I didn’t say anything about the opening credits for Deep Space Nine before, but I’m honestly not sure how much I like them. I noted this is the only Trek series that doesn’t involve space exploration of any kind, so this series has to do something other than the ship flying through space. As such, the credits show slow, languid shots of the station from multiple angles while a trumpet-based theme song plays in the background. Everything about these credits seem…stationary. Does Deep Space Nine merit this level of grandeur? I’m not entirely sure yet. So far, the place seems more like a space craphole with a wormhole nearby.
That said, was there a character more initially intriguing than Odo in the pilot? We spent a lot of time with Sisko, as we should, but O’Brien has been around for a while, Kira is pretty well-defined thus far, Quark is a character type, Bashir more or less is too, and Dax, well, Dax may be played by the weakest cast member of the bunch, and while it’s not a bad performance, it just isn’t up to the level of the rest of the main cast aside from maybe Jake Sisko, but he’s just a kid.
So, what makes Odo tick? He’s not the most personable of characters. He and Kira seem to be friends, but he’s generally standoffish with the others. Sisko in this one offers full support only for Odo to outright doubt it to the Commander’s face. He’s not a cuddly character. He may have a friendly rivalry (if “friendly” is the right word) with Quark, and the Ferengi saloon-owner may not like having Odo breathing down his neck, but once Odo is suspected of murder, Quark is the one lowlife on the station who seems to leap to the security chief’s defense.
Heck, Quark gives the guy a tip at one point.
Clearly, it’s a moment that says a lot about these two, especially considering the episode opens for them talking to each other in Quark’s bar, observing a marital dispute between Miles and Keiko O’Brien. And Odo’s views on relationships are…not exactly open-minded if I want to be nice in characterizing them.
But then someone Odo has it in for dies in a holosuite during a massage, and Odo is the prime suspect. Odo has no alibi, and while Kira fiercely defends him, and her defense is the only one that seems to matter to Odo, what do you do when he’s the one holdover from when the Cardassians ran the station? It doesn’t take much to turn the crowds against him. And as fierce as Kira’s rhetoric is from the command deck, she also seems to kick the most ass against the crowd.
Of course, Odo is innocent, and the real culprit is actually rather clever so I won’t say who it was here. It’s pure sci-fi, and Bashir finds the evidence that exonerates Odo himself, but I do like how Odo, requesting Kira ask Bashir to take a look, seems to doubt Bashir can actually do anything about it.
But there’s still some building going on here. Bashir is trying, in vane, to romance a disinterested Dax, and he seems to think Sisko is prevailing there when Sisko is mostly hanging out with an old friend in a new body. O’Brien’s wife doesn’t much like the station and doesn’t see a use for a botanist there. O’Brien is trying to be as accommodating as possible, but spotting Jake and Nog getting in trouble for releasing some odd fleas on some diners gives her an idea of starting a school on the station. That means meeting Quark’s brother, and Nog’s father, Rom. And while I may have been only a sporadic viewer of this show in the past, my recollection of Rom was he was mostly Quark’s comically dumb brother. He isn’t that here, coming across as basically just another Ferengi. But there is a moment when, dropping Nog off at the school, he tells Nog to stay away from Jake, using much the same language Sisko used on his son earlier in the episode when he wanted Jake to stay away from the Ferengi.
Considering Jack and Nog do become fast friends, I’d say both fathers won’t be too happy about that going forward.
But here we are with a pretty good world-building episode, giving all the main cast members something to do to expand their characters and providing a good murder mystery at the middle of it with a sci-fi bent. True, this is only the beginning, but considering where Next Generation was at this point, well, I can see one show learned from the other’s mistakes.