DS9: “Emissary” review
When I first heard about a new spinoff Star Trek show that was scheduled to premiere in January of 1993, I really didn’t think much of it. With The Next Generation still going strong at that point, I wasn’t all that interested in a Star Trek show that wasn’t about the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Without the name of the ship that had captured my imagination from the age of five, a Star Trek show would not have that magic.
However, I decided – as I was fresh out of high school, had just entered the workforce and was preparing to enter my first semester of college – to at least check out the pilot; if nothing else, to see what Chief O’Brien was going to be moving on to. As the character of O’Brien had gone through a very satisfying metamorphosis from being just an extra in the background to a regular fixture in the transporter room, it was extremely gratifying to me that this new show sported “Colm Meaney as Chief O’Brien” in its main cast. I thought it was well-deserved.
I loved how this new show introduced its lead character, one Commander Benjamin Sisko, on the bridge of the USS Saratoga at the Battle of Wolf 359! It was a tremendously spectacular beginning for this new pilot.
As the episode continued, it was all well and good that we met the other characters of the new show, learned some of the politics, and discovered the galaxy’s first stable wormhole. However, during this time, O’Brien was the only character I was truly invested in; he was the anchor from TNG to this new show and, quite honestly, I wouldn’t have complained if the entire show had focused on him. I especially loved the scene where Picard grants O’Brien permission to disembark and beams the Chief to his new assignment – from Transporter Room 3. Picard is like a proud parent watching one of his “kids” go off to college (mirroring my own dad’s feelings about my own journey to college, I wondered?), and then the Enterprise departs.
O’Brien, Sisko, and these other new characters were an interesting bunch; I really liked Commander Sisko, and the inclusion of a Ferengi (i.e., Quark) among the group came as some surprise. Considering also that the show was set aboard a space station rather than a starship, I really did wonder how the series would find its footing.
A scene I found particularly noteworthy occurs when Commander Sisko has to make the case for humanity and our linear existence to the non-physical and non-linear beings who inhabit the newly discovered wormhole. This is best shown when Sisko is put into the physical context of a baseball game, his favorite sport that he loves to play with his son, Jake, and tries to explain the rules to two of these wormhole aliens, who assume the form of the batter Sisko is pitching to and the form of his son, Jake, as a catcher. I found Sisko’s speech in this scene to be truly impressive, using the unpredictability of a baseball game as a terrific metaphor for life.
There was no doubt the writers of this show were really trying. And, best of all, they were staying true to the spirit of Star Trek, with a pilot that was right up there with “The Cage” in cerebral ideas and that good old Roddenberrian optimism.
All in all, I was really impressed with “Emissary”. It represented, to me, the beginning of a new kind of Trek magic.
A freelance writer, Douglas has several years experience writing newsletters, sales copy and movie reviews. He is also the author of the screenplays Supralight and Bloodstone: The Sorceress and the Warrior. His reviews of Star Trek films (as well as a DS9 retrospective) have been published on the TrekSphere website.