May 22, 2024

Gabbing Geek

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Weekend Trek “Empok Nor”

O'Brien, Garek, Nog, and some redshirt types look through another abandoned Cardassian station to get some spare parts.

Is there a reason every time I see an episode where Bryan Fuller has a writing credit that it looks like some sort of serial killer murder mystery?  Because that seems to have happened again.

Anyway, the station needs some replacement parts, but where oh where can O’Brien get some random spare parts for a Cardassian station?  Why, from another Cardassian station!  They abandoned another one relatively nearby in the form of Empok Nor.  It’s been abandoned for years, but it’s a Cardassian station, so it’s bound to be booby trapped.  As such, O’Brien picks up two engineers, two security officers, his current assistant Nog, and Garek because if anyone can find a way around the booby traps without asking Gul Dukat for help, it’s Garek.

So, with that in mind, I think it’s safe to assume the four new characters won’t be making it back.  To the show’s credit, they actually put some effort into giving the four some personality of their own.  All four chat like they’re longtime friends before the mission even leaves Deep Space Nine.  One engineer wants to collect Cardassian emblems.  The other gets nervous quickly.  The two security guards, a man and a woman, are both fairly confident and professional even as things go bad.  Because things will very much go bad.

See, Garek finds some suspended animation tubes.  Three in total, but one just has a Cardassian skeleton.  The other two are from the scariest and most brutal branch of the Cardassian military.  These two are silent killers, and they also seem to have been doped up on some drugs that basically amplifies a Cardassian’s natural xenophobia.  So, yeah, serial killers, and four new characters that got just enough personality to make the audience feel bad when they die.  However, Garek is a smart guy on Cardassian tactics, and he manages to take the two out.  That’s good.

But he also got a dose of that drug and becomes a dangerous killer himself.

Now, the episode not only gave the four victims a bit of personality, it also established a bit about Garek and O’Brien.  Garek tried to teach Nog a Cardassian board game, but Nog played like a Ferrengi and wasn’t what Garek considered a good opponent.  He instead says he’d like to play O’Brien since O’Brien is a war hero from the Federation/Cardassian war, a man who killed a number of Cardassians in a single, desperate battle.  This does come from O’Brien’s backstory as a character, and O’Brien isn’t really proud of that time, to the point where he keeps insisting that he isn’t a soldier because now, he’s an engineer.

Furthermore, Garek expresses mild frustration that more and more people on the station seem to see him as…cuddly?  At the least, friendly.

That just means that Garek, under the drug’s influence, will be anything but cuddly.  He’ll take Nog prisoner and challenge O’Brien to a fight to save Nog.  Yeah, Garek wants to kill both, but he also really wants to toy with them and get a challenge out of O’Brien the war hero.  Oh, and he put the corpses of the four dead Starfleet officers out to further psyche O’Brien out.  Can O’Brien, a man who is probably a bit on the older side and gets most of his combat experience with Dr. Bashir in the holosuites, prevail against a Cardassian trained in assassination in unarmed combat?

Well, he does by fighting like an engineer with an overloaded phaser and not like a soldier by beating Garek up.

So, Garek lives and Bashir flushes the drug out of his system, allowing him to become his usual self.  O’Brien stops to chat, and Garek accepts what he did.  But what hit me the hardest was that Garek and O’Brien basically get each other.  O’Brien set the phaser with the plan that it would kill Garek.  Garek accepts that, and he may even respect it.  Neither man seems to resent the other over what happened.  In fact, arguably Garek is the only person on the station who would take the idea O’Brien tried to kill him in perfect stride and understanding while O’Brien is the only man on the station who gets what combat does to people as a war veteran, moreso than anyone else on the station including Worf.

Basically, it was a Bryan Fuller episode.  Maybe the next time he gets a script here, it won’t involve someone murdering people.