The Great Star Trek DS9 Rewatch: Improbable Cause

When Garak’s shop explodes, initial investigations reveal that it was more than mere accident. Drawn into the case, Odo discovers that not only was it an attempt on Garak’s life, but that this incident is just one piece of a larger puzzle. With Garak along as a concerned, if duplicitous, companion, Odo finds himself tackling a case that will lead to the heart of both the Obsidian Order and the Romulan Empire.

“Oh look, someone wants to kill Garak again” was my first thought as I rewatched this episode. What was once a big two-part bonanza (again, I’ll be covering part two separately) has long since paled into insignificance – I certainly had forgotten that the Obsidian Order and Tal’Shiar were briefly allies against the Dominion. But even if the plot isn’t destined to stand the test of time, this episode does throw together an interesting pairing – Odo and Garak. Odo is quick to establish that he doesn’t want the whimsical wordplay relationship that Garak has with Bashir, whilst Garak tries to test Odo’s limits. Is Odo just an observer of humanoid foibles, with an eye for solving puzzles, tying up loose ends and generally keeping things in order? Or has he developed genuine emotions towards other people? We know the answer, but Garak can only suspect.

Not too clever

  • Isn’t it convenient that the Romulans used a “typical of the Romulans” method to kill someone, thus enabling Odo to narrow down his leads considerably? Of course, the Tal Shiar are described as sloppy in this very episode, and they probably didn’t care too much about being found out.
  • It is claimed that it would take someone really important to get Garak to leave the station and return to Cardassian space, but he did just that to help rescue Kira in Second Skin. And he’s not even in love with Kira!
  • Apparently blowing up the ship of someone accused of crimes against the Romulan Empire is a perfectly standard and legal practice.
  • The Obsidian Order and Tal’Shiar combined fleet were hiding in the Orias system. This is exactly where Tom Riker wanted to go in Defiant, as he was sure something was going on – a suspicion furthered by the number of illegal Obsidian Order warships guarding the place.
  • Why does Bashir need his trousers hemmed when he could just replicate new ones?
  • Similarly, why are Delavian chocolates so rare and special? Can they not be replicated? Is there some special ingredient that just defies replication? It’s unclear why anything can’t be replicated, unless it’s highly radioactive or unstable – in which case, the natural substance would also be too radioactive or unstable to be of much use. One possible explanation is that materials in a metastable state cannot be replicated, because basic one bit errors in the replication (which are said to occur) push them away from their stable point and into an unstable region.

Summary – Improbable Cause: Never send a Tal’Shiar to do Obsidian Order work.

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