Deep Space Nine Season 7
7.01 – Image in the Sand: B
The final season of Deep Space Nine opens with the suitably eventful “Image in the Sand.” It’s an episode which is a sprawling exploration of the fallout from the Season Six finale. As such, much of the episode feels slightly adrift, moving from one storyline to another without much to tie it all together. Still, these are all necessary developments, pushing the series closer to its final resolution. And there’s plenty of surprises to be had.
7.02 – Shadows and Symbols: B-
“Shadows and Symbols” Deep Space Nine is the natural progression for a series that has begun to fully embrace its more mystical elements. It’s a bold step for the series and, with respect to this episode at least, the results are mixed. Ultimately, the success of decision to focus on mysticism will boil down to a measure of balance — in other words, how can the series balance its sci-fi fare with its newfound mystical elements? To that end, what holds this episode back is its inability to effectively tell three separate stories at the same time.
7.03 – Afterimage: B-
“Afterimage” is a surprisingly enjoyable installment, despite the fact that it doesn’t take too many chances in terms of story or character. In the grand scheme of things, this is an important episode, a necessary introduction and exploration of character. To that end, the story is successful. But the predictable, by-the-numbers approach means that, while the episode is competently produced, the result is hardly exceptional.
7.04 – Take Me Out to the Holosuite: C
Yeah, “Take Me Out To The Holosuite” is campy, sentimental, and thoroughly ridiculous. But there’s just enough substance to it to make this an episode worth watching … at least once. The truth is, this is an episode about almost nothing of consequence to the series. But as a tale about finding meaning, and pleasure, in small victories against overwhelming odds? As a tale about camaraderie and fellowship? Well, it certainly manages to be successful.
7.05 – Chrysalis: C-
“Chrysalis” is the epitome of average. It’s got a routine story, some scenes which work, others that don’t and while the episode’s main character, Bashir, learns something of a lesson, it’s not something entirely new or groundbreaking. The episode uses some interesting continuity, but more than anything, this feels like the kind of middling character development we’d see early in the series, and is not something that works particularly well in the final season.
7.06 – Treachery, Faith and the Great River: B-
“Treachery, Faith and the Great River” is one of those solid episodes of Deep Space Nine which focuses on character, against the backdrop of larger story issues. Even the subplot is successfully entertaining. If there’s a drawback, though, it’s in that the quiet scenes are just a bit too quiet and the silly scenes are just a bit too silly. It’s a classic, but it’s not exceptional.
7.07 – Once More Unto the Breach: B+
“Once More Unto The Breach” is a very, very good episode of Deep Space Nine. While there are a few moments which tend to push the boundaries a bit too far, it is almost entirely a solid, sobering character exploration — one which has as many implications for the audience as it does for the characters of DS9. Toss in a handful of action sequences, some solid writing and performances, and it’s easy to see why this is a classic.
7.08 – The Siege of AR-558: A+
Gripping. Gritty. Compelling. Chilling. Wrenching. Controversial.
Pick your adjective because “The Siege of AR-558” has to be one of the most intense, brutally honest depictions of warfare Star Trek has ever attempted, let alone accomplished with such visceral and cerebral craft. This just may be the darkest that the franchise has ever gone. And it does so with such an honesty and immediacy that it avoids melodrama and instead creates an experience that is about as close to perfection as I can possibly imagine. War is dirty, bloody, and ultimately without any real honor — at least not the romanticized notions we often have. And this installment conveys that reality … along with the naïve preconceptions we usually harbor.
7.09 – Covenant: C
“Covenant” is an episode that desperately tries to further the overall story arc of Deep Space Nine. The problem, though, isn’t in the fact that it successfully develops both the plot and the characters. Rather, the issues with this episode stem from where that development heads off to. It’s one thing to devise a complex storyline … it’s another to create a story that is silly, and ridiculous. And the return to the pah-wraith storyline is a significant detriment.
7.10 – It’s Only a Paper Moon: A-
“It’s Only A Paper Moon” is an exceptional episode of Deep Space Nine. It’s an important installment because it carries forward some very real and plausible consequences of the Dominion War. In many ways, the episode is a journey — an emotional journey — which leads its characters (and the audience) into some very uncomfortable places. There are some issues in terms of the style of the episode — for some viewers it may not seem appropriate to the story, but otherwise, this is an important and moving installment.
7.11 – Prodigal Daughter: C
“Prodigal Daughter” is a middling affair, offering some nice continuity and character moments tucked into a story that is competently, but rather unremarkably, crafted. There are very few (if any) outright mistakes or miscues in the episode. But it’s also a story without much of an emotional or intellectual impact. The best that can be said is that it avoids being a failure. But that’s a long, long way from striving for success.
7.12 – The Emperor’s New Cloak: D
“The Emperor’s New Cloak” is a sadly misguided episode. You can kinda, sorta see what the intentions were for the overall story. But the problem is that it completely misses the mark in terms of characters and continuity. The end result is an episode which only has value insofar as it is connected to a handful of previous installments. Otherwise, it’s a totally forgettable and unnecessary affair.
7.13 – Field of Fire: C+
Murder on DS9!
“Field of Fire” is, primarily, a murder-mystery set on board the DS9 station. There’s a bit of character work from Ezri, though it’s mostly superficial. What really sells the episode, in terms of entertainment, is in how well it executes the mystery-investigation elements. To that end, this is an enjoyable installment, filled with enough suspense and tension to pass the time. But it’s hardly classic DS9.
7.14 – Chimera: A
At its heart, “Chimera” is a love story. But in truth, it’s about much more than that. It’s a story about identity and trust, about acceptance and intolerance, about temptation and faith. This is one of those installments that transcends its story to become something much more meaningful and profound than just another episode. Put simply, this is Deep Space Nine at its best.
7.15 – Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang: C+
“Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang” is about what you’d expect from an episode with such a title: Silly, slightly amusing, lightweight … maybe even entertaining, if you’re in the right mood. This is an episode almost entirely about style (it does attempt to shoehorn in a bit of substance which is more effective than one might expect). So the real problem is in whether or not viewers buy into the style.
7.16 – Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges: A
How do war and threats to a society eat away at its moral fiber? At the very principles upon which it is based? These are questions that 21st century societies are currently facing. “Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges” (explained in the episode as “In a time of war, the law falls silent.”) is an episode about these very issues. And it tackles them through a series of events that are as suspenseful as they are profound. Some plot elements might stretch plausibility, but the meaning behind the events — the lengths people in power will go — are powerfully relevant and realistic.
7.17 – Penumbra: B
And so it begins (to end) …
“Penumbra” kicks off a ten-episode arc that culminates in the series finale of Deep Space Nine. As the series takes its first steps toward completion, it’s fascinating to see how its strengths — incredibly complex character and story arcs — have become something of a burden … or at least a challenge. How to end it all with satisfactory and plausible conclusions? This episode begins the journey and, despite the relatively uneven approach, it’s very much worthy of bringing the series to a close.
7.18 – ‘Til Death Do Us Part: B-
“Til Death Do Us Part” continues Deep Space Nine‘s expansive story arc. The results are much the same as the previous installment: Solid plot development, uneven pace and characterizations, a good, not great episode.
7.19 – Strange Bedfellows: B
After an all-too-slow buildup, “Strange Bedfellows” ultimately becomes a compelling episode, filled with character and narrative revelations. There’s still some unevenness to the overall approach, and there are a few awkward moments within the episode. But it’s central developments, particularly with respect to the characters, is much more plausible and insightful than the first two installments of The Final Chapter.
7.20 – The Changing Face of Evil: A
“The Changing Face of Evil” is a thoroughly transformative episode. From start to finish it moves the plot along at a breakneck, while still taking enough time and care for character development … and even a health dose of humor. It’s epic. It’s cinematic. And by the time all is said and done, The Final Chapter of Deep Space Nine, which has been slowly building like a thunderhead, breaks headlong into a full-blown torrent.
7.21 – When It Rains…: B-
After the hectic pace of the previous installment, “When It Rains…” is where Deep Space Nine slows down, takes a breath, and resets for what should be a final sprint to the finale. The episode itself draws from a lot of story and character elements from across the series. As such, the result feels more like a prologue — but it’s not without a few revelations and surprises of its own. Unfortunately, these are a mixed bag and, as a result, the episode stumbles a bit.
7.22 – Tacking Into the Wind: A-
“Tacking Into The Wind” is an important episode in the grand scheme of Deep Space Nine. In many ways, it justifies some of the more questionable plot decisions that came before it. There’s some nice character development. But mostly, this is a fast-paced, action-filled episode which has just enough time to provide some crucial (and very critical) commentary on one of the biggest elements of the Star Trek franchise: The Klingon Empire.
7.23 – Extreme Measures: B-
“Extreme Measures” is a likable, meaningful episode. Presented almost anywhere else in the series, it almost certainly would have had a much more profound impact than it does, so close to the finale. But the problem isn’t really with intent, it’s with execution. This is an episode designed to focus on friendship and camaraderie, as well as mystery and morality. But it’s unable to weave these elements together into a coherent tapestry.
7.24 – The Dogs of War: B
“The Dogs of War” is the penultimate episode to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The task it had to accomplish was a very tall order indeed. And most of the episode is very, very successful. Except for the parts that are not. Truly, this is a tale of two episodes: One thoroughly compelling, the other incredibly silly. It’s this odd story structure that, unfortunately, saps the episode of too much emotional impact.
7.26 – What You Leave Behind: A
“What You Leave Behind” is not a perfect episode, nor a perfect series finale. But for all its faults, it nonetheless proves to be deeply moving and thoughtful. In many ways, it’s the perfect embodiment of Deep Space Nine — a series that went to great lengths to show that all of us have flaws, but depending on the choices we make, we can rise above them. Such is the case here. The finale isn’t immaculate, it isn’t like walking through Paradise one last time. But that’s the point of the whole series, isn’t it?