|Attention, Bajoran workers!|
Most of all, though, I like its approach to serialized storytelling. I like how it mixes standalone episodes with "arc" ones, and that the arcs get heavier and heavier the further you get into the series, but every episode still feels like it has a distinct middle and end. We've also been watching Downton Abbey off-and-on the past couple years (usually more "off" than "on"), and one thing that drives me nuts about that show is how little ever seems to happen in any one episode. Series 1 was mostly standalones, but once the Great War kicks in, it feels like Julian Fellowes just has three story ideas per series and stretches them out artificially across a run of thirteen episodes.
Deep Space Nine gives you a lot of standalones, and I like that: you get to know these people and the place they live in. There is a status quo, so when it gets upset, it actually means something. Some shows never have a status quo, and I think that makes it difficult to get invested-- everything is always changing, seemingly arbitrarily. But in Deep Space Nine, you know the way their world works, so when everything changes you feel it as much as the characters do. The last couple episodes of Season 5 and first couple of Season 6 really drive this home.
the key to immortality
This means the beginning of Season 6 feels like a completely different show... in a good way. Sisko and company are in a war show, and in a different one than we saw during the Federation's brief S4-5 war with the Klingons. They're being forced to approach things a completely different way: one of the things I really liked about "Rocks and Shoals" was that those normal Starfleet methods of problem-solving don't apply anymore in wartime. In a previous season they might have found a way out of the situation they were in with little violence; now that war has broken out, they have no choice but to kill the enemy.
|a different kind of Mirror Kira|
Rewatching with my wife at my side has been instructive: so much of S1-5 were known to me before I saw them, that it's great to get a feel for what the twists and turns were like to someone who, for example, didn't realize Eddington would turn out to be a traitor. (It's pretty fascinating, actually; Season 3 is always making you suspicious of Eddington, but then Season 4 backs off from that by making him just be there in lots of episodes, and then all of a sudden BAM! My wife declared that "For the Cause" was the first time she hadn't been suspicious of him.)