“What You Leave Behind” is the series finale of the television show Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the 175th and 176th episodes, the 25th and 26th episodes of the seventh season.
Set in the 24th century, the series is set on Deep Space Nine, a space station located near a stable wormhole between the Alpha and Gamma quadrants of the Milky Way Galaxy. The final episode of the series, “What You Leave Behind” sees the end of the Dominion War as the alliance of Starfleet, the Klingons, Romulans and rebel Cardassians launch a final attack against the Dominion on Cardassia Prime, as well as the resolution of Dukat and Kai Winn’s dealings with the Pah-wraiths on Bajor.
The episode was mainly well-received, with most critics considering it a satisfying end for the series, though the final confrontation between Sisko and Dukat was criticised.
After this episode, Star Trek: Voyager became the sole carrier of the Star Trek franchise, starting with “Equinox” (S05E26), until its end in May 2001.
On Deep Space Nine, as the Allies prepare to embark on a potentially final, decisive offensive in the Dominion War, Bashir wakes up with Ezri, O’Brien talks with his family about accepting a transfer back to Earth and Sisko comforts a pregnant, nauseated Kasidy. While heading for battle on the Defiant, Sisko’s mother Sarah, a Prophet of Bajor, appears to him in a vision, telling him his journey’s end “lies not before you, but behind you”. The battle between the Jem’Hadar–Breen–Cardassian and Federation–Klingon–Romulan fleets begins. Kira, Garak and Damar, hiding on Cardassia Prime, incite a revolt and sabotage Cardassia’s power grid, cutting off communication between the Dominion fleet and the command centre. Weyoun and the diseased Founder order the Jem’Hadar to wipe out a Cardassian city.
Kira, Garak and Damar are captured but as the Jem’Hadar prepare to kill them Cardassian soldiers turn on their Jem’Hadar allies in revenge for the destruction of their city. As Starfleet and their allies are suffering many losses, the Cardassian ships switch sides when they learn of the atrocity, turning the tide of the battle. When the Founder discovers this, she orders the eradication of the Cardassian race and the Jem’Hadar begin levelling cities. The Dominion fleet retreats and regroups around Cardassia Prime and the alliance fleet prepares to mount a final offensive. Kira and her team storm the command centre, capture the Founder and kill Weyoun; Damar is killed in the process. The Founder initially refuses to surrender, choosing instead to make the battle as costly as possible for the alliance.
As Sisko prepares for the assault on Cardassia, Odo beams to the command centre and tries to reason with the Founder. She argues that her people will never be safe from the solids but Odo defends the Federation’s intentions, despite its flaws and links with her over Kira and Garak’s objections, curing her disease; she orders an unprecedented surrender of all Dominion forces within the Alpha Quadrant. Odo explains to Kira that he has agreed to cure the other Founders but needs to join them permanently, so he can persuade them to trust solids instead of dominating them. Bashir and Garak are reunited in the command centre as a flood of casualty reports indicate over 800 million Cardassians have been systematically murdered. Bashir tries to reassure him that Cardassia will recover but Garak laments that it will never be the same.
On Bajor, Dukat, still disguised as a Bajoran and Kai Winn, who has turned against the Prophets, travel to the fire caves with an ancient book to release the Pah-wraiths, only to find the caves dark and barren. Winn recites a chant that releases the Pah-wraiths, filling the cave with fire, then poisons Dukat as a sacrifice, expecting to become the wraiths’ emissary; they possess Dukat instead, resurrecting him and restoring his Cardassian appearance.
A peace treaty is signed on DS9 and the crew celebrates in Vic’s lounge but Sisko suddenly becomes aware that he must go to the fire caves. Once there, he attacks Dukat but Dukat easily subdues him with his newfound powers. Winn tries to destroy the book when she realises she made a mistake by turning against the Prophets but Dukat kills her. While Dukat is distracted, Sisko attacks Dukat, falling with him and the book into the fiery chasm. Sisko suddenly finds himself in the Celestial Temple, where Sarah tells him that the Pah-wraiths have been returned to their prison in the fire caves and will never emerge again and it is time for him to rest with the Prophets, having completed his task. The DS9 crew is puzzled by Sisko’s disappearance until he comes to Kasidy in a vision, telling her that he has moved on to a new stage of his life. He assures her he will return, though he does not know when and she promises to wait for him.
The crew go their separate ways. O’Brien will teach at Starfleet Academy, finally giving a stable home to Keiko and their children, Molly and Kirayoshi. Worf is appointed the Federation ambassador to the Klingon Empire, moving to Qo’noS where he will maintain his close friendship with Chancellor Martok. Nog learns that one of Sisko’s last acts was to promote him to Lieutenant, Junior Grade. Bashir and Ezri discuss their future together. When Odo leaves DS9 to fulfil his promise to the Female Changeling, he refuses to give Quark the satisfaction of a fond farewell but Quark interprets it favourably anyway. Kira takes Odo to the Founders’ planet, and Odo tells Kira to tell everyone he will miss them; even Quark, then they bid farewell, Odo sinks into the Link and cures the disease. Now the station commander, she continues Odo’s and Sisko’s example by going to Quark’s to shut down his betting ring on who will be the new Kai, leading Quark to tell Morn, “the more things change, the more they stay the same”. Kira finds Jake on the promenade and they look longingly out as the wormhole opens, knowing that her friend and his father resides in the Celestial Temple.
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Production & Filming Details
- Director(s): Allan Kroeker.
- Writer(s): Ira Steven Behr and Hans Beimler.
- Release Date: 02 June 1999.
- Running Time: 45 minutes.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.