Also one thing I've been mulling over - I don't really understand why it's so hard for the Dominion to take over the Federation. They seem to have superior technology and soldiers and they have changelings. And it seems like many were in powerful positions and could have done something to really cripple the Federation before they were "discovered." It's kind of hard to believe the Federation is giving them that much trouble. Not to mention all this weirdness with the Prophets. They seem like such a deus ex machina device, and I'm not really liking how Sisko is relying so much on them. From a TV franchise that traditionally celebrated the agency of mankind, it's disappointing to see so much of mankind's failures and weaknesses displayed and now instead of finding a way to triumph, they need the wormhole aliens to help them out. Some of the darker aspects explored in the failings of humankind are realistic and important to explore, but I watch Star Trek to see how mankind overcomes these things and also I prefer to be uplifted more in the TV shows I watch. So just personally I know this series is not the best for me.
But anyways, on to my top 5!
5. One Little Ship
Dax, O'Brien and Bashir and a runabout are shrunk down in size to complete a particular mission. While they are miniature, the Defiant is taken over by some Jem Hadar, and the little ship makes it's way on the Defiant and does it's best to help Sisko take back the ship. At first I thought I wouldn't particularly like this episode because the whole shrinking thing seemed a bit too silly, but on the whole I really enjoyed how they managed to wrest control from the Jem Hadar and this was a nicely entertaining story.
4. In the Pale Moonlight
Sisko is recording a personal log about his attempt to bring the Romulans into the war, and his story is a downward spiral into moral gray areas. This is a beautifully written episode, with a very difficult situation. I love that Sisko is telling the story and the focus is absolutely on him and the deepening consequences of the choices he makes. I did at times feel a bit unsympathetic with his decisions, despite the real tragedy of what was motivating him. But this episode really emphasized that no one is perfect, and it was very interesting to see that explored with the Captain. It was also nice to see more of Garak in this - he's the perfect person to lead Sisko down that path.
3. Statistical Probabilities
Bashir volunteers to help a group of genetically enhanced humans acclimate to society. At first I didn't have high hopes for this episode, until it's revealed these 'mutants' as they call themselves, can read people's body language, and analyze data - making them an important tool in figuring out what the Dominion is planning. Being able to read body language has always been a fascinating talent to me and there is an espionage aspect to this story that I found fun to explore. Although of course it went dark very fast when they realize that the Dominion would ultimately win the war. But I do like that the point is that no one can predict everything. The group of mutants are also a fun, ragtag collection of oddities, so that also made this an enjoyable episode for me.
2. His Way
Odo decides to enlist the aid of Bashir's holodeck program Vic Fontaine to help him find out how he can woo Major Kira. Nobody should be surprised this is in my top 5 given how much I have been rooting for Odo and Kira. I'm glad that Odo is finally doing something about his feelings instead of just making sad eyes all the time. Although he is true to form here in that, he still needs the extra push from Kira. The introduction of Vic Fontaine was great too - I loved the musical aspect of this episode, and Kira killed it doing the song Fever! The ending of course cemented my love for the episode - the cuts to people's reactions to the kiss, was perfect! This was the episode I looked up more information on and got spoiled for Odo's future, but I had to know more about the making of it!
1. Far Beyond the Stars
Sisko is having visions where he's a science fiction writer in the fifties. Such a simple description but I don't even know where to begin with this episode! It's cutting and relevant social commentary, while also being a mind-bending take on the importance of stories and the life they can take on. It's also just fun to see some of the actors out of costume and makeup and in a period setting no less! The most impactful aspect of this episode is the social commentary with Sisko being blatantly discriminated against. It's so sad to think that while things have improved, there are still such prejudices abounding in our time, when we could be past that. When we should be past it. It was awful to see Sisko dealing with the realities of prejudice and how impotent he felt when it was everywhere and there was nothing he could do about it. And yet he still tried through his stories. Which mirrors the importance of Star Trek to tell the stories they are telling of the ways humanity can be better. That's beautiful right? When it comes down to the final season and I pick my favorite episode of Deep Space Nine this one will be a strong contender.