On Star Trek: TNG and DS9


Television


I recently saw a Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode that impressed me so much, I feel compelled to talk about it. And I always found this site to be a good place to discuss anything geeky, so here I am.

I should back up a bit. Back in the 1980s and -90s I would watch Star Trek intermittently. I had no particular interest in Worf and certainly not in the whole Mogh / Duras / Gowron subplot. I stopped watching altogether in 1999 and I never saw anything of the last nine (or ten) episodes of Deep Space Nine which wrapped up the whole Dominion war.

In the past year or two I felt a revived interest in Star Trek so I took to watching The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine but still not in their entirety. Too many of those episodes were boring, irrelevant, or just plain dumb. But I watched the episodes more significant to the continuity.

And when I did, I found Worf to be a much more interesting and sympathetic character. By extension, I took interest in other Klingon characters, such as Gowron.

I don't expect all of you to remember the show in such detail after so many years so here's a (simplified) summary. Worf lost his honorable status in the Klingon Empire and so - in a Season 5 episode from 1990 - he took an interest in supporting someone who opposed the current administration. This was Gowron. Worf helped Gowron to beat the forces of Duras - Worf's enemy - and to take over the Klingon Empire as Chancellor. And yet Gowron never seemed to be a particularly good or sympathetic character. He seemed more interested in increasing his own power and glory than in supporting the Empire. He was only one of the good guys in a the-enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend kind of way.

In 1993, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine premiered. The fourth season introduced Worf into the show; Sisko recruited him to help him with troubles with the Empire as it made war against Cardassia. In Gowron's defense, I must admit that he wasn't entirely to blame; he was being manipulated by REALLY bad bad guys, namely the Dominion. A daring mission by Deep Space Nine crew members - including Worf - helped to expose that plot and partly reconcile the friction between the Federation and the Empire, but Gowron still wasn't a remotely sympathetic character.

Then, in Season 5, the Federation and the Dominion went to all-out hot war against each other. The last 9 or 10 episodes of the last season (season 7) dealt heavily with that war. (I say "9 or 10" because the last episode was a double-length episode, shown as 2 episodes in syndication.) I started watching that grand epic last week.

And one of the subplots in it had Gowron mishandle the war against the Dominion rather than risk his own glory and power. Reluctantly, Worf decided that Gowron's insanity had to stop. So he challenged Gowron, killed him, and installed Martok - a truly great and honorable warrior - as Chancellor in his place!

Okay, maybe the whole Gowron subplot was simplistic and therefore implausible; the same is true of a lot of Star Trek. And that ending I described wasn't particularly cleverly written or anything. But what I found amazing was that Worf killed Gowron over EIGHT YEARS after Gowron beat the Duras forces and consolidated his position! EIGHT YEARS!!! I probably watched less TV than most, so this won't mean much, but I can't think of any other TV show that let a subplot go on for so long and come to an even halfway satisfactory conclusion. Finally, Gowron got what was coming to him!

You know, one thing that made Star Trek impressive - despite its glaring problems - was that so many actors kept coming back to reprise their roles that weren't regular characters. It made the galaxy seem small, but on the plus side, it also made so many subplots - such as Gowron's - possible. (I suppose Star Trek must have paid those actors well to keep them coming back.)

Anyway, I expect to finish watching the Dominion war later this week. I look forward to finding out if Kai Winn will suffer an equally fitting fate. Now THERE'S a villain I just love to hate!

****

I wrote all that text above days ago, intending to post it here, but I didn't get around to it. Since then I finished the Dominion war and found it rather disappointing. The business of Bashir and O'Brien entering Sloan's mind like it was a VR interface was so dumb, I couldn't help but wince. And obviously the cure - which the show made to look ridiculously simple - was going to be used as a bargaining chip for the peace treaty, so I see it as a cheap plot device.

And I mentioned I was hoping for a fitting end for Kai Winn, so the last episode disappointed me in that too. She did the whole "noble self-sacrifice" routine to re-imprison the Pah-wraiths... but she was the one who had freed them in the first place! Simply getting killed was a fitting fate for Gowron, but Kai Winn deserved so much worse!

For instance, the Pah-wraiths could have taken control of Kai Winn (and remember that it had been established early on that when Pah-wraiths possess someone that person is fully conscious of everything that's happening to her). When Sisko came on the scene he could have helped the Prophets to trap the Pah-wraiths in the fire caves by trapping Kai Winn there, leaving her to burn for the rest of eternity. Now THERE'S a fitting fate for a Bajoran who gave so much hell to so many other people!

But... okay, at least the show finished the Dominion war, so it ended on a bang, unlike TNG which ended on a whimper.

Sovereign Court

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Sad, I didnt see this when you posted it last week.

You are correct that it was great to see character development happen over 8 years between two different series. I felt like the Klingons got a much better world building during DS9 than they ever did during OG or even TNG.

I enjoyed the Ferengi moving up and out of "hostile alien villain" trope and get more fleshed out. However, most of the time it was comedic relief episodes that made them caricatures...

The one place I felt DS9 really dropped the ball was the Romulan officer assigned to the Defiant. She is in what, 3 episodes? I think they really could have made her a reoccurring character and allowed us some more insight to Romulan society.

I really enjoyed the Dominion war story particularly the way we were introduced to Odo, and then his people. I think the changling vs. solid dynamic was fantastic and finally went beyond funny nose/neck/ears trope. I didnt have a problem with Star Fleet Section 31 poisoning them as a plot device. It made sense that Odo would return to them and heal the divide. (Something we could use a bit of here in U.S. right now)

All this really points out the marked difference between DS9 and all other Star Trek series. In TOS and TNG the viewer gets to see the galaxy through the Federations eyes. However, in DS9, we get to see the Federation through the galaxy's eyes. Quite a difference I must say.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

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Pan wrote:
All this really points out the marked difference between DS9 and all other Star Trek series. In TOS and TNG the viewer gets to see the galaxy through the Federations eyes. However, in DS9, we get to see the Federation through the galaxy's eyes. Quite a difference I must say.

Root Beer

Dark Archive

What intrigued me about Gowron is in his very first appearance, much was made of how he flouted regular Klingon tradition, and it was *implied* that he, not Duras, may have been the one to poison the original Chancellor...

He seemed very much the snake, and the actors use of crazy bug eyes and making every sentence out of his mouth seem like a veiled (or not so veiled...) threat certainly helped with that impression. I also liked that Gowron was pretty much the epitome of the disconnect between what Worf felt that Klingons *should be* (honorable warriors) and what they *were* (not so much...). He's all honor and tradition, noble warriors, 'cause I read it in a book, and the reality of Klingon society is all brutish and bullying and poison and treachery and intrigue, 'cause, well, people.

DS9 was really pretty amazing. Since it was chained to one location, and not, like Enterprise, warp five-ing to the next set piece 45 minutes after we met those people, it got to *seriously* develop the Bajorans and Cardassians, and, thanks to the use of not-traditionally-Federation races, Klingons, Ferengi and Changelings, we got to learn a ton more about them than we would have on the Enterprise (or, worse, the Voyager, which is warp five-ing away from every set piece *never to return* every episode, so that few if any of the Delta quadrant cultures being met will ever get to be developed or explored).

It's because of that advantage they had from a (pun intended) 'stationary' setting, that I wouldn't mind see what they could do with a similar static set show, such as one all about Starfleet Command (wrinkly old geezers politicking and stabbing each other in the backs) or Starfleet Academy (hot young things being hot young things).

Sovereign Court

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Lord Fyre wrote:
Pan wrote:
All this really points out the marked difference between DS9 and all other Star Trek series. In TOS and TNG the viewer gets to see the galaxy through the Federations eyes. However, in DS9, we get to see the Federation through the galaxy's eyes. Quite a difference I must say.
Root Beer

Touche, any scene with Garak in it is amazing.

Sovereign Court

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Set wrote:


He seemed very much the snake, and the actors use of crazy bug eyes and making every sentence out of his mouth seem like a veiled (or not so veiled...) threat certainly helped with that impression. I also liked that Gowron was pretty much the epitome of the disconnect between what Worf felt that Klingons *should be* (honorable warriors) and what they *were* (not so much...). He's all honor and tradition, noble warriors, 'cause I read it in a book, and the reality of Klingon society is all brutish and bullying and poison and treachery and intrigue, 'cause, well, people.

Yes. Worf was interesting because he was always an outsider looking in on the Klingon empire; his own people. DS9 really allowed him to come home.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Pan wrote:
Set wrote:


He seemed very much the snake, and the actors use of crazy bug eyes and making every sentence out of his mouth seem like a veiled (or not so veiled...) threat certainly helped with that impression. I also liked that Gowron was pretty much the epitome of the disconnect between what Worf felt that Klingons *should be* (honorable warriors) and what they *were* (not so much...). He's all honor and tradition, noble warriors, 'cause I read it in a book, and the reality of Klingon society is all brutish and bullying and poison and treachery and intrigue, 'cause, well, people.
Yes. Worf was interesting because he was always an outsider looking in on the Klingon empire; his own people. DS9 really allowed him to come home.

It also allowed him to nudge the Empire back towards the right path.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Pan wrote:
Lord Fyre wrote:
Pan wrote:
All this really points out the marked difference between DS9 and all other Star Trek series. In TOS and TNG the viewer gets to see the galaxy through the Federations eyes. However, in DS9, we get to see the Federation through the galaxy's eyes. Quite a difference I must say.
Root Beer
Touche, any scene with Garak in it is amazing.

Both of those actors are Amazing. :)


I will forever argue that the reason DS9 is the best Star Trek series (which it clearly is - I have high hope for Picard, but it won't be on the air long enough to match the epicness of DS9) is that it finally got ST out from under the heavy thumb of Gene Roddenberry.

Dark Archive

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Matt Filla wrote:
I will forever argue that the reason DS9 is the best Star Trek series (which it clearly is - I have high hope for Picard, but it won't be on the air long enough to match the epicness of DS9) is that it finally got ST out from under the heavy thumb of Gene Roddenberry.

I want to disagree, on a knee-jerk level, because there's a part of me that wants that wanted that utopian visionary future Gene had in mind to succeed, but recognized that he also had all sorts of weird notions that didn't play well, and totally agree that DS9 was the best Trek.


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I think one of DS9's claims to greatness is how it was a series-long story. We take that sort of thing for granted now (Avatar the Last Airbender, Stranger Things, and so on), but at the time, TV execs didn't believe in shows requiring viewers to have caught the directly previous episode to follow the current one. (Kind of justified in that viewers religiously recording an entire series on VHS couldn't just be expected, nor was there On-Demand or TiVo.) So not only was DS9 one of the pioneer shows for that kind of storytelling, but they had to disguise it as an episodic series (for example, throughout the entire first season, we only hear "the Dominion" get name-dropped once).

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

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Tectorman wrote:
I think one of DS9's claims to greatness is how it was a series-long story. We take that sort of thing for granted now (Avatar the Last Airbender, Stranger Things, and so on), but at the time, TV execs didn't believe in shows requiring viewers to have caught the directly previous episode to follow the current one. (Kind of justified in that viewers religiously recording an entire series on VHS couldn't just be expected, nor was there On-Demand or TiVo.) So not only was DS9 one of the pioneer shows for that kind of storytelling, but they had to disguise it as an episodic series (for example, throughout the entire first season, we only hear "the Dominion" get name-dropped once).

Not to mention, Odo's very existence.

Sovereign Court

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Set wrote:
Matt Filla wrote:
I will forever argue that the reason DS9 is the best Star Trek series (which it clearly is - I have high hope for Picard, but it won't be on the air long enough to match the epicness of DS9) is that it finally got ST out from under the heavy thumb of Gene Roddenberry.

I want to disagree, on a knee-jerk level, because there's a part of me that wants that wanted that Utopian visionary future Gene had in mind to succeed, but recognized that he also had all sorts of weird notions that didn't play well, and totally agree that DS9 was the best Trek.

I liked Gene's idea for a Utopian and positive future, but the problem is it often came off as a Cowboys and Indians in space kind of way. As in the terrible John Wayne era good guys wear white and bad guys wear black.

TNG did a better job of the exploration of the unknown part. They also made the enterprise crew a little more balanced, even if they still were the paladins of the galaxy. Not every decision was easy nor every enemy wrong.

If TNG busted open the door, DS9 tore it off the hinges. Here you have a federation crew running a space station for a non-federation species. The crew doesn't have the convenience of flying around doing things by their rules under their morality. We also get to see that not everyone in the Fed is a shining example of moral goodness. When push comes to shove, the Fed gets dirty (section 31).


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Pan wrote:
Set wrote:
Matt Filla wrote:
I will forever argue that the reason DS9 is the best Star Trek series (which it clearly is - I have high hope for Picard, but it won't be on the air long enough to match the epicness of DS9) is that it finally got ST out from under the heavy thumb of Gene Roddenberry.

I want to disagree, on a knee-jerk level, because there's a part of me that wants that wanted that Utopian visionary future Gene had in mind to succeed, but recognized that he also had all sorts of weird notions that didn't play well, and totally agree that DS9 was the best Trek.

I liked Gene's idea for a Utopian and positive future, but the problem is it often came off as a Cowboys and Indians in space kind of way. As in the terrible John Wayne era good guys wear white and bad guys wear black.

TNG did a better job of the exploration of the unknown part. They also made the enterprise crew a little more balanced, even if they still were the paladins of the galaxy. Not every decision was easy nor every enemy wrong.

If TNG busted open the door, DS9 tore it off the hinges. Here you have a federation crew running a space station for a non-federation species. The crew doesn't have the convenience of flying around doing things by their rules under their morality. We also get to see that not everyone in the Fed is a shining example of moral goodness. When push comes to shove, the Fed gets dirty (section 31).

To be fair, the original series also busted down a lot of doors, it's just that they were mid-60s doors and we're now used to them being busted down, so we we only see the ones they didn't break.


Tectorman wrote:
I think one of DS9's claims to greatness is how it was a series-long story.

I remember watching the final season and being amazed at how that final stretch of episodes was basically one long episode. It really did change forever what I want from TV - everything I have liked on TV for a lone time now has been long-form and heavily serialized. I am doing a Fringe rewatch with some friends who have not seen it before and I keep getting impatient with it because I know how truly serialized it is going to become and we're still in the early seasons where there were a lot of stand alone episodes.


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Pan wrote:
If TNG busted open the door, DS9 tore it off the hinges. Here you have a federation crew running a space station for a non-federation species. The crew doesn't have the convenience of flying around doing things by their rules under their morality. We also get to see that not everyone in the Fed is a shining example of moral goodness. When push comes to shove, the Fed gets dirty (section 31).

Just having a main cast that didn't always get along and had to learn to trust each other was great.

Scarab Sages

Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Truth to tell, I got burned out and didn't watch most of the last season of DS9, nor the last couple seasons of Voyager.
I hope the same thing doesn't happen with having both Discovery and Picard both going at the same time.

BTW, I find it interesting that a Star Trek show is centered around one person instead of a crew, (even if the show centered around just a few of the characters).

Sovereign Court

thejeff wrote:


To be fair, the original series also busted down a lot of doors, it's just that they were mid-60s doors and we're now used to them being busted down, so we we only see the ones they didn't break.

From a diversity standpoint absolutely. I was referring to storytelling in general of Enterprise/Federation crew vs. everyone else. Very white/black hat in the beginning. To be fair that was also how television and films were in the 60's anyways. Its just interesting to see the series develop away from that dynamic as the decades ticked away.

Though I have not seen Discovery yet, but I am curious. Not enough to pay for CBS all access, but once Picard is out, maybe ill do a 1 month trial.


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Matt Filla wrote:
Tectorman wrote:
I think one of DS9's claims to greatness is how it was a series-long story.
I remember watching the final season and being amazed at how that final stretch of episodes was basically one long episode. It really did change forever what I want from TV - everything I have liked on TV for a lone time now has been long-form and heavily serialized. I am doing a Fringe rewatch with some friends who have not seen it before and I keep getting impatient with it because I know how truly serialized it is going to become and we're still in the early seasons where there were a lot of stand alone episodes.

Agreed. I think DS9's ending was one of the most satisfying ways to end a series. By their very nature, series need to ebb and flow in intensity. You can have some episodes be major and dramatic with high stakes, but you also need "breather episodes". A series finale needs the same thing, though differently, and DS9 executed it perfectly. Ten episodes wrapping up all the stakes of the entire series, yes, but also enough time set aside at the end to let us say "goodbye" to the characters we've come to cherish over the years (culminating in that elegantly simple pullaway shot of Kira and Jake staring out of the porthole).

I was very pleased that MLP: FiM ended the same way (finale episodes, THEN goodbye episode).

Liberty's Edge

MLP: FiM ?

Sovereign Court

My litte pony, Marc. Cant say ive seen it.


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Dang! I should check these boards more often. I had no idea I started such a fascinating conversation!

Pan wrote:

I liked Gene's idea for a Utopian and positive future, but the problem is it often came off as a Cowboys and Indians in space kind of way. As in the terrible John Wayne era good guys wear white and bad guys wear black.

TNG did a better job of the exploration of the unknown part. They also made the enterprise crew a little more balanced, even if they still were the paladins of the galaxy. Not every decision was easy nor every enemy wrong.

If TNG busted open the door, DS9 tore it off the hinges. Here you have a federation crew running a space station for a non-federation species. The crew doesn't have the convenience of flying around doing things by their rules under their morality. We also get to see that not everyone in the Fed is a shining example of moral goodness. When push comes to shove, the Fed gets dirty (section 31).

Yeah. I know very little about the original Star Trek show but I felt kind of disgusted with what little I saw. The whole "Prime Directive" thing was supposed to preach a lesson that we should respect other cultures, no matter how barbaric or even evil they might seem to us... and yet Captain Kirk kept getting on his moral high horse. "The problem with you aliens is that you have to learn our superior human values." And the resolution of the episode involves the aliens realizing that Kirk is right. TNG and DS9 gave the Prime Directive the respect it needed.
Matt Filla wrote:
Just having a main cast that didn't always get along and had to learn to trust each other was great.

Yeah, that was a good aspect of DS9. And it's one of the few aspects of Voyager I liked.

Scarab Sages

Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Pan wrote:
Though I have not seen Discovery yet, but I am curious. Not enough to pay for CBS all access, but once Picard is out, maybe ill do a 1 month trial.

Pan

You can download it your Amazon Fire if you have one. That is what I did without joining CBS.
I think you should be able to download it to Nook as well, but since I don't have one I am not sure.

Edit: I hope I can do the same with Disney.

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