The Great Star Trek DS9 Rewatch: Waltz

When the starship transporting Dukat to his trial is destroyed, he and Sisko end up stranded on a planet together. Dukat has been through counselling after Ziyal’s death, but as the two of them await rescue, Sisko grows to realise that something is not right with the former leader of Cardassia. Will Sisko survive Dukat’s instability in time for the Defiant to rescue him?

“Two characters in a room” episodes can often be very powerful, and Waltz really does its best. Sisko is stranded with Dukat, a man we last saw crying in a corner because he lost his precious daughter, but who has since apparently been ‘cured’. We know that Federation’s approach to mental health is to generally believe that everyone can be cured within a week or two, but whilst he appears lucid, Dukat is far from well. Throughout the episode, he holds conversations with imaginary versions of Weyoun, Damar and Kira, as he finally driven to admit that yes, he really is a massive racist who hates all Bajorans.

And here’s where it falls apart a bit for more. I enjoyed most of the episode, and appreciated the work put in by both Marc Alaimo and Avery Brooks. But by the end, Dukat’s conclusion is “mwahaha, I must destroy all of Bajor!”, and that’s when his transformation into ridiculous supervillain is complete. From now until the end of the series, he will be the kind of cackling crazy man usually seen in comic books.

Dukat’s mind

What is it that Dukat wants? As we’ve seen throughout the series, a key factor of his personality is his need to be validated, respected and loved. People should like him for doing a good job in the Occupation, for making Cardassia great again, and for him being an all-round stand-up guy with everyone’s best interests at heart. If he hurt people along the way, it’s because there was obviously no other choice.

To Dukat, the Occupation was a thing that had to happen – the Bajorans were inferior children, and they needed ‘parenting’. That they can’t even see that, and that they resisted the will of their Cardassian superiors, just makes them even more misguided and wrong.

Yet in this episode, Dukat admits that he hates the Bajorans – and all he wants now is to destroy them. Did he always hate them, believing that they were a dirty, inferior race? Does he perversely blame them for all the horrible things he felted ‘forced’ to do to them during the Occupation? Is he angry because they never gave him the love and respect he felt he was due? Most likely, it’s a combination of all these things.

Summary – Waltz: Kill them all!

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