After the rather light hearted episode with Quark, the series takes a turn for some serious story telling in the episode that originally aired on January 8, 1998, this is Waltz.
Station Log Stardate 51408.6 Waltz
Sisko and Dukat find themselves trapped on an unstable deserted planet together.
Aboard the USS Honshu, Sisko visits Gul Dukat in the brig as they transport the broken man to stand before a Federation Grand Jury. Sisko informs Dukat that the former Cardassian leader will be facing a trial after the war is over but once they arrive at the star-base, Dukat will stand before the Grand Jury for an arraignment. Giving his condolences for the loss of Dukat’s daughter Ziyal, the two are shocked when the ship soon finds itself under attack.
News about the Honshu being destroyed reaches the station and the crew soon begin working on a mission to find their Captain. Worf is disappointed to learn that the Defiant will be diverted soon giving him only a short time to search for Sisko.
Sisko awakes to find himself alone with Dukat on an unknown planet. Dukat explains the situation informing Ben that the shuttle they crashed in is too damaged to reach orbit. With Sisko wounded, he soon finds himself depending on his old nemesis. Dukat has set a general distress call and when help arrives, one of them will be an ally and one a prisoner. The thing is it could go either way. Soon Dukat heads off to search for food and is confronted by Weyoun who it turns out is only a part of his rapidly declining mental health.
The next morning Sisko finds Dukat has made a soup for breakfast. Soon they begin discussing life aboard DS9 when Dukat was in charge, with the Cardassian leader attempting to defend himself at every turn. As they converse, Dukat keeps hearing something and heads off. It is then he begins to hallucinate Damar telling him to kill Sisko as soon as he gets a chance. While Dukat is away, Sisko discovers that the emergency beacon has been shut off and that there is in fact no rescue on it’s way.
Sisko begins secretly working on the transmitter when Dukat is away, feigning serious injury when the Cardassian is near. Soon Sisko is able to repair the system appearing to cause the Defiant to pick up the signal just just as it is close to moving on.
Soon Dukat begins to try to defend himself to Sisko as the Captain watches his nemesis show signs of losing his mind. Dukat want’s Sisko’s opinion of Dukat’s actions on Bajor determined to exonerate himself in the eyes of the Federation Officer. As Dukat defends himself, he begins to see visions of Kira accusing the former Cardassian leader of deluding himself. Sisko sees the opportunity to distract Dukat from his escape attempt but, when Dukat’s hallucination of Kira interrupts, Dukat soon discovers that Sisko has repaired the transmitter. Determined to keep them stranded, Dukat destroys the transmitter. Meanwhile, the Defiant gives up their search and heads off to their new mission.
Now stranded and alone together, Sisko makes it clear that he has no intention in giving Dukat the exoneration the Cardassian so desperately desires. Dukat demands that Sisko put him on trial and Sisko begins questioning Dukat. The former Prefect begins to explain his actions on Bajor explaining that all of his actions were contrary to the Cardassian Government’s orders. It is soon obvious that Dukat believes himself to have been justified in his actions given that the Cardassian Government wanted him to be much harsher than he was being. As he explains his position, hallucinations of Kira, Weyoun and Damar appear and begin whispering into Dukat’s ears about his position during the Occupation. Seeing an opportunity to act, Sisko manages to get the best of his captor. Knocking the Cardassian unconscious, Sisko makes for the shuttle only to be surprised when Dukat launches his counter attack.
Just as things look bleak, Dukat surprises Sisko by sparing the Station Commander. Dukat makes it known that no one, not even Sisko will be safe from his wrath. Dukat has a vendetta against Bajor and takes the shuttle leaving Sisko on the planet below. Insuring the survival of Sisko, Dukat contacts the Defiant informing them of The Captain’s position.
On the Defiant, Sisko tells Jadzia that he has witnessed true evil in the face of Dukat. Sisko knows that he has not seen the last of this man and vows that it will come down to either Sisko or Dukat in the end.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
When we last saw Dukat, he had just lost everything. Not only had he lost Bajor, he lost a battle with the Federation, his position as the leader of Cardassia and, his own daughter Ziyal. These events would lead us to find the former Cardassian leader a broken and completely unhinged man.
For years Dukat tried to convince us and himself that he never really hated the Bajoran people. In fact he would try to justify his actions during the occupation at every turn. For each horrible act he committed he would blame the Cardassian Government claiming that they wanted him to be worse. For each moment of indiscretion he would claim that he was just following orders and that he did all he could to prevent the pain that he was responsible for. This denial of the truth went on for so long that Dukat himself began to believe that he was really more of a benefactor to Bajor than the tyrannical war criminal the Bajoran’s see him as. His delusion became so real that, when looking back on the events of the occupation, he was genuinely hurt that Bajor hated him so much. This feeling was compounded even further when he discovered his half-Bajoran daughter was still alive and he did all he could to make her love him up until her own death. That death, however, was the turning point.
You see, until Ziyal’s death, Dukat could use her mere existence as verifiable proof that he did not hate the Bajoran people. How could he have a Bajoran daughter if he hated Bajor and it’s people? Her death, however, shattered Dukat’s fragile world of denial, splintering the years of lies and finally setting him against himself. Had he and Sisko not reconnected, there is a good chance he would have simply disappeared into his own insanity but confronting Sisko gave the former Cardassian leader the chance to finally embrace the evil that he had always been a part of. In many ways, this episode is where the real Dukat is finally revealed. The man we only heard of in tales of the Occupation. This episodes marks the moment that we finally see his true personality and it is not a good one.
On the other hand, for Sisko, this now means his purpose as The Emissary is that much more important than ever. Sisko has valiantly defended Bajor and managed to keep the best interests of Star Fleet in mind while doing it. So far he has managed to fend of pretty much every threat facing any losses as a lesson learned coming back stronger each and every time. Dukat has been a thorn in his side since day one and, He knows that this is not the last he will see of Dukat. When his nemesis returns it will be a battle like the two have never seen. As he says in the episode, ‘I fear no Evil, From now on, It’s him or me’.
Marc Alaimo is simply fantastic in this episode. While he had been a fan favorite in his depiction of Gul Dukat since the first episode, Alaimo really manages to pull out all of the stops in this episode really showing just how good of an actor he is. We get a chance to really dive deep into the mind of this dark character and I doubt anyone else could have done any better than Alaimo. Coupled with Avery Brooks under the direction of Rene Auberjonois, this is an example of one of the strongest episodes of this season. Don’t worry though, even though it is hard to imagine, it gets even better from here.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- This is not the last we see of Dukat, in fact, this episode sets up some of the most impactful installments to come.
- There is a lot of foreshadowing of events in this one and, if you pay attention to certain characters you might pick up on a death that is coming later in the season. I won’t say who but looking back, it is pretty clear that things are being put into place.
Thanks for reading the Retro TV Review, I look forward to discussing the rest of the series with you, one episode at a time every Monday, Wednesday and Friday! Next Review: Ferengi Love Songs
If you would like to read more reviews I have a weekly series called Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday and for more retro TV goodness check out the rest of the Retro TV Reviews here.
As always, please feel free to comment below and share your experiences with these episodes as well. If you just happened by, tell me what you think! Don’t Forget To Follow me if you like the blog!
Late To The Game 2/19/2022 (Originally published 12/30/2019)
Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available. Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.
“Star Trek and all related marks, logos and characters are solely owned by CBS Studios Inc. This fan production is not endorsed by, sponsored by, nor affiliated with CBS, Paramount Pictures, or any other Star Trek franchise, and is a non-commercial fan-made production intended for recreational use. No commercial exhibition or distribution is permitted. No alleged independent rights will be asserted against CBS or Paramount Pictures.”