Season Six, Episode 11
Written by Ronald D Moore
Directed by Rene Auberjonois
Music by Paul Baillargeon
Main Cast:
Avery Brooks as Captain Benjamin Sisko
Rene Auberjonois as Odo
Michael Dorn as Lt Cmdr Worf
Terry Farrell as Lt Cmdr Jadzia Dax
Cirroc Lofton as Jake Sisko
Colm Meaney as Chief Miles O'Brien
Armin Shimerman as Quark
Alexander Siddig as Dr Julian Bashir
Nana Visitor as Major Kira Nerys

Guest Stars:
Marc Alaimo as Dukat
Jeffrey Combs as Weyoun
Casey Biggs as Damar 


En route to Dukat's war crimes tribunal, the starship is attacked and both Dukat and Sisko make it to an escape pod and crash land on a barren planet. Sisko is badly injured and is nursed by Dukat, who is not exactly working on all thrusters in the head department. While the Defiant searches for their missing Captain, Dukat seems determined to gain Sisko's approval, but a confrontation leads Dukat into a torrent of rage. He beats Sisko and flees the planet (evidently their escape pod was working all along), vowing to destroy Bajor, warning that "this time not even their Emissary can save them". Sisko is rescued by the Defiant but now realises that Dukat is a dangerous, evil man who represents a grave threat to Bajor.


Waltz is a taut little drama that obviously takes its cue from Duet, the piece de resistance of "bottle shows". Like Duet, this is very much a two-hander, set almost entirely in a single set. And whilst it doesn't come close to Duet in terms of sheer brilliance, Waltz still works quite well, although it's marred by what I'd describe as a case of "Ron Moore Philosophical Syndrome"! More on that later.

Well, this is the first time we've seen Dukat since he lost his empire, his daughter and eventually his sanity at the climax of Sacrifice of Angels. The sight of him, huddled in a cell, deliriously talking to his deceased daughter was about as poignant and striking an image DS9 has ever evoked. Apparently Dukat has now "fully recovered" from his "temporary instability" as he puts it. Gosh, no one has more of a way with words than Gul Dukat!

However, as the episode unfolds and Dukat and Sisko are stranded on a barren world after their ship is destroyed, it becomes evident that Dukat may not have recovered quite as well as we were led to believe. First of all, two enemies stranded together and forced to co-operate with each other for survival - ick, what a cliched premise! Luckily, once you get over that, there's quite a lot to sink your teeth into here.

We get an intriguing glimpse into the mind of Dukat, largely through the people he hallucinates -- Kira, Damar and Weyoun, each of whom represent a different part of his psyche. I'm very surprised Ziyal didn't pop up anywhere, though I am glad they at least acknowledged her in the episode's teaser. It was, after all, her death which brought on Dukat's insanity (or it was the icing on the cake, at the very least).

We see that Dukat has an innate need to gain Sisko's approval, and respect. There's always been a fascinating dynamic to the Sisko/Dukat relationship, and it's wholly feasible that Dukat respects Sisko, and needs Sisko's respect in return. After all, we've already seen evidence of this belief system - last time in Sacrifice of Angels, he told Weyoun "a true victory is getting your enemies to acknowledge they were wrong to oppose you in the first place." He wanted some measure of respect and regret from the Bajorans (and didn't get it) and here he wants that same respect and regret from Sisko (not likely!).

Of course, Sisko's having none of it. Cast your mind back to the final scene of Sacrifice of Angels with Sisko standing over Dukat in the cell. Avery Brooks played the scene with a look of pity on his face, as if he almost felt sorry for Dukat. Well, if that were so, he's gotten over it! He acknowledges in his log that a part of him wishes Dukat were dead. Needless to say, he has very little respect for this man, let alone guilt and having opposed him!

The Sisko/Dukat interplay is fascinating and well-written - up until the end, anyway. Sisko, upon realising Dukat has obviously gone cuckoo, challenges his motives with regard to the Occupation. Eventually Dukat flips altogether, screaming how much he hates the Bajorans, how they are an inferior race and how he wishes he'd killed every last one of them. Well, I took this as the delusional rantings of a madman. Except I don't think we're meant to. I think Ron Moore wants us to believe that this is the "real" Dukat speaking, and that he really is a very evil man.

Well, that would be all good and well, but it just doesn't fit what's gone before. We've seen on many occasions, Dukat treated the Bajorans as "his children" ("like any father, I only want what's best for them"). He even fell in love with one of them (Ziyal's mother). He's had a mad crush of Kira, a Bajoran. And yet now we're meant to disregard all this, because the writers have suddenly felt the need to declare Dukat "truly evil"! Whilst his multi-faceted personality has always been part of the character's appeal, I simply find this hard to swallow. If we are meant to accept Dukat as the Cardassian equivalent of  Hitler, then why did the writers spend so long "humanising" the character, and then going back on that? I'm really confused.

And here Dukat is obviously mentally ill. Yet Sisko goes on to declare him "evil" because of his actions here. But he's mentally ill! How can you call someone who's mentally disturbed "evil"?! Does this mean that any one afflicted by mental illness (and there's a whacking great percentage of the population who are in some way or another) is evil? Isn't this more than a little offensive?

I think Ron Moore ought to have thought a little harder at what kind of message he was giving out. But, it's been my observation over the past couple of years, that whilst Mr Moore is a very good writer (he's penned some of my favourite episodes), he falls flat on his face whenever he tries to do the "deep and meaningful". It's all very well giving a story deeper meaning - I love that - but Ron's attempts usually come across as muddled and pretentious. Take The Darkness and the Light - a splendid episode, up until the closing moments where Ron decides to try and be poetic and make it all deep and philosophical. It results in the tedious ravings of a madman, and Kira wittering on about...I haven't a clue what she was wittering on about!

The same is pretty much true of the conclusion to Waltz. Sisko tells Dax that he's always thought about life as being in "shades of gray", until he's spent time with Dukat and realised that there is such a thing as "pure evil" - ie, Dukat! Excuse me, but he's a sick man! Not evil - well, maybe he has got an evil streak, but I don't think he is pure evil. I do believe much of life exists in shades of gray, and for that to be the case, there obviously must be the two polarities of that spectrum (ie, good and evil). Hell, I don't deny the existence of pure evil - we've seen examples of it throughout history (I mentioned Hitler above). But I can't accept that Dukat as an example of this. He's such an interesting, multi-dimensional character that labelling him something as definite as this is a great disservice. There is of course the possibility that this is just Sisko's opinion, and he's certainly been known to fly off at a tangent (Rapture and For the Uniform spring to mind). But somehow this feels more like an opinion the writers are forcing upon us. So where does Dukat go from here? Is he still insane, or is he just evil? I haven't yet seen Dukat's two subsequent sixth season appearances, Wrongs Darker than Death or Night (or whatever its called) and Tears of the Prophets, so I'll refrain from further comment just now.

Anyway, I'm ranting. I'd better clarify that this is a good episode, it's just I'm rather uncomfortable with one or two of the moral underpinnings. But there's a lot to enjoy, including some insightful and compelling interplay between the two adversaries, well-written up until the climax. And Rene Auberjonois's directing brings the proceedings to life, keeping what might have been a static, confined episode lively and well-paced. He loses a couple of points for the poorly directed fight between Sisko and Dukat in the shuttle at the episode's end, but otherwise it's a job well done. And the acting is first rate! Avery Brooks is fine, even if his role isn't as meaty as Dukat's. And Marc Alaimo is simply marvellous, giving a truly outstanding performance as Dukat descends into madness (or, OK, evil!).

There, I've said quite enough! A strong episode, beautifully executed, marred only by a conclusion that just doesn't sit well…with me, anyway. And one last thought - not to be nasty or anything, but Nana Visitor's laugh is a real cackle, isn't it! We've heard her laugh a couple of times on the show, but it was here that I first noticed how odd it sounds! Sorry, Nana, you know I love you really.

Rating: 9

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