Series: Star Trek: DS9
Episode: 1.19 Duet (May 31, 1993)
Redshirt Status: 0.5/2.5 (Honorable Mention Death)
Content/Trigger Warning: Discussions about Genocide (in particular the Holocaust). Also I pretty much spoil the episode if you were hoping to watch and get surprised by where it goes.
Notable Guest Stars:
Harris Yulin (Marritza) – Yulin is a popular character actor and was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award in 1996 for his role as Jerome Belasco on Frasier.
Marc Alaimo (Gul Dukat)- Marc Alaimo hasn’t been around for a few episodes, so I’ll remind you: He’s a regular actor on Star Trek, although he only in DS9 has a regular character (Gul Dukot). He’ll appear many more times as the character.
Ted Sorel (Kaval)– Sorel was an actor who tried a bit of everything, leaving behind a body of work that included film, television and stagework. He died in 2010.
Robin Chistopher (Neela)- Probably best known for her work on ABC soap operas (as Skye Chandler), she appears a few times as “Neela”, a Bajoran officer on the station.
This an excellent episode, both as a encapsulated story, and for Kira’s development. The actors all do supremely well. Given the nature of the topic of the episode I’ve chosen to write this above the “read more” and leave the actual discussion below it.
Read more: The Rewatch 227: Duet
At the start of the episode, a transport arrives with an ill patient. This patient has Kalla-Nohra Syndrome, an disease that occurs to those who were present at a mining accident at the Cardassian labor camp Gallitep. Gallitep, as you learn in the episode, was a place where many Bajorans were tortured, killed and put into horrible work conditions. Kira can’t even talk about it without getting angry.
She was part of the resistance team that was able to liberate the camp, so she feels a connection to those who were kept there. She goes to greet this newcomer, believing it was a Bajoran POW, only to find a Cardassan sitting on the medbed.
The Cardassian’s name is Aamin Marritza, and Kira believes that he must have been guilty of war crimes if he contracted the disease. We find out he was stationed at the war camp as a file clerk.
Sisko and Odo decide to investigate, not as sure as Kira that this man was a war criminal. Through interviews and research they find out various tidbits about the man they hold in the security cell.
Marritza has changed his appearance to appear like Gul Darhe’el, the Gul in charge of the camp. He pretends to be him, even giving invigorated speeches on his hate crimes. Kira is convinced that he is in fact Gul Darhe’el.
Odo is not convinced. He does more research, even talking to our favorite quasi-villian Gul Dukot, who tells Odo that there are several reasons why this can’t possibly be Gul Darhe’el. The biggest of which is the man himself died six years ago.
Kira manages to convince Marritza to come clean about the deception, finding herself to having compassion towards the man who is trying to find a way to both pay for not putting an end to the atrocities, as well as make Cardassa realize their sins. However, Kira letting him go makes little difference as a Bajoran on the station kills Marritza in the last moments of the episode with the key set of lines:
Kira: Why? He wasn’t Darhe’el! Why?
Kainon: He’s a Cardassian. That’s reason enough.
Kira: No…it’s not
This episode appears (purposefully so) to be a metaphor for the Holocaust and the soldiers involved. According to references on Memory Alpha, this was based off both real events and older works done on the subject. Genocide is a hard topic to discuss. I know in high school we often would take a yearly lesson on an element on the Holocaust, but never really talked about the bulk of it. I’m still learning aspects to WW2 and the Holocaust today. In fact, not too long before I watched this episode I was watching a documentary about the Ahnenerbe, a section of the SS I had never heard of before. It started off sounding like an episode of Captain America from The Red Skull’s side, but ultimately ended with cruelty, and inhumanity by the leadership.
Science Fiction has often been used as a way to discussing hard subjects indirectly. This episode does a good job at not coming off as a lecture, as some episodes (and yes, Star Trek is guilty of this) can. The actors do such an excellant job. You can believe Marritza (as Gul Darhe’el)’s conviction that he was doing something great, and you could believe that absolute horror that Kira felt hearing it. In fact you might even feel a bit of horror hearing it.
But sadly while there were people who dragged into things they didn’t believe in but had little power to stop, there were also people who believed wholeheartedly that committing these atrocities were absolutely the way to go. People like Heinrich Himmler (in real life) and Gul Darhe’el (in Star Trek’s universe).
The Holocaust is probably the genocide that the general public is most aware of. It is horrifying that there are more out there less recognized.
- Written by Peter Allan Fields with story inspiration by Lisa Rich and Jeane Carrigan-Fauci
- Directed James L. Conway
- This episode was partially inspired by real life events, in particular the Nuremberg trails after WW2. Memory Alpha pointed out the story of Adolf Eichmann, who escaped at first but was later caught and tried in Israel on war crimes. He was convicted and executed in 1962. His story is more like that of Dar’heel then Maritzza.
- They wanted to establish the metaphor of the Cardassian occupation for Imperialism shown by the British, Japanese and Germans. (and I’m just going to add the US to that list because…yeah, we did some messed up stuff too, my friends).
- This episode manages to bring up a difficult subject, without sounding like a lecture which, even I have to admit, sometimes Star Trek does.
- This is an excellent episode for Kira Nerys.
That genocides exist. I wish this was just something that happened in fictional worlds and not in real life.