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Dominion War

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Dominion War

Dominion War
Part of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Date 2373-2375
Location Primarily the Alpha and Gamma Quadrants
Result Conditional Dominion surrender

Federation Alliance



Supported by:

Commanders and leaders
United Federation of Planets: Benjamin Sisko
Admiral Ross
Klingon Empire: Martok
Cardassian Union: Damar (2375)

Dominion: Weyoun
Female Changeling
Cardassian Union: Gul Dukat (2373-2374)
Damar (2374-2375)
Legate Broca (2375)

Breen Confederacy: Thot Gor
1500+ Klingon ships holding front lines near the end of the war, rest unknown 30,000+ ships near the end of the war
Casualties and losses
Unknown Unknown At least 7 million Cardassian soldiers
800 million Cardassians civilians killed by Dominion

The Dominion War is an extended plot concept developed in several story arcs of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, an American science-fiction television series produced by Paramount Pictures. In the fictional Star Trek universe, the Dominion War is a conflict between the forces of the Dominion, Cardassian Union and, later, the Breen Confederacy against the Alpha Quadrant alliance of the United Federation of Planets, Klingon Empire and, later, the Romulan Star Empire.

The primary setting of much of the series is aboard the fictional Starfleet controlled space station Deep Space Nine, located above the planet Bajor. In the series this space station was moved so it was situated near a wormhole which provided instantaneous travel to the Gamma Quadrant, a region on the other side of the galaxy. During season two of Deep Space Nine, the Dominion is introduced. Over the course of season two and three, more information about the Dominion is introduced, until the conflict escalated in season four, particularly in the episodes Homefront and Paradise Lost. The Dominion War arcs present themes that challenge the values of the characters in a manner not attempted in earlier series of Star Trek, and have received a mixed critical response. Developing the plot of the Dominion War also altered how the series was scripted, shifting the emphasis from an episodic to a serialized narrative format.


  • Synopsis 1
  • Conception 2
  • Development 3
    • Season Two: Introducing the Dominion 3.1
    • Season Three: Introducing the Founders 3.2
    • Season Four: Founder infiltration and political destabilization 3.3
    • Season Five: build-up to all-out war 3.4
    • Season Six: the war rages 3.5
    • Season Seven: end of the war 3.6
  • Reception 4
    • Former cast members and production staff 4.1
    • Critical reception 4.2
    • Academic perspectives 4.3
  • Spin-off media 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


In "Emissary", the pilot episode, the United Federation of Planets dispatches Commander Benjamin Sisko to take command of the space station Deep Space Nine.[1] The station is located near a stable wormhole located in the Alpha Quadrant, which leads to the Gamma Quadrant of the Milky Way Galaxy, nearly 70,000 light years away. Deep Space Nine is moved from the orbit of the planet Bajor to the Alpha Quadrant terminus of the wormhole to lay claim. Starships begin to enter the wormhole to explore, colonize and trade. The crews on the ships were unaware that they are entering a region of space controlled by the Dominion, a union of planets ordered by force and intimidation.[1]

Deep Space Nine's Ferengi bartender, Quark, makes contact with the Vorta, a Dominion member race. However, he and Sisko are captured by the Jem'Hadar, the soldiers of the Dominion. The Alpha Quadrant group is rescued, but the Federation ship USS Odyssey is lost in the attempt to return home, and colonies are destroyed as a warning not to re-enter Dominion space. Later, it is revealed that a race of shapeshifters, known as "Founders", are the rulers of the Dominion, and that Constable Odo is of this species. Members of the Cardassian Obsidian Order and the Romulan Tal Shiar intelligence factions plan to eradicate the Founders and their homeworld, but are themselves deceived by a shapeshifter and ambushed.

The Founders initiate a campaign of sabotage and terror against the Alpha Quadrant, which leaves many governments fearful of infiltrators, who are able to assume any physical form. When Earth is attacked, a band of Starfleet officers illegally attempt to impose martial law at the heart of the Federation. The Klingon Empire invades Cardassia in the inaccurate assumption that the Dominion is influencing its government. Later, the Federation suspects the Klingon Chancellor, Gowron, of being a shapeshifter. This turned out to be a ploy by the Dominion so that the Federation would assassinate Gowron and further intensify the rift between the Federation and Klingons due to the Klingon invasion of Cardassia. During the assassination attempt, the Federation realized that Klingon General Martok was the actual shapeshifter. It would turn out that Martok, Dr. Julian Bashir and others have been held captive at a prison camp in the Gamma Quadrant while shapeshifters took their place in the Alpha Quadrant. Shortly before their escape, the Dominion succeeds in urging the Cardassians to enter an alliance during the confusion, establishing its presence in the Alpha Quadrant. Realizing the danger, the Federation and Klingons join forces to slow the Dominion build-up, co-operating to plant a minefield across the entrance to the Bajoran Wormhole as a rescued Martok is assigned as a permanent Klingon commander at Deep Space Nine.

Nevertheless, the Dominion begins to advance, and seizes control of Deep Space Nine. After a brief retreat, Sisko executes a successful return to the space station, but the wider conflict continues. More setbacks hinder the Alpha Quadrant alliance as additional races, such as the Breen, offer their support to the Dominion. Questionable tactics are adopted in the search for victory, including the dissemination of an engineered virus among the Founders by a shadow Federation group called Section 31. A ruse involving a murder is used to enlist the help of the Romulans against the Dominion, and dissatisfactions lead the Cardassian leader, Legate Damar, to launch a successful resistance movement against his former Dominion comrades. Eventually, the Dominion is forced back to the planet Cardassia Prime where it is cut off from reinforcements. The female shapeshifter in command informs Odo that they would fight to the end to prevent any counter-attack by the alliance into the Gamma Quadrant. Odo assures her that the Federation would not do that while the other parties would be too weak to. After linking together, Odo cures the female shapeshifter of the biological disease afflicting her and the other Founders with the antidote he received and the Dominion agrees to surrender.


In 2002, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine producer Ira Steven Behr stated that unlike some plots, which originated from a single small idea, the creation of the Dominion villain and story arc was "very much thought out."[2] Behr said that the earliest mention of the Dominion was purposely planted in the comic Season Two Ferengi episode, "Rules of Acquisition", to leave the audience with an impression of "how important could it be?" It was decided that the Gamma Quadrant would need an ambience that would distinguish it from the Alpha Quadrant. The producers wanted to portray the region as something other than "uncharted space", and avoid imitating the adventures of Star Trek: The Next Generation with another series of plots focusing primarily on themes of exploration.[3] After 18 months of Deep Space Nine exposition, the producers decided to characterize The Dominion as "anti-Federation". Writer and script editor Robert Hewitt Wolfe has explained that this move also distinguished Deep Space Nine from its successor series, Star Trek: Voyager, which stars a lost Federation ship traversing the chaotic and divided Delta Quadrant of the Milky Way.[2]

Instead of introducing one alien race, three were introduced simultaneously: the Changelings, the Vorta and the Jem'Hadar. These three were intended to represent the front of an ancient civilization coupled together by fear, to contrast with the unity of the Federation enabled by bonds of friendship. Behr, Wolfe, writer Peter Allan Fields and Jim Crocker attended meetings to develop the concepts of these species and found general inspiration in Isaac Asimov's Foundation Trilogy novels.[4] Executive producer Michael Piller suggested the idea that the Founders of the Dominion be the race to which Odo belongs, toward the end of Season Two production, and discovered that Behr and Wolfe had also discussed this possibility.[2][5] This character had been introduced with no knowledge of his true origins. Piller asserts the endeavor to create a new villain was one of the most difficult tasks he undertook in his work on Star Trek.[2] Wolfe perceives similarities between the fictional Founders and the Roman Empire, in that the species first uses diplomacy, deception and cultural imperialism to achieve their aims before ultimately resorting to coercion.[6]

According to writer Ronald D. Moore, co-creator Rick Berman originally intended the Dominion War to be the focus of three or four episodes, but Behr intended to expand the plotline all along. Moore has stated that Berman sometimes questioned the writing staff about the degree of violence included in some episodes. Berman also expressed concern about the portrayal of long-term consequences for the main characters, such as the loss of a character's leg in Season Seven. The writers argued in favor of the increased violence, asserting that it was justified in view of the plotlines detailing the progression of the Dominion War.[7] Piller supported the idea that the repercussions of past episodes should continue to be felt, and that characters should "learn that actions have consequences", even if such consequences were to lead off in directions Piller had not originally imagined when Deep Space Nine remained in the conceptual stages.[8][9] Moore has stated that the filming of Star Trek: Voyager occupied more of Berman and Piller's time from Deep Space Nine's third season, which allowed Behr to defend his creative decisions more successfully.[10] Following the completion of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the writing staff could dedicate more time to working on scripts for Deep Space Nine. The writers admired the scripting techniques used for Star Trek: The Original Series: Moore cites the 1967 episode "Errand of Mercy" as a strong influence on his treatment of the Dominion War.[11]


The plot of the Dominion War is presented in a succession of shorter story arcs which span Seasons Two through Seven of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and are linked editorially by the decisions of the producers and writers.

Season Two: Introducing the Dominion

After conceptual meetings, the writers began to introduce allusions to the Dominion into episodes of Season Two. The intention was to gradually increase the audience's awareness that there was a large and pervasive polity at work behind apparently innocuous events in the Gamma Quadrant. The Dominion and its methods are revealed across three episodes of the season.[12]

"Rules of Acquisition" marks the first mention of the Dominion,[13] when the Ferengi character Quark hears whispers of a powerful union of civilizations in the Gamma Quadrant with which he may be able to trade. Dialogue that seems inconsequential within the framework of a light-hearted episode was planned to ultimately create major change in the dynamics of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.[2]

As Alpha Quadrant races begin to colonize planets in the Gamma Quadrant and their presence becomes known, disturbing reports indicate that what the Dominion cannot attain through trade is forcibly seized. These reports are justified in "Sanctuary", when a large fleet of Skrreea ships appears in the Alpha Quadrant, in search of a new homeworld in light of the conquest of their original planet by Dominion forces.[14] The actions of the Dominion are contrasted with the reactions of the regular characters to the Skrreea refugees. Executive producer Michael Piller has suggested that the plot evoked real-world debate surrounding Proposition 187, a Californian law concerning the rights of illegal aliens.[15]

The finale of Season Two, "The Jem'Hadar", permitted writer Robert Hewitt Wolfe to surprise the audience and challenge their opinions concerning the safety of the Federation and Starfleet, when the USS Odyssey, a Galaxy-class starship similar to the USS Enterprise from Star Trek: The Next Generation, is outfought and destroyed.[2][16] The Dominion is revealed to be a ruthless empire, using "carrot and stick" methods to control others, with three distinct races performing crucial roles.[17] The Dominion's Jem'Hadar shock troops capture Commander Sisko, Quark, and an alien named Eris, who is later identified as a double agent and one of the Vorta, the Dominion's negotiators and administrators. The Jem'Hadar send a Jem'Hadar representative to Deep Space Nine with the message that no further intrusions into Dominion space will be tolerated and to hand Major Kira Nerys a list of colonies and ships already eliminated for trespassing. The Federation dispatches a rescue team that returns Sisko's group to the station, but, while retreating back to the Alpha Quadrant, a Jem'Hadar ship launches a kamikaze run against the Odyssey, resulting in the destruction of both ships.[18]

Season Three: Introducing the Founders

With the third season, Ronald D. Moore and others started to write regularly for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine following the completion of Star Trek: The Next Generation.[10] Robert Hewitt Wolfe joined Ira Steven Behr in scripting episodes developing the Dominion plotline, beginning with "The Search". Behr became full executive producer at the midpoint of the season, after the departure of Michael Piller.

In the two-part season opener, "The Search", Commander Sisko returns from Starfleet Headquarters on Earth with a Defiant-class prototype starship, the USS Defiant.[19] Executive producer Rick Berman had to be convinced that the introduction of the Defiant would not distract the audience from the main starship of the latest Star Trek production, Star Trek: Voyager. The decision was made on the basis that a ship was needed to provide an avenue for stories set off the Deep Space Nine space station and that such a vessel would need the potential to oppose the Jem'Hadar, who had already been portrayed obliterating large ships. Audience research had also suggested that young male viewers were hoping for more action-oriented episodes with greater jeopardy.[20]

Season Three's Dominion stories explore the connection between Odo and his people, and their conflicting attitudes toward "solid" sentient lifeforms. The Defiant enters the Gamma Quadrant on a peace mission to locate the Founders in "The Search", and it is discovered that the Founders are of the same race as Odo. Despite a burning desire to return to his home, he finds his people's philosophy – that which you can control cannot hurt you – abhorrent, and he asks to return to the Alpha Quadrant.[21] The Founders, led by a character identified only as the "Female Changeling", acquiesce to Odo's request in the hope that he will ultimately rejoin them.[19][22]

Another facet to the Dominion was evaluated more closely in Season Three – the Jem'Hadar. In "The Abandoned", a juvenile Jem'Hadar is found alone and matures under Odo's guidance. The crew of Deep Space Nine witness the Jem'Hadar's difficulty in adjusting to a society with rules different from those of his native culture. Avery Brooks, directing this episode, has emphasized the story as a metaphor for African-American adolescents in the 20th century and their struggles with addiction and violence, their integration into American society, and how their upbringing might contribute to these problems.[23] Brooks ensured that Odo continued to support the maturing Jem'Hadar despite the alien's regression to Dominion custom, as a commentary on how modern society should engage with young people.[24]


External links

  1. ^ a b
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  6. ^ Robert Hewitt Wolfe: "[The Founders, like the Roman Empire] would rather take over someplace without firing a shot, but they're going to take over ..."
  7. ^ a b
  8. ^ Michael Piller: A Bold New Beginning Featurette [Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Season One DVD Special Features].
  9. ^ a b
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  16. ^ Robert Hewitt Wolfe: "We wanted to show the long-term fans how dangerous these guys were. And it's my belief that if that had been the Enterprise and not the Odyssey, and [Jean-Luc] Picard rather than Keogh in command, it still wouldn't have survived."
  17. ^ Interview with Robert Hewitt Wolfe: The Birth of the Dominion and Beyond Documentary [Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Season Three DVD Special Features]. Paramount, ASIN: B00008KA5A, June 3, 1993: "The Gamma Quadrant isn't empty, it isn't just a bunch of planets. It's bound together by the Dominion, a very, very tough, very smart, very old civilization, run by the mysterious Founders, who are experts in genetic engineering, and who turn out to be Odo's people, the shapeshifters. They then go and engineer these slave races that do their bidding. Essentially, the two main slave races were the 'carrot' and the 'stick'. The carrot being the Vorta, who would come to your planet and say, 'Hey, you're nice people, here's some M16s and some popcorn, and whatever else you want, baby: alcohol, fire-water? All you have to do is sign this little contract and we'll make you cool.' Then there's the Jem'Hadar. So the Vorta say, 'Oh, you don't want to play ball? Then meet these guys. They're gonna kick your asses.'"
  18. ^
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  21. ^ Act 5, Scene 74. Writer: Ira Steven Behr. Story: Robert Hewitt Wolfe & Ira Steven Behr. July 18, 1994. Female Changeling: "What you can control can't hurt you." Odo: "How can you justify the deaths of so many people?" Female Changeling: "The solids have always been a threat to us, that's the only justification we need."
  22. ^
  23. ^ Avery Brooks: "For me, it was very much a story about young brown men, and, to some extent, a story about a society that is responsible for the creation of a generation of young men who are feared, who are addicted, who are potential killers ..."
  24. ^ Avery Brooks: "Odo knows that this is still a child, and for him to give up and just let the boy go – what kind of a statement would we be making? That these people are expendable, that we don't really care about them? Those are the hard questions to answer."
  25. ^
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  28. ^ Ira Steven Behr: "A shapeshifter in that episode says something like, 'In the future, all we have to worry about is the Klingons and the Federation, and that won't be for much longer.' I'd said to Ron at the time, 'You know, we could do a whole show about that ...' But the earth didn't move. Nothing shook."
  29. ^ Ira Steven Behr: "Rick [Berman] said, 'The Klingons – that's the way to go. Everyone loves the Klingons. And if we bring in the Klingons, why don't we bring back Worf?'"
  30. ^ Ira Steven Behr: "We only recovered our equilibrium in the middle of the fifth season, following another meeting with the studio in which we said, 'How about making the Klingons our friends again? You'll see them as much as you want, but we want to get back to the Dominion.' While I like having brought Worf onto the show ... I think it had a fairly substantial impact ... It took us way off from where we'd intended to go and it was slow going getting back."
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  36. ^ Act 5, Scene 50. Writers: Ira Steven Behr & Robert Hewitt Wolfe. Story: Ronald D. Moore. Revised November 14, 1995. Leyton: "It's not over! I have enough loyal officers to make a fight of it!" Sisko: "Who will you fight? Starfleet? The Federation? Don't you see, Admiral! You're fighting the wrong war! And as for your loyal officers, Benteen's already abandoned you. And she was closer to you than anyone. You've lost! Don't make anyone else pay for your mistakes." Leyton: "I hope ... you're not the one making the mistake."
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  42. ^ Ira Steven Behr: "Season Four threw us for a loop, with the whole Klingon thing, and bringing Worf into the show. So the seminal thing about our fifth season opener was that we wanted to get back on the track we'd anticipated being on a year earlier. We were moving back toward making the shapeshifters and the Dominion our enemies. Not the Klingons. I didn't want to have the Klingons as our enemies ... We wanted to let people know that we didn't switch horse in midstream. So "Apocalypse Rising" was an important episode. By having that shapeshifter in there, we were saying, 'Season Four wasn't a mistake. It wasn't the Klingons turning against us. There was a shapeshifter behind it all along.' And that's why we had to do that episode."
  43. ^
  44. ^ : "The initial thinking was that we would end Season Five on a cliffhanger with the Federation plunged into war, and then we would come back and do a multi-episode arc, and the war would last that long."
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  47. ^ Ronald D. Moore: "We broke the six episodes together, but as everybody went off and worked on writing them, things would start to change or shift. It became a much more interactive process than it ever had been before. Because each detail had a domino effect. We'd had that happen before, to a certain extent, but we'd never done this many episodes with this many continuing storylines as a single piece. We weren't used to the rhythm. It was definitely challenging!"
  48. ^ Hans Beimler: "It changed the dynamic of the way we work and it changed the kind of involvement that everybody had. Because René Echevarria or Ronald D. Moore would go away to work on an episode, and discover something in the writing process that was going to change everybody else's script. One of them would be coming back all the time saying, 'You know what guys? We need to re-think.' And then we'd call in all the troops and re-think the storyline."
  49. ^ Ira Steven Behr: "The guys were coming in saying, 'What are you writing?' 'Are we gonna do this?' 'Where's Kira at right now?' 'What's Odo doing?' There were a lot of phone calls, a lot of running into each other's offices, a lot of 'Should this go before this?' and 'Wait a second – does this track?' The fact is, the show isn't geared to work like that."
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  53. ^ Ira Steven Behr: "... They [the Prophets] wouldn't have done this for just anyone. This was the man going out into the wilderness and demanding his god to interfere, to do something, for crying out loud. The corporeal characters had done so much in this episode; surely, they'd earned the help of the gods."
  54. ^
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  57. ^ Act Five, Scene 43. Writers: Bradley Thompson & David Weddle. January 14, 1998. Revised January 29, 1998. Bashir: "I can't believe the Federation condones this kind of activity." Odo: "Personally, I find it hard to believe they wouldn't. Every other great power has a unit like Section 31. The Romulans have the Tal Shiar, the Cardassians had the Obsidian Order ..." Bashir: "But what does that say about us? When push comes to shove, are we willing to sacrifice our principles in order to survive?" Sisko: "I wish I had an answer for you, Doctor."
  58. ^ Ronald D. Moore: "We wanted a moment that would really galvanize Sisko ... so we needed to have a familiar world fall [in the war] ..."
  59. ^ Act Five, Scene 45. Writer: Michael Taylor. Uncredited contribution: Ronald D. Moore. Story: Peter Allan Fields. January 26, 1998. Revised February 11, 1998. Sisko: "So ... I lied. I cheated. I bribed men to cover the crimes of other men. I am an accessory to murder. But the most damning thing of all ... I think I can live with it. And if I had to do it all over again, I would. Garak was right about one thing, a guilty conscience is a small price to pay for the safety of the Alpha Quadrant. So I will learn to live with it. Because I can live with it. I can live with it ..."
  60. ^ a b
  61. ^ Interview with Hans Beimler, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, Pocket Books, 2000: "It showed us the possibilities and the excitement that could be garnered, and in the end, we liked it so much that we decided to do the ten-episode arc at the end of the series."
  62. ^ Rick Berman: "So rather than tie up every thread in the few hours, we thought, 'Why not look at the last third of the season as a continuing, building conclusion to the seven-year story?'"
  63. ^ Ira Steven Behr: "The show wasn't geared to be what we kept turning it into ... We had to kind of do it and hope it was going to work out ... So we didn't lay it out at the beginning of the year. We planned then as we were doing them. That allowed us to find great stuff, but occasionally it put us into situations where we were saying to each other, 'Well, what do you want to do with —?' 'I dunno, what do you want to do with them?'"
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  71. ^ Act Five, Scenes 67-71. Writers: Hans Beimler & Ira Steven Behr. February 3, 1999. Revised February 23, 1999. Damar: "Seven million of our brave soldiers have given their lives to fulfill our part of the agreement, and what has the Dominion done in return? Nothing. We've gained no new territories. In fact, our influence throughout the quadrant has diminished. And to make matters worse we are no longer masters in our own home. Travel anywhere on Cardassia and what do you find? Jem'Hadar, Vorta, and now Breen. Instead of the invaders we have become the invaded. Our allies have conquered us without firing a single shot. Well, no longer."
  72. ^
  73. ^
  74. ^ Interview with Ira Steven Behr, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, Pocket Books, 2000: "We needed someone [Gul Rusot] who would highlight Damar's strength, by putting Damar in a position where he'd have to hold this tiger by the tail and keep him in line."
  75. ^ a b
  76. ^ a b
  77. ^ Act 1, Scenes 20-1. Writers: René Echevarria & Ronald D. Moore. Story: Peter Allan Fields. Revised April 9, 1998. Odo: "Don't split hairs with me, doctor. They used me as an instrument to try to commit genocide. We may be at war with the Founders, but that's no excuse." Bashir: "I completely agree." Sisko: "I don't condone what Section 31 did, but the Founders started this war, not us. Giving them the cure would only strengthen their hand. And we can't do that – not when there are millions of men and women out there putting their lives on the line every day." Odo: "Interesting, isn't it? The Federation claims to abhor Section 31's tactics, but when they need their dirty work done they look the other way. It's a tidy little arrangement, wouldn't you say?"
  78. ^
  79. ^ Ira Steven Behr: "I could see their point. Deep Space Nine is bigger than just the Dominion War. So we split it. We had a two-hour episode, which allowed us to give the audience the big battle scenes and all that stuff, but then say, 'Hey, this is the final episode, and we have a lot of other stuff to take care of too!' ... I wanted to tie up all the loose ends. I didn't want this show to end like so many TV shows do, with all this open-ended 'Whatever happened to these characters?' I mean, obviously these characters go off and have some kind of life, but in terms of this series, I wanted to bring some closure, it was important to me."
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  93. ^ Back cover.
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See also

A Call to Arms and The Sacrifice of Angels are novelizations of two episodes of Deep Space Nine dealing with the Cardassian/Dominion occupation of the station.

Deep Space Nine: Dominion Wars is a real-time tactics computer game based on the depictions of the Dominion War published by Simon & Schuster Interactive in 2001.[100]

A number of novels, novelizations and short-story collections have been written to chronicle events of the Dominion War outside of canon:

Spin-off media

While television commentators and fans have noted associations with the Yugoslav Wars in the 1990s, some academics have noted parallels between the portrayal of the Dominion War and other historical conflicts. Michele and Duncan Barrett identify a number of themes relating to World War I in Star Trek, especially "in the bleak and costly alliances and endless casualty sheets that characterize the protracted Dominion War in DS9."[70]

In contrast, Robert Jewett and John Shelton Lawrence, authors of The Myth of the American Superhero, argue that the Dominion War plotlines in Deep Space Nine continue Star Trek's portrayal of "humanistic militarism", in that conflict is justified for the sake of humanity.[94] Criticism is levelled at Paramount's tie-in merchandising, in particular the slogan for the computer game Deep Space Nine: Dominion Wars, which is considered to emphasize the combat element at the expense of other themes.[95]

Academics have noted how the Dominion War plotlines have explored the human psyche as much as outer space. Lincoln Geraghty praises the ending to the story arc and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as a series, and believes this is indicative of how the series manipulates the Star Trek ethos, identifying a theme of ambiguity as part of its continuing narrative.[91] Karin Blair, writing in 1997 at the time of Season Five, felt that the series was reflecting trends for American culture to re-consider its place in the global community.[92] Michele and Duncan Barrett comment on the "declining faith in rationalism that haunts Deep Space Nine" in their book Star Trek: The Human Frontier.[93]

Academic perspectives

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was nominated at the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films for a Saturn Award, from 1997 to 2000, in Best Genre Cable or Syndicated Series. It was nominated in technical and artistic categories at the Emmys in each season. Cinescape columnist Andrew Hershberger remarked in 2003 on the lack of critical success for science-fiction television: "Nobody cool would dare vote for a sci-fi show [for Outstanding Drama Series] that didn't have [Stanley] Kubrick or Chris Carter's name attached to it ... If Deep Space Nine was involved, you'd hear some real complaining on this end."[90]

Owen Williams, writing for Empire magazine, opines that Star Trek as a whole has been slow to adapt and develop to new trends, while singling out Deep Space Nine for special mention: "... arguably even the ace DS9 only got good in response to Babylon 5 ..."[88] Adam Smith, chief features writer for Empire commented in a 2009 article that, "It's hard to choose the best episodes of DS9 without mentioning the stories involving the Dominion War." He reported "The Search", "In the Pale Moonlight" and "Far Beyond the Stars" as the features staff's favorite episodes for their portrayal of darker themes and creating a change in direction.[89]

In 2008, Nader Elhefnawy, contributor to The Internet Review of Science Fiction, asserted that, while less appreciated than other science-fiction series of the 1990s, Deep Space Nine had developed an interesting cast of characters, "thanks to the Dominion War, much of the richest and most exciting drama in the Star Trek franchise's history."[87]

In a 1999 edition of the Australian science-fiction magazine Frontier, Anthony Leong suggested that Deep Space Nine had not initially been envisaged to include a war Klingons and the Dominion on Deep Space Nine foreseen by its creators back in the first season? Of course not ... these events developed over time through the input of its writing staff."[86]

Cynthia Littleton, writing for Variety in 1998, summarized the ratings the series was receiving at the end of its sixth season: "Deep Space Nine may not go out on as high a Nielsen note as Next Generation, which wrapped a hugely successful run in 1994, but DS9 is hardly floundering. The show, which bowed in January 1993, consistently ranks among the top three first-run syndication hours in household and demographic ratings."[85]

John J. O'Connor, writing for The New York Times in January 1993, noted that pre-release advertisements for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine offered "a new Star Trek era" and added, "Welcome to the Dark Side. The determinedly optimistic Mr. Roddenberry was partial to plots that made uplifting moral points. The new creators and executive producers, Rick Berman and Michael Piller, are shooting, so to speak, for something more ambivalent, less perfect."[83] In September 1996, before the start of Season Four, O'Connor was not sure the series was tackling contemporary themes adequately. He wrote, "Inevitably, though, there is an element of exhaustion seeping through the concept. With the Cold War over, perhaps the Roddenberry optimism seems merely naive as headlines bring news of murderous divisions between Serbs and Muslims, Kurds and Turks, Israelis and Palestinians, Irish Catholics and Protestants, and so on across an increasingly depressing globe. Star Trek offered a vision that leapt 300 years into the future. For too many people today, three years would seem a stretch."[84]

Critical reception

Roddenberry doubted that a series concentrating on themes aside from space exploration could endure, and voiced displeasure with initial concepts for Deep Space Nine presented to him in 1991. Rick Berman has explained that Roddenberry, although terminally ill, had given him his blessing for its development, but that he had no opportunity to discuss any of the ideas with Roddenberry.[60]

In a 2007 interview with iF magazine, Hikaru Sulu in Star Trek: The Original Series and its films, described Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as representing the "polar opposite" of Gene Roddenberry's vision and philosophy of the future.[81] Writer D. C. Fontana has stated in an interview that Roddenberry would have admired the later series for its dark themes, referring to Roddenberry's military service record in World War II.[82]

Former cast members and production staff


The Treaty of Bajor is signed aboard Deep Space Nine in the Season Seven finale, "What You Leave Behind, Part II". The conclusion to the Dominion War arc formed the resolution to Deep Space Nine as a series, and a moment for the production staff to settle the destinies of the main characters. Berman and Behr agreed with Paramount that the final episode of the series should concentrate on human drama rather than the endgame of the Dominion War.[79] Moore opines the production staff succeeded in ensuring the Dominion War acted as a means of deepening characterization.[80] Although further plots would have been scripted had Deep Space Nine continued into an eighth season, Behr accepted the resolution of the Dominion War at the end of Season Seven.[9]

Allusions to genocide contrast with ethical discussion concerning the engineered "Founders disease" and a potential cure. In "Extreme Measures", the characters of Dr. Bashir and Chief O'Brien locate a treatment inside the mind of Section 31 agent Luther Sloan. A moral debate ensues on what constitutes genocide. While Bashir supports offering a cure to the Founders, Sisko determines that the disease should be left to continue crippling the powerful opposition. However, in "The Dogs of War", Odo declares that this amounts to genocide of his species and is handed a treatment by Bashir.[77] In return for the Dominion's peaceful surrender, and the arrest of the Female Changeling on charges of war crimes, the Alpha Quadrant alliance permits Odo to heal the rest of his people.[78]

The relationship between Cardassians and Bajorans, former enemies turned allies, is charted in "Tacking Into the Wind", in which Damar and Kira's group abandon prejudice and collaborate to seize a Breen weapon.[73] Continuing into "The Dogs of War", Damar is forced to choose between his Cardassian comrades, stubborn in their beliefs, and the support of Kira and others whom he used to consider enemies.[74][75] As the tide turns against the Dominion, cut off from the Gamma Quadrant and without technological advantage, a last stand is prepared.[75] The Female Changeling orders the destruction of a metropolis to coerce the Cardassians back into line, but, instead, the Cardassian fleet defects, passing the advantage to the Alpha Quadrant alliance.[76] Consequently, an attempted extermination results in the deaths of 800 million Cardassians in a Dominion bombardment.[76]

The concept of resistance is re-opened in the context of Cardassia rather than Bajor. Legate Damar becomes more and more frustrated with the deadlocked conflict and his situation as a Dominion puppet.[71] As Cardassian military losses mount and Dominion control of Cardassia deepens, he becomes alcoholic and criticizes the Dominion's power. Damar was originally to be revealed as a double agent for the Federation, but Moore then suggested the slave revolt of Spartacus as a model.[72] Damar establishes an underground resistance movement, is branded a rebel, and goes into hiding. Kira, Garak, and Odo are sent as "technical advisors" to help him in "When It Rains...".[65]

The resurgence in the conflict provided opportunities to introduce problems such as post-conflict psychological trauma in "The Siege of AR-558"[68] and injury when the character of Nog undergoes leg amputation in "It's Only a Paper Moon".[69] Moore has said that the plot of this episode was agreed on after an "extended argument" between Behr and Deep Space Nine creator Rick Berman and that such discussions were a common occurrence when war casualties were considered.[7] Michele and Duncan Barrett perceive the allusions made to the traumas of World War I.[70]

Another opponent reveals itself in the Breen-Dominion pact enacted in "'Til Death Do Us Part". For "The Changing Face of Evil", writers Ira Steven Behr and Hans Beimler scripted a second strike against the Federation through a Breen assault on Earth. Later, with the addition of their new Breen allies, the Dominion retake the Chin'toka system, which sees the destruction of a number of Klingon, Romulan and Federation ships including the USS Defiant. Ronald D. Moore has stated: "We wanted to kill the Defiant as a statement on how tough the Breen were. We thought that would rock the characters and the audience." Behr explains that, "... the ship had become a character that had caught on in people's hearts and minds ... when the Defiant went down, that hurt."[66][67]

Characters face issues of genocide: in "Treachery, Faith, and the Great River", Constable Odo learns of the engineered virus that Section 31 has disseminated among the Founders,[64] and in "When It Rains..." that Section 31 has infected him to communicate the disease.[65] While Dr. Bashir supports providing the Founders with a cure, others are unconvinced.

Season Seven charts further dilemmas of conflict. Following the example of Season Six, the writers considered using an arc to conclude the multiple Dominion War threads in satisfying fashion, deciding that Star Trek: Deep Space Nine could not be concluded in one or two episodes alone.[61][62] A ten-episode arc was outlined to end Season Seven, the Dominion War, and all of Deep Space Nine, and more alterations were made as scripting progressed.[63]

Season Seven: end of the war

"In the Pale Moonlight" considers a similar moral dilemma when the Dominion captures an important Federation planet, Betazed, in a surprise attack. The subjugation of a planet familiar to the audience was used to heighten the sense of danger and the stakes for the characters.[58] In this episode, Sisko fuels a conspiracy intended to improve the war situation that ultimately results in the character of Elim Garak committing murder. In the context of the Dominion War, it is resolved to conceal the truth for the greater good.[55][59] Writer Michael Taylor has suggested, "It showed how Deep Space Nine could really stretch the Star Trek formula. It pushes the boundaries in a realistic way, because the decisions Sisko makes are the kinds of decisions that have to be made in war. They're for the greater good."[60]

Additionally, Season Six introduces Inquisition", the character of Dr. Bashir refuses to join Section 31 and reports its actions, but still ponders its significance: "But what would that say about us? That we're no different than our enemies? That when push comes to shove, we're willing to throw away our principles in order to survive?" Sisko replies, "I wish I had an answer for you."[56][57]

Although themes of death are apparent in Deep Space Nine's previous seasons, "Far Beyond the Stars" details how Sisko copes with the loss of a friend on a deeper psychological level. Experiencing visions of himself confronting racial discrimination against Black Americans in the 1950s, Sisko interprets useful parallels connected to his life on Deep Space Nine.[54] Sisko's response to the death toll of the Dominion War is re-examined in "In the Pale Moonlight".[55]

Fortune is reversed again in Season Six as Starfleet re-captures Deep Space Nine in the closing episodes of the opening arc, "Favor the Bold" and "Sacrifice of Angels". The USS Defiant stands alone in an attempt to hold back thousands of Dominion ships entering through the Wormhole. An intervention from the Wormhole Prophets, considered gods by the Bajorans, leads characters to ponder questions of faith and destiny.[51] Writer Hans Beimler wished to include mythological allusions, stating, "It's tragic hero stuff. A hero [Sisko] takes on things for others, but doesn't necessarily find any peace himself in the result."[52] Ira Steven Behr compares Sisko to the Biblical figure Moses, who fails to reach the Promised Land, and to the character of Ethan Edwards from the 1956 Western film The Searchers, who neglects to return to his family once his task is complete.[52] It was determined that this facet to Sisko's character justified the use of divine intervention to resolve the Dominion threat:[53] the fleet disappears and the Federation regains control of Deep Space Nine. The defeat costs Dukat his mental health, the life of his daughter, Tora Ziyal, and his status as Cardassian leader. Dukat is the first, but not the only, character in Season Six to face the pain of loss in conflict. Later, in the season six finale "Tears of the Prophets", Worf loses his wife Jadzia Dax when she is killed by Dukat.

The return of Gul Dukat as commander of the Dominion-controlled Deep Space Nine enabled the writers to contrast the space station of the audience's imagination to its incarnation as a former Cardassian mining facility. Former resistance fighter Major Kira is portrayed re-considering her ethical code as she sets out on the path to collaboration in "Rocks and Shoals", but the suicide of a Bajoran monk reminds her of the reality of her situation. Through "Rocks and Shoals", Deep Space Nine also revisits themes of war conduct as Sisko considers the morality of ambushing soldiers whom superiors have forsaken, only for events to force his hand.[50] In "A Time to Stand" and "Behind the Lines", the character of Odo is torn between the trust placed in him by Kira and the Bajorans, and his status as a Founder, when he joins Deep Space Nine's Dominion council and then neglects to help his comrades at a critical moment.

Rick Berman originally pictured that the Dominion War would last for a limited number of episodes before a prompt resolution.[44] Planning the arc, Ira Steven Behr, Ronald D. Moore, and the writers conceived a longer chain of first five, then six connected episodes, stretching from "A Time to Stand" to "Sacrifice of Angels", as themes increased demands for greater narrative development.[45][46] No writer had previously contributed to a series involving arcs of such length, and Moore, Behr, and novice scripting partner & supervising producer Hans Beimler have all stated that the writing process changed as a result, with more production collaboration and interaction than for earlier seasons of Deep Space Nine.[47][48][49] The potential for serialization that Rick Berman had perceived from the start of Deep Space Nine came to fruition as a result of the multiple plotlines accumulating to form the Dominion War.[45]

Season Six, charting the turmoil of the Dominion War, faces themes of the moral dilemmas of conflict. New plot elements permitted Star Trek: Deep Space Nine to examine themes in a manner unlike preceding Star Trek productions, as characters are forced to re-evaluate their beliefs. The production staff resolved to start the season with a six-episode arc, the first attempted in the history of the Star Trek franchise.

Season Six: the war rages

The Season Five finale, "Call to Arms", sets the scene for the commencement of full-scale war between the Dominion and the Federation during the final two seasons of Deep Space Nine. When the Dominion begins to send ships through the Wormhole, the Alpha Quadrant allies build a minefield at its mouth to cut off the supply line. The plot considers whether it is better for the planet Bajor to stand with their Federation friends or remain neutral in the coming war to protect themselves. Sisko persuades them that neutrality is the favorable course.[41]

In "In Purgatory's Shadow", it is discovered that Dr. Bashir has been kidnapped, imprisoned for weeks, and, in the interim, replaced by a Changeling. The shapeshifter double sabotages efforts to close the Wormhole and attempts to destroy the Bajoran sun, leaving the path open for Dominion fleets to enter the Alpha Quadrant.[38] In the following episode, "By Inferno's Light", the Cardassians become a member of the Dominion, and the Federation and Klingon Empire resolve to cast aside their mutual distrust and unite against the common threat. A garrison of Klingon troops is stationed on Deep Space Nine, under the command of the real General Martok, rescued from Dominion incarceration with Bashir.[39] In "Blaze of Glory", the characters confront the issue of ethnic cleansing when the Maquis – a resistance group of former Federation citizens now living in Cardassian space – are hunted down and ask for the assistance of Sisko, who used to criticize their methods.[40]

In the Season Five opener, "Apocalypse Rising", Odo discovers that his race is capable of deceiving their own kind, as well as "solids", when he is led to believe that Klingon Chancellor Gowron is a Changeling instead of the General, Martok. This plot was planned to shift the focus of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episodes back toward the struggle with the Dominion, which had been postponed in earlier production discussions with Paramount in favor of bringing Worf and a Klingon-based plotline into the series.[42][43]

In the fifth season, the Dominion invasion of the Alpha Quadrant gathers pace, appearing in episodes such as "Apocalypse Rising", "In Purgatory's Shadow", "By Inferno's Light", and "Blaze of Glory". Robert Hewitt Wolfe and Ira Steven Behr were again responsible for the major Season Five episodes concerning the Dominion.[38][39][40][41]

Season Five: build-up to all-out war

In "Homefront", the mistrust generated by the shapeshifters continues, with Captain Sisko suspecting his own father and recommending a state of emergency be declared on Earth.[34] In "Paradise Lost", some Starfleet officers go further and attempt to implement a coup d'état against the President of the Federation after it is revealed that shapeshifters have infiltrated Earth and committed a terrorist attack. This leads to an armed conflict between Starfleet vessels for the first time in a century, according to the Star Trek in-universe timeline.[35] Sisko is able to force Admiral Leyton to abandon his efforts to impose martial law by telling him: "You're fighting the wrong war!"[36] Behr's favorite line from the episode is "Paradise never seemed so well-armed", highlighting one of many occasions when Deep Space Nine would point out the practical issues revolving around maintaining the peaceful culture of the Federation and the moral or immoral choices made to achieve this ideal.[37]

In "Hippocratic Oath", the characters of Dr. Bashir and Chief O'Brien debate curing a group of Jem'Hadar soldiers of an addiction in the hope that they will rebel against the Dominion. There is discussion about the identity of the true enemy, the limits of duty, and whether soldiers are responsible for the actions of their leaders.[32] "To the Death" further investigates the themes of soldier duty and loyalty, and it contrasts the opposing rules of discipline that regulate Starfleet officers and Jem'Hadar troops. In addition, this episode introduced the Vorta representative Weyoun, who would become the most prominent Vorta in the rest of the series.[33]

Season Four begins with "The Way of the Warrior", which marks the arrival of Worf. This episode is one of a few in this season to explore themes of suspicion and paranoia and their effect upon societies and relationships, building up to "Homefront" and "Paradise Lost". After the events of "The Die is Cast", fear about the identities of the infiltrator shapeshifters leads the Klingons to suspect Dominion involvement in the new Cardassian civilian government. Their refusal to break off an invasion, even after Dominion involvement has been disproved, results in a military confrontation and diplomatic breakdown, and the Klingons attempt to seize Deep Space Nine. This seems to further the Founders' goal of the destabilization of the Alpha Quadrant as a prelude to their own invasion.[31]

Rick Berman, Robert Hewitt Wolfe, and Ira Steven Behr originally expected to open Season Four with the two-part adventure, postponed from the end of Season Three, that ultimately became "Homefront" and "Paradise Lost". Paramount determined that the writers needed to come up with a much different opener to satisfy the audience but without giving specific instructions. The production staff decided to begin a plotline based around suspicions between the Federation and the Klingons, finally leading to conflict between the former allies, which was inspired by a line from the Season Three episode "The Die is Cast".[28] With the Klingons set to reappear, Berman suggested the return of a character from Star Trek: The Next Generation – the Klingon Worf – as a permanent officer aboard Deep Space Nine.[29] While both the new plot and character offered interesting possibilities, the producers felt that their vision for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was put off-course for almost one year.[30]

Season Four: Founder infiltration and political destabilization

The Season Three finale turned out to differ significantly from the production staff's conceptual vision. Paramount did not favor the idea of a season-end cliffhanger which would have revealed the presence of shapeshifters on Earth. To continue the theme of paranoia about shapeshifters and the Dominion, "The Adversary" was instead scripted to set up a hunt for a Founder aboard the Defiant, incorporating some narrative elements at first intended to commence Season Four, while offering a more self-contained plot and using existing sets to reduce production costs.[27]


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