Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Sacrifice of Angels   Rewatch 
July 21, 2016 10:46 AM - Season 6, Episode 6 - Subscribe

In the largest battle of Star Trek history, Sisko leads the attack to recapture Deep Space 9. Meanwhile, on the Dominion-occupied station, the minefield is about to come down—and the only people who can stop it have been preemptively arrested.

The DS9 Fanfare is of Memory Alpha, but it will find spoilers there.

- That the six-episode arc was extremely successful is illustrated by Ira Steven Behr; "ultimately everyone agreed that it was tremendously successful, and one of the best things the show ever did." Similarly, that it marked an important turning point for the show is hinted at by Hans Beimler, "It showed us the possibilities and the excitement that could be garnered, and in the end, we liked it so much that we decided to do the ten-episode arc at the end of the series."

- This episode contains the largest battle ever seen in Star Trek, topping "The Way of the Warrior", which itself had topped "The Die is Cast". It is also the first Star Trek episode where CGI is used exclusively.

- This episode marks the death of Tora Ziyal (Melanie Smith) and the onset of Gul Dukat's descent into madness, however, Ira Steven Behr maintains that Dukat was well on his way to madness long before Ziyal's death: "The difference between Dukat and someone like Sisko – it's one of the ultimate differences of this show. A healthy Human being like Sisko knows himself. That doesn't mean he doesn't have limitations. It doesn't mean he doesn't make mistakes. But he knows himself. Dukat is a totally self-deluded person. He's a deeply, deeply screwed up Cardassian who doesn't understand his own motives. He loved Ziyal, but like the true sociopathic personality he is, he wasn't above using her, or lying to her." Dukat's motives, his madness and his delusions would next be addressed in the episode "Waltz".

- The Prophets' description of Sisko's life as "the game" is a reference back to the series premiere. There, Sisko explains linear existence to the Prophets using a baseball game as a metaphor. They also referred to "the game" when explaining to Quark why they had taken away Zek's greed in the third season episode "Prophet Motive" – because he wanted to know the outcome of the game before it was over.

- When this show aired, there were some criticisms of it having a deus ex machina ending, something which infuriated Ira Steven Behr; "I felt it was the perfect next step in the evolution of the relationship between Sisko and the Prophets that began in the pilot. Hearing people refer to it as some dopey deus ex machina is really annoying because I would think they'd give us more credit for being on the ball. We didn't have to end it like that, we chose to end it like that. Because we wanted to say that there was something going on here. And ultimately, that would lead to our finding out that Sisko is part-Prophet. They wouldn't have done this for just anyone. This was the man going out into the wilderness and demanding God to interfere, to do something for crying out loud. The corporeal characters had done so much in the episode; surely they'd earned the help of the gods."

- The story document for this episode was distributed around Paramount with a typo on the cover – instead of being entitled "Sacrifice of Angels", it was entitled "Sacrifice of Angles". Ira Steven Behr has jokingly said that he prefers the "Angles" title.

"Cannon to the right of them, Cannon to the left of them, Cannon in front of them, Volley'd and thunder'd."
"Storm'd at with shot and shell, Boldly they rode and well, Into the jaws of death, Into the mouth of hell... Rode the six hundred."
"Whatever it is you two are reciting, I wish you'd stop!"

- O'Brien, Bashir, and Nog, after quoting from "The Charge of the Light Brigade"

"A true victory is to make your enemies see they were wrong to oppose you in the first place. To force them to acknowledge your greatness!"
"Then you kill them?"
"Only if it's necessary."

- Dukat and Weyoun

"There are people out there... fighting, dying... people who used to be my friends."
"They're Solids, Odo – you must remember that."
"I know... but they still mean something to me!"
"The Link means more."
"That's what I keep telling myself... but somehow I can't quite believe it!"

- Odo and the Female Changeling

"Uh, chief? How does that poem end?"
"You don't want to know."

- Garak and O'Brien, as Sisko orders the Defiant to enter the wormhole to confront the Dominion reinforcements alone

"I forgive you too."

- Dukat, as he hands Sisko back his baseball
posted by CheesesOfBrazil (9 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Hearing people refer to it as some dopey deus ex machina is really annoying because I would think they'd give us more credit for being on the ball.

Yeah, I agree with this and was always inclined to give the end of this episode more credit than it tends to get, because it always felt to me like it was playing pretty fairly by the rules that the show had established about the relationship between the Prophets, the Emissary, and Bajor. Plus it directly sets up the ending of the show--as promised in this episode, a penance is eventually exacted for daring to attempt to control the game... it's just deferred for another season and a half.
posted by Kosh at 11:49 AM on July 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

On the one hand, it makes sense that the Prophets might intervene on Sisko's behalf. On the other, it still falls into the category of overly convenient. It's like when the Klingons finally show up to turn the tide just before the Federation is about to lose the battle. Sure, you mentioned at the beginning of the episode that they'd be coming, but it still feels like plot device.

Regardless, it's a fairly minor quibble about a great episode in a run of great episodes.
posted by 2ht at 3:51 PM on July 21, 2016

I think you could dismiss it as a deus ex machina if the Prophets just showed up and decided to fix everything, all nice and tidy. But the Prophets make the enemy ships literally vanish from space (which is creepy) and they make it clear that Sisko will pay a grim price. So while it's a win for our guys, it also raises troubling questions. And Sisko has to demand the Prophets take a side here. It's not just a lucky break, he's making this happen. It also shows us just how far he's come, regarding his feelings about Bajor. In terms of the larger story I think the timing is just right here to bring the Prophets back in. It calls back to the beginning of the series, and sets up the finale. This show used the Prophets sparingly, always walking a fine line between keeping them weird wormhole aliens and space gods.

I really did like Ron Moore's version of Galactica a lot, but I think the whole "mysterious space gods" thing is another area where DS9 arguably trumps Galactica. DS9 always played fair with the Prophet stuff, you never felt like they were trying to pull a fast one. Even Sisko's space messiah stuff at the end was all set up and explained in a way that you could buy, it was all set up well. Galactica tried to be much more vague and arty about that stuff, and while that led to some really powerful scenes it also left a lot of the audience really pissed off by the ending. People still crab about the "mystic woo" of BSG, but I don't hear a lot of people saying the same stuff about DS9. (It might help that the Prophets arguably never were gods. They could still just be powerful Trek aliens and you don't have to buy some religious mumbo-jumbo to enjoy the story.)

Dukat's descent into madness is so wretched that you almost pity him. Almost. It does make his defeat a lot less fun, when you realize that he's so broken.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 7:08 PM on July 21, 2016 [4 favorites]

"A true victory is to make your enemies see they were wrong to oppose you in the first place. To force them to acknowledge your greatness!"

I thought the Republican National Convention was over.
posted by Servo5678 at 6:07 AM on July 22, 2016 [3 favorites]

On my way out of town, but i just wanted to note that this episode has one of my favorite lines in all of Trek, delivered by, of course, Weyoun.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:04 AM on July 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

There were times in the battle when the Defiant reminded me of the Millennium Falcon. Like, when the little ship was flying along the length of the larger Cardassian vessel—that must have been inspired by Star Wars.

The thing that finally dawned on me after having watched this several times over the years, is that the Female Founder knew Odo would help the resistance. As the Dominion was evacuating the station, she already knew Odo would remain without speaking to him. But the last time they were together, she was aware that Odo’s heart (or whatever) was still with Kira and the Federation. And she was either unable or unwilling to manipulate him away from that through linking.

This was foreshadowed in “Favor the Bold” when she scolded Weyoun for referring to Odo as a threat, and bluntly informed him that to the Founders, Odo was more important than the Alpha Quadrant. Unlike the solids, Odo’s free will matters. And if that means he stops the Dominion’s big victory, so be it.

It just means the war goes on longer, which just means more Jem'Hadar and Cardassians have to die. Which is totally unimportant to the Founder.
posted by riruro at 12:14 PM on July 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

This is a better episode than the previous one even with all the issues such as the Wormhole Aliens saving the day and the Klingons turning up just at the right time - just as you knew they would. And it has the same problem that it is the Defiant that gets through and enters the wormhole - lucky that, if it had been any other ship Sisko wouldn't have been there!

But the way the episode progresses is good - the neat ideas and tension, the way the plot unravels, the way Dukat and Damar are with one another. This is probably the first episode where Damar is more than just Dukat's assistant and becomes much more central to the plot. His shooting of Ziyal at the end is shocking, and to see Dukat broken by it almost makes you sad - yet again DS9 shows why it is the best - smarmy, hated Dukat sees his daughter die in his arms, and you feel for the guy - she is his daughter, it is going to be painful, all the other stuff is still there, but still, you feel for him, and it is such class to have things like this in the show.

There are some lovely touches - Ziyal and Quark rescuing Kira, Rom and Jake is excellent and Quark shooting the 2 Jem'Hadar is fantastic - it is so clear he has never been faced with that sort of dilemma before, and the look on Kira's face is perfect. And as they leave, Jake having to drag him away as he is stil stunned by what he just did is classic. The scenes with Wayoun and Dukat are fantastic, both actors are so on top of their characters and so good at them that it feels so real, so accurate. And the way Wayoun switches between command with others and obsequiousness in front of the Founder is superb.

And Odo seems to have come around and realised that everything is not what it seems where the Link is concerned, but I was still angry at how they sold him down the river last time out. I just can't see that much of a change and than back again, even after having sex with the Founder woman.

The editing and direction in this episode is class, the speed at which we switch scenes and the way the episode is shot are just magnificent.

A great episode, marred by a few minor nitpicks.
posted by marienbad at 3:42 PM on July 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

So many starship effects. Maybe 1 or 2 effects used twice? But big deal, this was an effects buffet the likes of which are never seen (you don't count, BSG and Discovery! Fine, I guess you do, whatever). And more to come. I had been watching the first syndication of this show, rather lazily on Saturday afternoons. But I remember seeing this battle and realizing that DS9 was my new favorite show.
posted by Brocktoon at 6:46 PM on September 7, 2018

Going into this one (first time through the series), I thought the prophets would /have/ to show up somehow or other: Sending a giant dominion fleet right by their front door, towards their beloved Bajor with no kind of interference or encounter would be silly. And as other noted, it wasn't really a deus ex machina - there were six other subplots that easily could have resolved the situation... like Rom managing to cut the weapons off thirty seconds earlier. They hadn't really written themselves into a corner.

The Prophets and the Changelings mirror each other nicely. Both are ridiculously aloof, super-advanced species... But one can barely understand the way we mere mortals exist in the world, and the other understands us well, and only has a mix of pity and disdain.

The involvement of the prophets (and the prophecies) make things like the survival of the Defiant a bit more palatable, too. When the prophecies come up, the writers do a great job of playing the line between whether they actually matter or not. Did the ship make it through by the skin of their teeth? Yeah! But it is also fated that the Sisko survives...
posted by kaibutsu at 11:25 PM on November 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

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