We’re now into the back half of this venture, nearer to the end than the beginning, and I’m a little uncertain how to respond to this latest story.
Our focus this week is Major Kira. There’s been a recent change in the character-centred stories, in that these are now being presented as a single story, with those cast members not involved having only minor, walk-on parts at beginning or end: the notion that a more or less unrelated B-story is needed to give everyone else something to do, has gone for the moment, and welcome this is too: there wasn’t even a single line for Quark this week!
Of course, this means the episode is utterly dependent upon its focus, which is where I found myself slightly uncertain. Partly, this was by being over-clever and anticipating a twist that never came. The set-up is that Major Kira, at the personal request of First Minister and bed-mate Shakaar, is to attend a Cardassian/Bajoran Peace Conference inside the Cardassian Empire, to discuss the Klingon threat. Enter Worf, to give the fair Kira a kist of Federation advanced devices and weaponry she’s not to mention to the Cardassians.
So, when Gul Dukat turns up as the pilot assigned to convey her to the conference, in a pretty lowly freighter ship, one heck of a comedown for him, I naturally assumed that the episode would revolve around the disclosure that the action ensuing was a set-up by Dukat to get these secrets out of Kira, by her effectively volunteering them to combat an unexpected menace. And I kept waiting for this long past the point I should have realised that what was going on was really happening.
Dukat, you see, has been severely demoted because he has brought his half-Bajoran daughter Ziyal back to Cardassia, per the episode ‘Indiscretion’, a couple of months back. Though he doesn’t regret Ziyal at all, his fall has been spectacular, and his frustration is Eifell Tower high.
He’s also behaving very creepily towards our dear Major. In fact, not to put too fine a point on it, he’s trying to get into her Bajoran knickers, in a heavy-handed, pseudo-charming manner that’s about as phoney as Tony Blair saying anything. The problem is that Hell will be swamped with glaciers before Kira Nerys gives Dukat anything other than the most reluctant of professional time, yet Dukat persists, trying to paint a picture where he and she are the same below the skin.
Because when they reach the site of the Conference, the outpost has been destroyed and everybody killed by a cloaked Kilingon Warbird that, even after Dukat fires all phasers at the weak spot identified by the Major without making even a scratch, can’t be arsed taking out the freighter and just flies off.
This was just so improbable that I couldn’t help but think it was all part of a seriously elaborate scam by Dukat, but despite the implausibility, we had to accept that as genuine behaviour from an enemy combatant of a warlike and destructive race operating guerilla fashion behind enemy lines. Perhaps it was a truly Klingon cultural think and beneath their honour to step on an ant, as Dukat suggested, mortified at being to unimportant, but it didn’t ring true for me.
Nevertheless, it puts Kira back into terrorist mode, and her modifications to the freighter, including fitting a disruptor, not to mention teaching the Gul to think like a terrorist, sets up the climax.
First, some faked Dilithium crystal emanations attracts the Warbird’s attention, then the disruptor knocks out its engines, but it fires on the freighter and near disables it, so Kira transports herself and Dukat on board the Klingon vessel and messes with their transporters so as to swap the crews. Whereupon Dukat blows the freighter and all the Klingons to smithereens.
Dukat’s in seventh heaven. He’s not only avenged an attack on the empire, he’s captured an enemy vessel and hit the motherlode of intelligence about Klingon plans, craft, communications. In short, this is the ideal platform from which to take the fight back to the Klingons and, not unincidentally, see our boy Dukat back at the top of the tree. Life is good.
Except that it isn’t. The Cardassian Government doesn’t want to fight. It wants a diplomatic solution. The Cardassians have been broken by defeat. Dukat is disgusted by his people, but he is determined to stand up for his race’s as ugly, fascist conquering bastards. Dukat is going to become a terrorist, and he wants Kira as his right-hand-woman: after all, they’re so alike.
You can see that Kira is tempted, by a return to a life she knows and understands, and at which she is supremely talented. Nana Visitor shows us that. But she also shows us that Kira isn’t tempted enough. She’s been there and done that and doesn’t want to go back for a farewell tour. More importantly, she doesn’t want Ziyal doing it even once: there is too much of Kira in Ziyal for her to wish that.
So Dukat leaves Ziyal at DS9, under Kira’s guardianship whilst he flies off to fight. How that will go we’ll have to wait and see, but Odo doesn’t seem especially impressed…
Overall, a good episode,another excellent performance from Marc Alaimo, another step on his peculiar path. If I was less than 100% enthusiastic, I have my own misdirection to blame for a large part of that, but I also found the protracted pressure Dukat was putting on Kira to be unpleasant. It was unrelenting, and thus heavy-handed, a course that did more to repel her than attract her, which was offputting to watch in itself, but sat ill with Dukat’s intelligence: he must have known he was only making his already emaciated chances even slimmer, so why persist?
Then again, when it comes to male arrogance about their attractiveness to les femmes, I suppose I shouldn’t rule out anything…