Deep Space Nine: s04e05 – Indiscretion

Opposites don't necessarily attract
Opposites don’t necessarily attract

‘Indiscretion’ made for another very strong episode, not merely because it was Kira-centric. Indeed, rather than that, it was a powerful two-hander, with the Major paired with Gul Dukat on a mission with more ramifications than first hinted at.

There was an unusually short and single-mined open which led me to expect a single-story episode (though there was the usual B-story to interrupt things). A call from an old Resistance-fighter-turned-smuggler friend of Kira suggested a lead on the whereabouts of a missing spaceship, the Ravinok, lost six years ago, just before the end of the Cardassian Occupation.

The Ravinok, we learned, was a Cardassian ship, transporting Bajoran prisoners, one of whom was Kira’s friend and mentor, Lorit Akram. She plans to follow the latest lead but is disconcerted when she finds out that the Cardassian Civilian Government want a representative to go with her. And she’s more than disconcerted to learn that it is Dukat.

Officially, Dukat is there as the Commander of the Cardassian troops manning the ship, though it’s evident from the start that he has an ulterior motive: could he be Gul Dukat without ulterior motives? It’s the truth of that motive that comes as a surprise.

For now though, the two enemies have to share a runabout and an investigation. Dukat bears it more easily. He accepts the Major’s command, is nothing but professional in investigations, but can’t help winding her up with a calmly-delivered the the Occupation was actually good for Bajor: toughened them up, raised their confidence, fitted them to become sector leaders. Marc Alaimo, who is so bloody good in this role throughout the whole seven seasons (well, as many of them as I’ve seen, then and now), presents his case with enough snake-oil as to suggest that whilst he’s taunting Kira, he’s also completely serious.

The investigation leads the mis-matched pair to the Dozaria system, which is light years off course. Naturally, ionic disturbance in the atmosphere severely restricts orbital scanning so the pair have to land in the desert to discover the wreckage of the Ravinok, which has been forced down under attack. And twelve primitive graves.

It’s been good so far but here is where the episode takes off. Dukat exhumes evidence to identify the bodies: Kira finds him crying over relics of one. He’s crying over a Bajoran ear-ring, and a Pledge bracelet. She was his Bajoran mistress, and they were in love. The Major isn’t the only one with a personal stake in the mission.

But there’s more to come. Dukat’s mistress, Tora Dupree, and another Bajoran, a 13 year old girl, Tora Ziyil, were not prisoners but civilian passengers. Who is Ziyil? The answer is that she was Dupree’s daughter and that Dukat is her father.

Supposedly, he was sending them to a distant planet where they could live in peace, especially Ziyil: a half-Bajoran/half-Cardassian is unwelcome on both planets. The Major assumes that Dukat is here to save his daughter but the truth, which I was already half-expecting, is altogether more serious: she would be a political liability, threatening his position on Cardassia, and his ‘real family: Dukat plans to kill her.

Naturally, Kira refuses to let him. They find survivors forced to work in dilithium mines by their captors, the Breen (a race I understand to have been mentioned several times in The Next Generation but making their first appearance here). In the episode’s only serious blot, Kira and Dukat magically acquire two Breen refrigeration suits and enter the mine to free the prisoners. Kira discovers that Akram is dead, a cave-in two years previously, and then she has to chase Dukat, who finds Tora Ziyil alone.

It’s a powerfully written scene. Dukat draws his gun. Kira trains hers on him, threatening to kill him if he goes ahead. Ziyil recognises her father immediately, but she also understands the threat: her fellow Cardassian prisoners warned her of this outcome. But she’s strangely unafraid. She refuses Kira’s instructions to run, tells Dukat that believing he would come to rescue her is what has kept her alive, and steps closer to his gun. If she cannot be with him, she would rather die.

And as we always hoped, this disarms Dukat, who throws down his rifle and accepts Ziyil. He will take her back to Cardassia, acknowledge her, handle what difficulties that creates. It’s the only possible outcome, looked at from the strategic concerns of an ongoing series: had he killed Ziyil, Kira would have had to kill him or the show would have lost all credibility. And there are more and better plotlines possible with Dukat – and Tora Ziyil – alive than with them dead.

Future concerns aside, this was not only a powerful episode in terms of its story, but also in forcing enemies Kira and Dukat into close proximity, with a shared goal. It primarily worked to add yet more layers of grey to Dukat’s character, even to the extent of hinting at him having a nascent romantic attraction to her. Kira even softens to him, a little, without ever once suggesting that she’d tolerate the thought (well, who would?).

As in all such cases, the episode would have been better with just this story, but this is an ensemble cast so we must have a B-story, no matter that it was slight and trivial and almost vestigial on this evidence. Basically, Kasidy Yates has applied for and got a plum job with the Bajoran office of Commerce, which means she’ll be committed to this sector and can even live on DS9, all so she can be closer to Sisko and see him far more often. Sisko does a piss-poor job of being enthusiastic about this forthcoming proximity, and needs a talking-to from Jake before he apologises to Kasidy. That’s it, really. It’s not up to the breadth, depth, width, length or any other dimension of the A-story and should have been held over for a less-strong episode.

But it meant everyone (except the Chief) got a couple of lines, so there you go.


2 thoughts on “Deep Space Nine: s04e05 – Indiscretion

  1. Going back to one of your comments about the B stories, it kind of varies, but I actually prefer them to episodes where they try to force characters into a token appearance that makes you lose track of the story. It is definitely very different now, where entire episodes will only have a couple of cast members.
    And too while it might be slight, I always kind of enjoyed the change of pace some so-so episodes(And even better than the A story in some cases), as well as character and universe/setting building..

    Kind of a The Searchers, the1956 John Ford and John Wayne film, moment with Dukat there. An okay episode for me. It runs together with another episode later this season. There are quite a few like that for me, whether it’s title or similar plot..

  2. I get what you’re saying, and I completely agree when the A story is not that great. I can’t remember the episode without going back and re-reading, but there was one in season 3 where to me the B story was tons better, and considerably more significant.

    But in an episode like this, where the A story was both substantial and dealt with strong themes, a personal, character driven but lightweight B story is more an irritating distraction than a change of pace to me.

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