"The Darkness and the Light"- was it true to character?

Discussion in 'Deep Space Nine' started by pharBeyond, Aug 10, 2010.

  1. pharBeyond

    pharBeyond Ensign Red Shirt

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    I'm a newbie to this board, so If this has been asked before, just ignore me. :)

    I have been going through the episodes season by season... and this episde, well I have some questions.

    First, I have to say I really liked it. I thought Nana Visitor did a great job...it really pulled you in.

    However, I have one problem with it.

    The part where Kira goes off alone in the runabout to find the person responsible for the killings- it just seemed to me like Kira wouldn't do this, that is, she wouldn't jeopardize the baby!

    I think Kira should have "gotten" the guy- she should save herself, but I thought maybe the writers should have brought Silaron (sic) to the station somehow...?

    am I right, or am I missing something?
    :confused:
     
  2. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    That totally ticked me off that Kira jeopardized the O'Briens' baby that way. Jeopardizing her own child that way would've been completely horrible as well. Luring Silaran to the station would've made a hell of a lot more sense.

    Kira's attitude was also repugnant in that episode at the end, too. It's like she was PROUD of maiming a civilian.
     
  3. DonIago

    DonIago Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Hm. I'm doing a rewatch currently but only in S2. I'll have to look that one over.

    I don't recall being particularly fond of Kira towards the end of the episode though.
     
  4. pharBeyond

    pharBeyond Ensign Red Shirt

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    Ron Moore, the writer, said he wrote the ending specifically like that, because he thought it would be too cliche, and untrue to Kira, to have her repent everything she did. He said that "both people were right, and both people were wrong" (Kira and Silaron).

    He also said that Kira's reaction was the stance of "a terrorist"...

    ( I think it's interesting: that word meant one thing in the late 90's when the show aired- and maybe now, something different- it's not an abstraction for some of us, sadly).

    I like the fact that this episode didn't take the easy way out...

    As a result, the audience is made to think- and maybe as Nerys Ghemor did, disagree with Kira, and maybe dislike her.
    But that was her character, at least to me.
     
  5. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I think that Kira didn't have to necessarily apologize to Silaran on HIS terms. But even to say, "I don't regret the attack but I regret that you were in the way" would've been SOMETHING. Even a suggestion at the end that she worried about her standing before the Prophets, some kind of atonement ritual done in private (not even in front of Silaran) would've helped. There would've been a sense of too much pride to budge in front of Silaran, a refusal to break in the face of what he was doing to her, but there would've been a sense of SOME kind of "Bajoranity" in her.

    While it helps later on, that she had to REALLY face her ugly attitude in "Ties of Blood and Water," where her hatred (as well as her fears from her past) nearly led to her abandoning a Cardassian that she actually loved, I think Kira's callous attitude was just disgusting.
     
  6. flemm

    flemm Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    The O'Briens' baby was already in danger, as the assassin had proven capable of hitting targets on Bajor and on Deep Space Nine. It had already become clear that once the killer had "made his point" to Kira, she would then be eliminated, so it was more a question of either taking action or sitting around helplessly waiting for herself, the baby and/or more of her friends to get killed.

    I wouldn't call it a prudent choice, but it was definitely in character (and not necessarily any more dangerous for the child than remaining on the station). We find out later that the killer might have tried to find a way to save the child, but there was no way of foreseeing that at the time.

    Kira's attitude at the end was also in character in the sense that she was speaking as a resistance fighter: all Cardassians on Bajor were members of the occupying force in their minds and therefore legitimate targets. That doesn't mean what the resistance did wasn't horrible. Millions had died and an entire planet had been enslaved. If you are fighting back against that you are not going to come away with your hands clean.

    But by the same token, the Cardassian in this episode had deluded himself into thinking that any Cardassian on Bajor not directly involved with the military was therefore somehow perfectly innocent, which is nonsense. You might be a bureaucrat or you might be a mechanic or a cook, but if you are contributing to a crime on the scale of the occupation, even in a small way, you are implicated and partly responsible.

    The bottom line is: none of the Cardassians had any right to be there. If you mercilessly conquer a world in an unprovoked act of aggression, then start living there with your family, don't expect the people you have enslaved to be careful not to hurt that family you care about so much. Your family wouldn't be in danger if you weren't living off the spoils of empire. Yet murder is still murder.

    Hence the idea that "you can't separate the darkness from the light" which closes the episode: there is no easy way to clearly distinguish between the guilty and the innocent in that type of situation.

    Kira is a character with a ruthless side, which is understandable considering her past. Her lack of repentance and unapologetic attitude is one of the things that makes this an excellent episode: she is not sorry, because in her mind she did what she had to do to drive out an occupying power. Obviously, as a viewer, when I am confronted with that attitude, especially in a character that I am able to sympathize with in a number of ways, that makes me a bit uncomfortable. But that is exactly the kind of thing that drama should spend its time doing.
     
  7. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    There are SO many ways, with the technology that was available in the Trekiverse, to trick Silaran into thinking Kira was off-station and out of the system (heck, they might even be able to fake her death), or any number of other scenarios they might want him to believe. "Sitting around helpless" would not have been in the slightest bit necessary.

    Obviously a resistance fighter will not have clean hands. And I can see why during the Occupation, feelings of compassion would be put aside. But once there is no longer an Occupation, the right thing is to recognize the tragedy that some who didn't want to be there and didn't support the Occupation also became victims of it. The Cardassian government is ultimately responsible for the fact that noncombatant Cardassians died--but this should be recognized as a tragedy and a further atrocity by Central Command, rather than celebrated as Kira did.

    And let's not forget how hypocritical this is of Kira: when Aamin Marritza decided he was ready to die to make a point about the wrongness of the Occupation, she didn't want to let him do it once she realized who he was and what he was really trying to do. She even said outright that he was NOT responsible for the atrocities of Gallitep, that just being there, and being Cardassian wasn't enough. She was ready to excuse him...I mean outright EXCUSE him.

    Prin's choices, of course, were awful and wrong, when he started going after Kira's friends and then trying to kill her. But like I said, even some sort of private mourning or atonement, something that Prin couldn't see and would never be a "victory" for him, would've helped. But there was NOTHING, and that was disgusting.

    Later on--after a very nasty and abusive reaction that I'm sure Dukat intended to provoke from her--she finally decided she LOVED Tekeny Ghemor, even to the point of burying him alongside her father, even though HE WAS A SOLDIER and he FOUGHT at Kiessa Monastery, and he may have KILLED. Yet she excused him too, in the end. Maybe she finally came to realize how her own bitterness was destroying her, and that it had nearly destroyed the spirit of someone who genuinely loved her, while he was on his deathbed.

    Maybe in some ways "Ties" helps a little to make up for what happened in this episode. But I still find "The Darkness and the Light" inexcusable in that there wasn't even private atonement.
     
  8. flemm

    flemm Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Once the members of the Shakaar resistance cell started getting killed, it is reasonable to assume that all possible security measures had been taken to protect Kira and the baby (we see security guards being posted outside her quarters, etc.) Then Furel and Lupaza are killed in Kira's own quarters, where she and the baby had been a short while ago.

    What if, at that point, Odo and Sisko started inventing various technical solutions to hide Kira and the baby? Well, then it becomes a story about Kira running and hiding from her attacker. And then you invent some technical counter-attack that allows Silaran to pierce whatever defense has been created. This would basically just be a game of technobabble rock versus technobabble scissors.

    The crux of the story is: run or not run. Kira's choice is to not run, which is entirely in character.

    Kira does not celebrate what she did. She refuses to apologize to a man that has just killed two of her closest friends and is threatening to kill her. It is perfectly in character for her to remain defiant in those circumstances.

    There is nothing hypocritical about it. Kira would doubtless have considered Marritza a legitimate target during the Occupation. After the Occupation, killing him because he was a Cardassian was unjustifiable. He had sought to atone for the crimes of the occupation and Kira was able to see the nobility in that. There is no comparison with Prin, who sought to teach Kira a lesson with a series of killings.

    Showing Kira repenting afterwards in prayer might have worked ok as well, but I think I prefer that the episode leaves us with a more troubling vision of Kira, since its goal was to explore a darker side of her character.

    I agree, though, that Ties complements this episode quite nicely in a number of ways.
     
  9. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Kira going gung-ho after Prin would've been totally A-OK if not for the fact that she was carrying a child. Frankly, I think "running and hiding", however much that would drive Kira insane, would be the appropriate and even noble response to that situation: yes, it means sacrificing pride, but it would take real character to do that--more so, if you ask me, than going charging in. Whatever reckless thing she wants to do with her own life, I could understand that even if I still wouldn't like her attitude. What she decides to do with another life that can't have any say in it--that I have no tolerance for whatsoever.

    And like I said, Kira didn't even have to repent for what she did, in Silaran's presence. Even something after the fact would've made it more understandable.
     
  10. flemm

    flemm Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    There is simply no guarantee, based on what we saw in the episode, that remaining on the station would have been safer. Kira felt she had to take action to protect her comrades, herself and thereby the baby. Her quarters had just been blown up despite all the security measures that were in place. Prin had already bypassed Starfleet transporter protocols. She decided not to sit around and wait for herself and the baby to be blown up. It's not about pride, but a matter of fighting for survival, or not fighting.

    However, the whole point of the episode was to cast Kira in a problematic light, morally speaking. In that sense, it would have been counter productive to show Kira as repentant. Good characters have real flaws, that is to say traits that can cause them to do unsettling and problematic things in certain circumstances. Kira is one of the few examples in Trek of a fully-realized character largely because of episodes like this where her convictions and past history cause her to do things that are troubling for the audience but justifiable to her. This is a good thing.
     
  11. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It would've probably taken something major--something, like I said, possibly even on the order of faking her death--but still, I think everything she did in that episode: going there, going there alone, going there while pregnant and endangering someone else's child, was reprehensible. Like I said, had it been her own life, I wouldn't have a problem with it, but she owes it to the O'Briens' child not to subject THEIR son to a risk even more extreme than the one Prin was subjecting her to on-station. And even if there was NO alternative to her going, then she should not have gone alone; at the very least, Odo should've gone, because of all the crewmembers, he could avoid detection and make Prin THINK she was coming alone.
     
  12. DonIago

    DonIago Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Hm. I'll grant that there was no reason to believe at that point that Kira was any safer on-station than she was off it. But hunting Prin down on her own was blatantly irresponsible, whether or not she was pregnant at the time.

    "Nuke the planet from orbit, it's the only way to be sure!"
     
  13. pharBeyond

    pharBeyond Ensign Red Shirt

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    FLemm- I think I agree with your first post, though you all bring up great points! It was totally in character, and I agree, it's one of the things that made this episode great. Your insights will help me enjoy it more!
     
  14. pharBeyond

    pharBeyond Ensign Red Shirt

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    I couldn't agree more- I think this is why her character is one of my favorite in all Trek,and why DS9 is my favorite show.
     
  15. DS9 Gal AZ

    DS9 Gal AZ Captain Captain

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    Just because Kira was able to forgive other Cardassians for their mere presence on Bajor (Tekeny Ghemor, the Cardassian from "Duet,"), does not mean that, at the time of the occupation, she would have hesitated to blow their asses up. None of the Cardassians should have been there. They raped her planet and decimated her people. Just because Prin wasn't actively murdering Bajorans doesn't mean he wasn't responsible. He passively endorsed the Occupation just by his presence on Bajor. Hey, I'd want to off they guy that hemmed pants for the Nazi soldiers too, you know (or whatever menial job Prinn did). Also take into account that Prinn had just killed her friends, and I can understand why she wasn't in a very forgiving mood.

    As for endangering the O'Brien's baby, the argument could be made that the baby was already in danger, and Kira waiting around like a sitting duck would only make her and baby an easy target. How was she to know Prinn would spare the child?

    The whole theme of this episode is: can you really separate the darkness from the light? Is any Cardassian who lived on Bajor totally innocent, or are they "darkened" by the occupation? Are Kira's actions, and the actions of her comrades, completely justified, or are they "darkened" by the taking of lives? Maybe it's not as simple as night and day, black and white. Maybe there's some gray.
     
  16. pharBeyond

    pharBeyond Ensign Red Shirt

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    You're right GAL...I just was so focused on her protecting the baby- but you're right- maybe she was-in her way.
     
  17. flemm

    flemm Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Under stress, people revert to training, if they have had any. Instinct or habit if they haven't. For Kira, it is a combination of all of the above: training and instinct especially.

    She has just experienced extreme mental and physical stress. Two close friends murdered in her own quarters. A ruptured placenta, internal bleeding. She reverts to her training and instincts. A Cardassian is killing members of her resistance cell. She has been doing this her entire adult life. Find the killer. Hit back.

    It's 100% in character. What would have been 100% ridiculous would have been for her to act perfectly rationally in that scenario. A character with different instincts and different training would doubtless have reacted differently, but for Kira this was appropriate. She had spent most of her adult life living in caves as a terrorist: those instincts are still there, not far beneath the surface, despite a few years of a relatively comfortable life on DS9.
     
  18. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Oh, that makes it even WORSE--I'd forgotten she had a ruptured placenta!!! So that just increases the risk to the baby even further if she starts gallivanting around the galaxy to get into it with a known murderer. Sorry--she was completely and totally in the wrong on this one; another solution should have been devised. Period. Neither way is a 100% guarantee, by any means, but concern for the child should have come above concern for her own life or her own pride.

    As to if I would want to kill the guy who hemmed pants for the Nazis? Let me put it this way. I would not know if that person was a slave himself, a victim, or just unable to do anything about his situation for other reasons. I might still end up killing that person, but I can tell you I would at least allow myself to have a conscience, to mourn the fact that it was necessary, and take absolutely no pride or joy in it. ANY killing is a shame, when it comes down to that necessity, and should be mourned even when we absolutely must do it. I am not a pacifist--never will be. But I would want to make sure that I did not sacrifice my soul in the process.

    If that hypothetical pants-hemmer survived, IRL, and did what Prin did, I would be furious, angry. And if there were a face-to-face confrontation, I would feel justified in killing him as a result of those actions (because NOW we have actions that make him a clear and present danger--more than just collateral damage, but an actual target in and of himself). But you can bet that privately, even if I never said it to his face, I would feel very badly about what happened and feel the need to pray for forgiveness.
     
  19. DevilEyes

    DevilEyes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Oh boy. The Darkness and the Light is an episode that I am never sure if I really like or dislike. It was really the episode that left me with the most uncomfortable feeling... which I suppose was the intention. In some ways, it foreshadows Ron Moore's work on BSG where the heroes' morally ambiguous and often repugnant behavior. I should really watch it again to see how I feel this time. I have to say that I never thought about the baby thing, but Kira's attitude towards 'collateral damage' of her actions did trouble me a lot. On one hand, I understand where the attitude comes from, and it is a great thing that it helped keep the character of Kira edgy rather than pacifying her too much, which seemed to be a danger in the middle part of the show... And Flemm makes very good points...

    ... However, my answer to the question, was it true to character for Kira is a bit less straightforward. I would say it was in character, but only if we assume that her attitude was not the whole story, and that deep inside she did feel troubled by what she had done to Prin and others. Remember early season 1? That was Kira right after the end of the Occupation, at her angriest, most hardcore, hating Cardassians and not trusting the Federation... yet as early as "Past Prologue", she admitted that she wasn't proud of some of the things she had done as a resistance fighter/terrorist, and in "Battle Lines" we saw more of how troubled she was by it. In "Return to Grace", she says that this kind of life "eats away at your soul". So to imply that, by season 5, she somehow had a perfect peace of mind with it, would be really out of character, IMO.

    I agree that it makes sense for Kira to have that attitude, and I'm sure that she is sticking to the view that her actions were right because Cardassians were all legitimate targets. As a resistance fighter, she had to believe that in order to be able to fight, and even years later, she needed to feel that she was justified in everything she had done. But what Kira says, especially when she is/has been fighting her enemies, and what she feels inside may not always be the same thing. While she may have learned to accept that there are shades of gray in the world, she needed to have a clear-cut attitude what is right and what is wrong in order to keep her sanity. It often felt like she would go back to her old black and white "Cardassians = evil, we were right to kill any of them" stance whenever she felt threatened by doubts, insecurities and guilt. Her anger had been what kept her going so many years, it was what she always hung onto throughout the horrible years during the Occupation, what kept her from being overcome with pain and desolation. This is one of the reasons I love the character so much - she is so strong, but at the same time she has so much vulnerability, so many deep issues.

    This is why I always felt that "The Darkness and the Light" was an episode that should have had a follow-up, that we should have seen her deal with some suppressed feelings of guilt. In a way, Silaran Prin was the epitome of that violent, ugly part of her; one might say that she [and others from Shakaar's cell] created him, made him into a deranged serial killer, just like she and Bajorans had had to become violent and ruthless and full of hate as a result of what Cardassians were doing to Bajor. (How did Dukat put it, with perverse admiration? "A Bajoran born out of the ashes of the occupation, a Bajoran tempered with Cardassian steel".) And he felt just as justified in his actions. If I were writing DS9 fiction, I'd have Prin appear in Kira's nightmares long after - together with other Cardassian victims and Cardassian murderers and Bajoran victims (we know there were Bajorans who died and were hurt in the attacks, too) and Bajoran collaborators...and maybe Dukat, and her mother, and a lot of other tormenting issues that she never properly resolved on the show. Kira grew tremendously during the course of the show, but I thought that there was still a lot that could be dealt with. (And BTW, for those reading Trek lit: while I've really enjoyed DS9-R so far - I'm up to Mission Gamma: Twilight - and Kira's characterization has been very good, I feel there's been something lacking - it's just a bit too on the safe side. I'd have her haunted by her old unresolved issues, to the point of almost breaking down, at least one more time, before leaving them behind.)
     
  20. flemm

    flemm Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    The question of whether Kira was right or wrong to do what she did is only one possible question that can be asked of this episode, and not really the one I have been addressing.

    First, there is the question of whether or not it was in character. What makes it a good episode, in my mind, is precisely that what she did was simultaneously wrong (or at least extremely dubious), and also in character. To put this another way, it is good that this episode found a way to have Kira act in a disturbing manner that was perfectly in character.

    I agree with DevilEyes' caveat that these events are only in character in the sense that what we see in this episode is not the whole story. However, clearly it isn't. Just looking at season 5, Ties comes back to some similar questions, and gives different insight into the character.

    Then there is the question of whether Kira acted in a purely selfish manner, to save only herself, or out of pride. I think the answer is clearly no. She felt the killings had been her responsability, and that therefore she had to try to end them before others were killed by someone trying to prove a point to her. The baby's life was linked to her own at this point, so when she acted on instinct to find her attacker, she was protecting the baby as much as herself.

    This brings up the further point that people do not necessarily act rationally under this kind of stress. Therefore, an objective analysis of risk is not going to determine how an individual acts in this type of scenario.

    The fact that Kira may be perceived as being in the wrong in this episode is only the beginning of the conversation and not even the most interesting part. That is in effect a given, and part of the episode's basic premise.
     

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