Following the destruction of the starship Honshu, Sisko is severely injured and trapped alone on a deserted planet with Dukat, who becomes increasingly unstable.
- "Captain's Log: Stardate 51408.6. I've been aboard the Honshu for two days now and I still haven't spoken to him, although the doctors have assured me that he's made a full recovery. Maybe that's what I'm afraid of. Maybe I prefer to think of him as a crazy man... a broken man. He'd be less dangerous that way. As terrible as it sounds, there's a part of me that wishes he were dead. But that's a thought unworthy of a Starfleet officer. He lost an empire, he lost his daughter, and he nearly lost his mind. Whatever his crimes... isn't that enough punishment for one lifetime?"
Aboard the USS Honshu, Captain Benjamin Sisko thinks about the man he was on his way to visit in the ship's brig. Sisko recalled the doctors' assurances that he would be sane -- they claimed he had made a full recovery. "Maybe I prefer to think of him as a crazy man... a broken man. He'd be less dangerous that way." He then admitted that he felt the prisoner would be better off dead –– however, such thoughts were unworthy of a Starfleet officer. Sisko thought about the losses their prisoner had suffered. "He lost an empire, he lost his daughter, and he nearly lost his mind. Whatever his crimes... isn't that enough punishment for one lifetime?" Sisko then comes upon the man inside the brig, Gul Dukat.
After some small talk, Dukat engaged Sisko in a discussion regarding the appearance that Sisko will be making before a special Federation Grand Jury. Sisko tries to assure Dukat by explaining that in the Federation, he would be innocent until proven guilty. Dukat then asked Sisko his opinion on Dukat's innocence, but Sisko ducked the question by saying that he had not read all the charges. Dukat then pointed out that it was not like him to equivocate. Sisko informed Dukat that he would not be tried until the end of the Dominion War and that his appearance before the special jury would just be a formality. Still suspicious, Dukat reminded Sisko that he was going to be the prosecution's witness. Sisko tells him, "I'll tell them everything I know."
Sisko then offers his sympathies over the death of Dukat's daughter, Tora Ziyal. Still suspicious of Sisko's motives, Dukat then asked, "Do I detect the fine hand of Dr. Cox at work once again?" Sisko explained that he just wanted to offer his condolences, with Dr. Cox's permission. Dukat realized Sisko was sincere and apologized. Dukat explains that Dr. Cox encouraged him to speak of Ziyal whenever possible, since it was her death that led to his momentary instability. Sisko then informed Dukat that they would reach Starbase 621 tomorrow, and he would see him at the arraignment. As Sisko left, Dukat thanked Sisko, as well as Major Kira Nerys, for caring for Ziyal over the past few years. Sisko then asked Dukat if he could get him anything, and Dukat jokingly asks for one bottle of Kanar and an Orion slave girl. Suddenly, the ship shakes and red alert is sounded.
Kira walks out of Sisko's office on Deep Space 9 and informs the rest of the senior staff that the Honshu was just destroyed by a wing of Cardassian destroyers. She also tells them that so far Starfleet has picked up the distress beacons from three escape pods and one shuttlecraft. The only available ships to search for survivors will be the USS Defiant and the USS Constellation, because of Dominion activity along the border. Additionally, the Defiant will only have 52 hours to search, as it must leave to guard a troop convoy near the Badlands. Despite objections from the senior staff, Starfleet orders stand. Worf orders an immediate departure, but before he departs, Kira reminds him of the deadline.
Sisko awakens and finds himself lying by a campfire in a cavern, with Dukat. Dukat tells Sisko of how they arrived on the planet in the first place – ironically, it seems that Cardassian destroyers shot them down. Sisko was heading to Engineering when a plasma conduit exploded 15 meters down the corridor from the brig, resulting in plasma burns on the left side of his body. Dukat then informed Sisko that he and Lieutenant McConnell found Sisko when the order came to abandon ship. When Sisko was asked where McConnell was, Dukat reveals he died when a piece of shrapnel hit him in the head just as they were carrying Sisko into the shuttle. Sisko is told that the engines for the shuttle were damaged from the shock waves and it is grounded.
Dukat also set up a distress beacon, which was broadcast on a neutral frequency. Sisko agreed this was fair. He finds that his broken arm was held together by an improvised cast that Dukat made, since he did not know how to use the bone regenerator. Dukat excuses himself to search for food, since they only have a week's worth of rations from the shuttle. "What are you planning to do with him?" inquired Weyoun, to which Dukat replied that he and Sisko had a lot to talk about. Weyoun then reminded Dukat about the time spent in the hospital, where he had to be sedated. This leads an outraged Dukat to fire a phaser at Weyoun, revealing only a rock wall with a smoldering hole.
Sisko wakes up to find Dukat preparing soup. The two discuss what happened the previous night and Sisko's bout with nausea, which he apologized for. Dukat assured him the mess was nothing compared to his days as a newly minted Glinn aboard the Kornaire, reminiscing about an incident involving three men in an compartment that had gone through an explosive decompression. Uncomfortable, Sisko tells Dukat to change the subject and in turn, Dukat sarcastically proclaims 'the Emissary has spoken.'
Dukat insists that Sisko should have a sense of humor about their predicament, pointing out the possibility they'll be rescued by the Dominion and commenting on how their universe could be amusing when it allows radical shifts in fortune. Sisko refuses to be humored by their situation, but asks Dukat why he was looking around. Dukat claims it must have been the wind that he heard, offering Sisko a sip of his soup. As the two work on improving the flavor of the meal, they have another conversation regarding Deep Space 9. Dukat asked about Kira, Odo, and Quark, attempting to convince Sisko that they never gave him a chance and that his policies toward the Bajorans were generous. Dukat continued to press, claiming it was his intention to rectify the mistakes between Cardassia and Bajor. Sisko ignores this, and instead inquired about the next ingredient for their soup.
While Dukat adds salt to the soup, he questions Sisko whether or not he'll give him the benefit of the doubt. Sisko responds with a question of his own, asking Dukat if he really does care about what he thinks. Dukat follows up with another question, asking him if he cares about what his friends think of him. Sisko realizes Dukat was implying they are friends, making it clear that they are not friends and even though he is grateful for saving his life, that's as far as it would go. Again, something catches Dukat's attention with Sisko asking him if there is nothing out there. Dukat assures him that it was the wind, but goes out to the caverns to double-check. Somewhere deeper in the caverns, Dukat is arguing with Damar, who attempts to convince Dukat to kill Sisko soon and escape to assist Cardassia in its victory. While Dukat conversed with the Damar delusion, Sisko checks the transmitter and discovers that though the outside display indicated System On-Line, its secondary display on the inside revealed the systems were offline.
When Dukat returns, Sisko tells him there may be something wrong with the com system. Dukat first checks the outside display, reporting the unit to be fine. Sisko suggest that the casing should be taken off and then run a full diagnostic just to be sure. Dukat complies and checks the inside of the transmitter but pretends to run a diagnostic, assuring Sisko then there was nothing to worry about, that the unit is working. Sisko then realizes that it was off intentionally.
- "Ship's Log, supplemental. We have picked up a total of 12 Honshu survivors so far, but there is still no sign of Captain Sisko. We have less than 12 hours before we must abandon the search."
Alone in the cave, Captain Sisko worked on the transmitter with one of the tines he had broken off his fork. After some tinkering, Sisko managed to have the unit's systems back on-line to restart the Distress signal. Hearing Dukat's approach, Sisko diligently covered up his work and hid his altered fork underneath his sheet. Dukat returns with a couple of cushions salvaged from the shuttle, shining his flashlight on Sisko who appeared to have just woken up. As Dukat helps Sisko get settled against his new cushion, the Captain comments that it appears he is planning a long stay. Dukat explains that he only wants the both of them to be comfortable as they await for a rescue.
Once Dukat settled upon his own cushion, he told Sisko about an idea that occurred to him while he was out at the shuttle. Dukat muses about how confused the Bajorans would be if they found both of them sharing the same hardships, calling himself the evil Gul Dukat, and Sisko the Emissary of the Prophets. Dukat points out that it is just the two of them, all alone, that no one is there to judge them, insisting that they both be honest with one another. He presses Sisko for his opinion on him, but is interrupted by another figment of his delusions, in the form of Kira, who whispers an opinion of her own over his shoulder. She tells him that she thinks he is an evil, sadistic man who should have been tried as a war criminal years ago – put up against a wall and shot. Having heard her opinion, this prompts Dukat to question Sisko if he agrees with Kira on how he feels about him. Sisko tells Dukat that he doesn't see any reason in discussing the matter any further. Dukat disagrees and continues, telling Sisko that his name and reputation have been slandered and twisted after the Occupation of Bajor. He states he has been wrongfully vilified throughout the Alpha Quadrant for six years and wonders out loud if Sisko is one of those people. Sisko insists that he could not really pass judgment on him because he was not there during the Occupation, nor did he see the things that Dukat had to struggle with day after day.
The Kira delusion warns Dukat that Sisko does not want to tell him the truth because it would upset him. Sisko watched as Dukat talked over his shoulder at the air, realizing that Dukat is delusional. Dukat believes that Sisko was not being entirely honest, pointing out that he was not a man who hesitates to make snap judgments when the situation calls for it. Sisko tells Dukat he is right about being judged unfairly, that he himself judged Dukat unfairly, and that he probably had good reasons for everything he had done on Bajor. Dukat agrees with Sisko, and claims that some of his harsher acts were forced upon on him by Central Command. He then explained to Sisko that he wanted to use entirely different tactics with the Bajorans, that he wished to have ruled with "a softer hand." Sisko tells Dukat that he understands, stating that he was a soldier and was only carrying out orders. Dukat eagerly agrees with this assessment only to laughed at by the Kira delusion, calling him a fool, telling him he is being patronized. After Dukat yells at his delusion. Sisko manages to turn Dukat's attention onto him, suggesting that they ignore Kira and pretend she is not there. As the Defiant picks up a distress signal and beams up two additional Honshu survivors, Dukat fires his phaser wildly at his Kira delusion.
Dukat later discovers Sisko's hidden fork and notices one of its missing tines, concluding after he checks the transmitter that Sisko had repaired the unit behind his back. Outaged, Dukat destroys the transmitter which cuts the signal the Defiant picked up moments earlier, and from the debris of the transmitter he dislodges a metal bar, which he uses to assault Sisko.
Despite subspace interference over the viewscreen, Kira reminds Worf to follow his original orders to end their search soon so they can assist the troop convoy in the Badlands. Both Doctor Bashir and Miles O'Brien disagree with the Major's orders, wanting to pretend they were unable to understand the message. Worf tells them that they all understood, and ignoring them would be dishonorable. Worf dismisses Bashir from the bridge, and he ordering helm to lay in a course for the third planet and continue their search for the remaining time.
Sisko awakens with his head bleeding to see Dukat standing over him wiping blood from a metal pole in his grasp. Dukat tells Sisko that he brought the damage upon himself, with the groggy captain making a mention of victims that must have suffered like him. Dukat begins to name all the things he has been called, sarcastically calling Sisko a "supreme arbiter." A frustrated Sisko demands what Dukat wants from him and Dukat explains that he does not want any pretenses, only that they express their true thoughts. Sisko takes Dukat up on his challenge and begins a fierce barrage of questions – true and false, of Dukat's role in the Occupation. The murder of over five million Bajorans on his watch is Dukat's responsibility. Dukat adamantly claims otherwise, explaining that he tried to save lives during his administration. Sisko then demanded for evidence.
Dukat says the Occupation had already been going on for almost 40 years, but the planet was not ready for full-scale colonization. He tells Sisko that Central Command wanted the situation resolved and they didn't care how it was done. Dukat reminds Sisko that he wanted to use "a gentler hand" when dealing with the Bajorans – reducing the output quotas by 50 percent. Dukat begins to list orders he gave during his tenure, such as reorganizing the camps, abolishing child labor, improved medical care, and food rations were increased as the death rate decreased by 20 percent. Dukat also explains that he had to punish the Bajorans as well: on his anniversary, an orbital drydock was blown up, killing over 200 Cardassians. He then rounded up 200 Bajoran Resistance members, and executed them, claming it was justice, not malevolence. He also executed more Bajorans after a failed assassination attempt.
As Dukat continued his stories, the delusions in the forms of Weyoun, Damar, and Kira all support his every word. When Dukat asks Sisko if he understood what he said, Sisko pretends to have been moved by his stories and explains that what happened to the Bajorans was not Dukat's fault, it was theirs. Dukat eagerly agrees with Sisko's empty revelation as Sisko plays along, asking Dukat why the Bajorans did not appreciate the rare opportunity he offered. Dukat accused that Bajorans were small-minded, ignorant fools, that the Cardassians were clearly the superior race, and they did not choose to be so – fate handed them that role.
Ultimately, Dukat confesses his hatred for the Bajorans and everything about them, from their religion, Bajoran earrings, and their "broken, wrinkled noses." He is most infuriated by their wishes for equality to the Cardassians. Sisko, still playing along, suggests to Dukat that maybe he should have killed them all. Dukat agrees entirely, proclaiming he should have "turned their world into a graveyard in which the likes the galaxy has never seen." From over his shoulder, Sisko struck Dukat behind with the same metal pole and acidly finishes their conversation, "And that is why you're not an evil man."
Sisko finds his way to the shuttle through a sandstorm, discovering that it is still operational. Just as Sisko begins to depart, Dukat attacks Sisko and a fight ensues. Dukat then forces Sisko out into the sandstorm while brandishing a phaser. Before Dukat departs, he thanks Sisko for their time together promising, they will not be seeing each other for awhile, and that vows "from this day forward, Bajor is dead! All of Bajor" As the doors to the shuttle door close, Dukat along with the rest of his delusions, Weyoun, Kira, and Damar smile over an unconscious Sisko lying in the sandstorm.
- "Ship's Log, Stardate 51413.6. We have rescued Captain Sisko, but we did not have time to locate Gul Dukat's shuttle. We are en route to our rendezous with the troop convoy near the Badlands and the Captain is recovering in Sickbay."
Dax wakes Sisko, reporting that she notified Starfleet of Dukat's last known position and that they'll find him. Sisko disagrees about the possibility of his capture and begins to discuss life, about how it seems complicated and that it appears everything is a shade of gray, that there is nothing truly good or evil. He then explains to Dax that after he spent time with a man like Dukat, he realized there that there is true evil. Dax points out that realizing truth is one thing, but to do something about it is another. Sisko makes it clear about what he will not do; he makes a vow to stop Dukat from destroying Bajor.
"You and Major Kira took care of her for almost a year. I want to thank you for that it was very generous."
"Ziyal was a very special young woman. It was a pleasure to have her with us, even for a short time."
"A short time was all she ever had."
- - Dukat and Sisko
"The Emissary has spoken"
"Benjamin, just a few hours ago I was a prisoner on my way to trial and you were my dear old friend come to visit me in my cell. Now look at us. I'm free, and you're a prisoner of your own battered body and there's a good chance we'll be rescued by the Dominion. You got to laugh at a universe that allows such radical shifts in fortune, Benjamin."
"I will laugh when a Federation starship arrives and puts you back in a cell"
- - Dukat and Sisko
"Behold... Benjamin Sisko: supreme arbiter of right and wrong in the universe."
- - Dukat
"WHAT THE HELL DO YOU WANT FROM ME?!"
- - Sisko
"From the moment we arrived on Bajor it was clear that we were the superior race, but they couldn't accept that. They wanted to be treated as equals, when they most certainly were not. Militarily, technologically, culturally-- we were almost a century ahead of them in every way. We did not choose to be the superior race. Fate handed us that role and it would have been so much easier on everyone if the Bajorans had simply accepted their role. But no... day after day they clustered in their temples and prayed for deliverance and night after night they planted bombs outside of our homes. Pride.. stubborn, unyielding pride. From the servant girl that cleaned my quarters, to the condemned man toiling in a labor camp, to the terrorist skulking through the hills of Dahkur Province... they all wore their pride like some... twisted badge of honor."
"And you hated them for it."
"Of course I hated them! I hated everything about them! Their superstitions and their cries for sympathy, their treachery and their lies, their smug superiority and their stiff-necked obstinacy, their earrings, and their broken, wrinkled noses!"
"You should have killed them all, hm?"
"Yes! Yes!! That's right, isn't it?! I knew it. I've always known it. I should've killed every last one of them! I should've turned their planet into a graveyard the likes of which the galaxy had never seen! I should've killed them all."
"And that is why you're not an evil man."
- - Dukat and Sisko
"I'm so glad we had this time together, Benjamin, because we won't be seeing each other for a while. I have unfinished business on Bajor. They thought I was their enemy. They don't know what it is to be my enemy, but they will. From this day forward, Bajor is dead! All of Bajor!! And this time, even their Emissary won't be able to save them!"
- - Dukat
"Sometimes life seems so complicated, nothing is truly good or truly evil. Everything seems to be a shade of grey. And then you spend some time with a man like Dukat, and you realize that there is such a thing as truly evil."
"To realize that is one thing. To do something about it is another. So what are you going to do?"
"I'll tell you what I'm not going to do, I'm not going to let him destroy Bajor. I fear no evil. From now on, it's him or me."
- - Sisko and Dax
- This episode sets the stage for the showdown between Sisko and Dukat in the series finale "What You Leave Behind". Indeed, after this episode, they would not see one another again until their confrontation in the fire caves in the finale.
- Originally, this episode was to be structured similarly to the third season episode "Distant Voices", with the regular crew appearing as different aspects of Dukat's personality. According to Ronald D. Moore, "Waltz" began life as a story we called "Dukat's Head" around the office. The notion was for Sisko to go visit Dukat in the mental hospital and while Sisko was trying to engage the catatonic Cardassian in conversation. We would push in on Dukat's face and then go inside his head and show us the fantasy life he was living. The story would've gone into the past, dealt with his Bajoran mistress, his rise to power, his treatment of the Bajorans and even the fantasy life he was trying to construct for himself on Terok Nor with Kira as his wife and himself as beloved leader of Cardassia and Bajor. We struggled with the storyline for quite a while, but never found a way to make it compelling. Eventually, we noticed that the scenes we liked the best were the ones in the hospital room between Sisko and Dukat and we decided to toss out everything but that. However, some of the character dynamics we had envisioned for the fantasy sequences eventually were realized in the phantom images of Weyoun, Damar, and Kira as they appeared in Dukat's hallucinations." (AOL chat, 1998)
- Of the idea behind doing the episode, Moore explains, "The intention was to dig down and reveal something in Dukat, both to the audience and to the character himself. He really did hate the Bajorans and he really does wish he'd killed them all. That's the dirty little secret he's tried not to confront head-on all these years, and now finally, he's said it out loud and accepted it about himself." (AOL chat, 1998)
- Ira Steven Behr echoes Moore when he says of this episode, "I wanted us to come away from this show with Dukat finally having faced who the hell he is and what he's done. To get him to finally admit that he hates the Bajorans and he wishes to kill them all. And he does. Evil may be an unclear concept in this day and age. But Dukat certainly has done evil things. And since he refuses to admit to them, we then have to simplify things, deconstruct things, until we get to the most simplistic level. Which is: 'He does evil things, therefore, he is evil'." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- By the time this episode aired, the character of Gul Dukat had become exceptionally popular among fans of the show, far more popular than any of the writers had ever intended. This was primarily attributed to Marc Alaimo's superbly charismatic performances as Dukat. Alaimo's portrayal had presented the audience with a character possessed of a very real pathos and sense of humor, a character with many different aspects composing his psychological make-up. The writers however were not entirely happy with how popular Dukat had become. He was supposed to be the villain of the show, and while they were proud to have created such a multi-dimensional villain, they were shocked when they saw fans online actually defending Dukat's behavior during the Occupation. Despite the writers' attempts to make Dukat the epitome of evil in subsequent shows however, his popularity would remain undiminished until the end of the series. Indeed, in relation to "Waltz", some Dukat fans were unhappy with how quickly Sisko denounces him after he tells Sisko about his initial actions as Prefect of Bajor. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Of the character of Dukat, Moore comments, "Dukat is the hero of his own story. He definitely thinks that he's on the side of the angels, and he doesn't understand why everyone else doesn't see that." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion). Furthermore, he explains, "I don't see anything incompatible in the idea that Dukat wanted to be loved by those he despised. This seems to me like a complex, yet very believable, dynamic. I think you could find many, many instances where a person both loves and hates another person for very complex reasons. Dukat's egotistical need to be loved doesn't seem to be in conflict with his need to dominate and rule. In fact, one could argue that it was the Bajorans' refusal to love him (in his somewhat twisted view of reality) that prompted him to hate them." (AOL chat, 1998)
- Of Marc Alaimo's performance in this episode, director Rene Auberjonois comments, "He was in touch with where it was coming from in his own psychology and where it was going. And that's the way a good actor plays a villain, by finding ways to rationalize what he's doing." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- This episode references an attempt on Dukat's life on Terok Nor within the first month of his administration where someone placed a bomb outside his quarters. This might well be the attempt on the life of Kira Meru as seen in the episode "Wrongs Darker Than Death or Night"
- This episode originally ended with Dukat saying to Sisko, "You too will learn what it's like to lose a child," but the writers abandoned this idea because it was too specific and it locked them into one path in terms of where to next take the character. They also didn't like the prospect of having to work into every single scene involving Jake that he was living his life under a death threat.
- Damar and Weyoun appear in this episode only as hallucinations witnessed by Dukat. Indeed, because this episode proved so popular with fans, the writers considered bringing the chorus back for the next episode involving Dukat, but they ultimately abandoned the concept as they felt the technique carried more dramatic weight by being used only once.
- This is the eighth episode directed by Rene Auberjonois. Of this episode he says, "It was a stage piece, and it dealt with acting, acting, acting all the time. The challenging part was to keep it visually interesting." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- When the attack on the USS Honshu begins, the officer's voice heard over the comm orders the crew to battle stations and for damage control teams to report to "level J5". This is an unusual statement as it is customary aboard federation starships of this era for the various "levels" of the ship to be referred to as "Deck", followed by it's numerical position within the superstructure and it's comparative location amongst the other "Decks" - i.e "Deck 5" would be located 4 levels below "Deck 1". One possible explanation for the term "J5" could be that the officer was referring to an area within the upper pod seen on Nebula Class starships. As this pod is located upward of the bridge (usually referred to as Deck 1), alternative designations may have been assigned to the interiors of this section of the ship.
- Armin Shimerman (Quark) and Cirroc Lofton (Jake Sisko) do not appear in this episode.
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 6.6, 15 June 1998.
- As part of the DS9 Season 6 DVD collection.
Links and references
Badlands; Bajor; Bajorans; Bajoran Resistance; bone regenerator; brig; Cardassia; Cardassians; Cardassian Central Command; Cardassian destroyer; Cardassian orbital dry dock; cast; Constellation, USS; Cox; Dahkur Province; distress beacon; distress call; Dominion; Emissary; Federation troop convoy; field rations; Honshu, USS; kanar; Kornaire; McConnell; medkit; Occupation of Bajor; Orion slave girl; pepper; plasma; plasma fields; Prefect; Prophets; ration packs; salt; Shakaar government; soup; Starbase 621; Type-6 shuttlecraft; Yeager-type starship; Ziyal, Tora
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