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What You Leave Behind

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Title: What You Leave Behind  
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Subject: List of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episodes, Dukat (Star Trek), Martok, The Wounded (Star Trek: The Next Generation), Tacking into the Wind
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

What You Leave Behind

"What You Leave Behind" is the series finale of the television show Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the 175th and 176th overall episodes, and the 25th and 26th episodes of the seventh season. Much of the episode is set on Cardassia Prime, the home world of the Cardassians and the headquarters of the Dominion in the Alpha Quadrant.

Starfleet, along with the Klingons, Romulans, and rebel Cardassians join together to launch a final attack on the Dominion, then Sisko (as the Emissary) must confront the Pah Wraiths' emissary, Gul Dukat, in the Fire Caves of Bajor.


On Deep Space Nine, Bashir wakes up with Ezri, O'Brien talks with his family about leaving the station after the war, and Sisko comforts a pregnant, nauseated Kasidy. It is the morning of the day the crew will leave for the final push in the war. While heading for battle on the Defiant, Sisko receives a vision of his prophet-mother Sarah. She claims that his most important challenge is "not before you, but behind you." The battle between the Jem'Hadar/Breen/Cardassian fleet and Federation/Klingon/Romulan fleet begins. Kira, Garak, and Damar, hiding on Cardassia Prime as insurgents, incite a worker revolt and power outage, which cuts off communication between the Dominion Fleet and the command center housing Weyoun and the diseased Founder. In retaliation, the Jem'Hadar wipe out an entire Cardassian city.

The insurgents are about to be executed by a team of Jem'Hadar and Cardassian soldiers, but are saved when the Cardassians turn on their former Jem'Hadar allies in revenge for the city. Midway through the space battle, the Cardassian starships also switch sides attacking Dominion starships in retaliation for the deaths of Cardassian civilians, which Weyoun discovers when communications are restored. In light of this, as an ultimate retaliation, the Founder orders the eradication of the Cardassian race, and the Jem'Hadar begin firing upon and leveling whole Cardassian cities. The Jem'Hadar and Breen retreat from the battle and regroup at their defense perimeter around Cardassia Prime. Kira and the insurgents storm the command center, capture the Founder, and kill Weyoun's last clone, but Damar is killed. Though the Dominion's Alpha Quadrant forces are facing defeat, the Founder will not surrender, presumably to inflict so much damage that the Alpha Quadrant powers will be deterred from attacking the Dominion.

Sisko prepares for a costly assault on Cardassia Prime. Odo beams to the command center in an attempt to talk her into surrender. She refuses, citing her people’s security at the hands of the solids. Odo explains that the despite the Federation's flaws, intergalactic conquest isn't one of its ambitions and it would never allow the Klingons or Romulans to launch offensives against the Gamma Quadrant, nor are they in any shape to do so. He links with the Founder, curing her disease. She orders her forces to surrender. Odo explains to Kira that he has agreed to cure the other Founders, but needs to join them permanently, to eventually persuade them to trust solids instead of dominating them. Meanwhile, Bashir and Garak have reunited in the command center, reading various casualty reports indicating 800 million Cardassians have been systematically murdered. Distraught over the loss of life and the destruction of huge swaths of Cardassian culture, Bashir says farewell to Garak, who stays to help rebuild Cardassia. Garak is skeptical that they will ever meet again, because they live "in uncertain times."

Meanwhile on Bajor, Dukat, still disguised as a Bajoran, and Kai Winn, who has turned against the Prophets, trek to the fire caves with an ancient book that will release the Pah Wraiths. After she makes them appear around a chasm, Winn poisons Dukat, but he is resurrected by the Pah Wraiths and restored to his Cardassian appearance.

A peace treaty is signed on DS9, and the crew celebrates in Vic's Lounge. However, in the middle of dancing with Kasidy, Sisko suddenly realizes he must go to the fire caves. He arrives and attacks Dukat, but is subdued by Dukat's new godlike powers. Winn tells Sisko to destroy the book, and Dukat kills her. Sisko topples Dukat and they and the book fall into the fiery chasm. Suddenly finding himself in the Celestial Temple, Sisko is told by Sarah that the Pah Wraiths have been returned to the Fire Caves and will never emerge again. His task is complete, and it is time for him to rest with the Prophets. The DS9 crew is puzzled by Sisko's disappearance until he comes to Kasidy in a vision, telling her that he has moved on to a new stage of his life. He assures her he will return, but because of his nonlinear nature, it could be in a year, or yesterday.

The crew splits up: O'Brien will teach at Starfleet Academy, Odo will join the Founders, and Nog discusses his promotion to lieutenant with new station commander Kira before she goes to Quark's to shut down his betting ring on who will be the new Kai. Quark then tells Morn, "the more things change, the more they stay the same." Finally, Kira finds Jake on the promenade, and they both look out as the wormhole opens, knowing that her friend and his father now resides in that Celestial Temple.


  • "What You Leave Behind" won the 2000 Best Television Episode SyFy Genre Award.[1]


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