It’s not a unique phenomenon – to experience old things differently after initiation to parenthood. Nor is it new to me – I’m pretty sure I’ve commented about this on Twitter at some point over the past couple of years, if not on the blog. But man, it’s a hell of a thing, to be so moved by something like a campy scifi TV show.
I recently started watching through Star Trek: Deep Space Nine again, for maybe the third time. Every few years I get the urge to watch through one of the old series, and being that I’ve already done Voyager and TNG over the past couple of years, it was time.
DS9 occupies a weird space in Star Trek for me. Many fans claim it as their favorite series, often citing the dark Dominion storyline as particularly appealing. For me it falls behind Voyager (I know, I’m a weirdo) and TNG somewhere, but I still quite enjoy it. The writers and cast did a commendable job in striking a balance between the old Star Trek camp (as seen in the fillery Ferengi Adventures episodes) and a more modern-toned grittiness.
Maybe DS9 isn’t higher up on my favorites list because while I liked individual characters, the cast as a whole just never really did it for me for whatever reason. Still, in my rewatch I’m gaining a new appreciation for some of DS9’s denizens. In particular, as you may have guessed, I’m finding a lot to like about Ben Sisko and his son, Jake. Or more specifically, their relationship.
Sure, DS9 isn’t the first Star Trek to prominently feature a father-son, or even parent-child relationship. And it wasn’t the first to do it well. TNG had a rather well crafted one, as a matter of fact. Data and Lal only got one episode, though, unfortunately.
(Boom – suck it, Wesley!)
Perhaps one of the main reasons I appreciate and am more affected by the Siskos than the Crushers, aside from superior acting, is the father-son part. It’s naturally easier for me to put myself in Sisko’s shoes, being a father to a son myself. It could also just be that Benjamin and Jake are more likable as characters than Beverly or Wesley. Whether or not that’s a function of acting or writing, I’m not sure. Though as an aside, it is amusing to see Avery Brooks play such a down-to-earth, normal seeming guy in Ben Sisko when Brooks is such a nut in real life.
Now Crusher may be a good mother, but I guess I never really felt that sold on her relationship with her son.
With Sisko, by contrast, it’s immediately clear what a good and devoted father he is. He’s affectionate, patient, and interested. Ben and Jake talk, and they spend quality time together.
Incidentally, I was also struck by a Brometheus tweet the other day:
It resonated with me because I ask myself sometimes if I’m doing enough with my son. When I get home in the evening, tired from a long day of work behind me and more work ahead of me after he goes to bed, am I taking the lazy way out when I just sit on the couch and watch him playing with his trains? Am I going to regret it someday, that I wasn’t more engaged? I’d rather not find out. I need to redouble my efforts.
But back to DS9.
Of course it’s only a fiction, but I think it speaks to reality. You can see that Sisko did things right in how devoted Jake is to him. Of course as Jake ages, both father and son change. Eventually he makes a best friend and no longer orbits Dad. He becomes interested in girls. He develops a passion for writing. Ben has to learn to let go, but he supports his son through each of these steps, actively. And they still take trips and do activities together as time permits.
It’s a hell of a thing. I think The Visitor is probably the closest a TV show has made me come to crying. It’s just a TV show! I’m not choking up – you are!
At any rate, I am feeling man feels and gah!