In which Kira searches for an old friend, Quartk is the worst feminist, and family is the most important thing.
Apparently it’s Worf’s turn to play receptionist. He’s the local strategic coordinator, much as Dax is the chief of all science aboard the Station and Kira is station admin and political liaison. You’d think they’d have a person who’s specific job it was to route calls, but I suppose calls for senior staff specifically may merit some special handling. Anyway, an old friend of Kira’s, Razka is calling. Former smuggler, current scrap merchant and giver of quests. He’s located something about a Ravinok. A ship, which is important enough to Kira to head out into the Badlands to track it down.
One of the recurring motifs in DS9 is the lasting costs of war. War isn’t terrible just because of all the killing and dying, but because of the open wounds it leaves. Sisko almost came to blows with Picard. Bajor is still pulling itself together, with powerful factions facing off hard against each other. The soil is still poisoned. And Kira’s about to go do something which is probably monumentally stupid on the say-so of the shiftiest-looking guy in the sector because of these same old wounds.
But first, some regular business – Odo and Nerys discuss everyday criminal happenings on the station, as a prelude to her just bringing up the Ravinok and Odo just immediately Understanding. And Sisko asking her to postpone her ‘go see if one of your old war buddies is still alive’ trip out to the Badlands. The Cardassians want to send an adjunct to ‘help’ her search for the Ravinok, a Cardassian ship carrying Bajoran prisoners when it was lost. Kira doesn’t want to wait, but the request came from the new Cardassian Civilian government. Three guesses who they’re going to send.
Sisko and Dax discuss Ben’s Kassidy situation. She’s looking for a job with the Bajoran ministry of commerce, shipping freight more locally. And Dax pushes the envelope a little by asking Kassidy to move in with Ben for him.
The Cardassian rep beams over, and you almost certainly guessed right. Kira and Dukat are, some time later, stuck in a shuttlecraft, with Kira making it absolutely clear that she’s in charge. Dukat makes it equally clear that he’s going to be insufferably courteous for just as long as he wants. But we do get some answers – Kira’s after the guy who recruited her into her resistance cell. The cell that the Cardassians could never quite stamp out, and Dukat is really pleased to take credit for everything Bajor has become.
Kassidy has taken the Bajoran job, and Ben is not sufficiently enthusiastic. Woman troubles. Meanwhile, Dukat being at the meeting between Nerys and Kazka is making things reaaaaally awkward. They have a lead on a harsh-but-technically-habitable planet a few light-years away and out of the probable zone for where the debris should have ended up if the ship was actually destroyed. With the transporter rendered useless by the atmosphere, they have to land. The planet’s kind of a desert hellhole, but they do find the ship half-buried in sand.
Bashir and Jadzia get to pick over Sisko’s words, and really enjoy messing with him. Meanwhile, Quark is offering relationship advice. One could interpret his advice as feminist – apparently Ferengi are so terrified of their women (and no wonder) that their ridiculous social mores are only there to give the poor males a chance.
The Ravinok is definitely not in good shape – there are 12 graves, but the ship had a crew count of 18 and a prisoner count of 32, so there ought to be 38 people, mostly Bajoran, still around. Well, probably fewer. Dukat goes to identify the bodies, and refuses to let Kira help. Cardassian funeral rites are focused on the sanctity of the corpses, and he knows that Bajoran funeral rites don’t care about the body as much as the soul. He’s done his studying on Bajoran customs and religious practices. Lending just a hint of credence to his claim that he admires the Bajorans. In the way that the Christoph Waltz character in Inglorious Basterds admired Jews, anyway.
Kira has the command codes for the ship from Bajoran Intellidence, and gets to work on the ship, while Dukat has found some Bajoran jewelry that seems to throw him for a bit of a loop. The fact that they give him moments of genuine emotion makes him all the better as a foil. So when Kira finds him pining over the jewelry and expresses a certain healthy skepticism for the circumstances of Dukat’s affair, and you can actually hear pain in his voice, it’s pretty powerful.
According to records, the Ravinok was attacked by unknown warships (who would attack a Cardassian prison transport?) and forced to land. Kira has a trace on a subdermal implant belonging to one of the resistance members, and they go into a cave to find it. Dukat’s moment of genuine emotional anguish is not permitted to stand, and the two of them bond over Dukat getting stabbed in the buttocks and the universal horribleness of field rations. Kira takes advantage of the moment to ask about the other civilian aboard the ship. One was Dukat’s Bajoran mistress Tora Naprem and one was Tora Ziyal. Of course, she’s not really asking. Ziyal is Dukat’s daughter. And Dukat is resigned to killing her.
Dukat had sent them to a neutral third-party to try to spare them from ruining his career on Cardassia or being an outcast on Bajor, but now he doesn’t have that luxury. Dukat has the genuine feelings we’ve seen, but he’s also not going to let that stop him from doing what he has to do.
Jake and Sisko are about to have a Discussion about Kassidy, but really all I can think about is how much orange juice Jake replicated for just him. Consider that DS9 is still kind of a backwater as far as the Federation goes, even if it’s also their front line in an impending war, and they still take a lot of things for granted that in a few seasons Voyager will probably be ready to kill for. After all that, Jake’s surprisingly mature relationship advice is relatively unremarkable, even considering it was reached in consultation with Nog.
Back on-planet, Kira and Dukat find some Breen who appear to be using the survivors of the Ravinok to mine dilithium. The Breen live on a frozen hellhole, so their use of other species to mine makes sense. It’s also plausible that the Breen are the unknown species that shot down the ship. Also, Dukat’s daughter is alive and he’s going to have to kill her. She was 13 when the ship was shot down, so she’s 19 now.
Kira doubles down on her refusal to let Dukat kill Ziyal. Shockingly, Kira has a soft spot for innocent misfits born from the Occupation. So since she won’t leave Dukat alone to accomplish the deed, they go in together to rescue the prisoners using the good old ‘take out to guards and wear their facemasks’ trick. Incidentally, those guards are definitely dead. If the Breen come from an ice world and the local temperature is 50 degrees above their comfort zone, those guards are super, super dead. Keep in mind, that’s Celsius. This is a desert planet. 50C is 122F.
Kira’s buddy is dead in a cave-in, and while Kira is distracted by a firefight, Dukat goes to find Ziyal. The prisoners get armed and start working on taking back the camp, and Kira finds Dukat just as he’s working up the will to kill his little girl. He can’t quite manage it, and decides to take her home instead.
Ben goes to make up with Kassidy and explain that he’s just super worried about his job getting another women he loves killed. Could’ve wound up worse, though. Similarly, Dukat is taking Ziyal back to Cardassia, although if I were Dukat and also the monster Kira initially thought, I’d just space her on the way home. Transport into space while she slept, wouldn’t have to hear her screaming. Are we sure Dukat, the head of the Bajoran Occupation, isn’t going to do that?