As a pilot for Deep Space Nine I think “Emissary” does a pretty good job. The beginning of the episode is very powerful and action packed and takes the viewer to one of the most memorable moments in Star Trek up until this episode, by showing us a bit of the battle at Wolf 359. This sequence is perfectly realized and the effects was for me at that time first rate. I still find that the image of a shocked Sisko watching the final moments of U.S.S. Saratoga from the escape pod shooting away from the ship is one of Deep Space Nine’s greatest moments. Kudos to the SFX team for this sequence.
Arriving at Deep Space Nine we get to meet the strong-willed Major Kira Nerys (Nana Visitor) who I think makes a very good first impression. Being opposed to the affiliation with the United Federation of Planets is both logical given Bajor’s past experiences and presents us with a potential tension between the commanding officer and his second from the beginning. This is one of the first indications that everything is not perfect in the world of Deep Space Nine. Moreover the scene indicates that political themes (as well as religious) will form an important undercurrent in the show.
Except for the beginning another high-point to me in this episode is the meeting between Sisko and Picard on the Enterprise. This scene is very strong and especially Stewart delivers a top-notch performance (as usual) when Sisko tells him that they met in battle at Wolf 359. Picard is clearly shaken by this and it takes him some time to find his footing again. I also think that this scene risks a lot by having the ‘leading man’ of Deep Space Nine having being somewhat hostile towards Picard which at this point in time was Treks leading captain and extremely popular with the fans. The tension between Sisko and Picard here is also a indication that everything is not black and white in Deep Space Nine – that a lot of what is to come will be within the ‘grey’ area in between. Something I always felt was missing from trek and therefore a welcome addition to the universe.
Another standout scene was the meeting between Sisko and the wormhole aliens which I think is well written and executed as well. Sisko's attempt at explaining linear time while at the same time being stuck in the past himself is neat concept, and the scene is well executed. The lightning, music and sound comes together well in these scenes and gives it a very theatrical and somewhat dream-like feel.
Of course the episode ends with some action as we see the Cardassians take on the station, and a neat resolution as the commander rides in with Gul Dukat in tow and saves the day. The conclusion is perhaps a little too ‘neat’ for my taste. The Cardassians attacking the station is very serious and I don’t see that they would break off so easily just because Dukat tells them to. Especially given the power the wormhole can potentially come to represent.
I’m not sold on Avery Brooks' acting at this point either. In certain scenes he comes of as a little ‘wooden’ to me, and he has a manner and a way of talking I’ve always felt takes a lot of getting used to. This is a minor point though, as every series usually takes some time before the actors become comfortable with their roles.