Episode 5.11: The Darkness and the Light

This is a beautiful, artistic episode. I love how Occupation-reminiscent episodes hinge on the morally ambiguous nature of heroic or villainous actions. There are very few actions that are purely black or white nor are motivations easily categorized. This truth is so important for us to know deep in our souls. This is what helps break down and destroy barriers between people. Our worst enemy has some good in them. Our adversaries are the same kind of struggling people we are. These realizations can soften our hearts, I think, to our adversaries. They help us realize that our true enemies are not flesh and blood. These sorts of episodes frequently end with the Bajorans and the Cardassians being quite similar. I see this episode as a foil to Duet (Ep. 1.19). In Duet, the episode ends with the Cardassians and Bajorans both portrayed as heroes. This current episode ends with both the Cardassians and Bajorans portrayed as villains. There are some fascinating comparisons between Prin and Maritza (from Duet), who are foils of each other. The former was filled with rage and festering hatred while the latter found repentance. Yet both were Cardassian non-combatants. Both were injured from the Occupation. Both were connected to the Shakaar cell. Both shrouded themselves in a cloak of mystery. I think these two episodes form an excellent commentary on the unintended horrors of the Occupation.

The artistry at the end of this episode is excellent. In particular, I want to focus on the final two scenes: in the medical bay as Kira tells her story to Odo and Kira’s captivity with Prin. In the medical bay scene, Kira is lying there on the table, deeply in mourning at the loss of so many of her loved ones. Elements in this scene amplify her loneliness. Odo as her counterpart is quite important; he is her closest friend at this time, but she’s separated even from him. She’s in a pillar of light while Odo is in darkness. She’s horizontal while Odo is vertical. Her back is to Odo. At the end, she shuts Odo out by stealing his list and running off on her own. In the captivity scene, Kira is well lit again, and Prin is shrouded in mystery and darkness. The debate between Kira and Prin is punctuated by the lighting separating them. Prin went out of his way to be the exact opposite kind of killer as Kira was, and the lighting highlights that. Also in an artistic vein, I want to point out how gruesome this episode is. Burnt corpses. Disfigured villains. A total of 6 deaths, 3 on-screen. Very much DS9-style Trek.

Kira and Prin debate in the final scene over who is in darkness and who is in light. Kira was a freedom fighter, brutally oppressed by a merciless regime. Her people are tortured, enslaved, and killed on a daily basis. She targeted a military figure, a Gul, but she didn’t do so with enough finesse to hit only her target. Her actions incurred innocent casualties and fatalities, including children. She claims she is righteous because she was fighting for libration of her homeland. Prin was a non-combatant, non-military launderer who was physically disfigured in Kira’s attack and lives with post-traumatic stress disorder. He oppressed no one, but he was complicit in his non-action for the brutality of the Occupation. He was a member of the powerful racial class, a race who pillaged an innocent world. Like Prin, every Cardassian who stood aside and did nothing is culpable. Prin claims he is righteous because his actions brought justice to indiscriminant killers. He killed with extreme precision, targetting only those who committed the alleged crime. Who is in the light?

I think the brutal reality is that neither of them are. At the end, Kira claims Prin used his innocence (he was non-military) as an excuse for his guilt (his lack of action during the Occupation). I see darkness in us all. Brokenness in us all. Prin is disfigured both physically and mentally, twisted by neglect and self-centeredness. He didn’t have the courage to find repentence. At times, Kira was forced into horrible decisions (like her planting a bomb that killed children); other times, she gleefully accepted her task as a freedom fighter (like the story she told Odo about joining the Shakaar cell). Both of these characters dwell in darkness. I think the difference lies in which of them allows the light into their darkness. Over the past 5 years on the station, Kira has gradually dealt with her scars from the Resistance, slowly becoming a more holy, wise person. While both are in darkness, Kira has allowed the light to enter. Only light can drive out darkness. Prin, who chose to stay in darkness, never realized that.

Changeling-Bashir Watch. The writers are hammering home that this Changeling-Bashir is great at being a doctor. They are highlighting his professional side. After two episodes, they have only ever shown him being a doctor. They haven’t shown him being social or personal. These other sides of Julian Bashir aren’t present. There’s no banter with O’Brien, no romantic pursuits, no enjoying himself in Quark’s. Still nothing to indicate this isn’t the real Bashir, other than the seeming absence of certain personality traits. Something that is common in DS9’s single-character-focused, episodic format.

Random Thoughts: 1) I think that the deaths of Furel and Lupaza were well used here, but I am sad they didn’t get more than a couple episodes (2 for Lupaza, 3 for Furel). I liked them as characters. 2) Almost as an aside, the death of Latha is tragic in it’s own right. Latha found forgiveness with the Prophets and devoted the remainder of his life to their teaching. Will our pasts always follow us? 3) Rule of Acquisition #111! From Worf, no less. 4) The banter between Dax and Nog over lobes was amusing. 5) Lupaza made Kira her earring, which is seen on her at all times. 6) I like the little touch of Odo being suspicious when he saw his chair was moved. A nod to his observant nature. 7) At one point, Kira falls on her stomach. Clearly, this isn’t a real pregnancy anymore for Nana Visitor. 8) Randy Oglesby, the actor who portrays Prin, is also the Miradorn twins in Vortex (Ep. 1.12).


~ by Joshua Black on April 17, 2018.

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