Saturday, April 9, 2011
Classics: DS9 5:14/5:15 - In Purgatory's Shadow / By Inferno's Light
Overall Rating: 9.3
This two-parter is *very* cleverly misleading on at least four different occasions, and by being inscrutable, it manages to be legitimately suspenseful. In the meantime, the show is carried by outstanding characterization on many fronts.
The summaries can be found here and here, thanks to the DS9 Encyclopedia.
"You and me on the same side...it never felt quite...right...did it, Major?" No...no it did not. In point of fact, it shows a good grasp of the reality of political history that the writers did not take the Cardassians from arrogant aggressors to peaceful, subdued allies in four short years...that the Cardassian people needed to learn the hard way that power and strength have their own costs and that the right way isn't always the easy way. It's easy to slip comfortably into accepting that, for your protection and betterment, Big Brother knows better than you do and will look after you. It's easy to turn to a more powerful race and form an alliance to save you from your own crumbling economy. It's easy to indoctrinate your young, rather than actually teaching them. But all of these things are self-defeating, and the Cardassians are about to find out just how costly they can really be.
This two-parter is chock full of interesting character developments. We meet (and fall in love with) the REAL Martok...a truly great Klingon if we're measuring greatness by the nobility of spirit he possesses. We get the chance to see Garak vulnerable (a rare thing) with his father before he dies. The REAL Bashir demonstrates his capacity for heroism and bravery, as does Garak. Kira's relationship with Ziyal is explored (as is her tenuous one with her father). Without all of the character layers, this still would have been a solid episode based on the dramatic tension it sets up as we watch the fake Bashir move about the station, the gathering of a huge fleet to oppose the Dominion, the re-establishment of the Kittomer Accords, the near destruction of DS9 and the Bajoran system, and, of course, the daring escape plan of the marooned officers in that Jem'hadar prison camp. But all of the extra character elements push this from routine goodness to feature-worthy goodness.
For me, what this two-parter especially highlights is the strength of DS9's B-cast. SABR Matt mentions above that it is the character development that really pushes this couplet into the top ranks; what I find interesting is that the main characters are not the primary beneficiaries of that creative energy. We are treated here to the introduction of the REAL General Martok, whom I adore, but even more importantly, the Cardassians are handed some fascinating material. And if, like me, you are a fan of the Cardassians, this is a very good thing indeed. (Yes, I like the Bajorans and the Cardassians. I don't understand it either, and it's my own brain.)
Allow me to start off by discussing the one character whom SABR Matt does not mention by name: Dukat. In the future, the writers will go in certain directions that I don't particularly care for when it comes to Dukat (EEEEEEEEEEEEvil Dukat is not my cup of tea), but here, they definitely write him in a way that makes eminent sense. Think about what Dukat has lost over the past several years. Number one, he lost the prestige that comes with being the governor of one of Cardassia's colonies. Then he lost his pull with the Cardassian government entirely. Then the Klingons and the Cardassians went to war, and he was reduced to throwing proverbial rocks at his enemies. I'm not surprised that at the first opportunity, Dukat would pull a Londo Mollari and enter into a Faustian bargain with the Dominion. Like Londo, I think Dukat is genuinely patriotic as well as ambitious; like Londo, Dukat will also succeed in leading his people to their doom. The only thing that blunts the impact of Dukat's turn is that he is a member of the B-cast, and thus we can only infer the thought process which led him to this choice. (He also doesn't evince much regret, but that's a discussion for another episode.)
Meanwhile, these episodes provide me with yet more reasons why Garak may be my third favorite character (behind Kira and Sisko, natch). True, you can't trust the guy as far as you can throw him - as SF Debris put it, he's "taken up lying as a lifestyle choice" - but he also has many interesting layers. Garak may be "a spy, an assassin, and a saboteur," but he is also a man who loves his father, and he likely got into his shady line of work precisely because he wanted Tain's approval. Garak's moral standards certainly don't line up with our own; we shouldn't white-wash the man because he happens to be funny. At the same time, you have to admire Garak's choice here to swallow his fear and help the others escape. As I said: layers.
DS9 is the greatest of the Treks in part because each and every regular and recurring character is given his or her due. The series is all the richer because the writers allow Garak, Dukat, Martok, and all the others enough screen time to evolve into characters who are compelling on their own merits.
Writing: 9.5 / 9.5
This is probably Wolf/Behr's best team effort...they don't work together on big scripts all that often because they have such different styles, but here, the hodgepodge of humor (Behr's calling card), melodrama (Wolfe's weird obsession) and action (Wolfe also tends to get a lot of the action plots...he's probably the lead pitch man for the show's action plot elements) works very well.
Acting: 9.0 / 9.0
I don't think any one acting performance stands out above the others, but there are essentially ZERO moments that pop you out of the story and feel wrong in any way. These guys are all pros, including the stellar guest cast.
Message: 9.5 / 9.5
The hair-fine sense DS9's writers seem to have for how politics can be used to manipulate people and exploit their weaknesses makes the entire Dominion war arc very rewarding. Not only does the Dominion play on Cardassia's desperate ambition, but they also play on our desire to form alliances to combat our enemies, the Klingon people's blood lust, the Romulan Empire's general refusal to trust anyone (especially when there is the possibility that the balance of power in their region of space could shift), and even Sisko's ties to the Bajoran people (and O'Brien's trust and admiration for Bashir!). They truly are masters of social engineering...the Dems must be Founders!
BASHIR: Going somewhere?
GARAK: I really must remember to stop underestimating you, Doctor. How did you know?
BASHIR: You mean that you were lying about the contents of the message? You said you'd given up on the Cardassian survivors who were lost in the Gamma Quadrant. Well, Ziyal was right. You're not the giving up sort.
GARAK: Very good, Doctor. You've come a long way from the naive young man I met five years ago. You've become distrustful and suspicious. It suits you.
BASHIR: I had a good teacher.
SISKO: Remember, this is a reconnaissance mission. You are to avoid Dominion ships at all cost. I want you back in one piece.
WORF: What about Garak?
SISKO: I want him back too. I don't suppose I have to tell you to keep a close eye on him.
WORF: At the first sign of betrayal, I will kill him. But I promise to return the body intact.
SISKO: I assume that's a joke.
WORF: We'll see.
WORF: You want me to sponsor your application to Starfleet Academy?
GARAK: What do you think?
WORF: I think it is a bad idea.
GARAK: I'd write the actual letter myself. I just need you to sign it.
WORF: Find someone else.
GARAK: Why? Because I'm a Cardassian? You're a Klingon, Nog is a Ferengi. Starfleet Academy is a very accepting place.
WORF: You are not just a Cardassian. You are a spy, an assassin and a saboteur.
GARAK: I know I've done some unfortunate things in the past, and I regret them. That's why I want to join Starfleet. Why I need to join Starfleet. I'm looking for a fresh start, a way to make up for all the damage I've done. I need to prove to myself that I can be better than I am, but I need your help, your support, to start me on my way to redemption.
WORF: If that is how you feel, I will consider your request.
GARAK: That's all I ask. Frankly, I think I can be quite an asset to Starfleet. With my extensive experience I could skip the lower ranks entirely and begin my career as a Commander. Maybe you should suggest that in your letter. Tell them you'd be honoured to serve under me.
WORF: (annoyed) Do not play games with me. You have no desire to join Starfleet, do you?
GARAK: No, I'm afraid I don't.
WORF: Then why all of this deception?
GARAK: Because lying is a skill like any other, and if you want to maintain a level of excellence, you have to practice constantly.
WORF: Practice on someone else. (LOL!)
DUKAT: Major, you and I have to talk.
KIRA: Dukat, I've had a busy day. I just want to drink my coffee and --
DUKAT: (interrupting) I left my daughter in your care. You promised me you would look after her. I trusted you.
KIRA: Listen, if this is about taking Ziyal to services at the Bajoran shrine --
DUKAT: I'm not talking about exposing her to your backward superstitions. She's half-Bajoran. That's part of her cultural heritage. I understand that. I'm talking about Garak.
KIRA: What about him?
DUKAT: She's in love with him.
KIRA: I wouldn't call it love.
DUKAT: So you've known about this all along, and you've done nothing to stop it?
KIRA: She was lonely. The last time I checked, he's the only other Cardassian living on the station.
DUKAT: The man is a heartless, cold-blooded killer.
KIRA: Like I said, he's a Cardassian. (MWAH!) Your daughter is a grown woman, capable of making her own decisions. I'm not fond of Garak, and I may even think that their friendship is a mistake, but the way I see it, that's her prerogative.
DUKAT: You did this on purpose, didn't you?
KIRA: Did what?
DUKAT: Allowed my daughter to associate with a man you knew was my enemy. Stood by while he whispered poison in her ear. And all under the guise of doing me a favour.
KIRA: Dukat, let's get one thing straight. I didn't bring Ziyal to the station for you. I did it for her. Because I knew it'd be better for her to be here than being a soldier fighting in your private little war with the Klingons.
DUKAT: Save your excuses, Major. You've betrayed me, and I promise I won't forget it.
KIRA: If that's a threat, I'm not impressed.
DUKAT: There was a time when Bajorans took Cardassian threats very seriously.
KIRA: Not anymore. (Nice foreshadowing.)
GARAK: The answer is out there, Commander. We just have to have the courage to find it. And remember, it's not just Tain we're looking for. The Maryland, the Proxima, the Sarajevo. Starfleet ships that have been lost in the Gamma Quadrant for years, and their crews, brave soldiers, warriors of the Federation unaccounted for. We owe it to them to do everything in our power to find them and bring them home. It's the honorable thing to do.
WORF: You use that word, but you have no idea what it means.
GARAK: Maybe not, but you do.
KIRA: I'm telling you, he knows exactly who I am. Kirayoshi already recognises me.
DAX: Nerys, the O'Brien's baby is less than a month old. He doesn't recognise his own fingers.
KIRA: He spent seven months inside my belly, listening to my heartbeat, hearing to my voice. There's a connection there. Every time I walk into the room, he smiles.
DAX: It's probably gas.
KIRA: Thanks. You always know just the right thing to say. (Kira's actually right here. Babies do recognize Mom's voice very early.)
DAX: I've got a message from Worf, but it's badly garbled.
O'BRIEN: Maybe I can clean it up. It says 'Jem'Hadar,' and then some coordinates I can't make out. 'Build up' and then -- (He trails off.)
SISKO: Go on, Chief.
O'BRIEN: It ends with 'imminent.'
KIRA: We've just lost contact with two of our listening posts in the Gamma Quadrant.
DAX: The Dominion. They're coming. (Eeeep.)
WORF: What is wrong with him?
MARTOK: It's his heart.
GARAK: Really? There are many people who'd say he doesn't have one.
MARTOK: He was convinced that you would come.
GARAK: He knew I had no choice. Tain. Tain, I'm here.
TAIN: My message. It got through?
GARAK: It did.
TAIN: Where are the others?
GARAK: There are no others. Just Commander Worf and me.
TAIN: You allowed yourselves to be taken prisoner? I taught you better than that. Living on that station has dulled your wits.
GARAK: That's it? After I've come all this way, after all I've been through, that's all you have to say to me?
TAIN: What do you want me to say?
GARAK: I want you to say, 'Thank you, Elim. Your loyalty is most gratifying. I knew I could count on you.'
TAIN: But I couldn't count on you, could I? All you've done is to doom us both.
SISKO: Right now, there's no way we can beat the Dominion. Our only hope is to prevent their fleet from entering the Alpha Quadrant.
KIRA: You're going to destroy the wormhole?
SISKO: It's always been a final option. I'd hoped to never use it.
KIRA: But the Celestial Temple, the Prophets --
SISKO Professor Kahn of the Trill Science Ministry has come up with a way to seal the wormhole without damaging it or harming the Prophets.
KIRA: But Bajor will be cut off from the Celestial Temple.
SISKO: History has shown that whenever the Prophets want to communicate with Bajor, they find a way.
DUKAT: Ah, it's about time. You almost missed your transport. Where's your baggage? Never mind. I'll have it sent to you.
ZIYAL: That won't be necessary, Father. I'm not leaving.
DUKAT: Ziyal, I know we haven't spent much time together, but I think you know me well enough to realize that when I give an order, I expect to be obeyed.
ZIYAL: I'm not one of your soldiers.
DUKAT: No, you're my daughter.
ZIYAL: I'm Tora Naprem's daughter too. I'm half Bajoran. I don't belong on Cardassia. You know I will never be accepted there.
DUKAT: Ziyal, you have to trust me. Things are going to change on Cardassia.
ZIYAL: What things?
DUKAT: I don't have time to explain. You're leaving now.
ZIYAL: I can't go.
DUKAT: It's him, isn't it? That despicable tailor. You don't want to leave because you're waiting for him?
ZIYAL: Garak promised me that he would come back.
DUKAT: Listen to me, Ziyal. He's never coming back. He's probably dead already, and even if he isn't, the Federation is going to seal the wormhole. Garak will be trapped on the other side.
ZIYAL: He made a promise and so did I. I said I would wait for him and I will.
DUKAT: Is a promise to an enemy of your family more important than obeying your father? (Silence.) So be it. Stay here if that's what you want. Stay here and be damned.
GARAK: I should never have come here. I should have let that monster die forgotten and alone.
BASHIR: Frankly, I'm glad you came. Misery loves company.
GARAK: All my life I've done nothing but try to please that man. I let him mold me, let him turn me into a mirror image of himself, and how did he repay me? With exile. But I forgave him. And here, in the end, I thought maybe, just maybe, he could forgive me.
BASHIR: From what I've seen of him over the last month, he doesn't come across as the forgiving type.
GARAK: I've been a fool. Let this be a lesson to you, Doctor, perhaps the most valuable one I can ever teach you: Sentiment is the greatest weakness of all.
BASHIR: If that's true, it's a lesson I'd rather not learn.
TAIN: Elim? Elim, is that you?
GARAK: It's me.
TAIN: Everything's gone dark. I can't see you. Are you alone?
GARAK: Yes. There's no one else but you and me.
(Ah, but he's lying. Bashir is there.)
TAIN: Surjak, Memad, Brun. They can't be trusted. They must be dealt with.
GARAK: I've already taken care of it.
TAIN: What about Gul Vorlem? Were you been able to contact him?
GARAK: Years ago.
TAIN: The Romulan ambassador?
GARAK: He's gone. All your enemies are dead.
TAIN: Good. A man shouldn't allow his enemies to outlive him.
GARAK: Then you can die happy. Unless you still consider me your enemy.
TAIN: Elim, promise me one thing.
GARAK: I'm listening.
TAIN: Don't die here. Escape. Live.
GARAK: Let me guess: So I can make the Dominion pay for what they've done to you.
TAIN: You wouldn't deny an old man his revenge, would you?
GARAK: I'll do as you ask on one condition: That you don't ask me this favour as a mentor, or a superior officer, but as a father asking his son.
TAIN: You're not my son.
GARAK: Father. Father, you're dying. For once in your life, speak the truth.
TAIN: I should have killed your mother before you were born. You have always been a weakness I can't afford.
GARAK: So you've told me, many times. Listen, Enabran. All I ask is that for this moment, let me be your son.
TAIN: Elim, remember that day in the country? You must have been almost five.
GARAK: How can I forget it? It was the only day.
TAIN: I can still see you on the back of that riding hound. You must have fallen off a dozen times but you never gave up.
GARAK: I remember limping home. You held my hand.
TAIN: I was very proud of you that day. (And then he dies. Good scene.)
KIRA: Maintain communications blackout. Nobody fires until we have our orders from Captain Sisko.
DAX: There sure are a lot of them.
KIRA: That'll just make it harder for us to miss.
DAX: Dukat's ship is breaking formation. He's going after the Dominion fleet.
KIRA: Open a channel. Dukat, stop trying to be a hero. Get back to the station.
DUKAT [on viewscreen]: Your concern is touching, Major, but I think you misunderstand me. I'm not attacking the Dominion fleet. I'm joining it.
KIRA: What are you talking about?
DUKAT [on viewscreen]: I'm afraid I have a confession to make, Major: For the past few months, I've been conducting secret negotiations between the Dominion and Cardassia. And as of last week, Cardassia has agreed to become part of the Dominion.
KIRA: You can't be serious.
DUKAT [on viewscreen]: Goodbye, Major. You and I on the same side -- it never seemed quite right, did it? (Oh, snap!)
DUKAT: (on monitor) You might ask, should we fear joining the Dominion? And I answer you, not in the least. We should embrace the opportunity. The Dominion recognizes us for what we are: the true leaders of the Alpha Quadrant. And now that we are joined together, equal partners in all endeavours, the only people with anything to fear will be our enemies. My oldest son's birthday is in five days. To him and to Cardassians everywhere, I make the following pledge: By the time his birthday dawns, there will not be a single Klingon alive inside Cardassian territory or a single Maquis colony left within our borders. Cardassia will be made whole. All that we have lost will be ours again, and anyone who stands in our way will be destroyed. This I vow with my life's blood, for my son -- for all our sons.
DAX: Somebody tell me this is a bad dream.
SISKO: It's no dream.
KIRA: Well, I've got a vow to make too: Next time I see Dukat, I'm gonna kill him. (MWAHAHA!)
ZIYAL: My father says Garak's dead.
KIRA: Right now I wouldn't believe your father if he said rain was wet.
ZIYAL: I used to think my father was a hero. That even when he did something bad, he had a good reason.
KIRA: Everyone has their reasons. That's what's so frightening. People can find a way to justify any action, no matter how evil.
ZIYAL: You think my father is evil?
KIRA: I think you can't judge people by what they think or say -- only by what they do.
GOWRON: Think of it. Five years ago no one had ever heard of Bajor or Deep Space Nine, and now all our hopes rest here. Where the tides of fortune take us, no man can know.
SISKO: They're tricky, those tides.
(The fibreoptic strands Garak is using as a light source are flickering.)
GARAK: I'm sorry, but that's absolutely unacceptable. I'm under enough strain as it is. I can't have you quitting on me. Get a hold of yourself, Garak. After all, you haven't had one of these attacks in years. Yes, this is a tight enclosed space. Yes, there's not a lot of room to move. But a disciplined mind does not allow itself to be sidetracked by niggling psychological disorders like claustrophobia. Besides, this isn't like Tzenketh. The walls won't collapse in on you. Your friends are near by, there's plenty of air, so there's nothing to be concerned about. Focus on the job. You're the only person who can contact the runabout. People are depending on you. Ziyal is depending on you. You promised her you'd come back, and that young lady has had quite enough disappointments in her life without you adding to them, so control yourself. You're stronger than this. A disciplined mind --
(And the light goes out. Meanwhile, outside, Bashir is tending to Worf's injuries.)
BASHIR: I'm afraid that's the best I can do. Does it feel any better?
WORF: Much better.
BASHIR: You're not a very good liar, Mister Worf.
(Bang, thump, thump.)
MARTOK: What was that?
WORF: It's coming from inside the wall.
MARTOK: How long has he been in there?
BASHIR: About half an hour. Garak? Garak, what is it?
MARTOK: Tell him to stop before they hear him.
BASHIR: Garak, the panel's open now. You can come out. We've got to get him out of there. (He climbs into the crawlspace.) Garak! Garak, you have to stop. You're making too much noise. Garak. Garak!
GARAK: (panicked) The light. The light went out!
BASHIR: I know. Come on. I think you can take your break a little early.
DUKAT [on monitor]: Please, Captain. Show a little respect. You are talking to the head of the Cardassian government.
SISKO: I don't recognize that government.
DUKAT [on monitor]: Your recognition is irrelevant.
SISKO: Well, if that's what you think, why are we having this conversation?
DUKAT [on monitor]: Because the fact is, Captain, I feel a certain obligation toward you. After all, I freely admit you saved my life on more than one occasion.
SISKO: Don't remind me.
DUKAT [on monitor]: Oh, no, you should be glad you did. Because now I'm going to return the favor and give you a chance to save your precious Federation. All you have to do is convince them to follow Cardassia's example.
SISKO: You expect us to join the Dominion?
DUKAT [on monitor]: I expect you to behave rationally. Joining the Dominion will save billions of lives and keep the Federation from fading into the mists of history.
SISKO: By allowing it to exist under Dominion rule? No thank you.
DUKAT [on monitor]: I'm afraid you'll like the alternative even less.
SISKO: Dukat, if you have something to say to me, say it.
DUKAT [on monitor]: Then I'll make it simple then: A few days ago, I swore all Cardassia had lost would be regained. That space station you're so fond of was built by Cardassia.
SISKO: Funny, I thought it was built by Bajoran slave labor. (MWAH!)
DUKAT [on monitor]: Either surrender the station, or I'll take it by force. The choice is yours.
SISKO: If you want to retake this station, Dukat, you are welcome to try.
MARTOK: Seven battles and seven victories. What heroes of legend have done as well?
WORF: Heroes of legends don't ache so much.
MARTOK: Your Federation friends have taught you modesty, but this is no time for modesty. When we return to the Klingon Empire, I will seek out Keedera himself and tell him of your glorious tale. He will write a song worthy of you.
BASHIR: Well, be sure to send me a copy.
MARTOK: I'll do better than that. I can make sure that he mentions you, the healer who bound the warrior's wounds so he could fight again.
WORF: Right now, the only part of the song that I wish to hear is the verse that tells of our escape. What good is defeating every Jem'Hadar soldier in this compound if it does not bring us closer to our freedom?
BASHIR: We have to come up with a new escape plan.
GARAK: That won't be necessary. The original one will work. I just have to finish what I started. After all, a verse about the Cardassian who panicked in the face of danger would ruin General Martok's song.
QUARK: Somehow I get the feeling there won't be much of a demand for human food once the Jem'Hadar have finished with this place.
ZIYAL: Aren't you being a little pessimistic?
QUARK: Am I? The Jem'Hadar don't eat, don't drink, and they don't have sex. And if that wasn't bad enough, the Founders don't eat and don't drink, and they don't have sex either. Which, between you and me, makes my financial future less than promising.
ZIYAL: It might not be so bad. For all we know the Vorta could be gluttonous, alcoholic sex maniacs. (Heh.)
DUKAT [on monitor]: Well, Captain, I must congratulate you. If that protomatter device had gone off inside the sun, well, the death toll would have been enormous.
SISKO: And your daughter would've been one of the casualties.
DUKAT [on monitor]: Ziyal made her choice. As far as I'm concerned, she is no longer my daughter.
SISKO: You know, Dukat, I thought you'd changed in the last five years. I see I was wrong.
DUKAT [on monitor]: One man's villain is another man's hero, Captain. You should see the monument they're erecting in my honour at the gateway to the Imperial Plaza.
SISKO: Is that why you sold out your people to the Dominion? For a monument?
DUKAT [on monitor]: What I did I did to make Cardassia strong again. And mark my words, Captain, I succeeded. You may have escaped defeat this day but tomorrow --
SISKO: We will see about tomorrow.
DUKAT [on monitor]: Yes, we will.