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We continue our mission to explore DS9 and Star Trek in the mid-1990s. Be sure to complete the first part of Mission 6, including the video introduction, before moving on to this supplemental portion. There is no video component for Mission 6A.

Three Decades of Trek

As the 30th Anniversary of Star Trek approached, Deep Space Nine had proven itself worthy of the name. The unlikely series had now run four seasons, one longer than the Original Series, and had taken a brief turn as "flagship" of the franchise after the conclusion of Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1994.  It would go on to air a full seven seasons before ending with a multi-part finale arc unique among Star Trek series. Though it helped to transform Star Trek into broader universe, ushering in a "golden era" for the franchise on television, DS9 remained a sort of "middle child" of the family. As Paramount launched yet another Star Trek series, aboard another starship (more on that next time), Deep Space Nine continued its exploration of character and faith on the front lines of the Final Frontier.

 

By 1996, Rick Berman had successfully transitioned Captain Picard and crew into movie stars, with a second TNG film in the works for a holiday release. The release of Star Trek: Voyager had grabbed the spotlight as the shiny new series, clearly exhibiting the Starfleet-style exploration so well known to fans. But back in the Bajoran sector, Ira Steven Behr, now the show runner on DS9, led his series in a very different direction. After a bolstering of the series in its fourth season, including the addition of fan-favorite Worf and greater focus on Federation-Klingon relations, Behr charted a course for unprecendented territory for Star Trek -- war.

 

Behr's idea that not all parts of the galaxy had achieved the paradise Roddenberry imagined would guide the final seasons of Deep Space Nine. As Capt. Sisko faced complicated and corrupt politics, religious extremism, and the threat of attack by the unwavering Dominion, we see the ideals of Starfleet challenged for the first time as the Federation enters a full scale war for the first time in franchise history.

The following episodes will be screened in #TrekClass LIVE on Monday, Nov. 23, at approx. 6:15pm and 7:30pm EST. Online students are invited to join us as we "live tweet" using the course hashtag, or to review the tweets afterward by searching #Trekclass on Twitter.

Trials and Tribble-ations

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1996)

With a motion picture release and a brand new series underway, Deep Space Nine was not initially scheduled to participate in the plans for Star Trek's 30th Anniversary. However, it's entry into the festivities -- Trials and Tribble-ations -- was arguably the most memorable tribute of the year, and an instant classic for fans of all ages.

As you watch, note how the efforts taken to blend the modern era of Star Trek and Deep Space Nine with the classic elements of the Original Series. Technical aspects aside (this episode is a major technical achievement), what aspects stand out to you? What makes this episode such an effective tribute? 

After Generations, the Star Trek film franchise had been passed to the crew of The Next Generation. The second film to feature Picard and crew would also mark the return of one of Star Trek's most popular and terrifying villians -- The Borg. First Contact remains one of the most successful Star Trek films and a favorite among fans.

The expanded Star Trek universe is on full display throuhout First Contact. Picard may have a new ship -- the Enterprise-E -- but there have been many more changes since TNG left the airwaves. How does First Contact differ from TNG? In what ways can you see the influence of DS9? 

 
 

Away Mission 6.4

The Federation at War

Star Trek has never been about space battles. In fact, Gene Roddenberry once said that if space battles are what you're after, then there is another scifi franchise out there for you. Instead, the Trek creator preferred stories that were more cerebral and relied on the better nature of humans (and people of all species) to solve disputes peacefully.

 

But sometimes you just have to fight it out... and that moment finally arrived in Deep Space Nine. As the series progressed, the Dominion emerges as major threat to the security of the Federation and the entire Alpha Quadrant. The writers weaved together an intricate, multi-season story arc, steadily marching toward a conflict between the two powers. This aspect of DS9 is unique among the Star Trek series, as it is the only one to follow the Federation at war.

 

The Dominion War, like all wars, created extreme and unusual scenarios in which to test Federation policy as well as Roddenberry's ideals. In this mission, you will find our Starfleet heroes faced with many of the same challenges before our real-life leaders as they choose between freedom and security. As a result, some of the darkest, most controversial episodes in all of Star Trek are found here. This mission also includes the finale episode of Deep Space Nine.

 

If you choose to accept this mission, your orders are to screen the following:

 

  • “Call to Arms” (Season 5)

  • “A Time to Stand” (Season 6)

  • “Rocks and Shoals” (Season 6)

  • “Behind the Lines” (Season 6)

  • “Favor the Bold” (Season 6)

  • “Sacrifice of Angels” (Season 6)

  • “In the Pale Moonlight” (Season 6)

  • “Tears of the Prophets” (Season 6)

  • “Image in the Sand” (Season 7)

  • “Shadows and Symbols” (Season 7)

  • “The Siege of AR-558” (Season 7)

  • “The Dogs of War” (Season 7)

  • “What You Leave Behind” (Season 7)

FOR THE TRUE DS9 EXPLORER:

 

For those who want to experience the full scope of the DS9 Dominion Arc, you may wish to binge-watch the entire 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th Seasons of the series. Since that may not be possible, here is a expanded "Dominion War" episode list for any new Deep Space Nine junkies among us: 

 

Season 3: Improbable Cause / The Die is Cast / The Adversary 

 

Season 4: The Way of the Warrior / Hippocratic Oath / Starship Down / Homefront / Paradise Lost / To the Death / Broken Link 

 

Season 5: Apocalypse Rising / The Ship / Rapture / In Purgatory's Shadow / By Inferno's Light / Soldiers of the Empire / In the Cards / Call to Arms 

 

Season 6: A Time to Stand / Rocks and Shoals / Sons and Daughters / Behind the Lines / Favor the Bold / Sacrifice of Angels / In the Pale Moonlight / Valiant / Tears of the Prophets 

 

Season 7: Image in the Sand / Shadows and Symbols / Treachery, Faith and the Great River / The Siege of AR-558 / Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges / Prenumbra / Til Death Do Us Part / Strange Bedfellows / The Changing Face of Evil / When It Rains / Tacking Into the Wind / Extreme Measures / The Dogs of War / What You Leave Behind 

What is your impression of the Dominion War arc in Deep Space Nine? Does it contain any Roddenberry at all? What are the lessons and hidden meanings in the plot? What are your impressions of "In the Pale Moonlight", which is considered by many fans to be the darkest, most un-Roddenberry episode in all of Star Trek? How do the wartime plots/scenarios match with our world today? Offer your own analysis the Deep Space Nine finale and the fates of Captian Sisko and the crew.

Away Mission 6.5

Faith in the Future

One of the most controversial topics for any show to deal with is religion. In the case of Star Trek, discussion of this topic often surrounds either its lack of religious concepts during Roddenberry's time or how the series incorporated relegious themes after his death.

 

Gene Roddenberry was famously a self-described "humanist" who did not adhere to western religious beliefs. Some believe he wished to depict a future in which faith in a higher power had faded into history. Indeed, references to Christianity, Judaism, Islam or other contemporary belief systems were rarely included in the Star Trek series and films written during his lifetime. At the same time, there are a number of original Star Trek and TNG episodes that seem to reinforce a belief in science and self, rather than a savior or spiritual being.

 

Following Roddenberry's death, the writers of future Star Trek series began to explore spirituality in new ways. Deep Space Nine, the first series created post-Roddenberry, prominantly features religion in the form of the Bajoran faith and the underlying plot arc involving Captain Sisko as the "emissary" of the Prophets. In this Away Mission, we will explore the different approaches to religion in various Star Trek series.

 

If you choose to accept this mission, your orders are to screen the following:

  • “Return of the Archons” (Star Trek: TOS, Season 1)

  • “The Apple” (Star Trek: TOS, Season 2)

  • “Who Watches the Watchers” (Star Trek: TNG, Season 3)

  • Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)

  • “In the Hands of the Prophets” (Star Trek: DS9, Season 1)

  • "Accession" (Star Trek: DS9, Season 4)

  • “Rapture” (Star Trek: DS9, Season 5)

     

     

Is there a difference in the treatment of religion before and after Gene Roddenberry? What is your assessment of religion in Star Trek overall? Which episode resonated with you most? Why?

After completing the mission, don't forget to share your thoughts and research with the class in our online community.

 

You may choose to complete some or all of this unit, but we want to hear your insights on the questions above, or anything else you've noticed in the episodes assigned.

 

If you've viewed other episodes not included in the Mission, please feel free to discuss those as well.

 

Tip: Try sharing your question responses individually, rather than responding to the entire unit in one post. We've found this makes for easier discussion.