I just finished watching the whole series of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine on Netflix. It took me three months to get through all 7 seasons. This blog post isn’t a review of the show but more about what DS9 means in my life.
I first watched DS9 during its original run, watching every episode in weekly syndication, but I hadn’t watched a single episode again since then. Revisiting it has made me nostalgic and helped me to see where a lot of my mores and ways of relating come from.
Deep Space Nine is often considered both the darkest and the best of the Star Trek TV series. It’s a little strange to consider this show as ‘dark’ given that there are things on TV now like Game of Thrones. For all its dark themes related to war, DS9 still has the sense of hope and optimism that Star Trek is known for. Having ended its run in the year 1999, it doesn’t reflect the kind of cynicism and gloom that inhabits many shows in the post 911 world.
Watching this show again after twenty years has shown me a lot about myself. I remembered every episode, which I think is probably odd considering I only watched them once. I know I have a strong narrative memory with an eidetic imagination, but remembering a TV show from twenty years ago has helped me realize how my memory is different from others. Apparently, my attention to detail and ability to remember things like I do bothers some people, makes them think me arrogant. I’ve always looked at it as being different, not being better, but maybe I am snobby like how some aliens in the show think of star fleet officers.
Another thing watching this show again has made me realize is just how much the world has changed. Everything is much more instant, from instant gratification to sudden violence and terror, and I think that drives a sort of narcissism and cynicism. I watched this entire series in three months, and I could have finished faster if I had the time. Originally, I spent seven years with these characters, checking in once a week for half a year to see what they were up to in that episode, and then waiting for the next year to follow them again. I grew with these characters, and the writers put a lot of time and thought into making them well-rounded people with something meaningful to say. I wonder what difference it makes that younger people can now binge watch shows like this in three months or less.
Deep Space Nine feels both more futuristic and nostalgic now than it did when I first watched it. Many of the ideas and character types it presents feel progressive. There’s a strong sense of ethics and consequences for actions, except the world seemed more like that back then. I feel like we’ve kind of lost some of that in the way we treat other people. Perhaps working in academia and having a newly minted masters degree sheltered me from some of the darkness and cynicism around at that time, but I can’t help but think we’ve all become a bit more selfish. Does all this instant gratification makes it so?
After a long hiatus, there’s a new Star Trek TV show coming out next year. It will be interesting to see where they take it. I hope they put it after DS9 and Voyager, after the Dominion war. A time where the wormhole aliens have created a lot of wormholes to aid with travel to remote parts of the galaxy or even to other galaxies. I would like to see a Star Trek show that gets back to ideas of exploration again, one that’s about new characters (and maybe a few old ones) setting out for the distance reaches of space…boldly going and all that, the way it used to feel.