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Paramount Studios presents
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine—The Complete Third Season (1994/1995)

"If the Dominion comes through the wormhole, the first battle will be fought here... and I intend to be ready for them."
- Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks)

Review By: Jeff Rosado  
Published: August 13, 2003

Stars: Avery Brooks, Rene Auberjonois, Colm Meaney, Nana Visitor, Siddig El Fadil (Alexander Siddig), Terry Farrell, Armin Shimerman, Cirroc Lofton
Other Stars: Andrew Robinson, Rosalind Chao, Aron Eisenberg, Max Grodenchik, Marc Alaimo, Majel Barrett, Jonathan Frakes, Wallace Shawn, Paul Dooley, Andrea Martin, Dennis Christopher, Penny Johnson, Duncan Regehr, Gregory Sierra, Lawrence Pressman, Bill Smitrovich, Deborah Van Valkenburgh, Clint Howard, Louise Fletcher, Tracy Scoggins, Wendy Robie, Felecia M. Bell
Director: various

MPAA Rating: PG for (sci-fi violence, language)
Run Time: 19h:14m:00s
Release Date: June 03, 2003
UPC: 097360589443
Genre: television

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A+ AA-A+ A-

DVD Review

As much as I enjoyed the first two seasons of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, a lack of consistency and thrills continued to stand out. After getting on a roll with a series of stellar episodes, either a streak of indifferent outings or a head-scratching effort (think Grand Nagus Zek episodes) so weak that it made you wonder if the real writers were kidnapped. Large scale, multi-part stories faltered in the homestretch; annoying subplots supporting tended to drag or annoy, and even much craved action was downplayed in favor of drama, or inserted as an afterthought. Just like the shy kid in the back of the classroom who the teacher knew was capable of Jeopardy!-type smarts, I knew deep down that DS9 possessed the ability to do it all, but kept holding back.

No more.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine—The Complete Third Season marks a watershed period in which the Roddenberry franchise emerged out of the recently departed Next Generation's shadow, took the ball and ran with it. In the opening year, the excitement of being the new kid at Starfleet Academy guided the show and its audience through growing pains, while the chemistry/interplay of the ensemble helped smooth over creative missteps during Season Two. In the 26 episodes collected on this seven-disc set, the creative juices of the show's writing staff truly began to flow as they took gutsy chances with established setups. Casting certain characters in new directions, and allowing key storylines to develop over the course of an entire year, rather than attempting to cram them into "special episodes" for the sake of ratings, was also a shrewd move. Additionally, the introduction of more drama-fueled elements serve as a flashpoint to use action with a purpose, rather than just "look at what our special effects department can do." Finally, the humour quotient mostly relegated to Quark/Odo routines began to spread evenly amongst the seven-member crew; there's more laughs to be had than in the previous two seasons combined.

Like a classic album where even the filler is relevant, the third season heralds a science fiction show finally beginning to click on every level imaginable. As Captain James T. Kirk would surmise, it is boldly going where no Trek series has gone before.

Disc One:

Episode 1: The Search, Part I
Stardate: 48213.1

"Ever since we've come into the Gamma Quadrant, I've had this feeling of being drawn somewhere." -Odo

Continuing the storyline that began in Season Two's final episode, Sisko is given disheartening news by Kira concerning the space station's defensive potential in the event of an attack by the Jem'Hadar. After seven simulation attempts, it is determined that DS9 lacks much needed firepower to handle the job. However Benjamin has an ace up his sleeve in the form of the Defiant, an old-fashioned vessel, deceiving in appearance that was originally designed for use against the Borg. As the officers prepare for their mission, Sisko is given the unenviable task of informing Odo his security duties are being assumed by Commander Eddington (Kenneth Marshall). With Odo angrily resigning in the wake of the news, Kira tries to soften the blow to the shape-shifter's ego by extending an invitation from the Bajoran government to help in a different capacity: after initially turning down the offer, he has an 11th-hour change of heart. Meanwhile, Benjamin convinces Quark to come along to utilize his familiarity with the Karemma. Completing the crew for the pivotal jaunt is T'Rul (Martha Hackett), a Romulan in possession of a cloaking device to help make the ship invisible to the enemy. Hours after liftoff, things veer off track when Miles and Jadzia's communications are cut while investigating a Callinon VII relay station. Back on board the Defiant, Odo's strange behavior and talk of being drawn toward the Omarion Nebula has Kira very concerned. The ship comes under massive attack from a fleet of Jem'Hadar vessels.

As the old saying goes, the third time is the charm; DS9's best season opener to date with just the right blend of drama, comedy and action, particularly the latter in an exhilaratingly executed sequence that's up there with Wrath of Khan in terms of excitement. On a much lighter note, Sisko's savvy manipulating of Quark by bringing up the Grand Nagus is one of the best comic relief moments the writers have come up with in many a moon and very well executed by Avery and Shimerman.

No cloaking device necessary to hide this 5 space station classic.

Episode 2: The Search, Part II
Stardate: 48213.1

"I am...home." -Odo

Hesitant at first to bond with his people, Odo's is put at ease by a female shape-shifter who provides valuable information on his origins. Back in space, Sisko and Bashir are revealed to be okay after their harrowing ordeal. More good news follows shortly as Dax and O'Brien come aboard their shuttle to take them back to DS9. But the festive mood ends quickly when Benjamin finds out that the Federation is in peace negotiations with the Dominion. All well and good, except that the Romulans have been shut out of the process, prompting an angry T'Rul to state that war is all but certain without their involvement. Following the signing of the treaty, it's revealed that all of DS9 crew members will be transferred and reassigned. In response, Sisko joins forces with a like-minded Garak and his remaining team members in a plot to collapse the wormhole to prevent interference from the Dominion, permanently. Speaking of soon-to-be former crew members, Odo and Kira are moments away from bidding goodbyes for the last time, since he's decided to remain with his people. But a mysterious locked door arouses Kira's curiosity, so Odo offers to help locate a hidden power source preventing contact with Benjamin. Upon further investigation, the shapeshifter reveals that the culprit is behind the door in question. Once on the other side, a startling revelation will change one of their lives forever. Learning a lesson from Season Two's bloated multi-story arc, part two of Search is a satisfying mix of mystery, action, and true surprises, especially a clever twist in the closing minutes: definitely the best ongoing storyline of the series thus far.

This episode earns 4 space stations.

Episode 3: The House of Quark
Stardate: Unknkown

"I should have gone into insurance. Better hours, more money, less scruples." -Quark

Quark and Rom are in a blue funk over decreased patronization of the bar in the wake of the Dominion situation, when a drunken, crazed Klingon named Kozak interrupts their talk. As Quark attempts to reason with him, a confrontation ensues ending almost as quickly as it started when the customer fatally falls on his blade. So much for last call. True to form, Quark sees the tragedy as a means to drum up business as he concocts a tall tale of bravery in the face of danger. All an investigating Odo can do is shake his head and advise him to fess up to avoid additional trouble from Kozak's surviving family members. Before you can say "I told you so," D'Ghor, Kozak's brother materializes on the premises with revenge on his mind. Quark comes clean with what really happened and D'ghor says that the Ferrengi's life will be spared since his sibling's death was an honorable one. Quark barely gets his wind back when Grilka, Kozar's angrier, scarier widow, beams aboard, sees right through his story and transports them both to her Klingon home. Once there, Quark learns that law states that in the case of an accidental death, the surviving widow gets to lead her own House, a move the long-estranged D'Ghor doesn't want to see happen.

Armin Shimerman gets his best comedic showcase in the series thus far via in this well conceived outing that reveals surprising layers in his character in the homestretch. Although the soapy Keiko/Miles subplot tends to bog things down, it doesn't kill the momentum. Mary Kay Adams is a revelation as Grilka and her caution-to-the-wind performance rubs off on us at home, too.

If I'm lyin', I'm dyin': 4 stations.

Episode 4: Equilibrium
Stardate: Unknown

"All I care about is Jadzia." -Sisko

While members of the DS9 gang prepare dinner, Dax becomes fascinated with Jake's mini-keyboard and starts plunking out a melody that sounds familiar to her. Unable to place it, she grows unusually moody and short-fused until some masked men appear out of nowhere, frightening her on the Promenade. Just hallucinations, according to Bashir, who determines that Dax's levels of isoboramine are low. Jadzia confides to Julian her fear of doctors while on a trip back to the Trill home world. Kindly putting her mind at ease and offering bunk space for the night, she finally relaxes. Although initial treatment counters her low level woes, the visions continue unabated. While it's back to the drawing board for Dr. Renhol (Lisa Banes) in charge of her condiiton, Timor, an unjoined Trill in charge of overseeing symbionts, suspects Jadzia is experiencing memories from one of Dax's former hosts. Support for that theory comes when the Defiant's computer reveals the identity of the composer behind that incessant melody. Upon seeing a photo of the Trill in question, her most vivid and dangerous hallucination yet is triggered, sending her into neutral (and potentially fatal) shock.

Intriguing, imaginative installment worthy of 3.5 space stations.

Disc Two:

Episode 5 : Second Skin
Stardate: Unknown

"What have you done to me?!" -Kira

Kira is taken aback by records of a stay in a Cardassian prison, an event she knows has to be a case of mistaken identity. As usual, she can't let such a matter go without investigating. Making the scenario even more puzzling is the statement of the last known surviving cellmate, who has vivid recollections of doing time with her, so, Kira departs to Bajor for answers. Hours later, Dax informs Sisko that no contact can be made from Kira's ship leading to fear of a kidnapping. How right they are: when Kira awakens from a deep sleep, she's greeted by a stranger who hands her a mirror. Like something out of a nightmare, the lieutenant stares back in horror to see she's taken on the appearance of a Cardassian. At that point, the mystery man introduces himself as Entek (Gregory Sierra), an offical representative of the Obsidian Order. Turns out that the real Kira was kidnapped by the organization, stripped of her memories and appearance, which were given to Iliana Ghemor, who was sent to Bajor to play infiltrator. Despite many pieces of evidence presented to jar her memory, including the appearance of her father, Tekeny (Lawrence Pressman), Kira refuses to believe anything she's been told... until her frozen body is presented, followed by Entek's commentary on events that she's confided to no one. Back on DS9, Sisko enlists Garak's assistance after the tailor suggests that the Obsidian order may have played a role in Kira's disappearance. One of the strongest episodes in the series' history to this point, bolstered by a terrific storyline that keeps one questioning until the last act, along with great performances by Visitor, Andrew Robinson (as Garak), and guest stars Gregory Sierra and Lawrence Pressman.

Will the real Kira please stand up? Five space stations.

Episode 6: The Abandoned
Stardate: Unknown

"Well, it seems I have my first houseguest." -Odo

In exchange for three bars of latinum, Quark acquires wreckage of a ship that perished in the Gamma Quadrant. While examining the remnants, he hears whimpering from within and pulls out a newborn infant. Quickly taking it to the infirmary for Julian to examine, Sisko goes positively ga-ga for the little fella, remembering Jake as a baby. But before he can contemplate buying a rattle, the little bundle of joy has become partially king-sized. In addition to the growth spurt, Bashir reveals that the child's advanced skills are the result of artificial implantation, which continue to mature to teenage status. Before Sisko can finalize plans to send him to Starfleet for scientific purposes, a sympathetic Odo relates to the situation and offers to help in turning the lad into an upstanding creature. In a related situation of teenage angst, Benjamin meets with Mardah, Jake's much older love interest and Dabo girl at Quark's. Intentions of breaking them apart are thwarted when Sisko finds her to be a classy young lady who unearths some insights about Jake that are surprising and appealing. Rather routine episode when compared to the exciting installments of weeks past, but the execution of what appears to be a "lookie, we found a baby" plotline into something unexpected raises its entertainment value up a notch.

This outing gets 3.5 space stations to grow on.

Episode 7: Civil Defense
Stardate: Unknown

Quark: You mean I'm stuck here with you?
Odo: No, I'm stuck here with you!

While doing some clean-up work in a DS9 unit designated for ore processing, Jake and O'Brien mistakenly trigger a security system left behind by the Cardassians to punish revolting workers, complete with generic Gul Dukat messages. With help from Sisko (who's been observing all this), they manage to escape before lethal gas reaches them. Unfortunately, their getaway then triggers a station-wide lockdown that traps Kira, Bashir, and Dax at Ops while Quark and Odo are forced to stay put in the security office. After a series of disastrous countermoves that not even an in-the-flesh Dukat himself can reverse, the station is set to become an instant graveyard in two hours. Though full of great set pieces,this is an episode that isn't as exciting as it should be, with a rushed, oddball ending that seems to say, "well, that's all the time we have for this week."

Whatever you do, don't touch this three space station rating.

Episode 8: Meridian
Stardate: 48423.2

Kira: Why don't you make him your one-millionth customer?
Quark: But Major, that would be dishonest.
Kira: That never stopped you before!

The crew is surprised when an uncharted planet suddenly materializes out of nowhere. Fortunately, the new intergalactic neighbors are beyond congenial as exemplified by Seltin, one of its citizens who invites the officers over to their territory for an eat 'n' greet. Between bites, Seltin explains that their beautiful planet known as Meridian is caught between two dimensions and when away from the same area where DS9 is located, they're practically transparent or "pure consciousness" for 60 years. But in the period when they exist in flesh and blood form, it's only for about a week and a half. Such an obstacle doesn't prevent Jadzia from getting chummy with Deral (Brett Cullen), a male Meridian whom she develops strong feelings for. Speaking of infatuation, Kira thwarts off the advances of Tiron, a visiting alien by resorting to playing lovey dovey with Odo. Sympathetic but never missing an opportunity to make a buck, Quark says he can offer the next best thing to being there via his popular holosuite program, but getting pre-production footage of the major for this project proves to be a challenging (and funny) ordeal. Trek alumnus Jonathan Frakes takes to the director's chair for the well-done outing that features a good romantic storyline for Farrell, nice outdoor photography and yet another comic showcase for Shimerman, having his best season to date.

Get Quark a tripod; 3.5 space stations.

Disc Three:

Episode 9: Defiant
Stardate: 48467.3

"Hope you've got room for the unexpected." -Commander William Riker

Jonathan Frakes extends his stay in the land of DS9 for another week, this time in front of the camera as visiting Commander William Riker from the USS Enterprise whom Kira takes on a tour, highlighted by a walk-through of the Defiant. But not so fast on the assume buzzer, Trekheads. Quicker than you can spell dramatic plot twist, Riker phaser stuns the major, peels off the fake sideburns and reveals himself to be Thomas, Bill's duplicate resulting from a transporter boo-boo a few years back. Two assistants emerge to help send the ship into warp mode as Benjamin and Odo arrange a meeting with Dukat to give him the latest developments. Believing bad Riker to be a member of the Maquis, Sisko is forced to team with the Cardassian leader to help avoid a potential deadly intergalactic conflict. An extremely complex, intriguing and exciting episode with political developments involving the Obsidian Order (taken from last season's The Maquis) giving the writers potentially exciting material to expand upon on down the line.

Defiant chalks up four stations out of five.

Episode 10: Fascination
Stardate: Unknown

"People are acting very strangely today." -Kira

As the station's annual Bajoran Gratitude Festival gets underway, two of DS9's most enduring couples are reunited. Bareil and Kira couldn't be more huggy and kissy, but Miles and Keiko's reunion is marred by daughter Molly's tummy ache, no thanks to the well meaning although overbearing Lwaxana Troi (Majel Barrett), who promptly seeks out Odo in the hopes of recapturing what they had on her last visit. However, a slight headache hinders her somewhat as she makes her way to another level of the station. Jake is in no mood to celebrate due to the recent break-up of his relationship with Mardah, who is light-years away furthering her education, but with encouragement from his father grudgingly attends the festival's opening ceremonies in spite of a headache similar to Troi's. While watching Kira perform a customary ritual, he becomes quite intrigued and barges in on a private moment she's experiencing with Bareil to proclaim his love for her. But that's okay with the visiting Vedek, because he seems to have a thing for Lieutenant Dax, who seeks out Benjamin for advice only to go touchy-feely on him, prompting a visit to the infirmary. Bashir gives Jadzia a clean bill of health and proceeds to attend Sisko's party when he, too, starts to feel a little woozy... but it's nothing a little love won't cure, as he and Kira get passionate and... (gasp,give me a minute here). Depending on your tolerance for the sillies, Fascination may or may not be your cup of tea, but as one who loves every opportunity to see characters get a chance to do a one-eighty, I enjoyed this Brooks-directed merry love mix-up immensely; great to have Majel Barrett back as Lwaxana, who was so much fun in Season One's The Forsaken.

Kira and Julian, get a room!: 3.5 love suites, er, space stations.

Episode 11: Past Tense, Part I
Stardate: 48481.2

"Twenty-first century history is not one of my strong points. Too depressing." -Bashir

After speaking at a symposium in San Francisco, Sisko has plans to visit his sister in Portland. However, the transporter malfunctions sending Bashir, Dax and the commander to the year 2024. Two decades into the 21st century, the city by the bay has not been kind to the poor, homeless, unemployed and mentally disturbed who are isolated in the Sanctuary District and kept away from the rest of society. It is on this side of town that Ben and Julian are apprehended by security while Dax is discovered nearby by local biz-whiz Chris Brynner, who offers her assistance at his office. After the men are processed at a local center, the commander notices a time/date display. Recognizing the period, he tells Bashir that they have arrived mere days before a crucial event in history: The Bell Riots, named after local citizen Alfred Bell, who risked his life to save his fellow Sanctuary brethren in a confrontation where he and hundreds were killed. Although restraint will be tough in the face of knowing what's to come, Benjamin says neither he nor Julian must alter this significant course of events that led to enormous social change. Back in space, Miles and Kira begin formulating plans to travel in time to rescue their comrades, but will only have a limited number of attempts at their disposal to do so. Unfortunately, their initial strategy is foiled by a potentially devastating development light-years away when a helpful bystander is killed trying to break up a scuffle over Bashir's food card: Gabriel Bell. In an impromptu move to undo the damage, Sisko takes command as the riots begin and introduces himself as the fallen hero. Reminiscent of the Star Trek classic, City on the Edge of Forever from the original series, this extremely well written and well performed installment may be the best episode of the series thus far, particularly in its haunting depiction of life in America 21 years from now. Given our present up/down economy and social problems, I wonder if the writers aren't too far off the mark.

Without hesitation, a top rating of five.

Episode 12: Past Tense, Part II
Stardate: 48481.2

"Those hostages aren't going anywhere until we get what we want." -Sisko

Still posing as Bell, Sisko urges disgruntled Sanctuary District residents this is their moment to stand up for what they want. With help from Webb (Bill Smitrovich), a respected family man, as their spokesperson, a meeting is arranged with police Detective Preston (Deborah Van Valkenburgh). Demanding that all Sanctuary areas be done away with and the Federal Employment Act reinstated, Preston agrees to present their ideas to the governor. Dax is finally reunited with her crew members bringing valuable assistance to the cause. Via Chris Brynner's communications business, citizens voice their plight to the world. Unfortunately, both their stories and demands fail to sway the governor's opinion as troops are ordered in. A notable finish to one of DS9's finest episodes, highlighted by Brook's best work in the series up to this point; its really amazing to compare his confident, assured performance here as opposed to his overly-mannered beginnings of two years prior.

Once again, a perfect five.

Disc Four: Episode 13: Life Support
Stardate: 48498.4

"If I remove his brain and replace it with a machine, he might look like Bareil, he might even talk like Bareil... but he won't be Bareil." -Bashir

A Bajoran transport carrying Winn and Bareil barely makes it to the space station in one piece. Aside from having the wind knocked out of her, the Kai is okay, but the Vedek's critical injuries send him to the emergency room. After a valiant effort by Dr. Bashir, Bareil dies on the operating table, a tragedy that will surely be a crushing blow to the promising peace talks currently in progress between Cardassia and Bajor. Prior to an autopsy, Julian notices some brain activity is still present and against the odds, brings the Vedek back to life. Overjoyed but still wanting to press forward, Kai Winn seeks council from Bareil, but Bashir is adamant that his still fragile patient not be stressed. In spite of limited activites, the Vedek's circulatory system begins crumbling prompting the doctor to hesitantly suggest the aid of Vasokin, an experimental, risky drug. Although treatment allows a patient to resume a normal routine for a number of days, loss of life soon afterward is all but certain. Wanting to finish the diplomatic duties he started, Bareil decides the risks are worth it. Sadly, Bashir's worst fears are realized as his patient's internal organs are damaged and although artificial replacements are available, he urges the Vedek to return to stasis, but to no avail. Days later, both sides of Bareil's brain are irreversibly damaged prompting a tearful Kira to beg the doctor to use artificial means to keep him alive, a procedure Julian can't force himself to go through. A downbeat, emotional outing where we have to say goodbye to Philip Anglim as the intelligent yet soft spoken Bareil (or do we? In soap operas and Star Trek, one can never assume the end has come). On a lighter note, could we praise a very game Alexander Siddig, not just for his fantastic performance, but for having the guts to don those unintentionally hilarious operating room scrubs in this outing? The poor man looks like a rejected extra from the dream sequence of The Big Lebowski.

As Bareil goes gently into that good night, we bid thee farewell with four space stations.

Episode 14: Heart of Stone
Stardate: 48521.5

"I fail to see the humour in this situation." -Odo

Returning to home base in a runabout, Kira and Odo notice a fast moving Maquis ship that's just attacked a Lissepian vessel. Tracking it to a nearby moon, they land and begin searching for the fugitive pilot, but a series of seismic tremors is the least of their problems as a seemingly minor crystal formation Kira gets her foot stuck in slowly grows in proportion to her body, threatening her life. Thanks to atmospheric gremlins, neither transporter service nor communication with DS9 is possible, leaving Odo with the sole option of creating a makeshift ultrasonic device to shatter the crystal. A routine race-against-time tale doesn't descend into mediocrity thanks to the chemistry of Visitor and Auberjonois, which reaches an apex in a pivotal moment that could steer the "Ross and Rachel" of Star Trek into an entirely different direction.

Odo and Kira, sitting in a tree, er cave....well, you know the rest! 3.5 stations.

Episode 15: Destiny
Stardate: 48543.2

"I'm sorry, Major... but where you see a sword of stars, I see a comet. Where you see three vipers, I see three scientists. And where you see the Emissary, I see a Starfleet officer." -Sisko

Sisko is excited at helping set up an impending subspace relay in the Gamma Quadrant with two Cardassian scientists, a breakthough that will allow communication through the wormhole. However, visiting Vedek Yarka cautions that allowing this to happen will spell certain doom as judged by ancient Bajoran prophecies hinted at in the sacred orbs. Although Ben has tremendous respect for their beliefs, he stands firms in his decision to let the project commence. Shortly after the extremely affable scientists Gilora (Tracy Scoggins) and Ulani (Wendy Robie) arrive, the unannounced arrival of Dejar (Jessica Hendra), a third specialist, catches Kira off guard, as it brings to mind part of the prophecies Yarka hinted at ("three vipers"), but shrugs it off. Midway on the Defiant's journey with Jadzia, Benjamin, Miles, and the Cardassian trio aboard, Kira notices a fast-moving comet, which is either yet another eerie coincidence ("the Sword of Stars") or the Vedek's prophecies are playing out in sequence. As Sisko and Nerys have a heart-to-heart about what they have witnessed, he wonders if the project should be aborted. Still unwilling to accept being branded as the "Emissary," Benjamin allows the procedure to be continued as frequency testing begins. After initial results prove fruitless, turbulence rocks the ship. Due to increased gravity, the comet is now heading toward the culprit and unless it's stopped, it's bye-bye wormhole. Great special effects surround an already strong and well written episode; good comic relief comes via the mixed signals subplot involving guest star Scoggins and Meaney.

In the distance, I see visions of four space stations.

Episode 16: Prophet Motive
Stardate: Unknown

"It's only money." -Grand Nagus Zek

Quark is forced to room with brother Rom when the visiting Grand Nagus takes over his quarters to finish a top secret project. As compatible as Felix and Oscar on a bad day, the elder brother bursts in on Zek to find him in quite a good mood, as his re-written Rules of Acquisition are ready to hit the world. Presented with the debut copy, the brothers look through the hefty volume, which possesses the sweetness of Chicken Soup For the Soul ("A good deed is its own reward") and the mentality of Larry King's old USA Today column ("If a customer wants his money back, give it to him"). Zek wanting Ferengi entrepreneurs to operate "beyond greed"? Rom in charge of the newly created Ferengi Benevolent Association? Something's up, campers... and one of the missing sacred orbs discovered by the brothers may hold a clue. At last (to me, anyway), a Zek episode that sticks, due in no small part to a witty script and fast paced comical direction by series regular Rene Auberjonois, who definitely learned something from all those years on Benson; the staging of the orb vision in the homestretch that Quark experiences is great.

With apologies to Mr. King, bust my suspenders! A Grand Nagus episode that works: 3.5 stations

Disc Five:

Episode 17: Visionary
Stardate: Unknown

Benjamin: You think Quark had something to do with this?
Odo: I always investigate Quark.

Exposed to radiation, Miles begins having visions of himself in the future that pose health risks according to Bashir. Such sneak peeks prove frightening when they hint not only of his impending death but the disintegration of the space station. Experiencing somewhat of an off-year as far as prominent story lines, Meaney finally takes center stage in an episode that showcases his character wonderfully. Just when you feel all avenues of the time-shifting concept are exhausted, another surprise appears.

What a great cliffhanger to end...oops, that pesky radiation! Back to the present, Visionary merits four stations.

Episode 18: Distant Voices
Stardate: Unknown

"This is where I belong!" -Bashir

Julian is dreading turning the big 3-0 since it marks a slow decent into middle age. But that process accelerates to warp speed status in the way of a violent confrontation with a Altovar, a disgruntled alien. Angry because the doctor won't give him a restricted substance, he zaps Bashir in retaliation in the infirmary. Julian awakens to find his surroundings in shambles, but that pales to the rest of the ship, which now resembles a ghost town. Eventually making contact with his fellow officers, he's baffled not only at their unusually high strung emotional states, but by more than a few new gray hairs that have materialized in a short time. Additionally, Bashir hears faint murmurings that indicate that he has fallen into a coma and only has a few hours to live. In his altered state, Julian realizes that all the crew members are representing various aspects of his personality that are fighting to stay alive. But as Altovar remains on the loose and the rapid aging process continues, it's going to take every ounce of strength to avoid the prematurely inevitable. One good solo turn deserves another; this week, it's Siddig, and what a tour-de-force it is for the English actor, aided by Michael Westmore's phenomenal make-up (which brought back memories of Jonathan Frid's elderly Barnabus on Dark Shadows).

Hand me down my walking cane as I bestow four space stations.

Episode 19: Through the Looking Glass
Stardate: Unknown

"I'm glad you're alive... and I'm gonna make you glad you're alive." -Alternate Dax

Dressed in casual attire, Miles takes a shocked Sisko hostage and transports him off the station. Gee, O'Brien... tough that your last vacation got off to such a rotten start, but is this any way to treat your superior officer in return? It's alternate Miles, of course (aka Smiley), seeking Benjamin's assistance in the mirror universe. Turns out that the commander's counterpart has been killed while serving as the leader of the Terran rebellion that battled the combined Klingon/Cardassian alliance. While playing imposter, he meets up with the rebel equivalents of Julian, Rom and a tomboy-ish Dax, who is also his mistress (wowee, zowee!). Complicating matters emotionally for Benjamin is his primary mission of convincing an alliance scientist to side with the resistance... for that scientist is none other than Jennifer Sisko, the mirror equivalent of his late wife who can't bear to be in the same room with her alternate better half who's actually...well, you fill in the blanks. If that's not a tall enough task, the commander must also deal with alternate DS9's wickedly evil ruler, (alternate) Kira, who's more than a little surprised to find her former ally still breathing. Like most big screen sequels, the element of surprise is tempered somewhat, but still a fun and bittersweet episode, given dramatic weight via the Benjamin/Alternate Jennifer storyline. Also, is it just me or does naughty Kira seem to have an Olivia Newton-John Physical-era fixation as judged by that curious forehead fashion accessory?

Welcome back, Smmmiley! Four space stations.

Episode 20: Improbable Cause
Stardate: Unknown

"I'm afraid your pants won't be ready tomorrow after all." -Garak

An explosion totals Garak's tailoring shop, nearly eliminating the mysterious Cardassian along with it. While mulling over potential suspects with Odo, Garak wonders if Kira could be the culprit, which gives the shape-shifter ammunition for another classic comeback: "If she wanted you dead, you would be." Initial evidence points toward Retaya, a cagey Flaxian merchant, but while Odo and Garak tail him via a runabout, his ship explodes. When questioned by Sisko, the Romulans confess to the killing, but only for crimes Retaya had committed against their people, which makes Odo wonder if Garak had been a target as well, given rumblings of their invasion of Cardassia. His potential involvement in the Obsidian Order comes back to haunt him as Odo presents evidence that five operatives have mysteriously perished in recent times, inviting speculation that the tailor blew up his business to get the constable involved in the case. Confessing to his long hidden membership in the group, Garak and Odo head to a planet near the Cardassian border to warn his former boss, Enabran Tain (Paul Dooley), since he may be next to be killed. But before they can get to him, a Romulan Warbird corners their ship. Once captured and aboard the enemy's vehicle, they are given a one-two punch of seeing Tain aboard, followed by his revelation that it was he who ordered the hit on Garak.But the big revelation is the unlikely teaming of Romulan Tai Shiar and the Obsidian Order with the main goal of destroying the Founders. Despite Odo's warnings, Garak wants to be a part of this next generation scenario.

This episode rates a 3.5 rating.

Disc Six:

Episode 21: The Die is Cast
Stardate: Unknown

"I consider this a volunteer mission, but don't volunteer yet. There's a good chance you won't be coming back from this mission." -Sisko

Now being held prisoner, Odo is pressured by Garak to give information on his people or suffer torture. Back on DS9, Sisko learns of impending attacks via the Jem'Hadar putting the Defiant on alert. After evacuating nonessential personnel, the commander makes a bold decision to go into the Gamma Quadrant (against Starfleet wishes) to rescue their friend. Shortly into their journey, the ship mysteriously decloaks, threatening their mission and their lives. Hours later, after refusing to give up any secrets and unable to liquidize himself, Odo is literally cracking and falling apart in front of Garak's eyes. Again, another multi-part story arc that triumphs as the series continues to learn from past misfires in such instances; the scenes between Robinson and Auberjonois are gripping in their effect, and leads us newbies to the series wondering if DS9's tailoring specialist might have a new meal partner in addition to Bashir in times to come.

This Die hits with a vengeance; four space stations.

Episode 22: Explorers
Stardate: Unknown

"We'll make a sailor out of you yet." -Sisko

Sisko returns from a Bajoran trip bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and goateed (gee, if he shaved his head, he might pass for that Hawk dude on Spenser: For Hire). While away, he concocted a blueprint for a space vessel reminiscent of sailboats. Inspired by ancient Bajoran legends, Benjamin wants to experience the thrill of traveling into the star system and wants to take Jake along. Unfortunately, the younger Sisko has another pressing matter on his mind and turns down the offer at first. But after his father finishes the beautifully designed vessel, and realizing how much it would mean in terms of their relationship, he reconsiders. Once they're off and flying, Jake feels comfortable enough to reveal his little secret to Daddy-O: A chance to attend a New Zealand school, via a writing fellowship, to follow his dreams. Just as Benjamin begins to express his support, one of the ship's sails breaks apart, which may force a quick end to the journey. Meanwhile, Bashir is filled with a anticipation and dread in getting reacquainted with an old female school chum that finished just ahead of him for top honors at the Academy. An absolutely enchanting pair of stories, especially the Jake/Benjamin sailing expedition (which won a very special award to be discussed in the supplemental section below). In each of the preceding seasons, the writers had a very difficult time in coming up with plot scenarios for Brooks and Lofton that didn't feel forced; in Season Three, DS9's autuers finally got it right with stories that were able to take advantage of the nice chemistry between these two great actors. Speaking of effective twosomes, the Bashir subplot is highlighted by a hilarious scene between Meaney and Siddig as the handyman tries to reassure the doctor, following the humiliating experiencing of watching his classmate walk right past him without even a glimmer of recognition. Although Miles and Julian have come a long way since their initial dislike of one another, O'Brien just can't seem to go into full-fledged bosom buddy.

Come sail away with this four station winner.

Episode 23: Family Business
Stardate: Unknown

"It's the end of Ferengi civilization as we know it." -Quark

Quark and Rom get an unwanted visitor at the bar in the form of a Ferengi Commerce Authority agent. Reporting that their mother Ishka (Andrea Martin) is in deep trouble for earning profit, a no-no for Ferengi females, the brothers go back home to get Mummy to confess rather than being held responsible. Although Rom and Ishka (or Moogie as he calls her) have a touching reunion, Quark is steadfastly indifferent, owing to issues involving his deceased father that he can't seem to brush past. Claiming that she would rather be sold into servitude than be forced to own up to her business dealings, Ishka turns out to be as hard-headed as her elder son—and equally savvy, for after going further into her business, Quark discovers a backlog of sneaky financial transactions of Martha Stewart-like proportions that total more than the measly three bars of latinum the FCA is hitting her in the pocketbook for. Equally funny and telling as it explores the previously untapped family history of our favorite Ferengis. SCTV legend Andrea Martin could not have been a more inspired choice for the role of Moogie (although I could have done without the plot point that all Ferengi women must remain unclothed, especially Rom's reaction to his Mom disrobing; I wonder what Edith Prickley would think?) and again, Auberjonois acquits himself nicely in the director's seat.

Don't tell the commerce folk, but Business earns 3.5 stations.

Episode 24: Shakaar
Stardate: Unknown

"It has been my observation that one of the prices of giving people freedom of choice is that, sometimes, they make the wrong choice." -Odo

Poor Kira. Barely over the death of Bareil, now she gets unwelcome news that the First Minister of Bajor's Provisional Government has passed on with none other than Kai Winn appointed as a temporary replacement (not everyone applaud at once). As her first act in the new position, she requests Nerys to seek the return of Bajoran farmland for use in recovery efforts, an uncomfortable task for the major since old friends are involved, but ever the trooper, she dives in and hopes for the best. Upon reuniting with her closest ally, Shakaar (Duncan Regehr), Kira feels that he's being done wrong by Winn since her motives are strictly motivated by profit (exporting, in other words). All Shakaar wants to do is use his land to help feed his people. Hoping for compromise, Kira encourages him to talk to Winn rather than fight, but the "C-word" isn't in the Kai's vocabulary. As for Sisko's opinion? Miffed is an understatement as he refuses Winn's request for aid back aboard DS9. Back on Bajor, the situation alleviates when security officers come to arrest Shakaar, but Kira's too fast for them as she steps back into the role of fighter on behalf of her friends. In either of the past two seasons, Shakaar would have ranked highly on the quality meter, but when placed amongst current episodes of a stellar year, it suffers in comparison. Still, the mixture of drama and action combined with a good story (not to mention Fletcher's continued excellence as Winn) makes it a cut above average.

Shakaar earns 3.5 space stations out of five.

Disc Seven:

Episode 25: Facets
Stardate: 48959.1

"If you don't mind, I'd like to borrow your bodies for a few hours." -Jadzia

If Jadzia Dax asked to borrow your body, would you say no? As part of her Zhian'tara ritual, she needs to interact with previous hosts in a procedure of closure. Although the first series of reunions go well (with the fascinating experience of seeing what characteristics Jadzia has inherited from the others), it's the final two that she dreads the most: Joran, a former murderer whom Sisko bravely volunteers to channel, and the infamous Curzon, whom the commander seems to recall with stories every five minutes. After surviving a dangerous encounter with the former, it's time for Jadzia's nail-biting finale, courtesy of Odo, who goes one better than the others but morphing into a combination of himself and Sisko's old buddy (much to Benjamin's delight). Picking up where he left off during her pre-Trill existence, Curzon revels in conjuring up Dax's inferiority complex—but there's a long-kept reason for his actions that comes as a complete surprise to her. Like the mirror episodes of the last couple of years, yet another chance for the cast to have fun in playing others with the added appeal in seeing one of the show's most talked about yet never seen characters finally surface via Auberjonois' fantastic double duty turn as Odo/Curzon (what a banner year this guy is having).

One of the season's (and series') best.

Episode 26: The Adversary
Stardate: 48962.5

"If anyone deserves to be promoted, it's you." -Odo

Call him Captain Sisko! As the crew celebrates Benjamin's well deserved promotion, the noisemakers and party favors go back into storage quickly as word comes of a Tzenkethi coup threatening the Federation. O'Brien is especially jumpy as evidenced when Julian startles him in the midst of a technical matter. After taking off in the Defiant, the crew gets a distress signal from the Barisa Prime that suddenly goes dead. More trouble follows when Sisko can't communicate with Starfleet, forcing Miles and Jadzia to investigate. What they find isn't pretty; all the command systems are being affected by a parasite-type covering, complete with force fields. There's a sabateur on board, but who? Could it be Julian (during his earlier encounter with Miles)? Security man Eddington (have we really trusted the guy since he horded on our beloved Odo's territory from the start of the year?) Not according to Dax's tricorder as she continues scanning the crew. But it's quite a shock when Ambassador Krajensky (Lawrence Pressman) turns out to be the culprit, or who everybody thought was the elder statesman but turns out to be a Changeling. No one is immune from suspicion, since the being can take on any shape or form. Sisko and crew now face the dual challenge of avoiding a confrontation fueled by Dominion between the Feds and Tzenkethi as well as locating a dangerous Changeling. If worse comes to worst, the captain may be forced to destroy the Defiant. Whew, I think I just got winded typing up that summary; this is what you call a slam-bang finish. And talk about an ominous beginning as judged by Odo's cryptic words that bring the curtain down on Season Three: "We are everywhere."

See ya next fall (or season box in this case):

Rating for Style: A+
Rating for Substance: A


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Generally on a par with the standards set by the first two season sets, but I'm going to have to knock this collection down a notch due to problems with black levels and slightly more edge enhancement gremlins (or tribbles?) at times, particularly during The Search. At times during this two-parter, character's facial features are so lost in muddiness that's its distracting. As a newcomer to the show as of this year, I cannot tell you if the television broadcasts suffered from similar problems, but I wonder if the pace at which Paramount has been releasing DS9 may have been a contributing factor; it's nice to have season collections coming in bang-bang fashion, but not at the expense of complete quality. There's a reason why shows like NYPD Blue and The X-Files look practically flawless; with more time between release dates for those programs, there's more time to work out such kinks and I'm hoping that Paramount keeps that in mind before unleashing Voyager and Enterprise. But on the whole, Season Three still maintains the grade-A level of its predecessors.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: With an increased emphasis on action in its third year, this collection is up to the challenge with 5.1 mixes that rival feature films. More split surrounds and clever use of isolated effects only enhance the continuing hallmarks of deep low end, gorgeous wide soundstage for the incidental scoring that fills out the room and firmly planted dialogue in the center. In other words, the nitpicks I have about the visual missteps this go-round definitely do not translate into the aural category; definitive demo-disc material.

Audio Transfer Grade: A+


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 208 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
5 Featurette(s)
Packaging: unknown keepcase
Picture Disc
7 Discs
7-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: Disc 7 plays host to another mixture of behind-the scenes ruminations, recollections, creative secrets and easter egg goodies (aka Hidden File(s)):

The Birth of The Dominion and Beyond (11:19) explores the season's most pivotal ongoing storyline and how a minor mention in Season Two's Rules of Acquisition served as an impetus.

Michael Westmore's Aliens: Season Three (12:43) gives further insight into the most memorable creatures of this year highlighted by Kira's Cardassian turn, Andrea Martin's Ishkar (complete with the clever trick of utilizing wrinkled Kleenex) and Odo's Curzon metamorphisis.

Time Travel Files: Past Tense (7:00) is a fast paced look back at the classic two-parter including thoughts from Avery Brooks and Colm Meaney capped by the eerie coincidence the episodes shared in common with a real-life story that occurred in Los Angeles at the time of shooting.

Sailing Through the Stars: A Special Look at Explorers (5:42) salutes one of the series' most heartwarming episodes. Production designer Herman Zimmerman and illustrator Jim Martin wax nostalgic on their creative experiences on this outing, which captured a 1995 Space Frontiers Foundation award.

Crew Dossier: Odo (11:46) spends time with the multi-talented Rene Auberjonois, who reveals the writer's inspiration for his character (shades of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood), initial reluctance at exploring Odo's origins and Jonathan Frakes' influence in steering him to step behind the camera for his own directorial turns.

Extras Grade: A-


Final Comments

Take a couple of days off, make a couple of pots of raktajino and devour the pleasures of Deep Space Nine's most impressive season yet.


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