When watching Star Trek Deep Space Nine it’s worth noting that the universe was established by Gene Roddenberry to be irreligious. He was an atheist humanist and believed there was no place in the 24th century for our contemporary religions. Humanity was meant to evolved beyond the need for religious belief, so Kirk, Picard, and their crews were not religious. But as the years and seasons of Star Trek went by, that attitude shifted a little. Alien religions were shown. The Bajorans, introduced during season 5 of TNG, are perhaps the most religious species seen in the Star Trek universe.
It’s hard not to draw parallels between the Bajorans and the Cardassians and historical or even modern equivalents. The show runners never intended for the two alien species to be a specific analogy to particular people, rather different oppressed peoples and occupiers throughout history. This episode, “Duet,” where Kira investigates a Cardassian and his possible role in war crimes, depicts the Bajorans as Jews and the Cardassians as the Nazis. The plot is similar to The Man in the Glass Booth.
A ship requests to dock at Deep Space 9 as one of its passengers needs medical attention. He’s suffering from Kalla-Nohra, a condition Major Kira recognizes as a result of a mining accident at the Gallitep labor camp. Kira heads down to the infirmary, believing the patient to be a Bajoran survivor of the camp. When she discovers it’s a Cardassian instead, she hails Odo and has him thrown in the brig. Commander Sisko doesn’t necessarily agree with Kira’s rash decision, especially since Aamin Marritza isn’t listed on any of the lists of war criminals.
Sisko talks with Marritza who says he suffers from a similar condition to Kalla-Nohra that takes the same medication. He was never a Gallitep, only a military file clerk. Odo and Kira do some digging to make sure his story checks out. Dr. Bashir confirms that Marritza does in fact have Kalla-Nohra and not the similar condition. The only way Marritza would contract it would be at Gallitep. His filing clerk job does check out though, in fact he teaches filing at a military academy.
After Dr. Bashir’s confirmation, Marritza reveals he was in fact a filing clerk at Gallitep serving under Gul Darhe’el. But he denies any atrocities that Kira claimed happened at the camp, saying they were rumours the Gul started to rule by fear. The crew examines the one surviving picture from Gallitep that shows Marritza, but the Cardassian in the cell looks nothing like the one in the photograph. They are able to extrapolate Gul Darhe’el’s face and realize that is the “Butcher of Gallitep” himself in their brig.
The prisoner does not deny being Gul Darhe’el. In fact he takes pride in his actions. He still denies there were any war crimes because there was no war. Everything that was done at Gallitep need to be done to the “Bajoran scum.” He lets slip the name of Kira’s resistance cell, information that he wouldn’t necessarily be pertinent to. When challenged he says he must have seen the information on Kira and her resistance group must from one of Maritza’s records.
Odo learns from Gul Dukat, the Cardassian who was in charge of the station before the Federation took over, that Gul Darhe’el is dead and had a grand military funeral. The prisoner must be lying. So Odo asks Dr. Bashir to study Marritza’s medical history and learns he had cosmetic surgery. They realize Aamin Marritza wanted to be caught as Gul Darhe’el. When confronted, Marritza finally breaks down. He was a coward while at Gallitep, covering his ears in an effort to block out the screams. His trial will force Cardassia to admit its guilt. But Kira doesn’t want an innocent man to die for something he didn’t do, so they release him. Unfortunately the Bajoran who was initially locked up with Marritza stabs him in the back. His only justification was that Marritza was Cardassian. At the beginning of the episode, Kira might have agreed with him. But she realizes as she holds the dying Marritza that it’s not.
This episode is well received and it’s easy to see why. It doesn’t feel like a first season episode, given my experience with early TNG. Kira is put through the emotional wringer and comes out stronger in the end. We learn the Cardassian/Bajoran situation isn’t as clear cut as it appeared. My one complaint, and it’s such a small one, is that O’Brien and Quark are hardly in this episode.