Deep Love For Deep Space

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 16.884% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

The one thing I knew about Deep Space Nine was that it was a pale ripoff of Babylon 5.  I knew this because Babylon 5 fans had told me.
Boy, were they wrong.  I’m about halfway through the third season of Deep Space Nine, and it’s like they made a Star Trek show just for me.
Because honestly, while Next Generation was decent, it never really hit me where I lived because the characters were all too fucking nice.  They were like Muppet Babies, all squeezed out of some vaccuformed chamber where they may have quarrelled occasionally but really everyone just got along, and they all just assumed the sweetest things about people. Even better, all the niceness they assumed was present almost always paid off.
Noble.  A nice fairy tale.  Unrealistic, though.
Add that to the fact that nobody really changes on Star Trek: Next Generation, and you have a journey that’s enjoyable but ultimately empty for me.  Oh, Picard and Data have a lot of experiences, and Data learns a lot… But the defining question of character growth is, “Would this character make different choices at the end of the story, based on what s/he’s learned?”
In Next Generation, the answer is mostly no.  Maybe Picard would be a little angrier at the Borg, but a mild slapdown and he’ll return right to his diplomatic roots. Next Generation was designed to be a pickup show where you could tune in to any episode and not have to ask confusing questions about why Geordie’s asking all funny.
Deep Space Nine, however…
The thing I adore about Deep Space Nine is that some of the characters actively don’t like each other in the beginning.  Odo and Quark (well, anybody and Quark), Bashir and O’Brien, Sisko and Kira… They’re all irritated by each other’s agendas and quirks, and would rather be elsewhere.
Which is why it means something when they start to bond.  This isn’t some prefabbed friendship – these are real human beings, coming to terms with each other, and it’s made me tear up several times as they circle each other, realizing how much they mean to each other.
It’s a sharp universe, with hard edges.  There’s an episode where Jake and Nog go out on a disastrous double-date, because Nog’s Ferengi insistence that women are chattel winds up being not so good.  And they get together, and rather than Jake talking Nog out of years of cultural heritage in five minutes, they agree not to go on double-dates.
In other words: I’m not going to convince you.  But we can still be friends.
Likewise, there’s religion.  And unlike Next Generation, where religion was something to be dispensed as soon as possible, the religious characters here are a mixture of all sorts of faiths, used for good and bad, and some of the religious themes have to be taken seriously.  Furthermore, it’s an open question at this stage whether the prophecies are actually real.
There is character depth, being mined.  There is growth.  And oh, there’s still a lot of fussing and fighting, but what you see here are several disparate types of people fusing into a family.
I like that.  I liked it on Farscape, and I’m loving it here.

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