News By Jan. 19, 2015 9:33 am
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine condensed: How to watch the most story-driven Trek | News | Geek.com

This guide will help you get through the 1990’s sci-fi TV show Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. It lists both the most crucial episodes for plot progression, and the most beloved one-offs. It is spoiler-free, but you can infer some things if you read too far ahead. It is recommended you go season-by-season.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was a departure for the franchise in more ways than one. It’s the only series that isn’t based around the exploits of a starship, instead taking place mostly on a former Cardassian space station. There wasn’t even a captain of the station in the first few seasons. This series also delves more deeply into the inner workings of the Federation and its citizenry, and what it finds is not always as flattering as it was made out to be in The Next Generation.

DS9 was also the first Star Trek series that had a strong storyline that carried on from episode to episode. Ronald D. Moore, who is now known for the Battlestar Galactica reboot, began writing for DS9 in its third season. Not coincidentally, that’s when the story arcs become more detailed and engaging. You can’t just jump in anyplace and know what’s going on, but there’s a lot of DS9. Where to start?

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine condensed: How to watch the most story-driven Trek | News | Geek.com

Sorry, there are how many episodes?

With 176 episodes at about 43 minutes each, that’s more than 126 hours of content. You could watch Deep Space Nine for over five days straight with no breaks for sleep. You don’t have to, though. Who has time for that? Here are the episodes you should watch if you don’t want to miss the good stuff.

You can get Deep Space 9 on either Netflix or Amazon Prime in the US. Note, the episode numbers on Netflix are sometimes different from the production codes, which are used here. Make sure you check the title before queuing up an episode.

Season 1 – Coming to Bajor

As is common with Star Trek, it took a bit for the series to find its footing. The relationships between the crew members is still developing in season 1 and the larger storylines have yet to emerge. Still, this is where you should start to learn about the setting and characters. Basically, Commander (later Captain) Sisko is given command of Deep Space Nine after the Cardassian empire finally ends it occupation of Bajor. He discovers a stable wormhole to the distant Gamma Quadrant, which puts Bajor on the proverbial map. It also makes him a religious icon for the Bajoran people. Here are the episodes you need to hit.

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Essential Watching:

Episode 1 and 2 – Emissary: The premiere episode lays the groundwork for the entire series as Sisko becomes the first person to enter the wormhole, which the Bajorans believe is the home of their gods. A short-term stint on Deep Space Nine is suddenly looking like a permanent post.

Episode 3 – Past Prologue: A Bajoran terrorist wanted by the Cardassians arrives on the station. It’s a good overview of the tensions that exist between the Federation and Bajoran crew on DS9. It also introduces the tailor/spy Garak, one of the best characters in all of Trek lore. That’s just my opinion, but you can’t prove me wrong.

Episode 12 – Vortex: We get the first hints that DS9’s security chief Odo is not the only Changeling in the galaxy. Indeed, his people may still exist in the Gamma Quadrant.

Episode 13 – Battle Lines: The Bajoran Kai (basically a space pope) visits the station and takes a trip through the wormhole. Things do not go well.

Episode 19 – Duet: A Cardassian visitor is suspected of being a war criminal in disguise. Kira is determined to find out the truth.

Episode 20 – In the Hands of Prophets: In the season finale, a Bajoran religious leader by the name Vedek Winn objects to the secular education on the station. Specifically, what the Federation teaches kids about the wormhole. Things escalate quickly.

Season 1 Recommended:

Episode 6 – Captive Pursuit: Unusual alien visitors pop in through the wormhole, including one being hunted by a second alien in this excellent episode. Lots of Prime Directive chitchat.

Episode 8 – Dax: Dax is accused of a murder committed by one of her past hosts. This episode gives you an understanding of how Trill symbiotes work, which comes up frequently in the series.

Season 2 – The Dominion

It is in season two that we meet many of the factions and races that will play major roles in the rest of the series. There’s a bit of a lull in the middle of season 2, but by the end you’ll be hooked.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine condensed: How to watch the most story-driven Trek | News | Geek.com

Essential Watching:

Episodes 1, 2, and 3 – This is a three-part story arc that deals with a rescued war hero and an attempted coup on Bajor. You will learn to hate Winn if you don’t already after that education business last season.

Episode 7 – Rules of Acquisition: Quark leads Ferengi negotiations to set up a business in the Gamma Quadrant. The negotiations lead to talk of The Dominion, which will be important later in the series.

Episode 14 – Whispers: O’Brien believes his friends have been replaced by devious copies for some unknown purpose. Something is wrong aboard DS9, and O’Brien is the only one who seems to be able to see it. It’s not part of the story arc, but it’s fantastic anyway.

Episode 15 – Paradise: Sisko and O’Brien are marooned on a planet where technology is banned, and the enigmatic leader of the colony enforces the ban with extreme measures. A fantastic story.

Episodes 20 and 21 – The Maquis: This is the beginning of the Maquis storyline, which will play out for the next few seasons. It also crosses over to other Star Trek series like Voyager. It tells the story of Bajorans who reject the treaty with Cardassians and want to continue the war.

Episode 26 – The Jem’Hadar: Sisko encounters the Jem’Hadar for the first time. These soldiers of the Dominion are ruthless and efficient, but the leadership of the Dominion is still a mystery.

Season 2 Recommended:

Episode 5 – Cardassians: This episode revolves around Cardassian sneakiness and a mysterious orphan. It’s a Garak-heavy episode, which is great.

Episode 12 – The Alternate: Odo investigates a planet in the Gamma Quadrant that may hold the key to understanding his origins, but he also has to deal with the man who studied him for years before realizing he was a living being.

Episode 23 – Crossover: This is a mirror universe episode in the grand tradition of the original series. Kira and Bashir end up in the mirror universe of the 24th century, where a Klingon-Cardassian alliance rules the galaxy and humans are slaves. There is a depressing lack of evil goatees.

Season 3 – The Defiant

I feel like season 3 is where the series really takes off. The station finally gets its own starship — the USS Defiant — and the Federation realizes the Dominion could be a serious threat. At the same time, other powers in the Alpha Quadrant prepare to take matters into their own hands. There are also a few great two-part stories in this season, so make sure you leave time to watch both in a single sitting.

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Essential Watching:

Episodes 1 and 2 – The Search: Using the newly acquired USS Defiant and its Romulan-approved cloaking device, the crew goes looking for The Dominion in the Gamma Quadrant. In the process, Odo finally learns about his origins.

Episode 9 – Defiant: Commander William Riker comes to the station… or does he? This one fits into the Maquis story arc.

Episodes 11 and 12 – Past Tense: Sisko, Bashir, and Dax are accidentally transported to the mid 21st century. It’s a dark time in human history. These episodes are very well-done, but don’t advance the story arc. Still, they’re a must watch.

Episodes 20 and 21 – Improbable Cause and The Die is Cast: Some unlikely allies plan an all-out attack on the Dominion, and Odo is along for the ride. Garak plays a major role in this story, and there are tons of neat space battles.

Episode 26 – The Adversary: In the season finale, the crew learns just how dangerous Changelings can be as one infiltrates the Defiant.

Season 3 Recommended:

Episode 5 – Second Skin: Kira is kidnapped and surgically altered to look Cardassian, but her captors tell her she was always a Cardassian sleeper agent.

Episode 16 – Prophet Motive: Quark seeks to stop the Grand Nagus of the Ferengi from destroying traditional Ferengi ways. This is a fun one because Ferengi are hilarious.

Season 4 – The Klingons being Klingons

The 4th season of Deep Space Nine has more action as the Federation and Dominion continue on the road to war, but Worf (Michael Dorn) joins the crew of DS9 as well. Meanwhile, old alliances are starting to break down. There are a lot of excellent episodes in this season, so you’ll have to forgive the longer list.

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Essential Watching:

Episode 1 and 2 – The Way of the Warrior: The Klingons intend to start a war and want Federation assistance, but can Sisko stand by and let it happen? This episode contains one of the coolest space battles in the entire series.

Episode 7 – Starship Down: The Dominion crashes Federation trade negotiations in the Gamma Quadrant. The Defiant is badly damaged as it sinks into a gas giant’s atmosphere.

Episode 8 – Little Green Men: Quark, Rom, Nog, and Odo are transported back to Roswell, New Mexico in 1947. Not part of the storyline, but there are some amusing callbacks to past episodes. This is a fantastic Ferengi episode with great humor.

Episodes 11 and 12 – Homefront and Paradise Lost: Captain Sisko and Odo investigate possible Changeling infiltrators on Earth. What they find is a sinister plot closer to home. This is a great two-part story because it shows a darker side of Starfleet, something DS9 goes back to several times.

Episode 14 – Return to Grace: Former Cardassian bigwig Dukat goes up against a Klingon ship with a lowly freighter. This episode makes Dukat into an almost likeable character, even to Kira.

Episode 18 – Rules of Engagement: Worf is put on trial for the destruction of a Klingon civilian transport. If found guilty, he could be extradited to the Klingon Empire and executed.

Episode 19 – Hard Time: One of my favorite episodes of DS9, even though it doesn’t move the story arc forward. O’Brien is convicted of espionage on an alien world and sentenced to 20 years in prison, but his punishment is not all it appears to be. This is one of those episodes that will stick with you.

Episode 23 –  To the Death: Sisko joins forces with the Dominion to stop a dangerous group of renegade Jem’Hadar. This episode marks the first appearance of the sickeningly polite Dominion overseer Weyoun. You’ll see a lot of him going forward.

Episode 26 – Broken Link: Odo begins suffering from a strange disease, and only his fellow Changelings can help him. Of course, they aren’t too happy with Odo.

Season 4 Recommended:

Episode 2 – The Visitor: You will either love or hate this episode where Captain Sisko vanishes, leaving his son to wonder what happened.

Episode 4 – Hippocratic Oath: Dr. Bashir attempts to free the Jem’Hadar from Dominion control.

Episode 25 – Body Parts: Quark thinks he’s dying, so he does what any Ferengi would do — he sells his soon to be desiccated remains on the open market. Have I mentioned I think the Ferengi are hilarious?

Season 5 – The Road to War

This is where all the plot lines in Deep Space Nine start coming together. Up to this point, the Federation has not been officially at war with the Dominion, but that might change soon. Changelings are everywhere, and the Federation still dealing with the Klingon Empire. Basically, the Alpha Quadrant is a huge mess.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine condensed: How to watch the most story-driven Trek | News | Geek.com

Essential Watching:

Episode 1 – Apocalypse Rising: Sisko and the crew go undercover to expose a Changeling imposter at the highest levels of the Klingon Empire. Success could mean an end to the war.

Episode 2 – The Ship: The crew spots a crashed Jem’Hadar warship, which would be quite a prize for the Federation. Attempting to salvage the craft turns into a tense standoff with the Dominion.

Episode 6 – Trials and Tribble-ations: This is one of the most beloved episodes of Deep Space Nine, and with good reason. The crew has to travel back in time to preserve the timeline, finding themselves in an episode of the original Star Trek series. Specifically, the Tribble episode. The way the DS9 crew is merged with footage from the classic episode is awesome.

Episode 12 – The Begotten: Odo finds an infant Changeling who was sent out into the galaxy much as he was years before. The experience of caring for it affects him more than expected.

Episodes 14 and 15 – In Purgatory’s Shadow and By Inferno’s Light: This is it — the Dominion’s invasion of the Alpha Quadrant begins, but the course of events surprises the Federation.

Episode 23 – Blaze of Glory: You could consider this the end of the Maquis story arc as the rebel group makes one last stab at Cardassia.

Episode 26: Call to Arms: The crew of DS9 race to mine the entrance of the wormhole in order to prevent Dominion reinforcements from reaching the Alpha Quadrant. At the same time, the Dominion plans its attack on the Federation. The season 5 finale marks the beginning of the Dominion War.

Season 5 Recommended:

Episode 4 – …Nor the Battle to the Strong: Dr. Bashir and Jake Sisko respond to a distress call on a planet besieged by Klingons. This is a darker episode that explores how Starfleet respond to war.

Episode 20 – Ferengi Love Songs: Quark is bummed about his financial situation, which is of great importance to a Ferengi. He visits his mother and finds she’s having a romantic relationship with the Ferengi Grand Nagus. As usual, Ferengi are hilarious.

Episode 22 – Children of Time: The Defiant passes through an anomaly that allows the crew to meet their own descendants. The catch — these people will only exist if the ship crash lands on a planet and maroons the crew forever.

Season 6 – The Dominion War

The sixth season of Deep Space Nine is as action-packed as any season of Star Trek ever produced. There are a few one-off episodes that don’t relate to the war, but it’s mostly about the Federation’s struggle to withstand the onslaught of Dominion and Cardassian forces. The season premiere picks up three months into the war, and things are going badly for Starfleet.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine condensed: How to watch the most story-driven Trek | News | Geek.com

Essential Watching:

Episode 1 – A Time to Stand: Sisko and the crew use a captured Dominion warship to stage a daring raid that could turn the tide.

Episode 4 – Behind the Lines: Sisko goes after a critical Dominion facility. Meanwhile Deep Space Nine is occupied by the Dominion, but Kira, Jake, Rom, and Odo work to undermine them.

Episodes 5 and 6: Favor the Bold and Sacrifice of Angels: The Dominion is close to disabling the wormhole minefield and bringing in the reinforcements that will allow them to conquer the Alpha Quadrant. Sisko leads a huge fleet of ships to retake Deep Space Nine and stop them. There’s a spectacular space battle to behold in this one.

Episode 10 – The Magnificent Ferengi: This is another Ferengi episode, but it graduates from “recommended” to “essential” because it also has to do with the Dominion. Quarks mother is kidnapped by the Dominion, so he mounts an all-Ferengi rescue mission because why not?

Episode 18 – Inquisition: Dr. Bashir is interrogated by Starfleet security, suspected of being an unwitting Dominion spy. This is the first appearance of Section 31, a secret branch of Starfleet intelligence. Inquisition is another example of DS9 exploring the less-than-perfect side of the Federation.

Episode 19 – In the Pale Moonlight: Sisko hatches a plot to pull the Romulans into the war against the Dominion. This episode has a truly memorable ending.

Episode 26 – Tears of the Prophets: Starfleet begins its counterattack against the Dominion with Captain Sisko leading. In order to have a shot, the fleet must first disable powerful orbital weapon platforms guarding Cardassian space. Space battles? There are lots of them here.

Season 6 Recommended:

Episode 9 – Statistical Probabilities: Dr. Bashir works with a group of genetically engineered (but very weird) geniuses to predict the course of the Dominion War. They conclude there is no way the Federation can win.

Episode 13 – Far Beyond the Stars: Captain Sisko contemplates leaving Starfleet, but begins having visions of himself as a 1950s writer in New York. This episode features most of the cast in Sisko’s vision as humans without their alien makeup. It’s an unusual, but very interesting episode.

Episode 22 – Valiant: Jake Sisko and Nog are rescued by a Defiant-class starship commanded entirely by elite Starfleet cadets. They end up making some very poor decisions.

Season 7 – What You Leave Behind

This is the final season of Deep Space Nine. It introduces some new characters and sums up the Dominion War story arc. I don’t want to give too much away, but the wormhole aliens/Bajoran prophets also play a pivotal role in the end of the series.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine condensed: How to watch the most story-driven Trek | News | Geek.com

Essential Watching:

Episode 1 – Image in the Sand: In the 7th season opener, Sisko seeks a way to contact the wormhole aliens while Deep Space Nine is commanded by Kira. I feel like this episode drags a little, but it’s vital to the storyline.

Episode 2 – Shadows and Symbols: Sisko gets more than he bargained for when investigating his past and Kira faces a standoff with the Federation’s new allies.

Episode 6 – Treachery, Faith, and the Great River: A Dominion overseer tries to defect, bringing with him important intelligence.

Episode 8 – The Siege of AR-558: This is another instance of DS9’s take on Federation soldiers dealing with the stresses of war. Sisko and the crew bring supplies to the frazzled and demoralized troops defending an important communications outpost. When the Jem’Hadar attack, they stand their ground and fight.

Episode 9 – Covenant: Dukat has gone full-crazy and become the leader of a religious cult that kidnaps Kira. This episode sets up Dukat’s role in the final plotline, so you’ll want to watch it even if it seems unrelated to the arc.

Episode 16 – Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges: Dr. Bashir has another encounter with the mysterious Section 31.

Episodes 17 through 26: The final ten episodes of DS9 are part of a single story arc, so you need to watch all of them. Each episode moves the story closer to a conclusion. A great deal happens, too. There’s a Cardassian rebellion, a new Dominion ally, the Federation continues pushing toward Cardassia, and Dukat begins making plans for his final gambit. Oh, and Kai Winn continues to be a jerk.

Season 7 Recommended:

Episode 7 – Once More Unto the Breach: An old Klingon warrior asks Worf to help him find honor in battle once more time. He finds his bravado doesn’t make up for his advanced age.

Episode 12 – The Emperor’s New Cloak: Grand Nagus Zek is trapped in the mirror universe, so Quark and Rom go in to save him. Yay, Ferengi.

That’s it!

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine came along at a very interesting time. The huge success of Star Trek: TNG paved the way for the deep story arcs of DS9. The writers and producers knew they’d be able to finish what they started because Star Trek had a stable presence on TV.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine condensed: How to watch the most story-driven Trek | News | Geek.com

Even if Star Trek returns to TV in the future, I don’t know if it will ever be as plot-driven as DS9 was. That’s why it’s something to experience, even if you don’t have time for all 176 episodes. Just follow the above guide and you’ll hit all the high points.

Now read: Babylon 5 condensed: How to watch sci-fi’s most intimidating masterpiece

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine condensed: How to watch the most story-driven Trek | News | Geek.com

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