WARNING: "What You Leave Behind" is the DS9 finale; what I leave behind is a lot of angry readers if I don't put in a spoiler warning right now.
In brief: It's hard to say. A number of questionable pieces, but a whole that still winds up being moving.
Written by: Ira Steven Behr & Hans Beimler
Directed by: Allan Kroeker
"What You Leave Behind" had some big shoes to fill. Not only would some people look at it in the shadow of TNG's finale "All Good Things," but as the end of an ongoing storyline it had to provide some reasonable endings without seeming too artificial in the bargain. That's a tough job -- one need only look at the months-long arguments surrounding B5's "Sleeping in Light" to see what a tough
tightrope this is to walk.
So how'd it do? I've got a few thoughts (which is good, otherwise I've got no business writing any of this). First, though, the end of an era deserves a little something more than the usual 2-line summary. So, here's a throwback to my TNG-reviewing days: a full-fledged synopsis. More comments later. (If you're interested in skipping the synopsis altogether, you can look for a line of dashesidentical to the one just below.)
A bleary but content Julian Bashir is awakened by an alarm. He and Ezri, having just spent the night together for the first time, talk of new discoveries and old fears for a time, then Bashir gives voice to a new one: having just found love, he doesn't want to lose it to the war. They make a pact: to both come home alive.
Meanwhile, Chief Miles Edward O'Brien leaves last-minute instructions as he prepares to head for the Defiant. Keiko and Molly ask him if he's told Julian about Starfleet's offer to teach at the Academy -- he hasn't, but he will. He reassures them that once the war's over, they'll head back to Earth.
Visiting another couple, we see Sisko trying to help a pregnant and very nauseous Kasidy Yates. "If it will help, morning sickness ends after the first trimester." "Oh, that's two more months ... I don't think I'm gonna make it." Jake comes in to walk Sisko to his ship, and Sisko promises Kasidy that he will come back, and soon. Odo
and Worf head to the Defiant as well, the former with hopes of finding Kira alive and well.
At last, the Defiant's full complement is on board, and the ship prepares for departure. "Ensign -- I believe you know the way to Cardassia," notes Sisko. Nog replies, "If I get lost, I'll just follow the ship in front of us." The Defiant and its accompanying fleet leave DS9.
On Cardassia, Weyoun and the Founder hear news of the fleet and prepare for the battle. The Founder, much to Weyoun's surprise, promises the Breen Earth in return for their help -- but when Weyoun protests, she informs him privately that she would promise the Breen anything for their help at the moment. Legate Broca arrives with bad news: Damar may well be alive -- and not only alive, but in the capital city itself. He promises Weyoun that if Damar *is* alive, he won't be for long.
In the streets of the capital, Damar and Garak find themselves captured by Jem'Hadar, who are then killed themselves by Kira masquerading as a Breen. She upbraids Damar for his carelessness as they move off the streets.
Once back in Mila's basement, Damar and Garak update Kira with the news: massive work stoppages and sabotages are planned for the following day, which will leave the Dominion without ground support on Cardassia during their battle. Everyone is pleased, even Mila, who's seeing Garak's scheming nature as a virtue rather than a vice.
On the Defiant, everyone talks about everything except the upcoming battle. Bashir and O'Brien discuss Bashir's newfound love, Worf and Ezri discuss Bashir, Sisko and Odo talk about Kira ... all is well, until Sisko abruptly finds himself talking with Prophet-Sarah. "The Emissary's task is nearing completion." "Are you talking about the
war?" "You have walked the path the Prophets have laid out for you,Benjamin. Do not falter now." "I don't intend to." "Know this, my son: your journey's end lies not before you, but behind you." With that, the communication fades, leaving Sisko thoughtful...
Meanwhile, on Bajor, a sighted Dukat returns to Winn. He's been forgiven by the Pagh Wraiths, and hopes for her forgiveness as well. She scoffs, but admits that she needs him: she knows how to free the Wraiths from the fire-caves, but needs his help to do it. Soon the Wraiths will destroy the Prophets -- though Dukat reserves the
Emissary for himself. Sisko will survive the war, he notes, "but I promise you -- he'll wish he hadn't..."
In the midst of all this action, Quark finds himself with nothing to do, so plays cards with Vic, lamenting all the while the lonely life of a bartender.
Winn and Dukat make their way through the fire-caves. Winn needs to stop and rest often, but she responds to Dukat's impatience with nothing but scorn, adding in the bargain that he is to call her "Eminence" from here on in, not "Adami." "Is that clear?" "Perfectly ... *Eminence*."
On Cardassia, Weyoun notices that the Dominion lines are spread too thinly in one area, and plans to send reinforcements -- but at that moment, the power goes out. Emergency power is restored, but communications are out -- and when Broca comes in with the news that it's the ordinary people who have revolted, the Founder nearly strangles him for it. Weyoun makes a hasty suggestion: if the people have chosen to rise up, it's the people who should be punished -- severely.
A little over twenty minutes later, Damar and company are exultant in their basement -- until the power comes back on and Weyoun announces to the planet that Lakarian City has been reduced to ashes, with two million citizens killed. This will happen every time sabotage is detected, and Weyoun urges the people to join together
with the Dominion again as friends.
As the transmission ends, Damar fumes. "I should have killed that Vorta jackal when I had the chance." "You want another one?" asks Kira, who's decided that it's time to take the fight to the source.
On the Defiant, Sisko has a hasty viewscreen conference with Martok and Admiral Ross, the former of whom reminds everyone of his promise a year ago to drink a bottle of bloodwine with them on Cardassia Prime within a year. "Then I'll meet you both on Cardassia," notes Ross. "We'll see who gets there first." And with that, the battle is joined.
In Mila's basement, Mila frets over Garak not taking proper care of himself -- but then the scene is interrupted by a ring at the door. The rebels hide themselves, and Mila goes to answer the door, only to be faced by a troop of Jem'Hadar and Cardassian soldiers.
In the basement, the rebels wonder what's taking Mila so long. The door opens, and Mila's body is flung downstairs. Garak yells in anguish and runs to her, only to be stunned by a bomb tossed down with her. The rebels find themselves beaten and caught.
On the Defiant in the midst of battle, O'Brien's shoulder is wounded. As Bashir tends to it, O'Brien muses that "I'm gonna miss our games, Julian." When Bashir wonders what that's supposed to mean, O'Brien breaks the news that he's going back to Earth.
Sisko, in the meantime, is talking with Admiral Ross, who's reporting a collapse of the Romulan lines. They talk tactics.
On Cardassia, Broca gets to come in with good news for a change, reporting the capture of Damar and the others. Weyoun smiles serenely. "Shall I have them brought here?" "What for?" asks the Founder. "Have them executed -- immediately."
Their orders received, the Jem'Hadar prepare to execute Damar and his party, refusing even to allow them some last words. At the last moment, however, the Jem'Hadar themselves are executed -- by the accompanying Cardassians, with the words "That's for Lakarian City" on their lips. They pledge themselves to free Cardassia from the Dominion in Damar's service.
In battle, the Defiant is beginning to take a serious pounding, and there seems to be no obvious avenue of escape. Suddenly, salvation comes from an unexpected quarter: the Cardassian ships begin turning and firing on their Dominion allies! With a renewed sense of relief and determination, Sisko orders the fleet through the new hole in the Dominion lines...
In response to this, the Founder orders the Dominion fleet to drop back to Cardassia Prime, where the running will end once and for all. Having grown weary of the Cardassian rebellion, she orders Broca removed and executed, then tells Weyoun, "I want the Cardassians exterminated." "Which ones?" "All of them -- the entire population!"
Noticing the retreat, Sisko engages in a hasty conference with Ross and Martok. Despite the obvious costs of pressing on, however, he urges the fleet to do just that: otherwise, the Dominion can regroup and rebuild for a long time. Everyone agrees: it's time to finish what they've started.
Meanwhile, back on Bajor, Winn and Dukat finally reach the center of the fire-caves, but Dukat drops his pack in disgust. "This may sound naive, but I *was* expecting to see fire!" he protests. "They are called the fire-caves." "And with good reason," replies Winn, who then chants from the book of Kosst Amojan. The cavern before them erupts in flame: here, then, are the Pagh Wraiths. "Is that better?"
In Mila's basement, the rebels plan their final assault, then leave before Mila's house is destroyed. Garak laments the death of his Cardassia, and when Kira tells him to fight for a new one he responds that he has a better reason: revenge.
In the fire-caves, Winn is as jubilant as one could ever see her, divesting herself of the Kai's raiment and joining Dukat for a savage kiss. She is ready to call for the Wraiths: "Bring me the book!" She begins to chant...
As the fleet nears Cardassia Prime (and Odo hears the news of the destruction of whole cities), the resistance discovers a rather large problem outside the Dominion headquarters: the cargo door they intended to blow down is made of neutronium and thus impervious to their charges. As they mull over what to do (with no small dose of
gallows humor), the Breen leader heads to the front lines and the Founder is wracked with new illness-induced pain. Weyoun promises that he would gladly sacrifice his life for hers, and she muses "If only it were that easy."
An opportunity then presents itself to the rebels, as Broca's guards take him out the cargo door for execution. As Broca falls dead, Damar's resistance rises up, shooting all who stand in their way. They fight their way in and get reasonably far -- but then Damar falls to the ground, mortally wounded. With only a word -- "Keep" -- he falls silent forever. Kira reminds everyone that they promised to press on and stop for nothing, and that they do.
Weyoun notices the security breach and orders the last remaining Jem'Hadar guards to wait just outside the room and make sure nothing gets through.
As the fleet plans for a battle which is likely to kill at least half of them, Kira and Garak finally make it to the control room, capturing Weyoun and the Founder. Even then, however, the Founder refuses to surrender. Weyoun asks sardonically after Damar, hears that he died trying to free Cardassia, corrects Garak with "What's *left* of it," and is promptly killed. "I wish you hadn't done that," sighs the Founder. "That was Weyoun's last clone." "I was hoping you'd say that," notes Garak. The Founder continues to resist, however -- the war may be lost, but with the Jem'Hadar and the Breen fighting to the last man the Federation's victory will be a Pyrrhic one indeed.
Kira promptly informs Sisko of the situation, and Odo offers to go down and talk with the Founder, hoping one last time to change her mind. Sisko reluctantly agrees.
On Bajor, Winn pours a ritual drink, then offers it to Dukat first. Dukat takes it eagerly, drinks deeply, then waits for Winn, who promptly pours the remainder on the ground. Dukat looks, perplexed, then writhes with agony as the poison takes effect. The Pagh Wraiths demand a life in sacrifice, and Winn has chosen Dukat as that sacrifice -- he will fuel the fires that will set them free.
On Cardassia, Odo appears, greets Kira warmly and asks her to trust him, then devotes himself to the Founder. After his initial promises that the Federation will keep her people safe fail, he offers to Link with her and attempt to cure her illness. Kira and Garak are thunderstruck, with Garak trying to threaten Odo out of it, but in the
end Odo's offer stands and is accepted. After the Link, she is as good as new, and has somehow seen the error of her ways: she tells her troops to stand down and agrees to stand trial. The war is now over.
Relieved, Kira wonders why the Founder didn't insist on going back to her world to cure her people, and is then answered: Odo is going in her place -- permanently.
The three alliance leaders stand on Cardassia Prime in victory, as promised. Sisko and Ross, however, have no eagerness to drink a toast over the bodies of so many Cardassians, enemies or no -- but Martok dismisses them and drinks heartily himself.
Bashir and Garak note the casualty reports with horror (over 800 million dead as a preliminary estimate), and Garak notes that although his exile is over, it tastes rather bitter, as the vibrant culture he once knew is probably gone for good, and not without some small share of culpability on his race's part. He bids Bashir a bittersweet
farewell. "Oh, I'm sure we'll see each other again." "I'd like to think so -- but one can never say. We live in uncertain times."
As the scene switches to DS9, the Founder and Admiral Ross sign a formal peace treaty, ending the war. After Ross notes the importance of looking forward rather than back, the Founder leaves her people's fate in Odo's hands.
As Worf and Ezri talk idly, Sisko, Ross and Martok approach with an offer for Worf: if he wants it, he's to be named Federation ambassador to Qo'noS. With some mixed feelings, Worf accepts, leaving Martok quite pleased at having an ambassador he can go targ-hunting with.
Odo and Kira, meanwhile, face a far more painful farewell. She wonders if he can come back, and he says that he could, but he's not going to. The only way for his people to learn that the solids can be trusted, he says, is for him to be in the Great Link sharing his experiences with them. His love for her will never change, but he has to do this. Kira accepts this, but has one final request: that she be the one to take him home. "I'd like that," he responds. "I'd like that very much."
With many departures looming, the crew heads to Vic's for one last victory/farewell party. As everyone banters about where the O'Briens should live ("Minsk," Worf repeatedly insists), and O'Brien promises Bashir a trip to the *real* Alamo, Sisko toasts them all: "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 of us ... will always remain here, on Deep Space Nine." Vic offers themone final song and a final farewell.
In the fire-caves, Winn calls up the Wraiths, who act -- by stunning her and reviving Dukat, now with his Cardassian features restored!
Sisko, dancing with Kasidy, shudders as if hurt. He tells Kasidy that now he knows what he must do as Emissary, and that he has to leave for the fire-caves -- now, and alone.
In the caves, Dukat exults in his new power, letting Winn know in no uncertain terms what a mistake she's made. "Did you really think the Pagh Wraiths would choose *you* as their Emissary? Soon the Pagh Wraiths will burn across Bajor, the Celestial Temple, the Alpha Quadrant ... can you picture it? An entire universe -- set in *flames* to burn for all eternity!" Suddenly, Sisko appears, but he's not unexpected. His initial attempts to hurt Dukat end in vain, and Dukat forces him down onto his knees.
Sisko pants out, "You are pathetic!"
"Then why are you the one on your knees?"
"First the Dominion, now the Pagh Wraiths. You have a talent for picking the losing sides -- aagh!"
"Benjamin, please: we've known each other too long. And since this is the last time we will ever be together, let's try to speak honestly. We've both had our victories and our defeats. Now it's time to resolve our differences and face the ultimate truth: I've won, Benjamin ... you've lost."
"The Pagh Wraiths will never conquer *anything*: not Bajor, not the Celestial Temple, and certainly not the Alpha Quadrant!"
"And who's going to stop us?"
Dukat chuckles. "You can't even stand up."
"Then *I'll* stop you!" comes a voice from an unexpected quarter. Winn raises the Kosst Amojan above her head ... only to find herself holding nothing, as Dukat holds the book himself.
"Are you still here?" notes Dukat ominously.
Winn tries to warn Sisko -- "Emissary, the book!" -- just as the power summoned by Dukat burns her to cinders. "Farewell, Adami," spits Dukat.
Sisko takes this distraction as an opportunity, and rushes Dukat. The two of them and the book fall off the cliff together. Sisko sees the book disintegrate and Dukat howl in agony, and then --
-- finds himself with the Prophets. "Sarah? Are you here? What happened?"
Sarah appears. "The Emissary has completed his task."
"But the Pagh Wraiths --"
"You've returned them to their prison within the fire-caves."
"The book was the key, wasn't it?"
"To a door that can never be opened again."
"And Dukat -- is he dead?"
"He's where he belongs -- with the Pagh Wraiths. Your time of trial is ended: you need to rest now."
"I intend to," Sisko assures her, "just as soon as I return to Deep Space Nine."
"That won't be necessary," she responds eerily. "You're with *us* now."
On DS9, a concerned Kasidy is updated on the search, which is going very badly. She's convinced something has happened to him, then has a flash, and finds herself with him:
"Where are we?"
"The Celestial Temple."
"This is scaring me -- let's go home."
"I can't. Not now."
"Why not? ... Oh, God. This is it, isn't it? The sorrow that the Prophets warned us about?"
"It's difficult to explain. It's not linear."
"My life. My destiny. The Prophets saved me, Kasidy. I'm their Emissary -- and they still have a great deal for me to do. But first, there is much to learn -- things only the Prophets can teach me."
"When will you be back?"
"It's hard to say. Maybe a year ... maybe yesterday. But I will be back."
"And I will be waiting."
With that, Kasidy finds herself back on DS9 again, with a concerned Jake by her side. "I was talking to your father..."
As characters prepare to reflect and look back on their pasts on board the station, Odo and Kira try to slip quietly away, only to be caught by Quark. Quark smugly asks if Odo has anything to say, "such as 'Goodbye. You certainly were a worthy adversary.' Or maybe something with the words 'mutual respect' in it."
"No? What do you mean, no?"
"I mean no. I have nothing I want to say to you."
"You're telling me that after all these years ... after all we've been through, you're not even going to say goodbye to me?"
"That's right. Nerys, I'll be on the runabout. Hmpph." With that,Odo leaves. Kira tries to console Quark, but he'll have none of it. "That man *loves* me. Couldn't you see? It was written all over his back."
Bashir and O'Brien part company with a final goodbye.
On Foundersworld, Kira and Odo note how different the Link looks -- they're all dying. Odo asks her to tell everyone he'll miss them. "Even Quark?" "Even Quark. But most of all ..." "I know." He changes his uniform into a tuxedo one last time, then strides into the Link as he says farewell. Kira stands and watches him go...
Later, newly-promoted Lieutenant Nog gives Kira an update on station matters; she dismisses him, picks up Sisko's baseball, then watches the bustle of Ops and tosses the ball to herself.
Bashir and Ezri plan a trip to the holosuites, but not to the Alamo -- Bashir can't do that one any more. He does, however, have this program with a last stand at Thermopylae. "Have you talked to a counselor about these annihilation fantasies?"
Quark chats with Morn, then deals with a complaint from Kira about a betting pool he's running on the next Kai. "It's like I said -- the more things change, the more they stay the same."
Exiting Quark's, Kira sees Jake on the upper level of the Promenade. As he stands watching the wormhole open, she goes to him with a friendly arm. Together they watch, as we pull back, gradually losing Deep Space Nine among the stars.
Well ... there we are. (If you want to know why this review is a few days late, the above is certainly one good reason.) And now, some discussion.
Considering all the different plotlines, characters and issues that had to be addressed, it's almost a given that some expectations somewhere were going to be slighted. In some ways, I think talking about this is a bit like talking about "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace," in that given all the hype it's important to distinguish actual
problems from plain old "well, what *I* would have done" sentiment. This isn't to say that the latter isn't valid -- it's just somewhat less universal. I've got plenty of both, don't worry; I'm just planning to clearly label which falls under which category.
If I had to sum up "What You Leave Behind" in a single sentence, that sentence would be something like "I liked where most of the characters ended up, but had a lot of problems with how they got there." Several of those characters I expected to die (Weyoun, Winn, Dukat) actually did for valid reasons, and other characters had their
stories resolved in unexpected, mostly logical, ways.
There were a number of problems I had with the end of the war from a logistical standpoint, several of which fall under the category of "villain stupidity." I'm glad the Founder didn't fall victim to the typical blunder of "ah, the rebel leader is captured; let's bring him in here so I can gloat" -- but I'm left to wonder who decided that sending armed Cardassians around with the Jem'Hadar was a good idea. If Weyoun had had *any* brains at all, he'd have made them Jem'Hadar only.
Similarly, while having the Cardassian ships switch sides and turn the tide of battle was definitely a nice moment ... aren't there any Jem'Hadar on those ships? If so, how did they lose control so quickly -- and so simultaneously?
The Breen are perhaps the biggest disappointment in terms of the war. They came out of nowhere a couple of months ago and were billed as the Biggest, Baddest Menace in the Alpha Quadrant [patent pending]. Everything about them was supposed to spell mystery -- what do they look like? Why do (or don't) they need those
refrigeration suits? Why have no expeditions to their space ever returned? Speculation was rampant. Here, one of those mysteries is explicitly mentioned, and Thot Pran's insistence on leading his own ship suggested that we were being set up for something big -- but in the end, we got absolutely nothing. They had one more visually
distinctive ship, one more Evil Weapon (which could have been set up just as handily as a new Dominion advance), and that's it. Can we say "washout"?
I also wonder quite a bit about Odo's Miracle [TM]. Apparently we're meant to believe that once he has the cure, he's a carrier for it every bit as much as he was a carrier for the disease. Okay, fine: it strikes me as poor planning on the part of Section 31 when they designed it, but I can live with it. However, exactly what voodoo did
he work on the Founder to suddenly make her come around? Linking with her has never made her more receptive to Odo's ideas in the past. If he got across to her the notion that it was a solid that found the cure, great -- but how would he do that without also communicating that a group of solids *designed* the thing? The
previous episode had a terrific conversation between Odo and Sisko showing just how disenchanted Odo was with the Federation's blindness toward Section 31; unfortunately, none of that really got across in the finale itself except for one single line about how Odo knows that "the Federation has its flaws."
As long as we're on the subject of "things which never went anywhere," the brand-new Defiant seems to fit the bill. I said it last week, but it's still true: given that this Defiant is functionally identical to the old one, the only reason left for destroying the original back in "The Changing Face of Evil" was to impress upon us that the Breen are a force to be reckoned with. However, it would seem that they're *not* much of a force -- they had some numbers and one nice weapon, but as soon as the Federation found a way to counter it they had the upper hand again. Some menace.
All of that said, however, a lot of the conclusion of the war worked quite well for me. In particular, I thought the ruin of Cardassia was well played. The "you sabotage us, we kill two million of you" idea was very in keeping with Dominion philosophy and Weyoun's tactics particularly, I thought -- and the point that this was far from a clean victory is one that very much needed to be made.
On a character level, I do wonder about the killing of Damar. He'd been built up so well over the last half-season that I expected more than a quick martyrdom. With Damar alive, Cardassia would be ruined but ready to rebuild. Without him, Cardassia may not have much to show for itself at all. Were I Garak, surrounded by the wreckage of everyone and everything I ever cared about, I might be finding the nearest sharp object and slitting my wrists with it. (His farewell speech to Bashir did sound an awful lot like someone who was on the verge of suicide, too.)
I also wonder about Garak himself. The Garak we've seen for the latter half of this season is an able and ready member of the resistance ... but there's really nothing much there to distinguish him from any other loyal Cardassian patriot, except that we know him better. Compare this Garak to the one from "Improbable Cause" or more recently "In the Pale Moonlight," and it's evident that this one is a shadow of the one we used to see. Garak still has interesting sardonic asides here and there, but he used to have a depth that went well past that.
Many of the "partings of the ways" we got after the war seemed pretty sensible. Given how much difficulty the O'Brien family has had on DS9, for Miles *not* to take a job on Earth after the war would just be asking for trouble, so that tracks. Making Worf an ambassador ... well, hey, we could do worse. :-) Seriously, making
him an ambassador lets him keep his professed allegiance to the Federation while spending time with his own people, which seems a pretty ideal situation for him.
Then there's Odo. Ouch. I expected half a season ago or more that he was going to wind up going back to the Great Link to be with his people, but it still makes for pretty wrenching viewing. Despite the fact that he could one day come back, his situation and especially Rene Auberjonois' performance make it awfully clear that he never expects to. One gets the sense that were it not for Kira, he'd be gone without a moment's hesitation, and it's only Kira who's making him linger at all. Now, that's exactly the sense we're supposed to get -- but it doesn't always work that way, particularly when it comes to Trek romances, so I'm quite glad that shone through so well. Forget Sisko and Kasidy -- watching Odo say goodbye to Kira was easily the most emotionally difficult moment of the show for this viewer.
One thing I particularly liked about Odo's departure above and beyond the Kira material was his final farewell, or rather lack thereof, to Quark. The Odo/Quark relationship has its roots way back in DS9's premiere, and when done well has always been a highlight. Despite the fact that Odo *does* have some level of respect for Quark, it's a given that he'd never admit it when backed against the wall like this -- and his blunt "no, I have nothing to say to you" was a treat. Those two will be missed.
And Bashir and O'Brien? Let's just say I bought it and leave it at that. The few scenes we got between the two of them this time did much more for me than "Extreme Measures" in its entirety -- they knew this was goodbye despite their big talk of the future, and words were pretty much unnecessary. It fit; that's all that needs be said.
I have mixed feelings about the farewell scene in Vic's. On the one hand, I think we did need some kind of scene that was going to bring everyone together, and it wasn't going to be at the very end, unlike the poker game in "All Good Things..." On the other hand, I'm not sure this was the way to do it. The pre-song banter ("Minsk!") was worth the time, but I kept myself entertained during the song by picking out what cameos I could -- Ira Steven Behr was easy to spot, as he was the only one in shades, and I'm pretty certain I saw both Casey Biggs and Jeffrey Combs out of makeup as well.
That leaves Sisko's fate, and that requires backing up to cover all of the Dukat/Winn/Wraith material.
The lead-up to the big confrontation was pretty reasonable. I'm more than a little annoyed that we didn't get to see any of Dukat's exile to the streets while he was blinded -- chalk up another get-him-out-of-the-way plot device -- but the Dukat/Winn interactions once he returns were a lot of fun anyway. (Dukat's grin when Winn tells him she was waiting for him is worth the entire scene.) Perhaps Dukat earned the Pagh Wraiths' forgiveness, but he certainly didn't learn any humility while he was gone: he's spitting so much bile that I felt as though I needed a towel next to me. It's fun to see how Dukat can take just one word -- "Eminence" -- and invest it with about ten different emotions simultaneously, all of them bad for Winn.
Winn's subsequent betrayal and its backfiring were cute, but no real surprise: given how strongly Dukat has been built up as the Anti-Sisko for so long, there was no way a simple poisoned drink was going to remove him from the picture.
Then we get the actual confrontation. In a nutshell, most of it's the biggest disappointment in the entire show. Dukat, Winn, and Sisko are all interesting, three-dimensional characters most of the time, but this scenario was about as two-dimensional, four-color comic-book as they come. We have the overwhelmingly powerful villain turned upon by his former ally? Check. Hero beats the villain during a moment of distraction? Check. Hero is miraculously saved? Perhaps less common, but check nonetheless. There was really *nothing* here to give Dukat, Sisko, or Winn distinct personalities of their own -- all we had was posture and counter-posture. (It's not
even made particularly clear whether Winn had a true change of heart at the end or just turned on Dukat out of spite -- she only gets about two sentences, neither particularly enlightening.) Marc Alaimo is a good enough actor that he can make almost anything he's in watchable (except for "Wrongs Darker Than Death or Night" last
year, perhaps), but I challenge anyone to compare this scene to, say, any Sisko/Dukat conversation from "The Maquis" and tell me that this is the material the characters truly deserved.
An aside: with Dukat out of the way and Solbor long dead, does anyone actually *know* of Winn's betrayal? The consequences for Bajor could be pretty severe, if so -- boy, I wish we had some way of knowing...
A second aside: if the key to imprisoning the Pagh Wraiths was destroying that book, isn't it a bit silly of the Wraiths to make it vulnerable to their own flames? Overconfidence, I suppose.
What little I *did* get out of that confrontation came from its echoes. If you're going to shoehorn these characters into Ultimate Foes Grappling For Eternity [TM], then having them topple off a cliff together a la Holmes and Moriarty is a good way to do it. (Given the flames beneath them, though, the first connection I made was to Odin
and Surtur grappling in a particularly good issue of Walt Simonson's _Thor_ comic circa 1984. Then again, I'm not always responsible for the connections my brain makes.) Similarly, the execution of the hero-on-his-knees-saved-by-female-ally-of-the-villain felt *very* reminiscent of TOS's second pilot, "Where No Man Has Gone
Before," and that one might even have been intentional. The confrontation in and of itself did nothing for me, but at least it reminded me of several things that did. :-)
And the Prophets? They're not wormhole aliens -- they're *exposition* aliens, at least this time. The enigmatic, fascinating people from the first few seasons of DS9 were swept aside, and in their place we got "Sarah" -- who's not being played all that well to begin with, and is given very little interesting to say or do. So much
for nonlinear thinking. As for Sisko's final conversation with Kasidy ... it was moving in its way, to be sure, but I'm also left a little unsettled. Considering that this was the Prophets' claim of "nothing but sorrow" coming to pass,
Sisko himself seemed awfully blase about it. It doesn't look to me as though *he* will know nothing but sorrow -- Kasidy's the one whose life is taking a major turn for the worse, not Ben. That worm of doubt blunted the scene's impact for me a bit.
And ... Ben? Could you spare a moment to say something to your *son*, maybe? You know, the one you've seen grow up over the last twenty years and have promised time and time again never to leave stranded? I mean, I realize Kasidy is your wife and the mother of your child, but you and Jake go back a hell of a lot further. Just a word or two would have been nice, at a bare minimum.
(Actually, the DS9 staff did this a lot. Once someone's married, or often even involved, that relationship immediately becomes the only thing they "need" to worry about writing. Look at the lack of farewell between Jadzia and Sisko, or how much time we spent here on Bashir and Ezri. I could have done without such deep,
meaningful observations as "I've never gone into battle with someone I've slept with" before if it meant two more minutes we could spend on Sisko/Kira or Sisko/Jake. At least with Odo, we also got a farewell with Quark.)
That objection is starting to move me into the "well, it's not what *I* would have done" territory I mentioned earlier -- another way to look at it might be sins of omission rather than the previously mentioned sins of commission. So, here goes.
There are several big things that I think were never addressed. The first was some kind of final scene between Sisko and Jake, as I've already mentioned -- Jake got horribly, *horribly* shortchanged during this entire half-season, and he's been such a down-to-earth character that I'm more than a little annoyed by this.
The second one also goes back a very long ways. During the first few seasons of DS9, I don't think anyone would disagree with the notion that Sisko and Kira had one of the most interesting and fleshed-out relationships of anyone on DS9 (and possibly in Trek as a whole, but that's more debatable). Both in terms of who they were
and in terms of what they represented (they *were*, after all, Federation/Bajor relations in microcosm), they were fascinating, multi-faceted, and nearly always the highlight of a show.
Here? They got effectively no time together at all -- the only time they exchanged dialogue was over a viewscreen, and the only time they were in the same room together was at Vic's. There's nothing there to tell us how Sisko felt about leaving Kira (and Bajor), and nothing to tell us how Kira felt about Sisko's departure -- with her religious beliefs, her reaction to this would have been very interesting indeed. What's more, Sisko's original mission was to bring Bajor into the Federation -- and that issue was not mentioned *at all* here at the end. Yes, "Rapture" implies that they'll be brought into the Federation once the war is over, but that's about all we've got. I find that upsetting.
Basically, my own sense is that this "Final Chapter" arc, while overall good for what it did, spent too much time on the wrong things as opposed to the things which made DS9 interesting. Bajor is no longer an interesting, fully realized world -- so far as the viewer's led to care, it has about three people living on it. The Federation's moral
ambiguity regarding Section 31 is mentioned, then ignored (and Ross's part in it is completely ignored, annoyingly). Sisko and Kira are relegated to the role of passing acquaintances, Garak is much shallower than he really should be, Winn is killed almost as an afterthought -- and this so we can obsess over who Ezri will be
sleeping with, whether a bit character feels any remorse on his deathbed, and what's under those Breen helmets (which Kira knows yet again, but apparently isn't telling). The finale was nice for what it was, but it doesn't represent the show I grew attached to.
And yet. Elements of "What You Leave Behind" were undeniably moving, particularly the last 10-15 minutes. Maybe I was just in an overly emotional "goodbye" mode (having spent several days before and after the show saying goodbye to my classes this year and to a group of seniors I'd bonded with quite deeply), but the "memory" montages really struck a chord with me. Odo's and Kira's touching farewell, Kira's helping hand to Jake, the final pullback away from the station -- these are things which will stick in my mind after the gripes are gone, and for that I cannot help but be thankful.
Some other thoughts, as this review has gone on so long as to merit its own ZIP code:
-- I watched "Emissary" before putting the finishing touches on this review, and noticed an interesting appearance. J.G. Hertzler (then as "John Noah Hertzler") appears even then, in this case as the Vulcan
captain of the Saratoga, Sisko's old ship at Wolf-359. The man gets around. (That means he's played at least four races -- human, Vulcan, Klingon, and Changeling. If you count playing a Kryptonian on "Lois & Clark," that may be a record. :-) )
-- After all the buildup surrounding Ezri and Bashir, it's interesting to point out that they didn't stand anywhere *near* each other during Vic's song. Bad choreography, I'd guess.
-- So if Worf's the new Federation ambassador to Qo'noS, what happened to the old one? Did someone just get fired, or were they promoted out of harm's way?
-- Dennis McCarthy's music during the montage of memories felt very right, particularly the swell as everyone walks into Quark's.
-- Looking at those montages ... boy, Cirroc Lofton has grown up during the series, hasn't he? I think he gained about two feet vertically and about one across the shoulders.
-- We never did find out whether Mila was Garak's mother; I'm betting yes, but I guess we'll never know for certain.
-- The peace treaty sounded a bit odd -- the "Federation Alliance"? Since when?
-- We also never saw Kai Opaka return, despite her claim to the contrary way back in season 1. Ah, well.
-- I loved the idea of Quark running a betting pool on the next Kai. Just the sort of thing guaranteed to tick off Kira, too.
-- Is it just me, or did the Alamo wind up being nothing *but* a running gag?
-- Like the Breen, the Romulans seemed to serve very little purpose here other than to add in another layer of cool-looking ships. At least we got some better work with them in previous shows.
-- As one final reminder: you can catch me on "Jeopardy!" on June 16 (and possibly later if I did well there; I'm not allowed to say). Alas, there was no "DS9 Guest Actors" category. :-)
-- As a public service, here's a hopefully-complete list of what appeared during each montage. In most cases, I've got the episode as well, but I'm not certain of all of them.
O'Brien's memories with Bashir:
-- playing with Bashir and the Alamo model at Quark's ("The Changing Face of Evil")
-- "Falcon" accosting Secret Agent Julian Bashir ("A Simple Investigation")
-- fighting off an assassin with Bashir ("The Storyteller")
-- getting his shoulder fixed after a kayaking accident ("Inquisition")
-- on the original Enterprise with Bashir, who's holding a tribble (do I really need to name this one?)
-- lunch with Bashir in place of Garak ("The Die Is Cast")
-- playing racquetball with Bashir ("Rivals," I think)
-- singing "Jerusalem" with a very drunk Bashir ("Explorers")
Worf's memories (which are almost all very recent):
-- meeting Sisko ("The Way of the Warrior")
-- playing baccarat with Bashir ("Our Man Bashir," and it's worth noting that this one doesn't make any sense -- it wasn't Worf's *mind*, so how can he remember it?)
-- clinching with Ezri ("Penumbra")
-- fighting Gowron ("Tacking Into the Wind")
-- hanging around with Ezri ("'Til Death Do Us Part")
Kira's memories with Odo:
-- Odo using his bucket for flowers ("The Abandoned")
-- dancing at Vic's ("His Way")
-- "Well, why don't I just kiss you now?" "Well, why don't you?" ("His Way")
-- Kira relaxing in Odo's arms (this one I can't place)
-- Odo shapeshifting at the end of "Chimera"
-- being accosted by Worf in full Klingon garb (possibly "Looking for Par'Mach in All the Wrong Places," but I'm not sure)
-- being smacked by Odo ("The Ascent")
-- talking O'Brien and Bashir out of throwing their drinks after the Battle of Britain ("Homefront")
-- watching Rom pour something vile into his ear (I remember watching and hating this scene, but I can't place it -- I think it's a couple of years old)
-- attempting to play baseball ("Take Me Out to the Holosuite")
-- watching everyone head in to save Vic ("Badda-bing, Badda- bang")
-- fishing on the holodeck with his father ("Emissary" -- one of the first shots we ever get of him!)
-- hugging Sisko on the Promenade (definitely the first season or two, but beyond that I don't know)
-- laughing with Sisko in the woods ("The Jem'Hadar," probably)
-- standing over Sisko in the infirmary ("The Visitor," and this one doesn't make sense either given that it's in an alternate timeline)
-- solar-sailing with Sisko ("Explorers")
-- packing up to move into his own quarters ("The Ascent")
-- a general father/son hug (possibly "The Ascent" also given the outfit, but hard to place)
That should do it, at long last. Unlike TNG's finale, where "All Good Things" was obviously superior to the "Encounter at Farpoint" premiere, "What You Leave Behind" definitely has its share of substantial flaws. In some ways, though, that feels right -- DS9 dealt with a flawed, human universe, warts and all, where TNG typically
stayed squeaky clean. When you get into flawed people and flawed worlds, you're bound to hit a few more bumps. I certainly wish that DS9 had taken different paths on several occasions, but it's not the staff's job to follow my vision -- it's their job to follow their own, and for the most part they did so honorably.
And now, a final sum-up:
Writing: Definitely some problems getting from point A to point B, and the Dukat/Sisko confrontation didn't work for me at all. Most of the final destinations clicked, though.
Directing: Some nice work in spots, particularly the battle montages and memory montages -- no real complaints.
Acting: Special praise to Visitor and Auberjonois, but pretty much everyone did good work with what they had.
OVERALL: 7 for what it was, particularly the ending. For what I'd have wanted it to be, probably lower, but I'm not sure that's fair.
And with DS9's goodbye comes one of my own. I bade farewell to TNG reviews five years ago, but knew I wasn't going away for good -- after all, there was DS9 as an ongoing series. This time, after eleven years, it's likely really it. (Before you ask ... yes, I'll do a season-7 wrap-up later this summer. A full DS9 retrospective is
possible, but if I do it I'm hoping to do it for real publication rather than virtual.)
I started reviewing TNG in my late teens. I was in college, single,enjoying this new-to-me concept called e-mail and Usenet, televised science fiction was rare, and I decided that if my roommate could do reviews, I could damn well manage it on my own. :-) Now I'm less than a year away from my thirties, I'm out of school (well, out of student-hood, anyway), I'm happily married (coming up on eight years), reviewers are atop every rock (and in a few cases under them :-) ), everyone not currently orbiting the planet is online, SFTV is too plentiful for anyone with an actual life to keep up with completely, and it's time to go.
As I did with TNG, I would like to thank the creative forces behind "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" (by which I mean writers, directors, actors, composers ... everybody) for creating a show I cared enough about to review from beginning to end even on those weeks when I really wanted nothing more than an extra few hours' sleep or grading time. Special thanks to Michael Piller and Rick Berman for creating the concept, to Mssr. Berman for letting me come on-set back in February, to Ira Steven Behr for overseeing the show in its later years (both for good and ill), to Bradley Thompson and Ron Moore for their willingness to take feedback so openly, and to Armin Shimerman for putting up with lots of bad Ferengi material and never once shooting anybody on-set. :-)
And as before, I'd like to thank anyone who's taken enough of an interest in these reviews to keep me writing them. I said some of this in 1993, but it's still true. Your comments and feedback have helped me realize where my own flaws as a reviewer and as a writer lie -- they have given me ideas to chew upon, praise when I most needed it, bubble-bursting reality when I most (and sometimes least) needed it, job offers once or twice, mountains of e-mail I have yet to answer some of :-), and in some cases have been more of an influence in this
most recent one-third of my life than you may realize. I thank you for your interest, your tolerance, and your enthusiasm.
As Kai Opaka said long ago, "Your pagh and mine ... will cross again." For now, though ... s'long, folks.
Tim Lynch (Harvard-Westlake School, Science Dept.)
"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 Nine."
-- Captain Benjamin Lafayette Sisko
Copyright 1999, Timothy W. Lynch. All rights reserved, but feel free to ask...
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