This is the latest installment in a series of "Character Insight" articles regarding the rich history of characters in the Star Trek universe. An audio version will appear on the This Week in Trek podcast, available for direct download here.
Welcome back to Character Insight! This week, we profile Admiral William Ross from the latter seasons of Deep Space Nine.
(An admiral worth fighting for, quite literally, courtesy memory-alpha.org)
Admiral Ross is first seen after the Dominion War begins, as he is assigned to be the head of Starfleet forces in the war. Sisko and his crew first encounter him when the Defiant is used to run regular missions like attacking a ketracel-white facility. However, Sisko impresses the Admiral so much that when his adjutant is promoted to wing commander, Ross replaces that person with Captain Sisko.
That causes Sisko to become even more important to the Dominion War effort, as he along with Klingon General Martok are the closest advisers to Admiral Ross before and during the many battles fought with the Founders and the Jem'Hadar. The relationship was not without its bumps, however, as Sisko had trouble wavering between loyalty to his DS9 and Defiant crew as well as to Bajor and loyalty to Ross's war efforts.
At one point, this forces Ross to say (in Tears of the Prophets):
"That's the problem, isn't it? For the past six years you've tried to be both, and up to now I've been patient. I've indulged you, I've gone out on a limb for you many times, but this is it. You've got to make a decision. You are either the Emissary or a Starfleet captain. You can't be both."
Sisko decided to follow Ross's orders on that occasion, and that mission against the Breen was just as successful as the previous bold re-taking of Deep Space Nine from the Cardassians because of Sisko's involvement. Ross likely gets along so well with Sisko because both men have strong family ties and both parallel one another when it comes to putting duty first (both even cross some lines not normally crossed by high level Starfleet officers in the name of succeeding at the war). This relationship is profitable all the way to the Battle of Cardassia, which Sisko planned out and in which the Dominion was finally defeated and the Starfleet-Klingon-Romulan alliance won the day.
Ross also had to deal with Kira Nerys extensively when she came into command of Deep Space Nine following Sisko's promotion to the adjutant position. Ross and Kira clashed over Romulans being posted on the station, as well as over Romulans placing plasma weapon launchers on a Bajoran moon. Kira enacted a blockade around the moon, causing Ross to back her and force the Romulans to remove those weapons.
After losing against Kira's incredible resolve in this Bajoran matter, Ross quips (in Shadows and Symbols):
"Remind me never to play poker with you".
Ross fills a role that had really not been seen out of Admiral characters on any Trek series and especially not on Deep Space Nine, that being a good person overall. The show producers believe it was mostly due to actor Barry Jenner bringing some backstory and actual character to the role rather than just being a bland or gruff authoritarian figure. The writers loved how this actor fit the mold of what they always wanted in admiral characters, and that led to his becoming a significant character in many episodes of the final two seasons of this show.
Indeed, when Admiral Ross quotes Douglas MacArthur after signing the peace treaty to end the war, he just feels like a natural and important member of the Starfleet contingent of this show. Jenner is to be commended for that, as this may still very well be the only truly successful portrayal of an Admiral over a high number of recurring appearances in Star Trek history.
When not playing Admiral Ross, Barry Jenner can be seen in many other television shows, including long recurring runs on Family Matters and the original Dallas. (Insert theme)
Until next time, keep hoping for more actual good Admiral characters in the future!
Feedback can be sent to me with future segment suggestions on Twitter @BuckeyeFitzy. Until next time, live long and prosper...