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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – When It Rains… (Review)

One of the interesting aspects of the final arc of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is watching the series grapple with challenges that face a lot of later serialised television shows.

The massive ten-episode conclusion to Deep Space Nine is effectively equivalent to a full season of a highly serialised prestige television show like Game of Thrones, Westworld or The Leftovers. Of course, there are any number of obvious differences, from the need to structure episodes around commercial breaks or the dependency on clunky exposition or the fact that these ten episodes were following a production run of sixteen early episodes in the same production season.

Dukat does not react well to criticism of his role in this epic ten-episode arc.

Nevertheless, these ten episodes grapple with a lot of the difficulties in mapping out a single extended story across a large number of episodes. Deep Space Nine had launched its six season with an impressive six-episode arc that hung together almost perfectly, give or take Sons and Daughters. However, there were unique challenges in attempting that same narrative trick with ten episodes at the end of a production season.

A lot of these problems are pacing related. As with a lot of serialised shows, these ten episodes occasionally struggle to give each episode a unique identity. Strange Bedfellows is an episode that seems stuck between the sets of dramatic reveals either side of it, the weddings and alliances of ‘Til Death Do Us Part or the terror and revelation of The Changing Face of Evil. There is certainly an element of that to When It Rains…, which seems to spend most of its runtime lining up two major plot threads for resolution in the superlative Tacking Into the Wind.

A tailor-made solution.

However, there is also a sense that certain plot and character threads in this sprawling ten episode arc have not been properly mapped out and paced, that the writers have failed to shrewdly allocate their narrative real estate. The writers had enough of an idea where they were going with this arc that they were able to seed most of the important threads leading up to What You Leave Behind with Penumbra. However, the individual story threads were not all equally paced. Some could be sustained for nine more episodes. Others fizzled after four or five.

Not all of the narrative threads running through this extended arc of Deep Space Nine are equally impressive. Some of these story threads are clumsy and mistaken, running out of what little steam they had less than half-way through the extended run. So it is with the bizarre alliance between Dukat and Winn in service of the Pah-Wraiths.

The darkness in men’s hearts.

To be fair, the Pah-Wraiths were never going to be a satisfying narrative thread tying into the finale of Deep Space Nine. An element of the mythos largely overseen by writers David Weddle and Bradley Thompson in stories like The Assignment and The Reckoning, the Pah-Wraiths were always a frustrating concept. The Bajoran religion had never been the most compelling part of Deep Space Nine, but it was an interesting piece of texture.

The introduction of the Pah-Wraiths served to simplify the nuance of the Bajoran religion, and effectively transformed the cosmology of Deep Space Nine. The introduction of the Pah-Wraiths allowed for broad clichéd narrative elements, allowing Dukat to effectively become “the anti-Emissary” in Tears of the Prophets. The introduction of the Pah-Wraiths also coincided with (and later solidified) the transition of the Prophets from ambiguous alien entities to traditional Christian Gods in stories like Sacrifice of Angels, Image in the Sand, Shadows and Symbols.

Food for thought.

Part of the issue with tying the Pah-Wraiths so heavily into this ambitious closing arc is the fact that they are disappointingly simple antagonists with a relatively straightforward trajectory. To be fair, Covenant had half-heartedly suggested some moral ambiguity about the Pah-Wraiths, but they would always be those evil murderous satanic demonic creatures with glowing red eyes and a murderous intent towards the Prophets. The Pah-Wraiths are an evil that is lucky to stretch to a single dimension.

There is no ambiguity here, no nuance or shading. While the Dominion has always been unequivocally evil, it has provided a framework to explore tough questions. Many of those tough questions play out across When It Rains…, in stark contrast to the simplicity of the Pah-Wraith plot; the balance between politics and leadership in the story focusing on Gowron, the question of legitimate violence and simmering tensions in the narrative featuring Damar, the revelation of the Federation’s moral compromise and complicity in the section exploring the origin of the disease affecting Odo.

Go on, Gowron!

No character involved with the Pah-Wraiths can hope to be as complex and multifaceted as Damar becomes in this stretch of episodes. No individual confronting the glowing red embodiment of evil can ever compromise themselves in the same way that Bashir does by using the Romulan Mind Probe in Extreme Measures. For all that the Dominion are a monstrous evil, the Dominion War is presented as a moral quagmire. One of the big tensions of What You Leave Behind is how to stop that suffering, whether through bleak moral compromise or merciful compassion.

The Pah-Wraiths are too straightforward an antagonist to support such nuance or depth. While it might have been interesting to explore the more Miltonian attributes of the Kosst Amojan, to question the moral legitimacy of the Prophets responsible for episodes like Prophet Motive, the horse has long bolted. The Pah-Wraiths are devils in the purest and most dogmatic sense, supernatural entities that with little motivation or characterisation beyond EVIL.

Good goo.

The story thread focusing on Winn and Dukat is hardly subtle about this, never even bothering to make a half-hearted case in defense of these dispossessed deities. When Winn embraces the Pah-Wraiths at the end of Strange Bedfellows, she does not rationalise them as misunderstood figures of love. Instead, Winn embraces them as one-dimensional supervillains that will unleash an apocalypse upon Bajor and the galaxy at large.

“I have run out of patience,” Winn declares at the end of Strange Bedfellows. “I will no longer serve gods who give me nothing in return. I’m ready to walk the path the Pah-Wraiths have laid out for me.” Dukat stokes her scenery-chewing villain monologue, quoting from the big book of villain clichés, “I’ll walk with you, and no one will be able to stand against us.” Winn agrees, “Those who dare to try – the Federation and its Vedek puppets, the false gods and their precious Emissary – they’ll all be swept aside like dead leaves before an angry wind.”


There is no attempt at justification here, no attempt to explore how Dukat and Winn could possibly hope to be heroes of their own narratives. Aligned with Pah-Wraiths, Winn and Dukat are effectively committed to evil, something that the pair accept in When It Rains… When Winn holds Dukat to account for his actions during the Cardassian Occupation, Dukat counters, “When we so release the Pah-Wraiths from the fire caves, your hands will be stained as well.” Winn reflects, “The Pah-Wraiths will spare those whom they find worthy. The rest are of no consequence.”

One of the most frequent observations made about Deep Space Nine is that the series embraces a sense of moral relativism. Although Deep Space Nine is undoubtedly more nuanced than its franchise siblings, this ambiguity is somewhat exaggerated. The Pah-Wraith subplot demonstrates the series’ limits. Deep Space Nine is a show that has a very firm conception of “good” and “evil”, to the point that Sisko explicitly stated as much at the end of Waltz. As far as Deep Space Nine is concerned, Dukat and Winn are both evil. There is no nuance, no excuse, no rationalisation.

“This my Call to Arms face. This is very serious.”

To be clear, there is some value in this, reflected in Kira’s conversation with Ziyal about Dukat in By Inferno’s Light. People are morally complex, and it is worthwhile to acknowledge that. However, it is also worth acknowledging the decisions have consequence and it is important to hold people to account for those decisions, no matter their moral justification for making them. Deep Space Nine understood that complexity with a lot of its characters, particularly with Dukat during the first five-and-a-half seasons of the show.

The big problem with the Pah-Wraiths is that it requires a grotesque simplification of Dukat and Winn. In particular, Winn has to embrace a nihilism that seems very much out of character for her. Winn has always been presented as a cynical and pragmatic figure, one who has always been motivated by power and prestige more than religious faith. Episodes like The Siege and The Collaborator suggest that Winn is capable of horrible things in order to acquire and hold on to power. However, it is a huge leap to have Winn embrace a broad omnicidal nihilism in so casual a manner.

Fancy finger work.

There are similar problems with Dukat, primarily in how the final seasons of Deep Space Nine have reduced Dukat from the nuanced and contradictory figure suggested in episodes like The Maquis, Part I, The Maquis, Part IICivil Defense, Defiant, Indiscretion and Return to Glory. Following his confrontation with Sisko in Waltz, Dukat seems to have embraced his story-mandated function as “primary antagonist” to Sisko and Kira.

Dukat’s motivations have been somewhat simplified by these developments, turning him from a complex three-dimensional study of self-obsession into a comic book supervillain. Dukat clearly wants to humiliate and defeat Sisko as a primary motivation, taking sadistic pleasure in positioning himself as a direct oppositional figure and in weaponising Bajoran belief against those he blames for his fall from grace.

Tactical error.

While this isn’t exactly rich or nuanced storytelling, there is a lot to like here. It is very cartoonish and comic booky, particularly when juxtaposed against the more complicated manoeuvrings that snake out of When It Rains… and climax in Tacking Into the Wind. But it has its pulpy charms. As the production team acknowledged in The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion:

The idea of Dukat wooing Winn appealed to us on a very twisted level,” grins Thompson. “Our two bad guys were going to mate! We howling with glee at the idea.”

How did it come about? “Ira had said, just as a throwaway kind of thought, ‘It’s too bad we can’t get Winn and Dukat in bed together’,” recalls Moore. “And I said, ‘Well, why can’t we do that?’ And everyone just stopped and said, ‘Wait, that’s a great idea.'”

Marc Alaimo and Louise Fletcher both have great fun at various points in their arc, chewing the scenery and bantering with one another. In particular, Alaimo is a joy to watch as he tries to play a humble farmer, snaking his way into Winn’s trust and bed. In particular, his confrontations with Sobor in The Changing Face of Evil are wonderfully petty.

A cut above.

At the same time, there is simply not enough story here to run across ten episodes of television. This is not a problem of itself. Very few plots can singlehandedly sustain themselves through seven-and-a-half hours of entertainment. Even within the final arc, the individual plot threads tend to run shorter. The entire Klingon plot is neatly handled in two episodes, When It Rains… and Tacking Into the Wind. The Ferengi plot is confined to The Dogs of War. The Section 31 beat runs through When It Rains… into Tacking Into the Wind into Extreme Measures.

Even the larger and more important plots tend to either change form or take breathers across the run of ten episodes. Sisko’s marriage slips into the background between his argument with Kasidy in The Changing Face of Evil and the announcement that she is pregnant in The Dogs of War. Damar resentment build between Penumbra and The Changing Face of Evil, he forms a large-scale rebellion in When It Rains… and Tacking Into the Wind, and he is forced to go into hiding on Cardassia in The Dogs of War and What You Leave Behind.

Air conditional support.

More than that, it can difficult to get particular plots to line up across ten episodes of television, to move in rhythm with one another across three months of broadcast time. It is very difficult to correctly pace one story, let alone to pace three or four stories moving in tandem. While an individual episode provides a very convenient narrative structure, it is harder to plan out arcs across a run of episodes, to ensure that events and decisions occur at both the correct time in their own arcs and also in the larger scheme of things.

This is a problem in complicated long-form narratives, such as television shows that tell their stories over entire seasons or several years. Westworld famously halted production so that Jonah Nolan and Lisa Joy could make detailed plans for the long-term future of the show, once they discovered that such planning was more intricate than it initially appeared. Halting production was was obviously never going to be possible for a syndicated weekly television series like Deep Space Nine.

“So… this is my biggest contribution to the arc?”
“What about Extreme Measures, Chief?”
“Oh… we don’t talk about that.”

Game of Thrones has faced a similar problem in its own plotting, both in the source novels and in the screen adaptation. A sprawling epic involving dozens of characters scattered across several continents, the plot of Game of Thrones relies on keeping characters from colliding until the optimal moment. Characters all have their own plot threads that serve as sorting algorithms, ensuring that all the key players are properly aligned at the right time.

When this sort of plotting works well, it is absolutely beautiful. There are times when serialised plotting on shows like Westworld, Game of Thrones and The Leftovers feels like a symphony for television, with the everybody in the orchestra hitting the right notes at the right time to create the perfect sound. However, there are moments when the orchestra is not playing in harmony. Characters frequently have to wait until certain arcs involving other characters complete before they manoeuvre into position.

Rebels with common cause.

The author of Game of Thrones, G.R.R. Martin has acknowledged the plotting difficulty created by this need for narrative synchronicity, labelling it “the Meerenese Knot”:

The Meerenese Knot related to everyone reaching Dany. There’s a series of events that have to occur in Meereen, things that are significant. She has various problems to deal with at the start: dealing with the slavers, threats of war, the Sons of the Harpy, and so on. At the same time, there’s all of these characters trying to get to her. So the problem was to figure out who should reach her and in what order, and what events should happen by the time they’ve reached her. I kept coming up with different answers and I kept having to rewrite different versions and then not being satisfied with the dynamics until I found something that was satisfactory. I thought that solution worked well, but it was not my first choice.

Martin had originally planned to cover all of this aligning and positioning with a five-year time gap, but eventually decided such a conceit would be a narrative cheat.

Medal of honour.

As a result, certain smaller character and plot threads seem to be stuck in purgatory because they move faster than the main narrative flow of the series. The characters of Arya and Bran Stark were arguably stuck in a holding pattern when Martin decided to avoid that time jump. Indeed, the character of Bran Stark is entirely absent from the fifth season of Game of Thrones because there is not enough material to justify giving him a story thread while everything else is going on.

The final chapter of Deep Space Nine runs into this issue with the Pah-Wraith plot focusing on Dukat and Winn. Very simply, these three characters do not generate enough material to justify ten whole episodes of plot. As a result, the characters seem to get stuck in a holding pattern. Winn has embraced the Pah-Wraiths by the end of Strange Bedfellows and identified Dukat by the end of The Changing Face of Evil, but its another six episodes before they actually try to unleash the Pah-Wraiths in What You Leave Behind.

Odo has always been a bit flaky.

To be fair, things do happen to Winn and Dukat in these episodes. At the climax of The Changing Face of Evil, Sobor exposes Dukat and Winn murders Sobor. However, there is also a recurring sense that it is taking Winn forever to read a damn book. Indeed, Dukat takes the time to complain about it early in When It Rains…, demonstrating wry self-awareness. “You’ve been studying that for days,” he complains. “Perhaps I could help?” Winn rejects his offer. He presses, “Well, have you learned what we have to do to release the Pah-Wraiths?”

Deep Space Nine keeps putting arbitrary road blocks in the couple’s way, as if stalling desperately for time. In The Changing Face of Evil, Winn orders her big book o’ evil straight from the archives, only to find that it is empty. After she murders Sobor, she spills some blood on it, and the text is revealed. When Dukat tries to read it for himself in When It Rains…, he is blinded. Everything involving the plot to free the Pah-Wraiths seems to move at a snail’s pace, because it demands that the Dominion War be resolved first.

Ol’ bug eyes is back again.

In The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, Ira Behr acknowledges that the arc focusing on Winn and Dukat suffered from a lack of planning and preparation on the part of the production team:

“So we didn’t lay it out at the beginning of the year,” says Behr. “We planned them as were doing them. That allowed us to find great stuff, but occasionally it put us into situations were we were saying to each other, ‘Well, what do you want to do with Dukat and Winn now?’ ‘I dunno, what do you want to do with them?'”

This is a very real shame, given that Gul Dukat is one of the best villains in the entire history of the franchise. Consigning him to a subplot with no real plan or pay-off feels like a waste of one of the aces in the series’ deck.

Mugging for the camera.

To be fair, the issue with the Winn and Dukat subplot is compounded by the fact that these characters spend the majority of the arc isolated from anybody else. Dukat has some scenes with Damar in Penumbra and ‘Til Death Do Us Part, while Winn spends time with Sisko in ‘Til Death Do Us Part and with Kira in Strange Bedfellows. However, they retreat to Bajor in The Changing Face of Evil. As a result, there are lots of scenes featuring the same two characters on the same two sets providing minimal forward momentum.

After all, one of the joys of having a large ensemble is having the freedom to bounce characters off one another. Damar gets to interact with Worf and Ezri in Strange Bedfellows, before teaming up with Kira and Garak in When It Rains… Martok gets to talk marriage with Sisko in Strange Bedfellows and to deal with the future of the Klingon Empire with Worf in When It Rains… Odo can help Kira in When It Rains… and Tacking Into the Wind, get treated by Bashir in Extreme Measures, and help Sisko lead the invasion of Cardassia in What You Leave Behind.

Handy man.

For all that Dukat has been established as the primary antagonist on Deep Space Nine, he spends the vast majority of the ten-parter isolated from the primary cast. When Dukat returns to the station in ‘Til Death Do Us Part, it a moment big enough to serve as an act break. However, Dukat never interacts once with Kira during his time on the station. Sisko is completely oblivious to Dukat’s presence on Deep Space Nine and Bajor until the second half of What You Leave Behind. It feels like a very unsatisfying and ignomonious end of Dukat.

Winn and Dukat are so isolated from the primary cast and the major plot threads that there is nothing to be done with them. The two characters have nothing to contribute to the overall arc. When It Rains… marks the point at which the production team come to that realisation, making a point to separate Dukat and Winn from one another. Dukat is blinded by the Pah-Wraiths and cast out into the street, while Winn continues to study the Kosst Amojan at her own pace.


In The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, the production team acknowledge that the temporary halting of the plot thread in When It Rains… was an acknowledgement of this problem:

“We started it too soon and we ran out of story for them,” he notes. “Suddenly we realised that we didn’t need them again until the final episode.”

“We had to find a way to get the audience to stop thinking about them for a while,” continues Behr. Which led to another example of what Behr considers to be the series’ unofficial motto, particularly at the end of the final season: “Make it a virtue!”

It is not the most elegant of solutions, but it does serve to clear the decks. In particular, Tacking Into the Wind is an appreciably stronger episode for not having to deal with Winn and Dukat.

Sample size.

Perhaps ironically, there is something compelling in the last-minute “hail mary!” thrown by the production team. There is something very powerful and affecting about the idea of Gul Dukat cast out into the streets, laid low as a beggar dependent upon the charity of a people he tried to wipe out. Dukat was once the Prefect of Bajor, so there is something poetic in the idea that he could be just another blind beggar scrounging for food dependent upon a people he enslaved and impoverished.

However, the ten-parter does not explore this potent image. There is no space for even a single short scene of Dukat as a blind beggar on the streets of Bajor, his humiliation complete and maybe even his faith tested. It would have been nice to see such a sequence slipped into The Dogs of War, or even early in What You Leave Behind. Instead, Dukat returns to Winn early in What You Leave Behind. With the Dominion War winding down, the Pah-Wraiths restore his sight. With the clock ticking, Winn and Dukat can actually begin moving forward rather than running in place.

“Still waiting for my character beat.”

Ironically, even within the confines of What You Leave Behind, the subplot focusing on Winn and Dukat runs into commonly perceived pacing issues that also affect contemporary serialised dramas. When Winn and Dukat start exploring the fire caves, they seem to spend a handful of scenes looking for the Pah-Wraiths. However, these sequences are intercut with the end of the Dominion War, which seems to suggest that Winn and Dukat have been wandering through the fire caves for days without changing their clothes or seeming especially tired.

This is a narrative quirk that tends to affect serialised narratives focusing on expansive ensembles separated across large geographical areas. The big events in What You Leave Behind occur on both Cardassia and Bajor, literally world apart from one another. However, because of the differences in scale of these individual narrative threads, and the necessity to cut across them to keep the audience up to speed on plot developments, certain characters seem to move a lot slower than others.

“I have a cunning plan…”

This prefigures an issue with Game of Thrones. During the series’ seventh season, critics argued that characters were moving at the speed of plot. Characters were bouncing across a continent the size of Europe in the space of a single episode, with communications and materials crossing the map almost instantaneously. G.R.R. Martin suggested a justification in Notes on Chronology:

A Song of Ice and Fire is told through the eyes of characters who are sometimes hundreds or even thousands of miles apart from one another. Some chapters cover a day, some only an hour; others might span a fortnight, a month, half a year. With such a structure, the narrative cannot be strictly sequential; sometimes important things are happening simultaneously, a thousand leagues apart.

The implication is that events are not occurring in exactly the order that the audience sees them. Instead, these events are being shown to the audience in a manner that serves the story. This is a reasonably convincing explanation of some of the timeline issues. (Still, this does not account for the episode Beyond the Wall, where the climax explicitly happens overnight.)

Winn-Winn situation.

It seems fair to assume that the same logic applies to the wonky chronology of Winn and Dukat’s adventure in What You Leave Behind. The scenes are intercut with the Federation invasion of Cardassia because they make sense there from a narrative perspective; it helps to keep the audience’s attention on these characters at that moment. However, in terms of chronology, it makes more sense to imagine that Winn and Dukat entered the fire caves at some point after the Battle of Cardassia.

The subplot focusing on Winn and Dukat is arguably the weakest element of this ambitious ten-part adventure. However, even its failures are instructive. Many of the key problems with Winn and Dukat arc are problems that affect contemporary serialised television dramas, reinforcing the sense that Deep Space Nine was slightly ahead of the curve in terms of its storytelling. It is a testament to the production team that even their failures are interesting.

16 Responses

  1. At this point with Winn/Dukat, they’ve written themselves into a bit of a corner so that they HAVE to be off on this little sidequest away from everything else.

    What else could they do?

    Winn is the Kai, ok she’s important, but suddenly out of nowhere would she make an announcement about the Pah Wraiths or the Emissary being false? In universe that’d be too much of a character shift for the first, and a “here we go again” for the second.

    Dukat has been cast down and disgraced, he has no allies, no friends, unless he shows up heading an army of Pah-Wraiths, again, what could he actually do that fits against a war background?

    The beggar idea actually leads to an interesting idea. What if THAT was the end of Dukat’s story? After his mind was broken when his daughter died, he tried to become Sisko, and in his figurative blindness, he came o Winn and unleashed an evil that was bubbling under the surface that he couldn’t handle. She was their actual chosen one all along and they used his pride to unlock it.

    Then he’s just left alive at the end of the series, a blind seemingly Bajoran beggar wandering the streets claiming to be Gul Dukat, Emmisary of the Pah Wraiths.

    I’d say that’s a more dramatic and fitting ending than being tackled into fire.

    • >. What if THAT was the end of Dukat’s story?

      There are so many logical end-points to Dukat’s story that it’s hard not to think of him as Stefano De Mira.

      The plastic surgery, the random disability, the paternity tests, the ghosts and goblins…it all smells of something I’ve seen done countless times before on trashy soaps.

      The only character I can think of who outstayed their welcome like this was the Cigarette Smoking Man. He had a similar transition from petty bureaucrat (who you kind of loved to hate) to the Devil incarnate.

    • That’s an interesting idea. I still think that’s a shame there wasn’t even a short scene in The Dogs of War with Dukat begging. Or, you’re right, having that exile be his final poetic punishment. Of course, then you’d have people clamouring for his return in some later spin-off or tie-in, completely missing the point. Nevertheless, it would be a striking image and a wonderfully bitter end note.

  2. “The Pah-Wraiths will spare those whom they find worthy. The rest are of no consequence.”

    I would argue that in these episodes Winn shifts from a politician who utilizes religion to shore up her power base, to an apocalyptic cult leader. In a way this is a *very* late 1990s role for Winn to play. The tragedy of the Branch Davidians was only a few years old when these episodes aired, and the Millennium was right around the corner, bringing out numerous other doomsday-obsessed religious movements.

    I never saw Winn’s speech embracing the Pah-Wraiths as a “super-villain” moment. It rang very true to the character. Despite her extremely cynical exploitation of the Bajoran faith to amass powers, Winn did a superb job at deluding herself into believing that she was a good & pious soul. The Prophets choosing Sisko as their Emissary had already deeply shaken her carefully cultivated self-image as a holy figure. The fact that the Prophets had never spoken to Winn, and has instead chosen an alien as their messenger, was a gigantic blow to her ego and self-esteem.

    Years later, in these episodes, Winn believing the Prophets were at last speaking to her, only to learn that it was actually the Pah-Wraiths, must have been a devastating blow to her. The fact that she then prayed directly to the Prophets, begging & pleading for them to give her a sign, a message, anything, added insult to injury. Winn’s monumental ego couldn’t withstand this final rejection. She reached a “fuck it” moment; if the Prophets would not accept her after all her years of selfless, humble service (at least in her mind) then they could all go to hell, and she would gladly throw her lot in with the Pah-Wraiths, who actually embraced her, who told her she was important. It’s a very believable development for Winn, a monumental narcissist who has been rejected & humiliated one too many times, especially as Dukat is right there to add fuel to all of her anger & resentments.

    • That cultism is a fair point, and it certainly plays into the handling of the Pah-Wraiths in the seventh season; the assassin in Image in the Sand and the suicide cult in Covenant. However, I still don’t buy Winn’s sudden transition beyond sheer plot mechanics. The series NEEDS her to side with Dukat, which means she has to go off the reservation. And BOY, does she.

  3. I’ve made this point before, but I enjoy how Kira is giving a Starfleet commission on a limited time basis.

    On Deep Space Nine, people had to earn their uniform, and it wasn’t freely given. In Garak’s case, he was more valuable as freelancer, and Rom went back to wearing civvies when the Dominion invaded. Kira wrestled with it for seven years before finally wearing one, and it took a field promotion AND the Captain’s death to bump Nog up to lieutenant.

    It’s a small point, but on Star Trek it usually seems like they’ve giving out com-badges like candy.

  4. I don’t see Section 31’s actions as all that immoral. Yes, it was wrong to infect Odo, an officer working for the Federation (kind of), but their actions are definitely understandable. Genocide is reprehensible mainly because it implies that most of the victims are non-combatants-wiping out the enemy’s military isn’t nearly as morally abhorrent. Every member of the Dominion that’s being threatened is a combatant. They’re technically one organism actually. Furthermore, the Founders are guilty of: using biological warfare against a non-threatening species (based on Karemma’s reaction in “Starship Down”, I think we can reasonably assume this is a common tactic, enslaving multiple races and creating others to use as slaves and soldiers, murdering 800 million Cardassian civilians (with no military objective), and invading the Alpha Quadrant to continue their reign of terror across the galaxy. Section 31 is acting in self defense, and wiping out a race solely composed of war criminals. They don’t deserve sympathy.

    • Well, the fact that – for example – Laas ends up infected suggests that Section 31 is NOT merely wiping out a race composed solely of war criminals. He was a jerk, but not a war criminal. And the fact that the Federation was not technically at war with the Dominion at the point in which Odo was infected and at the point in which Odo infected the Great Link. It should also be noted that the Great Link spends the literal entirety of the Dominion War cut off from the Alpha Quadrant. The Dominion War appears to be overseen by a single Founder, who has not merged with the link in at least two years by the end of the conflict.

      Even allowing that these distinctions are academic – and I don’t think that they are – the use of genocide as a legitimate military tactic is deeply unsettling. During war, you accept surrender. You don’t use biological or chemical weapons. Even executions are carried out after tribunal hearings and court martials. I think the fact that the crew of Deep Space Nine are horrified by the disease is a sign of how optimistic Deep Space Nine is, and how the show is nowhere near as cynical as its reputation suggests.

      • I think they re-used Salome Jens to maintain consistency. It’s established that all of the Changelings in the Great Link are Founders, and leaders of the Dominion. Even if the other Founders aren’t a part of the Dominion War, they were undoubtedly a part of the Dominion’s actions in the Gamma Quadrant-which probably involves the subjugation and murder of billions of people. But I agree with most of your points-it wasn’t right, and the use of genocide as a military tactic unsettles me as well, but I hold to my original point that it was understandable, and does not deserve to be mentioned in the same vein as the Cardassian Occupation or the Domion’s attempted slaughter of the Cardassians in “What You Leave Behind” . At the time of “Homefront”/”Paradise Lost”, the Dominion had severely damaged Cardassia and Romulus, and promised to do the same to the Klingon Empire and the Federation, “imposing order”, as it were. War hadn’t happened yet, but it was becoming inevitable, something which you pointed out in your reviews. Their biggest moral flaw was doing it too soon, before the situation deteriorated completely. Part of this stems from my frustrations that they didn’t properly hold the Dominion accountable-sure, the Salome Jens founder is getting put on trial, but what about the rest of them? Once Odo cured them, they should have done the same to the rest of the Great Link. Had they done a Season 8 and properly dealt with the consequences, then I may feel differently. If Section 31’s actions were so awful (which they were), why let the rest of the Great Link off the hook for their enslavement of two entire species and countless other off-screen atrocities?

        (I also totally agree-DS9 isn’t cynical, it just examines Roddenberry’s vision with a more skeptical eye. If you don’t poke holes in something, it becomes very dry and boring.)

      • That observation about something becoming dry and boring is particularly applicable when that something is thirty years old, as Star Trek was at this point in the run.

  5. While your points about the pacing of DS9 and GoT are well taken and an inevitable problem in our overly structured system of book publications and TV series production (if DS9 was made by the BBC it would have lasted as long as it needed to, no more, no less), I think it makes sense that Dukat make that leap into pure evil. His entire worldview was a lie for the entire series, so when Sisko finally defeated him and his own aide killed Dukat’s daughter, his mental breakdown represents the destruction of his world. Going to the fire spirits to destroy the real world represents his inability to accept the world for what it is because that would mean accepting that he was the villain. Or it could mean he accepted that he was the villain and hated the world for proving it?

  6. Hey Darren,

    Sorry if I came off as a bit….. odd in our conversation. I can see now how my comments were in poor taste. Feel free to delete that entire thread between you and I.

    • Not all. It’s a solid argument. I mean, there is a debate about the Founders, identity and culpability. But I also think that it’s entirely appropriate for Deep Space Nine to define it as “something that our heroes don’t do.”

      Well, except to Laas, apparently. Accidentally.

      • Unless Odo sends some Jem’Hadar after him, Odo’s basically doomed him to a slow and excruciating death, hasn’t he?

      • Yep. I think that either the producers or the tie-in fiction writers made a point to tie up that loose end after the show had ended.

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