“Penumbra” and “‘Til Death Do Us Part”

I totes want to marry you, I just gotta run it past my dead non-linear time moms first...
“I totes want to marry you, I just gotta run it past my dead non-linear time moms first…”

Part one: Worf is lost after the Klingon ship he was commanding is destroyed by the Dominion. The Defiant has to call off its search, so Ezri, against orders, takes a runabout and eventually finds him in the Badlands. Quickly, the Jem’Hadar find them and destroy the runabout, forcing Worf and Ezri onto a jungle planet without any means of escape. Meanwhile, the female Changeling (Salome Jens) is still in bad health, despite Weyoun’s efforts, and is up to something that she doesn’t want Damar to know about. Back on the station, Sisko asks Kasidy Yates (Penny Johnson) — whom we’ve seen like twice since she got out of prison — to marry him. Back on Cardassia, Dukat shows up asking an embittered Damar for a favor, and later appears surgically altered as a Bajoran. Ezri and Worf, after several days of bickering, end up doing the nasty — only to be caught off guard and captured by some Breen troops. Sisko, back on the station, has  a vision where his mother, the Prophet Sarah (Deborah Lacy) tells him he shouldn’t marry Kasidy.

Part two: As Ezri and Worf, as Breen prisoners, talk about their feelings, Sisko tries to make sense of what Sarah told him and old pal Kai Winn (Louise Fletcher) shows up to help with the wedding. Then, Winn has a vision from what she believes are the Prophets — but are actually the pah-wraiths — telling her she must bring about the restoration of Bajor, as the Emissary has faltered. Back on Cardassia, a clearly disillusioned Damar provides Dukat (who talks about his embrace of the pan-wraiths) with forged travel documents and Dukat urges Damar to be the leader Cardassia needs. Then, Dukat posing as a Bajoran farmer, shows up on the station and seeks Winn’s guidance, only to make it appear that he is the guide the pah-wraiths told her about. Meanwhile, Sisko has told Kasidy that the wedding is off and Weyoun, the female Changeling and Damar (who is being told less and less by Weyoun) are on a trip for a mysterious rendezvous. Sisko eventually decides to defy the Prophets and has Ross marry him and Kasidy. The episode ends as the Breen turn over Ezri and Worf to Weyoun’s party and Weyoun tells them the Dominion and the Breen are now allies.

This miniature house needs a miniature clock... right... there.
“This miniature house needs a miniature clock… right… there.”

Why it’s important

Well, the big item is the establishment of the Dominion-Breen alliance, which tilts the war back in the favor of the Dominion for a while. While we don’t learn a ton more about the Breen in the coming episodes, we learn more about them than we had in all of second-generation Trek. Other than one episode, “Indiscretion”, back in season four and that one dude in the Dominion prison camp,  the Breen had only really been mentioned in previous episodes. They were sort of the Dr. Selar of aliens up until this point (seen briefly, mentioned as filler dialog a lot).

We also see more of how Damar is disillusioned with the Dominion. His actions later in the final DS9 arc will be as important as any other character — but more on that in our next review. And, of course, there’s Dukat and his manipulation of Winn that will lead to the ultimate showdown with Sisko at the end of the series. More on that in the next several reviews.

No... we weren't in Return of the Jedi. We're totally different!
“No… we weren’t in ‘Return of the Jedi’. We’re totally different!”

What doesn’t hold up

I have a real problem with the Kasidy storyline. Nothing against the character or the actor. But it bothers me that a character who clearly hasn’t been that big a part of Sisko’s life (based on everything we’ve seen on screen) would suddenly become so important that he’d defy the Prophets’ warnings.

Think I’m being overly critical? Consider that Kasidy showed up in five episodes since she was tossed in the big house after helping the Maquis back in the fourth season. She shows up once in the fifth season, twice in the sixth and then twice in the seventh (both of which are inconsequential nonsense episodes) before the final arc. What’s missing is where she was after showing up in the fifth season prior to the Dominion taking the station (was she on Bajor the whole time?) and where she was while Sisko was on Earth for three months trying to reconnect with the Prophets (shouldn’t she have been around to help him through everything, or at least been mentioned?). Did she go out for cigarettes, or something?

The question of where she was while Sisko was on Earth is particularly egregious as we know she was still heavily involved with Sisko based on her appearance in the episode right before Dukat killed Jadzia and cut off the Prophets from Bajor. At least, in the fifth season, you could argue that maybe she and Sisko had a cool-down period after she showed up in “Rapture” and before the Dominion retook the station.

There was a really quick way of fixing this, by the way. All the creators needed to do was insert some vague line of dialog in “Penumbra” about how Kasidy or Sisko is happy that they stayed together despite all the “ups and downs,” or some similar language. Instead, making Kasidy so important to Sisko here — despite her absence at times when she shouldn’t have been absent — is really sloppy. It’s Voyager-level continuity, to be blunt.

Otherwise, these two episodes have too much annoying Ezri/Worf prattle — but at least that situation is mostly resolved by the end of the second episode. And I do find it odd that it’s so easy for Dukat to make it onto the station and not be detected as a Cardassian. But, oh, well.

We're two power-hungry psychopaths. This'll turn out great!
“We’re two power-hungry psychopaths. This’ll turn out great!”

Final thoughts

We’ll be reviewing all eight of DS9’s final episodes, but in two-episode chunks where appropriate. When it’s all said and done, there will likely be more DS9 episodes reviewed on this site than any other series, as a result of the serial nature of the show and the ambition of the creators.

Despite the Kasidy ridiculousness, there’s a lot of good stuff here, but my favorite storyline is the one involving Damar, who becomes one of the show’s most complex characters. That’s fascinating, given his introduction as a glorified extra back in “Return to Grace”. The creators lucked out that Casey Biggs was up to the challenge.

Lastly, it’s weird that Kasidy mentions how her mother would want her wedding to be presided over by a minister. It’s a quick throwaway line, but it’s really strange, considering there’s been no evidence of organized religion for humans since TOS (and even then, most of the references in Kirk’s time were vague). Gene Roddenberry, of course, was a known atheist. The line was typical of late DS9, however, when the evolved-and-advanced humanity trope of TNG sort of was kicked aside even on small details — like using Earth days of the week on a space station with 26-hour days and the increased use of 20th-century culture even among the station’s non-humans (Odo and Kira embracing Vic Fontaine, etc.).

Coming next week …

The final arc continues — and the Breen make things more interesting.

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