Our first DS9 Cardassian is probably the most well known from the entire franchise – Gul Dukat. He was the first Cardassian to feature in DS9 in the season 1 episode Emissary.
(The previous post of Gul Evek appeared in TNG first then later in DS9)
Dukat, S.G. was a Cardassian military officer who served as Prefect of Bajor in the final years of the Bajoran Occupation. As the last person to hold the position, Dukat lost favor with Cardassian Central Command and fell into a downward spiral for several years. However, he became ruler of the Cardassian Union overnight after he negotiated Cardassia’s entry into the Dominion. Following his defeat in Operation Return and the death of his beloved daughter, Ziyal, he suffered a complete mental breakdown and was captured by the Federation when they reclaimed DS9. He subsequently escaped, and became a disciple of the Pah-wraiths. Along with Kai Winn Adami, he attempted to release the Pah-wraiths into the Bajoran wormhole. Dukat was imprisoned in the Fire Caves with the Pah-wraiths after a fateful confrontation with the Emissary of the Prophets.
One of Dukat’s first assignments was as a newly-minted glinn aboard the Kornaire. Among his tasks as a glinn was cleaning out a compartment where three men had gone through an explosive decompression, after which he could not sleep for a week. (DS9: “Waltz”) At some point prior to being stationed on Bajor, Dukat was a legate, but he lost favor with Cardassian Central Command and was reduced to the rank of Gul. (DS9: “Indiscretion”) He later rejected the title of legate because he felt Gul was more “hands on”. (DS9: “Ties of Blood and Water”)
By 2346, at the rank of gul, Dukat was made Prefect of Bajor. (DS9: “Wrongs Darker Than Death or Night”) In 2360 he was assigned command of Terok Nor, the mining station and command post in orbit of Bajor that was later known as Deep Space 9. (DS9: “The Maquis, Part I”) Dukat was the last Prefect of Bajor before the end of the Occupation. He was responsible for many atrocities committed against the Bajoran people, and became one of the most hated individuals in Bajoran history. (DS9: “Emissary”)
According to Dukat, he was convinced that a gentler approach was needed to quell the Bajoran Resistance and make Bajor suitable for colonization. His first act as prefect was to cut labor camp output quotas by fifty percent, abolish child labor, and improve medical care and food rations. These measures led to a twenty percent drop in the camp death rates. However, the Resistance repaid him by destroying an orbital drydock on his one-month anniversary, killing two hundred Cardassians. During the Occupation, the Resistance attempted to assassinate Dukat five times, all of them unsuccessful. Dukat grew to hate the Bajorans for not acknowledging his “compassion” towards them. (DS9: “Things Past”, “Waltz”)
Despite his latter admission of hatred for his charges, he conducted numerous affairs with Bajoran women, including Kira Meru, mother of Kira Nerys, and Tora Naprem, whom he claimed to love, and with whom he fathered a daughter, Tora Ziyal. (DS9: “Indiscretion”, “Wrongs Darker Than Death or Night”) The general implication is that in Dukat’s inner fantasies, he wanted the Bajoran people to embrace him as their superior and beloved master. In microcosm, he enjoyed indulging this fantasy by manipulating Bajoran comfort-women into falling in love with him, as if they represented all Bajorans.(DS9: “Waltz”)
While prefect, Dukat reported to Legate Kell regularly; however, he did not have the respect from Kell that he was led to believe. Dukat created a counter-insurgency program to combat potential worker revolts on Terok Nor, but Kell secretly added a level to it in case Dukat tried to flee. The automated program was set to deal with various situations, the most severe of which was a complete takeover of the station. In the event that this happened, the program could initiate an auto-destruct sequence, and if Dukat tried to transport off the station while this sequence was in effect, his access codes would be nullified and he would be doomed to die with his station. (DS9: “Civil Defense”)
Dukat strongly opposed the Cardassian withdrawal from Bajor in 2369, a move which damaged his career as it occurred during his administration, due to to the politicians, such Kotan Pa’Dar. During the evacuation, he had one of his female officers take Pa’Dar son Rugal to an orphanage after a bombing to , at some point, be used to humiliate Pa’Dar. After the withdrawal, Dukat became the commander of the Second Order. He played a major role in many interactions between the Cardassian military and the Federation for the next three years, and made several visits to his former command post, Deep Space 9, under various circumstances. (DS9: “Cardassians”)
Dukat was implicated in the supplying of illegal weapons to Cardassian citizens in the Demilitarized Zone in 2370 by his political enemies, including Legate Parn. Dukat assisted Commander Benjamin Sisko in his investigation of the Maquis, so as to prove his innocence. He was briefly abducted by the Maquis, but he was rescued by Sisko. It emerged that the Cardassian Central Command was actually responsible for violating the Federation-Cardassian Treaty. (DS9: “The Maquis, Part I”)
When the Cardassian Union underwent a revolution in 2372, Dukat sided with the victorious Detapa Council. He was promoted to Legate, and was made chief military adviser. Following the Klingon invasion of the Union, Dukat was able to evacuate the Council members to DS9 aboard the cruiser Prakesh, with the timely assistance of the USS Defiant. (DS9: “The Way of the Warrior”)
Later that year, Dukat accompanied Kira Nerys to Dozaria to find the wreck of the Ravinok, a transport that had been lost several years earlier with Dukat’s mistress, Tora Naprem, and his half-Bajoran daughter, Tora Ziyal, aboard. Dukat had initially intended to kill both Ziyal and Naprem, had they survived. However, after he found his daughter alive in the Breen mine, he decided to take her with him back to Cardassia, despite the effect it would have on his career. (DS9: “Indiscretion”)
After he returned with Ziyal, Dukat was demoted and given command of a small freighter, the Groumall. His family disowned him, his wife and children left him, and both he and Ziyal were shunned by Cardassian society. The Groumall transported Kira to the outpost at Korma in 2372. After finding the outpost destroyed, Dukat and Kira were able to capture the Klingon Bird-of-Prey responsible. Dukat urged the Detapa Council to use his captured intelligence to mount a new offensive against the Klingons, but they rejected his proposal, preferring to seek a diplomatic option. (DS9: “Return to Grace”)
Disgusted with the Council’s unwillingness to fight, Dukat began to carry on his own one-ship war against the Klingons. In 2373, he and his ship helped an undercover Starfleet team, led by Sisko, infiltrate Klingon military headquarters on Ty’Gokor to expose a Changeling. (DS9: “Apocalypse Rising”)
By 2373, Dukat became convinced that the only way to regain Cardassia’s former glory was for them to join the Dominion. In secret talks, he negotiated Cardassia’s entry into the Dominion with himself as ruler. Dukat promised to the Cardassian people that under his leadership, all that Cardassia lost would be regained. His move was initially celebrated by most Cardassians, who had suffered defeat and humiliation for years at the hands of the Federation and Klingons (DS9: “By Inferno’s Light”). Dukat chose not to promote himself back to legate, since he saw the rank of gul as more “hands-on”. (DS9: “Ties of Blood and Water”) One of Dukat’s first acts was to have his Dominion allies release all surviving Cardassians from Internment Camp 371 with one exception – Elim Garak, who had not only killed Dukat’s father but had also fallen in love with Tora Ziyal. (DS9: “By Inferno’s Light”)
In the months after his taking office, Dukat made good on his promises by expelling the Klingons from Cardassian space and wiping out the Maquis with his newly gained Dominion allies. Dukat commanded the Dominion forces which retook Terok Nor from the Federation in late 2373. In the following weeks, Dukat directed the Dominion War from his old command, winning many early victories against the Federation and the Klingon Empire. Bringing in Dominion reinforcements from the Gamma Quadrant by re-opening the Bajoran wormhole was to be his greatest triumph. (DS9: “Call to Arms”, “A Time to Stand”)
However, victory was snatched from his grasp when the Dominion reinforcements were eliminated by the Prophets. As allied forces retook the station during Operation Return, Dukat – driven half-mad by his rapid change of fortune – descended into insanity after the murder of his beloved daughter Ziyal by Damar, his second-in-command. He refused to evacuate with the rest of the Dominion forces, and was captured by Starfleet. (DS9: “Sacrifice of Angels”)
Afterward, Dukat began suffering from hallucinations and fits of paranoia, and was treated by Federation doctors. After he was declared “recovered”, Dukat was to be taken to a Special Jury at Starbase 621 aboard the USS Honshu to stand trial for war crimes. However, the Honshu was intercepted by Cardassian warships, and Dukat escaped to a nearby planet in a shuttlecraft with his nemesis, Benjamin Sisko. Dukat’s hallucinations returned, and he attempted to kill Sisko before escaping in the shuttle. During his time on the planet, Dukat embraced his hatred for the Bajoran people, promising to one day return and rain destruction on all of Bajor. Even more than before, his actions became increasingly proactively evil. (DS9: “Waltz”)
Dukat was fond of Bajoran springwine. (DS9: “Wrongs Darker Than Death or Night”)
In late 2374, Dukat believed he had found a way to destroy the Bajoran people and their Emissary, Sisko. Having immersed himself in the ancient Bajoran texts, he discovered that the wormhole was actually the Celestial Temple. He returned to Cardassia Prime and enacted an ancient Bajoran ritual to release a Pah-wraith into his body. Thus possessed, he traveled to Deep Space 9 and released it into the Celestial Temple via the Orb of Contemplation, causing the wormhole to disappear. In the process, Dukat killed Jadzia Dax, who was simply in his way. (DS9: “Tears of the Prophets”)
His inhabitation by the Pah-wraith had turned Dukat into their believer; subsequently he retreated to station Empok Nor and founded a community of members from the Cult of the Pah-wraiths. He was worshiped as a messiah, and fathered another half-Bajoran child with Mika. Dukat never publicly admitted fatherhood. Dukat attempted to have the cult members commit suicide to conceal his attempt to kill Mika. When he was exposed, he fled again. (DS9: “Covenant”)
In late 2375, Dukat secretly underwent cosmetic surgery on Cardassia Prime to pose as a Bajoran farmer, Anjohl Tennan. He then traveled to Deep Space 9 and gained the confidence of Kai Winn Adami and even became romantically involved with her – albeit for ulterior motives – and with the assistance of false visions given to Winn by the Pah-wraiths, he slowly convinced her to join him as a follower of the Pah-wraiths. The two plotted to release the Pah-wraiths from their prison in the Fire Caves, using the Book of the Kosst Amojan.
The pair entered the Fire Caves, where Winn poisoned Dukat as a sacrifice to complete the release ritual. However, the Pah-wraiths rejected Winn and chose Dukat as their Emissary, restoring him to life, returning his Cardassian features, and imbuing him with their power. After Dukat killed Winn, Sisko plunged himself and Dukat into the fires, which destroyed the book and trapped Dukat forever in the prison with the Pah-wraiths. Sisko himself was rescued by the Prophets. (DS9: “The Changing Face of Evil”, “What You Leave Behind”)
Family and personal relationships
Dukat’s father was arrested and executed by the Cardassian government. Dukat blamed Obsidian Order operative Elim Garak for his father’s death and ordered his execution at least twice. Dukat had his own dealings with the Obsidian Order after some involvement with arms merchants. However, it’s also possible that the arms merchant was a reference to Dukat’s father and the circumstances leading to his arrest and conviction. (DS9: “The Wire”, “Improbable Cause”, “By Inferno’s Light”)
Dukat was married and had seven children with his wife, including a son named Mekor. However, he also kept several Bajoran mistresses when he was Prefect on Terok Nor during the Bajoran Occupation. (DS9: “The Maquis, Part I”, “Defiant”, “Wrongs Darker Than Death or Night”)
Dukat had a strange relationship with Benjamin Sisko, who was in many ways his counterpart and opposite. Dukat saw Sisko as a friend and viewed him with a great deal of respect, although that view was not shared by Sisko. However, after Dukat realized his hatred for the Bajorans and made his promise to destroy Bajor, he and Sisko became mortal enemies. They would eventually confront one another one last time in the Fire Caves. (DS9: “Waltz”, “What You Leave Behind”)
Dukat’s closest friend was Damar, who served under him when he commanded the transport ship and later the stolen Klingon Bird-of-Prey and was his adjutant during his time as leader of the Cardassian Union. Dukat found Damar “useful” and despite the fact it was Damar who shot and killed his daughter, he later forgave Damar and came to him for help in his plan to release the Pah-Wraiths, even encouraging him to once again become the brave man he had fought with years before. (DS9: “Return to Grace”, “Sacrifice of Angels”, “Penumbra”)
Dukat also had a good working relationship with his Dominion ally Weyoun, and although they would occasionally antagonize one another, there was a mutual respect between the two. Dukat even gave Weyoun a picture his daughter Ziyal had painted. (DS9: “Tears of the Prophets”, “Penumbra”, “‘Til Death Do Us Part”)
Dukat had a deep-seated personal hatred of Garak, stemming largely from the death of his father. As an agent of the Obsidian Order, Garak tortured and killed Dukat’s father, though the reason for the arrest and interrogation is never mentioned. Dukat used those events to try to dissuade his daughter Ziyal from her relationship with Garak. This relationship with his daughter only strengthened Dukat’s animosity toward Garak, driving Dukat to nearly kill him in Quark’s Bar in 2373. (DS9: “In Purgatory’s Shadow”) Dukat had at least one opportunity have Garak executed in the time prior to his exile, and tried to do so, but, as Garak mockingly pointed out, failed, much to Dukat’s later regret. (DS9: “Civil Defense”)
In the years after the Occupation, Dukat and Kira crossed paths many times.
Dukat was fascinated by Kira. Indeed, it is hinted on several occasions that Dukat is romantically interested in her, referring to her as a “fascinating woman”. Dukat complimented Kira on her talents and skills more than once, much to her disgust. He seemed to be determined to win Kira’s respect and acknowledgement as a sort of vindication from his past actions. At times, however, both seemed to enjoy each other’s company to an extent, and are able to work together when it is required. For example, Dukat joined Kira on a mission to find the transport ship Ravinok, and the two successfully located the remaining crewmembers and worked out a plan to rescue the prisoners. Kira also convinced him to spare his illegitimate half-Bajoran daughter and accept her into his life. (DS9: “Indiscretion”)
Additionally, when Dukat’s ship transported Kira travels to a conference, the two enjoyed a meal together and subsequently worked together to stop a group of Klingons operating behind Cardassian borders. Seeing that his new life of terrorism against the Klingons was not a good one for his daughter, Dukat allowed Kira to take Ziyal back to DS9 with her. This development pleased Dukat because he and Kira now had something in common. (DS9: “Return to Grace”) Given this somewhat mother-like role he perceived Kira having for his daughter, Dukat blamed her when he discovered Ziyal had become romantically involved with Garak. (DS9: “In Purgatory’s Shadow”)
Dukat and Kira’s relationship took on a much darker tone during the Dominion War when Dukat took over as commander of Dominion-occupied DS9. Dukat made a few rather obvious advances towards Kira which she rebuffed with disgust. Later, after he had become a disciple of the Pah-Wraiths, Dukat had Kira kidnapped to Empok Nor, where he tried in vain to convince her to join the Cult of the Pah-Wraiths community he had established there. (DS9: “Covenant”)
Kira Meru was one of Dukat’s comfort woman on Terok Nor during the Bajoran Occupation, with whom he fell in love and was involved for seven years before her death in 2353. Years later, Dukat developed an attraction to Meru’s daughter, Kira Nerys, the first officer of Deep Space Nine. (DS9: “Wrongs Darker Than Death or Night”)
Towards the end of the Occupation, Dukat fell in love with another Bajoran woman, Tora Naprem, and the two had a daughter named Tora Ziyal. Dukat sent the pair away to Lissepia in 2366, though their ship was shot down by the Breen on Dozaria. Ziyal survived and was forced to labor in a Breen dilithium mine until Dukat rescued her in 2372. Tradition demanded that he kill her, but Dukat couldn’t bring himself to do so, so he took her back to Cardassia Prime with him, whereupon he was severely ostracized. His wife and children left him and his mother disowned him. (DS9: “Indiscretion”, “Return to Grace”)
When Dukat became a terrorist in the Klingon-Cardassian War, he sent Ziyal to live on Deep Space 9 under the care of Kira, with whom she had formed a close relationship. (DS9: “Return to Grace”) During the first Dominion offensive, Ziyal helped Kira and others in their efforts to sabotage the station and get it back into Federation hands. After the Dominion was forced to abandon DS9, Damar overheard Ziyal admit that she’d helped Kira and the other saboteurs escape and killed her before Dukat’s eyes, declaring her a traitor. She died in Dukat’s arms, an experience that left him deeply scarred and, together with the defeat in battle, was the beginning of his downward spiral into madness. (DS9: “Sacrifice of Angels”) He subsequently spent many months under the psychological care of Federation doctors, often calling out Ziyal’s name. (DS9: “Waltz”)
Marc Alaimo was not the first choice to play Dukat. For “Emissary”, another actor was cast in the role, but after a day’s shooting, the producers decided that they had miscast, and they asked Alaimo to come in and take over the role.
Dukat’s initials (S.G.) come from the episode DS9: “A Time to Stand”, in which Dukat records a permanent documentation file identifying himself as “Dukat, S.G.” DS9 producer Ronald D. Moore jokingly gave Dukat’s first name as “Elmo” on several occasions, but in the novels published by Pocket Books, Dukat’s first name is identified as “Skrain.” Moore commented: “The initials probably represent some rank or association or achievement.
Nana Visitor has said of Dukat, “This was a character who was the worst people we have had on Earth, this is who this man was.”
On Dukat’s role as villain, Ronald D. Moore has commented: “I don’t think of him as being completely evil through and through to the point where every thought, every impulse is shaded by a nefarious agenda or horrid motive. We’ve seen other aspects to this guy over the years. He can be charming. He can be generous. He can do the right thing. All of that somehow makes his “evil” actions all the more despicable, because we know that there was the potential in there for him to be a better person. But sometimes the clichés are true: Hitler loved his dog. No human being (and by extension, no Cardassian) is one hundred percent pure evil. But there is a “critical mass”, if you will, where the dark deeds attributed to one person become so overwhelming that they swamp all the redeeming characteristics. Dukat is a bad guy. A very bad guy. He has a lot of blood on his hands and it’s hard to see how his smile and innate charm can wipe that clean.”
In 2003, Marc Alaimo commented on his portrayal of Dukat, “I thought the character was terrific. It was one of the first times I’d been able to really sort of expand a multifaceted character like that, instead of one dimensional, which is I think the way they wanted to go with Dukat in the beginning, but I started to sort of branch off emotionally, and they picked up on it, and they gave me all these wonderful multifaceted character moments. I was pretty proud of my work throughout the whole seven years of it.”