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Production no.: 535
Written by: Ronald D. Moore
Directed by: Rene Auberjonois
Stardate: 51408.6-51413.6 
First satellite airdate: January 3, 1998
Jeffrey Combs .....
Marc Alaimo .......
Casey Biggs ........

Sisko is on board the USS Honshu, traveling to Starbase 621. In the ship's brig is Gul Dukat, who is going to the starbase for his arraignment, having been pronounced fully recovered from the mental instability brought on by the death of his daughter. When Sisko finally goes to see Dukat in his cell, Dukat seems rational enough, and even somewhat subdued. He asks if Sisko believes he's guilty; Sisko hedges, saying he hasn't seen all the charges, and offers his condolences for Ziyal's death, which Dukat accepts. Suddenly the ship comes under fire.

Back at DS9, the officers react to the grim news: the Honshu has been destroyed by a Cardassian attack wing. Distress beacons have been received, so there are survivors. However, only two ships can be spared by Starfleet to search the area, and the Defiant is one. But in 52 hours, the Defiant must be at a rendezvous point near the Badlands, to escort a troop convoy. 24 hours of that time will be taken up just traveling to the search area and from there to the Badlands. Worf, O'Brien, Dax, and Bashir leave immediately.

Dukat and Sisko are in a cave on an unknown, rather inhospitable planet. Sisko is brought around by a hypospray; he has a broken arm (now in a cast), and burns covering the left side of his body from when a conduit exploded as he was going down the corridor. Dukat got him to a shuttle with the aid of a Starfleet officer (who was then killed), and managed to find this place and set down, with the engines damaged. He says he has repaired the distress beacon and sent out a general call. "Whoever gets here first will find one comrade in arms, and one prisoner." As Dukat is about to go out to look for edible vegetation, Sisko points out the obvious, that he could have left him behind. "I didn't want to," says Dukat.

Dukat has seemed perfectly lucid. But now, as he walks alone through the tunnel, Weyoun suddenly appears and asks what he's going to do with Sisko. "The captain and I have a lot to talk about," Dukat replies. But Weyoun goes on mocking him, reminding him of his madness. Of course, Weyoun isn't really there at all. Dukat's rage rises at the taunting, and he fires a phaser at the phantom, leaving a smoking hole in the stone wall.

The next morning, Sisko wakes to see Dukat cooking breakfast; the Cardassian chats to him quite amiably. "Have a sense of humor about all this...There's so much to laugh about. You don't see it, do you? Benjamin, just a few hours ago, I was a prisoner on my way to trial, and you were my dear old friend come to visit me in my cell. Now look at us. I'm free, and you're a prisoner of your own battered body. And there's a good chance we'll be rescued by the Dominion. You've got to laugh at a universe that allows such radical shifts in fortune, Benjamin." "I will laugh when a Federation starship arrives and puts you back in a cell," Sisko retorts. Dukat chuckles. "Whatever you say." He asks how everyone is on DS9; Sisko replies that they're fine, and no, they don't miss him.

Dukat doesn't seem too surprised, though he says he hopes Kira and the others told him how "generous" his policies were during the Dominion occupation. Sisko notes that Weyoun didn't give him much of a choice. "Major Kira knows full well I made every effort to heal the wounds between Cardassia and Bajor," proclaims Dukat. "Since the very beginning, it was my intention to rectify the mistakes of the past and begin a new chapter in our relations." He tries to hide his irritation that Sisko doesn't seem willing to tell him what he wants to hear. "You saved my life and I'm grateful," Sisko says. "But that's as far as it goes." Finally Dukat goes off again, saying he hears something.

"I won't do it. Not yet," Dukat says in a low voice to Damar -- another phantom in his mind, who urges him to kill Sisko. But Dukat wants to know first that he has Sisko's respect. Damar tells him he has. "He's just trying to deny you the satisfaction of hearing him say it. You know in your heart he secretly admires you. Isn't that enough? Kill him and be done with it."

Meanwhile, Sisko crawls to the emergency survival kit for some water, and happens to get a glimpse of a panel on the side of the com unit that had been facing away from him in his previous position. It says "system off-line", while the panel on the other side says "system on-line". As Dukat returns, Sisko hurries back to his place, and says innocently that the com system was beeping a minute ago. Dukat looks it over, pretending to run a diagnostic. "Nothing to worry about. It's working fine." "That's all I wanted to know," Sisko replies.

The Defiant has picked up 12 survivors of the Honshu, but has not found any sign of Sisko yet, and there are only 12 hours before they have to abandon the search and make the rendezvous.

With Dukat away, Sisko makes some swift repairs to the com unit, using a broken fork tine. (The Defiant picks up a distress signal.) Dukat returns; Sisko pretends to be just waking up. "You know," Dukat muses, "when I was out there in the shuttle just now, it occurred to me that the Bajorans would be very confused if they could see us here, sharing the same food, the same hardships. What do you think they would say if they knew the Emissary of the Prophets and the evil Gul Dukat were sitting here together, getting along just like the two old friends that they really are? Oh, I forgot. You don't think of me as your old friend, do you, Benjamin? It's all right. There's no one here, just the two of us, no one to impress, no one to judge what you say. We can be honest with each other. So tell me, what do you really think of me?" Sisko is silent.

Suddenly Kira appears, though only in Dukat's mind, telling him he should have been tried as a war criminal years ago. Dukat keeps trying draw Sisko out. "My name and reputation have been slandered and twisted ever since the end of the Occupation of Bajor. I've been vilified by ignorant, small-minded people throughout the quadrant for the past six years. I just want to know if you're one of them, Benjamin." Carefully, Sisko says, "I wasn't there during the Occupation. I didn't see all the things you had to struggle with day after day. I don't think I can pass judgment." "He just doesn't want to anger you," Kira tells Dukat. "He really thinks you're a vicious, cold-blooded killer, Dukat. And so do I." "I don't care what you think," Dukat snarls at her. "So I suggest you keep your opinions to yourself." Sisko sees him talking to thin air and realizes that Dukat is still quite insane.

Dukat presses Sisko for an opinion. Finally, Sisko says, "All right. I think you're right. You have been judged unfairly. I've judged you unfairly. But I think you probably had good reasons for everything you did on Bajor." Dukat smiles in triumph. "Yes! Yes, that's it exactly! I had good reasons. Some of the harsher actions I took were forced on me by Central Command. I wanted to use entirely different tactics with the Bajorans. I wanted to rule with a softer hand, but my superiors didn't see it that way." "You were a soldier and you had to carry out your orders," Sisko agrees.

Kira bursts out laughing. "He's patronizing you! 'You were a soldier and you had to carry out your orders.' He doesn't believe that lame excuse any more than I do." Sisko sees Dukat get up and tower menacingly over nothing, saying that Nerys is interfering, trying to upset him. "Maybe we should just ignore her," Sisko advises, playing along. "Let's pretend that the Major is not even here."

(The Defiant comes to a planet and picks up two humanoid life forms on the surface.) Sisko continues to try to soothe Dukat, while Kira taunts him. Dukat finally roars, "Enough!" and fires several times at what he sees as Kira. Sisko has to duck. (The Defiant beams up the life forms: two female Starfleet officers.)

As Dukat gets hold of himself again, he suddenly sees a fork lying on the ground -- the fork that Sisko broke a tine off of, to fix the com system. Realizing what Sisko has done, he picks up the unit and smashes it against a boulder. (On the Defiant, Dax tells Worf she thought she picked up another distress signal, but now it's gone.) Dukat picks up a long piece of metal from the com system he just trashed. "You know, Benjamin, I thought we had established a level of trust between us. But I was wrong. And if there's one thing I can't abide, it's betrayal." He swings the bar down onto Sisko's broken arm.

Worf talks to Kira via subspace, asking for a few more hours, but though Kira's transmission is badly broken up, she clearly says they have to break off the search. Bashir and O'Brien try to pull the old "we didn't obey the order because the message was too garbled to understand" trick, but Worf won't go along with it. "We all know what Major Kira's orders were," he says. "It would be dishonorable to ignore them." "You will forgive me if I don't consider your honor to be worth Captain Sisko's life," Bashir says. Worf tells Dax to lay in a course to one more planet.

Sisko comes to after his beating, which Dukat says he brought on himself. "Just like all your victims," Sisko retorts, tired of catering to the madman. Dukat sneers. "Behold Benjamin Sisko, supreme arbiter of right and wrong in the universe. A man of such high moral caliber that he can sit in judgment on all the rest of us." "What the hell do you want from me?" Sisko demands. "My approval? Is that what this is all about? You want me to give you my permission to cause more suffering and death? Well, if that's what you're after, you might as well pull out that phaser and end this right now, because I will never give it to you!"

Sisko accuses Dukat of bending the truth to suit himself. In response, Dukat asks for evidence of this. Sisko gives it to him, questioning Dukat like a prosecuting attorney. Dukat was prefect of Bajor during the Occupation -- true. He was responsible for everything that happened under his command -- true. Ergo, he was responsible for the murder of over 5 million Bajorans during that time. Dukat denies this, claiming he tried to save lives, and going into his usual song and dance about how he wanted to deal more gently with the Bajorans, but Central Command wouldn't let him. (Damar, Weyoun, and Kira appear in his mind's eye, as a sort of Greek chorus.) Dukat goes on to relate how his efforts to reform the labor camps were rewarded by the rebels destroying a drydock and killing over 200 Cardassians. He had 200 Bajorans killed randomly, which he calls justice. Again and again, his efforts to "reach out" to the Bajorans were met with assassination attempts and other violence.

"Now, let me get this straight," Sisko says. "You are not responsible for what happened during the Occupation, the Bajorans are...So, why do you think they didn't appreciate this rare opportunity you were offering them?" "Because they were blind, ignorant fools," Dukat rants, his true feelings coming out. "If only they had cooperated with us, we could have turned their world into a paradise." He goes on and on about how Cardassians are clearly superior, and how the Bajorans were too proud to accept that. "And you hated them for it," Sisko goads. "Of course I hated them! I hated everything about them!" Dukat spouts. "Their superstitions and their cries for sympathy, their treachery and their lies, their smug superiority and their stiff-necked obstinacy, their earrings and their broken wrinkled noses!...I should have killed every last one of them! I should have turned their planet into a graveyard the likes of which the galaxy had never seen! I should have killed them all."

At that moment, the metal bar comes crashing down onto Dukat's skull, knocking him unconscious. "And that is why you're not an evil man," Sisko says ironically, and staggers out of the cavern. Dukat recovers after a moment and lurches after him.

Sisko makes it to the shuttle, and starts the engines, but then Dukat dives over the closing ramp and tackles him. Already injured and weak, Sisko quickly falls. "Do it!" he yells at Dukat. But instead of killing him, Dukat opens the ramp and tosses him back out onto the ground. "I'm so glad we had this time together, Benjamin. Because we won't be seeing each other for a while. 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 kicks him; Dukat backhands him, and seeing that Sisko is now unconscious, goes back into the shuttle.

The Defiant finally breaks off the search, and Worf has given the order to head for the rendezvous, when, unexpectedly, they receive a signal from Dukat. In short order, Sisko is rescued, though the Defiant doesn't have time to locate the shuttle. Dax tells Sisko as the captain lies in sickbay that Starfleet will find Dukat.

"No, they won't," says Sisko. "You know, old man, sometimes life seems so complicated. Nothing is truly good or truly evil. Everything seems to be a shade of gray. And then you spend some time with a man like Dukat -- and you realize that there is such a thing as truly evil." "To realize that is one thing," Dax tells him. "To do something about it is another. So what are you going to do?" Sisko speaks with grim resolution. "I'll tell you what I'm not going to do. I'm not going to let him destroy Bajor. I fear no evil. From now on, it's him or me."

  • The original premise consisted of Sisko visiting Dukat in a mental hospital, and the audience actually going inside Dukat's head to see his fantasies. This proved undoable, so it became a two-man show taking place in the "real" world.
  • In an early draft, Dukat departs after warning Sisko that the captain will learn what it's like to lose a child. This was changed to Dukat threatening Bajor instead, as the writers didn't want to deal with Jake having to be under constant protection.