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Star Trek Deep Space Nine: Sacrifice of Angels

Captain Sisko: “What about Bajor? You can't tell me Bajor doesn't concern you. You've sent the Bajorans orbs and Emissaries. You've even encouraged them to create an entire religion around you. You even told me once that you were of Bajor. So don't you tell me you're not concerned with corporeal matters. I don't want to see Bajor destroyed. Neither do you. But we all know that's exactly what's going to happen if the Dominion takes over the Alpha Quadrant. You say you don't want me to sacrifice my life? Well, fine, neither do I. You want to be gods? Then be gods. I need a miracle. Bajor needs a miracle. Stop those ships.”

The last episode in the six-parter start of season six of Deep Space Nine, in which our hero, Captain Sisko, fights his way back to the station while the resistance on the station does everything it can to hold out until he arrives.

We’re down to the wire. Damar and his allies have figured out how to get rid of the mines in front of the wormhole; this means that the Dominion can call for reinforcements, thousands of Jem’Hadar ships. As they can be cloned in whatever quantity needed (and the ketracel white also brought in, as its manufacture in the Alpha Quadrant appears to be limited), this means an almost infinite supply of top-notch soldiers.

The help!-the-mines-are-being-destroyed message has reached Starfleet. Fortunately Sisko is obsessed with getting back to DS9 and so he already had battle plans drawn up. The Federation would like help from the Klingons, but their alliance is shaky and most races want to defend their own planets. Starfleet has to start the battle without the Klingons.

Although Captain Sisko leads a space battle, the most exciting scenes, in my opinion, take place on the station. Our heroes are aware that they have to stop the minefield from being destroyed, but their first attempt failed (so Rom is in prison). The resistance doesn't trust Odo, because he’s been linking with the Founder. They are ready to do whatever they need to do, and are plotting away, but it doesn’t work. Damar and Dukat know very well who their opposition is, and they take Kira, Jake and Leeta away for “questioning.”

Quark sees the arrest, and he realizes he must do what he can to prevent the annihilation of the Alpha Quadrant. You can sense his stomach falling, and then he does what he needs to do. In a sense, the reservists in the resistance are called into action. He finds Ziyal, the only person whom he can trust. They execute a simple plan, liberating those taken by the Dominion so that Rom – the only member of their team who really understands the engineering – can do what he can.

There is the excitement of back and forth as the opponents are trying to gain the advantage. Odo and the Founder are warned that the “prisoners have escaped” and that they would be safer in Ops. At this point, Odo – so relieved Kira has not been executed, as the Founder intended – finally switches sides. His refusal to go with Weyoun makes his decision clear, and the Founder understands as well. We also see that what she said in a prior episode, about how Odo is more important to her than the entire Alpha Quadrant, is completely true (a lot of changeling supremacy is at play). Odo gets his forces together and helps Kira and Rom. I love how Rom, with his Ferengi hearing, recognizes that they are hearing Bajoran weapons.

We have a back and forth, as we don't know who will win; finally, the Defiant (but only the Defiant) is on its way to the station. Our saboteurs were too slow to stop the disabling of the minefield, but they did manage to disable the station’s weapons. This allows Captain Sisko to take the Defiant into the wormhole in order to confront the would-be invaders. The look on the faces of the entire crew as Sisko orders them in is priceless. How can a single ship do anything against a fleet of 2,800 ships? Yet, the crew obeys him and takes the ship into the wormhole. And Sisko convinces the Prophets to enact a miracle.

In some reviews of this episode, others have objected to the Bajoran Prophets taking care of the Jem’Hadar problem, that it is too “Deus ex Machina” – in which the gods come down, as they did in ancient Greek plays (the machina is because they had what was considered a really cool machine for this particular special effect, as far as I can tell, a crane). However, in the saga of Deep Space Nine, the Bajoran Prophets have a different role. There is no dispute, as there is in other religions, whether or not these entities actually exist. Whether or not they should be worshipped is a separate question, but there is also no doubt that there is a millennia-old relationship between the wormhole aliens and the people of Bajor. Furthermore, there is a long-established relationship between Sisko and the Prophets. Still, the move is unexpected and, in my opinion, great.

The Defiant emerges from the wormhole without any Jem'Hadar following it. The fact that only the Defiant is around – no Jem’Hadar, but no Federation or Klingons either – gives the baddies the time they need to escape in order to fight another day. I do love how Weyoun, genetically programmed to be cheerful (although anhedonic), is so cheerful when they suddenly have to evacuate.

The love between Ziyal and her father is real. She does not intend to go with the Cardassians, but she seeks him out to say good-bye when she thinks he’s leaving. Ziyal will not lie, so she tells Dukat that she was responsible for Kira’s escape. Dukat is (very!) upset, but he is not willing to harm her. However, Damar has heard their exchange, and in anger he shoots Ziyal. Dukat will not leave his dying daughter – one of those times where we care about him, a bit – and so he does not leave the station with the rest of the Dominion.

Alas, Ziyal dies. This version of Ziyal was my favorite (the role was played earlier by two other actors; I don’t know why the others weren’t brought back, but it may have had to do with the extensive make-up that some actors could not tolerate); she had a sweetness that the others did not, a quality that made her character her own. So in that respect I was sorry to see her killed off. However, for the series, I think the death works well. Gul Dukat made the alliance with the Dominion; he needs to suffer; furthermore, Ziyal’s death removes his one tether to the good side. Garak, who also has a past full of evil deeds, is another tragic type who will never find (and may not deserve) happiness, while Damar, who pulled the trigger, will be haunted by what he did.

Title musings. “Sacrifice of Angels” is the title of the episode, and I have always had a wee bit of trouble with it. Obviously, one of the angels who is sacrificed is Ziyal. She is, with her loving personality, the most angelic of the characters. However, the last word in the title is plural, so who is (or are) the other angel(s)? Does it refer to the others in Starfleet who die in the fight? Does it refer to Rom, another character full of kindness, who was willing to sacrifice his life? Does it refer to the Jem’Hadar, who are disappeared in the wormhole? (The Jem’Hadar don’t seem like angels to us, but who knows what role they play in Dominion mythology.) Does it refer to the sacrifice made by the Prophets, who generally prefer not to interfere so explicitly – perhaps it even costs them some energy to do this? Or does it refer to Captain Sisko – and probably this fit is the best – who is told that, in exchange for fulfilling his request, he will never know peace on Bajor?

Bits and pieces

The poem recited by Dr. Bashir and Chief O’Brien is “The Charge of the Light Brigade” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, commemorating a battle in the Crimean War (1854). The Light Brigade loses (Bashir and O’Brien always pick the losing sides) and is not reinforced by the Heavy Brigade. Light and Heavy refer to the cavalries involved in the brigades; the Light were supposed to be nimble and quick; the Heavy, more forceful, kind of like tanks.

It’s a good thing that hyposprays have an instantaneous effect; the Cardassian guard didn’t have time enough to call for help.

I don’t know why Quark asks Ziyal if she knows how to make hasperat soufflĂ©, given that no one gets to eat it (and does the Cardassian with his nose in it suffocate?). Perhaps this is a dish that the replicator cannot manage?

Captain Sisko asking for interference on the part of the Prophets reminds me of Abraham pleading with God not to destroy Sodom (of Sodom and Gomorrah). Sisko has more success, though.

With respect to the escape from the cells, Quark’s success at shooting two Jem’Hadar is so impressive that it is hard to swallow. What is even more surprising is that the cells were not being monitored visually by some others (unless this was standard, permitting off-the-record torture or something).

Although Kira is usually hostile to Quark, she will remember his rescue of her in a future episode.

I like how they use the actors still on the station to take part as the Prophets in Sisko’s vision, making them distinct from the characters on the Defiant.

You’d think the disappearing of all those Jem’Hadar ships would make everyone nervous about using that wormhole in the future, but no one ever seems to consider that the Prophets could just decide to make you vanish (the closest to have this realization will be Gul Dukat).

I also wonder where – or when – the Jem’Hadar went.

You would also think that, given how helpful the Prophets have been, the Federation would want to extend a thanks of some kind to these aliens. But this doesn’t happen either.


Damar: I'd like to toss that smug little Vorta out the nearest airlock. And his Founder with him.
Dukat: Now, now, Damar, that's no way to talk about our valued allies. Not until this war is over, anyway.

Damar: She doesn't appreciate what it means to be Cardassian or to be your daughter.
Dukat: But she is my daughter. That may mean nothing to you, but it means everything to me.

Bashir: It's a trap.
Captain Sisko: It is also an opportunity and we may not get another one. Ensign, have Galaxy wings nine one and nine three engage those destroyers. All other ships, head for that opening. Anyone who gets through doesn't stop until they reach Deep Space Nine.

Dukat: Tell me, Weyoun, have you ever been diagnosed as anhedonic?
Weyoun: You think I'm incapable of experiencing joy just because I'm cautious?
I included this bit because we never hear the word "anhedonic" on TV. The writers know this, and so they have Weyoun explain the meaning in the next conversational beat.

Founder: The Major has been arrested.
Odo: On what charge?
Founder: That hardly matters. What matters is she will be found guilty and sentenced to death.

Rom: The only reason they haven't killed me yet is that I'm part of their victory celebration. Seven o'clock, Dukat makes a speech. Eight-thirty, cake and raktajino. Eight forty-five, execute the Ferengi.
I’m so glad they included this bit of dialogue, because it gives a truly plausible explanation for an otherwise incomprehensible little plot point.

Kira: I could ask why.
Odo: I don't think there's time to explain it. Besides, I think you know the answer.
Kira: What about the Link?
Odo: The Link was paradise. But it appears I'm not ready for paradise. Good luck.

Jadzia Dax: One ship against an entire fleet? That's a hell of a plan B.

Ziyal: Father, I helped Major Kira and the others escape from the holding cells.
Dukat: Do you know what you're saying?
Ziyal: Yes, I do. I belong here. Goodbye, Father. I love you.

Kira: She loved you.
Garak: I could never figure out why. I guess I never will.

Overall Rating

“Sacrifice of Angels” is a magnificent end to a six-parter, with just a few loose ends that will stay loose. Gosh, I wrote so much already, I don’t think I need to write more. Four out of four smashed hasperat soufflĂ©s.

Victoria Grossack loves math, Greek mythology, Jane Austen and great storytelling in many forms.


  1. This is it! This was the episode tha made me realize how DS9 was the best Star Trek series. Period.

    I always considered it to be TNG but mostly because It was the one I grow up with and I was attached to the characters and facinated by their Sci-Fi adventures that opened my mind to the infinite possibilities, but this episode here changed my mind.

    This was amazing! Of an epic scale! Not just because it had the most awesome space battle in Trek history (and in TV at that time) but also because of the layered and intricate storylines and characters, their stories, agendas and relationships. From the main cast, to the villans to the minor characters to even the Prophets. Everything that happen in this episode was build from the previous seasons and the previous series. Everything culminated here. Every detail of the characters backstory was important. And it was also the precursor of shifts and changes that would define them in the future. DS9 blow me away with this one (and with the previous 5 episodes). This series did character development like nobody else.

    Excellent review Victoria. Thanks!

  2. Yes, this six-part arc cemented my love and respect for DS9 as well. I was most fortunate in that when we were deciding who would write which reviews that I was assigned both the first and the last in the arc.


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