"Til Death Do Us Part" 
Season Seven, Episode 18
Written by David Weddle and Bradley Thompson
Directed by Winrich Kolbe
Music by David Bell
Main Cast:
Avery Brooks as Captain Benjamin Sisko
Rene Auberjonois as Odo
Nicole deBoer as Lt Ezri Dax
Michael Dorn as Lt Cmdr Worf
Cirroc Lofton as Jake Sisko
Colm Meaney as Chief Miles O'Brien
Armin Shimerman as Quark
Alexander Siddig as Dr Julian Bashir
Nana Visitor as Colonel Kira Nerys

Guest Stars:
Jeffrey Combs as Weyoun
Penny Johnson as Kasidy Yates
Marc Alaimo as Dukat
Casey Biggs as Damar
Barry Jenner as Admiral Ross
Deborah Lacey as Sarah
Aron Eisenberg as Nog
James Otis as Solbor
Salome Jens as Female Changeling  


While Sisko ponders Sarah's warning that he must not marry Kasidy, Kai Winn arrives aboard the station, intent on conducting the wedding herself (whether Sisko likes it or not). He wisely decides not to tell her about the Prophets' warning, much less that he's considering ignoring it. Later Winn has a long-awaited vision -- evidently from the Prophets -- telling her that "the Sisko has faltered" and that she has a significant part to play in the Restoration of Bajor. She is told that she will be sent a guide -- a "man of the land". A short while later, a surgically-altered Dukat arrives aboard the station.

Sisko breaks the news to Kasidy that he has to call off their wedding. He can't go against the will of the Prophets. Kasidy is devastated and prepares to leave the station. Meanwhile, Winn meets with Anjohl Tanan -- Dukat masquerading as a Bajoran farmer. Dukat pulls all the right chords and Winn immediately recognises that this "man of the land" is the guide sent her by the Prophets. Dukat proceeds to win her trust, pulling her strings like a puppet.

Ezri and Worf are being held captive aboard a Breen ship, having to endure horrendous interrogations. This gives them a chance to re-evaluate their feelings. "I thought I had lost [Jadzia] forever...but you and I will have many years together." Ezri says nothing, but shifts uncomfortably. Evidently Worf is confusing his feeling for Jadzia with his feelings for her. Back on the station, Kira tells Sisko that he's doing the right thing by adhering to Sarah's warning. But Sisko isn't so sure -- he decides that this is his life and he wants to spend it with Kasidy. He catches up with her just before she leaves the station and informs her of his decision. The wedding ceremony itself is abrupt and unexpected -- a quiet little gathering in the wardroom, the ceremony performed by Admiral Ross. Sarah again appears to Ben, warning him that this is a mistake. She accepts his decision, but is deeply worried -- "Be careful, my son."

Back aboard the Breen ship, amid a fevered dream caused by the Breen mind probe Ezri lets slip that she is in love with Bashir. Worf is enraged and Ezri herself is surprised, never having realised her feelings. Along with their captors, they are beamed aboard a Jem'Hadar warship, where they are met by Weyoun and Damar. The Breen present their prisoners to Weyoun as gifts. "You should be honoured," Weyoun tells them. "You are witnessing a historic moment: the birth of the alliance between the Dominion and the Breen. Changes everything, doesn't it?"


Okay. Where do I begin? The beginning, I suppose. But wait a sec -- the beginning was last week! As I said in my last review, although Penumbra did a reasonable job kicking off the Final Chapter, it did leave me with somewhat mixed feelings. Although there was some good material in there (along with some not so good material), the general feeling was one of chess pieces being moved across a board -- which, although interesting, isn't exactly riveting in and of itself. Til Death Do Us Part successfully cranks the gear up a notch, pulling together all its various elements to create an excellent, thoroughly entertaining roller coaster ride.

Whereas Penumbra got us interested in what was going on, Til Death Do Us Part makes us care. Courtesy of a taut script, good performances, a superb score by David Bell and, in particular, Winrich Kolbe's brilliantly atmospheric directing, this is a nail-bitingly tense, intense episode wherein practically every scene exudes palpable tension. As a whole, this episode has all the impact that Penumbra lacked, achieving a strikingly ominous, fatalistic tone. It certainly made me sit up and take notice.

This is an episode about hard choices. A lot of the early Final Chapter deals with characters coming to major crossroads in their lives. The pathways they choose will have immense repercussions and there can be no turning back. I have to say, when done well this makes for extremely compelling viewing. On one hand, we have Sisko having to choose between the woman he loves or adhering to the Prophets. Elsewhere, Damar is slowly reaching a crucial catharsis -- is he going to remain under Weyoun's slimy thumb forever or is he going to rise up and fight for his people? Difficult choices. Either way, the outcome will be of pivotal importance. Less so is whether Ezri loves Worf or Julian, but more on that later. And then we have Dukat who, disguised as a Bajoran farmer, is as dangerously manipulative as ever, intent on leading Kai Winn down the road to hell (quite literally, as it happens).

I have to say, this is very much Marc Alaimo's show. He shamelessly steals every scene he's in, from his surprisingly poignant farewell to Damar to his masterfully deceitful seduction of Winn. As you might know, I've not been altogether pleased by the direction this character has taken since last season's cathartic Waltz, but this was Dukat back at his best. The irony is that this isn't even meant to be Dukat. :-) Having been surgically-altered to appear Bajoran, Dukat is posing as Anjohl, an oh-so humble, butter-wouldn't-melt-in-his-mouth farmer. I mean absolutely no disrespect to Alaimo, but if anything he actually looks scarier out of his Cardassian make-up! ;-) It's perhaps no great surprise that Dukat is a natural-born actor -- and this goes doubly for Alaimo. His transformation is quite startling -- his voice, mannerisms, body language and gait are completely altered. And yet, behind his fabricated mask of humility and gentleness, there's a chilling sense of danger. I felt a genuine sense of dread as I helplessly watched the Bajoran head of state play right into the hands of...well, the anti-Christ, for lack of a better adjective. Supremely scary stuff.

Much of the effectiveness of the Dukat/Winn interaction is surely due to the fact it fits nicely within the framework of the characters. The writers clearly have a firm handle on both the characters -- which is just as well, for this could easily have come across as terribly contrived and implausible. I was actually very surprised at just how well Dukat fared. Just when we think the writers have completely botched this character -- his last two appearances almost warranted a eulogy -- bam! Back is the Cardie we all love to hate: the perversly charming, silver-tongued master of manipulation that is classic Dukat through and through.

As for Winn...geez, this is so Winn. She arrives aboard the station to congratulate Sisko on his engagement and insists that she conduct the ceremony. But, as usual, beneath her amicable veneer bubbles contempt and jealousy. It's clear Winn is not happy that once again Sisko is "upstaging" her -- after all, his wedding is a "momentous event" for Bajor. It's very much as Kira pointed out in The Reckoning last year, she deeply resents Sisko; both for the reverence he receives from the Bajoran people and, to the real crux of the matter, that the Prophets -- her own Gods -- speak to Sisko, an off-worlder, and not her. It's great to see the return of Louise Fletcher, whose nuanced performances so expertly convey the character's multiple layers. Fletcher has the ability to cast malicious undertones to practically everything she says -- no matter how nicey-nice she's being -- conveying so much more by the tone of her voice or her expression than is ever said in dialogue.

If I recall, pride was one of the seven deadly sins. Winn's achilles heel is clearly her ego -- in fact, the woman is one big, giant ego -- and it's clearly going to be her downfall. She's ecstatic that the Prophets have finally spoken to her. The look on her face when she tells Kira that "the Prophets spoke to me" was a classic -- her eyes were glazed over and her jaw wide open. As if that weren't a big enough ego kick in itself, she is told that she is going to be the saviour of Bajor. This is a dream come true for Winn; utterly tantalised by the mere notion, it's a wonder she's not foaming at the mouth. Taking his cue from the Pagh Wraiths, Dukat exploits this and worms his way into her trust, subtly but effectively presenting himself as Winn's key to power. This all makes for absolutely riveting viewing. Everything came together beautifully, from Weddle and Thompson's surprisingly on-the-ball script, to the delicious performances of Alaimo and Fletcher, down to Kolbe's masterful directing and Bell's nerve-wrackingly ominous score. This is just build-up, but what superb build-up. In my next review I should have a lot of fun examining these characters further as the storyline progresses. Excellent stuff; teaming up Winn and Dukat was nothing less than a stroke of genius.

Elsewhere, Sisko is oblivious to the sinister goings on aboard his station, but he has his own problems. Keeping in line with the running theme of "character choices", Sisko has been warned by the Prophets that he must not marry Kasidy. What is a guy to do? The last time he ignored a warning by the Prophets the consequences were dire: Jadzia was killed, the wormhole closed, Bajor thrown into turmoil and the Prophets themselves nearly destroyed. Surprisingly there's actually no reference to this, but I'll bet it was at the forefront of Sisko's mind. It boils down to the age old question -- do you follow your heart or your head?

Sisko opts for the latter, perhaps wisely so. The scene where he tells Kasidy that he can't marry her packs a fair emotional wallop. Well-acted, beautifully shot and scored, there's some genuine emotion at work and it's hard not to be affected by it. But despite Kira's assurances that he made the right decision, Sisko isn't so sure. In a nicely understated moment, Quark arrives with the wedding ring Sisko had ordered. "It seems a shame to let something so beautiful go to waste," Quark tells him. Is he referring to the ring or is he talking about Kasidy? Either way, it gives Ben a gentle nudge and makes him realise that he loves Kasidy and he wants to be with her regardless of what stands in their way.

Ben catches up with Kasidy just before she leaves the station and tells her that he has changed his mind. "Don't do this to me, Ben," she tells him softly. "Not if you're going to change your mind again." But Sisko is resolute -- he is going to marry the woman he loves. The wedding itself is a delight; an impromptu, amusing affair, attended by a bewildered Miles and Julian, a flustered Quark, a nervous Nog, a disapproving Kira and a chirpy Odo. It reminded me a bit of that classic scene in Kira's quarters back in the second season's The Circle. Great fun. It was very brave of Sisko to let Admiral Ross conduct the ceremony -- if Winn weren't otherwise preoccupied, I'd imagine she would have been pretty darn peeved! It's a wonder Ross didn't include "if anyone has just reason why these two people should not be married, speak up or forever hold your silence". At this point, Sarah could have popped up and stated her objection. :-)

In my last review, I mentioned that Deborah Lacey was rather wooden as Sarah. And so she was, but this week, for whatever reason, I noticed a big improvement in her performance. Perhaps this is because she stopped trying to push the "ethereal and mysterious" aspect and actually put some feeling into the part. At any rate, it's far more effective. We can see that she's genuinely worried about Ben, whom, for the first time, she calls "my son". I really got the impression of a deep bond between the two. I'm not sure if I can put it into words, but it was there and it was moving.

Again, as I said last week, it's never made clear exactly why Ben wasn't meant to marry Kasidy and what bearing that had on his eventual fate. But this is a nice little prelude to events of What You Leave Behind. We really needed this little foray into Sisko/Prophets territory before we took the ultimate plunge in the finale. I've long been fascinated by Sisko's role as the Emissary and his connection to the Prophets. It gives the show a healthy dose of spiritual intrigue, not to mention mythological undertones. There are almost parallels with Greek mythology -- Gods forbidding the marriage of two mortals and the like. I realise that this aspect may not be to everyone's taste, but personally I find it one of DS9's most compelling components.

All in all, I greatly enjoyed this mini-resolution to the Sisko/Kasidy storyline. Ben has made his choice, he's sticking by it and he acknowledges that he will have to take the wrap for it sometime down the line. It was beautifully-done by all involved and lent the episode a surprising degree of emotional charge. Great stuff.

As with last week, easily the weakest aspect of the episode was...you guessed it, the Worf and Ezri shenanigans. That said, I think the pair fared slightly better here than they did in Penumbra. For a start, both Nicole deBoer and Michael Dorn, who seemed distinctly "off" last week, give much better performances. Their interaction still fell some way short of riveting, but it was a damn sight better than last week's childish bickering and illicit passion (puh-lease). This is the morning after the night before and we get an interesting look at how each of them views the future of their relationship. "I thought I had lost [Jadzia] forever," Worf tells her. "But you and I will have many years together." Ezri says nothing, but shifts uncomfortably. It's pretty clear what she's thinking; "What HAVE I done?!!". 

There's a lot of interesting mileage there. Just as Ezri was perhaps confusing her feelings for Worf with Jadzia's feelings, Worf is clearly confusing his feelings for Jadzia with Ezri (does that make sense? Uh...kinda). Unfortunately, the writers don't really pick up on this and instead we get a whole load of tosh about how Ezri is actually in love with Bashir. I don't mind at all that they're taking this direction -- after all, I'm a long-time Dax/Bashir fan from way back when. But, couldn't they have found a better way to do it? Something a more sophisticated than Ezri talking in her sleep and letting slip that she loves Julian? Worf, of course, is outraged by the sheer dishonour of it all. Worse still is Ezri's reaction upon learning what she said amid her fevered ramblings -- it's complete news to her: "Julian? I said I loved Julian?!" She later begins to reason that maybe her sub-conscious is trying to tell her that she is in love with Julian.

I am sorry, but come on now! It's hokey, it's silly, it's NOT believable. Get Ezri and Julian together by all means, but do so sensibly, believably. Another problem I have with the Worf/Ezri embargo is an inane streak of repetitivness. Just when it looks like our intrepid pair are about to get somewhere as they explore their feelings, they are interrupted by the Breen for a bit of cattle-prodding. This happens not once, not twice, but three times. <Tedious sigh>.

But, fear not, for this is thankfully the only weak spot in an otherwise superlative hour. The sheer strength and richness of the Dukat/Winn and Sisko/Kasidy storylines more than compensate for the silliness regarding Ezri's romantic preferences. But, lo and behold, I've saved the best for last. You know, I was surprised when I went back to rewatch this episode and discovered that Damar actually has only a couple of short scenes. One of those scenes hosts one of the most powerful, haunting images of the entire series and one that stuck with me long after watching the episode.

It begins with Damar fast asleep in his quarters, still in uniform, snoring loudly and clutching an empty bottle of kanar in his hand. Weyoun enters and unceremoniously wakens him, scoffing at the pathetic state before him. After berating Damar for not informing of Dukat's arrival, Weyoun orders him to get cleaned up and ready to leave, refusing to tell him where they are going. As always, Damar reluctantly complies. He's completely under Weyoun's thumb and what's more he knows it. He climbs out of bed and grabs a fresh bottle of kanar. He's about to gulp down the liqueur until he catches sight of himself in the mirror. The image staring back at him is that of a pathetic, drunken shell of a man. He turns away in disgust and gulps downs the kanar.

I cannot overstate the effectiveness of this striking piece of imagery. The device of a character reacting to what they see in a mirror may not be a new one, but it's a pivotal few seconds: a defining moment for a once hollow, uninteresting character who is about to burst to vivid life before our eyes and become, as Sisko later puts it, "the key to saving the Alpha Quadrant". Casey Biggs gave his best performance yet, and between that, the intensely atmospheric lighting, Kolbe's strikingly assured directing and Bell's bombastic score, you have an altogether mesmerising moment of television. Watch this space.

Now for a few miscellaneous comments:

That's about it, I think. To cut a long story short, I was very impressed with this one; it was everything that Penumbra should have been but wasn't. Whereas Penumbra set the stage for things to come, it's Til Death Do Us Part that really gets things moving along. Everyone involved did a superb job -- the script was largely solid, the acting, directing and music were outstanding. Hell, even the lighting was used to excellent effect! The result is a riveting hour of drama that had me on the edge of my seat pretty much throughout. Nice work, folks.

Rating: 9

What did you think of this review? Why not share your thoughts by MAILING ME? All feedback is gratefully appreciated (and, yes, I can take criticism but keep it friendly, OK! :-))

Disclaimer For the record, I acknowledge that Paramount Pictures/Viacom owns all rights to "Star Trek" and this site is here not to infringe on this copyright, but to support and promote interest in the show/s. Yadda yadda yadda.
All reviews on this site are copyright and are not to be re-produced or re-used without prior consent of the author.

Back to DS9 Index  /  Back to Home / TNG Reviews / Voyager Reviews