The Worst Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Episode Is Not As Bad As You Remember

A writer argues for a deeper appreciation of the much-maligned Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Move Along Home".

By Michileen Martin | Updated

deep space nine move along home

Over at Inverse, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine fan Rory Doherty wants you to know that he doesn’t think “Move Along Home” is as bad as everyone makes it. The Deep Space Nine Season 1 episode comes up often in discussions of the worst episodes, including many where it’s judged the absolute bottom of the series in terms of quality. Doherty argues, however, that a lot of what makes DS9 a lot of Star Trek fans’ favorite series is present in “Move Along Home,” it’s just not cobbled together quite so well.

In Deep Space Nine‘s “Move Along Home,” Ben Sisko (Avery Brooks) oversees the Federation’s first official contact with a species — the Wadi — native to the Gamma Quadrant. The good news is that, in spite of their home quadrant, as far as we ever learn, the Wadi have nothing to do with the treacherous and powerful Dominion. The bad news is that the Wadi and their frustrating and intense leader Falow (Joel Brooks) seem to be an entire race of hardcore gamers with no interest in conventional diplomacy.

Sisko isn’t happy at all with being forced to forego the usual first contact proceedings because of the Wadi’s obsession with games, but the Ferengi bartender Quark (Armin Shimerman) couldn’t be happier. He tries to take advantage of the Wadi, but the aliens prove a lot more street-smart than he thinks, and to pay for his attempt at cheating they force him to play Chula. The game looks to be a complex but otherwise unremarkable board game, but we soon learn playing it transports the oblivious Sisko, Dr. Bashir (Alexander Siddig), Kira Nerys (Nana Visitor), and Jadzia Dax (Terry Farrell) into a strange labyrinth world where they seemingly need to figure out puzzles in order to stay alive.

deep space nine move along home
Alexander Siddig in “Move Along Home” – Star Trek: Deep Space Nine S1 E9

As Doherty admits, Deep Space Nine‘s “Move Along Home” is “silly and flimsy,” but he rightly argues that it holds “fast to DS9’s core ethos” and that the character dynamics are consistent with what we would see later in the series, and he’s not wrong. While the episode shows us, for example, Quark’s trademark opportunism, when he literally begs the Wadi to not force him to choose a player to eliminate — which he wrongly believes will kill one of the heroes — it also reveals the Ferengi’s surprising belief in at least the most basic human morals.

While Doherty points to online polls that have named Deep Space Nine‘s “Move Along Home” as the worst in its history, it should be noted that opinion is far from universal. For example, on IMDb, the user ratings not only don’t agree “Move Along Home” is the worst DS9 episode, they don’t even place it in the bottom five (though it’s number six, so it’s admittedly not far).

Instead of Deep Space Nine’s “Move Along Home,” IMDb users name “Let He Who Is Without Sin…” — an episode that finds Michael Dorn’s Worf joining a puritanical activist group looking to “fix” the pleasure planet Risa — DS9’s least impressive story.

Also in the bottom five — in ascending order — are Season 3’s “Meridian” that has Dax fall in love with a man on a planet set to disappear, Season 4’s “The Muse” in which Jake Sisko (Cirroc Lofton) becomes victim of an alien who’s a kind of creativity parasite, Season 6’s “Resurrection” that introduces the Mirror Universe version of Bareil (Philip Anglim) whose Prime counterpart dies three seasons earlier, and “Profit and Lace” in which Quark is transformed into a woman.