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Mar 01

Star Trek DS9: Waltz (Ep 6.11)

Waltz: [G. walzer, from walzen to roll, revolve, dance, OHG. walzan to roll; akin to AS. wealtan. See Welter.] A dance performed by two persons in circular figures with a whirling motion; also, a piece of music composed in triple measure for this kind of dance.

Such is titled a gripping episode which is as close to a psychological “thriller” as DS9 will get. The episode offers a fascinating glimpse into
one of the most complex and in my opinion, interesting characters of Trek – Gul Dukat.

Sisko is on the way to taking the post-therapy Dukat (traumatised recently by the loss of his daughter and the rule of the Cardassian empire) when they get attacked by the Dominion. A crash landing sees the two stranded upon a planet, with Sisko injured and almost immobile. Why didn’t Dukat kill Sisko given the chance? Ah, that is the question, and so begins the “waltz”. A waltz of words, that is.

Dukat, overseer of The Occupation in its final years, has always claimed to have tried for a “softer rule”, to try to help the Bajorans. However, the Bajoran resistance movement, having already endured 40 years of tyrannical rule, are in no mood to desist and give up. Of course, Dukat must punish the resistance for their crimes, and the Bajorans do not see the resultant executions as a “softer rule”. Dukat, however, believes that the executions are fair (one Cardassian life for one Bajoran), and in a way, that much is true.

Dukat’s motivations are revealed in time. He regards himself as a misunderstood dictator – a kind, benevolant ruler who only did the things he did because his superiors ordered it, and the Bajorans necessitated it through acts of terrorism. He wants Sisko to see that – as he puts it, he wants Sisko to admit he respects him. Which is ultimately a deluded goal (Sisko, I’m sure would rather die), fittingly for Dukat, who is a deluded person. Voices in his head are cleverly portrayed as personae from influences in his life – Kira, Damar, and Weyoun – who taunt, goad and prompt him.

What’s troubling is that Dukat makes a convincing case. However, there is one major undermining flaw in his argument, and one which Sisko cunningly exploits. Dukat believes that Cardassians were “obviously the superior race” being hundreds of years ahead of Bajorans in every respect. If they had just accepted this fact, the occupation could have been a lot more peaceful. Naturally, this is bigotism. I’m sure the Jews objected just as strongly to the Nazi regime as the Bajorans did – it is virtually the same set of circumstances (although the Jews were in a much worse position).

Waltz builds up the tempo until Dukat explodes in a furious rage, admitting his deep seated hatred for Bajorans – screaming that he should have killed every last one of them. Was this hate always there? Or did it develop during his period of administration? Hard to say.

Nonetheless, a blow to the head and an absolutely brutal kick to the kneecap later (delivered to Dukat from Sisko), and Dukat is once more loose in the galaxy (albeit with a bad limp!).

The episode was an engrossing psychologically charged one, devoting one full hour to delving into the mind of a megalomaniac. It did resolve one thing, though – we’ve finally conclusively established that Dukat – despite his justifications and reasons otherwise – is an evil man.