We discover what happens to the Cardassian children who were left behind after the Occupation of Bajor. Originally Airing on October 24,1993, this is Cardassians.
Station Log Stardate 47177.2 (Looks like Sisko is finally getting his station logs in order) Cardassians
When a strange Cardassian orphan arrives on the station it soon becomes a personal matter for Garak and Doctor Bashir.
Joining Garak for breakfast, Bashir witnesses a young Cardassian boy bite the tailor when Garak attempts to introduce himself to the boy and his Bajoran companion. The boy is obviously frightened of Garak but there is no apparent reason why.
Bashir reports the events to his fellow ops members when Gul Dukat contacts Commander Sisko. Somehow Dukat has heard about the event himself and informs Sisko of the existence of Cardassian War Orphans living on Bajor. His concern is that these children are being taught to hate fellow Cardassians and the Gul wants to correct the situation. Informing the father of the boy, who is identified as Rugal, Proka informs them that he sees his son as a Bajoran now and not as a Cardassian. They told the boy what the Cardassian people did to Bajor so it is only natural for the child to react the way he did.
Bashir digs a little deeper and is told that the boy is mistreated, that he is Proka and his wives revenge on the Cardassian people. Rugal is temporarily taken from his adoptive father until they can determine what is going on. Reluctantly Rugal complies.
Upon hearing that Gul Dukat is involved, Garek reveals that Dukat was the one responsible for the evacuation of Bajor and ultimately the abandonment of the orphans. It appears that he is attempting to cover up a past sin. Bashir walks in on a conversation between Sisko and Dukat and questions why Dukat chose to left the children behind. Dukat is clearly bothered by this revelation and Sisko requests an audience with Garek.
In the O’Brien quarters Miles is having trouble accepting that Rugal is staying with them while they determine his fate. Miles makes it clear that he does not want his daughter playing with a Cardassian. Keiko is justifiably upset with him and, when she attempts to serve Cardassian food for dinner, it appears neither Miles nor Rugal care much for it. Later that evening Rugal and Miles have a heart to heart about the boys fate. To his surprise, Miles learns that Rugal wants to return home to Bajor. Miles finds that Rugal’s adoptive parents hate Cardassians but he is not mistreated. It soon becomes clear that the boy feels hatred toward himself since learning that the Cardassians killed over 10 million Bajorans during the occupation. He wishes that he was not a Cardassian.
Bashir is awakened by Garek who insists that he and the Doctor go to Bajor. Just as Bashir is asking for a runabout from Commander Sisko, The Commander is contacted by Gul Dukat who claims that Rugal’s real father, Kotan Pa’Dar, is on his way to claim the boy. Garek and Bashir go to a Bajoran Orphanage to discover all they can about the boy and his adoption. After tangling with the records keeper, the pair soon finds data in the Orphanage’s system and download the database. There they find other Cardassian Orphans who ask if he has come to take them home to Cardassia. They are clearly distraught when they learn they are not going home. On their way home Bashir learns from Garek that Rugal’s biological father has recently become a political figure who is a rival of Dukat’s. Should the news of his abandoned son reach Cardassia, Pa’dar’s political career could be over.
Pa’Dar arrives on the station to collect his son and O’Brien soon learns that the Cardassian was under the impression that his son was dead after an attack by the Bajorans. Rugal tells his biological Father that he will never return to Cardassia with Pa’Dar and that the Cardassian deserved to lose his family due to the way Cardassians treated Bajorans during the Occupation. Pa’Dar insists to be allowed to take Rugal back to Bajor but his Bajoran Father objects. Just as Sisko agrees to be a moderator in the hearing to determine who has the custody of Rugal, Gul Dukat arrives.
As Commander Sisko begins his hearing, Bashir and Garek discover that Rugal was dropped off at the Bajoran Orphanage by a Cardassian officer attached to Terok Nor (the Cardassian name for Deep Space Nine). This implies that Dukat was involved with the situation from the beginning. Bashir arrives in time to question Dukat about the situation informing the Gul that his own officer delivered Rugal under the command of Gul Dukat. There seems to be some political intrigue going on as Pa’Dar is about to start a hearing which involves a coup from a group of military commanders including Dukat.
Sisko allows Pa’Dar to take Rugal back to Cardassia with the understanding that Pa’Dar will continue to fight for the War Orphans. It is clear that Rugal has no desire to go to his homeworld.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
This is another one that covers a sociopolitical topic. This time it is pretty obvious, War Orphans. What happens to abandoned children after a war? Especially, what happens to the children of the losing side of a war? Are they taught to hate the oppressors or are they allowed a more open view of the world. You would think that it would be considered immoral to teach children to hate the very people that they are from, or even to treat those children as if they are bad people, but it does and has happened even here on Earth. During World War II a group of kids who escaped Nazi Germany at the last minute became known as The Wold Children as they had escaped to the woods and many of them became somewhat feral in the process. The ones that made it to Soviet occupied territory could not reveal their real identities for fear of being killed by the Soviet government due to them being the children of Germans. It would be years before any of them could even admit who they were or where they were from, many of which would eventually even learn to forget their heritage. After the end of the war, many of the children that were discovered were sent back to Germany on trains as they were considered illegal residents of the surrounding areas.
This is an outcome of War that we tend to ignore. When cities are bombed, or parents are sent off to fight, many of the children left behind are literally that, left. They have no place to go. This is happening now due to the wars in Syria and in these cases many of these children are not as fortunate as Rugal and are sold into prostitution or even conscripted as soldiers.
The story itself is rather two-dimensional with a rather rushed settlement at the end with Rugal returning to Cardassia even though Sisko is fully aware that he will have no chance at a status with his people. It almost felt like the writers got themselves in a much bigger story than they intended and had to come up with an easy solution rather than try to really make this a bigger statement. Sure, we are limited to 45 minutes here but when you open a can of worms that size, you need to be prepared to pick them all up!
One great aspect of the episode was our further exploration into Elam Garek and his odd kinship with Doctor Bashir. Garek clearly has some connections and certainly has a history with the Cardassian government so his claims to be nothing but a simple Tailor are just that, claims. There is nothing Plain and simple about Plain Simple Garak.
It was also interesting to see the hate O’Brien still harbors toward Cardassians. He is very flippant about the way he speaks about them and doesn’t hide his feelings that really border on racism. In his dealing with Rugal he comes to realize that he cant hate ALL of a species due to the actions of a few, while he acknowledges this, he still has a long way to go as this is not the last time this comes up.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
We never see nor hear from Rugal again. It is a shame as I would have loved to have seen the outcome of this story come back in a sequel episode down the line. It would have been even better had he ended up on the Maquis ship with Chakotay on Voyager… just saying.
This is the first time since the pilot episode that Gul Dukat has visited Deep Space Nine and also the fist time we learn that it was called Terok Nor by the Cardassians. He and this term will be back again…
If you want to help war orphans on our planet, you can find some information here. It’s a real thing and it is because of shows like Star Trek that people can learn about our own real problems via a fictional universe.
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Late To The Game 1/30/2021 (Originally published 4/19/2019
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