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What a sad day this is. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – one of the biggest, most popular, successful, recognisable, influential and greatest television shows of all time finally bows before its audience. As with all great shows, the best possible ending is something none of us should hold out hope for, but then Deep Space Nine was never your average kind of show was it? Suffice to say, this final stretch is both superb and highly poignant.

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Series
Warning, due to the disclosing nature of the seventh season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, this entire section has been designated off-limits to those who do not wish to acknowledge certain revealing aspects of the series. This is of course due to some potentially threatening spoilers, ye be warned!

Beginning with a bang so intense that it could spark a new universe, season seven opens with Sisko pondering his future as both Emissary to the Bajoran Prophets and his duty as a Starfleet officer. Earth has now become his home for the time being, and his father and son are worried about him. The loss of Jadzia Dax was a huge blow, one that has thrown his perspective completely off balance.

‘Image in the Sand’ and ‘Shadows and Symbols’ is this epic two-part story in which Sisko finds out that his mother was in fact a prophet and there is a new orb – the orb of the emissary – that he must set out to discover. Things do begin to look brighter however when a new Dax host arrives on the scene, the lovely Ezri Dax.

‘Afterimage’ shows the tolls of war on former Cardassian spy Garak as he finally lets slip his anger towards the war which is destroying his home and Alpha Quadrant. The episode also serves as a great character building episode for Ezri, who finds her presence on the station to be somewhat troubling. Worf obviously feels that she is a constant reminder of Jadzia but Sisko urges her to stay aboard and iron out any creases that might arise between crewmembers. Of course, Julian and Quark take to her immediately.

What must be the billionth classic in this series by now comes in the form of the fourth episode this season; it's the wonderful, the magnificent, the absolutely genius ‘Take Me Out to the Hollosuite’. This episode is so refreshing, crisp and elegantly poignant that it’s virtually impossible to hate, even if Baseball isn’t your thing. The story is fairly straightforward; Sisko and his nemesis Vulcan captain face each other on the field of battle – or rather a Baseball pitch in the hollosuite.

Sisko recruits most of the major players from Deep Space Nine to finally thwart the obtuse Vulcan captain. Aside from being downright hilarious, the episode is just plain fun and with an undertone of envious competitiveness coursing though its vein, situations are made all the more interesting.

‘Treachery, Faith, and the Great River’ has Odo lured to a false meeting site, only to find that one of the Weyoun clones has defected to the Federation. ‘Once More Unto the Breach’ sees the return of the aging Klingon warrior and war hero Kor. His request to join Martok’s ship to fight one last fight is at first denied, but Worf persuades him otherwise.

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The mythical Pah-Wraith are given more attention in ‘Covenant’, an episode that whisks us back to abandoned Cardassian station Empok Nor. Dukat has now been completely seduced by the Pah-Wraith, even to the point of insanity. His luring of Kira to the station only makes matters worse when she tries everything in her power to crush his efforts against the Prophets.

Back into the Mirror universe we go, for the last time. ‘The Emperor’s New Cloak’ is a great finale to the Mirror Universe arc that this time turns a little lighter as Quark and the rest of the Ferengi dive in to rescue their Nagus from the clutches of the Alliance.

One of the coolest episodes this season is another Ezri featured episode called ‘Field of Fire’ and is a great murder mystery story with a sci-fi twist. ‘Chimera’ centres around Odo and his discovery of one of the 'one-hundred' – a group of Changelings sent out across the galaxy hundreds of years earlier.

‘Badda-Bing Badda-Bang’ is, on the other hand, one of the most fun and audacious episodes. It's basically a caper mini-flick sort of concept that is entirely hollosuite bound. Vic Fontaine’s casino becomes overrun with mafia-like thugs who have forcibly bought the place out from under his nose. It’s up to the crew to go in and save him; hologram or not, Vic is their friend. The episode quickly turns into a Mission Impossible/James Bond/Oceans Eleven style adventure that simply oozes class and greatness. For all this however, the best part of the whole experience just has to be the duet between Vic and Sisko at the end. No words can adequately do justice to that one little yet altogether memorable scene.

The best episode in the season, in my humble opinion, is the clever ‘Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges’. In translation the title comes from the Latin phrase ‘In times of war, laws fall on deaf ears’, which is a theme very true to the nature of this richly detailed story. Bashir is again hurled into a shrouded paradox, with the notorious Section 31 pulling the strings of the whole dilemma. What makes this episode especially memorable is the visit to Romulus by the Federation delegates, the deeply lavish politics and even a surprise appearance from a certain USS Voyager; only disguised under a different name.

The script for this episode is incredible, almost certainly worthy of award recognition. Line after line after line is gripping and as intelligently delivered as I’ve ever seen. Equally, the direction brims with fresh camera angles and taut control over the many talents involved in making this masterpiece.

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At times I couldn’t help but wish that this very episode had been the tenth feature movie instead of the disastrous Nemesis. It has feature-film written all over it and would surely have been one of the best movies in the franchise had it been blessed with the opportunity. Still, it made for one of the tour-de-force undertakings in Deep Space Nine’s glowing resume.

Now begins the final stretch, the last ten episodes in the whole saga. These last ten are all interlinked; one after the other flows into the next much in the same way as ‘24’  would function. This is the grand finale to Deep Space Nine.

It all begins with ‘Penumbra’, setting the cogs into motion when Worf and Ezri are captured by a Breen ship. During the course of the next few episode a lot happens, perhaps too much that could fit into a few simple paragraphs. I’ll do my best to abbreviate it. Worf and Ezri settle their differences, the Breen join the Dominion/Cardassian fleet, Damar rebels to fight for the freedom of his world with Kira’s help, Garak goes mad as he sees his world fall, Sisko and Cassidy wed, the Defiant gets destroyed and the Founders become infected with a terrible disease.

Aside from all of that, Dukat enlists Kai-Winn as his protégé and Sisko finally meets his ultimate fate in a classic showdown within the final episode aptly titled ‘What You Leave Behind’. I won’t say too much about the finale only that it is perhaps the greatest finale to any television show on Earth. It does for the TV world what ‘Return of the King'  did for cinema. The emotion, the sense of completion and the state of shock it leaves with you long after it ends is indescribable in words, only emotions – those of sorrow, sadness and tears.

Video
Oh dear, what happened here? I am sorry to report that season seven really does take a turn for the worst with its image transfer. Daytime and lighter sequences are fine, just as good as with previous box sets in the collection, but the darker scenes are pretty lousy to say the least. The grain levels and almost murky look the print has in these scenes is a real turn off I must admit. As I have stated before, the darker scenes do suffer from grit, but season seven really takes the piss. Not only were grain levels excessive, but I noticed severe image problems such as artefacts and other unwanted crap.

The episode that really took the brunt of this has to be ‘The Siege of AR-558’ which is mostly blanketed in gloomy caves and night-based locales. Very disappointing, but still quite good on the whole so the rating has dropped a notch from the previous few boxed sets.

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Audio
All the Star Trek sets come complete with a beefy Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and all of which sound pretty great by all measures. Deep Space Nine season seven has some superb uses of LFE during climactic battle scenes and the clarity of the rich-sounding dialogue is always a pleasurable experience. Compared to the previous six boxed sets, season seven doesn’t really improve much in way of actual quality, only stretches the palate to accommodate for the more robust action arcs.

Extras
'Ending an Era' is a decent featurette on how everything was tied up and such, nothing extraordinary but it serves as a good reminder of how the show bowed.

‘Crew Dossier: Benjamin Sisko’ is perhaps the best of all the crew dossiers, it was certainly my favourite. ‘Crew Dossier: Jake Sisko’ likewise sheds some light on the captains son. ‘Special Crew Dossier: Ezri Dax’ is the last crewmember to be given the once over and many of her great scenes are included in this feature.

'The Last Goodbyes' is a moving feature that shows some of the material from the final days of shooting. Ira Behr and co. walk us though most of it and is a nice, albeit short featurette.

The 'Morn Speaks' featurette’ and ‘DS9 Sketchbook’ wring out the set, along with the usual ‘Section 31’ hidden files and photo gallery. All in all a pretty decent last helping of features for this series.

Overall
Well there you have it, the journey is over, the curtains are drawn and I am both physically and mentally worn out from the entire experience. It’s like watching an emotionally demanding movie or series such as, for example, the Lord of the Rings trilogy. You couldn’t watch it everyday; it’s far too demanding and dense to watch over and over in one straight run. Though the rewards are significant, you have to be psyched for something such as that. Indeed, as exhausted as I am, I would do it all over again in an instant, given time.

Still, what I have done I will never forget and writing about the series as well as watching it has made it all the more special for me personally. I have said it before and will say it again, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is my all time #1 show and it probably will be for a long time to come. If you haven’t already, I urge you to take my reviews under advisement and buy these boxed sets. I feel I have been thorough and as non-bias a possible, and any fan of Star Trek and indeed science fiction should absolutely love this series.  

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As for this final season of Deep Space Nine, well, it goes without saying that it goes out with a bang, very much how it started actually. The episodes are awesome, especially the last ten and the DVD presentation, while not perfect or as polished as the fifth and sixth set, is a great package nonetheless.

If you have enjoyed reading these reviews as much as I have writing them, then I have some good news folks; the journey is not entirely over. As Deep Space Nine bowed, I decided to start a whole new marathon specially catered for sci-fi buffs and Trekkies alike. Yes, you’ve probably guessed it by now, I am indeed starting the entire series of Star Trek: Voyager. Look out for the first season review soon.

Once again, I'd thank all those who have followed this journey, it was a pleasure and a real treat and you, the readers, have made it all the more magical.


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