The Cardassians. Although initially appearing as if they could be a one off race in line with so many others, they would eventually become one of the more iconic and formidable foes in later episodes and seasons. Originally airing on January, 28, 1991 , this episode marks their first appearance. This is The Wounded.
Stardate 44429.6 The Wounded.
Patrolling the Cardassian border, the Enterprise is attacked by a Cardassian warship. Picard soon discovers that the Captain of the USS Phoenix has apparently gone rogue and may have incited another war with the Cardassian people.
The Cardassians arrive on the ship and immediately begin to threaten Picard and crew that, if they do not find and stop the Phoenix, that they could go to war. Starfleet Command agrees that the Enterprise should assist the Cardassians in pursuing the rogue ship.
As they begin their search the Phoenix, they come across the ship attacking a transport vessel. Although the ship gets away, they soon encounter it and its Captain, Benjamin Maxwell, comes aboard to talk with Picard. Although believed to be rogue, Maxwell claims that the Cardassians are planning an assault and Starfleet has ignored all of the signs. Maxwell firmly believes that he must take matters into his own hands in order to protect the Federation. Picard counters with him that Maxwell is only out for vengeance. That he want revenge for what happened to Maxwell’s Family at the hands of the Cardassians. Picard offers Maxwell a chance to follow the Enterprise back to Federation space on it’s own accord but of course, Maxwell turns the tide in order to prove to Picard that the Cardassians are indeed preparing for war.
With Gul Macet, the Cardassian commander, on board they begin their pursuit. Having served with Captain Maxwell, O’Brien is asked to assist in figuring out what Maxwell is up to. O’Brien boards the Phoenix and confronts his former Captain. Maxwell gives himself up peacefully.
It turns out in the end that the Cardassians are indeed, building an army, and Picard knew that this was the case the entire time. He would not however, give up the chance for peace if it meant calling out the Cardassians of their deceptions. In the end he tells Gul Macet that the Federation ‘Will be Watching’…
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
This is a deep one that really gives a great insight about how war affects people and, even when peace is declared, it takes longer for some to fully embrace it. It is also a great introduction to a new species in the Star Trek canon, the Cardassians, a people that would become a regular occurrence over time. According to this episode, the Federation had been at War with the Cardassians for many years and only recently has a treaty been signed putting them in a state of peace.
It is here we meet Gul Macet who is the commander of one of the Cardassian ships that the Enterprise commands. He comes across as a military man who now must be an ambassador. He is in a similar position as Captain Maxwell. Both are men of War, men who have had most of their careers defined by the very war they fought against one another in. Now that there is peace, neither really know what to do with themselves. Maxwell goes on a one man crusade against the Cardassians while Gul Macet jumps on the first opportunity to return to the fighting instead of attempting a peaceful resolution. While they are both two sides of the same coin, Macet has the advantage as Maxwell has attacked them unprovoked. This of course sets the stage for our story.
This episode also shows this struggle of someone who has gone through a war on a personal level. As the story progresses, we find Miles O’Brien as he settles into married life with his new wife Keiko. He once served with Maxwell on board the USS Rutledge and, even though he feels he is past the war, he isn’t really. When the Cardassians come aboard he immediately stiffens up and is very direct and distant with them. Counselor Troi notices his feelings toward them immediately upon their arrival but says nothing. He soon realizes that it is not the Cardassians that he hates but the fact that he had become a person he didn’t like during the war. Even though he knows that this is where his hatred for them lies, he also recognizes that he is not willing to let go of those feelings no matter how hard he tries. This is something that many soldiers deal with when fighting enemies on the battlefield. Over time it becomes harder and harder to separate the regular people from the combatants and those feelings never truly go away.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
Gul Macet is played by Marc Alaimo who would later go on to play a larger role as Gul Dukat on Deep Space Nine. We will also see him again sans makeup in the episode Time’s Arrow.
This is also the first appearance of the Cardassian Galor Class starship, one that will be seen much more often in the future.
We get a really good chance to get to know Miles O’Brien for the first time here and will see more of this over the course of the series.
We also learn that it is very uncommon for people to cook anymore and that most people only use the replicator. Keiko reacts in shock when she hears that her mother-in-law actually handled meat and raw foods for meal preparation.
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Late To The Game 12/14/2019 (Originally published 7/16/2018)
Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available. Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.
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