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Star Trek Deep Space Nine: Wrongs Darker than Death or Night

Kira: "I've always hated collaborators. I mean, what could be worse than betraying your own people? During the occupation, if I ever had doubt about what their fate should be, all I would think of is my mother, how she gave her life for Bajor. She was a hero, they were traitors. It was that simple. Or so I thought."
Sisko: "She did what she had to do to save her family. To save you."

The episode in which we discover that Kira’s mother and Gul Dukat were lovers for many years! Warning! The review contains some very gentle spoilers, really mere hints, with respect to future episodes.

In the earlier seasons of Deep Space Nine, the writers kept trying to push the characters of Gul Dukat and Kira Nerys into a romance. Nana Visitor, however, was adamant: Major Kira would never, ever, consent to a romance with the Cardassian responsible for the murder of so many Bajorans (Kai Winn feels the same way). Sometimes she works with him, because she has to; other times they are almost civil. However, despite Dukat’s sometimes excessive interest in her, Major Kira consistently rejects him.

Well, in this episode, the writers finally gave up on persuading Visitor to accept a romance with Dukat and they chose to do something else: we learn that Dukat had a years-long affair with Major Kira’s mother.

It first seems unbelievable, and Captain Sisko expresses his doubts. The first time I saw this, I was likewise incredulous, because how could it be possible that Kira did not discover this information before? Dukat, however, knows certain details and Kira is unsettled by his claims. She asks Sisko for assistance in arranging for an orb encounter. The Prophets, she says, will take care of her.

The Prophets decide Kira merits a trip to the past, and she finds herself in a refugee camp where Bajorans are literally starving. Shortly after meeting her own family – and using her fighting skills on some other hungry Bajorans – she and her mother, Meru, are taken by some Cardassians (and a collaborating Bajoran) up to DS9 in order to serve as comfort women. Meru is told her family will be fed if she goes.

The women are told to eat and to wash and to make themselves beautiful for the Cardassians. And then we go through scenes that follow a fairly predictable path. Meru is chosen by Dukat. Nerys, of course, will not yield and is shortly kicked over to the other side of the station. She meets people in the Resistance who want to use her connections to assassinate Dukat. It goes back and forth until Kira Nerys, watching her mother respond to a recorded message from her father, rescues Meru and Dukat from the bomb that she herself smuggled in from the other side. At that point the Prophets return her to her own time.

So, let’s cover some of the issues brought up by this story. Why didn’t anyone ever mention the relationship between Meru and Dukat in the previous 5.5 years? (Other than the writers having not yet invented it, which is the real reason?) I can understand that Dukat, who had a thing for Meru, is perversely attracted to her daughter and would not mention it because it would increase Kira’s ick factor for him. And Taban could be too ashamed to mention his wife’s relationship with one of the worst Cardassians. But no one else? It seems unlikely.

The relationship does, however, work emotionally. It explains Dukat’s excessive interest in Nerys, going beyond just physical attraction on his part. Dukat genuinely cared for Nerys’s mother, and so he has a fascination for her daughter.

And, why does Dukat tell Nerys about his affair of many years with Meru? At first it seems completely gratuitous. However, I think that part actually works. This is a secret he has kept for years, and he has decided to reveal it at last. By revealing it, he knows he will never sleep with Nerys. He also knows he will wound her (one of the main points for doing this). But I think it’s also an acknowledgement of Dukat’s path, which is taking him in the direction of the Pah-Wraiths, the eternal foes of the Prophets.

The following isn’t made explicit, but I think the Prophets, who will need Kira Nerys to remain strong, were ready to help her.

Anyway, let’s turn to the core issue. Was Meru good or evil? She did what she did in order to save her family. She even receives her husband’s blessing. Still, it’s difficult for our very judgmental Kira Nerys to see things this way. Maybe she is a little forgiving, at the end – at the end, at least, she could not kill her mother.

Title musings. “Wrongs Darker than Death or Night” has always struck me as an awkward mouthful. Still, let us consider the wrongs: what are they? Do we blame Meru for yielding? Kira Nerys usually would, but for once she is able to understand a bit of the other side. The worst wrong, in my opinion, has been Dukat’s disgusting pursuit of Nerys all these years. Anyway, I have never been that keen on the title.

Bits and pieces

We meet the young version of Nerys. I was not that impressed; she did not seem much like Nerys. Why couldn’t they have found a little girl with brown eyes?

I have seen many shows where characters have to give themselves new names, and they always let us see the hesitation as a new name is chosen. It seems to me, that in most cases, they should do this before…

I expect the Cardassians cut the Bajorans’ rations just before they “recruited” comfort women in order to make the recruitment go more easily.

I enjoyed Kira’s quips with the Legate.

So, if this is a time-loop from the past, shouldn’t the Gul Dukat of our present recognize Luma?

Meru, who was not a fighter, kept Nerys alive to become a fighter.

Quotes

Kira: This has nothing to do with the Federation. I need your help as the Emissary, not as Starfleet captain. The Emissary can see to it that I am allowed access to the orb. After that, it's up to the Prophets. If they feel that my request is worthy, they'll send me where I need to go. If not, I've made a trip to Bajor for nothing.
Sisko: And if they do send you back, what then? What makes you so sure you won't interfere with the timeline?
Kira: The Prophets will be guiding me. Nothing will happen without their blessings. Please, Emissary, please, let me seek the will of the Prophets.

Taban: It's not enough. How do they expect us to survive?
Meru: The Cardassians don't care whether or not we survive. They won't be happy until we're all dead.

Meru: Why do you keep doing that?
Kira: What?
Meru: Helping me. First at the refugee center and now here.
Kira: I don't have many friends.
Meru: You have one now.

Kira: I just arrived yesterday.
Legate: And I bet I know what you're thinking. You'd like nothing better than to get us all drunk so you could kill us in our sleep.
Kira: Are you sure you're not part Betazoid?
Legate: Come. Sit on my lap and tell me how much you hate Cardassians. You Bajoran women, you're all so bony.
Kira: That's because you Cardassians eat all our food.
Legate: You know, I could have you executed for that kind of insolence.
Kira: And that's one of the reasons we hate you so much.
Legate: Clever girl. Now pour me some more of that kanar and let's see if we can't work out our differences.

Halb: Why is that woman so important to you? She is nothing but a collaborator.
Kira: She is not a collaborator.
Halb: She's a comfort woman for the spoonheads, isn't she?
Kira: So was I.
Halb: For a day.

Kira: Has he hurt you?
Meru: Who?
Kira: Dukat.
Meru: Hurt me? No, he hasn't hurt me. I wish I knew how to explain to you these past few weeks, make you understand.
Kira: Understand what?
Dukat: That I'm not the monster you think I am.

Kira: That still doesn't make it right. What about your husband? Taban loves you. How can you forget him so quickly?
Meru: I have not forgotten him. What do you expect me to do? Kick and bite every time Dukat comes near me? How would that help Taban or the children?
Kira: Is that what you tell yourself? That you're doing it for the children? The clothes, the food, the easy living, that you're doing it all for them? Are you that deluded? It's not for them, it's for you. You like it here. You enjoy playing house with that murderer. Don't you see what you are, what you've allowed yourself to become? You're a collaborator.
Meru: A collaborator? Because I share Dukat's bed?
Kira: No, because you like sharing his bed. Because you've fallen in love with him.
Meru: Where're you going?
Kira: Back where I belong.

Taban [on monitor]: Meru, I hope the Cardassians aren't lying to me and that they really will send this message to you. I know it's only been a few weeks that we've been back home, but you should see the children. It's like they've been transformed. Reon and Pohl are laughing and playing together, they've never been happier. And I swear, little Nerys must have gained five pounds. Of course, they keep asking for you. I've told them that you're still at the refugee center. I think that's best, at least for the time being. I can't believe how much I miss you. I think about you all the time. You've saved all our lives. I hope you realize that. (Meru is crying) Never forget it, not even for an instant. Every day I pray to the Prophets that you'll find some peace in this new life of yours. I believe that even in the worst of times, we can still find moments of joy and kindness. If you can find that kindness, hold on to it. And remember, no matter what happens, I love you, Meru. I'll always love you.

Overall Rating

I have always had a strong ick factor for this episode, but it works, in a creepy sort of way. And I like how it exposes how difficult the choices were for those who could not fight. I do find it odd that Kira would not have known before. Dukat could have stopped Cardassians from talking, but someone else should have known. Three out of four bottles of kanar.

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

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