Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch: “What You Leave Behind”

“What You Leave Behind”
Written by Ira Steven Behr & Hans Beimler
Directed by Allan Kroeker
Season 7, Episode 25
Production episode 40510-575
Original air date: June 2, 1999
Stardate: unknown

Station log: It’s the eve of the big push into Dominion territory. Bashir wakes up with Dax, the pair having spent the night together, with the inevitable reference to how far down her spots go. O’Brien is nervously making sure Keiko has everything under control with the family (which of course she does), and we find out that he’s received an offer to teach at Starfleet Academy when the war’s over, which he’s going to accept (though Molly is dubious about whether or not he’s really accepted given that he hasn’t actually told Bashir about it). Sisko ministers to his pregnant wife, promising to come home to her, and then Jake walks him to the Defiant. Odo walks with Worf to the Defiant, both expressing the hope that they find Kira on Cardassia.

And then they set off. Sisko asks if Nog remembers how to get to Cardassia, and the ensign assures the captain that if he gets lost, he’ll just follow the ship in front of him—at which point we see that it’s a friggin’ huge fleet of Federation, Klingon, and Romulan ships setting forth from DS9 to Cardassian space.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: What You Leave Behind

On Cardassia, the female changeling promises the Breen Earth and Romulus if they win the war, which surprises Weyoun, as he thought he was getting to rule the Federation territories. However, she basically was blowing smoke up the Breen’s ass to motivate him, as this battle will pretty much be it—the war’s going to end this time one way or the other.

Broca enters and reports that there are rumors that Damar is alive and on Cardassia. Broca assures Weyoun and the Founder that if he is alive, he won’t be for long.

Elsewhere, Kira has to save Garak and Damar from being arrested by Jem’Hadar who recognize Damar, which she does by disguising herself as a Breen soldier and catching the Jem’Hadar unawares. But Damar had to risk going out and exposing himself to attend a meeting, whereby a disruption of the communications net on Cardassia was planned. It will cut the military off from Cardassia Prime, leaving them on their own and Weyoun unable to stay in touch with them.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: What You Leave Behind

As the fleet approaches Cardassia, everyone is left to their own conversations. O’Brien and Nog work to iron out some bugs in the new Defiant, while the chief also avoids telling Bashir about his job offer. Meanwhile, Worf gives Dax his blessing for her and Bashir’s relationship, and Sisko and Odo express concern over Kira’s absence and survival.

Sisko then has a vision of the Prophets in the form of his biological mother. Sarah says that the Emissary’s work is almost done—and she’s not talking about the war.

On Bajor, Dukat’s eyesight has been restored and he returns to Winn. She isn’t thrilled to see him, but she needs his help to release the Pah-wraiths. They will destroy the wormhole and the Prophets—as well as their Emissary, but Dukat insists that he wants Sisko for himself. They trek down to the fire caves, though it takes a while, as Winn doesn’t have quite the stamina of a Cardassian military officer.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: What You Leave Behind

Weyoun notices that the Dominion lines are spread too thin, and the female changeling orders reinforcements sent. But before Weyoun can carry out that order, the power goes out. Emergency power comes on, but long-range communications are down. Broca reports that Damar’s rebels have committed sabotage all over Dominion bases on Cardassia—but the rebels are civilians, not military. Weyoun suggests that, if civilians are agitating, then civilians should be targeted.

When power is restored, Weyoun sends out a message, informing the Cardassian people that the entirety of Lakarian City has been wiped out. Horrified by this action, Damar, Kira, and Garak agree that the best course of action is to attack Dominion HQ directly.

Martok contacts Ross and Sisko, reminding them of their mutual promise to stand on Cardassia Prime and share a bloodwine toast. After that, they engage the enemy, and the battle is joined. While being treated for a shoulder wound, O’Brien finally tells Bashir about the Academy gig. Ross and Martok lead a charge through the thin center lines that Weyoun noticed while Sisko takes two attack wings to help the Romulans, whose front is collapsing.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: What You Leave Behind

Three Jem’Hadar and two Cardassians arrive at Mila’s, killing her and taking Garak, Damar, and Kira prisoner. Broca reports this to the female changeling, who orders them executed. But before the Jem’Hadar can carry out the sentence, the two Cardassian soldiers kill the three Jem’Hadar (though one of the Cardassians is also killed). The surviving Cardassian, Ekoor, says, “That’s for Lakarian City” to the corpses and then pledges his loyalty to Damar.

Just as things are looking bad, the Cardassian ships (who probably also heard about Lakarian City) all turn on the Breen and Jem’Hadar. Now instead of three fleets versus three fleets, it’s four versus two. On Cardassia, the long-range communications go back online just in time for Weyoun and the female changeling to learn of the Cardassian military switching sides. The female changeling orders their forces pulled back to Cardassia Prime, has Broca taken away to be executed, and then orders Weyoun to exterminate the entire Cardassian population. As they start to level the city, Damar and a mess of Cardassians (and Kira) plan an attack on the headquarters.

Dukat and Winn arrive at the fire caves. Dukat is disappointed to find no fire, but then Winn utters an incantation from the text and then there’s lots and lots and lots of fire. Winn removes her robes, tossing them into the flames, shedding her raiments of office and a lifetime of hypocrisy (her actual words, hilariously). She kisses Dukat, then pours a drink for them to share—except she doesn’t drink from it, and when the poison kicks in, he realizes why. The Pah-wraiths, she says, demand a sacrifice. He dies.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: What You Leave Behind

Garak reports that the bulkhead is made of neutronium, which means they can’t even blow their way in. There’s a moment when they all have some cathartic laughter on the subject of the absurdity of their situation: all set to storm the battlements, and they can’t even get through the door. But then the Jem’Hadar obligingly open the door to kill Broca and two more Cardassians and leave their bodies on the street—giving Damar and the others a way in. They storm the headquarters, phasers blazing. Damar is killed, but the rest carry on through the corridors—and Weyoun sent a large number of Jem’Hadar out of the facility to eradicate the Cardassians, making their task easier. They take the main room; Garak kills Weyoun (the female changeling laments that that was the last Weyoun clone, to which Garak gleefully replies, “I was hoping you’d say that”). The female changeling refuses to call off the Breen and Jem’Hadar, saying that she will not make their victory easy and will make it costly.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: What You Leave Behind

Kira contacts the Defiant, and Odo offers to beam down and speak to the Founder, since she’ll at least talk to him. She refuses to surrender, expecting the solids to view her surrender as a sign of weakness that will lead to their invading the Gamma Quadrant. Odo insists they won’t, and asks only that she link with him. Kira and Garak really don’t like that idea, but Odo insists, and they do link. He cures her of the disease, and then she orders the Jem’Hadar and Breen to stand down. She also agrees to stand trial for war crimes and accept whatever prison sentence comes down from that.

But in exchange, Odo will return to the Great Link forever.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: What You Leave Behind

Sisko, Martok, and Ross stand on the broken ruins of Cardassia and the two Starfleet officers refuse to join in Martok’s toast to victory. The price was too high, the destruction too great. Martok reminds them that Bajorans would call this poetic justice, but Sisko and Ross don’t think that’s a good enough reason to drink a toast over their bodies.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: What You Leave Behind

Bashir beams down to the headquarters and talks to Garak, who is bitterly happy about his exile finally being over—but mostly just bitter at how much Cardassia has lost. Garak says he’ll miss their lunches, and Bashir hopes that they’ll be able to get together again some day.

On Deep Space 9, the female changeling signs the armistice and is taken away for trial, telling Odo that it’s all up to him now. Kira isn’t happy about losing Odo, but he needs to do this for his people in the hopes that they’ll eventually learn to trust solids. She asks only that she be the one to take him to the Gamma Quadrant.

Martok and Ross offer Worf the position of Federation Ambassador to Qo’noS, which he accepts, despite claiming not to be a diplomat. Martok reminds him that he himself isn’t a politician, but there it is.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: What You Leave Behind

That night, there’s a big-ass party in Vic’s Place, celebrating the end of the war and saying good-bye to Worf, Odo, and O’Brien. There is camaraderie and drinking, Sisko raises a toast to them all, and then Fontaine sings, “The Way You Look Tonight.”

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: What You Leave Behind

In the fire caves, the Pah-wraiths resurrect Dukat, restoring him to his Cardassian self, and casting Winn aside. As soon as that happens, Sisko realizes what has happened and takes his leave of Yates, saying he has to go to the fire caves alone. He arrives in time to see Dukat with red glowy eyes. Dukat toys with him, forcing him to kneel, but Sisko insists that he’ll stop him. Winn distracts him for a moment, allowing Sisko to tackle Dukat and they both tumble into the fire caves, destroying the Kosst Amojan book and Dukat.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: What You Leave Behind

Dukat is now with the Pah-wraiths, and Sisko is now with the Prophets. His purpose was to stop the Pah-wraiths from being released, and now he can rest with the Prophets. Meanwhile, everyone on DS9 is searching for Sisko, but there’s no sign of him anywhere. But while Yates is in the middle of being briefed about the search, she gets a vision from Sisko who informs her that the Prophets saved him from the fire caves because they have a great deal for him to do, and things he needs to learn. He promises that he will be back—maybe in a year, maybe yesterday, but he will be back. Yates promises to wait.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: What You Leave Behind

As O’Brien leaves his cleaned-out quarters, he finds the figurine of Travis that had gone missing. He then remembers his time with Bashir, which prompts a montage. And then several more montages for several of the characters.

Kira and Odo try to slip off the station without anyone noticing, but Quark catches them before they go. Quark wants to know if Odo has anything to say to him. The changeling insists that he does not, doesn’t even want to say goodbye, and then gives Quark one last harrumph before boarding the runabout. Quark raises a toast to him, declaring happily to Kira that the man loves him—it was written all over his back.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: What You Leave Behind

The Great Link is green and yucky instead of amber and happy when Kira and Odo beam down. Odo asks Kira to tell everyone that he’ll miss them—even Quark. They have their final kiss, and then Odo “changes clothes” so that he’s wearing a tuxedo. She always said he looked good in a tux, so that’s how he wants her to remember him.

He sinks into the Great Link and it turns amber once again. The Founders are cured.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: What You Leave Behind

Kira returns to the station and takes command. Newly promoted Lieutenant (j.g.) Nog brings her a report, and then she grabs Sisko’s baseball and goes out into Ops, tossing the ball, then heads to Quark’s to stop the Ferengi from running a betting pool on who the new kai will be. She leaves Quark’s to see Jake standing on the Promenade, near his and Nog’s old spot, watching the wormhole open. Kira puts an arm around him and they watch the wormhole together as the camera pulls out to Deep Space 9 floating in the Denorios Belt.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: What You Leave Behind

Can’t we just reverse the polarity? Neutronium is made out of collapsed star matter. It can’t possibly be constructed on a planet because it’s so dense it has its own gravitational field stronger than that of Earth’s sun. And yet, as in “To the Death,” somehow there’s a Dominion construction on a planet made of neutronium.

The Sisko is of Bajor: Apparently the all-important task the Prophets needed Sisko to be able to perform, his ultimate purpose as Emissary, is to tackle a Cardassian holding a book so that he would fall into a pit of fire. Right.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: What You Leave Behind

Don’t ask my opinion next time: Damar thanks Kira for running the rebellion—he admits that it would never have succeeded without her assistance. And to the end, she remains the shot-caller, directing things so that Cardassia can be saved. Irony!

There is no honor in being pummeled: Worf gets to be a diplomat, even though he insists he isn’t, having apparently not realized how many acts of diplomacy he’s been at the center of in his career (most recently only two episodes previous).

Preservation of mass and energy is for wimps: Odo wins the war, but does so at a high cost to himself, to wit, losing Kira. On the other hand, he does get his oft-stated heart’s desire, to return to the Great Link.

Rules of Acquisition: While everyone’s off invading Cardassia, Quark hangs out with Fontaine playing various human card games and hating all of them. He laments how annoying his life is, causing Fontaine to sympathize: “A bartender’s life is a lonely one.” But then Fontaine goes off on a date with Ginger, prompting Quark to remind him of what he said, and Fontaine’s grinning response is that he’s not a bartender.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: What You Leave Behind

Plain, simple: Before they can attack Dominion HQ, Garak laments to Kira that he dreamt of returning to Cardassia, possibly even coming back to live with Mila. But instead, Cardassia is destroyed, the house levelled, Mila killed. Kira urges him to fight for a new Cardassia, but Garak says he’d rather just fight for revenge. “That works, too,” Kira mutters.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: What You Leave Behind

For Cardassia! Rather than be cowed by the Dominion’s authoritarian tactics, the Cardassians are emboldened by them, as the people and the military all rise up against the Dominion, turning the tide of the war—but also costing them billions and billions of lives.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: What You Leave Behind

Victory is life: From the beginning, the female changeling has always said that nothing was more important than bringing Odo back to the Great Link. She said it in “The Search, Part II,” in “Heart of Stone,” and in “Behind the Lines.” So when he offers that, it’s more than enough to get her to surrender, especially since it comes with the added bonus of curing the Great Link of Section 31’s disease.

Tough little ship: Nog and O’Brien express concern about the Defiant being sluggish and not as smooth as her predecessor, apparently forgetting how very un-smooth the ship was for a long time.

No sex, please, we’re Starfleet: Dax and Bashir are now officially a couple, continuing the tradition of the couple-that-doesn’t-become-a-couple-officially-until-the-finale that we got with Worf and Troi (who at least had been moving in that direction for most of the season) in “All Good Things…” and would get again with Chakotay and Seven of Nine (totally out of left field) in Voyager’s “Endgame.” (Sadly, Enterprise did not continue this tradition, thus depriving us of the totally unexpected Sato-Reed romance…)

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: What You Leave Behind

What happens on the holosuite stays on the holosuite: Bashir refuses to take Dax to do the Alamo on the holosuite. However, he is willing to take her to Thermopylae to participate in the battle of the three hundred Spartans holding the pass. Dax says he should talk to a counselor about all his annihilation fantasies—and then agrees to go with him on the holosuite date.

Keep your ears open: “To the best crew any captain ever had. This may be the last time we’re all together. But no matter what the future holds, no matter how far we travel, a part of us—a very important part—will always remain here, on Deep Space 9.”

Sisko’s toast to the crew in Vic’s.

Welcome aboard: This episode has the longest guest star list of any single episode in Star Trek history, and they’re almost all returning guests (in the cases of Alaimo and Eisenberg, playing characters who go all the way back to the first episode). It includes Marc Alaimo (Dukat), Casey Biggs (Damar), Rosalind Chao (Keiko), Jeffrey Combs (Weyoun), James Darren (Fontaine), Aron Eisenberg (Nog), Louise Fletcher (Winn), Hana Hatae (Molly), J.G. Hertzler (Martok), Barry Jenner (Ross), Salome Jens (the female changeling), Mel Johnson Jr. (Broca), Penny Johnson (Yates), Deborah Lacey (Sarah), Julianna McCarthy (Mila), Cyndi Pass (Ginger), and Andrew J. Robinson (Garak). The one and only new guest is Greg Ellis as Ekoor.

Trivial matters: This episode has the odd distinction of being the only one of the four Star Trek spinoff series whose finale took place entirely in the series’ present day. TNG’s “All Good Things…” had scenes 25 years in the future, seven years in the past, and billions of years in the past; Voyager’s “Endgame” had scenes 25 years in the future, also; and Enterprise’s “These are the Voyages…” takes place entirely 200 years in the future.

With the sole exception of Worf, who will appear in Star Trek Nemesis, this is the final onscreen appearance of every character in it.

The final day of filming was at Vic’s Place, including the big party on the holosuite, which was timed deliberately so that the whole cast could get together one last time. Several of the recurring regular actors and the production staff appeared (out of makeup, where appropriate) as faces in the crowd at Vic’s.

Martok, Ross, and Sisko promised to drink a toast on Cardassia in “Tears of the Prophets,” which doesn’t go quite the way they’d planned. (Well, Martok’s actually fine with it, but, y’know, Klingons.)

At the armistice signing, Ross quotes what General Douglas MacArthur said in Tokyo Bay when World War II ended.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: What You Leave Behind

O’Brien accused Bashir of losing the figure of Travis in “The Changing Face of Evil,” but it turned out to have fallen behind O’Brien’s couch. Oops.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: What You Leave Behind

Early notions of the story had Sisko being killed during the final battle and resurrected by the Prophets to fight the Pah-wraiths. In addition, the script originally stated emphatically that Sisko was to remain with the Prophets forevermore, but Avery Brooks was very uncomfortable with the notion of a black man abandoning his pregnant black wife, which doesn’t have major negative connotations in the 24th century society of Star Trek, but has huge ones in the turn-of-the-21st-century audience watching the show. The line was rewritten to indicate that Sisko would one day come back. (This was very much the right move beyond Brooks’s very legitimate concerns about the message being sent to viewers, as the show had spent seven years showing us that Benjamin Sisko is a great father, and turning him into someone who abandons his wife when she’s pregnant with their child is antithetical to that, plus the ambiguity of his return makes the final shot of Jake and Kira staring at the wormhole that much more poignant.)

The producers also toyed with a final shot of Benny Russell (“Far Beyond the Stars,” “Shadows and Symbols”) sitting outside a studio holding a script for DS9, which would’ve been amusing.

This is one of two Trek series finales in which Jeffrey Combs, Michael Dorn, and Colm Meaney appear. Combs was also in “These are the Voyages…” as Shran, while Dorn and Meaney were both also in “All Good Things…” as Worf and O’Brien.

The short story “Requital” by Andy Mangels & Michael A. Martin in Tales of the Dominion War (edited by your humble rewatcher) takes place in and around the events of this episode, and features (among others) Reese from “The Siege at AR-558” and Ekoor from this episode.

This episode was novelized by Diane Carey, who would also go on to novelize Voyager’s finale, “Endgame.” With the exception of “Emissary,” which was novelized by J.M. Dillard, all the DS9 novelizations were by Carey (“The Searchtwo-parter, “The Way of the Warrior,” “Trials and Tribble-ations,” and the sixth season’s opening arc in The Dominion War Books 2 and 4).

While this is the last time DS9 has appeared on screen, it was the first of the Trek series to have an official series of novels dedicated to chronicling the storyline following its last onscreen appearance. (There were several individual novels that told original series tales following Star Trek VI and the Generations prelude, but nothing particularly organized.) That series debuted in 2001 with the Avatar duology by S.D. Perry, and has included Abyss by David Weddle & Jeffrey Lang, Demons of Air and Darkness and “Horn and Ivory” by your humble rewatcher, the four-book Mission: Gamma series by David R. George III, Heather Jarman, Andy Mangels & Michael A. Martin, and Robert Simpson, The Left Hand of Destiny Books 1-2 by J.G. Hertzler & Lang, Rising Son and Unity by Perry, the six-short-novels-in-three-books series Worlds of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine spotlighting Cardassia (Una McCormack), Andor (Jarman), Bajor (J. Noah Kym), Trill (Mangels & Martin), Ferenginar (me), and the Dominion (George), Warpath by David Mack, Fearful Symmetry and The Soul Key by Olivia Woods, The Never-Ending Sacrifice by McCormack, Zero Sum Game by Mack, Rough Beasts of Empire, Plagues of Night, Raise the Dawn, and Revelation and Dust by George, A Ceremony of Losses by Mack, Lust’s Latinum Lost (and Found) by Paula M. Block & Terry J. Erdmann, and The Missing by McCormack, with more to come. In addition, the 2000 Garak-focused novel A Stitch in Time by Andrew J. Robinson was retroactively folded into the post-finale continuity, as was the 1999 anthology The Lives of Dax and the WildStorm comic book miniseries n-Vector by K.W. Jeter & Toby Cypress and Divided We Fall by Mack, John J. Ordover, Andrew Currie, & Mike Collins.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: What You Leave Behind

The first five stories listed above (Avatar Books 1-2, Abyss, Demons of Air and Darkness, and “Horn and Ivory”) were collected in an omnibus entitled Twist of Faith, which had as its epigraph the Pericles quote from whence this episode’s title derives: “What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.”

(Spoiler alert for various Simon & Schuster novels published between 2001 and the present day.) The novels (not just those listed above, but many many many others besides) have explored the decade following this episode and shown the fates of the various characters and situations, including the station at one point being destroyed and rebuilt. Sisko returned from the Celestial Temple in time for the birth of his daughter Rebecca at the same time that Bajor joined the Federation, though the notion that marrying Yates will bring him sorrow has continued to be explored as the couple has had some major tribulations since his return; Sisko left Starfleet for a time, but eventually came back and now commands the U.S.S. Robinson. Kira was in charge of the station, being made a Starfleet captain when Bajor joined the Federation, then later resigned her commission to become a vedek. Dax moved to the command track and then later transferred to the U.S.S. Aventine, eventually becoming her captain. Worf continued as Federation Ambassador to the Klingon Empire for four years before taking advantage of a presidential election to resign his diplomatic post and rejoin Starfleet just before Nemesis to become first officer of the U.S.S. Enterprise following Riker’s departure to command the U.S.S. Titan and Data’s death in that movie. Bashir continued to serve on the station for a time, but got embroiled in clandestine stuff (some of it involving Section 31) and then violated Federation law to help solve an Andorian genetic crisis that led to Andor re-entering the Federation after a temporary departure, but also resulted in Bashir losing his Federation medical license and Starfleet commission. Quark has continued to run the bar (some things should never change), although when Bajor became part of the Federation and its moneyless economy, Grand Nagus Rom appointed Quark Ferenginar’s ambassador to Bajor and designated the bar as the embassy, so he can continue to earn profit in the bar, which is officially Ferengi soil. Odo remained with the Great Link, eventually running the Dominion with Laas (from “Chimera”) when the other Founders went walkabout, though he is later trapped in the Alpha Quadrant while on a diplomatic mission. Nog continued on as the chief of operations on both iterations of the station. Jake spent a goodly amount of time searching for his father before his return (and did bring Kai Opaka home from the Gamma Quadrant), and then later met and married Azeni Korena (from “The Visitor”), continuing his career as a writer. Garak has been heavily involved in the rebuilding of his homeland, becoming a major leader of the slowly rebuilding postwar Cardassian Union. And finally, the female changeling’s words prove incorrect, as we do see another Weyoun show up, eventually becoming Odo’s attaché.

O’Brien and Bashir’s memory montage had clips from “The Changing Face of Evil,” “A Simple Investigation,” “The Storyteller,” “Inquisition,” “Trials and Tribble-ations,” “The Die is Cast,” “Rivals,” and “Explorers.” The music cues used for the bit right before that montage are from “The Minstrel Boy,” established in TNG’s “The Wounded” as a song O’Brien sang when he served on the Rutledge.

Worf’s montage: “The Way of the Warrior,” “Our Man Bashir,” “Penumbra,” “Tacking Into the Wind,” and “Strange Bedfellows.” Tellingly, none of the scenes feature Jadzia, as the studio and Terry Farrell were unable to work out compensation for her appearance in the clips.

Odo and Kira’s montage: “The Abandoned,” “His Way,” and “Chimera.”

Quark’s montage: “Shadows and Symbols,” “The Ascent,” “Homefront,” “Bar Association,” “Take Me Out to the Holosuite,” and “Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang.”

Jake’s montage: “Emissary,” “The Nagus,” “The Jem’Hadar,” “The Visitor,” “The Ascent,” “Explorers,” and “Nor the Battle to the Strong.”

Walk with the Prophets: “Today the guns are silent.” As the final episode of the two-year-plus Dominion War storyline, this is excellent. I love that the two factors that lead to victory aren’t military tactics or superiority, but a combination of a heretofore unsympathetic nation nobly fighting for freedom and justice and from an act of compassion by one of our main characters.

Unfortunately, as the finale of the TV show Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, it fails. The end of the war is not the same as the end of the show. Back in “Emissary,” Sisko was given two purposes: to become Emissary of the Prophets and to get Bajor ready to join the Federation. The former was handled ineptly with an inane storyline involving glowy red eyes and pretentious sounding prophecies that boil down to “we picked you because we needed someone to tackle a guy holding a book into a big fire,” and the latter was totally ignored. The final episode of the series should damn well have had Bajor actually entering the Federation.

Amusingly, of the four spinoffs, DS9—which is, to my mind, the strongest of the quartet overall—is the only one to fail this most basic structural tenet. TNG revisited the trial of humanity by the Q from its first episode, Voyager got our heroes home from the Delta Quadrant, and Enterprise ended with Earth helping form the Coalition of Planets that would eventually mutate into the Federation. But DS9 blew the landing by treating the show like Star Trek: The Dominion War.

Everything was in place for it, too. Kira being given a Starfleet commission so that the Cardassian rebellion would have the approval and influence of the Federation was the perfect prelude to Bajor becoming officially part of the Federation. And it would’ve been a far more appropriate and interesting resolution to the ongoing story of Bajor than a stupid side plot involving fire caves, glowy eyes, magic books, and a simply endless amount of shouting.

Seriously, Winn shouts at Dukat, Dukat shouts at Winn, Sisko shouts at Dukat, Dukat shouts at Sisko—and it’s all just to set up a totally absurd confrontation. The alienness of the Prophets, the depth of the rivalry between Sisko and Dukat is reduced to two actors (who deserve way better than this) yelling at each other and then tumbling into a fire. The complexity of the relationship between the two that we saw expressed so magnificently in “Defiant” and “The Way of the Warrior” and “The Maquistwo-parter and in so many other places is cast aside for some cheap-ass melodrama.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: What You Leave Behind

Which is too bad, because a lot of other stuff in the episode works beautifully. All the scenes on Cardassia are brilliantly realized, from the determination of Damar, Kira, and Garak to the growing frustration of the female changeling, as the deterioration of the war effort combines with the disease to harsh her mellow something fierce, to the relentless sucking up of both Weyoun and Broca (both of whom pay for their unthinking devotion with their lives). Every scene between Odo and Kira works magnificently—I may not have been sold on the notion of them becoming a couple in the abstract, but Nana Visitor and Rene Auberjonois make a believer out of me every time they’re together, culminating in that great shot of Odo in the tux entering the link. The episode does a beautiful job of closing out Bashir’s two bromances, with Garak and with O’Brien, Quark and Odo get exactly the right end to their bizarre relationship, and James Darren puts the perfect cherry on top with his lovely rendition of “The Way You Look Tonight” following Sisko’s toast.

Having said that, a lot of performances are a bit subdued or just a bit off. Nicole de Boer, Michael Dorn, and especially Avery Brooks seem really flat, and Louise Fletcher and Marc Alaimo are just terrible (though the latter three have by far the weakest material to work with). There should’ve been a scene with Jake and Nog, and the montages were cheesy and woefully incomplete. Why didn’t Dax get one? Why did Odo and Kira only get themselves as a couple when there was so much more to both of them? (Although, man, it’s easy to forget watching the show straight through how tiny Cirroc Lofton was in season one and how friggin tall he got by the end…)

While it was appropriate that TNG ended with the Enterprise pootling off onto its next mission with the crew intact, it is equally appropriate that DS9 ended with half the crew scattered to the nine winds. Sisko’s off with the Prophets, Odo’s off with the Great Link, Worf’s off to be a diplomat, Garak’s off to rebuild Cardassia, and O’Brien’s off to teach at Starfleet Academy. But Quark’s still at the bar, Kira’s in charge, Bashir and Dax and Nog are all still around, as are Jake and Yates. Even more fitting, the series’ final line is Quark, quoting Jean-Baptiste Alphone Karr’s famous line, “The more things change, the more things stay the same.” Indeed.

 

Warp factor rating: 6


Keith R.A. DeCandido will be the Author Guest of Honor at GalaxyFest in Colorado Springs this weekend, alongside actors Hilary Shepard (who played one of the Jack Pack on DS9), Michael Copon, and Jason Faunt; fellow authors Rebecca Moesta (cowriter of the Trek graphic novel The Gorn Crisis), Jessica Brawner, John Schuerman, Christopher Salas, Daniel M. Hoyt, Dave “Gusto” Jackson, JL Forrest, Kevin Ikenberry, Lou Berger, Mario Acevedo, Paul Lell, Sam Knight, Susanne Lambdin, and W.J. Cherf; special effects artist Ed Kramer; and many more. His schedule is here.

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