The Great Star Trek DS9 Rewatch: The Wire

When Garak starts experiencing debilitating headaches, his good friend Dr Bashir is keen to treat him. But Garak has no intention of going to the infirmary, or even telling Bashir what’s wrong. Can Bashir outsmart Garak and figure out what’s going on?

This a great Garak episode, and one that really cements him as a clever schemer with a dark past. Unlike his previous fumblings in the likes of Profit and Loss, Garak is on form here, being driven by his own desires rather than the needs of the plot. And despite all his bullshit stories about how he came to be exiled, we gain plenty of insight into his character – a man so miserable and out of place that he grew to rely on a constant stream of endorphins to make life bearable. Even Bashir, who was so tiresome back in season one, is a likeable protagonist in this episode, holding his own and remaining true to his principles as a doctor, no matter how many Cardassians try to stand in his way. He even gets to utter his first McCoyism – “I’m a doctor, not a botanist!”

Character insights

  • Although Garak is less than truthful about his past, we learn that he was likely a member of the Cardassian intelligence agency known as the Obsidian Order. He was given an implant which would release endorphins whenever he felt pain, enabling him to withstand torture, because to him, it would feel pleasurable. Garak later modified the device to be switched on at will, and then gradually stopped switching it off at all.
  • Garak’s first name is Elim.
  • None of the Dax hosts have been very good at gardening. Tobin was the only one to really give it a try, but he didn’t have much luck.

Other points

  • When Garak collapses in Quark’s, Bashir has him beamed directly to the infirmary. Later, when Garak passes out in his quarters, Bashir instead calls for an emergency medical team. Unless there was a physical risk involved in transporting him, surely beaming him to infirmary would have been the faster and better option the second time as well?
  • Bashir refers to Keiko as Professor O’Brien – presumably this is a nickname as Keiko does not hold a professorship.
  • Garak finds DS9 too cold and bright for his tastes, but surely he could modify his quarters to be warmer and darker. Maybe that functionality is broken, and Chief O’Brien can’t be bothered to fix it just yet.
  • Garak says he has been using the implant continuously for two years, and before that, he only used it on and off to endure the pain of DS9. But the Occupation only ended two years ago, so surely before that time, DS9 was more Cardassian-friendly. If he was already in exile before the end of the Occupation, why would he have been on DS9 whilst it was still a Cardassian outpost? I doubt Gul Dukat would have wanted him around at that point.
  • If Garak hates DS9 so much, why doesn’t he go and find a neutral planet with a more welcoming climate? Is he just trying to maintain links with Central Command in the hopes that they might one day forgive him? He must be smart enough to know that, as long as Enabran Tain hates him, he’s never going back. Perhaps he just can’t bring himself to give up that hope.

Summary – The Wire: Not to be confused with the popular HBO series of the same name.

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