Captain Sisko is my favorite captain in all of “Star Trek.” This is a character who has an amazing character arc, is a father, mentor, friend, Emissary and starfleet Captain navigating a pre-war Starfleet and Starfleet at War against both the Klingons and later the Dominion. All these aspects and more defined him as he was one of the Captains honest about humanity’s history of oppression (specifically the United States’s history where his family is from) and it informed his decisions and how he always tried to act with justice in every situation and grew over the course of the show. I’ll explore these aspects more below and am so grateful to Avery Brooks for bringing this amazing character to screen.
Also this will contain SPOILERS for the entire run of “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.”
Father and Mentor – One of the defining aspects of Benjamin Sisko from the very first episode of “Deep Space Nine” is his role as a father and mentor. We see him raising Jake as single father and how he supports Jake as he eventually becomes a Federation journalist. He is also mentor to countless members of the crew with the standout being example Jake’s Ferengi friend Nog. He is the one who helps guide Nog to the reasons he wants to join Starfleet and after supports him as he continues to rise in the ranks after the Academy (and he is the one to write Nog’s recommendation to the Academy). This role he plays as father and mentor is demonstrated in the time he makes for people to get to know them or simply to be with them, like with his son and the many adventures they have over the course of the show. He is truly a great example of both roles in fiction as a whole.
Captain – Benjamin Sisko begins as a Commander of Deep Space Nine but is eventually made Captain over the course of the show and given a ship with a cloak known as the Defiant. It is fascinating to see how he gets there as he has to navigate the politics around Bajor, Cardassia and those like the Dominion in the Delta Quadrant. Major Kira his second-in-command and representative for Bajor wants him gone initially but comes to respect him for the choices he makes as a leader. It is his leadership as Captain that really stands out as he guides his crew through both the Klingon and Dominion Wars and navigates Starfleets relationship to the many groups in the region. His perspective evolves over time too as he is at first hostile to the Maquis but especially due to a personal betrayal when his security officer Eddington joins them but comes to see their perspective both through his later wife Cassidy Yates and in Eddington’s last stand to save his people from the Jem’Hadar and Dominion who have come to wipe them out. He also becomes more ruthless in many ways too as he lives with a lie and actions he helped create to pull the Romulans into the war and break their neutrality because he was tired from all the friends and people who had been lost. He also didn’t give the cure to the Founders for their illness, agreeing with Starfleet to withhold it while the conflict was still in full swing. While at the same time he was a big part of keeping the peace between the Romulans and Klingons who hated one another and prior to the Dominion War preventing some Starfleet Admirals from overthrowing the Federation government. He was a Captain who made a lot of difficult decisions but made the time to get to know his crew and his friendship with those like Jazdia were some of the deepest on the show. It was Benjamin’s being there for his crew and accepting the weight of his decisions while before war always attempting to keep the peace which is a big reason I respected his time as one. He also had to navigate his role as a Starfleet captain while being a representative to the prophets/wormhole aliens and what that meant to Bajor and his role as Emissary.
Emissary – The role of the Emissary added a level of complication to the life of Benjamin Sisko that he never asked for. He was considering resigning from Starfleet until the Wormhole Aliens/Prophets force him to confront his trauma from the death of his wife at the Battle of Wolf 359 from the Borg. This healing begins here though and through this role as Emissary we see him navigate Bajor’s politics and religion. This leads to him coming in conflict with Kai Winn at times who was only after power and saw him and the Federation as a threat against her’s being checked but also it lead to him going against the Federation as he keeps them from joining on the Prophet’s prompting when they predict it will only lead to more sorrow for Bajor if the Dominion sees them as a threat. He learns his mother was one of the Prophets which also changes his relationship to them and his role and relationship to Bajor, a planet he comes to know as home. Eventually his role comes to a head when his enemy and former occupier of Bajor Dukat becomes the Emissary for the Pah-Wraiths (The aliens who were trapped by the Prophets and seek only destruction) as after the Dominion War he stops them from destroying the galaxy, and is taken by the Prophets in the process. Seeing him navigate this role and teach as well as learn from the Prophets was a compelling aspect of his character and a fitting end too given his conversation with them in the pilot of the show.
Confronting History – One of the great things we see Benjamin Sisko do through the show is confront humanity and specifically the United States’s racist and classist history. We see this in “Past Tense” when he takes on the role of Gabriel Bell leading to the Bell riots and class and homelessness reform and later as Benny Russell a 1950’s sci. fi. write who is writing “Deep Space Nine” and the story of Captain Sisko. The racism and oppression of then is confronted showing it still living in the structural racism and racism against African-Americans and people of color in the present and Sisko calls that to account with Vic Fontaine’s holo-program’s era and setting and from that the racism that must always be confronted and faced to be changed. Sisko’s fight against racism, injustice, class and discrimination is just as relevant as it was when it first aired. It matters.
Loss and Sacrifice – The final aspects that I’ll be exploring that make Benjamin Sisko so dynamic are his sacrifice and the losses he experiences. We see how the loss of his wife in Wolf 359 defined him and eventually shaped his choosing to become commander on the station. We see the loss of Jazdia reaffirm his role as Emissary and reconnect with his family and their history. We also see how the loss of people hardened him too given his not letting Odo heal the Founders until the Dominion War is over and his lies and actions to bring the Romulans into the war against the Dominion. Loss hardened him but did not remove his love and empathy as he marries Cassidy Yates and even has a son with her though even that he loses in the end as when the Prophets saved him after he stopped Dukat and the Pah-Wraiths I don’t think he was corporeal anymore as the Prophets aren’t and they saved him. He was like them so the Benjamin Sisko who was died to save the galaxy. It is a powerful and fitting story for the greatest of captains.
All these aspects lead to the dynamic character that is Captain Benjamin Sisko. Out of all the Captains in Starfleet how much I like them compared to Captain Sisko isn’t even close and I think his final sacrifice fits the character and the story with Dukat and the Prophets that began in the pilot. Benjamin Sisko is such a dynamic character and even this can’t give the character justice but it is my small way of exploring, explaining and honoring why he is my favorite captain in “Star Trek.”