Dukat character - writer's mess?!

Discussion in 'Deep Space Nine' started by Dal Rassak, Feb 4, 2013.

  1. Dal Rassak

    Dal Rassak Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    ...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!"
     
  2. flemm

    flemm Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    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: Feb 8, 2013
  3. Dal Rassak

    Dal Rassak Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    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.
     
  4. dub

    dub Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    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.
     
  5. indolover

    indolover Fleet Captain

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    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.
     
  6. flemm

    flemm Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    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.
     
  7. Dream

    Dream Admiral Admiral

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    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.
     
  8. DavidLeeRoth

    DavidLeeRoth Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    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.
     
  9. Dal Rassak

    Dal Rassak Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    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.
     
  10. Dal Rassak

    Dal Rassak Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    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.
     
  11. DavidLeeRoth

    DavidLeeRoth Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    According to the Bajorian texts, delivered via the orbs, the emissary would save Bajor. The terrestrial aliens/gods knew that there would be an emissary all along. However, when Sisko presented himself, they didn't know that he was the emissary at first and then figured it out.

    The religious aspect, Christ-anti-Christ, may be over-the-top for some, but I thought that it worked.

    The epic showdown between Dukat and Sisko was pretty damn awesome, IMHO.
     
  12. Dal Rassak

    Dal Rassak Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Really? Personally I have to say I felt cheated. I found it a total anti-climax. All along I'd been waiting for these two to have a really big fight - I mean you knew the gloves were going to come off at one point - but I saw them fighting as men, as soldiers and commanders. I thought it would be battleships or phasers or even hand-to-hand.
    In other words a real fight.

    Instead everything goes metaphysical (and I'm a big fan of metaphysical in most cases), the Pah-wraith/Dukat creature does some fire magic and a lot of taunting, and then Sisko simply jumps on him and they fall into the pit.

    I was just sitting there going "this was IT"?

    Personally for me, the whole occupation story arc (end of Season 5 / beginning of season 6) where the station is conquered and then re-taken, was the more satisfying "big confrontation" (apart from the fact that they had Sisko simply pick up his arch-enemy, finding him in a dejected witless heap in a corner, obviously...)
     
  13. DavidLeeRoth

    DavidLeeRoth Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Dukat's little speech with the whole "bow down to me," vaporizing Kai Winn (yay!) and falling into a pit of fire was, like I said, over the top, but I really think that they pulled it off.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    The Dominion taking over and losing Terok Nor/DS9 was also definitely another highlight.
     
  14. Muldfeld

    Muldfeld Ensign Red Shirt

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    I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who had a problem with Dukat post-"Sacrifice of Angels", but I really started to pull for him for most of the last 10-episode arc that ended the series. What I can't forgive is the really lame way Sisko and he ended their battle.

    Dukat supposedly has all this power and is holding Sisko down and Wynn's distraction is enough to make him let go and allow Sisko to push them both off? Silly. They could have worked much harder on that. Dukat deserved much better.

    I think Dukat was deluding himself when he told Wynn he had changed that much; he was about to obtain the ultimate power of the Wraiths, after all.
     
  15. sonak

    sonak Vice Admiral Admiral

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    in a figment of a mediocre mind's imagination

    I agree
     
  16. dub

    dub Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I understand why people didn't like it. I guess I'm one of the few who found the end satisfying. I did say to myself "is this it?" But that was only because I wanted to see the scenes last longer not because I was unsatisfied with the concept. I always thought the fact that we see Sisko afterward meant the door was open for future stories for both Sisko and Dukat (whether in movies, books or just our imagination), so in the end I was satisfied with the "fire pit" ending because I didn't see it as a death scene. I think I remember in an interview Rick Berman stated that he wished they had a few more episodes to stretch it all out a bit more because it seemed a bit rushed in places. But I can totally understand if it wasn't your thing.
     
  17. CommanderRaytas

    CommanderRaytas Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Yes. I agree completely. One gets the impression that the writers were uncomfortable with the popularity of a "villain", and engaged in an effort to make him more villainous, per se. The result was ridiculous. Why they would strive to do so in the first place is baffling to me, because a charismatic antagonist is what draws the viewers in...people like to be able to feel a certain degree of empathy with antagonists. It fascinates us, this pull of the forbidden. The moment the villainy is too cartoonish, it loses its magic, at least in my opinion.

    ...but then again, it was the 90s, and we all make mistakes.
     
  18. DalekJim

    DalekJim Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Dukat was my absolute favourite DS9 character until the end of Season 6 and the entirety of Season 7 assassinated his character. It BAFFLES me that the writers thought Dukat being a complex, often sympathetic character was bad so he had to be a 2d cartoon vilain. I love Waltz but Sisko declaring Dukat as pure evil was insanely out of character.

    Dukat wasn't pure evil. He was at times thoroughly decent, honourable and clearly was starting to like the DS9 crew in a Quark-esque arc of going native. The writers... expect the audience to forget that in the final 2 seasons but it's insane. Nope. Not buying it guys. Dukat could be a good man. I saw it a ton of times.
     
  19. Nagisa Furukawa

    Nagisa Furukawa Commander Red Shirt

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    The problem is (from reading Moore and Behr comments in the DS9 Companion) they began to think of Dukat as a character who the audience thought was interesting and therefore, didn't realize did terrible things. When, uh, clearly, the audience DID realize he did terrible things to innocent people, but the dichotomy between those things and his genuine belief that he was a good guy was what made him interesting. Once they stripped him of that and made him 2D evil, then he stopped being interesting all together, a character whose name could be scratched out and replaced with Cobra Commander or Megatron or whatever and there'd be no difference.
     
  20. DalekJim

    DalekJim Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Yup. Dukat is obviously the antagonist during the occupation arc in S6, no viewer was dumb enough to view him as a hero there. Still, he was written as multi-dimensional with his genuine affection for Kira and his daughter being obvious. I can think of Dukat as a monstrous douche for betraying the Alpha Quadrant to the Dominion, while still feeling really bad for him when his daughter bites it.

    But the writers fell the need to spoonfeed the audience and make him 2d evil. The exact same thing happened with Winn, who is OBVIOUSLY starting to like and respect Sisko during S5. Then she comes back in S6 as a 2d evil bitch.
     

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