Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Deep Space Nine, Season 7: What You Leave Behind Space Nine, Season 7
"What You Leave Behind"
Airdate: June 2, 1999
173 of 173 produced
173 of 173 aired


Here we are. The end of another Trek franchise. The Dominion War will end, one way or the other. Dukat and Winn's enter the final stage of the plan to release the Pah Wraiths. Will the crew survive? Will the Federation?

 Kira and Odo end their romance much as they began it - surrounded by an unconvincing puddle of goo.


Kevin: This episode is easily split into two components: the war finale and the series finale. The war arc is the far more interesting of the two, so let's start there. I remember loving a lot of this first time through and rewatching has not altered that opinion. The battle itself has enough scope, but we'll get to that in the production section. The fine grained political stuff in and around the Cardassian homeworld is what really sings. I remember being floored that they went there with the Cardassian genocide. More than any aspect of war that the season succeeded at, it was the sense of chaos. Alliances shift. Morals are tested, and sometimes fail. Weyoun calmly delivering the news of a leveled Cardassian city is just chilling. I get feeling a little cheated that Damar's arc just...ends, but I'm not overly bothered. It at least added the sense of uncertainty about where the resolution would end up, and I enjoyed, ten years before Game of Thrones made it cool, subverting the expectations of anointed protagonists always making it to the end.

Matthew: I agree that, in theory, the Cardassian elements of the story were interesting. I just think that they were betrayed each time by skimpy setups (which I'll attribute to writing) and paltry production values (extras, effects, etc.). The Weyoun video was a highlight. A bunch of guys yelling "For Cardassia!!!" and betraying their position to the enemy? Not so much. I just felt like there was a lot of telling and not a whole lot of showing. I also think that Garak should have been made the explicit leader of the movement and the putative leader of Cardassia after all was said and done. I also would have liked the Federation/Klingon/Romulan triumvirate to have dissolved by the end, whether in a race to the planet a la the fall of Berlin in 1945, or for some other interesting reason.

Kevin: The Winn/Dukat stuff works in and for itself. The sense of tension continues to build, and I could watch them be passive aggressive to each other for days. When Dukat spits out the word "eminence" I die a little of happiness. I wish the second half of the episode had really been turned over to this plot instead of the serial endings upon endings we got. I have a larger problem with Sisko's role in all of this. His destiny push? I think there was a missed opportunity here. Maybe Sisko could have found it anticlimactic as well, and the Prophets could have simply demurred that this was simply how events have always unfolded, at least from their perspective. It could have been a fun way to mess with expectations. Instead, it just feels like they wrapped it up because they had to. I liked the last scene with Kassidy well enough for the character work, but apparently, Avery Brooks had to lobby for the scene, as he did not like the idea of depicting a black father leaving his son and pregnant wife with no explanation or follow up. The fact that the writers didn't think of wrapping up his family arc concerns me, and shows a bit of what I think is the slapdash nature of the conclusion.

Dukat and Winn were the highlight of the episode for me. I just love watching them. Their chemistry made the Sisko stuff more bearable. Which is to say, only just. It was a pretty weak-ass ending for his character, going off to "learn" stuff. Either kill him or return him by the end of this show. Don't leave us hanging. Why not have him go off to "learn stuff" and come back twenty years older, while no one else has aged? Surely there is some sci-fi time-bending that could explain this. Anyway, I found myself much more interested in Bajoran eschatology than I thought I would. I wish this had been a greater focus of the story. "Devil's Due" springs to mind. I think this episode could have stood ten or fifteen minutes of the Pah Wraiths (in Dukat's visage) raining death down upon Bajor. It would have made Sisko's "sacrifice" (if that's what it was) more interesting.

Kevin: The back half of the episode does start to drag, and I think the problem is that there are too many endings. We get the party scene in Vic's, the serial flashbacks, Odo's farewell, and Kira's tour of the station. That's a lot of ending. I think they should have stopped at the party. Other than the too on the nose nature of Vic singing directly to the crew, it was a lovely scene with lots of fun Easter eggs in the form of production crew filling out the party. You make that music exist only in the background, and fade to black, and you have a scene on par with the poker hand in "All Good Things." I think the show, sensing they weren't getting a movie rushed to give everyone an ending. I get O'Brien leaving. He's getting older, his kids are getting older, the idea of life back on Earth has to be increasingly appealing. But why does Worf have to become an ambassador? It's just ending for the sake of an ending.

Matthew: The montage was just gruesome to watch. It would be like cutting in some "Shades of Gray" to round out "All Good Things." What the hell were they thinking? That people who had stuck around for this long needed to be reminded of why they did? And it took time away from potentially interesting material, such as Quark or Jake saying, well, anything. Shit, I would have preferred Morn delivering a Shakespeare soliloquy to this. Then, Kira's send-off to Odo was just... yeah.


Kevin: The guest cast uniformly knocks it out of the park. Robinson is great. The way he says, "I was hoping you'd say that," to the news of the last Weyoun's demise was fantastic. Combs was his usual delightful self. His last scenes with the Founder really landed an almost impossible middle ground of being disturbing but somehow also genuine, no mean feat. Alaimo and Fletcher should do a production of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" somewhere just for fun. The way they tore into the scenes and each other was great.

Matthew: Alaimo and Fletcher redeem an otherwise terribly uneven episode for me. I have so much fun when they're on screen. Jeffrey Combs, ditto. I felt Andrew Robinson was a bit under-utilized, but he nailed what he was given.

Kevin: The main cast did not get a ton of character work, but I think they did a good job with what they were given. Brooks delivery of the line "maybe...yesterday" was good, and elevated the scene. I have to give Visitor and Auberjonois credit for being professionals. Between the weird green screen scenery and the lack of a real basis for their relationship, they tried with their final scenes.

Matthew: I kind of felt like the lion's share of the main cast were phoning it in a bit. They were given a very samey ship-board battle scene, which had been done several times before. Even Sidding and Meaney had already tread the ground they were given in this episode, not two shows before in "Extreme Measures." I think Auberjonois was the best of the main cast. He really gave his Odo scenes a feeling of wistfulness and finality.

Production Values

Kevin: The battle scenes were good. They were clearly throwing in the kitchen sink with previous footage, but I can't be mad. Despite the sheer number of ships and camera jumps, I never lost the sense of progression of the scene, and the scene in orbit of Cardassia was fantastic. I agree with Matt I wish we had gotten more and larger locations on Cardassia, but I liked what they were able to do with what they had. The CGI of the fire caves I think was good and just about holds up twenty years down the line. The last pull out shot of the station was a nice idea, and I think only moderately shows its age when the texture of the station flattens too quickly with distance.

Matthew: The battle scenes on Cardassia were almost grotesquely unrealistic. 3 rebels against 5 guards? In the center of the occupying Dominion force? With their God literally in residence? Come on. But I agree that the space battles and matte shots were excellent.

Kevin: I did not like the flashbacks. They were literally washed out, and stalled the scene. I understand the legal and practical issues surrounding the use of Terry Farrell's image, but if you can't get it, frankly, don't do the flashback. It's jarring that the man apparently doesn't think about his wife before leaving the station, just that one time he had a mistaken one night stand with her successor. It's weird. Also weird is having Vic sing directly to the crew. I love "The Way You Look Tonight" and and Darren does a good job with it, but if it were non-digetic under the scene, or maybe live while the Siskos were enjoying a dance together, it would have been far more effective.

Matthew: The montage was horrible. The music was sappy, the hazy filter was off putting, and the choices of scenes were bizarre in many cases. I liked seeing young Jake.


Kevin: We've spent a lot of the review ragging on the mistakes, but don't get me wrong, I really enjoy this episode. Season 7 has a momentum and an energy that is undeniable, and watching it play out here is very enjoyable. The character work in the back half falls flat for me, but maybe that's because I don't really see DS9 as a character driven show the way TNG was. DS9 is about the grand story arcs and people being swept up in forces greater than themselves, and the half of the episode that focuses on that are really good. In the balance, I am going with a 4.

Matthew: I think it was really late at night when we finished this podcast. I gave it a four on the recording, but I don't think it's more than a 3 after thinking hard about it in writing. So I'm going to break precedent (who isn't these days?) and amend my podcast rating down to a 3. This is just too uneven for anything higher. Rife with missed opportunites, and saddled with an interminable back quarter, only some superb acting and middling to good production values bring this into mediocre range. That makes our total a 7.


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