(Star Trek - Deep Space Nine episode production code 535)
written by Ronald D. Moore
directed by René Auberjonois
In many ways, this is a very entertaining and important episode.
I'm a fan of actor Marc Alaimo, who gives a tour de force performance
as his character of Gul Dukat is explored in greater detail than
ever before, with great assists from Nana Visitor,
Jeffery Combs, Avery Brooks, and undoubtedly
director René Auberjonois.
Though at times remarkably humorous, we eventually find that Dukat is
in actuality at one of his darkest and most disturbing hours here.
Understandably so, as we go through the details of what's going on
The saddest part is that this is really the last time that Dukat is
interesting as a character on Deep Space Nine. Sisko's final
response to what he learns in this episode once more betrays
the abandonment of Roddenberry-style ideals, and I assume he
is expressing the attitudes of the writing staff and producers
of the show. Dukat's entire character is dumbed down to a label
of "evil", which in my experience is used by people who have given
up on trying to understand their opponents in a given conflict.
If we really give up on him, he doesn't then deserve the amount
of screen time that he continued to get in future episodes.
Of course, Alaimo's performances are always compelling, therefore
we should have more of Dukat on the show until the very end,
but if the character is going to remain interesting, he needs
to maintain all his multiple facets, his shades of grey,
his kaleidoscope of colours, his good traits that surprise us
time and again. No one truly is evil, and if the writing staff
can't understand that about Dukat, they won't be able to keep us
interested in seeing him.
I think a large part of the problem in this episode in particular
is that the thing that decides Sisko's opinion (and the audience's
I might add should they agree with him) is all backstory that we
never actually saw on Deep Space Nine. What we have seen through
Alaimo's portrayal over five and a half years is a much more
charming, thoughtful, redeemable character with emotional scars
and rough edges who has made some bad choices.
More to the point, what does it say about Sisko and Dax that they
should give up on any attempt to see and draw out the better
side that Dukat still has within him? They don't give up on
Damar, or the Changelings, and Odo will be seen to give Weyoun
a chance later on..... It remains true that the best dramas
are not enemy-centered, as the Dukat plots now become.
Ron Moore definitely does work some significant magic here
to put a lot of good stuff into an episode that in some respects
creates anticipation of a cheap bottle show stuck in a cave
for 38 minutes, and by the work of the actors and a good director,
it really rises above that.
It is just such a shame that
the coda's dialogue is a tainted brush,
painting over this fine
display of complex characterization and
dumbing it down to a level that did not bode well for the future
of this character with so much potential.