While I enjoyed the show's effective two-hour premiere episode, I thought the program all-too-quickly found itself mired in so many half-baked stand-alone episodes, and these hours never really presented this new corner of the Trek universe in such a way that compelled me to want to know more. It's true that newly launched programs have an uphill battle to establish its new characters easily -- especially with a franchise with a fanbase as fervent as Star Trek's can be -- and I just thought most of these adventures missed their respective marks.
One of my biggest complaints were these -- ahem -- pesky Bajoran people. Go back and look at some of DS9's earliest hours; maybe you'll agree that it was hard to tell whether they were going to be the Federation's ally or enemy. Sure, we had the big, bad Cardassians to focus on as a main baddie (though that focus shifted as the show evolved), but I found the Bajorans equally troublesome. They just never seemed happy, always serving more as a thorn in (then) Commander Benjamin Sisko's side while all he and his crew were trying to do was make the galaxy a better place. Heck, even the station liaison Major Kira vacillated between a collaborator and a 'pain in the ass' in those early days; so I think it's understandably how I saw that world at the time.
Still, there was this Kai Opaka ...
Played by actress Camille Saviola, Opaka was the lone wolf of a Bajoran whose presence I enjoyed. She only had two appearances in the first season (two more in later seasons after that), but her character had a kind of patience and grace one does find in good spiritual leaders of our day. Though limited to not a wealth of dialogue, it was clear to see that she was designed more as an anchor for these times of crisis; and I was glad to see her stick around a bit. As the show's storylines grew and even shifted from short form storytelling to long form, I did 'make peace' with Bajor -- learning more about a people has that effect on me. I suspect that acceptance may've come earlier if writers had given audiences more Opaka!
Alas, sad news reached me this morning that Ms. Saviola has shaken off her mortal coil and is no longer with us. It's sad to see anyone go, but I couldn't help but think about her time on the small screen and smile. Her contribution to Star Trek should always be remembered.
As always, thoughts and prayers go out to her family and friends in their time of need.