Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Return to Grace   Rewatch 
February 20, 2016 8:15 AM - Season 4, Episode 14 - Subscribe

Kira and Gul Dukat chase the Klingon Bird-of-Prey that destroyed a Cardassian outpost where Cardassian and Bajoran representatives were holding a conference.

All quotes and trivia from the Memory Alpha page on "Return to Grace." Apologies also for the delay!

Quotes :

"I must say I've always admired Shakaar's success with women. The intelligence file I kept on him during the occupation were filled with reports of his conquests. In fact, if I remember correctly, you were the only female in his resistance cell that he didn't... charm. At least until now."

"Is that what you kept track of during the occupation? No wonder you lost."
- Dukat and Kira

"I'm a much more complicated man than you give me credit for."

"Well if that's true, I suppose I prefer simpler men."
- Dukat and Kira

Trivia :

* Although the writers were attempting to create ambiguity as to the inherent nature of Dukat's character, they were never under any doubt that at his core, he was evil, and they always intended to have an incident in the future where that inherent evil would become apparent to everyone once and for all (this eventually happens in the fifth season episode "By Inferno's Light"). According to Hans Beimler, "He's always been a Nazi, always. In this episode, you're aware of different shades to his personality. But, if you think about it, they're all very self-serving. This is not a pleasant man. He's done a lot of terrible things." Similarly, Ira Steven Behr notes, "Dukat is not a nice man. He is not a sensitive man. He likes to act like a sensitive man, but he's a man of appetites to whom public image is very important, much more important than the truth. He wants to be liked by Kira as much as he likes Kira. I find him reprehensible myself." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)

* At one stage in this episode, Dukat claims "What Cardassians? I am the only Cardassian left." Ira Steven Behr wrote this line based upon a famous statement made by Sioux leader Sitting Bull. At a treaty negotiation, when Sitting Bull refused to sign, it was pointed out to him that every other Indian had signed and he stood up and said "What other Indians? There are no other Indians but me." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)

* This episode acts as a sequel of sorts to "Indiscretion", and as such, it represents the next stage in the writers' attempts to evolve the character of Gul Dukat. Episodes such as "The Maquis, Part II", "Civil Defense", "Defiant", "Explorers", and "The Way of the Warrior" had created a much softer picture of him than seen in the first season and the earlier episodes of the second season (such as the episode "Cardassians", where he is very much the villain of the piece). Also, "Civil Defense" introduced the fact that Dukat was attracted to Kira, something which was very much to the fore in "Indiscretion" as well as it is here.
posted by Slothrop (8 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Wherein Dukat shoots down a Bird of Prey, Kira shoots down Dukat (a lot), and Damar starts drinking (probably).

This is actually one of the episodes that shows why Major Kira was such a compelling character- she spends most of the series being stalked and/or gaslit by the former commandant of a concentration camp, and she shuts that shit down every time. Even though the writers had some pretty questionable positions on gender throughout the series, it's to their credit that they didn't go in a weird "Night Porter" direction with this.

It is also, in many ways, a sadly prescient episode- Kira does end up fighting for the Cardassian resistance, Ziyal does eventually die in a violent manner, and Dukat is ultimately consumed by his pride and hatred.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:35 PM on February 20, 2016 [3 favorites]

"In fact, if I remember correctly, you were the only female in his resistance cell that he didn't... charm. At least until now."

"Is that what you kept track of during the occupation? No wonder you lost."

Holy crap is that a loaded exchange. Dukat is being skin-crawlingly creepy, implying that Shakaar is kind of a man-slut and Kira is just another in his long line of conquests. Dukat's trying to make it sound like friendly small talk with his usual undercurrent of flirtation, but he's really expressing his jealousy while also trying to make Kira feel foolish and skanky for falling for Shakaar's smooth talk. (And there's probably even more vile stuff to unpack in there!) And Kira, of course, brings it all back to the war and closes with a deft FU.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 10:31 PM on February 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

This is a great episode in no small part because it really is a Kira episode, even though a lot of it centers around Dukat, and Dukat seems to think of the events as some kind of milestone on what he perceives to be his hero's journey. He is skin-crawlingly creepy; as Kira says, "Why is it, when you smile, I want to leave the room?" It's a rhetorical question, of course. (About halfway through the episode, I started imagining him saying "M'lady" every time he said "Major.") The way it's about Kira is that Kira's arc is mostly about her coming to terms with her past and what parts she has to (and should) accept as part of who she is, and what parts she can let go of. Think of all the movies and TV shows you've seen where the former badass gets confronted with how much more boring their life is since they took a desk job and how they inevitably put that superhero costume on again or pick up the gun. Now think of how few of those roles are female. As Kira says, she's been there, done that, and doesn't need to go back to that (although she will if and when she has to, and as TheWhiteSkull notes, she will), and she doesn't want it for Ziyal, either.

Speaking of whom, Ziyal is incredibly sweet here, and it's almost painful to watch--almost? No, it is painful--knowing what's to come. And especially especially because this is Damar's first appearance. One of the things I can appreciate from watching this is how Casey Biggs is playing him as this stolid, non-jerkish second-in-command; there's a certain amount of dickishness that's present in almost all Cardassian men, and he's just this guy doing his job.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:55 PM on February 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

"Dukat seems to think of the events as some kind of milestone on what he perceives to be his hero's journey."

It is his hero's journey: everyone is the hero of their own story, so he is the wronged hero trying to reclaim his rightful place. The dialogue with Kira was awesome, so well done, I totally loved it, such great things for a bad guy to say. I mean, we all know he is being skeezy, but he sees it in a different light, and it worked so well in that sense, that it fitted his character and his journey.

I love Dukat as a bad guy - he is this slimy, creepy, charming, skeezy, conspiring egomaniac. Perfect!
posted by marienbad at 1:56 PM on February 22, 2016 [3 favorites]

Ugh this was just such a perfect portrayal of that guy who will not stop hitting on you no matter what. Made my skin crawl. All the scenes with Ziyal seemed like they were going to turn into some kind of Cardassian-Bajoran Parent Trap.

My absolute favorite part is when Dukat asks at the end "were you tempted to come with me?" and Kira just flatly says "no." It is so clear that Dukat has a totally different narrative of what is happening than she does and is hoping for some kind of admission that part of her really is drawn to him.
posted by chaiminda at 3:57 AM on March 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

My wife pointed out as we watched this episode that Dukat is basically Littlefinger and now I want to watch that crossover/reimagining
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:15 AM on November 12, 2017

It's my first time getting this far into DS9, though I'm aware that Ziyal is doomed and Dukat doesn't end up pulling a face turn, but not the details. What's wild to me about this episode is how perfectly it hits the notes of Dukat being that fuckin' guy who won't take no for an answer, who absolutely needs to make you like him. That oily narcissism and extreme need for validation from all the sentient objects around him.

Of course he "loves" Ziyal now. Ziyal is the person who stands up for him and looks at him the way he feels he deserves when nobody else will right now. And when Kira says that he's looking for forgiveness, I think that's only half-right. He's looking for Kira to like him because if she does, he gets to rewrite the narrative of his actions during the occupation.

I can see the Littlefinger comparison, though I feel like an even closer one is Col. Hans Landa from Inglourious Basterds. We see Landa constantly controlling the narrative wherever he goes, expressing pride or remorse in his job depending on his audience, finding that sweet spot of being charmingly intimidating to off-put everyone else. And like when Bridget von Hammersmark refuses to see him as he wants to be seen, and he murders her in a rage... well I can picture Dukat doing exactly that with someone who treats him like a joke.

But what's wild to me about all of this is that Trek Writing, especially concerning flirtatious behavior, is generally so bad and surface level that it feels like a middle schooler's assumption of what romance is. The actors are usually good enough that they can salvage it to some degree, and oftentimes the different series will stumble ass-backwardly into legitimate pathos, but here we see them really nail it, in a way that they don't often do (or haven't prior to this point.)
posted by Navelgazer at 3:51 PM on May 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

This was a great one. The whole strategy of swapping ships was beautifully conceived and beautifully revealed to the viewer. I even thought the hand-to-hand combat was decent enough!

I think one thing Dukat and Kira have in common is they don't get stuck in analysis paralysis. I agreed with Kira that for Dukat to fire on the Klingons that first time was pointless suicide. But after that she dove right into this bonkers scheme to jerry-rig the weaponry and chase the Klingons down. It does seem to fit with the fact that, several times before, we've seen her drop everything and fall completely in with some Bajorans who were fighting the power.

I've been impressed by Dukat's sliminess before, but I thought Mark Alaimo's performance here was a tour-de-force. In his own mind, he's not evil, he's just made a few little mistakes. We are shown just how he believes it. It's all too real. And his speeches about how Kira should join can see how it could work on a weaker subject, but Kira's stony reaction is just *chef's kiss*

The fact that the Klingons didn't fire back made a powerful statement, because Klingons would never do that. But let's flip that back really, Klingons would never do that. Somebody shot at them, and so they're going to punish the insolence and revel in the slaughter. Maybe they're running low on bullets?
posted by polecat at 10:48 PM on February 14 [1 favorite]

« Older Grimm: Map of the Seven Knight...   |  The Amazing Race: You Look Lik... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments