I highly recommend you all schedule this awesome awesome Trek in to your lives, and here present a multimedia argument to lure you in, with screencaps courtesy of Trekcore:
(through episode 2.10 only; no significant spoilers)
Note: Many of these characters were one-shots who appeared in episodes centered around them and did not appear again -- as much as I love Kira and Dax, the lesser-known women of DS9 need attention too!
This is Vash. You may remember her from such TNG plotlines as being a rogue archaeologist thief who hooked up with Jean-Luc Picard like it ain't no thing.
Her presence on DS9 is causing some hijinks because no less a superbeing than Q has decided she is the best.
He is not wrong.
1.13, "Battlelines," features a Kai Opaca-heavy story.
Though not my favorite, Opaca combines the qualities of ineffable goofiness with the gravitas of leadership -- she is not content to merely serve as head of the Bajoran religion, but is on a spiritual quest of her own.
1.17, "The Forsaken," brings in my other favorite recurring TNG character: Lwaxana Troi, mother of Deanna and pwner of all -- portrayed by the first lady of Star Trek, Majel Barrett Roddenberry.
The fab hair changes aren't part of her special alien powers (she's a Betazoid telepath). It's just something she does for fun.
Lwaxana is far greater than the sum of her hair parts.
1.20, "In the Hands of the Prophets" is when shit starts getting real, plotwise (but I'll keep it vague).
Keiko O'Brien, founder and teacher of DS9's school, believes in teaching her students the truth to the most current and rigorous scientific understanding and if you tell her she can't she will make this face at you.
Winn Adami, Vedek of an Orthodox sect of the Bajoran religion, believes in wearing hats shaped like the Sydney Opera House and being morally ambiguous and tough as nails.
Neela, Chief O'Brien's engineering assistant, believes in the Prophets.
2.01, "The Homecoming," very briefly features a smuggler named Rionoj.
Kind of tells you all you need to know, doesn't it?
2.03, "The Siege": bonus Molly!
Molly is the daughter of Keiko (see above) and Chief O'Brien. She was born in a bar! Just... so you know.
2.06, "Melora" is DS9's not entirely faily Very Special Disability episode, featuring an ensign from a low-gravity planet which requires her to use a wheelchair in higher-gravity environments.
Julian attempts to impress her by taking her to a Klingon restaurant; she perceives that her racht are half dead and chews out the proprietor IN KLINGON.
2.07, "Rules of Acquisition," is about one of Star Trek's only two onscreen female Ferengis (custom requires that they stay naked and subservient to their family's men). But Pel has business acumen and wants a better life, so she decides to take a page from the Oldest Trick in the Book: drag!
She comes out to Dax.
There are complications. (First Ferengis in the Gamma Quadrant, holla!)
I love her a lot.
2.08, "Necessary Evil," is DS9's fantastic take on hard-boiled detective noir!
You've got your mysterious woman in white, your dark and stormy night...
Your bonus flashback Kira...
And your super sweet spangled flapper headbands.
2.09, "Second Sight," guest stars Salli Elise Richardson, voice of Elisa Maza in Gargoyles, which also featured the voices of Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis, Michael Dorn, Avery Brooks, Kate Mulgrew, Nichelle Nichols, and Brent Spiner among other starnerds!
And she's a mysterious woman in red.
Or is it grey?!
Our last episode of this installment, which gave me the final push needed to put this post together for you, is 2.10, "Sanctuary."
Meet Haneek. Haneek thinks this dress is horrible.
Haneek has two sleepy husbands. (And one son played by Walter Koenig's kid. Chekov Jr!) Haneek wonders why Kira doesn't have her own males.
BECAUSE HANEEK IS FROM A POLYANDROUS SPACE MATRIARCHY, OKAY?!
DAX: Are all your leaders women?
BASHIR: All of them?
DAX: You heard her, Julian.
HANEEK: Men are far too emotional to be leaders. They're constantly fighting amongst themselves. It's their favorite thing to do.
DS9 is my favorite thing to do. ♥ WATCH IT AND TALK ABOUT IT WITH MEEEE.