Original Airdate: February 11, 1998.
I’ve recently had the time to enjoy some Star Trek: Deep Space Nine reruns on SyFy here in the UK. At present, they’re working their way through Season Six, probably my favourite season of any of the Star Trek shows.
Today, I noticed that Far Beyond The Stars was on. I quickly announced that my housemate’s television plans for the evening were cancelled: we’d be watching this episode.
I remembered it fondly, and having not watched it for about ten years, I was curious to see how it had aged.
Splendidly is the answer.
It remains a fine hour of science fiction, and of Star Trek, and ranks up there with the best. A challenging and thought-provoking look at racial struggle in mid-20th Century United States, all through the lens of hope that Star Trek offers.
Not only does it excel in its handling of the subject matter, it also excels as a piece of storytelling. It’s fair to say that it is magnificently written with superb pacing. The hour flies past, and I picked up on several parallels I missed when I was younger. For instance, Sisko’s dreams of Benny Russell reflect the challenges he himself goes through. He speaks to his father at the beginning of the episode of how every time he feels he’s achieved a victory, something happens that knocks him back to the start. So too with Benny, as his glimpses of hope are shattered by circumstances outside his control. And with the main villain of Deep Space Nine, the Dominion, being predominantly present far away in the Gamma Quadrant – an ominous distant danger represented by the limited forces they have in the Alpha Quadrant (Dukat, Weyoun et al) – in his dream the owner of the magazine, who is never depicted on screen, has the power to quash Benny’s hopes through his mouthpiece of the magazine editor, played by Rene Auberjonois.
All the while, it’s topped off by an acting tour-de-force from Avery Brooks, whose breakdown after failing to break through the shackles of racial prejudices is a simply mesmerising showcase of ability. Not bad for the man who also directed the episode.
I’m quite certain more in-depth reviews than this exist. However, I caught this episode in passing this evening, and it truly deserves an revisit.
It’s fantastic. It’s challenging. It’s possibly the best episode of Deep Space Nine there is.
And there are some pretty splendid episodes of Deep Space Nine out there.
So, while we’re at it, have your say: is it the best episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine?