer together as father and son. That's a storyline I enjoy to this day. The scenes with him and Meg Foster as Onaya managed to be very "Mrs. Robinson" to me, but not in an icky way. The writers tempered the prurient elements just enough to make it work, without removing them completely. Let's face it, any young straight man would be at the very least interested in an attractive older woman who shows an interest in them at any level. The only real issue I had with this episode was the same one I had with most of the episodes in the Dominion War arc of DS9: isn't there supposed to be a war on? Lots of episodes from this timeframe barely mention the war at all--it usually just has an offhanded "lantern-hanging" comment, and then they go on with the personal dramas.

nemesis77
nemesis77

I thought I read somewhere that the original choice for the main Bajoran character was Ensign Ro from NextGen, played by the great Michelle Forbes, but she turned it down. Nana Visitor was good, but I think it would have been a different, better show with Forbes.

Peter9008
Peter9008

It was funny to see Wil Wheaton (played Wesley Crusher on TNG) and Brent Spiner (played Data on TNG) together as guest stars in a recent episode of Big Bang Theory. Yes, Wil does look something like Jay. Brent is now on Sheldon's enemies list and Wil is no longer on that list after giving Sheldon an action figure of Wesley Crusher.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

If you squint at Jay's avatar, it looks a bit like Wil Wheaton. Has anyone seen them together? No? Surely that's not just a coincidence...

scndtnr
scndtnr

but I thought the way the series ended was pure hokum. I never did like the Sisko-morphing-into-a-god angle...

seanferd
seanferd

I haven't seen DS9 in years, but at the mere mention of each episode on the list, I cringe. Very good bad list you have there. Hey, wait. Where's the pain emoticon?

xangpow
xangpow

I thought DS9 was the best series of them all, but yeah there are a few that make me say "oh no not this one again." As for Quark, he was (as someone once said) the only person that never went against his "ethics". If the "Rules" said dont do it, he wouldnt. Alot of other "Starfleet people" in this one, and all the other series, found a way to get around some Starfleet rules but never got in trouble 1) because they where one of the main character and that just cant happen and 2) it would be said that they did it for "the good of the people." In my opinion DS9 was more realistic than the others, if that is possible. That might be why "true trekkers" dont like DS9, because it is something differant from the norm.

kerry.sisler
kerry.sisler

It would have been easier to find 5 good ones... agreed. I do remember being absolutely bashed on Dax and her spots...oh my oh my!!!

Dknopp
Dknopp

were the actors, story lines, that stationary spacestation and lets see, what else...

JamesRL
JamesRL

I'm not sure if you have an opinion but it seems awfully co-incidental that Babylon5 was presented to head honchos of the Trek franchise, they reject it, and out comes Deep Space 9 with many similar elements. But J. Michael Straczynski elevated the creative and the writing of Babylon5. If they had the effects budget of DS9 they would have been fantastic. In that light I enjoyed DS9, but didn't get as deep into it as B5.

boomchuck1
boomchuck1

DS9 never lived up to the Star Trek genome. The only Trek series worse was Enterprise, though there were some Voyager ones that sank to some pretty low depths.

andycocking
andycocking

You could only come up with 5?! I thought all of them bombed! Tech was cool, but that was about it

GovRon
GovRon

That character was the most un-Treklike conception ever, and trapped a fine actor in a terrible role. And when you think about how the Ferengi in general were portrayed, it was every anti-Semitic stereotype tucked under a forehead appliance.

RudHud
RudHud

Let's just skip over Deep Six Nine and cut to the chase. What were the worst five episodes of "My Mother the Car"?

Tink!
Tink!

that I stopped watching any new Star Trek series after [i]Next Generation[/i]. BTW, I was a total Wesley Crusher fan and wanted him in more episodes (of course - at the time I was a teenager.) I do happen have Will Wheaton followed on Twitter :D I'm kind of surprised that they used Quark so much. He was getting tiresome enough with how many times he showed up in [i]Next Generation[/i].

Jay Garmon
Jay Garmon

...nobody responds. I goes where the audience is.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Once they stop generating conversation, they'll probably stop appearing as topics.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I'm glad I missed that. That's too much like the first original series movie.

Tink!
Tink!

I better refresh my memory and watch some episodes lol. In my mind Quark was always getting himself and/or others into trouble. How does one do this without breaking rules?

mudpuppy1
mudpuppy1

Everyone was a scoundrel, not the usual stuffed shirt, trying to be high-brow TNG. They acted more like real people act. That being said, I do like TNG. Both series had their sucky episodes and I pretty much agree with the five mentioned here.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

it gave us the Rules of Acquisition. "It never hurts to suck up to the boss."

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

but somehow I did. Maybe no one in my area syndicated the first couple of seasons, maybe it was back when I worked nights and didn't have a VCR; those are just theories. Regardless of how, I wasn't aware it existed until it was three or four seasons old. At that point I felt I was too far behind to get on board. I couldn't tell you a thing about it other than it was a science fiction series, possibly of the 'space opera' genre.

LinuxPops
LinuxPops

I agree. My favorites were B5, DS9, Star Trek Next Generation, with Star Trek and Voyager tied for last... in that order.

daboochmeister
daboochmeister

Compare his Quark role to what he did on Buffy ... where he nearly stole the episode whenever he appeared.

GovRon
GovRon

Jerry Van D_y_k_e could never make a bad anything. (the censor filter turns his last name to asterisks, lol)

Jay Garmon
Jay Garmon

It was ambitious and experimental within the Trek context, and it had far more successes than failures. But when it failed, BOY, did it fail.

JamesRL
JamesRL

Just not in the majority. Loved all of those series...Interesting where Doctor Who is going.

seanferd
seanferd

But that was built-in from the get-go. Whether the writers had a planned story arc or not. The way some bits were explained or handled were not to my taste, but Sisko was The Sisko for a reason. The wormhole aliens, who had no Arrow of Time, chose to make Sisko their instrument before his birth. Why they did it the way they did is only explicable by the demands of Plot and human interest stories.

lucien86
lucien86

There's a kind of similarity between the two to me because they both worked well until they decided to introduce war as the central theme. For DS9 it stretched the whole StarTrek timeline totally out of shape, stretching the believability of the whole series. For B5 something went wrong during the war and some of the later episodes were at least as bad as anything DS9 came up with. Its like the Wizard of Oz, once you see behind the curtain its all a bit of a let down.. That last summary episode has to be one of the worst ever - it was like the writers had gone on a very bad acid trip and wanted to destroy everything that had ever been good about the series.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

Mainly a coincidence of timing. At the time I was also playing vgaplanets with a bunch of friends... that was fun, and very trek-flavoured.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I liked the station format. But I clearly remember losing interest when the Dominion was introduced at the start of the third season. Two or three episodes in, I left and never looked back. My 'Voyager' and 'Enterprise' viewing habits followed a similar course, but with increasingly shorter intervals between series premiere and Palmetto desertion. I suspect I'm not alone, as the number of responses to each topic has decreased as we move through the programs. I think it also says something that you can easily find an TNG rerun, and a TOS episode can be tripped over occasionally. When was the last time you saw a repeat of DS9, Voyager, or Enterprise?

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

means that he's not actually a Brother, he's actually a Sister... so add "cross-dressing" ... or transgender ;)

seanferd
seanferd

Finnish Black guy is the near-Moorcockian hero to the space-Palestinians at space-Megiddo. Works for me.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

means "Sister" in Finnish. Nuff said...?

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Without the war, much of the drama on B5 would have made no sense at all.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I asked about that in another discussion, but you probably haven't returned to it. Like pgit, that brought back a lot of memories. Now, please excuse me; I have to go make trouble for Moose and Squirrel.

pgit
pgit

I haven't gotten an avatar to stick in this forum... but if I could yours would be in my top 10 possibilities. The whole of Bullwinkle was genius, way ahead of it's time. I bought the complete box set, but for some reason it doesn't have the full ending credits anywhere, not the long version that started with a couple of seconds of the theme in a slower tempo, which showed before the last commercial break. I remember hearing that walking bass line as a toddler, and thinking I wanted to play an instrument like that. (upright bass) I eventually did, and electric, of course. But to this day I can hear that Bullwinkle theme running through my head as clear as if I were watching it on TV. That's my take on DS9: not worth mentioning. :)

mudpuppy1
mudpuppy1

had so much potential and they totally screwed it up. The alternate universe episodes at the end were pretty good and I thought Hoshi was pretty delicious.

scndtnr
scndtnr

...has recently shown up on SyFy as late afternoon/early evening filler, but it doesn't seem to have a consistent schedule.

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