On a whim I restarted watching the series ST:DS9. I have previously written about how amazing this series is for a science fiction series to deal with areas like collective guilt and war memory.
I might have gotten a bit ahead of myself by jumping right into season five when I should have addressed the really great aspects of the pilot and first season (ie before Worf).
Add into to this dimension the underlying plot line of the Borg vs. the Federation and things get really messy. For those not keeping points at home, I will sum it up as thus: a techno-alien race that forcibly assimilates societies into its collective (Borg), captured Jean Luc Picard of the Enterprise (of ST:TNG fame) and used his extensive knowledge to find weaknesses in the Federation battle plans. This resulted in Borg and Federation forces meeting at a small constellation called Wolf 359. It was at this violent end that Commander Benjamin Sisko was the first officer on the USS Saratoga, where his wife died as a civilian casualty in the Federation’s attempt to stop the the Borg at what would be called simply Wolf 359, and you have one of the finest plot set ups of any series.
Roughly speaking then, Commander Ben Sisko is a man apart from every connection he could wed himself to. His temporary commanding officer is the man who (inadvertently) killed his wife; the provisional government he works with distrust him, and the facility he has been assigned has been all but burned to the ground.
Added all together, there is no reason why this should work as a ‘Star Trek’ serie in the conventional sense.
But that’s the brilliance here. Only on the fringes, of the Federation, of the series, of Sci Fi generally, could a show like this succeed in developing a plot line that shows that the ugly and messy business of governing in the aftermath of war, genocide and destruction are as unpleasant today as they are in the future.
If there is anything the pilot of the series adds that hasn’t been mentioned before, it is the frankness that the series begins with. Unlike its sister show, TNG, there is no naivete, no unbridled optimism. It is a rough beginning for a rough time. It is this factor that makes this series age better than its elder, and sadly, too indicative that we have not escaped Sarajevo.