Star Trek 329: The Wire

329. The Wire

FORMULA: Cardassians + Symbiosis + Duet

WHY WE LIKE IT: Well, Garak's in it, isn't he?

WHY WE DON'T: "I'm a doctor, not a botanist." Don't you start, Julian.

REVIEW: It struck me about half-way through this episode that Bashir is the only Star Trek doctor who was ever really allowed full-blown medical plots on a regular basis. They were always making Crusher a detective, a lover or a dancer in an effort to make her interesting. Voyager's Doctor got hologram stories. TOS didn't really do episodes about a single character. But Bashir is often dealing with medical plots and medical dilemmas. Hippocratic Oath, The Quickening and The Wire aren't medical issues that affect everyone, they're really driven by Bashir and his ethics.

But of course, what's a medical story without a patient, and this is Garak's story too. Or stories, I should say. Like Dax's plant, he was transplanted into the wrong soil and in order to thrive, he turned on an endorphin-producing implant in his brain. Certainly explains his jolity and cool demeanor in previous episodes. Of course, that's where simple leaves off and complicated arrives. Who is Garak and who is his friend Elim? What does he have to do with the Obsidian Order? And how did he find himself exiled from Cardassia? One possibility speaks of a possible altruistic side to Garak we hope he really has. But we hear many others, and as Garak says "They're all true." "Even the lies?" "Especially the lies." Pure Garak.

The Order makes it first appearance here, and from the description, the Cardassians are resolved to out-Romulan the Romulans in everything they do. The Tal Shiar? Amateurs. The Order gets a face in the form of Enabran Tain, retired head of the Order and mentor to Garak. A great performance by Paul Dooley here, with just enough menace and just enough pleasantries. He helps Garak only to make him suffer longer.

Once again, DS9 takes "relevant" subject matter (drug abuse/withdrawal) and turns it into a political and personal story. It never seems trite or heavy-handed, though the message is there if you really want to hear it. The rest of the cast doesn't have as much to do, it's true, but developing the supporting cast is never a bad thing, and Odo gets a good turn, correctly wanting to ask Garak some questions, but incredibly respectful of Bashir's authority.

LESSON: Too much is like not enough.

REWATCHABILITY - High: The Wire re-infuses mystery into Garak after the bolder revelations of Profit and Loss, and is a strong story for Bashir to boot. Can you believe this is still Season 2?

3 comments:

De said...

I remember liking the episode quite a bit when it first aired. However, it became a truly awesome episode for me when more of Garak's backstory was revealed in subsequent episodes.

Tain's statement to Bashir to let Garak die was especially shocking in light of later episodes.

Matthew Turnage said...

Easily one of my favorites from the entire run.

Anonymous said...

In my mind, the one where Garak refused to torture the children is the closest to the truth -- close enough that, in fact, I consider it literally true. My reasoning:

1) The discussion of the Cardassian repetitive epic at the beginning of the episode wasn't there just to fill up space. It was telling us something crucial about Cardassian culture: by definition, a good Cardassian follows orders. Of Garak's various tales, the only one where he refused to follow orders was the one where he saw the futility of interrogating children for information he knew they didn't have, and let them go.

2) Garak has a conscience; we see it in later episodes. That he will sometimes follow his conscience, even down a path of ruin, is necessary to understanding every cool and kick-ass thing he ever does in the series.

3) Enabran Tain's feelings towards Garak -- affectionate but unforgiving -- would be consistent with a traditional Cardassian who saw his beloved son betray the most central of Cardassian values.

 

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