Tears of the Prophets (***)
After a half-season of mostly faffing about, the return of the show's major arc should probably have been cause for celebration, but Tears of the Prophets actually makes me even more upset about all the fluff recently.
There's a lot "meta" writing in DS9 in later seasons, otherwise known as "writing about writing," or "navel-gazing," some might say. Far Beyond the Stars
is the first place this becomes super obvious: the writers are writing about their own creative struggles.
Or, another way to look at it would be that the uncertainty about the show's future starts to poke through in a lot of places. Also, I've no doubt that it's partly the result of some of these writers writing for Trek for a long time, and starting to wonder why they are bothering, etc.
Anyway, Tears of the Prophets
can also be seen that way. Part of the problem with "wrapping up" DS9 is the need to deal with both the war and the Emissary/Prophets angle alongside one another, so Sisko himself is torn between those conflicting duties.
At the end of the season, the connection between the characters and the Prophets (= writers) has been lost, and Sisko goes back to earth to ponder the whole thing in between seasons, as the writers themselves mull it over. Later, the beginning of season 7 picks up on this, with Sisko, as the Emissary, needing to re-establish the connection with the Prophets, and Benny, in the vision, needing to "finish the story."
I don't know that this makes Tears of the Prophets
a better episode, but it does make it a bit more interesting, I think.
As for Jadzia's death, I agree with it being somewhat odd and underwhelming. Had I been a bigger fan of her character in the first place, I guess it might bother me quite a bit. On the bright side, she gets a fitting send-off at the beginning of season 7.
The battle footage is also really good, although I'm not a fan of the fact that they found a [tech] solution to the problem. This is DS9, not Voyager, on DS9 you're supposed to solve problems by firing endless supplies of torpedoes at things, not remodulating the deflector dish to yadda yadda.
It's an interesting tidbit that Kira takes command of the Defiant, rather than Worf, who we have usually seen commanding the Defiant in Sisko's absence.
Probably it's partly the writer's desire to reinforce Kira's command role again here at the end of the show, as it had really lost prominence in the middle seasons.
As a story/character moment, I like it a lot, though, as it harkens back to some of the season three and four material, where Kira and Sisko start to get along, and she says she believes that she was chosen to help the Emissary, or something like that (in Destiny
, I think).