Recap / Star Trek Deep Space Nine S 03 E 20 Improbable Cause

After a bomb destroys Garak's shop, Odo thinks Garak knows more than he's telling. When his initial prime suspect, a Flaxian assassin, is killed by the Romulans, Odo goes to secret connections in Cardassia for information. He learns that five other ex-operatives of the Obsidian Order were killed on the same day. Garak recognizes the victims as fellow associates of Enabran Tain, former head of the Obsidian Order, so he and Odo go looking for Tain.

They find Tain on a Romulan ship, where he has come out of retirement and joined up with peers in the Tal Shiar, the Romulan secret service. They have assembled a secret fleet of Tal Shiar and Obsidian Order ships with which they plan to attack and destroy the Founders' home world in the Gamma Quadrant. Tain admits that he gave the orders to kill Garak and the five others, to eliminate those from his past who knew enough about him to get in the way. Since Garak survived, Tain gives him a chance to join him again, which Garak accepts.


  • Alternate Aesop Interpretation: Happens In-Universe, when Garak believes the true Aesop of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" isn't "Don't lie", but rather "Don't tell the same lie twice".
  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: When Garak learns that his former Obsidian Order buddies are dead, he says that he'd be celebrating if he weren't still in danger.
  • Batman Gambit: When Garak recognizes an assassin on the station and suspects he's the target, instead of just reporting him and asking for protection, he blows up his shop to start Odo on an investigation which will lead him to the assassin on his own.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: The Yalosians (who don't appear on-screen) breath an atmosphere that is definitely not M-class. So much for the carpets.
  • Call Back: We finally learn what the Obsidian Order was up to in the Orias system (which Tom Riker tried to invade in "Defiant"), building Tain's secret attack fleet.
  • Consummate Liar: Garak, of course. When Bashir tells him the fable of the boy who cried wolf, and asks what he thinks the moral is:
    Garak: Never tell the same lie twice.
  • Description Cut:
    Sisko: I don't expect the Romulans to be entirely forthcoming.
    cut to
    Romulan: Yes, we destroyed the Flaxian's ship.
  • Enemy Mine: The Tal Shiar and the Obsidian Order.
  • Fantastic Slur: Garak referring to Tain's "pointed-eared friends." Tain compliments the tactic of trying to expose his loyalties
  • If I Do Not Return: Garak has fun with this:
    Garak: If you go into my quarters, and examine the bulkhead next to the replicator, you'll notice there's a false panel. Behind that panel is a compartment containing an isolinear rod. If I'm not back in seventy-eight hours, I want you to take that rod... and eat it.
    Bashir: Eat it? You're joking.
    Garak: Yes, Doctor. I am.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: The bombing of Garak's shop ——> the revelation that the Romulan and Cardassian Secret Police are attempting to eradicate the Founders.
  • Mysterious Informant: Odo meets with one who stays in the shadows to hide his altered appearance. Through him, Odo learns about the "accidental" deaths of the other Obsidian Order agents.
  • Noodle Incident: Odo's informant makes reference again to him doing the "Cardassian neck trick".
  • Oh, Crap!: Garak's reaction when Odo figures out that he blew up his own shop.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: How Odo can tell when Garak is being honest about not knowing the true reason for something: Cause he doesn't start spitting out a web of lies to disguise the truth on the spot.
  • Shout-Out to Shakespeare: The episode opens with Garak and Bashir discussing Julius Caesar, with Garak taking umbrage that a great military leader could not recognize an assassination plot right under his nose. Serves as a bit of Foreshadowing for the twist in the next episode.
  • Space Clothes: Lampshaded by Odo who, investigating whether or not the Romulans are trying to kill Garak, suggests that they should appreciate a decent tailor.
  • Spotting the Thread: Odo realizes the bomb in Garak's shop doesn't fit the suspected assassin's M.O.; the assassin utilizes inhaled poisons from perfumes.
  • Stealth Pun: On the term "probable cause"—nobody expected that Garak would have cause to blow up his own shop. Or that Enabran Tain would be involved.
  • Tracking Device: O'Brien puts one on the Flaxian's ship. It turns out to be far less useful than he intended, as the ship explodes before it gets anywhere.
  • Wham Line:
    Odo: "You blew up your own shop, Garak!"
  • Wham Shot: Garak and Odo are captured by the Romulans, brought into a room on one of their warbirds—and Enabran Tain is there.
  • What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: In-Universe. Garak finds "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" to be a little graphic for children.