Fri
Jun 6 2014 2:00pm

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch: “The Darkness and the Light”

Deep Space Nine, The Darkness and the Light“The Darkness and the Light”
Written by Bryan Fuller and Ronald D. Moore
Directed by Michael Vejar
Season 5, Episode 11
Production episode 40510-509
Original air date: January 6, 1997
Stardate: 50416.2

Station log: Vedek Latha leads a retreat in a cave on Bajor. He lights a candle and he and the other vedeks kneel around it. Beams of light suddenly emit from the candle on all the vedeks, then only on Latha, and then a disruptor blast kills him. Latha was part of the Shakaar Resistance Cell.

While Kira’s being treated by Bashir—complaining that the herbs she’s taking negate the sedatives she takes to sleep—Odo sadly informs her that her former comrade is dead. When she returns to her quarters, Kira has a message waiting for her: an image of Latha and a mechanical voice saying, “That’s one.”

There’s no point of origin of the transmission. Kira then gets another transmission with no point of origin, but this time it’s another old comrade, Fala, who wasn’t part of the cell, but regularly passed on information to them. She’s incredibly paranoid, convinced that someone’s trying to find her and kill her. Kira offers her asylum on the station, and sends Worf and Dax—on their way back from a starbase—to pick her up. But something goes wrong in the transport, and she’s killed. Odo theorizes that someone placed a device on her person that would scramble someone’s transporter pattern upon rematerialization.

Deep Space Nine, The Darkness and the Light

A padd is enclosed in a shipment of Saurian brandy that arrives at Quark’s, encoded to Kira. It has an image of Fala and the same mechanical voice saying, “That’s two.”

Fala’s involvement with Shakaar was kept secret, so the attacker might be someone who was affected by an attack made by Shakaar with information gained from Fala. While Kira and Odo are discussing it, Odo’s security feed is hacked with an image of Mobara, another member of the cell and the words, “That’s three.” Odo tries to track Mobara down.

Deep Space Nine, The Darkness and the Light, Kira, Odo, O'Brien, Sisko

Kira returns to her quarters, accompanied by a Bajoran bodyguard, plus a Starfleet security guard outside. Despite this, Furel and Lupaza get on board the station, having snuck past security, and take out the bodyguard, not realizing he’s there to protect her. They offer to hunt down and kill whoever’s doing this, like it’s the old days in the resistance. They insist on staying with Kira, which means that O’Brien has house guests (who try to shoot him when he walks in the door).

Dax and Nog go over the three recordings. Nog is able to determine—thanks to his mighty lobes of doom—that it’s a composite of several different recordings, and that it’s a female voice, not Cardassian. Eventually they determine that it’s using recordings of Kira’s own voice.

Deep Space Nine, The Darkness and the Light, Kira, Dax, Nog

There’s an explosion in the O’Brien quarters. Furel and Lupaza are killed, and Kira runs to try to help them, but collapses from a placental laceration (not before she beats up three security guards). She wakes up in the infirmary, Bashir having cured the laceration, and then she tells Odo the story of how she joined the cell at the age of thirteen.

Odo says a hunter probe was attached to a freighter en route to the station, then did a visual survey until it found Furel and Lupaza then attached itself to a window. He has narrowed the suspect field to twenty-five people, and he wants to narrow it further before letting Kira know who they are.

Kira transports herself to Odo’s office to get the list, then transports herself to a runabout and leaves the station. She eliminates three names from the list, and then investigates a fourth, Silarin Prin, to a remote world near the Demilitarized Zone. Kira shoots a holographic Cardassian, which distracts her long enough for Prin to shoot her and restrain her on a chair. Prin rants and raves quite a bit, eventually revealing that half his face is badly burned. He’s disappointed that she’s unrepentant. He was a servant, who cleaned uniforms for Gul Pirak. The Shakaar cell placed a plasma charge outside Pirak’s bedroom, which destroyed the entire wing of the house, killing Pirak’s family and injuring Prin. Pirak murdered fifteen Bajoran farmers because they wouldn’t display a Cardassian flag, and Kira has no regrets. No Cardassians belonged on Bajor, and they were all legitimate targets.

Deep Space Nine, The Darkness and the Light, Prin

Prin, though, went to great lengths to preserve innocent lives. He only killed the intended targets, there was no collateral damage. For that reason, he won’t kill Kira until after he removes the baby from her womb. She convinces him to give her a sedative, though, and he agrees. After she falls unconscious, he lowers the force field restraining her, at which point she kicks him—the sedative having been negated by the herbs she’s been taking—and then grabs her phaser and kills him. She’s rescued soon thereafter by the Defiant.

Can’t we just reverse the polarity?: Kira masks the runabout’s ion trail with a polaron field, making it difficult for the Defiant to track her movements.

Deep Space Nine, The Darkness and the Light, Worf, Dax

Don’t ask my opinion next time: Kira basically bullied her way into the Shakaar cell at the age of thirteen. She’d been hanging around running errands and such when they were one person short of what they needed for a mission, and so she convinced them that she was big enough to hold a rifle. She went on the mission, and when it went down, she shot her rifle until the power cell ran dry. When it was over, she grinned from ear to ear—even though Furel told her it made her look younger—thrilled that she was now part of the resistance.

Preservation of mass and energy is for wimps: Odo has to call in a lot of favors to get a suspect list together of people who might have a particular mad-on for the Shakaar cell.

Deep Space Nine, The Darkness and the Light, Kira, Odo

The slug in your belly: At Starbase 63, Dax mocked Captain Ramirez and challenged him to no-limit tongo, not knowing that he was a champion. Worf, who gloats a bit, refuses to lend her the two bars of latinum she owes him.

Rules of Acquisition: Rule #111 is quoted by Worf, of all people: “Treat people in your debt like family—exploit them.”

Meanwhile Nog gets to show off the power of his ears by discerning details about the recordings sent to Kira, prompting Dax to declare, “I’ve made it a policy never to argue with someone’s lobes.”

There is no honor in being pummeled: After quoting a Rule of Acquisition, Dax expresses surprise that Worf knows them, to which he solemnly retorts: “I am a graduate of Starfleet Academy. I know many things.”

Deep Space Nine, The Darkness and the Light, Worf, Dax

For Cardassia!: Gul Pirak insisted that the farmers in the region of Bajor he was responsible for display the Cardassian flag on their homes. When they refused, he had them killed, and made himself a target of the Shakaar resistance cell.

Keep your ears open: “You’ve been smirking ever since we left the starbase.”

“I do not smirk. But if I did, this would be a good occasion.”

Dax bitching, and Worf not-smirking.

Welcome aboard: William Lucking and Diane Salinger reprise their roles as Furel and Lupaza, having previously appeared in “Shakaar.” Lucking will be back again in flashbacks in “Ties of Blood and Water.” Randy Oglesby, last seen as Ah-Kel and Ro-Kel in “Vortex,” returns as Prin, putting his powerful voice to good use. Jennifer Savidge plays Fala, and Aron Eisenberg is back as Nog.

Deep Space Nine, The Darkness and the Light, Kira, Furel, Lupaza

Trivial matters: This is the first Trek story from Bryan Fuller, whose original pitch was a riff on the Agatha Christie novel And Then There Were None. Fuller would go on to write another story for DS9 (“Empok Nor”) and write for Voyager, eventually joining the staff of the latter show, rising to co-producer by the seventh season. Fuller has gone on to an impressive career, creating or developing and producing several shows including Dead Like Me, Wonderfalls, Pushing Daisies, and Hannibal.

Michael Vejar returns to directing Trek with this episode, not having worked on the show since “Coming of Age” in TNG’s first season. He’ll go on to direct six more DS9 episodes, as well as many many episodes of Voyager and Enterprise.

Kira's time in the resistance is chronicled in some detail in the Terok Nor novels Night of the Wolves and Dawn of the Eagles by S.D. Perry & Britta Dennison, as well as the short story “The Officer's Club” by Heather Jarman in Tales from the Captain's Table and the Double Helix novel Vectors by Kristine Kathryn Rusch & Dean Wesley Smith.

Walk with the Prophets: “You’re just a bitter old man out for revenge.” The climax of this episode is magnificent. Confronted with the badly injured, deranged lunatic who has killed her friends, when told that his revenge is because of a terrorist attack that killed innocent people, Kira does not do the thing that television in general and Star Trek in particular have conditioned us to expect. She does not repent, she does not try to ask forgiveness. Screw that—she was fighting for a home that was violently ripped from her and her people. As Kira says to Prin, “For fifty years you raped our planet, and you killed our people. You lived on our land and you took the food out of our mouths.” That’s all that matters to her, and as far as the Bajorans were concerned, no Cardassian on Bajor was innocent because those Cardassians were on Bajor where they didn’t belong.

Deep Space Nine, The Darkness and the Light, Kira

So yeah, she blew up a house. It was a horrible, awful thing she did, but she was fighting a more horrible, more awful thing the only way she knew how.

Having said that, Prin’s absolutely right in what he says. It doesn’t justify his actions—but then Kira’s feelings about the Cardassians don’t justify her actions, either. But nobody involved in the Cardassian occupation of Bajor is clean, and Prin’s attempt to cast everything in the titular terms of darkness and light is crap. It’s one big muddy shade of gray.

There are several other nice bits in the episode, from the delightful Worf-Dax banter on the runabout, which serves to make Fala’s violent death that much more nasty, to Nog showing off his lobes, to the very welcome reappearance of Furel and Lupaza, the only members of the cell besides Kira and Shakaar whom we actually know, and unlike the others, their deaths mean something (though scripter Ronald D. Moore and actor Jennifer Savidge do a good job of making Fala a tragic figure).

Deep Space Nine, The Darkness and the Light, Prin

But ultimately getting there is a total mess. Somehow Prin—a person who isn’t even entirely rational, a person who narrates his life out loud, and a person whose background is as a glorified dry cleaner—manages to manipulate technology to a superhuman (super-Cardassian?) degree, to commit several perfect murders and deliver several anonymous messages, which leave no trace and give no clue as to their attacker with all the super-fantastic twenty-fourth-century technology at their disposal.

More fundamental than that though is the simple fact that Prin is targeting members of the resistance cell that was run by the guy who’s now First Minister of friggin’ Bajor. The station and the planet of Bajor should both be on lockdown at this point because Shakaar is now a target—yet the only time Shakaar is even mentioned is when Kira’s telling Odo the story of how she joined his cell. There’s no sense of any urgency beyond giving Kira bodyguards, which makes no sense because one of Prin’s likely targets, based on the evidence, is the First Minister of friggin’ Bajor. This should’ve been a major investigation involving the Bajoran Militia, whatever police force there is on Bajor, Odo and his people, Starfleet security, and more. This should’ve been the biggest investigation in the history of the sector, especially once O’Brien’s quarters were blown up, because now Starfleet personnel are in danger in addition to Bajoran citizens.

Deep Space Nine, The Darkness and the Light, Sisko, Kira, Odo, Prin, Bashir

The climax is, as I said, excellent, but getting there is a process that strains all credulity, from the perfection of Prin’s success to the lack of urgency of the people investigating it.

 

Warp factor rating: 5


Keith R.A. DeCandido has a new book coming out this fall: a Sleepy Hollow novel based on the FOX TV series, entitled Children of the Revolution, to be published by Broadway Books. For more on this and other SH books, including preorder links, check out the Sleepy Reads web site.

42 comments
DG2
1. DG2
I liked this episode because it made clear something that Kira was always insistent upon - she was not a "freedom fighter" - she was a terrorist. DS9 sometimes ignored that, but she killed innocent people, deliberately. Whether this was justified is left to the observer, but I wish this had actually been more grey - Kira clearly killed children, on purpose.
Christopher Bennett
2. ChristopherLBennett
Wait a minute... There's no way being a graduate of Starfleet Academy could help Worf know the Rules of Acquisition, since the first direct contact between the Federation and the Ferengi Alliance didn't happen until Worf's first year aboard the Enterprise, years after his graduation. Unless he means that the Academy trained him to continue seeking new knowledge of other cultures.

And the bit about the messages being in Kira's own voice, recut and disguised, makes little sense. The technology of the era would make it simple to synthesize a voice, so this wasn't done to conceal the killer's identity. So it must've been intended to let Kira know she was targeted. Therefore, why disguise it at all? It was just an excuse to give Dax and Nog something to do.

And I'm not comfortable with the way Kira's portrayed in the climax, because it conflicts with how she was portrayed earlier in the series, where she showed more remorse for the things she was forced to do in the war, and learned to feel more empathy for the Cardassians. Okay, I take the point that she felt she was doing what she had to do and the Cardassians had no right to be there, but still, it feels like the writers are regressing her character to her first-season persona. And killing the bad guy, someone who's been driven mad by understandable grief, seemed a rather bloodthirsty resolution.
DG2
3. J25
Keith, couldn't you add Olivia Woods' Fearful Symmetry to the Trival Matters section? After all, it establishes the reason why Iliana Gehmor joined the Obsidian Order and was surgically altered to impersonate Kira - her fiance Ataan Rukhal was among the dead after the bombing at Pirak's compound. Just a thought.
DG2
4. James2
@3, Yeah, I always loved how Woods linked those episodes together for her book. It was a great little twist.
DG2
5. Eduardo Jencarelli
And I'm not comfortable with the way Kira's portrayed in the climax, because it conflicts with how she was portrayed earlier in the series, where she showed more remorse for the things she was forced to do in the war, and learned to feel more empathy for the Cardassians. Okay, I take the point that she felt she was doing what she had to do and the Cardassians had no right to be there, but still, it feels like the writers are regressing her character to her first-season persona.

@2

Indeed. Now, I recall why I wasn't this episode's biggest fan. It doesn't feel like a natural follow-up to Kira's Shakaar resistance backstory.

In fact, as I was reading Krad's praising of the climax, my mind instantly flashed back to Duet, and one particularly important exchange between Kira and Marritza:

MARRITZA: How many Cardassians did you kill?
KIRA: Look, I regret a lot of what I had to do!
MARRITZA: Oh, how convenient of you!
KIRA: We had no choice! We were fighting for survival!

After what happened on Duet, plus befriending Ziyal, becoming Ghemor's daughter, and so much more, I have a hard time picturing Kira Nerys saying the line "all Cardassians are legitimate targets" with so little thought.

And this happened before Dukat announced his alliance with the Dominion. Had this episode taken place after the Purgatory/Inferno two parter, I might understand Kira's line. I feel Ron Moore blew it on this one, in his attempt to raise the stakes and give the episode a certain amount of grittiness.

I don't have a problem with Kira's feelings and attitude towards the killer (particularly given her emotional state, pregnancy and all), but it doesn't feel consistent with previous developments. At least, I can say I enjoyed the line: “You’re just a bitter old man out for revenge.”

And on the plus side, this was a welcome introduction to Bryan Fuller's work. Hard to believe he's been an active writer/producer for 18 years already. And I'm still impressed Mike Vejar was able to squeeze that much Star Trek work while directing numerous Babylon 5 episodes (and TV movies) in-between.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
6. Lisamarie
I definitely enjoyed the mystery aspect of the episode, and also that they didn't shy away from the things Kira did during the resistance. This doesn't mean I think she is justified in this very personal revenge quest, or even in every single thing she did during the occupation, but she's right about the Cardassians not belonging on Bajor and they were justfied in defending themselves.

But what I had a really, really hard time dealing with was her pregnancy. I know this is a sticky situation because she didn't choose to get pregnant in the first place, but at any rate, at this point, she has agreed to carry the child and do what she can to have as healthy a birth as possible, to bring the child to term, and her friends have trusted her with this. I don't think this means Kira shouldn't be doing what she does in her day to day job and life or have her life totally micromanaged (ie, you can't play springball, or you can't have coffee, etc) - they are all at risk on the Station and that's to be expected. But the fact that she personally disobeyed orders and even made it difficult for them to track her, so she could go on a personal quest that put herself and the O'Brien's child in danger just seems utterly selfish to me, and it kind of irritated it that Keiko or O'Brien never seem to bat an eye at this, considering they didn't even want to let her go to frickin' Bajor by herself.
Christopher Bennett
7. ChristopherLBennett
@6: Now that you mention it, I think I was also bothered by her willingness to put the baby in harm's way.
Dante Hopkins
8. DanteHopkins
I disagree that this episode regressed Kira. She just had five friends brutally murdered, particularly Furel and Lupaza (damn did I grieve for those two). It was perfectly consistent for Kira to seek revenge on whatever coward was murdering the Shakaar members from the shadows. And it turns out its some bitter old Cardassian who probably felt the Bajorans should have been grateful to be occupied by Cardassia.

Are we to feel sorry for this Cardassian driven insane by revenge? I don't think so. Nor should we hail Kira as a hero for murdering innocent Cardassians. But it was ugly and horrific from both sides, as krad says, a giant patch of gray. Kira and the others did what they had to do to free their people, and for this crazy old man not to recognize this is what led to his eventual demise.

As for the baby, maybe it was selfish, but it was also completely realistic and understandable why Kira did what she did.
DG2
9. lvsxy808
I don't think Kira was regressed or inappropriate or out of character here at all. She had just spent several days in terror for her life, seeing her friends picked off one by one, and now she's pinned to a chair while a guy is promising to carve her up without anasthetic. Perhaps in an ideal world and in safer conditions she might have been more sympathetic to the Cardassian cause, but she was cornered and threatened and indignant about the whole thing. And this was not one of those individual Cardassians who regretted the whple Occupation. This was one one of the ones who thought they ahd every right to be there and were the ones hard done to by ungrateful Bajorans. In that situation I don't think it's any surprise that Kira's teeth came out.

If anything, I think this ep is to be congratulated for bringing back the real Kira, after she'd been overly softened up in season 4.
DG2
10. Rancho Unicorno
@8 - I'm confused about your comments. I didn't get any indication that Prin expressed feelings about the occupation - positive or negative. All he cared about were the innocent casualties. To argue that the Gul's children or servants were guilty because "every Cardassian is guilty" would justify "every Bajoran is a terrorist". The resistance groups weren't uniformed soldiers, so why should Odo be responsible for insuring that only the actual wrong-doers were punished - if they weren't actively opposed to the resistance groups and aligned with the Cardassians, they must be (at least passivly) supporting terrorists.

As for putting the baby in danger, I'm hard pressed to think of a situation where it is appropriate to intentionally put a child in harms way.
DG2
11. Random22
I agree, this DOES seem like a regression for Kira. It is a great episode, with some outstanding performances, but it is at the wrong point in the series. If only it had been in S1 instead of Duet, and Duet was here. The trouble is Duet really knocked it out of the park performance-wise, I'd put it in the top 1o anti-racism episodes on tv period, and then it was followed up with the almost as good Second Skin which cemented the character changes (to be honest, this would have had to fit just after "Progress", which is where Kira's character development really kicks off). The time for telling this particular "whole mess of gray" had passed. Especially since The Message here is that Kira's gray was a lot lighter than the Cardassian's gray (in fact it was such a weak shade of gray it might just be a grubby white). It is backsliding, not just for Kira, but for the show as a whole.

It could have been saved if Kira was saying anything other than all Cardassians were targets, maybe saying that the Cardassian military command was the guilty party and the Cardassian civilians who were dragged along in its wake were as much victims of unthinking war as the Bajorans were, which would have trod the same ground as Duet, but it wouldn't have undermined it. The right episode, but in the wrong place in the arc.
Dante Hopkins
12. DanteHopkins
@10, I'm confused by your comments. If you listen to Prin between his rambling narration, he makes clear he doesn't understand why the Resistance would target Cardassian civilians, even as Kira explains it to him very explicitly. That alone shows he had no conception of how horrific the Occupation was for the Bajorans. I don't know how Prin felt about the Occupation, that's why I qualified that statement with probably. As a servant, he was prone to believe Cardassian propoganda about the Occupation. And as far as the Cardassians were concerned, every Bajoran WAS a terrorist. They were guilty until proven innocent, and even then they could be put to death for even suspected ties to the Resistance. They were guilty for being Bajoran. The Resistance had to fight the Cardassians on those terms, so yes every Cardassian was guilty. As for the baby, I also said it was perhaps selfish, but it was understandable. I didn't say it was appropriate to do so, I said I understood why she did

@11, I disagree completely. There's never not an appropriate time to address an atrocity committed against your people, the things you did to fight it, or the impact it has on you at any given stage of your life. After a few seasons, the Occupation of Bajor is somehow less important? Kira should just move on from what happened to her people and her planet for fifty years? I don't think so. Could not disagree more.
Andrew Love
13. AndyLove
I remember when this premiered that when Kira swiped the list from Odo, and immediately went to the right guy's place, I figured "Ah! Odo came up a good list, but Kira knew more about Cardassians (and her own history) and was able to immediately identify who the culprit must be." Therefore I was a bit startled that it turned out to be someone Kira had never heard of - the fact that she picked the right guy from the list the first time was just a plot contrivance.
DG2
14. Rancho Unicorno
@13 - He wasn't the first guy. He was the fourth.

@12 - He may or may not have understood the horror, but Prin's point was that the Resistance targeted the innocent - not directly, but they chose to paint all Cardassians with the same guilty brush. Prin, perhaps, may have had a choice to serve, and thus be part of the occupation, but what crime did the Gul's children commit that merited their death? Being born to a military officer? To equate being birthed as the member of a race with guilt is no different than what Odo did with his Bajoran execution - rather than taking the time to identify the innocent, moving forward in the name of justice.

Your argument would have continued the occupation without end - the Resistance treated all Cardassians as occupiers, so the Cardassians treated all Bajorans as terrorists, so the Resistance treated all Cardassians as occupiers, etc. Even if Kira felt justified at the time, that Kira should have died when she came to terms that her misdeeds were no better than the Cardassians'. The exigencies of the occupation needed to give way to moving forward. Those who cannot move beyond the past are doomed to live there forever. Those that refuse to acknowledge that they made compromises - or continue to justify them after being exposed - but expect others to, are hypocrites of the worst sort.

I need to know that no other innocent people died by your hands, Kira. That this was the only time.
Christopher Bennett
15. ChristopherLBennett
@12: Addressing an atrocity doesn't require demonizing the entire population of the culture whose members committed it. That's the kneejerk, immature, angry response, the kind that perpetuates the conflict. The more mature way to address an atrocity is to acknowledge and commemorate it but find a way to begin healing and moving on, so that it doesn't become an excuse for more atrocities in the future.
Dante Hopkins
16. DanteHopkins
@14, the Resistance did not go out of their way to target innocent people, but if they had to die for the cause of freeing the Bajoran people, that was a result the Resistance was willing to live with. Kira has admitted many times she made such compromises. She has freely said many times that she was a terrorist. I don't see how Kira could be a hypocrite.

For a Cardassian, the very act of living on Bajor, enjoying the fruits of the Bajoran laborers whose homeworld Cardassia was occupying was a crime in itself. Its not cut and dry, its impossible to define the Occupation and the Resistance purely in terms of good guys and bad guys, but it was what it was. Again, horrific for both sides. And you seem to be arguing if the Bajorans had negotiated with the Cardassians somehow, they would have simply left Bajor peacefully. The Cardassians occupied Bajor for half a century. The only way Cardassia would withdraw from Bajor is if it proved to be more trouble than it was worth. And after fifty years, they had already stripped Bajor of its valuable resources, so continuing to fight the Resistance became just that: more trouble than it was worth. The Cardassians had to be driven out.

@15, I was referring to the episode addressing the fallout of the Occupation. @11 was saying that it was too late in the series to address the Occupation, and from an in-world perspective, for Kira those wounds don't heal completely just because a few years go by. Even at this point, there's still much to address for Kira, as we'll see going forward. I'm not advocating Bajorans continue violence against Cardassians, but the healing is a process that will continue well beyond the series.
Christopher Bennett
17. ChristopherLBennett
@16: But that's just it -- as Random22 said, it would feel more like a healing process if this episode had come before "Duet" instead of several years after. As it is, it feels like it's reversing and undermining the previously effective story arc of Kira's healing process (and Bajor's and Cardassia's). It's out of place in the sequence.

And I don't accept the blanket generalization that every Cardassian on Bajor is equally a criminal. Sometimes criminals entrap other people in their crimes. If a father brings his son and daughter along with him on a cross-country robbery and murder spree, that doesn't mean the kids are complicit in the crime; they'd probably be perceived more as victims. The Occupation was the crime of the Cardassian government and military. Since Cardassia was not a free society, it doesn't follow that every Cardassian on Bajor was there by choice.

The thing is, this show has never pretended -- at least before now -- that terrorism is a moral act. It's a tactic of war, and morality is the first casualty of war. It's about achieving the goal by any means necessary. War means doing terrible things to individuals in the name of a larger, long-term goal. Saying it was the only way to get the Cardassian government to withdraw from Bajor is one thing. Saying that every individual Cardassian state employee or military spouse or child who happened to pay the price was equally deserving is nonsense, and is out of character for the Kira who's lived through the events of "Duet," "Second Skin," and "Indiscretion."
DG2
18. Random22
@15 In real life, yes there is no bad time to address guilt in atrocity, however in fiction you have to follow a narrative arc, utilize character development, and maintain consitency otherwise things feel all jumbled up and it hurts the play/show/movie/book/shadow-puppet display*. This is a well documented bug/feature in the relationship between fiction and reality.

Now I agree, it would be nice if some real world countries would accept they've provoked some horrific reactions in other populations and that has led to to terrorist acts on both sides. There is no wrong time for that about-face and mea culpas, but then reality is not a structured work. Fiction is. In this case the structure was seriously affected (positively) by "Duet" and "Second Skin" (and various other episodes, the S2 episode "Cardassians", while not a Kira episode covered a lot of the same general narrative ground) which moved things on a lot from what this is episode is saying.

* Delete as applicable, and if Shadow-Puppetry - do deformed rabbit, it's my favorite.
DG2
19. Random22
Sorry, mea culpa, that reply should have been to @12 not @15. The typo fairy hath been active today.
DG2
20. The Usual Suspect
On the regression of Kira's character:

While I agree that the beliefs Kira expresses in this episode are out of sync with her overall character arc, I also think that there is a plausible way to view it that does not make it appear unrealistic. People are not consistent -- when one's views or convictions change, it does not necessarily get expressed as a neat, continuous, progressive change. While Kira's understanding of the Cardassians has changed since the occupation ended, she did in fact once hold the views she expresses here. Also, the fact that she is being targeted for what she did as part of the resistance, and several of her close comrades from those days have just been murdered, I think in a way she has been taken back to that time. The views she held then have been brought back close to the surface for her in way that they haven't been for a while. She is also under considerable stress because she is fighting for her life and the life of the O'Briens' child. When she argues with Prin, she is simply falling back on her old arguments for why the resistance carried out terrorist attacks, because that's what comes to mind and makes sense for her IN THAT MOMENT. Once the crisis is over, she is able to see things more clearly, and return to the views she has developed more recently.

I also think we can understand her willingness to go alone after Prin, even at the risk of the baby's life. The situation as it's been presented shows the killer being two steps ahead of everyone (whether or not it is believable that this particular killer could pull that off is irrelevent - that is the scenario presented in the episode). As much as she may trust Odo's ability to identify the killer, she has solid evidence that that identification may not come soon enough for her and the child. By going after the killer on her own she is able to take action and hopefully gain the upper hand by making an unanticipated move.
Christopher Bennett
21. ChristopherLBennett
@20: That may be true, but as Random22 said, narrative fiction is more structured than real life. In that context, the story feels out of place and jarring.
Dante Hopkins
22. DanteHopkins
@17, Of course not every Cardassian on Bajor was responsible for the Occupation, but the Bajoran Resistance did not have the luxury of making that distinction. The Resistance was fighting for the freedom of the Bajoran people, and often that meant committing terrible acts. As you say, it was a tactic of war, with the end goal of Cardassia withdrawing from Bajor, whatever it took.

@17, 18, 21, As @19 put it so well, all those feelings came rushing back to the surface when Kira was confronted with the raving lunatic who had brutally murdered her friends. Kira, mentally, was back in the Resistance. So it was not a regression at all, but a very realistic portrayal of Kira's state of mind under the circumstances.

Kira is the perfect character to illustrate how, even in narrative fiction, a person can be in process of healing but under the right circumstances, such as watching your friends get picked off one by one, those old views can come back in the moment.
DG2
23. Rancho Unicorno
I don't think the Cardassians would have left. I also think the Resistance was fully justified in what they did - the exigencies of war blurred the lines of right and wrong.

My problem is with Kira's assertion that she was in the right, which arguing that anybody dealing with Bajorans was in the wrong. Assuming the technology Prin used was available during the occupation, the Resistance had the luxury (and obligation) to protect the innocent - assuming they wanted the moral high ground vis-a-vis the occupation. Odo had more justification in making his conviction of innocents in pursuit of his goal of order than Kira did in blowing up children. Yet, she demanded perfection of him, while excusing herself.
Dante Hopkins
24. DanteHopkins
@23, Kira never once said she was right, she effectively said that she and the Resistance did what they had to do. Kira definitely was not seeking a moral high ground, she was fighting for the freedom of the Bajoran people, and as I've said, that meant doing terrible, immoral things. And as it was Cardassia that occupied Bajor, that does in fact give her justification for the things she did. Kira has made this very clear as well. The declaration of war was made by Cardassia against the Bajorans, and if Bajor was to be free, the Bajoran peoplen had to fight.

And even if the technology Prin uses here had been available during the Occupation, there's no way the Bajoran Resistance would have had access to it; the Cardassians would see to that. Again, the Resistance had to fight the best they could with what they had.
DG2
25. The Usual Suspect
@CLB and Random22:
I think the rules of the narrative can vary in fiction; here I think that Kira's actions can be explained as something other than a complete inconsistency with her character. While this isn't a favorite episode of mine, I think that Kira still seems in character -- her behavior reflects the way someone with her background and experiences might behave in real life. The fact that real life can be very messy and people often behave in wildly inconsistent ways should never be an excuse for sloppy writing, of course.
DG2
26. Random22
Saying that Kira's actions can be rationalized if we assume, well a lot of competing theories, only works if the episode itself also puts those on the screen. At no point did the episode present any of those rationalizations. If the episode doesn't care enough to provide explanations for inconsitencies, why should I?
Dante Hopkins
27. DanteHopkins
@26, I don't know what inconsistencies you could be referring to. And the story of the Occupation and Kira's role in the Resistance has been well-established up to this point, all occuring before the start of the series.
Christopher Bennett
28. ChristopherLBennett
@27: That's exactly the inconsistency we've been talking about all along, that her attitude here seems to ignore the character growth she's been through in the past five and a half seasons. The point is that the episode didn't adequately justify that change in attitude, at least not in my opinion.

Particularly since, as Keith said, Kira should never have been in this situation in the first place. A killer targeting former associates of the First Minister of Bajor would be a planetary-level security threat. The entire Bajoran Militia, or at least their equivalent of the US Secret Service and FBI, would be on high alert and tracking down every possible lead. Instead of one pregnant woman on a lone mission, there should've been dozens of agents or officers tracking down every one of these leads, finding Prin long before matters got as far as they did.

And that's another thing: Kira going in alone, with no backup. What idiot does that? Especially when she's carrying a helpless infant around inside her.
Nick Hlavacek
29. Nick31
I didn't find Kira's attitude to be inconsistent, because at the time she's making these statements she's being held captive by someone who has killed several of her friends and is intending to kill her next. Kira is not the type to go gently into that dark night. Yes, she has changed her views on Cardassians over the past few years, and I'm sure that for anyone else she'd have a very different response to how she feels about what she did as a member of the Resistance. But in this case she'll be damned if she's going to give this particular Cardassian the satisfaction of seeing her true feelings. He thinks she's a terrrorist, and that's exactly what he's going to get. Yes, it's a bloodthirsty resolution, because that's what Kira does when her back is to the wall.

That said, krad is exactly right about the glaring plot holes. It's the Shakkar resistance cell, not the Kira resistance cell; why is she getting the "That's one." messages? How is this random servant suddenly a perfect serial killer? Where did he get these skills and the technology? I remember that bugging me considerably as I watched this originally.
Christopher Bennett
30. ChristopherLBennett
@29: Yes, that's what I've been hearing throughout this conversation, but I personally don't find it convincing, or at least I don't think the episode conveyed it convincingly. If the only explanation is one you read on the internet after the fact, then the episode itself didn't do the job.
DG2
31. Lsana
A couple of points on Kira's attitude:

1) I don't see any inconsistancy between Kira's friendship with Ziyal and her understanding over the past few years that many Cardassians are good people, and her insistance that every Cardassian ON BAJOR DURING THE OCCUPATION was a legitimate target. The fact that she has subsequently learned to see another side of Cardassians doesn't mean that she thinks the logic of the resistance has changed.

2) She's being held prisoner by a man who's killed five of her friends already. If you'd asked her whether she regretted harming Cardassian civillians one day when she's just sitting around at Quark's, you probably get a very different answer than you do when one of the aforementioned "civillians" is preparing to torture and kill her.

3) Again, the fact that she's being held prisoner means that she might not choose to tell the truth here. She might simply choose to say what she thinks is most to her advantage.
DG2
32. Random22
Yeah, the fact that Kira gets into this position is another reason why this would be a good first season episode, as it would convey the ongoing chaos folllowing the withdrawl of the occupation forces, but by this point we're shown in other episodes Bajor is pretty much back to fully organized state with complete functioning state apparatus. It isn't just Kira's personal development that is reset to S1 and requires handwaving to cover what the episode does not supply, it is Bajor's functioning apparatus that is reset too.
Nick Hlavacek
33. Nick31
@30 - OK, very good point. :) All I can say is that it worked for me. Other viewer's mileage has clearly varied. Nana Visitor is usually quite good at conveying that type of nuance; perhaps the other aforementioned flaws in the story just drowned it out.
Dante Hopkins
34. DanteHopkins
@28, I totally agree that the episode is full of plot holes, particularly since another likely target, the most likely target in fact, is the First Minister of Bajor. But even if there had been a proper level of security and investigation in the episode, you still would likely have Kira getting the list and going after the killer. Five of her friends are still brutally murdered, and Kira would still have been in fear not just for hers and Shakaar's lives, but for the O'Brien baby's life. Would it have been the best move for Kira to go after the killer while carrying the aforementioned child? No, but it still would have been consistent with the Kira we know, especially given the circumstances of the episode.
Dante Hopkins
35. DanteHopkins
And putting aside her character growth, Kira simply isn't the type of person to wait around for some coward to murder her from the shadows. Kira is going to take the fight to them.
Charles Olney
36. CharlesO
@CLB
"If the only explanation is one you read on the internet after the fact, then the episode itself didn't do the job."

That's exactly the way I feel about Hard Time, where I just couldn't get over how unrealistic the policy is, and you were arguing that it's fine to have nonsense on the screen because sometimes stuff is just nonsensical.

Not saying that your position here or there is wrong. Just saying that what strikes an individual person as an acceptable amount of work to 'make sense' of an episode will vary a lot.

Although, now that I've made that comparison, I suppose I can see a difference. The setup in Hard Time is just setup. While the episode couldn't happen without the stupid time compression, the episode isn't ABOUT that. Here, perhaps, the core emotional arc is actually ABOUT Kira not feeling guilt. So maybe my gotcha isn't really a gotcha at all.

But anyways, I'm not troubled by the idea that Kira would backslide a bit in her attitudes. Even if this case is mostly about sloppiness, I think there's a bit of serendipity in it. Because the message ends up being: we're all works in progress, and every gain is hard fought and difficult to sustain. It's probably the case that the writers didn't intend for that to be a lesson here, but I still think it ends up being one. And it's a good message.

Flawed episode, interesting conversation here.
Christopher Bennett
37. ChristopherLBennett
@34: I'm not saying Kira wouldn't have been motivated to search for the killer. I'm saying that the entire Bajoran law-enforcement establishment would've been on the case and would probably have found Prin before Kira would've had the chance. It's a matter of opportunity, not motive. She would've wanted to confront him after his capture, surely, but it's unbelievable that she and Odo were the only two people investigating these crimes against the First Minister's former associates.
Keith DeCandido
38. krad
Hey folks -- something came up (nothing bad, but something that chewed up most of my day), so the rewatch for "The Begotten" won't be up until Wednesday. The management apologizes for the delay....

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Andrew Love
39. AndyLove
@13 - He wasn't the first guy. He was the fourth.

I thought Kira skipped the first three, and started with Prin. Either way, she's apparently working from the same list as Odo and Bajoran security, with no apparent additional insight, yet she beats them there.
Keith DeCandido
40. krad
Andy: Kira wiped the list from DS9's computer after she stole it.

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Andrew Love
43. AndyLove
@40 - thanks. That makes more sense.
Stefan Raets
44. Stefan
Wow, DS9 went a bit Silence of the Lambs with this one, didn't it? I kept expecting Prin to go "It puts the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again."

I completely agree with krad's analysis of this one. Very powerful ending, but from the very beginning this episode should have involved Shakaar -- because he was the leader of the cell, because he is the civil leader of Bajor, and because he is Kira's significant other. Very little of the plot makes any sense because of this omission.

(Also -- fascinating discussion in the comments here.)

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