Did Kira really pity Prin, from The Darkness and the Light?

Discussion in 'Star Trek: Deep Space Nine' started by WesleysDisciple, Feb 27, 2013.

  1. WesleysDisciple

    WesleysDisciple Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Feb 13, 2013
    She seemed initialy unsympathetic towards him, could it have, in spite of what she'd said, about "them all being legitimate targets" been as much his killing her resistence cell and being about to kill you, as anything else.

    At the end, her soft tone as she gives the line about "The light shines only in the darkness, and innocence is just an excuse for the guilty, sounds like she might have felt more then she admitted to.
  2. Dover

    Dover Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

    Jan 12, 2013
    Oh good, let's talk about this episode, cause I find it really disturbing and confusing! Only because I'm not actually sure what message the show is trying to send with that last line.

    My take on the episode, and the character of Kira in general, is that she truly believes what she did in the resistance was right, but she's aware that it's an opinion that not everyone shares. She knows she should feel bad, and should claim to feel bad, but in her heart she doesn't really.

    I liken it to Dukat when he goes off in "Waltz" about how much he hated the Bajorans. He's gone insane and lost all his filters, so he says exactly what he thinks. I think Kira, about to be killed, has no reason to make her opinions palatable in the way she does when she talks about her past deeds to more upstanding citizens like the Starfleet people, Kai Opaka, or Odo.

    I think she also gets her buttons pushed really easily by people calling her out on the things she's done (think Marritza in "Duet," whenever Winn makes some remark about her being violent, and what Prin says to her here). She doesn't like being made to consider if she did the right thing. So I think that long monologue about how they all deserved to die is her trying to convince herself as well, or at least to shout down the doubts that he's placing in her mind.

    Because really, he has a point. In my opinion at least, they are both victims, and they are both murderers, but he is somewhat less guilty, because he was more careful about who he killed.

    The big dilemma I have with the ending is that I haven't the slightest clue what they were going for. Without that last line, I would say that Kira's face shows regret for how it ends, which I would read as her maybe realizing that he was, in a way, justified in his actions, and here's yet another dead Cardassian at her feet, which even though it was clearly self-defense, kind of reinforces his point.

    But I have no idea what the last line means. Because they're both guilty and innocent in their own ways, it can be read either way. The one thing I don't think it can mean is that they're both to blame -- one has to be the light and one the dark, there's no talk of twilight or semi-darkness -- so which is it? I find it hard to believe that she thinks he's the light. So that leaves her as the light. Which is messed. up.

    This is why this episode disturbs me, even more than "In the Pale Moonlight." Sisko knows exactly what he did. If she comes out of this episode thinking she was 100% innocent and he was 100% guilty, that's way more disturbing to me.

    edit: OR, is she saying that they're both guilty of the same thing: using their original innocence to justify future violence. That would be a perfectly valid lesson to take away from this story, but if that's what it's supposed to mean, it's really badly worded.

    Somebody please share some ideas, I've always been very dramaturgically confused by this episode, and would love to hear what others think!
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2013
  3. Dal Rassak

    Dal Rassak Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Jan 31, 2013
    Terok Nor
    I do not think that in that last rather cryptic line she's actually talking specifically about herself and Prin. The only way the line makes any sense is if you read it as a general reflection on the wider context, of all the dirty mess of the Occupation and beyond that warfare per se.

    I think it truly hits home to her then that there is no such thing as a "clean" war, that even when the fighting is undertaken in desperate self-defence, innocent people always suffer. Casualties are always highest among civilians, rather than the actual combatants, because they always get caught in the crossfire. And both sides invariably believe they're in the right, otherwise they would not be fighting in the first place.
    And everybody who gets involved will have innocent blood on their hands at some point - whether the party in question set out to murder innocents on purpose or not.

    So I read her remark as a general reflection on the tragedies of fighting and what it does to people, in which of course she and Prin are both included. He's become deluded and twisted by what has happened to him and Kira is messed up in so many ways she should have had some sort of treatment before even taking up duties on the station!

    The first part of what she says I take to refer to the paradoxical fact that it usually takes the very darkest of circumstances to show up the best qualities of courage, compassion or self-sacrifice in people - as "normal life" hardly makes great demands on these. "Sometimes things have to get this bad for us to notice there's any good left in us."
    (With the more personal aspect being that Prin could still care about the life of her unborn child, as did she - it was the one impulse they shared, that the child did not deserve to die.)

    The second part I take to mean that both sides to a conflict are always guilty, yet both try to justify their actions by pointing to reasons why they "have no choice" but to do what they do: because the other side started it; because you're killing our civilians, now we have the right to slaughter yours; because it's a matter of survival; because it's a matter of principle... etc.etc.
    (Here again the more personal resonance being that what holds true for both of them is the attempt to justify the unjustifiable - the "good reasons" why they had to kill. And of course they're both at one and the same time victim and perpetrator: the guerilla fighter is an innocent victim of oppression but can't afford to be very discriminating in her attacks, the servant to the military member of an occupation force is an innocent in the wrong place at the wrong time, but has now made himself guilty of deliberate murder.)

    So her statement is general but with a personal reflection implied.

    P.S. what I found much more confusing was why Prin remained so disfigured in the first place. What with all that advanced medical technology, all these tissue regenarators that seem to be able to heal just about anything, you should think even severe burns such as he suffered should be at least partially correctable. Unless of course on Cardassia, advanced medicine is reserved for military personnel and those of high status, so he simply wasn't important enough to receive much treatment.
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2013
  4. WesleysDisciple

    WesleysDisciple Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Feb 13, 2013
    or he remained disfigured by choice?

    allready planning this encounter... or he RESTORED his disfigurement, simply in the name of guilting Kira.
  5. Dover

    Dover Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

    Jan 12, 2013
    That's a good way to look at it, I guess. Making it about the war as a whole rather than about the two of them removes the need to assign the dark and light to specific people, which is where I get hung up.

    Since trying to assign meaning to the words for some reason makes my brain break, I went back to looking at the episode.

    When she says "A light only shines in the dark," the camera cuts to Prin lying in a shaft of light. Assuming we're being given a clue, I would say that could mean Prin has been living in the dark -- literally -- and now he's in the light, his crimes are exposed and he's been brought to justice.

    The only reason I think this might be a red herring is that that shot is also part of the Silence of the Lambs homage, and may not have been intended to be taken that literally.

    But let's say it was, then we're back to the idea that Kira thinks he was the dark one, and since she was the one who brought him into the light, that seems to imply that he was bad and what she did was good.

    There's also something slightly accusatory about the way Visitor delivers the line. There's a coldness in her eyes when she looks at him that makes it hard to take it as her being sympathetic to him, or seeing them as equals in guilt and suffering.

    The words on paper are ambiguous, but based on the way it's shot, I think it leans toward something like this:
    "A light only shines in the dark"
    (I, the white knight of freedom and righteousness, only became what I am because you evil Cardassians came and did your evil deeds to my planet.)

    "And sometimes innocence is just an excuse for the guilty"
    (You defended your actions by claiming innocence, but you wouldn't have gotten bombed if you weren't there doing bad things in the first place, but you don't want to admit that you brought it on yourself.)

    I think this is the best-supported interpretation, but it's not conclusive at all. The inconclusiveness is what I find so frustrating. What's the point of telling such a character-driven story if you can't figure out what you were supposed to learn about the character?
  6. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Vice Admiral Admiral

    Nov 20, 2012
    I wouldn't say Kira is equally guilty as Prin. Prin was killing in cold blood purely out of revenge. The fact that he was surgical in his murders (Literally) wasn't about protecting innocents, it was about making himself feel justified.

    Kira's entire culture was enslaved, and he was living comfortably on her world, passively benefiting from that enslavement. Kira did not hurt him out of malice, she hurt him because it was the most effective way to advance the cause of freeing her people. That was the necessity and reality of Kira's situation, Prin was just trying to make himself feel better, and clearly had no regret or remorse for the millions of people killed on Bajor, or the millions more who would have been killed if it hadn't been for people like Kira. If the Occupation had never ended, Prin would have still been on Bajor, with a comfortable job in the house of mass murderers while Kira processed ore.

    I think part of Kira did feel bad, she wished she could have taken back Bajor without having to harm noncombatants, she wished the Occupation had never happened so she wouldn't have been in that position, but she did not feel remorse or personal regret because she knew soldiers have no choice but to do things that are in and of themselves evil to prevent greater evil from happening to your own people.