Star Trek-A-Day (Day 4) April 24th, 2013. Deep Space 9: Far Beyond the Stars

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I had never seen a frame of footage from Deep Space 9 before so I’m not really sure if it was just this episode or the series in general, but this really didn’t feel like an episode of Star Trek. That’s not really a negative comment directed at Star Trek nor this series. It’s just an observation that came to me at the completion of this marvelous episode. Again, I know that I’m cherry picking the best of the best episodes from all five series and that every DS9 episode won’t be like this one, but man was this episode great.
It’s a little ironic that I decided to watch this episode immediately following TNG’s ‘The Inner Light.’ I read a small description of the episodes yet I really had no idea how much they had in common with the stories featuring the two series’ respective captain’s living other lives while never leaving the Enterprise or space station DS9. The Inner Light was very serious and is a great episode in its own right. I’m not going to take away anything from that episode, but with ‘Far Beyond the Stars’ it really feels like we were watching something else entirely.
I had mentioned how ‘The Inner Light’ was such a wonderful showcase for Patrick Stewart, well Avery Brooks as Captain Sisko even put the amazing Stewart to shame. Seeing a lot of Brooks in interviews, he always comes off a little kooky or like a loose cannon, well watching him in this episode, I definitely see some traces of that; only this time it’s more controlled. Brooks plays Sisko and his alter ego Benny Hill with so much emotion and with such a wounded soul. Captain Sisko is definitely the most tortured soul out of all the Starfleet Captains, with maybe Captain Pike the only one that really comes close. Sisko has experienced tremendous loss during his time at Starfleet so you can certainly relate with the idea of him wanting to leave Starfleet.
I’m a huge fan of stories when someone is attempting to sell a lie or another life to our protagonist. We saw it with ‘The Inner Light’ and even Smallville did an episode like it during its sixth season. The world that was created for Sisko however was something else entirely. The stakes felt way higher and since we were dealing with racism, it felt that much more real. Even though it did deal with racism in a way that really no other Star Trek series had dealt with it before, it never at all got cute or felt like we were being hit over the head with the message. Perhaps in any other Star Trek series, Benny Hill’s stories would have actually been published. Deep Space 9 however, did not go there and instead Hill is sent to the loony bin.
Several things surprised me throughout the episode. First off, initially I had no idea that Michael Dorn/Worf was the one playing the baseball player. It didn’t really hit me until Sisko saw that small flash of Worf. It was such a cool idea to show the rest of the cast in Sisko’s images, all sans make-up and all retaining much of what makes them who they are. I was also super surprised by the uttering of the n-word. It made things feel way more authentic and felt more real than what I had just saw in the Jackie Robinson film, 42. The police brutality was felt more and seeing Sisko having to hide who he was in hopes of not alienating white readers was pretty horrible. Sisko’s melt down at the end was such a great case of method acting and Avery Brooks really goes all out. You just know you’re watching something special.
What I loved the most about the episode was Sisko’s little speech to his father at the end of the episode. The idea of what’s real and what’s a dream is such an interesting premise. I love his, “What if this space station, Deep Space 9, what if all of this is really the dream and Benny Hill is the real one?” I love the idea , however, I’m not such a fan of the idea that all of Star Trek could just be a dream or an idea that Benny Hill came up with. Brooks adds so much gravitas and that sense of hurt to his character and to the show which really takes things to a brand new level. The episode has really sold me on the show, on Captain Sisko and on Avery Brooks. I can’t wait to watch more and can only hope that they are at least as half as good as ‘Far Beyond the Stars.’ What an excellent title.

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