Star Trek: Deep Space Nine


4 stars.

Air date: 6/14/1993
Teleplay by Peter Allan Fields
Story by Lisa Rich & Jeanne Carrigan-Fauci
Directed by James L. Conway

Review Text

"Duet" is quintessential DS9. It's an issue-oriented episode that is brilliantly characterized, with some absolutely riveting performances.

The plot centers around a Cardassian named Marritza (Harris Yulin) who "happens" upon the station as a passenger on a passing ship. Kira promptly arrests him for being a war criminal and throws him in a cell. You see, he has a medical condition that he could only have acquired at a Bajoran labor camp named Gallitep. This labor camp was also the site of horrific Bajoran treatment at the hands of Cardassian atrocities.

As far as Kira and the Bajorans are concerned, any Cardassian at Gallitep is guilty. But a mystery arises concerning the Cardassian's identity—with a number of clues that don't add up—and Kira begins a search for the truth. The resulting dialog between Kira and the Cardassian pulls no punches in either content or delivery. Evidence indicates that Marritza is really Gul Darheel, the man who actually ran Gallitep and made it his mission to terrorize "Bajoran scum." Suddenly Kira finds herself face to face with one of the most hated Cardassians Bajor has ever known.

Nana Visitor delivers a powerhouse, emotional performance. Even better is Harris Yulin's turn as Darheel, whose absolute tour de force display of acting brings the raving, menacing, downright evil Cardassian frighteningly to life, with such lines as "What you call genocide, I call a day's work." Odo's subsequent investigation of the Cardassian's identity brings Dukat into the plot with a great deal of sensibility.

It turns out that Darheel is really Marritza posing as the Cardassian criminal (who has been dead for years), trying to martyr himself so the Cardassian government will be forced to acknowledge its guilt for the Occupation—a moving display of self-sacrifice for the sake of progress on all ends. "Duet" is all substance, completely engrossing in its conveyance, and it also features a tragic ending. It's one of the best moments in the entire series' run.

Previous episode: Dramatis Personae
Next episode: In the Hands of the Prophets

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Comment Section

117 comments on this post

    It's a shame that many ignore the early seasons outside of four episodes: "Emissary", "Duet", "Crossover", and "The Jem'Hadar". Going back and watching the older episodes, one percieves that the series was originally intended to be more toned-down than the often-bombastic Next Generation. Some amazing episodes like "Progress", "Cardassians", "The Collaborator" and especially "Nessacery Evil" recieve very little recognition. I don't want to sound like I don't appreciate the later seasons - far from it- but there is a subtleness to some of these episodes that is missed once the dominion reared its head, and especially after "The Way of the Warrior".

    The problem with DS9's first season wasn't so much outright /bad/ episodes as a lot of mediocre ones. I wouldn't put "Move Along Home" or "If Wishes Were Horses" on a list of the series' top worst offerings. But I don't need to see them again.

    That said, there was gold there as well. "The Emissary" remains the best pilot to launch any Trek series and "Vortex" as a great teaser to Odo's origins. I enjoyed "Battle Lines" but in retrospect I wish Opaka's story had been revisited, or at least given a stronger closer. "Duet," of course, is one of the best DS9 ever did.

    Well I'm preaching to the choir of course but "Duet" is in my opinion one of the best episodes of any Trek series. For a heavy "talky" episode it doesn't get much better. Give two gifted actors a great script and a stage and just let them go at it. I'm glad the DS9 producers did just that.

    Duet is amazing. It's kinda surprising that a show that built up such a background and such a large universe over 7 years never got any better than this little 2-character drama.

    I liked the way Progress and Storyteller were brought in, and even the B plots involving Nog and Jake. It made it seem like, yes, Bajor is a whole planet not just the capital city and the orbiting space station. It felt like we're learning about a whole planet's worth of people, not just the 15-20 odd that come into our stories.

    Of course there's no way to review Season 1 without mentioning Duet, absolutely stunning performance from the Kira/Darheel story to even the little scene with Quark and Odo where Quark says "Gallitop. Imagine living through that hellhole. The horror. You think they like to gamble?"

    Right down to the "I am alive. I will always be alive! It's Marritza who's dead! Marritza, who was good for nothing but cowering under his bunk and weeping like a woman. Who every night covered his ears because he couldn't bear to hear the screaming... for mercy... of the Bajorans."
    That raises' the hair on my neck every time I watch him break down.

    Best episode of the season, easily! One of all time favorites. Chills go up my spine in the end.

    After ~18 years I'm finally watching this series, thanks to Netflix. I simply never got around to watching it.

    I went from TOS to TNG to VOY and completely skipped right over it (no doubt thanks to the negative comments from people who were, in retrospect, idiots.)

    Long after it ended, I'd finally heard all the great things about it, so I vowed to watch it. Someday.

    That day came about a week or so ago. I just polished off Season 1; about to start Season 2.

    It started off rather difficult to watch. Sisko's awkward "WHOOP!", along with an unusual acting style in the pilot bothered the hell out of me. Thankfully that didn't last and Avery Brooks settled in quite nicely. :) I can't remember precisely what it was that bugged me about him; I'd go look but I don't have Disc 1 available anymore. :D

    As has been beaten into the ground by so many already, the TNG-style "anomaly of the week" plots are completely out of place here. DS9, even this early on, feels like a conduit for far more mature, intelligent stories. Predictable crap like "Dramatis Personae" comes off very much forced and awkward, like the episode was the tax paid to keep the name 'Star Trek' in the title. (Though I'll grant you there's a handful of rather cool moments in that episode, but most of that is credited to the talented cast.)

    I went into 'Duet' not realizing it was so well-renowned. And damn, does it deserve every bit of praise it gets -- definitely one of the best Trek episodes I've seen. Ever. I know it's not him, but at times I could swear Harris Yulin (Marritza) was channeling Ted Knight. Imagine Ted Knight as a Cardassian? **head-asplode**

    Anyway, really enjoying the series so far. Looking forward to the first disc of the next season to arrive in the mail. ;)

    Further capsule reviews to follow but suffice it to say 'Duet' is unarguably one of the finest five episodes of Trek ever filmed. I'd probably give it 4.5 on the Jammer scale if I could. Really has to be seen to be believed. Quite extraordinary how a 'box' episode could get evrything so right. Having studied many aspects of the Holocaust, and with most of its perpetrators now dead or infirm, Sisko/Odo's comments:

    'He's not on any list I've got, Commander, and I've got them all'
    'So that makes him a criminal just being there?'

    are still powerfully relevant today. Indeed the default assumption is that any person serving in a forced Labour camp would be guilty by his mere presence, even if he were responsible only for the procurement of Paper clips. The last scene with Visitor/Yulin nearly had me in as many tears as the Marritza character! Absolutely stunning.

    I rewatch Duet at least once a year, and it has yet to let me go without my crying. There is something about the hammer-stroke realization that hits Kira -- and its precursor outburst -- in the last scene that I don't think has a match in any drama ever produced, in any medium. I put it ahead of the final scene of Chaplin's "City Lights", and that's (I hope) saying plenty.

    Isn't it interesting how some of the best Trek shows of all time (and this one is in the top 10) are "Bottle Shows," i.e. shows that almost exclusively take place on the main interior sets in order to save money for the more action oriented higher budget shows. They always involve lots of dialogue and, as a result, character development. TOS "The Doomsday Machine," and TNG's "The Measure Of A Man" and "Offspring" are other classic examples of essential Trek that were also Bottle Shows.

    Ive been rewatching ds9 for the first time in many years and just had the pleasure of rewatching "duet" - I may just rewatch it again. Harris Yulin's performance was particularly memorable and really makes the show standout. He was great as a menacing butcher, but the moment where he breaks and admits his identity is the moment of real magic. It could easily have devolved into melodrama - but Harris makes you believe in the pain he feels an empathize with him. Powerful stuff.

    Remove the end of the last scene and this is near perfection.

    Amazing - right up to the last minute...

    So Picard can be stabbed through the heart and live yet a blade about 1 inch long in the small of the back instantly kills?

    Don't get me wrong its one of the greatest ever episodes of Trek but why spoil it with this!

    This is a bit contrdictory, however, to how Kira reacts in the darkness and light episode where she states that all Cardassians who were on Bajor back then were guilty, no matter who they were...

    "Duet" is a good example of how to kill an episode in the final act. The first four acts were great. Yulin put in a terrific performance as the alleged Cardassian warlord. But that final act was terrible!

    I'm apparently in a minority here, but could the ending have possibly been any more heavy handed? Everyone on here praising this episode needs to take a good hard look at those last couple minutes. The clearly racially motivated killing of a Cardassian would have been enough to make the point without the witless dialogue between Kira and the man's blood-thirsty killer. The writer insulted the audience by assuming we needed the moral of the story spelled out for us.

    One more story complaint. If this guy came to Deep Space Nine wanting to be held for war crimes, why did he initially give his true identity? The story would have been better if we could just dismiss him as a madman rather than a man on a mission. Because he was a madman! It was downright bizarre listening to Kira's nice chat with Darheel in the last scene just before his murder. Kira telling him he's a good person? What?! That guy was nuts!

    The first four acts were so good it was a shame watching it all fall apart at the end.

    I can gripe for days about the plotting, but for me, the standout aspect of DS9 was the quality of the actors. You had good characters on many of the other Trek shows, but I believe DS9 had the best core group of actors of all of them, or perhaps was in a format that let them shine the best.

    And yeah, Star Trek medicine, like all Star Trek technology, changes dramatically episode to episode according to the needs of the script. Very annoying.

    I'll forgive the final scene. Picard was a healthy man in his early 20s. Marritza was a sickly old man. I can see their deaths being consistent.

    I am with "Steve" on this one - the ending was a little too dramatic. They didn't NEED to have Marritza killed at the end. Not to mention, the random townsfolk walking around DS9 didn't seem too shocked/scared when the actual murder took place. Then a small group of people gather around the dead corpse as the camera turns black.

    In re-watching the ending, it felt like I was watching a stage show where the lights turned black and the curtains fall. Some people may prefer this type of screen-to-black ending that is infrequently used in Trek TV, but I walked away feeling like the ending was a bit contrived, taking the magic away from an otherwise fantastic episode.

    My rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars

    Steve makes a good point about Martiza's initial misdirection. That benefited the plot but really made no sense.

    And while I was OK with Maritza getting killed -- and didn't think the ensuing lines were so heavy handed -- I did think it was odd that Odo did such a piss poor job AND that no one called for Bashir to try to save Maritza.

    Still, a very, very good episode that puts this among DS9's top 10, maybe top 5. "The Visitor" and "In the Pale Moonlight" and "Call to Arms" were all stronger. But "Duet" is quite good.

    Decided to watch some eps out of order and randomly picked this one. Wow...just wow...I have no words.

    This deserves to be up there among Trek's best. There are some small plot holes but it all paid off in the end and never resorts to excessive over-the-top melodrama. I almost cried during the end, that's how powerful it was.

    4 stars easily.

    A phenomenal episode, extremely well written and well acted. One of the reasons why Deep Space Nine dusted the other Star Trek series for overall excellence.

    @Chuck AzEeel

    It's easy to be the most hard-hitting dramatic Trek series when that respective Trek series completely sidestepped the whole "seeking out new life and new civilizations and boldly going where no one has gone before" credo.

    TOS and TNG had to risk looking silly with stories that dealt with "out there" rather than play it safe like DS9 and which just played in its own backyard of the familiar week after week.

    Wow. I am glad I did not know to be on the look out for this one before I watched it; that made the mystery and brilliance all the more enjoyable.

    When the mystery was solved, I assumed Marritza was just trying to punish himself for his own feelings of guilt--to find out he was trying to bring Cardassia to answer for the genocide was a real surprise.

    It's already been said many times--but wow the performances in this were amazing.

    One other small thing--I liked that Dax and Kira seem to be developing a true friendship.

    Some other commenters mentioned that they didn't think it made sense for Marritza to pretend to be Marritza at the beginning--I thought that made perfect sense because he wanted to convince Bajor that he was Gul Darheel, and the real Gul Darheel would not admit his own identity.

    He thought that if they discovered he was lying at first, it would make his fake identity seem more believable.

    At least that's what I thought.

    John, LondonBoy73, Steve:

    You miss the point of the final scene. No, we viewers didn't need the moral of the story spelled out for us. The point was to show that the character of Kira finally understood it.

    What's best about this episode is that it moves away from the "one-dimensional alien" problem that tends to plague other incarnations of Star Trek.

    And Star Trek or not it's an interesting look into war, war crimes, war criminals, victims, forgiveness etc.

    It's impressive how this aired 20 years ago, was a very bottle-conscious effort, designed to save money, and it still pack a hell of a dramatic punch without making much effort.

    Meanwhile, we have Star Trek into Darkness, while being a decent and entertaining movie, it has a 200 million dollar budget and doesn't even come close to matching this episode.

    Masterpiece! It could have been written by the likes of Euripides, Shakespeare, Goethe, Mikhail Bulgakov...
    The tragedy, the human drama, the soul-searching are unrivalled. It this were a film it would certainly deserve a few awards.

    I think it's obvious WHY he pretended to be himself - you never make a lie more complicated than it needs to be. Why bring a third person into his identity? That just leaves more clues, more variables, and means copying the identity of 2 people rather than one.

    Kind of like Garak's lies regarding his own identity- he seems to be telling partial truths that still obscure greater whole (that may in part add up to the whole, but not in the way he presents them). He's not completely making things up, just withholding enough to maintain confusion.

    1. he needed to die in the end do that we could see how Kira had changed. she will no longer be able to hate EVERY cardassian.
    2. the best way to fool someone is to tell a lie that can be slowly uncovered. makdes very good sense he pretended to be the filing clerk.
    3. odo and quark scene, great little punch.
    4. i find that the Cardassians are the BEST alien culture. they easily make for the best characters and stories. Gul Dukat and Garak are great subcharacters. and Gul "darheel" is easily one of the best guest performance i have ever seen on star trek.
    5. phenomenal story. i enjoyed this so much. if only all character stories could be this good.
    6. perfect 4 star episode. i wouldnt change a thing.


    I think you misunderstood my point. It is the fact that a 1 inch blade killed someone almost instantly inserted in a relatively non lethal part of the body that spoilt things for me.

    As I said previously Picard was stabbed through the heart and survived. It was just convenient for the plot that in this case he did not survive when logic says he should be cured easily. I thought this was lazy writing that spoilt an otherwise excellent episode.

    Well, I'm not sure I buy that Picard could have survived such a wound, but be that as it may, it's certainly not necessarily a "non lethal" part of the body.

    Assuming Cardassian anatomy resembles that of humans, a well placed penetrating back wound just to the left of the spine would rupture the aorta, an invariably fatal wound.

    Of course, that's true provided there is no close access to adequate medical facilities, and in that scene Marritza is just round the corner from the Infirmary. He wouldn't die in the space of the minute, though he would go rapidly unconscious. A quick call to Bashir and they'd start to transfuse fluid and blood and operate to repair the aorta emergently. He might still die, but it doesn't really make sense simply to do nothing.

    This isn't exactly a type of dramatic license specific to this episode, DS9, or Trek, since it appears in death scenes in 95% of all films of TV shows. The major problem is that while it's true that people will lose consciousness as they are dying, this will usually happen well in advance of death, sometimes days or even weeks before it happens. It's not at all like the typical TV representation of someone going from lucidly saying goodbye to loved ones to death.


    Great response to my post... I don't think I can argue against any of the points you made.

    Excellent logic that would make a Vulcan proud (if they had emotion!!)

    Easily the best episode of season 1. Amazing acting by Marritza, an intriguing investigation and great background and development for Kira and the Cardassians.


    An amazing episode, and great example of the kind of rich character-driven shows that made DS9 great. Just watched it again, and one thing struck me that seemed like a major plot hole. Kira eventually confronts Marritza that Gul Darhe'el was not at Galitep when the accident occurred and therefore does not have Kalla-Nohra syndrome. It seems to me that since this labor camp and Darhe'el were so infamous on Bajor, the knowledge of Darhe'el not having this very specific condition would have been probably common knowledge or at least so easily verifiable, that it would have seemed, to Marritza at the very least, ludicrous to attempt to impersonate Darhe'el. Marritza uses Kalla-Nohra as his entire hook to trick everyone into believing he is someone who doesn't have Kalla-Nohra. The only realistic hope for this plan to succeed lay in the assumption that the Bajorans would be blinded by the opportunity for revenge, and not be overly interested in establishing the truth (which is obviously not far off the mark, as it nearly happened).

    Duet may be my favorite episode of DS9, but I thought the ending was unnecessary. It felt like Maritza was killed to eliminate lose ends, to make sure this was a bottle episode. We didn't need to see that Kira accepted that all Cardassians weren't evil, we already saw that. She's walking down the Promenade in a friendly manner, that itself demonstrates it.

    I still agree that it is a 4-star episode.

    @K'Elvis, I think the ending can certainly be accused of being OTT and a bit obvious in its demonstration of how far Kira has come. However, what I like about it is that it makes an important point: just because Kira has changed does not mean that Bajorans as a whole have. And just because Kira is now more forgiving than she was a day ago doesn't mean that she has fully escaped her past. Kira was never quite as extreme as the Promenade Bajoran, killing a Cardassian just 'cause, but he is still a reminder of Kira's attitudes only days ago, and how harmful those are. I think this is good drama: it does not let Kira off the hook for attitudes she used to have, just because she has decided to move on.

    Harris Yulin is BRILLIANT in this episode. I almost thing it would have been more powerful, however, if it turned out that he WAS darheel (his performance in this 'character' was just so amazing). Everything else could have been the same (living as Marritza, wanting to get caught by coming to DS9 etc.) but it would have been darheel who, after having believed in the way that he represents it to Kira (genocide a "day's work" etc.) found some horror in his personal guilt and decided the only way to, effectively, commit suicide was to have the Bajoran's execute him for his crimes as some kind of catharsis. I just think Yulin-as-darheel was so engrossing and convincing that when it was revealed he was, actually, Maritzza it didnt quite ring true.

    Finally, to all those who dislike the ending scene -- I felt it was necessary. How inadequate would it have been for Yulin's character, after all he had done, to simply "take a freighter back" to some little outpost planet. Something more was needed, his death matched the tenor of the episode, and made it an unconventional Trek ending (cold blooded murder is rarely shown so clearly in the rest of the Trek universe).

    I love this one. It's a spellbinding drama with a heavy, almost claustrophobic feel. There was almost no action, but they didn't need any. The idea of a Cardassian so overwhelmed with guilt at what his people did to the Bajorans that he can't live with himself and impersonates a war criminal in an attempt to ensure his own death--that's not only intelligent writing, but convincing as well. Yet despite his remorse, he's still Cardassian to the core: proud, manipulative, and loves to talk. Harris Yulin was amazing in his role. The whole episode rode on the shoulders of Marritza and Kira, and they delivered spectacularly. Best episode of the season, and up there with the best of the whole series.

    Wow! What a great episode! I just watched it again and just had to come here and comment. Even knowing the outcome it's still a powerful episode.

    Harris Yulin should have received some sort of award for his performance as Marritza!

    I've read all the comments here and I don't know that the death at the end was needed or not. I do think the way he shrouded his identity in a lie at the start is very Cardassian. I will comment on Marritza's motives though. He of course beat himself up as being a coward because he didn't act, but this sacrific was for his race! This WAS for Cardassia in his view.

    MARRITZA: No, don't you see? I have to be punished. We all have to be punished. Major, you have to go out and tell them I'm Gul Darhe'el. It's the only way.
    KIRA: Why are you doing this?
    MARRITZA: For Cardassia. Cardassia will only survive if it stands in front of Bajor and admits the truth. My trial will force Cardassia to acknowledge its guilt. And we're guilty, all of us. My death is necessary.

    Great development for Kira in this episode as well. She's gone from "their all guilty" to:

    "What you're asking for is another murder. Enough good people have already died. I won't help kill another."

    I also liked the way Sisko handled this whole issue.

    IMO, DS9's best episode of the 1st season.

    Easy 4 stars.

    I have also watched The Duet several times, and it always hits me in the end like a hammer coming down on an anvil. I agree with all comments concerning how this "money-saving bottle episode" ended up being way better than episodes (and even movies) that cost millions.

    I wished the Star Trek franchise had invested more into this. As it is, there are some such episodes (I'm reminded of "Lifesigns" from Voyager), but not nearly enough. Maybe Star Trek, like other science fiction shows, thinks it has to deliever the oomph of "alien cultures" and "cool technology" rather than real human situations. The latter are invariably better, especially when the actors are up to the task -- as they certainly were in the case of "Duet".

    All in all, this might be my favorite episode of the entire franchise, with the possible exception of (also DS9) "In the Pale Moonlight".

    ...O woe is me
    To have seen what I have seen, see what I see.

    Teaser : ****, 5%

    A brief minute of sororal joy is allowed to shine modestly as Dax and Kira exchange stories of youthful troublemaking. In this moment, Kira's childhood bears no mention of the Occupation or of dying, starving relatives or of resistance fighting. No, in this moment Kira simply recalls being a child, naïvety intact. A Kobheerian vessel arrives at DS9 while Kira is on watch. The vessel is carrying a passenger who suffers from a disease called Kalla-Nohra. Kira knows instantly that, as usual, tragedy has caught up to her as the sufferers of this disease were victims of a mining accident at a labour camp, Gallitep. Kira prepares to meet the infirmed Bajoran survivor and hero she knows to be on that vessel. Dax has the man transported to Bashir for treatment.

    Kira arrives in the Infirmary to discover, to her horror, that the ill man is a Cardassian, prompting her to call for immediate security. As teasers go, this is just about perfect; mystery, brevity, character focus, theme and mood are perfectly balanced, while the episode's antagonist (for lack of a better term at this point) says not a word.

    Act 1 : ****, 17%

    Kira accuses Bashir's patient of being a war criminal, at which point he tries to run (“to get away from this Bajoran fanatic—look at the hate in her eyes.”), but Odo catches him and has him locked up on Kira's word.

    On the verge of tears, Kira claims that this man (identified as Marritza) is to be treated as a war criminal despite his name not appearing on any official lists. What's clear is that Kira's contempt for this man stems directly from her past. No isolated fond memories from childhood can erase the image of strewn Bajoran bodies subjected to disgusting mistreatment at Gallitep. I don't think we've actually heard the word “rape” on Trek since Tasha talked about her childhood. There's a devastating urgency in Visitor's performance that is so many levels above what she has given us this season, it's hard to believe this is the same woman who kept beating her fists and gnashing her teeth in over-the-top histrionics. This is a vulnerable anger that perfectly suits her character and shows off tremendous acting skill. Perhaps it's the director. As a Cardassian with the disease, Marritza's guilt is a foregone conclusion for her.

    Sisko goes to speak with Marritza in his cell. Marritza claims his disease is not Kalla-Nohra, but one similar to it. Notice how Yulin continuously avoids making eye contact with Sisko, continuously looking down at his feet, smiling feebly. It's a kind of self-conscious guilt—not overly broadcast, but severely externalised. It's a mesmerising feat. While he goes on, a drunk Bajoran man wakes up in his cell and starts complaining about sharing his prison with a Cardassian—any Cardassian. How much of Kira's outrage is this same kind of justified prejudice? After all, we can't blame any Bajoran for hating a Cardassian because of his race, given their history, but we still know that it isn't fair. Racism is racism, and to assume a Cardassian's character based on the political actions of his government or the personal actions of his comrades leaves little room for individuality or growth, or healing. What I love is that this is all subtextual—showcased in glances, read *between*the dialogue and resonating in the silences in the scenes.

    Bashir is able to determine that Marritza is lying about his disease and that there is no doubt he was at Gallitep and that he has Kalla-Nohra. Sisko is contacted by a Bajoran official who initially thanks him for his “service to Bajor” in apprehending Marritza, and quickly devolves into self-righteous anger, demanding Marrtiza's head on a platter. I can't help but feel sorry for these people in a whole new way. After recovering their freedom from under the Occupation, they've been left scarred with a venomous need for revenge and deep-rooted hatred. Notice that the act is occupied by a single over-arching theme, introduced by Marritza's line that I quoted: hatred. This unifying factor creates a palpable sense of narrative drive without pushing the plot on us.

    Act 2 : ***.5, 17%

    Sisko, for once, tries to do his fucking job and looks for a way to mediate between Federation and Bajoran interests. He assigns Odo to investigate Marritza's guilt rather than allow Kira to access him. Kira admits to lacking objectivity, which would seem to justify Sisko's original position, but Kira appeals to his proclamation of friendship, and he caves, letting Kira head the investigation. I have to hope that Sisko believes that this task is necessary as a cathartic part of the Bajorans' healing process. After all, they already have mixed feelings about Federation aid; it might do them good to take hold of their past themselves if they're going to eventually move on. However, I think it would have worked better in this case to follow through with some of the ideas from “Dramatis Personæ” and have Kira circumvent Sisko's wishes in order to interrogate Marritza, rather than doing so with Sisko's blessing.

    Kira enters the holding area to confront Marritza. He projects an air of casual disinterest without being cartoonish. There's still aversion to eye-contact which betrays some deeper feeling lurking underneath his practised exterior. Marritza accuses Kira of having a “passion” for persecuting Cardassians. How could he know that? It's a beautifully hidden clue in the mystery plot, hidden because there's such a heavy air of racial tension, we can almost dismiss his comment as applying to Kira on grounds that she is Bajoran.

    She interrogates him, but is frustrated by his nimbleness in speech “In that case, I'll try to make my lies more opaque.” He tells her he was a filing clerk at Gallitep, claiming she'll be disappointed in that truth, because it lacks the grandeur of a more vicious prize, someone who could really satiate that Bajoran need for vengeance, or was it catharsis? Marritza plays up his persona with a little sarcasm that even manages to break Kira's shell for a moment.

    It was easy if painful to accept Kira's (and the Bajorans') accounting of Gallitep as a site of unparalleled brutality and cruelty on the part of the Occupiers, but Marritza quite credibly points out their bias. Bajorans killed each other for food or sex, after all. The conditions may have been created by the Cardassians, but the Bajorans were hardly blameless when they turned on each other. He even claims that the brutality itself was purposefully propagated by Gul Darheel (Marritza's boss). This is the complicated part of history we don't like to confront. It's easier to just encamp the players into “good” and “evil,” but it doesn't really work that way. We get the sense that Marritza is toying with Kira, baiting her into admitting that she's after him out of a sense of victimhood—which is precisely the effect the Cardassians were after, he says. There's something like pride woven in to his persona, pride that they succeeded in so fundamentally altering the Bajoran psyche, even after the Occupation ended. We end the act with him giving a terrifying smile.

    Act 3 : ****, 17%

    Hey, it's Dukat! Sisko has contacted him looking for background information to corroborate Marritza's identity. The theme of racial hatred has expanded and evolved to tackle political implications; Dukat implies that Bajoran prejudice has extended to their Federation allies when he asks Sisko if his suspicion about Marritza's truthfulness is fueled by Marritza's race. It's a deftly-written conversation replete with innuendo, subtle sparring and political overtones. Marc Alaimo is, of course, wonderfully duplicitous in his delivery. Brooks is rather flat, but it works well enough.

    We get a callback to the teaser as Dax chats with Kira about her feelings of vengeance. She confirms Marritza's accusations that Kira is disappointed in his lack of infamy or easily-pinned guilt. She wants a less complex set of circumstances in which clear-cut solutions would salve her pain. The ambiguity itself is almost as painful as those horrific memories. As an aside, this is exactly the Dax we have needed most of this season, the one justified by the episode “Dax” and her history as a 300-year old being who has seen dozens of wars and lived whole lifetimes, enough to cut through the fog of the guilt-vengeance complex.

    We are introduced to O'Brien's Bajoran assistant, Neela (I checked on Memory Alpha, and, as I suspected, Anara from “The Forsaken” was meant to be the recurring character seen here). The command crew analyses a photo of Gallitep which shows Marritza to be a different man than the one sitting in their cell. According the photo's caption, the man they have is Gul Darhe'el, “the butcher of Gallitep.” Looks like Kira got what she wanted after all.

    She confronts Darhe'el again. Darhe'el's persona becomes relaxed and he stops looking at his feet, making eye-contact and casually discussing his butchery. The theme of victimhood returns; as mentioned in “Ensign Ro,” the Bajorans were once a peaceful people. The Occupation did far worse than kill innocent Bajorans in labour camps, it blackened their souls with feelings of vengeance and hatred.

    In a fascinating turn, Darhe'el becomes urgent when Kira starts to walk out. He *wants* to talk to her. Does the butcher's masochism continue? Does he get off on seeing Kira struggle with her damage just as he enjoyed executing “Bajoran scum”? In his zeal, Darhe'el “lets slip” the nature of Gallitep's order and efficiency at its height, a testament to Marrtiza's efficacy as a file clerk and Darhe'el's leadership. Another clue is planted in the mystery as he confirms he knows more about Kira than he should—the name of her resistance cell, the “Shakaar.” Again, her anger and pain understandably blinds her to this clue.

    Act 4 : ***.5, 17%

    Odo, ever the sharp investigator, picks up on the clue in his conversation with Kira, noting that Darhe'el knowledge of her is too intimate to be explained by his position.

    She returns to his cell to confront him again. This man perfectly embodies everything we love to hate in history's evil men—he delights in his own cruelty, he regrets only those missed opportunities to display even more evil towards his victims.

    Gallitep survivors arrive at the station, allowing Quark to make a little joke “do they like to gamble?”. It was a risky move to insert a joke near the climax of this tragedy, and I'm honestly on the fence about it. The pacing has been really excellent, giving us time to breath and absorb the dialogue and mystery, so I don't think this little interlude was necessary.

    Odo pursues two avenues of investigation, one with Bashir and one with Dukat. Dukat alleges that Darhe'el is dead and memorialised on Cardassia. Odo latches onto Dukat's political paranoia in order to gain access to the Cardassian military files.

    Meanwhile, “Darhe'el” and Kira continue their conversation. He continues playing up the love-to-be-hated angle, festering Kira's own wounds. Is he crazy? Or could this actually be sarcasm? Odo interrupts to inform her that the man “wanted to be caught.”

    I take a small exception to the editing of these scenes. It was a bit jarring to have the Kira-Darhe'el conversation interrupted by the Dukat-Odo conversation.

    Act 5 : ****, 17%

    While there remains some ambiguity about the man's identity, the evidence would require a rather massive and intricate conspiracy in order for him to actually be Darhe'el. Kira again finds herself wishing that the man were guilty. Bashir delivers the final blow, finding evidence that Marritza underwent plastic surgery in order to pass for Darhe'el.

    Kira returns to Marritza and confronts him with the conflicting evidence as to his alleged identity. In a subtle touch, he breaks eye-contact again, denying Kira's claims. He makes one last grand standing before slowly being broken down in a truly penetrating admittance of guilt, not of being the Butcher, but of being a the cowardly clerk who couldn't stop him. Cue the tears, folks. Kira releases him from his cell and he cowers in the corner, finally revealing his intent—he wants Cardassia to admit its guilt. He repeats, in a wholly new context, Kira's sentiment from earlier, that his death and punishment are necessary. And it a beautiful reversal, Kira denies this, claiming that she won't help kill another good person.

    The expected dénouement is brutally circumvented when the drunk Bajoran from earlier stabs Marritza in the back, fully rounding out the bitter tragedy of this man and the Cardassian-Bajoran history. Kira's reversal is complete—it's not enough that he was Cardassian, he didn't deserve to die.

    Episode as Functionary : ****, 10%

    Yulin manages to create a devastating character who changes profoundly from act to act: mysterious traveller to cynical clerk to bombastic butcher to guilt-ridden victim to tragic martyr. Visitor also puts in one of the best performances of the entire series, capturing a huge range of nuance and internal conflict. McCarthy also delivers a good score, underscoring the tragedy quite well.

    Marritza's (as Darhe'el) line from early in the episode (“...they returned, covered in blood, but they were clean!!”) is the lode stone to the whole episode. It was clear during that speech, that Darhe'el attitude about the murder of Bajorans possibly being a noble act, a redemptive act, was totally hollow. How much more so when the drunk Bajoran stains his hands with Marritza's own blood. Still, in the tragedy, a glimmer of hope shines through; Marritza may not have managed to heal Cardassia by his sacrifice, but at least one Bajoran woman has embraced her journey to redemption.

    For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
    The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
    The pangs of despris’d love, the law’s delay,
    The insolence of office, and the spurns
    That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
    When he himself might his quietus make
    With a bare bodkin?

    Final Score : ****

    This is probably my favourite episode of Season 1, and certainly one of the best overall. Most of this is due to Harris Yulin and the script involving his character. The episode was, on the whole, well paced and scripted. The only real negative I have here is how woeful Nana Visitor comes across when compared to Harris Yulin. His acting puts hers to shame.

    Most of the main characters are not up to scratch in this show. Nog (especially Nog), Jake, Sisko (oh, and him too), Nerys, Dax, and Bashir... All their actors underperformed throughout the entirety of the show. When compared to the actors who played Weyoun, Garak, Quark, Gul Dukat, Martok, and Gowron, it is painfully obvious.

    The actors playing Odo and O'Brien did a good job, at least.

    The episode is great but my problem is how Kira keeps forgetting the lessons she learns. At the end of this episode she seems to realize that not all cardassians are bad. But there are many episodes later in the series where it seems like her attitudes towards cardassians are the same. Obrien goes through the same thing. In tng he showed his racism towards cardassians and it continues through ds9. There are a couple times where he seems to let it go but then he goes back to calling them Cardis. Obviously these issues take a long time to get rid of in real life but obrien and Kira seem to continue to revert back to their old ways quite frequently.

    Another problem I have with the early seasons and this episode is how the bajorans treat Sisko. The minister basically yells at him and orders him around. By season 4 the bajorans would do anything the emissary asked. Look at the first 3 episodes of season 2. The bajoran military treats that Li guy better than Sisko when Sisko is supposed to be the emissary of their gods.

    I agree with every positive comment here. What a hypnotic performance from the Marritza/Darheel actor! The episode is easily one of the very best Trek episodes ever produced, at once deeply meaningful, and very memorable.

    I definitely second Alessandro17's comment above: this is worthy of both Euripides and Shakespeare.

    One of the best episodes of the franchise. I will hopefully come back and comment more -- but the best episodes always intimidate me a bit. 4 stars, though, for sure.

    As nice as this episode is -- and it is good -- there's a plot hole in the premise that feels off. How did Marritza figure that he could make his scheme work? If Darheel is confirmed dead, sooner or later everyone would have figured out the truth, no matter what he did.

    A tour de force of subverting expectations from beginning to end, built on two powerhouse performances. Every time you think it is going to descend into the formulaic we get a twist - when 'Darhe'el' starts ranting about his success as camp commandant, it initially seems over the top. Then you find out why. The final scene may be unsubtle, but it's important. While Kira may have begun to nuance her view of the Cardassians, that's not the case for every Bajoran.

    A wonderful episode and a worthy 4 stars.

    I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I think this episode is slightly overrated.

    There was something slightly off about Yulin's delivery that made it harder for me to empathise with the "real" Marritza. Why did he over-dramatise his portrayal of Darhe'el in a way that clearly encouraged Odo and the others to suspect something was awry?

    For a man as "meticulous" and possessing "exactitude" as Marritza is implied to have been, it seems that he didn't really think through his deception quite as well as he could have. Why would he think he could so easily assume Darhe'el's identity? News of the demise of an infamous decorated Gul would surely not have gone unheard of. He could have had years to plan his martyrdom down to the last detail, but it's all uncovered within the span of his short stay in a holding cell.

    It seemed like he was creating one too many discrepancies in his story that the writers used as a means of leading the audience along to unravel the mystery of his true identity, except by the end of the episode, it almost seemed predictable. And why would a filing clerk have such a talent for theatrics? True to the title of the episode, this did indeed seem to be orchestrated as a "Duet" between Kira and Marritza that at times came across as unduly magnified and caricatured given the weight of its themes.

    I appreciate the condensed format of the show means that often scenes have to be distilled, but Yulin's lightning transition from posturing, arrogant Darhe'el back to cowering, traumatised Marritza felt a little forced to me.

    As NIssa points out, he also surely would have realised his ploy would ultimately fail, and I agree with Quarky that the writers of future episodes undermine this one by having Kira forget the lessons she has learned. A lot of the power of this show is eroded when it seems like what should have been a deeply poignant encounter has been erased from the memories of the characters.

    I think TNG's The Drumhead set a more believable tone as an episode that forced characters to re-examine their preconceptions, albeit also suffering from TNG's flaw of hardly ever addressing its past at all, and with a similar "breakdown" at the end.

    Duet is a thoughtful episode with great potential that sets a standard for future episodes exploring these themes, but to me it's not a perfect one. However, given the 45 minute run time of the show, it probably did the best it could.


    I have to agree that the tail end didn't hit the right note but when I think of the true classics of the entire franchise (broadly a television classic even), I think of this and Chain of Command immediately-two Cardassian episodes no less.

    Although this was a good episode, what exactly was "Darheel's" plan? Let's say he was believed, convicted, and executed. The Cardassian government doesn't have to admit anything. They can maintain, as Dukat does here, that it's a conspiracy to defame Cardassia since Darheel is already dead, and they wouldn't even be lying. Call him crazy, call it a coerced confession. Bottom line, this changes nothing. It may mean something to the Bajorans, bring some sort of sense of justice, but I don't see how it means anything to the Cardassians.

    @BZ - The Cardassian government is known to keep secrets. This man looks like Darheel. This man can publicly state on record the true atrocities of the occupation from a Cardassian's mouth.

    Does it matter that the higher ups in Cardassia don't believe him? The real question is how does it change the rest of the Alpha Quadrant's view? And what about the average Cardassian watching this on TV or whatever (assuming their allowed to). Will they believe their government over this man?

    Sometimes a convincing lie has more power than the truth. He may have failed epicly, but this was his plan.

    *sigh* Another vastly over-rated episode. Just like TNG's "The Inner Light", it's good but not the absolute masterpiece that so many people want to make it out to be. I mean, it's riddled with plot-holes, some so glaring that you could drive a freight train through them. Most people seem to be willing to completely ignore them, and the rest of "Duet"'s flaws, because they're so dazzled by Marritza's over-the-top evil rantings while pretending to be Darheel (which is another obvious flaw - they're so over-the-top that it's laughable). Did he really believe Kira would fall for such obviously hollow racist antics? Well, apparently she did because.... she's stupid?

    The biggest problem, however, is that the story has way too many twists and turns. Why is this so complicated?! Good drama doesn't make the audience guess about it or burden itself with red-herrings and false leads like this. It should leave the audience with no doubt about what is going on. This just isn't enjoyable.

    You're probably thinking I'm crazy at this point. Well, no, I assure you I'm not crazy. I'm just a troll. :-) Just having a little fun with everyone (especially Robert, who said in the "Dramatis Personae" comments that I had to score this one high :P) before I post my actual thoughts. But, in order to make these comments look longer and therefore like an actual review, here's the lyrics from "No Easy Way Out" from the "Rocky IV" soundtrack by Robert Tepper. We're not indestructible, Baby better get that straight. I think it's unbelievable how you give into the hands of fate. Some things are worth fighting for, some feelings never die. I'm not asking for another chance, I just wanna know why.

    There's no easy way out; there's no shortcut home. There's no easy way out; giving in can't be wrong. I don't wanna miss the fight. I don't wanna drag you down. But I'm feeling like a prisoner, like a stranger in a no-name town. I see only angry faces, afraid that could be you and me - talking about what might have been, thinking about what used to be. There's no easy way out; there's no shortcut home. There's no easy way out; giving in can't be wrong. Baby, Baby, we can shed this skin. We can know how we feel inside; instead of going down an endless road, not knowing if we're dead or alive. Some things are worth fighting for, some feelings never die. I'm not asking for another chance. I just wanna know why. There's no easy way out; there's no shortcut home. There's no easy way out; giving in can't be wrong.


    Okay, truth time....

    I'll admit that I'm actually kind of hesitant on giving my thoughts on "Duet". It's always been much easier for me to write about things I dislike as opposed to things I like. If I dislike something, I can go on for pages about it. If I like something, I often can't think of much to say besides "it's good." And I honestly cannot think of anything I dislike about this episode.

    We finally get some of that wonderful Trek world-building I'm so found of (not the least of which is our first real appearance of anyone from the actual Bajoran Provisional Government - the Minister of State). We have an episode that's ultimately about tolerance and yet it never once breaks out the TTTT (Trusty Trek Two-by-four of Tolerance - TM by Luke, patent pending) to beat us over the head. The acting is superb from all involved (Nana Visitor delivers her best performance on the show thus far and Harris Yulin's is so powerful that words don't exist to describe how good it is). The scene where he breaks down in tears and finally admits the truth to Kira is an emotional powerhouse. I usually don't get choked up or outright cry (cause, you know, I'm a man and all) but one thing that often gets to me is when people show strong emotions like that; and it worked this time wonderfully. There's the second appearance of Dukat (always a welcome addition - even in later seasons when most people think his character went downhill) who hasn't appeared since "Emissary".

    I especially loved one aspect of the Kira/Marritza exchanges. At first, he makes some good points about Kira and it seems like he is the calm, rational one (even though he's clearly a racist). Kira is just as racist towards Cardassians. Then we get his long, insane rants about how Bajorans are scum, unworthy of any respect. It's horrific, because all the while he does make those good points. No matter what is done the dead can't be brought back; the things that Darheel has done can't be undone. Even if Kira and Bajor got justice (even against the real Darheel) it would be little more than a pyrrhic victory. It's raw; it's brutal; it's utterly captivating.

    But what makes "Duet" so amazing, for me anyway, is how gutsy it is. I have to hand it to DS9's production staff - it took a lot of balls to take a character who was essentially a Nazi concentration camp guard and present him as in this light - a character for whom our sympathies are marshaled. That's something that could have back-fired tremendously. But, they had a stellar script, a stellar story and stellar actors to pull it off.

    One final thing I'll point out is how finely crafted the story is. Not only is this a story about tolerance and understanding; there's also political intrigue, an examination of the nature of evil, and the ultimate tragedy of Marritza. That's a lot to cover in just forty-five minutes. And yet it pulls it off wonderfully. Every scene clicks and is worthwhile - even Quark's cameo appearance (as it's really the only comedic relief in this otherwise intensely emotional episode; it allows the audience a chance to catch our breath and absorb everything that's going on).

    "Duet" richly deserves all the accolades it receives. Even now, after having seen it multiple times, it still managed to be engaging. It is, simply put, a masterpiece.


    @Luke - Much better!!! :)

    I look forward to your review on the next one, which I think is an overlooked gem and possibly a higher 10 for me than Duet by a hair.

    When my friends and I got together to discuss this episode, our collective comment was "Whoa!".

    I believe this episode is better when you go back to it for another viewing, especially after seeing the rest of the series. When originally run, I still waited for Kira to over-act a bit, or for some technobabble to crop up, or for O'Brien and Keiko to mumble to one another about leaving. That didn't happen, and I watched it again so I could really concentrate on the story. Also, while located next to Cardassian space, there weren't that many interactions with the Cardassians in the first season, so I wasn't certain if this was the normal, canon way they acted.

    I hadn't watched it for a few years, but it is always a poignant moment for me when he breaks down and starts to sob.

    Enjoy the day Everyone... RT

    This episode was great, but some of the later ones like "The Darkness and the Light" completely shafted Kira's wonderful character development here and turned her into another character I love to hate.

    I'm sorry, but as good as this episode is, Visitors' over the top melodramatic delivery comes close to ruining it. Fortunately the great writing and Yulins superb award-deserving acting come in and save the day. Nana is the worst actor on the show, and much like the infamous Beverly, gets too many chances to prove it.

    (the first one) Being over the top was the point, he was putting on an act. It seems silly to say Kira was stupid (and she was clearly shocked at the crazy shit he said) because she didn't assume he was actually a lowly clerk who went through plastic surgery pretending to be eventually, after lots of denying, outed as a war criminal so that he could be executed for his crimes to reveal war crimes his people committed. That's pretty big leap. And come on, there were two twists, both necessary for the story. That's fair.

    Tremendous acting, with dialogue so chilling you'd expect it to come from a transcript at a Nazi war crimes tribunal.
    DS9 was not afraid to show grit and realism, and it felt this episode was inspired by real history, especially with "Darheel's" maniacal rants trying to justify occupation and genocide.

    It was also a very tragic episode. The line "the dead will still be dead" was very hard hitting because regardless what trials and sentences would be carried out the damage was done. Retrospective justice doesn't restore victims. The futility of vengeance is clearly shown. During the episode it felt that only Odo's security office seemed to provide solace from the great injustices that surrounded them.

    Best episode ever in Trek universe. Strong, tragic, a unexpected punch in your stomach. Harris Yulin acted in an extremely tremendous way. Sublime. Other words, by me, would be superfluous.

    Absolutely riveting episode, extremely well thought-out and with outstanding performances from Visitor and especially guest actor Harris Yulin as Marritza. Curious what Marritza would have done had he not been held on DS9 when Kira first saw him i.e. how would his plan have unfolded...

    Was a bit confusing the 1st time I watched "Duet" but a 2nd time hammers home this episode as a true DS9 classic and one of the series' best. And that's saying a lot.

    Marritza's acting as Darheel was bombastic as he proclaimed the genocide was a day's work but then when he's found out (plastic surgery), how his proclamations turn into a whimper was excellent. All of a sudden the dynamic changes and Kira turns sympathetic. The ending when he's stabbed is tragic and thwarts Marritza's plan to be a martyr and hopefully make things better between the Cardassians and Bajor.

    The story of how a file clerk at an labor camp can feel that what his bosses are doing is so wrong but is helpless to stop it is compelling. That he comes up with this plan to be Darheel is worth a shot but given that all of Cardassia knows Darheel died years ago would likely prevent Marritza (as Darheel) from ever succeeding. But clearly Marritza is a man so affected by guilt that he'd try this plan.

    I liked how the Sisko handled Kira's emotional outbursts in this one -- very even-handed. It worked well with how Brooks typically acts. Nice to see Dukat in here with his familiar delivery. Odo/Bashir also provide some good investigation work. It's a mystery that gets resolved as the onion of Marritza gets peeled.

    Easily 4 stars for "Duet" -- the back and forth between Kira and Marritza was outstanding -- does take the viewer on an emotional roller-coaster (from detesting Marritza/Darheel to greatly appreciating him). Brilliant DS9 episode that allows the characters' strongest emotions to shine by making use of the back history of the Cardassian oppression of Bajor. Wouldn't mind watching this one all over again right now.

    The Bajoran/Cardassian arcs in the first two seasons make me wish the Dominion were never introduced or invented. The first two seasons of DS9, at their best, touch upon so many contemporary issues (religion, terrorism, colonialism, cultural assimilation, post-colonialism, acceptance, peace treaties, a technologically advanecd hyperpower mediating between two lesser powers, the Bajoran's refusal to accept the wormhole aliens in scientific terms etc etc), but then the Dominion come along and bulldoze all that away, in favor for Space Nazis and cartoon villains. I feel that the latter half of DS9 is really when 90s Trek jumped the shark away from intellectualism, a shark that's still jumping.

    Two commentators already mentioned this episode about a remorseful labor camp officer reminds of the Nazis and their concentration camps and that was also my sentiment before reading this thread. (Or think of Gulag and Holodomor in Soviet Union, no less horrible, and these issues are even getting re-glorified today in Russia.)
    But let's concentrate on the parallel to Nazi deeds and guilt.
    The way Maaritza behaved you would like Eichmann to be, who coordinated railroad transportation to the concentration camps and got caught by the Israeli in South America, then was sentenced to death. Who gave the picture of the 'effective' German bureaucrat who pretends not to know anything about the killing but is somewhat proud of how well his field of responsibility was administered by him and his likes.
    Eichmann was also a coward, but did not rise to greatness like Maaritza did under the torment of feeling his personal guilt. The Eichmanns of this world are saying they only follow orders and it's always someone up the ladder who is responsible, how could they be guilty of anything? They are well oiled cog wheels in a giant machinery; totalitarism. with ideology which redeems of personal guilt for "higher ideas", for the purpose set by the big boss - be it Hitler or Stalin or Mao or whoever else mass murderer.
    Great episodes for reminding of such things. And how most people are not behaving, unfortunately, in real life. They hide away or even deny it happened. Or feel 'mighty effective' like bureaucrat Eichmann did, with no notion about the human tragedy they made possible.
    The Bajoran who stabbed Maaritza at the end did him a favor, actually, because Maaritza wanted to be punished for the past, however, it did not happen on such scale that Cardassia would be judged in plain spotlight in front of a bigger audience and be forced to deal with its guilt (also makes me think of West Germany after the war, where some efforts into that direction were visible, contrary to East Germany). The little guy with his knife is also the personification of the revenge idea which haunted the survivors of Holocaust or the relatives of the victims, and remains completely understandable. A racist alright, but driven by strong emotions beyond his control.

    This made me cry. Oh that Star Trek could even come to matching this level of writing, characterisation and poignancy in 2018.

    Maybe a bold statement but this was one of the best one-off actor performances I can remember on star trek.

    "Duet" is one of the peaks of DS9, and the Star Trek franchise as a whole. It's certainly in my top ten episodes of DS9. It would be #1 if Nana Visitor's performance were stronger. Thankfully, the script is strong enough to counteract her melodramatic acting, which is completely blown out of the water by Harris Yulin's. Onto that script: wow. Not only is it packed with riveting dialogue, it also manages to be a twisty thriller and a harrowing examination of collective guilt.

    4 stars.

    This episode had some fun twists with the overall story, but the dialog and acting was weak. Too one-dimensional, melodramatic, and backwards looking. Despite some efforts by Marritza, this was a black and white episodes with the Bajorans being simplistic good guys and the cardassians simplistic bad guys.

    Nicely done, great, moving performance from our guest star in a challenging role.

    The script never lets up, and kept me riveted.

    Great character growth for Kira, plus giving us more info about the history involved.

    Everyone hit the right notes in their performances, from Nana V to the drunk Bajoran in the cell who stuns us at the end.

    The best ep, yet, finally showing some real promise.

    Some thoughts after reading the commentary:

    --if Marizza had said he was Darheel right off, the first thing that would have happened was the discovery that Darheel was actually dead.

    --Marizza is banking on the idea that if they discover "he's Darheel" on their own, the outcry will be such that he'll be whisked to trial without further ado, where he can "brag about his crimes" while he has everyone's ear. Sure, Cardassia will be protesting and insisting Darheel is dead, but I think Marizza is counting on the outrage and confusion to get him attention and execution before it can really be stopped. And if they figure it out after the fact, eh, gravy. More lesson learning for all involved.

    --It's a little weak, but bolstered by the idea that Marizza is not exactly sound of mind.

    --I don't get the love for Emissary. It was . . . very average. Definitely not on the level with great Trek eps.

    --I liked the ending. I liked how we had one more surprise coming; I liked the impact on Kira.

    Great episode, but one thing that bothers me.

    Marritza wanted to die with people believing that he was Darheel, so that Cardassia would be shown to be accountable. That would be fair enough, but Darheel was already dead, and everyone on Cardassia knew this. They would know that this wasn't him being executed, which surely defeats the purpose?

    "They would know that this wasn't him being executed, which surely defeats the purpose?"

    It was established throughout DS9's run that the Cardassian state constantly deceived its populace and the people knew it. In Season 7 this was made explicit when it was said that the people refused to believe D'Mar had died.

    Enough people would believe it that it would have made an impact. The more the state denied it the more people would believe it.


    A better comparison than Eichmann would be Oskar Grönig who was dubbed "The Accountant of Auschwitz" by the media. He was on trail as recently as 2017 in Germany at the age of 96 years. He publicly regretted being part of the death machine - even though he was "only" an accountant.

    In contrast to this DS9 episode, he was sentenced to imprisonment by the German court, though.

    I had to think of his case the whole episode through.

    Watched this for the first time last night, blown away by the power of the episode and the acting performances, all described above. My son (not a huge trek fan) walked into the room about half-way through the episode and he was so immediately hooked by the Yulin performance he sat down and watched the rest of the ep with me, we were both like "Wow, that was amazing" at the end.

    I've been watching DS9 for the first time and I've pretty much been on the fence the whole time this season. But this episode was INCREDIBLE!!! WOW! I seriously can't put into words how good it feels to say this episode is amazing. If this is the kind of storytelling I can expect from later seasons, than I am totally on board with this series.

    One of Trek's finest moments. Though I think it would have been better to have Marritza live and then recur in the series and check in on his struggle to cope. Don't let good characters (and good actors) get away so easily. That said, I get why they did what they did in killing him to drive home the point about hatred dying hard. Episodes like this are why Trek endures.

    For me simply the best Star Trek episode ever written! Excellent acting all around. Captivating and riveting dialogue. Not one punch thrown, not one phaser fired, not one explosion. The current people working on Star Trek could learn a lot from this episode. 4/4 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    Over the past couple of days, I've finally managed to cajole my partner into watching beyond the very beginning of DS9 (the same way I took a hell of a lot of nudging from him to finally give TNG a watch!) From the looks of it, he's not hooked yet, but is definitely on track to sticking with it... even while skipping a few episodes along the way. He's mostly been watching alone, but today was the day he happened to reach 'Duet', and I wanted to watch this specific one alongside him.

    We're in different countries at the moment, so this took place over a video call. As fate would have it, my laptop decided to crash *right* at the climactic moment, just as Marritza's facade is cracking and the truth is tumbling out. (Clearly my rickety old Toshiba buckled under the strength of his performance.) I tried messaging him through the same chat client on my phone -- no response. When I finally got my laptop up and running again, I found out he'd been too enthralled to even pause when I'd crashed out, and had watched all the rest of the episode without me... robbing me of the chance to see him react to the ending in real time. Bastard.

    (I'm joking, of course, I don't hold it against him -- I reckon it speaks to the episode's quality that he just couldn't tear his eyes away)

    We had a good deal to talk about afterwards, a lot more than the usual offhand post-episode comments he's been giving me so far (eg. "probably the worst Q episode" or "this is a pretty lame board game, even Monopoly has more player control than that", or simply saying "die with honour, Fenn" out of the blue, which kinda caught me off guard until I remembered the reference). Suffice to say, this has been his favourite episode so far; it was also a lot better than he was expecting it to be from the start.

    He wanted to know what I thought of it. I told him actually wasn't too struck by it on my original viewing (thought it was good, but it didn't stick with me), but I did appreciate it more second time round, especially knowing Marritza's bluster to be an act. Partner mentioned in turn that he'd suspected something was up, given how far Marritza went in trying to prove himself as the evil Darhe'el. He certainly didn't predict exactly *what* was up, though, and he loved the reveal/the motivations behind it.

    He was also curious about what other people's reactions were to it. Wasn't surprised by the fact that it's generally considered a classic. But he told me he'd expected Marritza's death to be somewhat controversial: not in the sense of "it wasn't necessary to kill the guy" that I told him I'd seen, but more related to this episode as a thinly-veiled Holocaust allegory. He reckoned having someone recently liberated from oppression/occupation striking out at (someone perceived as) one of the former oppressors to be a risky move, especially with the 90s having had a lot more Holocaust survivors alive compared to now. The way it played out wasn't something he *personally* had a problem with, but he anticipated a lot more disapproval there than I've seen (which is... none, as it happens, though I can't say I've done much of a deep dive for this ep given how it made less of an impact on me).

    One final thought I had on second viewing related to the complexity of Marritza's coverup. There's two disguises involved: he's originally "Marritza-posing-as-Darhe'el-posing-as-Marritza" before that's stripped back to the relatively simple "Marritza-posing-as-Darhe'el". Posing as Marritza to start with seems like enough of an excuse to get him aboard the station safely for his scheme, and would also explain the years of living he'd done as Marritza. It seems risky, though: once they'd done sufficient investigation to peel back the first layer of disguise, wouldn't they potentially have dug up leads into the second layer in the process of seeing through the first? Marritza's been playing the long game, for sure -- a whole five years recovering from plastic surgery! But he's also clearly self-loathing and desperate for some redemption in death, and that concocts the right sort of mindset for mistakes.

    @ Fenn,

    "He reckoned having someone recently liberated from oppression/occupation striking out at (someone perceived as) one of the former oppressors to be a risky move, especially with the 90s having had a lot more Holocaust survivors alive compared to now."

    Funnily enough, I think the killing of the Cardassian was meant less to be controversial and more meant to be what the standard modern response would be to someone like that. The Barjoran who did it isn't a radical extremist, he's just an ordinary guy. Kira is the one who's been through a radical experience that's opened her eyes and made her realize it's about more than just revenge.

    Now Marritza wasn't maybe a very important Cardassian, but based on what we've seen IRL it became standard practice for Nazi's around the world who escaped Germany to be hunted down and taken out. For the most part this has been celebrated, or at least tolerated as as sort of inevitability. Rarely if ever have I heard someone say "yeah but wait a minute, how responsible were they really? Is there a way to forgive?" When it comes to Nazis they just gotta die. I think that's the standard opinion TBH. So what's controversial is having Kira say that killing him was wrong; the actual killing is true to life.

    @Peter G: that was pretty much his reasoning; looking back on that comment, I definitely phrased it clumsily in the retelling. Having Kira *condemn* this practice would be the controversial move, with Nazi atrocities still in living memory for many.

    But yes: it's interesting, and quite possibly daring, to picture someone even *marginally* involved in "just following orders" trying to repent -- and through drastic suicidal action.

    To extend from this, though: to what extent are Marritza's actions for the sake of Bajor/Cardassia, as opposed to just for his *own* sake? On one hand, he wants to "force Cardassia to acknowledge its guilt" -- but Gul Dukat and Central Command *know* that Darhe'el's been dead for six years, and Marritza appears to have only been taking concrete steps towards this for five (coinciding with the time he started taking dermal regenerators). Why proceed with this plan over a course of years when Darhe'el is known to be dead, and can easily be proven as such? Surely he must know of Darhe'el's death, as Cardassia producing a *living* Darhe'el would surely be an even more obvious way to shatter his plans. The short gap between Darhe'els death and the start of Marritza's plan seems like no coincidence: he's stepping into the dead man's shoes.

    Given this, I honestly suspect that his actions might primarily be to clear his own conscience, to die easy, with the weak coverup of "my death is necessary for a better Cardassia" to make it seem less self-indulgent. There are obvious flaws that he's had years to potentially see, but he's pursued this plan regardless. That speaks to a death drive, a single-minded obsession with this as his only possible redemption. Tragic, for sure, but not quite so selfless.

    "but Gul Dukat and Central Command *know* that Darhe'el's been dead for six years, and Marritza appears to have only been taking concrete steps towards this for five (coinciding with the time he started taking dermal regenerators). Why proceed with this plan over a course of years when Darhe'el is known to be dead, and can easily be proven as such?"

    I don't really know if this was what they had in mind, but in season 7 it was mentioned that Cardassians had little faith in the truth of what their government was saying, despite outward appearances. When they claimed Damar was dead, no one really believed it either.

    I liked Peter's write-up, and I just wanted add some thoughts about Marritza's motives. My reading is that Marritza represents total war guilt such as the Germans and even the U.S. feel to some degree. To that end, Marritza doesn't care if the Cardassians expose him; he's making the ultimate sacrifice by symbolically showing that he, as a representative of the Cardassian occupation, deserves to answer to justice. What's great about this is that it plays into different shades of Cardassian patriotism. Those like Gul Dukat would call Marritza a traitor, but Marritza has a good argument that Cardassia answering for its crimes is the best way for it to move beyond its dark past. And in that sense, Marritza is the true patriot here.

    This episode is just one of the reasons I think DS9 was the best Trek. I hope The current batch can come up to this standard.
    In all the accolades for this episode know one has mentioned that the story was based (intentionally or not) on Arthur Hiller's play and subsequently the movie
    "The Man in the Glass Booth".

    This by far is one of the Top 5 Deep Space 9 episodes of all time. My wife who doesn't like anything Science Fiction cried at the end of this episode.

    Binging DS9 right now. I just finished this one.

    Just fantastic.

    I'm finally just watching this series now and I'm really enjoying it, but I'm shocked at the reviews on here as this was by far my least favourite episode of the whole season. I found it incredibly boring and slow paced and kept waiting for something exciting to happen and then the episode just ended.

    I also agree that the ending made it even worse, as the fade to black while they all stood there like morons really ruined it for me including Odo just standing behind the murderer without hauling him away. I have the same issue with this scene as many in this series, in that someone has something happen and everyone just says yikes he's dead. Whereas in real life I'm pretty sure you would be calling emergency services or the doctor versus just standing there assuming it's too late to save the person. They bring people back from the dead all the time but only when it's convenient it seems to the plot.

    I I'm definitely going to continue on with the series but if I ever re-watch it this one will force you or be a skip for me. I didn't hate it but I don't agree with the perfect 4/4 review score on here.

    It’s 2020 and I’m just now getting around to watching DS9 all the way through. I grew up in the 80’s but as a kid mostly grew up on OS movies and episodes my Dad had on tape, and of course TNG on tv. I’ve since watched Voyager, Enterprise and Discovery all the way through as well as Picard. So I thought why not watch DS9 since it’s on Amazon and Star Trek the OS animates series. Anyway, I co sides myself a Trekkie and I think this episode “Duet” is one of the best Star Trek episodes I’ve ever seen. The literal acting duet between Harris Yulin and Nana Visitor was riveting and beautiful to watch. I think Nana Visitor is one of my favorite ST actors to begin with, her passion and emotion just pulls me in every time. I had no idea that was Harris Yulin until I googled the episode. I of course recognize him from many films but honestly this might be his best performance. I’ll have to go see if I can find other work of his because he was amazing in this!

    For me, DS9 season 1 was like any show trying to find it's footing early on, like many on this review, Duet is sort of like this diamond in the rough. I knew every landmark episode of TNG and VOY , but I had no clue this episode existed in a season 1 of trek (Star trek is notorious for having lack luster starters).

    The holocaust allegory is heavy here, Yulin delivering what I think is the role he will be remembered for , funny because i'm watching Ozark and he's playing the old guy , but I digress. He's invested in the character and it all comes to a crescendo when he spills his emotional guts in front of Kira, trying to remedy the atrocities the Bajorans had to endure.

    As mentionned by many this bottle episode punches above it's weight

    Great episode, although the plot is quite far fetched. Security gets an "F" as it did with TNG. Parade the equivalent of Hitler on the promenade with barely any security.

    What an amazing episode. I've never made it this far in DS9 but wow.

    This episode hits on a level no other Star Trek episode I've seen has ever managed to match.

    Harris Yulin's is flat out amazing especially before the reveal when he manages to act so proud of 'his' atrocities without tipping his hand. Rewatching some of his scenes with Kira you can see what a truly masterful job he does in portraying a man who is laden with guilt but trying to hide it.

    I simply cannot remember an actor in a one-off Star Trek role who was ever able to match this type of performance and we're really lucky they cast someone who wasn't going to just phone it in for the pay check on an often goofy TV show.

    Still floored.

    @Crobert, I agree, "Duet" gets me every time.

    The Cardassians were such an intricately characterized race. We saw personalities as different as Garak, Marritza, and Damar. But one thing I've never been able to quite put my finger on: why did the Cardassians withdraw from Bajor?

    I get that the decision was taken by the civilian leadership. But I don't understand why. Was it really that - having signed a peace agreement with the Federation - the Federation was able to put diplomatic pressure on the Cardassians ("Ensign Ro")? Or was it something else?

    What I love about "Duet" is that it takes place so soon after the occupation comes to an end. There are obviously Cardassians who were as deeply traumatized by the whole experience as the Bajorans. Cardassians who couldn't quite get back to normal life when they got back home from war ("The Darkness and the Light").

    I'm reminded by that scene in The Hurt Locker when the soldier is back from war, and he just stares at all the options in the cereal aisle,

    Like what the fuck just happened.

    When I watch the old videos of Peter Jennings reporting from the Berlin Wall, I feel that was one piece missing from DS9. Both Babylon 5 and Battlestar Galactica made good use of the media to drive and explain their stories,

    I wonder what the Federation News Service would have looked like if they had someone like Jake Sisko on hand during the Cardassian withdrawal?

    "I simply cannot remember an actor in a one-off Star Trek role who was ever able to match this type of performance"

    The only actor for me who matched Harris Yulin's exceptional performance in a one-off Star Trek role is William Windom as Decker in "The Doomsday Machine". He showed an incredible range of emotions from being distraught over the loss of his crew, sparring with Spock and Kirk, and then being resigned to suicide.

    Real shame Trek never got another job for Yulin or Windom.

    @ Mal,

    "why did the Cardassians withdraw from Bajor?

    I get that the decision was taken by the civilian leadership. But I don't understand why. Was it really that - having signed a peace agreement with the Federation - the Federation was able to put diplomatic pressure on the Cardassians ("Ensign Ro")? Or was it something else?"

    Yes, it is quite interesting that they never address this. It's almost deliberate. That way you get to hear various opinions but never have a God's-eye POV telling you the 'real story'. In real life you never get that anyhow. Kira believes the Cardassians were driven off through attrition. Dukat believes the civilian government was weak and caved in under pressure (from the Federation?). Maybe it could be both. It's entirely possible Bajor simply wasn't profitable, and like any imperialist business they'll move elsewhere if the $$ isn't rolling in. For all we know Dukat was actually too soft on the Bajorans (as he claims!) and it make the venture finally fail. The timing of it with the Federation peace treaty does seem a little too connected chronologically to be a coincidence, though.

    Another question we could ask is how many other subjugated planets Cardassia controlled even after leaving Bajor. Was this a common occurrence? We don't hear anything about that. There are shades of Germany in France about the Occupation (including its name), but obviously Germany occupied other countries as well. So did Cardassia give up the occupation game, or only on Bajor? We don't know. One thing we do sort of know was there was political upheaval on Cardassia, in the dissident movement which we are led to believe is more significant than the Central Command is letting on. This was so much so that they were primed to outright fall as soon as the Klingons shook them up a little. So there may have been more going on than just withdrawing from one planet. It could be that, perhaps like the Roman Empire, it became impossible at a certain point to manage distant protectorates effectively.

    It's kind of cool that it's left open, but the detail-nerd in me would have liked more intrigue episodes in S1-4 explaining what was going on, both on Cardassia and Bajor.

    @Peter G., I completely agree that it was probably a deliberate choice to never reveal a "true" reason for the withdrawal. And it was truly well executed - as you point out, with everyone on the show having their own pet theories. Almost like in real life.

    Contrast that with Babylon 5, where the question of why the Minbari surrendered at the battle of the line was made into an explicit mystery of season 1. I always found the revelation to be a little underwhelming given the buildup.

    In that sense, I much prefer DS9's deliberate ambiguity.

    Heck, there are people today who still wonder how it is possible that the Soviet Union just suddenly collapsed. And yet it did. These things really do happen. Leaving everyone a little blindsided and searching for reasons.

    @Peter G.

    I think it's fair to assume the Cardies left Bajor for a combination of the reasons you've put forth: The resistance was exacting a toll on the Cardies, Dukat's leadership was getting ineffectual, there was likely pressure from the Federation, and also the Cardies were having to deal with the Maquis (an ongoing issue into DS9 S2). And maybe the Prophets somehow got involved though this idea is not given any support..

    Regarding the big reveal with B5, I actually think the profound nature of it, that humans and Minbari share DNA and Sinclair/Valen 1000 years ago is hardly underwhelming. The Minbari truly realized how important humans were and that they had to stop what would have been a genocide of humanity (this is discussed in the movie "In the Beginning" -- which is essential B5).

    In TNG S4, we learned that the Federation was at war with Cardassia, but which was now ended. Likely the Federation wished to end the war relatively quickly after the Borg decimation of the fleet at Wolf 359. Due to this weakened military power, the Federation probably started making more diplomatic and peaceful solutions than they had been. They likely also propoosed major consessions they otherwise wouldn't have in order to gain that peace. And indeed, the next 2 years saw a rather tense negotiation period as weapons shipments and DMZ protocol breaches were frequent and distrust reigned. Even during the final negotiations the Cardassians were highly suspicious of the Federation's plans, kidnapping and tourturing Captain Picard for information before Captain Jellico called their bluff and got them to back down from reinitializing hostilities.

    We can assume Bajor was far enough out from the proposed border changes that if would always fall in Federation space, and the planets they gave up in the DMZ also likely made Cardassia more willing to give up it's claim on Bajor in exchange for whatever resources and military advantages were to be found on those former Federation Colonies. And, having been weakened by the Borg, the Federation were willing to trade them all for a relative backwater and potential new ally and post with which to monitor Cardassian movements, while Cardassia, equally knowing the Federations weakened bargaining position and strength, clearly planned to put pressure on the Bajoran outpost and slowly build up to a take-over attempt, as seen in how they made their presence known in "Emissary" and throughout S1 and the big push in the opening arc of S2.

    I like that thinking but I don't think the timing quite works. Memory Alpha clearly puts both the truce and armistice between the Federation and the Cardies prior to Wolf 359. (

    As others say, the Bajoran resistance were successful in making Cardassians think occupying Bajor wasn't worth the hassle. So they left. Little did they know about the wormhole that would have changed the cost/benefit analysis dramatically for them.

    @Nolan, love the write up. I’m so tempted to chalk the whole thing up to the Federation which, after barely surviving the Borg, wants to make peace. The subsequent redrawing of the Cardassian-Federation boarder results in a withdrawal from Bajor. Except that @Tomalak is pretty convincing that the timing doesn’t fit. “The Wounded” is just a few months after BoBW, and by then, it has already been close to a year since peace with the Cardassians,

    PICARD: It has been nearly a year since a peace treaty ended the long conflict between the Federation and Cardassia.

    But maybe @Nolan’s theory still works if we push everything back by a year.

    Maybe the mere fear of an approaching Borg was enough to drive the Federation to make serious changes. As Admiral Hanson says in BoBW about the Borg,

    HANSON: We've known they were coming for over a year. We've thrown every resource we have into this.

    So the Enterprise meets the Borg (“Q Who”), is scared shitless, and quickly throws “every resource” into the problem. That includes making peace with it’s neighbors. “Peak Performance” is just a few months after “Q Who”. Clearly the Federation reoriented itself fairly quickly to the impending Borg threat.

    So the Federation makes peace with the Cardassians (“The Wounded”), and soon thereafter, the Cardassians make the mistake of involving the Federation in the Bajoran problem (“Ensign Ro”),

    PICARD: We've had our problems with the Cardassians too, but now that we have a treaty, we're in a position to help. Your people have been forced to resettle all over the quadrant. But now we can make a legitimate case with the Cardassians that this is not an isolated problem. We can work diplomatically on your behalf. But first, these terrorist attacks must end.

    Picard was not just some random Federation officer. He had the ear of people in positions of authority. Contrast that to Captain Ben Maxwell. Maxwell couldn’t get anyone at Starfleet Command to listen to him that the Cardassians were still a real threat,

    MAXWELL: There's no good reason for a science station in the Quellar System, but it's a hell of a strategic site for a military transport station. A jumping-off point into three Federation sectors. They're running supply ships back and forth and nobody's going to tell me it's for scientific research.

    PICARD: But whatever circumstances you encountered, why didn't you notify Starfleet?

    MAXWELL: And wait six months while the bureaucrats sit around reading reports, trying to figure out what to do?

    Picard is no Ben Maxwell, and the Cardassians knew it,

    JELLICO: In case of a Cardassian attack, the Enterprise will be assigned as Command ship for this sector. If the Cardassians got wind of that...

    The Cardassians specifically targeted Picard in Chain of Command,

    MADRED: How could we have designed a lure for the Captain of the Federation flagship unless we knew something about his background.

    And all the while, the Cardassians were amassing troops for an invasion of Minos Korva,

    JELLICO: Starfleet now believes the Cardassians are preparing to invade Minos Korva. I'm convinced their invasion fleet is hiding in the McAllister Nebula.

    But Jellico thwarts the invasion.

    More than that, Jellico completely humiliates the Cardassians,

    JELLICO: Your ships will leave the nebula one by one. Each ship will eject its primary phaser coil before setting course for the nearest Cardassian base.

    LEMEC: But that will leave us defenceless.

    JELLICO: Mister Worf, prepare to detonate

    LEMEC: I will agree to your terms.

    Following their very public and very humiliating defeat at the hands of Captain Jellico, the Cardassian military bravado collapses like a deck of cards. Mere weeks later, Cardassia withdraws from Bajor.

    At the start of Chain of Command, when Admiral Nechayev is explaining why she is giving the Enterprise to Jellico, I always thought she was just being a bitch. But when I go back to what she actually said, I can hardly believe it,

    NECHAYEV: I'm giving him command of the Enterprise this afternoon. Captain Jellico helped to negotiate the original armistice two years ago and I believe he's the most qualified person to lead this mission.

    There are men like Edward Jellico ("I want someone on the Bridge who has a great deal of experience with the Cardassians”) and Ben Maxwell ("Benjamin Maxwell earned the loyalty of those who served with him. You know, in war, he was twice honoured with the Federation's highest citation for courage and valour.”) whose stories we rarely get to explore in Star Trek. I would add Garth of Izar to that list. The only time we came close was with Gabriel Lorca, but of course, he was an imposter. When circumstances call for it, Starfleet givens these men a ship - gives them a command - and sets them lose on the galaxy. And god help anyone who gets in their way. Sisko wasn’t that sort of man when he took command of DS9. Circumstances forged him into a very different person - a very different captain from any of the others we’ve ever focused on in Star Trek.

    Bajor owes its freedom as much to men like Jellico as it does to men like Li Nalas.

    That covers things from the Federation side. But what about the Cardassians themselves?

    What the hell was Garak doing on - as @Nolan puts it - a "relative backwater" like Bajor? ("The Wire: Someone in the Order was accused of letting some Bajoran prisoners escape."). I can't believe the Bajoran resistance was worth any attention from the Obsidian order. Was it that even during the occupation, Garak was sent to Bajor for exile? That really puts the Cardassian "value" on Bajor into perspective.

    Nice chronological review, Mal. I does seem possible to surmise that the Cardassian failure with Jellico might have caused certain people to lose credibility, or their jobs...or worse, back at Central Command. That, along with the Obsidian Order (IMO represented by Gul Madred) endangering Jellico's terms by prolonging Picard's interrogation, and therefore increasing the rift between them and the Central Command. Between these maybe whoever was chiefly the proponent of the Occupation was kicked to the curb and the resettled power structure was in favor of leaving. But really this is head canon, because the writers deliberately do not let us know the proximate causes.

    About Garak, I've actually thought many times about what the timing was of his appearance on the station. From Past Prologue it was made to sound like he was a fixture on the station, and so didn't just show up a few days before Sisko and the other Federation officers. But does that mean he was there during the actual Occupation...under Dukat? Now granted back in Past Prologue there was no intention to continue the character, and so any backstory between him and Dukat (established largely in Cardassians) wouldn't have been thought of yet. So it may be a chronological inconsistency on this point. But how could a Cardassian agent be exiled to live on a station under Bajoran control? That doesn't actually seem possible, given the circumstances. So I surmise he must have been there during the Occupation. There is no need to figure out how this would have worked, because that backstory didn't exist yet. Garak and Dukat being enemies feels like at minimum a soft retcon. I suppose if we want to develop head canon it could be that Dukat felt Garak was untouchable, since he wouldn't have known it was exile. I suppose after the Cardassians left Terok Nor it would have become apparent that Garak staying behind upended any previous theories about why he was there in the first place.

    Why didn't Kira transport Marritza to the infirmary after he got stabbed?

    Over all score: 8/10

    The ending is rather weak -- that TV thing where even a non-medical professional can just instantly identify someone as beyond help, not even worth trying anything. Poor showing for Odo too.

    Absolutely incredible episode imo, and is done with nearly no actual scene changes or action or much of anything except talking and yet it's a riveting hour. Imo this is DS9s first glimpse of the greatness of story and characters that is to come

    One of the best episodes of any Trek of all time. Dare I say some of the folks getting caught up on plot holes, or playing doctor and trying to figure out if the knife was enough for the kill, are missing the point. (Yes TV, like all forms of story telling, take liberties when the story requires, it's really not that big a deal, just enjoy) This episode isn't about those details, it's about the larger story and the characters in it.
    A 4 star episode for sure.

    No gimmicks. No special "scifi magic." No technobabble. Just a very focused story executed superbly by Harris Yulin as "Marritza" and Nana Visitor as "Major Kira Nerys." Yulin is one of those actors associated with Trek who has a huge, extensive resume (over 100 appearances in film and TV). This simple powerful episode takes its place among the best that any Trek show has ever done.

    Yeah the knife in the back thing is just, silly. We're in the 24th century here. He's right next to the infirmary and half a dozen Starfleet officers with basic medical training until Bashir or another medical tech gets there to get him to a biobed, and they can't do anything for him? Plot convenience, but the only nitpick in an otherwise excellent episode setting the example for DS9 episodes to follow.

    Now THIS is a four-star episode. Many twists and turns that kept me on the edge of the seat. Plus, I'm the child of Holocaust survivors, so this one hit hard.

    So, so much to write but what would be the point? A superlative episode in every way.

    The comments about "Wouldn't *they* have known ...." are at least amusing. "Wouldn't they have known Gul Darheel wasn't at Gallitep?" "Wouldn't they have known he had had a big state funeral some years back?" Wouldn't *they* have known .... (the list goes on). The point, however, is what *they* would have known does not matter. All that matters is what the audience knows and when it is revealed to us.

    This is a drama, a TV show. It has far more in common with The Poetics and Shakespeare than it does with Newton or Neil Armstrong. The process of telling the story only matters from the audience's point of view. What may be known to the characters in the story is only relevant when it is revealed to the audience.

    Thus we slowly find that the man in custody is indeed Marritza. We take that journey along with Major Kira. The revelation to her is the revelation to us. We learn as she learns. The point is to build the possibility that we truly are looking at the Butcher of Gallitep only to find that we are in fact dealing with a file clerk who hid away as atrocities were committed. That process brings the universal question of "What is the right path when we find ourselves in the presence of unspeakable evil?" home in a personal way.

    Again, this is a dramatic presentation that uses the arts of the storytellers. It is not a news report from some far off planet named Bajor. Always keep in mind you're watching a show that uses dramatic conventions to build a narrative.

    Otherwise, this is not just one of the best episodes of DS9 or the entire Trek franchise, it is just stellar TV across the entire history of television. It's brilliance is confirmed by the fact that now, in 2023, 30 years after its production it holds up well. How can it go wrong with speeches like this one which establishes Major Kira's motivation:

    "KIRA: Commander, if you'd been there twelve years ago when we liberated that camp, if you'd seen the things I saw... All those Bajoran bodies starved, brutalized... Do you know what Cardassian policy was? Oh, I'm not even talking about the murder. Murder was just the end of the fun for them. First came the humiliation, mothers raped in front of their children, husbands beaten till their wives couldn't recognize them, old people buried alive because they couldn't work anymore."

    And that's early in the show.

    Started rewatching DS9 after having finished the remastered BluRays of TNG (highly recommend them, watch for a mark down and grab them before they’re gone). I’d always thought that DS9 was the best of the Trek series up to that point, having watched it “live” in the 90’s, and then rewatched it when it was available on Netflix years ago. I now have a set of the DS9 DVD’s (remastered BluRays, pleeeez!) and we just got to this episode this evening.

    Deep breath.

    After seeing Maritz’s first rant after being “unmasked” as Gul Darhe’el, my mouth was hanging open in astonishment. What a performance by Harris Yulin! And that was only the first of several emotionally wracking speeches he delivered.

    Nana Visitor was observer, victim, and finally understanding sympathizer with a performance that left me in tears by the final reveal of who Maritz/Darhe’el was and what he was trying to accomplish.

    The denouement was inevitable but necessary, I think. Maritz was a classically tragic figure, and his death was necessary to complete his tale, and provide a final emotional experience for Kira/Nana to weep for him in the end, after overcoming her hatred, achieving understanding and finally sympathy for him.

    Damn! I’m tearing up again just writing this.

    DS9 had moments of transcendence, starting right here with Duet. It’s been such a while since my last viewing that the episodes are almost new to me, and I look forward to the “surprises” yet to come.

    On account of having seen this episode many times, I was motived to watch The Man in the Glass Booth, which I did watch with my wife a few years ago. Naturally when we watched this episode the other night she said right after "hey, this is like that movie", and was not surprised at all when I told her this was based on it. That did probably slightly reduce her surprise at the plot resolution, but I suppose that put her in the same boat as anyone else who was familiar with the film already. Incidentally I prefer this episode to the film.

    Just saw this episode. I like Harris Yulan. This is a really overwrought episode, I think.

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