Episode 2.22: The Wire

The details of Garak’s exile are never exactly revealed anytime throughout the series.  This is the closest he comes to revealing why he was exiled, but there are so many lies told, there are very few nuggets that can be definitively identified as truth.  The death of these children could be the reason he was exiled.  The other reason (revealed much later) has something to do with a betrayal of Tain.  If Garak’s pattern of lying is consistent, the truth is likely a blend of the two.  One of Garak’s best character qualities is how much of his story remains a mystery throughout the series.  We get good insight into his personality, but how he got to DS9 remains mostly untold.  Regardless of why he was exiled, the book he discusses with Bashir, The Neverending Sacrifice, is a literary element foreshadowing that as the kind of torment Garak is meant to endure during his exile.  Through this episode, we get good insight into how Garak lies (a key element of his character), and we see the steadfast nature of Julian.  Julian is fiercely loyal, compassionate, and easily hurt; these character traits are highlighted and enhanced.

I truly love this episode, mostly because the character of Garak swings wildly from extreme to extreme while the actor, Andrew Robinson, keeps a consistent sense of “being Garak” for the viewer.  With his defenses down, Garak strikes out hard at Julian.  Garak both insults and manipulates Julian’s sense of compassion throughout the episode.  Garak’s first tale about being a Gul in the mechanized infantry who killed the children was intended to be horrific.  This was a test by Garak to see if Julian would remain loyal to helping Garak.  Stalwartly, Julian remains a loyal friend and doctor; Garak then reveals the presence of the control device.  This effectively places Garak’s life in Julian’s hands when the device is turned off.  As Garak descends into belligerence during withdrawl, he lashes out again at Julian, when Garak claims the mere fact that Garak has grown to like the lunches is pathetic (let alone the lunches themselves).  To Julian, this cuts very deep; Julian hears that his best attempt at being a friend to this man only causes self-loathing.

Julian seems embarrassed to call himself a friend of Garak.  When talking to Dax, he recognizes he’s being naïve, but he knows the truth.  Despite the mystery, Julian finds himself wanting to fight for Garak, even if Garak is his own enemy.  Sounds like friendship to me.  Between what he hears from Garak and the spying with Odo, Julian discerns that Tain is a real element that Garak has woven through his tales.  Upon finding him, Julian employs some of the deadpanned misdirection he learned from Garak: “I’ll tell you anything about medicine, biology, or tennis” followed by an offer for an opinion on a racket.  The exchange is a farce, and both Julian and Tain know it.  After the niceties, Julian is clear on what he needs, and Tain is clear on why he’s helping.  Such a pleasant, but jarring, truthful exchange after an episode of lies.  At the end of the episode, when Garak appears for lunch with Julian, their friendship is stronger.

What was definitive truth?  Hard to say.  Garak being an agent of the Obsidian Order is clearly truth, as is the fact that Garak was Tain’s protégé.  Elim being Garak’s first name is truth.  The exile is confirmed by Tain as well.  I personally think there’s some truth in the death of children being related to why Garak was exiled, but that’s never confirmed.  Two of my more enjoyed lines from the series are in this episode.  First, “That man has a rare gift for obfuscation.”  We learn a key rule to how Garak lies; Garak weaves bits of truth into his lies.  Second, Bashir: “Even the lies?”  Garak: “Especially the lies!”  Garak tells the truth with what he doesn’t say.  It’s like looking at a negative image.  His most truthful kernels are in what he intentionally avoids saying.  In this way, the truth about him is scattered around for all to see.

Random Thoughts:  1) Paul Dooley, the actor who plays Enabran Tain, is yet another fantastic actor in a side character role in DS9.  Dooley isn’t flooded with accolades like some others, but he has a long line of guest appearances in TV series.  Tain appears in a mere 4 episodes.  2) By acknowledging his own naiveté about his friendship with Garak to Dax, Julian is growing a bit wiser than he was in Season 1.  We also see this when Julian slightly manipulates Odo by playing Odo’s distrust of Quark as incentive to get help.  3) Some amusing medical tidbits about the crew.  O’Brien regularly dislocates his shoulder, and Sisko’s jaw is strained from yelling at admirals.  4) I found it a fantastic moment when Julian takes the bottle from Garak, slips it behind his back, and Quark grabs it without missing a beat.  5) I believe this is the first mention of the Obsidian Order.  6) Human and Bajoran living conditions are both too cold and too bright for Cardassians’ taste.  7) Julian Subatoi Bashir.  8) The second book that Garak recommends is a massive foreshadowing event.  In a little over a season away, Cardassia will be in a full war with the Klingons.  This has gotta be intentional.  9) Garak ends up appearing in more episodes than regular, Ezri Dax.  Not really hard, since Ezri was around for only 1 season, but it’s telling how much storytelling there is about Garak relative to a series regular.

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~ by Joshua Black on October 20, 2016.

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