"I hope you don't take this the wrong way, Major, but I've always admired you. You are the embodiment of the new Bajor. A Bajoran born out of the ashes of the occupation, a Bajoran tempered with Cardassian steel."
Dukat compliments Kira Nerys, Star Trek Deep Space Nine
Kira Nerys was a fictional character played by Nana Visitor that was featured on the science fiction television show Star Trek Deep Space Nine from 1993 to 1999. Nerys was a Bajoran woman and a native of the planet Bajor. Nerys was born on Bajor during a time when the planet was being occupied by an alien race called the Cardassians. At age thirteen, she joined the Bajoran resistance, and started carrying out guerrilla attacks against Cardassians with the goal of ending the occupation of Bajor.
When the occupation later ends, Nerys is assigned to Deep Space Nine, a former Cardassian space station, and is tasked with helping to run the facility under the command of a Starfleet Commander called Benjamin Sisko. When the series first starts, Nerys is angry at this arrangement. After fighting for so long for Bajor's independence, she doesn't welcome Starfleet on Deep Space Nine, because she thinks after enduring such a long occupation Bajor should learn to stand on their own two feet. After some time, her sentiments change, and she becomes one of Benjamin Sisko's closest friends and allies.
Nana Visitor did such an amazing job exploring the flawed, complex character of Nerys. Kira was a such a unique female Star Trek character. She was a war veteran who wasn't always "nice" to the people around her, she raised her voice, she challenged people when she disagreed with them, and she slammed her fists down onto tables when she was mad. She wasn't always likeable, she pushed boundaries, and she had a lot of flaws. I've always felt that Nerys had one of the most interesting character arcs on Deep Space Nine. We see her go from a terrorist fighting for freedom, to working alongside Starfleet, take command of Starfleet vessels, and grapple with her emotional trauma from the Occupation. I really liked watching Kira grow as a character. You see her realise the world is not black and white and that she has to let go of some of her old prejudices. This article lists some of her best episodes or Kira Nerys moments that really stood out to me. This article will contain spoilers.
Episode Details: Season 1, Episode 19 Air Date: 13 June 1993 Written by: Lisa Rich and Jeanne Carrigan-Fauci Directed by: James L. Conway
Marritza/Darhe'el: "What lies? You mean my failure to divulge my true identity? Believe me, Major, I yearned to tell you. But I knew how much more satisfaction you would have if you found out for yourself, and that was my only deception. Marritza was a magnificent file clerk. And I, Gul Darhe'el? I hope you'll not think it immodest of me to say so, but I was a magnificent leader. Oh, you never saw Gallitep at its height. For a labor camp, it was the very model of order and efficiency. And why? For that, you have to look to the top. To me! My word, my every glance, was law. And my verdict was always the same: Guilty."
Kira: "You're insane!"
Marritza/Darhe'el: "Oh, no, no, Major... you can't dismiss me that easily. I did what had to be done. My men understood that, and that's why they loved me. I would order them to go out and kill Bajoran scum, and they'd do it, they'd murder them! They'd come back covered in blood but they felt clean! Now why did they feel that way, Major? Because they were clean!"
Marritza/Darhe'el and Kira, "Duet"
"Duet" is arguably considered one of the best Star Trek Deep Space Nine episodes due to its excellent writing and the stellar performances of Nana Visitor and special guest star Harris Yulin as the Cardassian Aamin Marritza. The episode begins with a shuttle arriving at the station with a person onboard suffering from an illness called Kalla-Nohra Syndrome. Kira recognizes the illness as originating from the Gallitep labor camp, which she helped liberate, that suffered a terrible mining accident while it was under Cardassian control. Kira goes to sickbay, expecting to discover the patient is a Bajoran survivor of the camp. When she discovers that the patient is a Cardassian, she summons security, because she believes him to be Gul Darhe'l, the former leader of the labor camp and a wanted war criminal.
Her prisoner denies he is the war criminal Gul Darhe'l and claims to be Aamin Marritza, a simple file clerk, who was never at Gallitep. Kira doesn't believe him and orders that he be arrested and charged with war crimes. Kira convinces Commander Sisko to let her interrogate him and take over the investigation into the truth of his identity. Kira visits Marritza and accuses him again of being Gul Darhe'l. Marritza confesses he did serve at the labor camp but just as a file clerk. The two of them get into a passionate debate about the Occupation of Bajor, with Marritza defending the atrocities that occurred there, and radiating a maniacal evilness that leaves Kira speechless.
After a little more investigation, Kira discovers that he is right, he is Marritza. Gul Darhe'l died years ago and wasn't at the camp when the mining accident happened, which means that he never would have contracted Kalla-Nohra Syndrome. It turns out that Marritza was so horrified and consumed with guilt over what he witnessed at Gallitep, he willingly changed his appearance to look like Gul Darhe'l in the hope that he would be captured and executed for the war criminal's actions. When Kira realises this, her entire attitude changes towards him. She releases him and tells him that he didn't commit those crimes and he couldn't have stopped them because he was just one man. Marritza begs her not to tell people he is not Gul Darhe'l and insists that his entire people must be punished for what they did to the Bajorans. Kira tells him that he is asking for another murder and she won't do that. Later in the episode, after Marritza is released from his cell, he is attacked by another Bajoran and killed. When Kira confronts the killer and asks him why he killed him, he replies with a sneer that he was a Cardassian, and that was reason enough. Kira realises, to her shock, that she disagrees with him. Marritza did not deserve to die simply because he was a Cardassian. Her experience with him and witnessing his guilt helped her to change her black and white view of the world.
Episode Details: Season 3, Episode 5 Air Date: 24 October 1994 Written by: Robert Hewitt Wolfe Directed by: Les Landau
"Major, I don't think I've ever seen you looking so ravishing."
Garak comments on Kira's appearance as a Cardassian, "Second Skin"
In the episode "Second Skin" Kira is kidnapped by the Cardassian Obsidian Order and cosmetically altered to change her appearance from a Bajoran to a Cardassian. Nana Visitor's performance is excellent in this episode. When she wakes up on Cardassia looking like a Cardassian woman, she clutches at her face and gasps in sheer horror. When her captors tell her that she is safe and home on Cardassia, Kira is overwhelmed. An operative of the Obsidian Order, Entek, tells her that she is an undercover operative of the Obsidian Order named Iliana Ghemor. Her appearance and memories were changed to match the identity of Kira Nerys so that she could infiltrate the Bajoran Resistance. Entek tells her that he has given her medication to help her memories of Iliana resurface and that he has brought her to her childhood home. Kira refuses to believe any of this.
To help her remember, Entek introduces her to Tekeny Ghemor, a Legate in the Cardassian military, who is also Iliana's father. Tekeny greets her as a daughter, but Kira rejects him, telling him tearfully that her real father died on Bajor fighting Cardassians during the Occupation. Tekeny is sad that she cannot remember him and tells her to consider herself a guest in his home. Tekeny continues to show kindness to Kira and tries to help her remember being Iliana, but she pushes him away, insisting over and over again that she is Kira Nerys and not his daughter. Tekeny is heartbroken and tries to apologise to her, but she walks away from him. Frustrated that she still does not believe herself to be Iliana, Entek decides the best way to convince Kira is to show her the biological sample that was used to make her Bajoran disguise. He orders the corpse of a Bajoran resistance fighter to be beamed into the room. When Kira pulls back the sheet covering the body, she discovers it is her. Kira insists it must not be real, it must be a hologram or a clone, but her doubt shows on her face and can be heard in the tremor of her voice. Entek is starting to win, he is wearing Kira down, and she is close to breaking. Entek continues to interrogate her, but is forced to stop when Tekeny enters the room. Kira approaches a mirror, stares at her reflection for a moment, then slams her fist into the glass and collapses to the ground screaming and sobbing. Tekeny cradles her in his arms, like a loving father, and to her shock tells her that he will help her escape off Cardassia.
"Second Skin" is such a great episode. I love the relationship that develops between Kira and Tekeny and how the episode explores Kira's feelings towards Cardassians. At the end of the episode, after the deception surrounding Kira is revealed and she is turned back into a Bajoran again, she continues to have a father-daughter relationship with Tekeny. He is disappointed that she is not daughter and is still hopeful that Iliana will resurface someday and that he will be reunited with her. Kira tells him that she thinks he is a good and honourable man and that his daughter must have loved him very much. There is a bond between them now. She might not be Iliana, but she is the closest thing he has to family, and she embraces it.
3. Ties of Blood and Water
Kira is forced to examine her father-daughter relationship with exiled Cardassian military officer Tekeny Ghemor after some disturbing revelations about his past come to life.
Episode Details: Season 5, Episode 19 Air Date: 14 April 1997 Written by: Edmund Newton and Robbin L. Slocum Directed by: Avery Brooks
"He got so quiet...toward the end. I-I could hear him whispering things - his wife's name, Iliana's, even mine. Then the pain just got too much for him and he just lay there, breathing. And at the end of every exhale...there was this pause, and I thought, "That's it. It's over." Then he'd force another breath. And another...I started counting them. One hundred...two hundred...three hundred... He fought for every last second. I don't think he even knew that I was there."
Kira reflects on Ghemor's death, "Ties of Blood and Water"
In the episode "Ties of Blood and Water" Kira reconnects with exiled former Cardassian military officer and leader of the dissident movement against Cardassia's Central Command, Tekeny Ghemor. Kira and Tekeny have become close after the events of "Second Skin" and have a father-daughter like relationship. Tekeny is no longer safe on Cardassia after Gul Dukat took over the government and signed an alliance with the Dominion. Kira is hoping that Tekeny might be able to provide them with valuable information about the political situation on Cardassia and might even consent to leading a political opposition to Cardassia and the new Dominion alliance on Deep Space Nine. Tekeny is very touched by her eagerness, but declines the offer. He tells her that he cannot help her because he has a terminal illness and is dying. Since Kira is the closest thing he has left to family, all he wants is to be close to her, and to not be left alone when his time comes.
Kira is devastated to hear about his diagnosis. She helps make Tekeny comfortable on the station and tries to make the most of their limited time together. As Tekeny's condition worsens, he uses the time he has left to tell her all of his secrets, trusting her like a daughter. Kira agrees to take part in the ritual and to use his secrets against his enemies. Kira feels overwhelmed by the pressure Tekeny is putting on her to act in the role of his daughter one last time. It makes her think back to when her father died during the Occupation and how she chose to leave him on his death bed rather than be there for his final moments. She feels guilt that she has agreed to be with Tekeny on his death bed, but missed her own father's passing.
Word that Tekeny is onboard the station and dying of a terminal illness reaches the Dominion and Gul Dukat on Cardassia. When Dukat is denied a chance to bring Tekeny back to Cardassia before his death, he gets revenge by revealing to Kira that Tekeny took part at the Kiessa Monastery massacre during the Occupation. After her conversation with Dukat, Kira angrily confronts Tekeny and accuses him of lying to her about his actions during the Occupation. Tekeny is remorseful and tells her that he wishes he never joined the military or volunteered for duty on Bajor. He insists that the Cardassians were in the wrong, not the Bajorans. Kira is too angry to talk about it anymore, so she leaves his room. Later, Odo comes and talks to her about Tekeny, and argues that he was only in the military for a year and there is no proof that he even fired a shot at Kiessa. Kira argues that he shouldn't have been there at all. Odo wonders if her hatred of all Cardassians is effecting her relationship with Tekeny. Kira thinks back to when her father was dying, and how she chose to abandon him in his final moments to get back at the Cardassians.
Dr Bashir comes and find Kira and tells him that Tekeny's condition is worsening and that he will be dead soon. He encourages her to go and be with him, even if his past is stained by the occupation, because he thinks that he doesn't deserve to die alone. In the end, Kira decides she won't repeat the same mistake she made with her father, and decides to go back to be with Tekeny during his final moments. After he passes, Kira takes his body back to Bajor, and buries him next to her father and under the same tree. What a beautiful ending.
4. The Darkness and the Light
Kira is targeted by a deranged serial killer seeking revenge for actions she took fighting in the Bajoran resistance during the Occupation of Bajor.
Episode Details: Season 6, Episode 2 Air Date: 6 January 1997 Written by: Bryan Fuller Directed by: Michael Vejar
"None of you belonged on Bajor. It wasn't your world. For fifty years you raped our planet, and you killed our people. You lived on our land and you took the food out of our mouths, and I don't care whether you held a phaser in your hand or you ironed shirts for a living. You were all guilty and you were all legitimate targets!"
Kira argues with Prin, "The Darkness and the Light"
In the episode "The Darkness and the Light" Kira is targeted by a serial killer who begins killing off members of her old resistance cell. Heavily pregnant and vulnerable, Kira feels helpless as someone begins killing off her friends from the resistance one by one. After each murder, the killer begins sending Kira recorded messages using her own voice to taunt her. It is clear that he has a vendetta against Kira. When two of her oldest friends are murdered on the station in an explosion, Kira breaks down completely, and tearfully recounts her childhood growing up in the Occupation and her decision to join the Bajoran Resistance at thirteen years old.
Overcome with grief and rage, Kira beams off the station and decides to go after the killer in a stolen runabout. Kira doesn't get very far before she is captured by the killer and taken to a new location. When she wakes up, she is strapped to a table and pinned down by a spotlight. As she blinks in confusion, a man with a scarred face skirts around the table, ranting and calling her a "vile creature of darkness" that is afraid to find itself trapped in the light. The killer is a Cardassian man named Silaran Prin, who was a civilian living on Bajor during the Occupation, that was burned and disfigured in bomb attack set off by the Shakaar resistance cell that was used to assassinate Gul Pirak.
The bomb used to assassinate Gul Pirak was so powerful, it not only took out its target it also claimed over 12 lives in total, including Gul Pirak's entire family, and crippled over 23 others who worked as servants in Pirak's household, including Prin. Prin sees himself as an innocent victim of the terrorist attack because he was not a member of the Cardassian military, but Kira disagrees. She refuses to feel sorry that Prin was injured in the attack. Shaking with emotion, she defends the actions of the resistance cell, arguing that Gul Pirak was a terrible man who deserved to be targeted for murdering fifteen Bajoran farmers who refused to fly the Cardassian flag outside their homes. Kira defends the actions of the Bajoran Resistance and argues that she was a soldier fighting for survival against a brutal occupation force. She didn't care if the Cardassians on Bajor held a phaser or swept floors for a living. As far as she was concerned, none of them belonged on Bajor, and they were all guilty and legitimate targets. Kira refuses to feel guilty and labels Prin a murderer and a bitter old man out for revenge. Prin brushes aside her accusation that he is to blame and insists that her friends all deserved their fates. He insists that he "lives in the light" and that she is "corrupted by darkness".
"The Darkness and the Light" is one of my favourite Kira Nerys episodes. I really like the scene when Kira argues with Prin about the actions she took while serving in the Bajoran Resistance. I think Prin and Kira are both right and wrong. Kira was right that she was fighting for survival and times were desperate, but Prin was also right to criticise her for targeting civilians as well as military personnel. I really like that when Kira is held captive by Prin, she doesn't beg for his forgiveness. Instead, she double downs on her belief that her actions were justified, and refuses to admit any guilt or feel sorry for the harm that she caused Prin. There is some debate about whether she was right or wrong to say what she did, but I think it took a lot of boldness on Kira's part to stick to her deepest beliefs.
Episode Details: Season 6, Episode 2 Air Date: 6 October 1997 Written by: Ronald D. Moore Directed by: Michael Vejar
"Evil must be opposed!"
Vedek Yassim, moments before committing suicide, "Rocks and Shoals"
When Kira Nerys was in the Bajoran Resistance, one of the things she hated the most was collaborators, other Bajorans who willingly worked alongside the Cardassians during the Occupation. In the episode "Rocks and Shoals" Starfleet has abandoned Deep Space Nine and left the station to be occupied by the Cardassians and the Dominion. At the order of Captain Sisko, Kira stays behind on the station, with instructions to make Bajor stay neutral in the war. Kira finds herself working alongside Cardassians and the Dominion, writing reports for them, defending them from criticism and advising against political and violent intervention from those that oppose them.
I really like this episode because it shows how much Kira has grown as a character. When she was younger and fighting in the Occupation, she would have reacted harshly to the Dominion taking over the station, she knows can't do that now because there is too much at stake if she were to lose. Kira tries to tell herself that she is doing what Captain Sisko asked her to do, but over time she begins to question herself. When Jake Sisko, the Captain's son, asks her questions about how the station is being managed under the Dominion, she reacts angrily, because she knows she is letting things happen on the station and doesn't want to be criticised. When she is approached by Vedek Yassim, a member of the Bajoran religious faith, Kira is uncomfortable when she hears about her plans to protest the Dominion's occupation of the station. Yassim asks Kira what she is doing to help fight the Dominion. Kira makes excuses and tries to argue things are different now, it's not like the old Occupation, fighting isn't an option here. Yassim accuses Kira of being a "defender of evil" and for making apologies for the Dominion.
Kira is frustrated and disturbed by the accusation and tries to argue that Yassim does not understand the situation. Yassim refuses to stop her protest and promises that tomorrow, after it was done, they will both understand. The next day, Kira goes to the spot where Yassim promised to hold her protest, intending to use force to stop it. Yassim appears on the upper level with a noose around her neck and shouts "Evil must be opposed!" before throwing herself over the side. Kira tries to run forward to grab her, but the rope snaps straight before she can get close enough, breaking Yassim's neck before her feet touch the ground. Yassim's death changes Kira. It makes her realise that the Vadek was right to criticise her - she had become a collaborator. After Kira comes to this realisation, she is so horror-struck, she vows to find a way to fight back against the Dominion. When Odo advises against it, she tells him not to stand in her way, because if she has too, she will fight him too. This is what makes "Rocks and Shoals" such a great episode. It shows how easily people can become collaborators because they spend a lot of time convincing themselves that they are doing the right thing. This was a real important growth episode for Kira.