VIDEO: What makes a bad villain? Part 2: Star Trek’s Gul Dukat

In this special Retrotorial, Tom follows up his previous Retrotorial about what makes a great villain. This time, he looks at what makes a bad villain by looking at one of Star Trek’s most overrated villains, Gul Dukat from the most overrated Star Trek series, Deep Space Nine.

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Tag: Tom's Retrotorials: What makes a great/bad villain?

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  • Richard Eriksson Hjelm

    As much as I disagree with you about DS9 as a whole I do agree with you on Gul Dukat

    • Thomas Stockel

      Thanks. I had considered doing a DS9 analysis in the future, but then I realized it would amount to little more than DS9 bashing and as a bashing of DS9 fans by extension, with me coming up with different ways of saying “What do you see in this show?”. It would have been shameless flame bait and I don’t want to be that guy. And I don’t want to do an Enterprise analysis, because that would mean I would have to actually sit down and watch the series again. I don’t hate myself enough.

      • Richard Eriksson Hjelm

        Thankfully I belive this comment section has done a review of DS9 for you more or less

        • Thomas Stockel

          Good point. :)

      • Guest

        I’m actually curious what you didn’t like in it.

        • Thomas Stockel

          E-mail me privately and I will list the ways I disliked the series.

  • E.Buzz Miller

    I’m torn on Gul Dukat.

    On one hand he’s kind of fascinating being the equivalent of a concentration camp commander who actually thinks he wasn’t a bad guy, but on the other it always seemed like he could have been better and they were all over the place with his characterization until the Dominion War and it became he’s all about his self-glorification. Of course even then he became a lesser villain as he was being led around on a leash by Jeffrey Combs doing Dukat’s own role even better.
    It says a lot to me that ‘Waltz’ made him truly work and multi-dimensioned, and it was a send-off for him. The kind of character stuff in that should have been much earlier.
    He’s easily my third favorite Cardassian after Garak and Gul Madred from ‘Chain Of Command’, the latter getting this sort of character right. Terrifying sadistic monster, but not a mustache twirler.

    You’re totally right that the Sisko vs Dukat thing was a TKO in round 1 to Sisko, because Dukat never ever had any power, not really, and Sisko did*, and you can’t be a menacing nemesis on paper.
    Sisko against Kira was much more fascinating, but they never truly made that work when there was endless potential, just like they sort of missed the boat on Odo and his loyalty thing.
    That’s the thing about DS9, I think it’s the best plotted of the modern Trek shows overall, mainly because they did actual story arcs, but good grief did they sometimes just leave plot threads hanging (hello, what was that stuff about the Federation being overrun with shapeshifters?) and just ignore things.

    * Sisko had so much power that he could sock the closest thing to god in the jaw and not be phased, because he’s the damn Emissary.

  • CaptainCalvinCat

    Hey, I don’t get, why people like a show caled “The incredible Hulk”, but if those people like the show, that’s their perogative.
    I like NCIS – why? Because of it’s shortcomings. The cases are dull, more windowdressing than anything and that should be a bad thing in a crime show, right? On the other hand, NCIS – to me – is more a comedy-drama-show that happens to happen in a crime-show-environment.
    I agree, there are far better and competent crime-shows out there, Crossing Lines, Sherlock, are two great examples, but in the wake of those high-glossy-zoom-in-on-exploding-body-parts-shows á la CSI and CSI:Miami, I prefer happy head-slapping grumpy Leroy “Jethro” Gibbs over Horation Cane a.k.a. the guy who solves his crimes between two sunglases.

    Gul Dukat: Well, the way I see the show, his re-taking of Power with the Dominion is not that illogical.
    Think about it.
    Sure – at first, the cardassian people would have said: “Pssshhhh, yeah, there comes the guy, that has fucked a bajoran whore and was not able to kill the child, and promises us to get back to be a great empire again. Yeah – sure.”
    Then the Dominion appears.
    And the people would have said: “O…Oh…. he is in alliance with those guys. Erm… all hail the Dukat?”
    Or: “Hey, that guy really comes bag with a hulking fleet of Dominion Ships, establishing a foothold in the Alpha Quadrant. If he can work that out, he can work out how to get rid of them, afterwards.”

    • Thomas Stockel

      You like both Birds of Prey and NCIS. It’s like you’re the anti-me. :)

      Personally, I am more drawn to British crime dramas: Midsomer Murders, Cracker, Jonathan Creek, Cadfael, Prime Suspect, Campion, Inspector Morse, Inspector Lewis, New Tricks, Dalziel and Pascoe, Sherlock, the Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes series, Foyle’s War, Inspector Lynley, George Gently, Poirot, Miss Marple, Death In Paradise, Endeavour, Inspector Alleyn, Luther, The Last Detective, Rebus, Single Handed, A Touch of Frost, Wire In The Blood and Zen. Most of them only run three to eight episodes a season.

      • CaptainCalvinCat

        Believe me, I noticed this in that moment, in which you started to tell, how much you hated “the time of the doctor” and all the other things, I liked. But – meh – whatever. ^^

        By the way – we really need to find another word, because we use “hate” sooo liberal. You hate the Maquis, I hate Hulk, you hate NCIS, you hate Birds of Prey.
        But “Hatred (or hate) is a deep and emotional extreme dislike that can be directed against individuals, entities, objects, or ideas. Hatred is often associated with feelings of anger and a disposition towards hostility. Commonly held moral rules, such as the Golden Rule, oppose universal hatred towards another.”

        I don’t have that feelings against a show like Hulk, and I’m sure, that you don’t have feelings like that against NCIS or Birds of Prey – because that would be very strange.
        This ” deep and emotional extreme dislike” I have against idiots, that bully other people, but not against a TV-Show.

  • Muthsarah

    It’s a distressingly strong argument.

  • Gallen_Dugall

    Worf was beat up by the ship’s counselor, Troi… twice. And once he was beat up by a door. And once by a barrel – forgot about that one.
    I’ve tried to watch DS9 on six separate occasions. I found it to be consistently and unwatchably bad. The last time I had a viewers guide to the critical and best episodes but apparently it was about the relationship arcs on the show. And people complain about Kirk’s skirt chasing.
    You make a good point about Trek’s biggest problem – constantly trying to grab ratings without fixing the real problem – the writing. DS9, Voyager, and Enterprise all had great concepts destroyed by the writers (who hop onboard during the TNG run) making episodes that are either 1) horribly bland 2) completely nonsensical 3) dark and gritty – and this third one resulted in episodes that people loved, like the Borg episodes and from what I’ve heard the Dominion War, but that fundamentally erode the optimistic premise of the series.
    Also yes, if a villain never wins at all (Cobra in GIJoe for example) they become a joke. A good villain needs to win from time to time, better if they almost always win and the good guys only pull out a victory occasionally or in part.

    • Muthsarah

      To me, having the villain win often or even most of the time itself flies in the face of a show built around optimism. On the whole, I’d prefer for the episode’s “winner” to be unpredictable, and my favorite endings are usually bittersweet. But it’s an impossible balancing act for a show to be about a utopian future where all the good guys have long ago learned to live together without want, but where half the higher-ups (admirals) are conniving, mustache-twirling power-mongers, aliens take over our frail bodies all the time, gods hurl us across the galaxy on a whim, the heroes have their backs against the wall on a daily basis, and anyone who isn’t part of the main cast (or even the better half of it) are frequently depicted as useless morons. That goes back to TOS. Firefly struck a good balance by making the heroes into the little guys, and merely surviving to emperil themselves another day was as good as a victory for them. But unless Trek is going to be about a bunch of cosmic nothings, living only for themselves and their own basic needs, instead of being at the forefront of a moral crusade against seven kinds of ridge-faced evil, I don’t see how to be both consistently optimistic and dramatic. And on top of that, interesting.

      I think ditching the pie-in-the-sky optimism about pretending humanity could ever be above selfishness, greed, corruption, or violence was a good thing. It’s hard to relate to people that not only think they’re so much better than us, but are consistently shown to be correct in that belief. I think DS9 came the closest of any Trek to depicting a realistic future where the heroes don’t always win the day and ride off into the sunset in one piece (well, after Wrath of Khan of course), mostly because of how often it focused on “less-perfect” races/societies and made some of them into protagonists. I wish it was much darker and more tense than it was, but no other Trek series did it any better.

      EDIT: For episodes like Duet, Necessary Evil, Whispers, The Wire, and In the Pale Moonlight, I can forgive a lot of mediocrity. If you’re still openminded about the show, I’d suggest checking those out if you haven’t already seen them; only the last one might require some knowledge of prior episodes (but not really, if you know what the Dominion are). And none of them are about “relationships” of that sort.

      • Gallen_Dugall

        It’s harder to write a story set in a optimistic future, which is why it’s so rare. Drama is conflict and if you remove obvious sources of conflict that makes it harder to write. It can be done, and it has been done, but you need good writers who don’t gravitate towards the laziest most obvious solutions to the problem. Darker the story the easier it is to write.
        As for the rest I’m not going to say you’re wrong, it’s just a different point of view and different tastes is all, everyone has different things that appeal to them. However I will note you are in that demographic of taste that the films post TOS are meant to appeal to by making them increasingly more actiony, less thinky, and more special effect ‘splosiony. Certainly you are in the camp that the writers agree with and there’s nothing wrong with that, there are even parts of the new films I’ve enjoyed quite a bit, but it’s why I don’t hold any fan love for the franchise anymore. It’s all grey morality fading into shades of black hopelessness lit only by the occasional explosion and when it’s all said and done they are stories… about nothing.
        Probably why I liked B5 so much. Not afraid of telling a black and white story.

        • Muthsarah

          Oh no. No, no, no. You have me completely wrong. I’m actually a little confused where you’re getting this impression.

          I HATE the post-TOS films. All of them. I HATE the idea of turning Trek into an action franchise (not just in principle – because action doesn’t fit the kinds of characters and stories that Trek has always done – but because Trek’s never once done it well). Starship Mine (/Die Hard Picard) was fun because it was such a change of pace episode, and because it was the first time the show had done something like that. And even then, it was pretty lightweight as action goes.

          Yes, I think Trek was at its best when it acknowledged shades of gray (lowercase), developed drama by distancing itself from the show’s simplistic utopian roots, had non-tidy endings (good guys win, but it’s not that simple), had meaningful character conflict, villains who weren’t pure evil (or at least villains who weren’t acting like they KNEW they were evil), and good guys making or dealing with mistakes they’ve made that reflect on their character and give them depth. In other words, when it felt relateable, and not just a show about perfect people who already solved their problems long ago so now they’re galloping around the cosmos solving everyone else’s.

          I LOVE the “thinky” episodes in particular. These are usually the episodes that have something complicated going on that requires the crew to debate, worry, and made unhappy compromises. To pick the lesser of two evils instead of the obvious “right”. Trek’s best when it leads with dialogue, has the crew facing a dilemma, there’s some dissent (even if it’s just from a guest star who we all know is going to be proven wrong), about an issue that has a parallel to something we’re dealing with in real life. I don’t know where you’re getting the impression that, just because I like episodes where evil isn’t pure evil and good isn’t pure good, that that makes me a fan of LESS-“thinky” stories and more of a fan of action flicks. Action flicks are all about pure good versus pure evil.

          I really don’t know what else to say. What kind of Trek do you like?

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            I have nothing against the Post-TOS movies, because they had thinky parts in them, too.
            Take “Insurrection”? Who is right, who is wrong?
            Is it right, to take this fountain of youth from people, who settled there?
            If you said Yes: Well, I hope you don’t sit on a gold mine or on oil, because we would be in the right to exploit it.
            If you say no: Well, I hope you can now live in peace, knowing that your resource, that could helped us, is now used by you, while out there people are dying, that could have needed your resource.
            There is no right or wrong in this movie – the federation is correct, but the Ba’ku are correct, too.
            It is their land, they came to this planet and made it their own.

            Hell, even Star Trek Nemesis is about something – ever heard of the argument “nature” vs. “nurture”? What makes a person evil, what makes a person good, what makes a person tick.
            Am I going to be an asshole, when I am raised by assholes?
            Well, the GOSAT-Study suggested “Erm… we don’t know.”
            51 % vs 49 percent. Nature or nurture? Good question.
            In this case the movie is leaning more towards the nurture part, that your behaviour is the “fault” of your environment.

            On the other hand: Star Trek – the voyage home – just contains a “be nice to your environment” message. Yes, thanks, trek – I know that.

          • Muthsarah

            Insurrection had great potential given its central dilemma. But they wanted another action film, and that means simple characterizations, clear heroes to sympathize with, and clear villains to hate, so the Son’a have to be over-the-top villainous, the Ba’ku have to be perfect flower children, and everything has to boil down to “who wins the fight”. The movie has a reputation as “just like a two-hour TNG episode”, but an actual TNG episode would have picked up on the plot reveal that the two races were the same and used that to create a resolution based around peace, acceptance, and forgiveness*. Which a boilerplate action movie would never be about.

            Trek does not work as action. Period.

            * – SF Debris’s suggested plot variation is even better.

          • Gallen_Dugall

            According to Picard he was wrong since he directly contradicts his position in an episode that was a carbon copy of the film… except instead of pretty white folk being moved off their world it was Native Americans and there the stakes were much more stark.

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            You’re talking about Homeward, right?
            Well, I have to admit – I’m on the side of Nikolai on this one. And Deanna and Beverly were, too – in the script. So – Picard and the prime directive are in the wrong here.
            Does that mean, that starship captains should fly around, show themselves to the natives, whenever they want to? No, of course not.

            But there are exceptions to the rule.
            Even Kirk – who said, that the prime directive was the most respected rule in the universe – know that much. And – let’s be honest. He interferred more often than not.

            If he would have stayed true to the prime directive, episodes like “The Apple” or “the return of the archons” would have been very, very short, because then they must have had said: “Oh, shit – a computer is frakking with a civilization less developed than ours… hm… sucks to be them. Mister Sulu, second star to the right.”

          • Muthsarah

            Journey’s End, methinks. Wesley’s final episode.

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            Ahhhh, that one.

            Yeah, but that had something to do with the native americans being forced to leave, because of some idiotic decision – again, in the higher ranks of Federation, i.e. admirals.
            And if we think of TNG and the TNG-era movies as one big continuity, it would only make sense that Picard would be saying “Yeah, this is federation politics, we must follow it to the decimal” in “Journey’s End” and then – as a result of character growth – would say “Fuck this decisions”, when he later gets a chance of doing so.

          • Muthsarah

            As a result of the Federation-Cardassian peace treaty, the one that created the demilitarized zone and spawned the Maquis. Great peace treaty.

            The TNG movies are some of the most bafflingly stupid and inconsistent things I’ve seen in any franchise I’ve ever nonetheless liked. In Generations, Picard chooses to go back and re-fight Soran at the launch site instead of go further back before the last minute when he had a much better chance of stopping him. In First Contact, Picard refuses to defy Starfleet’s orders to intercept the Borg ship, even when the others are telling him that he should. Then, two minutes later, he very publicly refuses to comply with his earlier decision, and acts like it’s all his idea. Then he reaches Earth and immediately knows how to blow up the Borg ship, something he apparently never told Starfleet before. In Insurrection, the Federation sends exactly one ship to seek out a magical planet of eternal life, youth, and health, even though they’re at war with the Dominion and really should be prioritizing an advantage like that more. And in Nemesis…the evil Romulan/Reman Picard clone wants to blow up Earth, even though his grudge is with the Romulans. But, action movie, so it’s now Earth that’s in danger. Because stupid.

          • Thomas Stockel

            Ah, but if the treaty had been adhered to then you wouldn’t have gotten the Maquis in the first place. Picard had orders to move those people and he didn’t, trusting the Cardassians to be kind to their neighbors. Which was the height of stupidity when you look at the Cardassians’ track record. They tried to make it a Trail Of Tears analogy and it wasn’t anything of the sort. Borders between nations have been altered in the past and people do suffer for it. In the United States we have a thing called Eminent Domain, where the Feds can seize your land and pay for it if they feel it is for the greater good. You see how they threw in Native Americans in the episode to drive the point home? Heck, you even saw more Native Americans in the DS9 two-parter The Maquis. And then there was Chakotay.

            But the Trail of Tears was blatant ethnic cleansing and greed, whereas the Federation was just trying to keep peace with a hostile power so they could focus on their military build up against the Borg. Heck, moving the people was more for their own good, like moving civilians out of a potential war zone. And guess what? It became a war zone.

            God, how I hated The Maquis. I was so glad when the Dominion wiped them all out.

          • Muthsarah

            I think the Maquis were a huge missed opportunity. A series based around them could have been really cool (and been a very natural continuation of TNG and DS9). Instead of a state-of-the-art luxury liner, we could be following a crew flying a junker, fighting an evil empire, living by the skin of their teeth. What better way to root for the little guy (as the huge, mighty Federation inexplicably keep being cast) than for your gallant heroes to NOT be the creme-de-la-creme of Starfleet Academy, jetting around in the flagship, escorting diplomats and teaching “valuable lessons” to impressionable children? It offers the writers so much leeway, to run the full gamut of dramatic opportunities, to either spit in the face of Roddenberry’s idealism, or to depict his unflagging optimism in the bleakest of situations. Whichever way you wanna take it (have a mix of characters, some optimists, some pessimists). It almost writes itself.

            That quote from Sisko could have been not only the theme of the work, it could have been the opening pilot text crawl, or take the place of “Space, the final frontier”:

            “On Earth, there is no poverty, no crime, no war. You look out the window at Starfleet Headquarters and you see paradise. Well, it’s easy to be a saint in paradise. But the Maquis do not live in paradise. Out there, in the demilitarized zone, all problems have not been solved yet. There are no saints, just people. Angry, scared, determined people who are going to do whatever it takes to survive, whether it meets with Federation approval or not.”

            THERE’S the show that shoulda taken the place of Voyager.

          • Thomas Stockel

            I suppose in the right hands the Maquis could have been an interesting series. I would argue then that it would have been a better show to produce than DS9. The first two seasons there would lend weight to my argument. :)

          • Muthsarah

            Yeah, DS9 didn’t seem to have a terribly solid premise. Just looking at the first season, I have no idea what they aiming for. I wasn’t watching when it first aired, so by the time I was, I already knew where it was going and could see (in retrospect) how they got there. A space opera modeled after a frontier/western thing is potentially interesting, but aside from the basic Federation/Bajor/Cardassia conflicts, it was just more “strange alien of the week” antics.

            I’ve heard that the Maquis were created with Voyager in mind, and that the DS9ers were forced to include them. Considering how Voyager completely ditched anything relevant about the Maquis within the first season, nobody seemed to know what the hell they were doing back then.

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            Well – you have this “Eminent Domain”, so if your land says “Its for the greater good, here you have some money, go somehwere else” you do that, without any complaint whatsoever?

            Not even saying: “Hey, wait a sec, this city exists since 1802 and now you want to drive us away? Can’t you think of other possibilities than resetteling us?”

            Yeah, sorry, I was with Chakotay on this one – somehow I don’t think that “oh we get some planets, that were once Cardassian ones and they get ours” is not really cutting it.

          • Thomas Stockel

            Oh, I know Eminent Domain can suck. Detroit never truly recovered from the projects that displaced stable, prosperous neighborhoods so the government could build freeways through the city. But do you think Detroiters should have stayed in their homes and fight the US Army Corps of Engineers? Is land worth fighting and dying over when the government is offering you equal value for what they are taking?

            Anyway, Chakotay was wrong. The Maquis had proven to be such a thorn in the side of the Cardassians it caused their government to destabilize, which allowed Gul Dukat to come in and take over as a stooge for the Dominion, which in turn allowed The Dominion to wipe out the Maquis.

            So you could argue that The Maquis made it possible for the Dominion to gain a foothold in the Alpha Quadrant. Way to go, Maquis.

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            Is there something like “equal value” to your land?
            I’m leaning towards “no” – nothing people could offer in terms of money would be worth saying “okay, folks, we’re out of this town”.
            So – yes, basically, land is worth fighting for.

            If you say, that Detroit never recovered, then – yes: the Detroiters should have stayed at home.
            Yes, in retrospect you could hold the Maquis responsible for the Dominions Foothold in the alpha-quadrant, however: they have every right, to be very, very, very pissed and very disappointed at the federation. Okay, what should the Settlers, that later became “The Maquis” have done? Accept, that the Federation is going to relocate them?

            Bien sure – I mean, it is not as if there would be any sentimental values to their world, right?
            Oh – wait…. there was sentimental value to their world… okay, Mr. Stockel – how are you going to repay them with that? Oh, wait, Federation does not use money… erm… why should we go again?

            Right, because of the thread the Borg pose to us and you want to have the Cardassians to join our cause.
            I mean, it is not, as if the Borg would indiscreminately assimilate people, no matter what planet they came from and with that logic alone you could built a task force… oh – wait… They DO!

            the logic, that the Borg are out there should be reason enough to band together and there should be no terrirotial squibble – because in the end the Borg, and they are the main reason why the Federation and Cardassia would be “bedfellows”, are assimilating anyone. So – why give up those planets, on which settlers (by the way, not only human ones, but cardassian ones as well) have built their live over centurys?

            By the way – why was Chakotay wrong?
            If the Maquis was such a thorn in the Cardassians’s side, that it causes their government to destabilize, the Maquis did a damn good job and if it would not have been for the Dominion, the settlers could have taken back their planet.

          • Thomas Stockel

            I see that you are just going to ignore half my argument and focus on the half you think you have a chance of winning, so I really don’t see the point of arguing with you any more over this.

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            Okay.First Contac: Where exactly does Picard act as if that all would be his idea?
            And what kind of leader would go on the bridge and say: “I had no frakking idea, what I could have done, but thanks to my XO I know that.”
            Yeah – erm… that’s the reason you have an XO and if he goes to your quarters and you later come out and give an order you did not want to give in the first place chances are high, that your XO might be responsible for talking some sense into you. But thanks for showing us the inner workings of you, Jean-Luc.

            Insurrection: Erm… there’s a war going on. How many ships do you want to deploy? One ship – well… one and one third (if you count the Holoship) are more than enough. And if Picard had not had seen the paradise, the plan would have worked.

          • Muthsarah

            I….had a comment here. It’s now gone for some reason. Second time that’s happened in as many days.

            Anyway, Insurrection had a great premise, but it was completely unsuited for an action movie. Which, of course, the movies had to be, especially after First Contact. The movie has a reputation as “basically a two-hour TNG episode”, but the show would have taken advantage of the plot twist regarding the Ba’ku and the Son’a being the same species, one having left the planet long ago and now dying without it and spun an ending based around peaceful co-existence, forgiveness, etc*, maybe even find a way for the Ba’ku to share this miraculous source of energy with the Federation. But, no, action movie means the Son’a have to be evil, the Ba’ku have to be perfect flower children, and it all boils down to a fight.

            Trek should not be action. Period.

            * – SF Debris had an even better suggestion for an alternate plot, one that split the crew into two factions.

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            Yeah, I noticed. I read that the comment was awaiting moderation for whatever reasons. ^^

            And basically: I have no problem with “Insurrection” being a 2-hour-TNG-Episode, because, and I’m honest to god here, that’s what I was missing during “Generations” and “First Contact”.
            To quote me here:

            The “we do not wish to use technology”-part can be understanded, if you
            stretch it, and dismiss the “we believe bla bla bla… you take something
            away from the man” and say: “Okay, we do not wish to use more advanced
            technology than” say “the basic things, that help us to cope with live”…

            in all – I thought the movie was not that bad… I have seen worse, and I
            tell you, what these movies are, in my point of view. Take Star Trek I,
            for example. *yawn*…
            Even Star Trek II, which is consideres as one
            of the best, if not THE best movies, had its moments, where I thought
            “Oh come on, cut the crap!”

            I have seen better: Star Trek IV and
            Eight, for example, but the question, that lingers in the Insurrection
            story, is quite a fascinating one. It is “The needs of the many outweigh
            the needs of the few” vs. “The needs of the few outweigh the needs of
            the many” in a much grander scale.

            Brought to the real life:
            can totally understand, that a percentage of the greece poplulation is
            demonstrating, and say “We don’t want to loose our way of life!”.
            one had told me, “Cal, you work, until you are 50, and then you can
            retire” and then suddenly some person came and say: “Nope, that does not
            work anymore, because of sociopolitical and economical reasons” – I
            mostly would say: “Fuck you.”

            And those people – they have lived
            300 years on the planet… no one lived there before, so they have, as
            reviewers would say “dibs” on it. Finders keepers, right? So, they found
            the world, made it arable… and now, 300 years later, do our brothers,
            who did not like our way of living show up and not even ASK, if they
            could live with us, no – they say “We need the radiation of the planet,
            so, go, pack your stuff and get lost or die.”

            THAT is the side of the bad guys.
            have “utilization of the magic-thingie-radiation of the rings” vs.
            “Screw you, this is our planet”. “Screw you, this is our planet” would
            mean… erm… what again? What does “the federation is losing the dominion
            war” have to do with the fact, that the Baku have to be forcibly
            relocated? “Screw you, this is our planet” means in the greater scale of
            things… erm… nothing.

            The side of the bad guys, “utilization of
            the metaphasic radiation of the rings” – you could allways go to the
            planet and settle down there, right? Oh, I forgot, we learn, that the
            unhealthy way of live, the Son’A led, is deadly to them.
            No shit, Sherlock?
            Unhealthy way of life is at least not healthy?
            Well, maybe you should not have run away, if you want to live there?
            mean, that would be, as if the romulans would come to the vulcans,
            years later and say “by the way, we hate you, because you do not agree
            with our way of life and forced us to go away, and now we vow our
            Okay, the romulans are that mad, but – it is their fault. They knew, what they did, when they left the planet.
            Same with the Son’A.
            they come from a planet, where they all lived in a highly-advanced
            civilisation, polluted the planet, had to flee and came in the
            briar-patch, and so they knew, what could happen – the Son’A said “I
            don’t like your new style of living, I am out of here.”
            So they continued living their life, and now, they come back and say “boohoohooo… life is so bad.”

            the metaphasic radiation of the rings? That means, that the entire
            system is going to die, so the Baku have to loose all they have worked
            for the last three hundred years.
            It is not, as if they would have settled a few years ago on the planet, they are settling there for three hundred years.

            already pointed out forced relocations, which Picard helped, might have
            brought him to think about THIS relocation, at least, that is my

            So – not the worst film of all times.


            Like I already said, I for myself excersise myself in the obviously forgotten art of “selective perception”.
            technology is good, but not the excessive use of it.”, would be the
            lesson, I would draw from the film. And – we do not know, at which point
            in time the Bak’u decided, that further technology is to be forbidden.
            Like I said, they are not native to the planet, they come from another
            place. They came there, settled down – apparently they made some steps
            in the “using technology”-Direction, when they noticed: “Just a second,
            that could make the whole circle starting all over again”.

            Which would be an understandable thinking.
            – it is not that the Bak’u are allways right. I mean – that is, what
            Star Trek is about. The general direction of things, not the worldview
            done to all extremes. Take the borg, for example.

            At first: the
            usage of technological advanced body-parts would be okay, if the
            original body parts would be ill or at the verge of dying, were smashed
            in an accident or something like that. (Just remember the bionic man.)
            The Borg take that concept and take it to the extreme, and that is the wrongness (is that a word?) of it.

            with the Bak’u. The usage of technology to protect people, to make
            sure, they are in a safe environment is a current method, even now. We
            have light, we have electricity, we have working toilets, thermally
            isulated homes (which you need in sub-zero environments for example)

            But taken to the extreme, technology is harmful.

            Or take the Ferengi.
            Take the capitalism.
            Only a few words, and you know, that overall greed does not work.
            Leman Brothers, the Euro-Crisis, greece … you see, where greed can take us – that is the mirror, the Ferengi are.
            only, because I say, that “that form of capitalism is bad” (which is
            the capitalism in its rawest form), I don’t say, that we all should
            never obtain anything, and that possession is evil.
            I have the DVD- and Bookshelfs to prove that.

            Like I said, the worldview of the Bak’u is not wrong per se, if one crosses out some parts.
            “When you let a machine do something a man can do, you take something away from the man.”.
            In principle, a nice idea, if one stretches the “a man can do”…
            After all, there are things, you need machines for.
            Beaking bread, for example. How else could you make the dough to getting all crispy and edible.

            just should not go to extremes, with that worldview, in which you say,
            “Everyone, who does not believe the way we do, is an idiot.”.
            Or, as the nostalgia critic put it: “Thank you, you saved me with technology, I hate you.”
            They did not said that, nor do I think, that they would think that, if they would be real.
            all – people, who can stay 300 years on a planet, live a nice, decent,
            not-too-fancy life – (like the amazons of the Wonder Woman Cartoon
            Movie) possess either the dynamism of a sloth or the brains to live in a
            way, which can be called “sustainability”.

            And that, in the era of scarce resources, is something, one should learn to do, isn’t it?


            Why weren’t they willing to help – well, if no one actually ASKS, no one can be helped.
            At the end, where Gallatin was reunited with his mother, it seemed pretty much, like they would be helping.

          • Gallen_Dugall

            Well, all those movies have their moments (they’re bad for Trek but not simply bad) certainly JJ wasn’t the one who started warping everything to make it extreme, he just took it to the logical conclusion.

            As for what Trek speaks to me – the TNG episodes such as “The Measure of a Man” questioning what makes a person a person, or TOS episodes like “A Taste of Armageddon” (my favorite) addresses how “rules of war” make the public more accepting of war and allow it to go on by disguising its horrors, out of sight out of mind. Did they ever do episodes like that after TNG? I don’t know because it all went increasingly dark and gritty after the success of the Borg episodes and after a couple of episodes of each series after that I stopped watching.

          • Muthsarah

            “Did they ever do episodes like that after TNG?”

            Episodes centered around difficult moral and philosophical issues, AFTER TNG? Well…Voyager has “Living Witness”, one of the few episodes of that series that I think is any good. It’s about the ways in which history can be twisted for propaganda and whether or not its worthwhile for honest people to expose the truth when it risks disturbing a delicate social balance built on lies. From DS9, “In the Pale Moonlight” is about how many immoral deeds a moral man is willing to commit in the service of a greater good, basically can the ends justify the means.

          • Thomas Stockel

            Personally I enjoyed First Contact. I’m not saying it’s a great film, but I thought it brought closure to Picard’s Borg storyline and honestly it would have been nice to have somehow seen the effects in the movie trickle down to Voyager somehow rather than the suggestion that the Borg Queen was some unkillable entity. And while I think time travel is a bit overdone, it made sense to me that the Borg might attempt to use it as a weapon somehow, to destroy the Federation’s most populous species.

            But yeah, the other three films rank from bad to horrible.

          • Guest

            Generations: basically an elaborate exercise to get Picard and Kirk to meet in a baton passing. Malcolm McDowell was a pretty good villain.

            First Contact really good as long as ‘action hero Picard’ isn’t going to bother you. Tight script, classic Trek ideas. I don’t really like the idea of the Borg Queen, thought they were scarier without it, but it’s a minor flaw.

            Insurrection WHYYYYYYYYYYYY?

            Nemesis Just awful. A pitiful attempt to recapture WoK’s magic, only not remotely successfully.

  • Muthsarah

    OK, I think I’ve had enough time to process this now. When I first saw the video, I REALLY didn’t wanna watch it (but it was Trek, so it was a foregone conclusion that I was going to). I like Dukat, and I still think he’s the best “bad guy” Trek produced (I don’t consider Q to be a bad guy). I was genuinely worried that 15 years of Dukat fannery was going to be brutally beaten down in this vid. But…I don’t think it really was. Again, this was a pretty good argument you’re making; he sure comes off as a poor antagonist looking at him the way you are here, but I still think he’s a pretty good character.

    You make a good case that Dukat failed as a foil to the DS9 crew, was never terribly menacing, and was “villainous” in more of a tell than show kinda way. But I don’t think that’s really his role in the show, regardless if that was originally MEANT to be his role. The character misses that mark SO BADLY that I don’t think I ever even viewed him that way. He wasn’t the show’s big bad, that was the Founders, and before they showed up, the show didn’t have one, which you could chock up to a lack of a focused series plot, picking up where TNG left off. A show of self-contained episodes doesn’t need a regular antagonist. Villains-of-the-week were the norm.

    Dukat really didn’t appear in that many episodes during the first few years, and in these appearances, he usually wasn’t the main antagonist. He was a background figure, a personification of the long shadow Cardassia left on Bajor, and the reason the DS9 crew were there at all; they were cleaning up after the mess he helped make. He had a role similar to Major Strasser from Casablanca – the movie isn’t fundamentally about him or the heroes’ conflicts with him, but he’s the representative of something looming over everything else, the distant-but-not-distant-enough source of the problem plaguing our protagonists. It was a bit pathetic how Sisko and company had to keep saving him, and I don’t think that added anything to the series. I just wish they had made more of that in the later seasons, reminding the viewers of just how much Sisko had done for Dukat, even if he only did so because he felt he was obligated to. So that when Dukat stabs Sisko and the others in the back later, it would feel something like a betrayal, or at least regret. But Eddington already covered that, so….

    I agree that Dukat was at his most interesting during Seasons 3 and 4, when he was starting down what looked like an impossible road to redemption. I do think the showrunners made a big mistake when they backed off on that, as it would have been fascinating to see the equivalent of a Nazi officer risking his life in common cause defending the very people he used to persecute. In this case, Dukat ended up sabotaging himself – the character was too popular with the fans to get rid of, even when there was no more room for him in the show in his traditional role. But where it all went wrong was when they made the mistake of de-evolving him instead of continuing his evolution, and that fit the show about as well as Worf (another example of the franchise backtracking to its detriment). He was still a fun character, since Alaimo played slimy-but-cultured well, but he didn’t work as an antagonist there either. Fortunately, he didn’t have to, as the Founders were already doing that.

    So, overall, I don’t think the show needed Dukat to be a terribly strong antagonist. What it needed was an antihero, a recurring character who wasn’t all shiny and perfect as the Federation, or as tortured and sympathetic as Bajor, but as someone walking the line between good and bad. And, for a while at least, he did give them that. The producers just didn’t commit to the character.

    • $36060516

      “I like Dukat, and I still think he’s the best ‘bad guy’ Trek produced”

      You prefer Dukat to Khan?

      • Muthsarah

        …That’s a tough one.

        It’s like comparing a movie to a TV series. Well, it’s exactly like comparing a movie to a TV series. Khan really only has the one movie to strut his stuff, but he’s the best thing in it (I don’t consider Space Seed to be anything special, and WoK’s depiction of him is just leaps and bounds better). No Dukat episode matches that, but he still has a lot of appearances, most of them quite good.

        I don’t think I can make a decision. It’s just not a level playing field. Khan’s the only truly good villain in any of the movies, and Dukat’s my favorite bad guy in the TV serieseses.

        EDIT: Overall, yeah I think I’d go with Dukat. There’s just a lot more of him, and even though he stopped being interesting after Waltz, between that, Necessary Evil, Return to Grace, Civil Defense, he’s consistently fun, whereas Khan really only impressed me in that one appearance.

        • $36060516

          Fair enough! :-)

        • Guest

          Khan benefits from WoK having a perfect one off revenge story, and Montalban gleefully sinking his teeth into the part.
          I have my doubts whether the character would have worked in extended doses, because literally his whole character in WoK is dependent on the story.

      • Khan had a good episode and the best movie. Dukat had more screen time than most of the original cast. It is not really a fair comparison. Though they have some familiar traits, they believe in their own superiority (though Dukat is more about Cardassian superiority), they are both undone more by their own hubris than anything, and they both pair off against Starfleet captains known for military and diplomatic prowess (and breaking the prime directive over their respective knees when they think it for the best).

        You can also typically see where they are coming from. Khan wanted to rule, but he was the smartest and strongest person (he’s just ruthless) so his exile might not be very justified.

        (And “Into Darkness” should really just be ignored in this discussion, and the Khan of that film was so different that he might as well have been a totally different character.)

    • Thomas Stockel

      There is no denying Alaimo is an outstanding actor, especially when he had to emote through a ton of make up and prosthetics. Honestly, I think Dukat needed to die the hero, trying to find some sort of redemption for all his bad acts. If they had done that then a new Cardassian needed to be introduced to replace him as the tool of the Dominion. Or they should have either kept Dukat the villain through seasons three and four and kept him full-on heel without muddying the issue. And for god’s sake, turning him crazypants was just wrong. Have Kai Winn become a tool of the Pah Wraiths; that would have been better, I think. Have her driven by her jealousy of Sisko to take that dark path.

  • $36060516

    I enjoyed this video. It didn’t appear you were speaking from a script, yet you made a strong, lengthy argument without meandering and wandering off into irrelevancies. Seems like an admirable and rare talent, as so many podcasts (audio and visual) suffer from people rambling aimlessly, resulting in what Michael Palin complained of in the clip you included.

    • Thomas Stockel

      Well, the meandering got edited out. I did find myself going off on tangents and in retrospect the whole wrestling ‘tweener/face/heel thing could have been cut out. But I’ve been working off and on this installment for weeks now off and on. I confess with the high number of DS9/Dukat fans out there I was at times reluctant to pull the trigger on it.

      I’m glad you enjoyed it, and thanks for the compliments.

      • $36060516

        I thought the wrestling comparison was apt! Same sort of thing. “We’ve got this guy working for us and we gotta keep him interesting, what are we gonna do with him…”

  • “Deep Space Nine” is my favorite Star Trek show. I consider Gul Dukat one of my favorite bad guys, and Sisko to be one of my favorite characters.
    Most overrated show? “Lost” anyone? Most overrated bad guy? Moriarty from “Sherlock”?

    Parity: I don’t think that a constant state of being at odds, nor constantly having an upper hand makes for a good character, or necessarily a good bad guy. Dukat does good and bad things based on attaining his goals, he has numerous schemes, and numerous personality flaws that undo those schemes, but prior to him becoming the anti-christ of Bajor in the last season he is more just a character that the cast is often at odds with rather than a straight up villain. I compare him to Magneto, who does evil things, but often times ends up working with the heroes because there are bigger things at stake, but will turn on them if his grander plans he can seize on.

    Why would they support Dukat becoming a political leader after disgrace? Because he got the Dominion to join Cardassia in killing Klingons, he was waging a Robin hood like war on the Klingons prior to that. Most people see the loss of Bajor as a pointless ding in his record (that the planet was already lost they just put him in charge so he would take the blame), and people don’t care about illegitimate children all that much compared to him being competent. He probably didn’t suffer real disgrace at home (look at how much people like Bill Clinton these days and all he has done is not be President for the last 14 years).

    So, I kind of disagree with everything said.

    • Thomas Stockel

      And I respect that. Personally I agree with what you said regarding Lost. Moriarty? Eh, I like him and thought he was used to good effect, but I didn’t think he was anything special. I did think his endgame against Holmes was pretty sweet: the plot to destroy the idea of Sherlock Holmes as well as kill him.

      I didn’t need Dukat to be Sisko’s literal equal, but I do think that he needed to be shown as competent. For a recurring villain to be shown as a legitimate threat then they do need to be seen as getting a win, once in a while. As for the Klingon/Cardassian war aspect, the price was for Cardassia to become slaves to the Dominion. I suppose it is possible your average Cardassian did not know what that might entail but I can only imagine there must have been enough in the military to realize once the Dominion was in their midst there was no getting rid of them. Dukat was essentially making it possible for the Dominion to do to his people what the Cardassians had done to the Bajorans, with them using the same excuse: “We are only here to help”.

      And dude, losing Bajor was a bigger deal than that. He was in charge of the planet for quite some time; Kira was three years old and he was in charge (Wrongs Darker than Death or Night) and Dukat was in charge up through her adulthood. So he was legate of Bajor for, what, twenty five years? More?

      The Clinton thing? Well, apples and oranges, man. We’re talking about an alien culture. His family disowned him, his wife and kids left him. So yeah, I would say that was a pretty big deal. Trying to compare American values to Cardassian values really doesn’t stack up.

  • The_Stig

    I’m sorry, I didn’t know having more than two dimensions was the mark of a bad villain.

    • $36060516

      That’s not what I got from the video. Thomas said that he liked it when Dukat became an ally of Sisko, for instance. His problem was not with a character having more than two dimensions, but with the writers jerking the character’s personality around drastically from pole to pole repeatedly without enough logical basis. I can’t say myself as it’s been a long time since I watched the show and missed some of the episodes, but thought Thomas made a good argument to that effect.

    • Thomas Stockel

      That isn’t what I felt was wrong with Dukat. Had he remained a competent two dimensional villain then I would have been content. But when he was a two dimensional villain he was an ineffectual one. Oh sure, he was entertaining as comic relief, but somehow I don’t think that is what the producers had in mind in those first seasons.

    • Guest

      The problem was he had multiple dimensions, and they didn’t truly make sense as a character and kept contradicting himself.
      It really was like they decided they needed an antagonist, so tried to write Dukat into the role whether he fit or not instead of creating a new character.
      Thomas is exactly right calling his being able to lead all of Cardassia’s military ridiculous. Especially as the whole point of his trying to redeem his name was he was disgraced and scapegoated for letting Bajor be emancipated under his watch.
      You just can’t make the logical leap there, even if ‘Dukat with power’ is an enticing prospect for writers.

  • This is a great analysis and an excellent video. I wasn’t sure what I’d think of it a first, given that I quite like DS9, but I found myself agreeing with your points here. I always loved Dukat, but as I thought about it, I realized that this was mostly because Marc Alaimo is just so damn entertaining in the role. From the beginning he always seemed a bit like a Cobra Commander kind of villain; I never thought of him as being much of a threat at all. He was more of a simple pain in the butt, a political annoyance who shows up at the least convenient moment and just makes Sisko roll his eyes until he can find the time to deal with this latest distraction. Dukat was lots of fun to watch, largely due to Alaimo, but never a source of any real drama.

    …At least until the turning point a bit later. I agree that Dukat as a character had the potential to become something more interesting than another 2D villain when his story intersected with Ziyal’s. This kind of character depth was what I wanted to see more of. If the writers had fully invested in the transformation of Dukat that they started there, I think the outcome (and the show) would have been much more interesting. And although I enjoyed “Waltz” simply because it is the first time Dukat ever seemed legitimately dangerous, what became of him after that was completely ridiculous. The arc in the final season where crazypants Dukat kept trying to steer Kai Winn (via seduction, half the time) to his own ends was cringeworthy and a serious disappointment. When I got the 7th season I found myself wanting to skip Dukat’s scenes altogether. What we got was a a real waste of both Dukat and Ziyal as well.

    As for DS9 the series, your position on it compelled me to consider exactly what it is that I find so appealing about the show. My #1 Trek series will always be TOS, and I will be the first to admit that I found the beginnings of DS9 so utterly mundane when I tuned in for the first run that I gave up after three episodes, not to return until Spike TV (of all things) started rerunning it in the early 2000s. At that point I discovered post-second season DS9, which is where the series actually begins as far as I’m concerned.

    I suppose I like the idea of a darker Trek show, not because I want more action and less thinky-bits, but because it was interesting to see the normally almost-infallible Federation thrust into situations that had no obvious right choice, forced to deal with problems with uncomfortable solutions or no solutions at all. It was fascinating seeing optimistic characters turned to dark paths, like Sisko in “In the Pale Moonlight” (one of my favorite episodes of the series). I enjoyed the darker machinations of the quadrant’s political machines, particularly those of the Cardassians, and the complex characters they spawned (Garak in particular, one of my favorite characters from DS9).

    In comparison with Voyager, where nearly every episode had a reset button plot, DS9’s semi-serial format made me feel as if choices and consequences mattered more than usual for Trek, and the dark nature of those choices made them that much more fascinating. I felt that a lot of it started to come apart in the final season, and certainly not everything paid off, but I left the series feeling mostly fulfilled. To the point, in fact, where I sought out the “DS9 Relaunch” novels because I wanted to know what “came next”. TOS is the only other Trek series for which I’ve done that.

    With all that said, DS9 is not really in the same league as TOS, in my opinion. TOS was able to accomplish so much within the space of a single episode, and lend such a real sense of humanity to characters — flaws and all — without manufacturing drama and tension through egregiously gritty situations. I think TNG often managed to do that too, but somehow when I look back at TNG today I see a series that is more fun to watch in an ironic sort of way vs. DS9 which I feel I can really reinvest in if I allow it.

    And while I’ve even been known to enjoy Voyager when I’m in the mood for some dumb fun, I’m in agreement with you about not wishing to analyze (or really even discuss) Enterprise. The best thing that show ever did was give us another look at the Constitution-class bridge, which has always been my favorite set in the history of television.

    • Thomas Stockel

      I’m glad you enjoyed it, B.J. I confess I like Waltz in part because of Alaimo’s acting. He really does put on a strong performance and it’s obvious he is giving it a hundred percent. I really feel a scene like that would have been better served in an episode like Indiscretion where he feels compelled to explain himself to Kira, which to him was the face of the resistance. And perhaps then he realizes just how hollow his arguments sound. At the end of the day, the Cardassians simply did not belong on Bajor, and honestly was Ziyal’s mother not simply another one of his victims? In prison the female prisoner cannot consent to have sex with the warden because the prisoner has no choice.

      By the way, that is one of the reasons I hate the episode Wrongs Darker than Death or Night, when you discover Kira’s mom was one of Dukat’s women. She “collaborated” because her kids were starving. I thought Kira’s holier-than-thou attitude was sickening, seeing as her mother’s willingness to allow herself to be repeatedly raped by a man with the power of life and death over her and her family allowed Kira to be fed well enough to grow up strong and healthy so she could become a resistance fighter.

  • Cameron Vale

    I’ve always felt that DS9 is the agent of Trek’s destruction; but in my experience, there is remarkably little overlap between the people who are receptive to this possibility and the people who even know what I’m talking about. I’ve got quite the talent for picking the losing side myself, you might say.

    • Thomas Stockel

      I personally think DS9 was a mistake. Then again, I am a huge Babylon 5 fan so I am naturally biased. :D

      • CaptainCalvinCat

        I like both shows – but then, I like Star Trek, Star Wars, Stargate (besides Universe, which can go Frak itself), Battlestar Galactica (old and new one)… and yes, I like Bab 5.

      • Guest

        I think Babylon 5 had better plotting, DS9 had better acting and budget, that’s really how I fall.

      • Muthsarah

        Ahhhhhh, I get it now. So I can just disregard anything and everything negative you have to say about DS9 in the future. Thanks. :D

        • Thomas Stockel

          No wait just a damn minute…! :p

    • Muthsarah

      If you think DS9 was a bad show, that’s fine. Not terribly fine, but fine enough. For now.

      But thinking that DS9 hurt the franchise more than Voyager did? Voyager threw its original premise out the window early and became a pure TNG retread. Trek died because it spun its wheels with tired plots (series and movies) and tried to make up for it with cheap T&A and ill-fitting action movies. It stopped even trying to be the “smart” sci-fi franchise. DS9 at least tried something new and stuck to drama, a focus on having a strong ensemble, and anticipating where television was going – into more serious, serialized fare.

      • Thomas Stockel

        While I am not a DS9 fan I do think the show tried hard at first to be something serious and when you look at the two seasons there was certain an effort towards being something TNG was not.

        But yeah, looking at Voyager it was essentially a TNG knockoff. If you watch SF Debris’ show he even numbers Voyager episodes as if they were an extension of TNG.

      • Cameron Vale

        I actually think it’s a pretty good show. My reasoning is much more concerned with Rick Berman and Brannon Braga than it is with Gul Dukat and Ben Sisko.

        • Muthsarah

          Well, I don’t think you’d have trouble finding people to agree with you that Berman and Braga are responsible for the death of Trek. I’d be curious to hear your theory.

          • Cameron Vale

            The short version is that DS9 pointed the franchise in a misanthropic and sentimental direction, which ran counter to the intellectual and forward-looking spirit of Trek.

          • Beastro

            I fully understand what you meant and that’s the reason why I love the series. What you call intellectual and forward looking I call idealistic and naive. DS9 grounded the Trek universe and threw away the last vestiges of Roddenberry’s loathsome wish fulfilment by presenting the Federation as any nation and government, flawed and having to make do doing terrible things to get by in an unforgiving world.

            It’s why I treasure In the Pale Moonlight: It’s pure Realpolitik instead of haughty speeches by Picard wagging his finger at people. What takes place in the episode was necessary, just as committing the near genocide of the Founders was necessary (which I personally would have let happen given their unrepentant outlook seeing conflict with everyone not under their boot as inevitable) and yes it runs counter to the spirit of Star Trek – it shows that spirit as folly and a relic of the 60s.

            If the franchise ever picks up on TV again, I hope they put the Federation to bed as the main perspective we get to see. Let’s have a series from the perspective of the Klingons or Romulans and have them be who they are, not the domesticated Federation lackeys they were gradually becoming, or better yet, show the fallout of the Dominion War from a human perspective where people are sick of the illusory, deeply flawed Socialist paradise of the Federation and have it shown from the perspective of a break away faction of humans who actually want to be human again, flaws and all, not Gene’s perfect little creations who have “evolved” past the weaknesses ingrained within human nature.

          • Muthsarah

            A Federation perspective is inevitable. We’re all human, humans are part of (disappointingly enough, the DOMINANT faction of) the Federation, it’s basically impossible for audiences to see things from any other perspective. It is incumbent upon any future Trekwriters to depict other races in reasonable, identifiable ways, in ways that suggest something different, but that don’t make them too wholly alien. But the focus can only be on us. It’s always been about us. It’s for us. Give the others their due, depict them realistically, but always through our lens. Trek through Klingon goggles would be high-fantasy. They are an other, same as everyone else. Not that there aren’t plenty of possibilities for depicting them in realistic ways, ripe for drama.

            For example, DS9 ended (and thus, to me, Trek ended) with the Klingons embracing democracy, and “electing/selecting” Martok as their new president-thingee. Now, we know from our experience that transitions from autocracy to democracy don’t happen too easily. Any new Trek series would do well to depict a new Democratic People’s Klingon Republic as a corrupt, chaotic mess. Where are the roots of democratic rule (more importantly, minority acceptance of majority rule and majority tolerance of minority dissent) in Klingon society? Friggin’ nowhere. They’re all about proving your honor and strength through martial combat, by hand or in starships, and brooking no challenges. Might makes right, that’s not an ethos you can scrub away with one supposed (and off-screen) election. THERE’s a great avenue for a new Trek running plot-series-thingee. The otherwise-stable Federation dealing with a post-Imperial-collapse Klingon Empire, kinda like with the Gowron-Duras conflict from “Reunion”, but on a grander scale – there’s Martok, war hero but political neophyte, raised from “peasant stock”, with limited talents in diplomacy and even less traditional legitimacy, versus every other possible faction one would expect from a power-based, clan-based, lineage-based society suddenly dealing with “popular mandate” and “elections” and “representative government”. Excellent parallels with Eastern Europe post-1990, and a ton of other “new democracies”.

            Hell, with the Cardassians devastated, the Dominion withdrawn to the Gamma Quadrant, the Klingons in civil war, the Breen on the losing side of the biggest Alpha/Beta-quadrant war in forever and thus marginalized at best, and the Ferengi….just being Ferengi, that just leaves the Federation and the Romulans (possibly still minus the Tal Shiar) as the lone contestants for domination of half the galaxy. The Federation is bigger, but the Romulans are more centralized and militaristic.

            It’s not cynicism. It’s pure logic. This is an excellent setup for a Cold-Warish (whether 60s-ish or current/near-future-ish) scenario. Especially as the Federation would be fighting its own demons. After Wolf 359 and the Dominion War, the admirals would have very good reasoning for rejecting any military drawdowns. Starfleet let its guard down after Algeron, and the Borg nearly killed everyone. Starfleet didn’t go far enough in re-building after that, and the Dominion and Breen nearly wiped them all out. So now, why shouldn’t the Federation keep at full war-readiness in the face of their merely-supposed-allies the Romulans? All that stands between them and dominance (and thus, arguably, security, in the Alpha Quadrant) is the Romulan Empire, a smaller and weaker empire known for their treacherous deeds towards both them and the Klingons. That would open up an easy debate about whether or not the Federation should prepare for peace now that its been offered to it, or remain vigilant for the next war (hell, the Borg aren’t even done with yet, if you wanna include them). Will Starfleet remain merely the military wing of the Federation, or the new driving force in its politics? Easy comparisons with any and all debates about the US military-industrial complex and “imperialist” foreign policy. Realpolitik and a common sense policy based on self-preservation in the face of historic hostility, or a foreign policy based on hostility and paranoia? Good arguments either way.

            So much potential. Damn Berman and Braga for ignoring everything good to focus on pointless $#!+!

          • Thomas Stockel

            I gave this a thumb’s up, but that just seemed so…inadequate. It’s an excellent analysis of what was left in DS9’s wake.

          • Muthsarah

            Wow, thanks. Truthfully, I don’t even remember writing that. Got a lil’ silly last night. :)

          • Beastro

            I think that’s the diamonds in the rough are what the movies Nemesis and Abrams movie provided: Nemesis alluded to the Star Empire opening up more and being accepting of the Federation at the end after the Senate was decapitated, but right after that we find their sun going kablewy and Spock dropping the ball by “vanishing”.

            That not only a Federation officer but a Vulcan one was sent to save the Romulans and screwed up would leave the Empire enraged and gunning for revenge, a perfect antagonist for a new series, or possibly a new ally to the rebel human faction, a pack of disillusioned, burnt out Dominion War vets, their families and those who identify more with the old, “primitive” humanity that is rough around the edges and embraces the necessity for a military and a more ruthless foreign policy to keep would be Dominions at by, up to and including using WMDs like the biological warfare of the Dominion War or using relativistic kill vehicles to make sure larger powers back off.

            To add to that, reverse the growing trend in the series of democratization in the universe and have the Emperor and the royal family suddenly stand up and fill the power gap with the full backing of his people.

            If the whole Klingon arch was showing the Cold War and its end, then let’s see the Klingons finding themselves unhappy with a more liberal society and how Klingon culture is unused to it and suddenly fills up with corruption ala 90s Russia until the rise of a strong man, and the cry from the masses for one, starts pulling the Empire back to it’s old ways, such as claiming that their people have lost their way and they must return to their natural state, being belligerent and eager for war.

            If the Fed is going to be ersatz United States, then have the series reflect the breath moment of complete galactic hegemony of the Fed before it’s own lazy society brought it down and returned the world to a darker, more old fashioned universe we keep finding ourselves descend into as the acclaimed post-Cold War New World Order falls apart.

            Regardless, it’s an awesome set up to finally take a close look at the Romulans, which have been sorely neglected since TNG. I think a good series that does for them what DS9 did for the Cardassians would be awesome.

          • Muthsarah

            Well, I understand that the post-DS9 movies DID focus heavily on the Romulans, though I suspect, in the case of ’09, they did it to de-emphasize the villains to put more focus on the main characters; the Klingons were too well-known to even general audiences. Unfortunately, Nemesis being an action movie, they chose to jump right from the Dominion War right into a new conflict, with an over-the-top villain, a ginormous starship, the fate of Earth on the line and blah blah blah typical B-grade crap that completely missed every point imaginable.

            The best thing about having the Romulans as the main villains of a story is that they’re the kind of villains who do nothing directly, nor impulsively. They plan their moves out well in advance. They try to manipulate the good guys, and hide their true intentions. As Picard said in “The Defector” (my favorite TNG episode): it’s always a game of chess with them. Though I don’t think any series explicitly laid this out, I suspect this is because the Romulans didn’t have the luxury of being an overpowering brute race, like the Klingons, the Borg, or the Jem’Hadar. They may be very closely related to the Vulcans, but we’ve never seen them display any superhuman strength (it would have been very relevant in episodes such as “The Enemy”), or act as bullies. Even in their first appearance, way back in “Balance of Terror”, they took the role of the enemy submarine in a WWII action movie – smaller than the good guys, fragile, but good at hiding.

            This would make them a poor adversary for an action flick, but a good adversary for a TV series with season-long arcs. They play the long game. You know they’re watching, you know they’re planning something, and you know they’re waiting for a moment of weakness or distraction before they strike. Everything we saw them do in TNG was to gain a new advantage over the Federation, never to attack them directly. They tried to provoke the Enterprise into violating their territory so they could capture it and win a propaganda victory (The Defector). They tried to contact a strange alien lifeform and, failing that, kill it, to prevent the Federation from contacting it (Tin Man). They tried to provoke a civil war in the Klingon Empire and install a new government that would break the alliance with the Federation (Redemption). They tried to capture an experimental Federation cloaking device (The Pegasus). They manipulated Spock into exposing dissenters within their own government, while simultaneously planning a swift invasion of Vulcan, hoping to catpure it WITHOUT provoking a war (Unification). They could potentially be responsible for causing any problem of the week. They could be behind any conflict the good guys have with a rogue admiral. They could be hiding in any nebula, they could be tracking any ship undetected, and they’re such a secretive society, with such a tight grip on their own people, you can’t be certain of anything they’re doing. They can manipulate their own people even better than they can manipulate yours.

            And why do they do all this? Because they’re relatively small and weak compared to their rivals. The Federation usually gets the better of them in any conflict, and feels secure enough to deny themselves cloaking technology while allowing the Romulans to still use it; the Federation wouldn’t have done this if the Federation wasn’t clearly the stronger of the two. And their biggest rivals, the Klingons, are scarier still. “Yesterday’s Enterprise” depicted the Klingon Empire defeating even the Federation in a war, they beat the hell out of the Cardassians in the show’s main plotline (the Cardassians had earlier fought the Federation to a standstill), and, of course, the Klingons are also both physically stronger and more aggressive than anyone we see in the Federation. Whatever the Romulans did to make enemies of two larger, stronger factions, they’re clearly “the little guy”. So they have to play it smart, and anyone capable of rising up to the ranks of captain, or admiral, or emperor/empress in the Romulan Empire has to be creative, devious, and very lucky. A survivor. And that makes them potentially VERY interesting villains. But you’d need more than two hours to shown them at their best.

            Regardless of what the Federation does after the Dominion War – go back to peaceful exploration, try to promote/protect democracy in the Klingon Empire, prepare for the Borg’s inevitable return, keep an eye on the Dominion, the Romulans would be lurking. Waiting. That would still give the creators freedom to do almost anything they wanted with the show, other than what they actually did – throw it all away on a one-shot spectacle that was just trying to ripoff a movie from a completely different era, and then to hit the reset button (twice, if you want to include Enterprise) and wipe away everything they still had to work with.

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            You know what, Beastro?
            I like DS09, too – however, I would not call Classic Trek naive. In its core principles it is a great idea: People trusting each other, no matter, where they come from, no privilege, because you’re white or a man or an andorian or whatever – you are there because you worked hard and earned your position there. No greed, no “I’m better than you”-attitude…
            And your TV-version of Star Trek would be one, I would not be watching.
            Because we already have dark-mistrustful-people-in-space-as-a-result-of-a-fallout-of-a-war… it’s called “Battlestar Galactica”. There it was good, but on Star Trek I would downright hate it.

            On BSG I can understand, why Adama is at first reluctant to call Sharon by her name, once it is clear, that she is a cylon. And she spends most of the second season and parts of the third in the brig. From a military standpoint, that is wise.

            However – I like Janeways approach to Seven of Nine more, than the one of Adama towards Sharon.
            “I don’t know if she is dangerous – we’ll see that. Let’s give her the benefit of a doubt.”

          • Beastro

            I forgot about this. Doubt this’ll be read, but what the heck.

            No, OST wasn’t completely naive, but that was thanks to the series not fully being in the hands of Roddenberry and the other producers/execs vetoing his “Starfleets not a military” BS and forcing it to be one along with grounding the series in other ways. OST is #2 on my list of the best ST series and it was for that streak of humanity rising above it’s background, but still being very rough around the edges, best exemplified by Kirk himself and his his ego.

            The problem was what happened once Roddenberry got complete control and TNG was only saved by his death.

            I don’t like BSG because BSG stumbled way passed a happy medium and almost went into Warhammer 40k grimedark territory with everyone being a piece of crap even those who don’t first appear to be because they’ve been overlooked by the producers and many eventually did get skeletons in their closet. There was no one really with clean hands and the cast was comprised of mostly a pack of scum (whether they first appeared to be or not) that had to redeem themselves and become better because they were all that were left of humanity.

            Now even though I disliked that angle of the show, I still understand it and BSG presented a scenario where such characters could be best presented, but I wouldn’t want a ST series centered around such characters. There has to be at least some decency and nobility in the cast.

            I wouldn’t want a new Star Trek series to be like that. To me that’s as bad as Star Treks over idealized moments and hypocrisy. If I had to pick a series that best represents what I’d want a new ST series to emulate, it would be its old 90s rival B5 (or even Farscape, itself a softening of the jetblack nature of Blake’s 7) with it all coming down more to “good people having to do bad things in shitty circumstances” than things being overly idealized or deeply cynical.

            My new cast of Federation rejects wouldn’t be running around the galaxy killing every sacred cow of Roddenberry’s, but trying to be as Realpolitik while maintaining ethical standards and their own consciences – essentially, what we are today in Western Liberal Democracies.

            —In its core principles it is a great idea: People trusting each other,
            no matter, where they come from, no privilege, because you’re white or a
            man or an andorian or whatever – you are there because you worked hard
            and earned your position there. No greed, no “I’m better than

            I have no disagreement here. What I do find ironic is what I’d try to reflect in the post-Dominion universe is a break away faction centered around vets disillusioned by the war and that practical and pragmatic mindset you start above is and always has been best represented within the military, especially the US military and the crucial role the Army played in the Civil Rights movement long before it ever happened and the role wars played in Women’s Lib by showing the practical need for having women play a larger role in society, one they didn’t want to give up after each World War (One which has been central to many other societies beyond our own such as the long tradition of female soldiers in the Thai military).

            But that also reflects an aspect alien to Star Trek as we know it where social progression and other things which mark of modern society come from war, suffering, crisis and danger, not from a Socialist Utopia full of Pacifists.

          • Cameron Vale

            Mainstream audiences never liked Picard’s finger-wagging for the same reason that they didn’t like treknobabble, because it was focused on principles that the writers simply made up. The problem was never a lack of reality, because Trek was never about reality. It’s about wonderful things like phasers and holodecks and racial equality, and it makes the audience aspire towards those things. Maybe that isn’t your style, but I wouldn’t call it folly. And in any case, it was the main appeal of Trek, so it was a death sentence when DS9 took it away.

          • Beastro

            To me one cannot have nice things people aspire to without if they’re not grounded in at least some semblance of reality. Without it it’s wish fulfilment where everything you want to exist does and works even if it wouldn’t in real life.

            To me that goes against the fundamental spirit of Star Trek which was that these ideals can exist, but we have to work hard for them, something which the franchise lost as it aged and changed hands winding up in Brennen and Braga’s where sensible ideals and ideas became dogma spouted without a single thought given like Janeway’s ever shifting interpretation of the Prime Directive not so much to suit the present bind Voyager was in but her present mood.

            What appealed to me so much about DS9 was that it showed people trying to adhere to the ideals of the Federation but finding themselves in circumstances everyone in wartime finds themselves facing and that is sacrificing their principles for the sake of survival and trying to not lose themselves in the process. Sisco it the best character to show this and SFDebris’s recap of “In the Pale Moonlight” explains my point perfectly: Sisco didn’t throw away everything he and the Fed stood for, but he had to sacrifice to do what was necessary while trying not to stray too far for boths moral centers.

            To me it shows one of the deep flaws Star Trek has had and one Roddenberry created: You cannot have drama, or at least good drama, without flawed characters and conflict and all he wanted was perfect people that never argued because they were better than that. ST may not have started out a wish fulfilment, but by the time he died, he was full on pushing to have TNG be that and it’s why the franchise almost died and didn’t because he beat it to the finishing line.

          • Muthsarah

            Gene lived long enough to see Trek taken away from him. I think he died during Season Five; he was replaced after Season Two.

            Gene’s idealism wasn’t wholly bad. You CAN mine drama out of having optimism and absolute integrity as a running ideal. The problem is that it’s useful as a goal to strive for, and not as a goal already reached. Gene’s Federation had achieved moral perfection before the first episode of either TOS or TNG; their respective Enterprises’ identical mission was to jet around the galaxy, spreading the good news to the less-enlightened. Whenever something went wrong, it was either an accident, or the fault of somebody else. That’s a missionary’s tale, which I suppose could have appeal to the metaphorical choir, but if you don’t buy into the message 100%, it just comes off as misguided, inflexible, and arrogant.

            If early TNG in particular had featured its characters sharing the same ideals, but differing on how to go about achieving them (as TOS often did with the Spock/Bones shoulder-angel/slightly-different-shoulder-angel dichotomy), it could at the least have escaped the reputation of the crew being uniformly self-righteous twerps who claimed to know everything but acted like complete imbeciles week in, week out. Some could have been on the wrong side of a well-meaning dispute one episode, and on the right side the next. Instead, everyone is brilliant and perfect and harmonious and everything (except for Worf, whose own brilliance had been clearly stolen by Wesley) from the opening credits….so how come it took 40 minutes for them to solve the episode’s dilemma? Again? The crew would have to all be implausibly dense. And so they were. The crew would stare at the MacGuffin-made-flesh for a few minutes, everyone would miss the blindingly obvious solution already presented, Picard would get irritable, two or three of them would start talking about something 20th-century-ish that would have nothing to with anything, they’d all stare at each other, take an obviously pointless course of action, have it immediately fail, Picard would get even more irritable, and then, half the time, the dilemma would resolve itself when the cause of the problem does something even dumber. Moral of the story: the Federation was right, by forfeit.

          • Bruce Grubb

            The thing is that Roddenberry’s TOS was NOT that idealistic if you looked at the details. Nearly every time Kirk met someone important in the Federation they were either were already stark raving bonkers or had their nervous breakdown in Kirk’s presence.

            For example, unless he was totally nuts _how_ did John Gill think that recreating Nazi Germany was not going to go pear shaped?

      • Guest

        Yeah it was Voyager being met with a lukewarm reception and Enterprise being hated that did it more than DS9.
        Then I also think there was a case of ‘Trek-fatigue’ after nearly a quarter century of Trek.

        • Thomas Stockel

          Absolutely. Paramount really did beat the franchise into the ground, with diminishing returns.

  • Ken Blythe

    Controversial choice. Dukat’s probably my favorite Star Trek villain and honestly one of my examples of a villain done right, to respectfully disagree. Most of the things you point out can be answered with character growth and being a Magneto-esque character, as others have pointed out. He also has an intense desire to rationalize the things he’s done because he can’t stand how venerated Sisko is over him.

    The things I really carry away from Dukat start around season 3 and 4
    when the show really hit its stride. (Lets be honest, as a whole those
    first few seasons weren’t great so I can’t single him out there. Better
    than a lot of other Trek things but not great.) Zhial (spelling?) is a good example of his growth and the fact that he
    does have redeeming qualities. The “softening” of Dukat was actually
    really effective for me because it gave you a visceral reaction to his
    betrayal and humanized it beyond a 2d villain. Waltz was a big turning point not cause he went crazy but because he finally admitted that he was proud of the terrible things he did and would do them again. That’s what caused him to go “pure evil” and a lot of this is directly tied into that Cardassian sense of pride that the show spends a great deal of time exploring. If you haven’t check out SF debris’ stuff on Dukat.

    Dukat also did win, quite a bit actually, but it was often a pyrrhic victory or a critical battle he couldn’t afford to lose. For instance, he took over DS9 for a while and for much of the show the Federation was barely getting through by the skin of its teeth. Many times Dukat is actually shown as a competent commander (remember he’s the one who saw through Sisko’s plan when retaking DS9) and mostly Dukat is a tragic figure because he’s brought down by his biggest flaw – his pride. He’s smart but he’s blind in a few key areas (Kira, Zhial, Dumar) that undo him. For the longest time we didn’t even know how fragile the Dominion alliance was until we hit the Dominion War arc and saw how things were behind the scenes. That made for a really good dramatic turn and gave some hope to a desperate situation.

    In short, I do feel Dukat works well beyond the picture you’ve painted of him. Yes, he’s in some bad episodes, especially early on. I feel like many of the issues you have with him can be ascribed to larger “Trek-isms” that became so prominent later on and dilute many an episode into a bland 40 minute experience. If that sounds like an excuse, I don’t think you can be a Star Trek fan and not build up a tolerance for a few eye-rolling plot points.

    • Thomas Stockel

      Yeah, I knew discussing Dukat might knock a few noses out of joint, and I respect your opinion regarding him. I just feel that if pride were such a huge motivator, one large enough that he would willingly sell himself and his entire race into slavery, then that completely flies in the face of the man willing to utterly throw away his career and social standing to recognize his Ziyal as his daughter.

      I love SF Debris’ stuff, and I think the one time I completely disagreed with him was Waltz. I utterly hate the convention of the person speaking to people who aren’t there. I refused to watch Rescue Me the moment Dennis O’Leary began talking to his dead cousin, it was the beginning of the end for me where NCIS was concerned. But it goes beyond that. Crazy is lazy writing and it was obvious Dukat went from nuanced character to mustache twirling villain and they were doing everything possible to make him so, from revealing he used to rape Kira’s mother on a regular basis to him killing Jadzia, to him becoming a cult leader in Covenant. Subtle? What’s that? It was like the writers were overcompensating for all those years people actually liked Dukat, when he actually had, you know, depth.

      • Muthsarah

        I haven’t read any of the Trek compendiums or companion books or episode note…book things that sell for $70 ‘cuz of all the pictures and licenses and stuff. Maybe you (or someone else has).

        I’m very curious to know from where exactly the decision came to change Dukat back from the path of impossible redemption to full-on villain. SF Debris has mentioned Berman constantly pulling the DS9 creators back from many potentially edgy paths they wanted to take the show. Though I can’t say, I wouldn’t be remotely surprised if making Dukat a pure baddie again was his decision; it would be consistent, at least. Then again, it could easily have been someone else. Anyone here know something?

        God, I’m just picturing what it would have been like for Dukat to be redeemed, first by his devotion to Ziyal, then by coming to first acknowledge his deeds from the point of view of someone else, then begin a lifelong, uphill struggle to redeem himself to the Bajorans, probably never forgiven by Kira, but given some measure of respect, and leading the liberation of Cardassia alongside Sisko. It would have been the greatest Trek thing since ever! I think even Gene woulda loved the idea that nobody is beyond redemption, and that anyone, however hard their upbringing, no matter how many evil deeds they committed, can nevertheless become a better person. I woulda happily sacrificed Waltz for that, as much as I like that episode.

      • Ken Blythe

        Interesting discussion. The pride thing always came off as an ongoing struggle with Dukat (and even Garak, who was somewhat of a foil in that regard). With Ziyal, he wanted to kill her because of his pride but swallowed it cause he has a soft spot for his family (shown in Season 3) and certain people he felt fell under his protection like Kira and her mother. I don’t think he “raped” Kira’s mom, my impression from that one episode was that it started rapey but grew into a mutual relationship – at worst it was left ambiguous but I know they brought that up cause Kira got all mopey, as she does. The show rarely ever dealt in straight binaries and was often at its best when it didn’t.

        Also, I think there was always a plan to reverse Dukat back into the main bad guy (I think I’m getting that from SF debris), I liked this cause it showed that sometimes he won a little with his pride struggle and sometimes he lost. I think he did it cause he was ashamed of what Cardassia had become but in the end it turned out to be a deal with the devil. Any time Dukat tried to redeem himself and his race it was always revealed that he did it for the wrong reasons.

        Anyway, I will be the first one to admit DS9 has its faults. The Maquis were a complete waste of good potential. The ending in the fire caves (not the war itself) was pretty lackluster. Quark got breasts. But I like that the show took a lot of risks, remained focused on its characters (Garak is probably my favorite ST character) while having a good overall arc, and had a lot of integrity. This and TNG are often tied as my favs but for different qualities. Many of the faults are things I see as endemic to Trek and not particular reasons to hold against this show. I mean, TNG straight up forgot about its main antagonists all the time. Whatever happened to Romulan Tasha Yar (books don’t count, show should be stand alone but enriched by them)? How come Q is portrayed so inconsistently, sometimes as a jester and sometimes as a benevolent force? Why give this “Riker’s transporter accident” episode such horrible implications? The whole of Trek is sort of a perfect bell curve of quality.

  • Data Logan

    While I’m a big fan of Star Trek in general and Deep Space Nine
    specifically, I do agree with your main point in this video. Dukat was a bit of a weak villain because of
    the time spent to humanize him, the fact that he loses too often, and the last
    1.5 seasons when he’s basically just insane.

    What follows is a few more thoughts, in general order from where we
    agree to where we disagree.

    I do think it was a bit far-fetched that Dukat was able to overcome his
    disgrace (Tora Zyal from “Indiscretion”) and regain some significant leadership
    role, which eventually allows him to basically take over Cardassia with the
    Dominion (in “By Inferno’s Light”)—thus thrusting him into a major villain role
    again on the show. The only way I can
    explain it is that the Dominion purposely chose him as their Yes-Man.

    I do agree that early DS9 was pretty boring, but I don’t think that can
    be explained by them focusing on the things you mentioned over Dukat’s

    By my count, Dukat got 7 episodes in the early times leading up to “Defiant”:
    “Emissary”, “Cardassians”, “Necessary Evil”, “The Maquis”, “Civil Defense”, and
    “Defiant”. In these episodes it was very
    important to the story that Dukat was involved and not some random Cardassian.

    In that same time:

    General Cardassian stories numbered 7: “Duet”, “Homecoming”, “The
    Circle”, “The Siege”, “Profit and Loss”, “Tribunal”, and “Second Skin”

    Politics of Bajor stories numbered 9: “Past Prologue”, “Battle Lines”, “The
    Storyteller”, “Progress”, “Duet”, “The Homecoming”, “The Circle”, “The Siege”, “The

    Wormhole Aliens stories only numbered 1: “In the Hands of the Prophets”

    Maquis stories numbered 3: “The Maquis” and “Defiant”

    But the real problem with this early life of DS9 was ALL THE OTHER
    episodes, totaling 34! They were still
    trying to make the show too much like TNG, with a visiting “situation of the
    week” that had nothing to do with the important unique character of DS9
    (including Dukat).

    The fact that Dukat is sometimes defeated by other characters, like
    Garak or Kira, and not just Sisko, is a good thing. Not a bad thing, as you state in the
    video. Part of what the show is telling
    us is that the good guys win because they work as a team, while villains like
    Dukat too often try and work alone – or even actively work to destroy their
    teammates (like in “Cardassians” or “Civil Defense”).

    I think Dukat became more than a 2D character faster than you
    remember. Like the establishment of him
    having children, as you mention. You
    point out a scene from season 3 episode “Defiant”, but we actually first learn
    of Dukat’s kids in the season 2 episode “The Maquis, Part 1”. And we had already learned a bit more about
    his background in earlier episodes like “Cardassians”.

    Dukat is a complex, multifaceted, character. While that does, at times, reduce his
    effectiveness as a “great villain”, it does something much more important – it makes
    him a “great character”. And I would
    rather have a great character who is occasionally a villain [a “tweener”] than
    a great villain who only occasionally has character development.

    Like when you say Dukat is not interesting in the last 2.5 seasons because
    he’s just a “yes-man” of the Dominion. I
    think that’s an unfair reading of what makes the character interesting. Sure, he’s only a yes-man. And that, in fact, doesn’t make him much of a
    villain on a grand scale. But it does
    make him an interesting character. A
    character who’s deluding himself into thinking he has a position of power, when
    really he’s just doing what the Dominion tells him.

    So, yeah, I guess I agree that Dukat is not a great villain, but he’s
    something more—a great character.

    Dukat’s belief in the Pah-wraiths cannot be seems as just a delusion of
    a madman. [Much like Sisko’s belief in
    the Prophets cannot be seen as such.] That
    is not part of his insanity, if he is even still insane after “Waltz”. Because these beings actually do exist [within
    the Star Trek universe] and have been proven to have amazing powers.

    Dukat is not, and never was a Legate.
    His rank was Gul most of the time.
    In relation to Bajor, his position during the Occupation was “Prefect”. So I think you were trying to say “the
    Prefect of Bajor”, not “the Legate of Bajor”.

    • Thomas Stockel

      Ah, well, apologies for the slight mistakes. I didn’t have access to all the DS9 episodes and a lot of my memories were refreshed from reading stuff from Memory Alpha. An awesome web site, by the way. Not sure where I got “legate” from, though. :/

      Anyway, I think in regards to Dukat’s viability as a villain we will probably have to agree to disagree. I see your points, but the fact remains that in the end that last seaons and a half had Dukat doing some pretty insane stuff. I mean, he willingly becomes the tool of a race of beings who are going to, I believe was the term “set fire to the galaxy” or some such. His family still lives in that galaxy, even if they did disown him.

      • Muthsarah

        I think we have all agreed to collectively write off the first 1.5 years of TNG. Can’t we come together to write off the last 1.5 years of Dukat?

      • Data Logan

        Legate is a high rank in the Cardassian military, just not one that Dukat ever had.

  • quaz

    Was Dukat just supposed the guy to be taking bumps,, face or heel :P
    I think making Dukat an alley was a great idea, and by far when he was at his best. Maybe taking a heel turn with the or P’wraiths or Dominion to save his daughter (which I kind of thought was part of his motivation, but looking back, maybe not quite upfront enough) might have been a better reason for him, instead of villain, just man doing what he needs to do. Though honestly the idea as him as an alley and his past coming back to bite him in the ass more often would have worked great. The whole how does a villain become hero with so much baggage. I must admit I like Dukat overall, but it was really the actor underneath that kept the character interesting for me. Garak was by far always my favorite, though I liked it more when his background was big secret than before it was revealed. Overall though I still like DS9 more than say Voyager or Enterprise (gahhh), but not as much as Next Gen, and who doesn’t have that special place in their heart for TOS.

    • Thomas Stockel

      Yes, exactly. I wouldn’t have had a problem with Dukat’s decisions if the motivation behind them made more sense. What if the Ziyal on DS9 was not Ziyal, but a Founder? And Ziyal was a hostage? What if key members of the Cardassian military were all victims like Dukat, with members of their families held hostage so the Cardassian military could be used as a weapon?

      And you’re right; Mark Alaimo is a great actor, as is Andrew J. Robinson. His Garak was one of the high points of the series, a guy whose agenda did not always sinc up with the heroes’.

  • Eliot Littlejohn

    in ds9 and dukats defense i would go as far to say this was one of the greatest star trek villain arcs. How many supernatural bad guys are their in star trek. For whatever reason tng is held in higher praise than ds9. I wont totally knock tng because i grew up on it but tng is close to voyager territory. Were in a show of 7 seasons theirs only hand full of good episodes. They spent way to much time on junior high band recitals and space anomaly’s messing up the ship. Tng had the same problem alot of old shows had villain of the week episodes and in other cases anomaly of the week. What made ds9 and dukat better than tng in some ways was that tng didnt have a main villain. You could say the borg but the borg are a race and the borg queen was one and done. She wasnt even in the series and she had the miss fortune of being on voyager. Dukat was a guy determined to to kill captain sisko and by extension the federation. your lying if you say that wasnt bad ass when he killed dax. Got possessed by the p wraiths and let out that invasion of the body snatchers scream.

    • Thomas Stockel

      First of all, I never needed a supernatural villain in my ‘Trek; I could have done quite well without all the mystical nonsense Pillar tried to sell me. Dukat killing Dax? Well, I never much cared for Dax so her dying really didn’t matter to me. And really it just felt like the producers were trying extra hard to make Dukat menacing and make me hate him. In an earlier episode Wrongs Darker Than Death or Night, we saw Kira time travel so she could see her mother being repeatedly raped by Dukat. He had become a cartoon character, a caricature.

      You know what really annoys me, though, about Dax’s death? Sisko’s response. Does he take off his uniform and vow to go after Dukat, to bring down the man who killed his best friend? No. Instead he goes home and sulks. The producers spent years telling me how utterly badass this guy is, and this is what he does when Jadzia dies.

      Imagine how season six ends. Sisko requests leave time. He slowly removes his uniform, dons something else (Preferably black. Preferably leather.) and does the slow motion walk towards the airlock with a duffel bag in one hand, phaser rifle slung over his shoulder, possibly some Isaac Hayes playing in the background. But no, he goes home to cry on Daddy’s shoulder.

      TNG had recurring villains; you had Q, Sela, Tomalak, Lore, Lursa and B’etor, Spot. But I understand what you mean where, except for Spot they only each appeared in a handful of episodes. The thing is, and the point of my video was, they didn’t to my mind handle Dukat very well. In my next installment I am going to look at a recurring villain from another franchise and show how I felt it could be done right.

      • Eliot Littlejohn

        i get what you mean but we cant talk about this without comparing. Khan is the greatest star trek villain excluding the sorry ass into darkness khan. Of course but khan gets his rep partly because people think hes the guy who killed spock. wrong spock chose to sacrifice himself. i think he was suffering a form of vulkan depression. he was suicidal any way expect for the villain of the week armis. Dukat is the only trek villain responsible for a main characters death. i agree with you the season 6 end with sisko peeling potatoes in the alley was lame. The season 7 opening where he gets shanked by a bajorian teenager was to. I never really thought of q as a villain i think he was like the ferengi. in the first few seasons they tried to make him a threat. in the later seasons like the ferengi you knew it was going to be a action comedy episode. Yeah he introduced the borg but the borg were going the make it to their galaxy anyway. Sela was awesome but like tomalak the character just went away. How awesome would it have been for them to be in nemesis. Just another example of tng getting credit even though they dropped the ball. Like with lore your rite about spot though shes the one villain tng couldnt get rid of or disassemble. Even after her failed assassination attempt on geordi. Exposing worf to her biological weapons and having children out of wedlock.

        • Muthsarah

          “Dukat is the only trek villain responsible for a main characters death.”

          Except for Soran from Generations and Armus from Skin of Evil (EDIT: right, you got that one. Well, Dukat’s the only villain to actually gun down a main character, but Khan’s every bit as responsible for what happened to Spock as Soran is for Kirk).

          Sela had great potential for a villain, but she never really did anything. She wasn’t intimidating in Redemption, she was merely meaningful…briefly. Then, yeah, she went away after that nothing of an episode, Unification. Trek rarely did the Romulans well; they’d be briefly scary (with cool-looking ships), but they’d always get tricked way too easily. When they were supposed to be the “devious” villain race. I think the Cardassians ended up stealing a lot of their thunder, but then, they’re probably the best overall enemy race Trek ever made.

      • Jonathan Campbell

        “You know what really annoys me, though, about Dax’s death? Sisko’s response. Does he take off his uniform and vow to go after Dukat, to bring down the man who killed his best friend? No. Instead he goes home and sulks. ”

        If memory serves, I don’t think anyone ever did find out that Dukat was the one killed Dax in the first place. He unleashed the Pah-Wraith, killed Dax (by accident, mind), left, then Dax’s body was found afterwards. I don’t think he ever admitted it to anyone either.

        • Thomas Stockel

          Still, his friend is dead and his response is so against what I remember the way Sisko was written. Here is a guy who was willing to do Anything to bring down Eddington. Now his friend lays dying and there was no search for answers, no passion. Nope, the writers needed Ben out of the way so he was written in such a manner as to take him off the board.

          • Jonathan Campbell

            Wouldn’t say that.

            Seemed to me it was more like a man at the end of his tether- over the last few years he’d discovered he was a Messiah, gained and lost prophetic visions, seen the final apocalyptic battle between good and evil be ruined by Kai Winn, lost his station, regained his station, been forced to lock up his girlfriend, been at the centre of multiple intergalactic crises including coups and wars…and finally, when they score a major victory against the Dominion, the Wormhole is closed, his best friend is dead, and crucially he has no one to punch because he doesn’t know who did it- in fact as far as he knows, it was just a Pah-Wraith that he can’t really punch in the first place.

            He didn’t search for answers because the answer seemed obvious- wrong place, wrong time, middle of a battle, demon running loose. In that particular situation any one of a million things could have killed Dax, and the actual culprit- the Pah-Wraith, not Dukat- was someone he could do absolutely nothing about.

            Everything he’s fought and struggled with and for over the previous six seasons had just been snatched away from him…It made sense that he’d want to rethink things. Eddington was just another bit of stress to add to the list.

          • Charlie

            But didn’t Kira take Dukat to task for killing Jadzia later on. Even if you are fine with Sisko going home to cry after her death, that still doesn’t excuse Worf’s lack of action. He tossed aside his career to avenge K’Ehelyr’s death, so why didn’t he do the same with Dax’s? (answer: because his marriage to Dax was a waste of time)

  • conservative man

    I don’t care what anyone says, as far as I am concerned Deep Space 9 was one the best of the star trek series, It dared to go where no other trek had gone before… or since. It had a great cast, great stories, great characters, and when worf came along we got to see more stories involving Klingons ! You can’t ask for more than that !

  • Sykes

    Starts video playing.
    Notices text that says, “most overrated Star Trek series, Deep Space Nine.”

    Stops video.

    You want an overrated villain? The Borg.

    • Muthsarah

      The Borg were interesting the first time they showed up, and arguably the second, given how much else was going on in that episode. But their very one-note character means that there’s really nothing much you can do with them; they’re too exaggerated to represent anything meaningful about conformity-run-amok, which is all they’ve got.

      Then again, people always love them some zombies.

  • Robin

    There is a bit of logic to Dukat’s coup. But to lay the groundwork, he’s less Sisko’s opposite number, more space Hitler. Much like Germany, you have an empire, defeated in war which goes through hard times. In the space of 5 years, they go from fighting the Federation, to running scared from a few hundred colonists in the Maquis.
    Then suddenly, they have this charismatic figure arrive, who says “you know what, I can make us strong again, like when people like me had power” he brings with him a huge army that makes all their enemies afraid, and within 2 weeks, he reclaims all their lost territory etc. That’s how he does it, through mere firepower, and with the arrogance that is his trademark letting him think he’s anything more than a puppet.
    As for the “Sisko’s opposite” I always saw that differently. Dukat wants to be Sisko’s opposite so badly. When they team up, he point out the similarities, when on opposing sides, he just sees him as his replacement, the representative of a foreign power in the region.
    Slowly this eats him up inside, Sisko dismisses all of this out of hand in many episodes. The Bajorans love him but hate Dukat, who was only doing his best, they forced him to kill them. “Waltz” in particular shows this mentality, this resentment growing inside him till it explodes and he wants to become Sisko and be loved, or kill them all. It’s after this point he starts consciously modelling himself on Sisko, with his cult, getting into Bajoran mysticism.

  • King Beauregard

    Gul Dukat wasn’t Sisko’s opposite number; however, Gul Dukat saw Sisko as his opposite number.

    Gul Dukat wasn’t a villain, not until the end of the series anyway. What he was, was a good servant of the Cardassian Empire. As such, he was willing to do horrible things in the name of his empire, and was fairly unapologetic about it.

    The big twist in Gul Dukat is that he tried to pass himself off as a more enlightened type of Cardassian, who could rule more skillfully because he could temper force with benevolence. Not that there is much genuine benevolence you can bring to bear when you are the tyrannical ruler of an entire planet; at that point you are the bad guy and the only question is exactly how much blood will be on your hands. In any event, that benevolence of Gul Dukat’s (such as it was) was a means to an end, really a couple of them: professional success, and popular acclaim. He achieved neither.

    And this is why Gul Dukat sees Sisko as his opposite number: because Sisko managed to achieve everything Gul Dukat wanted to, just by being sincere about it. Professionally successful? Sisko managed to get Bajor back on its feet, oversaw the final reparations treaty with Cardassia, and even got Bajor to a point where it could join the Federation. Popular acclaim? Sisko was the most beloved figure on all of Bajor, in part for being a bona fide religious figure, but even moreso for demonstrating good intentions and acting on them again and again. Everything Gul Dukat tried so hard to achieve, Sisko managed almost by accident. And that’s why Gul Dukat found Sisko so infuriating.

    Some folks don’t like Gul Dukat’s transformation into a plain old boring bad guy near the series end, but I see it as inevitable: Gul Dukat required resolution, and the proper resolution wasn’t for him to become a good guy. If nothing else, Gul Dukat’s actions allowed Kai Wynn to demonstrate some tiny flicker of decency at the end. I guess I like knowing that Kai Wynn wasn’t 100% irredeemable; maybe 99%, but not 100%.

  • Jonathan Campbell

    I disagree about Dukat being inconsistent. His goal was never simply ambition, although that was there; his main driving force, instead, was that he wanted to be loved, praised, adored.

    That’s why he likes to imagine himself as the benevolent ruler of Bajor, as well as explaining his womanizing and self-image as a ladykiller (rather than the de facto serial rapist he actually is). This is also why he spares Ziyal- its not so much that he found something better than his selfish ambition, its that he’s found someone who would love him unconditionally as opposed to back on Cardassia where he’s already lost popularity and his love is based on military and political success. His Pah-Wraith behaviour and later omnicidal mania make sense in this light, since he’s lost everything now (and lets not forget the fact that he took over a cult and made himself its Messiah-figure) and is bitter enough to lash out at everyone, not to mention he is being manipulated by the Pah-Wraith themselves who feed his egomaniacal delusions of importance by making him their Chosen One.

    I’ll grant that there is a show-don’t-tell problem with Dukat, but I don’t agree that he’s inconsistent. Whether or not it was by design, its not hard to make sense of his character arc. Dukat is not and never was simply a careerist; he was a narcissist with an attention-seeking complex and for all intents and purposes a self-deluding sociopath.

    As others have said, the idea that he is Sisko’s opposite number was really more in his own head than anything else. Its entirely natural for someone like Dukat to imagine that he and Sisko have a connection, because Sisko is the guy who essentially has his old job and managed to get all the love from the Bajorans that he so craved due as much to opportunity and luck (turning out to be their Emissary, coming to them after years of Cardassian tyranny) as his skills as an officer. Its envy rationalized as mutual respect.

    And as for becoming the leader of Cardassia- well, when you have an entire invading force backing you up, and when the last governments clearly sucked, and when you have the charisma that comes with being played by Marc Alaimo, its not like your playing with a bad hand. Dukat may not have been as competent or successful as many fans thought he was, but that was because he’s the kind of slimy, delusional con-man who can successfully convince others as well as himself that he actually is.

  • Guest

    I think you’re spot on. Gul Dukat was a million times more charismatic than Sisko yet commanded no loyalty and little respect. At least he is likable. Meanwhile, Kira Nerys who was, or should have been, nearly impossible to work with and a terrible choice for an officer in any military let alone a foreign one, enjoyed an unconvincing degree of friendship and admiration. She was completely unlikable to me as a viewer.

    • Thomas Stockel

      I wasn’t Kira’s biggest fan, either. My understanding is Michelle Forbes was supposed to have the role of second in command as lt. Ro Laren, but by then she had dropped out of the ‘Trek franchise for other endeavors and they wrote her character out in what I think was a decent manner. I have nothing against Nana Visitor as an actor, but considering her performance as a bad guy on Dark Angel I think her temperament went more towards villains than heroes.

  • Dustin

    As a big DS9 fan, after reading the title of the video, I came in here to do some serious hating. But after listening to your whole argument, I gotta say, you raise some good points. Will mull the points over the next time I power through the series.

  • moreorless

    Honestly I think Dukat is an excellent reflection of the show as a whole. He’s well acted from the start but lacking in depth and meaningful plotting. Then as we get to season 3 we start to see those elements build up more effectively and he has a strong run until early/mid season 6 at which point he starts to become less interesting and is drawn out for too long before being delt with much too quickly.
    One point I would make about the video review is that when Dukat sets up the alliance with the Dominion he’s no longer a failed military officer on a freighter but rather someone who has been fighting a one man resistance against the Klingons whilst the Cardasian government favour appeasement. That someone viewed as a heroic resistance fighter would quickly gain support in favour of a government viewed as weak when he offers an alliance that will make Cardassia strong again didn’t seem unrealistic at all.

  • Claudia Trent

    Voyager threw its original premise out the window early and became a pure TNG retread.

    What in the fuck? How in the fuck did you come up with this dumb ass conclusion? Being stuck in Delta Quadrant, trying to survive and trying to return to the Alpha Quadrant had been the mainstay of that show until the end. What “original premise” were you talking about?

    • mamba

      I’m not the original poster, but I can see why they said that.

      Basically every episode should have has some sense if “bringing them closer to earth”, and the FIRST season had exactly that They explored to find things to live. They met new races specifically because they had tech that could be used to get closer, or some map, or wormhole, or whatever. Neelex even had a very nice arc where he hit the limits of his knowledge of the area and stays anyway, knowing he’d be useless. Everything always hinged on the morality of “get home…exploit the natives or not?” They even had a subplot of Janeway considering joining the bad guys just for safe passage!

      But AFTER that? General exploring and meeting new races with not even a mention of going home quicker…just “doing the Starfleet thang”. Hell I got the impression by the second season they had pretty much solved their food/resources problems, as they never mentioned them again. Episodes were alien-of-the-week to fight or escape from. Bottle episodes focusing on the crew’s interactions (not a bad thing unto itself). If the crew ever did anything meaningful, the reset button was usually pushed. And the Borg…. That was the final straw separating the 2 shows.

      Catch is as stated, this is TNG’s plot, not Voyagers!

      • Conuly

        Also, don’t forget it was supposed to be “Maquis and Starfleet – can they get along?” and mostly that was dropped after a few episodes. Yes, they all were one big happy family! (Don’t get me started on Seska, by the way. She could’ve had a really great and interesting narrative arc but they threw it away for her to backstab her way into oblivion.)

        • mamba

          Agreed. Another good part they could have had they immediately tossed it right out the airlock. The Starfleet way, or the Marquis way? The dual morality and the blending of the crew? The clash and conflicts as the 2 backgrounds cloud their decisions? Would this make it a unique show among Star Trek…immediately tossing new ideas and unpredictable outcomes due to the Marquis influences??

          NOPE!!!! Pretty much immediately they just agreed that the Starfleet way is the best way to handle every decision and, basically, lifestyle. Their entire Marquis culture and way of thinking were tossed aside as a nothing more than a historical footnote as quickly as a Borg assimilation.

          They literally couldn’t see a good idea if it was staring them in the face, .