OKAY BUT DUKAT’S FACE WHEN SISKO SHOWS UP IN THE MAQUIS CAVERN TO RESCUE HIM, GOOD LORD MY GUY KEEP IT IN YOUR FAUX-CHAINMAIL LEGGINGS
I really like the conclusion on this — or the lack of one. I feel like it adds to the messiness — good, realistic messiness — that I mentioned in the post about part 1, this lack of a resolution that wraps everything up in a neat little package.
Sisko’s confrontation with Hudson also sets up some parallels between him and Kira — she’s had to struggle, previously, with the fact that rebuilding Bajor is not necessarily a simple thing that everyone will agree on. This came up first in “Progress”, with Mullibok, and then again in the three-parter that opened the second season. This is the first time Sisko’s really had to deal with something comparable, though. Speaking of which…
“You look out the window at Starfleet headquarters and you see paradise. Well, it’s easy to be a saint in paradise.”
FUUUUUUUCK, I LOVE THIS SPEECH SO FUCKING MUCH. “It’s easy to be a saint in paradise” and Sisko’s closing speech from “In the Pale Moonlight” are two of the best moments on the show, for my money. I also love that it comes in a conversation with Kira, right on the heels of their controntation in the previous episode:
Kira: If Starfleet is unwilling to defend their people in —
Sisko: They chose to live with the Cardassians!
Kira: Well, I didn’t! But I lived with them for twenty-six years before the liberation came! Every Bajoran lived with them in constant fear! I know what those colonists are going through. Most of all, I know that the Cardassians can’t be trusted to keep their side of the treaty. […] The Cardassians are the enemy, not your own colonists. And if Starfleet can’t understand that, then the Federation is even more naive than I already think it is.
It makes for such a striking contrast, seeing how he’s become a bit more inclined to sympathize with the Maquis now. (I also love Kira’s reactions in their conversation after Admiral Necheyev departs, from her initial confusion to slow satisfaction as she realizes Sisko’s starting to see her point of view, even as he can’t condone the Maquis’ actions.)
It also doesn’t seem like an accident that it happens after he finds something in common with Dukat in part 1:
Dukat: Commander, I know you’d love to find some justification for this mass murder to ease your Federation conscience. But if the Bok’Nor was carrying weapons, I would know. And on the lives of my children, I swear it was not.
Sisko: I didn’t know you had children.
A basic foundation of Sisko’s identity, of the show itself, is his fatherhood, his relationship with his son. Hell, Jake isn’t in either of these episodes, but we’re reminded of that relationship at the very beginning of part 1, when Dukat first shows up in Sisko’s quarters.
(I know I mentioned it then, but I’m gonna say it again: I will never get tired of Dukat’s “oh, wow” reaction when it sinks in that Sisko thinks he may have done something to Jake??? It is both hilarious and perfectly in character from someone who genuinely believes he is a good guy and that it’s not actually his fault that so many people have suffered and died on his say-so, obviously he would never hurt someone’s child…at least, not someone whose good side he cares about being on.)
It’s striking that in this episode, when Sisko is specifically responding to Dukat’s kidnapping, he has this exchange with one of his oldest friends:
Hudson: The Bok’Nor will never smuggle weapons again.
Sisko: And its crew members won’t be going home to their families, either.
In the course of this episode, not only does Sisko find himself on the opposite side of a fight from a close friend, he also finds himself working against that friend and alongside Dukat, a guy he can’t stand, and trusts about as far as he could throw him. (Hell, his entire justification for rescuing Dukat in the first place is essentially just that the enemy of his enemy is his friend.)
Basically, those shades of gray on Deep Space Nine just keep getting grayer.
Star Trek certainly wrestled with thorny questions and moral complexity before Deep Space Nine, but DS9 embraces that messiness and makes it central in a way other series hadn’t, previously — or couldn’t, maybe; having the show set on a station, rather than a ship that can move on to something new next week, establishes a different dynamic, with more long-term issues and conflicts. Having several main characters not be Starfleet adds even further to that potential for conflict and complexity; the Bajoran government’s priorities aren’t always aligned with the Federation’s, and there isn’t always a solution that will satisfy both sides. There are consequences to things the way that there haven’t always been in previous Treks.
(To be fair, this was, in part, also simply a technological issue: VCRs, and tapes to use in them, became much cheaper and more common between 1987, when TNG started, and 1993, when DS9 did, so it became much safer to assume that a viewer had seen previous episodes. Had the two shows been swapped, chronologically, TNG may well been a lot more arc-driven, and DS9 less so.)
CARDASSIAN DRAMA, JUST HOOK IT TO MY VEINS. As noted in the first part, the possibilities looked to be that either A) the Cardassian government was Doing Something and Dukat, contrary to his own opinion of himself, wasn’t actually important enough for them to bother letting him in on it, or B) there was a Maquis-like element among the Cardassians in the DMZ, which the Central Command knew nothing about. Here, we learn it was, in fact, the former — but that, now that Dukat has inserted himself into the middle of things, the Central Command is more than happy to use him as a scapegoat and portray it as the latter. So this isn’t just Cardassian drama, which I love anyway, it’s Cardassian drama that results in Dukat learning that people don’t care nearly as much about him as he thinks, in this case his own superiors and peers. Which I love so much that I may actually be on the horniness rankings this week.
(I love that his response to learning that the Central Command was gonna use him as a scapegoat is to then try and ingratiate himself with the crew on DS9. The guy’s resilient. Like a cockroach.)
- Y I K E S, forcing a mind meld is and has always been creepy as fuck. Like, they picked the absolute last dude in the galaxy anyone is likely to feel sorry for and it’s still creepy.
- I could have lived without a Vulcan having logic mansplained to her, but I still really enjoyed Quark and Sakonna’s conversation in jail; Damas and Shimerman really are fun together. And, in fairness, given that Quark is now in jail thanks to Sakonna, I feel like he has a little more room to be annoyed and suggest that there’s a better way of going about this.
- Admiral Nechayev!!!
- Has Dukat gotten even hornier for Sisko since the last episode? I think he might have. In fairness, who among us wouldn’t be into Sisko, especially after we got kidnapped and he led a rescue mission? Stopped clocks and all.
- Me, for Cardassian drama, for Sisko’s “easy to be a saint in paradise” speech, and for the moment when Sisko breaks it to Dukat that the Central Command was more than happy to throw him under the bus.
- …ah, shit, it just sank in that Dukat and I have the same imaginary husband and I’m probably gonna have to fight a gul for Sisko’s love. IDK, I think I can take him.
- Quark, for Sakonna, still, and tbh I am weirdly into it?