I'll admit--this is a selfish thread, a place to put down my thoughts about my favorite Star Trek show and one of the defining television series of my life. I hope you get something out of it, but mostly, this is a place to express some thoughts.
Deep Space Nine begins with a humaniarian mission to protect and nurture the Bajorans by reinforcing them with Federation might. The Bajorans have been in a 50-year Occupation to the Cardassians. Looking snake-like, they are the enemies of the show. Deep Space Nine is a former Ore Processing Plant built by the Cardassians that enslaved the Bajorans. Fighting for their freedom, the Bajorans turn Terok Nor into a space port. It begins as a gateway to Bajor, but later becomes the outpost at the mouth of a wormhole. It is full of ghosts, contradictions, and rebirth.
The Bajorans are a deeply spiritual people. Religion is a constant theme throughout this show. How it affects life, how we can draw strength from it, the politics of the religious institutions--all of this is tackled throughout the show. The Bajoran Prophecies have told of the discovery of the celestial temple, which turns out to be a wormhole to an unexplored quadrant of space, where there gods live. The man who discovers this place will be called "The Emissary" and Commander Benjamin Sisko is that man. He is revered now by the people who hopes to one day include in the Federation. This creates tension with Sisko's mission.
War, and the effects of it, is also a theme of this series. Major Kira Nerys, the space station's highest-ranking Bajoran, was once a resistence fighter against the Cardassians. Benjamin Sisko lost his wife in the Borg's seige on earth. Chief O'Brien, the station's Chief Engineer, has fought the Cardassians. Each of these people is damaged in some way by that war. The threat of war comes to everyone in the Alpha Quadrant when the Dominion threatens those coming through the wormhole. War is brought to the Cardassians when the Klingons invade them thinking they have been overtaken by the founders of the Dominion. The Cardassians join the Dominion to conquer the Maquis, a seperatist Federation group, and the Klingons. The foothold in the Alpha Quadrant forces the Federation to declare war on the Dominion.
Subjagation and slavery is another theme. The Cardassians and the Bajorans. The Klingons and the Cardassians. The structure of the Dominion is a caste system. The Founders, shape-shifters, have been hurt by solids.
Not quite fitting in, Deep Space Nine becomes a refuge for the outcasts of society, a shade of gray. Garak is a former Cardassian spy that was cast out of the society. The former leader of Terok Nor, Dukat's half-bajoran bastard child is housed. Odo is the security chief that rejects his people and finds a home there. Worf is a Klingon raised by humans, serves in their uniform, and develops his own sense of what Klingon honor is. Quark has served the Cardassians, Bajorans, and the Dominion in his time owning a bar on the station. This is an electic, multi-cultural mix of races.
I love this show and hope to put more thoughts down later...