DS9 Episode 1.3: Past Prologue

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.)

My Review
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?’

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7 Responses to “DS9 Episode 1.3: Past Prologue”

  1. Mark Stanley Says:

    >What an extremely prompt update! I am happy! :0)I like to think of Garak's outfit in this episode (and its even more hideous modification in "Cardassians") as the Platonic Form of Ugly outfit.I think the comparison of Julian to Bertie Wooster is quite apt. He's trying *so* hard to be suave with Garak, and failing *so* badly.

  2. Lea Says:

    >From what I have read this was actually planned to be Garak's only episode ever. Which was why he is only in one episode this season (which made me very sad). The character did so well (and I am assuming is the ONLY thing writers saw at first that DID something with Julian's character, because all of Bashir's big episodes in season 2 involve Garak) that they decided they needed to bring him back as recurring. (I applaud them in the very least for that!)(Also is it bad I find it adorable that both Siddig and Andrew supported Garak and Bashir's "relationship")It's funny I just watched this a few weeks ago. Yet I didn't remember what the actual plot of the episode was about. I recalled everything Julian and Garak did yet remember nothing about the terrorist plot… glad I have my priorities straight *laughs*BTW in case you wonder Garak doesn't show up again until the episode "Cardassians" in season 2. Because that is important.I love watching the development of Julian Bashir, which I completely credit to Siddig, as reading and watching interviews with him I think he was the only one that really cared about or understood the character. Odo's make up and outfit doesn't really improve until at least the end of this season or the start of the 2nd. I just know it seemed he looked awkward for a while when I was watching the show.

  3. acrimonyastraea Says:

    >THAT GIF! lulzI spent so many years in shame over my Data crush and my Julian crush this entire blog is one big validation.I.. have nothing more intelligent to add. Except I am loving these reviews. (And I can actually watch along with DS9, yay!)

  4. Lori Says:

    >Space winnebagos!I find it encouraging that someone other than myself channels Spaceballs some of the time when rewatching Trek… I think we have a lot in common, including the disdain for the end??? of Lost (like, I still want some of the loose ends tied – shame on JJ). and so I hope that eventually you rewatch and blog those too… I also wondered at times about why a tailor… replicators must not have worked out too well on the station for clothing. They seem to do a fantastic job on so many other objects tho. I saw Odo as DS9's version of Data. The alien onlooker to observe and mimic humanity. Tho I think they developed Odo better over time than Data.

  5. Picardigan Says:

    >Mark Stanley: Thank you! I don't have a lot to do at the moment, so I can burn through several episodes in a row. This project should last at least a while into 2011 – the pace will probably slow once I'm back at school in February.I didn't realise Julian looks like Bertie until 'Our Man Bashir.' Sharp suits, yes, but they didn't make him look like Bond. What has been seen, etcetera.Lea: I don't think that's bad at all. Heck, it would have been nice, and it's likewise nice to know that the actors are open-minded and positive about it – similar to how Jonathan Frakes would have liked a male actor to be cast as the androgynous alien Riker falls in love with (for an episode). It just makes you think 'aw, what a swell guy.'The terrorist plot is in no way as interesting as the Julian-and-Garak subplot, and I'd say that's chiefly because the bland blondie playing Tana is nothing like as charismatic or fun to watch as Andrew Robinson. If Tana had seemed like a fascinating, troubling, troubled man (in addition to not tipping his hand with all that smirking), if we'd got a sense of 'I understand how he can lead people to do terrible things, because he's so freaking magnetic,' he'd have been more fun for me.I'm going to be watching out for the point where I think Odo's makeup changes over. Sometimes there's an obvious change, sometimes they phase it in gradually – or they take advantage of your fuzzy memory at the start of a new season to introduce a new look. I also want to track the changes in Kira's uniform, because they never did seem to stop fiddling with it.acrimonyastraea: I find my Julian crush less embarrassing than my Data crush because at least the character was a human… but the Data crush is longer-standing and runs deeper. I'm so glad you like it! Spread the word! I haven't actively promoted a website since my days in anime fandom, and I've sort of forgotten how.

  6. Picardigan Says:

    >Lori: and so I hope that eventually you rewatch and blog those too… Ohhh, I'm not touching Lost, that is way too big a job for me. Oh! Did you ever read the 'Benry Knows Best' comics? They're awesome. http://www.theackattack.net/?tag=benry-knows-bestIt's funny, but Garak's services seem to be quite in demand even for military uniforms, which I would have expected to come out of a replicator in standard sizes. He made Nog's cadet's uniform, and also worked out a maternity adaptation of Kira's when she was pregnant. Perhaps the idea is that, just as real food really cooked tastes nicer (which Sisko would certainly argue), real clothes really sewn feel and look nicer. Cooking and sewing; DS9 is the Trek that values Home Ec. I think that the most interesting Trek characters are often the ones who are close to human but not quite, and observe and comment on us from a just slightly off base perspective. Odo fits somewhat into the same category as Data and Spock before him, but is more foreign and alien still.Thanks for your feedback!

  7. Curuchamion Says:

    * The entire paragraph about Garak and Bashir had me laughing out loud, but I find I have finally hit my limit for length of things I will blockquote back at you. *g*

    * Kira’s “type” is Teh Bland. I think I said this on Tumblr, but it’s almost an insult to Odo when she finally notices him, because Odo is not Bland. XP Also, this ep’s guy – Tana Los – was described in DS9_Rewatch chat as being “a Bajoran beach bum”, which amuses me immensely because I cannot unsee it. 😀

    * Odo’s arguing!scenes with Sisko here and in “A Man Alone” are interesting to me because [it’s Odo] *ahem* you can TELL the eps were filmed in a different order from how they were broadcast. Odo’s scene here where he complains that he can’t arrest people for sitting in a suspicious manner works so much better if he and Sisko have already had the “justice is justice” scene from A Man Alone. …there may be a certain amount of Security Logs Project work affecting my head in this matter, yes. XD

    * Odo makes THE MOST ADORABLE rat, okay. This is just a thing for me. I think it’s partly because I’m so struck by how well they did the rat-to-René morph, transitioning the ears and nose in such a way that I go all “omg humanoid!Odo looks kind of like a rat anyway!” I’m sure I’ve said that to you before. (Actually, I was fairly sure I’d commented on some of these early eps before; I can’t think where all my comments have gone, unless I forgot to actually make them. Oh well.)

    * “Let us… HAGGLE.” OH GARAK. Okay, I was prejudiced in Garak’s favor anyway because [long weird complicated story involving somebody’s user icon, which was of Garak and captioned “my tailoring skillz are mad phat yo”], but that just… Andy Robinson is EPIC YES. *nodnod*

    * “His neck looks all wattly so I wish he’d grow a collar.” – By and large I hate the later-seasons Odo uniform and wish they had done many things differently with it, but I do agree that he looks excellent with a collar. (I love how they tailored it to look very much like part of him. Although I wish they hadn’t lengthened the jacket at the same time, because A SHAPESHIFTER SHOULD NOT HAVE TO PICARD MANOEUVRE HIS JACKET DANGIT. [Besides, it keeps me from ogling his backside. o_O])

    * I so love that scene between Odo and Kira there. Every time I rewatch it I get more detail out of both their acting…s. *puzzles at the English language* I especially love the ostrich line, and the way Odo delivers it. [insert standard rant about “why couldn’t you idiot writers have a strong nonromantic relationship between an asexual BLOB OF GOO and a very smart observant lady, instead of making her into an idiot and him into a mope” here]

    (Also, while I’m sure the later Odo makeup was much easier to handle and it does look a bit better, I will say for the umpty-bazillionth time that it was positively criminal to cover up René’s dimples for seven years. There’s a shot in the Odo/Kira scene right after she decides to turn Tana in to Sisko where you can see just a tiny hint of a dimple-smile starting on his face; he is SO PROUD OF HER right there. Damn, I love these two. *scuse my Klatchian*)

    * RUCHED POCKETS.

    * I so wish Odo had gotten a reaction shot after Tana calls Kira a traitor at the end of the episode. I mean, I know it wasn’t set up to be a Kira/Odo friendship episode, but… there was so much opportunity there. *flails* ;P


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