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Deep Space Nine What We Left Behind, we will always have here.

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Old February 5 2013, 06:44 PM   #16
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: Dukat character - writer's mess?!

JustKate wrote: View Post
What happened is that - as genuinely happens - Dukat was given a choice of good or evil. He choose the Pah Wraiths - they didn't force him - and in choosing them, he knowingly chose the path of evil. I agree that the glowing red eyes were over the top but a lot of the rest of it was very compelling, I thought.
I've always compared Dukat's fate to the fate of that guy in Dante's Inferno who ended up being dragged into Hell and his body inhabited by a demon while he was still alive. It was the penalty for treason, in Dante's depiction of Hell.

That episode (can't remember the name) where he preached to his followers was fantastic - creepy, horrifying and yet rooted in reality. It alone was almost enough to make that arc worthwhile.
"Covenant"--and yes, the acting was superb there. You could tell Marc Alaimo had studied cult leaders very closely before he began on that episode.

JirinPanthosa wrote: View Post
I don't think the problem was the storyline itself so much as Dukat's behavior. He got all 'BWA HA HA I WILL KILL EVERYONE'. If he had said "I am using the Pah'Wraiths to get myself into power" it would have made it come off better.
I think that was how it started with Dukat, though...he thought he could control the Pah-Wraiths to his own ends, but they ended up rewriting his mind. Just as Dukat wanted to make others love him--that's what the Pah-Wraiths did to him in the end: forced him to love them. In effect, he sold his soul and threw away his free will.
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Old February 5 2013, 07:39 PM   #17
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Re: Dukat character - writer's mess?!

Dukat as a character is fantastic, but the writers seemed to falter a bit when it came to properly integrating him into the later Dominion War stuff. The fact that he just walked into Central Command and was like "gimme some weird old Bajoran junk" when his overconfidence cost them control of DS9/the wormhole/access to Gamma Quadrant reinforcements was pretty asinine. Not to mention he had been held prisoner by Starfleet for at least a while, how did Weyoun/the female Founder know that he hadn't been compromised or replaced by a Starfleet operative?
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Old February 6 2013, 09:43 PM   #18
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Re: Dukat character - writer's mess?!

I was fine with the Pah-wraith thing, like others have said it made Dukat an anti-Emissary of sorts. I thought the whole "turn Bajoran and sleep with the Kai" angle was too much, but thankfully that was the end of the series, otherwise it would have definitely been a jump-the-shark moment for Dukat.

(For the record, I also was not a fan of the whole Sarah Sisko Mom-prophet thing either. They could have still ended the show the way they did without all that.)
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Old February 7 2013, 09:40 AM   #19
lurok
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Re: Dukat character - writer's mess?!

^This . Too tired/lazy to post anything more incisive.
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Old February 7 2013, 03:06 PM   #20
Dal Rassak
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Re: Dukat character - writer's mess?!

...aaargh! I absolutely hated "Covenant"; first time round I literally couldn't watch it through. The way he loses every last bit of dignity practically grovelling onhis knees begging those entities, and then his deluded followers, to basically "please,please love him" was so pathetic it turned my stomach.
I think the character worked best when he was military through-and-through (civilian clothes don't suit him), secular as most Cardassians are, and above all not so damn needy.
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Old February 7 2013, 03:14 PM   #21
Dal Rassak
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Re: Dukat character - writer's mess?!

...oh, and does anyone remember that bit in "Indiscretion" where they have him sit on a thorn and then waggle his backend up in the air carrying on "ahh, it hurts" like a 5-yr-old when he's meant to be this big tough soldier?

That's the first time I started thinking WTF??

I said before you can't make a character weak if you're meant to hate him; you can't make him ridiculous either. D'you reckon the writers would have inflicted that kind of laughable indignity on our revered Emissary? Or can you imagine the good captain Picard with his arse stuck in the air? No. Precisely.
Because you could never take the character seriously again.

Can't see why the actor didn't fight for his character more, the way Nana Visitor did for hers in some instances.
If I'd been him I'd have gone, "sorry but you're gonna have to rewrite this bit - I'm not playing that!"
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Old February 8 2013, 02:59 AM   #22
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Re: Dukat character - writer's mess?!

Dal Rassak wrote: View Post
Sorry for the length. It was a bit of a rant. I needed to get this off my chest for quite some while now!
Part of the issue with Dukat is the role he played in the Bajoran occupation, which the show wants to make analogous, sometimes at least (for example, in Duet), to the Holocaust.

This is something that, initially, the writers don't really deal with directly as it relates to his character. They let him be a basically sane, if at times ruthless, person.

In the mid-seasons (3 and, especially, 4, as I recall), they even decide to make him very sympathetic, suggest that maybe he isn't such a bad guy after all, and toy with the idea of Dukat and Kira becoming an item.

Nana Visitor was revolted by this idea, apparently, because Kira saw him, basically, as Hitler.

With her reaction as motivation, perhaps, or for reasons completely unrelated to that, but anyway, for *some* reason, the writers obviously decided to ask themselves if they were doing a plausible job of examining the psychology of someone who had willingly and unapologetically participated in something like the Holocaust, running what was basically a labor/death camp.

And I think there is some merit to that view. The psychology we see emerge in Waltz, for example, contains some important ideas that the show needed to address, I think, especially as far as the darker motivations for Dukat's fascination with the Bajorans are concerned. What we see here is far more plausible, ultimately, than some of the "he's not such a bad guy, really" stuff we see in season 4.

Where everything gets a bit murkier is what we see after Waltz (including, even, I think, the very end of Waltz, which is mostly a brilliant episode, really).

Basically the writers stumbled around a bit too much with Dukat after that. The basic idea of the combination of his fascination with the Bajorans and his hatred of Sisko leading him to strive to become a sort of rival Emissary is not bad, as a concept.

But the Pah-Wraiths themselves, and that whole part of the final arc of the show... none of it is really handled in a very coherent manner. There are some good moments and ideas (example: his alliance with Winn), but it never really *clicks* imo, after Waltz.

Last edited by flemm; February 8 2013 at 05:34 AM.
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Old February 8 2013, 03:17 PM   #23
Dal Rassak
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Re: Dukat character - writer's mess?!

Hmm...

It seems to me as though a straightforward desire to manipulate the audience's response at all costs had taken over towards the end.
The writers made no secret of the fact that they were troubled by how popular the character had become.

Whether novel or screenplay, once you put your work "out there" it's no longer entirely yours; and while your public may react to a character you've written in ways you didn't intend and may dislike, you have to leave themthat freedom.

I think it all became an incoherent mess because the writers got so hell-bent on forcing the viewer to react to the character the way they had decided the viewer should react, "if this tack doesn't work, let's try yet another..."
Then they just went further and further o.t.t. with it until they'd screwed up a well-realized, believable, complex antagonist into a caricature of evil spouting portentous rubbish.

It was like watching someone carefully draw a picture with every detail shaded in, and then slash across it with a big slopping paint-brush.
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Old February 8 2013, 04:15 PM   #24
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Re: Dukat character - writer's mess?!

Dal Rassak wrote: View Post
...oh, and does anyone remember that bit in "Indiscretion" where they have him sit on a thorn and then waggle his backend up in the air carrying on "ahh, it hurts" like a 5-yr-old when he's meant to be this big tough soldier?
When I watched that scene, my first thought was he was manipulating Kira and being overly dramatic about the thorn to get her attention. Then when she laughed about it, he thought he would take advantage of the humor to bring them closer, so he laughed -- not because he found it humorous, but because he wanted Kira to grow closer to him. Either something about Kira reminds him of that dead Bajoran woman who he loved, or Dukat never truly loved that Bajoran woman and his mourning her was all an act to make him look sympathetic to Kira. Either way, I felt there was a lot of twisted manipulation going on. His more revealing actions in later seasons confirm this for me. But that was just my take on it.
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Old February 9 2013, 04:05 AM   #25
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Re: Dukat character - writer's mess?!

I think Dukat only turned evil in Season 5, when Cardassia joined the Dominion.

He even seemed somewhat honourable in the early seasons, and didn't do anything "bad" as such.
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Old February 9 2013, 05:18 AM   #26
flemm
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Re: Dukat character - writer's mess?!

Dal Rassak wrote: View Post
Hmm...

It seems to me as though a straightforward desire to manipulate the audience's response at all costs had taken over towards the end.
Well, as I said earlier, I do agree that most of what they decided to do with Dukat post-Waltz never really works or gels properly.

But I don't think it's mostly about trying to manipulate the audience.

One thing you see from time to time, especially when a certain creative team likes to play around with moral ambiguity, is a kind of over-reaction where you can tell that somebody said: we are losing our moral compass here, some things truly *are* pure evil, not everything is *gray*.

And I think Dukat in the later seasons is an example of that. It's not so much trying to manipulate the audience, imo, as it is the creators themselves trying to have their cake and eat it, too, in a sense: have the moral quandries posed by the Dominion War alongside this light/dark Star Wars sort of thing.

I've never thought it was a bad idea conceptually, in passing. It's a good idea, actually, I think: this messy conflict being played out alongside this clash of good and evil. The issue is more that the execution of the light/dark, good/evil side of the story is just not up to par with the main war arc.
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Old February 9 2013, 06:45 AM   #27
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Re: Dukat character - writer's mess?!

I think people tend to forget that Dukat was responsible for countless deaths during the Bajoran occupation. Dukat was a Hitler like character, being played brilliantly by Marc Alaimo doesn't change this fact. I can be a fan of the character, but I was always hoping he would pay for his crimes in the end.

I think it would have been better if he was put in a Bajoran prison at the end of the series, instead being involved in that stupid comic book Pah-Wraiths storyline.
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Old February 9 2013, 04:48 PM   #28
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Re: Dukat character - writer's mess?!

Maybe I'm just easy to please, but I had no problem at all with Dukat and the Pah-Wraith storyline.

If the storyline involving the Bajorian prophets and Sisko as the emissary had not been part of DS9 from the start, and then they introduced the Pah-Wraith/Bajorian prophets towards the end, as an afterthought, that would have been lame, but that's not what happened. From the beginning of the show, Sisko, in addition to being a Starfleet officer, was also a Messianic, Christ-like figure, serving the Bajorian Prophets. It made sense then, to have an anti-emissary/anti-Christ, working against Sisko and the prophets, and the obvious choice for the role was Dukat. If one watches DS9 from beginning to end, and looks at the Dukat/Pah-Wraith storyline in this context, one can see that it works. I thought that the last chapter of DS9 with Dukat playing the role as the anti-Christ to Sisko's Christ, was brilliantly executed.

Pairing Dukat up with Winn worked very well. Given that these two great characters never shared any scenes together before, it was exciting and an interesting twist to see their fates intertwined in the end.

The writers took ageless themes of good vs. evil, Zoroastrianism, Judeo-Christian beliefs and symbolism and created epic television that truly took Star Trek to a whole new level. I thought that it was brilliantly done and not at all comic-book-esque. And it wasn't pseudo-religious or pretentious, i.e., Star Wars.
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Old February 11 2013, 12:57 PM   #29
Dal Rassak
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Re: Dukat character - writer's mess?!

o.k., let's keep this going for a bit... I really find the responses interesting...

About the Pah-wraith thing, my problem is that it was just one step too far.
Presenting the characters as some kind of Christ and Anti-Christ was simply where it got laughable.

It's obvious from the first meeting that these two are going to be the main opponents: they're both powerful, both dominant personalities, and both men who don't take well to being personally challenged. What makes their antagonistic relationship compelling is that, while larger than life, they're still men.

Turning them into some kind of avatars, guided/possessed by outside entities, robs them of their identity, because in a sense it's now those entities fighting through them. It turns archetype into stereotype.
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Old February 11 2013, 01:08 PM   #30
Dal Rassak
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Re: Dukat character - writer's mess?!

Besides, and this just simply annoys me, the writers seem to have forgotten their own introductory premise when they started off on the whole mystical tangent of Sisko's birth having been pre-arranged for a purpose by the Prophet entities, etc.

I remember very clearly the first episode and Sisko's first encounter with those entities. Not only did they not purposely manipulate the individual fates of any linear-time beings, they knew next to nothing about them!; in fact they mostly seemed to want to be left alone. They objected to the shuttle's passage through their wormhole and thought Sisko had come to kill them!, and they needed a lot of persuasion to accept that he and his kind were not enemies. Now how that's meant to tie in with how the Prophets were later portrayed I'm buggered if I know.

O.k., so sometimes as a writer you get what you think is a brilliant new idea half-way through, or you want to take something in a new direction, but if it flatly contradicts anything you've established before then you can't. Not unless you want to re-write the entire book; and since in screenwriting you can't go back and re-write what's already been aired, you just have to leave it alone instead of hoping nobody notices the discrepancy.
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