Ever since Star Trek: Picard hit the airwaves 20 years ago, in January 2020, people have wondered whether other Star Trek icons will return to the small screen. Brent Spiner, Jeri Ryan, Jonathan Del Arco, Jonathan Frakes, and Marina Sirtis all reprised their roles in Season 1, while Whoopi Goldberg will return to the role of Guinan in Season 2. Stewart has said he hopes to eventually see the entire cast of TNG on the show.
This, naturally, raised a question of its own: What about characters from other franchises? There’s sadly no chance of an appearance from either René Auberjonois’ Odo or Aron Eisenberg’s Nog, since both men have passed away, but the vast majority of the cast of all three shows is still alive — including Avery Brooks, who played Captain Sisko on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Now, there’s news that Avery Brooks might return to the role, either as a cameo on a different Star Trek series (almost certainly Picard), or in a show of his own. As regular readers know, I’ve been working to remaster Deep Space Nine for the past 10 months, so I took more than a passing interest in the news. The screenshot above, posted as our feature image, is from my own upscaling work on “Way of the Warrior”, the premiere episode of Season 4.
It would be particularly interesting to find out what happened to Sisko, considering he’s got a unique plot arc. Specifically: He’s the only major character of a Star Trek franchise who straight-up vanishes in the series finale, with no word on what happened to him afterward. While his fate was explored in various non-canon publications, Paramount has never released a canonical explanation for what happens to Sisko after his confrontation with the Pah Wraiths in the Fire Caves of Bajor. While he obviously wasn’t literally gone from the universe at the end of the show, it wasn’t clear if he was technically alive, either. It wasn’t the first time Star Trek has played with existence at the edge of mortality — Q once took Picard on a journey through an alternate route his life might have taken — but Sisko’s fate was left ambiguous.
Emissary to the Parents
Star Trek never met a part of the human condition it didn’t want to explore, and the relationship between parents and their children was explored as early as “Journey to Babel” in the original TOS. While multiple characters were shown as parents, including Kirk (David), Worf (Alexander), Dr. Crusher (Wesley), O’Brien (Molly, Kirayoshi), and Rom (Nog), Deep Space Nine invests far more energy in portraying Sisko specifically as a father than any other character in any Star Trek show.
The only TV show to even come close is the recently-released Star Trek: Lower Decks, which depicts the adult relationship between Captain Carol Freeman and her eternal ensign / ne’er-do-well daughter, Beckett Mariner. The relationship between Mariner and Freeman is, shall we say, slightly more fraught than the relationship between Jake and his father.
Watching the show when it aired, I didn’t pay much attention to the father/son interactions of the show. Watching it as an adult, Sisko’s patience and encouragement of Jake to follow his own path — and the way the show explores the powerful bond between them — resonates more. Every Starfleet captain occasionally acts in a fatherly role to various crewmembers, but Sisko is the only captain we ever got to see as a father to a boy in the process of growing up — Kirk didn’t know he had a son until David was a full-grown adult, Picard famously dislikes children, Janeway had a dog, and Archer appears childless. Sisko is the only captain to have both his father and his grandson appear on-camera. He’s the only Star Trek captain who ever really had a family, or at least one that appeared in more than a one-off episode. Throughout the show, Sisko encourages Jake to find his own voice and to follow his own path as far as the kind of man he wanted to be. The relationship between the two characters is complex and multi-faceted, and it’s explored from both of their viewpoints at various points throughout the show.
If Sisko cameos on Star Trek: Picard, it would be nice if the cameo were somehow substantial enough to address the question of how he resolved the predicament he was last in. If a new show were to actually focus on him — and the rumor above says that this might just happen — it would hopefully explore the relationship he and Jake have as adults. I’m not going to claim that Sisko’s relationship with his son was the central plot of Deep Space Nine — it wasn’t — but it’s a thread I’d still like to see revisited.
I still thrill to see Avery Brooks standing on the bridge of the Defiant, facing down Klingons and Jem’Hadar in battle, but I now enjoy the quieter moments more, when the show demonstrates the enduring value of its message. As a young man, I liked Sisko for his willingness to fight. As an older one, I appreciate his willingness not to, when it wasn’t necessary.