Amid all this sturm und drang the writers felt it necessary to inject some levity. In fact, there was so much comedic sidetracking this year it actually seemed as if they were afraid of the series' dark tone. Witness: Quark undergoing a temporary sex change, leading a Magnificent Seven-style band of Ferengi (with a cameo from Iggy Pop), Morn's nonspeaking character being sorely missed, the blend of Troi and Guinan into '60s crooner Vic Fontaine, and, in one fan favorite episode ("Far Beyond the Stars"), Sisko having visions of himself and the crew as 1950s staff writers on pulp magazine Incredible Tales. There were also cute reconciliations among Worf's extended family (leading to Trek's first cast wedding), and even the revelation of Bashir's genetically enhanced origins quickly became a subject for easy jokes.
Any of these events would have been satisfactorily cute if the war had ended and the show had moved on. But it confused the viewer when every so often the battle would be rejoined mid-episode. The clinching proof that no grand design was really at work was in the sudden exit of Dax. Despite all the jarring humor scattered about after the strong opening, the show seemed unable to avoid reverting to shock tactics for its finale. All of which hardly made the promised final year seem a particularly enticing prospect. --Paul Tonks