1.01 and 1.02: “Emissary”


  • I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again that one of the ways you know this is a pre-9/11 show is that one of the characters is not infrequently referred to as a former terrorist, and it’s used interchangeably with “freedom fighter”, and that character is one of the ones played by a white woman rather than the one played by an Arab man.
  • I appreciate that they actually make a point of showing that for all his…what might very generously be called “naive romanticism”, and perhaps more accurately “paternalistic imperialist fantasies”, Bashir is in fact really good at his job. His competence is one of the few things that makes him remotely tolerable early on in the show.
  • Off of that, I think one of the reasons it seems so obnoxious and wrong-headed from Bashir is that he’s really the only Starfleet crew member who initially comes into the show with much of that attitude. Sisko’s having what I can only call a crisis of faith around Starfleet, O’Brien is openly mistrustful of the Cardassians; Jadzia has moments, but she also has more years of experience than Sisko and O’Brien combined to temper the enthusiasm and naivete. Worf has some trouble adjusting when he joins the cast later, but even then, he’s spent enough time as an outsider in Starfleet and has enough of a career behind him already that he doesn’t have nearly as much of a rosy filter over his vision. So rather than Kira’s cynicism or Sisko’s exhaustion being the exception to the rule, Bashir is the dude who really needs to read the room.
  • As Star Trek-ishly heavy-handed as it is (and tbh having been raised on Trek I tend to find the heavy-handedness kind of charming), Sisko’s encounter with the Prophets/wormhole aliens really is a lovely, poignant meditation on grief and trauma. Their patient yet merciless explanations that they aren’t the ones dragging him back to these places/times in his life, he is, ughhh just kill me right now because this rewatch is gonna be so full of emotions.
  • On a less heavy note, I feel like the DS9 fandom really does not talk enough about how horny Dukat is for Sisko??? Like we all know he’s horny for Kira and really pretty horny in general, but we really do not discuss how, when it comes to Sisko, he is attempting to board the Acela Express to Bonetown, morning fish juice and New York Times in hand, from MINUTE ONE. He is 100% ready to rail and/or be railed by Sisko on their shared desk.

Horniness rankings

  1. Dukat. Let’s be real, if he’s in an episode, he is almost certainly going to top the Horniness Rankings. Holy shit guy, get your life right.
  2. Bashir, who is horny for a. Dax and b. the FrOnTiEr. Again, GET YOUR LIFE RIGHT. How am I capslocking this at him rather than at Dukat? How?? Perhaps because I believe he can do better while Dukat never will?
  3. Quark. On the one hand, I appreciate that his incessant sexual harassment of women around him is presented as gross, on the other hand, wowwwwww are there some Real Unfortunate Implications to that being because he is from a race of people who are defined physically by short stature and an exaggeratedly large appendage on their heads, and culturally by morality based solely on greed, who are slavishly devoted to backwards laws that are out of step with modern civilization, all making him therefore much more laughably unfuckable than others (BASHIR) whose behavior seems to be presented as, while annoying, ultimately unthreatening and perhaps even a little bit charming.
  4. Sisko and Jadzia have some awkward low-key “oh no she’s hot now”/”oh no I find him hot now” horniness for each other and it’s hi-friggin’-larious.

9 thoughts on “1.01 and 1.02: “Emissary”

  1. Me, nodding along with this entire post: YES.

    I need to do my rewatch properly but ofc I agree with all of the above. I think the two seasons of DS9, from what I remember, were pretty rough. They were still trying to establish the characters and that universe, the dynamics, etc. You know that I struggled with you to get through season one. But Bashir, Dukat, Sisko, Kira, they all left really big impressions and I was so curious about what was going to happen with them.

    And as always, I will defend my Good Ferengi Sons to the death! Agreed 100% on the horniness rankings. Dukat’s horiness for Sisko needs to be discussed more and at LENGTH. Thanks.


    1. LMAO yesssss the early seasons are a lot more episodic and trying to be TNG. And TNG is great! It was my first experience of Star Trek and I adore it 5ever! Buuuuuut that’s not what DS9 is at all, and when they let themselves lean more into the unique aspects of the show is when it really starts to get going. Although I’m always taken off-guard by how early the Dominion is actually introduced, and in what is largely one of the lighter episodes about Ferengi hijinks and New Aliens Of The Week, besides???



  2. – I think this pilot has held up better than any other ST pilot in terms of being a watchable episode that does what it needs to do in terms of world-building while being interesting and entertaining. (Granted I haven’t seen Disco, but I hold this very well against Encounter at Farpoint, Caretaker, and…whatever the hell the Enterprise pilot was, LOL.) It gives a great sense of who the characters are and sets up a lot of backstory with reasonable economy of plot and trimming the edges, especially compared to TNG/Farpoint.

    – Bashir is so annoying but I agree that setting him up as competent helps rescue the character. I also love Kira blasting him. Just in general. (In this episode especially. Also in all other episodes.)

    – Auuggh the baseball metaphor! When this came out I had probably never even watched a baseball game and had zero appreciation for this – now it resonates a lot with me. (In that clunky, over-earnest Trek way.) (Also think about how revolutionary it was for them to ground this in *baseball*, of all things, after years of TNG where everyone played 3-dimensional chess and went to classical music concerts… Geordi even ostensibly plays in a chess tournament on Risa, gimme a break.)

    – Speaking of revolutionary, having Sisko confront Picard so bluntly in the opening always felt to me like a great implicit break between TNG and DS9. It also confronted Picard with the consequences of his Borg experience as it impacted others in a way that neither series ever really managed to do again (closest TNG came was “The Drumhead” and that was very abstracted).

    – Dukat’s horniness has transwarp drive.

    – I remember reading the original intention for Kira was to have Ro Laren as the character, but having watched this and “Ensign Ro” again I really wonder how the hell that would have worked. She would be coming in from the outside almost as much as Sisko was -it would have been a completely different vibe. A lot of the tension between Kira and other characters wouldn’t have worked nearly as well. I’m glad they didn’t go in that direction. (TY Michelle Forbes.)

    – Martok as a Vulcan!


    1. Oh mannnn this whole comment is EXCELLENT and if this rewatch turns out to be just the two of us I am 100% OK with that, but I really love your point about baseball as such an important fixture in Sisko’s characterization, especially as compared to a lot of the hobbies people have on TNG. DS9 is a lot more…I hate to say “gritty” because what does that even MEAN at this point, it’s so overused, but…grounded, maybe? In some ways? Everyone (hell, everything, including the station itself) has sharper/rougher edges, and can be a bit easier to see yourself in, for better or worse, than some of the people on the Enterprise. Having a sport that’s widely followed today as Sisko’s hobby makes him…approachable, perhaps, in a way that characters on TNG tend not to be as often.

      Also, Sisko and Picard’s meeting, oh my lordddddd yes. Cripes, first of all, the way Picard just SHUTS DOWN when it sinks in just why Sisko is so standoffish and cold, how without saying anything about it Patrick Stewart makes it extremely clear that Picard’s still wrestling with what happened to him/what he did, oof. I had rewatched “Best of Both Worlds” a couple of months ago with my roommate in Chicago and DS9 looms so large in my mind that I had pretty much forgotten that we don’t actually see anything of the battle of Wolf 359, only the aftermath, in those episodes. By actually confronting the viewer with it, DS9 starts off with a warning that things aren’t always going to be clear-cut, because we know from TNG how very much not Picard’s fault it was, but it’s also pretty friggin’ understandable that Sisko, having seen Picard as the face and voice of this attack, isn’t in a mood to be buddies with him.

      (Discovery actually makes an interesting counterpoint to the aftermath of Picard’s assimilation, too, with Michael Burnham being…not precisely blameless in starting a war with the Klingons, because she 100% made a couple of major fuckups and takes responsibility for them, buuuuuuuut she’s also kinda scapegoated, too, and the entire season is about her trying to figure out what kind of life she can possibly have now and carrying/being made to bear what I would argue is more than her fair share of guilt. So on a Watsonian level, I could see Starfleet looking at how they handled that, saying “wow, yeah, we definitely went overboard there”, and deliberately going in the other direction later with Picard.)


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