Deep Space Nine: s07 e09 – Covenant


Does he look any more mad to you?

I usually like Kira-centric episodes, in large part for the entirely shallow reason that I like looking at Nana Visitor. Unfortunately, the unfortunate hair-style she has adopted for the Seventh Season has changed Ms Vistor’s appearance rather more than the traditionally Runyonesque somewhat, and it’s not so much fun.

Neither was this episode, much of the point of which went over my somewhat unfocussed head. After an intense sermon about forgiving one’s enemies, delivered by her old and much-respected teacher, Vedek Fala, Kira is then kidnapped by Fala and beamed to Empok Nor, to be delivered into the hands of the one unforgivable enemy, Gul Dukat.

But Dukat is a changed Cardassian (or is he?) Touched by the hand of the Pah-Wraith that occupied him in the last episode of season 6, Fukat has gotten that old-time religion. He believes that the Pah-Wraiths are the true Gods of Bajor, not the Prophets, and has assembled around himself a cult of fifty Bajorans, which includes Fala, and who belieeeeeeeve.

Unfortunately, they also believe in Dukat, and when Kira gets a gun and the drop on the Big Bad, they positively queue up to shield him with their own bodies.

Which is doubly unfortunate because, even though Dukat has genuinely become a believer, he’s still Dukat. Benyan and Mika are about to have the cult’s first baby, Dukat having kindly agreed to permit them to set aside the Vow of Abstinence, for reasons that become obvious when the baby proves to be half-Cardassian. It’s a Miracle! shouts the hastily inspired Gul, a sign from the Pah-Wraiths.

Then he tries too drop Mika out of an airlock before she tells anyone else (she escapes explosive decompression and the instant expulsion of all the air by clinging on to the carpet – not one of DS9‘s most sparkling plot points – and despite several minutes of oxygen depravation, will make a complete recovery. Well, ain’t that just soooo Pollyanna?)

Dukat’s next bright idea is for the entire cult to go meet the Pah-Wraiths by slopping down Obsidian Order suicide pills. He’s meant to be part of this pact, which had me recalling the Reverend Jim Jones and the Jamestown Massacre but which was actually inspired by the considerably more contemporary 1997 heaven’s Gate cult mass-suicide. But Dukat, however much he is a believer, is still Dukat, and his pill’s a Parma Violet or something equally innocuous. Kira jumps on him from a balcony, upsets the pill-cart and throws Dukat into a rage as his cultists transform from worshipful and adoring mugs to a howling mob in an instant, demonstrating yet again that the key characteristic of a fanatic is fanaticism and that the actual ‘belief’ is irrelevant.

The whole episode was built around restoring Dukat to his role as Deep Space Nine Big Bad Number One. Repainting him as a true believer is supposed to make him even more dangerous, and it’s apparently foregrounding for the ten episode concluding arc, coming up on this blog in less than two months now. Myself, I was not convinced, by the episode in general, and especially not by Kira’s closing statement that Dukat was now more dangerous. When these things have to be spelled out to the audience in such a paint-by-numbers fashion, it’s a sign that the writers haven’t got their point over half well enough.

As for Colonel Kira and Nana Visitor, and leaving aside shallow concerns, it was not a good episode for either. I’m afraid Dukat brings out the worst in Kira, worst for the audience that is. She goes all one-note, shrill and almost hysterical, losing the point in the determined, monomaniacal insistence on painting Dukat far blacker than the Rolling Stones could ever have imagined, and the fact of it being true has nothing to do with how tedious it quickly becomes.

The fact that we have, now, seven episodes ahead that, by definition, have nothing to do with the endgame sequence, doesn’t thrill me. Rightly or wrongly, it gives the impression that these are unimportant, that they’re just filler until we get to the real story, the grand finale, the completion of the seven-year design. A drag, just waiting for the real stuff. I’m almost tempted to skip them…

But, of course, I won’t. This time next week for the next episode, ok?

 

4 thoughts on “Deep Space Nine: s07 e09 – Covenant

  1. Yep, part of the cartoony paint by numbers Dukat, we’ve discussed before that undid all of his great characterzation through season 5. So much of this felt like Waltz, with same result, Dukat escaping but more paint by numbers.

    There was an edict from Berman, that in order to get the final 9 episodes as a serialized arc, the rest needed to be standalone and self-contained. There are some that are standalone, as well as ones like this one that serve as a continued storyline arc. And a few others in that vein.

  2. As I’ve said more than once, this is the difference between prime time TV twenty-odd years ago and now. Audiences are no longer treated as being incapable of complex ideas like watching every week and keeping up.

    1. The biggest irony being Trek fans would have been the biggest proponents of this 20-30 years ago. Higher than average IQ,viewers and not the mythical casual viewer the networks seemed to idolize or believe in…

  3. I honestly don’t know what proportion of the audience would have consisted of Trek fans and whether that was a sustainable audience in itself. Either way, given the structure of network television in those far off days we call the Nineties, I suspect they would never have abandoned the ‘general’ audience: the name of the game was maximum eyeballs to justify maximum advertising rates.

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