You Can't Escape the Ties That Bind
"Ties of Blood and Water" Plot Summary:
Kira's Cardassian father from "Second Skin" arrives on the station, dying and wanting to confess to her. Though she is loath to get involved, Kira sees an opportunity to help Bajor and the Federation. Nonetheless, caring for the old man reminds Kira of how she deserted her own father when he was dying and she was serving in the Resistance, and she must come to terms with that loss as well as with the loss of the Cardassian.
I wanted so much to like this episode. It's a Kira episode, involving both her history in the Resistance and her relationship with Ghemor from "Second Skin," which ranks up there as one of my all-time favorite Trek episodes. It had the potential to explain her seemingly uncharacteristic obsession with father-figure type men - Mullibok who refused to give up his home, Bareil who nurtured her spirituality, Shakaar who developed her political activism, Odo who watches over her even though she can take care of herself, even Sisko who gets awfully paternal when he starts playing Emissary.
This episode had Dukat posturing, Sisko conniving, Odo getting huffy. The potential from drama both on a personal level and in terms of series continuity seemed breathtaking. So why did it seem so plodding, predictable, and ultimately contrived?
I don't have a good answer. I do know that I found the opening very static: that discussion between Kira and Ghemor, where we waited around for him to announce that he was dying (we knew that from the previews), with the camera bouncing back and forth from one face to the other, dragged on way too long. The writers could have reiterated the facts of the relationship in one sentence and gotten on with the drama much more quickly, which would have left a lot more time for us to learn something about Kira's real father - who existed in this episode largely to die, not to reveal anything about the living man's relationship with his terrorist daughter.
What a waste, and what a waste of Ghemor too--we heard the beginnings of his narrative about his political enemies, but we didn't get any real insight into Cardassian history or the mindset which allowed him to become a killer.
MUCH too much of this episode was exposition instead of drama--we were told how we should be feeling--or, more to the point, Kira was told how SHE should be feeling by other characters, which came across as demeaning to her (the Return of the Catsuit didn't help, either). It was obvious from the early scenes of Ghemor's illness that her flashbacks to her father were going to end in the revelation that Kira had committed some wrong toward him that she needed to set right with her adoptive Cardassian father.
There was no suspense, so the lengthy sequences showing Kira taking care of Ghemor were boring - considering that they were bloodless and antiseptic, they didn't give any real sense of the agonizing difficulty of taking care of a dying parent, the physical strain as well as the emotional torment. The tears at the end seemed contrived, partly because the tight closeups on Nana Visitor's twisted features revealed the lack of subtlety in her performance, but partly because I was never moved enough by the scenario to really feel for Kira.
Considering the number of topics this script attempted to tackle, it managed to waste a tremendous amount of time. The scene between Kira and Sisko discussing her decision to hear Ghemor's story took too long, the scene between Sisko and Dukat discussing Cardassian politics seemed to be there just to give Sisko something commanding to do. The Vorta was entirely gratuitous (unless his presence is a foreshadowing of things to come later in the season). The one moment I got really excited all episode was when Sisko offered Dukat that drink of Canar and Dukat said no thanks - for a split second, I thought we were going to find out that Dukat was a changeling, and that would have changed my opinion of this entire season!
But no, it was merely a poisoned drink--a less interesting ploy for a less interesting story. Between the endless two-shots and the plodding dialogue, this episode squandered all sorts of opportunities for tension on the individual and series level. Kira and her father deserved better.
Deep Space Nine Reviews