All That You Take With You

Story: What You Leave Behind
Written By: Ira Steven Behr & Hans Beimler
Series: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Year: 1999

“What You Leave Behind” is the best finale of any Trek. I say this having seen them all but “Endgame”. I really doubt the writers of Voyager could have possibly topped this (and from what I do know they didn’t come close).
It’s almost time for the final battle of the Dominion War. Ezri and Julian have gone all the way. Kassidy is experiencing morning sickness. On Cardassia the civilian movement is beginning to take shape. It is clear from the beginning, that when this is all over, things are going to change. O’Brien has accepted a position at Starfleet Academy as a professor of Engineering, which he will assume as soon as the war is over.

There are plenty of exciting moments. When Civilians attack the Dominion, the Dominion retaliates by obliterating an entire city, killing over 2 million Cardassians. There plan is meant to scare the Cardassians into not fighting, but it really only changes their minds entirely on the Dominion itself.

The episode has one of the most impressive battle scenes ever. The battle has great CGI, and the moment when the Cardassians suddenly take fire on the Dominion and Breen is thrilling. Damar and Co. storm the gates and kill all the Jem’Hadar (most were sent out to kill all Cardassians by this point) in the headquarters, and Damar and others die on the way. Finally they kill the last Weyoun, and only the Female Changeling is left. She initially refuses to end the war, but Odo beams down and links with her, convincing her to end the war and stand trial for her actions. In return, Odo will cure the rest of the link, and return to his people. The ending of the war is exciting and thrilling in all aspects, but it is what happens after that always makes me great about this particular finale.

Odo leaving for the Great Link, Worf agrees to be the Federation Ambassador to Qo’Nos and continue to serve under General Martok, and the Chief is heading home to Earth with his family. There is a wonderful party at Vic’s. He sings “The Way You Look Tonight”, and it is a really heartwarming moment.

But the party couldn’t last forever, throughout this episode Dukat and Winn travel through the Fire Caves, and they unleash the Pah-Wraiths. Winn poisons and kills Dukat, since a sacrifice was needed, but the Pah-Wraiths bring him back to life, and return his Cardassian face. Sisko can feel it all, and now knows his task. He leaves the party and heads to Bajor for his final battle with DS9’s oldest villain. Winn is killed, and Sisko and Dukat fall into the pits of the fire cave…the Pah-Wraiths locked back up with the book (the key to their return) destroyed, Dukat is killed…and Sisko is sent to the Celestial Temple. His terrible sorrow that he must face is that he has to stay there, as a Prophet, and leave Kassidy, Jake, and his unborn child alone. But he will be back.

I’m not a big fan of montages, they often feel cheap when used for sentimental reasons…but for some reason with this show I loved it. We get O’Brien reflecting on his friendship with Julian, Worf reflecting on his time in the station and Ezri, Odo recalling his relationship with Kira…and then Jake remembering his father. It is really wonderful, and the music, a mix of “The Way You Look Tonight” and the DS9 theme, is really heart-wrenching.

My only complaint is one shared with the creators of the show. Initially there was to be a cameo from Terry Farrell, but the plans fell through and she could not make an appearance, this lead to a bit more of a breakdown, and no footage of her was aloud to be used in the final montage. It REALLY hurts that the Producers were forced to use footage of Worf thinking on Ezri, when really reflecting on the station should have easily had his moments with Jadzia. I understand it wasn’t really anyone’s fault, but it just kind of hurts that final montage, that such an important character for 6 years is totally skipped out on because of a minor dispute.

Some people complain that Sisko’s mission from the pilot is not touched on here, making sure that Bajor is ready for entry in the Federation. I don’t find fault in that. The mission in the show changed, and if you ask me, it goes with out saying that Bajor WAS ready to enter. It may have felt neglected, but I think it would have felt forced and shoved in had it been included.

The final shot, of Jake staring out the window of the station, seeing the wormhole open and longing for his dad is really emotional. Deep Space Nine ends with a long slow zoom out as Kira comforts Jake and we see the station one last time, as it slowly becomes to small to see again. It is a really glorious and emotional way to end this wonderful series.

I like that you can create different kinds of finales and make them strong. TNG ended with our characters realizing that their friendships are important, and ends with them staying together and sailing off into the sunset to further adventures. I like those endings…the story continues kind of thing. But I think this episode proves that the “this chapter is over, and many new ones are beginning” can be just as successful.

A wonderful feature length end.

NEXT TIME: DS9 Season 7 Recap