Oaths and Miracles
"The Sacrifice of Angels" Plot Summary:
As O'Brien and Bashir recite "The Charge of the Light Brigade," Sisko orders the Fleet to engage Cardassian and Dominion forces. They must keep the Dominion from coming through the wormhole, which means that one way or another, Deep Space Nine must be neutralized before the minefield can be detonated. The battle is devastating to Starfleet forces, but the Klingons arrive to help.
Kira concludes that the only way the fleet will succeed is if someone disables the station's computers, but she, Jake, and Leeta are taken into custody. It's left to Quark, who approaches Ziyal to help him break the prisoners out. The female Changeling frets that Odo is still concerned about the solids, but this time he refuses to link with her. When she goes to Ops for safety, he helps Kira and Rom take the station's weapons offline.
They are too late - Dukat detonates the mines. Seeing this, Sisko takes the Defiant into the wormhole on a suicide mission to stop the Dominion fleet. He is intercepted by the "Prophets," who complain that the Emissary must not be destroyed. Sisko argues that if they are of Bajor, they will protect Bajor. The aliens destroy the entire Dominion fleet, but inform Sisko that a sacrifice must be made, and that he will never find peace on Bajor.
With the weapons offline, the station is helpless, and Dukat's fleet is now losing the battle to the joint Klingon and Starfleet forces. The female changeling orders a retreat to Cardassian space. Dukat refuses to evacuate without Ziyal, but when he finds her, she tells him that she helped the prisoners escape. Overhearing, Damar shoots and kills her as Dukat sobs that he forgives her. Sisko and crew arrive home to cheers, but Garak and Kira are in mourning for Ziyal, and Dukat appears to have suffered a complete nervous breakdown. He forgives Sisko, too, and poignantly hands him back his baseball.
This was Deep Space Nine's finest hour. It didn't have quite the emotional impact of first season's "Duet" or second season's "Necessary Evil," but it involved more of the characters and indeed the entire Federation. It was gripping, it was scary, it was heartwarming, it was sad, and (since I avoided the spoilers for this episode) the ending was shocking. Bravo.
This episode didn't wrap up the war - the enemy may be in retreat, but Weyoun ominously suggested wiping out the entire population of Earth, and the female Changeling - who has all the time in the universe - has plans to retrieve Odo. This episode did touch upon several dozen plot threads which have been hanging almost since the series started: Sisko's relationship with Bajor and its Prophets, Kira's background as a terrorist, Quark's heroic qualities, Dukat's conflicted values, Odo's loyalties. The show was structured via a countdown until the minefield was taken down, and it progressed to the detonation nicely, but that explosion was only the first of many.
In this episode, Sisko becomes the Emissary. He started out as a conduit between the Prophets and the people of Bajor; now he is the reverse, the champion of Bajoran interests to their self-appointed gods. He asks for a miracle in the name of Bajor and he gets one. The warning that Bajor will not bring him peace has particular impact after his assertion this season that he intends to build a home on Bajor.
Now that Sisko has finally accepted the role thrust upon him by the aliens, it will be interesting to see how he balances that with his other responsibilities and desires. It's curious that Dukat, who's something of a fan of Sisko's, also saw himself in a protective role toward Bajor, rather than as the manipulative tyrant its people perceive him as.
I hardly know what to think about Odo. I'm glad that, once again, his solid feelings overrode his tenuous link to the Dominion (pun intended). But it's still not possible to see him as a hero. When Kira asked why he changed his mind about helping the resistance, he said, "I think you know." The link, he says, was paradise, but we have seen that he loves Kira more than paradise, more than the lives of thousands.
That's got to be a huge responsibility for her to bear, and it's rather disturbing to watch. Kira and Odo are the most compelling couple in the history of Trek - Worf and Dax's impending violent nuptials can't hold a candle to their conflicted, agonizing dance, which has defined both characters over the years even when they were denying anything between them other than friendship. I lied in my last review when I said I hoped the love angle would get dropped; it's too emotionally intense not to see through.
Watching Ziyal die wasn't that much of a shock - the would-be angel of peace was an obvious choice for sacrificial lamb, though she was just getting interesting as a character. The real shock was the loss of Dukat's mind. He has been disgraced and alone before, been shunned by family before, been despised by millions before...he never struck me as the sort who would fall apart.
But, as he explains in this episode to Weyoun, victory for Dukat lies not in destroying one's enemies, but in making one's enemies see that they were wrong. Dukat was defeated utterly by those terms in a way he never has been before. I suppose he could be faking madness to avoid prosecution by the Federation and the Cardassians, but his scene of grief over Ziyal's body seemed achingly real. I'm sure he'll be back, one way or another, and it will be interesting to see what he rebuilds his life around.
Nitpicks? It took the Jem'Hadar soldiers in the brig WAY too long to draw their weapons and shoot at Quark, they should both have been instantly willing to die to do their duty. And strategically, Sisko should have flown the Defiant on a suicide mission the instant he got through enemy lines, to protect the minefield. But those barely registered. I want to get through the Klingon wedding as fast as possible and see where the crew goes from here.
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