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The Trek Nation - Penumbra

Penumbra

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 12:47 PM GMT

See Also: 'Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges' Episode Guide

Ben Sisko shows Kasidy Yates photos of property he has purchased on Bajor, where he wants to build a house he can visit while he's a Starfleet captain and retire to afterwards. Yates wonders whether he ever thought he'd want to stay, and talks about the strangeness of discovering that his mother was a Prophet; Sisko says he now realizes he was meant to come to Bajor, it was his destiny.

Dax is joking with Bashir and O'Brien about Jadzia's former boyfriend Captain Boday, who is on the station, when Kira approaches to tell them that Worf's ship has been destroyed, and the Rotaran could not find him among the survivors. A Defiant search is called off when Sisko learns of Jem'Hadar in the region. By the time he returns to the station, Ezri has taken a runabout and gone in search of Jadzia's husband.

Weyoun ignores Damar's pointed comments about Cardassian casualties and breaks off pursuit of the Defiant once he realizes Starfleet is not attacking the new Ketracel-White facility built by the Son'a. The Vorta asks the alcohol-guzzling Cardassian to install a secure comm station in the Founder's quarters. Damar sneers that Weyoun's god appears to be ill. Once the station is installed, Weyoun visits the shapeshifter to tell her that their latest tests for a vaccine on her illness have not been successful. The disease-ridden Founder asks that the illness in the Great Link be kept secret from the Cardassians, and reluctantly gives Weyoun another sample of her body for testing.

Yates finds Sisko awake, worrying about Worf, working on a model of the house he plans to build. When he asks her about the specs for the kitchen and she tells him that it's his house, he says, "I want it to be our house" and asks her to marry him, producing a ring from one of the model furniture pieces. She joyfully accepts. Benjamin asks Jake to be his best man, which his son gleefully agrees to, warning his father that it means Jake gets to plan the bachelor party. But though the two want a small wedding on the station, a Bajoran girl asks to be in the large bridal party, and Sisko realizes that the Bajorans on the station are overwhelmed with excitement about the Emissary's impending marriage. "Complications," he grumbles good-naturedly.

After diverting into the Badlands and risking her ship to follow the plasma storms, Dax finds Worf's escape pod intact and beams him aboard the runabout. The Klingon is disconcerted to realize that she came looking for him against orders, and refuses to let her tend to his wounds. The two argue over his refusal to let her talk about Jadzia's memories and snipe at one another about his gruffness the way Worf and Jadzia used to quarrel, but a Jen'Hadar attack interrupts the sparks flying between them. Worf heads the ship to a nearby system with inhabitable planets, but though the Jem'Hadar cannot land on the planet, the runabout is damaged and the Starfleet officers are forced to beam out before it explodes. On the planet, the two discover they neglected to take the comm unit, meaning they could be stuck there for a very long time.

Dukat arrives on Cardassia and asks Damar to help him; the younger man points out that Dukat is out of favor and he himself has little power these days, but says he will do what he can. Later, Weyoun notices Damar's distraction but assumes it's because he has a girlfriend waiting for him. Damar returns to his quarters to find Dukat, surgically transformed to look Bajoran. He says that he now knows the love of the pagh-wraiths, and Damar realizes the former ruler of Cardassia actually means it.

Ezri and Worf argue about his comparing her unfavorably to Jadzia when she criticizes his killing animals for food and he criticizes her inability to build a comm unit. She mentions that he talks too little and Captain Boday talks too much. Worf becomes jealous, demanding to know if Ezri saw Boday and if Jadzia ever had sex with him; Ezri taunts him, and more sparks fly. In the midst of arguing they grab one another and kiss passionately. Later, as they sleep curled together by the fire, they are attacked by green-hooded aliens. Waking in a cell, they realize they have been taken prisoner by the Breen and are on a Breen ship, but they can't figure out why: the Federation is not at war with the Breen. Worf guiltily asks Ezri about the taboo against rejoining mates from previous hosts, but Ezri rebuts, "I bet you've broken a few Klingon rules."

Sisko is up late working on his house when he realizes he is in the presence of a Prophet. The image of Sarah, his mother, tells him that he must accept his destiny and walk his path alone. Sisko says that he loves Yates and intends to marry her, but the Prophet says agaain, "She cannot walk the same path," and warns him that if he tries to stay with his fiance, he will know nothing but sorrow. She tells him that he is a part of her, and there are many tasks ahead of him: his greatest trial is about to begin. "All will be as it should be. Stay on the Path." Sisko calls her mother as he finds himself alone in his quarters.

Analysis:

I watched this show with a sense of foreboding and loss, knowing that it's the beginning of the end for this series and probably for some of these characters. It was superb: considering that my favorite DS9 characters are Kira and Odo and we barely saw them for a minute, I was surprised at how powerful I found "Penumbra."

This is the finest Ezri Dax episode we've gotten so far: her sparring and sex with Worf was predictable, patterned on Worf's and Jadzia's previous relationship, and as a result their coming together was poignant and romantic. I disliked Dax's relationship with Worf when it began - particularly the violent Klingon mating rituals - but while Jadzia sometimes seemed to be giving up too much of herself with Worf, Ezri seems to come into her own with him. The flashbacks early in this episode where Ezri heard Jadzia's voice reciting her wedding vows were sad and lovely, a nice homage to a character and actress who cast a long shadow in absence. I am really glad to see Worf and Dax back together again. It seems very right.

Sisko's and Yates' unlikely relationship has also grown to the point where I was cheering when he asked her to marry him, even though it seems the Emissary of Bajor is probably not destined to share happy domesticity with a Human woman. They have nice, humorous give-and-take, without the passion of Worf/Dax or Odo/Kira, but they've gotten sexier together and the chemistry is stronger than it was at first. I absolutely loved Jake plotting his father's bachelor party - ironic to realize that Benjamin's little boy, who is now a couple of inches taller than him, is very nearly his peer.

The events on Cardassia were mostly plot set-ups for later, though it was chilling to see the Founder with a melting face...not to mention Dukat with a Bajoran face. Shades of Seska, only Dukat strikes me as even more dangerous, given his much larger power base. Damar's drinking and womanizing could get tiring, but I assume he's being brought down for a reason. Weyoun is just despicable...I have heard rumors that Starfleet and Section 31 are behind the illness of the Founders, but it wouldn't surprise me in the least if the Vorta clones carried out the actual poisoning. They're just icky.

I liked the tie-in to Insurrection with the mention of the facility the Son'a built for the Jem'Hadar, and the thematic unity of the episode with all the discussions of destiny. I know the overall arc for Deep Space Nine was never planned, and there have been some giant mis-steps along the way, but this last season reminds me very much of the first season I fell in love with and is bringing back all the old characters and issues in a much broader context for the Star Trek universe. I'm anticipating and dreading the next several weeks because I really don't want it to end.

Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Michelle Erica Green reviews 'Enterprise' episodes for the Trek Nation, for which she is also a news writer. An archive of her work can be found at The Little Review.