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Recap / Star Trek: Deep Space Nine S07E25 E26 "What You Leave Behind"

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"Don't worry, Kasidy, I managed to talk the Prophets out of keeping me with them forever. See you in the relaunch books!"

"All right, people, what do you say we end this war?"

The one-and-a-half-hour series finale to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

Following a series of key victories, the Federation and their allies have turned the tide of the war with the Dominion in their favor. Tensions are running high among the crew of the Defiant as Bashir and Ezri worry about surviving to the end to pursue their relationship while O'Brien prepares to return to Earth after the war is over to pursue a teaching career at Starfleet Academy, but finds himself fretting over telling Bashir. All the while, Captain Sisko tends to his wife Kasidy as she contends with morning sickness whilst Kira and Garak continue to work with Damar in subverting the Dominion's hold on Cardassia from within their own territory.

With the Dominion retreating to Cardassia to regroup, the time has at last come for the final battle in the war: rather than wait for the Dominion to rebuild their ranks, the Federation, Klingons, and Romulans agree that the time is ripe for a final push to crush the Dominion once and for all.

The Federation and their allies launch their combined fleet and make their way to Cardassia as Sisko has another vision from the Prophets, with Sarah telling him his task was nearly complete, but the end of the journey he undertook lies not before him, but behind him. Meanwhile, on Bajor, Dukat regains his eyesight after the Pah-wraiths had blinded him for attempting to read the Book of the Kosst Amojan and meets with Kai Winn to finally undertake their own journey to the Fire Caves to release the Pah-wraiths and destroy the Prophets once and for all.

With the Dominion's defenses spread too thin, the Federation prepares to engage them while the Cardassian resistance sabotages power to the Capitol, disrupting communications and drawing the Female Changeling's ire. In response to the resistance's acts of sabotage, Weyoun orders the destruction of Lakarian City as punishment.

As Garak prepares to aid Damar in raiding the Capitol, Dominion soldiers kill his old friend Mila and raid the resistance's base in Garak's old basement, capturing Kira, Garak, and Damar. Meanwhile, throughout the Cardassia system, Dominion forces engage the Federation's fleet. It is a hard fight as Breen warships assail the Defiant and the Romulan flagship is destroyed, with O'Brien finally working up the nerve to tell Bashir he would be leaving for Earth after the war.

Back on Cardassia, Kira, Garak, and Damar are about to be executed by the Jem'Hadar when Cardassian turncoats shoot the would-be executioners and save them from certain death. Similarly, Cardassian warships begin to fire upon the Breen and Jem'Hadar, saving the Defiant and giving the Federation fleet the chance it needs to continue their push to Cardassia. Once communications in the Cardassian Capitol are restored, the Founder is dismayed to learn of the Cardassian ships' betrayal. At her wit's end with the Cardassians, she orders the Jem'Hadar to execute her loyal Legate Broca, then orders Weyoun to carry out the immediate genocide of the Cardassians.

With the Dominion fleet now bombarding Cardassian cities, Kira and a revenge-driven Garak help Damar make the final push into the Dominion's headquarters at the Capitol. The entrance is too heavily protected, but the resistance manages to make their way in when the entrance opens for Jem'Hadar soldiers preparing to carry out Broca's execution. Damar dies in the ensuing firefight, but Kira and Garak manage to fight their way in.

As the Federation and their allies close in on Cardassia Prime and prepare for one final strike to destroy the Dominion fleet, Kira and Garak make their way to the nerve center of the Dominion command. Garak kills Weyoun: with the Vorta cloning facilities destroyed, Weyoun is now finished once and for all as the Founder is captured, but she refuses to surrender. When Kira reports the Founder's deteriorating status to Sisko, Odo beams himself to the Dominion base to try to talk to her. The Founder believes the Federation would invade the Gamma Quadrant, but Odo assures her that they wouldn't and offers to cure her. Garak is suspicious of Odo's offer to the Founder, but Kira convinces him to stay his hand as Odo and the Founder link. With the morphogenic disease that ailed her cured, and Odo's experiences with the people of Deep Space 9 shared with the cure, the Founder finally agrees to surrender, calling off the Breen and Jem'Hadar fleets and ending the war. Furthermore, she would remain in the Alpha Quadrant to answer for her actions during the war. As such, the task of curing the Great Link would fall to Odo.

With the war finally over, the Founder signs the instruments of surrender as Garak decides to stay behind on Cardassia to rebuild and Worf accepts an offer by Admiral Ross and Chancellor Martok to become the Federation's ambassador to the Klingon Empire. In addition, with the task of curing the Great Link and teaching his people to trust others being a long and hard one, Odo asks Kira to come with him to the Changelings' homeworld to see him off.

Afterwards, the crew of Deep Space 9 hold a victory party at Vic's holosuite club. Unfortunately for Sisko, there is no time to rest: while the final stages of the Dominion War were underway, Dukat and Winn traveled to the Fire Caves of Bajor and released the Pah-wraiths. Afterwards, Winn offers Dukat a toast to celebrate their impending victory, only for Dukat to realise after he drank his toast that Winn had poisoned the wine, killing him as a sacrifice to the Pah-wraiths. When Winn calls out to the Pah-wraiths to grant her their power, however, the wicked spirits completely rebuke her and instead give their power to Dukat, resurrecting him and restoring his Cardassian appearance.

Sisko, sensing that something was amiss on Bajor and finally understanding what it is the Prophets want of him, immediately leaves for the Bajoran Fire Caves and confronts Dukat. With the Pah-wraiths granting him their godlike power, Dukat is easily able to overpower Sisko. Winn, after realizing what she had wrought, prepares to throw the Book of the Kosst Amojan into the flames of the Fire Caves, only for Dukat to whisk it from her grasp.

"Emissary, the book!" Winn cries out before Dukat envelops her body in flames and destroys her.

"Farewell, Adami..." Dukat sneers.

While Dukat is distracted, Sisko takes the chance to tackle him, throwing them both into the Fire Caves. The flames consume the book and destroy it, along with Dukat's body, as the Prophets rescue Sisko. Sarah approaches him once more, informing him that he had finally fulfilled his task as the Prophets' emissary: the Pah-wraiths were once again sealed, along with Dukat, never to return. Unfortunately for Sisko, the Prophets were not done with him. The real work is only just beginning...

As Sisko's family attempt to find him, Kasidy receives a vision from Benjamin. The two tearfully reunite before Benjamin explains that he had to join the Prophets, and there was no way to know for certain when he could return. Nonetheless, he promises to return to her in due time.

With the war finally ended and Bajor at peace, the time has come at last for some of the station's most notable residents to take their leave. Miles O'Brien reminisces about the times he shared with Julian Bashir, the young doctor whom he first thought an annoyance, but would in time become his best friend. Worf thinks back on his life after the Enterprise, a time of great change for himself and the Klingon Empire as he prepares to return to his homeworld with his sworn brother, Martok. Odo thinks on the life and love he shared with Kira Nerys as he leaves his old bucket for her as a memento. Quark has fond memories of the interesting goings-on at his bar since the Federation came to the station. And Jake Sisko looks back with fond feelings on the seven years he lived on the station with his father.

At last, Odo decides to take his leave. He tries to slip away unnoticed by the station's inhabitants, not being fond of long goodbyes, but is approached one last time by his old rival Quark. Quark tries to coax Odo into saying kind things about him before he leaves, to which Odo can do naught but harrumph and walk away. Even though Odo would never say it, Quark knows for a fact that the constable respected him and raises a toast to his friend.

Odo and Kira make their way to the Changeling homeworld, where the Great Link had become green and sickly with the morphogenic plague. Odo says his farewells to Kira before kissing her and donning a tuxedo just for her before walking into the Great Link and merging with it, the green fluid that composed his race beginning to return to its healthy golden color.

Life on the station returns to normal, with Kira, now the commander of the station, keeping Quark on a tight leash. As Quark muses that "The more things change, the more they stay the same", Kira walks onto the Promenade and sees Jake looking out at the wormhole. She joins him and gazes out to the wormhole, the two of them comfortable in the knowledge that within the Celestial Temple is Captain Benjamin Lafayette Sisko: father, husband, friend, Emissary, and hero to the Federation and the people of Bajor...

Tropes in this episode:

  • Actually Pretty Funny: Damar's resistance group burst into laughter at the ridiculousness of being prepared to launch a suicidal attack on the Dominion headquarters but are instead stuck outside.
  • And I Must Scream: Dukat is trapped with the Pah-wraiths for the rest of eternity.
  • And This Is for...: Invoked verbatim by the Cardassians, who spit at the Dominion: "That's for Lakarian City."
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: After re-sealing the Pah-wraiths (and Dukat with them), Sisko is taken into the Celestial Temple to live with the Prophets and learn from them. However, in a vision he tells Kasidy that he will return to her one day.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • No one's sorry to see Broca go.
    • Given the amount of crap she pulled over the years, not to mention the fact she'd been trying to serve the Pah-wraiths until about two minutes before the end, it's kind of hard to feel sorry for Winn.
    • It's also hard to feel sorry for "that Vorta jackal" Weyoun, though his Smug Snake Deadpan Snarker comedy will be missed.
    • Twice over for Dukat. First Winn poisons him, both to serve as a Human Sacrifice and so that she can stand alone as the Pah-wraiths' Emissary. It ends badly in more than one way. Then, after the Pah-wraiths resurrect him, he isn't killed again, but being dragged into the company of the Pah-wraiths is a deeply deserved fate after all the atrocities he'd wrought over the series.
  • Back from the Dead: Winn poisons Dukat to become the sole inheritor of the Pah-wraiths' power, but the Pah-wraiths choose him as their Emissary, reviving Dukat and even restoring his natural appearance.
  • Bad Boss: As the Dominion's situation gets worse, and the disease takes its toll on her, the Female Changeling can do little more than yell, berate and kill her subordinates.
  • Bait-and-Switch Gunshot: The Jem'Hadar have Kira, Garak, and Damar lined up for execution, aim their guns...and get shot by the Cardassians behind them.
  • Battle Cry: FOR CARDASSIA!
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: For the entire series, Garak has wished for an end for his exile from Cardassia. Here, his exile is officially over, but everything about the home he wanted to return to is gone; Mila is dead, the house he grew up in is reduced to rubble, Cardassia itself is in ruins, and hundreds of millions of his people were senselessly slaughtered by the Dominion.
  • Big Badass Battle Sequence: The Federation, Klingons, Romulans, Dominion, Breen and Cardassians are all involved.
  • Big "NO!":
    • Broca, when he's taken to be executed.
      "But I've done everything you asked! I tell you, I'm loyal! I BELIEVE IN THE DOMINION! NO! WAIT! NO!"
    • Winn, when the Pah-wraiths choose Dukat over her.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Dominion is defeated, the Cardassian Union is broken as an imperialist power, and the Pah-wraiths are permanently sealed in the Fire Caves. Additionally, Dukat is trapped with the Pah-wraiths, Winn and Weyoun are dead, and the Female Changeling has surrendered to stand trial for war crimes. However, Worf and O'Brien leave for new assignments, Odo returns to his people, with little chance of returning any time soon, Garak is able to return to Cardassia, but the planet has been devastated by the Jem'Hadar, with the closest thing to family he has left is dead, and Sisko is forced to Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence, with no guarantee of when he'll be back.
  • Book Ends:
    • Sisko and Dukat first met back in the pilot. Now they have their final showdown.
    • In "Heart of Stone", Nog first demonstrated his determination to join Starfleet by doing a cargo inventory. After his promotion, he ends the series being ordered by Kira to do another inventory.
    • One of the first things Kira said to Sisko was "I suppose you'll want the office"; here, she inherits the office in Sisko's absence, but clearly anticipates his return.
    • Quark and Kira's final interaction of the series is the exact same as their final interaction in the Pilot (i.e. Kira threatening Quark and Quark's mischievous reaction).
    • A particularly dark one for the Cardassians. They exit the series in the same position they left Bajor in back in the pilot: as a devastated world recovering from a brutal occupation and dependent upon the charity and mercy of the Federation and its allies.
    • Meta example. Longtime Trek composer Dennis McCarthy, who scored "Emissary", fittingly gets to score the series finale.
    • The Promenade is DS9's first internal location seen in "Emissary" and it's the last one seen in the finale's closing scene.
    • The very first external shot of the Station in "Emissary" is a slow push in (from Jake's POV as he and his father are exiting the Enterprise-D holodeck). The Station's final external shot mirrors it by slowing pulling back from DS9 (and inverting Jake's perspective this time around).
  • Brick Joke: O'Brien finding Colonel Travis, who'd been lost for several episodes.
  • But Now I Must Go: Odo returns to the Great Link. Sisko joins the Prophets.
  • Call-Back:
    • Kira threatens Quark the same way she did way back in the first episode, "Emissary".
    • In the previous season finale, Martok promised Sisko and Admiral Ross that within a year, they'll drink bloodwine on Cardassia Prime. Here he fulfills that promise, though Sisko and Ross are too unnerved by the genocide around them to celebrate.
    • The Female Changeling told Weyoun that bringing Odo back to the Great Link was more important than conquering the Alpha Quadrant. She ends up sacrificing that conquest in exchange for Odo's return, proving that she meant what she said.
    • The Female Changeling vowed to Garak back in "Broken Link" that all of Cardassia was dead and that they would be punished for Tain and the Obsidian Order's failed attack on the Great Link. Three seasons later, that pledge is finally, very nearly horrifically fulfilled.
      • Similarly, Garak grimly concluded, and accepted, earlier in the Season that the price paid for defeating the Dominion would be the destruction of Cardassia. That premonition finally comes to pass with the Dominion's final, vindictive pogrom.
    • In his final conversation with Kasidy, Ben notes his situation is "not linear", much like the Prophets said all the way back in the opening episode.
    • When O'Brien finds Travis, an instrumental version of "The Minstrel Boy" starts up.
    • Kira assigns Nog to inventory a cargo bay, the same task that Sisko gave him to prove he was serious about joining Starfleet. Rather than being annoyed by it like before, this time he accepts the assignment with a smile.
    • Garak's "we're guilty as charged" speech about the Cardassians bears many similarities to Aamin Marritza's "we're guilty, all of us" speech near the end of "Duet".
    • In the Fire Caves on Bajor, Dukat uses his power to disarm Sisko by causing his phaser rifle to fly out of his hands. Dukat then forces Sisko to kneel before him. Both of these things are what Gary Mitchell forced Captain Kirk to do on the planet Delta Vega in the Star Trek TOS 2nd pilot episode "Where No Man Has Gone Before."
    • Kira stands with Jake looking out a window and mourning his father, as she did in "The Visitor".
  • Cannot Spit It Out: In the midst of a pitched battle, O'Brien still finds it hard to tell Julian he's moving back to Earth.
  • Capital Offensive: The Federation Alliance sends its fleets to Cardassia Prime, with the aim of ending the war.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Just before the battle starts, Weyoun notes that the Dominion's lines are stretched too thin at the center. Their headquarters loses power before they can dispatch reinforcements. During the battle, Sisko points out this weakness, leading Admiral Ross and Martok to hit the center.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The first city that the Dominion nukes is Lakarian City, which was home to an amusement park that Dukat wanted to take his son to in "Defiant." (Adds to the impact of its destruction by giving it overtones of Monumental Damage and Innocence Lost.)
  • Creator Cameo: Much of the show's creative staff appear as guests at Vic's.
  • Death Glare:
    • On arrival at Dominion Headquarters, Garak has a positively terrifying one.
    • Sisko directs another one at Dukat when they face off in the Fire Caves.
  • Decon-Recon Switch: The end of the Dominion War is the conclusion of the series' deconstruction of the Federation and its ideals. The idea of a sustained war with moral decline and compromises is antithetical to classic Trek. But for all that, the War ultimately ends not with more firefights and bloodshed, but with a very classical Trek resolution: Our heroes (in the form of Odo) reaching out a hand and showing compassion to an enemy; and the enemy tentatively - almost unbelievingly - accepting.
  • Defiant to the End: While dying from the morphogenic virus, the Female Changeling is perfectly happy to spoil the heroes' victory however she can, seeing no point in surrendering if she and her people will all die anyway. Odo curing her convinces her to surrender, and she becomes a Graceful Loser instead.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Sisko and Ross both balk at drinking a toast while surrounded by Cardassian corpses. Martok doesn't understand their objections and after they leave remarks to himself in Klingon, "Human creatures. Who would understand them?" Martok then drinks heartily while smiling at the carnage.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Garak's passed it, and when Bashir tries to reassure that Cardassia will rebuild, Garak cuts him off with a "Don't You Dare Pity Me!" rant.
  • Deus ex Machina: The Prophets teleport Sisko out of the fire pit. Justified due to them doing this kind of thing throughout the series.
  • Didn't See That Coming: The Dominion's response to the sabotage of the Cardassian planetary power grid. While Damar, Kira, and Garak knew there would be immediate reprisals, they didn't anticipate the Dominion would actually nuke an entire Cardassian city from orbit in retaliation.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The Female Changeling orders one entire Cardassian city to be obliterated for each individual act of sabotage by the Cardassian rebels against the war effort.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The scene in which the Female Changeling signs the peace treaty ending the war draws explicit parallels to that of the Japanese surrender ceremony. Admiral Ross even directly quotes Douglas MacArthur's speech.
  • Do Not Go Gentle: The Female Changeling plans to do this when Kira and Garak storm the Dominion command room, stating that even if she had lost the war, she will have had the Jem'Hadar and Breen kill so many of her enemies that it would ultimately be a worthless victory for the Federation. It is only thanks to Odo that she changes her mind.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Kira killed a Breen and took the outfit to be able to move about on Cardassia.
  • Especially Zoidberg: Before joining the Great Link, Odo relays his regards for the DS9 crew to Major Kira... and admits he'll even miss Quark, which he tried to downplay out of pride when actually saying goodbye to Quark before leaving the station.
    Odo: Please, tell everyone I'll miss them
    Kira: Even Quark?
    Odo: Even Quark.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: When the Female Founder orders the Cardassians' annihilation, the Breen commander whips his head around. He doesn't say a word, and being Breen, his helmet hides whatever expression is on his face, but the suddenness of his response to the Founder's words is telling in and of itself. As for Weyoun, he too is visibly unnerved, saying only "That may take some time ..." Not that this actually stops him trying to follow through on it, though.note 
    • And the next we see of the Breen commander, he's explaining to the changeling why it would be better for him to be with the Breen fleet, either realizing what the Dominion has pushed the Cardassians to, or otherwise being ready to escape with the Breen fleet and leave the Dominion to the alliance.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Even Kira's left stunned by the Dominion's vicious retaliation against Lakarian City.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: The Female Changeling resists surrendering on the grounds that it would be an open invitation for the solids to destroy the Great Link. Odo insists that the Federation, while not perfect, is not interested in conquering the Changelings and would never allow the Klingons or Romulans to do so.
  • Evil Counterpart: Dukat is officially appointed the Emissary of the Pah-wraiths. His and Sisko's fates mirror each other as well; they both end up in the company of the gods they serve, but Sisko ascends to the Celestial Temple and will one day return to his friends and family, while Dukat is damned to remain in the Fire Caves with the Pah-wraiths for the rest of time.
  • Evil Is Petty: The Female Changeling's orders to exterminate the entire population of Cardassia Prime after the military defects to the Federation Alliance. The Dominion's Alpha Quadrant capitol is about to be invaded and she's more focused on making the Cardassians pay for daring to defy their betters.
  • Eviler than Thou: The reason the Pah-wraiths choose Dukat instead of Winn.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: A villainous example after Damar's agents sabotage Cardassia's planetary power grid. Upon learning that the saboteurs are civilians rather than military personnel, this gives Weyoun an idea: If Damar has turned the Cardassian people against the Dominion, then it's the people who should be punished. The Female Changeling agrees... and it backfires, kicking off a chain of events that ultimately costs the Dominion the War.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Dukat goes to Pah-wraith Hell.
  • The Fellowship Has Ended: Unlike other Star Trek finales, this finale has the main cast going their separate ways. Sisko ascends to the Celestial Temple (but he assures Kasidy that he'll be back), Odo returns to the Great Link, O'Brien returns to Earth to teach at Starfleet Academy, Worf becomes an ambassador to the Klingon Empire, and Rom goes to Ferenginar to be the new Grand Nagus while Kira, Jake, Bashir, Quark, and Ezri remain on Deep Space 9.
  • Final Battle: Starfleet, Klingons, and Romulans in an epic battle for the Alpha Quadrant against the Jem'Hadar, Cardassians, and Breen. And then the Cardassians switch sides. Then, right after, Sisko versus Dukat in the Fire Caves on Bajor.
  • Final Solution: After the Cardassian fleet turns against the Dominion, the Female Changeling decides the Cardassians are no longer worth the trouble and orders their genocide.
  • Foregone Conclusion: From a Meta perspective, obviously, the Federation will win the Dominion War (as the franchise needed to keep it and Starfleet intact for future Trek projects). Likewise, Worf will also survive the finale as they needed to keep the character alive and available for any future Next Generation films. The tension instead lies in how the War will end and who will live and die before that victory becomes reality.
  • Friendly Enemy:
    Odo: Thank you for seeing me.
    Female Changeling: It's always good to see you.
  • Gallows Humor: Garak realizes the explosives they brought along aren't strong enough to blast open the door to the Dominion Headquarters, and the gravity of the situation catches up to him; He starts laughing at the insanity of it all, and pretty soon the rest of the Resistance is caught up in the hilarity as well.
    Damar: I fail to see what is so funny, Garak!
    Garak: Isn't it obvious? Here we are, ready to storm the castle, willing to sacrifice our lives in the noble effort to slay the Dominion beast in its lair, (cracking up) and we can't even get inside the gates!
    Kira: (giggling and making a door-knocking motion) Maybe — maybe we could go up to the door, and ask the Jem'Hadar to let us in!
    Damar: (trying not to laugh himself) Why not just have them send the shapeshifter out to us!
    (everyone has a good laugh)
    Garak: Like I said... we have a problem.
  • Genocide Backfire: The Female Changeling orders a major Cardassian city to be wiped out by orbital bombardment as an example, and announces that the Dominion will destroy one city for every act of sabotage committed. After hearing this, however, the entire Cardassian fleet does an abrupt Heel–Face Turn in favor of The Federation instead, as well as getting many Cardassian soldiers on-planet to defect.
  • A God Am I: Gul Dukat, after the release of the Pah-wraiths.
  • Good-Times Montage: As they are preparing to move on to the next stage of their lives, O'Brien, Odo and Worf each pause a moment to reflect on the moments they'd spent on the station. Jake and Kasidy also spend a moment remembering Sisko.
  • Graceful Loser: Despite being Defiant to the End, after Odo melds with her, the Female Changeling does a complete about-face and surrenders without a second thought and graciously, chiefly because Odo makes a deal with her: surrender and I'll return to the Great Link (something she genuinely ached for him to do) and cure our people.
  • Grand Finale: With all the fixings. Space battles, flashback montages, and one more goddamn Vic Fontaine song performed in its entirety.
  • Guns Akimbo: Damar wields two phasers when they charge into Dominion HQ.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: Winn, after seeing Dukat restored and ranting about how he and the Pah-wraiths are going to set the galaxy ablaze, suddenly has a change of heart and tries to help Sisko first by trying to destroy the book and then telling Sisko to destroy it before the Pah-wraith-empowered Dukat slams the door right in her face, however.
    Dukat: Are you still here? (Kai Winn is engulfed in flames) Farewell, Adami.
  • Heel–Race Turn: The entire Cardassian fleet, as well as the civilians on Cardassia itself.
  • "Hell, Yes!" Moment: For the Federation during the Cardassians' Heel–Race Turn.
    Odo: Sir... the Cardassians! They're attacking the other Dominion ships!
    Ezri: They've switched sides.
    Nog: Yes!
    Sisko: The timing couldn't be better.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: What did you expect from a Grand Finale?
    • Damar, of course, doesn't make it, nor do several of the Cardassian soldiers who storm the Dominion headquarters alongside him.
    • Garak's mother Mila is slain by Jem'Hadar soldiers when she tries to keep Garak, Kira and Damar hidden in her basement.
    • There's also Sisko, who throws himself and Dukat into the Fire Caves to destroy the book of the Kosst Amojan and prevent the Pah-wraiths from escaping, but he gets rescued by the Prophets.
  • History Repeats Itself: Deep Space Nine opens with a devastated alien world emerging from a brutal foreign occupation and dependent upon the mercy and charity of the Federation and its allies. Last time it was the Bajorans emerging from the Cardassian withdrawal... and the series ends with the Cardassians, thanks to the Dominion, now in the exact same position they left the Bajorans in all those years agonote .
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • Kira, Garak and Damar find the back door to the Dominion's headquarters to be too strong to demolish with explosives, but just then a party of Jem'Hadar lead the Dominion's Cardassian Puppet King (Legate Broca) and his aides) out the same door in order to execute them as part of the Founder's Final Solution. Kira, Garak, Damar and the rest of the resistance exploit the surprise opportunity to kill the guards and make it inside.
    • On the Founder's orders to kill every Cardassian on the planet, Weyoun sends almost all the headquarters' guards away to help expedite the genocide, leaving only a handful of Jem'Hadar and Breen to actually defend himself and the Founder when the resistance comes knocking. Didn't See That Coming, did you, Weyoun?
  • How the Mighty Have Fallen: Invoked by Garak, who states Cardassia had art and culture second to none, and now it's been destroyed by their own hubris.
  • Human Sacrifice: Winn poisons Dukat as part of the ritual. Unfortunately for her, the Pah-wraiths find a kindred spirit with Dukat and revive him.
  • I Can't Believe I'm Saying This:
    Admiral Ross: I never thought I'd say this, but thank God for the Cardassians.
  • I Shall Return: Sisko tells Kasidy he'll return from the Prophets' plane of existence someday.
  • It Has Been an Honor:
    • After Worf gets offered an ambassador position by Martok:
      Worf: It has been a great honor serving with you, sir.
      Sisko: The honor is mine.
    • Later, at the farewell party at Vic's:
      Sisko: To the best crew any captain ever had. This may be the last time we're all together, but no matter what the future holds, no matter how far we travel, a part of us, a very important part, will always remain here on Deep Space Nine.
  • Irony:
    • The Cardassian Resistance is spearheaded by a former member of the Bajoran Resistance against Cardassia. Garak even points it out In-Universe while they're down in Mila's basement.
    • Dukat notes that, despite being amused at the Bajoran people fearing the Fire Caves, the Cardassians never actually went to see them for themselves.
    • The Female Changeling dying as a solid. Equally ironic, she's spared that fate by Odo, whom the Great Link once turned into a solid as a punishment.
    • Winn became embittered with the Prophets for denying her power and appointing an alien Emissary, so she turned to the Pah-wraiths... who do the exact same thing, ignoring Winn in favor of Dukat.
    • Garak spends the entire series hoping to end his exile and come home to Cardassia. He finally achieves that goal... just in time for the Dominion to burn his homeworld to the ground.
  • It's Like I Always Say: The final line of the show.
    Quark: It's like I said — the more things change, the more they stay the same.
  • It's Personal: Garak was already fully committed to driving the Dominion off of Cardassia. After the Jem'Hadar kill Mila, however, he gains a new motivation.
    Garak: All during the years of my exile I imagined what it would be like to come home. I even thought of living in this house again with Mila...but now she's dead, and this house is about to be reduced to a pile of rubble. My Cardassia's gone.
    Kira: Then fight for a new Cardassia!
    Garak: I have an even better reason, Commander...Revenge!
    Kira: That works, too!
  • Karma Houdini: The Great Link (excepting the Female Changeling, who is going to stand trial for her crimes) doesn't get any comeuppance whatsoever.
  • Kick the Dog: Weyoun takes a moment to gloat to Garak about the devastation of Cardassia. It was as good of an idea as it sounds.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Originally, Damar was going to be killed off without any last words. Casey Biggs felt he should say something, hence Damar's last words are "Keep ...". To this day, he has no idea how he would have finished the sentence. Kira decided he would have said "going" and told his shocked insurrectionists to not falter and to do what they came to do.
  • Killed Off for Real: Mila, Damar, Broca (who wasn't around for long), Kai Winn, and the last Weyoun clone.
    Female Changeling: I wish you hadn't done that. He was Weyoun's last clone.
    Garak: (eyes glittering) I was hoping you'd say that!
  • Kneel Before Zod: Dukat forces Sisko on his knees using the power of the Pah-wraiths.
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • The Female Changeling ordering the destruction of Cardassian cities costs the Dominion the war, as it incites the Cardassian resistance to grow from a handful of insurgents to a total revolt.
    • Cardassia Prime lies in ruins, not unlike Bajor at the start of the series. Martok lampshades it:
      Martok: Bajorans would call this 'poetic justice'.
    • A depressed Garak also acknowledges this—saying Cardassians have a history of arrogant aggression.
      Garak: We've collaborated with the Dominion, betrayed the entire Alpha Quadrant. Oh, no, no. There's no doubt about it. We're guilty as charged.
    • Winn poisons Dukat so she can become the Pah-wraith's Emissary, but the Pah-wraiths prefer Dukat and revive him, depriving Winn of the power she feels she deserves.
    • Winn and Dukat sought to release the Pah-wraiths, and both pay for it: Winn is destroyed by the Pah-wraiths after betraying Dukat and trying to help Sisko stop him, while Dukat ends up trapped in the Fire Caves with his gods for all eternity.
  • Last Episode Theme Reprise: All over the place.
  • Last Minute Hook Up: The episode begins with Ezri and Bashir in bed after they finally got together in the previous episode.
  • Last of His Kind: To Garak's delight, he killed Weyoun's final clone.
  • Leitmotif: "The Minstrel Boy" makes its final appearance for O'Brien, right before he starts remembering his time on DS9.
  • Light Is Not Good: Winn is wearing all white when she commits herself to the Pah-wraiths once and for all.
  • Made of Indestructium: It's noted that the door to the Dominion headquarters is built out of neutronium, which according to its other appearances in the Trek franchise ("The Doomsday Machine" comes to mind), is nigh indestructible even by starship-scale weapons.
  • Make an Example of Them: To try to put a lid on the Cardassian civilian uprising, the Dominion levels Lakarian City and its 2 million inhabitants, with Weyoun threatening to destroy another city every time the Cardassians commit an act of sabotage against the Dominion occupation. This backfires horribly, as it makes the entire civilian population of Cardassia and the military ships in space turn against them en masse.
  • Man Hug: How O'Brien and Bashir say goodbye.
  • A Million Is a Statistic: Garak and Captain Sisko show some sympathy over the deaths of 800+ million Cardassians, but on the whole it's pretty well skipped over.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: The Dominion's threats of violence to keep Cardassia in line cause the Cardassian fleet to switch sides in the middle of a battle and cost the Dominion their victory.
  • Mood Whiplash: In a meta sense, a cross-series example. Here we see the end of the Dominion War and our heroes going their separate ways, with those still on the station talking about how life goes on—while in the Delta Quadrant, the good ship Voyager is imperiled by subspace death dolphins and the rogue Starfleet ship that crossed the Moral Event Horizon and pissed them off in the first place, with Janeway dangerously close to Jumping Off the Slippery Slope.
  • Morning Sickness: Kasidy, who found out she was pregnant in the last episode, spends much of her appearance in the teaser throwing up or getting ready to throw up.
  • Most Common Card Game: Quark and Vic play a hand of Go Fish simply because there's nothing else for them to do. Vic cheats.
  • Myopic Architecture: Couple with myopic resistance fighters. There's a neutronium door. Fine - you can't go through it. No mention of neutronium walls surrounding the door though - just blast through those. Happily for our resistance fighters, the doors were then opened to take Broca outside and kill him, allowing them the opening they could easily have created in a wall.
  • Never Found the Body:
    • When reports come to the Founder that Damar is alive despite the destruction of La Résistance last episode, she mentions that his body was never found.
    • The crew scours Bajor for Sisko after he disappears, but they find no sign of him until he contacts Kasidy from the Celestial Temple.
  • Never My Fault: The Female Changeling when the Cardassian forces turn on the Dominion and switch sides in retaliation for the destruction of Lakarian City. She rages that the Founders should've eliminated the Cardassians at the first sign of rebellion and refuses to acknowledge, or take responsibility, for her role in turning their Cardassian allies against the Dominion.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Kira and Garak having Damar reveal himself in front of the Jem'Hadar barracks in the preceding episode. While it was necessary to re-ignite his legend and trigger a popular uprising, the rumors and reports of his sighting inevitibly make their way to Dominion HQ. The Jem'Hadar are thus put on the alert and Damar nearly ends up getting captured while he and Garak are overseeing final preparations for their sabotage campaign.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain:
    • The Female Changeling's order to exterminate the Cardassians — and order to execute Legate Broca, specifically — turn the tide of the war against the Dominion for good.
    • By extension, the Jem'Hadar carrying out the execution are caught by surprise by Kira, Garak and Damar, and end up leaving the otherwise Made of Indestructium back door wide open for them to infiltrate.
    • Before that, there's the Female Changeling's orders to have the captured Damar, Kira, and Garak executed at Enabran Tain's home rather than bringing them directly to Dominion HQ. This allows the unit's Cardassian guards to turn on the Jem'Hadar, save our heroes, and resume their attack on HQ.
  • No Honor Among Thieves: Winn poisons Dukat to free the Pah-wraiths by herself. The Pah-wraiths have other ideas.
  • No-Sell: A Pah-wraith-empowered Dukat doesn't seem affected when Sisko punches him.
  • No Sympathy: Having spent the last two years fighting the Cardassians, Martok has no qualms about drinking bloodwine over their corpses. Downplayed, as Klingons don't see corpses as anything but empty husks, as separate from the person as a used set of clothes.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Dukat voices his disappointment that the "Fire Caves" have no fire in them. Kai Winn, however, quickly corrects that.
    Winn: What's the matter, Dukat? You look disappointed.
    Dukat: Well, this may sound naive, but I was expecting to see fire. They are called the "Fire Caves".
    Winn: And with good reason. (kneels and opens the Book of the Kosst Amojan) Lano ka'la bo'shar lanu no'vala, pahrom carana mokado ba'jah. Ko'se nusso ma'kora kajani. Lano ka'la Kosst Amojan.
    (a fireball forms in midair and expands to fill the abyss with flames)
    Winn: Is that better?
    (Dukat looks suitably awestruck)
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: Subtly noted by Admiral Ross when he quotes Douglas MacArthur at the peace summit. The war has permanently changed everyone who fought and there's no going back to the pre-war way of things.
    Ross: Four hundred years ago, a victorious general spoke the following words at the end of another costly war: "Today the guns are silent. A great tragedy has ended... we have known the bitterness of defeat and the exultation of triumph, and from both we have learned there can be no going back. We must move forward to preserve in peace what we've won in war."
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • The Female Changeling's furious reaction upon learning from Broca that Damar's saboteurs weren't Cardassian soldiers, but Cardassian civilians. She realizes that what began as a military revolt (and one she thought crushed after the events of the previous episode) has now escalated into a popular uprising (and at the worst possible moment for the Dominion with the Federation Alliance armada inbound.)
    • Weyoun's reaction to the Cardassians' Heel–Face Turn.
    • Legate Broca also has one when Weyoun announces the Cardassians' switch. Look closely and you can see him realize that he's not leaving the building alive.
    • Weyoun gets another one when Kira and Garak storm Dominion HQ. He realizes that by dispatching most of HQ's compliment of Jem'Hadar to assist the Cardassian extermination, the building's practically defenseless and he's put the Founder at risk.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: The Pah-wraiths and by extension, Dukat, who gleefully foresees the Pah-wraiths burning the entire Alpha Quadrant.
  • One-Liner, Name... One-Liner:
    Worf: I hope that when we reach Cardassia we find Colonel Kira alive and well.
    Odo: So do I, Commander. So do I.
  • Pet the Dog: The Female Changeling has two moments where she shows fondness for Weyoun. After he catches her promising Earth to the Breen, she privately assures him that she's going to give him that gift instead. Later, she tells him that he's the only solid she's ever trusted.
  • Plot Armor:
    • Kira and Garak (and one other Cardassian) are the only survivors of their suicidal attack on the Dominion headquarters.
    • Again, from a Meta perspective, Worf is the only character whose survival going into the finale's a foregone conclusion thanks to needing to keep him alive and available for any future TNG films.
  • Power of Trust: Garak is adamantly against Odo melding with the Female Changeling; Odo asks Kira to trust him, and she settles Garak down and lets Odo meld.
  • Pyrrhic Victory:
    • The Female Changeling intended to invoke this by dying, or being killed, but still not ordering the Jem'Hadar to stop fighting.
      Female Changeling: You may win this war, commander, but I promise you: when it is over, you will have lost so many ships, so many lives, that your "victory" will taste as bitter as defeat.
    • The Cardassians see their homeworld free of the Dominion, but it ultimately cost at least 800 million lives, including Damar's, and Cardassia Prime lies in ruins. Garak bitterly notes that in a way, it's karma for their collaboration with the Dominion.
  • Rank Up: Nog ends the series as a Lieutenant, Junior Grade, thanks to Sisko's last command.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • Sisko has pointed commentary in his final battle with Gul Dukat:
      Sisko: You are pathetic.
      Dukat: Then why are you the one on your knees?
      Sisko: First the Dominion, now the Pah-wraiths. You have a talent for picking the losing side.
    • Though it turns into a lament about the fact that it's no longer the Cardassia he grew up on, Garak states that Cardassia could be viewed as having gotten what it deserves, and not just for allying with the Dominion:
      Elim Garak: You know, some may say that we've gotten just what we deserved. After all, we're not entirely innocent, are we? And I'm not just speaking of the Bajoran occupation. No, our whole history is one of arrogant aggression. We've collaborated with the Dominion, betrayed the entire Alpha Quadrant... Oh, no no no, there's no doubt about it. We're guilty as charged.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Dukat's eyes turn a burning red after the Pah-wraiths revive him and appoint him as their Emissary.
  • Redemption Equals Death:
    • For Damar, and over 800 million other Cardassians.
    • Winn turns on the Pah-wraiths at the last second and tells Sisko how to stop them. Dukat incinerates her for it.
  • Retirony: Sisko didn't get to build his house. He didn't even finish the model. Jake finishes it for him in the final scene.
  • Revenge by Proxy: Damar's resistance caused massive problems, so the Female Changeling orders the civilians to pay the price. To start with, they destroy an entire city, resulting in roughly 2 million dead.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves:
    • This is what happens to The Quisling from the Cardassians to the Dominion (Damar's successor as head of the puppet government) after the Cardassians betray the Dominion.
    • Winn's Heel–Face Door-Slam, as Dukat casually offs her.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: When the Dominion kill Mila, whom Garak cared about deeply, he tells Kira that he now has a very personal reason to see the Dominion destroyed: revenge.
    Kira: That works, too.
  • Salt the Earth: The Dominion's initial alternative to defeat is to destroy as much of Cardassia as they can before they are subdued.
  • Save the Villain: Odo saves the Female Changeling from the virus and promises to save the Great Link from the virus as part of the deal to convince her to surrender and spare Cardassia.
  • Shiny New Australia: The Female Changeling promises the Breen Romulus and Earth as a reward. Weyoun is happy to find out she's lying about the latter - he wanted it for himself.
  • Sneaky Departure: Odo slips out during the end-of-the-war party so he can return home without any good-byes.
  • Stock Footage:
    • A good quarter of the climatic battle to take Cardassia Prime is represented by stock footage from the previous season's "Sacrifice of Angels" and "Tears of the Prophets," as they had spent nearly the entire remaining visual effects budget for this season on "The Changing Face of Evil," and had next to nothing left for this story. This notably has the effect of the new Defiant having the same registry as its predecessor (NX-74205) rather than the intended one (NCC-74205-A).
    • Interior shots of Klingon ships blowing up — corridors exploding, Klingons falling to the ground — are recycled from Star Trek: Generations.
    • An interior shot of a Cardassian ship getting hit is recycled from the previous episode "The Dogs of War," which was actually Garak blowing up a Jem'Hadar barracks.
    • Lastly, an interior shot of a Starfleet bridge exploding is from the climax of "Valiant."
  • Storming the Castle: Literally with Kira's commandos storming Dominion headquarters, and Recycled In Space with the Federation alliance finally attacking Cardassia Prime.
  • Stranger in a Familiar Land: Garak's exile is officially over, but the Cardiassia he knew is gone. He laments that many of their best minds and much of their rich culture are gone.
  • Stupid Evil: When the Cardassian fleet turns on the Dominion, the Female Changeling orders all Cardassians killed even as the coalition fleet is on her doorstep. She has accepted that she is going to die from the virus so she just wants to make sure as many of her enemies die with her as she can.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: The Sao Paulo had barely arrived at the Station in the previous episode before the preparations for the Battle of Cardassia began. So, the crew's still 'breaking it in' and adjusting to a newer, more advanced, and still problematic Defiant-class vessel.
  • Taking You with Me: Garak and Kira trying to convince the Female Changeling to surrender is unsuccessful. She accepts that she's lost and has resigned herself to the fact that the virus will kill her, so she just wants to make sure as many of her enemies die as she can. Threats aren't going to convince her, with it taking Odo giving her what she wants for her to surrender.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: When it is clear the Cardassians won't fall in line, the Female Changeling orders the death of every Cardassian and destruction of every city. When it is all over, an estimated 800 million are dead; and the casualty reports are still coming in.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Once again, Weyoun makes a flippant remark in front of someone he shouldn't, in this case a beyond pissed-off Garak with a disruptor. And he gets killed for it, one last time.
    • The Founder declares genocide against the people of Cardassia while her base is on the planet and their fleets are a core part of her defenses during an active battle. It doesn't even seem to occur to her the Cardassians might not cooperate with this. Possibly justified, as she's used to dealing with the slavishly loyal Jem'Hadar and Vorta, both of which probably would submit to being slaughtered by the Founders without a qualm, and has had very little other interaction with solids as allies.
      • She was dying from the virus, along with the rest of the Changelings, and it's clear even when she's lost she intends to take as many of her enemies down with her as she can.
  • Tranquil Fury: The look on Garak's face when Weyoun announces the destruction of Lakarian City. And then when Garak confronts Weyoun for the last time.
  • Try Not to Die: Ezri and Julian make a pact to come back alive from the battle. Kasidy has Sisko promise to come home.
  • Un-person: Meta-example. Jadzia Dax is curiously omitted from the flashbacks, particularly Worf's, despite (technically) still living on in Ezri. Apparently this was because, thanks to using some voice clips of Terry Farrell in "Penumbra" earlier in the season without permission, the show couldn't get the rights to show her images in the finale.
  • Villain Decay: Winn. Earlier in the series, she was a threat to Deep Space Nine. In the final episode, she's killed off almost as an afterthought. Dukat's "Are you still here?" seems to be a lampshade of the trope.
  • Visual Pun: During Vic's performance of "The Way You Look Tonight", he looks directly at Kira when he sings "the laugh that wrinkles your nose", and she smiles in response.
  • Warts and All: While Odo admits that The Federation has its flaws (re: Section 31), he tells the Founder that they're not the aggressive warmongers that she thinks they are.
  • Wham Line:
    Odo: "Sir, the Cardassians! They're attacking the other Dominion ships!"
  • Wham Shot:
    • The Defiant is about to be destroyed by the Breen... and a Cardassian ship comes to the rescue.
    • The massive Dominion fleet orbiting Cardassia Prime.
  • What A Senseless Waste Of Cardassian Life: Martok raises a toast on the Cardassian streets... while surrounded by the bodies of the Dominion's victims. Sisko and Admiral Ross don't have it in them to celebrate such a gruesome slaughter, and pour out their drinks.
  • Worthy Opponent: Martok drinks bloodwine in celebration of a hard-fought victory over the Dominion, who he had previously noted were a highly capable opponent.note 
  • You Are in Command Now: With Sisko in the Celestial Temple, Kira assumes command of the station.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Garak finally gets to go back to Cardassia, but he can't go back to the home he grew up in, because it's been bombed into oblivion.
  • Your Normal Is Our Taboo: The humans Sisko and Ross can't go through with their promise to drink blood wine in victory with the Klingon Chancellor Martok, basically because they're doing it essentially on a mountain of corpses. Martok doesn't mind, as Klingon culture actually considers wine and song an honorable sendoff to a worthy foe, but human society finds that sort of callousness to be sociopathic among humans.

Quark: It's like I said. The more things change, the more they stay the same.