Memory Alpha says: Garak and Doctor Bashir investigate abandoned Cardassian war orphans on Bajor. (Please click the ‘Memory Alpha’ link for detailed information.)
Firstly, I’d like to apologise for this update being such a long time in coming. I’ve been having a really messy time. I have suffered from stress-related depression for much of my life and have just had to resign from my job (I did survive six years as a high school teacher which is quite impressive for someone who would rather be at home reading) and have had to move back into my parents’ house while I work out what to do with my life and, well, aargh.
One of the key signs of depression is anhedonia, the l0ss of interest and enjoyment in the things you used to like to do. Often, in fact, rather than feeling actively sad, depressed people just feel really blank and apathetic. This, unfortunately, is part of why they are often perceived as ‘just lazy’ by people with no direct experience of the condition. Thus, while I still really love both Star Trek and expressing opinions about Star Trek at great, garrulous length, I haven’t felt up to doing another Picardigan entry for a while.
However, things are getting a bit better since I’m not at work getting ground down by the stress of it any more, and I want to get back into the swing of this, particularly because I enjoy the interaction I can have with like-minded people through the comments.
So here we go with ‘Cardassians,’ point-form, and for goodness’ sake, I should enjoy this. Incidentally, I have decided to skip the episode after this, ‘Melora,’ because I find it horribly annoying. Some bad episodes are enjoyably bad, like ‘Code of Honor,’ but others should just be quietly ignored.
This review brought to you by going out to the garage with a box-cutter, finding the boxes of DVDs in the teetering towers of Stuff, and eventually unearthing my Season 1-5 box sets. And a bunch of other stuff, because why not rewatch the Lord of the Rings extended edition? What do you want to bet that O’Brien and Bashir have at some point re-enacted Helm’s Deep?
But on with ‘Cardassians.’ The episode title implies both that Cardassians are a topic of great interest in and of themselves, and that something significant about them will be revealed or can be inferred. LET US SEE.
- As the episode begins, Garak is still wearing his terrible outfit from Season One that I term ‘The Watermelon.’ It’s so dramatically different from how he later dressed, with the lovely architectural necklines and the shatter patterns and the deep dark colours. I can’t even get started on the polka-dots. I can’t really imagine what possessed him to wear this, unless it’s a symptom of having that wire in his head releasing loony endorphins that make him think things like ‘This would be a fun outfit!’
- But while I am complaining about Garak’s top and he and Julian are bantering about their favourite drinks and trust and whether Garak is an interplanetary man of mystery, there are two people in the background wearing, I swear, large chunks of machinery on their heads. Or futuristic manhole covers or something. Guinan would look askance at these hats. Princess Beatrice would think they were a bit much. (By the way, have you seen Mad Hattery, a blog devoted to royalty wearing hats?)
- The Bajoran commitment to daggy crocheted knitwear is indeed strong.
- Garak, I think possibly if you tried harder you COULD seem like more of a chickenhawk commenting on how ‘handsome’ the boy is, and touching his shoulder quite uninvited, but you know, I could be wrong. I’m not saying you deserved to be bitten, but you were a trifle intrusive.
- The pink and blue neon tubes on the Replimat walls are uh-mazing.
- Concerned hand-holding at the 2:20 mark, and off to the credits.
- Jadzia’s remark about ‘Another unsatisfied customer?’ and O’Brien’s mutter ‘He always cuts the pants too long’ do slightly amuse me, because that must mean O’Brien has had multiple pairs of pants made for him by Garak, and must be considerably more invested in his wardrobe than one usually thinks.
- Julian just comes bounding in full of the latest gossip, doesn’t he? And we never do actually find out what he was late for, because of all the biting and hand-holding. Just a standard morning briefing?
- Oh good, Gul Dukat! Who did tell him about the biting incident? I can’t imagine Garak would have made the call himself.
- On one hand, I can see Dukat’s concern for the abandoned orphans being genuine rather than just political; he does have a kind side and I believe he cares about children. On the other, it’s certainly a great cause from a PR point of view, especially given how he later plays his image as a devoted family man. I would so love to know what happened to Dukat’s wife and children (other than Ziyal).
- ‘Rugal’ isn’t a very good name.
- Look at Julian being on Garak’s side. After all, he doesn’t panic and bite Garak when he gropes his shoulders.
- Quark is wearing the most excellent Mondrian-inspired jacket today – for an appearance that amounts to Armin Shimerman showing up to collect his paycheck. Odo is only slightly more involved this week (Rene Auberjonois actually had it in his contract that he would at least appear in every episode). And Julian is hanging out and drinking instead of checking on his boyfriend – although he’s now attempting a bit of Boy Detective stuff, I suppose, checking on this alien with the unimaginably horrid jacket who brought Rugal and his dad to the station.
- So now we have the spectre of child abuse, and the heavy-handed removal of a confused child from his (possibly abusive, of course) caregiver. Now what is Rugal supposed to think, considering that the obvious friend of the man he bit is one of the people taking him away from his father?
- Well, nice to know that humans have a reputation for not being mean to kids.
- Is Julian only now treating the bite on Garak’s hand, or is this a follow-up visit to check on the healing? (Kiss it better?)
- Ah, Garak, always there to puncture Julian’s rosy world view. You’re an education to him, you really are.
- Oh, Julian, you just have to pipe up, don’t you? You earnest schoolboy. ‘If I understand the Cardassian political system correctly’… ‘Who’s been tutoring you in Cardassian Social Studies?’ Okay Dukat, stop proving that you can read my mind from the 1990s by saying that right after I thought of Julian as a schoolboy.
- ‘He’s lying.’ ‘Is that an opinion, or do you have evidence to support it?’ ‘I have Garak.’ That’s very nice, Julian, but your love-life is not the question.
- Ooooooooh Sisko thinks Julian is a silly little bimbo, doesn’t he? He’s so quelling and sarcastic in these early interactions. On the other hand, Kira had a distinct ‘Aw, Julian is so precious’ look over there.
- While I understand O’Brien not wanting his small daughter to play with a known biter, he did not ‘nearly bite [Garak’s] hand off.’ Anyway, if he’d even nipped Molly Keiko would’ve eviscerated him.
- O’Brien is a little bit racist sometimes. (But how many Oriental wives have you got?)
- Ohhhhh Keiko… you didn’t think giving the boy abandoned by Cardassians who’s grown up with Bajorans a Cardassian dinner and referring to it as ‘a dish that’s popular on his own world’ might be tactless?
- Mmmm cold blue meat in mayonnaise. O’Brien’s not having it. I do not blame him. (Although it is quite childish and rude the way he pushes his plate away. Rugal does it too, but Rugal is twelve.)
- For a moment in that tracking shot O’Brien’s left ear was beautifully backlit.
- O’Brien is such a nice daddy. I suppose Rugal must see that to seek out a heart-to-heart with him like this.
- Good to know the Irish are still spanking their kids!
- Completely gratuitous shot of Julian being adorable in his pyjamas. Wait, is this the screen début of Julian’s blue pyjamas? And here’s Garak to take him on a midnight road trip! Love laughs at locksmiths; Garak laughs at Julian’s idea of a door security code.
- Screen début of Sisko’s extraordinary magenta dressing-gown and purple pyjamas. I do love Space Sleepwear (especially Captain Picard’s commitment to shortie PJs), and consider it unfortunate that when Data started dreaming recreationally he didn’t decide that it would be appropriate to change into pyjamas to do so. Authentic nineteenth-century pyjamas such as Sherlock Holmes might wear, of course.
- I love how Julian will pretty much do whatever Garak tells him to because he’s so sure it’s going to be An Adventure.
- Nobody wants Sisko to get any sleep tonight.
- Look at Julian hovering in the background and eavesdropping on Sisko’s call!
- At last, Garak has what I’d consider a really Garakky outfit on. He is, unfortunately, displaying his fondness for stirrup pants. I suppose they do give a nice long line to the leg.
- I love the shatter pattern on the sleeves of Garak’s jacket today.
- Of course Garak can fix computers.
- I love how, because Julian is a giant child, he has to try on Garak’s loupe.
- I suppose a ‘data click’ is similar to one of our present-day USB sticks.
- God, look at the shiny pleather boots on these orphans. Garak looks really stricken when the rather sweet little girl in lavender asks if he’s come to take them back. Actually, all the orphans are in outfits of shades of one colour each. I suppose it makes it easier to sort everyone’s laundry.
- Don’t feel too badly, Julian. I’m sure the next time you and Garak visit an orphanage you’ll be adopting someone.
- Oh, now Julian gets huffy and insists on answers. I like to think Garak feels very proud of him when he makes a little leap forward like this, and just a little more of his naïveté gets rubbed away.
- Clearly, O’Brien thinks it is time for a daddy-to-daddy talk. I love the Cardaddy’s wine-red outfit.
- If family is everything, why do orphan children have no status under the law? Surely there should be efforts to connect them to their nearest surviving relatives, who then would consider it their duty to include them in their homes?
- I like how distinctly the actor playing the Cardaddy changes his demeanour when Rugal enters the room, how his face and voice become softer and more eager and he loses the bluster he had when talking to O’Brien. And the little touch of his reaching towards Rugal’s ear, noticing his earring, then dropping his hand when Rugal sees it.
- Well, that was embarrassing to happen in front of the humans.
- DUELLING DADDIES. ONE IN RED, ONE IN BLUE.
- And here comes Dukat to stir the pot! I do look forward to his appearances.
- EEEEEEE HIS NECK! The scales look drawn on with grease pencil today.
- Won’t somebody please think of the children? I like how I can equally believe that Dukat is simultaneously sincere and totally sneaky.
- Dear Garak, always three steps ahead of Julian. And smiling smugly and affectionately at him.
- I love how in this scene Garak is just smiling away behind Dukat, loving to see him squirm and thinking ‘Look at this delightful young man I’ve prepared to take you down for me. I don’t even need to talk. I just wind him up and set him down. Isn’t he adorable?’
- Sisko doesn’t exactly show the wisdom of Solomon in his decision. Of course, the whole ‘Judgement of Solomon’ story is flawed because of its assumption that only the disputed child’s ‘real’ mother really loves him, that someone laying a ‘false’ claim to parentage or custody can’t truly love the kid. (Why would someone who was willing to lie to King Solomon, in the highest court of the land, about being the mother of a kid then blithely say ‘oh sure cut him in half that’s all right with me’? GRR, BIBLE, I DEMAND MORE PSYCHOLOGICAL REALISM.)
- The thing is, the ending seems so sad for everyone concerned. Yes, the Cardaddy seems to be a good person who sincerely loves Rugal and will take proper care of him. But Rugal doesn’t love him, or know him or trust him, and he just has to go home with him to a foreign planet after knowing him for a couple of days. How will his ‘healing begin,’ as Sisko voiceovers, if he resents the whole situation, as he seems to? Doesn’t this actually give him a new emotional trauma on top of feeling alienated from Cardassian culture? Not to mention the fact that he’s a sincere believer in the Prophet religion – he’ll be cut off from that, unable to attend any services or spend time with others who share his beliefs. AND HE DOESN’T EVEN LIKE THE FOOD. And how hard does this suck for the adoptive parents? The dad came to DS9 hoping to find a job. He has to go home with no job and now no son! How the hell will he explain this to his wife? Will they even be able to visit? Basically, I would have made almost the opposite decision, and said Rugal could stay with the parents he was used to, but his Cardaddy should visit with them often so they could get to know each other and build a relationship. If that went well, they could develop a shared custody arrangement. But the most important thing is not who Rugal belongs to, who has the most right to him, but where he feels safe and comfortable and has people he loves. Adoption is such an emotionally complex situation in any case, even without a biological parent turning up and wanting access or custody.
- So… why the heck did the extremely badly dressed alien drop those hints about Rugal being abused in the first place? Did someone (like Dukat) put him up to it, or did he have something personal to gain from getting the family investigated? Is this a dropped thread and Garak would be pleased with me for noticing and questioning details, or did I miss something? Why wasn’t he questioned during the hearing in the schoolhouse? I mean, he did claim to Julian that the kid was being both physically battered and psychologically tormented. IT SEEMS RELEVANT. How about a home visit or two to see how Rugal actually seems to feel with his adoptive parents in their house? How about talking to their friends and neighbours?
- And Julian is left with the amiable enigma that is Early Garak.
Well, I didn’t have much of substance to say about that, but I’ve broken the drought, and next time I think I’ll be up to TNG’s ‘The Schizoid Man,’ in which we find out that Data’s grandpa is a super douchebag.
Thank you for bearing with me so long!