Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Sons and Daughters   Rewatch 
July 11, 2016 2:27 PM - Season 6, Episode 3 - Subscribe

Temporarily assigned to the IKS Rotarran, Worf is shocked to discover that one of the new crew members is his son, Alexander Rozhenko; so is the rest of Trek fandom, because the kid is only about eight in Earth years. (I mean, the Jem'Hadar grow to maturity in days, and the all-time Trek precocity champ is probably the resurrected Spock, but still.) And, against all odds, Dukat manages to be even creepier.

Remember to stop by Memory Alpha for all your space daddy issues needs:

- This episode was based on the 1950 John Ford film Rio Grande. The film is about a fort commander who discovers that one of his new recruits is his son, whom he hasn't seen since he divorced the boy's mother years ago. The son hates the father, but they must learn to work together.

- Many fans felt that Alexander was far older in this episode than he should have been given his age as established in The Next Generation, an inconsistency dubbed "Soap opera rapid aging syndrome". Ira Steven Behr has admitted they took some liberties with his age, but that there were legitimate practical reasons for this. Firstly, there was the issue of time. There are very strict laws about how long actors under eighteen can be kept on-set, laws which dictate that they cannot work past a certain hour and that they can only do so many hours a day without a break. Following these laws, and factoring in the length of time needed for an actor to get into makeup, it was determined that an under eighteen actor would only be on set for a few hours a day, thus prolonging the shoot. As well as this, the producers wanted an older character so that Worf didn't seem too harsh. If the actor was very young, Worf could be seen as abusive, but with an older character, Worf's parenting becomes, at worst, harsh. Bradley Thompson countered this argument by pointing out that it has never been established how fast Klingon children grow.

- This episode represents another important stage in the relationship between Kira Nerys and Dukat. Building on the scene between them in "A Time to Stand", Dukat's efforts to win her over are briefly successful here, until Kira steps back and realizes what she is doing, ultimately deciding that she wants nothing to do with Dukat. From this point onwards, Kira's animosity towards Dukat would never waver and there would be no further ambiguity as to how she feels towards him.

- This relationship, as well as that between Kira and Damar, were the subject of a deleted scene from this episode, filmed but cut for time. After Kira calls Dukat an interstellar despot, Dukat retorts that he prefers the term "tyrant". Dukat proposes to assign Damar to escort Ziyal to the opening of her exhibit. Kira points out that "He's a self-righteous sycophant who despises everything Bajoran," and notes that Damar sneers whenever he says "Bajoran". Dukat denies this just as Damar walks in, giving a report and sneering whenever Bajorans are mentioned. Kira can't help but laugh. Damar glares at Kira, but continues his report and leaves. Dukat then imitates Damar, causing Dukat and Kira to laugh together. The script for this episode, including the deleted scene, can be reviewed here. The scene also appears in the novelization of this episode.

"There is a bond between us."
"No. Only in your mind. You're an opportunistic, power-hungry dictator and I want nothing more to do with you."

- Dukat and Kira Nerys

"Or perhaps the son of our illustrious first officer would prefer an Earth beverage. A glass of root beer with a lump of ice cream? Mmm..."

- Ch'Targh teasing Alexander

"All I ask, is a chance to prove myself."
"I just gave you one! And you failed."

- Alexander and Martok
posted by Halloween Jack (29 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Well, Worf finally admitted he was a crappy father, but in a situation that showed he was right all along — Alexander would have had a much easier time if he'd gone along with Worf's training when he was young. So there isn't much of an emotional arc for Worf, because he never has to really grapple with the validity of Alexander's childhood interests and his role in creating the rift between them.

I did get a kick out of Martok telling Alexander that Worf is an uptight pain in the butt, though. And the Ziyal plot was lovely.
posted by Banknote of the year at 8:33 AM on July 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


I remember liking this one quite a bit, between bouts of yelling at the screen about how much I don't give a shit about Klingon culture.
posted by mwhybark at 6:06 PM on July 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


I couldn't really buy the idea that Kira could have had those moments of "ooh, look at the pretty dress", brief as it was -- maybe if they'd had her see the dress before finding out it was Dukat who sent it. Just didn't ring true to me that she wouldn't have been instantaneously creeped out, after that face-stroking incident a couple of episodes ago. (I did love that he gave the rejected dress to his daughter though - just when you think he's reached peak creepiness, he finds a way to top it.)
posted by oh yeah! at 7:28 PM on July 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


Alexander's sudden aging just didn't work for me. I know it's sci-fi and maybe Klingons age fast or whatever, but it just felt like they were cheating for the sake of the plot. It also ended Alexander's whole arc on a really sad note. Worf never wanted this poor kid, he was always the stern jock dad disappointed in his sissy son. (His parenting sucked so bad, it almost ruins the character for me. Even when his parents were like, "Worf, we can't raise this damn kid for you! We're too old and tired!", Worf was like, "Yeah, sorry, I gotta get back to my space adventures." Not very honorable behavior, Mr. I-Would-Die-for-Honor!) In this episode we see Alexander as a man, still pathetically chasing his father's approval by trying to turn himself into a warrior. At the end they pledge to try and make a fresh start together, but MOST of their stories ended like that and it never stuck. You get this feeling like poor Alexander is going to spend his life on Deanna Troi's couch, crying about how daddy never loved him no matter what he did!

At least in that TNG time travel episode the adult Alexander had become a diplomat, which seemed like a much better fit for him than trying to make it as a soldier. Alexander was never the most compelling character, but it's just really grim to see him as one of those dweeby, sensitive kids who joins the army in a doomed effort to make his father proud.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 8:09 PM on July 12, 2016 [6 favorites]


I wish we had Dax involved in the Alexander story. She's the perfect character to be the role model Alexander needs, while putting Worf in his place about his parenting, to help Alexander become what he wants to be while still respecting Klingon culture. Martok was great, Dax could have been better.

I felt the Kira plot might have worked better a few episodes back. It sort of undermined the realizations she had last week. But any chance we get to watch Dukat turn his sleaze up to 11 is good with me.
posted by 2ht at 4:08 AM on July 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


Also, I like when they tie together the A and B plots, but showing Dukat as a better father than Worf was a low blow. :)
posted by 2ht at 4:23 AM on July 13, 2016 [5 favorites]


I definitely felt like the Alexander stuff at the start of this episode was shaping up to be just another barely-watchable Alexander episode a la TNG... but then Martok came along and saved it, in that one scene with Alexander. Thus "Sons and Daughters" IMO at least rivals TNG: "Firstborn" as the best Alexander episode.

I feel like what Martok does in that scene is serve as an audience surrogate: he calls out the obvious fact that both Worf and Alexander are kind of clueless; he smacks some sense into the boy like we all want to; and he demonstrates that, though Worf is a fuckup as a parent, he still cares about Worf (as we do)...but the jury's still out on this kid of his, whom Worf/the audience/the TNG writers never really seemed to want.

On rewatch, this episode was a little more enjoyable than the first time, I think because (minor spoiler) Alexander returns in a few episodes, and he's doing okay; it provides some positive retroactive meaning to this one.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 4:56 AM on July 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


I felt the Kira plot might have worked better a few episodes back. It sort of undermined the realizations she had last week. But any chance we get to watch Dukat turn his sleaze up to 11 is good with me.

The writers did say they had trouble keeping track of what was going on at the station when during the six-parter because of the flipped production order of the 2 episodes and the split cast/locations, so maybe that's to blame. On the other hand, there's the usual problem of Trek dudes writing defaulting to Stepford Wife characterization when love & femininity come into play, so, who knows.
posted by oh yeah! at 6:14 AM on July 13, 2016


Giving Worf offspring in the first place was a mistake. The moment a child is introduced in pretty much any television show for one of the major characters I'm usually disappointed. Initially keeping Alexander a secret from Worf was also very groan worthy. Alexander's rapid aging is about the only amusing thing about his existence since I regard his introduction as one that lacked any sort of foresight and was done for hey this might be interesting for the plot of this episode reasons. Of course TNG was far more episodic than DS9 but the entire Alexander arc across both series is best forgotten as far as I'm concerned. It was great to see Worf acknowledge how terrible a father he is/was but of course we never really got to see much improvement outside of his wedding because Alexander is only brought in to spice up plots. It's a spice I never cared for.
posted by juiceCake at 8:21 AM on July 13, 2016


I'd forgotten that Alexander comes back after this. (I did scan the Memory Alpha page, and I don't remember it mentioning that.) I thought this was the last we saw of him, which would be pretty sad.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:41 PM on July 13, 2016


If I recall correctly Picard also had a secret son, straight from the 80s (in addition to his secret clone). Kirk as well.
posted by juiceCake at 2:42 PM on July 13, 2016


Ronald D. Moore commented: "The idea was that Alexander joined in order to prove something to his father. Worf abandoned him because Alexander didn't want to be a warrior, so Alexander found the one way to get his attention again – be a warrior."

Wow. Worf really was a total asshole to this poor kid. I feel bad saying it, because come on, he's Worf! But where his parenting was concerned, the guy was pretty horrifying.

I do remember raising an eyebrow about Kira's brief softening toward Dukat. I know Nana Visitor was strongly opposed to any good feelings between the characters and she compared him to Hitler on a number of occasions, so I'm sure she must've given the writers a real earful about that! I get the feeling DS9 was a difficult set at times, but having such committed and intelligent actors paid off because they really fought to keep the characters consistent. If Visitor wasn't so absolutely opposed to Kira getting friendly with Dukat, the writers may well have had her give in to his endless flirtations. It would have been really dramatic and unexpected and maybe they could have made that twist play OK, but ultimately I think it's better that she never stopped despising the guy. Marc Alaimo (somehow) believed Dukat was misunderstood and Visitor believed Kira would never budge in her hatred, so they brought real conviction to that dynamic.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 4:14 PM on July 13, 2016


oh, I don't think Alaimo thought Dukat was misunderstood, exactly, except perhaps in that the people who interacted with Dukat did not understand Dukat in the same way Dukat understood himself. Dukat thought Dukat was misunderstood.

Regarding Picard's (non-pocket universe non-magic-flute implanted memory) son, I think you mean Jason Vigo, who was a DNA-altered imposter.
posted by mwhybark at 4:32 PM on July 13, 2016


Regarding Picard's (non-pocket universe non-magic-flute implanted memory) son, I think you mean Jason Vigo, who was a DNA-altered imposter.

Not to be confused with his DNA-altered imposter clone. Which, ya know what? Question #1 on the "Is My TNG Movie Concept Stupid?" list has to have been "Is the villain's plot recycled...wait for it...from a FERENGI."

Anyway, back on topic:
Marc Alaimo (somehow) believed Dukat was misunderstood and Visitor believed Kira would never budge in her hatred, so they brought real conviction to that dynamic.

I think I saw that same DVD special feature, and I took it to mean pretty much that Alaimo seriously tried to understand his character to the extent that he could at least see things the way he did. (Also it's terribly cute that Alaimo has a Regular Blue-Collar Wisconsin Guy accent. That's reason enough to watch those special features... well, that and the confirmation that Avery Brooks is pretty damn out-there.)
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 4:58 PM on July 13, 2016


This was the weak episode in the arc. It's weird; fans love Worf, they love Klingons, and Bird-of-Preys are cool. But Klingons rarely make for good episodes.

The A and B plots should have been switched. I would have really liked to have seen that deleted scene.

I couldn't really buy the idea that Kira could have had those moments of "ooh, look at the pretty dress", brief as it was

To me, it makes sense because Kira is Ziyal's surrogate mother. So when Ziyal is on the station, Kira is going to tolerate Dukat more than she normally would, for Ziyal's sake. Like a divorced parent.
posted by riruro at 7:00 PM on July 13, 2016


I took it to mean pretty much that Alaimo seriously tried to understand his character to the extent that he could at least see things the way he did.

IIRC, in the DS9 Companion book Ira Steven Behr says a couple of times that Alaimo saw Dukat as a misunderstood good guy for much of the show's run. (If so, I think he MUST have changed his mind on that by the time of the Pah Wraiths!) But IIRC Behr also had kind of a joshing, dismissive attitude when he talked about Alaimo, kind of making fun of him for talking too slowly in scenes and stuff like that. So I don't know if it was all just good-natured kidding or what, but (as I remember it) Behr was saying Alaimo kept pushing the idea that Dukat was a misunderstood hero. I don't have the book around to check it, and this whole post is already making me picture Conan O'Brien reading it in his "insufferable nerd" voice while he adjusts a pantomime pair of nerd glasses on his nose.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 8:33 PM on July 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


The point of the whole pretty-dress subplot is that, one one level, Dukat really does think that he's living out some kind of Cardassian rom-com scenario (see this old Onion piece). In his case, though, that ties into his need for dominance and control, which is also on display any and every time he interacts with Benjamin Sisko. So, he figures that, if he can't get to Kira with his usual wit and charm (/s), he'll try to get to her through Ziyal. (This is, after all, the same child that he almost murdered, twice.) And I think that it may have... well, not even almost worked, but Kira may have bought into his act enough to believe that it was all about his soft spot toward his daughter, and thought that he was just wanting her to look nice for Ziyal's party, until she realized that it wasn't really a party dress. It's not that she ever really thought that Dukat was a nice guy, it's that she didn't realize the depths to which he'd sink to get to her. Eh, it's a theory.

Worf, I have a certain amount of sympathy for, in that I think that on some level he really wants to be a good dad to Alexander, but he's still got too much baggage of his own. Sergey and Helena Rozhenko struck me as good-hearted, well-intentioned people who weren't necessarily equipped to help Worf with his numerous issues, leaving him to find some meaning and focus for his life in adopting this excessively idealistic version of the Klingon way. Then there's the whole thing with K'Ehleyr--she sleeps with him, then leaves him, then returns with an unannounced and unexpected son, then is murdered--which in and of itself could leave a guy with all sorts of grief and anger to sort out. And, for all that, he really gave it a shot, in his own clumsy Worfish way. I think that his rationalization for dumping Alexander onto the Rozhenkos was that the best way for him to be a father to his son was simply to be as awesome as he could so that Alexander would look up to him the way that he looked up to the memory of Mogh. This is, of course, not really a great idea. At least there's some hope at the end that Alexander will find some sense of belonging without being the ideal warrior that his father strives to be. (One thing that we unfortunately didn't see--and one of the things on my wish list for the new series--is to get away from the Planet of Hats trope with the Klingons by showing an alternate society that channels their aggression into something besides warfare--rugby, perhaps. Or just make more room for the less aggro Klingons, somehow.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:05 PM on July 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


I had read that Marc Alaimo strated as Dukat and just kinda decided on day one that he was going to treat the role like he'd been cast as the hero of the story.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 6:48 AM on July 14, 2016


Sergey and Helena Rozhenko struck me as good-hearted, well-intentioned people who weren't necessarily equipped to help Worf with his numerous issues, leaving him to find some meaning and focus for his life in adopting this excessively idealistic version of the Klingon way. Then there's the whole thing with K'Ehleyr--she sleeps with him, then leaves him, then returns with an unannounced and unexpected son, then is murdered--which in and of itself could leave a guy with all sorts of grief and anger to sort out. And, for all that, he really gave it a shot, in his own clumsy Worfish way.

This points at another tangent I so want to see explored, preferably in critical writing: the role of parental abandonment and adoptive parenting in Star Trek, and by extension, in genre fiction.

Kirk: orphaned (at least in nuTrek), only meets son as an adult, kid dies, abandons child conceived while in amnesiac state
Spock: not orphaned, but intercultural identity issues, transspecies biology
Picard: no actual abandoned children, but one imposter and several implanted-memory children
Data, Lore: abandonment, no maternal care
Odo: found in a bucket, no nurturance to speak of
Garrick: unacknowledged and illegitimate aristocrat
Worf: intercultural adoptee, transspecies biology
Bellana Torres: intercultural identity, transspecies biology
Wes Crusher: demi-orphan, reluctant surrogate father who never seals the deal
Tasha Yar: orphan, terrible childhood caregiving environment
Kira Nerys: similar
Ben Sisko: supernaturally conceived, maternal natal mortality
Squire of Gothos: insufficient parental supervision


I'm pretty sure there's a ton more. My specific interest is less in determining which characters have experienced or are depicted as facilitating poor nurturance (please note how Ben Sisko is more-or-less unique in his good parenting and apparently likewise childhood) and more in how adoption is portrayed and utilized (usually unselfconsciously) as a plot element.

Outside of Trek, there's Batman, Superman, Robin, Spiderman, Iron Man (sorta), Moses, and many many more.
posted by mwhybark at 7:27 PM on July 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


whoops, In Worf's line I got my wires crossed. He *participates* in transspecies biology but is not himself transspecies biologically.

Now here's another thing. Delany wrote about recreational and aesthetic plastic surgery as did Banks. Trek shows us people swapping gender identity (TOS, "Turnabout Intruder") and apparent species identity on a reasonably regular basis, beginning with TOS but continuing at minimum until Dukat's season as an apparent Bajoran. The shows all make a fundamental error in conceptualizing this remarkable technology, one that Delany and Banks do not. If you can implant a birdcage in your shoulder, why not? Why treat the surgery as a mask supporting a role, or an expedient, temporary measure?

Surely, in the Culture of the Federation, some people opt for a non-biologically determined species identity. There's a story yet to be told, I think.
posted by mwhybark at 1:28 AM on July 16, 2016


There was that episode of Voyager where we saw the Doctor try out life as a family man, with a hologram family. In the more "realistic" version of the family, his son was running around with some human kids who kind of appropriated Klingon culture. I don't think these kids really identified as Klingon though, they were more like suburban white kids dressing up in gangsta gear.

I would have liked to have seen Trek explore more of the ramifications of easy, apparently painless, radically transformative surgery. There could have been some cool stories about people exploring their identities. I wouldn't be too surprised if Bryan Fuller brings us some transgender or transpecies characters in the new Trek. I'd be kind of amazed if he doesn't (finally!) have some gay characters too.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:45 AM on July 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


In TNG's "The Offspring" Data's child Lal does pick her gender and species.
posted by obol at 7:52 AM on July 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


I just took a deep breath after finally winding up my DS9 watchthrough and went ahead into Voyager with some trepidation. I didn't really follow DS9 at broadcast due to the religious themes and what was for me at the time too intensive a use of serialization, but I did make a point of following Voyager for a season or two before I got fed up. I look forward to meeting the Doctor's family.
posted by mwhybark at 8:41 AM on July 16, 2016


addenda to my musings about surgery, appearance, and non-biologically determinate species identity in Trek and how it's kinda sad nobody on the franchise has ever really run with that particular ball:

Odo presents a partial counterfactual in that it's within his capacity to adopt truly radical transformations that are essentially undetectable, and he of course lacks a sense of biologically-determined and pedagogically-transmitted cultural identity when we first meet him. And yet, of course, he defaults to eroded Rene Auberjonois for in-plot reasons that are unconvincing and for real-world production reasons that are persuasive. One supposes a contemporary Founder might be nearly pure CGI and Odo's monster-of-the-week potentiality could be unlocked, hopefully to greater character effect than Maya on my favorite not-Trek, Space: 1999.

Hm, is there a FanFare thread for 1999? I rewatched s01 last year and it was mostly good, occasionally actually great, and much more ambitious than I had been aware of as a child. S02 proved essentially unwatchable, which was a letdown as that was the season I most recall from childhood.
posted by mwhybark at 11:17 AM on July 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


he of course lacks a sense of biologically-determined and pedagogically-transmitted cultural identity when we first meet him.

I'm not quite sure what you mean. I think Odo's default form (well, humanoind, non-puddle default form) is biologically-determined. Maybe there's a line in there I'm not remembering, where the Founders say that they only take a humanoid form grudgingly or for specific reasons... but I got the feeling that when they're not puddles they are usually Odo-shaped, and then they take other forms by choice. I got the feeling that some of Odo's personality is also baked in, like his need for order. He didn't become evil, but he still has a lot in common with the Founders.

I'd forgotten about Lal, and that is a fair example of what I was talking about... although Lal was starting with a blank slate and wasn't really rejecting any pre-existing identity, and having no emotions she wasn't troubled about what she'd been or thrilled by the possibilities of what she could be. She arrived at her appearance and identity seemingly on a whim.

As I think about it, I'm not sure if you could tell a story about a human who always wanted to be Klingon (for example) without it turning into a very muddled metaphor. Does the character stand for people longing to express their true selves, or does he symbolize clueless cultural appropriation?
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:24 PM on July 16, 2016


As I think about it, I'm not sure if you could tell a story about a human who always wanted to be Klingon (for example) without it turning into a very muddled metaphor. Does the character stand for people longing to express their true selves, or does he symbolize clueless cultural appropriation?

Well, TNG had the human kid who decided he was Talarian. You remember, the one whose real dad turned out to be Admiral Junior-Mint-Guy-from-Seinfeld. But that's not quite the same thing either-- more of a "raised by wolves" riff (and hey, they howled in that one, didn't they? 9_9 )-- but what WAS pretty culturally clueless, IIRC, was how Picard handled it.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 4:18 PM on July 16, 2016


Regarding Odo's default humanoid appearance, here's a stackexchange thread that cites Memory Alpha. He looks the way he does because he was stumblingly emulating Dr. Mora's appearance, and the other Founders adopt the look as well at first as a gesture of inclusion to Odo and then later because, well, because reasons, I think.
posted by mwhybark at 9:39 PM on July 16, 2016


I think there's some ambiguity about why the Founders have the faces they do. Laas has a similar face (albeit a bit more bumpy) and he wasn't imitating Mora. And the Founders have the same face whenever we see them, even when Odo's not around. I'd think that even before Odo came along they'd need some sort of facial type in common for their dealings with the "solids", so it makes sense to me that Odo was trying to imitate Mora and in his fumbling attempts he ended up with a smooth, mask-like face like he would have had anyway. I didn't get the feeling that the Founders had new faces after they met Odo, or at least we never heard Weyoun or anybody say, "They used to have a whole different look, but now they all look like Odo." If we're going strictly by the in-canon explanation, we know is that Odo was imitating Mora and we don't know much about the reason for the changelings' appearance beyond that.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 11:31 AM on July 18, 2016


Oh God, a Klingon episode featuring Alexander? This is my nightmare!

The little bit of bonding after Alexander locks himself in the engine bit (whatever it is, I really had lost interest by this point) is awful. And then the scene after is just as bad. And honestly, the cheesy "I'l teach you to be a warrior, you teach me to be a father" line is just cringeworthy beyond belief.

The only good thing in this episode is the B plot.

Interesting that such an awful episode has generated so many comments.

Also, the title, Sons and Daughters, just made me think of this.
posted by marienbad at 5:13 PM on July 22, 2016


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