Let's face it: DS9 is pretty terrible. Of all the various Treks, DS9 was the only one to really have a Whedon-esque arc going on, but despite this, ended up falling victim to many of the shortcomings plaguing the likes of The Next Generation and Voyager. As the series progressed, character arcs went to some pretty weird places, various subplots were entirely forgotten, and Kira's haircut became increasingly more bizarre. Certainly, not all was bad – at least the entire show wasn't based around an omnipotent troll having decided to amuse himself by throwing humanity down the gauntlet. Instead, the entire show was based on some omnipotent trolls deciding they weren't having a good time with humanity and other "solids" (what?) in general, such that the former group ends up trying to murder everyone. And then something about magic power orbs and The Prophets. I'm not really sure.
It's quite difficult to judge DS9, however, because un/fortunately, the show is pretty selective about sticking to its various arcs with any consistency. It doesn't help much that the pacing between episodes is so grungy, either, since one minute you've got the crew relaxing on Planet Sex (sorry, I mean Risa), and the next you have the entirety of DS9 being evacuated for the 40th time because those silly Cardassians are raiding again. What is the show trying to do, really? Is this whole deal with the Dominion the focus, or is it fleshing out the characters in more casual scenarios? The show never quite makes up its mind, and developments obtained in one half don't necessarily carry over into the other. Perhaps this is all a bit vague, so at this point it's probably necessary to look at each character individually (starting with the shittest, and progressing to least shitty):
Kira is far and away the worst character to exist on any Trek show. Hands down. After seven seasons of DS9, she's had zero development, has no bearing on the resolution of the main arc, and ends up being a huge pain in the ass in basically every scene she's a part of. I don't know if Nana Visitor is just a bad actress, or whatever, but I couldn't stomach the sanctimonious bullshit Kira was constantly spewing out about preserving the sanctity of her idiotic culture and how necessary it is to maintain the favorable opinion of the Bajorans (the latter being that group of people without the technological capacity to threaten a tribble). It doesn't help much that Kira's role on the station is made increasingly irrelevant as the seasons progress, so much so that eventually, Worf, of all fucking people, is imported to instill the sense of military know-how that Kira is supposed to have. I guess you can't blame Kira all that much, since by that point in the show she was too busy using a time machine trying to find out if Gul Dukat was fucking her mom. Anyway, Kira's major downfall is that by the time of the home stretch, DS9 dived into full on Prophet-arc mode, and Kira was basically there to make sure you didn't forget how absurd that whole schtick was.
Lt. Cmdr. Worf
To this day, I still don't understand why the writers decided to bring Worf over to DS9 instead of, say, Ro Laren. It's possible Michelle Forbes decided she'd had enough after TNG, and I don't blame her, but man, did Worf make for a piss poor character on DS9. For reasons left unknown, Worf has completely lost the seven years of immersion into human culture he'd experienced on Picard's Enterprise, so whenever Worf wasn't busy helping terrorists take over Risa's weather systems, he was the subject of tacky fish-out-of-water jokes that never really stopped coming. And as if Jake wasn't bad enough, Worf's son had enough of a presence to permeate this review – I'm telling you, every episode involving Worf facing the hardships of being a father was agonizing. Maybe it just runs in the family, or something, since Worf's brother was kind of an idiot too. But perhaps the worst part of having Worf as the sole primary-character Klingon on the show was that every single encounter with the Klingons post-Worf was reduced to the clichéd alpha male bullshit we all couldn't get enough of in TNG. I mean, seriously, here you have a vastly unique set of circumstances, for Starfleet – the area of the main action is a station instead of a ship, there is an investment in defending the nearby territory instead of merely defeating the enemy repeatedly, and for the first time, there was genuine variety regarding the various types of aliens that could interact with each other (since DS9 was a mosh pit). And yet, instead of extending this variety to the Klingons, all we got was Worf grunting at everything.
Who knew, right?
Jadzia's problem, like Kira, is that she is boring. For all the supposed history betweek Sisko and Dax, very little of it seeps through into Jadzia's character. Actually, hardly any of the brilliance that is the Trill-esque exposition-o-matic device endows Jadzia's character at all. We learn that she lives vicariously through herself. She once had an awkward moment just to see how it would feel. Her hair alone has experienced more than a lesser man's entire body. When it rains, it does so because she is thinking of something sad. Her uniform never wrinkles. She is left-handed and right-handed. The police often question her just because they find her interesting. As the show would have us believe, she is the most interesting Trill in the world. Anyway, the list continues, according to Jadzia, but we never quite get there in terms of seeing it for ourselves. About the only thing of interest here is how hilarious the whole Trill thing even is – it's even stupider than Q. At least the latter is just a flat-out space wizard; the secret ingredient to Trills is simply BULLSHIT. You know, she's Jadzia, but then she's Dax, except when she isn't, but then she is, and then s/he's Ezri, and– oh, forget it.
Oh man. Talk about inconsistent. Or maybe not, actually – the only thing throughout the entirety of DS9 that remains consistent is Miles' obsession with his family. It probably borders on the same level of wackiness as Skeletor's obsession with Castle Grayskull. Anyway, when Miles isn't out reminding you how important his family is to him, he's busy firing phasers at Julian's work to solve the Jem'Hadar's genocide problem. Yeah, Miles was always kind of an asshole, but it was a lot more veiled on TNG – it's only on DS9 that eventually we come to realize that Chief O'Brien is a little irregular. But I guess being killed and replaced with the you from the future would do that to someone, especially after being locked in magic mind prison for some 20-odd years. Overall, Miles ends up being okay because of chemistry with Bashir, but any time he's by himself or with anyone else, he's just kind of a dick.
Sisko is the first character, so far in this review, that overall is more good than bad. Unfortunately for Sisko, however, Jake happens to be his son, and somehow Jake manages to be worse than TNG's Wesley. It's okay, though – the whole Sisko/Jake schtick mostly goes away after season 2, and is only revisited when Jake decides he wants to be a part of RED SQUAD. Anyway, Sisko's chemistry alone with Gul Dukat is reason enough to power through the first two seasons of DS9, although by the show's end, it kind of degrades and isn't very rewarding. No matter. Avery Brooks is a fine actor, even despite his bizarre soliloquies about social equality and justice. Also, Sisko punched Q in the face. Picard never did that.
Doctor Julian Bashir
Julian of the house Bashir, the first of his name, Doctor of Deep Space Nine and the First Men. Doctor Julian the Slayer. Lord of the many ladies and protecter of the station. Bashir the Provocateur. Doctor Julian the Blessed. Yeah. This one is the type of guy to drunkenly come on to you with a smile. Love him or hate him, it's undeniable that Julian would often evoke the most interesting response from any given character. His relationship with Garak is probably the most rewarding thing on the show. His relationship with Miles is consistently humorous, and often absurd. But Bashir and Kira kind of sucks, and so does Bashir and Dax (which means both Jadzia and Ezri). His arc gets really weird towards the end, too, like the other characters', but a special mention goes out to Bashir actually being a genetically engineered superhuman. But in total, when this guy isn't busy being a complete badass, he's busy being a complete badass in San Francisco in the holodeck. So why does Julian still kind of suck? The answer is simple: he hardly ever interacts with Quark or Odo, and ends up having to carry most scenes by himself. Unfortunately for the doctor, this means that his potential as an interesting character is limited by virtue of him never finding his way into a particularly attention-grabbing situation.
Odo is one of the good guys. Say whatever the hell you want about his character, because his voice alone makes up for anything else that could possibly be wrong. Odo's back and forth with Quark, throughout the show, is fantastic, and the former's constant misanthropy translates to some very effective humor at the right times. Unfortunately for Odo, however, he is most central in the whole Dominion storyline, which means that he constantly finds himself in the pits of bad writing. As far as his character goes, he also makes some pretty stupid decisions in those scenarios – he keeps coming back to the people who make it clear they want to destroy his entire way of life and take every turn to manipulate him. Still, Odo powers through, and ends up delighting every scene he appears in throughout the show.
Perhaps Gul Dukat is the most tragic character ever to appear in any Star Trek series. During the incipiency of DS9, Dukat is a complete mystery, and as his arc progresses, figuring out all of the layers to this man can be very rewarding. Dukat is a true nationalist – he loves Cardassia to a fault. Actually, probably beyond a fault, because by the end of the show, he ended up reminding me of Mojo Jojo. Anyway. Yeah, it's cool how Dukat has this sort of slippery slope type-thing going on, whereby he becomes increasingly more miserable and pathetic in his attempts to secure victory for Cardassia, but at some point, that plot line starts to drag. And as if that wasn't enough, it eventually intertwines with the whole Prophets bullshit and then gets really stupid. Still, Dukat was absolutely fantastic in the first few seasons, and even though he sort of got dumb by the end, the acting was still enough to make sure it was never boring.
Garak is wonderful. Great character, great actor. If you buy into the whole misinformation bit, you end up loving every minute of it. Otherwise, it kind of sucks. But supposing you fall into the former category, it's incredibly interesting to see how Garak, whom everyone on DS9 has a separate reason to hate, manages to survive. Garak also has the niche of being the character with ties to nearly every plot line – he has history with Dukat, DS9, the Cardassian occupation, the Obsidian Order... it's all pretty great. Did I mention how good Garak and Bashir are? The only problem here is that by comparison, Garak makes nearly every other character on the show seem uninspired by virtue of his rich background and ties to everything. Seeing a "Garak episode" makes you realize just how shallow some of the other characters are, and often leaves you wishing the rest of the show was as nuanced as this guy is. Garak is also the only character whose arc doesn't end up in a wacky place by the show's end.
Armin Shimerman! Quark is the single best character to have ever graced any Star Trek series, with the only close second being John de Lancie's Q. As a result, Quark easily takes the spotlight in any scene he's in. All is well with this guy, basically, with the one caveat being that for the part of the comic relief, Quark occasionally does some extremely questionable things, such as facilitating the sale of weapons of mass destruction to terrorists. Other than that, though, Quark is a great character that provides some much needed wit to the otherwise dry show that is DS9. I have no complaints.
Anyway, with that much out of the way, the original point remains: some of the characters are downright awful, whereas others shine (some more consistently). This is to be expected on a given show, but DS9's problem is that, often, the great episodes stand as great episodes only in and of themselves – In the Pale Moonlight, The Die is Cast, and The Wire are undoubtedly some of the best pieces of writing to ever befall Star Trek, but taken out of the context of DS9's world, the episodes still function perfectly; this is problematic, and stems mostly from the fact that despite its hailed arcs, DS9's occasional greatness has nothing to do with its characters' development, but more to do with the characters themselves. Perhaps this is vague – specifically, I mean that I take issue with DS9's great episodes not being a reflection of how far the characters have come, but merely being exercises in throwing them into situations where their respective stereotypical roles are seen in action. And then the few episodes that do build on something that has developed in a given character(s) are often uninspired – Take Me Out to the Holosuite, What You Leave Behind, and Sacrifice of Angels; all of these episodes fall under a typical Trek episode archetype.
So perhaps at this point you're wondering how it's justifiable to say the show "sucks," given the unusual amount of praise it's received thus far in the post. Well, let it be known that DS9 has 7 seasons, each containing 27 episodes, such that categorically listing every failing of the show beyond the (major) faults already listed would be inexorably time consuming. Beyond that, it would be unnecessary: it's still Star Trek, and therefore already pretty fucking stupid to begin with. But seriously. Don't discount the proportionality of the criticism throughout this post – the whole point of DS9 was to have an arc, but that arc ended up sucking.
Yeah. Something like that.