“Sacrifice of Angels”
Written by Ira Steven Behr & Hans Beimler
Directed by Allan Kroeker
Season 6, Episode 6
Production number 40510-530
Original air date: November 3, 1997
Station log: We get a summary of “Favor the Bold,” and then we see the two fleets facing off. Sisko has the small attack ships target the Cardassian vessels and then run, hoping that the Cardassians will get angry enough to break formation to go after them. (The Jem’Hadar are too disciplined to do that.) That might open a hole they can punch through to get to the station.
And then the battle is joined. On the station, Dukat, Damar, the female changeling, and Weyoun consult in Ops. Dukat figures out Sisko’s strategy, and plans to let it work up to a point, pretending to open a hole and then closing it on him before he can get through.
Damar is of the opinion that Rom couldn’t possibly have been acting alone, and figures that Leeta, Jake, and Kira are among his co-conspirators. He suggests arresting them, at least until the wormhole’s reopened. Dukat agrees, but they need to tread lightly when imprisoning two Bajorans and the Emissary’s son, so he makes sure the public story is that they’re being held for questioning. Damar also thinks Ziyal should be confined to quarters, as her friendship with Kira makes her a security risk, but Dukat refuses to accept that possibility, as she’s his daughter, dagnabbit.
Kira, Leeta, and Jake meet in Quark’s. Rumors are flying fast and furious, and no one knows what to believe. Kira suggests they shut down the station’s main computer with a bomb that she can smuggle in. Unfortunately, this plan is short-circuited by Damar’s arresting the three of them.
Dukat orders two squadrons of Cardassian ships to break formation. Sisko is sure that it’s a trap, but they have to take the opportunity, so they plow through the hole. Dukat, meanwhile, is already celebrating his victory. Weyoun is less sanguine, as they haven’t actually won anything yet. The minefield is still hours from being down, and a lot can happen in that time. They then proceed to have an interesting discussion about how to rule, with Weyoun taking a dispassionate, logical approach (eradicating Earth’s population, as that’s the most likely birthplace of resistance to Dominion rule) and Dukat taking a more egotistical approach (you don’t actually achieve victory until your enemy recognizes and acknowledges your greatness).
The female changeling informs Odo that the Dominion’s victory is imminent. Odo, however, is having pangs of regret, and those pangs increase when she informs him that Kira has been arrested and will be executed.
As the Defiant is trying to get through the Dominion line, a fleet of Klingon ships arrives. Worf apologizes for his tardiness, and the Klingons open a hole that the Defiant can get through.
Unfortunately, they’re the only ones to break through the lines. Sisko sets a course for the station. Weyoun intends to order pursuit, but Dukat—who is now carrying Sisko’s baseball around like a teddy bear—says not to bother, as the Defiant by itself is no match for the station’s armament.
Quark conscripts Ziyal to help break the resistance out of jail. He brings a platter with hasperat soufflé for Kira, with Ziyal using her authority as Dukat’s daughter to get past the Cardassian guard. It doesn’t quite work, but the guard is so focused on his inspection of the soufflé that he doesn’t notice Ziyal injecting him with a hypospray.
Armed with two pistols, Quark enters the cell area and tells the two Jem’Hadar guards not to move. Then he tells one to open the holding cells, and when the Jem’Hadar hesitate, Ziyal has to remind him that he just told them not to move. Quark tells one not to move and the other to open the cells.
When the Jem’Hadar move to shoot Quark, he fires both pistols and kills them both. From that point forward, he’s incapable of movement, so Ziyal takes down the force fields and Kira grabs the Jem’Hadar’s rifles. She and Rom will take down the computer core, while Jake gets himself, Quark, Leeta, and Ziyal to safety.
Weyoun comes to inform the female changeling and Odo of the jailbreak. He wishes to bring them to Ops, where they’ll be safe, but Odo says he’ll be fine in his quarters. The Founder respects his decision, and it’s obvious that she realizes that she hasn’t quite fully seduced Odo to the dark side. She goes off with Weyoun and a Jem’Hadar escort.
Kira and Rom are cornered in a cargo bay, but as they take cover, Rom realizes that Bajoran weapons are firing. Odo and four of his deputies have taken out their attackers. Odo promises to keep the patrols busy while Kira and Rom take the main computer down. When it becomes clear that he can’t do that in time, Kira tells Rom to focus on taking down the weapons array.
The Klingons have been a difference-maker in the big battle, as the lines are crumbling, but Dukat isn’t concerned, as they’re ten minutes from 2800 Dominion ships pouring through the wormhole when the minefield comes down. Rom works as fast as he can, but he’s a second too late, as Damar fires the weapons before Rom can finish his sabotage.
The minefield is down. Sisko orders the Defiant to go into the wormhole, which Dax says is one helluva Plan B: one ship against thousands. Meanwhile, Weyoun, Dukat, and Damar are practically giggling, while the female changeling orders them to summon the reinforcements. When they detect the Defiant heading for the wormhole, Weyoun orders it destroyed—but now Rom’s sabotage proves handy, as the station can’t fire weapons anymore.
Sisko orders full stop halfway in the wormhole, with full power to forward shields and weapons. Just as he’s about to fire, the Prophets grab him and assume he wishes to end his corporeal existence, and they do not want him to die. Sisko doesn’t want to die either, but he’s willing to sacrifice his life (and that of his crew) to keep the Dominion from conquering the Alpha Quadrant. The Prophets disagree, and refuse to send him back. Sisko insists that they have no right to interfere in his life; they say they have every right. So fine—if they want to interfere, they should deal with those 2800 ships coming through. The wormhole aliens insist that that’s a corporeal matter and doesn’t concern them, but Sisko throws several of their actions—sending Orbs to Bajor, encouraging a religion that worships them, sending Emissaries—back in their faces. They agree, but say that a penance will be exacted.
And then, suddenly, all 2800 ships just disappear.
The Defiant returns to the Bajor side of the wormhole alone. Damar can’t find any trace of the fleet, and it’s not in the Gamma Quadrant, either. Two hundred Federation and Klingon ships break through the lines and are headed for the station, the Defiant is firing on them, and the station’s weapons are still down. Weyoun and the female changeling decide to fall back, abandoning Terok Nor and regrouping at the Cardassian border.
Everyone’s on board with this plan except Dukat, who’s devastated. Victory was within their grasp, and now it isn’t, and it makes no sense to him. Damar tries to get him to evacuate, but he insists on trying to find Ziyal first.
Sisko lets the Dominion forces leave the station, as the Defiant is truly in no shape to stop them. With the Dominion forces outside Bajor also retreating, Sisko orders the Federation/Klingon task force to rendezvous at Deep Space 9.
Dukat finds Ziyal. He wants her to come with him, but she refuses—and then admits that she helped Kira and the others escape. Ziyal tearfully says goodbye and that she loves him—and then Damar shoots her. He heard the confession. Dukat holds Ziyal in his arms, forgiving her, saying he loves her, and refusing to go with Damar. As Damar leaves, Ziyal dies in Dukat’s arms.
Sisko and the rest of the Defiant crew board the station to raucous applause from the Bajoran population. He hugs Jake and shakes hands with Martok, while Worf and Dax smooch, and Rom finds out that Nog not only was promoted but outranks his own father. Jake sadly informs Sisko and Garak that Kira isn’t there because she’s in the infirmary with Ziyal.
Odo brings Sisko to the holding cells, where Dukat is just babbling, saying he and Ziyal will live together on Cardassia and that he forgives her. Odo takes him to Bashir, hoping the doctor can do something for him. As he passes Sisko, he says he forgives the captain, also, and hands him the baseball back.
Can’t we just reverse the polarity? Kira’s plan goes from bombing the main computer to sabotaging the main computer to sabotaging the weapons. While Rom doesn’t do the latter in time to stop the minefield from coming down, it does cripple the station enough to force the Dominion to evacuate it once faced with the prospect of two hundred ships bearing down on them.
The Sisko is of Bajor: Sisko basically yells at the wormhole aliens to start acting like the gods the Bajorans think they are.
Don’t ask my opinion next time: When they’re in their cells, Rom keeps asking how soon before the minefield goes down, and Kira angrily retorts, “I wish you’d stop asking that.” When they’re at the computer core, Kira keeps asking how long before he brings it offline, and Rom angrily retorts, “I wish you’d stop asking that.”
The slug in your belly: Dax does some very spiffy piloting of the Defiant.
Preservation of matter and energy is for wimps: When Kira asks why Odo came back to their side, he says that he thinks she knows, and also adds that the Great Link was paradise, but that he isn’t quite ready for paradise yet. The look on Kira’s face indicates that, for the first time, she appreciates what Odo has given up for her.
Rules of Acquisition: When Quark and Ziyal show up for the prison break, Rom cries, “Brother! I knew you would come.” Quark’s dry retort is, “It was a surprise to me.”
Plain, simple: When standing over Ziyal’s body in the infirmary, Kira tells Garak that she loved him, and his response is, “I never could understand why.”
Victory is life: The Founder and Weyoun are fairly blasé about having to abandon Terok Nor. The Founder in particular is taking the long view, blithely saying that the war will take longer than expected. Weyoun’s reaction is priceless, clapping his hands and saying, “Time to start packing!”
Tough little ship: The Defiant is the only ship to break through the lines to the station. Because it’s just that awesome.
No sex, please, we’re Starfleet: When he arrests Kira, Leeta, and Jake, Damar assures them insincerely that everything will be all right, as he’s sure that they have nothing to hide. Then he looks right at Leeta’s cleavage and says, “You certainly don’t.”
What happens in the holosuite stays in the holosuite: Within moments of arriving back on DS9, Bashir and O’Brien reserve time with Quark to do the Battle of Britain on the holosuite.
Keep your ears open: “Uh, Chief? How does that poem end?”
“You don’t want to know.”
Garak asking about the end of “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” the Alfred, Lord Tennyson poem quoted by O’Brien and Bashir earlier, and the chief giving an honest answer. (They all die.)
Welcome aboard: It’s another recurring character derby, with ten of the eleven from last time back again: Marc Alaimo, Casey Biggs, Jeffrey Combs, Aron Eisenberg, Max Grodénchik, J.G. Hertzler, Salome Jens, Chase Masterson, Andrew J. Robinson, and Melanie Smith (making her final appearance, as Ziyal is killed). Only Barry Jenner as Ross doesn’t make it in this time ’round.
Trivial matters: This is the first time that CGI has been used exclusively for a space battle in Star Trek, without any model use at all.
Visual effects supervisor and second-unit director Dan Curry (also a martial artists) and staff writer Bradley Thompson (also a pilot) consulted on the space battle to assure verisimilitude in battle tactics.
The Prophets told Sisko that they were “of Bajor” in “Accession.” Sisko analogized life to a baseball game to them in “Emissary,” an analogy they use back at him. The consequences of Sisko’s actions will be seen in “The Reckoning” and “What You Leave Behind,” and the reason why they view him as important enough to interfere in corporeal matters will be seen in “Shadows and Symbols” and “Images in the Sand.”
The female changeling’s assertion that Odo will one day rejoin the Great Link will be fulfilled in “What You Leave Behind.”
Quark and Ziyal’s jailbreak scene is reminiscent of the bank heist scene in Raising Arizona.
It’s established in the short story “Three Sides to Every Story” by Terri Osborne in Prophecy and Change that Jake writes Ziyal’s eulogy, as delivered by Kira.
The Jem’Hadar soldiers trapped in the wormhole are seen again in the novel Unity by S.D. Perry (where they play a role in the novel’s climax) and in Star Trek Online (in the featured episode “The 2800”).
Walk with the Prophets: “I forgive you, too.” There’s a lot to like about this episode. The space battle is superb, for one thing. This is the second time DS9 has topped itself for providing the best space battle in Trek history, having set the bar in “The Die is Cast,” raised it in “The Way of the Warrior,” and raised it again here. Just some superb work. In particular, I cheer every single time I see the Klingon fleet coming in from the “top,” a nice reminder that space is three-dimensional.
On top of that, there’s some great character work with Dukat. There’s an argument to be made that the world would’ve been a better place if this was Dukat’s last appearance—with the exception of “Covenant,” his subsequent appearances are disappointing to say the least, which we’ll get to in due course, starting with “Waltz.” But man, was he superb in this, from his seeing through Sisko’s strategy to his verbal fencing with Weyoun to his passionate love for Ziyal.
But the best moment is when the Defiant is the only ship to come through the wormhole while 200 Federation and Klingon ships are en route, and the weapons are down. Weyoun immediately says, “Time to start packing!” (still one of the best moments in the show’s entire history), and the female changeling just figures the war will take longer. This is a minor setback. Hell, for the Dominion, this whole war is a minor engagement. They have huge swaths of territory in a whole ’nother quadrant. This is a potentially useful expansion to them, but it’s hardly their only concern, and they’ve been taking the long view all along. Ultimately, neither Weyoun nor the female changeling have a huge amount invested in holding Deep Space 9/Terok Nor.
Dukat, though, has everything invested in it. He and Damar posturing about how they’ll eventually make Weyoun and the Founder pay for their insolence sounds pathetic at best, and more so when Dukat completely falls apart at having to again abandon the station. Cardassia is just part of the Dominion, and not even a very big part. Dukat keeps talking like they’re allies, and Weyoun goes along with it to keep the peace, but it’s never more evident than this episode that the Cardassians are not equals. Weyoun wants to win the war; Dukat wants to win his conquered subjects’ hearts. It’s not at all hard to believe that one is part of a hugely successful thousand-year-old empire and the other is a failed despot.
Then there’s Kira and the rest of the resistance, including Quark’s heroic moment (which Armin Shimerman plays magnificently), then there’s O’Brien and Bashir quoting “The Charge of the Light Brigade” until Nog tells them to stop, then there’s the Klingons coming to the rescue that really should’ve been to the tune of the Mighty Mouse theme, then there’s Dukat spending the entire episode clutching Sisko’s baseball and handing it to him at the end, then there’s Odo rescuing Kira and Rom and his sad admittance that he isn’t ready for paradise, then there’s Ziyal’s awful, tragic death…
And it’s almost completely ruined by the solution to the problem. I’ve been loath to compare DS9 to Babylon 5 in this rewatch, as that’s a can of worms best left closed, but both shows had the exact same resolution to a major conflict, to wit, the captain character unconvincingly yelling at powerful beings for several minutes to allow for a deus ex machina ending. On B5, it was the Shadow War ending in “Into the Fire” by Sheridan and Delenn self-righteously lecturing the Vorlons and Shadows, and on DS9 it’s Sisko being equally self-righteous and the Prophets not really sounding like themselves. And both of them are just awful.
Ira Steven Behr expressed annoyance in The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion that there were complaints about the ending. I quote Behr: “Hearing people refer to it as some dopey deus ex machina is really annoying because I would think they’d give us more credit for being on the ball. We didn’t have to end it like that, we chose to end it like that. Because we wanted to say that there was something going on here.” The sad thing is, this quote makes it worse. It would at least be understandable if Behr and Hans Beimler felt they had written themselves into a corner and had to pull the Prophets out of their asses. Given the magnitude of the situation, and given that they have to produce a weekly TV show, sometimes stuff happens.
Instead, Behr assures us that he intended the lame-ass ending all along. And to his credit, it will pay off, in several different episodes, but that doesn’t make this feel any less like a depressing hand-wave, no different than the worst TNG or Voyager technobabble solution, where wholly made-up science is used to solve a problem based on other wholly made-up science. The fact that there will be consequences in other episodes doesn’t help this episode, which feels like the coppiest of cop-outs.
Warp factor rating: 5
Keith R.A. DeCandido will be at Dragon Con 2014 this coming weekend. His full, and rather insane, schedule can be found here. He’ll be doing two Star Trek panels: “Star Trek Authors” Friday from 7-8pm (along with Peter David, Jimmy Diggs, Christie Golden, and Thomas Zahler) and “Klingon History” Monday from 11.30am-12.30pm (along with Erika Figueroa and Morgan Skye). He’ll have copies of many of his books, among them The Klingon Art of War and Farscape: The War for the Uncharted Territories, with him for sale at the convention, particularly at his autographings on Saturday (noon at the SFWA table in the Hyatt and 2.30 in the autograph area in the Marriott) and Monday (10.30am at the SFWA table).