Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Ties of Blood and Water"

***

Air date: 4/14/1997
Teleplay by Robert Hewwit Wolfe
Story by Edmund Newton & Robbin L. Slocum
Directed by Avery Brooks

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Still calling yourself Gul? I'm surprised you haven't promoted yourself back to Legate by now."
"I prefer the title 'Gul'; so much more hands-on than Legate. And less pretentious than the other alternatives: President, Emperor, First Minister … Emissary."
"How about Dominion puppet?"

— Sisko and Dukat

Nutshell: A nicely realized dose of sentiment with a tale of regret and an effective approach. Quite strong.

"Ties of Blood and Water" is another very good example of why DS9 has worked so well this season. We've got plenty of new plot lines and character situations, but nothing is left forgotten. Old wounds from the resistance days are still very remembered, and again they display their impact on a certain Bajoran major.

The story brings Tekeny Ghemor (Lawrence Pressman) back to the station as a follow-up of sorts to third season's impressive "Second Skin." In that episode, Kira and Ghemor were victims in an Obsidian Order plot to expose Ghemor as the leader of the dissident movement on Cardassia. The Obsidians surgically altered Kira to look like Ghemor's long-lost daughter. Their plot failed, and after the ordeal Kira and Ghemor recognized the common bond between them. Ghemor had forever lost his daughter, but he saw a memory—and thus a friend—in Kira.

Two-and-a-half years and several sweeping political changes later, Ghemor has left Cardassia. He has no intentions of living under the Dominion rule that Dukat pushed Cardassia into. He's also dying of a terminal illness. He intends to live out his days on DS9 in Kira's company, and he has a request: He wants to reveal his knowledge and secrets to Kira according to a Cardassian tradition. By agreeing to take on the responsibility, Kira would be giving Ghemor the only family support he has left. And it would also be a major intelligence opportunity for the Federation. Ghemor holds the secrets to Dukat's biggest weaknesses and the holes in his new alliance with the Dominion, which could prove very helpful to the Federation understanding the nature of Cardassian internal affairs.

"Ties of Blood and Water" primarily examines the nature of the relationship between Kira and Ghemor, but one notable peripheral aspect is how much this small character installment has to do with the "big picture." It's intriguing and completely believable to note that Dukat's alliance with the Dominion is not something that everyone on Cardassia supports. The implications of this are interesting, especially given the fact that the information Ghemor can supply to the Federation could be the genesis for future political intrigue.

The fact that Dukat contacts Sisko personally also proves to be a telling sign. Dukat wants Ghemor back; it's obvious Dukat fears what Ghemor has to say could undermine his new position. ("We want him back. He has a lot to answer for," Dukat merely explains.) In an effective scene that shows Sisko and Dukat back to their always-interesting verbal face-offs, Sisko denies Dukat what he wants, calling Dukat a "Dominion puppet" and flat-out telling him that the Federation no longer recognizes the Cardassian government.

That brings Dukat to the station personally, along with Vorta liaison Weyoun (Jeffrey Combs, reprising the role of the character killed in last season's "To the Death," resurrected here as a clone). Dukat changes his tune, asking Ghemor if he will come back to Cardassia willingly. Ghemor, naturally, is not receptive; nor is Kira. Plan C: Dukat sends a bottle of Cardassian ale to Ghemor's quarters, which security intercepts and discovers is poisoned. In a scene of wonderful dramatic tension that plays a number of notes perfectly, Sisko brings the poisoned ale back to Dukat and asks him to drink up. The resulting dialog creates a very entertaining scene featuring interestingly low-key performances where Avery Brooks and Marc Alaimo utilize facial expressions to speak tons more than what's said aloud. Weyoun, meanwhile, provides some wonderfully biting comic relief by mocking the entire situation. The moment when he knowingly drinks the poison (which he's immune to) is wonderfully handled in both shock value and the reactions of Sisko and Dukat. I'm not sure why I liked this scene so much, but it really worked. I think it was the nature of the three distinct personalities and how they punctuate the elements of the overall political intrigue. Or maybe it worked simply because it was so nicely acted.

But enough already. Turning back to what this episode is really about—that is the relationship between Kira and Ghemor and the implications ultimately revealed behind it—"Ties of Blood and Water" was pretty poignant in its meaning and its conveyance. About the only notable complaint I have involving this personal bond is how it came so far out of the blue. We've neither seen nor heard anything about Ghemor since "Second Skin," and it seems the same is true for both Kira and Ghemor concerning one other. Sure, they kept tabs on one another based on intelligence reports, but they haven't spoken in over two years. The last time we saw them together they seemed to be friends, but they didn't seem nearly as close as they do now.

Initially, the Kira/Ghemor scenes feel a tad too earnest, but as the episode progresses things begin to make sense—a lot of sense, really. The fact is, just as Ghemor saw Kira as his daughter in "Second Skin," here Kira begins to see her father in him. The fact Ghemor is dying in front of her really begins to hammer home long-surviving regrets that Kira has regarding her real father's death from years ago in the resistance. The episode's true beauty is how it goes about demonstrating the parallel between Kira's feelings for her father and her feelings for Ghemor.

Dialog scenes between Kira and Ghemor work fine in their own right; both Nana Visitor and Lawrence Pressman turn in sincere performances as Ghemor's condition slowly but steadily worsens. But the scripters' creation of a series of flashback scenes are what really makes the episode work on multiple levels rather than becoming the single-planed melodrama it could've been. Take, for example, the scene where Kira begins the first recording of Ghemor's secrets. Ghemor begins talking, but we can see Kira is troubled as the scene cuts to a flashback setting on Bajor where her father has been injured in a Cardassian attack. The episode doesn't reveal the entire tale of the past at once, but it does make the parallel clear. As a result, we can foreshadow where the episode is going, which makes the payoff at the end more rewarding.

As stand-alone scenes, the flashbacks are enlightening. I've long wanted to see something from Kira's actual resistance days on Bajor manifested on the screen, and here I get my wish. For consistency's and credibility's sakes, the flashbacks also feature the familiar Furel (William Lucking, whose character was killed off in "The Darkness and the Light")—who, at this point in time, had both arms.

The point of crisis in the story comes at the hands of Dukat's covert villainy. He supplies Kira with Ghemor's military records, leading Kira to force herself to poke into Ghemor's past—something she had never done before. She's infuriated to learn Ghemor served on Bajor during the Occupation—and that he was even involved in a massacre on a Bajoran monastery. However inconsequential his part in the deaths may have been (and the story suggests that it may very well have been extremely inconsequential), Kira finds the walls of anger before her again. She's angry at Ghemor for not telling her the truth. And she's even more angry at Dukat for his deliberate meddling is her affairs. I completely believed Kira's promise, and was equally disgusted by Dukat's smugness:

Kira: "I promise you, Dukat—I will make you pay for all of this one day."
Dukat: "Maybe ... but not today."

Bashir tries to talk Kira into forgiving Ghemor, but she resists Bashir's requests and contemplates leaving Ghemor abandoned in his final deathbed hours. The most fascinating aspect of the show is how it's not Kira's anger and hatred from the past that guides her decision and makes her incapable of facing Ghemor. It's what happened with her father all those years ago. After her father was mortally injured, Kira and her allies went charging after the Cardassian attackers for revenge. By the time she returned, her father was dead. Since then, she has carried the heavy burden of missing her father's final hour, and more—missing it intentionally because she simply couldn't deal with it.

The question is whether history will repeat itself. Naturally, it won't. That's the point. Kira's eleventh hour decision to sit with the dying Ghemor allows her to undo a mistake she made long ago. It's the proverbial second chance that not many people get, and she makes the best of it.

The way the teleplay highlights her decision by utilizing the flashbacks is what makes this such a nicely realized drama. My only hesitation is that some of the dialog in the coda between Kira and Bashir—while nicely acted—is not really completely necessary. The episode did such a good job of demonstrating its point dramatically that it probably didn't need to spend so much time explaining it verbally. But, then again, maybe dark regrets do indeed need to be borne out with the words of sorrow.

Previous episode: Business as Usual
Next episode: Ferengi Love Songs

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32 comments on this review

Ospero
Sat, Nov 3, 2007, 10:16pm (UTC -5)
Ah, yes...a truly good episode with some rather moving scenes. But I will always remember this one for the gold standard of comic relief scenes ("that was quite toxic, wasn't it?" indeed...gotta love that Weyoun).
R.D.
Thu, Jun 26, 2008, 3:02pm (UTC -5)
When I first watched this episode as a teenager, I found it "slow" and didn't quite get it. When I saw it again on DVD almost ten years later it completely blew me away. Nana Visitor was outstanding. I especially liked her in the flashback sequences, such as when she calmly explained to her father that "I'm going to make them pay."

While I agree with Jammer that her final speech seemed forced and unnecessary, I think she rescued it with the passion of her acting. Her facial expressions while delivering the lines about Ghemor taking his last breaths were heartbreaking to watch.

Oh God, the poisoned drink scene! It was brilliant and so hilarious. I was still laughing minutes after it.
Nerys Ghemor
Mon, Jul 27, 2009, 2:53pm (UTC -5)
Although you might not agree...I found that last scene very powerful, with Kira's narration. The emotional wringer this episode puts you through...the joy at seeing them reunited (and I wonder if there was a bit more contact than what was hinted at, personally), the shock of realizing that Ghemor was going to die, Kira's dedication...at first...

And then the way she snapped and lashed out at him--at that point, I wanted to physically SMACK her because what she did to him was so completely disgusting and wrong.

But the end, when she came around...I think that narration scene was necessary because we needed to see just how much she had let herself *feel*, while still allowing Ghemor the dignity to pass without us (the viewers) gawking. Kira had to redeem herself, as well as relate what happened; otherwise, I would not have accepted it.

In the end, it was incredibly poignant, powerful, and one of my favorite DS9 episodes, hands down.
Nic
Tue, Mar 30, 2010, 9:16pm (UTC -5)
There is one thing that bothers me about this episode is how sloppy Dukat and Weyoun are. Why bother to fly over in a Jem'Hadar BATTLE CRUISER and never even threaten to attack the station? They may not have known how much Ghemor was able to reveal to the Federation, but if I had been Dukat I'd have made sure he died within an hour of arriving at the station. I understand that the action would have distracted from the "important" stuff with Kira & Ghemor, but it makes absoloutely no sense (I'll call it the 'Soft-Headed Aliens of the Week' - a flipside to Voyager's Forced Conflict Aliens of the Week)
Eric Dugdale
Wed, Nov 17, 2010, 4:01pm (UTC -5)
Nic, Dukat *did* threaten to attack the station. He just didn't put his threat into words. The ship he came in, big and dangerous with weapons armed, was all the threat he needed to give.

(As an aside, though it would have distracted entirely from the episode, I'd have found it very amusing to watch Dukat actually attempt to attack DS9 with one lone battlecruiser)
RT
Wed, Dec 22, 2010, 7:26pm (UTC -5)
I'm not sure looking back at it whether I knew this episode was great and the details slipped from my mind, or if the appreciation of its finer points required more maturity than I had when I first saw it. Either way, I would unblinking give it the full four stars, even with Kira's forced closing soliloquy. The subtle interplay between Kira and Sisko, Kira and Dukat, even Kira and Bashir, draw wonderfully and build on a dramatic groundwork laid over years of solid writing and acting.

I don't even know where to start with Jeffrey Combs in this one... if Nana Visitor hadn't brought her A game, he would have stolen the show.
Jay
Sat, Dec 25, 2010, 11:42pm (UTC -5)
The stars don;t match...the season page has 3 stars but the episode page has 3.5...
Elliott
Tue, Dec 28, 2010, 9:57pm (UTC -5)
One would think Kira's relationship with Ghemor (not to mention Ziyal) would have held her tongue in all those remarks about how Cardassians are all alike in their treachery...

I was also a little disturbed by Kira's smile after Ghemor's rejecting of Dukat's offer--he had just gone through a bit of an emotional crisis wherein he was given promise about Ilyana, but it seems like all she cares about is that he refused. It's not a comment about her character but it is another example of the strange acting/directing choices in this show--it's not the first time someone laughed or smiled at an inappropriate moment. I'm not quite sure what to make of it...

What I don't like about Dukat, despite his deliciousness as a villan, is that it seems like all the character work over the years was a charade--he's been this opportunist all along, but the show went out of its way to make him sympathetic. Was it all for the "big reveal" that he'd allied Cardassia with the Dominion? That seems like a big waste (of course that's nothing compared to the depths to which they will plunge him ludicrously by the next season...soul catchers, I mean Pa' Wraiths...someone call Tom Cruise).
Jammer
Tue, Jan 4, 2011, 6:02pm (UTC -5)
Jay: That's my error. The rating on this is 3 stars. Looks like I put the wrong rating on this page, and the right one on the season page. I'll get that fixed.
jon
Fri, Feb 4, 2011, 12:28pm (UTC -5)
I think it was Robert Hewitt Wolfe who said he always was evil and out for number one. Look at his resistance campaign what's the real motivation there i wonder Caradassia or an oppurtunity to restore his career. Everything he's done has been for himself

This episode has a great moment when Weyoun drinks the poison Combs just sells that scene so well
Justin
Tue, Apr 3, 2012, 10:54am (UTC -5)
That scene where Dukat visits Kira in her quarters was SO good. Kira played it perfectly in getting Dukat to admit that he gets "perverse pleasure" out of tearing down the one Cardassian she has any respect for, let alone affection. Even going so far as to freely call the attack on the Monastery a "massacre." It's clear he's come to terms with his villainy.

I don't know why, but I loved it when she chucked that teacup at him before delivering her threat. Nana Visitor was outstanding in that scene.
matt
Sun, Jun 24, 2012, 12:22am (UTC -5)
It always takes me out of an episode when the the Federation extends too much courtesy to an enemy... and that was my problem with this episode. The Dominion has, in the recent past, forcefully abducted a Starfleet officer (Bashir) and replaced him with an infiltrator, and the Federation does not recognize Dukat as the legitimate leader of Cardassia. Why would Sisko even entertain their request, let alone allow them onto the station?
Moegreen
Tue, Oct 2, 2012, 9:38am (UTC -5)
Anyone else think that the recurring character of Kira's real father is incredibly annoying? He comes across as dizzy and weak in every episode that he features in (well at least the two that I recall, this and 'Wrongs Darker than..').
Treknut
Sun, Mar 24, 2013, 8:29pm (UTC -5)
@ matt....you may never read this since your comment is a year old...but to answer your question (1) Sisko is stalling for time, he has no idea how long Ghemor has to tell his secrets so every last second counts from an intelligence standpoint, and (2) he knows what a preening sesquipedalian egotist Dukat is and that Duckat would never pass up the chance to gloat in person even when taking the time to gloat is not in his best interest.
Elnis
Fri, Aug 23, 2013, 9:58am (UTC -5)
Great acting all around in this epsiode! It's funny how really good acting can mean the difference between merely being a spectator and being "sucked" into the story like you were actually there.

Even Brooks pulled off a quite good performance here! (yes, I'm one of those people who think Brooks' acting is, in general, an embarassement to the show)

Combs as the curious, intrigued and light-hearted Weyoun is simply wonderful! What a great charisma that man has on screen!

And Visitor as Kira ... wow, that lady can act circles around most other good actors! The scene where she gets right up in Dukat's face, threatening him in a barely restrained tone of voice - she gets that seething fury across so well that I was half expecting her to rip out Dukat's throat!

And, of course, both Alaimo as Dukat and Pressman as Ghemor also deliver stellar performances.


I'm watching the show for the first time (all seven seasons of it) on DVD. This show has so many wonderful actors, in leading as well as supporting roles - with great characters for them to play! And the production is of a really high standard.

I'm completely hooked!
ZurielSeven
Sun, Aug 25, 2013, 7:00pm (UTC -5)
In the first flashback, you will notice a Bajoran standing in the background... wielding a kar'takin (Jem'hadar bladed weapon)... Does this ruin continuity?!? What are your thoughts?
Kotas
Sat, Oct 26, 2013, 10:16am (UTC -5)

A decent epsisode, but a bit slow for my tastes.

5/10
eastwest101
Sat, Dec 21, 2013, 10:09pm (UTC -5)
A good to middling episode, I was kept entertained enough to the end but the sentiment was laid on a bit thick and the audience was beaten around the head with the earnest-ness of it all.

Good script and acting from the support actors though and goes to show that when Avery Brooks dials it down he can be convincing, good use of all the guest stars actually. 2.5 Stars from me.
Vylora
Fri, Feb 28, 2014, 1:43am (UTC -5)
A beautiful, poignant sequel to "Second Skin". I've always adored this episode and is still one of my all-time favorites of DS9 to this day.

4 stars.
Yanks
Thu, Aug 14, 2014, 11:57am (UTC -5)
Elnis, I won't make a long summary because yours does it so nicely. My thoughts exactly.

Sooooooooo glad Weyoun because a reocurring character, "that was quite toxic, wasn't it?" was classic and telling of the character moving forward.

Again, Kira just seems so damn 'real' to me in episodes like this.

Great episode, 3.5 for me.
DLPB
Mon, Aug 25, 2014, 7:59pm (UTC -5)
So let's get this straight... Hitler visits Churchill during WW2 and we just let that happen (and he is stupid enough to do that).

Ok.
$G
Thu, Sep 18, 2014, 8:18am (UTC -5)
I quite like this one. I was surprised to see its relatively negative reception over at the AV Club (which did a quality retrospective of the series that's nearly on par with this site).

There are minor flaws in this episode, such as having one line too many about Kira being all Ghemor has left. We get it. And, maybe not a fault of the episode, but I really feel its earnestness would have benefited from a middle chapter somewhere between "Second Skin" and now. "Ties" suggests Kira and Ghemor probably have had contact, but something more than that would have been welcome.

That said, it's a really solid episode with good character work for both Kira and Dukat. The Ghemor plot dovetails nicely into the show's current events, showing how rich and thoughtfully plotted DS9 is on the whole. Dukat's attempts to silence/convince Ghemor to return were satisfyingly treacherous (especially pulling out the daughter bait, at which Ghemor doesn't bite). The scene in Kira's quarters was so well done, played very viscerally by Visitor and Alaimo. It's obvious Kira hates Dukat, but there's something about the scene that just festers (it's the teacup she throws) that gives it the added kick.

Some last touches I really enjoyed:

-Weyoun having too much fun. He's just with Dukat because it's his job. He's probably seen the man's posturing in a hundred other would-be dictators the Dominion have puppeted over the years.

-The Cardassian propaganda machine. Dukat mentioning Ghemor's "conversion" is such a foul PR spin that it's to be expected at this point. Ghemor won't be buried on Cardassian soil, but his name will still sadly be used in the way he hoped to fight against.

Honestly, this one is an easy three but gets an extra half star for dangling and treating so many plot and character threads at once - so, 3 1/2 stars! A hidden gem in the pantheon of great DS9 hours.
Robrow
Tue, May 5, 2015, 11:38pm (UTC -5)
A very powerful episode. Kira, as in Duet, emerged as a three dimensional character - her violent rejection of Ghemor masking deep guilt was very well done. And Dukat again showed just why he is one of the great villains (up there with Dick Dastardly!). The vanity that, every so often, threatens the success of his schemes has been there from the start. Completely in character. And if Kira had snogged him after throwing the teacup, you know he'd have gleefully responded.
Nathan B.
Sun, Jul 19, 2015, 9:08pm (UTC -5)
I just finished "Ties of Blood and Water" and was moved not only to tears, but to sobs. This is at least an instant tie with TNG's "Half a Life" as my all-time favourite Trek episode. What a heart-breaking, and yet heart-warming episode! And the comic timing and delivery from the Weyoun actor was an exceptionally superb counterpoint. All in all, a superb exploration of politics, grief, and love.
NCC-1701-Z
Mon, Jul 20, 2015, 5:42pm (UTC -5)
The moment when Weyoun chugged the poisoned wine = one of the funniest moments in all of DS9. (Elevated further by Dukat's deadpan "Are you insane?")

Consider what would have happened if that had been one of the poisons Vorta weren't immune to, though...
MartinB
Wed, Dec 9, 2015, 1:33pm (UTC -5)
One thing that always puzzled me;

"Still calling yourself Gul? I'm surprised you haven't promoted yourself back to Legate by now."

When was Dukat a Legate? As far as I can remember, Dukat has always been a Gul, from being the prefect of Bajor, to commanding the 3rd (?) Order, to advising the Detapa Council, to commanding the Groumall, to taking Cardassia into the Dominion and being the leader of Cardassia. I assumed for quite a while that Gul was his first name...
William B
Wed, Jan 13, 2016, 10:46pm (UTC -5)
There are many good things about the Kira & Ghemour material in this episode, but I couldn't help feeling that their material was *overdetermined*. The episode has Kira & Ghemour as father/daughter, Cardassian/Bajoran, patient/nurse, mentor/pupil, and normally I would applaud the complexity...but there are so many layers happening at once that they actually, in this particular episode, get in the way of each other. The various elements stay mostly balanced for the first half of the episode, in which the parallels between Kira's father and Ghemour are made explicit, we are told the larger political ramifications of the secrets Ghemour can give her, and we are reminded, both by Dukat's presence and by the conversation with Worf and Dax in the teaser, that Kira does not normally like Cardassians and that there could be some landmines there. Up until then, the different levels mostly worked together. But then, in the episode's best, most magnetic scene, Dukat tells Kira that Ghemour participated in an infamous massacre, and after sniping at him briefly Kira abandons Ghemour to die alone, which, ahem, was exactly what Dukat wanted. After Odo tries to talk Kira into going to talk to Ghemour, Bashir comes in and does the same thing, but this time Bashir adds that there's no more time to talk to Ghemour about any trade secrets -- all that is left to do is to die, after which Kira goes to Ghemour, there is no dialogue between her and Ghemour on screen and Kira admits that she really was mostly avoiding Ghemour's death because of her father.

Now, in some ways, it is something of a "plot twist" that the information that Dukat gives Kira about Ghemour's death was not the "real reason" she was avoiding Ghemour, but merely a pretext. And yet.... The episode is so busy that it's easy to miss it, but what happens at this point is that Kira is getting secrets from Ghemour, because of her close relationship with him. Dukat then poisons that relationship, and Kira is angry at Ghemour, at which point she stops talking to him. Then Bashir says that there's no more time to talk secrets. So either:

1) Kira and Ghemour had already finished covering all Ghemour's secrets by the time Dukat got to Kira to poison her against Ghemour, so that Dukat only thought he did harm but didn't really; or
2) Kira and Ghemour were not done, which means that Kira let Dukat get under her skin to the point of actively hurting the Alpha Quadrant -- letting Ghemour's secrets go unexpressed -- without even bothering to find a replacement for her "hearing secrets" job. And she does so without anyone calling her on it, or, if they call her on it, it's cryptically (ala Odo) or for reasons unrelated to the big security threat that she is supposed to be working on as the station's first officer (ala Bashir). I think this is the more likely one.

Meanwhile, in that scene with Dukat, Kira is genuinely *very angry* -- nearly feral with him. And that works best if Kira were *really genuinely stung* by the revelations about Ghemour. Now, I get the impression that we are meant to believe that *consciously*, Kira was quite upset with Ghemour about his past, but deep down she was using that anger as a shield to protect herself from the pain of seeing a father figure die. And yet, that pain of discovery, and the anger at recognizing that Dukat took something that was pure and polluted it, loses something when it turns out Kira can shake off the revelation about Ghemour like a synthehol hangover. That's sort of the problem: it somehow does not track to me that Kira is sufficiently upset about Ghemour's past to be able to use it as a pretext to let him die alone and to stop doing her fate-of-the-Alpha Quadrant *job*, but not so upset that she can't dismiss it as entirely unimportant when she gets to the real meat of her dilemma, *even knowing* that she is not fully conscious of what is really scaring her until toward the end.

Ghemour's importance to Kira was that he was a Good Cardassian, one who was even in power (as opposed to Marritza), but the episode pushes the parallel with Kira's father so much that as the episode goes on, everything else drops away -- Ghemour's secrets which are potentially devastating enough for Dukat and Weyoun to show up in person to poison him, the revelation that Ghemour was not the perfect man and that he has blood on his hands like other Cardassians -- until it's just Kira getting a chance to deal with her father's death right this time. Now, there are good things here, and I like how the *violence* of the Occupation serves as a smokescreen for Kira both times (either actively fighting, as in the past, or being "angry" and stewing over old fights in the present). But this kind of leaves Kira-Ghemour as being mostly just a way for her to work out her father issues, unless you really buy that Kira and Ghemour have that close a relationship in the present. To be honest, I would rather have Kira actually work through and realize that she can forgive Cardassians who did bad things during the Occupation rather than have Odo basically tell her that she doesn't really care. And if I thought that this episode was really about Kira-Ghemour, I would want that processing to really happen, for Kira to deal with Ghemour as the Good Cardassian figure that she's idealized, rather than a reincarnation of her father.

To some extent, Kira dealing with Ghemour's death as Ghemour and Ghemour's death as her father, mark II could work in tandem, and for a while it looks like the episode is going to balance it all, but at some point it lets most of the story drop away, culminating in Ghemour being buried beside Kira's father. And while I know that Ghemour considered Kira "like a daughter" and he had nowhere else to go, the final shot makes me uneasy rather than filling me with joy; it's as if Ghemour really is *only meaningful* in that he is a figure through whom Kira can work out her father issues, and even the particular ways in which Kira related to Ghemour as a person -- some of which included the Good Cardassian figure, the shared interest in hurting the Cardassian-Dominion alliance -- were basically irrelevant. Kira and Ghemour may have had a lot of affection for each other, but they have very rarely interacted together except when talking politics, from the impression I get, and so the final act's totally eschewing all the political material also throws out most of what we've seen Kira and Ghemour interacting and talking about. It may simply be that I have a hard time quite accepting the premise that Kira and Ghemour are as close as the episode implies; to me, it makes much more sense that Ghemour projects Iliana onto Kira, and Kira projects her father onto Ghemour, and that they respect and like each other, and that their shared experiences through which they have actually bonded *as them* all have to do with intrigue and being shared victims of cloak-and-dagger politics, a shared bond by virtue of being rebels (dissident/Resistance). That she was fighting the Cardassians while she was a teenager and he was a true believer really does matter on that score, not so much that she should leave him to die, but so much that I think that if I am to believe the Kira-Ghemour bond I really would like to see some actual follow-up in how Kira incorporates that knowledge into her view of him. The final over-explaining monologue where Kira and Bashir talk for minutes about how Ghemour's death was like her father's doesn't really help to maintain the value the Kira-Ghemour bond had as its own thing.

I hope I am explaining this well, because it does bother me but I do see a lot of good here -- the basic idea that Kira really has these traumas which impact the present is solid. The episode just feel short for me in pulling the emotional threads together, and as a result I was kicked out of the story, despite having a strong first half and some good elements throughout. I want to also add that Dukat is really, really delicious here though, and Weyoun is a riot. 2.5 stars from me.
William B
Wed, Jan 13, 2016, 11:01pm (UTC -5)
A bit more: It is not actually that hard to believe that Kira is both bothered by Ghemour's past military activities, AND does not want to watch a father figure die. It just seems to me that the episode almost drops the "Kira is upset about his past actions" like a hot potato toward the end of the episode, in a way that feels false to me. I also think that someone should have told Kira that she should talk to Ghemour because it's her freaking job -- that she lets Dukat sway her from listening to Ghemour and does not get in a replacement and no one even calls her on it is pretty frustrating.

A lot of the problems I have with this episode are minor versions of the much bigger problems I have with next year's "Wrongs Darker Than Death Or Night," so, stay tuned! (On the plus side for *that* episode, I find Meru more fully realized in "Wrongs..." than I do Ghemour here.)
methane
Thu, Jan 14, 2016, 5:58pm (UTC -5)
DLPB says: "So let's get this straight... Hitler visits Churchill during WW2 and we just let that happen (and he is stupid enough to do that)."

The Federation is not at war with the Dominion (or their Cardassian subsidiary). This is currently a cold war, with no shots being fired. Dukat is making demands and veiled threats to see what he can get away with, because he knows the Federation doesn't want a real war. But the Dominion doesn't want a war either (at least not yet), so there aren't any immediate consequences when Sisko fails to yield to the demands.

If you want a historical analogy using a recognizable figure from history, this would be like Khrushchev going to America during the Cold War. And, yes, that happened.

The politics of this episode are well-done.
DLPB
Sun, Jan 17, 2016, 12:09pm (UTC -5)
The Dominion by this point has been openly aggressive and attacked the Federation. It's also making threats. There is no way you'd have an envoy coming aboard talking tactics.

If you think the politics are well done, you know very little of real world politics.
methane
Sun, Jan 17, 2016, 1:56pm (UTC -5)
They're not talking military tactics. They're talking diplomacy. Yes, diplomacy can and does include making threats. Study up on your "real world" diplomacy.

Nations host diplomats from countries that make threats all the time. China, for instance, regularly makes threats to the US and several Asian countries concerning Taiwan, the Dalai Lama, Ocean boundaries, and other items. Their president still comes to America. Before World War II in Europe, both sides had full embassies in the nations of their soon-to-be enemies up until the month before all-out war started, and some diplomatic staff were still present when the war started. Russia still has an embassy in the Ukraine despite annexing a portion of the country and supporting armed forces seeking to seize control of a bigger portion. Smaller nations around the world make threats to their neighbors concerning borders, shared resources, treatment of its citizens, etc. Even when tensions get quite high, there can be high-level diplomatic exchanges, and war does not always break out.

The fact that the Federation & Dominion have not exchanged ambassadors makes it even more certain the Federation would not miss an opportunity to have a face-to-face meeting with people representing the Dominion. That nothing productive happened from the meeting is not unsurprising, but that doesn't mean it was wrong to try.
Diamond Dave
Sun, Jan 24, 2016, 9:18am (UTC -5)
This strives so very hard to achieve an emotional punch, and through the strength of the performances nearly gets there, but in the end it comes up short and strays just over the line of contrivance and melodrama. The dramatic action feels just a little trite for me.

Indeed, the highlights in the programme revolve not around the central story but the little confrontations that spin off of it - Kira and Dukat, where it's good to see the ass-kicking Kira back again - and Sisko/Dukat/Weyoun, which is a rare pleasure. 2.5 stars.

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