In which Garak hits on Julian with the force of an angry god, and it is established that all Kira’s old friends are boring jerks.
Memory Alpha says: A Bajoran terrorist tests Kira’s loyalties to the Federation when he attempts to rid Bajor of the Federation for good. (Please click the Memory Alpha link for detailed information.)
Firstly, thanks to Lea, in the comments on the last entry, for pointing out that I had my episode order confused – I thought ‘A Man Alone’ was next, but it’s ‘Past Prologue.’ It’s a good thing she said something, or we would all have had to wait longer to see Garak.
‘Past Prologue’ is such a Star Trek episode title, isn’t it? It sounds vaguely smart and portentous but doesn’t really tell you jack about the episode. I’m not asking for a Friends-style naming scheme, particularly as Trek episode titles sometimes get rather poetic, like ‘For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky,’ or just endearingly stupid like ‘Spock’s Brain,’ but my problem is that titles that are so far from being descriptive don’t help me to remember which story is which. It got a bit clunky towards the end of Lost how much they liked to include the episode’s title in its dialogue, but that did help my poor little memory; I read ‘He’s Our You’ and immediately see Sayid tying to a tree and giggling his head off. Oh, Sayid. Creepy fingernails! Shoots little boys who trust him! Naveen Andrews obviously had no idea what was going on in the last season and had checked out mentally like Robert Beltran in Voyager! On with ‘Past Prologue.’
Oh, I’m eating my dinner while I do this, and I have free-range chicken with rosemary and lemon pepper, so I’m happy.
So here we have one of the most notorious and best-loved first meetings of two characters – Garak and Bashir in the Replimat. Garak is extremely… extremely and Julian is extremely nervous (the flower arrangement on the table, rather nice blue irises, gets in his face when he tries to put his chin on his hands in a nonchalant manner, and generally comes off as a café au lait Bertie Wooster). Garak is wearing his most horrible outfit, with horizontal stripes across the chest, vertical stripes down the sleeves and polka dots on the waistcoat, which rather conflicts with his claim to be ‘plain, simple Garak.’ For he is a man of complexity! and contradictions! and possible colour-blindness! He invites Julian to his shop for a fitting or a, you know, whatever, put some music on and see where the evening goes, and bids him good day, pausing to feel up his shoulders (I’m sorry, Garak, they’re mostly padding). Julian looks absolutely terrified but also kind of thrilled.
(And, for anyone who doesn’t yet know, the impression that Garak is hitting on Julian was totally intentional on the part of both the writers and the actors. Siddig El Fadil was actually quite chuffed to think Star Trek was finally doing an official gay relationship and he got to be part of this historic occasion. Unfortunately, the word came down from on high to cut that shit out, and DS9 developed this really weird relationship with homosexuality in which you can totally have mirror universe ladies kiss each other in an evil exploitative Katy Perry way, but two men in the ‘normal’ universe can’t just feel a mutual attraction and get together. [If they had any guts, they would’ve snuck in a quick kiss between Smiley and grumpy mirror Julian. The mirror universe! Where everyone is gay – or at least more so.])
Then Julian dashes straight to Ops to tell everyone about his brush with the spy. Everyone is approximately as dismissive of him as the grown-ups on the Enterprise should have been of Wesley, and either nobody believes Garak is actually a spy, or nobody believes he wants anything espionagey out of Julian. Kira has a badass new haircut that shows off her fancy earring, and a Bajoran ship is getting chased into Bajoran space by a mean nasty Cardassian one shooting at it. Sisko tells them off and they ignore him, because he’s not very charismatic this early in the show. They manage to beam in the occupant of the Bajoran ship just as it splodes, and he appears, nicely, in a sort of hunched foetal position with his arms over his head. He’s Tana Los, he wants asylum, and he knows Kira.
So this is one of those stories that explore the difference between a ‘freedom fighter’ and a ‘terrorist,’ and how you can re-absorb into a functioning society people who have gone way beyond the pale of normal behaviour as part of their struggle. Tana Los has a hairy chest and lots of worrying scars.
Kira goes behind Sisko’s back to talk to a Starfleet admiral, and obviously hasn’t learned yet that Starfleet admirals are gigantic dicks. No exceptions. As is demonstrated when the admiral promptly calls Sisko back, calls Kira ‘that Bajoran woman you have working for you’ and complains that she interrupted a meeting to complain about him. Biiiiiitch.
I don’t, honestly, find anything very interesting in the interactions between Kira and Tana. Basically, Bajoran guys bore me, especially Bajoran guys Kira knows from back in the day. Despite the fact that they’re meant to be all desperate and on the edge, the actors who play them are always so bland. Tana is bland and blond.
Despite being miffed with Kira, the Sisko decides to give Tana asylum and tells the Gul who came looking for him to get stuffed (but more diplomatically). Kira takes Tana to some guest quarters and asks him how long since he’s slept in a comfortable bed. I think it’ll be a while longer, because the bed in that room looks terrible, a flat plastic-looking bench with some raised pads sticking out of its surface. Tana pats it and from the noise, it’s obviously hard. I know Klingons don’t like comfy beds, but I didn’t think Cardies were the same (I suppose I imagine them being a bit sybaritic about their bedding, and definitely liking electric blankets). They talk politics and principles and necessary compromises and the wormhole. Tana has this really annoying thing where as soon as Kira leaves a scene, he smirks to himself, so he’s obviously a baddie, and it’s not very subtle. If the episode let us wonder more about his intentions, I would like it better.
Also not very subtle, Lursa and B’etor Duras and their pneumatic chests. You may remember these jerks and their rather impractical cleavage-exposing armour from TNG; they’re from the family that made it look like Worf’s dad was a traitor and dropped the whole family in the shit, honour-wise. Duras was also responsible for the death of Worf’s awesome girlfriend and baby-mama K’Ehleyr. Jerks. Odo will have none of their sass and makes them turn in their weapons before letting them into the station proper. Of course, he just takes his word for it that they’ve handed over all their weapons – he doesn’t search them, which seems pretty trusting. If they don’t have a few stilettos up their sleeves, or brass knuckles in their pockets, I’d be jolly surprised.
Odo complains to Sisko about the fact that he can’t arrest people for sitting in a suspicious manner. He’s also pissed off about the Living Statue and those crusty jugglers.
In Quark’s (Morn sighted), the Duras gals sit up on the mezzanine being eyeballed by Garak, who is sitting lower down and about to meet Julian, who tries to agree with everything he says and looks at him with his mouth open a lot. He is gormless, God bless him. Garak hints that he should pay attention to what the sisters do, and, perhaps realising that he’s not going to get far with hints at the moment, just says ‘Look’ when Tana appears and the sisters immediately get out of their chairs – Riker-fashion, swinging their legs over the backs.
Tana and the Duras gals meet in a cargo bay and argue about some kind of shady deal they’re making – observed by Odo in the form of a rather cute little rat. Anyway, Tana owes the girls a lot of money for some mysterious and no doubt nefarious object they sourced for him.
Kira is stoked about the possiblity of arranging amnesty for the Kohn Ma terrorists, and grateful to Sisko for helping. He chooses this moment to tell her he knows about the Admiral: ‘Go over my head again and I’ll have yours on a platter.’ He’s standing just above her on the steps to the office – remember the Cardassian architecture remark from the pilot? – for maximum rubbing-her-nose-in-it, just as she is literally looking up to him with her little face all aglow. Sisko doesn’t want Odo to let her know about the Plot.
Those Duras bitches go to see Garak. He offers them ‘silk lingerie from Krrrraus IV’ (that’s how he pronounces it) and apparently this is some kind of insult because they threaten and hiss at him. I suppose they wear chainmail knickers. They, like Julian, believe that he is at least connected to the Cardassian government, and offer to sell him Tana Los. He gives them a quote on a little calculator thingy and they act all insulted again and start to flounce out. Garak maintains that he’s just a businessman here, trying to get the best possible deal. He invites them to haggle – and makes jazz hands.
They look at him like ‘what manner of faggotry is this?’
THE BEST MANNER.
Another scene with Tana and Kira that’s about how much she’s compromised her values in order to get anywhere in the real world. He throws that ‘comfortable bed’ comment back in her face, saying she’s in bed with the Federation, and although I realise it makes no sense to look at this line in light of events that hadn’t been written yet, I’m like ‘Dude, her mum was a comfort woman. Harsh.’ Anyway, it’s all about trust and betrayal and whether Kira can believe his claim that his plan to save Bajor will be non-violent. I think he’s full of shit personally. All that smirking.
Garak and Bashir meet again in the replimat, where they still have blue irises on the tables. I think I’m going to see if they have some blue irises in the cheap flower buckets at the supermarket next time I go. The peonies seem to be over. Bashir has now got past the ‘staring with his mouth open’ and moved to the ‘gazing and smiling’ phase of his relationship with Garak. Garak points out some ‘Kohn Ma terrorists’ to him and Julian is simultaneously shocked that such dangerous people are on the station and awfully excited. Garak suggests that the two of them could get to the bottom of the matter. Julian tries to demur, but Garak propositions him presents him with a proposition – if he comes to the shop at exactly 20.55 that night, ‘I will show you a suit that will make you into a new man.’ (Birthday suit jokes to the left.) Julian still lacks gorm, because he thinks Garak is actually trying to sell him clothes, and Garak has to make it extra clear, with lots of eyeballing and head-waggling, that it’s code. Garak pronounces ‘suit’ as ‘syuit.’ Julian finally catches on, and after extremely obviously peering over at Tana talking to the other terrorists, takes off. He’s such a dork, so it’s a good thing he’s really pretty.
Kira is looking at some presumably secret Kohn Ma information on the ‘Bajoran Intelligence Net’ and to my utter glee, it’s in the old Apple Chicago font (or a near clone thereof). She hides it when Sisko speaks to her, so either it’s secrets or she was on Facebook. Julian comes to Sisko for guidance, saying ‘I’m afraid this relationship [with Garak] has gotten a little out of hand.’ Sisko initially thinks Julian is just being a bimbo (his mind is on the Kira situation), but when he hears about the 20.55 detail quickly twigs that Garak is setting up a sting, establishing common cause with the Feds, at least in the matter of the Durassholes. He tells Julian to go see about this syuit (yes, he pronounces it that way too).
I guess Garak doesn’t make zoot suits, because they wouldn’t rhyme.
Kira goes to see Odo, who is still looking really craggy and leathery. Her uniform has a Nehru collar and his doesn’t; his neck looks all wattly so I wish he’d grow a collar. Odo confides in her, quite gently, that he finds it hard to be deceptive – as difficult as forming ‘one of your noses.’ I do like the idea that, if Odo could make his facial features more defined, he would give himself a Bajoran nose. In turn, as he doubtless meant her to do, Kira confides in him, telling him about her guilty conscience over her past activities and her doubts about what to do for the best now. She feels that however she chooses, she’ll betray someone, and Odo says that the important thing is not to betray herself. It is vastly more interesting to watch these two talk to each other than to watch her talk to Tana, partly because Rene Auberjonois’ gravelly voice is pleasant to listen to. Kira noticeably lowers her guard in this scene, and Odo’s sympathetic understanding of her begins to show.
In Garak’s shop, he hurries the slightly late Julian into the changing area, giving him what is really only the jacket of a suit to try on (all right, it’s just a cover story, but if he cares that little about verisimilitude he could have stuck Julian in there without anything at all). Julian actually looks at himself in the mirror and holds the jacket up to see how it looks (awful, it has ruched pockets) – but then he hears the Duras gals arrive and Garak negotiating with them. Garak prompts them to specify the nature of their business with Tana Los, and with just a little prodding they tell him exactly what they’re giving Tana and where they’re making the drop, because honestly, these girls are not very bright. Basically, Tana has the equipment to build a big bomb, as Garak explains to Julian once he comes out of the closet changing room.
In Ops, everyone discusses how to deal with this situation – they have to give Tana a runabout to do his thing, and Kira says she has to go with him to make sure he doesn’t suspect they’re onto him. So it’s a plan.
I like runabouts, they’re like Space Winnebagos. (Almost more so than the actual Space Winnebago in Spaceballs.)
When the Durasses arrive, Tana gives them ‘thirteen kilograms of gold-pressed latinum’ in a bag which, from the way they handle it and the lack of sag in its fabric, is obviously completely empty.
I’ve noticed that my interest in what’s going on distinctly diminishes when it’s action and not character conversations. So the Klingons double crossed Tana and the Cardies are coming to get him, and when Kira tries to stop Tana, he punches her in the head and then holds a phaser on her. Tana is a dick. And there’s all this stuff about his big bomb, and Sisko has to co-operate with the Cardies, although it doesn’t really work because they’re running out of time and the Gul is all ‘I told you so’ and the situation is most unsatisfactory.
So Tana’s ‘non violent’ idea to save Bajor is to fuck up the wormhole, which is kind of sacrilegious of him, so maybe he’s one of those Bajoran atheists I was wondering about before, or just a dick. In the wormhole, he and Kira have a big fight and she pulls on his leg and stuff and the bomb goes out into space and blows up all blue, but fortunately not where it can do any damage. Good one Kira. But Tana’s still being an asshole, and Sisko has to tell him his options are surrendering to the nice, liberal, non-torturing Federation, or to the bastard Cardies who will be here any minute. That’s that, then.
And Tana calls Kira a traitor as he’s led away in irons, which clearly upsets her, but she and Sisko walk off in silence so I guess they’re still In This Together.
And that’s the end credits, but I jolly well hope Julian bought Garak a drink to say thank you, don’t you? Unfortunately, I think this is the only time we see him in Season One, but he’ll be back with a vengeance in Season Two, still wearing that horrible stripy outfit and getting bitten and having a wire in his head and just all sorts of goodness.
I get that this episode was about Kira’s past, but what was it the prologue to? Other than a lot of slash fanfiction?
Next time we switch back to TNG, and one of the most outstandingly awful episodes, ‘Code of Honor,’ a.k.a. ‘Where the White Women At?’