In the twenty-fifth and penultimate episode of the seventh season of Deep Space Nine, the end begins. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of genocide, warfare, and sexual assault.
There’s a lot going on here, so let me split this up as best I can to address as much as possible.
There’s a finality here that is impossible to ignore. It’s written into so much of the script, from the language to the imagery to the heightened emotions. I may have gotten my last glimpse at a lot of things, like the other O’Brien family members, who have been largely absent this season. What if that was my last view of the Promenade? Or of Julian and Ezri in bed? Even when you consider the dialogue, there’s an ending referenced everywhere. Julian and Ezri make a pact to survive the final battle, which makes me extra worried that one of them won’t make it. THIS SHOW WOULD TOTALLY DO THIS TO ME. Quark laments the absence of practically everyone on Deep Space Nine, who are off fighting in a war he understands in an ambiguous sense, but not in a concrete way.
And then there’s Kassidy and Jake, who typify exactly what the title references. They’re what’s been left behind. Is that permanent? Or will Sisko succeed and return to his family? I want that to be the case, but I don’t know if you know this: this show is fucked up. What if Miles dies? Or Nog? All of the people who lurched into battle left someone behind. Kira did, too, when she went with Garak, and the irony is that Odo is on his way to find her! And will he? I HATE NOT KNOWING.
At least in the Defiant scenes, we get a terrifying view of the front lines, and the show builds the tension and fright incredibly well. The initial fight is overwhelming just because the sheer size of it, but I still anticipated that. “What You Leave Behind” deals in chaos, though, and the battle becomes more and more complex as the minutes pass. First, it seems the Dominion has the upper hand, O’Brien is injured, everything seems lost, and then HELL YES, THE CARDASSIANS, which is an incredibly bizarre thing that I now get to type because of this show.
I’ll touch on that more in a second, but y’all. That defense perimeter. HOW. HOW??? How will they ever get past it?
The supreme and tragic irony of Cardassia’s fate â€“ whatever it may be at this point â€“ will not be lost on me, and it is perhaps one of the best feats of this show’s writing. After spending so long being Deep Space Nine‘s veritable oppressors, they had been dealt a severe blow by the Dominion after the Breen joined. Looking back, that transformation into an oppressed race dealing with an illegal occupation happened relatively quickly. Still, I watched in horror as Weyoun announced that they had torched Lakarian City, killing two million Cardassians, and promising to murder more if they didn’t surrender. Look, I didn’t need this to know that the Dominion was evil, but my take is that this was a way for the writers to demonstrate desperation. It’s a remarkably petty thing for the Dominion to do this, but their reasoning justified it. Why? Because the Cardassians were no longer useful to them. And if they couldn’t have them, no one could.
That tragedy befalls Garak, too, who returns home for the first time in ages, only to watch his family caretaker die in front of him and hear news of Cardassia Prime’s destruction. It’s one of the things that the title refers to, isn’t it? Garak left Cardassia behind (or, rather, was forced to) and he may never get it back.
Dukat will simply never get it, will he? Even after his sight was taken for him, after he was left in poverty on the streets of Bajor, he still taunted Kai Winn with his assault on her and with stories of that lil’ ol’ time when his people occupied her home. We’re left with a version of Winn consumed with her own desire for power, even though she is openly hostile towards Dukat. She despises him, yet for once, she’s now using him for her own ends. Which are what, though? Being the new arbiter of genocide? Turning herself over to the pah-wraiths out of some misguided attempt to bring about the Restoration? I don’t know. Like everything else here, I have no idea how this specific plot will end.
All I do know is that she can never go back. Kai Winn is too far gone, too obsessed with the pah-wraiths to ever redeem herself, unless she throws Dukat and that book into that pit in the Fire Caves and washes her hands of the whole affair. Something tells me she lacks the foresight to do so, though, and thus, I worry about some horrible twist to come. What’s gonna happen if the pah-wraiths are released?
I’m scared, y’all.
The video for the first half of “What You Leave Behind” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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