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

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Old December 28 2012, 09:40 PM   #1
los2188
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Gul Dukat thoughts...

As I've noted before, I'm watching the Deep Space Nine series currently and I agree in that the writing for it, for a Star Trek series, was ahead of it's time. One of the characters that really intrigues me is Gul Dukat. He obviously has an ego and tends to think of himself as being a kind and gentle leader. He also thinks quite highly of himself, in spite of what others on the show thinks. I guess my question is, what do you think of Dukat? He does seem to walk that fine line between being a good guy that's simply misunderstood and being a ruthless tyrant, in my humble opinion of course. Any thoughts?
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Old December 28 2012, 09:52 PM   #2
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: Gul Dukat thoughts...

I think that in the end, when you get down to it, he must be held accountable for his actions, which were cruel and hateful, no matter how he tried to fool himself into believing they were otherwise. Furthermore...I'm not sure how far along in the series you are, but...



The true tragedy of Dukat, IMHO, is that when we do see these flashes of another potential in him, it dangles the idea of the better man he could have been before us. But just like one of Shakespeare's tragic heroes, like Othello or Macbeth, in the end it was Dukat's own choices and hubris that condemned him. He became what he was not because anybody made him do it, but because he himself chose to do so. And because of that--in the canon universe, anyway--that better man will never be.

(If you have finished the series, however, you may be interested in checking out the alternate-universe version of Dukat that I have written, where that better man does live.)
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Old December 28 2012, 10:03 PM   #3
los2188
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Re: Gul Dukat thoughts...

Nerys Ghemor wrote: View Post
I think that in the end, when you get down to it, he must be held accountable for his actions, which were cruel and hateful, no matter how he tried to fool himself into believing they were otherwise. Furthermore...I'm not sure how far along in the series you are, but...



The true tragedy of Dukat, IMHO, is that when we do see these flashes of another potential in him, it dangles the idea of the better man he could have been before us. But just like one of Shakespeare's tragic heroes, like Othello or Macbeth, in the end it was Dukat's own choices and hubris that condemned him. He became what he was not because anybody made him do it, but because he himself chose to do so. And because of that--in the canon universe, anyway--that better man will never be.

(If you have finished the series, however, you may be interested in checking out the alternate-universe version of Dukat that I have written, where that better man does live.)
Oh yeah, I've seen the whole series and I know that in the end he fights with Sisko in a battle to the death so to speak, but for some reason I still have a hard time totally hating him. I find him somewhat inept, but he's got this appeal to him that's hard to shake. Beyond a doubt, for me, he's the most intriguing main "bad guy" in Star Trek history next to Khan and....yes I'm going to say it....Shinzon. With Shinzon, I find him interesting in more of a "what could have been done" and "so many possibilities" type of a way.
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Old December 28 2012, 10:14 PM   #4
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Re: Gul Dukat thoughts...

A large part of Dukat's success has to go to Marc Alaimo. The character might not have been as riveting with a different actor's interpretation. Nearly every word out of Dukat's mouth drips with condescending insincerity.
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Old December 28 2012, 10:29 PM   #5
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Re: Gul Dukat thoughts...

Regular visitors to the forum have probably seen this already, so I apologise for essentially quoting myself, but this is a subject I like discussing.

I see Dukat as having a very infantile ego, essentially a little boy's ego in a man's body. It's incomplete and vulnerable, dependent on others to validate it, and it's also very selfish, as an infant naturally is. Everything Dukat does is about earning approval; in a sense, earning love. Dukat, I think, needs reinforcement from others, and in his case that's dangerous because he also failed to make the transition to genuine empathy with others. Empathy as I see it isn't just about the similarity between sapient beings, it's about the differences too - it requires respecting the distance as much as the connection. An infant, of course, eventually learns that other people are alien, that they're the centre of their own worlds just as he or she is the centre of their own. Dukat, I think, in some way still doesn't quite grasp this. How and why he's like that I couldn't say. But my idea of the character is that he's still the undisputed centre of his universe and, as far as he's concerned, everyone else orbits him. Basically, there's two ways in which he strikes me as very infantile: his need to have his worth reinforced by others, combined with lack of true empathic understanding. I think it leads to the delusional idea that other people exist to validate him. His ego must be fed, and they must do it.

I get the sense that, ultimately, Dukat sees everyone and everything else as props in his own life. Their job is to reinforce his ego and let him know that he's a heroic and noble person, either by supporting him (for example, Ziyal and Damar) or antagonizing him "unfairly" (like Kira and Weyoun). It's no wonder that when he went mad in season six he had to create illusionary Damars, Kiras and Weyouns when he lost the real ones, because Dukat needs the reinforcement, then more than ever. That's what other people are for; they either feed his ego directly or they justify a sense of persecution and misunderstanding that allows Dukat to be the tragic hero of his own story.

I think Dukat wants to be seen as "noble", as far as his own child-like sense of the noble can carry him. And he surrounds himself with people to reinforce that illusion - Ziyal the blindly adoring daughter, Damar the lieutenant who is loyal but non-threatening (too unimaginative to challenge Dukat's position, yet ultimately more than the "typical" Cardassian military thug - he's intelligent enough to appreciate Dukat), comfort women who will respond to Dukat's "generosity" if only because they know they're trapped and it could be far worse. The same, I assume, motivated his move to abolish child labour when he was in command of Terok Nor – he expected the Bajorans to recognize his “nobility” and love him for it.

I also think Cardassia itself is something similar, a piece in his fantasy to feed his sense of selfish identity. If daughters, comfort women and lieutenants fulfilled his need to be the noble, benevolent master (again, to the extent that he understands "noble", which is through the prism of a child-like selfishness), then Cardassia fulfilled his need to be the servant. In his own mind, he's a good son to Cardassia, just as he's a good patriarch to his extended Cardassian/Bajoran community-family. Ultimately, though, he's every bit as disloyal a son as he is an abusive patriarch - both roles are ultimately to fuel his own need to experience a sense of his great worth.

And the tragedy of Dukat, as I see it, is that due to his inability to truly see perspectives other than his own, he never, ever grasped an opportunity to actually become a better person. He always chose to pretend to himself that he was great, and get others to tell him he was, rather than trying to become great. He's completely trapped in his own lie. His mind is yoked to his runaway ego, which needs reinforcement or he'll fall apart. As I often put it: Weyoun has the Founders, but Dukat is his own Founder.

I always try to explain Dukat in terms of season six, because I think any unified theory of the character has to explain his descent into madness and subsequent obsession with the pah-wraiths in terms of the man he'd been prior to that, rather than treating "mad Dukat" as a different person (whether the writers had a unified or sensible view of the character is open to debate, I suppose). As I see it, at the beginning of season six Dukat is at his height, because everything is fully safe and controlled with him at the centre. But then the universe crashes down when he loses Terok Nor again, along with Ziyal and (in a way) Damar. The loyal lieutenant can't shoot the pet daughter and I can't lose my war and my empire, that just can't happen! And Dukat ended up obsessed with taking down Sisko, who is - shock and horror - a challenger. I honestly think the reason Dukat fixates on Sisko (something other fans often say makes little sense) is because Sisko is the only other person Dukat actually truly recognizes as another person. And that's because Sisko can't orbit Dukat like everyone else is made to, because he's a rival for Dukat's position. Sisko is in Dukat's office, he has Kira's respect, the Bajorans' respect, he's a strong, noble military leader, a loving father, victorious in battle - Dukat has encountered a rival. And this universe isn't big enough for both of them, because the universe is supposed to revolve around Dukat, not this usurper.
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Old December 29 2012, 12:34 AM   #6
R. Star
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Re: Gul Dukat thoughts...

Dukat was easily the most complicated villain in the history of Trek and arguably the best one just by his sheer force of personality and will. What made him more than just the cliche villain of the weak was he did have admirable qualities. He was patriotic to the core, a dedicated family man(when he wasn't cheating anyways), certainly he was loyal to his friends if Damar is any indication, and he was polite when he wanted to be.

Certainly this led to the grey area during seasons 3-5 when you were almost wondering if Dukat had come over to the good guys or not. He hadn't really changed that much at all, just his objectives and goals corresponded with the good guys and so he realized that and would work with them when required.

He was quite skillful in overcoming adversity and you never could keep him down for very long. His obsession with Bajor and by extension Sisko was both his greatest strength and greatest weakness. It gave him a driving force at times, when all the world was arrayed against him, but in the end it did pave his downfall into madness.

In the end he did covet power and control and had a self-love that he seemed to want everyone to share. His actions during the occupation gave a glimpse at this, and even joining the Dominion and the Pagh-Wraiths wasn't so much about those causes as much as it was him placing himself back on top again.

Marc Aliamo was superb in portraying him and it wouldn't have been the same without him, that is for certain.
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Old December 29 2012, 01:19 AM   #7
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Re: Gul Dukat thoughts...

Pre-wraith Dukat and Winn are probably the most realistic villains in the Star Trek universe.

Dukat was never a good man. He was a ruthless tyrant. He was willing to be a little nicer to the Bajorans than the others...so long as they accepted their 'place in history' as their slaves, and had sex with him, understanding the kind man he really is. He had a good reparte with Sisko and Kira...so long as they were always taking him seriously.

But, he was not a sociopath. He was able to experience genuine feeling for other people. He probably actually loved all the Bajoran women he took as consorts, but those emotions came from a place of absolute belief in his superiority, loving them like a slave master claims to love his slaves. But however real those emotions may be: They never affected his actions. Only his explanation for his actions.

He's like an actual tyrant, behaving in much the same way third world dictators behave in real life, and doing so with the same attitude and cognitive dissonance.
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Old December 29 2012, 02:20 AM   #8
Tiberius
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Re: Gul Dukat thoughts...

IIRC, Alaimo genuinely thought Dukat would be shown to be a good guy by the end of the series, so that's how he played him. Worked a treat.
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Old December 29 2012, 02:28 AM   #9
R. Star
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Re: Gul Dukat thoughts...

Tiberius wrote: View Post
IIRC, Alaimo genuinely thought Dukat would be shown to be a good guy by the end of the series, so that's how he played him. Worked a treat.
Watching for the first time in season 4 and early 5, you're kind of wondering this as the viewer. Gul Dukat -was- the hero of his own story after all.
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Old December 29 2012, 02:33 AM   #10
JirinPanthosa
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Re: Gul Dukat thoughts...

That was definitely a positive boon for the character. Dukat is a good guy in his own head, so why not in the actor's head too?

I don't imagine any of the real villains in history stopping to say "Man, I'm SUCH a bad guy. BWA HA HA HA HA! Gentleman, to evil."

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Old December 31 2012, 10:38 PM   #11
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Re: Gul Dukat thoughts...

seasons 1-5 Dukat was a great character, a complex villain with interesting motivations who you could even find yourself respecting.

post-SOA seasons 6-7 Dukat was a pathetic one-dimensional comic book supervillain, a cliched moustache-twirler devoid of complexity or nuance.
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Old January 1 2013, 12:23 AM   #12
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Re: Gul Dukat thoughts...

Well if you don't like the whole Bajorian religion subplot, of course the season 7 Dukat is gonna seem disappointing. I thought it was an interesting turn and kind of fitting that Dukat and Sisko ended up facing each other down as agents of their respective gods.

Not to mention season 7 Dukat had THE best line ever,

Winn: Remember your place Dukat.
Dukat: I thought my place was in your bed.
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Old January 1 2013, 12:50 AM   #13
sonak
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Re: Gul Dukat thoughts...

Star Grinch wrote: View Post
Well if you don't like the whole Bajorian religion subplot, of course the season 7 Dukat is gonna seem disappointing. I thought it was an interesting turn and kind of fitting that Dukat and Sisko ended up facing each other down as agents of their respective gods.

Not to mention season 7 Dukat had THE best line ever,

Winn: Remember your place Dukat.
Dukat: I thought my place was in your bed.

I disliked where the Bajoran religion subplot went, yes, but that's not why I disliked where they took Dukat's character. I didn't like that he became a cardboard villain with comic book- villain motivations.
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Old January 1 2013, 06:05 PM   #14
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: Gul Dukat thoughts...

He sold his soul, and ended up (IMHO) having his free will destroyed by the Pah-Wraith that took over his body when he killed Jadzia. So in a lot of ways, I view Season 7 Dukat as the "price" he paid for the self-absorbed life he led before that.

It's even more ironic in that he wanted to make people love him--and in the end the Pah-Wraiths did exactly that to him by force: made him love them.
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Old January 2 2013, 11:52 AM   #15
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Re: Gul Dukat thoughts...

"I wonder if Nerys looks like her mother under that uniform..."

"I wonder how I'd look bald as Sisko. It isn't very Cardassian. Fah(!) men should have hair."

"Garak >: ( !!!"

EDIT: But no seriously, what Deranged Nasat said.
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