Monday, August 12, 2013

TWITrek Character Insight No. 62: Gul Dukat

This is the latest installment in a series of "Character Insight" articles regarding the rich history of characters in the Star Trek universe.  An audio version will appear on the This Week in Trek podcast, available for direct download here.
Welcome back to Character Insight!  This week, we profile Gul Dukat, one of the primary antagonists from Deep Space Nine.


Gul Dukat is a Cardassian military officer who was the final Prefect of Bajor during the Cardassian occupation of that planet.  As a result of losing this occupation to the Federation under his time, Dukat slowly loses favor in his own military and that leads him on a downward spiral. This progression makes Dukat probably the most complex and fully developed bad guy in Star Trek.

Before suffering a complete mental breakdown, Dukat manages to become ruler of the entire Cardassian Union after negotiating entry into the Dominion.  This move proves to be a costly one both for Dukat and for the Cardassian Union, as the rest of the Alpha Quadrant bands together to repel the Dominion and censure the Cardassians for turning traitor.

Dukat was despised in Bajoran society for the atrocities he had committed against their people during the end of the Occupation.  Dukat felt as though he was compassionate and misunderstood, as he took actions such as cutting labor camp quotas and abolishing child labor.  Dukat found comfort by falling in love with multiple Bajoran women, including Kira Meru, who is Kira Nerys's mother, although he could never get the rest of Bajorans to accept him as a beloved superior and master.

One of these relationships results in a half Bajoran child for Dukat, a daughter named Tora Ziyal.  Dukat sends Ziyal to live on DS9 when he is declared a terrorist in a war against the Klingons, and she helps Kira Nerys and the Federation take back the station during a first Dominion offensive.  Ziyal later admits this betrayal in front of Dukat's second in command, who kills her in front of Dukat.  That is the final straw for Dukat's sanity.

Dukat then tries to destory the Bajoran people and the wormhole by being imbued with a Pah-wraith. During this possession, he kills Jadzia Dax, but he later becomes permanently banished in the realm of Pah-Wraiths by Sisko and the Prophets.

Dukat has some interesting quirks, such as preferring to be called a lower rank Gul than Legate because he feels it makes him seem more "hands on."  Gul Dukat also pursues Kira Nerys romantically during the Dominion occupation of DS9, but she will have none of it.  Dukat also has a special hatred for Elim Garak, who had killed Dukat's father as a spy and had fallen in love with his daughter as well.

 Our notable quote this week comes from By Inferno's Light:
"One man's villain is another man's hero, captain."
Actor: Marc Alaimo played Dukat, and he did not take the role until a couple days into shooting of the pilot when the original actor was not working out. His prominent neck led the show producers to give the Cardassians their signature neck ridges.  He can be seen in the original movie Total Recall and also playing other alien roles in TNG.

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