“The Way You Look Tonight” by Dennis McCarthy
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine had a lot riding on its finale. Not only did it have to wrap up multiple long story arcs in an era where most shows were doing episodic television, but it was also going to be endlessly compared to “All Good Things…” the nearly perfect final episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
“What You Leave Behind” succeeded and then some. And unlike “All Good Things…” it concluded many of the characters’ stories1To be fair, “All Good Things…” was never intended to be an ending in terms of story. In that way, it’s an amazing combination of ending a show without ending the story of the characters.. Because it needed to do this, “What You Leave Behind” gave the show the opportunity to say goodbye to the main characters in a way TNG couldn’t though a series of montages as each character thinks back on previous adventures and experiences2I’m honestly not a fan of montages in general as they tend to come off incredibly cheesy. This one works for me. Every. Time..
We had already had a send-off of sorts on the holosuite as Vic Fontaine salutes the crew by singing Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields’s “The Way You Look Tonight.” Here, McCarthy brilliantly and effortlessly blends Kern’s music with his own DS9 theme and other underscore as we move from character to character.
One of my favorite moments comes right at the start. Chief O’Brien has packed up and is about to leave his quarters for the final time when he spots something on the ground. As he picks up the lone army figure he and Dr. Bashir had been using in their Alamo recreation, McCarthy brings back strains from “The Minstrel Boy,” the song sung by O’Brien and Captain Maxwell way back in TNG’s “The Wounded.”
McCarthy’s juggling of themes through this cue is absolutely perfect. It flows from “The Way You Look Tonight” to underscore featuring elements of DS9 theme, jazz, and back again. I’ve been critical of McCarthy over the years, but this cue is one of, if not his best work in the franchise.