Emissary (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)
|Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episodes|
|Episode nos.||Season 1|
Episodes 1 and 2
|Directed by||David Carson|
|Teleplay by||Michael Piller|
|Featured music||Dennis McCarthy|
|Production codes||721 |
401 and 402
|Original air date||January 4, 1993|
"Emissary" is the series premiere of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. It was aired as a single two-hour episode on its initial broadcast, but was divided into two one-hour episodes when it aired in reruns.
Set in the 24th century, the series follows the adventures on Deep Space Nine, a space station located near the planet Bajor, as the Bajorans recover from a brutal decades-long occupation by the imperialistic Cardassians. In this premiere episode, Commander Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks) and his son Jake (Cirroc Lofton) arrive with Starfleet personnel on the station shortly after Cardassian occupation forces have departed. While working to repair the station and assist the Bajoran people, Sisko discovers an unprecedented wormhole connecting Bajor to the distant, unexplored Gamma Quadrant of the galaxy and the mysterious, incorporeal beings that inhabit it.
During the Battle of Wolf 359, Starfleet is under attack by the alien hive mind known as the Borg, which has temporarily assimilated the human Starfleet captain Jean-Luc Picard. The battle is a rout, and Commander Benjamin Sisko orders his crew to abandon ship. He rushes through the crumbling ship to find his son Jake and wife Jennifer. He saves Jake but finds Jennifer is already dead, and is forced to leave her behind as the ship is destroyed.
Three years later, Sisko is assigned to command space station Deep Space Nine in orbit of the planet Bajor. Bajor has won independence from Cardassian occupation and invited Starfleet to assist in their recovery, much to the disgust of Major Kira Nerys, the station's Bajoran first officer. Meanwhile, Sisko is contemplating resigning from Starfleet. He receives orders from Captain Jean-Luc Picard—he is to prepare Bajor for membership in the United Federation of Planets—and can barely contain his hostility toward the man he blames for Jennifer's death.
Sisko visits the Bajoran spiritual leader Kai Opaka, who shows him an orb that the Bajorans believe was sent by their gods, "the Prophets". Opaka calls Sisko the "Emissary" and tells him he is destined to discover the Prophets' home, the Celestial Temple. Sisko's science officer, Lt. Jadzia Dax, determines that the orb is connected to mysterious phenomena in the nearby Denorios Belt.
Sisko receives an unwelcome visit from Gul Dukat, the Cardassian former commander of the station; Dukat unsubtly makes it clear he's looking for the orb Sisko was given. Seeking to investigate the Denorios Belt without the Cardassians following, Sisko concocts a ruse that allows the station's security chief, Odo, to temporarily disable Dukat's warship.
Dax and Sisko investigate the Denorios Belt in a runabout, discovering a wormhole leading to the Gamma Quadrant on the opposite side of the galaxy. As they attempt to return, Dax is teleported back to Deep Space Nine, while Sisko remains in the wormhole.
Kira, recognizing the wormhole's value, orders the station moved to its mouth. Dukat enters the wormhole, but the station's staff are unable to follow, as the wormhole seemingly disappears after Dukat enters it. Cardassian ships arrive to investigate Dukat's disappearance, assuming he has been killed. Disbelieving Kira's claims about the wormhole, they order Kira to surrender DS9 or be destroyed. Kira bluffs that the station is heavily armed.
Sisko encounters entities in the wormhole who have no understanding of corporeal and linear existence. When Dukat's ship attempts to pass through, they close the wormhole, irritated by the presence of corporeal lifeforms. When Sisko attempts to explain linear time, the entities point out that he continually returns to the moment of Jennifer's death. Sisko realizes he is "living in the past" by not moving on from his grief.
The Cardassians attack Deep Space Nine, but as Kira prepares to surrender, the wormhole opens up, with Sisko's runabout towing Dukat's ship from it, and the Cardassians stop their attack. Sisko reveals that he negotiated with the wormhole aliens to allow ships to pass through. Later, Sisko informs Picard that he plans to remain in Starfleet, letting go of his anger and making peace with Picard, who wishes him luck.
"Emissary" first aired on January 4, 1993. It received a Nielsen rating of 18.8 percent, placing first in its time slot and becoming the highest rated episode of the season. According to Variety, "Emissary" was the highest-rated syndicated series premiere in history at the time of its broadcast. It achieved the top spots in number of television markets on its debut.
Tom Bierbaum of Variety called the script a mixed bag, "too complex and ambitious at times but generally admirable in its mix of deft characterization, old-fashioned space opera and sophisticated science-fiction concepts."
In 2012, Zack Handlen of The A.V. Club pointed out there were several significant differences compared to previous Star Trek shows. For instance, he noted the primary protagonist was an "angry man" with a tragic backstory, and commended the fact that the main characters were a more "disparate ensemble" with conflicting viewpoints, neither of which were featured in past installments in the franchise. Handlen reacted positively to the new characters, calling them "fascinating individuals", while complaining of a few instances of poor acting and writing. He disliked the scenes involving the magical orbs and wormhole aliens, finding them unnecessary. Handlen concluded his review by saying that, of the Star Trek pilots, this was "the one most rife with possibility" he had seen.
In 2013, Keith DeCandido reviewed "Emissary" for Tor.com, writing that while the episode served its purpose to set up elements of the series, "as a story, it doesn’t have much life to it". He called the characters the episode's most compelling aspect, saying "it's a refreshing change to have characters with a bit more acid in them". He gave the episode a score of six out of ten.
In 2015, Geek.com recommended this episode as "essential watching" for their abbreviated Star Trek: Deep Space Nine binge-watching guide, along with "Past Prologue", "Vortex", "Battle Lines", "Duet", and "In the Hands of the Prophets" from season one.
In 2018, CBR ranked the "Emissary" two-part episode as the 19th best multi-episode story of Star Trek overall. The Hollywood Reporter ranked "Emissary" of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as the 4th best presentation of the series. In 2017, Gamespot ranked this as the 2nd best pilot episode of a Star Trek series.
SciFiNow ranked this one of the top ten episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine in 2020, describing it as an "excellent pilot" establishing the character of Benjamin Sisko as "a man with a deep sense of duty and grief".
"Emissary" was nominated for four Emmy Awards. It won in the category "Outstanding Individual Achievement in Special Visual Effects" and was also nominated in the categories "Outstanding Individual Achievement in Art Direction for a Series", "Outstanding Individual Achievement in Sound Editing for a Series", and "Outstanding Individual Achievement in Sound Mixing for a Drama Series". It also received Emmy nominations for Best Sound Editing and Sound Mixing. Composer Dennis McCarthy also won for his Outstanding Individual Achievement in main title music.
Broadcast and streaming
It was aired as 2-hour-long pilot in broadcast syndication. On its debut, "Emissary" received a lot of attention, including interviews with cast and production staff and a feature on Entertainment Tonight.
The two-hour-long version of the episode has a production code of 721. It may also be aired as two roughly 45-minute episodes, with production codes 401 and 402. The 2 hour long version was premiered as a television movie, and on later airings it was separated into "Emissary, Part I" and "Emissary, Part II".
On the launch of the Paramount+ streaming service, on March 4, 2021, a free Star Trek marathon was presented, featuring the pilots of the various Star Trek television series, including "Emissary". The marathon started at 7 am PT/10 am ET and was Live streamed on the YouTube internet video platform on that day, with "Emissary" airing at 9:59 am PT / 12:59 pm ET.
Home video releases
The first home media release of the episode was on VHS cassette in the United States on September 10, 1996. It was part of the initial launch of cassettes by Paramount Home Video which saw the first six episodes released and was on a single episode cassette. It was released on DVD as part of the season one box set on June 3, 2003.
"Emissary" parts I and II were released on September 24, 1996 on LaserDisc in the United States. Released by Parmount Home Video, the double sided 12 inch optical disc had a run time of 87 minutes.
On February 8, 1997, this episode was released on LaserDisc in Japan as part of the half-season box set 1st Season Vol.1. This included episodes from "Emissary" to "Move Along Home" with both English and Japanese audio tracks.
"Emissary" was released on PAL-format LaserDisc in the United Kingdom as part of The Pilots collection, in April 1996. This included the color version of "The Cage", "Where No Man Has Gone Before", "Encounter at Farpoint", "Emissary", and "Caretaker" with a total runtime of 379 minutes.
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