This is it, the season six finale that spells some serious change for the crew of DS9 as it enters it’s final season. It is a story of prices paid and debts collected. Originally airing on June 17 1998, this is Tears of the Prophets.
Station Log star-date undetermined: Tears of the Prophets.
After being placed in command of an invasion force poised to take down the Cardassians once and for all, Sisko learns that not listening to the warnings from the Prophets bares dire repercussions.
Despite the ongoing war, It is a time of celebration aboard DS9 with the advent of the Bajoran Gratitude Festival. After a tremendous event Sisko heads to the wardroom where he is awarded the Christopher Pike Medal of Honor. Afterwards he is informed that he is being put in command of the invasion of Cardassia. Sisko begins planning their offensive with General Martok and Admiral Ross. Martok is confident of their victory despite the fact they may not have the support of the Romulans in their attack.
As Sisko is being informed of his command, Dax and Worf inform their friends that they are planning to have a child together. Quark and Bashir lament the fact that they certainly have no chance with Dax now that she is considering having a family.
Meanwhile, on Cardassia, Damar shows Weyoun the new orbital weapons platforms that have just been deployed. Just as they begin discussing the upcoming battle plans they are interrupted by Gul Dukat. Dukat indicates that, even though Damar killed his daughter, Dukat blames Sisko of her death. He tells Weyoun and Damar that he now has the ability to make it so that reinforcements can make it through the wormhole undeterred catching their attention.
Back on DS9, Sisko pulls the Romulans, Klingons and Federation into a joint planning session in their possible invasion of Cardassia. As they discuss their plans it becomes clear it will be more than difficult to get the Klingons and Romulans to work together. The Romulans want to sit back and let the Cardassians throw soldiers at them but Sisko argues that the only way to win the war is to mount an offensive. He makes it clear that he knows it will cost a lot of lives along the way but it is the only tactic to end the hostilities once and for all.
That evening, as Quark and Bashir lament their lost loves, Ben and Jake have dinner together discussing Jake’s desire to accompany him as a reporter. After reluctantly agreeing to let Jake join the trip, Ben is visited by the Prophets who make it abundantly clear that The Emissary should not accompany the invasion of Cardassia. They will not tell him why, only warn him not to go. The next day Ben informs Admiral Ross of the visit from the Prophets as to which Ross indicates that even if the Prophets want The Emissary to remain behind, Captain Sisko needs to follow orders. Sisko reluctantly agrees to be on the bridge of the Defiant for the attack.
On Cardassia Gul Dukat reveals the key to their victory in the upcoming war. He has found an artifact that will allow him to strike the Prophets directly. Activating the artifact, Dukat is possessed by a Pah Wraith.
Departing the station, Captain Sisko leaves Jadzia Dax in command. Worf and Dax give their farewells to one another one final time before boarding the Defiant. Soon the joint Federation, Klingon and Romulan fleet begins it’s journey to invade Cardassia Prime with the Defiant in the lead. Just as the fleet arrives at the inactivated Cardassian defensive grid they begin their first engagement with Jem’Hadar forces. Just as the battle looks promising, the weapons platforms activate preventing the invading force in their tracks. On Cardassia, Weyoun and Damar rejoice in their tactical victory and begin waiting to see if Dukat can actually accomplish what he has promised.
Back on DS9, Julian delivers news to Dax that she and Worf may be able to conceive a child. Jadzia makes it a point to stop by the Bajoran shrine on the station to offer her gratitude. Just as she is giving thanks, a possessed Gul Dukat arrives and attacks Dax causing her to collapse. Taking a hold of the Orb, the Pah Wraith corrupts it causing it to turn black. Suddenly the Wormhole opens and slams shut separating Bajor from the Prophets. Aboard the Defiant, Sisko nearly collapses feeling as if the Prophets had reached out but were silenced before they could ask for help. On the station, Dukat apologizes to Dax’s lifeless body for harming her.
The Defiant locates the power grid for the Weapons Platform and goes in for the attack. With Kira in command in Sisko’s absence, O’Brien finds a way to trick the system into attacking itself. Successfully shutting down the grid, the armada blasts through and continues their mission toward Cardassia Prime. Soon, however, the Defiant receives bad news from Deep Space Nine.
Returning to the station, Worf rushes to the infirmary to get to Jadzia while Sisko addresses the questions of the Bajoran people. It seems that all of the orbs have gone dark and all contact with the Prophets have been lost. Reporting to the infirmary, Sisko and team learn that Jadzia doesn’t have long to live but Julian was able to save the Symbiote. Worf and Sisko say goodbye to Jadzia as she slips away.
Sisko visits Jadzia’s body to have some final words with his old friend. Asking for help, he indicates that he is going to miss her and that he blames himself for her death. He feels lost without Dax’s guidance and now that the Prophets are gone, he feels like a complete failure. In the end, leaving Kira in command, Sisko takes a leave of absence in the hopes that he can find answers, no matter how long it takes. After he leaves, Kira notes that they may never see their beloved Captain again, as he took his baseball with him indicating he does not know if or when he will return.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
I won’t lie, every time I see this episode it brings tears to my eyes. That emotional reaction is one of the reasons that I see Deep Space Nine as one of the finest of Star Trek series and, in doing this review series, I have come to see that even more. Sure there are some issues overall, some bad episodes, some unexplained things but when it comes down to it, DS9 does something that most of the other series fail to do. It focuses on the human element of the characters, giving them a three dimensional quality lacking in even in most of STNG. Don’t get me wrong, STNG is an achievement of it’s own and Picard is off to a great start but DS9 has soul and that is saying something.
This episode is one that I both love and hate as it takes one of my favorite characters away. Jadzia Dax is by far one of my favorites in the franchise. Here is a woman who has the memories and experiences of generations of people but manages to remain true to herself. Even without the symbiote, Jadzia is a strong willed and talented officer but coupled with Dax, she is unstoppable. It was a shame that this series lost this character and, in turn, actor Terry Farrell. While I have heard that she was unhappy with her treatment on the show, her departure, to me, damaged this series even more than any Dominion attack could have. In many ways, the station lost a key component to it’s life force and, while she is ultimately replaced, her replacement (at no fault of the replacements own) never quite lives up to the standard set by Jadzia/Terry.
Years ago I had the opportunity to sit down with Michael Dorn and, when the subject of Farrell’s departure came up, you could tell he was still affected by her loss on the series. His entire demeanor shifted indicating that it was almost as much a physical blow as it was an emotional one. While I did not get to document our conversation, as it was a candid one, he spoke highly of Terry Farrell and lamented the stories that had been planned had she had remained on the series. In the end he indicated that he fully respected her decision to leave but was sad that she had made that choice.
As for story elements, this episode sets off what will be the final battle between good and evil in the world of Deep Space Nine. Not only have the Prophets been damaged in a way that seems permanent, but Ben Sisko has lost not only his confidence but his faith in himself as a commander and as the Emissary. For the first time in the series we see a truly broken man and the final season becomes the story of his search for redemption.
Another aspect of this episode that I love is the return of Gul Dukat in the form of the ‘big bad’. Not only does Dukat manage to kill one of our beloved crew members but he proves that he is much more of a threat to Bajor and the Federation than the Dominion as a whole. Actor Mark Alaimo brings an evil quality to this role that is so sadistically compelling you hate that you love seeing him on the screen. Now coupled with the power of the Pah Wraith, when this first aired I feared that there is nothing that could stop Dukat from finally getting his revenge. The only other character to truly illicit those feelings for me is that of Kai Winn and, well, when they get together…oh boy.
Overall, this is probably the perfect ending to the penultimate season. The stakes are high, the status quo has been shaken and everything looks bleak. While it does not say ‘to be continued’ in many ways, it didn’t have to, we all knew that we would be back to find out what happened to the intrepid crew of Deep Space Nine.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- The celebration of the Gratitude Festival is not only used again to indicate a clear passage of time but also of the calm before the storm.
- Sisko’s baseball has always been a significant part of his character from the moment he received it in If Wishes Were Horses from ‘Buck Bokai’. While the aliens never returned, he always saw this as his link to the station. The fact that he did not take it with him meant that he might never come back and is a stark reflection to when he left the station in the episode Call to Arms when he left the baseball indicating to Dukat that the Cardassian could count on Sisko’s return.
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Late To The Game 4/10/2022 (Originally published 2/3/2020)
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