Star Trek Deep Space Nine: The Darkness and the Light

Major Kira: “Sometimes innocence is just an excuse for the guilty.”

An episode in which the line between innocence and guilt is shown to be a matter of perspective (and perhaps, self-delusion).

The idea behind this episode is well grounded. It's natural for people to harbor terrible resentment after a war. Even if heinous deeds get lost in the statistics of battle, the victims have trouble saying that was then, and this is now. I don't blame them! However, in “The Darkness and the Light,” the unforgiving victim is not a Bajoran, but a Cardassian.

The episode starts with a Bajoran, Latha Mabrin, at prayer; after a moment, he is killed by a hunter probe, some sort of device that emerges from a candle targets him. Latha and Kira were members of the same resistance cell, so Odo lets her know. However, Latha had also been involved in other violent activities, so the reason for his murder isn’t immediately clear. Then a message for Kira appears at DS9, announcing, “That’s one!” accompanied by a picture of Latha. We know now that members of her resistance cell are in danger.

We watch as others are targeted. We feel for a woman named Fala, who was not officially part of the cell, but someone who supplied information, as she dies during a rescue mission. Another man goes missing and is found dead. Fural and Lupaza, resistance cell members we met in an earlier episode, make it to the station in order to protect Kira and themselves; they stay with her and Miles O’Brien (Kira, still carrying the O’Briens’ child, is living with the O'Briens). An explosion kills Fural and Lupaza, and Kira goes after the killer, a resentful and terribly scarred Cardassian called Silaran.

Silaran tries to justify his deeds by saying he’s going to target the guilty but spare the innocent. He has made a genuine effort to do just that. So in the initial scene, a probe first scans all the monks to make sure it’s going after the right guy. O’Brien is not at home when his quarters are blown up. Silaran also plans to spare the child that Kira is carrying, as it had nothing to do with the attack.

Still, Silaran doesn’t quite make sense to me. We have seen what incredible things doctors can do, both in Cardassia and in the Federation. Bashir turns humans into Klingons; the Cardassians turned Kira into a Cardassian. How is it possible that Silaran’s face would still be scarred? Did he elect to keep his injuries in order to nurture his resentment? I suppose it's possible.

Then, there’s Silaran’s obsession with Major Kira. Why with her? (And what about Prime minister Shakaar – was he simply not on that raid? Or was Shakaar a larger part of the resistance?) Also, given Silaran’s obsession with Kira, he has to know she’s carrying a human child and that its needs would be different. I do accept the fact that he would not know about the Makara leaves, used in pregnancy, and how they counteract sedatives. And I liked that bit, how Kira used that little fact to save her life.

Then, there are the capabilities. Silaran, in my opinion, is just too capable for someone who did laundry. Yes, he’s obsessed, but he has the capability to adapt and to adjust to when the situation changes. Given that he is some distance away, how could he be getting the devices and the messages to Kira into position? At least the attacks do all share similarities – they are remote controlled devices, making use presumably of DNA to target chosen victims.

And these über abilities belong not just to Silaran. Fural and Lupaza sneak onto the station and break into the O’Briens’ quarters and overpower a Bajoran guard. They made some excuse, but not, in my opinion, enough.

The killing Fural and Lupaza seemed too much. Perhaps those deaths were needed to motivate Kira, but they still annoyed me, because I liked those characters.

Kira goes off in pursuit. She is an amazingly skilled fighter and she takes Silaran out, just before the others “rescue” her.

Still, I wasn’t quite satisfied. Silaran has a point of view, but he doesn’t learn anything, and he’s now dead. Kira doesn’t seem to learn much either. Certainly she was unrelenting in her defense of what the resistance did and she did not hesitate to kill him to save her life.

Title musings: “The Darkness and the Light” is supposed to refer to guilt and innocence, which is emphasized as Silaran keeps obsessing about it. I never sensed anyone was particularly innocent, though. Perhaps that was the point.

Bits and pieces

Although Major Kira has not yet given birth, Nana Visitor had had her son a few weeks earlier. If not, the actor could not have participated in such a physical episode.

Worf and Jadzia take a runabout on a mission to rescue Fala. Although I wondered in a previous episode what Jadzia was doing with the dour Worf, here their relationship seems perfectly natural.

I liked how Nog, with his Ferengi hearing, was able to discern so much about the recorded speaker.

Given how easily people break into the quarters of others, Odo should really be insisting on serious security upgrades. And he should make sure his guards are less easy to take down.

Odo gets a list of potential suspects from Cardassian friends; apparently there are as many as 25 people with appropriate skills and resentments means a lot of people could do this. So why aren’t more people being murdered, all the time?

Maybe Cardassians with sartorial skills are simply good at espionage. Garak is a tailor; Silaran did laundry.

I liked how Sisko cut off Worf's technobabble when Worf was describing how difficult tracking Kira's runabout would be.

Keiko is conveniently off with Molly visiting her parents on Earth. I understand that the writers didn’t want them around for the episode, but this also contradicts Keiko’s behavior in earlier episodes.

Will Kira get a reprimand for what she did? Miles, at least, ought to be really annoyed. How long does it take to repair their quarters?

Quotes

Kira: Latha was a violent man, but then he found the Prophets, and the last time I talked to him, he'd changed, really changed.
Odo: I don't doubt that, Major. But it would appear that the violence of his past finally has caught up with him.

Kira: That's what's driving me crazy. I'm sitting here eating breakfast while someone may be hunting down my friends.

Sisko: Prepare the Defiant. I want to leave in ten minutes. See if we can pick up her ion trail.
Worf: It will be difficult. Our sensor logs show that Major Kira masked her engine emissions with a polaron field. The runabout's particle...
Sisko: I know what the difficulties are. You have your orders. Dismissed.

Kira: None of you belonged on Bajor. It wasn't your world. For fifty years you raped our planet and you killed our people. You lived on our land and you took the food out of our mouths, and I don't care whether you held a phaser in your hand or ironed shirts for a living. You were all guilty and you were all legitimate targets!
Silaran: And that's what makes you a murderer. Indiscriminate killing. No sense of morality. No thought given to the consequences of your actions. That's what makes us different.
Kira: I was a soldier. You're just a bitter old man out for revenge.
Silaran: I am bringing the guilty to justice. And unlike you, I take care to protect the innocent. I could have killed every monk in that cavern or everyone on the runabout, or half the population of Deep Space Nine, but I didn't. Only the guilty have died.

Overall Rating

Even though this episode was well executed, and the points are valid, something in it was missing for me. Despite "wise" words at the end - which somehow fell flat for me - I didn’t sense any growth. The real emotional core was Silaran, and he learned nothing before his end, except maybe that you should never, ever mess with Kira Nerys. I am also mad the writers killed Fural and Lupaza. Nevertheless, when I rewatch and review a Deep Space Nine episode, I am always overwhelmed by how good the whole series is, and so I grade on a curve - which can be hard on episodes. Two and a half out of four boxes of Makara herbs.

Victoria Grossack loves math, Greek mythology, Jane Austen and great storytelling in many forms.

1 comment:

Gary said...

It's worth mentioning that "The Darkness and the Light" is the first television credit for writer Bryan Fuller, who would later go on to join the writing staff on VOYAGER before creating such great shows as DEAD LIKE ME, PUSHING DAISES and WONDERFALLS.