Hero Analysis: Benjamin Sisko
When Benjamin Sisko is first introduced, he is the First Officer onboard USS Saratoga. In the episode Emissary, which is the first episode of Deep Space 9, the Saratoga is one of the ships engaging the Borg, a species interested in assimilation of species into their collective, at Wolf 359. This battle results in the saucer section of the Saratoga being blown off and the loss of Sisko’s wife. He then takes a job at Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards, where he focuses on his new job and raising his son on his own.
Things change when he reluctantly accepts a job at a newly freed space station in Bajoran space. This space station, Deep Space 9, is considered a low-level job and Sisko is a man may not be expected much of by Star Fleet. Sisko even mentions to Captain Jean-Luc Picard that he may be looking for civilian work. He seems like a man in search of meaning in his life, but without any sort of spiritual connection. The tragedy of the loss of his wife has marred him.
This is especially made clear in the same episode when he travels through a newly discovered wormhole and meets what the Bajorans call the Prophets. The Prophets probe his mind in attempt to figure what he is and what is capable of. They go through his past memories and as they figure out that he is not threat to them, they ask him why he exists in the memory of his wife’s death. He seems like a broken man in the way that they keep bringing them back to it and only his son is what gives him meaning. Sisko is living in the past.
This is very personal to me as I have spent the last years reliving a few memories that have defined my later life which has stunted my ability to move on. The idea that someone can relive the same memory over and over again to see how he or she might have fixed it, saved someone or prevented it from happening. Trying to fix what is known to us seems easier than facing a future where you would need to find some new purpose. This can be done through religion, mindfulness or creative work. There are many roads to Rome.
This is exactly what Sisko does. He finds a new role in being the Emissary for the Prophets. That role is something he takes on with vigor and it gives him a new purpose in life, even though he does not seem to be a religious man himself. In fact, the religious side of him developed as time goes by. In the episode Battle Lines, the religious leader of Bajor, Kai Opaka, wants to travel through the wormhole, which is called the Celestial Temple by the Bajorans. On the other side the ship gets shot down and Opaka gets trapped on the surface of a prison planet. This episode shows more of the slowly emerging spiritual role of Sisko as Opaka almost passes the baton to Sisko as the spiritual leader of the Bajoran.
In the two-part episode The Maquis, Sisko gets dragged into the more political cloak-and-dagger game of the region, when a Cardassian freighter gets blown up while leaving DS9. He has to team up with Gul Dukat, the former Cardassian commander of Terok Nor, which is the old name of DS9. Dukat is the foil of Sisko, just as loyal to his kind, but more willing to use extreme measures to ensure his ends comes to pass. This ties in what Jordan Peterson often talks about. Listening to your enemies, because they may tell you something useful, but they can also bring out the best in you. At the end of the arc, Sisko resolves the conflict peacefully, annoying Gul Dukat in the process.
With this Benjamin Sisko shows that he has not fallen quite as far as Dukat and that he is still a member of Starfleet, but his journey is still not over, and in the episode The Die is Cast he shows that he is willing to risk both himself and his crew to rescue one (or two if you count Garak) member of his station crew. The combined Cardassian and Romulan fleet invades the Gamma Quadrant in an attempt kill off the founders of the Dominion. To do this they kidnap Odo, DS9’s chief of security and a shapeshifter, and try to get him to reveal what he knows of his race, which is the same as the founders. Sisko asks his crew to volunteer to rescue Odo when they fear that the fleet might get wiped out by the superior Jem’Hadar, the warrior race of the Domion. The gamble pays off and they manage to rescue both Odo and Garak.
In The Pale Moonlight is perhaps the most defining episode of Benjamin Sisko. Garak, the local tailor and sometimes spy, convinces Sisko that something is needed to break the nonaggression pact between Garak’s people, the Cardassians, and the Romulans. This is because of the power of the Romulans would be needed to wipe out the Dominion’s presence in the Alpha Quadrant. The Dominion has become allied with Cardassia, but it is more an occupation than an alliance. They invited a Romulan Senator to pass on a faked recording where the Cardassians are plotting to destroy the Romulans. The Senator however discovers that the recording is faked and he leaves DS9. When the Senator’s shuttle is later destroyed, Sisko confronts Garak, but Garak explains that it was the only way for the pact between the two powers to collapse. Sisko is now clearly dragged into the cloak and dagger game.
This journey continues through several episodes and after the collapse of the Cardassian Empire, he finally realizes the cost of his actions. At the end of the series he is accepted into the Celstial Temple as the Emissary by the Prophets, but the question still remains regarding Sisko. Did he really move on from his loss or did he risk so many things in a hope of destroying himself? I do think it is the first as he did not seem to be happy with his own actions.
I hope this analysis was interesting because it was a little harder for me to find a thread to focus on in television character. Please leave a comment if you have anything that you disagree with or if you found some of my ideas interesting.