Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Wrongs Darker Than Death or Night"


Air date: 3/30/1998
Written by Ira Steven Behr & Hans Beimler
Directed by Jonathan West

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"I bet I know what you're thinking: You'd like nothing better than to get us all drunk so you could kill us in our sleep."
"Are you sure you're not part Betazoid?"

— Cardassian Legate and Kira

Nutshell: Surprisingly quiet in execution, but an effective and intriguing tale from the files of the painful past.

Late one night—the night of what would've been Kira's deceased mother's 60th birthday—Kira receives a transmission in her quarters. It's from Dukat, a man who proves he can be as subtly vindictive in one quiet minute as he can be overtly vindictive when ranting like a madman through scenes of intensity, a la his personal boil-over with Sisko in "Waltz." Here he tells Kira that he wants to continue his refreshing bout of open honesty by bringing buried truths to the surface. In a brief moment that Kira probably would've preferred never to have experienced in her life, Dukat informs her that he was romantically involved with Kira Meru—Nerys' mother, whom she barely knew. Thoroughly disturbed (she realizes the sketchy details surrounding her mother's death may likely have been her father's attempts to shield her from what really happened), Kira begins the search for the truth, hoping to find answers by consulting the Bajoran Orb of Time.

"Wrongs Darker Than Death or Night," even if it were nothing else, would be a nice little character piece centering on Kira's history. We learned in last year's "Ties of Blood and Water" the circumstances surrounding the death of Kira's father. Since then, I've also wondered what happened to her mother. "Wrongs" supplies an answer.

But that's merely the beginning. "Wrongs" is also an intriguing tale of Kira's distress and crushing torment, featuring a twist that involves Dukat, one of Trek's most complex and interesting villains. Contrary to what I had expected, the unstable post-"Waltz" Dukat is not the character that takes the stage in "Wrongs," although an implicit analysis of that person certainly becomes evident as the episode unfolds. (The present Dukat's only appearance is, in fact, the brief scene where he contacts Kira.) Instead, this episode takes place in the past—quite literally, in fact, with its quasi-time-travel premise—and looks at the Dukat of yesteryear. It's a return to Occupation days, featuring Prefect Dukat of Terok Nor—a character we have seen on the screen before, in such episodes as the classic "Necessary Evil," as well as last year's probing "Things Past." In the wake of "Waltz," it's intriguing to revisit this person and see what he was trying—and failing—to accomplish with his selfish and hollow efforts to "bridge the gulf" between Cardassia and Bajor.

I'll admit that the time travel premise is perhaps a little on the convenient side. I find it a bit unsettling that the "Orb of Time" is something that can simply be used as a time-travel tool. Yeah, I know; it was the plot device for last season's foray into nostalgia that was "Trials and Tribble-ations," but in that episode the plot was pretty much an arbitrary means to an end. In "Wrongs" I'd just rather assume that the Orb of Time could give Kira visions of the past; I'm much less comfortable with the ethical implications arising out of the fact she could actually change the past. I don't believe this idea was necessary for the story to work. Unfortunately, the way the story presents it and how I perceived the underlying intentions are two separate things, so this aspect of the plot is a little shaky.

But this is a tale about the past, so I suppose it only makes sense that the episode goes back to the past to tell its story. Under the guide of the Prophets, Kira ends up on Bajor of perhaps 35 years ago, where she promptly encounters her family (including herself at the age of only three or four), just minutes before it was about to be shattered. The Cardassians kidnap a number of women from the group of starving Bajorans; these women are forced to become "comfort women" for the Cardassian officers on Terok Nor. Among the kidnapped women is Kira's mother, Meru (Leslie Hope), who, we learn, will never be reunited with her family. Time traveler Kira Nerys, posing under a different identity, is also selected to become a comfort servant, so she finds herself swept along with Meru and several others to the space station, where the pains of poverty and starvation end and different pains begin.

The comfort servants receive their own quarters, plentiful food, and good clothing. But they're doomed to become objects of desire and are permanently separated from their families. The question is no longer one of physical survival, it's one of mental survival. Can Meru survive this sudden twist of fate?

Well, I suppose that's the question Nerys wants to see answered. There's an interesting moment where Meru sees how much food there is on this station, and suddenly forgets her worries, only to remember them a moment later. Nerys stands by, watching her mother's reactions and pondering what they mean. It's an understated scene, but it obviously foreshadows what will become Nerys' tragic realization—that her mother is capable of falling into the Cardassians' trap of luxury and liking it. This is where Prefect Dukat enters the scene, taking notice of the beautiful Meru and deciding that he wants to win her over. He turns on the charm, something that we've seen Dukat do many times.

The Dukat of this era is as intriguing as ever, especially given what we found out about him in "Waltz." He wants to be a "nice" man, helping his Bajoran "children" through the ugliness of the Occupation. The problem, of course, is that he doesn't really do anything for the right reasons; he just wants to feed his own conscience and ego, and he views his condescending attitude toward Bajorans as a gentle, helping hand. I'm sure he feels that winning Meru over and winning the Bajoran people over go hand in hand, but it simply doesn't work that way.

The story's twist is that Meru herself is almost completely won over by Dukat's charm, and she decides she's going to make the best of bad situation. If she doesn't have family or freedom then she will have food and luxury, because resisting these forces certainly won't reunite her with her family. So she moves in with Dukat at his request, where she would presumably remain with him for a number of years. (Let me also point out that Dukat taking to Meru seems to make his future fixation on Nerys that much more understandable. A little sick and twisted, perhaps, but a fascinating connection in any case.)

Kira is disgusted, realizing that her mother is exactly the type of Bajoran that she used to hate while in the Resistance. This realization connects to the extension of the story's plot, which focuses on Kira's involvement with members of the Bajoran Resistance who hope to sneak a bomb into Dukat's quarters. The choice that Kira has to make is whether or not to kill her own mother in the process, something she ultimately realizes she can't do, even though a big part of her wants to. The scene where she comes to this decision is nicely and quietly constructed.

In addition to the strength of the story, I also liked the episode's use of supporting characters, like a nasty Bajoran man named Basso (David Bowe). He's a collaborator—a traitor to his people who uses his power to inflict cruelty on other Bajorans. He's a pretty good example of evil all by himself. There's also the colorful Cardasian Legate (Wayne Grace), whose interesting discussion with Kira shows just how many prior times Dukat has played the "rescue poor Bajoran woman" game.

One area where this episode can't compare to a predecessor like "Necessary Evil" is in its production design. Jonathan West's quiet, understated approach to the tone of Terok Nor can't measure up to James L. Conway's unforgettable vision of the same place. Whether it was due to budget constraints or not, this Terok Nor feels just a little too much like Deep Space Nine.

But that's not much to worry about, because the episode sells itself on performances and deft writing, and the overall themes are engaging and thoughtful. The thing that's so great about "Wrongs" is that it features plenty of the DS9 Shades of Grey, one of my favorite aspects of the series. As much as Kira's ending dialog serves as an indictment upon her mother's betrayal, the issue isn't as cut-and-dry as Kira paints it, and the episode realizes that fact. Speaking for Meru is Sisko's sentiment that it was ultimately a cursed situation for Meru to be forced into, leading to a choice Meru had to make for herself. Maybe she was somewhat selfish, but her choice to accept Dukat's offer did benefit the rest of the Kira family, who received food and supplies as compensation.

Personally, I see this as an issue of strength, not necessarily betrayal. Kira Nerys is strong. Kira Meru was weak. And just as it was Meru's weakness that led her to make the choice she felt was in her own and her family's best interests, it's the strength and hardened life that makes it impossible for Nerys to understand how such a weakness could lead to the choice that Meru ultimately made. It's also interesting to note the judgment that's passed along by the episode's title, "Wrongs Darker Than Death or Night." It seems to side with Kira's view of the matter. Based on what the episode presented, however, I'm more inclined to see the events of Meru's betrayal in more ambivalent terms, and I believe the episode in general sees it that way, too. In any case, it doesn't change the way Kira herself feels, which is equally important to the story.

I'll admit that the plot structure of "Wrongs" is fairly routine, right down to that final scene of exposition between Sisko and Kira. But it's not plot that makes "Wrongs" such a good hour of DS9; rather, it's the episode's ability to ponder the characters that we've come to understand so deeply. And pretty much everything rings true, from Dukat's manipulative nature in both the past and the present, to Meru succumbing to her own weaknesses, to Kira's final indictment. "Wrongs Darker Than Death or Night" is an episode that reveals secrets we were not aware of. But these secrets arise realistically out of what we were already aware of. That's good storytelling, as well as an indication that these are wonderful characters.

Next week: Starfleet accuses Bashir of being a Dominion spy.

Previous episode: Change of Heart
Next episode: Inquisition

Season Index

48 comments on this review

Jakob M. Mokoru - Wed, Nov 21, 2007 - 12:41pm (USA Central)
Good episode. But - isn't it a bit odd, that ALL major species in the Alpha and Beta Quadrant seem to age slower than humans? I mean we have seen very old Klingons, Romulans, Vulcans (well, old enough to make crossovers from The Original series possible, that is!) - and now we're shown that Gul Dukat hasn't aged a day in over 30 years!

And am I the only one that finds it slightly unbelievable that our most beloved Gul would be Prefect of Bajor for such a long time - without being killed or promoted!
AeC - Tue, Jun 24, 2008 - 1:23am (USA Central)
Wasn't it established that Dukat ran Terok Nor during the last 10 years of the occupation? Yet here we have him acting as prefect practically since the station's inception.
Rogue Seraphim - Tue, Feb 24, 2009 - 8:27am (USA Central)
Mmm, it's got to be much closer to the present time than 35 years ago, didn't the occupation last for 40 years? So it's only five years into the occupation? I'm not so sure. They talk about the 'new ore processing station in orbit' meaning that there are already some up there and Terok Nor/DS9 isn't that old. Kira's mother also says that she dreamed as a child about having enough to eat, so she must have grown up during the occupation.
Jakob M. Marinus - Tue, Feb 24, 2009 - 9:17am (USA Central)
Yeah, but Nerys lost her mother as a small child. At the end of the occupation she was in her thirties. Let's say she was 4 and was 30 in DS9s season 1 - that puts this episode 31 years in the past.
The Occupation itself lasted for at least 50 years, which gives Kira Meru plenty of time to grow up starving.
Alexey Bogatiryov - Sat, Mar 14, 2009 - 7:09pm (USA Central)
In retrospect, all fo these episodes abotu Bajoran resistance seem to draw parralels in my mind about the US occupation of Iraw. Even though the Iraq war happaned after DS9 was over, I can defintely understand that insurgents in Iraq viewed those friendly to the US as collaborators. This explains the hatered Kira Nerys has for Kira Meru and the hatred the Sunnis have for those Shiites who colaborate with US occupiers.

Art imitates life and life imitates art!
Abraham Mehti Anthony - Wed, Apr 15, 2009 - 3:38pm (USA Central)
I think that in this case the ends justify the means. There is no such thing as a fair war. Sometimes rules have to be broken. Morality shouldn't always be about right or wrong. It should be about what is the situation, and what is the best possible course of action. If the captain was perfectly moral, the Dominion would have destroyed the Federation and possibly the Klingons and even the Romulans. Given the alternative, it's such a small price to pay.
Ivana - Fri, Jul 3, 2009 - 6:07am (USA Central)
I don't see the title as a judgment on Meru's actions. I saw it as a comment on the wrongs perpetrated on the Bajorans (like the "comfort women" and their families) by Cardassians in general, as well as Dukat in particular. We've seen Cardassians kill Bajorans, beat them up, force them to work in labour camps, starve them, but the wrongs depicted in this episode are a much more personal kind of abuse, and one that has far-reaching psychological consequenes. It includes sexual slavery, sexual abuse, as well as destruction of Bajoran families (ironically, using family love for that end) and moral compromisation - making women into prostitutes, concubines and collaborators. But the most chilling parts of the episode are those that show Dukat seducing Meru with his acts of "kindness" and his "rescuing poor Bajoran woman" (from the situation they wouldn't have been in in the first place if it wasn't for him) act. It is completely in character for a narcissist like Dukat that, unlike his subordinate soldiers, he wouldn't be content to just sexually possess Bajoran women, he wants to win their hearts. But on some level, Dukat's emotional manipulation of women like Meru is a darker wrong than his subordinates' straight-up sexual abuse, as it is more insidiuous and goes much deeper.

I thought this was a brilliant episode because it contained so many shades of grey, as you said. Meru is both a collaborator and a victim, and her motivation and position is ambiguous. Is she driven more by selfish desires or a desire to help her family? We're lead to believe the former, until the scene in which she cries watching her husband's message, which indicates that she does indeed care about her familz. Maybe it is the most accurate to say she was just a woman trying to make the best of a bad situation. One might say she is weak for being seduced by luxury and Dukat's charm, or naive for buying into his jsutification, but then again, she doesn't have much choice to begin with - other than to get killed, abused by other Cardassian soldiers, or try to escape, with her family most likely to starve... So maybe she was on a subconscious level letting herself fall for Dukat - because, let's face it, it makes the whole situation a lot more pleasant to her. Maybe she wanted to believe on some level that Dukat was indeed a nice guy, to jsutify herself and make things easier for herself. If Meru had hated Dukat, if she had hated being his mistress instead of enjoying it, things would have looked so much simpler - Meru would seem a lot more like a woman sacrificing herself for her family, and Nerys would probably have found it much easier to justify her mother's actions. But most people are not into being martyrs, they prefer to try making their lives as easier and pleasurable as possible. While that is a very understanable human reaction, it is also understandable that Nerys is disappointed in her mother and still doesn't find it easy to forgive her. But I think she was moving towards being more understanding of her mother's position, as seen in "The Covenant" when Dukat says that her mother loved him, and Nerys answers "Maybe that's what she convinced herself."
Nic - Tue, Jun 29, 2010 - 7:26pm (USA Central)
The title comes from Shelley's 'Prometheus Unbound':

"To suffer woes which Hope thinks infinite;
To forgive wrongs darker than death or night;
To defy power which seems omnipotent;
To love, and bear; to hope till Hope creates
From its own wreck the thing it contemplates;
Neither to change, nor falter, nor repent;
This, like thy glory, Titan, is to be
Good, great and joyous, beautiful and free;
This is alone Life, Joy, Empire, and Victory."
Nick M - Mon, Jan 10, 2011 - 10:19am (USA Central)
A few things:

1 - I know this is because the casting would have been way too difficult, but I was taken back how the starving Bajorns all looked....well fed. I mean, Kira Meru looked very, very good in that dress. Took me out of the moment.

2 - Alexey Bogatiryov, I take your comments personally. Having served four tours in Iraq I think comparing like that is so far off base (no pun intended) it makes me dizzy. Are the US troops taking Iraqi women and forcing them to serve as "comfort women"? LOL Riiiight. Are we forcing the Iraqis into slave labor? Riiiiight.
Actually, most Iraqis do not see those working with us as collaborators, they just want to rebuild their nation that was torn apart more by decades under the occupation of a man more like Dukat than you can imagine.

I have seen the rape rooms. I have seen the marshes that he drained to punish the people living there, depriving a people who were farmers and fishermen for centuries, because they disagreed with him. I have seen people who were forced to do hard labor for their political views.

To compare the situation, when the vast majority of those that were/are fighting against the liberation from that are from outside Iraq, and the Iraqi "awakening" happened BECAUSE the Iraqi people joined in rebuilding and saying no to those outsiders, makes me ill.
Jay - Sat, Oct 8, 2011 - 1:41pm (USA Central)
SO did Kira "actually" travel back in time...is that how the orb works? If so, killing Dukat with the bomb in the past would have prevented him allying Cardassia woth the Dominion and providing them with a AQ foothold...killing Dukat and her mother could have save countless millions, even billions, later.
Nic - Fri, Feb 17, 2012 - 10:30pm (USA Central)
Personally, I believe the implications of Kira's experience being able to actually change the past to be a little bit too scary, which weakens the episode a little bit.

I prefer to think that either (a) her entire experience was through the Prophets and thus she could not impact the timeline in any way or (b) she was only given the memories of the real Luma Rahl.
Nebula Nox - Sat, Mar 31, 2012 - 11:57pm (USA Central)
Although this was not my favorite episode, the one thing it did was explain to me why Dukat was so obsessed with Kira Nerys. He wanted her approval more than the approval of any other Bajoran.
Nick - Sat, Apr 28, 2012 - 9:49am (USA Central)
Dukat wasn't the Terok Nor's commander in this episode, he was Prefect of Bajor, 14 years later he would become the station commander, which was 9 years before DS9 began.
Arachnea - Thu, Nov 29, 2012 - 3:38am (USA Central)
Like Jammer, I don't see Meru as a collaborator. The definition of a collaborator is that he/she willingly helps the enemy (with intelligence of work), like Basso.

Meru is in between. We can't deny that not everybody is strong enough to fight. Meru is first a victim, taken from her family to become a "comfort woman". It's the same - even worse - than being put in a labourer camp. What we see is that Meru tried to make the best of it, even enjoying some of it. That's what makes her look bad in the eyes of Kira.

It looks like the other women became slave-prostitutes, while Meru had to deal with the insidious Dukat (which is better and worse). The only other option Meru had was to reject Dukat, being sent to a labour camp (and still be separated from her family) and obviously, she wasn't strong enough to do that.

I'm glad this episode shows those subtelties, though I'd have liked Kira seeing it differently: Basso, the collaborator and her mother, a victim of what war can make you accept.
T'Paul - Sun, Aug 4, 2013 - 8:31am (USA Central)
It was interesting to see Dukat further fleshed out here, although those Cardies must have some lifespan!

It was also interesting to see the Bajoran collaborator, even if he was a bit simplistically done.
Elnis - Tue, Aug 27, 2013 - 5:33pm (USA Central)
Something about Kira's age then (as a small child) and now (as an adult) didn't seem quite right in this episode, so I checked Memory Alpha, and this is what I found out:

Gul Dukat was the last Cardassian prefect of Bajor.
Has was prefect in the period 2346 - 2369 (human calendar years).
In the year 2360 the command of Terok Nor (DS9) was assigned to him as part of his duties as prefect.

Terok Nor (DS)) was build in the year 2346 (the same year Dukat was made prefect of Bajor).

This episode, "Wrongs Darker ..." takes place in the year 2375.

Since the time Major Kira visits in "Wrongs Darker ..." has to be after Terok Nor is build, the very earliest year this can be is 2346. Note that at no points it's said that Dukat is the commander of the station at that point. Sure, the drunken Cardassian with Major kira on his lap says he's seen Dukat seduce girls by posing as the "savior" before, but he doesn't specifically mention WHERE or WHEN he's seen that - it might've been some place else entirely, not on Terok Nor.

Okay, so if Major Kira from 2375 travels as far back in time as 2346 and meet herself, she would meet a version of herself that was 31 years younger. The Nerys she meets in the past seems to be around 4 years old, which would make our present Nerys 35 years old ... and that's the oldest this episode would allow major Kira to be.

Hmm .. yeah, okay, I can buy that. Nana Visitor (playing Major Kira) was around 39/40 years old at the time this episode was shot. Yeah, works for me.

It's noteworthy that there are some inconsistencies throughout the run of DS9 as to when Dukat was what and where. Here's one example:
In the epsiode "Waltz", just a few episodes before "Wrongs ...", Dukat mentions that he became prefect of Bajor 40 years into the occupation. It's been mentioned before that the occupation lasted 50 years, and that means that Dukat was prefect for 10 years, not 24 years. The 10 years coincide just fine with the period of time Terok Nor was under his command, though, so this particular discrepancy could just be considered a slip of the tongue by Dukat (rather than the writers getting the continuity mixed up, as they otherwise did fairly often, according to Memory Alpha).
Kotas - Fri, Nov 1, 2013 - 4:53pm (USA Central)

Some interesting background on Dukat and Kira.

Ric - Sun, Dec 15, 2013 - 12:37am (USA Central)
I am astonished with the good reception this episode had from almost everyone here. It is true that it has deep grey moments, edge emotion processing moments, nice acting as always when it regards Dukat, and so on.

But really, isn't it too much of a soap opera that just by coincidence, Dukat was in love precisely with Kira's mother? Common, this is soap opera in this very essence: everything leads to and happens with only the main characters, all magically connected by chance to each other endlessly. Wouldn't it be better to just use a random Cardassian instead of Dukat? The effect would have been the same for the development of Kira's character. And without being so lame writing for the series.

Besides, isn't it just dumb that Dukat has known this "little" secret for all this time, even when trying to flirt with Kira? If anyone is thinking "he is just that evil", well, where are this series' shades of grey? More: if it wasn't enough that time-travel became so easy or this series that is just about opening the prophets' box (it is almost a kind of Star Trek: Fringe Division, once it became so easy to travel trough time and parallel universes in ST:DS9), Kira could even alter events of the future? Ridiculous. But only less ridiculous than the fact that the episode treats Kira's actions as if 1) she did not try to alter the time-line, which would be quite a crime; 2) she did not in fact alter the time-line, which by any logic, she has to have done.

Let's think about it for a second. She met her own mother. Tried to persuade her mother to not keep the relationship with Dukat (what is exactly what Kira should not do, if was she to avoid interfering). She took the place of someone else in the original time-line, who was her mother's roommate, as well as the person who made the terrorist attempt. And above all, she introduced herself to Dukat in the past! Very vividly, face to face, in events impossible to be forgotten by him in the future.

Really? And no consequence for the future here? And no consequence for making such a blunt interference? Is it DS9 getting so far away in that road of officers' misconduct not having ever any consequence neither for Starfleet officers nor for Bajorian's officers serving in the station, such as Kira?

Granted: I also do love character development, I do love the famous shades of grey proposed by DS9, as well as those tough moments the series gives for its characters. But those great things cannot come at whatever is the cost.
William B - Sun, Dec 15, 2013 - 10:26am (USA Central)
@Ric, agreed. I actually agree with many of the points above, especially what Ivana wrote about Kira Meru, if we take her character in isolation, but this episode actually retroactively screws up the entire Dukat/Nerys dynamic, and everything that Nerys does with time travel etc. is stuff that seriously undermines her entire characterization. That Kira will violate the space-time continuum and change the past for her own purposes is itself a big problem. But let's say, generously, that it is understandable to try changing the past if sufficiently horrible things have happened, as in say the "Yesterday's Enterprise" Klingon War universe. Surely Kira should try to use her Orb of Time Travel And Changing Stuff to, like, undo the entire Occupation or something, rather than go find out about her mother and then start killing people in that time? Like the Prophets' intervention in "Sacrifice of Angels" but not when the Occupation began, Kira's actions here are both seriously objectionable *and* unbelievable, inconsistent, you name it. Jammer mentioned in his season six recap that this episode makes sense if you substitute Kira saying "Please SHOW ME what the past was like" rather than having her go into the past, but that fix hardly resolves the cnetral problem, since then instead of planning murders to change the time stream, Kira would just be...planning imaginary murders. That's morally less objectionable, but Kira's actions would make even less sense. Probably one of the most poorly-thought-out episodes in the Trek history.
Josh - Sun, Dec 15, 2013 - 11:31am (USA Central)
Really? I have never interpreted Kira's experience as anything akin to actual time travel so much as a sort of vision of the past. I disagree that anything here undermines "characterization"; or is the argument here that Kira was thinking about the Temporal Prime Directive?

Of course, to quote Q, nothing Kira will do will cause galaxies to explode or the Federation to collapse. She's just not that important, and the criticism provided here makes the assumption that anything Kira did actually changed the "existing" past. There's no reason to think it did.

In any case, I'm not one to get hung up on the precise execution of scifi high concepts, unless of course we're talking about something completely irredeemable like "Demon" or "Spirit Folk".
William B - Sun, Dec 15, 2013 - 12:19pm (USA Central)
Nerys participates in an assassination attempt on Dukat. She expects it to succeed and kill her mother, then at the last minute saves her. Kira behaves as if her actions determine the life or death of her mother and Dukat, NOT as if this is a vision. Dukat's two guards get killed. Dukat's death would change the future an extreme amount. If this is just a vision, why does Kira act out a terrorist plot instead of continue fact finding? Why is the episode's climax centered on whether Nerys will save Meru if it is just a vision and her life is not in any danger? If it is not a vision but is real, then how can Kira undertake an assassination plot of the perfect of the Occupation without expectation of big changes to the time steam? If she no moral qualms about changing the past, why not ask the Orb of Time to send her back in time to assassinate Gul Darne'el or some other leader of the Occupation? Did Kira really change her mind from not participating in the assassination plot to participating (she initially refused, remember) because she's angry about her mother? Does she care so little about all the lives would be changed by Dukat's death that she makes a decision on whether to kill him based on how she feels about her mother?
Josh - Sun, Dec 15, 2013 - 2:49pm (USA Central)
Whatever Kira *believed* her actions would have different consequences is beside the point. The question is one of character - she does save her mother in the end - and the suspense in that moment is not about whether she'll "change the future" but about what she'd be willing to do.

I think you're taking this far too literally, and imposing a sort of metaphysics that isn't really warranted by the premise. To take an example from "Tapestry", did Q really allow Picard to change his own past and so end up in his "tedious job" as a junior science officer? Or was it just another sort of "vision"?
Elliott - Sun, Dec 15, 2013 - 4:11pm (USA Central)
Am I mistaken that the assassination Kira prevents was established in a previous episode? For a series which prided itself on matters of continuity, I don't think it's a "metaphysical" question at all...

That time travel is so easy/arbitrary pales in comparison to Kira's lack of moral compass--but, I actually find this to be totally in character for her. Her abysmal childhood, actively permitted by the beings she continues to worship, permanently damaged her psyche and her ability to think and act rationally. When faced with emotional trauma, there's no corking the genie and she's behaves recklessly and selfishly: "Emissary," "Second Skin," "Destiny," "Shkaar," "Accession," "The Darkness & The Light," this episode, "Covenant"...those are big examples, but I'm sure there are small ones littered throughout the series.

Regarding "Tapestry," that Picard had to make the choice to change (back) his past was an essential, nay, THE essential point of that episode. Are you implying that the consequences in "All Good Things..." were equally imaginary? I like this episode quite a bit, but, like many Sisko episodes, I can only enjoy it accepting that Kira is not a heroine.
William B - Sun, Dec 15, 2013 - 5:22pm (USA Central)
Well, it's certainly possible I'm not reading the episode's argument correctly. The difference as I see it between this and "Tapestry" is that the rules for "Tapestry," and thus Picard's motivations, are made clear at the outset. Q establishes that nothing Picard does will seriously affect any other individuals. I think that this strains credibility a bit -- surely it would affect Marta's life if she and Picard got into a relationship -- but it's established early enough in the episode that it's clear that Picard is acting under the assumption that these events affect him and him only.

There is no equivalent scene with Kira, but even if there were a scene that established, clearly, that nothing Kira did would affect the past...then it robs the moment you speak of of Kira making the choice to save her mother of its dramatic power. For Kira's choice to matter, Kira's mother had to be in actual danger of dying, which means that Nerys' actions had to matter to a lot of people.
K'Elvis - Wed, Jan 8, 2014 - 2:35pm (USA Central)
"Collaborator" is an easy term to throw around, but just doing what you have to do to survive doesn't make you a collaborator. Real collaborators do what they do not to survive, but because they benefit. As a result of this, perhaps Kira will not view people so harshly, and realize their are shades of grey. When you view everyone who was is not an active member of the resistance as a collaborator, then you start seeing everyone as the enemy, and you are greatly in danger of losing your way.

Google "comfort women" is you want to see what life was like for real comfort women, especially comfort women in Korea when it was occupied by Japan. Kira's mother wasn't really a comfort woman, she's spared that, she was more of a mistress. A real comfort woman would be forced to service the entire barracks - no nice clothes and candlelight dinners for comfort women.
Vylora - Thu, May 8, 2014 - 9:44am (USA Central)
Plot mechanics and set-up variables aside, this episode never really worked for me on its own merits. I generally like Terok Nor stories; quite a bit actually. Unfortunately, in this case, there was too much hinging on the aforementioned plot mechanics to the detriment of the story and, in turn, voids it also of any personality.

DS9 has proven that quiet can be effective. Here it's just quiet. It is not a total loss, however, as further insight into Kira Meru is welcome and much of the dialogue was done well enough. A few moments in the direction added some nice touches as well.

Passable enough I suppose.

2.5 stars.
Yanks - Tue, Aug 19, 2014 - 12:17pm (USA Central)
So, no one has a problem with Kira using an orb for personal selfish reasons?

I honestly don’t know if she kills Dukat in this “experience” if it changes the future at all. I always thought of this episode as a fact finding experience. If she could change history by simply using an orb how hard would it be to go back and murder Dukat anytime she wanted? Or any other bad guy that need eliminated?

The biggest problem I had with this episode was Kira's comments in the ending scene with Sisko:

"KIRA: I've always hated collaborators. I mean, what could be worse than betraying your own people? During the occupation, if I ever had doubt about what their fate should be all I would think of my mother, how she gave her life for Bajor. She was a hero, they were traitors. It was that simple. Or so I thought.
SISKO: She did what she had to do to save her family. To save you.
KIRA: It doesn't make it right.
SISKO: Maybe not, but it was her decision to make.
KIRA: I did some checking. She died in a Cardassian hospital seven years after she met Dukat. Seven years. Do you know how many Bajorans died in labour camps during that time? Died, while my mother sat sipping kanar with Dukat.
SISKO: Tell me something, Nerys. If you hate her that much, why did you save her life?
KIRA: Believe me, there's a part of me that wishes that I hadn't. But the fact is, no matter what she did, she was still my mother."

Wow, she can't accept the fact that her mother did what she needed to do to feed/protect her family (which is really hard for me to accept as we saw her change in episodes like 'Duet', etc). She demonstrated then that she realized that everything isn't "black& white". Not ALL Cardassians are bad for instance.

Just how can Meru be considered a collaborator? Was she working with the Cardi’s to the detriment of the Bajoran people? Was she furthering the occupation? No. She was doing the only thing she could do to help her family (and others) survive. One could easily consider her a patriot.

She plotted to KILL HER MOTHER!! .... and only because of a letter from her Dad did she pull out. But even after that she still can't get past being stupid.

I don't like this episode at all. It just takes all the maturation that Kira has achieved throughout the years on DS9 and whipped it away.


1 star.

I'm really not liking the direction season 6 has turned after starting so stongly.
Robert - Tue, Aug 19, 2014 - 12:27pm (USA Central)
@Yanks - Totally agree. This episode should have ended with Kira learning that Ziyal was her half sister and that her mother was the mistress (albeit under a false name) traveling on that ship they were tracking down. It shouldn't have been about collaborators, vengeance or changing the future... it could have been far more interesting if it hadn't raised a billion stupid questions.

1 star is generous.
Yanks - Tue, Aug 19, 2014 - 2:01pm (USA Central)
That's twice Robert!! :-)

GREAT idea about Ziyal!! Now that would have been epic!
$G - Fri, Oct 3, 2014 - 12:04am (USA Central)
A few things stuck out to me:

-Dukat, during his creepy midnight phone call in which he claims to value the truth, is still a liar. Meru did NOT willingly leave her family for him; she was taken forcibly. While she may have warmed up to her life on Terok Nor, that's not how the whole thing started. Dukat: still a snake!

-Meru says an interesting line about the Prophets and how funny it is that fortunes can change so quickly. Not really notable on its own, but Dukat says the same thing to Sisko back in "Waltz" (except instead of Prophets he credits "the universe"). Without reading too much into it, it's a neat connection that refers to a conversation they probably had over pillow talk (ewww).

-Kira is awesome. Always has been, always will be. She's not someone the show necessarily wants us to always agree with, and I think some people can't get over that hump. In this one, Kira shows off her inflexible personal code, and I can't help but think back to "Rapture" when she's reproached by Winn for a seemingly backhanded comment about strength. Kira comes off as very likeable most of the time, but she's pretty conservative overall and that comes out in both tense and social situations. Kira's code sometimes leads her towards absolutes, so it's always intriguing when reality doesn't allow her that sort of luxury.

Anyway, overall this is an okay hour of DS9 that works despite how much premise-baggage it has to drag with it. The first trip to Terok Nor in "Necessary Evil" didn't need any sci-fi explanation - it was simply a memory, and it worked perfectly. The premise of "Things Past" was a BIT of a distraction but still didn't take TOO MUCH away from the episode overall. The flashback mechanics of "Wrongs" is the weakest of the three attempts because of how many distracting questions it raises. The episode is still scrappy enough to work, IMO, but only by a step. Kira is a strong character and the situation adds some always enjoyable layers to the story of the first occupation. I'm recommending this one. 3 stars, but barely.
Alyson - Fri, Oct 3, 2014 - 3:07am (USA Central)
I think it's implied throughout the series that the prophets control the orbs, so if they didn't want Kira to travel back in time, then she wouldn't have been able to, and they supposedly know best. *rolls eyes*
Robert - Fri, Oct 3, 2014 - 9:51am (USA Central)
@Alyson - It's not implied, it's flat out stated. In this very episode.

"KIRA: This has nothing to do with the Federation. I need your help as the Emissary, not as Starfleet captain. The Emissary can see to it that I am allowed access to the orb. After that, it's up to the Prophets. If they feel that my request is worthy, they'll send me where I need to go. If not, I've made a trip to Bajor for nothing. SISKO: And if they do send you back, what then? What makes you so sure you won't interfere with the timeline?
KIRA: The Prophets will be guiding me. Nothing will happen without their blessings. Please, Emissary, please, let me seek the will of the Prophets."

I personally dislike this episode (which is weird, I usually love anything with Kira in the spotlight and I like the Prophets and Bajoran religion more than most DS9 fans seem to). I like to think they knew she wouldn't kill her mother and that they were just teaching her a lesson... but I really don't care for the implications if I'm wrong.

2 stars
$G - Fri, Oct 3, 2014 - 12:48pm (USA Central)

The thing with the Prophets, at this point, is that it's unclear what their feelings are w/r/t corporeal affairs. I lean towards general indifference, though. We hear about orb experiences influencing a Bajoran's decision more than a few times, but I don't ever see the show confirm that this is the case - which is why so much of the Bajoran faith seems misguided (which is not an inaccurate way to depict a religion that presumes the will of its deity).
Yanks - Tue, Oct 7, 2014 - 11:10am (USA Central)
I had an interesting thought about Kira.

Was she just masking her disgust at HER mother being Dukat's little f@#$# buddy behind the "collaborator" lie?
Robert - Tue, Oct 7, 2014 - 11:21am (USA Central)
@G - See now that's a REALLY interesting point that would go really well in a few other conversations on these boards about the Bajoran religion and if it's stupid.

The truth is that almost every attempt to guess what the Prophets want and are telling us by ANBODY except Captain Sisko are wrong. Across the board.

I wonder if perhaps the Bajoran people should continue believing in the Prophets but abandon the religion entirely. The Vedeks we see do a VERY poor job of interpreting the prohpecies, orb experiences, etc.

@Yanks - God, I really hope so... because Kira was SOOO close to being buddy buddy with Dukat and being a collaborator by her own definition a few months ago. The pathetic lack of sympathy she has for her mother, a person who fell into collaborator territory but had even more of a reason to do so only makes a modicum of sense if she's experiencing self-loathing and disgust at herself and her mother. Sadly I don't feel like the script supports this.
Yanks - Tue, Oct 7, 2014 - 12:37pm (USA Central)
@ Robert.

The worst part is it would have been so easy to include!

Kira could have broke down talking to Sisko at the end... everything else could have stayed the same.

Sad... a time to elevate the writing lost.

$G - Tue, Oct 7, 2014 - 12:52pm (USA Central)
@ Robert:

I've seen the conversations you're referring to. I stay out of certain ones, though, because some involved parties seem to be willfully misinterpreting the source material for the sake of argument. Arguing with contrarians on the internet is a masochistic activity I've tried to curb.

But whether or not the Bajoran religion is stupid? Maybe a little bit, because of how presumptuous it is - which, like I said, is an ACCURATE depiction of some religions. The thing about the Bajorans that I genuinely like, though, is that the show gives them a lot of rope with which they do NOT hang themselves. Say what you will about the soundness of Bajoran mysticism, but I'd have no problem welcoming their community into my town. What's shown on screen of the Bajorans is nearly always a peaceful, friendly people (outside of a few instances, such as "Accession", which seem uncharacteristically reductive of the Bajorans as a people - hey, the show isn't perfect). One may disagree with their views (which, by the way, are based on in-universe fact) but they harm no one and their worldview is non-Bajoran-centric. They know they live in a galactic village, so DS9 does a pretty good job showing off a benevolent religion in a futuristic setting whose followers are not aggressively caricatured to make a point about modern crises.

DS9's real criticism of religion (or dogma, really) is the Dominion, which professes nothing benevolent. They're all about expansion, and those who disagree are crushed (not unlike Christianity's first trip west). This is because their philosophy is based on benefiting those at the top. Outside of the fact that the Changelings are obviously vindictive and malevolent, some of the best moments of critique are in the characterizations of the Vorta and the Jem'Hadar. Why can't, for example, Weyoun carry a tune? There's nothing harmful in that, but the Changelings didn't breed him with that ability. But they also didn't (or couldn't) breed out of him the desire to still WANT the ability, though he still believes he isn't entitled to it Just Because. It's the kind of cognitive dissonance which allows the religiously-minded to willingly neuter their own lives because of what they believe to be the desire of a creator. And the Jem'Hadar? They are made to ritually demean themselves in order to be granted basic nourishment (the white), which isn't unlike the institutionalized guilt-tripping on which, say, the Christian faith is based.

**Please note that I'm only two-thirds of the way through S6 on my current re-watch. I haven't seen S7 in a decade, so I'm willing to admit that its plot twists might contradict what I just wrote.
Robert - Tue, Oct 7, 2014 - 1:33pm (USA Central)
I agree with you, I like the Bajoran portrayal of religion for the most part... and I certainly wouldn't describe it as stupid, but it is funny that most of the time that it goes wrong it's the Bajorans improperly interpreting the will of the prophets.

I guess I just really liked your thought about how the Bajoran religion is a "religion that presumes the will of its deity". I liked how the couple of times that people who were assuming they knew what the prophets wanted were actually placed face to face with said prophets the prophets had no idea what they were even talking about.
Elliott - Tue, Oct 7, 2014 - 1:48pm (USA Central)
@Robert :

" I liked how the couple of times that people who were assuming they knew what the prophets wanted were actually placed face to face with said prophets the prophets had no idea what they were even talking about."

Is not the entire religion a series of assumptions about what the Prophets wanted? I would have enjoyed the arc more if Sisko had not confirmed in "Sacrifice of Angels" that the Prophets actively "encouraged" the Bajorans to create a religion around them. So, they wanted the Bajorans to worship them but were intentionally vague as to what they wanted of them. Fantastic. Yay good guys!
Robert - Tue, Oct 7, 2014 - 1:55pm (USA Central)
3 vipers is not vague at all :P
$G - Tue, Oct 7, 2014 - 3:04pm (USA Central)
@ Elliott:

I disagree that Sisko confirms anything about the Prophets' motivations. He shouts at them about creating a religion (something they probably don't even understand, since none react to it) but I don't necessarily read that as being the case. They seem just as silently aloof as when the fake Emissary came waltzing in back during "Accession" and started blabbing about emissaries and dejarras and such. Here, it's the same: "Corporeal matters don't concern us." Ultimately they do what Sisko needs but it seems to only happen because he yells at them long enough and they deem him, once again, adversarial. Even then, it's not even a favour so much as a cryptic trade.

As I said before, I forget where this "penance" goes so I'm willing to eat crow once I finish S7. As of this episode, though, the Prophets remain a mystery. They're not good guys, which I think has been explicitly shown. They're neutral; they have their own interests, if something which simply exists in all times can *have* interests. One could even argue that they more limited than corporeal beings since Sisko had no trouble back in understanding their non-linear existence but still had to explain linear time to them.
Elliott - Thu, Oct 9, 2014 - 2:21pm (USA Central)
@$G :

it seems clear that the Prophets purposefully encouraged the Bajorans to take certain actions (sending Orbs and Emissaries, magic books [see S7]), not to mention constantly referring to themselves as "of Bajor" (kind of strange for beings which do not concern themselves with "corporeal matters" to align themselves with planet, or a race). Either the Prophets are just lying to Sisko and themselves when they say these things or the writers wanted to have their cake and eat it too, giving lip-service to notions which might make worship of the Prophets anything less than foolish and destructive, while retaining the watered-down Olympian tragic elements which justified their CGI budget.
Robert - Thu, Oct 9, 2014 - 3:28pm (USA Central)
They are "of Bajor". In billions of years when Bajorans become non corporeal they become non-linear, make the wormhole and become the very beings they used to worship :P
Dave in NC - Fri, Oct 10, 2014 - 7:55pm (USA Central)
@ Robert!

Yay! Someone besides me has the same theory about the Prophets!
Jack - Thu, Nov 13, 2014 - 9:05pm (USA Central)
The Bajorans had rather robust bodies for people who were only getting soup to eat. And kanar the only alcoholic beverage Cardassia ever created? It looks like the pigeonholing of nonhuman races occupations (Klingon and Ferengi doctors are "a contradiction in terms" as on Trek episode put it) also applies to their booze. Has any other Klingon liquor been mentioned other than blood wine? Any other Romulan liquor other than their blue ale? Saurian brandy, and etc.
Dave in NC - Thu, Nov 13, 2014 - 10:25pm (USA Central)
There's also Klingon Fire Wine.
Toony - Mon, Feb 2, 2015 - 4:51pm (USA Central)
The prophets being future Bajorans was a theory I read at the old official Trek site boards years ago, it does make sense.
Way I see it is that they are transdimensional like the Sphere Builders of Enterprise and may be part of the temporal cold war. The events of Past Tense where Sisko supplanted Gabriel Bell in history, the events of accession where a time lost poet remembered for incomplete works and returned to the Enterprise era where he lived his life on Bajor and completed his works likely peeked interest and divided the prophets leading to the Pah Wraiths.
Sounds daft but think Doctor Who where time is fluidic and if he and his companions rewrite the past (best episode example I can think of is 'Waters of Mars') it will mend itself in the future at the expense of a few individuals.
Del_Duio - Mon, Feb 23, 2015 - 7:25am (USA Central)
Very good episode. I think the only thing I was a bit confused about though was did the Orb of Time take Kira back as an observer or could she actually interact and possibly change the past while there?

How she saved Dukat from getting blown up by the bomb she planted makes me think the latter. Maybe I just missed what the capacity of the orb was while running after my kids haha.

Submit a comment

Above, type the last name of the captain on Star Trek: TNG
Notify me about new comments on this page
Hide my e-mail on my post

Season Index

Copyright © 1994-2015, Jamahl Epsicokhan. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction or distribution of any review or article on this site is prohibited. Star Trek (in all its myriad forms), Battlestar Galactica, and Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda are trademarks of CBS Studios Inc., NBC Universal, and Tribune Entertainment, respectively. This site is in no way affiliated with or authorized by any of those companies. | Copyright & Disclaimer