In between the fisticuffs, space battles and technobabble, Star Trek is noted for its dalliances in romances. Captain James T. Kirk is nearly infamous for his numerous romantic relationships which earned him a well-deserved reputation as an intergalactic ladies man. While the original Star Trek series and its characters had many star-crossed romantic interludes, so too, did the Star Trek spinoffs, which had their fair share of romances. In honor of Valentine’s Day and Star Trek’s 50th anniversary, let’s look at some of the most memorable romantic moments from Star Trek.
Will They or Won’t They?
A common romantic motif in Star Trek is that of romantic tension between would-be lovers. They’re attracted to each so why can’t they go the extra step? In Star Trek: Voyager, Captain Kathryn Janeway and Chakotay’s shared a hidden romantic tension was stronger in the early episodes and led to many fan-fiction stories about them going a step further. The closest the two ever came close to consuming their feelings was in “Resolutions” where they were self-exiled on a planet and over time their professional restraint began to wither. But before they could go further, the two were rescued and the show never re-visited this subplot.
This also happened in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine between Odo and Kira Nerys. At first, it was a case of unrequited love where Odo was madly in love with her, but Kira was involved with Bareil, a Bajoran clergyman. Odo’s plight was quite poignant thanks to some strong acting by Rene Auberjonois. The situation changed in later seasons when the two finally became a couple (“His Way”)…only to regretfully separate in the series finale “What You Leave Behind”.
Star Trek: Enterprise also featured a long-simmering relationship, this one between the Vulcan T’Pol and the Enterprise’s engineer “Trip” Tucker. That romance started off in the typical fashion: two disparate souls clashing with each other in a way reminiscent of the old Spock and McCoy arguments. Except this time, the two participants were growing closer, first as respectful colleagues then friends and finally lovers in the episode “Harbinger”. It was a refreshingly mature relationship that was based on mutual respect and curiosity about each other’s feelings and cultures.
Arguably the most popular couple falling into this category had to be Will Riker and Deanna Troi. At the start of Star Trek: The Next Generation, it was established that the two were former lovers. Their relationship ended because of Riker’s ambition (never mind that he turned down many promotions during the series and most films). But there were lingering feeling between the two that were never quite re-ignited. That didn’t occur until the movie Star Trek: Insurrection where they rekindled their romance thanks to the effects of being on an alien planet. Thankfully it wasn’t a brief fling because at the start of the next film Star Trek: Nemesis the two had married each other.
The later Star Trek shows featured married couples who were part of the cast and this allowed for the showcasing of marital issues. But in a nice twist, rather than go into dark territories and have the couples separate or commit adultery, many episodes showed how strong a marital bond was and celebrated the married couples’ romance.
One of the earliest married Starfleet couples we saw was in Star Trek:The Next Generation when in the episode “Data’s Day” we found out that Miles O’Brien was getting married. This development fleshed out his character and made him even more of an everyman to fans. He and his wife Kieko were featured in many episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation before becoming regular cast members of the spinoff Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episodes featuring O’Brien we often saw the joys and pitfalls of married life through his and Keiko’s eyes, though the “Fascination” episode took time to explore how the two rekindled the passion for each other. In later seasons, when Worf became part of the crew, he realized his love for Jadzia Dax (“Looking for par’Mach in All the Wrong Places”) after being spurned by a Klingon woman who only had eyes for Quark. Eventually the couple married (“You Are Cordially Invited”) and Worf’s devotion for Jadzia was so strong that in the episode “Change of Heart” he abandoned an important covert mission in order to save his wife’s life.
Another notable relationship that led to marriage was that of Tom Paris and B’Elanna Torres in Star Trek: Voyager. In the early seasons of that program, the two were strictly colleagues, however in the third season episode “Blood Fever” B’Elanna was afflicted with pon farr and soon she and Tom started a long-lasting relationship that culminated in marriage (“Drive”) during Star Trek: Voyager’s final season.
This past January marked the twentieth anniversary of perhaps the most underrated Star Trek show Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. It differed from the other Trek shows in that it took place on a space station (the titular Deep Space Nine or DS9) near a wormhole and the characters often had to deal with the political and social ramifications of galactic events and alien first contact. In so many ways, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is arguably the best Trek show and certainly the best spinoff of the original Star Trek. Many episodes were exciting, thought provoking and best exemplified the spirit of Star Trek. Being that it’s the show’s 20th anniversary, here’s a top 20 list of their very best episodes.
20. “The House Of Quark” A white lie about killing a Klingon warrior to boost business leads resident DS9 bar owner Quark (Armin Shimmerman) to unwillingly marrying the Klingon’s headstrong widow (Mary Kay Adams). Later Quark must fight another Klingon for her honor in this humorous social clash of Klingons and Ferengi cultures.
19. “Homefront/Paradise Lost” This two-part episode is an eerie predictor of the besieged, mistrustful mentality that hit the U.S. after 9/11. A Changeling terrorist attack on Earth leads to worldwide paranoia that Changelings are everywhere and infiltrating the Federation. Ultimately this brings about an attempted coup by rogue Starfleet officers.
18. “What You Leave Behind” The final episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine brings the show to a proper conclusion as the Dominion War finishes in an epic throwdown involving an armed uprising on the Cardassian home planet, the major space powers in a pyrotechnic space battle and Captain Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks) has a final confrontation with his arch nemesis Dukat (Marc Alaimo) and ultimately discovers his destiny.
17. “The Jem’Hadar” What a way to introduce an enemy race! Sisko, his son Jake (Cirroc Lofton), Quark and his nephew Nog (Aron Eisenberg) are captured while camping on a planet in the Gamma Quadrant by the Dominion’s belligerent military force, the Jem’Hadar. Ruthless, deadly and formidable, the reptilian-like soldiers proved their extreme fanaticism by destroying a Galaxy-class starship fairly easily.
16. “Past Tense, Part I and II” Sisko, Dr. Julian Bashir (Alexander Siddig) and Jadzia Dax (Terry Farrell) are accidently transported to San Francisco in the 2020s and become involved in a calamitous social movement called the Bell Riots. When the leader of the movement is killed, Sisko must assume his identity in order to preserve the timeline, while trying to keep himself and hostages safe.
15. “Favor The Bold” The first few episodes of DS9’s sixth season had the Federation on the defensive in the Dominion War with the Dominion occupying the station. Tired of defeat, Sisko devises a bold battle plan to take back DS9 and gathers his forces. Meanwhile tensions boil over in DS9 as First Officer Kira Nerys (Nana Visitor) confronts the Changeling Security Chief Odo (René Auberjonois) over his divided loyalties.
14. The Circle Trilogy (“The Homecoming”, “The Circle”, “The Siege”) Bajoran politics start off the second season with Star Trek’s first three parter. A legendary Bajoran freedom fighter (Richard Beymer) is found in a Cardassian prison by Kira, who frees him. This causes a chain of events that culminates in a plot by an anti-Federation, reactionary political group to overthrow the Bajoran government. Guest stars Frank Langella and Louise Fletcher played exceptional villains.
13. ” The Quickening” Dr. Bashir learns a lesson in the limits of his medical skills when he and Dax struggle to help a planetary population infected by the Dominion with a deadly and incurable disease. An allegory to the AIDS epidemic, the scenes of Bashir’s tireless efforts to ease the suffering and cure people were powerful and touching.
12. “Crossover” Kira and Bashir return to the infamous Mirror Universe last seen in the original Star Trek episode “Mirror, Mirror”. This time humanity has been conquered by the Klingons and Cardassians and the duo get to see a radically different DS9 with once familiar characters like Quark and Garak (Andrew J. Robinson) now complete strangers. Plus, it gave the actors plenty of opportunities to chew the scenery with their over-the-top performances of their doppelgangers.
11. “The Way Of The Warrior” Worf (Michael Dorn) from Star Trek: The Next Generation joins the station crew in this fourth-season opener that sees the impact that the shape-shifting Founders have had with their infiltration of the Alpha Quadrant. The Klingons and the Federation break ties with each other and become adversaries. The climatic space battles between the station and a Klingon fleet and the intense fighting inside DS9 were an adrenaline rush of excitement!
10. “In The Pale Moonlight” One of the most controversial episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine has Ben Sisko desperate over the state of the war against the Dominion, committing very questionable and treasonous actions to influence the Romulans to join the war on the Federation’s side. These nebulous actions by a Star Trek lead hero best illustrate the murkiness of DS9’s main characters.
9. “In The Cards” This very funny episode showcases Jake and Nog as they go through many headaches and make complicated deals just to obtain a rare Willie Mays baseball card for Jake’s father. Highlights include the mad Dr. Giger (Brian Markinson) and his alleged immortality machine. Meanwhile on an ominous note, on the eve of war, negotiations fail between the Federation and the Dominion.
8. Emissary” The pilot episode introduces the cast of characters and the Cardassian-built space station orbiting the ravaged planet of Bajor. Intrigue and self-discovery abound as the intricacies of Bajoran society and the characters’ quirks are revealed, especially Sisko’s tortured soul. Still mourning over his dead wife and on the verge of leaving Starfleet, Sisko faces a moment of truth after discovering a nearby stable wormhole and the non-corporeal aliens inhabiting it.
7. “In Purgatory’s Shadow”/”By Inferno’s Light” Major changes happen in this two parter when the Cardassians, led by Dukat, unexpectedly join the Dominion. One of the show’s biggest shocks came when it was revealed that one of the major characters was actually a Changeling during several previous episodes and out to decimate the Alpha Quadrant powers.
6. “Far Beyond The Stars” Sisko finds himself in an alternate reality where he is a struggling science fiction writer in 1950s New York and must contend with racism as he tries to get his story published about a space station commandeered by a black officer. It was unforgettable and refreshing to see the show’s actors, many without makeup, portraying distinctly different characters, some good and some bad. Brooks deserves many kudos for captivating performance as Ben Sisko and writer Benny Russell.
5. “Trials And Tribble-ations” In this tribute to the original Star Trek, the crew of the Defiant (the Starfleet ship posted to DS9) time travel back to Captain Kirk’s (William Shatner) era and wind up part of the classic Star Trek episode “The Trouble With The Tribbles”. The scenes where the DS9 characters interact with the original Enterprise crewmembers are still jaw-dropping and fun to watch. Some highlights include seeing the original Enterprise, Worf’s abrupt non-explanation about the classic era’s Klingons and when Sisko got to meet Kirk, one of his heroes.
4. “…Nor The Battle To The Strong” Jake and Dr. Bashir are stranded on a Federation outpost under attack by Klingons. This episode focuses on Jake (one of the few by DS9 to do so) and his impressions of war as he is recruited to be a medic and meets several characters who react differently to battle situations. He sees up close how filthy and demoralizing war is and is strongly shaken by its brutality and its senseless nature. This episode was one of the grittiest ever shown on Star Trek and the realistic elements such as the Starfleet officer who wounds himself and Jake’s scared reactions added much to the story.
3. “Call To Arms” The fifth season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine closes with this exciting episode that is about the eve of war between the Federation/Klingons and the Dominion. Tensions boil over and negotiations break down leading to open warfare between the two powers. The episode’s writers skillfully set up many cliffhangers for the coming season and had astonishing multiple endings that could’ve each ended the season effectively. Still, that final shot that has the Defiant joining a massive Starfleet/Klingon armada makes one cheer.
2. “Sacrifice Of Angels” This epic conclusion to the storyline about the Dominion occupation of DS9 rivals any big-screen sci-fi spectacular with its amazing special effects. Outnumbered and outgunned on board the Defiant, Sisko leads an armada of Starfleet ships against combined Dominion and Cardassian battle ships. It’s a race against time to break through the formidable fleet to reach DS9 before the mined wormhole can be opened to send through Dominion reinforcements. Meanwhile, Kira, Quark, Jake and other Federation loyalists on the station try to stay one step ahead of Dominion forces as they try to sabotage the enemy. After seeing the good guys losing ground in the episodes leading up to “Sacrifice Of Angels” it was a cathartic to see them finally confronting the enemy.
1. “The Visitor” One of the best time travel stories shown on any Star Trek series is ultimately about the bond between a father and his son. Sisko and Jake are on board the Defiant when a freak accident apparently disintegrates the captain. During his mourning Jake discovers that his father is actually alive but trapped in a timeless limbo. Life and time goes on while Sisko never ages and helplessly watches as Jake grows older, marries and then gives up his marriage and writing career to help him. The performances by Avery Brooks and Tony Todd (who plays Jake as an adult) will touch a soft spot in any viewer’s heart. The ending of “The Visitor” will be sure to leave a lump in one’s throat. More importantly, the episode illustrates how feelings and relationship trump any obstacle. These themes are why Star Trek: Deep Space Nine stood apart from the other Star Trek shows.
Other memorable episodes that just missed the list include in no order: “Explorers”, “The Siege of AR-558”, “Waltz”, “A Time To Stand”, “For The Uniform”, “The Magnificent Ferengi”, “Our Man Bashir”, “Inquisition”, “The Die Is Cast” and “Duet”.
Continuing our look at one of the best Star Trek shows Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (DS9), there are more reasons why the show stood out from the other Trek spinoffs. To start let’s look at the main character Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks).
While seeming distant from his officers, Sisko was a very passionate man with an affinity for cooking. He was one of the most dimensional Trek captains ever shown and portrayed. At the start of the series, Sisko was a very troubled man and for good reason. His suffering was one of the best plot lines in the series pilot “Emissary”. A flashback prologue showed that while posted on a ship that tried to fight an invading Borg cube during the Star Trek: Next Generation episode “The Best Of Both Worlds, Part II” (the scene was from the Battle of Wolf 359, which took place offscreen in that episode), Sisko’s wife died in the futile battle. On an escape pod with his injured son, he watched helplessly as his ship exploded with his wife’s body still on it.
Angry, bitter and directionless, Sisko was assigned years later to command the Cardasssian-built space station Deep Space Nine orbiting the ravaged planet Bajor. His duty was to help Bajor get ready for admission into the Federation via rebuilding efforts. But still consumed by his wife’s death, Sisko considered leaving Starfleet before discovering a stable wormhole near Bajor and DS9.
What followed were a series of brilliantly shot scenes that represented the spirit of Star Trek in terms of meeting new life and mutual learning. Inside the wormhole, he encountered the “Prophets”, non-corporeal aliens who took the forms of people he knew–including his dead wife, in surreal, dream-like sequences. Every time a different person would speak, the scene would abruptly jumped to another time and location. For example, if a “Prophet” in the form of his first officer Kira Nerys (Nana Visitor) at the station had a question, then she would be answered by a “Prophet” in the form of Locutus (Patrick Stewart) during the Battle of Wolf 359. They didn’t understand the linear nature of time and Sisko had to find a way to explain the concept. Sisko tried to use baseball to explain not just the cause-and-effect nature of time but the nature of human existence. After his explanation, the aliens pointed out to “The Sisko” (as they later called him) that if time was linear why was his mind occupied with his wife’s death? The station commander quietly realized that he was trapped by his past because of his grief and needed to move on.
The Bajorans looked upon Sisko as a religious figure because of his discovery and this made him uncomfortable. However, he took his role seriously of defending the Bajorans and helping them to rebuild their civilization after the Cardassian occupation.
His greatest tests came after the malevolent Dominion arrived from the other side of the wormhole. He wound up becoming a brilliant war-time leader in what turned out to be a critical post and thwarted the Dominion’s plans to conquer the Federation. During this crisis, he had to find time to be a single father to his son Jake (Cirroc Lofton), act responsibly as a religious figure and maintain relations with the mysterious “Prophets” and other aliens. By the series end (“What You Leave Behind”) Sisko has a final confrontation with his enemies and discovers his ultimate fate with the “Prophets”.
The show had a rich roster of characters who were well written and acted. They helped drive the show and made viewers care about what was going on. One advantage DS9 had over its Trek cousins were the secondary characters. Most of them were as well developed as the main ones and could’ve conceivably carried on as replacements for the main characters, they were that good. There was Nog (Aron Eisenberg), Quark’s (Armin Shimmerman) nephew. At first he was written to be a comedic foil and companion to Jake, but over time, the diminutive Ferengi expressed a desire to better his lot in life and joined Starfleet, becoming the first Ferengi to do so. Nog quickly proved himself and became known for his competence and bravery. Another Ferengi of note was Nog’s father Rom (Max Grodenchik), a seemingly dim-witted and good-natured soul who worked as Quark’s hapless assistant. While he was usually comedic relief, over time, he too wanted to better himself but was only lacking confidence. Eventually he joined the station’s engineering crew, married the very attractive Bajoran waitress Leeta (Chase Masterson), worked as a Federation spy and even wound up becoming the Grand Nagus –the leader of the Ferengi and began to bring about progressive reforms.
DS9 had complex and fascinating alien races like the Ferengi, the Bajorans and even the Klingons. But one of the most multifaceted aliens were the Cardasssians. First up was Garak (Andrew J. Robinson), an enigmatic exile who was introduced early in the show’s run. Demonstrating a fascination towards Dr. Bashir (Alexander Siddig), Garak reveled in being a mysterious source of help and information. Over time, it was revealed that he once worked for Cardassian intelligence but fell out of favor. As a former spy, Garak was quite deadly, he even carried out Sisko’s dirty work in the episode “In The Pale Moonlight” but by the show’s end became a liberator and helped to defeat the Dominion occupiers of his home planet. The other prominent Cardassian was Dukat (Marc Alaimo), the show’s arch nemesis. Originally the commanding officer of DS9 when it was in Cardassian hands, Dukat was a brutal dictator who took joy in terrorizing Bajorans. Dukat appeared several times as a menacing figure but apparently turned over a new leaf when the Klingons went to war with the Cardassians in the fourth season. He became a guerilla fighter and seemed regretful about his past, but the humiliation his people suffered under the Klingons was too much for him. Making a Faustian bargain, Dukat allied himself with the Dominion and allowed them to take control of the Cardassian Union (“By Inferno’s Light”). In the end all he wanted (as he ranted in the episode “Waltz”) was to be adored and respected by those he considered inferior to him. That included the Bajorans and Ben Sisko. Continue reading →