My favorite moment of Deep Space Nine
is, interestingly enough, its last. Without uttering a single word, the final scene of “What You Leave Behind” speaks volumes. In a visual callback to “The Visitor,” we see a lonely Jake gazing out a viewport above the busy promenade. The mouth of the wormhole opens in a burst of color and light (since no ships are visibly shown entering or exiting, could it be a message from his heavenly-ascended father?). As the camera begins to slowly pull away, Kira walks up behind him and extends a comforting arm, echoing a similar scene between Benjamin and Jake in the pilot. Jake and Kira have both lost the people dearest to them, so it is fitting that they should be the last characters shown in an episode entitled “What You Leave Behind.” With Kira’s arm around Jake, they then turn to stare out to the wormhole, which represents the barrier separating them from their loved ones. When a slow, bittersweet rendition of the show’s theme song begins to play, it invokes a feeling isolation and quiet dignity. The absence of ship activity around the station seems to suggest that after seven years of excitement, adventure, and turmoil, things are beginning to wind down again for this once remote frontier outpost. Zooming further out, we get the chance to take in the majestic beauty of the station one last time. I’m not sure I fully realized just how gorgeous this Cardassian monstrosity really was until I watched it slip from my grasp into the vastness of space.
I couldn’t imagine a more perfect end to this amazing series. It’s so steeped in character background and allusions to past episodes that I can spend a considerable amount of time reflecting on this short, minute-long scene. Simply beautiful.