|Gul Dukat (Marc Alaimo) |
faces a difficult decision.
Kira is contacted by Razka Karn (Roy Brocksmith), a Bajoran smuggler who assisted the Resistance during the Occupation. Razka has a lead on the Ravinok, a Cardassian ship that disappeared six years ago while transporting Bajoran prisoners - including the man who recruited Kira into Shakaar's resistance cell. Though it's unlikely there are survivors after all this time, Kira cannot ignore the possibility of finding out what happened.
The missing ship was Cardassian, so the Cardassian government insists on sending a representative along - the very man under whose jurisdiction the Ravinok operated: Gul Dukat. Kira is anything but pleased at working with her old enemy, but she accepts the diplomatic necessity. Then she discovers that Dukat has his own personal reasons for having come - reasons which may just re-ignite the old conflict between the two of them!
Capt. Sisko: Though he doesn't try to force Kira to accept the Cardassians' request, he does urge her to agree voluntarily. He tells her that it is exactly on this type of mission that the two governments are going to have to work together to form any lasting peace. In a subplot, we see his relationship with Kasidy becoming increasingly serious - to which he reacts with cold feet, though not for the reasons we initially think. In an effective scene near the end, we learn that his nervousness comes out of fear of the dangers of his job hurting her, as had happened with his wife.
Major Kira: Kira has matured considerably since the first season. She still carries the mental scars of her experiences. When Dukat tries to turn on his charm, she cuts him off short, telling him that while Cardassia and Bajor may eventually become friends, the two of them never will. But while Season One Kira would have just seen him as a one-note butcher when he announces his intention to murder one of the survivors, this Kira can recognize that he doesn't actually want to do it. As such, she's able to help talk him down from his intended crime.
Odo: Gets a brief but wonderful scene in which Kira tells him that she has a lead on the missing Ravinok. Kira is all geared up for an argument about why she shouldn't pursue this. Instead, Odo just tells her "Good luck," pointing out that it doesn't matter how long it's been or how unlikely there are to be survivors: A friend of hers was aboard the ship, so of course she is going to go looking. A great little moment that shows how genuine Odo's friendship for her is.
Gul Dukat: The episode takes great pains to humanize Dukat, but even as he and Kira manage a respectable working relationship, the constant reminder of their backstory hangs over the proceedings. When meeting with Razka, the smuggler says of Dukat's charm that it "almost makes you forget that five years ago, he was working Bajorans to death in forced labor camps and shooting anybody who tried to stop him. Almost makes you forget."
The first Kira-centric episode since last season's Shakaar, and it's extremely welcome. Nana Visitor brings so much to an already well-scripted character, and it's always interesting just to watch her. That's doubly true when Kira is interacting with figures from her past. By throwing her into a reluctant alliance with the man she had to have thought of as the devil incarnate, this episode guarantees itself some dramatic mileage.
For a while, the episode seems to over-humanize Dukat, allowing Kira to be far too comfortable with him far too quickly. Then we get a sharp turn, as Dukat reveals exactly why he is there and what he intends to do, which ignites the conflict between them all over again. This creates a final Act in which the two must work together to achieve their common goal (rescuing the survivors), they work against each other with regard to the fate of one specific survivor, which lays groundwork for a lot of conflict.
Unfortunately, the episode isn't quite as good as it might have been, and that's mostly because of the Sisko/Kasidy subplot. It's not that these scenes are bad in any way. Avery Brooks and Penny Johnson are terrific, both individually and together, and the subplot isn't at all badly scripted. It just interferes with the more interesting Kira story, distracting from it during the first half and robbing it of valuable time during the second half.
Time ends up being an issue, because the resolution feels rushed. Kira and Dukat defeat an enemy force with so much ease, that it's a wonder the survivors hadn't been able to do so themselves long ago. Then Kira talks Dukat down from his intended murder - again, too easily and with too little conflict. The ten minutes or so that was devoted to the Sisko/Kasidy material could have been far better used by the main plot. And given that those scenes were completely disconnected from the main plot, I'm sure they could have been inserted into a more appropriate episode down the line.
Without the subplot and with a better-developed finale, this would probably have been an "8." As it stands, it only just squeaks by with a "7."
Overall Rating: 7/10.