In which Dukat gets prevenge and Kira learns about complexity.
Jadzia and Worf are still bickering about the Saratoga, although after their ordeal Worf seems to be more accommodating. He’s even almost willing to entertain the idea of a theme party. Quark drops by to deliver Kira some bajoran lilacs for her mother’s birthday. Kira has no memory of her mother, but honors her memory based on her father’s recollection as the bravest woman he’d ever met. Later, Kira gets a call from a blocked number that wakes her up. It’s Dukat, calling to ‘help’ Kira the way Sisko helped him. Presumably by making her shed all her self-delusions about nobility. The question is whether Dukat is really grateful, or if this is part of his promise to rip everything down around Sisko. Probably the latter, since the upshot of this conversation is Dukat telling Kira he boned her mom.
Nerys can’t let this go, and starts looking up the history of her mother, Kira Meru. Whatever she found wasn’t what she wanted, and the next day she gets to listen to Bashir and O’Brien arguing about the nobility of a heroic Last Stand. I’m a little surprised it hasn’t come up before how grossly insensitive that might be, and her already bad mood isn’t helped by it. When Kira is in a bad mood she likes to spread it around with a big hammer. Odo may be the only person who can actually ask her about it. Since she won’t talk about it, he suggests action instead.
Sisko tries to talk her out of worrying too much about it, but she has a plan – having an Orb Vision with the orb of Time to see if Dukat and Meru boinked. She asks him as the Emissary to authorize her petition to the Prophets. Of course, since the prophets have never given a tinker’s damn about the integrity of the timeline from a linear perspective, Sisko should be a little more hesitant when Kira suggests that they’ll be her guide.
The Orb sends her back, and we get to see what life was like in a Bajoran refugee camp. They have pretty solid-looking fire pits, but apart from that it’s mainly just rugs hanging from lines across the cave walls, and some cots. Nerys steps in to save her parents from getting soupjacked by some desperate thugs. We also find out Nerys had some siblings. She doesn’t talk about them much these days.
After this touching reunion, a Bajoran collaborator comes strolling through, looking for ‘comfort women’ for the Cardassian occupiers. His tone is definitely not as though he’s doing this for the best interests of the captive Bajorans in the only way he can. The term ‘venal’ comes to mind. That said, Prefect Dukat does compensate the families of the women he abducts with extra rations. Also, they provide their comfort women plenty of food, to make the contrast that much starker between being one of the common refugees and being ‘cooperative.’
After they’ve all been cleaned up and dressed properly, the Quisling gives another gross speech, and even Dukat finds it distasteful… or else carefully calculated that speech and his entrance to make the women see him as ‘the good guy’ as much as possible. When Dukat sees the scar, the toady goes to kick her back to the planet but Dukat tells him to grab a dermal regenerator instead. So, point: Cardassian technology is fully capable of this type of healing for basically free. There was even a regenerator in the room, either because this was all staged or because in a group of ten or so Bajoran women it’s inevitable that at least one of them will have been disfigured. Either way, this is clearly a play that happens every time, and here’s Dukat playing it for loyalty and kindness. Not only that, the scar would have served as a reminder to hate the Cardassians. Instead, they’re learning to hate their fellow Bajoran and like Dukat.
Also, the dermal regenerator touches up makeup.
Not long after, Mery and Nerys are arm candy up for grabs at a party. Nerys gets grabbed by a guy who thinks of the Occupation and deep, blood-soaked animosity as appropriate pillow talk. Meru is getting manhandled in a corner by the door when Dukat walks in, sees her obvious discomfort, and uses this as another opportunity to ingratiate himself with his new favorite. To be fair, he was the only one getting that handsy. But also, Nerys’ lech has seen this enough times to be able to quote the script before Dukat says it. This is what he does every time.
Kira’s Cardassian has gotten royally drunk, and either her efforts during the peace process or her promise to the Prophets not to mess things up mean that she’s not trying to stab him. Kira’s got a single now – Meru has been moved to Dukat’s quarters, and when Kira disagrees with the Quisling she gets thrown into gen-pop with the rest of the workers. She seems to manage to get her dress traded for some work clothes pretty quickly – which of the workers do you think has enough surplus to buy it? Or maybe she sold it to Quark, and when she comes back he’ll have a sudden impossible memory of buying a dress off Kira back when she was three years old.
She gets some news from the guy on the soup line that Meru was off-station with Dukat. He’s a member of the resistance and can smell one of his own. Since Kira’s been in the Cardassian sections of the station, he wants her help to make a map. However, at this point, Nerys is called back and has to go through a security gate in order to reach her destination – Dukat’s quarters, and Meru. Incidentally, that security gate being where it is is a nice touch – the Bajorans are already locked down, and there are guards posted. If it were about preventing Bajoran attacks, you’d think it would be in a place where it can protect people other than Dukat. I’m pretty sure it’s there so that Dukat doesn’t get taken down by his political enemies.
Meru has legit fallen for Dukat’s act. But because of Nerys’ help earlier, Meru’s asked that she be pulled up back out of Ore Processing and promoted to Handmaiden. Meru has, in fact, totally bought into Dukat as being the closest thing to benevolent that’s possible, and Nerys is absolutely not impressed. Although again, credit to Dukat, he already told Meru that the night at the party was a setup, probably just in case she found out from one of her friends who found out from a mouthy underling. We know he has a mind for contingency planning. And that’s a genuine tragedy of Dukat – he’s so good at that kind of thinking that it’s more-or-less impossible to imagine him being genuine, even before the events of “Waltz”. And again, Kira’s not having any of it, and goes back to the work camp.
She’s ready to help out the resistance, and is given a bomb that will take out everything within 20 meters and which should get past the scans. Nerys does not seem particularly bothered by the prospect of blowing up her own mother. Or of changing the timeline. Although who knows whether this is an additional assassination attempt, or one of the ones Dukat specifically mentioned in his rant?
The bomb is shaped like an earring, and I suppose we have an answer to ‘how much do Bajorans look at other Bajoran earrings.’ We know that they’re familial and don’t change from day-to-day, so the fact that Nerys is suddenly wearing one that’s very different from her normal one and she manages to get it past the Quisling is interesting – as is, now that I come to think of it, the fact that Meru doesn’t recognize Kira’s regular earring, Maybe the temple with the Orb of Time has a loaner so that people don’t tip off their parents and cause paradox.
Nerys gets through the scanner and apologizes to Meru. Dukat also gets a message delivery, for Meru. Kira starts the bomb just before finding out that everything Meru has been doing has, indeed, been helping out her family, young Kira included. In fact, that whole ‘bravest woman I ever knew’ thing is almost certainly because Meru’s sacrifice ensured that Nerys would grow up healthy enough to be a resistance fighter. Kira evacuates Dukat and Meru just in time to save their lives, and the vision ends. Kira now has so many doubts and cracks in the worldview that got her through the Occupation.