(written from a Production point of view)
Kira and Gul Dukat chase the Klingon Bird-of-Prey that destroyed a Cardassian outpost where Cardassian and Bajoran representatives were holding a conference.
In the infirmary, Dr. Bashir gives Major Kira a series of inoculations. After being wined and dined by First Minister Shakaar, Kira has agreed to attend a conference on the Cardassian outpost Korma between Cardassia and Bajor to share important Bajoran intelligence about the Klingons. The inoculations are necessary because the Klingon invasion has obliterated the Cardassian health system. As Major Kira begins to feel the nauseating side effects of the vaccinations, Worf enters with a list of technological improvements that the Federation has shared with both Bajor and the Klingon Empire that the Federation would prefer to keep out of Cardassian hands. The Major barely has time to scan the list before running from the room in search of a bathroom.
Kira is in her quarters packing for her trip, when there is a chime at the door. Gul Dukat enters her room. He explains to Kira that he is now the captain of the Groumall, the freighter that will transport her to the conference. His assignment is part of the demotion and general ostracization from Cardassian society he has suffered as a result of bringing his half-Bajoran, half-Cardassian daughter, Tora Ziyal, home with him. (DS9: "Indiscretion") Despite being disowned by his mother and abandoned by his wife, he claims that he is happy that Kira prevented him from killing Ziyal. He also assures her that he will one day regain all that he has lost. The conversation ends with Dukat offering to carry her bags to the Groumall and Kira grudgingly accepting.
Kira is sitting in her spartan quarters on the Groumall reviewing PADDs for the upcoming conference when Tora Ziyal arrives. The two greet each other warmly. Ziyal tells Kira about the bigotry she encountered on Cardassia and how happy she is to be with her father on the Groumall. Their conversation is cut short by a siren, which Ziyal informs Kira is a battle drill. Kira finds the idea of battle drills on a simple freighter odd and goes to the bridge.
Once there, she finds Dukat dressing down his crew and bemoaning the state of his ship, given that it just took them several minutes to target and destroy a mere asteroid. Kira attempts to make a helpful suggestion concerning speeding up the recharging of the freighter's phasers and Dukat snaps at her. Dukat apologizes and offers to make it up to Kira by having dinner with her, as is the tradition for Cardassian captains. Kira looks ready to refuse, but then looks over at Ziyal, who clearly wants these two important people in her life to get along, and agrees.
At dinner, Dukat opens one of his last bottles of Bajoran springwine and tries to engage Kira in a conversation about her romantic life, an attempt she quickly shoots down. Dukat tries to get a rise out of the Major by discussing Shakaar's apparently prolific sexual past. They are interrupted by another siren, which Dukat assures Kira is not a planned drill. The pair go to the bridge where they find that the outpost on Korma, along with both Bajoran and Cardassian delegations has been destroyed. They don't have to look far for a cause as a Klingon Bird-of-Prey immediately decloaks.
The Klingons scan the Groumall and clearly see no threat. They begin leaving the system at one-quarter impulse and to add insult to injury, lower their shields. Dukat is predictably incensed by their taunting, and orders the Groumall to open fire on the Bird-of-Prey. After Kira tries unsuccessfully to dissuade Dukat from attacking, she tells him to target the underside of the hull, the ship's weakest point. Despite taking her advice and firing on the Klingon's weakest spot with their shields down, the weapons of the Groumall fail to even breach their hull. The Klingons bear down on the Groumall and Dukat prepares to be fired upon. In a final indignity, the Klingons simply pass the Groumall and leave the system, their honor not allowing the destruction of such a weak enemy.
Now that the immediate danger has passed, Kira asks Dukat where the nearest Cardassian warship is. When Dukat tells her that the nearest ship is three days away, Kira urges Dukat to go after the Klingons who destroyed the outpost, but to be better prepared for their next encounter. The outpost's system-5 planetary disruptors were merely disabled and not destroyed, so Kira suggests mounting them on the Groumall, converting the freighter into a Q-ship. Dukat thinks it is impossible. Kira falls back on her resistance training and tells Dukat he will have to improvise: if Dukat jettisons the ship's cargo (along with his own traditional share of it) then the ship should be able to house one of the disruptors. Dukat tells Kira he has a lot to learn from her, clearly pleased at the idea of the two of them working together. Kira is less than enthusiastic.
Dukat and Kira are testing the new disruptor, and while the attempt was successful, the massive weapon's recoil caused minor damage throughout the ship. Dukat again expresses his delight at their partnership. Kira accuses him of only seeking to regain his former rank and tells him the only reason she is working with him is to avenge the deaths of the Bajoran diplomats. Dukat tries once more to get a rise out of Kira by accusing Shakaar of being too simple for a woman like her, and Kira informs him that if he wants to continue working together, he should stick to business.
Kira trains Ziyal in the differences in basic Cardassian and Federation phaser rifles, anticipating being boarded by the Klingons in the next attack. Ziyal attempts to get Kira to understand her father better. Ziyal says that she has a hard time getting to know a murderer. Kira says she has a difficult time seeing anything but a murderer. Kira tells Ziyal that the one thing Dukat really wants from her is forgiveness and that is the one thing she can never give him. They return to the weapon training.
Kira and Dukat are now on the bridge, trying to discern the Klingons' next target. Dukat settles on Loval, a world on the other side of the sector from the bulk of the Cardassian fleet and one that houses a covert weapons research facility. Based on previous Klingon targets, Dukat believes Klingon intelligence is aware of that facility, making it a choice target. Dukat and Kira plan to use a false dilithium signature to lure the Klingons to them using the Groumall's transceiver array. Dukat makes another unsuccessful pass at Kira and then orders his helmsman, Damar, to set course for Loval.
The Groumall arrives before the Klingons at Loval and prepares its decoy. While waiting for the Klingons to arrive, Dukat ponders aloud about what he will do when he regains his rank. The current focus of his attention is a Gul Marratt, an up-and-coming officer he believes is having an affair with his wife. Dukat plans to post him to the icy embassy on Breen. His daydreaming is interrupted by the arrival of the Klingons.
The Klingons have taken the bait and locked their disruptors on the Groumall. They demand their surrender. The Klingons lock their tractor beam and Dukat orders Kira to fire the new weapon. The blast breaches the Bird-of-Prey's hull and disables their engines, but the Klingons still manage to return fire, severely damaging the Groumall. Realizing that one more hit will destroy them, Dukat turns to Kira to improvise.
Kira and Dukat beam onto the Klingon ship and after defeating two officers, Kira manages to use the Klingons' transporters to beam the entire crew of the Groumall to the Bird-of-Prey and vice versa. Kira enjoys the idea of the Klingon captain having to explain what happened to his superiors. Dukat tells her he won't get the opportunity and fires on the Groumall, destroying it and killing its new Klingon crew.
After securing the ship, Kira finds a list of the location and targeting priorities for all Klingon ships in Cardassian space. Armed with this stunning military victory and this intelligence boon, Dukat contacts his government fully expecting to be restored to his former position.
Dukat returns later from his communication, and tells Kira that despite the intelligence find, the Detapa Council is still looking for a diplomatic solution with the Klingons, but has recalled Dukat to his position as military adviser. Dukat thinks there is little value to being the military adviser to a people who will not fight back. He thinks his people are paralyzed and defeated, afraid to risk losing what little they have by fighting the Klingons. Dukat decides that if no one else will fight the Klingons, he will do so alone.
Kira is stunned at what Dukat is proposing and tells him that, unlike her people's fight against the Cardassians, he will be alone in his fight. Dukat responds by asking Kira to join him. He needs her help and if Cardassia falls to the Klingons, Bajor will be the next target. Dukat tries to convince her that being a resistance fighter is what she was meant to do.
Later, in a corridor, Ziyal approaches Kira with a d'k tahg and asks to demonstrate a knife trick that Damar showed her. Kira easily deflects the attack, and tells her that the best way to survive a knife fight is to never get in one. Ziyal says she'll need help to fight the Klingons. Kira decides there is another way she can help.
Kira, back on the bridge, has declined Dukat's offer, but does have another proposal. She tells Dukat about the intense emotional and psychological stress of the life he is now choosing and suggests that he needs to keep Ziyal from that life. Kira offers to watch over Ziyal on Deep Space 9. When Dukat asks her why she is doing this, she responds that Ziyal reminds her a lot of herself and she doesn't want Ziyal to go through what she did. Dukat agrees to Kira's proposal, taking great delight that their lives are so intertwined. Back at Deep Space 9, Kira introduces Ziyal to Odo on the Promenade and promises to tell him the story of Gul Dukat's daughter later.
"You're commanding the Groumall?"
"Thanks to you. If you had not convinced me to bring my half-Bajoran daughter back to Cardassia I'd still be chief military adviser to the Detapa Council."
"They demoted you?"
(Laughs ironically) "Exactly one week after my mother disowned me and my wife took our children and left."
- - Kira and Dukat
"Everything I have lost I will regain. It's only a matter of time."
- - Dukat
"What is this I hear about you and Shakaar."
"I don't know what you've heard."
"First it was Vedek Bareil, now it's the head of the Bajoran government. You do like powerful men don't you?"
- - Dukat and Kira
"I must say I've always admired Shakaar's success with women. The intelligence file I kept on him during the occupation were filled with reports of his conquests. In fact, if I remember correctly, you were the only female in his resistance cell that he didn't… charm. At least until now."
"Is that what you kept track of during the occupation? No wonder you lost."
- - Dukat and Kira
"Why is it when you smile I want to leave the room?"
"I suppose it's because of my overwhelming charm."
- - Kira and Dukat
"I'm a much more complicated man than you give me credit for."
"Well if that's true, I suppose I prefer simpler men."
- - Dukat and Kira
"Ziyal, what your father wants from me is forgiveness. That's one thing I can never give him."
- - Kira
- - Dukat, discussing his estranged wife's new lover
"Was that necessary?"
"You're the terrorist. You tell me."
- - Dukat and Kira, after Dukat kills the defenseless Klingons
"There was a time when the mere mention of my race inspired fear. And now… we're a beaten people. Afraid to fight back because we're afraid to lose what little is left."
"That's not the Cardassians I know."
"What Cardassians? Don't you see, Major? They're paralyzed. They're beaten and defeated. I am the only Cardassian left, and if no one else will stand against the Klingons, I will."
- - Dukat and Kira
"It appears that whether you like it or not. Our lives have become deeply intertwined."
"That really pleases you doesn't it."
"Pleases me? Major, it gives me reason to live."
- - Dukat and Kira
"They're hailing us."
"Let's find out what they want."
"Sir, it's Gul Dukat."
"On a Klingon ship?"
- - O'Brien and Sisko, with surprised expressions
Story and script
- Tom Benko's original idea for this episode came from the question of what may happen if the Jews and the Nazis were forced to work together after World War II. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- In Hans Beimler's original teleplay, Dukat and Kira beam across to the Klingon ship, overpower the bridge crew, and subsequently pacify the entire ship. Director Jonathan West felt that this was a slightly ridiculous conclusion that viewers would never buy – one Cardassian and one Bajoran overpowering a ship of sixty Klingon warriors. West, however, was unsure what to replace the fighting with until assistant director B.C. Cameron suggested that Kira and Dukat beam to engineering, take control of the transporters and switch crews. She and West approached Ira Steven Behr, who wasn't entirely happy about losing the action-packed conclusion, but who acquiesced in the end. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Although the writers were attempting to create ambiguity as to the inherent nature of Dukat's character, they were never under any doubt that at his core, he was evil, and they always intended to have an incident in the future where that inherent evil would become apparent to everyone once and for all (this eventually happens in the fifth season episode "By Inferno's Light"). According to Hans Beimler, "He's always been a Nazi, always. In this episode, you're aware of different shades to his personality. But, if you think about it, they're all very self-serving. This is not a pleasant man. He's done a lot of terrible things." Similarly, Ira Steven Behr notes, "Dukat is not a nice man. He is not a sensitive man. He likes to act like a sensitive man, but he's a man of appetites to whom public image is very important, much more important than the truth. He wants to be liked by Kira as much as he likes Kira. I find him reprehensible myself." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- At one stage in this episode, Dukat claims "What Cardassians? I am the only Cardassian left." Ira Steven Behr wrote this line based upon a famous statement made by Sioux leader Sitting Bull. At a treaty negotiation, when Sitting Bull refused to sign, it was pointed out to him that every other Indian had signed and he stood up and said "What other Indians? There are no other Indians but me." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- In another line cut from the script of the episode, Tora Ziyal talked about her father, Dukat, taking her to see a performance by his favorite didactic Theater group, getting the pair seats in the front row. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion - A Series Guide and Script Library)
- Cirroc Lofton (Jake Sisko) does not appear in this episode.
- Armin Shimerman (Quark) does not appear in this episode. A deleted scene saw Quark ask Kira to track down a Cardassian who had been assigned to the station during the Occupation and was now a member of the Cardassian Ministry of Trade to demand that he pay his large bar tab. Quark had presented Kira with fresh hasperat, although she turned it down when she heard his request. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion - A Series Guide and Script Library; Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Casey Biggs (Damar) makes his first appearance in this episode. Initially, he was very disappointed with the part, which he felt any extra could have played, but director Jonathan West told Biggs that the writers had big plans for Damar, and as such, West shot him as if he were a major character, with plenty of close-ups and reaction shots. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- This is the second and final appearance of Cyia Batten as Tora Ziyal. The next time the character of Ziyal appears, in the fourth season episode "For the Cause", the role is played by Tracy Middendorf. In the fifth and sixth seasons, Ziyal appears in six more episodes, this time played by Melanie Smith.
- This episode acts as a sequel of sorts to "Indiscretion", and as such, it represents the next stage in the writers' attempts to evolve the character of Gul Dukat. Episodes such as "The Maquis, Part II", "Civil Defense", "Defiant", "Explorers", and "The Way of the Warrior" had created a much softer picture of him than seen in the first season and the earlier episodes of the second season (such as the episode "Cardassians", where he is very much the villain of the piece). Also, "Civil Defense" introduced the fact that Dukat was attracted to Kira, something which was very much to the fore in "Indiscretion" as well as it is here, and again in "Sons and Daughters".
- During a scene in the teaser with Kira and Dukat before they leave the station, Dukat says "Everything I lost, I will regain. It's only a matter of time." This comes to pass in Season 5, in "By Inferno's Light".
- Gul Dukat attempts to convince Kira to teach him and his crew to wage a guerrilla war against the Klingons, based on her previous experience as a resistance fighter during the Occupation. Ironically, Kira does wind up teaching Cardassians to be terrorists when she helps Damar in his rebellion against the Dominion during season 7.
- Kira's comparative analysis of Starfleet type 3 phaser rifles versus Cardassian disruptor rifles mirrors the real-world debate in military circles between the American M-16 and Soviet AK-47.   
- Dukat's actions mirror those of Kirk in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. In Kirk's case however, he would be commanding the Federation starship USS Enterprise on what would be its last mission in that movie. Both however, do confront a Klingon Bird-of-prey in a vessel that cannot fight it directly. In both cases, the Klingon crew is beamed over to the other ship. Dukat, also like Kirk, destroys his own ship and commandeers the Bird-of-Prey.
- Hans Beimler was very pleased with "Return to Grace". Beimler commented: "I'm very, very happy with that episode. I was happy with "The Sword of Kahless" but it was a first effort; I think this is even better". (The Official Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Magazine issue 15)
- Remastered footage from the episode is featured in the documentary What We Left Behind.
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 4.7, 8 July 1996
- As part of the DS9 Season 4 DVD collection
Links and references
- Rene Auberjonois as Odo
- Michael Dorn as Lt. Commander Worf
- Terry Farrell as Lt. Commander Dax
- Colm Meaney as Chief O'Brien
- Alexander Siddig as Doctor Bashir
- Nana Visitor as Major Kira
- Bill Blair as Klingon officer
- Tom Morga as Klingon officer
- Chester E. Tripp III (stunt actor)
- Unknown performers as
adrenaline; aggressor; Alvinian melon; Amleth system; Amleth Prime; amusement; anodyne capacitor; Bajor; Bajorans; Bajoran Provisional Government; Bajoran rifle; Bareil Antos; bearing; Breen (planet); Breen; Cardassia; Cardassian; Cardassian Central Command; Cardassian Military Academy; Cardassian warship; cargo bay; cargo bay doors; chairman; chief military advisor; comparison; computer log; demotion; Detapa Council; Detepa Council chairman; disease; disruptor; disruptor rifle; Dopa system; Dukat's Bird-of-Prey; Dukat's children; Dukat's mother; Dukat's wife; dilithium crystals; emission nebula; Federation; Ferengi; field hand; First Minister; Groumall; Groumall-type: health system; inoculation; Jalanda City; junior member; kilometer; Klingons; Klingon Bird-of-Prey; Klingon-Cardassian War; Klingon Empire; Klingon raider; Kolaish spice oil; Korma; Korma Conference; K'Temang; ladies' man; Loval; Loval system; Marratt; megajoule; military officer; military vessel; moon; Mud; Occupation of Bajor; outpost; phase compensator; phaser bank; phaser rifle; planetary defense system; planetary defense weapon; plasma circuit; plasma manifold; Promenade; queasy; Rakal; recharge; reputation; resistance cell; restaurant; Shakaar Edon; Shakaar resistance cell; Shakaar's conquests; springwine (wine); status report; subspace relay station; subspace transceiver array; surrender; system-5 disruptor; tractor beam; transporter code; tricorder; vedek; Vor'cha-class
- "Return to Grace" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Return to Grace" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Return to Grace" at Wikipedia
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"Sons of Mogh"