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Recap / Star Trek: Deep Space Nine S06E11 "Waltz"

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The camping trip from Hell
Sisko is on the Honshu, escorting Gul Dukat to his war crimes trial. When the captain finally visits his captive, Dukat seems to have broken out of his stupor, and they commiserate over the death of Ziyal. Just as Sisko leaves, the ship is attacked and goes down. Sisko wakes up on a desolate planet accompanied by Dukat, who carried him to a shuttle and crash landed them. Dukat has put Sisko's broken arm in a cast, set up a camp, and activated a general distress beacon. The pair agree that whoever rescues them will find one comrade and one prisoner.

Dukat makes conversation with Sisko and asks why he never got credit from the station residents for being so generous during his rule, but Sisko tactfully avoids commenting. When Dukat leaves to forage for supplies, it becomes clear that he's having hallucinations of Weyoun, Damar and Kira. He angrily argues with them as they question and challenge his recent actions. While he's gone, Sisko discovers that the distress beacon is not actually sending out a signal even though it's been made to look operational. When Dukat returns, Sisko asks him to inspect it, and he claims that it's functioning normally.

While this is going on, Kira announces to the station that the Honshu has gone down and sends Worf to search for survivors, but she warns him that the Defiant is needed for an escort mission in 52 hours, so he must end his search not one second later. As the deadline approaches, Bashir and O'Brien insist on ignoring their time limit, but Worf is honor-bound to follow his orders. He relieves Bashir from duty and prepares to leave at the appropriate time.

Back on the planet, Dukat continues pressing Sisko to reexamine his assessment of him, but Sisko won't back down. When Dukat discovers that Sisko has repaired the distress beacon behind his back, he destroys it and knocks Sisko out with a metal beam. When Sisko wakes up, Dukat puts himself on trial and begins describing the history of his rule over Bajor: how he inherited a brutal regime and made many reforms to save lives, but continuing resistance from the Bajorans required harsh responses. During his diatribe, Weyoun, Damar and Kira appear and begin affirming his assertions. He concludes by spitefully laying on the blame on the Bajorans and lamenting that he didn't kill them all. Sisko uses the Gul's distraction to knock him out with the same beam and escape.

Sisko flees through a blistering sandstorm to the escape shuttle and finds that it's operational, but Dukat catches up and forces Sisko back out with a phaser. He proclaims that Bajor is dead before lifting off, his hallucinations accompanying him. But he also sends Sisko's location to the Defiant just before it can leave for its escort duty. Sisko is rescued. When discussing his ordeal with Dax, he notes that while life is usually shades of gray, there is still pure evil in the world, and that's what Dukat is. He vows that the next time they meet, "It's him or me."

Tropes featured:

  • Abandon Ship: Happens off-screen before the Honshu is destroyed; several other survivors turn up while the Defiant's crew is searching for Sisko.
  • Alone with the Psycho: Sisko spends the episode alone with an increasingly unstable, violent, and malevolent Dukat.
  • Ax-Crazy: Dukat, who starts shooting at his hallucinations when they taunt him one too many times, savagely beats Sisko with a pipe, and vows to turn Bajor into a graveyard the likes of which the galaxy has never seen.
  • Badass Boast:
    • Dukat's final lines to Sisko:
      "I have unfinished business on Bajor! They thought I was their enemy!? They don't know what it is to be my enemy; but they will! From this day forward, Bajor is dead! All of Bajor! And this time, even their Emissary won't be able to save them!"
    • Sisko has a fitting response, though he doesn't get to say it to Dukat's face.
      "I'm not going to let him destroy Bajor. I fear no evil. From now on, it's him... or me."
  • Beyond Redemption: Sisko’s belief that the universe is all different shades of grey is shattered in this episode, as Dukat’s Sanity Slippage makes him realize that there really are people who are irredeemably evil. As Sisko is recovering in the Defiant’s sickbay, he vows that the next time he meets Dukat, he’ll finish him off himself.
  • Big "NO!": Dukat's response to the taunting from his hallucinatinon Weyoun, a clear sign of his impending Sanity Slippage.
  • Bottle Episode: As the writers themselves noted, they were rather uncertain whether they could pull off having a story involving little more than "two guys arguing in a cave" as its plot. Nobody but the regular/recurring cast has any lines in this episode (aside from one off-screen Red Shirt), and all the sets are recycled.
  • Call-Back: The ending of the "trial' of Dukat is one to "The Maquis, Part 2". Dukat told Sisko in that episode that there were those in the Central Command who felt he should have killed every last Bajoran before pulling out during the Withdrawal. Turns out Dukat felt the same way deep down; he just didn't want to admit it.
  • Cut Apart: Right about the time Sisko starts transmitting a Distress Call on a Starfleet frequency, the Defiant picks up a distress call. They lock on to two life signs—and beam up two human women.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Dukat reveals that he couldn't understand why the Bajorans wouldn't submit to his kinder and gentler implementation of Cardassian rule.
  • Eviler than Thou: The hallucination of Weyoun insists that the Dominion would have been far tougher on the Bajorans than the Cardassians ever were, backing up Dukat's claim that he was a kinder, gentler despot.
    Weyoun: The Dominion would have killed every man, woman, and child on Bajor long ago.
  • Explosive Decompression: Dukat mentions a Noodle Incident with his having to clean up the mess when this happened to some other Cardassians and how he couldn't sleep for a week afterward.
  • Fake Static: Inverted, as there's a lot of real static, and O'Brien and Bashir act like it's enough to prevent Kira's orders from coming through. Worf and Dax, however, know damn well what Kira's trying to tell them.
  • First-Name Basis: Dukat persists in calling Sisko "Benjamin" throughout their stay in the cave thanks to his one-sided belief that they are Worthy Opponents who would be friends if they didn't happen to be on opposite sides.
  • The Gadfly: The hallucination of Kira really enjoys mocking Dukat, and throws in more than a little hysterical laughter to cap it off.
    Kira: I'm going to enjoy watching this. He's going to beat you, Dukat. He's going to escape and go back to DS9 and his friends, and we're all going to have a good long laugh at your expense.
  • Get Out!: When Bashir grumbles about leaving a possible distress signal from Sisko to meet their rendezvous with the convoy, Worf says "You may leave the bridge, Doctor."
  • Gray-and-Grey Morality: Discussed; Sisko tells Jadzia that he usually believes that the universe consists of shades of gray, with no one being entirely good or evil. Then he meets someone like Dukat, and he realises that there is indeed such a thing as pure evil.
  • Ham-to-Ham Combat: Sisko vs. Dukat. Especially during the mock-trial scene. Gul Dukat's hallucinations of Kira, Damar, and Weyoun join in.
  • Honor Before Reason: Disregarding the pragmatic advice from his hallucination of Damar, Dukat leaves Captain Sisko alive and even alerts the Defiant to his location after taking off in the stolen shuttle. The way Dukat sees things, he can't very well exact the ultimate revenge on his enemy if the Emissary isn't around to see it because he's died on a barren planet.
  • Hope Spot: The Defiant beamed aboard two people. Instead of Sisko and Dukat, it's two women from the Honshu.
  • Irony: How Dukat considers the fact that he was almost killed by a Cardassian attack.
  • A Lighter Shade of Black: Dukat claimed to be this, trying to rule over Bajor more benevolently than his superiors would have preferred. Even when he was ordered to carry out executions in response to the Bajoran resistance's actions, he reigned in his orders so that fewer Bajorans would be put to death. He claimed to try to reach out to the Bajorans, only for his actions to be met with resistance and violence.
  • Mask of Sanity: For much of the episode, Dukat does a fine job of keeping up appearances, seeming calm and reasonable as he engages in friendly repartee with Sisko. It's only when he's alone that he shows how broken and insane he's truly become, and his mask eventually slips completely, to terrifying effect and with terrible consequences going forward.
  • Master Race: Dukat's justifications for the occupation of Bajor amounted to the Cardassians being superior to Bajorans in every conceivable way, with the Cardassians attempting to uplift those beneath them.
  • Moral Myopia: The biggest flaw in Dukat's defense of himself: no matter how kind and generous he thought he was being to the Bajorans, he was still part of the regime that had ravaged their world for decades, with no intention of ending the Occupation. In essence, Dukat wanted the Bajorans' love and gratitude for being slightly less of a tyrannical monster than his predecessors.
  • The Needs of the Many: Neither Kira nor Worf like the narrow window of time they have to search for Sisko. However, the alternative is leaving a convoy of 30,000 Federation troops unguarded.
  • Never My Fault: As always, Dukat blames the Bajoran Resistance for all the bad things he was forced to do during the Occupation, or his superiors for not giving him a free hand to run Bajor the way he wanted. He even has the gall to tell Sisko "You brought it on yourself, you know." after beating him with a pipe.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Sisko being forced to play along with Dukat's 'trial' in the penultimate act. By goading Dukat and getting him to finally admit how much he hated the Bajorans deep down, Sisko is indirectly responsible for Dukat's rampage over the remainder of the show's run.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: When he realises that Sisko repaired the distress beacon, Dukat smashes the transmitter with a pipe, then starts doing the same to Sisko.
  • Obliviously Evil: A strange case, as it goes hand-in-hand with a Heel Realization: as Dukat rants that he should have killed every one of the Bajorans, he sounds like he genuinely believes this to be the sane and rational solution. This doesn't last; by the end of the episode, Dukat has fully embraced his dark side and sets out on a crusade to see Bajor burn.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Kira's message that the Defiant has to depart soon is garbled by subspace interference. Bashir and O'Brien attempt to invoke this trope in order to continue searching for Sisko, but Worf and Dax shoot them down.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Sisko spends much of the episode trying to undermine Dukat's resolve. He ends up strengthening it instead, due to Dukat's giving as good as he gets.
  • Sanity Slippage: Dukat undergoes a serious case of this during his isolation with Sisko, and this is after he'd begun to improve in the care of the Federation's psychiatric facilities. He gets into spirited arguments with hallucinations of Kira, Damar, and Weyoun, and even fires at them with his phaser several times. It's during one of these attacks that Sisko realizes he's dealing with a madman, as he sees that while one of these assaults came dangerously close to hitting him, he wasn't where Dukat was aiming. (He was aiming at Kira, who seemed to be standing just over Sisko's shoulder as she mocked him.)
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: After Dukat's rant about how he's been way too nice to the Bajorans and he really should just have killed them all, Sisko knocks him out, sarcastically retorting "...and that's why you're not an evil man!"
  • Spiritual Antithesis: The episode is a flip of first season's "Duet", as hinted in the title. Both shows have a member of the core cast confront a Cardassian about their past, but while Duet was about a man who first presented himself as a cartoonishly evil maniac before revealing himself to be a deeply conflicted individual desperate to atone for his people's crimes, Waltz has Dukat intially trying to convince himself he is a good and reasonable man (while shifting the blame for his terrible actions to the people he oppressed), only to embrace genocidal insanity. Futhermore, while "Duet" had Kira learn that not all Cardassians are unrepentant fascists, Sisko's epiphany here is that some people really are rotten at their core.
  • Shut Up, Kirk!: Dukat's rebuttal to Sisko's contentions.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: While recording his Captain's Log aboard the Honshu, Sisko admits feeling genuinely sorry for Dukat.
    "He lost an empire, he lost his daughter, and he nearly lost his mind. Whatever his crimes, isn't that enough punishment for one lifetime?"
  • Then Let Me Be Evil: Dukat's ultimate conclusion is that he was far too lenient and forgiving toward the Bajorans who resisted his rule, and he should have just exterminated them all; so that (along with restoring that rule) is going to be his new goal from now on.
    "They thought I was their enemy?! They don't know what it is to be my enemy, but they will! From this day forth, Bajor is DEAD! All of Bajor! And this time, even their 'emissary' won't be able to save them!"
  • Villain Decay: Invoked by the hallucination of Weyoun. He doubts Sisko would have any respect for Dukat if he knew about the Gul's repeated breakdowns in the hospital.
    Weyoun: Spare me your endless posturing. You're lucky I speak to you at all after that pathetic display back at the hospital.
    Dukat: That's enough.
    Weyoun: Oh, I see. It's a sensitive topic. I wonder what Captain Sisko would think if he'd seen you curled up in a ball, crying yourself to sleep every night?
    Dukat: Stop it!
    Weyoun: I doubt he'd still have the same respect for you if he'd heard you screaming and screaming and screaming like a madman till the nurses came and the doctors had to sedate you! (laughs)
  • Villainous Valor: Dukat radios the Defiant so they can pick up Sisko. It's unlikely to be from any kind of remorse, however; this is the man who told Weyoun that true victory is forcing your enemies to admit their error in ever opposing your greatness.
  • Wants a Prize for Basic Decency: Dukat is deeply aggrieved that the Bajorans weren't grateful and adoring of his efforts to reduce the number of casualties during the Occupation. The fact that millions still suffered and died under his reign seems to be of lesser concern to Dukat.
  • Why Don't Ya Just Shoot Him?: This is the advice Dukat's hallucination of Damar gives him, pointing out that returning to Bajor carrying the corpse of the Bajorans' Emissary to the Prophets would surely crush the Bajorans' resistance to his rule once and for all. As with Weyoun, Dukat refuses to follow this advice, as his ego demands that his enemies acknowledge his greatness.