Star Trek Deep Space 9 stands as a trailblazer for the Star Trek franchise. Owing to its breaking of the tradition of rejecting the story of the week on a wandering starship, this show developed its characters as it built out its world. Not one of its characters was wasted, and the only departure of the cast was in its final season. Small characters that would be otherwise one dimension bit players in other series are fully developed and among some of the finest of the franchise. The shopping and living areas were built in full size and offered a real feeling to the station that none of the other series could ever match. No other series has dealt so intrinsically with religion and spirituality as the Captain of the station became a major component of the Bajorian religion.
10. The Die is Cast
Cooperation between the intelligence services of the Cardassian Union and Romulan Empire to conduct a first strike against the Dominion is the crux of this episode. An exploration of the Garak’s past and depth of the loyalty of Sisko to the shapeshifter Odo are explored as well.
9. What You Leave Behind
The final episode of the series features the final battle for the liberation of Cardassia and the ending of the war. Sisko representing the Prophets confronts Gul Dukat’s Pah Wraiths in the climactic battle between good and evil. This episode may beat the end of the Next Generation as the best end to a Star Trek series.
8. Call To Arms
In this episode, the Federation is losing the peace in the lead up to the Federation-Dominion War. Cardassia has become a part of the Dominion, and the Romulan Empire has signed a non-aggression pact with the Dominion, leaving the Klingons and the Federation as the only thing stopping a takeover by the invaders from the Gamma Quadrant. To stem the tide the crew of DS9 places a clocked minefield on the mouth of the wormhole to stop the Dominion from resupplying their foothold. This act starts the war and Deep Space 9 is captured by the Dominion in this powerful episode.
7. Sacrifice Of Angels
This episode features the recapture of the Deep Space 9, as the Dominion come close to disabling the minefield preventing Dominion reinforcements from turning the course of the war. Featuring huge battles and a ticking clock. The destruction of the minefield causes the Sisko to ask a favor of Prophets to help save that day at a high cost.
6. Emissary Part 1 & 2
When you think about the premiere episodes of the various series of Star Trek none stand out as much as this two-part episode. It starts with Lieutenant Commander Benjamin Sisko as the executive officer of the USS Saratoga during the last-ditch battle against the Borg at Wolf 359. At that battle, his wife is killed as a Borg cube lead by Captain Jean-Luc Picard, turned into Locutus of Borg, heads to Earth. As the episode unfolds Sisko is given the assignment to try and get Bajor into the Federation. In the meantime, he helps rediscover the wormhole, which is known as the Temple of the Prophets to the Bajorians, thus becoming the Emissary of the Prophets. This Wormhole leads to the Gamma Quadrant of the galaxy and changes what was a minor posting to the frontier station to a major hub of activity for the Federation.
5. Trials And Tribbleations
When Paramount asked the producer of DS9 to come with a suitable story to mark the 30th anniversary of the first episode of Star Trek, this is what his writers came up with. Rather than revisit a plot from Star Trek the technology had become capable of inserting the crew of DS9 into an episode of Star Trek. This story has the crew travel back in time to deal with a time-traveling Klingon agent, played by the same actor from the original series. The lighthearted nature of the original episode complements the absurdity of the premise of the episode.
4. The Visitor
This stand-alone episode of DS9 is a great exploration of the father-son relationship that underlined one of the foundational tenants of the series. After an accident in the engine room of the Defiant, DS9’s warship, Captain Sisko is apparently dead. Haunted by his loss and visited occasionally Captain Sisko’s son, Jake Sisko spends his life to try and correct the accident and regain his father. This touching episode can really tug at your heartstrings with great work for the entire cast.
3. Past Tense Part 1 & 2
As Deep Space 9 regularly expanded ideas into multiple-episode arcs it was difficult not to include one episode entries on this list. This two-part story is very apropos to today’s reality. Captain Sisko, Lieutenant Dax, and Doctor Bashir are sent back into time via a transporter malfunction and find themselves at a critical time on Earth prior to the founding of the federation. Set in 2024, the episode deals with a government-mandated homeless encampment in San Francisco, where people in need of housing help, mental health, or jobs are ghettoized into areas where they can be forgotten. This is especially poignant in our current homelessness crisis, where this could easily describe our presence.
2. Far Beyond the Stars
Struck by a vision by the Barjoran God, the prophets, Captain Sisko sees himself as a science fiction writer, Benny Russell in the 1950s. The writer begins working on a story about a space station on the borders of space, alluding that he is writing Deep Space 9 itself. As the episode unfurls the writer loses his sense of reality as he experiences the casual racism of the time. This episode features much of the cast of the show without makeup and allows the actors to show their range.
And 1. In the Pale Moonlight
This episode stretches the format of Star Trek as men of morals must choose to violate everything they believe and sacrifice their honor to save the whole of the Alpha Quadrant. As the Federation-Dominion war is raging the Federation seems close to defeat. Needing the aid of the neutral Romulan Empire to turn the tide, Captain Sisko seeks the aid of tailor/Cardassian spy Garak to get them to join the war by any means necessary. This episode features a strong performance of Andrew Robinson as Garak. Structured as Captain’s Log, Captain Sisko brings you through the story with a powerful performance by Avery Brooks