Category Archives: Star Trek: Deep Space 9

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Season 6, Episode 13 – “Far Beyond the Stars” – The Ongoing Struggle For Justice and Equality

Ds9 Far Beyond the Stars

      “Far Beyond the Stars” is a masterpiece on so many levels and an episode where the trials and struggles of the 1960’s reveal themselves to sadly be just as true today. We are so far from the world of “Deep Space Nine” in not just our television but our science fiction books too, even if things have improved in some ways. This is an episode that has such a powerful point with some of the best writing and acting to come out of this series. The fact that Avery Brooks (Captain Sisko) was also the director also lends more power to it when you look how focused on justice so much of Avery Brooks’s passion has gone towards post “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.” On a final note before I get into the details, it is also a very meta and philosophical episode of Trek.

      “Far Beyond the Stars” was as stated above, directed by Avery Brooks with the teleplay by Ira Steven Behr and Hans Beimler with story by Marc Scott Zicree.

     The story begins with Captain Sisko’s Father Joseph Sisko visiting the station as Ben is rethinking what difference he is actually making, as his friend died in a routine patrol of the Cardassian Border and the Dominion War looks as if it has no sign of ending. His father tells him he should think on it as he begins seeing people from the 1960’s before he is transported into the world of Benny, an African American Science Fiction Writer during the 1960’s where his story unfolds and realities keep colliding as they try to find out what’s going on “Deep Space Nine” as he faces the reality of the past in the life of Benny.

The Pros: Benny’s World – I love that they set in the 60’s and unlike the “Mad Men” version of the 60’s we get to see the lives of the middle class, the poor and people who aren’t of European descent. The world doesn’t pull any punches with every character being flawed and discrimination being widespread and enforced by the law. I’ll get into more of the details when I explore the characters though.

The Soundtrack – There is so much great jazz in this episode and so often the episode knows when to be silent, it isn’t standard recycled music and that really made the episode just that much stronger in the presentation and story.

The Characters – I’m only referring to the characters of Benny’s world in this instance since the only people really explored in Captain Sisko’s time are himself and his father. The characters of Benny’s world (played by the same actors who make salutes to their counterparts in personality and actions) are wonderful. They are distinct while still having the inspiration of “Deep Space Nine” (or vise versa as I’ll go into later).

Willie Hawkins – Michael Dorn plays the baseball player who shows us that it doesn’t matter if you are star athlete, housing ordinances are still just that and even though some whites want to see you play they don’t want you around (most housing ordinances weren’t ended until the 90’s and 80’s even). His way of dealing with it is flirting with everyone. His character is very confident and it’s fun to see. He knows he’s a star and Dorn does it very well.

Jimmy – Jimmy is a young African-american guy and friends with Benny and a bit of a hustler. The day he gets the opportunity for wealth the detectives Burt and Kevin murder him. They say it was for breaking into a car but based of their reaction of beating up Benny for even asking questions I sincerely doubt that. R.I.P. Jimmy. Sad thing is this still happens today. This scene is given more power given the actor plays Jake Sisko…Benjamin Sisko’s son in the series as a whole.

Cassie – Played by the actress who plays Captain Sisko’s wife Kasidy she is great in this as the woman who accepts discrimination (and Willie’s creeping) and wants to build a life that she feels is practical with Benny. To this end she’s working at owning the restaurant she works at and trying to get Benny to see it too. She’s super supportive of him and his writing though and takes care of him after the cops beat him up.

Kay Eaton – Kay is played by Nana Visitor who plays Major Kira and she is an author who writes under a name K.C. so people will think she is man. She is aware of the prejudice and inequality around her and can relate to Benny in that way. She’s more resigned than Benny though and doesn’t fight Pabst over the injustice of the Editors.

Herbert Rossoff – Rosoff played by Shimerman (who plays Quark) is the one person always clashing with Pabst (played by Rene who plays Odo) and is most vocal against the injustice of Benny’s story not being published and the editors shutting down the magazine for a month because of Benny’s black protagonist.

Douglas Pabst – Played by the actor who plays Odo, like Odo Pabst is all about the rules, even if they are unjust. He doesn’t care about injustice he cares about money and fires Benny when the Publishers choose not to run the stories. He isn’t even well intentioned he is all about the rules, just like Odo. He is the status quo and those who do nothing.

Benny Russell – Benny Russell is the one dreaming “Deep Space Nine” and the one being dreamed by Captain Sisko. He has victories like when Pabst accepts the story of “Deep Space Nine” being a dream. He is inspired by Delaney a gay African American writer whose story was rejected because his protagonist was mixed race. Benny the character is different in that he is working to be married with Cassie but his role becomes bigger after “The Preacher” reminds him of his role as a a symbol of the future and justice and making the story of “Captain Sisko” real by telling the story. This ends with him being put in a hospital though as he stands up to Pabst and cries out to be recognized as a human being.

Joseph Sisko – Joseph reminds his son Ben of how important it is to fight, which makes sense that he’d be the Preacher in Ben’s dream of Benny as he is calling Captain Sisko back to the struggle and making sure a just world remains or can come about…that life is bigger than those he has lost and himself.

Captain Sisko – Sisko is mourning the loss of his friend but after he dreams of Benny and realizes that Benny could have dreamed one another into reality realizes how important it is to fight and struggle against injustice, be it discrimination or the tyranny of the Dominion.

Honorary Mentions – Alamo (Dukat) and Combs (Weyoun) play corrupt detectives who are the ones responsible for killing Jimmy…and Meaney played a bumbling writer who liked robots. They weren’t bad characters but they weren’t explored some of the other characters were, which is why I’m giving them honorary mentions.

Easter Eggs – The Magazine they are writing for has “Star Trek: The Original Series” stories in it’s pages. Ranging from “The Cage” to “Where no One has Gone Before.” It’s a really cool salute to the past early science fiction as well as the ripple “Star Trek” created by it’s existence as a show during this time period.

The Meta Moments – The whole idea of “Deep Space Nine” all existing in the mind of Benny is very meta as “Deep Space Nine” existed in the writers who wrote the show. Benny is almost a stand in for them and the story they all sought to tell.

The Message – There are quite a few messages in this that stands out. The dreams of the present can become the dreams of the future and the dreams of the past remind us of what we still need and can accomplish. There is also the fact that injustice must be fought if anything is ever going to change and the power of story and how ideas can never die.

Representation and racism in the Past and Present – Delaney was an African-American Gay Black Science Fiction writer whose story was rejected by his racist publisher. Here is a great article that explores it and the lack of representation of people of color today: http://www.newrepublic.com/article/121554/2015-hugo-awards-and-history-science-fiction-culture-wars

This article shows that Delaney’s story is still true in many ways today and it is certainly true on television and other forms media. Now I don’t know how much talking about it changes it, but sometimes it is the stories that do. Look at the influence “Star Trek” has had on the culture and with that the same potential other science fiction shows can have. What is the future we want to create?

The Potential Future – There will always be problems I think, maybe and hopefully not the same ones even if echoes of those same problems remain…but it is in our power to change them, for each generation to make those changes in how they live, the laws they make and how they and we treat our fellow human beings. I don’t know if it will ever happen, but I hope for the future that “Deep Space Nine” represents.

Final Score: 10 / 10. One of the greatest stories to ever come out of “Star Trek” and still relevant to this day.

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A Look Back on the Star Trek Pilots and the Future of Trek

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I want to end the “Star Trek Pilot Episodes Series/Star Trek Pilot Series,” with a reflection on the episodes and what I see in the future of Star Trek.  Star Trek at it’s best deals with issues of justice and dilemmas in modern day while giving us the hope for the future…the hope that we can be more and better. Each of the series barring much of “Voyager,” and nearly all of “Enterprise,” understood this and that was why they are so popular.

I still remember my first Star Trek convention, I was in Middle School living in Michigan at the time and I got to meet Vaughn Armstrong, who has played multiple characters on Star Trek as well as Roxann Dawson who played B’Elanna Torres on “Voyager,” in Middle School and High School was what motivated me to write sci. fi. My first sci. fi. idea ever was a Star Trek crew run by the outsiders or enemies of the Federation (Cardassian, Borg, Romulan and Ferengi were who I had in mind), and that motivated me to write my own stories post Middle School.

Before I get into the future of Trek I’m going to do one last recap of the Pilots…from best to worst with a summary.

Emissary

1st) Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Pilot – “Emissary Parts 1 and 2”

This pilot knew what it wanted to be and lived that fully, keeping the tone and dilemmas true throughout the entire series. It dealt with war, post-war and post-occupation and all the consequences on the species involved. Captain Sisko is my favorite of the Captains and the fact that it was an ensemble cast served the story…we got to see the Cardassian perspectives through Damar, Dukat and Garak, to Bajor with Kira and Kai Winn, to the Ferengi and even an extra named Morn got his own episode. The series showed the consequences of war and abuse of power and provided actual dilemmas. I was never bored watching the series and enjoy following certain arcs (especially the “Dominion War Arc”) to this day. I look forward to reviewing more episodes and that arc.

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2014/06/05/star-trek-deep-space-nine-pilot-emissary-part-1-and-2/

9 / 10

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2nd) Star Trek: The Original Series Pilot – “The Man Trap”

This pilot captured the wonders and dangers of space travel the best out of all the pilots. Where “Deep Space Nine,” looked big TOS started small. We get introduced to a new species that is the last of it’s kind and are forced to face the dilemma to kill it in “Kill or be Killed,” and we get to see most of the crew being active. TOS at it’s best used all of it’s crew members and captured the wonder and dangers of exploring strange new worlds and seeking out new life and new civilizations.

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2014/05/23/star-trek-the-original-series-the-man-trap-red-shirts-and-the-thing/

8 / 10

The Cage

3rd) Star Trek Original Pilot: The Cage

The original pilot was really the Pike and Spock story. Most of the other characters don’t even have names and are so replaceable they are basically Proto-Red Shirts. What drives this story and elevates it over it’s problems of sexism (the aliens capture two crew members who are women so Pike can choose a mate in the cage they’ve created). What elevates it is that it deals with an actual alien species (Talosians) who are nearly extinct. We see the dilemma that is faced and Pike and the aliens come to an understanding. This episode captures the essence of “New Life and New Civilizations,” really well.

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2014/05/23/star-trek-original-pilot-the-cage-before-there-was-captain-kirk/

6.5 / 10

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4th) Star Trek: The Next Generation – “Encounter At Farpoint Part 1 and 2”

“The Next Generation,” began with a very rocky start. It was trying to be “The Original Series,” when it clearly was not. This brought down the episode as well as the fact that besides Patrick Stewart and John De Lancie, no one else was any good as an actor. It captures the essence of Trek with exploration, it just doesn’t fully achieve it since it wastes the potential of Q and Farpoint Station (and the aliens are ideas, not actual interesting species).

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2014/05/30/star-trek-the-next-generation-pilot-encounter-at-farpoint-part-1-and-2/

6 / 10

Caretaker part 1 and 2

5th) Star Trek: Voyager – “Caretaker Part 1 and 2”

This is the point where there are a lot of interesting ideas but very poor execution. Maquis and Federation are pulled across the galaxy to the Delta Quadrant…but after they just get along. There is no conflict and Janeway is just assumed to be Captain even though the Maquis had a captain too. The species are poorly explored as well with Kazon as weaker versions (both physically and in writing) of Klingons and the Ocampa are poorly realized Space Elves. The whole getting stranded in the Delta Quadrant because of Janeway’s choice is never addressed either. In the end, it was average Star Trek.

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2014/06/12/star-trek-voyager-pilot-caretaker-part-1-and-2-lost-in-space/

5 / 10

Broken Bow

6th) Star Trek: Enterprise – “Broken Bow Part 1 and 2”

How do you miss the point of Star Trek? You do what Enterprise did. You write people as needlessly antagonistic, not very smart, objectify them sexually and create enemies who are mysterious for the sake of being mysterious and than do nothing with it…oh, and also forget all about all pre-established Canon in the Star Treks that came before. This was the series that killed Star Trek, and this pilot fully captures the reasons why. If your characters are useless and unlikable, your story goes nowhere and the only things you seem to care about are sex and violence…you’ve missed the entire point of Star Trek and your series deserves to die.

https://cameronmoviesandtv.wordpress.com/2014/06/19/star-trek-enterprise-pilot-broken-bow-part-1-and-2-missing-the-point-of-star-trek/

1 / 10

With Abrams new “Star Trek” movies I have seen new fans being created of this series. This gives me hope that we’ll be seeing another Star Trek series sometime in my lifetime. There has already been talk of “Star Trek: Captain Worf,” which would be awesome (http://www.blastr.com/2013-8-20/michael-dorn-reveals-his-capt-worf-star-trek-tv-series-not-dead-yet) since he was part of what made “The Next Generation,” and “Deep Space Nine,” so interesting and Netflix has been talking about doing a series too (http://uproxx.com/gammasquad/2014/06/netflix-wants-to-make-a-new-star-trek-series-happen/). I am down for either of these or a different one, since I think the mistakes of “Nemesis,” and “Enterprise,” have been learned from. This universe is rich with stories that can be applied to our own and help us to grow, understand and appreciate one another…for it is in those great stories of Trek that we have the chance to think deeper about ideas and in that Universe being offered as a good possibility, it gives us a future worth striving for and to boldly go where we haven’t gone before.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Pilot – Emissary Part 1 and 2 – The Fallout of War and Occupation

Emissary

“Ironic. One who does not wish to be among us is to be the Emissary.” -Kai Opaka

The third week of the Star Trek Pilot Episodes Series brings us to “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.” “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” is one of my all time favorite Sci. Fi. shows. The themes it deals with (Religion, War, Occupation and Politics). The Episodes follow Commander Sisko  (the first Captain who doesn’t begin as a Captain) and his arrival at Deep Space Nine after losing his wife to Captain Picard as Locutus in the Battle of Wolf 359, the series was a spinoff of The Next Generation and you can see it with Picard leaving O’Brien behind to be Sisko’s Chief Engineer. We then jump three years forward to Sisko arriving on a broken DS9 and Post-Occupation Bajor, both places are wounded and broken a reflection of Sisko who is feeling the death of his wife that he has refused to face. It is a powerful opening and when Sisko arrives he meets all the players (the Ensemble cast, Dukat and the Bajoran Prophets).

Here is my assessment of the Episode:

The Tone: Unlike “Encounter at Farpoint,” “Emissary” starts with so much at stake. Bajor is at stake and Sisko and many others are in a new place they have no idea how to deal with, they could easily mess things up with Bajor or have another war with Cardassia. You can see this in the broken spaceship and broken Sisko who is still living the Battle of Wolf 359, it isn’t bright and happy…it captures the true realities of what people face, which is important to see so front and center on a show.

The Characters – DS9 is my favorite crew. There is Odo the only of his kind at this point (an alien shape-shifter and security officer), the everyman O’Brien (who has a history of bad blood with Cardassia having fought in the war), Quark (the first 3 Dimensional Ferengi, a practical bar owner), Garak (a former Cardassian spy), Jazdia Dax (the next Dax (Kurzon being Sisko’s former mentor), Bashir (the idealistic Doctor) and Major Kira (the former Bajoran Resistance Fighter) and of course Dukat (the former Prefect of Bajor, the man responsible for the occupation).

The themes: Occupation (a recovering government who is looked down upon by the Federation – Bashir’s “I chose the wilderness,” implying Bajor is the wilderness. Religion (the Bajoran orbs and Sisko being chosen as the one to speak for them (The Prophets are Bajor’s Gods and also Wormhole aliens), Moving on (Sisko facing the death of his wife Jennifer and choosing to live and help heal Bajor and the Station while dealing with his own healing).

The Ensemble cast – Not everyone who is a main cast member is a member of the crew, which you didn’t see in Trek’s up to this point with the exception of Guinan. This was perfect because it showed that the Federation was not perfect by giving those other perspectives. Not to mention that we have children on the station in the role as children (Sisko and Nog as examples). The set up was perfect and they had a great payoff. The Federation is important but not the only players…there are Bajoran, Cardassian, Civilian and Federation players right from the beginning.

Gul Dukat – The best villain in Trek. A complex baddie who is a charming meglomaniac.

Benjamin Sikso – Avery Brooks does a masterful job playing Commander Sisko, from dealing with the post Wolf 359 Trauma of losing his wife, his conflict with Picard and the station’s crew members and with the Prophets (teaching them about corporeal linear life forms and them teaching him how to move forward). There is a reason Captain Sikso (as he would be later) is my favorite of the Captains.

The ending – Sets the stage for later conflicts. Bajor is still going through political and religious strife as well as with the Cardassians and Federation. Sikso also has accepted his place and is able to resolve his differences with Picard on a professional level since he has finally left the ship where his wife died and is ready to command Deep Space Nine.

Okay – Some of the acting. You can tell some of them are new…none of them are as bad as Troi or Wesley though so I won’t put that in the cons. None of the actors are ever painful to watch and there are some good performances, but a lot of okay ones too.

Music – Isn’t memorable. Not bad, but not great. This would be standard Trek since TNG they got rid of their composer, at this point Star Trek only had stock musical varieties to try out that aren’t bad but aren’t good.

“Emissary,” is the best of the pilots. It establishes what the series will cover in full in regards to themes and establishes Dukat as the primary protagonist and the Prophets as one of the main people to shape the series (and even Odo as being the Outsider who was discovered around this area). All of these things that the Pilot establishes have payoff later, even receiving more good from TNG (O’Brien and later Worf), which only adds to the political and philosophical complexity of the show. I highly recommend this show for any lover of political sci. fi…it is here that you see many of the seeds and themes that Ronald Moore would use later in the new Battlestar Galactica. This is a show I’ve enjoyed watching since High School and don’t see ever getting old. “Deep Space Nine,” is the best of the Star Treks.

I would rate “Emissary” as 9 / 10. There are enough great themes, acting and writing to elevate over a simple good episode.

DS9

The Star Trek Pilot Episodes Series

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Today is going to be the first day of my first weekly series. Every week around Thursday or Friday I will be reviewing a Star Trek Pilot Episode or Episodes in each Star Trek Series. In the case of the Original Series I’ll be reviewing “The Cage” for the first time Star Trek was seen on television and later “The Man Trap,” the series that represented the first time the Original Series that is known was introduced.

Next week will be Star Trek: The Next Generation’s “Encounter at Farpoint Part 1 and 2,” (the rockiest start of the Treks) the week after Star Trek Deep Space Nine’s “Emissary Part 1 and 2,” (The best of the pilots) the following week Star Trek: Voyager’s “Caretaker Part 1 and 2” (Where the series began to go downhill) and to end it Star Trek Enterprise’s (As much as I want to deny it being part of Star Trek) “Broken Bow Part 1 and 2.”

I am a Trekkie. Much of my inspiration for my creative writing both science fiction and otherwise arose out of some of the best stories in these science fiction series. As the reviews of the pilots continues weekly you’ll find more glimpses of why the majority of the Star Trek series are series that I look on with fond memories and inspiration to this day.