The Cynics Corner

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Suck-rifice of Angels":
A Cynics Corner Special Report

by David E. Sluss

9 November 1997

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[I never got around to doing a "proper" Cynics Corner Review of "Sacrifice of Angels." This essay is based on two posts I made to Usenet on 11/8/97 and 11/9/97 regarding
DS9's "Sacrifice of Angels", and I think it makes my feelings about this episode perfectly clear]

I haven't had time yet to give a detailed review of this episode, and possibly never will. For now, let me just say that although I've defended DS9 in the past around these parts, there is no way in hell that I'm going to defend that bullshit I just witnessed on my television screen. The Prophets press the Extra-Large Reset Button in an absolutely unforgivable deus ex machina ending to this Dominion invasion. 2800 Jem'Hadar ships dissolved. Evil Overlord Dukat reduced to the rubber-room- bound-insane-fallen-despot cliche ("I just don't know what went wrong. I would have ruled the Alpha Quadrant if not for those meddling kids!").

I don't dispute that there is a certain logic to the actions of the prophets. But dramatically, they make for a poor ending that feels very much like a copout. The writers shouldn't have put Our Heroes in such a lousy position that divine intervention was the only way out. That's poor drama. Unfortunately, the writers stacked the deck so heavily against Our Heroes that the only plausible resolutions were divine intervention or ridiculous technobabble.

There have been plenty of deus ex machina endings in Star Trek in the past, but there have been none so appallingly bad as this one. I'm not talking about plausibility; I'm talking about dramatic quality. The Prophets' magic wand, while well-grounded in the DS9 mythos, is as poor a dramatic device in this case as an intervention by Q. Most appalling is the fact that Sisko went into the wormhole on a suicide mission, and the Prophets just happened to pluck him out of his chair. This ending would have been a little more palatable if Sisko had intended or even thought to seek the Prophets' assistance. I mean even Picard had to beg Q in order to get his deus ex machina ending in Next Generation's "Q Who?" The point is that all of the efforts of the characters on the station and on the Defiant would have meant jack had the Prophets not elected to help out. The ending all hinged on the "Gods" acting in their favor; this is a literal deus ex machina resolution if there ever was one.

As for the "Dominion occupation" arc as a whole, it was a noble effort with a lot of potential, but it failed to work on a lot of levels. For instance, despite seeing an engagement here and there and hearing Admiral Wooden's dire reports now and then, I never got the "feeling" of the Federation at war. A slightly more concrete example: the Ketracel White problem. Our Heroes take out the key storage facility, and it's deemed a great victory, and yet it didn't seem to have any visible effect on the war effort. The war felt more like background during this arc rather than a story in and of itself.

If you'll give me a moment to be positive for a change and tell you what I did like about this arc, I would have to say that the drama on the station was fairly well done. Special commendation given for the tug-of-war between Dukat and Dolly the Vorta (I'm very relieved that Weyoun didn't get popped).

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