Before I dig into the nitty gritty of season four, I'd like to express how I feel about (and rank) the characters via their character-driven episodes:
- Odo has the most interesting story arc without a doubt. He starts the series with no idea where he came from, and when we do discover his people, they turn out to be the most significant adversary to all the other known powers in the galaxy. Odo episodes are about self discovery, divided loyalties, and isolation. Also, he's a shapeshifter and that's cool.
- Quark (and the other Ferengi) is the comic relief on DS9 (Rom is totally Urkel), so his episodes are usually hilarious. The plainly ridiculous Ferengi customs and culture are juxtaposed on the mundane and serious setting of the space station. Sometimes Quark is a distraction, but he can definitely carry an episode, and the writers knew it. He's mostly two-dimensional, either being reprehensible or learning a lesson and turning over a new leaf, but he does have his complex moments.
- Kira is a devout follower of the Bajoran religion, but also military/government official working closely with the Federation. It's always interesting to see how she reacts when Bajor gets a little too wacky (religious fundamentalism) and the Federation a little too... Federationy? She tends to be the character things happen around, such that Kira episodes are very often about Winn or someone else other than her.
- Dax is one of my favorite characters, but for some reason I don't love Dax episodes. Like Kira, Dax is best when reacting to other people. Dax has great one-liners, and she's a good shoulder to cry on, but when the spotlight is on her, it's just not DS9's best.
- Sisko likes baseball, cooking, and emissarying, but even more than emissarying he likes not emissarying. He's got a great captain voice and he can rock a diatribe or two, but he's no Picard.
- O'Brien is ornery, so episodes that focus on him can be kind of trying. They play with his brain a lot (O'Brien's a clone of himself! O'Brien shifts through time! O'Brien went to prison but not really!) I guess because they don't know what else to do with a grumpy Irish engineer. I like Keiko, but she's absent most of the time.
- Bashir, just stop.
I didn't include Jake in the above ranking because I just don't care. I didn't include Garak because he's not in the main cast, but if I did I think he'd be between Odo and Quark.
I promise I won't start season five until I post about season four.