Star Trek: DS9 Broke TNG’s Season Finale Tradition For The Better – News Today

Star Trek: DS9 Broke TNG’s Season Finale Tradition For The Better

TNG’s Locutus cliffhanger changed the game for Star Trek, but DS9 took a very different approach to the season finale from as far back as season 1.

Sisko and the cast of Star Trek: TNG

Summary

  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s season finales broke away from the cliffhanger tradition established by Star Trek: The Next Generation.
  • The season 1 finale of DS9 focused on providing a satisfying conclusion to the first chapter of the show, rather than relying on a big cliffhanger.
  • DS9 season finales aimed to shake things up and set the characters on a new path, rather than rely on gimmicky cliffhangers.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine broke one of Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s long-standing season finale traditions, improving the spinoff show in the process. DS9 premiered in January 1993, almost three years after TNG‘s game-changing season 3 finale, “The Best of Both Worlds.” Following the huge success of the cliffhanger ending which revealed that Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) had become Locutus of Borg, TNG‘s season finales were all built around big cliffhangers. Right from the start, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was conceived as a very different show to TNG, and this difference in approach extended to the season finales.

The original plan for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine‘s season 1 finale was to have DS9 crossover with Star Trek: The Next Generation. Rick Berman rightly vetoed the idea of Picard and the crew of the USS Enterprise-D helping Commander Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks) to repel a Cardassian invasion, which would surely have undermined the TNG spinoff show at a crucial moment. Instead, DS9 producer Michael Piller conceived of a different type of season finale that was vastly different from TNG, and also reflected Deep Space Nine‘s more serialized approach to storytelling.

Gene Roddenberry and Commander Sisko in DS9
Roddenberry Would Have Approved Of Star Trek: DS9’s Season 1 Finale

We’ll never know if Gene Roddenberry would approve of Star Trek: DS9, but the season 1 finale perfectly embodies his vision of infinite diversity.

DS9 Season 1 Broke A Star Trek: TNG Season Finale Tradition

Sisko And Picard in front of DS9

By 1993, Star Trek: The Next Generation would end each season with a cliffhanger, but Star Trek: Deep Space Nine season 1 did something very different. While DS9 season 1, episode 20, “In the Hands of the Prophets”, does set up the political and religious upheaval that opens season 2, it has a clearly defined ending. This was at the behest of DS9 producer Michael Piller, who wanted to end season 1 with an episode that would serve as a bookend to the pilot, “Emissary.” Robert Hewitt Wolfe fulfilled that brief perfectly, by revisiting Sisko’s newfound religious status, and revealing that he, and some Bajorans, are grappling with the implications of his meeting with the Prophets.

Rather than end on a huge cliffhanger, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine‘s season 1 finale ends with a quiet moment between Sisko and Major Kira Nerys (Nana Visitor). Kira and Sisko reflect on the events of DS9 season 1, and Kira wryly states that she doesn’t see the Starfleet commander as “the devil.” It’s a scene that brings the first chapter of Deep Space Nine‘s story to a satisfying close rather than rely on a big cliffhanger, or what Ira Steven Behr once called a “gimmick” in the book, Captains’ Log Supplemental: The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages. Across all seven seasons, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine rejected the cliffhanger ending tradition of Star Trek: The Next Generation in favor of chapter endings, in the style of “In the Hands of the Prophets.”

How DS9 Season 1 Finales Differed From TNG & Voyager

Star Trek picard the next generation sisko deep space nine janeway

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine season finales do have cliffhangers, but generally they’re on a much larger scale than those of Star Trek: The Next Generation or Voyager. For example, DS9 season 5 ends with the Cardassians retaking the space station. If “Call to Arms” was a TNG or Voyager finale, the story would be resolved in next season’s premiere. Instead, Sisko and the crew don’t get the station back until DS9 season 6, episode 6, “Sacrifice of Angels.” DS9 season finales don’t just break a story in two, they get the lead characters to where they need to be for the story to continue.

That’s something that was established in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine‘s season 1 finale, which established the political and religious conflict on Bajor. It’s an approach that was reflective of DS9‘s refusal to hit Star Trek‘s episodic reset button. Events in DS9 had far-reaching consequences, and so gimmicky, easily resolvable cliffhangers wouldn’t be appropriate. Instead, the end of each season acted like the end of a chapter in a novel, shaking things up and setting its characters on a new path. It’s something that continues to this day in modern Star Trek, particularly in Star Trek: Discovery, showing that Star Trek: Deep Space Nine remains hugely influential.

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