Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

Season 5 Episode 19

Ties of Blood and Water

Aired Weekdays 11:00 AM Apr 14, 1997 on Syndicado
out of 10
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124 votes

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Episode Summary

Stardate: 50712.5

A Cardassian dissident opposed to the Cardassian/Dominion Alliance asks Kira to help him so that he may reveal his secrets to use against his enemies as is customary in his culture. Kira must overcome painful memories of her own father's death, as well as the Cardassian's own war crimes, before she can face him and gain the information.moreless

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  • Nice Care Giving Episode

    Caring for a loved one who needs continuing assistance can be a thankless job. It's a selfless act that deserves acknowledgement and praise. It does not usually, however, make for compelling television.

    There are two inherent flaws for a story of this type. First, the characters lack mobility because one has to tie the other down. And second, the plot lacks movement because there's nowhere to go with it.

    Nonetheless, Avery Brooks directs this Kira episode that brings back Ghemor for a sequel to third season's "Second Skin" and explores his relationship with Kira as patient and caregiver. It'd a daring subject matter for any show, but doubly so for a science fiction program with so many other options.

    To disguise the story's fundamental problems, the episode employs a complex narrative structure. Along with the A story with Kira and Ghemor, there are flashback scenes that are used to draw parallels between the last days of Ghemor and the last days of Kira's father, with Kira's past experiences influencing her present decisions. It's a witty structural idea DS9 pulls out once in awhile ("Necessary Evil, "Hard Time") and it seems to work every time - which is probably why JJ. Abrams borrows the formula for "Lost". Meanwhile, the B story plays up the military and political consequences of Ghemor's defection from Cardassia (reminiscent of when the United States granted medical care to Iran's overthrown Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi), which gives us some tense Dukat/Sisko sequences. (The kicker is the return of Weyoun, who joins in their scenes and mocks their seriousness).

    But in the end, it's Kira's relationship with Ghemor forms the heart of the show, and Visitor and Lawrence Pressman make the most of it.

  • Slow going until an ending that is nothing short of miraculous...

    This episode is hardly the show's best, but it certainly has its positives. It starts out promisingly: we are reintroduced to Legate Ghemor, who we first met in the episode "Second Skin", where Kira was transformed into a Cardassian. He was, as you recall, a leader of the dissident movement that ultimately took control of Cardassia and was overthrown by the Klingons. Kira wants to try to get Ghemor (who is a sort of surrogate father figure to her) to use his status as an elder statesman to set up a government-in-exile and work against the Dominion. Ghemor is too old for that, and he knows it. He has come to die, and wants to let Kira in on all of his secrets--it's a Cardassian custom. Unfortunately, there is one secret that he has that Kira does not want to know--Ghemor ordered an attack on a group of Bajorans during the occupation. This information is given to her by Dukat, who is on the station to try to advance the peace process. This leads to the second most welcome development: the return of Weyoun, the unctuous Vorta played by Jeffrey Combs. His performance is, as usual, quite delightful.

    Upon hearing of Ghemor's past, Kira refuses to see him anymore. The old man slides further into the abyss, and Kira starts to think about how her father died: alone, while she was off attacking a Cardassian target. After a surprisingly emotional scene with Bashir where she lets down her guard and talks about how horrible she felt after her father died, she decides to sit with Ghemor as he dies.

    Ultimately, this is a good show that could have been much better. While Dukat and Weyoun anchor their story just fine, it's really the B-story. As for the A-story, it would have been more interesting had Ghemor actually ordered the attack that fatally wounded Kira pere, but that might have been a little too neat. Much of the episode does not cover interesting ground. It is, though, almost entirely redeemed by the scene at the end of the episode between Bashir and Kira. It is about as unguarded as Kira has ever been on the show, and her grief and pain at having failed her father when he needed her the most illuminates a great deal about the character, and it comes as no surprise that she then goes to Ghemor afterwards. The act is not one of love, for she does not and will not forgive Ghemor for what he did. It is an act of duty--of familial duty. The writing and performance of this scene make it one of the series' best and truest character moments, and it elevates this episode to great effect.moreless
  • A tearjerker. The 2nd great Kira story of the 5th season.

    Along with "The Darkness and the Light", this is a second fantastic Kira episode during the 5th season. Like that one, it's about her relationship with "the enemy" - the Cardassians. But this is a much slower story - in fact, despite some nice points, it really doesn't deliver until the ending. But what an ending it is. The other two reviews provide an excellent discussion of the nuances of this episode, so I won't belabor them. Nana Visitor gives another one of her intense performances. There is some nice support from Rene Auberjonois and (especially) Alexander Siddig. And of course, any episode with Marc Alaimo and Jeffrey Combs as Weyoun will be decent at the very least.

    Overall, not among the very best but highly recommended viewing for those with patience.moreless
  • In response to Adukovic's review that mixes some facts up and doesn't give enough credit to what I consider a perfect example of intelligent sci-fi that explores the human frontier. This is more commentary than a review, so I recommend watching it first.moreless

    Before I throw down the gauntlet, I have to say it's clear Adukovic is well read, there's no doubt. In all of his reviews he demonstrates a marvelous ability for reading between the lines and it encourages me to be a more observant viewer (and reviewer). Yes, I am inspired. ;] But after reading his review of this particular episode, I'm forced to challenge some things he said that are not really open to interpretation. Some things are simply wrong.

    As I said, I want to be more observant, more than a passive couch potato. But it's work! Sometime I just want to see colors and hear sounds at the end of the day. So I don't claim to be in any way an experienced analytic, but this episode forced me to try whether I wanted to or not. Kira usually irritates me, but this time I almost had to turn her off. Another one of her overreactions, but this one bothered me so much, it was so extreme that I had to observe intently thereafter for a reason, any sort of justification, otherwise let my grudge against her turn into giving up on her entirely.

    The episode starts by convincing us that a Cardassian, Legate Ghemor, means more to Kira than most anyone else we've seen her interact with thus far (doubly so considering their backgrounds). For the first time we see how deeply she can care for someone other than in bed. Their relationship transcends physical intimacy. They are vitrually a family.

    So I didn't agree with Kira's borderline explosive reaction to discovering Ghemor's "secret", especially as he pleaded his side of things, that he was a misguided soldier who regretted ever joining the military. This was a clue. He verbally regrets having been there, not silently devastated as someone who regrets something he feels responsible for. Later, Odo exposes Kira's unreasonableness by further minimizing Ghemor's role at the monastery. Odo's assessment of the military report reveals that Ghemor was only 19 at the time and relatively new to the military, leading him to speculate that he may never have even fired off a shot. Either way, Ghemor was in no position to order anyone's death as is explained in Adukovic's review (first paragraph).

    Thanks to Odo's exposition - and I needed it - it was clear there was a deeper explanation for Kira not wanting to be with him. As she sat at his side recording Cardassian secrets and tending to his every need, she couldn't help indulge in memories of being at her father's side during his final moments, along with all the difficult emotions involved.

    She had been warned about the challenges involved in taking care of someone with a terminal condition. She insisted she could manage, but, for reasons beneath the surface, it became too much for her to bear. So she used Dukat's military report as a convenient way out of this emotionally stressful situation, just as she used the raid to avoid seeing her father die. The latter she admits to Bashir at the end.

    This episode reveals in the fearless resistance soldier who is no stranger to killing, perhaps her one and only weakness: a fear of confronting death; not her own, but of those she cares about most. In the end, unbeknownst to all but Bashir, Kira had viewed this as a second chance to face her fear. And only because of the guilt of missing her father's death was she able to overcome it.

    In retrospect, Kira, knowing Dukat's providing Ghemor's military record was purely self-serving, for the good of the Cardassian/Dominion Alliance, went ahead and read it anyway. Why? In a moment of selfishness, she saw it as a means of escaping what she feared most. Meaning, it was not a mere justification after having read it, but as her very motive for picking it up off the table and reading it in the first place. Self-serving for Kira despite how much it was for Dukat, her archenemy.

    Which leads to another dispute I have with Adukovic's review, namely, that Kira "does not and will never forgive Ghemor." On the contrary, since she feigned betrayal for selfish motives, there was nothing to forgive. She said to Bashir that she owed it to Ghemor to be with him just as much as she owed it to her father; she still esteemed Ghemor as her own father. Why else would she bury them together? It was an act of love. Kira was the one needing forgiveness.

    This was a carefully written episode, one worth watching again and paying close attention to. It's ripe with parallels and, when contemplated, will provide no end to the amount of speculating and theorizing you can do. But at its root it's human. It explores a very real situation anyone can relate to. And whoever has not yet experienced the death of a loved one would do well to ponder Kira's final words. Because a person that doesn't fear the prospect of watching someone close to them suffer and die isn't in a right state of mind.

    Moral of the story: It's not heartless to not have the heart to watch someone we love die, although we may act heartless if we let the fear of such a sight get the better of us.moreless
Armin Shimerman

Armin Shimerman


Terry Farrell

Terry Farrell

Lt./Lt. Commander Jadzia Dax (Season 1-6)

Michael Dorn

Michael Dorn

Lt. Commander Worf (Season 4-7)

Rene Auberjonois

Rene Auberjonois

Constable Odo

Nana Visitor

Nana Visitor

Major/Colonel/Commander Kira Nerys

Avery Brooks

Avery Brooks

Commander/Captain Benjamin Sisko

Lawrence Pressman

Lawrence Pressman

Tekeny Ghemor

Guest Star

Thomas Kopache

Thomas Kopache


Guest Star

William Lucking

William Lucking


Guest Star

Marc Alaimo

Marc Alaimo

Gul Dukat

Recurring Role

Jeffrey Combs

Jeffrey Combs


Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (2)

    • Nitpick: During the montage of Kira recording information from Ghemor, he's actually just repeating the line about Gul Trepar over and over again.

    • Goof: In Kira's flashback of her father's death, a background extra is carrying two kar'takin. Kar'takin are the fighting swords used by Jem'Hadar and were not on Bajor in the past.

  • QUOTES (7)

    • Worf: Major Kira, friends with a Cardassian?! It seems wrong.
      Jadzia: You should have known her five years ago. Back then, I never thought she'd be friends with anyone.

    • Sisko: (when Dukat arrives in a Jem'Hadar battleship) Gul Dukat, what's the meaning of this?!
      Dukat: You said you'd take my request for Ghemor's extradition under advisement.
      O'Brien: They've locked weapons on the station.
      Dukat: I eagerly await your decision.

    • Weyoun: Vorta are immune to most forms of poison. Comes in handy when you're a diplomat.

    • Dukat: Major, sorry to disturb you.
      Kira: Sorry enough to leave?

    • Sisko: We've met. I saw you die.
      Weyoun: That wasn't me. At least, not exactly.
      Dukat: The Vorta are experts in cloning.
      Weyoun: It tends to mitigate the risk involved in so much of our work. My predecessor was the fourth incarnation of our noble progenitor. I'm the fifth.
      Sisko: Immortality?
      Weyoun: Of a sort. Interested?

    • (after Ghemore's death)
      Kira: That's it? A quick postmortem, a statement from the witness, a little paperwork. It seems so... straightforward.
      Bashir: But it never is.
      Kira: He got so quiet toward the end. I could hear him whispering things - his wife's name, Iliana's... even mine. But then the pain got to be too much for him. He just... lay there, breathing. And every time he exhaled, I thought, 'That's it. It's over.' But then he'd force another breath. And another. I started counting them. One hundred, two hundred... three hun... It was like he was fighting for every second. I'm not sure he even knew I was there.
      Bashir: He knew. You gave him what he needed. He didn't die alone.
      Kira: Maybe he gave me something I needed, too. I missed my father's death by less than an hour, did you know that? Less than an hour. I always told myself that it was just bad luck, bad timing - the will of the Prophets. But the truth is, I didn't have to leave when I did. I could have stayed a while longer. But I saw a chance to get away, and I took it. I saw so much death during the Occupation... felt so much pain. But he was my father. My strength. And I couldn't stand watching that strenght slip away. So I ran.
      Bashir: Just like you tried to run from Ghemor.
      Kira: He reminded me so much of my father. Going through it all again... I couldn't face it.
      Bashir: But in the end, you did. You were there for Ghemor.
      Kira: I owed it to him. I owed it to my father to get it right this time.

    • Sisko: Still calling yourself Gul? I'm surprised you haven't promoted yourself back to Legate by now.
      Dukat: I prefer the title Gul. So much more hands on than Legate, hmm? And less pretentious than the other alternatives: president, emperor, first minister... Emissary.
      Sisko: How about Dominion puppet?

  • NOTES (6)