Sleeping In Light
"What You Leave Behind" Plot Summary:
Morning on Deep Space Nine. Bashir and Dax awaken together. "It's the big day," says Ezri. "It was a big night," says Julian, who notes that he has never been in battle with someone he has slept with and promises not to tell Miles how far down her spots go. They both promise to make it back alive. In his own quarters, Miles and Keiko discuss a possible move back to Earth so Miles can teach at the Academy. His family taunts that they don't expect it to happen because he hasn't cleared it with Bashir. A few doors down, Yates suffers from morning sickness and fear for Sisko. Worf and Odo meet in the hallway, where they discuss the mission for which all are preparing: the assault on Cardassia Prime, where they hope to retrieve Kira.
On the bridge of the new Defiant, Sisko says, "What do you say we end this war?" Nog promises to follow the ship in front of them if he gets lost. They're part of an enormous fleet of Federation, Klingon, and Romulan ships which launch together. At their destination, Weyoun listens as the female shapeshifter promises the Breen both Romulus and Earth, something Weyoun wanted for himself...but the Founder will do anything to win the war at this point. They are distressed by a report that Damar is still alive. The former leader of Cardassia is out in the streets with Kira - disguised as a Breen - and Garak; the group is inciting Cardassian civilians to sabotage. Damar refuses to hide his face, insisting that he must be recognizable. Later, at Mila's house, they plan a planet-wide strike.
In space, O'Brien grouses to Bashir that he has a stupid grin on his face because of Ezri, and frets about how to tell his friend that he plans to leave the station. Bashir offers to let O'Brien put the Alamo model in his quarters where the chief can use it any time, but O'Brien shocks the doctor by telling him of his offer to be a professor at the Academy. Meanwhile Worf teases Ezri about Julian, saying he's happy for her but he's going to kill Bashir. When his former wife gets concerned, Worf deadpans, "And Jadzia said I had no sense of humor." Sisko talks to Odo about the war but is interrupted by a vision from the Prophets - specifically his mother - who says his task is near completion, but his journey's end lies not before but behind him. Sisko is puzzled by the message.
The Kai's door opens, and Dukat enters. "You're back," she says flatly, observing that his sight has been restored. He begs her forgiveness, but she announces that she does not forgive war criminals and says she regrets letting him into her bed. He says he regrets his actions during the Occupation. Then they discuss the Pah-Wraiths, whom Winn now knows how to release from the Fire Caves. "I was waiting for you," she admits, to Dukat's great pleasure, though she claims she only wants his help. He takes both her hands in his and kisses them, promising to assist in the destruction of the Prophets, but insisting that the life of the Emissary belongs to him alone. They quarrel again in the Fire Caves because she keeps stopping to rest as she carries the heavy book of the Kost Amojin. Dukat says that he used to laugh at the Bajoran fear of the Fire Caves; Winn demands that he stop talking about the Occupation, and stop calling her Adami, if he's capable of understanding why he's lost that privilege. "Perfectly, Eminence," he snarls.
As Weyoun and the Breen worry about weakened central lines, the power goes out in Dominion headquarters on Cardassia Prime. Broca, the new Cardassian leader, says that ordinary citizens are behind the latest uprising. While the Founder threatens to strangle the Cardassian, Weyoun suggests that ordinary citizens be punished. Broca concurs. When the lights come back on, Kira, Damar and Garak hear Weyoun announce that an entire city has been leveled - two million Cardassian men, women and children killed. Damar, who has been singing Kira's praises as the savior of his planet, concurs with her plan to attack Dominion headquarters. Mila calls the plan suicide but packs food so they won't die on empty stomachs. Kira jokes that Mila must be in love with Damar, but a door chime interrupts. The old woman is hurled down the stairs along with a bomb, which explodes as Garak tries to help the only mother he ever knew.
Quark plays cards with Vic and grouses that the war is damaging his business. Vic assures the Ferengi that bartending is a noble, lonely profession, then leaves because he has a date, not being a bartender. In space, Sisko gives the order to engage, and the Federation-Klingon-Romulan fleet takes on the Dominion-Breen-Cardassian ships. As the Defiant is battered, Ezri and Julain exchange soulful looks. The Federation takes heavy losses and the Romulan flagship is destroyed. Meanwhile Weyoun reports to the Founder that the traitors have been caught, and she orders the immediate execution. Kira, Garak, and Damar are brought before a Jem'Hadar firing squad, but a Cardassian guard shoots the Dominion executioners, pledging allegiance to Damar. At the same time, Sisko and crew realize that the Cardassians have turned and are attacking the Dominion fleet.
The Founder orders a retreat of Dominion ships to Cardassia Prime; she wants Broca executed and the Cardassians exterminated, "all of them." Martok and Ross proclaim victory, but Sisko insists that they must make it stick by pursuing and trapping the Dominion ships, no matter how heavy the casualties. Martok agrees, saying they must assure the dead did not die in vain. "We can end this war once and for all. Let's finish what we started," Sisko implores Ross, who agrees. On the planet, Kira, Damar and Garak realize that the capitol city is being leveled, and head to Dominion headquarters where Garak wants revenge for the death of Mila and so many others.
Winn stops beside what looks like a great icy cavern, telling a startled Dukat he looks disappointed. The former Cardassian leader admits that he expected to see fire in the Fire Caves. The Kai chants from the Kost Amojin, summoning flames and Pah-Wraiths. "Is that better?" she asks with a grin, throwing off her robes and denouncing the Prophets once and for all. Dukat smiles at her long, loose hair, saying she has never looked more radiant. Kissing him passionately, Winn sighs that she feels like a young woman waiting for her lover to sweep her away. Then she begins to chant from the book again.
As the Breen depart to take command of their own fleet, the Founder admits to Weyoun that she is dying, though he refuses to acknowledge that a god can die. She has not been able to change her shape in weeks, she finds it ironic that she will die as a solid. But she makes Weyoun promise that the Dominion will not die with her, since her race is dying: the Federation must not be allowed to win the war. Outside, Kira and her Cardassian allies cannot break through the door into headquarters, but when the Breen exit and Broca is taken outside to be executed, they fight their way in. Damar is shot defending the other two, falling into Garak's arms, where he dies. Kira tells the Cardassians to remember his last orders, to stop for nothing.
While the Federation takes out the orbital platforms as the Klingons fight the Breen and the Romulans and Cardassians take on the Jem'Hadar, Kira and Garak storm the understaffed headquarters - Weyoun sent the guards out to slaughter Cardassians. The Founder is captured, and Garak kills the final Weyoun clone when he jokes about Damar's death. The Founder refuses to surrender or to order her troops to stand down; she tells Kira that so many lives will be lost, the Federation's victory will taste like defeat. On the comm with Sisko, the colonel reports on the situation, and Worf observes that if the Founder dies before calling a ceasefire, there will be many more casualties. Odo begs Sisko to let him reason with her, and Sisko reluctantly agrees.
Winn pours wine, offering the cup to Dukat just before consuming it: "After you." He tells her he is honored and drinks deeply, but when she takes the cup back, she pours the rest of the wine onto the ground. Collapsing in pain as he stares at the poisoned liquid, Dukat demands, "Why?" Adami explains haughtily that the Pah-Wraiths demanded a sacrifice, someone worthy of them. "Who better than you?" she taunts. When Dukat dies, she offers his life to the Pah-Wraiths to feed their hunger, telling them she is theirs forever.
Odo beams down to headquarters where he asks Kira if she trusts him, which she says she does. The Founder tells Odo that he is looking well, but she won't surrender to him even though he promises her that the Federation and its allies will not invade the Gamma Quadrant. "Link with me," he begs, as a disbelieving Kira and Garak express dismay. Odo will not be swayed: "Nerys, trust me." Though Garak pulls a weapon on the two shapeshifters, Kira orders him to put it away, and Odo links with the Founder, who is instantly cured of her disease. "She won't try to escape," says Odo, who has learned in the moment of linking that she will accept a ceasefire and stand trial for her war crimes. Kira wonders whether curing her people is the price she has demanded, but Odo says no: he is going to the Gamma Quadrant in her place to cure their people. "It's time I returned to the Great Link," he says gently.
Martok drinks to victory, but Sisko and Ross look at the hundreds of dead Cardassians and pour their blood wine on the ground. "The Bajorans would call this poetic justice," notes the Klingon, but Sisko won't drink a toast over the bodies of the dead. Bashir tells Garak that there were over 800 million Cardassian casualties. "My exile is over," says the tailor, who believes his people got what they deserved: "Our whole history is arrogant aggression." The rich ancient culture is lost, along with many of the best minds, but Garak wants to witness the building of a new Cardassia. Bashir says he's certain he will see his old friend again, but Garak notes that they live in uncertain times.
On Deep Space Nine, the Founder signs the treaty of surrender. Later, as the crew makes plans to congregate at Vic's, Ross asks Worf in the presence of Sisko and Martok to become the Federation ambassador to Q'on'os. "I am not a diplomat," rumbles the Klingon, "And I'm not a politician," growls the man Worf installed as chancellor, "but sometimes fate plays cruel tricks on us." With Sisko's blessing, Worf accepts the new posting, making Martok happy. Meanwhile, Kira reminds Odo that he could come back right after curing the Founders, but he says he wants to stay to teach his people what he learned living among the solids. "My feelings for you will never change," he adds. Kira asks to take him back to his planet of origin.
At the party at Vic's, Quark complains about all the changes going on and Kira calls him sentimental. Sisko toasts his crew, and Vic sings "The Way You Look Tonight." Suddenly Sisko stops dancing with Kasidy in his arms, saying he knows what the Prophets want him to do: "I have to go to Bajor." Down in the Fire Caves, Winn cries out, "Kost Amojin, come to me!" But the fiery power knocks her against the rocks, then enters Dukat, transforming him back into a Cardassian. While Adami screams, her onetime lover tears off his Bajoran earring. "Did you really think the Pah-Wraiths would choose you for their Emissary?" he scoffs, threatening the destruction of Bajor, the Celestial Temple, the Alpha Quadrant. Then he sees the Emissary of the Prophets coming. "I should have known the demon would be you," Sisko tells his nemesis.
Dukat knocks Sisko down using the power of the Pah-Wraith, stripping him of his weapon and forcing him to kneel. Sisko taunts Dukat for having a talent for choosing the losing side, vowing that he will stop him and the Pah-Wraiths. The possessed Cardassian announces that the Emissary can't even move, but a weakened Winn says that she will stop Dukat, warning Sisko to get the Book of the Kost Amojin as Dukat whisks it away. "Are you still here?" sneers the evil one while flames engulf and destroy Winn: "Farewell, Adami." During his distraction, Sisko rushes Dukat, knocking the two men and the unholy text into the flames of the Fire Caves. Sisko finds himself in a place of silent whiteness, and calls for his mother the Prophet. She tells him that he has finished his task: Dukat is trapped forever with the Pah-Wraiths, who can never be released without the destroyed Kost Amojin. Sisko wants to go home to rest, but he cannot; "You are with us now," his mother explains.
Dax and Worf tell Yates that they found Sisko's runabout in orbit of Bajor, but they could find no sign of her husband. She can sense that something has happened to him, and has a Prophet vision in which Benjamin appears to her. He explains that they are in the Celestial Temple, but he cannot leave: the Prophets saved their Emissary, but he has much to learn, and must stay with them. He promises to return, but since time is non-linear in the realm where he now resides, it could be in a year...or it could be yesterday. Kasidy vows to wait, then comes to herself on the station, telling Jake she saw his father.
As Vic's instrumental music plays, O'Brien stands in his packed quarters and finds an Alamo soldier on the rug. He has a series of happy flashbacks of good times with Bashir, playing darts and being secret agents. Worf remembers coming to the station and falling in love as he waves goodbye to Ezri. Odo gives Kira his bucket, she remembers their first kiss. Quark recalls many long nights in his bar. Jake looks at the model of the house his father will never build on Bajor, remembering when he first came to the station. Bashir walks O'Brien to his runabout and the two hug goodbye.
Odo wants to sneak off the station without saying farewells to anyone, but Quark waits for him, telling Kira that he can tell Odo loves him by the look on his back. Arriving on Odo's planet, she observes that the link is dying, telling him to go to them. Odo "changes" into a tuxedo for Kira, asking her to remember him that way. They kiss goodbye, and he moves into the pool trailing golden light, turning the diseased Great Link into healthy whole.
On the station an indeterminate amount of time later, Kira is in command, congratulating Nog on his promotion to Lieutenant. She tosses Sisko's baseball in the air as she walks into Ops. Bashir and Dax discuss new holoprograms; he can't bear to take her to the Alamo, but he wants to re-enact the Battle of Thermopylae, another no-win scenario in which they will play the tragic Spartans. Ezri jokes that he needs to see a counselor about his annihilation fantasies; they make a date. Kira discovers that Quark has started a betting pool on who's going to be the new Kai, and tells him that betting is now illegal on the station, threatening him with prison. "The more things change, the more they stay the same," grouses the Ferengi. Spotting Jake watching the wormhole open, Kira goes to stand with him in the upper ring of the Promenade. As they look out together, the view of the two of them from the wormhole recedes to take in the entire station, then the vast expanse of the Milky Way.
We've seen the final shot of this episode before, from a different angle: Kira and Jake standing together in "The Visitor," after Sisko's death which turned out not to be death. Then, Jake could not reconcile his existence without his father; now he has become a man. "What You Leave Behind" was full of such visual references to things we've seen before - in some cases flashbacks via older footage, in some cases by echoing an incident or event which took place previously. This is a grand, satisfying conclusion to this greatest of Trek series; J. Michael Straczynski can eat his heart out, because while there were indeed parallels with the Babylon 5 finale "Sleeping In Light," DS9 did a much better job borrowing from Arthurian, Norse, and Christian mythology to create an ending with deep emotional resonance.
The space battle was superbly filmed, but dispensed with early: space was not and never has been what this series is about. Indeed, Kira's ironic turn as a Cardassian liberation fighter at the side of the noble and sexy Damar - quite possibly the saddest death in this season of tragedies, yet poetic justice, as Martok said, for Damar's murder of Ziyal - made for much better drama than Sisko's leading the fleet to victory. But then, we knew before he did that his real battle would be waged on Bajor, the planet which claimed him as its Emissary in the first episode of this series. Now we know what the Prophets meant, and the price they intended to exact. He lives in the Celestial Temple, which for the first time really seems to be a Temple...now that we have seen Hell, it easier to accept this Bajoran heaven.
Call me a sap, but I adored all the love stories which came to fruition - not just the obvious ones like Bashir and Dax, though after seven years, it's about damn time. I thought Kira and Odo ended their love affair on a magnificently poignant note, completely in character for both of them. They had to be headed for trouble sooner or later - he's going to live to be several hundred years old, she has explosive chemistry with her former Cardassian nemesis - this way they can live apart from one another and come back together again having grown as they are meant to. Sisko and Yates ended on a touching if corny note - I wondered what it meant that we could hear her heartbeat, but not his - and the O'Briens appear to be, well, together, for better or worse. Everyone on the station seems to realize that O'Brien's deepest emotional committment is to Bashir - and Bashir seemed to realize it as well - but this being Star Trek, of course they ended up in safe heterosexual pairings that won't make them quite as happy as they were together. Pity: Bashir should play at being a Greek, with someone who could appreciate Greek love with him. Ezri has been a man, but she's also an analyst...snore.
Winn and Dukat got the ending they so richly deserved, yet somehow it was full of humor and pathos, plus that guilty sexiness one always encounters in film noir during the minutes when the heroine/villain gets away with her crime, before the punishment arrives. It is interesting that Winn cannot forgive Dukat for the Occupation even as she schemes to destroy the gods of Bajor...and that his remorse seems genuine. I'd love to study their moral compasses or lack thereof. I adore this couple's apparent ambivalence at having to destroy one another, and the fact that the sexual chemistry wasn't diminished once they could freely admit to mutual hatred. If either the Gul or the Kai were capable of caring for anyone other than himself or herself, they would have made a very dangerous team. Winn's brand of evil is entirely selfish and thus creepily banal, while Dukat's evil is the would-be-ruler-of-the-universe variety, but they certainly understand each other. I suppose Adami has been wiped into oblivion and doesn't even get to go to hell with him, but I hope she might still be down there burning; I rather like the idea of the two of them trapped together in the flames of the Pah-Wraiths for all eternity.
The Dominion collapses when its center turns on itself - an apt metaphor as well as a structurally pleasing image. There were a number of terrifically filmed scenes, from the perspective shots during the battle to the great visual overhead of Vic and Quark. The thematic weaving of Vic's old Earth songs and the series' musical motifs was brilliant and moving, especially in the flashback sequences. Martok drinking alone amidst the bodies of the dead made for an interesting commentary on Klingons and their priorities. I wonder what kind of ambassador Worf will make, and whether this means he's done for in TNG movies? Garak, the one Cardassian we always suspected deserved better than the rest of them, remains just about the only one standing...another interesting choice, and good for closure.
Like Weyoun, I was disappointed that we never got to see the Breen without their helmets...they were the one big letdown of this final arc, an enemy brought on purely for firepower. We never even learned how they escaped the orbit of Cardassia, or if they did. Will the Federation pursue them all the way into their space? Is this the next big Trek villain? Will Sisko come out of the wormhole to fight in the next big war?
I don't know. I am going to go rewatch "The Way You Look Tonight" flashback sequence and cry some more, and worry about what it all means for the Trek universe tomorrow. I do know that there was one scene missing...at the end, I expected to see Benny Russell, hitting a final key on his typewriter with a smile on his face. Sisko's not dead; nobody dies in Trek. This series belongs to the fans now.
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