Played for laughs, Kira gets many inoculations as she prepares for a diplomatic mission to a Cardassisan outpost. Her pilot is none other than Dukat, who has been demoted and ostracized after acknowledging his half-Bajoran daughter, Ziyal, who now lives on his clunky freighter.
Dukat smugly flirts with Kira at dinner, clearly enjoying their sparring.
The outpost where the diplomatic meeting was scheduled has been destroyed. A departing Klingon warship doesn’t even bother to engage Dukat’s ship, even after he opens fire. He seems willing to accept his tragic failure but Kira talks him into repurposing weapons from the destroyed outpost. He says they make a good team, and chastises her for assuming his only goal is restoring himself to power.
While learning about self defense from Kira, Ziyal says her father is tormented by what he did during the occupation. Kira says she’s aware Dukat wants her forgiveness, but she can’t offer it.
Dukat muses aloud about how, once he returns to power, he will demote a young officer who has been charming his wife. Kira bristles when he again praises their teamwork, luring, disabling, boarding and then commandeering the Klingon ship they’ve been tracking. Just when we, the audience, are pleased to see the two working together so well, Dukat shocks Kira by destroying his old freighter, with all the Klingons aboard it.
Dukat is elated because capturing a Klingon warship is just what he needs to reinstate his position, and Kira finds in the computers strategic intelligence of even more value. Sadly for Dukat, the new Cardassisian government prefers a diplomatic solution to the conflict with the Klingons. Sensing that Kira feels out of place working as a diplomat on DS9, Dukat tries to recruit her to join him in a terrorist crusade against the Klingons.
Kira tells Ziyal, who is eager to try out a physical combat trick she just learned: “The best way to survive a knife fight is to never get in one.“
Kira does not accept Dukat’s offer, but does bring Ziyal with her to DS9, saying she hopes she can prevent Ziyal from going through what she herself had to endure.
There’s no B plot, and Sisko has just 3 routine lines, leaving plenty of time for us to spend with Dukat. I’ve been impressed with his ongoing character arc (a relatively new phenomenon in the 1990s). Great character interaction, and the space action serves the story well.