I didn’t love Avery Brooks in season one of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. He felt almost lost in the material. Like he couldn’t find his barrings at first. Then, it started to come together. All the wondrous glory that Brooks had in him started to come out more and more. His ability to deliver dialogue became the show’s defining characteristic and being able to play off of a great actor like Marc Alaimo (Gul Dukat), really showcased what Brooks was all about.
That’s when you start really see his value as a main player. This isn’t a new idea. James T. Krik’s best scenes were his debates with Spock. Same with Kathryn Janeway’s relationship with Chakotay. Star Trek has never been built around one actor having a cinematic performance. This is a stage play, where chemistry and interpersonal relationships drive the plot.
That’s exactly what Brooks was able to get out of Benjamin Sisko. As the series progressed his relationships took such a stronghold in the show. So much so that it became the anchor of the reason to watch for me. Whether it was his parental bond with his son Jake, his combative but loving relationship with Kira Nerys, or his very deep connection with Dax and its symbiotic host Jadzia. Each relationship not only defined Sisko as a character but defined large segments of the show as a whole.
Sisko also had strong couplings with the villains of the show, but not the traditional villain types. Mostly in Star Trek, you get villains who seek to blow things up. Yet, Sisko got more devious villains. You had the charming yet fascist Gul Dukat, the exploitative Kai Winn or his bitter resentment of Starfleet allies turned terrorist rivals in Cal Hudson and Michael Eddington.
The Maquis and their conflict with Starfleet was another avenue that the show and Brooks nailed. Those plots brought out the real Sisko, the man who’d do anything to protect his family, his crew, and his Starfleet. Even if it meant burning a piece of his soul in the process.