When we entered the second season of Deep Space Nine, we’d started to settle into the concept of this most unorthodox version of Star Trek. With the show relying on ongoing story and character arcs, we were well versed in the ongoing politics of the Federation relationships with Bajor and Cardassia. Meanwhile the presence of the wormhole next to DS9 meant we were still getting to explore uncharted territory in the Gamma Quadrant, where new alien races were waiting to be discovered.
Yet trouble was brewing. In season two, regular viewers may have picked up on an comment in of all things a Ferengi episode to an organisation within the Gamma quadrant called the Dominion. The name popped up several times in future episode, always with a a sense of foreboding and their enigmatic presence connected with violent atrocities. An unsettling feeling was starting to waft over the The Gamma Quadrant.
It was in the season two finale and opening two parter of season three that the threat of the Dominion finally became apparent. Led by the shape shifting Founders, the Dominion used the genetically engineered races the Vorta (the diplomatic, tactician and scientific classes) and the Jem’Hadar (the vicious military) to rule the Gamma Quadrant. And the wormhole gave them the opportunity to do the same to the Alpha Quadrant.
DS9 continued with the Dominion shadow lingering over even the most self contained standalone episodes. The major players of the Alpha quadrant were united in apprehension and paranoia, with Federation, Klingon, Romulan and Cardassian alike preparing for a Changeling infiltration or a full on invasion of The Jem’Hadar to come pouring through the wormhole. There was a steady escalation of hostilities, but it wasn’t until midway through season five that the Dominion made it’s full scale move into the Alpha Quadrant, with war finally breaking out in the season finale.
The Dominion War would last another two seasons, right up to the very final episode of the series. To me it remains the greatest story arc in Star Trek history. It featured a well crafted season spanning build, with enemies that got scarier the more we learned about them. When the time came, there would be no last minute trick to avoid war, the resulting conflict would be as epic as it was dark and sometimes bloody. Never before had we seen the Federation fighting for it’s existence on such as scale.
What follows are my favourite episodes from the Dominion War arc, which handily also act to give a sense of the flow of the story line. I’ve placed them in date order as opposed to ranking (which helps to tell a better story anyway). I’ve also not limited myself to the usual ten episodes list, and just pretty much wrote about all the ones I loved (well what? did you have plans or something?)
The Jem’Hadar (Series 2, Episode 26)
After intriguing and spooky little hints through season two of the existence of a Gamma Quadrant superpower, DS9 fans finally got to meet the Dominion in the season finale. An odd couple jaunt through the wormhole for a camping trip for Sisko, Jake, Quarke and Nog takes a dangerous turn as they find themselves captured by the Dominion’s shock troops the Jem’Hadar.
It’s an effective introduction to the Dominion, establishing the Jem’Hadar as formidable warriors and their ruthlessness as they admit to destroying alpha quadrant ships and a Bajoran colony. The Dominion also gets to show their style for duplicity and cunning, using a Vorta posing as a refugee to gain intelligence on the Federation.
It’s a troubling episode, the Jem’Hadar prove totally impervious to Federation shields and technology and are quite open with Sisko that they know a great deal about going on’s in the Alpha Quadrant (The main Jem’Hadar is disappointed it wasn’t Klingons that came through the wormhole who he clearly relishes a fight with).
Yet the real shock moment that the Federation is up against it, is when a Jem’Hadar ship suicide runs and destroys the USS Odyssey even though they were in retreat. It’s an “oh shit” moment, an especially sickening sight for fans as the Odyssey is the same ship design as the Galaxy class Enterprise (which can’t have been a coincidence, and possibly even a sly symbolic meaning as TNG had just aired it’s final episode).
We’d got our first dealings with the Dominion, and it felt like the Federation was severely playing catchup.
The Search (Part 1 &2) (Series 3, Episode 1 & 2)
“It’s overgunned, overpowered for a ship it’s size!” Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you The Defiant! Or Sisko’s Mutherfucking Pimp Mobile. It stands to reason that if DS9 was going to get it’s own starship, it would be the ugly duckling of the fleet. Designed and built specifically to battle the Borg, this ship was mothballed because it possessed more power than it could actually handle. In short, it was just the badass needed to take on the Dominion, it even had a sodding cloaking device.
The Defiant, made it’s debut in this two parter, taking the crew into the Gamma Quadrant on mission to try to contact the enigmatic Dominion leaders the Founders to ease hostilities (already the Defiant was playing havoc with the crew, especially having to cope with the uncomfortable bunks instead of living quarters, this was certainly not the Enterprise).
After a tense and action packed first part, the story takes a turn into the attempts of the Federation to negotiate a peace treaty with the Dominion. Yet the major revelation is Odo finally finding his people in the Gamma Quadrant and learning the truth about where he came from. And it’s a bitter moment for him, as being an outsider for all his life he finally meets his own kind, but his chance to belong is ruined with the revelation they are the leaders behind the Dominion. To see Odo happy for the first time and having this ripped from him, forcing him to choose between his people and his friends and morality.
There are plenty of twists in the story, with once again the Dominion proving they are one step ahead of everyone else and that they are playing the long game. The condescending superior attitudes of the Founders towards “solids,” and the fascist connotation in their desire to bring order makes the Dominion even scarier than before.
The Abandoned (series 3, Episode 6)
A smaller story here that allows us to learn more about the Jem’Hadar. Quark comes into possession of a baby who is growing at an accelerated rate and turns out to be a Jem’Hadar child.
If ever an example was needed of DS9’s removal from traditional Star Trek it’s here. The Abandoned has similarities in story to the Next Generation episode “I,Borg,” where an injured Borg unit is recovered and through his interaction with the crew grows beyond his nature and gains a sense of identity. That episode has a sense of hope, that the Federation’s enemy may one day be reasoned with. Yet in The Abandoned, we’re actually left even more threatened by the Jem’Hadar.
Odo uses his status as a Founder to try and reach out to the young Jem’Hadar and steer him away from his violent tendencies. However the hopeful optimism you’d expect from Star Trek is absent here, as it becomes clear the thrill of violence instilled by the Dominion are too strong to overcome.
In Adversary we learn the Jem’Hadar as well as having accelerated growth are also addicted to the substance Ketracel White, without which they become even more uncontrollably aggressive. They are also engineered to treat the Founders as Gods and with undying loyalty.
Improbable Cause/ The Die is Cast (series 3, episode 21 & 22)
Another great two parter featuring the biggest skirmish with the Dominion to date as war now seems inevitable. It begins with an attempt on Garek’s life and Odo accompanying him on a search for his former mentor Tain. The trail leads to a discovery of a secret Romulan and Cardassian task fleet (formed by the Tal Shair and Obsidian Order who are the respective secret police of those races), assembling to invade the Gamma Quadrant and destroy the Founders on their home planet.
Yet another example of two Star Trek episodes that joined together make up a viable movie experience. The impending attack has the story of “Bad guys vs Bad guys,” with a sense of irony that it may be left to two of the biggest groups of villains to take down the biggest threat the Alpha Quadrant has faced.
The results are spectacularly exciting. The moment where the fleet begins to bombard the Founder’s homeworld, only to realise the planet is deserted and they’ve flown into a trap is astounding drama. “They’ve been waiting waiting for us all along,” Garek mutters as the rest of the crew look on with horror as 150 Jem’Hadar ships head towards them. For it’s time the resulting battle is massive (a fair amount of the season’s special effects budget went into this episode), and it’s accompanied by a fabulously exciting score.
Yet for all the scenes of massive fleets of spaceships shooting at each other, just as powerful is the scenes where Garek is tasked with interrogating Odo. It’s a disturbing return for Garek to his days as a torturer, and cruelly uses a device that prevents Odo from shapechanging and causes him to begin to hideously rot. It’s an incredible display of acting from Andrew Robinson, as it’s clear that Garek has lost the nerve for this sort of work. Slowly his menacing demeanour slips and he becomes frustrated and distressed at the pain he’s causing and begs Odo “Tell me something, anything, LIE if you have to!” When Odo admits that he longs to return to the Founders, Garek slumps, emotionally exhausted and relived that he can end the interrogation. Living on DS9 it seems has changed Garek and the final scene where a bond of sorts has formed between he and Odo as mutual outsiders, is wonderfully atmospheric.
It’s another win for the Dominion, with a Founder disguised as a Romulan tells Odo that only the Federation and Klingons stand in their way.
The Adversary (Season 3, Episode 26)
“You’re too late. we’re everywhere,” a dying Changeling tells Odo in this haunting end to series three.
There’s a tense, horror vibe to this episode (slightly reminding me of John carpenter’s The Thing), as a Changeling infiltrates the Defiant. Managing to take control of the ship, he attempts to plunge the Federation into war by attacking another race.
With the hunt on, it’s a paranoia inducing episode, with the changeling disguising itself as various members of the crew and outwitting them at every turn.
The ramifications here are massive with a display of the chaos just one changeling can bring (something that was never explored to it’s full potential) and the panic it causes in the next season. For Odo there are consequences for his standing with the Founders, as he becomes the first to break their cardinal law by killing another Changeling.
To the Death (Season 4, Episode 23)
In season four, direct confrontation with the Dominion took a backseat, with DS9 concentrating instead on the renewed hostilities between the Federation and the Klingons (which would later revealed to have been manipulated by the Dominion). However the Jem’Hadar would make their presence felt here as the Defiant crew are forced to actually team up with a squad of them to track down a dangerous rogue unit.
This reluctant, temporary alliance is full of conflict between the two groups as some of the Jem’Hadar try to gourd the Federation crew into combat. Throughout the mission we learn even more about the Jem’Hadar showing a disturbing fanaticism to their duty, with their leader feeling the Federation are weak for not willing to sacrifice their lives readily for the mission. Further tensions arise when Worf and the second in command get into a brawl and while he executes his soldier for disobedience, he’s appalled that Sisko refuses to do the same.
The Jem’Hadar’s ruthless devotion to the Founders is also given more weight, with the revelation that the addiction to Ketracel White is not the driving motivation for their loyalty. There is also the first sense of dissension within the Dominion as it becomes clear that the Jem’Hadar hate their Vorta masters. Dax also discovers that the troops don’t have a long life expectancy and that any Jem’Hadar that reaches the age of twenty is considered an elder.
This episode marks the first appearance of Jeffrey Combs as the Vorta Weyoun, who was so deliciously unlikable in the role he’d become the shows regular Vorta despite him being killed at the end of this episode.
The Ship (Season 5, Episode 2)
As we entered season five, DS9 seemed to be taking a on a darker tone, with several of it’s episodes exploring the darker natures or pasts of key characters (Odo in “Things Past”, Kira in “The Darkness and the Light,” and Sisko in “For the Uniform,”). Action episodes would also have an harder edge exploring the brutality of combat, such as the Jake Sisko episode “nor the battle to the strong,” and this one episode here, that reminded us that the Dominion threat was still brewing.
A tense standoff ensures when Sisko, Dax, O’Brien and newcomer Muniz (a red shirt name if ever I heard of), capture a crashed Dominion battleship and fight to keep it from a squad of Jem’ Hadar. Trapped in the ship and surrounded, Sisko’s verbal jousting with a young Vorta and the fact the Jem’Hadar haven’t simply destroyed them with the ship makes him realise something valuable must be on board that they wish to recover.
It’s a claustrophobic episode, with the continued bombardment of the ship fraying the crews nerves. O’Brien and Worf almost come to blows, specifically when Muniz is dying painfully from wounds and Worf suggests O’Brien as his friend should end his suffering. The action is more mentally brutal than exciting, and the story allows us to get to Muniz making a sense of loss over the whole episode.
When it’s revealed that an injured Changeling is what the Jem’Hadar were trying to rescue, there’s a tragic cloud over the story as Sisko tells the Vorta had he known he would have handed him over. The Changeling dies (causing the Jem’Hadar to commit suicide, unable to cope with failing their God) and Sisko laments with the Vorta that this could have been avoided if they’d trusted each other (and you sense a possibility for the easing of tensions has been lost).
It’s a dark episode in that although Sisko succeeds in securing the ship, he considers the costs too high.
In Purgatory’s Shadow/ By Inferno’s Light (Season 5, Episodes 14 &15)
The debut of the cool new StarFleet uniforms (thanks to the film First Contact) pales in significance to the series changing events midway through season five, Because here’s where the shit really hits the fan!
Viewers may have been forgiven for thinking that after two and half seasons the Dominion threat was never going to break out into the full on conflict that was being teased. Certainly, the Dominion had been scarce in season four and most of season five, although the more observant may have got a sense of foreboding from the episode Rapture where Sisko has premonitions that Bajor must stand alone and sees visions of locusts heading towards Cardassia.
The entire series turned on it’s weirdly foreheaded head, thanks to this absolute beauty of a two parter. It’s our old mate Garek causing trouble again as he receives what he believes to be a coded message with his mentor Tain, thought to have been killed along with killed back in the ill fated attack on the Founders back in series 3. He pairs up with Worf (another great odd couple double act) to follow the signal into the Gamma Quadrant, only to find a massive fuck off Dominion fleet massing near the wormhole.
The shocks keep on coming, as the pair are taken to a Dominion prisoner camp, where amongst Cardassian and Romulan surviors (and Klingon General Martok who would now join the cast as a regular) they discover Dr Bashir who has been held their for months and replaced back on DS9 by a Changeling. In a stunning cliffhanger to part one and thanks to the sabotage of the Changeling, the Dominion fleet pours through the wormhole, the dreaded moment for two and a half years is here.
Yet the biggest “oh shit,” revelation comes before we even reach the opening credits of part two, where Dukat the bastard goes all “heel turn” (pro wrestling term for turns bad guy), and reveals he and Cardassia have joined the Dominion!!! It’s a shocking but believable turn of events (even as an ally Dukat has always been a thorn in the side of DS9), with the Dominion now fortified in the Alpha Quadrant and the Klingons and Federation driven into an alliance again, with the sense of desperation building.
It’s a thrilling story, with DS9 preparing to be attacked (even the Romulan fleet arrives to lend a hand), while back at the camp a desperate race against time to escape is on. It’s full of drama, with Garek fighting his claustrophobia while Worf is used as training and forced to constantly fight Jem’Hadar.
“Armageddon will have to wait another day,” Sisko says towards the end of the episode. But we know it’s coming.
Call to Arms (Season 5, Episode 26)
A season finale that’s as emotionally wrecking as it is exciting. The situation grows ever more hopeless, as DS9 helplessly watches Dominion fleets regularly passing through the wormhole and heading for Cardassia. Alpha Quadrant powers including the Romulans are desperately forging treaties with the Dominion, with even Bajor at Sisko’s urging signing a non aggression pact. “We’re losing the peace, which means a war may be our only hope,” is Sisko’s grim assessment as he announces the wormhole will have to be mined to cut off the Dominion reinforcements.
“Call to Arms” is a stunning work of art, with the atmosphere of despondency accompanied by a perfectly brooding score. While there is a spectacular space battle as the Dominion and Cardassian forces attack DS9, it’s the moving character moments that really strike home and leave an impression (so powerful that when i first watched it I ended up rewinding the VHS tape and watching it straight through immediately).
With touching moments between Odo and Kira (who incidentally is wonderfully kick arse when she reports for duty against Bajoran orders), Garek and Ziyal, Worf and Dax, and a surprisingly moving exchange with Quark and Nog you realise that despite it being the more edgey, darker Star Trek series, these characters care about and love each other. The sense of friendship and family is stronger than in any other Star Trek.
Then there is Sisko’s speech. Never before as an actor in Star Trek delivered such a goosebumpinly poignant soliloquy, as the Federation is forced to retreat and leave DS9. Avery Brooke’s delivery is haunting as he bids farewell to the residents of DS9 who he refers to as his family.
While Sisko’s speech is painful yet defiantly uplifting, the sight of Dukat triumphantly marching into DS9 and the station falling into Jem’Hadar hands is a nightmare for fans. Yet the episode ends in the most awesome way as Dukat enters Sisko’s office and finds his baseball still on his desk. “he’s letting me know, he’ll be back,” a slightly troubled Dukat as the curtain falls on the shot of the Defiant joining a massive Federation and Klingon fleet marching off to war.
It’s a breathtaking series finale that meant a long, tense Summer waiting for the show to return.
A Time to Stand (Series 6, Episode 1)
Fans were welcomed back to DS9 for season six with a swift kick in the gut, with the opening shot of a smashed to pieces Federation and Klingon fleet retreating from the frontlines. The Defiant crew look knackered and frustrated, tempers fraying as the war is going horribly badly for them as the Federation reportedly suffers defeat after defeat. Even Sisko in a private moment is on the verge of tears.
This is a great season opener that effectively sets the tone for the Defiant crew fighting the war, as well as life for those left behind on DS9 under the control of Dukat and the Dominion. It’s also the first episode in a six part Dominion war arc and it gets off to an unsettling start, with Dukat chillingly voicing the station log of the renamed Terrok Nor station. while the hots of DS9 surrounded by Dominion ships is creepily troubling.
While Kira, Odo, Quark, Nog and Jake cope with the uneasiness of being ruled by the quiet menace of Dukat, the Defiant crew embark on a dangerous mission. Using the Jem’Hadar ship captured in season four, the crew infiltrate Dominion territory to destroy the main source of Ketracel White. The result is nerve racking.
Rocks and Shoals (Series 6, Episode 2)
Sure spaceships blowing each other up is spectacular and epic, but if you wanna get to the real down and dirtiness of war, you gotta go close combat and look your enemy in the eye. And that’s what happens in one of the finest DS9 episodes in Rocks and Shouls, where the crew while escaping from the mission in the previous episode crash land on a planet and faceoff with a similarly marooned Jem’Hadar squad, dangerously unhinged due to running low on Ketracel White.
While it’s an exciting premise with the potential for some great action scenes, this is old school Star Trek philosophy to be found in it’s undercurrent theme of ethics. Sisko is faced with the dilemma of morality even in wartime, when he is contacted by the opposing side’s Vorta leader, who losing control of his squad offers a deal to deliberately send the Jem’Hadar into a trap to be gunned down by the crew. Sisko gallantly even makes an attempt to reason with the Jem’Hadar leader and avoid bloodshed and the resulting battle leaves a sour taste in the mouth. When the smug Vorta arrives on the field to survey the results of his betrayal, Sisko aims his rifle and him and you really believe for a moment he’s planning to kill him.
Also going through a crisis of morality is Kira back on DS9 who in attempting to peacefully go along with the Cardassian occupation of the station, starts to question if she has become a collaborator.
Favour the Bold/Sacrifice of Angels (Season 6, Episodes 5 & 6)
The epic six parter (seven if you count Call to arms) comes crashing down with a high stakes, multi thread two part story that amazingly manages to tie up this part of the Dominion War saga in a satisfying fashion.
It’s all gone frantically critical. The Dominion is close to bringing down the mines around the wormhole and with it the only thing stopping the Federation falling under overwhelming reinforcements. Sisko is forced to lead a fleet in a last ditch attempt to fight through enemy lines and retake DS9. Meanwhile on the station Kira and a ragtag team attempt to delay the deactivation of the minefield, while Odo appears to be slipping further under the influence of the female shapeshifter (they shag and everything, but she’s not impressed with the solid’s way).
It’s a action heavy story, with a fabulous running against the clock pace to it, switching constantly from DS9 to the space battle on the front line. And what a battle it is. The creators make excellent use of the advancements in CGI, with starships swooping, battling, crashing and exploding on a scale that rivalled anything seen on a cinema screen at the time.
What I love, is the scenes don’t get lost with racing to cram the screen with as many ships as they can. There is still a sense of flair and storytelling to the action. The likes of J.J Abrahams would have done well to have watched these scenes to learn how to instil emotional beats within a space battle, in particular the arrival of the Klingon ships to save the day (which is a great audience goes wild moment), and the final charge to blast through the Dominion lines.
Some would argue the conclusion is a bit of a cheat, with Sisko failing to stop the minefield being taken down, but managing to still seal it off to the Dominion by calling on the help of the Prophets in the wormhole. For me it works, as Sisko’s relationship with the Prophets was first established in the very first episode, and their reluctance to allow him to throw his life away ties in with how important he is to their enigmatic plans.
The seven episodes in the DS9 occupation arc are in my opinion the highlight of the Dominion War saga. There was still some where’s to go in the war, but the Federation finally gaining a victory when they most needed it was the pinnacle of the war.
In the Pale Moonlight (Season 6, Episode 19)
The Dominion War would flavour almost every episode of DS9 in the last two seasons, but one of the most dramatic didn’t actually feature them at all. Instead it featured a character piece on Sisko as he embarked on actions that would tip the tide in the war, at the possible cost of his soul and self respect.
With the war evenly matched but the Federation still suffering casualties, Sisko works with Garek to seek proof that the Dominion is building plans to attack the Romulans and bring them into the war. When they are unable to, Garek convinces Sisko to instead fake the evidence and present it to a Romulan Ambassador in a secret meeting on DS9.
The episode is narrated by Sisko, with another wonderful Avery Brookes performance as a man who with each lie and compromise of his personal ethics delves him deeper into his own personal abyss. With Sisko speaking to the camera he’s baring his soul to us, as he wrestles with the question of how far do we surrender our morals for the greater good.
The unscrupulous Garek is the perfect antagonist for Sisko here, manipulating the Captain to instead use the plan to assassinate the Romulan ambassador and thus implicate the Dominion. The confrontation between the two is violent and electric, with Sisko deep down having to come to terms with the truth when Garek claims he was brought into the plot, because he had the will to do the dirty work that needed to be done.
The moral ambiguity in normal Star Trek fashion would be resolved in an uplifting manner, but here it’s more surprisingly complex. Sisko knows that the murders and lying his is complicit in are wrong and against his personal code, but if it means tipping the war in their favour, he shockingly realises he can live with it.
In many ways, this is one of the most shocking, thought provoking Star Trek stories ever told.
The Siege of AR-558 (Season 7, Episode 8)
One thing about experiencing the Dominion War through Sisko and the DS9 crew, was it often seemed a decidedly clean affair. Yet in this episode we get a real sense of the true brutality and violence of a prolonged war, as the regular crew encounter a Star Fleet platoon, tasked with holding a captured Dominion installation. The squad are exhausted, having held the position for five months and suffered heavy casualties with only 43 of the original 150 still alive.
Siege of AR-558 is one of the darker episodes of the Dominion War. The violence is grittier, more sickeningly foreboding as the final Jem’Hadar assault begins. However, the main emphasis is on the dehumanising effect that war has on combatants. One troop wears a necklace of Ketracel-White vials he’s taken from Jem’Hadar he has killed. There are also signs of stress and trauma and a frustration that they have been forgotten by the higher command, even Sisko seeming a little cold and dismissive of their complaints.
Surprisingly, it’s Quark (reluctantly with the crew on a fact finding mission), who brings a humanity to the episode, seeing what the exposure to violence has driven the squad to become. He becomes concerned that his nephew Nog starts to idolise the veterans and he’s horrified when Nog is sent on a recon mission. Quark clashes with Sisko over this, stating that he would never send Jake into danger like that. Sisko’s response that Jake isn’t Starfleet is true and valid, but it also brings to mind the callousness involved in sending other people’s children into war.
This is a powerful episode, set in a suitably dark atmosphere and with a moody, sombre score there is a sad and ugly feel to the violence. The fallen mean something to us as we get to know them a little (including Bill Mumy of Lost in Space and Babylon Five amongst them), but Nog is also amongst the casualties as he’s wounded and loses a leg, which leads to him suffering PTSD in a future episode.
An interesting moment in the battle also has an effect on the normally indestructible Sisko, who is knocked down in the fighting and as he passes out sees a Jem’Hadar stood over him about to deliver the killing blow. He awakens with the battle over, and there is no idea of how he survived or what happened to the Jem’Hadar. It’s a sign of the randomness of death on the battlefield, that surviving is as much about luck as it is skill.
Sisko is obviously affected by the experience. He’s dismissive of Worf’s claims this was a glorious victory (as a viewer you kinda hate Worf at this moment for saying that) and upon hearing the daily war casualty reports he points out that we shouldn’t forget they aren’t simply numbers but lives.
The Dominion War is an exciting saga, with thrilling action scenes and stories of adventure. But in Siege AR-558, we are brought down to Earth with a reminder of the ugliness of fighting, with as near a Saving Private Ryan vibe as we can get from Star Trek.
What You Leave Behind (Season 7, Episode 25)
For the first time a Star Trek show adopted a straight episodic serial approach, as Deep Space Nine ended it’s seven year run with a ten episode storyline that brought an end to the Dominion War. While nowadays it is the norm in television including Star Trek, back then it was a bold and exciting move.
There were multiple plot threads in this massive story. The Dominion recruited the Breen and were able to turn the tide in the war back in their favour, even striking at Earth (although we didn’t get to see it), and destroying the Defiant with a new super weapon (Sisko got another Defiant). A disease struck the Founders, discovered to be the creation of Section 31 (the Federation’s secret ops service) by O’Brien and Bashir who sought to find a cure to save Odo. Dissension grew in the ranks of the Klingons due to the reckless leadership of Gowron. Meanwhile Gul Dukat now a crazed, religious zealot set off a quest to release the devils of Bajoran legend the Pa’Wraiths.
Amongst all this, possibly the most compelling storyline was that of Damar, Dukat’s former right hand man, who had been growing in prominence since his appearance back in season four. Used by the Dominion as the figurehead leader of Cardassia, Damar became disillusioned with how his people were being treated and began an organised resistance to drive out the Dominion.
Damar’s uprising came at a vital moment in the war, buying the Alpha Qudrant precious time to regroup after the Breen joined the Dominion. Ironically Kira and Garek were sent by Sisko to help Damar’s resistance, and some of the best drama of the arc came from this dynamic.
The various threads came together in the feature length series finale, “What We Leave Behind.” The War concludes on two fronts, with a massive space battle as the Federation-Klingon-Romulan fleet strikes at the Dominion on Cardassia, while Kira, Garek and Damar incite an uprising against the leadership on the ground and capture the female Changeling.
It’s a massive undertaking to conclude the arc, which works on the Dominion war side of the series, yet having to squeeze in a conclusion to Sisko’s destiny with the Prophet’s as well is a struggle that doesn’t quite payoff. It feels as if the writers never really had a clear plan for what role Sisko was meant to be fulfilling and a final showdown with Dukat (who becomes distinctly less interesting as a crazed God) is underwhelming.
Also massively disappointing is that after so many increasingly groundbreaking space battle scenes throughout the series, the final showdown is a bit of a dud. Most of the footage is reused from previous episodes (most notably Sacrifice of Angels) which feels a massive cost cutting cheat to the loyal audience that has watched the whole series.
Where the finale does excelle, is that it as fond and beautiful farewell to the characters. While in the Next Generation’s finale “To All Good Things…” we leave the Enterprise as they continue on their way , “What we Leave Behind,” is very much an ending. With the war over, many of the crew go their separate ways. Sisko, Odo, O’Brien and Worf leave to new phases of their lives, some unlikely to return. There is a real sadness to the goodbyes that we witness Sisko promising Cassiday he will be back, Worf and Dax, the bromance of O’Brien and Bashir coming to close, Quark saluting Odo despite being snubbed and Odo in turn bidding Kira farewell in his tuxedo all bring a lump to the throat.
The final shot of Kira and Jake in the station window looking towards the wormhole and the camera pulling back on DS9, as it disappeared into the distance brought tears to my eyes. That single trumpet reprise of the theme, chilled me, because it signified that it was all over.
And thinking about it know and writing my feelings, that sadness is wafting over me again.
Because I realise, I really wasn’t ready to say goodbye to Deep Space Nine.
I hope you’ve enjoyed some of my Star Trek reminisces. If you have, please leave comments on my twitter at @dazzalovesmovie (I ran out of letters to have an s on the end)
Also look out for the special podcast shows I will be doing with the fine folks at “At The Flicks”, where we will be revisiting all the Star Trek movies.