Scotch and Star Trek

Scotch… the final frontier.

This is a quest I embarked on thanks to the influence of /r/DaystromInstitute and the realization that I have never actually seen much of the original Trek. This provided me with an excuse to go through from the beginning to see the process by which a cohesive, generation-spanning and inspirational setting is presented to viewers. In the end, though, it’s an excuse to get snarky and pick apart a show I’ve loved since childhood.

Why the drinking? Because every time I reflect on the scope of this project I realize there are over five hundred hours of Star Trek ahead of me.

Here’s to you, Scotty. 

Today’s feature:

DS9: S2E22: "The Wire"

In which Garak gets an intervention and we learn more about him while knowing less. 

"It's just such a monotonous story. Like 'A Song Of Ice And Fire' but if it was just the feast scenes."

“It’s just such a monotonous story. Like ‘A Song Of Ice And Fire’ but if it was just the feast scenes.”

We open with Garak lecturing Bashir once again in how naive the Federation is and Garaks trevails as a member of the only civilized species around. That’s okay, though. Some of his best friends are pinkskins. We also get a brief overview of Cardassian literary tropes, at least in comparison to human storytelling. Cardassian literature thrives of repetition and extolling the virtues of the state. Garak even gets a headache from dealing with Bashir’s limited tastes, and storms off in a huff. Well, maybe a minute and a huff.

Next, Jadzia has come to Bashir to help her heal her plant. Keiko is out for a week and Daxes in general are terrible gardeners. Despite knowing next to nothing about plants, Bashir knows enough biology in general to isolate a missing component from the potting soil. Riveting. That fungus better wind up being really important. Or perhaps this is just a lead-in to Bashir complaining about his other patients because Starfleet has no HIPAA guidelines. Dax does the ‘wise old person’ thing and gets Bashir worked up enough to force the issue with Garak, and later sees him wheeling and dealing with Quark.

Quark claims Quark is going to get him a new micrometer-accurate tailoring scanner, which I suppose you can get away with in a society where replicators give you a perfect dietary balance whether you want it or not. Please note that Quark has better business ethics than Bashir has medical ethics, so long as you take a very myopic view of the scope of said ethics.

 

"How dare you try to take away my blue stuff!"

“How dare you try to take away my blue stuff!”

So, this is just Bashir’s A Day In The Life, and has just finished treating Sisko for a burst vein from yelling at the admiralty when O’Brien comes in to help do an undelete of the Cardassian medical database, but said undelete will take far too long. In the meantime, Quark has called Bashir to the bar because in addition to being a doctor, Bashir is apparently now also a bouncer. Garak is trying to drink himself numb on Kanar.

Even drunk, Garak is a much better operative than Bashir is a liar, but since Garak passes out moments later, this is of little consequence. After finally  getting Garak into bed (hur hur) Bashir locates an implant in Garak’s brain. This may or may not be just how the Cardassians do. The device has been there for years, but only starting hurting Garak in the last few days. It’s pretty clearly malfunctioning, but Bashir’s instinct is to have Odo check in on the deal Quark was involved in. Because it’s space-Christmas and this was the best gift he could think of for Odo.

Again, I just want to throw out there that Bashir’s legal concerns for Odo’s station security practices basically evaporate in a stiff breeze. Bashir is clearly one of the ‘greater-good’ types, and if the right person comes along it would be the work of half an hour to start him down the trail of blackmail.

Quark has a pretty good rapport with one of the Cardassians that used to be on the station during the Occupation and evidently lost a lot of money in his dealings with one of the dabo girls. Quark is offering premium latinum for whatever Garak wanted, and sends over the requisition code. Everything is genial until the code lookup goes through and triggers all of the alarms. The equipment is so classified by the Obsidian Order that even the code lookup will ruin this guy’s career.

Bashir hasn’t heard of the Obsidian Order, so Odo gets to explain that in a hyper-statist society, the Obsidian Order are the hyperist and statist-ist. They’re the Stasi, the KGB and the Gestapo all rolled into one. According to Odo, they’re scarier than the Romulan Tal’Shiar.

"He had a habit of doing mainline / watch the dragon burn"

“He had a habit of doing mainline / watch the dragon burn”

Garak is gone from the infirmary, so Bashir goes to hunt him down and medical-override the doors. He finds Garak injecting himself with enough sedative to do serious and severe harm. Since Garak can’t get another implant, his plan B is just too medicate himself to death. Bashir tells Garak about his suspicion of the device as a punishment instrument, and Garak is finally goaded into explaining the thing.

It is a device, given to him by Enabran Tain, head of the Obsidian Order, in order to ensure Garak keeps certain secret information fully secret. It’s wired into his pleasure center to make it impossible to torture Garak for information. If it could be removed easily, it would be useless. One might have suspected that the Cardassians would use a device that kills rather than pleasures, but there are probably some practical problems with that. This way, the recipient wants to use it and you preserve a chance at recovering vital intelligence assets.

The problem is that Garak has basically burned it out through overuse because of how much he hates living on Deep Space Nine. He developed a device to turn on the implant and he’s been a wirehead ever since the Cardassians stopped being in control of the lights and temperature. And now Bashir explains to Garak that he’s basically giving up, regardless of how evil Garak has been. Garak is only too happy to prove him wrong so he can get busy dying.

Assuming Garak is telling the truth, he was a Gul in the Mecahnized Infantry. When some Bajorans escaped, one of his underlings, Elim, tracked them to a shuttle bound for the station but wasn’t allowed to search it. So Garak destroyed the shuttle, killing the prisoners, Elim, and a bunch of Caradssian civilians who were on Occupied Bajor for some reason. He was exiled because one of the civilians was important.

Bashir is, however, undeterred in his duty, and makes Garak go cold turkey anyway. Odo drops by to show his concern hahaha that’s stupid. He drops by to see if Garak has any information on some unsolved cold cases.

"Okay, we'll put the couch over here, and the neurocortical stabilizer over here..."

“Okay, we’ll put the couch over here, and the neurocortical stabilizer over here…”

Bashir has set up an ICU in Garak’s quarters. Presumably he transported all that equipment in, given the rimmed bulkhead design of all the doors. Imagine how much easier moving apartments is in the 24th century. Your moving company shows up in a van that’s just a transporter pad and does a site-to-site transport of all the furniture. The benefits of teleportation are many and varied, but none so sublime as not trying to get a couch to the top of a third-floor walk-up.

The process of coming down off a two-year high is not at all pleasant. Angry ranting and throwing things and lashing out and telling all the secrets of the Obsidian Order and his disgrace. Unsurprisingly, he lied. His disgrace was in letting the shuttle go, not in destroying it. He didn’t see the point, since the Cardassians were withdrawing. His spark of Federation-style morality that prevented him from torturing fourteen children to death for literally no reason other than orders was his disgrace.

Recall the novel he lent Bashir. A story of seven generations of Cardassians serving the state loyally and dying, which is considered the height of art. Even Cardassians can fall short of their heroic ideals, it seems.

After a fight and another seizure, Bashir does some sciencing at Garak and they come up with a science dilemma. The holding pattern involves turning on the wire again, but Garak refuses that as an option and decides to tell Bashir the real truth this time. Assuming we can trust him this time.

This time, Garak says Elim was his friend, not his subordinate, and they were both Tain’s apprentices. The Bajoran Prisoner incident happened and needed a scapegoat, and Elim and Garak rushed to betray each other. Elim won and Garak got exiled.

"It's just... I thought you'd be taller. And less grandfatherly. And have horns and bat-wings and a pitchfork."

“It’s just… I thought you’d be taller. And less grandfatherly. And have horns and bat-wings and a pitchfork.”

Bashir’s next stop is to track down Enabran Tain, who was expecting him. Whatever Bashir was expecting, it wasn’t this. Tain was aware Bashir was coming and alerted the Cardassian security forces to let him in. Tain also knows Bashir’s favorite tea, and the reason for his visit. Even the retired Tain is so plugged-in to the pulse of Cardassia that even several years out of active duty he’s still feared by anyone who knows anything.

So, here’s something to ponder. Tain tells Bashir that as his friend, he should let Garak die rather than force him to live in exile. One might expect that if Tain cares for Garak he’d facilitate that sweet release. But instead, he helps Bashir save Garak with no substantive quibbling. Tain is helping Garak suffer in perpetuity. Bashir has one last question. He asks about Elim.

Garak’s full name is Elim Garak. Draw your own conclusions about the Bajoran Escapee incident, ’cause you’ll never get the real story. But Bashir does get his favorite lunch companion back. He even gets a future fiction novel from Garak about a future in which the Cardassians and the Klingons are at war. One can only speculate what happened to the Federation in this future.

Oh, I was wrong. Garak does tell Bashir which of his stories were true. All of them. Especially the lies. Garak is the best.

Did we miss something awesome?