Friday, December 23, 2011

The Children Left Behind Are Often The Result Of "Indiscretion!"

The Good: Great acting, Wonderful character development, Interesting idea, Decent direction, Costumes
The Bad: Overly complicates Dukat's character, Ridiculous attempt at humor
The Basics: When Dukat and Kira go in search of a downed Cardassian ship, a secret from Dukat's past resurfaces and Kira is caught with an ethical dilemma.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine did an excellent job of creating interesting and compelling villains. The recurring character Gul Dukat is easily one of the greatest villains ever created for science fiction be it in television or film. Dukat is an exceptional character because there are layers to him. He is not simply a monolithic "bad guy." Instead, Dukat has aspects to him that are well defined and other that are nebulous, just like your average hero. "Indiscretion" adds another layer to Gul Dukat which forces us to look at the adversary in a new way.

When a Bajoran smuggler contacts Major Kira with news about a lost Cardassian ship, the new Cardassian government insists on sending a Cardassian to assist her. The Detapa Council sends none other than Dukat, who has been promoted to Legate. Dukat seems to have a vested interest in the downed ship, which he and Kira find on a desert planet. Together, they discover there were survivors who are being held captive relatively close. As Kira soon deduces, one of those survivors is bound to Dukat in a way no one would have suspected.

Levar Burton directed "Indiscretion" and he did a great job of it. Burton competently keeps the desert planet visible, despite the blinding sun. Add to that, Burton had the wreckage of the Ravinok built, which was no small task for a director. Amid a huge episode with a lot of sets, Burton manages to keep the focus on the characters.

The only disappointing aspects to this episode revolve around the humor and the lack of hints in the past. There's a ridiculous scene where Dukat sits on a sand spine which seems to be inserted for no other reason than to have a shot of Dukat's butt. It's juvenile and pointless. Somewhat less problematic is how the survivor complicates Dukat's character. Back in the second season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, there was an episode entitled "Cardassians" that Dukat was in that dealt with Cardassian war orphans. In that episode, there was not even a hint that Dukat had anything personal vested in the issue. Given the nature of Dukat's "Indiscretion," it appears foolish that it's lacking.

And yet, for Dukat, who has so many facets, perhaps it is appropriate. There has never been a venue where Dukat would have had cause to mention his personal life during the Occupation. Now that the Occupation has been put to rest and Cardassia and Bajor are getting along, Dukat's secret comes out in a way that he's surprised by it as well.

One of the neatest aspects of "Indiscretion" is the first sighting of the Breen. The Breen have been alluded to in Star Trek The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Whenever an anomaly comes up where an analogy is drawn, the Breen tend to be referenced, for example "The only people who use this type of disruptor are Romulans, Klingons and the Breen." Well, here we see the Breen in their armor and they are cool. If you've seen Return Of The Jedi, you'll enjoy the similarities between the Breen costume and Princess Leia's bounty hunter disguise.

The characters here are wonderful. Kira and Dukat have a mission together where Kira is clearly in control. Dukat is forced to relinquish control and seeing him in that position is worth the price of admission alone. Kira, in contrast, has a chance to treat Dukat fairly. As well, she does a great job following her convictions and working to protect the survivors of the Ravinok.

The acting in "Indiscretion" comes down to the performances of Marc Alaimo and Nana Visitor. Visitor has the somewhat daunting task of balancing a significant amount of physical exertion with quiet scenes with a great deal of lines. Visitor rises to the occasion, making Kira contemplative during the night scenes and impressively active during the days. She becomes a woman of action in the end and Visitor's physical presence adds a great deal to the role.

Alaimo deserves a great deal of credit for his performance here. Alaimo plays Dukat wonderfully; convincing the viewer that he is not receiving new information. The key to Dukat's performance in "Indiscretion" is that what surprises Kira and the viewer about the survivors of the Ravinok may not surprise Dukat. To that end, Alaimo amazingly presents Dukat as unsurprised, more confessional.

The discerning reader will note that throughout this review, I have refused to ruin the surprise of "Indiscretion," though it is spoken of about midway through the piece. The back of the video tape box ruins the surprise and I would strongly advise anyone who wishes to view this episode to not read it. In fact, given how intriguing the surprise is, I doubt other reviewers would be so respectful. I would advise you not to read them either and see the episode.

This is very much an episode for fans of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and no one else. The significance of the events in "Indiscretion" are insular to this corner of the Star Trek universe and the episode offers nothing to those who are not fans of the series. Part of the essential Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, "Indiscretion" sets off a series of events that will resonate for years.

[Knowing that VHS is essentially a dead medium, it's worth looking into Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - The Complete Fourth Season on DVD, which is also a better economical choice than buying the VHS. Read my review of the turnaround season by clicking here!


For other Star Trek reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2007, 2003 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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