Tears of the Prophets
|"Tears of the Prophets"|
|Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode|
|Episode no.||Season 6
|Directed by||Allan Kroeker|
|Featured music||Jay Chattaway|
|Cinematography by||Jonathan West|
|Original air date||June 17, 1998|
"Tears of the Prophets" is the 26th and final episode of the sixth season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the 150th episode overall. It was first broadcast in broadcast syndication within the United States on June 17, 1998. It was written by Ira Steven Behr and Hans Beimler, and directed by Allan Kroeker. The episode featured the death of Jadzia Dax and the final appearance of actress Terry Farrell in the show.
Set in the 24th century, the series follows the adventures of the crew of the Starfleet-managed Bajoran space station Deep Space Nine. In this episode, the Federation decides to move on the offensive against the Dominion. Captain Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks) is warned by the prophets not to leave the station, but decides to ignore their warning. As Starfleet attacks a Cardassian star system, Dukat (Marc Alaimo), possessed by a Pah-wraith, arrives at the station. He mortally wounds Lt Cmdr. Jadzia Dax (Terry Farrell) and disables the Bajoran wormhole. After Dax's death, Sisko declares that he is leaving the station and returning to Earth.
The premise of the attack on the wormhole originated as a plan to end the seventh season of DS9, and was again suggested for the end of season six when planning began for that season. The imminent departure of Farrell, who elected not to renew her contract, caused problems for the writers as they sought to include both elements into the episode. The episode raised themes of revenge and the conflict between military service and religion. Although the critical review was positive and the episode received a high level of press coverage due to the publicized death of Jadzia Dax, it was viewed by 4.1 million viewers in the first broadcast, the joint-lowest figures for the season.
Admiral Ross (Barry Jenner) informs Captain Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks) that Starfleet intends to go on the offensive in the war against the Dominion and intends to move to invade Cardassia. They evaluate the plans and decide to move against the Chin'toka star system. Meanwhile Lt Cmdr. Worf (Michael Dorn) and Lt Cmdr. Jadzia Dax (Terry Farrell) discuss their plans to have a baby with Dr. Julian Bashir (Alexander Siddig). Both Bashir and Quark (Armin Shimerman) mourn the fact that it means that Worf and Dax's marriage is solid and neither have a chance with her. They both visit the holosuite to see Vic Fontaine (James Darren) who counsels them on their loss. Sisko meets with General Martok (J. G. Hertzler) and the Romulans to discuss the plans for Chin'toka and discover that they need to attack immediately as the Cardassian-Dominion are about to improve the defences. The night before the attack, Sisko receives a vision from the prophets, who warn him not to leave the station. Sisko tells Ross about the vision, who responds that he must decide between his duty to Starfleet and the prophets.
Meanwhile, the Cardassian leader, Damar (Casey Biggs), receives intelligence about the Starfleet movements towards Chin'toka and orders his troops to speed up the deployment of weapon platforms in the system. Dukat (Marc Alaimo) arrives and discloses his plan to allow one of the enemies of the Prophets, the Pah-wraiths, to possess him. He reveals a Bajoran artifact, which he breaks. A red mist swirls around him and he is possessed by a Pah-wraith. The combined fleet arrives at Chin'toka just as the weapons platforms are activated. As the fleet is being destroyed, on board the USS Defiant, Elim Garak (Andrew Robinson) informs Sisko that the platforms can be taken offline if they find and destroy the central power source.
They discover it on a nearby moon and destroy it by tricking the platforms to fire on their own power supply. On the station, Dax is visiting the Bajoran Temple to thank the Prophets for her pregnancy. Dukat, possessed by the Pah-wraith, suddenly transports in. Dax goes for her phaser but he hits her with bolts of energy from his hands and she collapses. He opens an orb of the prophets and the energy leaves his body, entering the orb which turns black. Outside the station, the Bajoran wormhole implodes. Dukat, back to his old self, apologises to Dax and departs the station. The crew of the Defiant are informed of the attack and rush back to the station. When they arrive, they are informed that the wormhole is gone and all the Bajoran orbs have turned dark. Bashir says that he was able to save the Dax symbiont but not Jadzia. She survives long enough to say goodbye to Worf. Over Jadzia's coffin, Sisko says that he has to leave the station and announces that he is returning to Earth. He departs with his son, Jake (Cirroc Lofton), leaving Major Kira Nerys (Nana Visitor) in charge of DS9.
The concept of the attack on the prophets themselves had been first raised in a discussion between Rick Berman and Ira Steven Behr, and was suggested as a potential ending to a seventh season. When plans for season six were first discussed in September 1997, it was suggested once more. Screenwriter René Echevarria said that they wanted Sisko to suffer a setback, which featured an attack by the Dominion on the prophets. The idea was raised that the plot would follow on from those in the episode "The Reckoning". In that episode, a prophet and a pah-wraith each possess a person and battle on the station before being forced out of their hosts leaving a prophecy unfulfilled. It was that prophecy which the writers intended to follow up with "Tears of the Prophets".
"Tears of the Prophets" was the final episode of Deep Space Nine to feature actress Terry Farrell. Her contract on the show was set to expire after the sixth season and she elected not to sign a new contract for a further season. The day after her final scene was shot, she tested for the sitcom Becker. She later said that she would have been happy with a recurring role during the seventh series of Deep Space Nine as she was tired of the long hours required of her in a main cast role. The writers felt that due to the ongoing Dominion War in the series, that there was no alternative other than to kill off the character. Farrell said of the exit of her character, "I don't feel cheated out of the character in the same way as I would have if the show had been cancelled, because I've gotten the opportunity to play her. And besides, it's Jadzia that's dying. Dax is living."
The departure of Farrell caused problems for the writers, as they initially were not sure how to combine their original vision for the final episode of season six, and include a suitable tribute to the character of Jadzia Dax. The initial plan had Dukat stealing an orb of the prophets, intending to destroy it inside the wormhole. As with the final episode, Sisko and the Defiant were not at the station, but Jadzia had remained behind. She would have pursued Dukat into the wormhole and somehow died in the process. It was the manner of the death which caused problems for the writers as they wanted something suitably heroic but not clichéd. In the first draft script by Hans Beimler and Behr, which was entitled "Tears of the Gods", Jadzia was killed by Dukat but managed to save the prophets in the process. Creative consultant Michael Piller felt that Jadzia's death was not a "worthy send-off" and felt rushed. The scene where Jadzia says goodbye to Worf was added, and Echevarria encouraged showing Jadzia dying on screen.
There were concerns about the number of steps required by Dukat to attack the wormhole, and it was Ron Moore who suggested the inclusion of the pah-wraiths once more. Echevarria then raised the idea of having Dukat possessed, as seen with Kira and Jake Sisko in "The Reckoning". The scene with Worf at the end of the episode was kept, and a death chant was written initially in English based upon the Native American chant Only the Earth endures. It was subsequently translated into Klingon for the script, but Behr thought it was a shame that the audience would not be able to understand the meaning behind the words. The scene with Sisko and Jadzia's coffin was shot on a closed set, with Avery Brooks being the only actor on set in order to give a sense of intimacy to the proceedings.
They added the sense of acknowledging Sisko's failure because of the perceived reduction in the impact of the destruction of the prophets after the death of Jadzia. Brooks said of the scene that "I know about loss. It's one of the things that we experience as part of living, part of the consequences of living", but also said that the emotions were enhanced because they were going to miss Farrell. Whilst on set there was a suggestion by set director Laura Richarz that the coffin was the same prop as used for the photon torpedo which Spock's body was loaded into in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Mike Okuda later explained that several new torpedo props were made for Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country and so they could not be sure if the Spock torpedo was the one used or not.
The episode deals with the themes of revenge in the case of Dukat, and also the conflicting nature of religion and military duty with Sisko. Dukat had been present on the station in the episode "Sacrifice of Angels" when it was retaken by the fleet of the Federation-Klingon alliance, and suffered a nervous breakdown following the death of his daughter Tora Ziyal. In the episode "Waltz", he escapes from Federation custody whilst en route to a trial for war crimes and vows revenge against Sisko and Bajor.
Reception and home media release
"Tears of the Prophets" was first broadcast on June 13, 1998 in broadcast syndication within the United States. It received Nielsen ratings of 4.1 percent. This placed it in fifteenth place in the timeslot, and was one of the least viewed episodes of the first season during the initial broadcast along with the previous episode "The Sound of Her Voice". Prior to the broadcast of the episode, there had been a great deal of publicity due to the imminent death of Jadzia Dax, which had not been held back as a surprise. The advertisements placed in magazines alluded to the fact, and the story had been picked up by the national press. Farrell's subsequent casting on Becker was also covered, as was her replacement by Nicole de Boer for the seventh and final season as Ezri Dax.
Several reviewers re-watched the episode after the end of the series. Michelle Erica Green called the episode "an episode of mythic proportion, with a tour de force performance by Avery Brooks" in her review for TrekNation. She praised the plot in the episode saying that "what Sisko really did was choose tactics over intuition, or perhaps intellect over spirituality...and it was the wrong choice. This is a stunning moment for Star Trek: an acknowledgement that there are forces in the universe which cannot be coerced, manipulated, or (as in the case of Q and the Organians) talked into submission by Starfleet captains." She hoped that the repercussions from the episode would lead into the seventh series. Jamahl Epsicokhan at his website "Jammer's Reviews" thought that the episode took a while to get to the point, but then it delivered, using the death of Jadzia in a way to drop Sisko "into an abyss of despair". He thought that the melodrama in Jadzia's pregnancy and subsequent death was exaggerated, and that the manner of the death was random, but the context of the effects of Jadzia's death and the funeral scene "really works". While he was pleased with some of the characterizations in the episode, such as Jeffrey Combs as Weyoun, he felt that the scene with Quark and Bashir was unnecessary. He gave the episode a score of three and a half out of four.
The first home media release of "Tears of the Prophets" was as a two episode VHS cassette alongside "The Sound of Her Voice" in the United Kingdom on December 28, 1998. It was later released on DVD in the United States and Canada as part of the season six box set on November 4, 2003.
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