Benjamin Sisko

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Benjamin Lafayette Sisko
BenSisko.jpg
SpeciesHuman
Home planetEarth
(New Orleans, Louisiana)
AffiliationUnited Federation of Planets
Starfleet
PostingFormer commanding officer, Deep Space Nine and USS Defiant
RankCommander,
Captain
Portrayed byAvery Brooks
 
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Benjamin Lafayette Sisko
BenSisko.jpg
SpeciesHuman
Home planetEarth
(New Orleans, Louisiana)
AffiliationUnited Federation of Planets
Starfleet
PostingFormer commanding officer, Deep Space Nine and USS Defiant
RankCommander,
Captain
Portrayed byAvery Brooks

Benjamin Lafayette Sisko, played by Avery Brooks, is the main character of the television series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

Character history[edit]

Early life and career[edit]

Born in 2332 in New Orleans, Louisiana, Benjamin is the son of Joseph Sisko, the chef and owner of the restaurant "Sisko's Creole Kitchen," "Sisko's" for short. His birth mother was a human woman named Sarah. However, Sarah was actually possessed by one of the Bajoran Prophets (the life-forms that exist inside the Bajoran wormhole), who manipulated her into marrying Joseph and conceiving Benjamin. Sarah and Joseph were happily married until Sarah disappeared two days after Ben's first birthday, when the life-form left her body. She died in an accident several years later. Joseph eventually met and married another woman who went on to raise Benjamin as her own son. Benjamin remained unaware of these events until well into his adulthood and long after he had otherwise made contact with the Bajoran Prophets.[1] Ben has a sister named Judith, and at least two brothers.

Sisko entered Starfleet Academy in 2350. During his sophomore year, he was in a field-study assignment on Starbase 137. He met a woman named Jennifer in Babylon, New York, on Gilgo Beach, shortly after graduating from the Academy. The two eventually wed and had a son named Jake.[2]

As a Starfleet officer coming up through the ranks, Sisko was mentored by Curzon Dax, a joined Trill serving as Federation ambassador to the Klingon Empire, when the two were stationed aboard the USS Livingston early in Sisko's career. The symbiotic nature of the joined Trill becomes a significant aspect to Sisko's later relationships with his DS9 science officer Jadzia Dax and DS9 counselor Ezri Dax.

Sisko served aboard the USS Okinawa under Captain Leyton, who saw command potential in the young officer; Leyton promoted Sisko to Lieutenant Commander and made him his executive officer. It was during this assignment that Sisko and Leyton fought in the war between the Federation and the Tzenkethi.[3]

Sisko eventually transferred to the USS Saratoga as its first officer. In early 2367, the Saratoga was one of the 40 Starfleet vessels involved in the Battle of Wolf 359 against the Borg. In an attempt to gain knowledge about Starfleet defenses, the Borg assimilate Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the U.S.S. Enterprise, registry NCC-1701-D, creating a Borg drone known as Locutus. In the ensuing battle, 39 of the starships at Wolf 359 are destroyed and an estimated 11,000 people are lost; including Sisko's wife, Jennifer.[2]

Afterward, Sisko took a position at the Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards on Mars, overseeing the development of new ships, including the USS Defiant, which was created specifically to contend with the Borg threat.[4]

Sisko is promoted to Captain on Stardate 48959 (DS9, Season 3 Episode The Adversary).

Deep Space Nine[edit]

In 2369 Sisko is assigned to the Bajoran sector to command Deep Space Nine and to help Bajor's recovery from the recently concluded Cardassian occupation, shepherding them toward possible membership in the United Federation of Planets. Sisko and his son Jake reluctantly take up residence on the station. Recognizing that the then-decrepit station is not an "ideal environment" in which to raise a son, Sisko contemplates resigning his commission. Adding to Sisko's discomfort is the presence of Jean-Luc Picard, who briefs him on his mission. Sisko continues to harbor deep resentment toward Picard for his role, however unwilling, in the death of his wife.

Upon Sisko's first visit to Bajor, the Bajoran Kai, Opaka Sulan, labels him "the Emissary of the Prophets" and gives him one of the Tears of the Prophets, a mysterious glowing Orb that supposedly comes from Bajor's Prophets. By studying the orb and nearby stellar phenomenon, Jadzia Dax finds a location of unusual activity in the nearby Denorios Belt. Traveling there, Dax and Sisko discover the first known stable wormhole; the other end of which connects to the Gamma Quadrant. During their return trip through the wormhole, Sisko and Dax encounter the mysterious aliens living within it. The devoutly spiritual Bajorans believe them to be their "Celestial Temple" and Prophets, respectively. These aliens exist outside linear time. Sisko's first contact with the aliens is awkward and difficult for both parties; but the encounter helps Sisko recognize that he has never allowed himself to move beyond the bitterness and grief of losing his wife, as well as his anger towards Picard. After leaving the wormhole, Sisko embraces the opportunity to move forward and command DS9 and adopts a less hostile attitude towards Picard before his departure.

After DS9 is moved to the mouth of the wormhole in order to firmly claim it for Bajor, it becomes a new hub of scientific, commercial and political activity. Sisko at first clashes with Major Kira and on more than one occasion has to rein her in by asserting his authority. However, as time passed, the two came to have great respect for and trust in each other. Their relationship reached a new level of personal comfort when Sisko was injured during a battle with the Dominion and Kira did her best to care for him; telling him a story and praying to the Prophets in process. During this, she realized that Sisko had kept her at a certain professional distance because of his role as the Emissary but this softened after this event.

Sisko's assignment to DS9 also saw him reunited with an old friend in a new form. Jadzia, a female Trill and the current host to Dax had been assigned as the science officer to DS9. The Dax Symbiont had previously been joined to Curzon Dax; a Federation Diplomat who had been an old friend and mentor to Sisko early in his career. Indeed, Sisko would call Jadzia "old man", the same nickname he had used with Curzon. Sisko, would, at times, seek Dax's advice and she would also ask his at times. Most especially when the Symbiont belonging to one of Dax's previous hosts wives arrived in a new host and Dax felt conflicted. It is interesting to note that when Dax was passed on to a new host due to the death of Jadzia, Sisko acted as something of a mentor to the new host; Ezri Dax.

Ezri was a young and inexperienced officer had been joined to Dax when the symbiont's health seriously declined en route to the Trill home planet and a new host was required to save it. Ezri had not been prepared to be joined and had never wanted to be so assimilating Dax was rough for her. Sisko met Ezri for the first time while he was still on extended personal leave on Earth and Ezri subsequently assisted the Sisko family in their search for a new Bajorian orb. Upon meeting Ezri, Sisko promised to help her through the transition of being joined as well as helping her come to terms with the reality of her situation and Sisko found comfort in having his friend back, if even indirectly. After these events, Sisko returned to duty and arranged for Ezri's transfer to DS9 and posting as the station's psychologist.

The wormhole's discovery cements in Opaka's and other Bajorans' minds the notion that Sisko is the Emissary of the Prophets, a title and set of responsibilities with which Sisko is initially ill at ease. However, Sisko warms up to and eventually embraces his fated role in the Bajoran faith.

When Sisko leads the Defiant into the wormhole to intercept a Dominion fleet, the Prophets intervene. Sisko, at this point, has not fulfilled his destiny; to ensure that he survives, the Prophets erase the Dominion forces from existence.

Sisko plays a critical role in the intrigue of the Alpha Quadrant. His actions prove key in the security of Earth and the whole Alpha Quadrant. Examples include when he meets his former Captain, Admiral Leyton had planned on overthrowing the Federation government. Leyton framed Sisko as a shapeshifter who infiltrated Starfleet by faking a blood test. Sisko subsequently escaped custody with the help of Odo and stopped Leyton's plans. During the Klingon invasion of Cardassia, he is crucial to exposing the Founder impersonating Klingon general Martok. Sisko's exploits continue during the Dominion's invasion of the Alpha Quadrant, eventually working alongside Vice Admiral William Ross to help plan massive actions against the Dominion and their Cardassian and Breen allies. Sisko's contributions to the war effort are sometimes more surreptitious, such as his clandestine work with Elim Garak. Specifically, Garak and Sisko work to bring the Romulans into the war by creating an elaborate ruse.

Sisko fulfills the Prophets' destiny for him in the series finale, "What You Leave Behind", by confronting the Kosst Amojan-possessed Gul Dukat. They fight, and Dukat seems to be the winner, but in a last effort, Sisko throws himself and Dukat into the fiery abyss of the Bajoran Fire Caves, and Sisko is pulled into the Prophets' plane of existence to live with and learn from them. Sisko imparts a farewell to his new—and pregnant—wife, Kasidy Yates, informing her that although he does not know when, he will eventually return to her.

Personal life[edit]

Sisko was first married to Jennifer, with whom he had a son, Jake.

As seen in the pilot episode "Emissary", Sisko harbors a deep anger and dislike towards Jean-Luc Picard due to the fact that it was Picard, as Locutus of Borg, who led the Borg attack against the Federation at the Battle of Wolf 359. Sisko lost his wife, Jennifer, during the Borg attack and this forced Sisko to raise their young son, Jake, as a single parent. In order to take care of Jake, Sisko placed his Starfleet career on hold by taking up a backwater position at the Federation Utopia Planitia shipyard orbiting Mars.

Sisko remained a widower and single parent for many years. Eventually Sisko reluctantly accepted a posting as commander of Deep Space Nine orbiting the planet Bajor, where he eventually married a space freighter captain, Kasidy Yates.

Sisko loves baseball, a sport that has largely disappeared by the 24th century but is kept alive by a small group of aficionados. He keeps a baseball on the desk in his office (given to him by an alien impersonating Buck Bokai, Sisko's favorite historical baseball player halfway through the first season), and often picks it up and tosses it around when deep in thought. When the Dominion captures DS9, Sisko leaves the ball in his office as a message that he intends to return (this can also be seen in the second season three-parter, consisting of "Homecoming," "The Circle" and "The Siege" and also the Season 5 finale, "Call To Arms"). After Jadzia Dax's death in the Season 6 finale, "Tears of the Prophets", he takes the baseball with him to Earth, causing Kira Nerys to worry that he will not return.

Like his father, a chef, Sisko also enjoys cooking. His father owns a restaurant in New Orleans, and specialized in Creole cuisine.

It is also widely known that Sisko wants to become an Admiral; he states this intent to Admiral Ross during his temporary assignment at a starbase under Ross' command.

Alter egos[edit]

Sisko can also be identified as two other characters in the Star Trek universe:

Benny Russell[edit]

In the episode "Far Beyond the Stars", Sisko considers resigning his commission after losing an old friend during the Dominion War and the Prophets intervene, making Sisko briefly live the life of Benny Russell, a science fiction short story writer in 1950s America. (The other people in Russell's life are usually played by Brooks' DS9 co-stars, in most cases allowing them to appear without the heavy prosthetic makeup of their alien characters and show viewers their true appearance.)

Every day, Russell faces the prejudices of his world; his publisher does not even allow his photograph to be printed. He writes a story called "Deep Space Nine" that takes place in a universe without prejudice and bigotry. However, his publisher refuses to release the story because he makes the commander of the space station a black man. This injustice eventually drives Benny insane; soon after, Sisko finds himself back in the 24th century, understanding his place is aboard the station but questioning the nature of reality.

Later, in "Shadows and Symbols", Sisko experiences more flashbacks to his "life" as Benny Russell, now in a mental institution, obsessively writing the episode, synchronously, on the wall. Although it seems to be left ambiguous as to whether Benny is real or the Prophets' creation, at the end of this episode, the wormhole alien he was hunting says, "The Kosst Amojan tried to stop you with a false vision", implying that the Pah-wraiths were implanting the Russell fantasy into Sisko's mind to throw him off his mission.

In a June 2006 interview, former DS9 producer Ira Steven Behr said that he contemplated making the entire Deep Space Nine series a writing of the character Benny Russell.[citation needed]

Gabriel Bell[edit]

Due to a time travel incident depicted in "Past Tense", Sisko is transported to early 21st Century Earth where his presence unintentionally causes the death of Gabriel Bell, an important figure in early 21st century America. Sisko takes Bell's place in order to preserve the timeline. Sisko (as "Bell") instigates the Bell Riots, which helped change the course of human history.

Although Sisko is successful in fulfilling Bell's destiny and preserving the timeline, historical images of Bell after this point show Sisko's image.

Characterization[edit]

While sharing the same core values of Captains Jean-Luc Picard and Kathryn Janeway, Sisko shows a tendency to compromise those values in extreme situations. The most striking example is in the episode "In the Pale Moonlight", in which Sisko lies, obstructs justice, and is an unwitting accomplice in murder in order to turn the tide in the Dominion War. Afterward, Sisko records a personal log regarding his feelings about the entire affair, lamenting the fact that he appears to feel no remorse for his actions (which, by bringing the Romulans into the war, significantly increase the Federation's chances of survival) before having the computer delete the entire log entry.

Another example of this Machiavellian approach can be found in the episode "For the Uniform", in which Sisko poisons the atmosphere of a Maquis colony in order to catch the traitorous Michael Eddington.

Sisko demonstrates a bold and no nonsense persona to the point of exasperation, even to the extent of his best friend (the latter host of the Dax symbiont shown in the series, Ezri) stating that his personality intimidates Worf. Relative to other Star Trek captains, Sisko shows strength in strategic/operational military planning, as evidenced by his chief role in the Federation's Dominion War effort. While not as schooled in philosophy as Jean-Luc Picard, or scientifically geared as Kathryn Janeway, Sisko also highlights strength in engineering capacities (as seen in "Explorers", "The Visitor" and "Civil Defense") having served before being posted on Deep Space Nine as the commander of the Federation Shipyards at Utopia Planitia on Mars.

Cultural references[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Episode "Shadows and Symbols"; Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Episode 2 of Season 7
  2. ^ a b Episode "Emissary"; Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Episode 1 of Season 1
  3. ^ Episodes "Homefront" & "Paradise Lost"; Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Episodes 10 & 11 of Season 4
  4. ^ Episodes The Search parts I & II; Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Episodes 1 & 2 of Season 3

Okuda, Mike and Denise Okuda, with Debbie Mirek (1999). The Star Trek Encyclopedia. Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-53609-5. 

External links[edit]