As is our practice after wrapping a series, here are our recommendations — and disrecommendations — of the DS9 episodes we didn’t think were tapestry worthy. Given the serial nature of DS9, we’ve grouped some episodes together.
Episodes you should also watch (listed by air date)
“Duet” — The best episode that gets to the core of the lingering Bajoran/Cardassian problems immediately after the occupation. Nana Visitor is at her absolute finest and the series — after some unevenness in season one — starts to show its potential.
“The Circle” trilogy — A truly great start to DS9’s second season. It would have made the tapestry if Bajoran politics hadn’t been so marginalized for the rest of the series.
“Necessary Evil” — Classic DS9 with a look back on the station before “Emissary”.
“Defiant” — Jonathan Frakes plays Will Riker’s evil transporter duplicate who steals the Defiant for the Maquis. It’s a great one-off episode written in typical Ronald D. Moore style.
“Through the Looking Glass”/”Shattered Mirror” — The two mirror-universe follow ups to the great “Crossover”. “Looking Glass” is pretty good and “Shattered Mirror”, while goofy and implausible, is fun. Avoid the next two mirror episodes — the boring “Resurrection” and the regrettable “The Emperor’s New Cloak”.
“The Visitor” — Without question, DS9’s best episode. Incredibly poignant and moving. It all gets undone in a time travel thingy, which is why it didn’t make the tapestry. But as much as we’ve criticized Avery Brooks on this site, he’s great here.
“Little Green Men” — The best of the Ferengi episodes (with only “The Magnificent Ferengi” and maybe “Business as Usual” coming close). Genuinely amusing and well acted by the three lead Ferengi characters.
“… Nor the Battle to the Strong” — The best use of Cirroc Lofton as Jake, as Tony Todd played old Jake in “The Visitor”. Simply a great war-time episode.
“Trials and Tribble-ations” — DS9’s 30th anniversary episode, utilizing “Forrest Gump” technology to intersperse the DS9 characters in TOS’s “The Trouble with Tribbles”. DS9’s best comedy and a great callback.
“Things Past” — Another fascinating look back at DS9 before the series started. Sort of the sequel to “Necessary Evil”.
“Rapture” — The best of the Sisko/Emissary episodes. We almost included it in the tapestry, as keeping Bajor out of the Federation likely saved the planet during the Dominion War.
“In the Cards” — A sort of lead-in to the series-altering “Call to Arms”. It’s the best use of the Jake/Nog combo that we saw a lot early in the series and is genuinely funny in a low-key kind of way.
“The Siege of AR-558” — Easily DS9’s hardest-core combat episode. Hell, Nog loses his leg!
Episodes you should avoid (ordered by our ranking)
10. “Rivals”/”Melora”/”Second Skin”/”Cardassians” — A stretch of episodes early in season two that made the series seem very aimless and boring. Things picked up with “Blood Oath” and then with the great “Maquis” two parter.
9. “Wrongs Darker than Death or Night” — Perhaps DS9’s weirdest episode as we get a ton of retconning — turns out Dukat and Kira’s moms were lovers 20 years earlier?! — and some very odd and questionable use of time travel. It’s not unwatchable, but it seems like an idea that should have been scrapped or reworked.
8. “Move Along Home” — Sisko, Kira, Dax and Bashir get trapped in a board game. It’s almost a TOS homage, but in the way you wouldn’t want to do a TOS homage. Think “Gamesters of Triskelion” for the 1990s.
7. “Playing God” — Part of the boringness in season two mentioned above, Dax works with a Trill initiate in the worst example of lame Trill episodes. Also, compare serene, above-it-all Dax from season one with what we see in this crapfest.
6. “The Emperor’s New Cloak” — Not as unwatchable as some on list, but simply inexcusable given that it was the final chapter in the mirror-universe subset and that it’s so contrived, ham-fisted and ridiculous. “Remember what Captain Sisko once told us … ” Yuck.
5. “The Muse” — Something about Jake and an alien who draws energy from him as a writer and a weird Lwaxana subplot. Honestly, it’s probably DS9’s most boring episode and I don’t remember what happened that well because I might have watched it twice.
4. “Let He Who is Without Sin … ” Worf, Dax, Bashir, Leeta and Quark go to Risa — and Worf commits an act of terrorism (oh, please) in aiding some weird fundamentalists. If not for one halfway decent character moment for Worf, this would have easily gotten the bottom spot.
3. “Take Me Out to the Holosuite”/”Badda-Bing Badda-Bang” — Sisko, in the middle of the freaking war, trains the entire senior staff to beat Vulcans at baseball. A few months later, the senior staff spends a bunch of time — IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FREAKING WAR — to save hologram Vic Fontaine.
2. “Ferengi Love Songs”/”Profit and Lace” — Awful Ferengi equal-rights nonsense with secret lovers and cross-dressing. Bad creators. Bad.
1. “Fascination” — Lwaxana Troi makes everybody all horny. Really. It’s an episode. Worse, it’s an episode in season three, at a time when DS9 was STARTING to really get rolling.
And, drumroll … DS9’s most overrated episode …
“Far Beyond the Stars” — I know that this is a much-loved outing and I give the creators credit for the attempt. But the characters in it are SO over the top, the squabbling is SO relentless and Avery Brooks is just SO bad in the Benny Russell meltdown scene (“It’s in — my MIND!”). Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a terrible episode. But if blows my mind (my MIND!) that it’s on anyone’s top 20 list.
Coming later this week …
Voyager. Assuming there are any shuttles still left to get us there.