Friday, March 24, 2023

Star Trek: Cardassians

Episode: "Cardassians"
Series: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Season 2, Episode 5
Original Air Date: October 24, 1993

Garak episode!

A Cardassian war orphan arrives on the station with his Bajoran father, arousing the interest of Garak (Andrew Robinson).  When our favorite tailor tries to engage the two in conversation, the boy bites Garak on the hand.  [As our child pointed out, they would have been uncomfortable if a stranger put his hand on their shoulder, too.] Obviously, there's more to this story.  As it turns out, this is not just any orphan but Rugal, the long-lost son of a powerful politician.  Cardassian political rivalries converge at the station while Garak and Dr. Bashir travel to Bajor to investigate.

I am likely to say it every time with different wording: Garak stories are special.  He brings out the best in everyone, both writers and actors.  His mere existence is the perfect enigma to build a story around and Robinson's instinctive feel for the role raises the bar for all involved.  At one point Garak says, "I never tell the truth because I don't believe there is such a thing."  What a line!  What a way to sum up a character in a single sentence!

There's plenty of development to go around in "Cardassians," particularly for Sisko, Bashir and O'Brien.  There are a couple of delicious exchanges between commander and doctor: first when Julian interrupts a communication with Gul Dukat, later when he wakes Benjamin in order to request a runabout.  As for Miles, we see a fascinating conflict between his war-hewn prejudices and his paternal instincts.  An evening meal in the O'Brien's home is layered with meaning: Keiko's naivety in serving Rugal Cardassian cuisine plus Miles's and Rugal's equal revulsion.

Bashir and Garak's friendship has progressed since last we saw them together.  Julian is now more comfortable teasing the clothier regarding his unknown loyalties.  I enjoy the sense that we have missed smaller, more subtle adventures since the last time we saw Garak.  As the audience, we don't need to see all of the minutia in order to feel immersed in this world.

Solid work.  We'll see Garak again in Episode 18.

Acting Notes

Andrew Jordt Robinson was born February 14, 1942 in New York City.  After starting at the University of New Hampshire, he ultimately graduated from the New School for Social Research, then earned a Fulbright scholarship to attend the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.  His professional career started on the New York stage as both actor and playwright.  The first television work was a guest role on N.Y.P.D. in 1969.  He made his big screen debut as Scorpio in 1971's Dirty Harry.  

Robinson had a regular role on the soap opera Ryan's Hope from 1976-78, a gig which earned him an Emmy nomination.  He has also had a successful career as an academic as former director of the MFA acting program at the University of Southern California.  In addition to his 37 appearances as Garak - a job he almost didn't take but he needed the money - Robinson directed one episode of DS9 and two of Star Trek: Voyager.

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