What's your opinion of Gul Dukat?

Discussion in 'Deep Space Nine' started by Charles Phipps, Jun 30, 2013.

  1. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Captain Captain

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    Much is made of Gul Dukat and his opinions, personality, plus actions. A lot of people objected to his final season appearances, basically making him the Bajoran Antichrist. Others think he was a complex character filled with both good and evil. While others preferred him as a big old Space Nazi. I was curious what everyone else's take on the Gul was.

    My opinion of the Gul is that I think he is an interesting case of being the bigger (and better) villain for the fact that redemption was a possibility for him, from beginning to end. Unlike some Cardassians (Gul Dar'heel, Crell), he doesn't seem to have been a sociopath of mentally ill. Gul Dukat is perfectly capable of love, affection, and (IMHO) a degree of remorse.

    It's just the fact that he's so damn good at justifying to himself, evading responsibility, and suppressing his feelings he's able to go through with all manner of horrible atrocities. He's also, in a very real way, a fundamentally weak man. Temptations ranging from sex to power are things he just can't refuse and he finds himself, again, justifying them.

    Gul Dukat came to Bajor (just going off the show) wanting to be the savior who made the occupation bearable for the Bajorans, fully expecting them (or maybe just hoping) being less brutal would make things better. As in real life, this just embolded the resistance, though. He couldn't give up his position so he gave into his dark side and found all manner of justifications for what he'd done--that he was "forced" to do. Somewhere, deep inside his (literally) reptilian brain, he knows this is Targ **** but his conscious brain forces it through.

    It's why I think the character of Ziyal is so important to Gul Dukat and why he abandoned his legitimate family for her. Ziyal was his redemption as he can look at her and say, "as long as she's alive, I'm the good guy because I spared her life." It allowed him to keep his sanity for a short time.

    I don't have much of a problem with the Pah Wraith arc because I just saw it as another stage in Gul Dukat's cycle of running away and reinventing himself. Having his own cult extolling his praises helped him overcome his guilt again. Inside, though, he's a horrible mass of neuroses--all because that 1% of good inside him is like a Klingon pain stick to the skull.
     
  2. Nagisa Furukawa

    Nagisa Furukawa Commander Red Shirt

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    All good points.

    I think if the show had been suddenly, shockingly canceled after the 6 ep opening arc of Season 6, I would've called Dukat the best villain in Star Trek history. The perfect mix of genuine menace and immorality to make him hateable but enough "This is how he sees the world" depth to make him a far more interesting villain than a mustache twirler. The fact that this guy tells himself what he's doing is right, has a sliver in him that heavily disagees, and then does it anyway makes him scarier.

    Here is where we must part. It's the episode Waltz where Behr and Moore overreacted to online opinions that I start to lose interest as I've ranted about here: http://www.trekbbs.com/showpost.php?p=7745575&postcount=41 From that point on, we got nails-on-a-chalkboard-noticable retcon ep of Dukat fucking Kira's mom to red eyes cartoon villain to soap opera "Is Dukat the baby daddy?!" to laughable Bajoran-Dukat-seduces-Winn to his entire role in the finale essentially amounting to saying, "ROAR!" ... yeah, not a fan.
     
  3. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    :vulcan: :cardie: :confused: :wtf:

    I have no idea what makes you think Dukat ever had a conscience. The man was perfectly happy to send millions of people to their deaths and demand that they worship him for it. He's a classic sociopath and megalomaniac.

    Complete bullshit. This is just the rhetoric he uses to justify his crimes to others. Why on Earth would you take his account of his motives as accurate? Would you trust Adolf Eichmann to reliably explain his motives?
     
  4. Captain Atkin

    Captain Atkin Commander Red Shirt

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    I agree that it was complete bullshit... but... I also believe that Gul Dukat wanted to believe it. He was trying to rewrite history for himself.
     
  5. eskyliz

    eskyliz Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    Gul Dukak = coolest villain on Star Trek.

    But really though. I never thought he was pure evil until probably the very end... Then I thought, "There's no hope for him. He actually is pure evil." But by then he was dead.

    I seem to have come to this conclusion about a year (in Star Trek time) later than most of the characters.

    In "Waltz" Sisko at the end says that he now realizes that Dukat is pure evil. (At least I think he said that. It's been so long.) And then of course there's Kira who probably realized this during the occupation.

    But for the most part, I always though Dukat could go either way. And I even when looked at him in situations when he was supposed to be portrayed as this big evil powerful Cardassian, I could usually still see from his point of view and understand that he might not have thought what he was doing was all that evil.
     
  6. Elias Vaughn

    Elias Vaughn Captain Captain

    ...right.

    Let's look at the definition of the word 'sociopath':

    (If you have a preferred online dictionary other than this one, my apologies. It's just the first one I always remember the URL of.)

    Point by point:

    "psychopathic personality"

    Again, let's define our terms.

    The second definition is obviously not the one we're looking for, so I'll focus on the first.

    "Amoral and antisocial behavior" is kind of a perfect way to describe his relationship with the Bajorans. He doesn't care about them, though I'm sure he'd like them to think otherwise. He did, after all, plunder their home and their people for years; and on top of that, he later admitted to Sisko that he hated the Bajorans and wanted them all exterminated (DS9 "Waltz").

    "Lack of ability to love or establish meaningful personal relationships" I'll admit, is borderline at best. He really did care for Ziyal, as evidenced by how her death practically broke his, let's call it pagh. But here's the thing - this seemed, in Dukat's head, to only apply to Cardassians. He loved Ziyal despite her Bajoran heritage, but he believed anyone who wasn't Cardassian was inherently beneath anyone who was, and even more, beneath Dukat himself. This is why he masterminded the Bajoran Occupation, this is why he continued to be adversarial to the Federation even though they bent over backwards to try and help out the Cardassians every chance they got. Dukat couldn't love anything not Cardassian. Admittedly, this is more of a Cardassian trait in general than one specific to Dukat himself, so it's not really a crux of my argument.

    "Extreme egocentricity" I won't even bother justifying. If you really need me to, I will, but... this is Dukat.

    "Failure to learn from experience". "Hey, the Occupation didn't go real well for the Bajorans. Let's have the Dominion do the same thing to Cardassia and hope things change." I'm sure he didn't know Cardassia would become fully occupied, but the way the Dominion first forged an alliance with Cardassia holds a number of striking similarities with how Cardassia did the same with Bajor (http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Occupation_of_Bajor#Prelude).

    In addition, there's this psychopathy checklist: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychopathy#Psychopathy_Checklist

    (Yeah, Wiki, I know; but I admit ignorance on what psychology-dedicated websites are best in general, so I'm open to suggestions.)

    There is nothing on this list that doesn't blatantly describe Dukat perfectly. There's the 'short term marital relationships', but with a little stretching, we can assume his love of comfort women fits this criterion.

    Forgive my own egocentricity, but I feel that we've established Dukat's psychopathic tendencies beyond a reasonable doubt.

    Now, back to the sociopath thing.

    "Whose behavior is antisocial, often criminal". The man raped and pillaged an entire planet despite their repeatedly stated desire to be free. He also raped Kira's mother (though I'm not keen on restarting that old chestnut of a thread). His actions may have been legal under Cardassian law, but they certainly weren't under Bajoran law.

    "Who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience." Remember all the times he blamed the Bajorans for resisting his rule instead of just sitting back and letting the Cardassians enslave them?

    Yeah, Dukat was rather obviously sociopathic. He was well-written, though, and probably my favorite Trek villain, but he was not a mentally healthy man. Not even before Ziyal died.

    (disclaimer: I am not a psychologist. I am someone who likes to argue and is okay at Googling, so grain of salt I guess.)
     
  7. bbjeg

    bbjeg Admiral Admiral

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    In the beginning of the series I felt Dukat was redeemable. It felt like he was thrown into leading the occupation, and not necessarily responsible for all the wrong doings his people were committing on the Bajorans. By the end, I just figured he's a backstabbing lair who believed his own lies, even with Ziyal and abandoning his real family, though she made him feel better about himself for letting her live, it's more likely his wife left him for cheating and he was stuck with her.
     
  8. Dale Sams

    Dale Sams Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Do you really think SF, Sisko, and Kira would deal *at all* with the Hitler you've made Dukat out to be? Where does it say he sent millions to their deaths?

    edit: Now that I think about it, there are numerous occasions whereas people and states will deal everyday with people who are responsible for atrocities. The U.S. sends foreign aid every day to monsters. Past presidents are immortalized, Columbus gets a holiday....but not Kira. That's the one person who by the very virtue of her personality should resign immediately and get a phaser rifle, the instant anyone tries to revise history.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2013
  9. Elias Vaughn

    Elias Vaughn Captain Captain

    They didn't really have a choice, so yes.

    http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Dukat#Prefect_of_Bajor

    http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Occupation_of_Bajor

    ...who tried to?
     
  10. Dale Sams

    Dale Sams Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Memory Alpha also says Dukat immediately abolished child labor, cut down on work hours and improved rations.
     
  11. Elias Vaughn

    Elias Vaughn Captain Captain

    I'm sure the ten million Bajorans who died in the Occupation appreciated that.
     
  12. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Dukat wanted power and he wanted to be adored. That's pretty much the summary behind all of his actions to being the "magnanimous tyrant" during the Occupation, to his womanizing, to his constant need of approval from Sisko and Kira. To taking Cardassia into the deal with the devil in season 5. To his final mad foray into Bajoran religion in seasons 6 and 7.

    What made Dukat such an interesting character is that he was a complete character. He had a full set of virtues and vices. His patriotism and devotion to duty were almost admirable at times. Heck when he sacrificed his career for Ziyal that was almost noble. During seasons 3-5 you were actively wondering if he was even the "bad guy" anymore.

    Far too many villains are just stereotypical. Dukat was nothing but.
     
  13. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Captain Captain

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    The attempt to re-label sociopath "bad people" is one of my chief problems with psychiatric medicine today and I say this as someone whose studied it. It's a program with an agenda and ignores the very real difference between the mentally ill versus those who do criminal actions for gain, social stratification, or ideology.

    Labeling the majority of human history's killers, conquerors, slavers, and so on as sociopaths may make good copy but I don't believe it. There's no "evil gene" that can magically be made to go away.

    I think of Gul Dukat as a man who voluntarily IGNORED his conscience and the chief source of his torment is the fact that it existed despite his efforts to do so. If he was mentally ill, he wouldn't NEED to. That last little lingering flame of good inside him actually makes him a worse person, IMHO, because he could have listened to it long ago.

    Just saying, "oh he was all about being adored and his motivations are 100% pure selfish" undermines him and his role in the story. They were just 90% sociopath and comfortably lies to us by saying that another "normal" person (Cardassian or otherwise) wouldn't do the same in his place.

    Human history says otherwise.
     
  14. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Very good points. But it's really human nature to put labels and otherwise demean people who think differently than they do. If there's something fundamentally wrong with that person, even if it's just in your head, you don't have to confront why they think differently or are as they are.
     
  15. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Captain Captain

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    Yeah, part of why I dislike the "bad people=sociopath" is it ignores that society has a lot of built-in methods of control for ensuing non-sociopaths can do evil ****. The whole process of "othering" is designed, at a fundamental level to create a situation where good men can ignore the horrors done to other (or suffering thereof).

    Until we confront that, we'll never have a UFP in RL.

    I actually liked the use of showing non-sociopaths=evil with Gul Mandred in "Chains of Command." He's this guy who Picard interacts with and a professional torturer. However, as much as he gets under Picard's skin, we get to see under his as well. He's got a family he loves, he's motivated by the fact he used to be a street urchin, and there's this ITTY BITTY part of him which knows his daughter is going to grow up in Space Nazi Germany--and it terrifies him. That's sort of the Cardassians thing, really, showing how multifaceted people can do horrible things even though they should know better.

    Re: Kira's Mom

    My problem with the issue of the whole "Comfort Women" story is more "Small Universe" than anything else. I.e. that Kira's mom, of all people, would end up with Gul Dukat as opposed to Random Cardassian Soldier 718#. Also, the fact Star Trek is a fundamentally PG franchise means there's no way in hell they could actually show what exactly the analogs to these women really underwent.

    Admittedly, what they went on screen is still a form of sexual slavery. I'm actually a little unnerved at how many Star Trek fans seem to think what happened with them was a form of collaboration or anything less than repeated rape.
     
  16. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Whoa, easy there Mr Bush.

    Dukat never wanted to make the Occupation bearable for the Bajorans. He wanted to be known as the guy who made the Occupation bearable for the Bajorans, placing them firmly in the position of gracious inferiors giving loving tribute to the cult of him.

    It is not Dukat's lenience that 'Embolded the resistance'. Any sort of Occupation power being there is seen as equally offensive.
     
  17. Captain Kathryn

    Captain Kathryn Commodore Commodore

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    Gul Dukat is...many things.

    I think, somewhere deep down, he must have known that he was doing something unethical, yet since he was a psychopathic lunatic it never reached his brain.

    He started as just your average Cardassian egomaniac and then just reached new levels of insanity each season whenever something didn't go his way. He reminded me a cult leader that truly believed he was right. I don't think he understood that he was wrong. However, the stuff he was doing was CLEARLY ridiculous and horrible...so to NOT know that...you'd have to be crazy.

    Love him though! <3
    Even so, I was super happy when he plunged to his death in What You Leave Behind. :D
     
  18. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Say what you will about Dukat, he was able to come back from every single reversal he experienced.

    So he has to withdraw from the Occupation of Bajor? Well he still remained a fleet commander.

    So he was blamed for the Maquis and blackballed? Well he backs the civilians when they overthrow the Central Command.

    So he's demoted because of his half Bajoran daughter? He manages to captured a Klingon warship and remain a hero.

    So his people are a defeated power too weak to stand on their own? So he negotiates their entry into the Dominion and instigates the largest war in Trek history.

    So he loses his leadership and a major battle in that said war? So be finds the evil gods of Bajor, is named their anti-christ and comes back for revenge.

    Being exiled to the Fire Caves with the Pagh Wraiths seems rather small compared to the rest.
     
  19. sonak

    sonak Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Gul Dukat was an interesting and complex villain, one of the best characters on DS9.


    ... until season six onwards, when the writers made a deliberate decision to strip him of his complexity and turn him into a one-dimensional comic book villain, because they apparently thought the viewers couldn't handle complexity.
     
  20. Captain Kathryn

    Captain Kathryn Commodore Commodore

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    All true! I wasn't dissing him...he's great at reinventing his evilness no matter how things turn out haha.
     

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