Star Trek: Deep Space Nine


3.5 stars

Air date: 1/5/1998
Written by Ronald D. Moore
Directed by Rene Auberjonois

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Behold ... Benjamin Sisko: supreme arbiter of right and wrong in the universe." — Dukat, about to prove and then disprove shades of grey

Nutshell: A little too extreme at times, but mostly a very, very intense and gripping hour.

One of the most interesting things about Dukat, the Cardassians, and the entire Deep Space Nine universe is that they have always been filled with such challenging grey areas.

It is a bizarre irony, then, that an episode that effectively deletes many of those shades of grey from Dukat's character can still be extremely complex and interesting, and equally challenging. There have been many times in the past when sympathizing with Dukat—despite his incessant need for his actions to serve his own interests—was not a difficult thing. But after "Waltz" I find myself only partially understanding Dukat and not exactly wanting to understand the rest of him. And I truly hope that if I'd personally known Adolf Hitler the way I've come to know Dukat over the years, I wouldn't be a fraction as sympathetic or interested in knowing more about him as I am with Dukat.

That's not to say I sympathize with a man who admits to a pattern of thought that Dukat admits to by the end of "Waltz"; I'd probably react just the way Sisko did—with a determined "him or me" attitude that can't see the man as anything more than "pure evil." What, rather, I am saying is that virtuosic scripter Ron Moore has done something very interesting: He has gotten me to see things from inside the twisted mind of a mad, raving, racist, self-serving yet broken and tortured dictator who has lost everything—his empire, his daughter, his mind, and his entire sense of reality—and now plans on making up for lost time. Is that somewhere I really want to go? The answer to that question is probably the reason "Waltz" is so extremely psychologically intense for such a long time. Dukat is one of the most fascinating characters that Trek has ever maintained—but at the same time, some of the dimensions he takes on here scare the hell out of me, and I don't think I'd be doing my job if I didn't say his raving display was disquieting.

If you haven't gotten the idea, I think this makes for very powerful, wonderfully executed drama. Marc Alaimo's performances rarely disappoint, and here he does a balancing act unlike anything I've seen him do before. Dukat has changed in some ways, while remaining the same in others. He's definitely no longer stable. Alaimo offers us the witty side of the Cardassian that has always been likable, sympathetic, and interesting. He often seems like the same Dukat we've always known: self-serving but doing what he believes is in everyone's best interests. At the same time, when his buried feelings finally come exploding out into the open dialog, we see a frightening display of repressed hatred (powerfully conveyed by the actor). In between Dukat's surface and inner-self are the voices of dissension in his head, which take on the form of Weyoun, Damar, and Kira—a device which is effectively utilized.

The rudimentary plot does a good job of staying out of the way. The whole game begins when Sisko, who is to give a statement for Dukat's initial Federation hearing, is on the same ship that is transporting the Cardassian criminal. The ship is suddenly attacked by Dominion forces and destroyed. A handful of survivors make it out alive, including, of course, Sisko and Dukat, who are the only two people on one shuttle that escapes. Sisko is injured, the shuttle is damaged, and Dukat is forced to land on a barren planet. The two then have nothing to do but wait for rescue … and, of course, discuss everything that has been left unsaid for years.

This is of course the core of the episode—a very solid core, at that. It's interesting to note that the crux of the way both Sisko and Dukat see "Dukat, the person" is not simply in context of the Dominion War, but mostly in terms of the Cardassian Occupation, where Dukat served as prefect. Just what were Dukat's intentions as he oversaw the Occupation? To what extent was he responsible for the genocide? It's an issue that's on both men's minds throughout the episode, though Sisko obviously wants to avoid it—he'd rather not address Dukat under the given circumstances.

But would Sisko ever have wanted to find the real answers to Dukat that "Waltz" eventually supplies? I'm not so sure. Sisko, contrary to some things he says early on, does have an opinion of Dukat, even though he knows he doesn't have all the "evidence." Disliking Dukat's self-serving motives (which led to the whole Dominion/Cardassian union, for starters) and coming to a middle-ground decision based on Dukat's reputation from the Occupation days (whether it's fairly or unfairly deserved) seems like the only somewhat comfortable position Sisko could ever reside in. Finding out Dukat's true intentions for overseeing the occupation of Bajor could either complicate matters with unexpected grey areas, or simplify them with the contempt in realizing that Dukat is as guilty as many say he is.

It's a great credit to "Waltz" that the final payoff manages to push the envelope to an extreme that I didn't see coming—yet, in a way, accomplishes in simultaneously painting shades of grey and exposing the contemptible side that one can rightly call "evil." As we learn, Dukat hadn't truly intended widespread death or destruction for Bajor; he wanted justice and control over the Bajoran resistance—at a point when it was far too late. As he puts it, he tried to "save lives" by "reaching out" with a kind hand—a hand which the Bajorans consistently "slapped away." He would answer terrorism with equal and opposite terror, and in his mind he was fully justified and right—far more generous than most people in his position would be. Well, maybe that's true (as echoes of "Duet" and the butcher Gul Darhe'el arise). But what Dukat fails to realize is that the Cardassians had no right in being on Bajor in the first place. Dukat's wrong-headed observation that the Cardassians were obviously the "superior race"—and that, therefore, he had free reign in telling Bajorans where their place was on their own planet—is precisely the kind of poisoned thinking that causes tragedies like the Cardassian Occupation (or the Holocaust, for that matter) to happen.

Yet Dukat could still probably be understandable despite his extreme, backward oversights—if not for the fact that his repressed rage reveals his utter hatred for Bajorans and the pride they wear as "twisted badges of honor," and the ludicrous fact that he blames the Bajorans' resistance for bringing out the worst in him and all Cardassians. And it's Dukat's rage that Sisko takes advantage of to trick the Cardassian into revealing his uncensored mind—a mind that deep down believes he should've simply killed every Bajoran he could've when he had the opportunity.

One relevant question is whether we judge a person on their actions or their beliefs. Dukat tried to do the right thing in wielding a gentler hand, even if it was a misguided attempt and for all the wrong reasons. But does that alleviate his evil now that we know the real truth—that Dukat is a Bajoran-hater that wants to be its enemy unlike anything the world has ever seen? Once we see the evil emerge, another question this episode demands we ask is whether Dukat's hatred grew out of his recent loss and madness, or if it has always been something he has held beneath the surface. Or did Dukat's hatred grow out of his own hopeless situation of trying to be the prefect that Central Command wanted him to be? How might he have turned out if he were never prefect of the Occupation? Even in what seems like a black-and-white case of terrible darkness and evil, Moore's script finds troubling shades of grey. While Dukat's hatred, admittedly, turns a little too extreme by the end (his desire to continue "unfinished business on Bajor" seemed a bit excessive for Dukat, even considering his instability), there always seems to be a confidently scripted reason behind everything Dukat thinks and does, even if it's difficult to decipher.

Returning to the voices in Dukat's head, I thought the use of the other characters as figments of Dukat's imagination was very appropriate. Each voice was there to provide Dukat with a chance to do what he wants to do more than anything—convince himself that he is justified in carrying out his actions. Whether they support his claims or refute them (causing Dukat to respond with his own rebuttals), they're always present as the symbol of embarrassed guilt and unremittingly determined rationalization—a running element of commentary. And when he Dukat doesn't get his way (even within this battle in his mind) he loses his temper and becomes violent, sometimes even turning his phaser upon thin air. Such behavior, and what these characters have to say, is very true to Dukat—a man who does not respond well to being told he is wrong or unjustified.

Execution-wise, Rene Auberjonois' direction was adept, particularly in utilizing these invisible characters. One effective choice has Dukat closing himself inside a shuttlecraft along with his three other "voices"; another has "Kira" mocking him, as she turns into a surreal, invisible laugh that drives Dukat to the brink.

Although Alaimo is the real show-stealer here, another performance I'd like to praise is Avery Brooks'. Brooks and Alaimo have always worked well together, but never has the situation felt so tense and personal. This show is about Dukat wanting Sisko's respect and understanding—an understanding that Sisko will never grant him. As a result, a lot of Dukat's dialog is answered with a reaction from Sisko. Brooks' performance is right on target, particularly in scenes where Sisko manipulates Dukat by playing to the Cardassian's ego and telling him exactly what he wants to hear.

Even the subplot, involving Worf taking the Defiant to look for Sisko and the other survivors, was handled well. It was understated, sensible, and featured some nice touches, which was about all it needed. (I particularly liked Kira's calm explanation concerning the limited time for searching for the survivors, and Worf putting Bashir in his proper place by quietly telling him, "You may leave the bridge, doctor," when the situation warranted it.)

On the other hand, Dukat's escape, while reasonably handled, seemed just a little too much like the obvious outcome of bringing Dukat back into DS9's main action. After his broken defeat in "Sacrifice of Angels," it seemed almost unfathomable that this guy could ever end up going back to where he came from. Yet that's exactly what this episode does by the time it ends. It seemed plausible enough, but at the same time it felt a little like a return to how things were before Dukat's downfall. I'd hate to see the Dominion/Cardassian storyline run around in a circle, but Dukat's return to the mix makes it all the more possible, because we all know he's not someone who's going to simply disappear. Hopefully this won't turn out to be character regression. If Dukat's madness doesn't continue to haunt him, and if Dukat ends up unaffected and at Weyoun's side the next time we see him, I'm going to be skeptical. At this point, I don't think it really hurts the episode, so I'm keeping an open mind.

Really, this episode would've been perfect four-star material if not for the final scene which has Sisko reiterate what we've already been adequately shown. It was the only scene in the show that rang false. Despite the substantial dialog in this episode, the dramatic undercurrent of "Waltz" was primarily "show, don't tell" mentality—until this lackluster final scene. Having Sisko slowly turn to Dax and explain how he has seen the face of "pure evil" was completely excessive and unnecessary. While Sisko's interpretation of the situation certainly felt genuine, the scene's existence seemed glib and rather intelligence-insulting after nearly an hour of deep and thought-inviting Sisko/Dukat interaction.

But other than a touch of excess here and there and this final scene, "Waltz" is a big, big winner—a dark, meaty, intriguing chapter that's probably the most ambitious and probing hour of DS9 since "Rocks and Shoals." Bravo to Mr. Alaimo, Mr. Brooks, and Mr. Moore.

Next week: Speaking of great episodes, "Rocks and Shoals" airs again. Catch it if you haven't.

Previous episode: The Magnificent Ferengi
Next episode: Who Mourns for Morn

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135 comments on this post

Mon, Oct 15, 2007, 11:01pm (UTC -6)
Spot-on review. One of the best-concieved episodes, with some solid writing, the only outstanding flaw being a tendency toward the bombastic, especially in Sisko's dialog at the beginning and ending of the show. Otherwise, this is my choice for Trek's best attempt at the psychological thriller.

I think anyone who has seen nuBSG could guess that Ron Moore penned this outing. It's interesting to note the similarities between Dukat and Gaius Baltar. Both are egomaniacs who have sold out their respective peoples. Both feel a great deal of regret, and try rationalizing their actions by communicating in their heads with important people from their past.
Sat, Nov 10, 2007, 7:45pm (UTC -6)
Is it just me, or was the title of "Waltz" chosen for the story's similarity to the story of "Duet?" I'm no music theory expert, but I believe duets generally feature harmony, and waltzes feature counterpoint.

Anyway, I can't add much to the review that hasn't already been said by the esteemed Mr. Epsicokhan, except for a few thoughts on Dukat himself. Not just in this episode, but over the whole series' run.

I believe it was always (or at least from very early on in the series) intended that Dukat was insane from the very beginning. I mean, how can it not be insane to commit the atrocities he did and yet (apparently) sincerely believe his actions were somehow benevolent or compassionate?

No, I think he was insane from day one, but he had enough self-control that it was more or less disguised and expressed as a sense of perverse nationalism and extreme egomania. So, all those years; during the occupation, and a few years after; he was insane, period.

But, after Damar killed Ziyal, then he was no longer merely insane, he was *broken*. Completely.

Unfortunately his "recovery" was a false one. He didn't really *heal*, he *rebuilt* himself, without actually healing at all. And the "new" Dukat was even more insane than the old one. The old Dukat, despite his insanity, actually experienced real guilt from time to time, and he also experienced real love, for Ziyal, and for Ziyal's mother.

The new Dukat? Nope, don't think so. Not in this episode, or any that follow. I think from this point on, the only thing Dukat felt was powerlessness, which was more enraging to him than anything else ever could be, hence he sought power , period. Any power. It didn't matter from where, and it didn't matter over whom. How else could the man who once ridiculed Bajoran "superstition" turn around and embrace it?
Ol' Rudyard
Fri, Sep 12, 2008, 7:02am (UTC -6)
Take up the Cardassian Man's burden--
Send forth the best ye breed--
Go bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives' need;
To wait in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild--
Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
Half-devil and half-child.

And so on and so forth. Whether or not Dukat is "pure evil", his attitudes provide insight into the twisted psychology of colonial paternalism. Notice how he starts by appealing to his own special brand of imperialism toward the Bajorans (kinder, gentler!), but very soon descends into a desire for outright genocide. Fact is, anyone who lords their alleged superiority ("militarily, technologically, culturally") over another in the name of benevolence will always be walking on a slippery slope. In this case, it looks like Dukat slid all the way down.
Mon, Nov 2, 2009, 5:51am (UTC -6)
"But what Dukat fails to realize is that the Cardassians had no right in being on Bajor in the first place. Dukat's wrong-headed observation that the Cardassians were obviously the "superior race"--and that, therefore, he had free reign in telling Bajorans where their place was on their own planet--is precisely the kind of poisoned thinking that causes tragedies like the Cardassian Occupation (or the Holocaust, for that matter) to happen."

Well, that should probably be "free rein," but it's definitely an interesting observation--especially when I think about the fact that most of the major Trek powers other than the Federation seem to think this way, and are dominated by a single species. I guess it is believable that the attitude "we should control your planet because we can, and we can control it because we should" might take a long time to disappear, even after Trek-level technology has made it strictly unnecessary to apply such views to the universe at large. You'd want to ask Dukat if he'd have ever bowed down to the Bajorans should they have occupied Cardassia Prime, if he'd have been farsighted enough to love them for being gentle conquerors instead of cruel ones. But he would probably only refuse to accept such a parallel, believing in Cardassian superiority to an extent that he could hardly imagine things otherwise.

Odd to think the Federation becomes much friendlier with the Klingon Empire when, as far as we know, they *are* still an empire, and I imagine they have many worlds under their control the same way the Cardassians had Bajor under theirs. In fact, it seems likely the Klingons are continuing to conquer new worlds. =\
Tue, Dec 22, 2009, 9:45pm (UTC -6)
For me this was pretty much the entire opposite, and perhaps it has something to do with tastes in story writing and what I find works for me and vice versa.

I felt that stripping away Dukat's shades of grey and rendering the character in pretty stark black and white was one of the worst character directions they could have gone. Deep Space Nine was, if nothing else, never just about black and white. Everyone and everyone tended to have a shade of grey here and there. I mean even Kekfa from Final Fantasy VI, who had a very similar personality, was able to be completely stark raving mad without losing his shades of grey and personality. The new Dukat was just a pale imitation of the man I'd grown fond of as a villian. All the depth, the character, the believability... it was all taken away with this one episode. The way he "embraced" the Bajoran way while he was disguised later on was so horribly out of character for him that it was like I was watching another show that he happened to be in.

Then again, I also don't like the new Battlestar Galactica and think of it as too "soap opera"-esque in it's writing, and I know a fair number of the DS9 writers/production staff moved over there. I suppose that's not a coincedence. And it's a shame, because I genuinely liked Deep Space Nine through the first 5 seasons and most of the 6th save a few episodes...
Sat, May 15, 2010, 2:02pm (UTC -6)
Did anyone else notice in the last scene, when Sisko is talking to Dax about "truly evil" and how he's not going to let Dukat destroy Bajor, he says the exact phrase "I fear no evil" and very slowly at that. Now I don't want to see biblical references where there aren't any, but this just jumped out at me as something that the writers couldn't have let slip without realising what it meant. (Psalm 23, one of the most well know bible passages "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil"). DS9 has never been a show to shy away from religious issues. It sounds like Sisko is putting his trust in the prophets that they will protect him while he hunts down man he has come to see as the devil. However, I still see Dukat with shades of grey, he is an extremely conflicted man after the death of his daughter, the loss of his empire, etc. Sisko seems at the end of this episode to become one of those people who uses religion to justify his actions unfairly, and I really dislike those people.
Mon, Jun 14, 2010, 10:08pm (UTC -6)
Hiroshi, I agree with you 100%. I thought this episode was a very fascinating follow-up to Dukat's descent into madness in "Sacrifice of Angels" (I especially loved his hallucinations, I almost felt sympathy for him). But then the final act went completely off the rails, jettisonned Dukat's multi-faceted personality that had been so wonderfully developped in the last five seasons and turned him into a paper-thin villain who wants revenge. WHY RON, WHY? I hope to see the real Dukat back next time.
Wed, Feb 2, 2011, 4:31pm (UTC -6)
Sorry, I'm the opposite, apparently the only opposite. I was bored by this episode. I don't believe it revealed anything about Dukat. The man's mad. At least at this point in time. He's seeing people that aren't there, hearing voices that aren't there. He's not fully recovered vrom his breakdown yet. So why should we take anything he says as being his 'real thoughts and feelings'? This whole episode, he seemed to me to be doing nothing but rambling on and on like the delirious man he is.

I found this episode too 'talky', a smidge to sadistic than needed, and, as I said, boring.
Sun, Sep 25, 2011, 10:47pm (UTC -6)
I agree with you, Polt. I found this episode rather cloying. It took itself far too seriously. I found wishing Dukat would sit on another stone spike like he did in Indiscretion.
Mon, Nov 21, 2011, 8:42pm (UTC -6)
Just finished another viewing of this one (yay Netflix), maybe the third time I've seen it since its original broadcast. The last two acts do seem over-the-top, making the whole come off a little too much like an overwrought morality play between the two characters, "Pride" vs "Justice."

That aside, there's a plot point I still don't understand, and perhaps someone can explain if I'm just being dense. Why does Dukat rig the distress beacon to malfunction? Understandably he doesn't want to be "rescued" by Starfleet, but if that's the case and the shuttle is flightworthy, why does he lie about that as well and wait around on this deserted rock, with or without Sisko? I guess I'd rather not resort to chalking up what seems like unsound tactical behavior to Dukat's emotional instability. What is his motivation?
Fri, Dec 23, 2011, 2:25pm (UTC -6)
@Kevin Well, it can mostly be chalked up to his emotional instability, but what Dukat seems to really want is Sisko to acknowledge he respects and admires him, and doesn't want to be rescued before he can get what he wants from Sisko. This is, of course, a crazy thing to do, since he would probably kill them both in the process, but this was his reasoning as I understood it.
Wed, Mar 21, 2012, 8:36pm (UTC -6)
I have a few issues with this episode.

The first thing is the premise that Dukat is going on trial for war crimes... Prior to Cardassia's entrance into the Dominion, Sisko and Dukat, and even Kira and Dukat, were on fairly cordial terms. Kira and Dukat even teamed up a few times and, although Kira didn't exactly like him, she was on decent terms with him. She helped him track down that Klingon ship, she helped Ziyal, she even joked with him a few times, etc. Knowing Kira and her past and remembering her reaction when she thought she really did have a war criminal on the station (in Duet), I can't believe that Dukat is, in fact, a war criminal. If he was a war criminal, why would Kira, of all people be so cordial to him? It's unfathomably. In Duet, it was mentioned that Bajor had a list of war criminals who, if ever on DS9, were to be turned over to Bajor and tried for the crimes they committed during the occupation. Obviously, Dukat, a fairly frequent visitor to DS9, was not on that list. If the fact that he was in charge of Bajor during the occupation makes him a war criminal, why was it never addressed before this episode? Why was he never previously brought to justice?

My second issue with this episode is that Sisko, who knows that Dukat is hallucinating, comes out of the encounter believing that Dukat is "evil"... I don't think that anything that Dukat says here can be seriously taken as his "actual" beliefs. I've certainly heard of mentally ill people hearing voices or seeing people that tell them to kill people, etc, but I would never assume that this constitutes "pure evil"... they're mentally ill. And it's clear, with Dukat carrying heated conversations with imaginary people and even firing his phaser at thin air, that Dukat is suffering from severe mental illness and that his words are the ravings of a lunatic, not the truthful confessions Sisko takes them to be.

And overall, I don't like where they've gone with Dukat this season. DS9 is about exploring shades of gray, be it Kira's past acts of terrorism, Eddington and the Marquis, Cardassians occupiers (like in Duet), and even the Jemhader (like in Rocks and Shoals). Up until this season, Dukat was a shade of gray, something rarely seen in a TV "bad guy". But now,season six, they want to paint him black. Sure he's an opportunist, sure he's an arrogant, self-serving asshole... But evil?
Thu, Mar 22, 2012, 5:56pm (UTC -6)
While I do agree with the notion that Dukat's appeal as a character had always been his shades of grey, that he's not always depicted as either good or bad, but that his perception of events and situations cause his actions to be interpreted as one or the other.

In his mind, he actually believes that the occupation was good for Bajor because in the long-run it's become so much stronger than it originally was. Likewise, he doesn't necessarily claim that Bajor's beliefs and culture are "stupid" or "pointless", merely "backwards" compared to the beliefs and culture of Cardassia. This is actually a mindset many modern people have of other countries and communities.

I seriously disliked how they suddenly swept aside everything they'd been working towards or striving for in earlier seasons with Dukat's development and started trying to paint him as "pure evil", going so far as to give him glowing eyes and heat lasers when he's possessed by the ... crap, can't remember what they're called, the "anti prophets". It's like they were attempting to make Dukat into "the devil".
Tue, Jul 31, 2012, 1:37am (UTC -6)
This was one of the worse episodes because it did strip away the shades of grey from Dukat.
Unlike the character named in in "Duet," we have come to know Dukat over the years, and while he is a would be conquerer, a Casaer, a Napoleon, a Khan, he was never depicted as a Hitler. Other Cardassians played that role far better. This seemed to be the initial set-up for the series finale which was less than stellar...a
John (the younger)
Thu, Sep 27, 2012, 4:07am (UTC -6)
Agree with you pretty much 100% Jammer.

Ironic that, like the semi-related 'Duet', the last scene should have been removed. Or at least severely altered.

I'd just like to add that I enjoy the way the writers never made Dukat particularly.. well.. smart. I mean, compared to Weyoun or the Changelings or Eddington or Sloan or even Winn (etc, etc) he wasn't really portrayed as a classic evil mastermind. As Garak once put it, he's a "swaggering, self-important Gul with too much vanity and not enough ability." I think that actually made him much more real and much more human.
Tue, Oct 23, 2012, 4:42am (UTC -6)
This one was BORING! :O
And awful direction... :(
Tue, Nov 27, 2012, 9:30am (UTC -6)
Andi, in my opinion, Dukat is a war criminal. He was never arrested as such while being on DS9 because for the series, it wouldn't have been good TV ;-). And I'm sure that every dictator or criminal, as a person, have something to be liked in them, not meaning they don't have to answer for their acts; so the way the villains are depicted in DS9 rings true (Dukat, Garak, Winn, Klingons), until now.

I'd like to agree with some of the comments here. Dukat has gone completely insane and his twisted ideas have become more twisted. We already knew why Dukat thought Cardassia (and particularly himself) were doing a favor to Bajor and before he became mad, he was sincere about it. So, this episodes depicts the insanity of a broken man, not evil...

And I could have done without the comic-book end: I fear no evil (religious ?) - It's him or me... eek.

Oh, and by the way, I was glad Worf made the right choice by not continuing the search. I was perplexed by O'Brien and Bashir in particular reaction: is the protection of 30'000 people in the convoy less important than the rescue of one (even if it's the captain)?
Mon, Jan 14, 2013, 3:06am (UTC -6)
I actually don't mind this episode in and of itself. I think Dukat's descent into madness and his realisation and acceptance of his hatred of the Bajorans is an interesting next step for the character. My problems with Dukat towards the end actually start after this episode, when the pah-wraiths really come on the scene. So yes for that reason I think Waltz is a good episode and it did set up something interesting, it's more where they went with it that was disappointing.

Also I thought this quote from Memory-Alpha was interesting: "He was supposed to be the villain of the show, and while they were proud to have created such a multi-dimensional villain, they were shocked when they saw fans online actually defending Dukat's behavior during the Occupation." That's something I can sympathise with. Even if it led to some mistakes in the final season, I'm glad that their thought process is something that I can understand.

I think they needn't have been concerned though. For whatever reason, villains are always more fascinating than heroes. That doesn't mean the viewer necessarily likes or sympathises with the character, they're just a lot more interesting to examine. I think their choice to really pick a side with Dukat and say "yes he had shades of grey, but here's what he's really thinking, this is why he's truly irredeemable" is a good one, it was just the execution that failed.
Tue, Mar 5, 2013, 3:22pm (UTC -6)
Was bit creepy how the senior staff seemed annoyed that the two women they rescued weren't Sisko. Yeah he's the captain but I almost got the sense they would have phasered the two women if it meant Sisko would be back...
Sun, Mar 10, 2013, 12:15am (UTC -6)
Everything Andi (and others) said is spot on, as is the review. Dukat is clearly mentally ill, and his statements here can't be taken as true representation of anything. HipsterDoofus raises an interesting idea that perhaps Dukat was always insane, a psychopath at least, and that certainly seems consistent. I understand why the writers felt they had gone too far in humanizing Dukat. In the Maquis or the Defiant he seemed very much a counterpart to Sisko and not really an enemy. But then in reference to the original Bajoran occupation he seemed much more sinister, so there does seem to be a bit of a contradiction. Regardless, Sf Debris review probably said it best in that Dukat should have died when the station was retaken, or at least they should have chosen a different angle than him losing his mind. A lunatic can't really be a worthy adversary. Nothing that comes after this really feels like the same character and it offers none of the complexity that defined him. But Dukat is just so much fun to watch, you can't really blame them for trying to keep him around. Unfortunately, this reinvention of his character just doesn't do justice to what came before.
Tue, Mar 12, 2013, 6:35pm (UTC -6)
Dukat, as dark as he was painted, did in the end, save Sisko's life.
William B
Tue, Apr 23, 2013, 4:13pm (UTC -6)
Reading some comments here.

Re: why Dukat wasn't put on trial before this episode: Dukat was still a citizen/officer of the Cardassian Empire and protected by said Empire up to the end of "Sacrifice of Angels," when he stayed behind in Bajoran space/on a Federation-run space station when the rest of the Cardassian-Dominion forces pulled out. I presume he had diplomatic immunity on Deep Space Nine and arresting him as a war criminal while he still enjoyed protections of the Cardassian empire would be impossible to navigate diplomatically. I don't get the impression that he Cardassians/Dominions are interested in protecting Dukat, though Damar does have personal feelings of affection for him still (which are complicated).

Additionally, of course, Dukat seemingly was aware of and possibly a participant in the plot to destroy the entire Bajoran solar system in "By Inferno's Light," which if it had succeeded certainly dwarfs the entire Occupation and makes the importance of trying him as a war criminal much the greater.

It's moments like that that make the depiction of Dukat in this show so frustratingly inconsistent, since it's hard to believe that a guy who apparently wasn't bothered about wiping out the Bajoran people entirely could still view himself as an erstwhile benefactor who loved the Bajoran people and wanted to protect them from themselves etc. afterward. If By Inferno's Light had followed this episode's Dukat's becoming totally unhinged and deciding on genocide as the Only Answer the story arc direction would have been at least consistent. I think it's "By Inferno's Light" that does the most damage to Dukat, really; in comparison to wiping out the entire Bajoran system nothing that he does afterwards is even in the running for extreme evil.

Note -- I do think it's possible to have "shades of grey" in characters who don't mind exterminating other species, such as the Female Shapeshifter who cares deeply about other changelings but is utterly disinterested in the solids as forms of life. However, Dukat's depiction in almost the entire series hinges on him viewing the Bajorans as people, albeit inferior people who need his "protection," and it's hard to reconcile this with signing onto the destruction of the Bajoran system in BIL and maintain any shades of grey in the character.
Tue, Apr 23, 2013, 5:24pm (UTC -6)
@William B: That's a really interesting point. And you could take it further ...

After "By Inferno's Light", how could the Bajorans have possibly signed a non-aggression pact with the Dominion? I know Sisko told them to do it, but wouldn't the Bajorans have held a grudge? Early in the sixth season, it's kind of amazing that they'd led Vorta administrators on Bajor. The Dominion tried to destroy their entire population AND are allied with their greatest enemies.

Actually, I've wondered about Bajor's role in the sixth season. Were they cool that their space station was used by both sides in a galactic conflict? Did they throw out the non-aggression pact after "Sacrifice of Angels"?
William B
Tue, Apr 23, 2013, 10:28pm (UTC -6)
@Paul: or, for that matter, the Romulans signing a non-aggression pact despite almost having all their ships blown up by a nefarious underhanded plot, that was only *just* prevented from being brought to its conclusion by a plucky team of humans, Klingons, Bajorans, and an exiled Cardassian (the Runabout team plus the Defiant). Though this is less implausible since it wasn't their homeworld.

I'm starting to think that it's best to pretend that the Dominion plan to destroy the Bajoran solar system didn't happen. It was a neat plot idea but the attempt would change the entire tone of future episodes in a way that it doesn't.

I do wonder about Bajoran political status with the Dominion after "Sacrifice of Angels," too.

Probably Kira's actions to undermine the Dominion during their occupation of DS9 would be viewed as Bajoran aggression, if the Bajorans didn't ditance themselves from Kira, which they obviously didn't (eventually promoting her and all). Certianly the non-aggression pact would have to be out of commission by the end of the series, right, or else Kira going to Cardassia to train insurgents would not go over well; she is given a Starfleet field commission though so maybe that removes the Bajoran authority.

Also, the Dominion probably wouldn't take too kindly to the Bajorans given that their Gods wiped out their fleet.
Wed, Apr 24, 2013, 1:28pm (UTC -6)
@William B: I think the Romulans could get past what happened because it was just a fleet of their ships -- we don't really know how many were there.

We're sort of discussing one of the big failings of the final two seasons of DS9. Namely, the scope of characters is too small considering the weight of events.

In the first couple seasons of DS9 and possibly into the third, the Starfleet footprint on DS9 was pretty small. It was believable that a commander, a lieutenant and a Bajoran major et. al were making so many key decisions.

But as DS9 became the center of this huge galactic war, the fact that so few characters -- and, really, the characters that we already knew -- were the big players was pretty implausible. A great example of this occurs in "Tears of the Prophets" when O'Brien -- who wasn't even a commissioned officer -- gives a briefing to Sisko, Ross, Martok and some high-ranking Romulan.

The creators addressed this situation in some small ways -- like making Martok a permanent presence on DS9. But they still lost points, in my book.

This was bad in moments for the Starfleet situations, but it was worse for the Bajoran and the Dominion/Cardassian situation.

I still hate that Kira's resistance cell included no Bajorans other than Leeta. That was just crazy. Given the Bajorans' recent fight for independence, the fact that Kira didn't think to or couldn't recruit any Bajorans to her cause was a major plot hole. And the fact that Bajor for the final two seasons is basically Winn and Dukat in the final episodes -- and I guess Kira's small fleet of ships early in the seventh season -- was a missed opportunity.

But the Dominion stuff was even worse.

Every time Weyoun and Damar are shown in their command center on Cardassia Prime, I cringed. The set was so unimpressive. It looked like a basement! What about the command center Dukat took Sisko to in "Defiant"? Also, the fact that Damar and Weyoun seem to have so few agents -- didn't they both go to DS9 to meet with Bashir's mutant friends? -- made no sense.

I know TV viewers watch shows for characters that they know. But the scope of the Dominion operations on Cardassia was just kind of sad.
William B
Wed, Apr 24, 2013, 3:05pm (UTC -6)
@Paul: True, though the Dominion's willingness to destroy entire solar systems without any formal declarations of war should have given the Romulans pause when evaluating the Dominion's reliability. But I grant that the Romulans might be prepared to overlook this.

I agree with the rest of what you write. Up to "Sacrifice of Angels," it makes sense for DS9 to be the centre of the galactic conflict because, hey, wormhole. But after the Prophets wipe out the Dominion fleet, there is not a peep from the Gamma Quadrant for the rest of the series, nor does anyone seem to expect there to be one. I get that Bajor and thus DS9 are close to Cardassia, but it's surely not the only station close to the battle lines, and if it was I don't see any reason why Sisko would be kept the ranking Starfleet officer on the ship and not have Admiral Ross or whoever permanently stationed there the way Martok is. Additionally, details like Sisko being the one to talk to Vreenak seems hard to believe. Either Starfleet should give Sisko a field promotion to admiral or commodore or something, or assign someone else to do Sisko's duties, which often seem to have him be in charge of fleets or at least the second in command after Ross. But it is probably acceptable contrivance to keep the main characters involved in this bigger-than-life situation.

I agree about the Bajorans being worse. Winn becomes essentially the entire Bajoran government from about season five onward (Shakaar never really appearing), Kira the representative of all Bajoran militia in s6 onward and Leeta apparently the representative of all Bajoran civilians. There is the occasional Vedek, like the guy in "Rocks and Shoals" and Winn's assistant in late s7, but that's it. And Bajor itself is reduced entirely to a battleground for Prophet/Pah-Wraith battle. As far as I can tell, Kira's Bajoran-ness ultimately has about as much impact on these seasons than Ezri's Trill-ness.

I agree the Dominion stuff is silly, but it bothers me less than the Bajor material because the diversity of opinion in the Dominion is likely to be less than on Bajor. Why exactly Damar was the sensible choice to be promoted to the head of the Cardassian military is anyone's guess -- was he even a Gul in early season six?
Tue, Jun 25, 2013, 7:15pm (UTC -6)
@Willam B

Damar was a glinn and Dukat's second in command. He was promoted into Dukat's position since he was essentially his vice president and because it was essentially a puppet government under the Dominion so who ran it was irrelevant (see the analysis of his speech in Statistical Probabilities which showed that he had little say in policy - or anything, really).
Wed, Jun 26, 2013, 1:45pm (UTC -6)
@William B: Making Damar the head of the Cardassian government makes sense if the Dominion wanted a figurehead whom the Cardassian people could link to Dukat. The Dominion liked order, so Dukat to Damar was sort of orderly.

One thing that's always hard to figure about Star Trek is proximity. Early in DS9, Bajor was considered to be "the edge of the galaxy." But that makes storytelling hard, because you can't jump in a ship and get to, say, Earth or Kronos in a few days if you're on the edge of the galaxy. So, the creators kind of fudged that point after the early episodes for better storytelling.

Why is that important? Well, we don't know if DS9 is the closest outpost to Cardassian space, because we don't really know what the border looks like. We do know that Sisko and Cal Hudson were the two senior officers on the border way back in season 2, but that could have changed.

So, DS9, even without an active wormhole, might have been the closest outpost to Cardassia. Having Ross, Martok, Gowrwon (and Romulans) on DS9 for much of the final two seasons would seem to indicate that DS9 is the strategic command center closest to Cardassian/Dominion space.

Anyway, Sisko certainly became more important in the final years of the series, so I can buy him briefing admirals and high-ranking Klingons and Romulans. But a lot of other "scope" issues made little sense.
Mon, Jul 15, 2013, 5:33pm (UTC -6)
I just watched this episode again. While I enjoyed it and thought it was a great hour of TV, it actually damaged the show, I thought.

To this date in DS9, Dukat had been one of the most clever, ambiguous, and most importantly, nuanced characters in the show. His wit, and his ability to retain diplomacy in the face of anger is something I have always loved about his character.

I felt like this episode did a disservice to him. His character has always been so complex, giving the watcher enough tether to really make a case for him as a "grey guy", someone who might have been good in another life. However here, he acts so out of his character that it's almost implausible. The episode could have been saved if they would have really examined the struggle Dukat was facing -- he had just suffered the greatest military and political defeat of his career, followed by watching his own daughter get murdered. Even the most rational person under those circumstances would have been taxed well to the limit, if not completely past the breaking point.

I think Ds9 could have shown a LOT of character here if they would have recognized just how far gone he was -- the acute hallucinations he experienced would have been enough of a symptom alone to show that his mental faculties were dire -- and they could have even shown Sisko as a person who's a little more willing to seek the truth.

Instead, we have + and - roles painted for us, with Dukat being a genocidal madman, and Sisko sitting back on his pedestal and judging him (Dukat was spot on with that, by the way).

Were I to direct this episode, I would have liked to see Dukat put Sisko into his shoes as a Cardassian and really force Sisko into some hard choices: Kill some terrorists and you maintain power. Choose not to kill them, the government deposes you, installs a new dictator who's 5x as bloodthirsty as you. There was a lot of room here to make for political discussion, and since Dukat is Cardassian, he would have a huge advantage of being "in the know" versus Sisko. It would have been equally as dramatic and highly vexing to have Dukat put Sisko into an unwinnable circumstance and then screw him into making a hard decision. At which point, Ben would have had to concede that the situation is incredible taxing and that he didn't always have an answer, or he could have challenged Dukat to "be the bigger man". Then Dukat could have hit Sisko with the entire situation involving Eddington as a method of knocking Sisko down a peg. It would have been a marvelous exchange to see.

Then, afterward, if absolutely necessary, Dukat can have his manic episode, but it would have been veiled by the preceding events, and Sisko could have reflected on how obviously deranged Dukat was at this point and yet still managed to make a convincing argument. I think it would have been a 4 star episode if this had transpired, and while it might not have resulted in physical confrontation, the entire crux of this series of exchanges is all mental anyway. The fight was incredibly superfluous, and Sisko's comment at the end about how some men are pure evil robbed a classic Star Trek antagonist of his ability to be anything more than something to be fought, not understood, rather than a living breathing person with his own desires and wants. They showed how relatable Dukat could be when his daughter was killed, and then they completely destroy that in the very next episode he's in. A pity, really. Dukat was to this point one of the most nebulous, charming, *interesting* characters in Star Trek history. An "enemy" who purports himself to be a positive force for change, and shows a tendency for both. Sad that the writing had to resort back to basic "good guy bad guy" philosophies.
Fri, Aug 2, 2013, 1:30am (UTC -6)
I agree 100% with Douglas and anyone else who was extremely disappointed with the way Dukat was turned into a cartoon character after so many years of character development. I could perhaps buy it if it were just a manifestation of his madness (although I would still consider it a waste of a fascinating villain) but worse, according to Sisko at least, this was the "real" Dukat all along.

I've decided I'm just going to go with this being lunatic ravings and dismiss Sisko's evaluation that he has seen "evil" even though I know that's not what the writers were going for: their decision was such a character assassination that to buy into it completely nullifies all of Dukat's growth until now.
Mon, Oct 28, 2013, 8:27pm (UTC -6)
Decent episode but I think they could have done a lot more with it.

Jamie Stearns
Wed, Nov 20, 2013, 10:25pm (UTC -6)
As this episode prominently features Dukat interacting with people who aren't really there while trying to hide it from Sisko, I looked up the episode credits just to be sure...

Yes, it was in fact written by Ronald D. Moore. ;)
Sun, Mar 23, 2014, 4:33pm (UTC -6)
I also agree with Douglas and disagree with Jammer on this one, I found the whole episode boring, tiresome, campy and a massive dis-service to all the good work they had done previously developing Dukat's character.

I can get that Dukat was or has gone insane, its just that they could have taken this in other much more interesting directions.
Wed, Mar 26, 2014, 10:06am (UTC -6)
This episode really angered me. Dukat -- villain though he is -- had my utter sympathy in his first scene aboard the ship, when the subject of Ziyal comes up and his brokenness and anguish shows clearly through his arrogant facade. (Brilliant acting by Alaimo.). From there, Dukat descends into raving lunacy.

When Sisko starts calling him "evil" I was thrown - since Sisko's assessment was clearly wrong. Was the episode intending to show Sisko as a merciless judge, stripped of empathy by the hardships of war and the burden of command? That would have been understandable and an interesting development of the character! But by the last scene it seemed that viewers were meant to actually agree with Sisko and consider Dukat evil rather than sick. WTH?

I just came away thinking Sisko was a self-righteous jerk. Now I am hoping for Dukat to regain his sanity and either redeem himself somewhat or hand the Great Sisko his comeuppance.

Additionally, when the Defiant locates "a signal! It's from Dukat!" - leading to Sisko's rescue - my understanding was that Dukat deliberately signaled so that Sisko would be saved. (He had spent the whole episode preserving Sisko's life, I thought because he desperately needed validation/forgiveness). Seemed damn ungrateful of the Great Sisko to have not even a shred of mixed feelings.
Wed, May 7, 2014, 6:38pm (UTC -6)
And so the slow decent into madness that is Dukat hits bottom. He is logically irrevocably a changed man for the remainder of the series which makes this episode all the more important. The final scene seems to be a point of contention. Personally, I found it nothing more than a flawed statement from a character (Sisko) that just went through a tumultuous experience. A bit on the heavy-handed side, sure, but not to a fault.

Masterfully written. Intense. Gripping. Definitely a classic.

4 stars.
Thu, Jun 26, 2014, 12:34am (UTC -6)
What bothers me here is that Sisko literally steered Dukat to his end. Dukat was vulnerable, emotional, and more or less putty in Sisko's hands. What does Sisko do? Make Dukat face his worst side of himself, without offering alternate perspectives or even so much as telling Dukat he needs to own up to his actions.

Dukat has always had this darkness inside of him ever since the occupation, but it's Sisko's behavior here that makes this darkness come forward, in the worst way.
Mon, Aug 18, 2014, 5:06pm (UTC -6)
I enjoyed this episode until the end.

Dukat has spent all his time since the end of the occupation seeking gratitude/thanks for his role in the occupation. From Kira many times Garak at least once and now Sisko. This is just more of the same, but now it's after his meltdown. He still believes that he was good for the Bajorans and Sisko will not cave. Finally Dukat just says F#$k it, death to all Bajorans....

I can't stand Dukat, so I have no problem with Sisko "rubbing it in", but the ending TOTALLY kills this episode because now it's a religious thing and Dukat & the Cardassians are not religious. Good v evil. The Prophets v Paraiths. The Emissary v Dukat. As far as Bajor/Winn/Dukat I think DS9 lost the ball from here on out. I would rather Sisko killed him in this episode rather than he take the path the writers put him on. He was a megalomaniac that had a meltdown, now he is a loonie-toon.

2 stars for me because of the ending.

Oh, this DOES have Ron Moore written all over it. Just like BSG, he pummels the characters and doesn't know how to wrap things up.
Thu, Sep 11, 2014, 10:31pm (UTC -6)
I agree with everything the above commentators say. Not much to add to that.

I also agree with William B points concerning the characters and station. For such a daring show, DS9 did stick to the safe formula quite a bit. Sisko "should" have been promoted to at least Rear Admiral. (Commodore is gone; its now Rear Admiral Lower Half)

We are never told of any age restrictions on rank, and I find it hard to believe Ross is more than 5 or 10 years older than Sisko.

For a real life example, look at the various Allies forces during WWII. Especially in the infantry. Field promotions were granted left and right, sometimes against age restrictions. True, it was a desperate, all-out time; but what would you describe the Dominion War as?

A promotion would have made so much sense; especially if everyone got a promotion. It would have broken the Trekkian Status Quo.
Sun, Sep 28, 2014, 11:53pm (UTC -6)
This is a really, really great hour of DS9. Without repeating the good points everyone already mentioned, I want to point out a couple of things that bother me about the comments here:

@ Nonya:

"What bothers me here is that Sisko literally steered Dukat to his end. Dukat was vulnerable, emotional, and more or less putty in Sisko's hands. What does Sisko do? Make Dukat face his worst side of himself, without offering alternate perspectives or even so much as telling Dukat he needs to own up to his actions."

I'm not sure what alternate perspectives Sisko could or should have offered here. He eventually plays Dukat's game (after being beaten with a pipe, don't forget) and Dukat reveals himself as a racist, narrow-minded monster. He isn't looking for a new perspective on his conscience or a new way to see the world; he wants Sisko's approval for what he already is. The terrifying thing about Dukat is that he genuinely believes he was benevolent. His frustration all comes from being unable to articulate it so that others can see it as he does. Problem is, Dukat's views are too twisted and, yes, evil to make others agree.

"Dukat has always had this darkness inside of him ever since the occupation, but it's Sisko's behavior here that makes this darkness come forward, in the worst way."

Dukat has darkness inside of him, and so does every other Cardassian military officer who's been indoctrinated with the Central Command's propaganda. The Bajoran occupation had already been running for 40 years before Dukat took over - so what does that say about Dukat? What does that say about the type of person who would seek out that position? Certainly the occupation took its toll on him, and regardless of his efforts to run a "kinder, gentler" occupation, his view of Cardassians and Bajorans was one of racial supremacy. Like Jammer pointed out, the Cardassians shouldn't have been there at all. Full stop. His inability to even see this as a possibility damns him and entire generations of his people. A philosophy can be evil and those who both act on it and BELIEVE IT should be called out as evil as well, excuses be damned.

@ Toraya:

"When Sisko starts calling him "evil" I was thrown - since Sisko's assessment was clearly wrong. Was the episode intending to show Sisko as a merciless judge, stripped of empathy by the hardships of war and the burden of command? That would have been understandable and an interesting development of the character! But by the last scene it seemed that viewers were meant to actually agree with Sisko and consider Dukat evil rather than sick."

I just don't understand this interpretation. What sympathy does Dukat deserve from Sisko? This is a man who climbed the career ladder into becoming the prefect of an enslaved world. Before he even committed any atrocities, he was *already* a racial supremacist. Despite years of opportunity to reflect, he still doesn't see the problem that makes all of his reform excuses moot: superiority (however one defines it) does not justify slavery. His version of Kira doesn't even bring this up, instead saying only what he is able to understand about the situation: "we hated you and didn't want peace!" He doesn't understand why the Bajorans hate him, though, or why fighting was what they felt was their only option. That's what's damning.

Dukat is clearly mentally ill in "Waltz". I am not going to dispute that. But his mental state is not an unsympathetic or misguided portrayal of evil on the part of Moore. It's simply the dramatic breaking point that causes him to open up and reveal his true colours. The "shades of grey" that everyone trots out about pre-"Waltz" Dukat shouldn't be misunderstood as ambiguity in his belief system. Dukat's "grey" comes from the fact that he was charming and witty, and that his character arc occasionally brought his goals into alignment with our heroes'. His stories were rarely 'good guys vs. Dukat'.

But don't fall into the trap that “greyness” means his brutal, racist beliefs are up for ethical debate, because they are straight up black as night. The writers and Alaimo's performances did such a good job giving personality to Dukat up to this point in the series that they created a monster who the viewer doesn't hate, and probably even likes. But for some viewers “not hating” ends up as sympathy, which then usually ends up as approval or apologism. The number of internet posts I've seen over the years that glorify characters like Walter White, Tony Soprano, or Vic Mackey is pretty immense. It's a really bizarre halo effect that takes place.

tl;dr: Dukat is mentally ill, but he is also evil and has been for far longer than he's been ill. Don't confuse the two.


Anyway, my own review of this episode would be pretty glowing and I'm not going to write it all since I've already written enough. I love “Waltz” for Alaimo's performance and for Sisko's characterization. At the beginning of the hour, our hero chastises himself in his log for wishing death on Dukat – it's all very Star Trek and to be expected. By the end, he's been forced to unload both barrels on the man and suddenly that Federation party line for procedure and tolerance gives way to the raw passion of a man whose belief in utopian values goes far deeper than a simple oath-taking.

My only real issue with “Waltz” is Dukat's escape. I understand the character is too valuable to be killed, and I wouldn't presume to out and out say that killing him would have been “better”, but “Waltz” feels like such a natural conclusion to Dukat's story that having him live to fight another day almost makes me feel like the episode pulled its last punch.

I know where the story goes from here, though I won't judge it until I finish my re-watch. A lot of commenters seem to see this as the beginning of the end, but any failures on the part of future episodes to interpret what should move forward from “Waltz” shouldn't be blamed on “Waltz” itself.

3-1/2 stars, though “Waltz” probably contains enough excellent material to make it a full 4 star gem. Regardless of star ratings, this is a DS9 classic and my close-second favourite Dukat show after S4's secretly excellent “Return to Grace.”
Sat, Jan 3, 2015, 1:45pm (UTC -6)
I, too, was annoyed by the final scene. Even if Dukat had not been exhibiting symptoms of mental illness, it is far too simplistic to characterize him as "evil." It also made me irritated with Sisko as a character (i.e., irritated with the writer). Whenever a leader uses the word "evil" to describe another person or group, I wonder... (a) Is the leader simple-minded? (b) Does the leader think *I* am simple-minded?

On the upside, I appreciated this depiction of mental illness much better than the depictions in Statistical Probabilities. Arguably, Kira was Dukat's (brutal) link to reality even in the midst of his hallucinations. ("He's [referring to Sisko] just humoring you...") Damar served to justify Dukat's past actions. ("The Bajorans understand a clenched fist, not an open hand.") Weyoun served to reassure Dukat's conscience. ("The Dominion would have killed them all.") The implication is that Dukat was temperate in his actions. So even in his hallucinations, Dukat is desperately trying to prove to himself - and the viewer - that he is not immoral. Are these the hallucinations of an evil man?

A wise person once told me, "to understand is not to agree." We don't have to agree with Dukat's actions in order to understand his beliefs and motives. In fact, understanding is the pathway by which Sisko might have deescalated the situation. But that's not what we saw. Sisko, a man whom Dukat respects and admires, refused to concede throughout most of the episode that Dukat's actions were understandable. (When Sisko briefly appeared to concede this point, the hallucination of Kira - Dukat's reality-check - jeered to Dukat that Sisko was being disingenuous - as he was.) The "injustice" of being misunderstood whipped Dukat up into a frenzy. After listening to Dukat's litany of complaints against the Bajorans (including unyielding, stubborn pride), Sisko taunted, "You should have killed them." Dukat exploded in frustration, "That's right! I should have killed every last one of them!"

What if Sisko had genuinely acknowledged that Dukat's early "concessions" to the Bajorans, when met with a resistance that appeared emboldened and ungrateful, damaged his standing with his own Cardassian leaders? In his role, a harsh and measured response seemed like the only option. After such an acknowledgement, I wonder if Dukat would have then been receptive to being asked how Cardassians might have responded to an occupying force if they had been in a position similar to the Bajorans. Is there a part of Dukat that admired the Bajorans' "unyielding, stubborn pride" - that understood and respected it? (Of course we know the answer is "yes.")

Dukat is likely a war criminal. This is not incompatible with the idea that deep down, Dukat also wants to be moral. The tragedy is that Dukat does not understand that morality comes from within, not from the approval of others, such as Benjamin Sisko. If Dukat had cared less about being respected, admired, and feared by others, he might have had the strength to leave his position of power - the one from which he felt compelled to inflict violence on the Bajorans.
Tue, Mar 31, 2015, 10:20am (UTC -6)
Outstanding episode, Alaimo's performance is Shakespearean and reminiscent of the mad villain Richard III. Descent into madness through grief and loss is psychologically realistic and provides a sound dramatic premise for the episode. Dukat is a tragic hero right up there with the best of them, ambiguous and complex. It's silly that so many in this thread talk about "sympathy" for his character. What a childish and misplaced reaction. Dukat is way larger than life and beyond such pedestrian responses. I feel sympathy for Sisko who comes across as a typical federation sanctimonious prick and for Brooks because Alaimo runs acting rings round him big time.
Nathan B.
Thu, Aug 27, 2015, 3:46pm (UTC -6)
Frankly, I *love* watching Dukat, and I have enormous sympathy for him, though not for his unethical actions themselves. DS9 did him a great disservice here, and probably harmed the series, too.

It's something that's been bothering me for some time: remember how fun "The Hobbit" was? It got turned into a strict good vs. evil plotline in the Lord of the Rings. I enjoyed the LOTR, of course, but that set the stage for Harry Potter. Again, a fun, multi-faceted story with evil in it ended up getting turned into another epic good vs. evil story. And DS9 goes the same way. Star Wars, too, is a strict good vs. evil affair. Just because there's war or conflict involved in a story doesn't mean the writers have to go for a heavy-handed morality play.
Fri, Aug 28, 2015, 7:40am (UTC -6)
@Nathan - Voldemort was always an evil caricature. If anything they made him less so as the books went on.

I will say that I agree with you though, DS9's biggest misstep wasn't magic, or even associating Dukat with the Pagh Wraiths, it was making him (and them) not gray enough.

It actually ALMOST looked like they were going to redeem it in Covenant. Imagine how cool it would have been if after totally snapping he actually found the love of the Pagh Wraiths and their crime was that they wanted to violate the Prime Directive and directly help Bajor?

If instead of caricature evil they represented the temptation of getting everything the easy way. I think for a show that is so gray, they definitely did a disservice going black and white with their most interesting villain.
Thu, Oct 15, 2015, 11:58pm (UTC -6)
The darkness inside of Dukat wasn't the point I was trying to make. What I was trying to say was that yes, Dukat was malevolent, but he was also emotionally dependent on Sisko. By trying to push Sisko into rationalizing Dukat's position in the occupation, Dukat was putting his emotions in Sisko's hands. He wanted to hear Sisko's opinion, because it mattered to him.

Thus, Sisko could have behaved in a less confrontational way. He could have provided a listening ear, and then explained to Dukat how to own up to his past. Had Sisko done that, Dukat wouldn't have given into his dark side, and Jadzia wouldn't have died.

But noooooo, Sisko had to be all confrontational about it. Sheesh. If you're stranded in the wilderness with a crazy person, the last thing you do is get him all agitated.
Ross Waitt
Sat, Dec 26, 2015, 11:28am (UTC -6)
Excellent episode, riveting to watch. A heavyweight battle of words between Sisko and Dukat. The only downside is that it set Dukat on a maniacal path that made him a less complex villain. But, still. 3.5 stars, at least, borderline 4 if I'm in the mood.

One thing I noticed (and not sure if anyone's mentioned), when Dukat tells Sisko of how they escaped the Honshu when it was destroyed, he mentions another crewman that was with them (McConnell?) and when Sisko asks what happened to him Dukat claims he got hit by shrapnel on the way to the shuttle. But, honestly ... I think Dukat killed him. If they escaped, he would've wanted to have Sisko one-on-one. It's just a throwaway observation, but it adds a further 'charge' to Dukat's list of crimes.
Mon, Dec 28, 2015, 11:34am (UTC -6)
I dislike the final scene too Jammer. It seems odd that Sisko doesn't even acknowledge that Dukat saved his life - rescuing him from the Honshu, nursing his wounds and then alerting the Defiant that Sisko was still stranded on the planet. It's unfortunate given that so much of this series is rooted in the Sisko-Dukat relationship.
weyong's wig
Sun, Jan 24, 2016, 5:46pm (UTC -6)
Totally agree, Jammer. I would go even further: the last scene deconstructs the core idea behind this episode. I'm hoping the writers wanted to show Sisko is now blinded by his hatred of Ducat after this ordeal, and not take his judgement as the final message of this episode (which it came across as because it wad the final scene). "Pure evil" is a human construct that does not exist but comes in handy to convince ignorant people there is an order behind the apparent randomness of the universe.
Diamond Dave
Tue, Feb 2, 2016, 1:41pm (UTC -6)
I can see what this is trying to be - the classic double hander stage play, intense and deep and with the voices in his head portrayed through actors. I t seems to be trying for greatness. But in my view it doesn't get there. For me the main problem is with the performance - Alaimo goes way over the top, and yes he's portraying a man gone mad, but the epic scenery-chewing just seems melodramatic.

And the true killer for me is that we learn nothing new. We KNOW that Dukat is self-delusional with regards to his actions on Bajor. We KNOW he wants the approval of others. So what is new here? I'm staggered no-one has commented on what seems like a major discrepancy to me - when Sisko clubs Dukat he says "And that is why you are not an evil man" to Dukat's "I should have killed them all". YES! Shades of grey and all that. Nuance. But then a minute later on the Defiant he's calling Dukat "truly evil". NO! Black and white. Eeeeeeeevil Dukat. Makes no sense to me, and indicative of an episode that doesn't know what it wants to be. 2 stars.
Tue, Feb 2, 2016, 2:36pm (UTC -6)
"And that is why you are not an evil man" was meant to be sarcastic. It is not any different in tone than the next scene.
Jason R.
Tue, Mar 8, 2016, 1:44pm (UTC -6)
"Dukat is mentally ill, but he is also evil and has been for far longer than he's been ill. Don't confuse the two."

This is a critical point. Dukat's present mental illness is irrelevant in evaluating his actions during the occupation and his internal rationalizations for what he did. Even in today's legal system, while being mentally ill may make you unfit to stand trial for a crime, it does not automatically exonerate you from moral and legal responsibility for committing said crime. A delusional person may be guilty, even while delusional. It is the nature of that delusion and its relation to the crime that tells us if there is a "guilty mind".

I don't see this episode as changing the Dukat character from grey to black as some have suggested. Dukat was always a complex character, but his self-serving nature was there from day one.

Yes, he loved his people and he loved his daughter. He was not universally a bad man. The same could be said of any historical monster. Nobody is pure evil. I think the episode is not so much exposing Dukat as pure evil, but exposing the pure evil within him, if that makes any sense. When you burned away the lies, the self-deception that he surrounded himself with and drilled down to his core, the ugliness was revealed.

The only difference between Dukat and, say, Dar'Heel, was that Dukat was lying to himself about his real motivations. Dukat, as we learned time and time again throughout the series, was always guided by his own need to have his greatness validated by others - be it by the Bajoran women he sought to "rescue" (Wrongs Darker than Death or Night), to the Bajorans generally whose admiration and gratitude he desired, to central command, and to Ben Sisko. Dukat's decision to use a gentler hand against the Bajorans wasn't out of altruism or genuine concern for their well being - it was another ploy to feed his own ego. When the Bajorans refused to indulge his need for their affirmation, his feelings turned to naked hatred, which we see bubbling to the surface in this episode.

Waltz is the logical end point for Dukat's character, once all the politics, relationships and earthly ambition are stripped away from him. It doesn't refute what we've seen before; it affirms five seasons worth of character development. And it's glorious.
Fri, Apr 15, 2016, 6:30am (UTC -6)
My heart usually sinks at the prospect of yet another 'firelit cave' episode - I don't know if the recordings used by CBS are deteriorating, but I find them literally very dark at the best of times - but this was fantastic.

The only misfire was Bashir more-or-less openly stating that the life of one Sisko is worth more than that of 30,000 grunts. It seemed hugely out of character. I'm not sure that the B story was required; the episode would have worked equally well as a two-hander (with Dukat's imaginary supporting cast).
Sat, May 28, 2016, 3:11am (UTC -6)
"Waltz" is yet another controversial episode, much like "Sacrifice of Angels". There are many fans who hate it because it strips away the fascinating shades of grey from Dukat's character and leaves him as a stereotypical villain. That's a view I don't share. Others love the episode because it's a well-written psychological piece about a man's descent into madness. That is a view I do share.

I don't believe people are capable of being pure evil, even the worst human ever has committed some small act of good at some point (Hitler loved Eva Braun and so forth). But I do believe that someone can do so many bad things that they can be considered an evil person. Dukat is such a person; he does have some positive aspects to his personality (he's charming, he truly loved Ziyal, etc.), yet he is driven largely by his own ego and need for self-aggrandizement. This episode doesn't present anything new to make Dukat seem evil (everything we see here was present before in one form or another), it just puts together all the pieces already on the table and allows us to finally see Dukat for who he truly is, with all the pretense and lies stripped away. You could make the case that it goes somewhat overboard with Sisko's declaration that Dukat is "truly evil", but if someone had just beaten me half to death with a smoking pipe and then declared himself to be a proud racist bent on genocide (complete with his own version of the White Man's Burden), I would probably come to that same conclusion!

I'm usually a fan of stories like this - taking two characters and locking them in a room together until something interesting happens. Like happens so many times with "Deep Space Nine", this episode is often compared to a "Babylon 5" one - "Intersections in Real Time". I personally think this is the better of the two, because while I'm a fan of these chamber dramas, B5 showed their limitations. A drama like this which takes up the entire episode gets boring really, really quickly. You need something to divert the audience's attention, if only temporarily. Thankfully, "Waltz" has a decent B-plot involving the search of Sisko and Dukat which allows the audience opportunities to catch their breath. And I love how Worf has apparently grown as a command officer - understatedly telling Bashir he is out of line. Worf from earlier seasons, especially early TNG ones, would have just snarled at him.

Mon, Jul 4, 2016, 12:59pm (UTC -6)
The ending downgraded this episode for me. The lead-up to it was terrific, I thought. The part where Dukat is explaining the timeline of events during the occupation and bringing up rationing and assassination attempts and culture superiority, it's probably the best written part of the episode for me. This is essentially the main conflict of Dukat's character that can find no conflict resolution. Sisko's bit about the evil seems to be inorganic, ill-fitting, and contrary to where the final struggle pointed, when he knocked Dukat out and said something like "And that is why you are not an evil man." Perhaps he felt Dukat only showed his true evil with all the threats that came afterward, but why Sisko wouldn't take them for what they are, as rambling from a mentally ill man, I don't know. Especially with his Federation upbringing, and his true sympathy from the beginning of the episode. Maybe he just wants to believe what he wants to believe about a rival. I really didn't like it though. But a great Dukat outing overall.
Peter G.
Mon, Jul 4, 2016, 1:20pm (UTC -6)
I agree with JD and with others who have argued that the final scene is weak compared with the rest of the episode. However one thing I disagree with is condemning the content of the final scene; I just think it wasn't written very well.

I *think* that the takeaway from Waltz is, in fact, supposed to be a realization Sisko has that the Federation's desire to show tolerance and understanding for those who are different ought to have a limit; that certain viewpoints are, in fact, intolerable and should be squashed. We caught our first glimpse of Star Trek hinting at this reality back in TNG during Best of Both Worlds, where the Enterprise was faced with its first-ever utterly implacable foe. This discussion expanded in I, Borg, where they really needed to decide whether the Collective was utterly beyond being reasoned with, and I guess they finally decided that maybe the individual Borg could be saved.

In the case of the Dominion we are also shown a group that is more or less implacable and where the only way to deal with them is to defeat them and force them to submit. No treaty would be possible unless the Dominion was made to be the weaker party in it. There is no way to "tolerate" them in this sense; they must be at the very least neutralized as a threat before any other discussion could happen.

It's different, though, when we get down to individuals and their beliefs. It's one thing to understand that a government or military force cannot be reasoned with; but surely Federation principles would suggest that a given person's views can be tolerated even if we disagree with them, right? This episode addresses that old liberal question about tolerance; should intolerance be tolerated too? If there is a grey area in the answer to this question, this episode shows us the clarity to be found in one extreme, where if that person's agenda is, for example, to basically exterminate an entire race, then there is no room there for tolerating that opinion or that person. They must simply be stopped and dealt with. Discussion with them about their ideas is fruitless, as Sisko showed here.

By the end of the episode Dukat's mask that he'd been wearing for the entire series was taken off and his true self revealed: that of a narcissistic, delusional madman, bent on being worshipped at all costs. When faced with such a man - basically a Hitler - and his stated agenda of making Bajor pay, I think it's entirely fitting that Sisko realize at the end that this is an "evil man", full stop. No fanciful qualification, no tolerant understanding are needed in this scenario. I think this is Sisko (and Trek) realizing that Federation tolerance only *ought to* to so far, which is in itself a strong statement about reality versus theory. DS9, to me, is a 'reality' show that punches holes in a lot of Trek theory while stilling retaining the important hopeful points about why the Federation is great.

I just wish the last scene has been more contemplative and less "good will win over evil because evil is dumb."
Mon, Jan 16, 2017, 9:35pm (UTC -6)
Of course it was a weak and simplistic ending. The writers now want Dukat to be a fire monster villain. This is how they do it... by destroying the character in one scene. There's no justification for it. This episode also would have been far better if this whole mental illness nonsense was thrown out. It should have been done properly and without all the silly "you're evil" rubbish, as well.
Tue, Feb 7, 2017, 5:14pm (UTC -6)
Great review by Jammer as usual, except I nust disagree with Brooks's acting. In fact, it is in an episode like this, where he is put in a one-on-one verbal "duel" type of situation vs a great actor like Marc Alaimo that his shortcomings glare the most.

Alaimo plays his role, recites his lines naturally charged.with the right emaotions while everything coming out of Brooks's over-exagerated mouth movements feels artificial.. Just look at how he finishes the line "Why do you think they didn't aporeciate this rare opportunity you're offering them?".. Must his eyes, eyebrows, head, all tremble that much? And the "hmmm?" at the end of that sentence with multiple head nods at warp speed 9? I.. can't...
Thu, Feb 9, 2017, 3:28pm (UTC -6)
I liked the final scene. I thought the rest of the episode left Dukat with his shades of gray, including the question of whether he previously hated Bajorans and wanted to commit genocide against them or if that was his new madness talking, and whether he would act on it if given the chance. His evil is as a colonizer, as others have pointed out, but that is nothing new to his character.

Sisko's reaction that Dukat is pure evil has to do with Sisko's character. His proximity to Dukat has diminished him.

Or maybe I'm reading too much into it.
Tue, Mar 21, 2017, 9:22am (UTC -6)

I know you will probably never see this, but what the heck :P

The problem with your theory is that Dukat isn't human. His behavior could be—and from what we've seen may well be—normal for his people. They don't seem to have the same moral compass that we do. They seem to feel fine with acts of violence as long as they can justify them to themselves.
Real Ric
Sat, Jul 15, 2017, 3:37pm (UTC -6)
4 star episode.

To those who say "shades of grey!" - you're wrong.

Dukat was - and is - very complex. Yes he has suffered a breakdown over his daughter's death but this episode shows he had suppressed (key word) feelings about Bajorans and Sisko that I don't think even he admitted to himself.

Can you understand Dukat though?

Everything he said about his first month in charge was undoubtably true. The pressure he was under was enormous. He was an ambitious man who had to watch his back from the Bajoran resistance, other guls and also the Obsidian Order who would scrutinize everything he did on Bajor (even if he smiled at a Bajoran servant girl at dinner).

The pressure would have been enormous and I do believe that initially he had a kind of "colonial paternalism" which turned into a cold social Darwinism within the first few terrorist attacks.

Re: his feelings about Sisko, this ep is legendary the way he toys with Sisko about them being friends - seemingly fishing for Sisko's opinion and laughing at the facade at the same time.

Remember that Dukat had to sell out his people to get Terok Nor back - he had to "bend" to the dominion and *still* lost Terok Nor to the inflexible "moral arbiter" Benjamin Sisko.

TV writing and acting doesn't get any better than this - heck, a lot of film actors couldn't do what Marc Alaimo does here.

4 stars - if you disagree I respectfully ask you to read this comment again and then watch the episode with what I've said in mind.
Tue, Sep 26, 2017, 3:27pm (UTC -6)
This is the first episode in which I finally got what people where complaining about the acting by Avery Brooks. Up until watching this episode, I had not thought that he was over-acting, but parts of his acting felt really irritating this time.
Thu, Oct 19, 2017, 10:07pm (UTC -6)
Hello Everyone!

We got to see Dukat sink to the lowest depths of his madness, and when folks go mad, sometimes they say insane things. But also, we saw Sisko going in somewhat the opposite direction, saying in essence there is no gray area, only good and evil. And he would fear... no... evil...

We've seen obsessive Sisko before, and many have mentioned how... wrong and out of place the ending seemed to be. Perhaps they were showing Sisko being a little "mad" as well.
Now for other things. No matter what they said, I find it hard to believe the Defiant was the only war ship in the area that could escort that convoy. And weren't there other ships searching for survivors? Might they have found them?

I didn't see anyone else mention this, but when Sisko clubs him in the head and runs outside, why didn't he grab the phaser?

Dukat said there was a bone regenerator in the medkit, but he wasn't much of a doctor, so he just put on a splint. Assuming the regenerator is still there, wouldn't Sisko ask for it and see if he could get it to work properly?

Enjoy the day... RT
Thu, Oct 26, 2017, 5:38pm (UTC -6)
Clearly a great premise for a memorable episode when you get Dukat and Sisko together. Sisko has his decency as seen in the teaser when he talks to imprisoned Dukat. But Dukat turns out to the be monster that many of us once sympathized with.

Dukat is too memorable a character to not isolate in a 1-on-1 with somebody important. We've seen him and Kira going at it and that was memorable. One also had to wonder what's going on with Dukat since DS9 was recaptured.

The setup to get Dukat and Sisko isolated on an inhospitable planet is very convenient - but take it as given. This is another examination of a dictator's character. Any sympathy for Dukat is gone as he admits to being another Hitler. He shows hit racism and hatred for Bajor and escapes in a shuttle perhaps to go kill Bajorans. Not sure how insane he is. Who knows what role he'll play in the story arc going forward.

The problem with this episode is that the scene with Dukat's ranting (after beating up Sisko with some metal bar) goes on for too long. He's delusional clearly -- sees hallucinations of Kira/Damar/Weyoun egging him on while Sisko just listens waiting for his moment. Why does he never actually kill Sisko? Because deep down he still has a shred of respect for him and he wants Sisko to respect him.

3 stars for "Waltz" -- Alaimo's a great actor and this is probably one of Brooks' better performances. Pretty intense stuff for sure between Dukat and Sisko. Thought some stuff was glossed over pretty quickly like how Sisko and Dukat were isolated together, how Sisko got rescued while Dukat escaped in a shuttle that was apparently perfectly functional. But the Dukat story lives on, he's more evil than ever and that's good for future DS9 episodes.
Tue, Dec 26, 2017, 2:53pm (UTC -6)
2 stars. Some will say it was a tense drama exploring the delicate mental state of Dukat. I say it was a pretty boring hour to sit through
Sleeper Agent
Thu, Mar 15, 2018, 7:22pm (UTC -6)
I have an excessive amount of appretion for Dukat.

Nearly flawless episode.
Tue, Apr 17, 2018, 4:35pm (UTC -6)
Boring, talkative, contrived, mad rambling of a lunatic, cliche of being stuck in a cave on a planet, etc, etc.. One Star. Another miss of DS9. The season started so well, but we are back on the old level and that isn't good.
Tue, Aug 28, 2018, 7:26pm (UTC -6)
Season 6 continues its return to form, with a wonderfully written and mesmerizing episode. The way "Waltz" examines Gul Dukat's character makes a lot of sense to me-he's evil at his core, even while he may be charming at times. He was responsible for the deaths of millions. End of discussion. The writing and acting were also top notch in this episode. There's hardly a dull scene in it, and Alaimo and Brooks completely drew me into it. With a slightly re-written ending, this would've been the perfect ending for Gul Dukat-the fight at the end was superfluous. Overall though, I think "Waltz" has enough true brilliance in it to completely overwhelm the ending.

4 stars.
Sun, Sep 23, 2018, 12:16pm (UTC -6)
Great episode. I would give it a 3.5 out of 4. I can’t add much to what has been written already. But no one has mentioned one thing. There were at least three references to a classic TOS episode, The Doomsday Machine. The obvious one was the USS Constellation. The second was referenced in the comments but not tied to TDM. It’s Worf’s comment to Bashir “Doctor you may leave the bridge.” Commodore Decker makes that same statement to Doctor McCoy. The third is the statement right after the second about searching or investigating “the third planet”. Commodore Decker’s crew died on “the third planet”. Kirk even exclaims “there is no third planet!” in TDM.
William B
Sun, Sep 23, 2018, 12:22pm (UTC -6)
@Doctor953, good point. It makes me think of Decker's line, too, when he says "They say there's no devil, Jim, but there is," referring to the planet-killer, which is mirrored by Sisko's final speech about Dukat being the true face of evil. Sisko then makes the "it's him or me" claim (I forget the exact wording). Of course, SPOILER we know that Sisko takes Dukat out by destroying them both, which parallels Decker's attempt to take out the Doomsday Machine by self-destruction. Moore being a huge original series fan, I imagine he incorporated those parallels to present another take on the horror of a human from the enlightened future having a glimpse at mass murdering evil.
Tue, Nov 27, 2018, 12:04pm (UTC -6)
I always got the impression that Dukat suffered from really low self-esteem, and his narcissim developed as a way to combat that.
Peter G.
Tue, Nov 27, 2018, 12:13pm (UTC -6)
@ H0neybea4r,

"I always got the impression that Dukat suffered from really low self-esteem, and his narcissim developed as a way to combat that."

The narcissism is deeply ingrained in Cardassian culture, especially in the military and in politics.
Sun, Dec 16, 2018, 9:15am (UTC -6)
Among the worst ever DS9 episodes. I'm surprised this was written by Ron Moore as typically he is a good writer. The story's focus is focused way too much on the "internal" and not enough on the "external". Sitting around in a cave for 45 minutes listening to Dukat's psychological problems is not good television.

The other problem is Dukat's inconsistent character. The writers try to make him out to be a super villain which is boring, cliche, two-dimensional and inconsistent with occasional bouts of humanity we do see from him.

What would be much more interesting was if Dukat really WASN'T a villain of the occupation. That would be a fascinating twist and a breath of fresh air for his character. Instead we are stuck with Dukat as the 2-dimenensional villain and the bajorans as a 2-dimenensional race whose sole focus is victimhood.
Peter G.
Sun, Dec 16, 2018, 12:42pm (UTC -6)
@ Aaron,

"What would be much more interesting was if Dukat really WASN'T a villain of the occupation. That would be a fascinating twist and a breath of fresh air for his character."

Putting aside your objections about the way this story was told, what you suggest simply couldn't happen. The reason isn't because it would be better or worse TV, but simply because it would be a lie. You can't be a Nazi mass murderer and then be truthfully portrayed as not being a villain of the occupation. Did you murder and enslave people? Yes? Then you did very bad things. Redemption is possible, but the issue in this episode isn't redemption, but about finally coming fully to terms with what he did and admitting it with no lies, facade, self-delusion, or attempt to game the situation. His ego is removed from the equation and he brazenly admits his wrongdoing, and that deep down he doesn't really regret it. It's Dukat at his most honest, and despite him toying with us for years about pretending to repent, he never really did: it was all a political game to him, one which he no doubt believed at times. For him to finally be cast as not being a villain would simply be a lie, to us the audience. What would have been possible, of course, is admitting what he'd done and wishing he hadn't done it. But instead he turns the other way and embraces what he'd done. It may seem 'super-villain' stuff to say "I should have killed them all", but truthfully that's at the heart of some kinds of people; rather than dig out of the hole they're in they'll reach right for the bottom. It's not in the slightest bit cartoonish because there are people literally like this in life, all around us. Should it really be a surprise that Dukat is one of them? Not only isn't it 2-dimensional, but it's the most true-to-life version of him we'd seen until this point.

What may be a letdown to some views is that there was no hope for him at this point to redeem himself, or at least to give us the uncertainly of where his heart truly was. I understand that concern, as it's fun in a TV-way to have a character who's entertaining and you don't know which way he'll jump. But in the end it seems they wanted him to reveal who he really was, and it's this. It's what he always way; the rest was masks, and for those who believed his self-delusions that's just a sign of how tempting it can be to buy into someone's self-image if they're charismatic enough. Interestingly enough, we get a similar transformation for Odo over the series where he starts with defenses and masks, and when they're pulled off we actually see that he, too, is something of a Nazi. But in Odo's case he's learned enough that he rebels against this tendency in himself and wants to be something else. But he could have theoretically gone the way of the rest of his people to as well, and between these two characters we see a not dissimilar starting point (having done bad things in the Occupation, being overly concerned about their public image) and very contrasting ending points. This is great storytelling to me, and also a great view of where choices in life can lead you.
Jason R.
Mon, Dec 17, 2018, 8:13am (UTC -6)
I was watching Return to Grace the other day and admired the nuances of Marc Alamo's performance. I loved how even as he did a seemingly noble thing in sacrificing his career for his daughter, everything really was all about him. His description of his fall from grace to Kira is so manipulative.

He even used that love for his daughter as a tool to draw Kira closer into his orbit. Although this is strictly my head canon, I highly doubt that Dukat being chosen for this mission was co-incidence. Dukat undoubtedly volunteered for the assignment. He needed to show Kira what he had sacrificed, to see her with his daughter and how noble he was. The entire situation was a setup - a delicious opportunity to feed his ego.

Indeed, I'm also convinced that his decision to permit Zial to stay with Kira was another subtle manipulation, a means to keep Kira joined with him, connected despite her revulsion at his advances.

Dukat has always been an immensely self-serving manipulator. His characterization never really changed, even when it was shown he was capable of affection, even love.

I don't see his behaviour in Waltz as cartoonish or detached from his prior characterizations. The Bajoran people rejected him, which for an egotist like Dukat was an unacceptable slight. Like an abusive husband who chooses to kill his family rather than let his wife leave him, Dukat turned homicidal when he realized the Bajorans would never affirm him as he sought (with Sisko as their placeholder). For someone like him, true rejection was an unforgiveable slight.

The scale of his fury may have been grander than a garden variety family annihilator, but that's just because Dukat had so much greater means in his position and with his abilities. Hate is hate.

To me Waltz isn't a break from Dukat's previous characterization, but the affirmation of it. I agree with Peter that in Waltz we see who Dukat was all along.
Wed, Dec 19, 2018, 11:13am (UTC -6)
So I've been reading some other Sci-Fi and been thinking about Dukat as a villain here.

I think the issue that Aaron and others have is that up to this point yes, Dukat was a villain, but he was an understandable villain. DS9's pilot depicted Dukat as this sort of "neither friend or foe" type of character who has his own motivations. Effectively speaking, it meant that at times Dukat would work for the Cardassian government when he saw that as the best choice, but at other times he'd work with Sisko or Kira and ignore his government when he thought that was for the best. In either situation, we the audience, would be in on Dukat's thinking and could even understand and follow it even if it was "evil".

After this episode though, Dukat crosses the threshold from everyday antagonist to cartoonish supervillain. In his next appearance in "Tears of the Prophets", he's randomly blaming Sisko for Ziyal's death, and concocting machinations to fight the Prophets for reasons that even Weyoun considers insane. Then there's "Covenant" where Dukat is an undeniably evil cult leader trying to whitewash the occupation, and finally we get the finale where he wants to set "the galaxy aflame" because...that's the Pah Wraith talking? Or has that been his ambition this whole time? It's really quite a contrast from seasons 1 - 4 Dukat, at any rate.

If I may draw a parallel to ST: Discovery, Dukat's character shift reminds me a lot of how Lorca changed from a nuanced anti-hero/anti-villain into a power-mad tyrant when he reached the MU. Something that I would've liked to see is for Dukat's conscience to emerge at some point in the later seasons and for us to see that Dukat was struggling internally and that holding onto the Pah Wraiths was a way of stabilizing him. Though, I do want to give due credit to Kai Winn's character in this regard. It's interesting she isn't quite as evil as we suspected, just very naïve in her ambitions.
Jason R.
Wed, Dec 19, 2018, 11:34am (UTC -6)
Chrome Dukat's status as a cult leader is completely consistent with his earlier characterizations. It is him reliving his fantasy version of the occupation where the Bajorans acknowledge his benevolence - Kira even says this.

As for the Pah Raiths, I see them as a means to an end. They do not supply the motivation. His motivation is clearly established in Waltz which in turn flowed logically from his previously established character traits of narcissism and rage on rejection.
Peter G.
Wed, Dec 19, 2018, 11:51am (UTC -6)

"DS9's pilot depicted Dukat as this sort of "neither friend or foe" type of character who has his own motivations."

Are you sure? In my view it's fairly clear in the pilot that Dukat (who at this point isn't distinct from his government's wishes) will destroy DS9 and do anything else it takes to secure the wormhole before the Federation can. The Occupation is recently over and he'd be happy to resume it now that there's such a valuable resource there. I think it's later that we see his motivations mixed. But to be fair, I don't think he's some kind of outlier: it seems standard for Cardassian Guls or Legates to place their own ambitions ahead of the needs of their people. In fact, their entire system of government seems to stem from corrupt individuals selling out their people for person gain. You might even call that the MO of totalitarianism. So to whatever extent Dukat seems to sometimes do what his government wants and other times not, I think he's more typical than we might think, other than that his ego and capabilities are just one or two notches higher than his peers.

I don't have any problem imagining that people who come out of societies like this will be sick by our standards. And yes, they will be so far beyond our experience of common sense and Judeo-Christian rules that they might seem monstrous or "supervillain-ish". Except that I don't think it's in the slightest bit an exaggeration of real life people, except again in terms of the actual sci-fi /fantasy means at his disposal. I think that post-Waltz may be jarring because we see the pride and ego without any mask, and in one sense I suppose it might seem like a loss not to be able to pretend that he's on the fence after all, morally. What changes is his sanity - or rather the pretending that his values are sane. No question, though, that it's a tonal shift in the storytelling.
Wed, Dec 19, 2018, 1:52pm (UTC -6)
@Peter G.

"In my view it's fairly clear in the pilot that Dukat (who at this point isn't distinct from his government's wishes) will destroy DS9 and do anything else it takes to secure the wormhole before the Federation can. The Occupation is recently over and he'd be happy to resume it now that there's such a valuable resource there"

Dukat may have had some sort of plans to re-assert Cardassian dominance in the sector, but they were more reasonable and appreciative of diplomacy with the Federation. My conclusion comes from Dukat being instrumental in halting hostilities by telling the Cardassian ships hungering to take DS9 by force to stand down once Sisko saved his vessel from the wormhole.
Peter G.
Wed, Dec 19, 2018, 2:35pm (UTC -6)
@ Chrome,

Well the issue there, I think, is that it's hard to separate Dukat's distinct persona from that of the Cardassian government. When it appears at first like the Cardassians will fight to the death, and then Dukat gets them to back off, this is very much indicative of the chained bulldog that is the Central Command in general, balancing between 'abiding by' their new treaty and gaining new power. I'm not sure it's evident to come out concluding that Dukat is particularly reasonable. It's more like "they" alternate between pure aggression and what appears to be reasoned discourse, all to gain advantage. And that's basically Dukat in a nutshell.
Thu, Jan 31, 2019, 9:29pm (UTC -6)
Watching and commenting (I do this before reading the review or anyone else's comments. I also try to avoid seeing Jammer's score, which I successfully did with this one. DISCLAIMER: Any agreement with, repeat of, or seeming attack on, an opinion in the review or comments is purely coincidental.)

--Oh, yum, yum, yum, Sisko and Dukat! Alaimo is great. Makes himself say the word "death" in regard to Ziyal. Not "passing," or "ending" or "leaving." He hesitates, then says it very deliberately. Yes, that is exactly right. Exactly right.

-- Great, great start. I already love it, and we're not even to the opening music.

--The Honshu was destroyed!! Lemme guess: Dukat and Sisko are together somewhere.

--Hallucinating Weyoun. So Dukat not doing so well after all . . .

--DUKAT: "You've got to laugh at a Universe that allows such radical shifts in fortune." Indeed.

--The truth of the situation is dawning on Sisko. He's trapped with a homicidal mad man. He keeps his cool.

--Eh, not a fan of the fake out when the two survivors transported onto the Defiant didn't turn out to be Sisko and Dukat.

--Well, that was quite a confrontation.

--Yuh-oh. We've got a Batman vs The Joker vibe going on here. Such a promising start, good stuff in the cave, but I'm worried about how we're explicitly dumping the "shades of gray," here at the end.

Good episode. Great performances from all.
Fri, Feb 1, 2019, 7:32am (UTC -6)

You should be very worried. "Waltz" is basically the last time Gul Dukat works as a character. For that reason, I can understand why this 'ruins' the episode in the eyes of some. For me personally though, it doesn't decrease the quality of it that much at all. Said quality is just too high.
Fri, Feb 1, 2019, 3:26pm (UTC -6)
After reading the comments and review:

--I think Dukat is a man who has done some very, very evil things. He's not proud of them, though; he comes off as a man with a lot of shame & self hatred and a need for rationalizing & endless external validation.

--It's quite a balancing act, staying functional with that much cognitive dissonance going on. When he loses all his dreams, the dreams that were proof that everything he had done was worth it, the dreams that vindicated him, AND he loses Ziyal, the house of cards comes down.

--Dukat is psychotic in this episode. He center did not hold. He is a control freak who's lost total control, a Narcissist without his narcissistic supply (a Jem Hadar without his White). He lied about the ship not being functional, he lied about the beacon being functional - but mostly, he's lying about himself being functional.

--I wouldn't be surprised if he killed McConnell and hurt Sisko, himself. I think that's subtly implied.

--Dukat is pretty far gone here, and from what @Iceman (thanks for the heads up) is saying, he's not coming back.

--I'll have to see what is done with his character, but I don't object to his portrayal becoming one of a man who is too deeply damaged for any complexity, who's given himself over to his central-darkness because he no longer has the ability to control it.

--That said, I don't like the idea that the Sisko v Dukat struggle becomes a Good v Evil struggle with no acknowledgement of how blurry those lines can be. I don't like the idea of "comic book." It was mostly the way Sisko looked at the camera and said "I fear no evil," that worried me. It was like we were heading for a confrontation between Yahweh and The Serpent. Good luck, Dukat. Something tells me you're in for a long, long fall.

--One more point: I suspect, from the set up and the way they physically struggled, that Dukat maybe something of a deliberate darkside reflection of Sisko. But I'd have to give that idea a lot more thought, rewatch some interactions and such. Which I wish I had time to do. But I don't.

--A very good ep.
Jamie Mann
Sat, Feb 22, 2020, 10:44am (UTC -6)
A fairly good character-driven episode.

I'm not particularly keen on the well-worn trope of having imaginary characters pop out of thin air - it's something which sadly became very popular in later sci-fi shows such as BSG and Farscape. But one scenario where it does (mostly) work is when a character is descending into madness, and that's exactly what we see here.

One thing this episode does well is to highlight the twin elements which drive Dukat and fuel his descent into madness. First, he believes himself to be morally superior to everyone else, especially the Bajorans he once ruled over. Secondly, he needs people to acknowledge that he's morally superior.

It's something which has been highlighted before, not least when Dukat discussed his views with Weyoun about how true victory involves making your enemies acknowledge that they were wrong. And watching how his obsessions with these drive him over the edge is definitely believable.

Admimttedly, there's a few flaws in this episode.

The whole sub-plot with the Defiant felt... off. The idea that the entire bridge crew was willing to risk the deaths of tens of thousands of Federation soldiers in the hope of finding Sisko is highly suspect. I know Star Trek has always endorsed the "no man left behind" ethos, but I'd hope there'd be a bit more discussion and dissension among the crew before opting for the smaller side of the "few vs many" equation.

Then too, when Sisko knocks out Dukat, why didn't he take a few seconds to secure him or use his phaser to make sure he stayed unconscious? Dukat was clearly in the middle of a violent psychological break; I'd have securely trussed him up before doing anything else.

And then there's the overly trite ending, where Sisko decrees that Dukat is pure evil. There's a case to be made that Dukat /was/ evil prior to this episode (though at the same time, there's the counter argument that he believed himself to be behaving morally...). But at this point, he's clearly completely insane.

Can someone who's insane be truly evil? Or do they just need to be healed? Batman's Joker tends towards being pure evil, but I'd hope DS9 would have a bit more of a nuanced view, especially given it's love of moral ambiguities...
Tue, Apr 14, 2020, 3:10am (UTC -6)
This would be a solid episode were it not for the ridiculous amount of times that fate would intervene in preventing Gul Dukat from killing Sisko
Sun, Jul 26, 2020, 10:32pm (UTC -6)
Solid ep . Dukat is a great character. Good acting by Brooks. Tough gritty fight scene.
Fri, Aug 14, 2020, 3:41am (UTC -6)
@Hiroshi Your comments surmise my reaction. I also felt like the writing was dull and predictable - not my usual reaction to Moore - although I think Auberjonois did a great job with the material he had to work with. Self absorbed politicians are not very interesting. And Dukat going 'crazy' is more of a Hollywood version of mental illness, than a serious examination. It weakened him as a character and while I was sickened by him before, in subsequent episodes I am just sick of him.
Mon, Aug 24, 2020, 4:20pm (UTC -6)
Dukat's rationalisations sound very similar to European, US and Israeli attempts to dominate the middle east and other parts of the world and being angry that the subjugated people keep meeting their "kindness" with terrorism

It's a powerful episode but reading the commentary above it seems that the majority of the viewing public is innoculated from understanding the condemnation this episode levels at western society
Wed, Sep 9, 2020, 8:20pm (UTC -6)
I liked Dukat more as a morally complex character and that's how I've come to see him over the previous episodes. I don't think he was justified in his treatment of the Bajorans even if he was less evil than the norm. He could've never taken up that position of power, or he could've done so while secretly cooperating with the resistance. That to me means he certainly wasn't good. On the other hand he chose to do a lot less harm than the previous norm, which an wholly evil character wouldn't do.

Despite that I still think it's a great episode due to the super par writing & directing, and good acting.

I also think moral dilemmas on what power, technological superiority, and possibly higher intelligence over someone else does or doesn't justify, because not only does it apply to humans relative to potential other aliens and humans relative to other humans - but also human animals relative to other animals. So there are some ties to the ideas of antispeciesism (and by extension veganism) as well.
Thu, Mar 4, 2021, 2:58am (UTC -6)
Just rewatched this on Netflix.
An over 20 years old episode packing more cinematic punch than all the recent CGI driven super hero movies put together.
Gul Dukat/Marc Alaimo: single greatest character/actor in all of ST. Just beyond comparison to anyone else. This spectacular episode is evidence of Alaimo's towering natural talent. He puts all those posh Brit Shakespearean actors to shame. He is more Shakespearean here than all the Hamlets and King Lears and Richard the Thirds put together.
Sizzling script delivered by Alaimo in impeccable intonation. Compare it to Avery Brooks' delivery here and elsewhere. An acting master class. Dukat remains far more grey and complex by the end of this episode than all of Sisko's PC Starfleet B&W good and evil distinctions. A brilliant episode worthy of a PhD dissertation.
Bravo, Mr Alaimo.
Tue, May 18, 2021, 4:25pm (UTC -6)
I’m not sure whether it was meant to be but I always think the final scene is a subtle foreshadowing of Dax’s death.
Tue, May 25, 2021, 1:42pm (UTC -6)
Season 5 and 6 of DS9 is probably the piece of trek ever, and this episode is appart of it.

I'm reading the comments I think people are looking too far into the'' true nature of Dukat'' or the definition of ''pure evil '' (which I agree it's easy to tag someone who is mentally unstable as pure evil)''. Don't get me wrong , I stand by what I said , this episode is a very strong component to an already strong season 6, but at the same time (and this is my second watch), it's also the episode that ''breaks'' Dukat as a likeable character.

He clearly wants nothing to do with the Dominion (proof being he did not want to be found), he's not mentally sound and everyone from a Bejoran farmer to starfleet admiral wants him in a holding cell.

The result, although this episode provides some of the most thrilling acting and drama to grace television (between Alaimo and Brooks) , it leave Dukat as a pariah to both sides, and a powerless Dukat is actually a boring and predictable Dukat.

I don't see this episode as branding him as truly evil like Sisko would state but rather a desperate man that will stop at nothing to make everyone around him pay, no matter the cost . Just like he was ready to sell Cardasia to the dominion just to become a major power in the Alpha Quadrant again...
Thu, Sep 30, 2021, 10:15pm (UTC -6)
I am going to start with the first few paragraphs of Jammer's Review and then make the case for that 1/2 star, and more.

[[[One of the most interesting things about Dukat, the Cardassians, and the entire Deep Space Nine universe is that they have always been filled with such challenging grey areas.

It is a bizarre irony, then, that an episode that effectively deletes many of those shades of grey from Dukat's character can still be extremely complex and interesting, and equally challenging. There have been many times in the past when sympathizing with Dukat—despite his incessant need for his actions to serve his own interests—was not a difficult thing. But after "Waltz" I find myself only partially understanding Dukat and not exactly wanting to understand the rest of him. And I truly hope that if I'd personally known Adolf Hitler the way I've come to know Dukat over the years, I wouldn't be a fraction as sympathetic or interested in knowing more about him as I am with Dukat.

That's not to say I sympathize with a man who admits to a pattern of thought that Dukat admits to by the end of "Waltz"; I'd probably react just the way Sisko did—with a determined "him or me" attitude that can't see the man as anything more than "pure evil." What, rather, I am saying is that virtuosic scripter Ron Moore has done something very interesting: He has gotten me to see things from inside the twisted mind of a mad, raving, racist, self-serving yet broken and tortured dictator who has lost everything—his empire, his daughter, his mind, and his entire sense of reality—and now plans on making up for lost time. Is that somewhere I really want to go? The answer to that question is probably the reason "Waltz" is so extremely psychologically intense for such a long time. Dukat is one of the most fascinating characters that Trek has ever maintained—but at the same time, some of the dimensions he takes on here scare the hell out of me, and I don't think I'd be doing my job if I didn't say his raving display was disquieting.]]]

To me, this sounds like the beginning of a four-star review from Jammer, based on his tastes as I have come to understand them. I am not a friend of Jamahl's or even really that well-read concerning his work. But I tend to think that, from what I have read of his, this seems like the kind of drama and storytelling and efficiency of execution that he tends to favor. I disagree with you, Jammer.

Other than that and the remainder of the review, I read halfway thru the second comment on this.

No, you're all insane. This episode gets ***** FIVE stars, from me.

This is possibly the single best episode of Star Trek that I think I've ever seen. It stands up there with "City On The Edge Of Forever," "The Best Of Both Worlds," and "Chain Of Command." Allow me to explain.

"I have isolated three segments of this recording that are crucial."

~ Lt.Cmdr. Data, "Cause And Effect"

First, the line of "Phantom-Weyoun," Dukat's hallucination of Weyoun, the Vorrta Envoy which facilitated his reclamation of Deep Space 9 from the Federation, and assisted in the administrative duties during that time, reads thusly:

"The Dominion would never have been so generous."

This is in reference to an incident where Dukat had 200 suspected Bajoran Resistance members executed because of the bombing of a Cardassian ship with a compliment of 200 people.

The first psychological element here, is comparison to a greater evil, which all in the grips of sociopathy do, constantly. "I'm not as bad as that guy." It is a razor-sharp laser blast into the heart of the episode's theme; Dukat doesn't think he was that bad, compared to even more despicable forces in the universe. The reason he has been brought to this point is due to the fact that he's had enough exposure to other cultures in the Alpha Quadrant to be able to look at himself and question his own actions, but so much indoctrination, negative reinforcement and just basic brainwashing by his fanatically obsessive culture, that after all the trauma he has endured, it just plain sends his brain into a tailspin. You may as well have asked the HAL 9000 computer to lie to the crew about its mission while also always answering their queries with factual data.

Unlike the HAL 9000 computer, he is self-reflective to a point; but that point proves far below the standard of what a rational human being might consider ethical. It is only a way in which he serves the maintenance of his own egotism, without which, his fragile sense of self-worth collapses.


"Pride!! Stubborn, unyielding pride!!

This is the quality which Dukat cites in the Bajorans that caused him to be unable to deal with them. It is 100% the blanket denial a sociopath can use. At no point in the entirety of this episode, this series, nor almost any portrayal of the Cardassians, are we given a more incisive look into what makes them tick. Projection, in its finest form, crystalline and perfectly faceted. Cardassians suffer from an overabundance of pride, more than anything else; this is what gives root to all the excesses, paranoid infarctions and abhorrent overreactions of their militarism. And this is the quality which they cannot bear in another being; like human beings (in our real world, who watch TV), they hate the things in others, that they are ashamed of within themselves.

Avery Brooks and Marc Alamio each have the lion's share of the dialogue in this episode, and it takes place almost entirely on a soundstage. It is the absolute best kind of budget buster; LOOK AT ALL THIS GREAT SCRIPTING AND ACTING. It requires sound effects of a barren planetoid, a minimum of costuming and props, a few ship shots, and some clever lighting. That's it, and those elements are all honed to a razor fine edge, to a gleaming shine. The rest is in the script.


"We're picking up a signal; ... It's from Gul Dukat."

O'Brien speaks these words. The B Plot is totally in obeisance to the A Plot here, to the point where it almost vanishes in the background. But this line strikes me as relevant, and it's the knot that ties the two together perfectly;

Despite (or perhaps because of) all the intense vicious hatred Dukat feels for Sisko (and he makes this sentiment ABUNDANTLY CLEAR), he saves his life, at the end.

This is, as we say in the Trek Circles, "Good Trek." This is the twist that makes you realize why you like an episode.

Dukat isn't satisfied with a small victory. He has to have a victory that proves his supremacy, and leaving his hated rival to die on a planetoid just isn't GOOD ENOUGH. He wants a DUEL with Sisko, and he won't settle for less. He is completely, truly, off the deep end, SNAKE-F***ingly CRAZY.

It is just good theater, it is just good drama, and the excesses of the emotion in this episode are earned and deserved. Eat your Michael Burnham Heart Out, Discovery.

This may be the best episode of Star Trek which I know to exist. It mashes Misery by Stephen King and The Foundation Trilogy into one. This is a miracle of storytelling. How can you say "no" to watching that?

Shush, Jammer. This gets all the stars, for me.
Sat, Oct 16, 2021, 8:30pm (UTC -6)
Dukat's need of Sisko's approval (and the Bajorans) really felt like Trump-isms to me. It's hard to believe this episode pre-dated Trump's presidency by a little over 15 years.
Sean J Hagins
Sun, Nov 14, 2021, 9:07pm (UTC -6)
Am I the only one that sees Sisko at least being 15% to blame? He seems to have done everything possible to push an already unstable Dukat over the edge! I really feel that he "picked at the scab" until it bled.
Mon, Dec 13, 2021, 2:54pm (UTC -6)
Sean said: "Am I the only one that sees Sisko at least being 15% to blame? "

Yeah, this show really skirts over the way Sisko repeatedly throws fuel on fires, or starts fires outright.

I mean the guy keeps violating Dominion space and ticking them off, incites a war with the Klingons without consulting the Federation, leaks Klingon plans to the Cardassians (They're coming to kill you!), but doesn't do the same to the Dominion (a Alpha Quadrant fleet's coming to wipe out your homeworld!), and even risked war with the Romulans by violating their "no cloaking device in the Alpha Quadrant" treaty.

It's quite funny in a way. It's like the guy is trying to start a war with every superpower.

Anyway, this episode has gone up in my estimation. I still find the first two acts a bit slack, or rather not as sharply written as I'd have liked, but I'd say the final 20 minutes offer some nice scenery-chewing, primarily by Dukat, who unleashes venom like an irate Nazi at a Nuremberg rally.

Sisko's baiting of Dukat is one big cliche ("A Few Good Men" etc), but didn't bother me too much. I think the sheer actorly pyrotechnics of Dukat makes up for everything. IMO Sisko's fist-battle with Dukat, while the planet around them is ravaged by storms, is also superior to Kirk's similar fist-battle at the end of Search for Spock.
Peter G.
Mon, Dec 13, 2021, 3:38pm (UTC -6)
@ TheRealTrent,

"Sisko's baiting of Dukat is one big cliche"

What's the cliche? He is sick of Dukat's hypocrisy and wants him to finally speak the truth - the real truth - for a change rather than posturing and offering platitudes. And the fact that Sisko's aggravation gets the better of him, wanting to push Dukat into his real self rather than tolerate a piece of theatre, is a 'weakness' of Sisko's but also a strength. He could be diplomatic, playing along with Dukat's delusions or letting him think whatever he wants, but he's not that kind of guy. He doesn't like BS. And in this instance Sisko is just too out of the 'polite guy' zone to care about pretending to playing Dukat's games. Putting up a firm wall and refusing to buy into Dukat's nonsense is what pushes him over the edge, and I think it's perfect.

If this is a cliche, where else is this cliche to be found?

PS - I'll just mention parenthetically that A Few Good Men has that scene with Cruise pushing Nicholson on the stand not to show the bad guy being goaded into going pure evil, but to illustrate how infuriating it was for the Colonel (I think) to deal with the immature and ignorant posturing of the lawyer who didn't know what he was talking about. One can disagree about the code reds being valid, but Cruise's character was guilty as charged insofar as he was a cocky guy who basically knew nothing about the military life, and yet was preaching morality at a career officer because of a mistake. So I don't think that analogy works at all for this episode.
Mon, Dec 13, 2021, 3:44pm (UTC -6)
@Peter G.

I don't think "TheRealTrent" can handle the truth.
Mon, Dec 13, 2021, 7:03pm (UTC -6)
Peter said: "What's the cliche?"

It's the "provoke the witness to reveal his guilt" cliche.

On top of that is the "proud of your guilt" cliche.

I mention "A Few Good Men" because Nicholson and Dukat both initially try to absolve themselves of responsibility. They then get baited into doubling down on their guilt, both proudly owning what happened, and rationalizing their behavior as being a necessary evil for the greater good.

And so Dukat finally reveals that he is proud to have killed Bajorans - would do it again and again! They're weak! Viva a Strong Cardassia! - and Nicholson similarly finally reveals that he is proud to have weeded out weaklings, would do it again and again, for this too ultimately makes a stronger America.
Peter G.
Mon, Dec 13, 2021, 9:18pm (UTC -6)
@ TheRealTrent,

I see how you're drawing a parallel in that at first a guy denies something and then admits it, but I guess that's where the similarity stops for me. Maybe you're seeing the two more in line than I am because of your evaluation of the "proud of your guilt" cliche. I don't really see Colonel Jessep as being 'proud of his guilt' because he legitimately thinks what he's doing is good. He initially denied it only because of the hypocrisy of those not in the military; i.e. that they want dirty work done but for it to look clean, and when something goes wrong they look for a fall guy. When he said they can't handle the truth I think that's really the underline theme of the film: that the "few good men" (i.e. the military) are in fact doing bad things routinely, and what's more, this is their actual mission. It's just that the civilians wants to wear blinders and not know what war is really about, so they can pretend it's all genteel. So no, I don't think Jessep was proud of his "evil" actions, because they are precisely the actions he was hired to do. If someone is guilty, it's not him, but the civilian authorities who want the dirty deeds done. Contrast with Dukat, who constantly has to posture about his generous and thoughtful nature, and how respected he is, because *he* is the one who can't handle the truth: that he's a megalomaniacal narcissist who would gladly sell his own mother down the river if he got power out of it. All they have in common is that someone is accusing them of something, although granted I agree that the sequence of the deliberation does go from denial to doubling down.

I jus don't think Sisko had to 'badget the witness' to get it done; in fact all he had to do was to go all-in in entertaining Dukat's thought process. Previously all Sisko would ever do is hear Dukat's self-serving points, stand his ground, neither attacking nor defending. Dukat could say what he wanted, Sisko stood by and let him do it, and they moved on. This time instead of refuting or standing by Sisko fed into exactly what Dukat was saying, adding momentum to his position rather than arguing against it. This isn't so much a question of forcing him to admit something he didn't want to admit to Sisko, but giving him license to finally say it out loud. Rather than cornering Dukat, he was releasing him.

At least that's my take on it.
Sean J Hagins
Fri, Dec 17, 2021, 4:15am (UTC -6)

Exactly! This is why it is hard for me to like Sisko! Unlike Picard, and even Kirk, Sisko is NOT a peacemaker. You are correct about his antaognising the other races, and here if you look at Sisko's face, he seems almost as mad as Dukat!

He should help Dukat (an obviously mad person) to bury his negative feelings-instead he "helps" him to fully bloom in his madness!

UGH! It's disgusting!
Jason R.
Fri, Dec 17, 2021, 4:54am (UTC -6)
Can I point out here that Sisko isn't merely pushing Dukat to get a confession for some kind of moral satisfaction - he's trying to play along and distract him to save his own life.
Fri, Dec 17, 2021, 5:30am (UTC -6)
The few good men comparison is also not the most fitting. In a few good men, Cruise has to prove that Nicholson is guilty.

Dukat definitely is guilty. While his reasons might be interesting for historians, it is a fairly small and unimportant detail considering that he killed millions. Sisko is not making Dukat admit his guilt, no, he is forcing Dukat to admit that he murdered millions because he tried to break them, first with gifts then with violence, and when they wouldn't break, he started hating them for it. This is not about guilt, it is about Dukat admitting what he really is: a cruel mass murderer. Why does Sisko do that? It was always my view that Sisko at that point basically thought:"I'm unable to defend myself, in a cave with a mass murderer who probably wants to kill me. If I die, I'll go down fighting." Then Dukat turned his back and Sisko took that opportunity to knock him out.

By the way, does somebody know why Sisko said:" And that is why you are not an evil man."???
Fri, Dec 17, 2021, 5:46am (UTC -6)
It's a bit naive to expect a person in Sisko's position here to be Dukat's therapist.


"By the way, does somebody know why Sisko said: And that is why you are not an evil man?"

Because the whole purpose of writing this episode was to showcase Dukat's evilness.

The writers said this in an interview. They were worried by the fact that many fans admired Dukat as "a cool tough bad guy". So they wanted to do an episode which demonstrates Dukat's pure evilness in an unambiguous way.

Ironically, this episode - while being excellent drama - fails spetacularly at this goal. Dukat is clearly insane here. His mad ravings are hardly a fair way to judge his character.

Of-course it's laughable to say that the character was somehow slandered here. Dukat *is* an genocidal irredeemable monster. But if you didn't realize this before "Waltz", then this episode is not going to convince you.
Fri, Dec 17, 2021, 6:03am (UTC -6)
"Because the whole purpose of writing this episode was to showcase Dukat's evilness."
I get that but why does Sisko say that Dukat is NOT an evil man? I mean Dukat is an evil man?! Is that some kind of saying it that means that he is evil, maybe a language barrier I'm hitting here??
Fri, Dec 17, 2021, 6:17am (UTC -6)
"...why does Sisko say that Dukat is NOT an evil man? I mean Dukat is an evil man?!"

Perhaps the ultimate good, i e., Sisko, is identified as such, by not applying easy labels.

The word "evil" is too easily bandied about. It has lost much of its force in speech.
Fri, Dec 17, 2021, 6:26am (UTC -6)
You might want to watch the scene in question again.

It leaves absolutely no doubt that Sisko is being sarcastic here.
Fri, Dec 17, 2021, 7:10am (UTC -6)
I assumed that Avery Brooks just said the line wrong but later takes were not as good so they just left it in, thinking nobody would notice or care.
Jason R.
Fri, Dec 17, 2021, 8:28am (UTC -6)
"It leaves absolutely no doubt that Sisko is being sarcastic here."

Haha it never occurred to me that anyone could read this as anything but sarcasm.

But if I want to twist my brain in knots to play devil's advocate and argue for a "strait" not sarcastic interpretation of the line, here it is: dismissing someone like Dukat as "evil" is a copout. We picture people who do evil acts like mass murder and genocide as raving monsters or demons when the reality is so much more banal. They are just people doing what people do for their own motives. Dukat was capable of genocide just as he was capable of kindness according to his nature which was a narcissist with an extreme need to have his greatness affirmed. Such individuals are not rare and most will never commit murder let alone genocide. It is a myth that only "monsters" can commit atrocities.

Of course a few episodes later Dukat becomes an actual red eyed fire demon so errrr... maybe I gave the writing too much credit haha
Peter G.
Fri, Dec 17, 2021, 8:36am (UTC -6)
@ Booming,

"I assumed that Avery Brooks just said the line wrong but later takes were not as good so they just left it in, thinking nobody would notice or care."

Maybe it's an English/German translation issue? Sisko has taken the long way around to present a proof-by-contradiction argument. Dukat's claim is that he is not an evil man, and the entire exchange Sisko finally pursues with him is a plumbing out of the reasons why Dukat thinks this, following the train of thought all the way through. Naturally, when Sisko draws out Dukat's real thoughts on the matter it ends up clearly leading to the conclusion that he *is* an evil man (which is so obvious it doesn't require stating out loud), and then Sisko re-states Dukat's original premise, that he is not an evil man. It is the logical equivalent of stating "A and not-A", where Sisko is stating "A" out loud after Dukat has already admitted not-A. That's the technical form of the conversation, anyhow. By re-stating Dukat's original premise Sisko shows how absurd it is. It's not so much sarcasm as pointing out how, at this juncture, the original premise is absurd.
Fri, Dec 17, 2021, 8:55am (UTC -6)
"We picture people who do evil acts like mass murder and genocide as raving monsters or demons when the reality is so much more banal."
There is the famous "banality of evil" book by Hannah Ahrendt. That is about Eichmann who would fit your description. I saw Dukat less like Eichmann and more like Heydrich. A dashing and cultured individual, a beloved father and capable administrator but also a cruel mass murderer who came up with the final solution aka the Holocaust.

Here about a speech Himmler gave to SS officers in 1943: "the
perpetrators were not meant to feel pleasure in the execution of their tasks or to enrich themselves by stealing from their victims, but to see their role as that of a gardener who weeds out the wilderness of the Eastern lands and transforms them into what Hitler in 1941 referred to as the future ‘German Garden of Eden’ in the East." Sounds like Dukat, doesn't it.
From this text

It is sad that they transformed Dukat into a raving loon. Racism, ambition and an imperial impulse are not mental illnesses.
William B
Fri, Dec 17, 2021, 11:25am (UTC -6)
I thought Sisko was partly just trying to stall for time while he works out how to get out of this situation, by recognizing what it was Dukat wanted of him - to indulge Dukat in his psychodrama. What Sisko thinks of Dukat is part of the episode's subject (eg the log entry at the beginning), but I don't think Sisko's main goal is to prove or disprove anything but to get Dukat excited enough to let his guard down, with whatever insights he gains as a secondary effect.

Sisko probably suspects that if the "argument" ends too early, Dukat might then kill him. He can't just placate Dukat, but he can't go all out attacking him either. He has to figure out how to make the "conversation" last as long as possible while also not making it look like he's stalling. The only real way he knows how to do this is to engage with Dukat's arguments, such as they are.
Peter G.
Fri, Dec 17, 2021, 1:49pm (UTC -6)
I think I agree, William, that Sisko's verbal maneuvers are also a tactic to gain some sort of physical initiative against Dukat. But I can't help but feel that on some level he had been wanting to tell this guy off for a long time, and let Dukat's own claims about himself do the job for him.
William B
Fri, Dec 17, 2021, 2:19pm (UTC -6)
Peter, yeah, I think you're right. I think it's more that I think the underlying reason this is happening at all is that Sisko recognizes the necessity of it, and then given *that* he also gets into it. I think Sisko also sort of thinks initially in the episode that it would be wrong to indulge his desire to tell Dukat off, and does sort of like the opportunity to do so.

I don't always feel I fully get where Sisko is coming from, but I think I get him in this one.
Tue, Dec 28, 2021, 12:13pm (UTC -6)
Really stupid that after he knocked out Dukat he just left him lying there. Don't bother getting the phaser he had, or any other weapon, just run to the shuttle. Should have just killed him, but I guess then the story would be over.
Mon, Mar 21, 2022, 4:22pm (UTC -6)
Along with Inner Light this episode ranks right at the top as a Trek episode other Trekkies rant and rave about but I think is middling at best.

The whole scenario relies on a LOT of pretenses and suspension of disbelief; dominos that have to be set up in order to be knocked down. Kira & Dukat's trip to find the Ravanok was far better handled, because every part of it made sense. I knew the very second Sisko showed up on that ship that a) the ship would get in trouble, b) Dukat would escape, and c) shenanigans would ensue. That's just kind of lazy.

Setting aside all the pretenses that have to occur to create the scenario, Dukat was at his best as a villain cast in shades of grey. This episode strips away all the greys and just dunks him in the Moustache-twirling Supervillain pot. Oh well, I guess.

Also, Sisko hitting Dukat once and trying to get away is like...Horror Film Sorority Girl level tactics. He should have secured the phaser and/or at least made SURE Dukat was down. Then maybe there could have been a moral quandry faced by Sisko: do I put this monster out of everyone's misery and betray my oath as a Starfleet officer. Instead it was just a 1950s yawnfest brawl with Dukat inevitably escaping on the shuttle.

And why couldn't Defiant catch the shuttle? Another artificial-feeling constraint.
Wed, Sep 21, 2022, 11:21am (UTC -6)
I didn't find this ep. to be anything special. I certainly can't believe it has some kind of a cult status, even if you're a Cisco groupie.

Though I didn't mind the long talkie-talkie at all, I don't think The Cisco established anything revolutionary or "revelationary" about Dukat here, certainly nothing that would justify his little Barry White-impression speech at the end. Dukat is clearly off his rocker, dealing with schizophrenic hallucinations, so even his outright declaring that he'd kill all the Bajous doesn't seal him as incorrigibly evil. His guilt vel non is established on what he did, not what he pledged to do in a moment bordering on delirium.

Also, The Cisco acts like a moron at times: not bothering to hide the tine he tore off the fork or, as Liam mentioned above, knocking Dukie out and leaving him there, armed and dangerous. That's not even a rookie mistake; it's gross dereliction.

Anyway, what, 2 - 2-1/2 stars? Whatevz.
Sun, Oct 30, 2022, 5:21pm (UTC -6)
11 years of comments. Not bad.
I haven't read them all, theres just too many but the early ones all say the same thing, that its regrettable that this episode strips away the shades of grey and labels dukat pure evil.
My opinion has always been and my latest research confirms me in my view, that it does no such thing. That sisko's "and that is why you're not an evil man" isnt sarcasm, its genuine. That he recognises that dukat did not act on his darkest thoughts and wipe everyone out. We all have our "I should have done x" dark fantasies but we dont act on them.
I think this episode confirmed dukat as NOT evil, just wrong. Now that hes gone a tad mad he goes and does more terrible things but evil in a Hitler sense, no.
Peter G.
Sun, Oct 30, 2022, 8:28pm (UTC -6)
@ Badge,

"My opinion has always been and my latest research confirms me in my view, that it does no such thing. That sisko's "and that is why you're not an evil man" isnt sarcasm, its genuine. That he recognises that dukat did not act on his darkest thoughts and wipe everyone out. We all have our "I should have done x" dark fantasies but we dont act on them.
I think this episode confirmed dukat as NOT evil, just wrong. Now that hes gone a tad mad he goes and does more terrible things but evil in a Hitler sense, no."

While it's interesting to note that we can philosophize our way out of a straightforward reading, I would like to suggest to you that literarily I really cannot see a reading of the transcript or Brooks' performance that implies what you suggest. Dukat has just dropped all pretense of caring for the Bajorans and says he should have killed them all, and Sisko marks it as an ironic conclusion to Dukat's argument that he isn't an evil man. I think, if faced with someone who regretted not committing genocide, but did a fine job of approximating it along the way, you would be taking a rather perverse step to begin inspecting the ways it could have been worse.

And since you bring up Hitler, I think the writing here is probably thinking overtly of Hitler and comparing Dukat to him. If we want to ask what separates Dukat from a Hitler it's that Dukat's extraordinary narcissism creates so many manipulations and masks that we get to see a rainbow of colors from the character over the years as he maneuvers people this way and that. That he may even convince himself is part of the fun. So why didn't Dukat kill all the Bajorans? Because his god complex required them to see him as great and beneficent. Because his need to have his self-image validated required him to leave those he tormented alive, to feed his ego. Amazingly enough, narcissism and manipulative charms are what prevented Dukat from being a literal Hitler. He had to be more messed up in his head than Hitler in order to stop short of the excesses of the Nazis.

To the extent that we wish to psychoanalyze villains - and to a large extent I think we should not try to do so - I think rather than asking whether Dukat is really evil (a kind of silly topic of debate) we might ask whether he really ever believed his own PR, and if the answer is yes then that makes him more interesting. If some people are bothered by the mask coming off here, I think Behr really needed to do it because as a result of Dukat's labyrinthine manipulations there was a legitimate risk that audience members might still feel that he was really not such a bad guy, just misunderstood. I think they may have seen it as a moral duty to make sure no one held on to that idea for too long. Nana Visitor herself had forbidden any Kira/Dukat romance, on the grounds of it being morally unacceptable, which to me shows that she at least never accepted for a moment that his shenanigans were anything other than posturing. It was for the best that any doubts were put to bed regarding his real character.

As a side note, I should ask whether you've seen the series finale. Because if you were still holding on to the idea that Dukat was maybe bad but at least not SO bad, the end of the series should also put that idea to rest.
Jason R.
Mon, Oct 31, 2022, 4:59am (UTC -6)
Peter G. I think it's a testament to Mark Alamo's performance over however many seasons leading up to Waltz that people were really so shocked at the conclusion in Waltz to the point where sone even felt betrayed by the writing.

This guy was such a fantastic manipulator he managed to hoodwink the audience. See Return to Grace for what I say is Dukat's shining achievement in narcissistic performance and manipulation. And I am betting the writers intended it that way even if the audience was fooled into thinking this was a "grey" or morally ambiguous character.

By the way, your comment reminds me of Dukat's conversation with Weyoun in Sacrifice of Angels. Weyoun wants to eradicate Earth's population but Dukat says no - you don't commit genocide, at least not until they love you first (my paraphrase lol).
Mon, Oct 31, 2022, 6:05am (UTC -6)
There are some weird believes people have about "evil" people. For example Reinhard Heydrich was a very caring and warm father. He was also a great violin player. Horrible people can be charming, horrible people can have a desire to undo the damage they did, horrible people can be nice and kind. Hitler gave Germany the most advanced animal protection law in the world which were in force almost unchanged for 50 years. There was even the "Adolf Hitler medal" which was given to people who fought against animal cruelty with determination (actual text of the medal). How crazy is that?!

Humans are complex, sadly movies and the media in general have a tendency to portray evil/horrible people as completely evil. They are sometimes charismatic but even that mostly serves some dark purpose.

People who do horrible things on a larger scale are normally not like that. What we forget is, and Dukat and his justifications are a good example, horrible people don't see themselves as horrible, often they see themselves as good people who at worst made a few mistakes.

No matter how charaismatic the performance, when it comes to Dukat I was always in the Kira camp. I always kept in mind that this guy was responsible for 20 million death. There is no coming back from that. Maybe if he had exploded a Dominion fleet with his mind that was about to destroy Bajor.
Peter G.
Mon, Oct 31, 2022, 7:16am (UTC -6)
@ Booming,

"I always kept in mind that this guy was responsible for 20 million death. There is no coming back from that. Maybe if he had exploded a Dominion fleet with his mind that was about to destroy Bajor."

I don't agree that there's no coming back from that, but in Dukat's case nothing about him changed, so it didn't look like he was interested in coming back.
Jason R.
Mon, Oct 31, 2022, 7:19am (UTC -6)
"No matter how charaismatic the performance, when it comes to Dukat I was always in the Kira camp. I always kept in mind that this guy was responsible for 20 million death. There is no coming back from that. Maybe if he had exploded a Dominion fleet with his mind that was about to destroy Bajor."

I think where people are led astray with Dukat is when it comes to Zial, because it really does seem like he loved her genuinely. People assume a narcissist incapable of love. So how coild a grieving father who gave up everything for his daughter be a monster?

I actually think that he did genuinely love her. But a few caveats here.

Remember why he originally changed his mind about killing her - Kira. Yes choosing to spare her meant sacrificing his public image and his career, but it also vastly raised his stock in Kira's eyes. Very important detail. Dukat, by this point in the series, cares a great deal what Kira (and by extention, the Bajoran people) think of him. A great deal.

Then recall that when Zial rejected him to stay on DS9 - he basically tells her to be damned and fully intends to vaporize her (and BAJOR!!!) in a bloody supernova. Now there's the narcissist we know and love (if I can't have you, no one will...) That's family annihilator stuff. That's the guy who loves his family so much he'll see them dead before he lets them leave him.

Then she comes back to him and yes, he forgives her and shows real love to her. And finally her death results in what was perhaps the one truly unselfish choice he ever made, staying behind on DS9 after Sacrifice of Angels. But let's also note that this also breaks Dukat - it leaves him completely destroyed psychologically. Also note here that from his point of view, he didn't have much to lose, did he? No angle here, no way to turn the benefit back to him. Co-incidence? Not a chance.

You'll see that on the balance, even when Dukat did things for others (Cardassia, Zial, Kira, Bajor) somehow there was always an angle and somehow he was always getting something important he wanted in the process. And the one time that he didn't, the simple truth was that it was because all the angles were used up.

Dukat loved his daughter, but he loved himself a little more.
Mon, Oct 31, 2022, 7:35am (UTC -6)
Good points.

I really don't see how somebody who murdered millions could really come back from that.
Jason R.
Mon, Oct 31, 2022, 8:32am (UTC -6)
I really don't see how somebody who murdered millions could really come back from that."

Depends what you mean by "come back from". Could he have shown remorse and sought to make amends? Possibly. And if he did it's conceivable that some Bajorans could forgive him.

I am reminded of the Londo character in B5. The things he did rivalled Dukat, but I didn't have any problem buying his redemption as it was portrayed.

But as Peter notes the point is moot with Dukat because he was never actually remorseful. Even hos grandiose acts of contrition were entirely self-serving. He and Winn are two peas in a pod that way. Mark Alamo and Louise Fletcher must have been cribbing off one another. I was never a fan of the Pah Raith arc in season 7, but putting those two together made perfect sense to me.
Peter G.
Mon, Oct 31, 2022, 8:33am (UTC -6)
"I really don't see how somebody who murdered millions could really come back from that."

If you mean politically, maybe they couldn't. Morally speaking you'd have to believe in something like 'real forgiveness' where any crime or wrongdoing can be truly absolved. Maybe you need a religious metaphysics for that.
Mon, Oct 31, 2022, 8:45am (UTC -6)
"Morally speaking you'd have to believe in something like 'real forgiveness' where any crime or wrongdoing can be truly absolved. Maybe you need a religious metaphysics for that."
I would argue that anybody who at some point in their life has reached a point where that person thought murdering and torturing millions is an acceptable course of action will never really want forgiveness. Furthermore, it seems fairly obvious that the metaphysical version of forgiveness has done more harm than good. Pedophile priests being a prime example.
Jason R.
Mon, Oct 31, 2022, 9:07am (UTC -6)
"I would argue that anybody who at some point in their life has reached a point where that person thought murdering and torturing millions is an acceptable course of action will never really want forgiveness. Furthermore, it seems fairly obvious that the metaphysical version of forgiveness has done more harm than good. Pedophile priests being a prime example."

On the first point you are making the same error as tbe people who assumed people capable of monstrous acts (eg: Hitler) aren't also capable of compassion and good deeds.

On the second point, you are confusing the idea or concept of forgiveness with sone kind of public policy based on the presumption that it exists.
Mon, Oct 31, 2022, 3:19pm (UTC -6)
I just think if somebody walked down a certain road (organized mass murder) they will not ever really reverse course because that would mean admitting that most of what they did in life was wrong and lead to a horrible outcome. I certainly don't know of even one example of a mass murderer changing course so completely.

About the second point. I just disagree that some metaphysical authority is needed to believe in complete forgiveness and that the metaphysical powered believe in total forgiveness has done lots of damage over time. Apart from that I believe that the concept of forgiveness is complex and it would go too far to really get into that.
Fri, Nov 4, 2022, 5:56pm (UTC -6)
@Peter G
Yes of course ive seen the finale :-)
About 20 times, from its first airing, through epic rewatches of enterprise to tos to tng to ds9 to voy as well as the odd "stick on a good episode at random"
Currently rewatching ds9 with my other half, shes seen the odd episode over the years but never thr whole series. It's been interesting watching her reactions and hearing her opinions about the characters and about dukat in particular and how "hes not such a bad guy", which is what got me focussing on his character in the run up to waltz.
Hes clearly insane by this point, and his actions from here to the end are driven by that insanity. Anything he says in waltz is suspect because of that. When he claims he should have killed them all, that may he the insanity talking. He didnt actually kill them all, after all.
So I dont think it's as clear cut as most of you seem to think.
but I do think its fascinating that 23 years after it aired, its still debated and I'd love to get an authoritative answer on what the intention was when they wrote it
Peter G.
Fri, Nov 4, 2022, 7:28pm (UTC -6)
@ Badge,

"When he claims he should have killed them all, that may he the insanity talking. He didnt actually kill them all, after all."

I see this argument. However I would suggest that this line of his is practically underlined by the writers as being a final reveal between the relationship between Dukat and Sisko. Ever since The Maquis we had Dukat trying to woo Sisko much of the time, to prove he's not such a bad guy. Obviously he tried much harder with Kira, but there was plenty between these two as well. I think the titular waltz isn't a tactical game on a planet's surface with a madman, but rather than dance they have been dancing for 5 seasons. And now the dance is over, the masks are off, and they cannot but acknowledge that they are enemies. Sisko already thought so, and now has gotten Dukat to drop the pretense and agree.

I agree that in principle, in the real world, we should be cautious to take statements made in the extreme of mental illness and treat them as universally applicable to the person's character and to their life. But in this case I don't think it's quite right to look at this as a study of mental illness. I think it's a character study, and for that to work Dukat's character here has to be comparable to his character so far; otherwise what's the point? As well, since this is the first time we're seeing Dukat's own inner life (in the form of voices), we don't actually know what his inner life was previously to compare. For all we know there were always voices and he just had his outward composure completely under control. Bottom line is I don't think we can take his 'symptoms' as some kind of mitigation of the things he says: we have to take them at face value as Dukat-characteristics and see what we've learned about him over 6 seasons. In my view what we've learned is that losing his mental discipline is what it takes for him to lose to capacity to hide what's really going on inside, and to lose the capacity to keep his manipulative charm going 24/7. That's my opinion, at least.
Gaius Maximus
Fri, Jan 6, 2023, 3:34pm (UTC -6)
It amazes me that there are people who blame Sisko for Dukat's embracing of his own evil at the end of this episode. Sisko was not egging him on; he did everything he could to avoid having that conversation. He tried declining to have the conversation at all, but Dukat inisisted. He tried to mollify Dukat by telling him what he wanted to hear, but egged on by imaginary Kira, Dukat doesn't accept that either. Finally, after being beaten senseless with a pipe, Sisko gives in and gives Dukat what Dukat insists he wants. (Of course, in true narcissist fashion, he doesn't like it when he actually gets it.) And people still blame Sisko for not coddling Dukat after all this?

It's truly dismaying how many people line up to defend the moral equivalent of Adolf Eichmann because he happens to be witty and charming. Seeing this comment section has given me real insight into why the writers felt they needed to make this episode. I'm just sorry it didn't have the effect they intended.
Mon, May 1, 2023, 6:37am (UTC -6)
@Gaius Maximus, you took the words out of my mouth. This comment section proves why they had to make this episode! Nothing about Dukat in this one surprised me. He has always been this way deep down: His "madness" simply makes the cognitive dissonance impossible to maintain now. And for people to blame Sisko, who knew Dukat was lying about trapping him here, is wild to me. As Sisko says when Dukat tells him he brought the brutal beating upon himself: "Just like your victims..." Sisko *did* try to play along until Dukat found out he'd fixed the transmitter and beat him with a pipe. To expect Sisko to be gracious with Dukat after that makes me think people are really missing the point of the episode, where Dukat's treatment of Sisko is a direct analogy for his treatment of the Bajorans.

I thought this episode was masterful. I loved the use of the other characters to taunt Gul Dukat. And as for Dukat's "greyness", even his love for Ziyal was self-serving. He jeopardized the conflict with the Federation because he was obsessed with getting Ziyal to approve of and forgive him, which she said she couldn't do once she realised he was going to let the Dominion execute Rom. As Ziyal lay dead, he crooned to her, "I forgive you." But what he wanted was for Ziyal to forgive *him*, on behalf of all Bajorans (including her mother and Kira), and her death meant he would never get that.

Dukat's final revelation as a deeply convicted supremacist echoed so well the reality of colonizers throughout history. And yes, I wouldn't hesitate to call that true evil. Everything Dukat said is something that, for example, I have seen white Americans say about Native Americans, from historical colonizers' writings to the present day. For Star Trek to consider this the point-of-no-return evil made total sense for me.
Wed, Aug 16, 2023, 11:57am (UTC -6)
I'm guessing from the title that this episode is supposed to be another battle of wits, like we saw in "Duet." Some good stuff here but overall it's very much lesser than the first season episode.

And for all the criticism of the deus ex machina ending of "Sacrifice of Angels," this episode had that beat by a mile with Dukat beating the hell out of Sisko but not killing him.
Peter G.
Wed, Aug 16, 2023, 12:28pm (UTC -6)
"And for all the criticism of the deus ex machina ending of "Sacrifice of Angels," this episode had that beat by a mile with Dukat beating the hell out of Sisko but not killing him."

Gul Dukat : A true victory is to make your enemy see they were wrong to oppose you in the first place. To force them to acknowledge your greatness.
Tue, Aug 29, 2023, 12:21pm (UTC -6)
"Gul Dukat : A true victory is to make your enemy see they were wrong to oppose you in the first place. To force them to acknowledge your greatness."

True, but here Dukat didn't wait for that acknowledgement before ceasing and leaving.
Peter G.
Tue, Aug 29, 2023, 12:51pm (UTC -6)
"True, but here Dukat didn't wait for that acknowledgement before ceasing and leaving."

At this time and place it became pretty apparent that Benjamin was never going to give him what he needed, so more instruction was clearly required. For all the flack people give S7 in terms of what Dukat does with his spare time, it actually all makes perfect sense if you see it purely in terms of what he could do that would hurt Benjamin the most, and force him to recognize Dukat's superiority.

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