“’Til Death Do Us Part”
Written by David Weddle & Bradley Thompson
Directed by Winrich Kolbe
Season 7, Episode 18
Production episode 40510-568
Original air date: April 14, 1999
Station log: After a summary of the high points of “Penumbra,” we see Sisko telling Jake about his vision from the Prophets, which is interrupted by the arrival of Winn, along with two ranjens. The kai has come to assist in the preparations for the Emissary’s wedding. Sisko confides in Winn that the Prophets have warned him about a great trial ahead. (He doesn’t mention about them wanting him not to get married.)
As Winn enters Ops, she has a vision of her own. She is told that Emissary is faltering and that she must guide Bajor in the Restoration. A guide will come to her—she’ll know him because he will be a man of the land. Winn recovers, and waxes rhapsodic about the Prophets finally speaking to her after all her years of service and dedication.
Worf and Dax have been imprisoned on the Breen ship for three days. All of Worf’s attempts to escape have failed, and Dax is having nightmares about being chased by Breen. In the dream, one captured her—and it turned out to be Bashir. Their analysis of the dream is interrupted by the Breen taking Worf away. He is brutally interrogated, and somewhat incoherent when he comes back, and then they take Dax away. She returns even less coherent than Worf was, and at one point she says, “Kiss me, Julian.” Worf is, to say the least, taken aback.
Weyoun wakes a very hung over Damar, reveals that he knows that Damar helped Dukat surgically alter himself, and tells Damar that they’re taking a little trip. Damar then sends Dukat on his way, under his new Bajoran identity of “Anjohl Tennan.” Dukat arrives at DS9 on a civilian transport.
When Yates returns from a cargo run, Sisko tells her about the vision, saying that he can’t go against the Prophets and marry her. Yates angrily returns the engagement ring and walks out.
Dukat comes to see Winn in the guise of Farmer Anjohl, asking her blessing for his farm in the coming season, and Winn realizes that he is the guide the Prophets said would come to her. She invites him to stay for tea and she explains to him about the vision. Dukat pretends to be a humble, confused farmer quite well. When they move on from tea to spring wine, Dukat starts playing Winn, talking about Sisko, how the Emissary isn’t “one of us,” how he didn’t live through the occupation. “Anjohl” then tells how he only survived the occupation because the transport that was supposed to take him from Ralekith to his execution instead took him to a labor camp. Winn is stunned—she bribed the dispatcher to send the transport to the labor camp, one of many acts she performed to make life easier in small ways for her fellow Bajorans. Dukat then delivers the final blow, saying their fates were intertwined for years.
Sisko—after being unusually snappish with Kira—confides in his first officer about the vision. Kira thinks that he should do as the Prophets ask, but he has his doubts—even if it is a mistake to marry Yates, it’s his mistake to make. Later Quark gives him the Terellian diamond ring he ordered for the wedding, which is nonreturnable and nonrefundable, and he comments that it’s a shame to let something so beautiful go to waste.
Dukat wakens Winn from sleep, saying that saplings he and his brother planted only last week have already started to bud. Winn says it’s a sign from the Prophets that the farm will be fine under his brother’s care and that he should stay with her. And then they smooch because of course they do.
Sisko goes to Yates and says to screw the Prophets, he loves her and will marry her, dagnabbit. He invites the senior staff, plus Jake and Quark (and minus Dax and Worf, obviously), to the wardroom. Nog blows a bosun’s whistle, Jake escorts Yates across the room, and Ross performs the ceremony.
Midway through, the Sarah Prophet gives Sisko another vision and insists that he must be strong for the trial ahead, but Sisko insists that Yates gives him strength. So the Prophet tells him to be careful, and then the ceremony is done and they’re all married and stuff.
Weyoun is commanding a Jem’Hadar ship that is heading for a rendezvous. The female changeling is on board as well, and she is visibly worse for the wear. Weyoun finally tells Damar what’s going on: the Breen are joining the Dominion. The rendezvous is with the very Breen ship that Worf and Dax are on, and to cement the alliance, the Breen give their prisoners to Weyoun as a present. Worf and Dax are not exactly thrilled—neither is Damar…
The Sisko is of Bajor: Sisko has to agonize over whether or not to follow the Prophets’ instructions or do what he wants in his heart more than anything. Considering the last time the Prophets asked something of him, his son almost died, I wouldn’t blame him for just telling the fuckers to go pound sand…
Don’t ask my opinion next time: Kira is the only person who isn’t happy at the Sisko-Yates wedding, because she knows that the Prophets think this is a bad idea, and she doesn’t particularly want the Emissary, who’s also her CO, who’s also her friend, to “know only sorrow.”
The slug in your belly: Dax apparently has the hots for Bashir, but her subconscious is more aware of it than her conscious mind.
There is no honor in being pummeled: Worf, having learned nothing after “The Emissary” and “Looking for par’Mach in All the Wrong Places,” assumes that having sex with Dax means they’re in a long-term relationship, so he’s an even bigger dick than usual when Dax mutters “Kiss me, Julian.”
Preservation of matter and energy is for wimps: Odo does a lovely job of putting his foot in it when he comments that Sisko isn’t having a Bajoran wedding, and he smiles and says in his cutesy sarcastic voice, “I hope the Prophets forgive him,” which prompts Kira to solemnly say, “I hope so, too.”
Rules of Acquisition: Quark is given all of twenty minutes to cater the wedding. He mutters that he can’t work under those conditions…
No sex, please, we’re Starfleet: Worf and Dax’s post-coital bliss is somewhat ruined by the fact that they’re imprisoned and being tortured by the Breen. Also Damar is still making copious use of comfort women, who apparently forget to put all their clothes back on after they’re done in his bed (of course, Damar himself is in his uniform when Weyoun wakes him, so I don’t know what to make of that).
For Cardassia!: Dukat urges Damar to be the leader Cardassia needs. Damar tries to convince Dukat to be that leader once again, but he’s awash in Pah-wraith nonsense.
Victory is life: The Dominion have been talking with the Breen about joining the Dominion as Cardassia did, which is formalized at the end of this episode, putting another Alpha Quadrant power in the war on the Dominion’s side.
Keep your ears open: “And just when I thought he was going to kill me, he reached up and took off his helmet.”
“And it was Julian.”
“Isn’t that strange? I wonder what it means.”
“That Doctor Bashir is a Breen.”
Dax explaining her dream, and Worf providing mediocre analysis of same in a failed attempt to lighten the mood with levity.
Welcome aboard: Back from last time are recurring regulars Marc Alaimo (Dukat disguised as “Anjohl”), Casey Biggs (Damar), Jeffrey Combs (Weyoun), Salome Jens (the female changeling), Penny Johnson (Yates), and Deborah Lacey (Sarah), plus we also get Aron Eisenberg (Nog), Louise Fletcher (Winn), and Barry Jenner (Ross).
And we get a really-o-truly-o guest star in James Otis, who was supposed to only appear in this episode as Solbor, but who was impressive enough that they expanded his role to recur over the next two episodes.
Trivial matters: The original title of this episode was “Umbra,” which means an area of deep shadow, following up on “Penumbra,” which means an area of half-shadow. It was decided late in the process to move the Sisko-Yates wedding from “Strange Bedfellows” to this episode, and the title was also changed accordingly.
The wedding ceremony Ross performs is more or less the same one recited by Kirk in “Balance of Terror” to marry Tomlinson and Martine (though he never gets to complete that ceremony) and by Picard in “Data’s Day” to marry O’Brien and Keiko.
Worf claims that no one has lived to see what’s underneath a Breen helmet, which contradicts “Indiscretion,” during which Kira and Dukat stripped a couple of Breen soldiers. The Decipher Star Trek role-playing game module Aliens explained this by establishing that the Breen disintegrate upon exposure to atmosphere.
When she returns from her own interrogation session, Dax utters dialogue from both “Prodigal Daughter” (when she tried to convince her brother to pursue his art) and “Field of Fire” (yelling at the image of Joran).
Winn said in “The Reckoning” that the Prophets had never actually spoken to her before.
Walk with the Prophets: “I pronounce you husband and wife.” This episode manages the remarkable feat of having a lot of things happen and yet having very little happen at all. Sisko agonizes over whether or not to marry Yates or follow the Prophets’ warning, which consists of him having the same conversation over and over again with Jake, with Winn, with Yates, and with Kira (and sort of with Quark), before finally deciding to go ahead and marry her. So much of it comes across as time-filler, though. Worf and Dax start the episode as the Breen’s prisoners and they end the episode as the Breen’s prisoners, with no forward movement there until the very last scene, with the middle given over to yet still more bickering that sounds a lot like their arguing in “Penumbra,” and it’s long since worn out its welcome. There were hints last time that the Dominion was up to something, and then this episode we find out that, yes, they’re definitely up to something, with the actual revelation saved for the final scene, thus giving us Weyoun and Damar having the same conversation they’ve been having since Damar took over from Dukat—though at least that wearing out its welcome is a plot point.
The only significant forward movement is in the Dukat-Winn storyline, as two of the show’s most prominent villains, both of whom were made significantly less interesting last season, are brought together. It’s funny, I had totally forgotten that writers Bradley Thompson and David Weddle had actually tried a bit of misdirection, as Winn’s vision is meant to be believed by both the kai and the viewers to come from the Prophets, and it isn’t until her “guide” shows up that there’s any hint that it’s the Pah-wraiths we’re talking about. The line the Pah-wraiths-as-Prophets give Winn about how the Emissary is faltering actually sounds like it could come from the Prophets (especially the latter-day, more boring Prophets). And, of course, it could be that Winn’s vision was from the Prophets, and Dukat is just pretending to be the promised guide to mess with her.
Either way, the end result elevates Dukat as a villain—he plays Winn like a two-dollar banjo—at the expense of Winn’s status both as a villain and as a character—she is played like a two-dollar banjo. And having them fall in bed together just feels so utterly artificial, not helped by the fact that there’s no kind of sexual chemistry between Marc Alaimo and Louise Fletcher. Mind you, their scenes together are quite good, elevating the mediocre script they’re forced to read from, but until they actually kiss, there’s no feeling of romance or lust here at all. Frank Langella managed more sparkage in two lines of dialogue with Fletcher back in “The Circle” than Alaimo manages in the sum of his three scenes with her.
And there’s still no real forward movement, just arranging things so that our two evil people are together again for the first time.
“Penumbra” did a good job of getting the train going down the tracks, but this episode mostly sees the train stalling. It’s good to see Sisko and Yates actually getting married, it’s good to see the political winds of the war shift yet again with the Breen joining the Dominion, but ultimately these first two episodes only actually have about one episode’s worth of material. With so few episodes left, this kind of wheel-spinning is irritating.
Warp factor rating: 5
Keith R.A. DeCandido reminds everyone that several of his works are eligible to be nominated for the Hugo and/or the Nebula Awards, so if you’re a recent or upcoming World Science Fiction Convention member and/or a member of the Science-fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, please consider nominating one of Keith’s works. A full list can be seen here, and Keith will supply copies to eligible nominators.