Boldly Going: “Emissary”

In January 1993, during the sixth season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine premiered. It was the second spin-off of Star Trek  and the first to be created without direct involvement of Gene Roddenberry. Roddenberry did approve the concept shortly before his death in 1991. Rick Berman and Michael Piller, who had been heavily involved in TNG, created the new show to follow the crew of Deep Space Nine, a former Cardassian space station.

The crew of Deep Space Nine is more diverse than the Enterprise. The space station is jointly run by the Bajorans and Starfleet. Commander Benjamin Sisko, a human Starfleet officer, manages the station with Kira Nerys as his Bajoran First Officer. Joining them is Dr. Julian Bashir, also human, as the chief medical officer. Jadzia Dax is the chief science officer. Jadzia is Trill, and knows Sisko from a previous Dax incarnation. The chief of security is Odo, a Changeling who can assume any shape he wants.  And Miles O’Brien transfers from the Enterprise.

“Emissary” opens with a scene from “Best of Both Worlds.” When the TNG production crew were filming the Season 3 finale, they couldn’t afford to show the Battle of Wolf 359, so they had the Enterprise arrive late and see the devastation. But three years later, technology had progressed so they could show the actual battle. Benjamin Sisko fought in that battle as first officer of the USS Saratoga. After sustaining a direct hit, the crew has to abandon ship before the warp core breaches. Sisko loses his wife. Three years later he and his son, Jake, arrive on Deep Space Nine right after the Cardassians have ended their occupation. The station is in extreme disarray.

At first Sisko is wary of assuming command. He tells Captain Picard that he’s considering resigning his commission and returning to Earth to raise Jake. He also has a grudge against Picard for the Battle of Wolf 359, telling the Enterprise captain they “met in battle.” It’s up to Sisko to get the station back to working order while the Bajorans try to pick up the pieces left after the occupation. Eventually the goal is to admit Bajor into the Federation, something that Picard is in favor of.

The crew of Deep Space Nine, with Quark the Bartender and Jake Sisko

One of the first things Sisko does is convince Quark, a Ferengi, to remain on board Deep Space Nine. Several shop owners lost everything and have fled. But Sisko convinces Quark to reopen his bar and become a community leader. Quark’s nephew is caught stealing so Sisko agrees to release him if Quark stays. The commander also meets with Kai Opaka, the religious leader for the Bajorans. She believes Sisko to be the long awaited Emissary of the Prophets and shows him one of the nine Orbs. After gazing at the Orb, Sisko finds himself on the beach where he met his wife for the first time. It’s a disorienting moment for the commander. Kai Opaka allows Sisko to take the Orb back to the station, telling him he must find the Celestial Temple.

The next day Dax arrives on the station with Dr. Bashir. Sisko puts Jadzia to work right away, showing her the Orb. She too gets a vision, one of the day she was joined with the Dax symbiont. The commander has her study the Orb to try to pinpoint where the temple might be. She comes up with a possible location in the Denorios Belt near Bajor and the two head out by runabout, without drawing the attention of the hovering Cardassians.

Discovering the wormhole

While searching the Denorios Belt, Sisko and Dax stumble upon a wormhole. They’re shocked to discover they’re in the Gamma Quadrant, a region of space that has only been explored by probes before. When they attempt to return to Deep Space Nine they run into a problem. Their runabout comes to a dead stop inside the wormhole. With nothing else to do, Sisko and Dax get out and explore the strange environment. Soon after, Dax is whisked back to Deep Space Nine.

Alone in a white void, Sisko encounters people from his past, such as Jennifer and Jake, and even people he met on Deep Space Nine. He realizes they are representations of non-corporeal aliens from the wormhole. They don’t understand linear existence and don’t like when their wormhole is disturbed by ships passing through. Sisko attempts to explain that he meant no harm and was just exploring, but his memories keep taking him back to the moment on the Saratoga when he failed to rescue Jennifer. He’s still grieving three years later.

Thankfully Sisko is able to negotiate with the aliens for safe passage. He returns to Deep Space Nine to find the station has moved to the entrance of the wormhole and just in time to prevent the Cardassians from attacking. Sisko is more at peace thanks to his experience in the wormhole and tells Picard he’ll remain as the station commander indefinitely.

I’m not as familiar with Deep Space Nine as The Next Generation or Voyager. But being a Star Trek fan as long as I’ve been, I know this series is more arc based, especially in the later half. Religion plays a larger part, as the Bajorans believe Sisko is their Emissary. Comparing the pilots, this feels more fleshed out than “Encounter at Farpoint,” mainly because they’re different showrunners. My initial impressions of Dax and Kira are more favorable than Crusher and Troi. Six years between the two pilots makes a big difference.


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