(written from a Production point of view)
Kira is abducted by a cult that worships the Pah-wraiths and is led by their "Master" – Dukat.
- 1 Summary
- 2 Memorable quotes
- 3 Background information
- 4 Links and references
Ezri Dax, Julian Bashir and Odo are sitting in Quark's ordering drinks. Quark comments that Odo doesn't drink and wonders why he ordered Bajoran springwine. Odo explains that he ordered it for Kira who will be joining them as soon as she finishes attending services at the temple. When Kira arrives, the group briefly discusses religion and the concepts of faith and forgiveness when Odo makes a comment he wishes he did believe in the Prophets and Bajoran religion so that they could go to services together.
Later, Kira is visited in her quarters by Vedek Fala, one of Kira's teachers from during the Cardassian Occupation of Bajor, and she greets him warmly. The two catch up on old times and Fala presents Kira with a gift. The gift turns out to be a homing transponder to transport her to the abandoned outpost Empok Nor.
Dukat dismisses the group and proceeds to attempt to convince Kira to believe in the Pah-wraiths, with the argument that the Prophets stood by and did nothing during the Occupation. This doesn't phase Kira, as their path is not easy and hard to fathom. He explains that the Pah-wraiths only wanted to take a more active role in the Bajorans' lives, and for that they were cast out and imprisoned. Only wanting to love the people more, they should be considered the true gods. Dukat calls himself the Emissary of the Pah-wraiths and says they speak to him, and "opened his heart." He has pierced his ear with an earring symbolic of a covenant between himself and the people there.
He admits that, when he first allowed himself to be possessed, he only wanted to seek revenge on Benjamin Sisko, but now he's a changed man and regrets the death of Jadzia Dax, stating that the Celestial Temple was at stake and she was simply in the way. He maintains his front that he wasn't responsible for the Occupation, but now, he justifies it by saying he was simply walking the path of the Prophets. Now, he's going to follow the plan for the Pah-wraiths to reclaim the Celestial Temple.
Furthermore, he wants Kira to see their community and convince her because he wants her at his side. She blatantly refuses to believe him, responding that the people don't love him; he has some kind of hold over them. Dukat states plainly that Kira and his destinies are entwined – she belongs at his side.
On Deep Space 9, the crew has become aware of Kira's disappearance. With a tricorder, Chief O'Brien has been able to establish how she was abducted, but tells Captain Sisko there is no way to find out where she went. Odo is also unable to establish who Kira met with in her quarters before she disappearance, as her visitor left the station immediately after on a regular transport to Bajor, meaning the crew are left at a dead end.
Kira, being kept in quarters, is met by Fala. She is very disappointed in him while he admits that he joined the cult years earlier because he had lost faith in the Prophets. Kira is shaken by her friend's admission, and can't believe he abandoned all the people he helped. Fala defends the "cult," taking issue with each of Kira's characterizations of their group. He also explains that the individual who tried to kill Sisko acted alone from his misguided beliefs. He believes Dukat has been "washed clean" by the Pah-wraiths and has forgiven his past. He then shows her the community they have built to show her she has nothing to fear. During a walk with Fala on Empok Nor's Promenade, Kira meets a young pregnant woman named Mika. She congratulates her, but then oddly finds out she needed permission to have a baby with her husband, Benyan. Fala explains that it is part of their covenant with Dukat to take vows of abstinence, reflective of ancient Bajoran traditions. Kira is skeptical. She meets Benyan while he paints a mural of Dukat along with his Bajoran followers. Benyan doesn't respond to Kira's subtle disagreement.
Later, she's taken to a prayer meeting. As everyone else closes their eyes and chants, Kira takes the opportunity to grab a Bajoran phaser from another member of the cult and threatens Dukat. However, several cult members shield Dukat from danger, showing their belief. She tries to back out but someone knocks her unconscious.
Kira awakes to find Dukat taking care of her. She is outraged at his faux concern, since looking at the bruise on her back gave him an opportunity to undress her. After another argument wherein she accuses Dukat of using his follower's religious devotion to build another empire complete with subjects who are devoted to him on the station, she is determined to expose his fraud. Dukat has had a meal prepared for Kira and Kira briefly considers trying to kill him with the cutlery on the meal tray. But, Dukat points out that even if Kira could kill him; there is no way she can escape and Kira would only make a martyr out of him. She cannot believe his followers are willing and that he is as changed as he sounds. He also points out that Kira's mother really loved him, but she responds she convinced herself of that since he had control over her real family.
Mika soon goes into labor, so Dukat brings Kira to the infirmary. However, when her child is born, it is half-Cardassian, shocking the two parents. Dukat also feigns shock, but, without a beat, excitedly declares that the Pah-wraiths have sent them a sign of their covenant. Mika's face shows she clearly doesn't believe this "miracle." Kira doesn't believe either, of course, but the rest of the congregation, including Fala, accept Dukat's explanation. He starts to lead them in prayer, and Kira is utterly shocked.
Kira immediately confronts Fala with this turn of events, appealing to his intelligence. Fala defends Dukat's words, arguing that a miracle is a possibility that cannot be ruled out. Indeed, if the Prophets can disappear an entire fleet of Dominion ships, they are capable of anything. Kira, on the other hand, knows Fala too well to believe that he would accept this without question. When Kira pushes him hard enough, he admits to suspect her version of the truth, but he asserts that he has faith in his beliefs and that he wants to follow where his faith leads him. Her further conversations with Benyan make it obvious that Benyan has serious doubts about Dukat's version of events.
Meanwhile, Dukat and Mika meet in secret to discuss the situation and Dukat asks her why she didn't tell him her child was his. Dukat apologizes to Mika and it is revealed that he raped her during a prayer session and Dukat at least pretends to feel guilty for raping Mika. After he gets her forgiveness, learns of her husband's disbelief and her unwillingness to lie to him if he asks, he traps her in the airlock they were speaking in and flushes the air out, refusing to make eye contact with her as she goes unconscious. Kira and Fala who are looking for Mika to ask her about the "miracle," save her just in time. Mika is taken to sickbay and treated for her injuries. Dukat claims it was an accident, Kira loudly objects stating the obvious truth. Dukat sends her to her quarters and leads the onlookers in prayer. Benyan looks on skeptically.
Later, Dukat prays alone in his quarters and asks for guidance. He states that the truth will come out and the covenant will dissolve. Later, at a sudden prayer meeting, Dukat then makes a great announcement: the Pah-wraiths have asked everyone to shed their corporeal existences to help reclaim the Celestial Temple. To accomplish this, he says that everyone, including him, will commit suicide. Kira listens in her quarters surprised.
Dukat visits Kira and informs her that he has contacted Deep Space 9; they will send a ship to pick her up within a day. Kira does not believe he will die with them. He reassures her that all of their deaths will be painless, thanks to Promazine, a pill used by the Obsidian Order operatives to commit suicide in the event of capture and the bodies become dust in hours and so he does not fear it. He will be with the Pah-wraiths, and that is his salvation. Kira is finally convinced he believes what he's saying. "Goodbye, Nerys…", Dukat says to Kira before walking out.
As the ceremony begins, Kira manages to escape from her cell by overloading the door's locking mechanism. She rushes into the hall from the second level, and knocks down Dukat as he holds his tablet, as well as a pedestal containing dozens more. He starts searching in vain for his particular tablet as she is restrained. When Fala hands Dukat another tablet, he cannot accept it. Kira realizes Dukat's original pill was a fake and he never intended to kill himself. When she calls him on his duplicity, and the crowd becomes restless, Dukat protests that he alone must live to show others the light of the Pah-wraiths. None believe him, and the order falls apart; Benyan finally realizes the truth of his child's birth and turns on Dukat. As he loses control, Dukat shouts to them that the covenant is broken, and transports out.
Fala, despite all this, sits down and ingests his tablet. Kira holds her friend as he dies and wants to know why he did it, his only answer is "Faith."
The USS Defiant arrives and picks up Kira and the other cult members. Kira tells Odo about Fala's last words, not knowing he had lost his faith or still believed in the Pah-wraiths. Also, she admits that while she originally believed that Dukat was only pretending to believe in the Pah-wraiths to get the Bajorans to follow him, she is now convinced he does truly believe in them, despite his continued despotic patterns and that everything he did was in their service. Odo also notes the possibility that Dukat really did receive the suicide order from the Pah-wraiths. Either way, he is far more dangerous now than ever…
"Faith has to come first."
"That's too bad. I have a feeling it must be very comforting to believe in something more powerful than yourself."
- - Kira and Odo
"I've always found that when people try to convince others of their beliefs it's because they're really just trying to convince themselves."
- - Kira
"The Prophets are not the true gods of Bajor. The Pah-wraiths are. They were cast out from the Celestial Temple because they only wanted to take an active role in Bajoran life. Their only crime was that they cared about your people. But they were not allowed to help you because they'd lost the battle for heaven and were forced to flee."
"So I guess the ancient texts had it all wrong, then."
"Oh, come now, Nerys. You know as well as I do that history is written by the victors. But, rest assured, there will be another chapter. The Pah-wraiths are determined to reclaim their place in heaven."
- - Dukat and Kira
"I have been touched by the hand of a god. I'm a changed man. Oh, I admit that when I first allowed myself to become a vessel for the Pah-wraith, it was purely out of self-serving reasons. All I wanted was to help it enter the wormhole so it could force the Prophets out. It was nothing more than a way to exact vengeance on Sisko. But I had no idea of the effect it would have on me. It was only inside of me for a very short time, but it opened my heart."
"Would that be before or after you killed Jadzia?"
"That was most unfortunate, but it couldn't be helped. The Celestial Temple itself was at stake, and she was in the way."
- - Dukat and Kira
"The Master told us you wouldn't approve of our beliefs. He said we should be patient with you."
"Don't go out of your way."
- - Benyan and Kira
"You believe the Prophets are the true gods of Bajor. I believe the Pah-wraiths are. Let's just leave it at that."
"I'd be happy to. There's just one problem: we can't both be right."
- - Fala and Kira
"I have faith. I would think you'd understand what that means. Nerys, is it beyond the realm of possibility that the Pah-wraiths have sent us this as a sign? They have powers beyond our understanding. Your Prophets made an entire fleet of Dominion ships vanish into thin air. What's one child compared to a miracle like that?"
"You want to know what the miracle is? That Mika didn't break into tears in front of her husband. She was terrified because he wasn't going to believe Dukat's little performance. I could see it in her eyes."
- - Fala and Kira
"This is his child! That's why you tried to kill Mika!!"
"The Pah-wraiths have forgiven my sins! They've given me their absolution! Who are you to presume they're wrong?! Who are you to judge me?!! Then it's done! Our covenant is broken! None of you will ever know the love of the Pah-wraiths!! None of you!!"
- - Benyan and Dukat
Story and script
- This episode came about because the writers felt that since the six-episode arc and "Waltz" they had allowed the character of Dukat to slip too much into the background. As René Echevarria explains, "He's a wonderful character and well-liked by the audience, but he'd become a very peripheral villain after the six-episode arc at the beginning of Season 6. We'd done two shows with him after that ("Waltz" and "Tears of the Prophets"), but now he had no role to play." "Covenant" was created primarily so that Dukat could reclaim the role of Deep Space Nine's primary villain. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 632)
- As well as simply 'reintroducing' Dukat as a villain, the writers also saw this episode as playing an extremely important role in setting up the conflict between Dukat and Sisko which would act as the dénouement of the entire series. As Echevarria says, ""Covenant" brought him back into our story. Somehow it seemed like it was going to help us put him in conflict with Sisko. But we didn't really know much more than that: Pah-wraith versus Prophet, Dukat versus Sisko." Similarly, Ira Steven Behr states, "I always knew that the ultimate challenge would be Dukat, and not the War." Bradley Thompson concurs with this view; "It gave us a chance to ask ourselves, 'What is Dukat's madness and how is it manifesting itself now?' We could touch base with him and show that he's really getting hooked into these Pah-wraiths. And that would help us set up the end of the series." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 632)
- In this sense then, "Covenant" acts as a sequel of sorts to "Tears of the Prophets" insofar as it demonstrates that Dukat's relationship with the Pah-wraiths is alive and well, and is not something that he is dabbling in merely for his own good; he has come to genuinely believe in the power of the Pah-wraiths, and this belief is what would form his primary raison d'être in the ten-episode arc which closes the series. Indeed, in relation to just how devout Dukat has become, Echevarria explains, "I came up with the idea of having him pray alone. He's not performing for anybody. In his own twisted, self-aggrandizing way, he genuinely would prefer to send these people to their makers with their faith intact than to allow it all to fall apart." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 633) Dukat has become a true believer, something which would have great repercussions in future episodes.
- The basic story of this episode came from David Weddle, who had been an investigative reporter and had written about cults for the LA Weekly and San Jose Mercury News. According to Weddle, "I've always been fascinated with cults. I'm interested in that hunger to find something to believe in that's bigger than the viewable reality. The desire to find heaven on earth often ends up leading people down a very twisted, paranoid road. Fundamental Human longing can be twisted by a cult leader, because he can never deliver on his promises of bringing about a golden utopia. Then he has to come up with reason why, and it's always that there's a conspiracy out there, that something or someone is conspiring against the group. That's when paranoia gradually overshadows the whole thing. Vedek Fala is a good example of a typical follower. He's someone who desperately wants to believe. When you study cults, you find a lot of people who were brought up in traditional religions and who had a strong faith when they were young. But they became disillusioned with that faith when they saw hypocrisy. They cast aside the faith they were brought up with, but they still have the need. The hunger is still there. At the end, when Dukat turns out to be a total charlatan, Fala can't handle it. He would rather die still trying to grip the illusion than go on living." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, pp. 632-633)
- This episode represents the final stage in the complex relationship between Kira and Dukat. In "The Maquis, Part II", Kira's attitude towards Dukat is shown to be changing slightly as her previously held antipathy towards him begins to soften. In "Civil Defense", Dukat is revealed as being sexually attracted to Kira. "Indiscretion" and "Return to Grace" see them forced to team up and fight alongside one another, much to Kira's irritation and Dukat's delight, "In Purgatory's Shadow" then sees Dukat blame Kira for his daughter's friendship with Garak. In "A Time to Stand", Dukat's attraction to Kira is very much to the fore, and is seemingly taking on something of a deranged quality. In "Sons and Daughters" then, Dukat briefly wins Kira over due to their shared love of his daughter, but Kira quickly realizes what she's doing and she ends their relationship completely. In "Wrongs Darker Than Death or Night", Dukat reveals that he and Kira's mother were lovers. This tangled relationship led director John Kretchmer to state that "Kira and Dukat are locked together like two cats in a bag." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 633) This recalls Dukat's comment in "Return to Grace" that their lives are "deeply intertwined". When Kira points out that he takes great pleasure from this fact, he tells her, "Why Major, it gives me reason to live."
- In the original script, Dukat was the leader of a group of aliens. However, this was changed because the Cult of the Pah-wraiths had already been established when the Bajoran wormhole was closed in "Tears of the Prophets", and again in "Image in the Sand", when a member of the cult attempted to murder Sisko. As well as that, the writers felt the message of the episode would be more poignant to both Kira and the audience if Dukat's followers were Bajoran. Additionally, given Dukat's prior dealings with the Pah-wraiths and his love-hate relationship with the Bajoran people, this made sense.
- The first shot of Dukat was purposefully designed by director John Kretchmer and cinematographer Kris Krosskove to give the effect of a halo above Dukat's head. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 633)
- Initially, the producers wanted the baby to be fairly visible during Dukat's proclamation of a miracle, but the problem was that there are very strict rules as to how much prosthetic makeup can be used on an infant, and how long an infant can be on-set. As such, the producers decided to go with an animatronic baby, and they hired the people who made the Chucky doll for the 1988 Tom Holland film Child's Play. However, according to B.C. Cameron, "It looked like Chucky with a Bajoran nose. His eyes were blinking and he was really spooky looking." Ira Behr says that the first shoot of the scene where Dukat holds the baby up for the gathered crowd produced the biggest laugh ever seen in dailies; "This animatronic baby was moving its head, and Marc was holding it up for the camera, playing the scene for all it's worth, even though it looked ludicrous. It looked as if he were proclaiming to the world, 'Take a look! This is a phony baby! You can get one at Toys "R" Us! Thirty-five dollars and ninety-five cents!' We were howling with laughter and crying in frustration at the same time. The day will live in infamy." Needless to say, the scene was reshot sans animatronic baby. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 634)
- Specifically, the episode was inspired by the Heaven's Gate cult led by Marshall Applewhite. The cult was inspired by the Comet Hale–Bopp, and in March of 1997, Applewhite and thirty-eight other members (including the brother of Nichelle Nichols) committed suicide, believing they were aliens and that their bodies would be transported to a space ship traveling behind the comet. The group has an official website, which is still accessible today. 
- This episode contains numerous references to previous episodes: Kira mentions Dukat's murder of Jadzia in the sixth season finale "Tears of the Prophets" and the attempted assassination of Sisko on Earth by a member of the Cult of the Pah-wraiths in the Season 7 opener "Image in the Sand"; Empok Nor was first introduced in the fifth season episode "Empok Nor", and was also seen in the sixth season episode "The Magnificent Ferengi"; Dukat mentions Kosst Amojan, the Pah-wraith he released and allowed to possess him in "Tears of the Prophets"; Dukat also mentions his desire for vengeance on Sisko, something which he vowed in the episode "Waltz"; Kira's mother and her affair with Dukat, as seen in the episode "Wrongs Darker Than Death or Night" is referred to; the Prophets' destruction of the Dominion fleet in the sixth season episode "Sacrifice of Angels" is mentioned by Fala.
- When Fala says that Dukat's appetite for "worldly pleasures" has diminished since he felt the kiss of the Pah-wraith, Kira sarcastically says "that was some kiss", the same thing she says to Odo in "Image in the Sand" when he says he became an optimist after their first kiss in front of Quark's.
- Cirroc Lofton (Jake Sisko) does not appear in this episode.
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 7.5, 7 June 1999
- As part of the DS9 Season 7 DVD collection
Links and references
- Rene Auberjonois as Odo
- Nicole de Boer as Ezri Dax
- Michael Dorn as Lieutenant Commander Worf
- Colm Meaney as Chief Miles O'Brien
- Armin Shimerman as Quark
- Alexander Siddig as Doctor Julian Bashir
- Nana Visitor as Colonel Kira Nerys
- Marc Alaimo as Gul Dukat
- Norman Parker as Fala
- Jason Leland Adams as Benyan
- Maureen Flannigan as Mika
- Miriam Flynn as Midwife
- Mark Piatelli as Brin
- Cathy DeBuono as M'Pella
- Frank Diresta as a Bajoran Pah-wraith follower
- David B. Levinson as Broik
- Dan Magee as operations lieutenant
- James Minor as a Human security officer
- Lauren Moore as a Bajoran Pah-wraith follower
- Tom Morga as a Bajoran Pah-wraith follower
- Mark Newsom as a Bajoran Pah-wraith follower
- Sandra Rascon as a Bajoran Pah-wraith follower
- Chuck Shanks as an Human operations lieutenant
- James Lee Stanley as a Bajoran security deputy
- William Steinfeld as a Bajoran Pah-wraith follower
- Michael Wajacs as a Bajoran Pah-wraith follower
- Unknown performers as
- Leslie Hoffman as stunt double for Maureen Flannigan
- Denise Lynne Roberts as stunt double for Nana Visitor
- Laurence Rosenthal as stunt double for Marc Alaimo
Absolution; alien freighter; anger; Bajor; Bajoran assassin; Bajorans; Bajoran Ancient Texts; Bajoran earring; Bajoran cargo shuttle; Bajoran transport; Bajoran wormhole; Cardassia; Cardassians; cargo management unit (unnamed); Celestial Temple; covenant; Cult of the Pah-wraiths; Dax, Jadzia; Defiant-class; Defiant, USS; Dominion; Dominion space; ear; Emissary of the Prophets; Empok Nor; faith; firstborn; fusion generator; god; heart; homing transponder; hydroponics; Kira Meru; Klingon religion; leader; master; meningeal tissue; murder; Obsidian Order; Occupation of Bajor; operative; orb; Pah-wraith; path; piercing; promazine; Promenade; Prophets; purification; Quark's; ranjen; replicator; Romulan ale; sermon; springwine; Sto-vo-kor; Telna; tachyon energy; Til'amin froth; tea; temple; transporter; tricorder; unfounded accusation; University of Bajor; vedek; vow of abstinence; welder; worship
- "Covenant" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Covenant" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Covenant" at Wikipedia
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