Jammer's Review

Star Trek: The Next Generation

"The Wounded"

***

Air date: 1/28/1991
Teleplay by Jeri Taylor
Story by Stuart Charno & Sara Charno and Cy Chermak
Directed by Chip Chalmers

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

The Enterprise is informed by a Cardassian warship captain, Gul Macet (Marc Alaimo doing the Gul Dukat performance without the Gul Dukat story baggage), that rogue Starfleet Captain Ben Maxwell (Bob Gunton) of the USS Phoenix is attacking unarmed civilian targets along their border. This is in defiance of a recently brokered treaty that ended a bloody war between the Federation and the Cardassians. (The Federation is apparently so vast that it was recently at war with another power that we'd never even heard of until now.) Picard must find and stop the Phoenix before the violence escalates and threatens to destroy the peace treaty.

"The Wounded" is a good story about the effects of war that I wish would've been even better — either more tense, or less obvious. Best about it, and most crucially, is that it's the breakout story for O'Brien, who is treated like a full-fledged regular character rather than just "the transporter chief." It reveals him as having a history and opinions, and it even ventures briefly into his life as a newlywed. (I enjoyed the Miles/Keiko discussion over breakfast, which was about breakfast.) He served under Maxwell during the war and knows him best among anyone on board the Enterprise. O'Brien's coldness toward the Cardassians is explained in a solid scene where he talks to one of them about the day during the war when he was first forced to kill an enemy: "I don't hate you, Cardassian. I hate what I became because of you."

"The Wounded" is also a crucial establishing point for the Cardassians and thus an interesting step (in retrospect) in the direction of DS9. Rather than making the Cardassians simple villains, the story shows how Macet is genuinely interested in keeping the peace. Macet is about as even-tempered as aliens-of-the-week tend to be on Trek.

The same cannot be said for Maxwell, who suspects the Cardassians of secret arms smuggling along these supposedly innocent shipping lanes. On this hunch Maxwell has attacked two ships and killed 450 Cardassians. After being tracked down, debriefed, and ordered to stand down, Picard still lets him return to his bridge, which strikes me as unlikely bordering on reckless — especially since Picard knows Maxwell's wife and children were killed by the Cardassians during the war. This leads to a standoff where Maxwell detains a Cardassian cargo vessel and pleads Picard to board it and find the weapons. When Picard refuses, Maxwell threatens to destroy it. O'Brien beams over to the Phoenix to talk Maxwell off his cliff, in what's a pretty good scene.

Overall, this is a good depiction of an embittered soldier who simply cannot give up the war, even after peace has been declared. But I think "The Wounded" might've been even better if Maxwell were not so clearly unhinged. I also think the twist at the end implying the Cardassians are actually guilty of Maxwell's charges is somewhat counterproductive to the point of the episode.

Previous episode: Data's Day
Next episode: Devil's Due

Season Index

25 comments on this review

WilliamTheB - Fri, Mar 7, 2008 - 11:22pm (USA Central)
Jammer, I disagree with you about the ending to "The Wounded." It isn't counterproductive to the episode for it to turn out that Maxwell was right. It is essential. It's easy to argue for peace when the enemy is being open and honest; it's harder when the enemy isn't. TNG was largely a Cold War story, and Picard here opts to preserve the peace at the expense of the career of one of the fleet's finest officers, and basically tells Macet, "You lied to us this time, but we won't let you do it again." It's similar to the ending of "Data's Day." I think it's actually pretty brave of TNG to show the "good guys" losing--or suffering partial losses--so often.

I had remembered "Family" to be utterly brilliant, until I rewatched it a year or two ago and found it lacking; it's still good, but so many shows are so much better at the raw emotional stuff than Trek tended to be. It's good, and the acting is still fantastic though, but....
Caliburn - Mon, Mar 24, 2008 - 4:24pm (USA Central)
I'm glad to see more of these TNG reviews. Over the years, it's been fun to compare your thoughts with my own and with those of longtime Trek reviewer Tim Lynch, whose reviews I have also particularly enjoyed. (You guys were my springboards for reflection when watching DS9, and though Tim Lynch is retired as a reviewer, I still hop over here sooner or later after every BSG episode.)

I don't have much to add, but I will say that, like WilliamTheB, I'm a little surprised by your reaction to the ending of The Wounded.

I agree, at least in theory, that the episode would be better if Maxwell were "not so clearly unhinged." (In practice, I wonder if it would have been possible to develop the character in a much more nuanced fashion without taking the focus away from O'Brien where it belongs. As it stands Maxwell ends up being a sympathetic character and that's all the story really needs. If more worked, I'd gladly take it, but I would view it as bonus.)

However, I would have said that precisely because Maxwell comes across as someone who has plunged off the deep end into crazed warmongering, the twist that his suspicions of the Cardassians do have some foundation actually helps the episode immeasurably for me, rather than feeling counterproductive. It makes this feel less like a morality play and more like a messy, complicated situation. I don't think it's mutually exclusive that Maxwell can react excessively on the grounds of suspicions he reached partly for the wrong reasons, and *still* have it turn out that at the very heart of those suspicions there was a kernel of truth in this instance.

Don't get me wrong, I love a well-done morality play or I wouldn't like episodes like The Drumhead or The First Duty. But there are times when ambiguity hurts a story (something that I think our postmodern sensibilities don't always acknowledge) and times when it helps. I thought The Wounded was one time when the ending ambiguity helped, but I infer from your description of it as "counterproductive", that you thought it was one of the times when it hurt.

I suppose I'm less interested in persuading you otherwise than I am in hearing a little more what made you feel the ending was counterproductive in this case.

Thanks for once again sharing your reflections with us.

-Luke
DC - Mon, Mar 24, 2008 - 6:44pm (USA Central)
A couple comments on how this season would eventually build into DS9, the best Ster Trek series bar none. (I don't care what anyone else says.) Partly for these reasons, two of the best "arc" episodes in TNG are here, and their ramifications would carry for years to come.

First of course is "The Wounded," which is an easy 4 stars for me. I actually thought Maxwell was one of the best guest Starfleet characters on TNG because he was unhinged. It made him very interesting, and the fact that he was probably right about the Cardassians sets up how devious the Cardies would be in future stories. I love the Cardassians, partly because they were the best race devised in TNG. Screw the Borg! (J/K) Without "The Wounded" there's no DS9, or even Voyager. Of course one shouldn't judge an episode on future ramifications. I think it's a fabulous ep on its own, and its long-term setup is a major bonus.

Then there's "Reunion," which is another 4 star in my book largely for the introduction of Gowron, as well as the high drama of K'Ehleyr and Duras being killed. Worf's characterization is perfect here because he breaks Starfleet protocol, and Picard's dressing down of him is also wonderful.

Looking back on this episode, given where Gowron would go in DS9 episodes like "Tacking into the Wind" (a personal fave of that series), I've re-thought my suspicions regarding K'Mpec's death. In this ep Worf and the rest of the Starfleet characters think Duras poisoned him, but I wonder... The only proof of wrongdoing on Duras's part is that one of his bodyguards sabotaged the one meeting. Worf suspects Duras because he knows his family has no honor, but Gowron's background isn't well-defined. Indeed Gowron only accedes to the chancellorship by default. K'Mpec's death became an unsolved mystery. After the aforementioned DS9 eps, I think Gowron poisoned K'Mpec. He was no brilliant chancellor either. Storytelling like this is one of the reason why I'm a Ronald D. Moore fan.
Daniel Lebovic - Fri, May 1, 2009 - 2:00pm (USA Central)
Re: your comment about "The Wounded": "I also think the twist at the end implying the Cardassians are actually guilty of Maxwell's charges is somewhat counterproductive to the point of the episode." I think this comment begs the question as to what the point of the episode actually WAS. I don't think that the writers stated a clear point as much as they simply depicted the plight of a once-proud Captain driven to the point of obsession thanks to the Cardassians' killing of his wife and children.

Also, the episode did not, before is ending, uequivocally oondemn Maxwell (it raised the possibility that he was certainly correct that the Cardassian ship was carrying weapons), and even if, for argument's sake, the episode unequivocally condemned him, then the condemnation, I think, was a story flaw (I can't help but think of "Silicon Avatar" - must every life form that wreaks intentional terror be "misunderstood," and must every Starfleet admiral and captain other than Picard be, by definition, unhinged?)

As I read the episode, the point (or a point) seems to have been that although two powers had concluded a war, mistrust and suspicion (and in Maxwell's case, worse) still remained - as it does in such matters.

The climax of the episode, where Picard tells Macet that the Cardassians were indeed lying, and that they cannot be trusted (as recent foes canno be), made me think, insofar as Maxwell's reaction and how we were to think of it was concerned, "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you." This is a sentiment perfectly keeping in line with a story whose point, if any, is that peace does not put an end to paranoia and mistrust - only credible actions and words of your opponent - of both sides - do. Oh, and that, war is messy, hand has shades of gray. Small wonder, then, that the episode ended on a note with such a shade. Even if the final act was "counterproudctive," I'd still be less harsh on this episode than you were because the scene between Macet and Picard was written and acted to perfection.
Nic - Wed, Sep 30, 2009 - 8:25am (USA Central)
About "The Wounded", I don't think the ending is counterproductive, I think it's the whole point of the episode. It shows that even though Maxwell was right about the smuggling, his actions were still wrong, and Picard knew that preserving the peace at any cost was the most important. It was a trick on the audience, yes, but a good one.
P - Wed, Sep 29, 2010 - 7:40pm (USA Central)
Also liked the review of "The Wounded", though that scene where O'Brien and Maxwell start singing on the Phoenix is just embarrassing. Also, nitpicker alert: Maxwell killed 650 Cardassians, not 450....
stviateur - Mon, Jul 11, 2011 - 2:00pm (USA Central)
In The Wounded I was surprised to hear that O'Brien had served as "the best tactical officer" Maxwell ever had. If so, what has he been doing wasting his talents as the operator of one transporter on the Enterprise? Is serving on the big E so valuable that officers are willing to scrub floors or wait tables in Ten Forward to stay aboard? And speaking of waiting tables on Ten Forward, who are those people? In the perfect future of Star Trek where everyone can do whatever they want with nothing like the need for money to hold them back, some people are still employed serving tables in bars?
CaptainTripps - Tue, Sep 20, 2011 - 10:14pm (USA Central)
I think the point at the end of "The Wounded" was meant to indicate that it didn't matter whether or not Maxwell was wrong or right, his actions were still way outside the standards of Starfleet, and indeed the human race of the 24th century. The Federation doesn't do pre-emptive strikes, especially on one captain's "hunch".

also the Cardassians apparently upgraded their weapons and ships between this and the D-wars. That "warship" was barely annoying the E-D.
xaaos - Sun, Dec 16, 2012 - 5:36pm (USA Central)
Keiko is such a cutie. I loved this actor ever since I saw her in "What Dreams May Come ..." movie.
xaaos - Sun, Dec 16, 2012 - 5:37pm (USA Central)
*"actress"
SpaceCadet - Mon, Mar 18, 2013 - 12:36am (USA Central)
Great and moving episode and memorable introduction of the Cardassians to the Trek universe. A good amount of deleted scenes from this episode were recently recovered including one where Gul Macet and Captain Maxwell are both on the bridge of the Enterprise staring each other down. Pretty cool stuff that's posted on YouTube.
Patrick - Fri, Jul 5, 2013 - 1:19am (USA Central)
That Maxwell was right, but it didn't matter, was the whole point of the episode Jammer. It seems you're being MIGHTY hypocritical here, as you usually champion episodes of other series (DS9, BSG) for being "messy" with unclear morality. Why the change of heart here?

In all your TNG reviews, you seem to be SUPER nitpicky in ways that you're not for other shows. Why is that?
William B - Fri, Jul 5, 2013 - 4:42pm (USA Central)
I commented on this as "WilliamTheB" when it first came out (I liked "Family" more on the latest rewatch) and stand by the essential comment there, which is that it is very much the point of the episode that Maxwell be right (about the Cardassians' intentions) and yet still be wrong in his actions. This is what prevents Maxwell from being a mustache-twirling villain and also makes a powerful, difficult statement. It is one thing to argue for restraint in dealing with a former enemy when they are completely dedicated to peace, yet another to argue for restraint and caution in dealing with them when they may not be. All the while, Macet is portrayed as a true equivalent to Picard -- especially when he sends his junior officer to his quarters for snooping around the ship. It’s a situation in which there is something to be said for all the major players’ positions -- Picard, O’Brien, Maxwell, Macet, the Cardassian aide who talks with O’Brien -- making it a generally strong show.

This really is quite the proto-Deep Space Nine episode:

1) Introduces the Cardassians;
2) the first episode which is nearly O'Brien-centric -- he and Picard are probably about even in terms of screen time;
3) Marc Alaimo as a Cardassian about whom we are not quite sure how we feel.

That's all great, but there are also aspects of DS9 which creep into this episode that feel just a little bit out of place in the TNG universe. Most significantly, while the focus on O'Brien is welcome and Meaney delivers a great, meaty performance, there are a few elements that strike me as a tiny bit off, as if the fact that this show takes place in the 24th century has been forgotten. The culture clash scenes between Miles and Keiko in which they attempt to introduce the other to Irish and Japanese cultures and are both grossed out and a little shocked feel a little odd, suggesting both a culture gap within Earth cultures that is wider than almost any we'd seen in this show in 24th century humans, and suggesting that the two barely even ate dinner with each other before getting married, which also feels backward. O'Brien's description of his tour of duty on the Rutledge, in which he served with an Irish officer always humming a 19th century Irish folk ditty and Maxwell himself (played by an actor of Welsh-Irish origin), and in which he shot a Cardassian after a woman had tossed him a phaser (...because she couldn't shoot it herself, being a woman?) all feel like before O'Brien got on board the Enterprise he served in a late 19th century Irish batallion. The sense that O'Brien, while definitely a great character, is more at home in the 20th century than 24th suggests the way in which DS9's characters are a little closer to home, for good or for ill; this makes them more relatable and leads to some great stories, but there is also the problem of Sisko's seemingly anachronistic feelings about race and the fact that several of the war episodes seem to be set in WW2 or Vietnam. This isn't really a problem, except insofar as it keeps DS9 and TNG a little out of step with each other in terms of what human society is like in the future. It comes down to which approach to characterization you prefer. It is worth noting, too, that O’Brien is the Everyman character, and as an enlisted man he is someone who still isn’t really represented in the TNG main cast, and this might account for some of the disparity. (Yes, Picard’s Frenchness comes up a fair amount, but there aren’t really any scenes I can think of where he has an explicit culture clash with another human the way Miles and Keiko do in this episode.)

O’Brien’s reflexive dislike of Cardassians is also a bit different from what we expect from the crew, though it’s certainly much milder than Worf’s hatred for Romulans (obviously). What really works about this is the way O’Brien characterizes his feelings about Cardassians to Keiko, denying that he dislikes them but acknowledging that war was war, and the way he doesn’t seem to believe himself to be all that uncomfortable with Cardassians, anyway. O’Brien mentions to Picard that he’s served with the two best captains in Starfleet, and insofar as this is partly an O’Brien show, he is the middle ground between Picard and Maxwell in terms of how to deal with the Cardassians: he is neither immediately gracious as Picard (who himself has had bad experiences with the Cardassians—though obviously in “Chain of Command” he will have worse ones), nor as willing to jump far outside the line of reasonable Starfleet behaviour as Maxwell. His eventually coming to agree with Picard fully is a way to demonstrate Picard’s position as a stronger one than Maxwell’s, and his being the one to reach Maxwell, as someone closer to Maxwell’s worldview than Picard is, also works quite well. I do like very much the way Miles’ scenes with the Cardassian aide go, especially the conversation in Ten-Forward; both are trying, on some level, and both acknowledge that it’s not easy for either of them.

While I do like this episode quite a bit, I do feel that there is something missing that I can't quite put my finger on. Somewhere in the 3 - 3.5 star range.
Susan - Fri, Jul 19, 2013 - 7:33pm (USA Central)
Wow, not one word about those 70s style mutton chops Gul Macet was sportin', lol, guess the Cardassians are a bit behind on facial hair style.
Brandon - Thu, Aug 15, 2013 - 10:02pm (USA Central)
Fascinating that the final musical cue of the episode sounds very much like the DS9 theme, if you listen closely.
Jack - Fri, Sep 6, 2013 - 2:51pm (USA Central)
It's a bit absurd how overclassed the Cardassian capabilities were presented here compared to the Federation. The Phoenix, with its shields pulled down by the Enterprise, was still able to withstand a shot from the Cardassian ship, "move beyond the weapons range of the Cardassian ships", and, from there, fire a single shot at a Cardassian "warship" and destroy it, and then pick off a supply ship.

Makes the "war" with Cardassia that supposedly just ended seem awfully one-sided.
Latex Zebra - Fri, Oct 4, 2013 - 6:03pm (USA Central)
I remember this from the first time I saw it. Was pleased to get an O'Brien episode.
Some good tense moments, especially when first tracking the Phoenix.
I did wonder why they stayed at warp 4 though?

3.5/4 is probably fair. A touch more for nostalgia.

Hang on, the singing.

3/4
Will - Sun, Nov 3, 2013 - 12:50pm (USA Central)
I felt this episode certainly deserved 4 stars :P The pacing was really well done, it kept you on the edge of your seat, but while still affording time for plenty of philosophical conversations between the characters. The cinematography was also very deep and well done for a Trek episode; I particularly enjoyed the scene with Maxwell and O'Brien: the low-light and the flashing red-alert indicator (but yet lacking signs of battle) perfectly conveyed the tense, cold-war era nature of the episode. O'Brien's face, partially cast in dramatic shadow spoke volumes of the darkness left inside him by the war against the cardassians, and that despite projecting a jolly persona, he's still haunted by it.

And I disagree regarding the ending, it would have been poor if Picard actually boarded the ship and somehow everything still worked out alright, but instead Maxwell was right that the Cardassians were not as peaceful as they claimed, but wrong to choose to retaliate. Picard's decision to ignore the Cardassians aggression (while still letting them know he was aware) was pretty meaningful and very classic Picardian. The whole ending was pretty much a futuristic allegory to the Cold War and the concept of Mutually Assured Destruction (which Picard rejected by refusing to fire the first shot), and was very well done at that.

I'd say that while Measure of a Man is the classic Trekkian philosophy episode, The Wounded is the classic Trekkian action episode. Perfectly balanced plot progression, a little action, and some very profound character interactions.
Moonie - Mon, Nov 11, 2013 - 6:17am (USA Central)
I loved this episode. Four stars from me.

That said, I agree with @William B regarding his assessment of the anachronisms - but those are so frequent in TNG (and TOS, too) that I have got used to them. Much like to the occasional lack of characterization depth due to the 45 minute format or the speed in which relationships develop or situations are resolved.

Sometimes it appears like nothing really happened between the 20th and the 24rd century,because culturally, sociologically and musically, everyone seems to be stuck in the 20th century. The writers could have shown a bit more imagination there. I like SciFi movies where at least an attempt is being made to display cultural developments between now and the future.

Jay - Sat, Nov 16, 2013 - 4:28pm (USA Central)
Considering the warm, close relationship O'Brien had with his former captain, and the way his previous position on the Rutledge was presented, it seems that the move to Enterprise may have been a demotion. I suppose it's prestigious to serve on the flagship of the Federation, but not at the expense of a lesser position.
SFkeepay - Tue, Nov 26, 2013 - 1:11pm (USA Central)
Just an opinion, but this episode is a four-star affair. A good deal of rich - and beautifully delivered - dialog (may I add to those actors already mentioned in previous comments that guest Bob Gunton here adds his name to that long list of standout Trek guest performances ) skillfully employed to construct a fine tapestry of nuance and complexity in a very short space of time, and enabling two separate, engrossing payoff scenes...a laudible acheivement in just 45 minutes. I might add, here attempting to provide something I've not yet seen mentioned (and apologize if I'm repeating anyone) that a critical element of the episode seems to have been the conversation between Picard and the Starfleet Admiral. Specifically, it was unambiguously stated to Picard that Starfleet was unprepared, presumably as a consequence of their losses to the Borg (as depicted, of course, in the final episode of the previous season) to undertake a "sustained" conflct, and Picard was explicitly constrained to maintain the peace with Cardassia irrespective of any other considerations. This surely informed Picards' subsequent actions; we probably see this most plainly when he orders the Cardassians be provided the prefix codes of the Phoenix. Yet while in any reasonable scenario we would see one of Picards' actions, reigning in Maxwell, as an absolute certainty, we might wonder just whether, when and how Picard might have made different choices at other points along the story, or attenuated those portrayed, had the Federation been possesed of a stronger hand (ship-to-ship dominance not withstanding.)
Niall - Sat, Dec 7, 2013 - 6:07pm (USA Central)
I concur pretty much totally with your review. Colm Meaney is OK, Marc Alaimo steals the whole episode (no wonder they brought him back as Dukat), but Maxwell didn't really work for me, certainly not as the character was performed in this episode. His motivation for going rogue seemed insufficient and the performance was underwhelming, passionless and phoned-in. It also strained belief that Maxwell would be able to do what he did without his crew rebelling, and it thus harmed the episode that we never saw any of them. And it was awfully convenient that O'Brien was able beam over like that, plus ridiculous that Picard would allow Maxwell to retain command of his ship for the return journey after he'd just murdered 650 people. Maxwell is given far too much benefit of the doubt by O'Brien and Picard throughout the episode.

Often when TNG tried to do conflict, it came over as forced and inauthentic, and we this problem again here. A couple of O'Brien's scenes are too unsubtle and stagy, and I also didn't like how absurdly offhand Picard is with Macet at the end, even going as far as to turn his back on Macet by demonstratively rotating his chair. After everything that had just happened - a rogue Federation ship violating Cardassian space and causing massive casualties, then Picard almost letting the situation escalate even more through basic negligence and lack of discipline - it seemed totally out of character and incredibly crass for Picard to behave this way. Basically, this episode makes the Federation look like the dicks, not the Cardassians.

Also, yeah, O'Brien going from being tactical officer under Maxwell to transporter dude under Picard? What's with that? And why were they only chasing Maxwell at warp 4 for most of the way?
Jons - Sun, Dec 29, 2013 - 9:23am (USA Central)
@ WilliamB

I totally agree with you on the 20th centuriness of this episode. I find it's a general problem in Star Trek anyway.

Every time people refer to past celebrities, songs, dances, etc. they're 20th century references. As if people in 1991 were aware or referenced famous characters and songs etc. from the 16th century regularly. It makes absolutely no sense, and it's one of the things I hate the most in Star Trek.

I don't begrudge the writers for having ridiculous 75 kilos "laptops" and not having imagined that computers might one day have more than three colours.

I however do find them at fault for not acknowledging how far into the future they're setting this and trying to come up with a reasonably futuristic culture (even if they get it wrong, which of course they're bound to!).
Paul - Fri, Feb 7, 2014 - 9:25am (USA Central)
I wonder if the writers of this episode knew that they were setting a lot of the rest of Star Trek in motion ...

There are a few stumbles in this episode. The Cardassian uniforms are pretty goofy, especially compared with what we see starting in "Chain of Command." Also, Picard mentions the "Cardassian sector", which seems to indicate the Cardassians control a lot less space than they do later on. And, of course, Troi calls the Cardassians "our allies" -- and that clearly isn't in keeping with what we see later in TNG and on DS9.

Of course, the same could be said of the Bajorans in "Ensign Ro" compared with what they are in DS9.

Regardless, "The Wounded" is right up there with "Errand of Mercy", "Balance of Terror", "Ensign Ro", "The Last Outpost", "The Jem Hadar", "The Search" and "Q Who?" as a foundational episode of Star Trek.

Of course, it is odd that we've never heard of the Cardassians before with a war that presumably happened right before TNG began. I always figured it was a smaller-scale war than what we saw with the Dominion in DS9 (at one point, it's called a "border war.").
SkepticalMI - Fri, Mar 14, 2014 - 7:24pm (USA Central)
I'm with many of the other commenters here; the ending is what made the episode. Otherwise, it felt at times like it was straying dangerously close to being too preachy. Given TNG's reputation (particularly in the first season) of pretending that peace is attainable just by being nice to everyone, it's hard not to expect something similar here. Surely we would get Picard speechifying away, telling about how icky and awful it is to have prejudices against these nice wonderful Cardassians, and really the war that was just fought was really a minor detail and could have been avoided if we all just smiled nicer. And then it would end with everyone holding hands and singing John Lennon songs. Imagine no photon torpedoes, it's easy if you try....

Instead, the moral of the story was hidden away in an unlikely minor line that was given by Worf, the character who's usually there to give the annoying militaristic statements that everyone else immediately dismisses. "Trust must be earned, not given."

And thanks to the ending, that's really what the story is about. Presumably the Cardassians aren't going to start another war (given how pathetically outmatched they are here, why would they want to?). Yet they don't trust the Federation enough not to build advance basis just in case. Gul Beardy clearly doesn't trust that Picard is doing everything in his power to stop Maxwell. Yet he does seem to trust him more later on. Meanwhile, the Enterprise crew doesn't entirely trust their guests. The little subplot was with the techie Cardassian was pretty nice. Presumably he didn't mean to access any sensitive information; his statements earlier seem like he's just an eager nerd. But there's no reason to trust these guys, so he must be confined to quarters. Presumably a nicer alien race who stumbled upon something like that would be granted more leniency.

It also helps to make Maxwell's perspective a little more believable. I know many people think Maddux was portrayed as over the top villainy here, and it certainly seemed that way to me too. He barely tried to convince Picard of his righteousness, instead hopping immediately to the conclusion that he was another bureaucrat who wouldn't listen. But maybe he did have a point. Maybe he did try, perhaps continually try, to convince Starfleet that the Cardassians were re-arming. Maybe he spent forever trying to convince them. Maybe he is absolutely convinced that an invasion is imminent, and Starfleet is just sitting on their thumbs. We know Starfleet's point; they don't want another war while still picking up pieces after Wolf 359 and dealing with the nascent Romulan threat. But to Maxwell, on the front line, none of this matters. He feels betrayed by the Federation. So when Picard seems to not care, of course Maxwell doesn't bother to explain himself. He knows how it will end up. So he goes with a last-ditch effort to prove it to Picard. To his credit, he didn't fire another shot after meeting Picard.

It might also explain one other little plot hole. Frankly, as soon as the Enterprise met up with the Phoenix, Picard should have arrested Maxwell, relieved the rest of the bridge staff for good measure, and had Riker take the ship back to Federation space. Letting him back to take command after unauthorized firing on other enemy ships is unbelievable. But it gets a tiny more believable if you think that Picard knows about the Cardassian lies by now. He knows Maxwell is right, even if his actions are wrong. So maybe that persuaded him to give Maxwell that dignity. But yeah, completely stupid thing to do. Maxwell never should have beamed over to the Enterprise.

Despite that, though, it really is a great episode. Good solid Cold War style episode. Even with a brand new alien race, it still has a strong impact.

I also agree with WilliamB that the food scenes were off, but for a different reason. So both of them kept their culture, fine. But they never introduced the other to their own cultures before getting married??? Never ate each other's food? As someone in an interracial marriage myself, it feels kind of stupid and insulting. As if Keiko suddenly appeared out of nowhere in Data's Day (which, of course, she did; but good writing shouldn't have made it look like that). And for that matter, if they hate each other's food so much, why not just replicate different stuff? It's not like there's any work involved in cooking dinner...

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