Today marks Father’s Day. A day we celebrate fathers. On Mother’s Day, I wrote about Lwaxana Troi. There have been a lot of good mom on Star Trek, but I went with her. Today, I want to talk about not just one of the best sci-fi dads of all time, but I think a relationship that may be one of the best representations of a good father and son relationship that’s ever been on TV. That’s, of course, the one between Jake and Ben Sisko.
We first meet them when Jake Sisko, played by Cirroc Lofton, is eleven and upset about having to move to DS9 with then Commander Sisko, played by Avery Brooks. What makes the characters’ relationship is not the tension. There’s no underlying issue they’re trying to overcome. Jake’s not angry that Ben abandoned him. He doesn’t blame him for the loss of his mother. He’s a dude who loves his dad. And his dad loves him.
There are disagreements. Ben get’s plenty angry at Jake on multiple occasions but that’s now what defines their characters. You see Jake evolve as a character and repeatedly assert himself as an adult. But the love is always there. That’s something that you rarely get to see on TV. Especially in a sci-fi drama. This was something that was important to Avery Brooks. He’s said in interviews that showing a positive depiction of a black man and his son was important to him. He lamented that he hadn’t seen nearly enough of that, so bringing that part of their relationship was an essential part of the character. It shows in the acting. And how well he succeeded shows in how the character is still viewed all these years later.
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What’s most important about their relationship is not their disagreements. That’s all too often a cheap narrative device used to define father-son relationships. Especially in sci-fi. Sometimes it’s done well. Captain and Admiral Adama in Battlestar Galactica is a good example, but it’s done so often that it can ring hollow.
Sometimes he gets in trouble. And that’s okay. That’s what sons do. And sometimes all a dad can do is trust him and hope for the best.
Especially as the show went on. When Jake decides to stay on DS9 after the Dominion take over, Ben is, understandably upset. He knows that his son has made a pretty risky choice and he’s pissed off. But he accepts his decision eventually. Ben doesn’t care for the influence Jake’s friend Nog has on him but relents trusting his son to make the right decisions. Sometimes he does. Sometimes he gets in trouble. And that’s okay. That’s what sons do. And sometimes all a dad can do is trust him and hope for the best.
Throughout the loss of Jake’s mother. Navigating the new and unwelcome changes that come with moving to Deep Space 9. Even going through a prolonged and brutal war. Whenever Ben and Jake are together they’re always there for each other. Even when things are at their absolute bleakest, you’re more likely to find the two of them having dinner together than you are fighting or doing anything else.
So happy Father’s Day, Captain Sisko. You were a great example to all the dads out there. Thanks!