The Sacrifice On the Altar
"Tears of the Prophets" Plot Summary:
Kira and other Bajorans thank Sisko for permitting a festival to go on despite the war. The captain is then decorated by an admiral who informs him that Starfleet has finally agreed to launch a offensive against the Dominion. Sisko has been picked to lead the invasion fleet against Cardassia Prime. Sisko meets with Martok, who agrees that the Romulans should be drawn into the joint battle. Meanwhile, Weyoun and Damar discuss the new automated weapons systems Damar has designed to bolster the weak spot in Dominion defenses which Sisko has already identified. They are interrupted by Dukat, who forgives Damar for Ziyal's death and announces that the Cardassians are in possession of a Bajoran relic from the Occupation which can reopen the wormhole, defeat Sisko, and give the quadrant to the Dominion.
The Romulans are reluctant to commit to an invasion, preferring a defensive war, but Sisko points out that they need to destroy Cardassian and Jem'Hadar munitions before the Dominion presence gets any stronger. He concedes that casualties may be high among the fleet but will be lower in the long run, and appeals to Alpha Quadrant solidarity. The captain agrees to let Jake come on the Defiant as an observer, but is disturbed by a vision of the Prophets in the forms of his war allies, warning him that he is of Bajor and it is very dangerous to leave his destined path. When the admiral warns Sisko that the fleet must leave right away to disable the Cardassian automated weapons platforms before they become operational, Sisko tells him of his vision and his confusion as to the meaning. The admiral demands that Sisko choose: is he the Emissary of Bajor or a Starfleet captain? Sisko chooses the Defiant.
In the relationship department, Kira and Odo have a quarrel because she's angry he arrested a Vedek for soliciting funds on the Promenade, and Dax and Worf tell Bashir and Quark about their desire to have a baby. The latter go to Vic's holosuite to drown their sorrows over never having had a chance with Dax; Vic sings "Here's To The Losers" for them. Kira asks Odo to spend the last night before the battle with her, and is shocked to discover that he thought their argument meant that she didn't love him any more. He says that observing humanoid relationships and being in one are very different experiences. Dax and Worf have a passionate farewell and reiterate their desire to have a child together; Kira tells them that she prayed to the Prophets at the Bajoran temple for their success in what Bashir has said would be a difficult conception.
Back on Cardassia, Dukat tells Damar and Weyoun that he has studied the Bajoran spiritual texts, and presents a carved statue over which he recites a Bajoran chant. As the statue shatters in his hands, an energy force resembling the Pah-Wraith that possessed Jake earlier this year enters Dukat. Weyoun is skeptical of Dukat's value to the war effort, but agrees to let him proceed with his vendetta against Sisko, while waiting impatiently for Damar to bring the weapons platforms online. Damar is successful just as the fleet reaches the system, and fighting commences.
On the station, Dax is in command and very happy because Julian has just told her that his DNA resequencing of her ova so that she and Worf can conceive appears to be working. She goes to the Bajoran temple to thank the Prophets. While she prays, Dukat beams in, possessed by the Pah-Wraith. He shoots corporeal energy beams at Dax, then at the Orb behind her. It goes dark as the red light in Dukat's eyes goes out. The Cardassian apologizes to the dying Trill, telling her she wasn't his target, then beams off the station.
The wormhole opens, shoots out violent bursts of energy, then closes abruptly. On the bridge of the Defiant in the midst of the battle, Sisko collapses, saying he felt the Prophets reach out to him and that something is terribly wrong ("I felt a great disturbance in the Force..."). As Jake leads his father off the bridge, Kira takes command, ordering O'Brien to find the power source which Garak has identified as the central generator for all the automated Cardassian weapons. The crew finds and destroys the generator by tricking the Cardassian weapons to fire on their own moon, masked with a Federation signature from the Defiant's deflector. Martok orders ground troops to beam down to Cardassia.
Weyoun and Damar get a message from Dukat just as Kira gets one from Bashir with the same news: the wormhole is gone. Dukat rejoices that the Bajorans are cut off from their gods and Sisko from his role as Emissary, but Weyoun is beside himself at the loss of all possibility of contact with the Gamma Quadrant. Sisko returns to a station in chaos, where Bajorans ask the Emissary why the Prophets have turned their backs on Bajor and their orbs have gone dark. Sisko promises to find out, then goes to sickbay, where a devastated Julian tells him that he has removed the Dax symbiont for transport to Trill, but there was nothing he could do to save Jadzia. She tells Worf their baby would have been beautiful, then dies as Worf cries out the Klingon mourning roar.
Sisko talks to Jadzia's casket before the funeral, telling her that he desperately wishes for her help sorting out the disaster he has caused. He calls himself a failure as Emissary and as an officer, saying he needs to get away so he can figure out how to make things right again. After the funeral, Sisko turns command over to Kira and tells Jake, "Let's go home." When Kira enters the Ops office, she tells Odo that she's afraid Sisko isn't coming back: he took his baseball with him. On Earth, Sisko scrubs mollusks outside his father's restaurant while mournful jazz plays in the background.
Boy, when Ben Sisko screws up, he REALLY screws up. This was an episode of mythic proportion, with a tour de force performance by Avery Brooks and some really wonderful stuff from Nana Visitor and Mark Alaimo as well. I wish I could say that Terry Farrell stole the show, since it was her last episode on the series, but she was much as she has been all along: solid, self-assured, charming, a vital part of a team that will not be the same without her. I didn't cry at her death, nor at Worf's grief, but Sisko's personal tribute was painful to watch. HE won't be the same without her, nor will Worf, nor Kira nor Julian nor Quark...in short, the series has suffered a major loss which is almost more obvious in its understatement.
Since this was Sisko's episode, let's take stock: forced to choose between his connections to Bajor and to Starfleet, he chose Starfleet, which isn't really a surprise...if one wants to look at it as a matter of patriotic loyalties. What Sisko really did was choose tactics over intuition, or perhaps intellect over spirituality...and it was the wrong choice. This is a stunning moment for Star Trek: an acknowledgement that there are forces in the universe which cannot be coerced, manipulated, or (as in the case of Q and the Organians) talked into submission by Starfleet captains. Weyoun and Damar had a witty discussion about whether or not the Prophets are gods, with Weyoun saying of course not, the FOUNDERS are gods...the point being, perhaps, that when beings possess powers completely beyond the scope and understanding of humanoids, it doesn't matter whether one calls them gods or not. Their powers are real. The wormhole is gone. Bajor will never be the same, nor will Sisko.
I don't fault him for his choice of the career and way of life he's always known over a cryptic message from the aliens who have so frustrated him in the past, nor do I blame him for leaving the station undefended against Dukat while he was off leading a (successful) battle against the enemy. But I was appalled at him in two instances: agreeing to take Jake onto the Defiant as an observer (since when do military officers tell their journalist relatives about impending top-secret invasions, much less take them into the thick of battle a week after announcing that they can't handle having their lovers on the ship?) and deciding to leave at the end. Yes, he's got a lot to work out in his own head, and maybe he felt he needed to get away to do it. But to abandon both Starfleet and the people of Bajor at precisely the moment that they need him most, by his own admission because of his failings...that left me chilled. I WANT there to be repercussions when he comes back. I want him to have to work to regain the trust of all those people, to prove that he deserves to stay on as captain.
And on that subject, may I take a moment and sing in joy that Kira is de facto captain of Deep Space Nine? Yes, I want Sisko back, but I think Kira may be turning into the woman I always wanted Janeway to be. When Sisko faltered on the bridge of the Defiant, she stepped right up - KIRA, not Worf - and made the decision which turned the battle, trusting her crew to do their jobs, not relying on any Starfleet or joint alliance suggestions. Then when Sisko left her in charge of the station, she sadly but determinedly took over his desk...with her lover supporting her despite the fact that they have quarreled about duty-related matters (so much for the theory that commanders, especially women commanders, can't have relationships with people who serve under them). Maybe they could bring Sisko back as first officer for awhile while he's deciding his loyalties and working out his fear of his own power, and leave Kira in charge for awhile. Then she can become First Minister of Bajor when he takes back command of the station, as we know he will eventually.
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