DS9: S4E13: “Return to Grace”

In which Dukat gets the ball rolling, and who knows where it will land?

Kira is smiling because the Federation doesn't have rules about fraternization and Bajor hasn't spun up any ethics-in-public-service commissions yet.

Kira is smiling because the Federation doesn’t have rules about fraternization and Bajor hasn’t spun up any ethics-in-public-service commissions yet.

Kira’s got to get a caseload of vaccines before going to Cardassia for a conference, due to the breakdown in public health caused by the Klingon invasion. There she’ll be sharing Bajorin intel on the Klingons with the Cardassians, and you can just imagine how thrilled she is that Shakaar seduced her into doing it. While undergoing the course, Worf shows up to issue some Federation concerns, namely some tech that both the Bajorans and Klingons have that the Federation doesn’t trust to the Cardassians just yet. Photon torpedo guidance, long range ship sensor tech, warp core systems, are all considered  too strategically valuable to share, which is going to be a point of contention.

Dukat is, of course, the guy who’s been tapped to bring Kira to the conference. He’s gotten a demotion after bringing Ziyal home, and also disowned by his mother and divorced from his wife. Now he’s a cargo hauler, but he’s not going to let it get him down. His whole life is just one big motivational poster.

It’s kind of funny that Kira thinks hiding her documents in a wall safe is any kind of protection. There’s no way that Dukat doesn’t have a master code that opens every door on the ship except ones locked by the Obsidian Order. However, when Kira attends to her visitor, it’s Ziyal. She’s on-ship because living on Cardassia has not been good for her, but at least Dukat has been a good father so far.

Even a Cardassian freighter, they do battle drills. Their phasers are slow to charge, but Dukat is determined to keep even the most mundane of vessels in somewhat decent shape. He’s so frustrated that Kira offers to help out with some mechanical advice, and then he finds an excuse to invite her to dinner. He’s really got a ‘type.’ Including the Bajoran spring wine.

"Oh, you mean Shakaar, the guy who taught me how to assassinate Cardassians? You sure you want to finish this conversation?"

“Oh, you mean Shakaar, the guy who taught me how to assassinate Cardassians? You sure you want to finish this conversation?”

For a conversation that begins with “I’m glad you convinced me not to kill my daughter that I had with a Bajoran P.O.W ” Dukat is awful quick to criticize Kira’s choices of romantic partner. Of course, he’s not judging. Her attraction to powerful men is just one more reason for Dukat to regain his former position. He’s a dreamer that one. Dinner is interrupted by Dukat’s LT discovering that the conference site has been leveled, and they’re being approached by Klingons.

Kira’s best interpretation of the situation as it stands suggests that the Klingon long-range sensors aren’t quite as good as the ones the Federation keeps for itself, incidentally. I tend to picture the Federation as the Civ players who go for the Science/Diplomacy victory

The Klingons scan the ship, deliberate, and then decide that the freighter isn’t worth the reactor fuel it would take to obliterate the ship. Dukat’s ego is bruised and orders weapons-hot. But not as bruised as when they open fire, don’t even penetrate the hull, and the Klingons still don’t care enough to return fire. There’s no honor in destroying space junk. However, Kira suggests strapping on one of the outpost-s station-mounted disruptors and getting a little revenge. Never discount Kira when it comes to paying dues. One of those ‘think like a terrorist’ things.

I call this look "Blue Duranium".

I call this look “Blue Duranium”.

During testing, even firing the disruptor blast shudders their freighter enough to blow out power conduits and causes plasma leaks, but it works. What doesn’t work is Dukat’s flirtation game. While Kira teaches Gul Dukat and Damar about resistance ship-tactics, she teaches Ziyal riflery.

The Cardassian disruptor rifle is the AK-47 of the ray-gun world. Solid, reliable, dependable. The Federation standard issue is slightly less powerful, but highly selectable. 16 beam settings instead of two. Autonomous recharge, which the Cardassian rifle doesn’t have, apparently. It also has autotargeting and it’s gyrostabilized. You’d think you only need one of those last two at a time. The Federation weapon is a worse field weapon, but a fantastic weapon if you’re fighting a high-resources defensive war. Once again, these little touches say it all about the Federation – they don’t build the bulk of their equipment for long drag-out assaults that push the supply chain. They’re for being prepared for any situation and then rotating out for maintenance regularly.

"Dukat's Law is like Dukat's love: hard and fast."

“Dukat’s Law is like Dukat’s love: hard and fast.”

Kira and Ziyal have a short talk about hard truths before it’s time for Kira to go figure out where the Klingons are going to strike next. A sector away, at an isolated target, and also a secret military research base. Dukat’s banking on the Klingon intelligence network being a little less stereotypical, so they set up an ambush. But hey, one question – if the station’s disruptors are good enough to take out this Klingon marauder, then how exactly did the Klingons win? The disruptors were disabled, not distroyed, when Dukat and Kira salvaged one. How does that work, exactly? Either way, they’re going to send out a sensor signal that will indicate they have dilithium aboard, and lure the Klingons in.

While they wait for the Klingons to show up and take the bait, Dukat spins out some musings about Gul Maret, a young up-and-comer who’s probably got his sights on Dukat’s wife just to fill out his sexual conquests. It’s while he’s writing these… not even ‘revenge fantasies’ b ecause Maret hasn’t done anything to him yet… that the Klingons show up and demand surrender and the cargo, as expected. Their attack works, and the Klingon counterattack nearly destroys the freighter. Therefore, there’s only one thing to do – board the little 36-crew marauder and take control of the ship for long enough to pull a Kirk. Of course, Dukat’s even less merciful than Kirk was.

"Mr. President. What the hell."

“Mr. President. What the hell.”

Along with the captured ship, Dukat’s now got target priorities for all Klingon raiders in Cardassian territory. They’ve got a lot of work to do to repair the damage their cannon did, and Dukat’s excitement about the capture of the ship quickly turns to ashes when the civilian government orders him to stand down and work towards a peaceful solution. He gets his military adviser title, but it’s meaningless. Leader of an army that won’t fight, he gives a delightful little rant about being the last True Cardassian, when all the rest have become weak and lost their way.

Kira ries to talk him down, but he only uses this as an excuse to try to, errr… ‘recruit’ her again. And he’s a very, very charismatic speaker. Even Ziyal’s on board – she tries to get Kira to teach her knife fighting moves along with the rifle techniques, but this solidifies Kira’s decision against helping. Kira would never choose the life Dukat’s choosing for himself, and she wants to save Ziyal from that life as well. And if Dukat really wants what’s best for Ziyal, he’ll leter be safe aboard Deep Space 9 as Kira’s ward and friend.

And this is all well and good. But Kira’s already convinced Dukat to sacrifice his title and most of his family for Ziyal. Now she’s convincing him to give up the last little sliver of his heart for her to keep safe while he goes off to run a new Cardassian resistance. Knowing she’s safe might keep him grounded… or not having her around might destabilize him further. He seems fine… until they leave and he’s all by himself.

Did we miss something awesome?