(written from a Production point of view)
Kira uses the Orb of Time to travel into the past after Dukat claims that her mother was once his lover during the Occupation.
In Quark's, Jadzia Dax unsuccessfully tries to convince Worf to let her throw a party with the crew of the USS Saratoga in their quarters. She almost has him convinced, when he bolts at the last moment. Quark saves them from an awkward silence by informing Worf that the holosuite is ready; once the Klingon is gone, he asks about the party. Dismayed at Dax's answer, Quark goes about his business and delivers a bouquet of Bajoran lilacs to a nearby Kira. This immediately catches Dax's interest, so she follows Kira out of the bar and onto the Promenade.
Kira has ordered the flowers for herself, despite the fact that she doesn't like flowers, to commemorate her late mother's 60th birthday. While she never knew her mother, as she was only three years old when she died at the refugee camp, Kira knows Bajoran lilacs were her mother's favorites. She tells Dax how proud she has always been of her mother for what she did and who, according to her father, was the bravest woman he ever met.
Later that night, Kira receives an encoded transmission from Dukat in her quarters. In a bout of wanting to come clean with his emotions and himself, he smugly claims to have known Kira's mother and that they were lovers until the day she died. Rather than what Kira believes – namely that her mother died at the Singha refugee camp on Bajor – Dukat claims that her father told her a lie because he couldn't bear to tell his children that their mother had left him for Dukat. Kira cannot believe her ears and is disgusted at what Dukat tells her, but at the same time she is shaken at the amount of detail Dukat appears to know about her mother and becomes uneasy.
While Kira doesn't want to believe Dukat, too many things he claimed to know about her mother were true, and there is now significant doubt in her mind after she does some research of her own. She has a hard time confronting the issue, however, and takes her frustration with the situation out on the people around her, such as Doctor Bashir and Chief O'Brien who are discussing their next holo adventure involving the Alamo while on duty.
She eventually decides to do something about her situation after talking with Odo so she asks Captain Sisko for permission to use the Orb of Time down on Bajor at the Temple of Iponu to find out for herself, because she knows the Vedek Assembly will allow her access to the Orb if the Emissary approves it. He is ambivalent about Kira's idea due to Starfleet's temporal displacement policy, but Kira insists that this matter has nothing to do with the Federation, firmly believing that the Prophets will protect and guide her to do the right thing (that is, not disturb the timeline). Sisko eventually agrees to let her try.
In the temple, Kira opens the Orb casing. In a flash she is sent back in time and finds herself at a refugee camp during the occupation, surrounded by starving Bajorans. After a few seconds she finds herself face to face with her own family; her father, Taban, and her mother Meru, along with herself and her brothers, Reon and Pohl.
A couple of Bajoran men try to force Taban to give them food, but Nerys intervenes by forcefully telling the men to go stand in line like everyone else and get their own food. They refuse so Nerys is forced to fight them to get them to leave. Grateful for Kira's efforts, Meru introduces herself, her husband, her sons Reon and Pohl, and her daughter Nerys. The little Nerys wants to know the name of the woman who helped her family, so, pressed for a name, the older Nerys claims her name is Luma Rahl.
Shortly thereafter, Basso, a Bajoran collaborator, and two Cardassian soldiers come and collect various women, including Meru and Nerys, as "comfort women" for the Cardassian soldiers. Having received the orders from their Prefect Gul Dukat, they hand pick the women and drag them away from their families. Meru screams out to her husband who is shaking and is in tears, telling him that she loves him, asking him to tell her children to not forget her.
Nerys, Meru and the others are taken to the nearly completed station Terok Nor, where they are given quarters, plenty of food, fine dresses and told to clean up and linger in the station's sonic showers so they can look their best the next day. While Nerys tries to console Meru, telling her that everything will be fine and that they would get out of there soon, Meru is distracted by all the wonderful foods she finds on the table in their quarters, such as fresh moba, katterpod beans, hasperat and more. Meru eagerly begins to eat, not having seen many of these dishes in ages, but Nerys is not as enthused and in fact wants no part of it.
She wants to try to contact the Bajoran Resistance, which likely has a cell somewhere on the station when Meru, amid her indulgence, begins to cry, as she misses her family and wonders about her children. Sobbing, she says that she wants to believe that the Cardassians were telling the truth when they said that they would take care of her family, but Nerys tells her to not count on it. She insists they find a way to get out of the station and then join a resistance cell somewhere. She comforts Meru and as she embraces her face, she notices the scar on her cheek from where she failed to show a Cardassian officer proper respect. Nerys continues to embrace her face lovingly, telling her that the scar does not look so bad after all. Meru wonders why Nerys keeps helping her; Nerys replies that she doesn't have many friends and Meru tells her she definitely has one now.
The next day Basso commends them on their hard work of transforming themselves into beautiful new women. He tells them that their former lives have ended, that their pasts have been erased, and that they have one purpose – and one purpose only: to provide comfort and care to the Cardassian officers stationed on Terok Nor. He warns them that failure to comply would result in their families being sent to labor camps for the rest of their lives. While he carries on with his threats and the long list of consequences that will follow disobedience, Dukat interrupts him. He welcomes the women and seems quite compassionate. He assures them that the picture they have of Cardassians as a cruel and heartless peoples is wrong, and he hopes to be able to show these women the extent to which Cardassians are capable of great kindness.
When Meru dares to ask what will happen to their families, rather than have her removed, he approaches her and kindly tells her that they will be taken care of. Before turning away from her, however, he discovers the scar on her face. He immediately orders Basso to retrieve a dermal regenerator and fixes the scar, calling it an unfortunate reminder of the gulf that exists between their peoples. Much to Nerys' dismay, Meru seems a bit too taken away by Dukat's act of kindness.
The women are taken to what will later become the wardroom on Deep Space 9, where various Cardassian officers are seen forcing themselves on the Bajoran women. Meru and Nerys stand in a corner with Meru smiling; still somewhat disturbed at Meru's earlier attitude toward Dukat, Nerys asks her what she is smiling about. Meru says that she is laughing at the Prophets' apparent sense of humor as she always dreamed about having enough food to eat and pretty clothes to wear but now that she has them, she feels horrible. Before she knows, she is dragged away by a sleazy, drunken Cardassian. Meanwhile, a middle-aged Cardassian man has Nerys sit on his lap and seems drunkenly amused by her visible hatred toward his kind. When Dukat enters, he finds the younger officer forcing himself on Meru and intervenes, apologizing profusely and having Meru sent back to her quarters. Despite the apparent compassion, the officer with Nerys has seen this act before and is able to predict precisely the line Dukat feeds Meru, who – he says – is now "off limits" to the other Cardassians.
Meru is gone when Nerys returns to their quarters, but Basso and two guards are there retrieving her belongings. Nerys demands to see Meru and gets into a fistfight, which she inevitably loses when a Cardassian officer violently strikes her down with the butt of his rifle. They take her to the fenced-off area of Terok Nor's Promenade, which is reserved for Bajoran slave laborers.
A few weeks later, Nerys is getting her soup from the server, a man named Halb Daier, who has heard word of Meru's whereabouts. He follows her to a table and claims Meru has been on vacation with Dukat from which she just returned. To the man, Meru is nothing but a collaborator and Nerys has no reason to care for her, but Nerys insists otherwise. He tries to get her to join the Resistance, but as she could affect the course of history, she does her best to stay out of such things. Their conversation is interrupted when Basso and a pair of guards arrive to take Nerys away.
They take her hrough a security scanner and to Dukat's and Meru's quarters, where Meru is waiting for her. She is seen relaxed and fully rested, wearing a beautiful dress and smiling as Dukat walks into the room with a vase full of the Bajoran lilacs she loves so much. Nerys is beside herself with both astonishment and disgust when she sees Meru's and Dukat's interaction with one another as lovers.
It turns out that Meru is the one who sent for Nerys, as she is her only friend and she is lonely. Dukat senses that Nerys doesn't like him and assures her that he has been treating Meru with the utmost respect and consideration. He then kisses Meru goodbye and leaves.
Meru turns to Nerys and tells her that he is in fact very different from what she expected. She insists that Dukat is not a monster, making up excuses and repeating the ones he has given her about the occupation. As disgusted as Nerys is when Meru talks about Dukat's kindness, Meru insists that things are not so simple and that Nerys does not know what she has been through. Nerys tries to open Meru's eyes, telling her that while she is sitting in the room sipping tea and playing parlor games, Dukat is carrying out the extermination of their people. When Meru keeps defending Dukat and continues regurgitating his lies, Nerys becomes furious, telling her that he has taken her away from her children and husband, wondering how she can forget him so quickly. Meru once again insists that Dukat is helping them out with food and medication, but Nerys cannot believe what she is hearing as, in her eyes, nothing excuses what Meru is doing. Nerys says that she is using the "I am doing it for my children" line as an excuse and that in fact she is there for herself only, as she is a collaborator not because she is sharing Dukat's bed but because she allowed herself to start enjoying it. She storms off the quarters, telling Meru that she is going back where she belongs.
Back in the ghetto area, Nerys talks with the Resistance member again and gets a Bajoran earring with an explosive built into it. It has a three minute fuse and cannot be disarmed once it has been activated. Halb tells her to not tell Dukat's Bajoran mistress about what she is doing, even if it is to save her life, and Nerys replies that he need not worry, because as a coward and collaborator, she ultimately deserves what she gets.
Kira goes to the guards and tells them that she has decided which side of the fence she wants to be on. She asks to be taken to Meru so she can apologize to her. When Basso returns her, Nerys, as expected, finds Meru with Dukat, sitting at the table, laughing and having a good time. She tells Meru that she has changed her mind and wants to be friends again. Meru accepts her apology and asks Dukat to get her some quarters close-by.
Before leaving, Dukat hands a transmission encoded in a data rod to Meru. As he goes to an adjacent study room and Meru prepares to watch the message, Nerys casually activates and then slips the bomb into a flower vase. While she waits for the right moment to leave the room, she suddenly hears the message which turns out to be from her father, who talks about how well they have been treated since Meru was taken from them, how much the children are thriving now that they are back home again and how much he misses her. He praises her for having saved all of their lives and he cries for the sacrifice she is making. As he talks, Meru begins to cry, touching the screen from which her husband speaks. That is when Nerys realizes that maybe her mother is not the heartless traitor and collaborator she thought she was. Nerys yells for Dukat and takes him and Meru out into the corridor, where they narrowly escape the detonation of the bomb (though two of Dukat's guards are killed). As they are escaping, Dukat calls out for Meru and tries to shield her from the blast, showing that he does have some true affection for her. Suddenly, the orb experience ends and Nerys finds herself back in her own time again.
She discusses her experiences with Sisko, telling him that until this day, the line between a collaborator and a devoted Bajoran was very clear to her; she always believed her mother to be a hero who died for the cause while she despised collaborators as the traitors they were. Sisko tells her that Meru did what she had to do to save her family, but Nerys insists that it does not make it right. Sisko agrees but notes that it was her mother's decision to make. She tells Sisko that her mother died seven years later in a Cardassian hospital, wondering if he knows just how many Bajorans died while her mother was comfortably sipping Kanar with a genocidal murderer. She is heartbroken and disappointed. When Sisko asks her why she saved her mother's life despite her newfound hatred for her, she replies that while there is a part of her that wishes she hadn't, in the end – no matter what Meru did – she was still her mother.
"Let me get this straight. You want to travel back in time to see if Gul Dukat and your mother were lovers?"
- - Sisko, to Kira
"I only hope you won't condemn us all for the boorish behavior of one man."
- - Cardassian legate to Kira Nerys and Gul Dukat to Kira Meru
"Mind telling me what you're smiling about?"
"The Prophets – I never realized they had such a sense of humor. When I was a child, I dreamed of having food to eat and pretty clothes to wear, and now look at me – I have everything I ever wanted and I feel horrible."
"That is pretty funny in a horrible way."
- - Kira Nerys and Kira Meru
"I know what you're thinking – you can't wait to get us all drunk so you can kill us in our sleep."
"Are you sure you're not part Betazoid?"
- - Cardassian legate and Kira
"You Bajoran women are so bony."
"That's because you Cardassians eat all our food."
"I could have you executed for that kind of remark."
"And that's why we hate you all so much."
- - Cardassian legate and Kira
"Meru, I hope the Cardassians aren't lying to me, and that they really will send this message to you. I know it's only been a few weeks that we've been back home, but you should see the children. It's like they've been transformed. Reon and Pohl are laughing and playing together; they've never been happier, and I swear little Nerys must have gained five pounds. Of course, they keep asking for you. I've told them that you're still at the refugee center. I think that's best, at least for the time being. I can't believe how much I miss you. I think about you all the time. You've saved all our lives. I hope you realize that. Never forget it, not even for an instant. Every day, I pray to the Prophets that you'll find some peace in this new life of yours. I believe that even in the worst of times we can still find moments of joy, and kindness. If you can find that kindness, hold onto it. And remember, no matter what happens, I love you Meru. I'll always love you."
- - Kira Taban
"Tell me something, Nerys… if you hate her that much, why did you save her life?"
"Believe me, there's a part of me that wishes I hadn't. But the fact is, no matter what she did… she was still my mother."
- - Captain Benjamin Sisko and Kira
Story and script
- This episode began life as a very different type of story than the one it ended up becoming. The original idea was to do a show based on the Nazi doctor Josef Mengele, who was notorious for performing bizarre and barbaric experiments on concentration camp inmates during World War II. In the episode, the ghosts of Bajoran children were to begin appearing on the station, and the crew would come to believe that they are the ghosts of children killed by a Cardassian scientist during the Occupation who carried out research on them. However, it turns out that they aren't ghosts at all – the doctor was in fact sending the children into the future to gather information for the Obsidian Order. However, the writers couldn't make the story work, and it was abandoned at the last minute. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion) However, the idea of an infamous Cardassian doctor experimenting on Bajorans was later reused in VOY: "Nothing Human".
- The writers next decided to do a show about Kira and the Occupation, which they hadn't touched on in some time, but they wanted to do something original, not just a flashback episode showing her activities during the Occupation (à la "Necessary Evil"), or a show where she meets up with some old acquaintances (à la "Shakaar"), or a show where her actions are brought to the fore (à la "The Darkness and the Light") but something completely different. At the same time, Ira Steven Behr hadn't been entirely happy with how the Kira/Dukat relationship had ended in "Sacrifice of Angels", and he began asking himself "How can we take Gul Dukat and bond him close to Kira in a way that would just make her insane." These two ideas coalesced when Bradley Thompson suggested "What if Dukat was making it with Kira's mother?" They now had a show about Terok Nor and about Kira, but from a completely new perspective. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- This episode continues the complicated arc dealing with the relationship between Dukat and Kira. This arc began in the second season episode "The Maquis, Part II", and continued through episodes such as "Civil Defense", "Indiscretion", "Return to Grace", "In Purgatory's Shadow", "A Time to Stand" and "Sons and Daughters". As she has always done however, Nana Visitor remains steadfast in her belief that Dukat can never earn Kira's trust or respect; "Kira can never forgive Dukat. I think it's been made very clear in the show that she's past the racist aspects of hating Cardassians. This is truly about Dukat, the individual. He's like Hitler to Kira, and there's no forgiving. She can never let go." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion) Dukat and Kira would interact once more, in the seventh season episode "Covenant".
- This show is a favorite among the writers and producers, not least because of the subtle ambiguity of the dénouement; the episode's refusal to 'push' the viewer towards a particular moral position as regards Kira Meru, the viewer is left to form their own views of her actions. According to David Weddle, "It was a muddy issue – did Kira's mother do the right thing or not? Or was it just a choice of survival for a Bajoran?" In the original version of the screenplay, there was no moral ambiguity at the end of the episode, with Kira clearly forgiving her mother and the viewers being encouraged to do likewise, but Nana Visitor argued that this wasn't true to the character of Kira, that there was no way she would be so clear about how she felt. As Visitor explains, "The writers originally had Kira feeling much more sympathetic toward her mother in the last scene of the show. Maybe Kira could be sympathetic about the subject in twenty years. But at the time, it was hard for her to deal with the fact that she hadn't killed her. In the end it is her mother. And Kira believed that the Prophets were guiding her, so I imagine she believes not killing her mother was in response to the Prophets telling her it was wrong." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- In the documentary What We Left Behind, Nana Visitor attested that, initially, Ira Steven Behr approached her and advised her to prepare for the next script because it would feature her character of Kira Nerys having an affair with Gul Dukat. Visitor pleaded with Behr that it couldn't be Dukat whom Kira had an affair with, though Behr very much wanted the affair to happen. When the script was issued, Behr told Visitor, "Okay, it's not you. It's your mother." Behr, in the documentary, at first disputed this account, however, based on the fact that no version of such an affair was ever written, although he then assured Visitor that he could remember her coming to him, incredibly upset.
Continuity and trivia
- The title of this episode is a quotation from the 1820 Percy Bysshe Shelley lyrical drama Prometheus Unbound. The full quotation reads "To suffer woes which Hope thinks infinite;/To forgive wrongs darker than death or night;/To defy power which seems omnipotent;/To love, and bear; to hope till Hope creates/From its own wreck the thing it contemplates;/Neither to change, nor falter, nor repent;/This, like thy glory, Titan, is to be/Good, great and joyous, beautiful and free;/This is alone Life, Joy, Empire, and Victory." It comes from Act IV, lines 572-580, serving as the epilogue of the play as spoken by Demogorgon.
- It is revealed in this episode that Deep Space 9/Terok Nor was built in 2346. This contradicts Odo's statement in "Babel" that it was built in 2351. The difference of five years could be that Odo is just being wrong. Or, instead, that 2346 is the beginning of the building and 2351 the ending.
- When Dukat tells Kira that Sisko allowed him to see behind the lies and face the truth about himself, he is referring to the episode "Waltz", where Dukat comes to realize that he truly hates the Bajoran people and he admits that he feels he should have exterminated them all during the Occupation.
- During Dukat's transmission to Kira, Federation LCARS style interfaces are just barely visible on the wall behind him, indicating he is still using the shuttlecraft he stole in "Waltz".
- The assassination attempt to which Dukat refers in "Waltz" could be the one seen in this episode. He says it occurred on his one month anniversary, and, given the chronology established in this episode, that would seem to fit.
- Kira's two brothers were previously mentioned in the second season episode "Shadowplay", although not by name.
- This episode is the first in which O'Brien and Bashir mention the Battle of the Alamo. Their holosuite recreation of this famous battle would become more important over the course of the following season.
- Thomas Kopache also played Kira Taban in the fifth season episode "Ties of Blood and Water".
- Cirroc Lofton (Jake Sisko) does not appear in this episode.
- Among the costumes and items from this episode which were sold off on the It's A Wrap! sale and auction on eBay was the uniform worn by Wayne Grace , a Nana Visitor costume lot , a Kira Meru costume lot worn by Leslie Hope and J. Suzanne Rampe  , and several Bajoran comfort women costumes.     The latter costume was later worn by Debra Lamb Bailleaux (misspelled as Debra Mileaux) in a deleted scene in the Star Trek: Enterprise pilot episode "Broken Bow".
- The doll held by young Kira Nerys appears to be Lupi, a doll belonging to Molly O'Brien.
- The Star Trek: Terok Nor novel Night of the Wolves goes into further detail about Dukat and Meru's relationship and the circumstances of the latter's death. In 2353, Basso informed Meru that Dukat had another Bajoran mistress, Tora Naprem, who was expecting a baby, namely Tora Ziyal. The Bajoran collaborator then falsely intimated to Dukat that Meru had spoken to his wife. In order to prevent Meru from embarrassing him in the eyes of the Cardassian Central Command, Dukat had Crell Moset infect her with the Fostossa virus, leading to her death shortly thereafter. Basso engineered Meru's death as he had grown tired of dealing with her husband Taban and seeing to the needs of their children on Bajor. The novel also reveals that Damar was serving on Terok Nor as a third tier gil, the lowest commissioned rank in the Cardassian military, at the time of Meru's arrival on the station.
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 6.9, 7 September 1998
- As part of the DS9 Season 6 DVD collection
Links and references
- Rene Auberjonois as Constable Odo
- Michael Dorn as Lieutenant Commander Worf
- Terry Farrell as Lieutenant Commander Jadzia Dax
- Colm Meaney as Chief Miles O'Brien
- Armin Shimerman as Quark
- Alexander Siddig as Doctor Julian Bashir
- Nana Visitor as Major Kira Nerys/Luma Rahl
- Leslie Hope as Kira Meru
- Marc Alaimo as Gul Dukat
- David Bowe as Basso
- Wayne Grace as a Cardassian Legate
- Tim deZarn as Halb Daier
- Thomas Kopache as Kira Taban
- Linda Ashton as a Bajoran comfort woman
- Bill Blair as a Cardassian guard
- Jeff Cadiente as a Cardassian guard
- Uriah Carr as an Human operations division officer
- Caprice Crawford as a Bajoran comfort woman
- Cathy DeBuono as M'Pella
- Brian Demonbreun as a science division officer
- Glenn Goldstein as a Bajoran slave laborer
- Erika Guillory as a Bajoran woman
- Mark Lentry as a command division lieutenant commander
- Ken Lesco as a Bajoran scavenger
- David B. Levinson as Broik
- Dennis Madalone as Cardassian guard
- Tom Morga as a Cardassian guard
- Mark Allen Shepherd as Morn
- Todd Slayton as
- Susie Stillwell as a Bajoran security deputy
- Unknown performers as
- J. Suzanne Rampe as stunt double for Leslie Hope
- Denise Lynne Roberts as stunt double for Nana Visitor
- Unknown stunt performer as stunt double for Marc Alaimo
Alamo; Bajor; Bajorans; Bajoran earring; Bajoran lilacs; Bajoran interceptor (Bajoran interceptors); Bajoran Resistance; Battle of the Alamo; Betazoid; blast radius; bony; Cardassia; Cardassians; Cardassian Central Command; coil bracket; collaborator; comfort woman; cup; deka tea; dermal regenerator; Emissary of the Prophets; exercise; Federation; hasperat; holodeck programs; holosuite; induction modulator; kanar; katterpod bean; labor camp; melodrama; meter; mistress; moba fruit; murder; nightstand; Occupation of Bajor; ore processing center; Orb of Time; Prefect; Promenade; Prophets; Quark's; raktajino; ration; refugee; Replimat; resistance cell; Saratoga, USS; scar; Singha; sonic shower; soup; "spoon head"; Temple of Iponu; tour of duty; traitor; ultritium; veklava; work detail
- "Wrongs Darker Than Death or Night" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Wrongs Darker Than Death or Night" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Wrongs Darker Than Death or Night" at Wikipedia
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