The resolution of a six-episode arc, and a direct sequel to "Favor the Bold", Sacrifice of Angels follows Sisko, again in command of Defiant, and the displaced Deep Space Nine crew on the mission to retake the station from dominion forces.
After a series of costly defeats at the hands of Dominion forces, the Federation Alliance must stop Gul Dukat from dismantling the minefield at the mouth of the Wormhole. So, without the support of the reluctant Klingon High Council, the severely undermanned Federation fleet sets off on Operation Return to take back Deep Space Nine.
To get there, however, they'll have to go through a Dominion Fleet that outnumbers them more than two-to-one.
This episode provides examples of:
- Alas, Poor Villain: Dukat's breakdown after Ziyal's death turns the loathed tyrant into an object of pity and arguably even sympathy, with Sisko suggesting that Dr. Bashir might be able to help Dukat, showing compassion to his longtime enemy.
- Attack Pattern Alpha: Sisko orders the attack fighters to use Tactical Pattern Theta against the Cardassians.
- Awakening the Sleeping Giant: The Dominion had completely ignored the Prophets until this point, using the wormhole as a simple Black Box transportation system. When Sisko stirs them up to defend their adopted people, the Dominion learns to their great cost that it was a mistake to underestimate the gods of Bajor. They only intervene once, but it turns the war around at a stroke.
- Big Badass Battle Sequence: At this time, the production staff of DS9 had recently transitioned from filming practical, physical models to using CGI. They took advantage of the new technology to stage one of the largest and most complicated space battles in the history of moving pictures. And then the Klingons join in and it gets really hairy. There are over two-thousand starships involved once the Klingons join in
- Big Damn Heroes: Several in the course of the episode.
- Worf and Martok bringing the Klingon fleet into the battle.
- Odo and his deputies.
- Quark, to even his surprise.
- Big "NO!"/Little "No": Dukat, when Ziyal is shot, then as she dies in his arms.
- Bittersweet Ending: The good guys retake the station, but Ziyal is killed and Dukat is reduced to a shell of a man.
- Blatant Lies: When Dukat recognizes Sisko's strategy, Weyoun (not to be outdone in front of the Founder) acts like he understands it as well. Dukat wastes little time in calling his bluff by suggesting that he explain it to the Founder, and Weyoun is barely able to dodge a very awkward moment.Dukat: (chuckles) It's a very clever strategy, but then I'd expect nothing less from Captain Sisko.
Weyoun: (clearly not getting it) The captain is a very clever man.
Dukat: You do see it, don't you?
Weyoun: Of course I do.
Dukat: Well, then perhaps you'd like to explain Captain Sisko's strategy to the Founder yourself.
Weyoun: (beat) I could never hope to match your eloquence.
- Bond One-Liner: Odo delivers one after his deputies mow down a Jem'Hadar squad."Never underestimate the element of surprise."
- Call-Back: Sisko wins that barrel of bloodwine from Martok, and declares that they'll drink it together.
- The Cavalry: The Defiant's escorts have been destroyed, there's a squad of Jem'Hadar fighters hot on their tail...and suddenly, green disruptor fire obliterates those ships. The Klingons decloak and strike hard into the Dominion's flank.
- Chekhov's Gun: The station's Bajoran security force and their guns.
- Deadpan Snarker:
"Congratulations, Captain! You wanted them angry? They're angry!"
- Garak tries to lighten the mood with some commentary, even as consoles are exploding right next to him.
- Weyoun even gets into the action with his "Time to start packing!" line.
- Decisive Battle: The Federation retakes DS9 and for the first time, the Dominion is forced to retreat.
- Deus ex Machina: As if there was any other way to stop thousands of Jem'Hadar ships... Sisko had to goad the Prophets into doing it though.
- Die Hard on DS9: Quark is the only one who's not detained by Damar, allowing him to free them and help take back the station.
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: Dukat complains that neither Sisko or the Bajorans ever respected the effort he put in on their behalf. Weyoun barely humors him, and even laughs when he brings up Sisko.
- Easy Logistics: Averted. Weyoun is already concerned about the logistical nightmare that will be actually garrisoning the Alpha Quadrant.
- EMP: The Dominion fleet generate one to disrupt Starfleet communications.
- Endangered Soufflé: Though not because it was poorly cooked—because the guard's face fell into it.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: The Female Changeling thinks that having Kira executed will make Odo's feelings for her simply go away, and make him more compliant. In reality, it has the opposite effect and causes Odo to turn on the Dominion. Note that "evil" in this context applies specifically to the Female Changeling, as Dukat probably would have told her it was a terrible idea, but she never ran it past him (and probably wouldn't have listened even if he did object).
- Foil: The conversation between Dukat and Weyoun highlights the differences between the former's ego and the latter's pragmatism. Dukat toasts himself for a victory that he hasn't won yet, while Weyoun warns him that their fortunes can still go south. Weyoun then wants to annihilate Earth's population to prevent any rebellions from starting there, while Dukat would rather keep everyone alive so that they can acknowledge his greatness.
- The female changeling predicting that Odo will rejoin the Greak Link eventually.
- The Prophets warn Sisko that their help vanishing the Dominion Fleet comes with a price...
- Friend or Idol Decision: Odo's dilemma between returning to the Great Link or remaining loyal to his solid friends comes to a head, now that his friends' lives or way of life are in peril. He chooses loyalty over the Link.
- Go Ye Heroes, Go and Die: Lampshaded. Bashir and O'Brien reciting The Charge of the Light Brigade was not helpful. Nog straight-up asks them to stop, and the Chief realizes it was a bad idea when Garak asks how it ends.
- Gul Obvious: Damar.Damar: The Defiant has opened fire on us!
- Guns Akimbo: Quark during his Big Damn Heroes moment.
- Gunship Rescue: More accurately, an Armada Rescue. A Klingon armada, with Worf and General Martok at the fore, swoops in just in the nick of time.
- Humiliation Conga: Dukat goes from the cusp of victory to not only losing the station, but his daughter as well.
- Infraction Distraction: Quark repeatedly asks the Cardassian jail guard not to mess with the Hasperat soufflé he's bringing Kira. This prompts him to inspect it more closely—and Ziyal sedates him.Quark: Now you've ruined it.
- Ironic Echo: Ziyal confesses to her father that she helped sabotage the station. Overhearing this, Damar shoots her without a second thought. Ziyal betrayed her father, making her a traitor and thus an enemy of the state, and as Dukat said in the last episode, "enemies of the state don't deserve mercy."
- Jail Bake: Subverted with the Hasperat soufflé—it doesn't actually contain anything; it's just there to distract the guard while Ziyal hits him with the off-button hypospray.
- Kansas City Shuffle: When Quark brings a plate of Hasperat soufflé for major Kira in her holding cell, the Cardassian jail guard believes this is a horribly transparent attempt to smuggle something in to help Kira escape. He's seemingly vindicated when Quark gets nervous about him poking at it. But all of this was just a distraction allowing Ziyal to administer a hypospray to knock him out so the two of them could get inside and reach the holding cells.
- Know When to Fold 'Em / Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: With the Federation Alliance winning the battle and Dominion reinforcements not coming, as well as DS9's weapons being knocked offline by sabotage, Weyoun and the Founder rather casually decide it's time to leave DS9.Weyoun: (Claps hands) Time to start packing!
- Last Stand: One ship against 2800, and Sisko orders the Defiant into the wormhole anyway in order to live up to her name.
- Literal-Minded: Holding the Jem'Hadar guards at gunpoint, Quark says "Nobody move!" and then tells them to open the cells. Of course, they don't move, because Quark told them not to.
- Madness Mantra: Dukat.
- Must Make Amends: Odo makes up for his lapse in judgment two episodes ago via a Big Damn Heroes moment, and then covering for Kira and Rom as they attempt to stop the Dominion from destroying the minefield.
- Moral Myopia: Even (or perhaps especially) in the throes of madness, Dukat cannot accept the simple fact that he's the villain in all this; he tells a dead Ziyal that he forgives her treachery, and "forgives" Sisko as well, returning his baseball in what a deranged Dukat likely considers a reconciliatory gesture.
- Near-Villain Victory: Dukat's battle plan to envelop and crush the Federation fleet, though unnecessary and more focused on personally defeating Sisko than winning the battle, very nearly worked. It was only through the direct intercession of the Prophets that Dominion reinforcements were stopped from transiting the wormhole.
- Neutral No Longer: Sisko gave a "What the Hell, Hero?" speech to the Prophets over the Dominion War, which convinced them to ensure that no Dominion reinforcements will ever make it through the Wormhole... including a monstrous armada already transiting it. The armada just... disappears. note
- Never My Fault: When Weyoun brings up the failed occupation of Bajor as reason to be wary of the even bigger job of occupying the entire Alpha Quadrant, Dukat insists that he only carried out policy which was laid out by others, thinking he'd have done a better job if he were the one in charge.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!:
- Dukat would in all likelihood have won the war for the Dominion if he had simply held his position until time ran out: even with the arrival of the Klingons, only the Defiant successfully broke out of the trap initially. This is justified, however: as indicated by his speech to Weyoun about defeating your enemy versus "making them realize they were wrong to ever oppose you in the first place", he's more focused on a personal victory over Sisko than on the strategic level.
- After Dukat decides to have Kira, Jake and Leeta imprisoned alongside the already-detained and condemned Rom, purely to keep them from doing any damage while they take down the minefield, the Female Changeling decides to Kick the Dog and sentence them all to execution, just to make an example out of them. While Odo would likely have been horrified by the injustice of this alone, his feelings for Kira prompt him to turn on the Dominion, and save her and Rom from some Jem'Hadar.
- Weyoun's agreeing to reinstate Odo's Bajoran security officers at the start of the season also comes back to bite the Dominion on the butt, as Odo alone probably wouldn't have been able to deal with a squad of Jem'Hadar, but a few armed deputies certainly are.
- No-Nonsense Nemesis: Weyoun thinks that the Dominion should eradicate Earth's population after taking it over, believing that any organized resistance against the Dominion will start there. Dukat is aghast, as he believes victory means nothing if your enemies aren't made to accept that they were wrong to oppose you.
- Nothing Can Stop Us Now!: Dukat breaks out a bottle of kanar and toasts to himself and Weyoun as the "conquerors of the Federation." Weyoun naturally starts wondering why he's already celebrating a victory that's not been achieved yet.Weyoun: Aren't you being a bit premature?
Dukat: I don't think so. Not with twenty eight hundred Dominion ships waiting to come through that wormhole.
Weyoun: Those ships aren't going to be here for another five hours, and need I remind you a lot can happen in that amount of time.
- Oh, Crap!:
- Quark gets this expression when Kira, Jake, and Leeta are taken prisoner, realizing it's up to him to get them (and Rom) back out.
- The whole bridge crew to the size of the Dominion fleet.
- And again when they see the minefield blocking the wormhole destroyed.
- The Dominion gets a turn when the Defiant emerges from the wormhole...and the Dominion ships don't.
- Pragmatic Villainy: Knowing that Rom probably wasn't working alone, Dukat decides to have Kira, Leeta and Jake also thrown in prison, noting that he won't be able to keep them there for very long, but it'll at least keep them out of the way long enough to ensure that they can bring down the minefield without any attempts at sabotage. However, the Female Changeling then screws things up by deciding to Kick the Dog and have them all executed, causing Odo to turn against the Dominion.
- Red Shirt: The Miranda-class starship seems to be showing its age, as seen in this episode. It's the first in a series of battles that shows their surprisingly high attrition rate amounting; to little more than cannon fodder (which is largely due to clips of this battle, especially the Defiant's escorts being destroyed, being reused in almost every subsequent battle in the series).
- Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Ziyal, according to Damar.
- Sanity Slippage: Dukat's mental state starts falling apart when the Dominion reinforcements fail to follow the Defiant out of the wormhole. He's quickly reduced to desperately scouring the Promenade for Ziyal, ignoring his impending defeat. Ziyal's death proves to be the final straw, breaking Dukat's hold on reality; he ends the episode as a shell of his former self, telling an illusory Ziyal that he forgives her and that they'll be a family.
- Shout-Out: O'Brien and Bashir quote Lord Tennyson's poem "The Charge of the Light Brigade". Appropriately, as there are around 600 Starfleet ships in the fleet. It leads to an Analogy Backfire when Garak asks how the poem ends.
- Space Is an Ocean: Specifically, a battleship-era fleet battle; with fast torpedo boats harassing enemy lines, destroyers screening the ships-of-the-line, and heavy-hitting capital ships pounding away at each other with their massive deck guns. A Cardassian Galor-class cruiser even gets her 'T' crossed by a pair of Galaxy-class starships. (2-D Space is, at least, averted.)
- Status Quo Is God: After the status quo was broken in the fifth season finale, it's finally brought back with the Federation retaking Deep Space Nine from the Cardassians and the Dominion.
- Stuff Blowing Up: The minefield is destroyed in the spectacular explosion that Dukat promised.
- Stuffed into the Fridge: A rare villainous example, as Ziyal is killed basically just so that Dukat could have a breakdown.
- Tactical Withdrawal: The Founder orders a full withdrawal from Federation space.
- Talking to the Dead: A far less sentimental example than usual for this trope: Ziyal's death devastates what's left of Dukat's sanity, and he pours his heart out to her while alone in a cell.
- Take Up My Sword: Sisko makes this an order to the fleet - anyone who breaks through the Dominion lines is to make a run straight for Deep Space Nine. Initially, the Defiant is the only ship that succeeds. But by the end of the battle more Alliance ships manage to slip out of the meat grinder.
- Tempting Fate: When Damar reports that the Defiant has slipped through their blockade, Weyoun orders the ship pursued and destroyed. However, Dukat countermands that, choosing to rely on the station's weapons array. Said weapons are disabled by Rom just in time to allow the Defiant to enter the wormhole.
- This Cannot Be!: Dukat can barely process that the battle has turned against them just as they were on the cusp of total victory."Victory was within our grasp! Bajor! The Federation! The Alpha Quadrant! All lost!"
- Time for Plan B: As the Defiant is rushing back to DS9, Jadzia suggests that Sisko come up with a Plan B. When they see the minefield destroyed, Sisko reveals the new plan: fly into the wormhole and stand against the coming Dominion armada.Jadzia: One ship against a fleet? That's a helluva Plan B.
- Trap Is the Only Option: During the battle, Dukat orders the Cardassian fleet to open a hole in their lines. Sisko (and Bashir) immediately realizes it's a trap, but decides that flying into it is also the Alliance's best shot at breaking through.
- Villainous Breakdown: Dukat when the Dominion fleet doesn't come through the wormhole and it becomes clear that The Federation and the Klingons are winning the battle. Made worse by Ziyal's death.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Sisko chewing out the Prophets for not being inclined to help him. They accede, but at a cost to be exacted later.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Terok Nor is shown to be surrounded by a number of Dominion ships at the start of the episode. However, they completely disappear when the Defiant arrives, as Dukat doesn't order them to engage when the station's weapons array fails.
- You Are Too Late: Kira and Rom's sabotage of the weapons array is too late to prevent the Dominion from destroying the minefield. It does, however, come in handy when the Defiant arrives at the wormhole (as the Dominion can't stop the ship from entering).
- You Do NOT Want to Know: Garak asks how "The Charge of the Light Brigade" ends. O'Brien replies with this—which basically answers Garak's question.