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     The Cardassian Closet 
  • To a certain way of thinking, Garak is indeed the franchise's premier GLBTQ character (not this speaks particularly well of Star Trek's checkered history of dealing with queer issues). This is not to say anything certain about Garak's sexuality (so little is certain about Garak period!) but rather that the character resonates with a certain queer experience. In this it is a bit like K/S, but perhaps with a bit more textual basis — Andrew Robinson has confessed to playing Garak as bisexual or omni-sexual and camping up his scenes with Bashir, but being asked to tone it down by uncomfortable producers. "Queering" Garak is a time-honored way some fans, gay or otherwise, enjoy this character. It's surprising how much vitriolic objection to it one encounters from some fans, though it seldom seems to raise above the level of "Garak can't be gay! Look, there he is kissing a girl! Something no non-straight person has ever been known to do..." But why would anyone point to his relationship with Ziyal as evidence against his queerness? Setting aside the obvious point that it leaves open the possibility of bisexuality, it plays so insincerely, like everyone involved is going through the motions (perhaps a symptom of Robinson's dislike for the plot line). How much screen time do they even have together during their purported relationship? It's a pretty pathetic foundation for "Garak is totally straight," even if that's how it was intended.
    • If all you're asking is why some fans don't seem to like the idea of Garak being anything but straight, the simple answer is that there are still a lot of people who think there is something wrong with being gay. As for how people can point to Ziyal and say that's proof he's not gay, he seemed to get a lot further a lot faster with her than he did with Bashir or any other male character. And he wouldn't be kissing Ziyal to keep his orientation a secret because no one should care if he's gay in the 24th century, so he must be at least a little attracted to her. The insincerity could be explained as the two of them being the only Cardassians on the station and while he would prefer friendship, she's clearly interested in him and the idea of being wanted is too tempting for him to completely ignore.
      • I'd add that attitudes towards gays changed significantly from the 1990s to, say, 2010. Very, very drastically. In 1990's there were just a handful of out actors in Hollywood and now everyone's out of the closet and it's a complete non-issue. See Ellen Degeneres vs. Jim Parsons or Zachary Quinto.
      • This was definitely my sense: that Garak has some real affection for Ziyal, if something short of passion, but it's come about from circumstance as much as anything. One also wonders if this is (for Garak) an act of revenge against Dukat, too, and (for Ziyal) a latching on to a father figure to replace the one she lacked in childhood. All of this pathological potential makes the Garak/Ziyal relationship sound like it should be much more interesting than it is! All in all, his relationship with Bashir is far more emotionally resonant than his relationship with Ziyal.
      • It's not only that people think there's something wrong with being gay, but that they think, as a consequence, that their liking Garak as a character is incompatible with him being anything other than a vagina-loving straight, totally heterosexual guy who digs chicks. When both the actor and writing staff have described the character as bisexual or non-straight, this is a pretty untenable position.
      • While it's homophobia for some viewers, that isn't necessarily the case for everyone; Camp Gay can be silly or girly, and Straight Gay is the exception, not the norm. Viewing a character in new light can be jarring, even if there's nothing inherently wrong with the premise, so if you previously viewed someone as manly and badass and someone insists they're Camp Gay, it's a bit like seeing Darth Vader reduced to a whiny teenager. It doesn't necessarily mean the viewer thinks whiny teenagers are abominations, just that they preferred to view the character a different way.
      • Point taken, and a blanket claim of homophobia is not useful. I would simply add that, though I certainly didn't think of Garak as gay when I was watching DS9 in my early teens, I did recognize that Garak's badassery coexisted interestingly with this sardonic, cultured, vaguely prissy persona of an eternal outsider. In retrospect, one might even call it Wildean. Is "queer Garak" really a case of Alternate Character Interpretation or just acknowledging what's pretty manifest in the text?
      • Garak's only on-screen romantic interest is Ziyal, so apart from Word of God and Behind The Scenes, it's not necessary to be homophobic to interpret Garek as straight. Soap predates DS9 by quite a bit and dealt openly with homosexuality, both Played for Laughs and Played for Drama, with a side serving of No Bisexuals. Since DS9 was pretty forward about Gray-and-Gray Morality, it would have been nice for them to come right out with an openly gay (or bi) character if that's what they wanted. I've been watching Garak differently since reading this page. He can easily be interpreted as Camp Gay, but I've also known heterosexuals who can only be described as "flamboyant." A baptist preacher once referred to a colleague (married with 3 children) as "quite a flamer;" he had all the cliche mannerisms of Camp Gay. Possibly, he's just hiding it (which is a shame). More likely, stereotypes just don't define character, race, or sexuality. The Ferengi mysogyny is coupled with Blue-and-Orange Morality when Rom and Quark seem to easily flip genders, despite both being patently heterosexual. So the facts, as presented on screen, are:
    Garek is attracted to Ziyal.
    Garek isn't openly attracted to anyone else.
    Garek acts Camp Gay.
    Garek is from a non-human culture and his mannerisms shouldn't be interpreted the way we interpret human mannerisms (though Trek in general fails to hold this up)
    • In terms of Canon, it's inconclusive. I have no problem with Garek being gay or bi or straight, but it is hard to say he is definitively gay because of Ziyal, regardless how he portrayed the character. (What use would Garak of all people uphold 20th-century earth status quo by pretending to be heterosexual?)
    • I have to admit, all this talk about Ziyal confuses me. When I was watching, the relationship seemed pretty explicitly to be a)she's interested in him (Kira calls it a "crush) b) he likes spending time with the only other Cardassian around, but c) he has no romantic or sexual interest in her, and in fact actively discourages her. Or does no one else remember this exchange:
    Ziyal: You’re intelligent, and cultured… and kind…
    Garak: My dear, you’re young, so I realize that you’re a poor judge of character—
    Ziyal: Why do you always make fun of my feelings for you?
    Garak: Perhaps because I find them a bit… misguided?
    Ziyal: Well, if that’s what you think, why do you spend so much time with me?
    Garak: Because I’m exiled, and alone, and a long way from home, and when I’m with you, it doesn’t feel so bad.
I suppose that last line could be taken as something romantic, but it kinda clashes with what he just said, doesn't it. Coupled with his expression when he embraces him at the end of the two-parter, which is not exactly one of unmitigated joy...
  • I took his gentle rebuff in that scene as his recognition that he's much older than her and thinks she has a temporary girlish crush; that he's in constant danger of being killed by various enemies, which threat carries over to anyone he openly cares about; and that getting too close to him could get her in serious trouble with her father and other Cardassians. In other words, he was trying to do the best thing for her, regardless of his own feelings.
  • There's also the exchange in "Shattered Mirror" between alt-Garak and alt-Worf where Garak appears to solicit Worf and Worf thunders "You are not my type!" This tells us nothing of the sexual preferences of real-Garak, but it does tell us that the writers were perfectly aware of the queer implications around Garak, and were prepared to work in jokes about it.
  • On re-watching the series, Garak's Camp Gay persona in his first couple encounters with Bashir strikes me as a bit of Early Installment Weirdness, because it doesn't seem nearly as pronounced later on.
    • One possibility - the early encounters were not long after he'd activated his implant, and the resulting constant endorphin rush affected his personality (a perpetual literal drug high). As he got used to it, his personality returned to normal.
    • Another possibility, the early interactions were Garak deliberately attempting to get a read on Bashir as either asset or threat. He's TRYING to be a little off-putting and eccentric/flamboyant, to make himself seem harmless and to gauge Bashir's reactions. Later on, the two have settled comfortably into a relationship dynamic (Garak's role in the Obsidian Order being a known secret, Bashir being his friend regardless, and the two trading friendly banter over lunch), so Garak is being more his normal persona
  • This discussion so far has focused on Garak's undefined sexuality, but also managed to ignore many other aspect's of Garak's persona that easily relate. Garak is a liar, who admits that he enjoys lying for the simple fact it can be more interesting than the truth. Hell, even when he does tell the truth, he has to turn it into a half-truth because the actual truth bores him. His own past is a mystery beyond the fact his father is Enabran Tain, the fact he was a high-ranking member of the Obsidian Order, the fact he was responsible for the death of Dukat's father, and the fact he did something bad enough to get kicked out of the Order AND exiled from his home world. Beyond those few facts, plus perhaps a few from Andrew Robinson's novel(and while I'm aware most novels aren't canon, this one was written by the actor and could be treated as canon unless the copyright holders directly say otherwise), all we see are what Garak wants us to see. He latched onto Bashir not out of a need for a friend or romantic interest but because he needed Bashir to help stop a Bajoran terrorist. After that he... well, it seems as if Garak lives for the moment, reinventing himself with a multiple choice past as he sees fit and adapts to a situation as he sees fit. He may very well suffer from a traumatic past that caused him to snap and he lives the lies to avoid the truth. His supposed sexuality may very well change as easily as his past does, at least in his mind.
  • The problem I can see a lot of people having with Garak being gay or bisexual is that there is simply no hard evidence for it. The two biggest arguments I have seen are that he has a rather campy demeanor (which as mentioned above could easily be the mannerisms of a proven liar and seems to vanish as time goes on), and the fact that he doesn't seem all that interested in sex - which in the end means absolutely nothing and runs the risk of falling into some awfully stereotypical views on how real men act. As for his relationship with other men, there are really only two of any worth to the discussion: Tain (who eventually turns out to be his dad and as such is now irrelevant), and Bashir, who could either be a love interest or a perfectly ordinary close friend, and as Garak has never remotely tried to come on to Bashir, the evidence greatly supports the latter. Incidentally, whilst the OP tries to dismiss the well we have seen him kissing girls! defense as woolly, it really is the cherry on top of the heterosexuality cake like it or not.
    • As noted, his relationship with Ziyal is easily read as a one sided attraction on her part. That's hardly a cherry on anything.
  • For some reason, I imagine him as bi, not gay. I also don't ship him with Bashir. I imagine Garak as bi and Bashir as straight, for some reason.
    • In the interview referenced above, Robinson says that he, "started out playing Garak as someone who doesn't have a defined sexuality. He's not gay, he's not straight, it’s a non-issue for him. Basically his sexuality is inclusive."
  • It seems to me that we have never had enough evidence to draw on Garak's sexuality. Remember, he is living on a Bajoran space station in the immediate aftermath of a world war. Not to mention the fact that it seems to be an open secret that he was exiled and that he has a past beyond that of a tailor. This really is the equivalent of a former German intelligence officer living in a Jewish community in 1946. Is it really that surprising that he would be very reluctant to start any relationships around the station and that he would relish making friends with Julian and Ziyal given how they are the only ones who like him? This is even a plot point later on come Terok Nor where Garak expresses his surprise and unease that people are starting to trust him. He is just not used to it.

     Will the real Darhe'el please stand up? 
  • This is not to knock "Duet", which is one of the best episodes of the series and in all of Star Trek in my opinion. But one wonders exactly how Marritza expected his plan to work. If Darhe'el had been alive, all the Cardassians would have to do to discredit Marritza is simply produce him. And if he were dead, just tell everyone that— hell, half of Cardassia viewed his body! So whether Darhe'el were alive or dead, there was no way Marritza would be able to convince people that he was him. This was not a very well-thought-out plan on his part.
    • He probably wasn't thinking that far into it, having lived with years of pent-up PTSD, guilt, and self-hatred driving him into his plan. Most likely he thought that with his Card-Carrying Villain persona, the Bajorans wouldn't bother to conduct a thorough investigation. Although if he had survived, it's probable that he would have been able to publicly explain his actions, which may still have gone some way to achieving his goal anyhow.
      • This was something [SF Debris] pointed out in his review. Marritza expected Cardassian-style justice - an almost immediate and completely one-sided trial that found him guilty and executed him. He also was clearly not in his right mind.
    • He might not have expected the crew of DS9 (or wherever he ended up captured at) to actually contact the Cardassians and check. This would be a fair assumption assuming the station were run solely by Bajorans, perhaps he didn't know about the Federation involvement (which happened only a few months before he arrived.)
      • Or having checked, he might expect them to believe that the Cardassians had lied. After all, it's not like the Cardassians were above lying to save face on, well, just about anything. If it hadn't been for them finding the records which clearly showed that Gul Darheel had been on Cardassia when the accident happened, therefore couldn't have Kalinora syndrome, therefore the man in the cell couldn't be Darheel then they might well have assumed that the Cardassians were trying to create an alibi.
      • In fact, after receiving that information from Dukat, DS9's crew did assume that it was forged— at least, Kira certainly did. It was the dermal regenerative Marritza was taking that tipped Bashir off.
      • Likewise, they were all willing to accept that the Cardassians were lying until Kira tells Odo that Marritza had identified her specifically by her resistance cell, something that an administrator like Darhe'el wouldn't bother to know. It was a bunch of little things that only came about because of the specific individuals who were looking for the truth, not a show trial and summary execution - something that, were Marritza only interacting with the Bajorans, he would have been fully expecting to have received. Marritza was ready for the Bajorans. He was ready for a Cardassian summary show trial. He wasn't ready for Starfleet (and Odo) to do a thorough investigation and poke holes in his story.
  • The bigger question is, why did the Cardassians seem so disinterested in proving Marritza's claims? Dukat gives a bunch of excuses and only relents when Odo contacts him later in the episode, when he could have easily provided the proof of the funeral having taken place upon initial contact, let alone a scanned genetic code sample which would have verified that the "Darhe'el" onboard was a fraud right away.

    Duh, the Cardassians just want the station 

  • And speaking of "Life Support", why are Sisko and Kai Winn so mystified when Legate Turrel insists on an agreement in principle that anything of Cardassian origin left behind in the Bajoran system belongs to Cardassia? Duh, the Cardassians just want the station! And the de facto control of the wormhole that comes with it!
    • And not just the station either. After an Occupation lasting 60 years, there was plenty of Cardassian technology and infrastructure left behind on Bajor. With Bajor struggling with famines and other issues, all it would take would be for Cardassia to walk off with any agricultural technology it managed to somehow lay claim to and Bajor would be struggling even more than before. I got the impression there was an entire can of worms waiting to be opened there that the Kai almost walked into.
    • They were probably mystified trying to figure out what other Cardassian equipment was left behind, other than the station and the previously mentioned infrastructure. They probably suspected something less benign was in the mix when Turrel made that demand i.e. a secret research facility or something similar. Also, look at the farther-reaching consequences of the Cardassians taking back the station: they would likely move the station back to Cardassian space, leaving Starfleet with nothing to guard the wormhole. To replace the station, they would need several ships (probably at least 3-5 Galaxy, Nebula, or similarly powerful ships that can't be spared for guard duty at the ass-end of Federation space) until a replacement station can be brought in. Space stations can't exactly be churned out by an industrial-strength replicator, so it would take time to restore a permanent presence at the wormhole and in Bajoran space, assuming that Winn doesn't take the opportunity to start demanding that Starfleet build a station for them, free of charge. While that debate is going on, the Cardassians can start causing trouble, further dividing the Federation and Bajor, until finally one will snap and leave, allowing the Cardassians to come back in and reclaim the planet (remember: the Federation couldn't be arsed to care about the 60 year Occupation the Cardassians did the first time. If a lifetime of rape and plunder can't motivate one of the strongest militaries in the Quadrant to action, why should round 2 be any different, right?
    • The Bajoran's counter to all of this was to say that Terok Nor (DS9) belonged to them, because it was built by the Bajorans. It actually was, the Cardassians used Bajoran slave labor to build it. Although this became moot because the Federation wasn't willing to give the station up.

     A Thoroughly Polite Dustup 
  • In Apocalypse Rising, Sisko enlists Dukat's help in infiltrating a Klingon facility. En route, their bird-of-prey's false flag is challenged challenged by a Klingon warship, and when the communications equipment that would fool the Klingon patrol into believing that they were on legitimate business in Klingon space fails, Dukat simply destroys the other ship rather than risk discovery. The Starfleet personnel are shocked by Dukat's actions, and an obviously disgusted Sisko asks if it was really necessary. Why exactly is anyone surprised by this when the Cardassian Union—and the Federation, I might add—are in a state of open war with the Klingon Empire? Not only that, but Sisko and company are on a critical mission with much of the Alpha Quadrant at stake; they absolutely can't risk being captured. Unless I'm missing something, destroying that warship is the tactically correct move under the circumstances, it increased the likelihood of success, and was well within the rules of war.
    • You're misremembering that scene a bit. When the communication filter failed Klingon!O'Brien went over to examine it and Klingon!Odo suggested that Worf speak to them. But before they could even try Dukat fired his weapons and destroyed the other ship. It's a matter of perspective. The Federation wants an amicable peace, not to wipe out the Klingons, so they would've preferred to let Worf try and bluff the other ship off. If they were forced to fight anyway, oh well, at least they tried. (And war or no war, those particular Klingons hadn't actually done anything wrong. They were just doing their jobs patrolling Klingon space.) On the other hand, Dukat is angry at the Klingons for what they did to the Cardassian people and every one of them he kills is a sweet little slice of vengeance. He's not stupid, he'll use deception when he can, but if the easier solution is to just kill a Klingon, he'll kill a Klingon. You'll notice that when Sisko asks Dukat "Was that really necessary?!" and Dukat responds that "It was either that or trust in Mr. Worf's ability to lie! And frankly I have more faith in my weapons!"...Sisko noticeably fails to offer a counter-argument.
      • The irony being that Worf had in fact pulled off such a stunt already while serving on board the Enterprise (TNG: "The Emissary").

     Letting the Shapeshifter Play Policeman 
  • Okay, so Odo is discovered by Bajoran scientists. They keep him in a lab for a while, but after they discover that he's sentient and he expresses the wish to leave the lab, being reasonably nice folks who believe in the rights of sentient beings, they let him. After that we're not entirely sure what he gets up to for a while except that he once mentions that the Cardassians, jerks that they are, sometimes make him change shape as a party trick. At some point he finds himself on Terok Nor, where Gul Dukat recruits him to act as a security officer and go-between since he's willing to serve Cardassian interests as long as they're not too evil, but he's still trusted by the Bajoran slaves (more than the Cardassian security officers anyway). Then the Cardassians abandon the occupation and, as far as we can tell, give him a hearty handshake and a fond farewell. WHAT? Seriously? Nobody in the Cardassian government, nobody in the military or the freaking Obsidian Order thought that it might be a good idea to hang on to the shapeshifter? Stick him back in a lab, study him, try to figure out a way to replicate or at least defend against his powers? It never occurred to anybody that it might be a spectacularly bad idea to leave a perfect spy free to do as he pleased? It's not like the freaking Space Nazis were concerned with his rights as a sentient being.
    • Still, Cardassians didn’t had enough power when they were leaving to just kidnap Odo, who was in general accepted as a member of Bajoran society. Yes, they are kind of Space Nazis, but they are Space Nazis after Normandy.
    • Remember also that while Odo may not be as good a shapeshifter as other Changelings, he's still very effective. Are the Cardassians going to grab every sample jar, barstool at Quark's, and dress is Garak's shop because it might be Odo? If he doesn't want to be found, he's not going to be found.

     "You have failed your mission, but I'm going to make you the station security Chief anyway" 
  • In the episode Necessary Evil, it's explained that Odo was brought on the station to solve one specific murder because Dukat felt he and his men were not up to the task of solving a Bajoran crime. But Odo failed in this task, as the murder was never solved at the time. So why did Dukat keep Odo on as station security chief after this? There was no more need for him, and he didn't even accomplish his original objective. Cardassians don't seem like the type to tolerate failure, much less promote people after it.
    • The reason he was brought into that job still stands; he's neither Bajoran nor Cardassian, therefore Bajorans are more likely to talk to him, and Cardassians are more likely to trust that he is being objective.
    • Dukat, who seems to have a certain personal fondness for Odo, probably was bluffing and saw that Odo did as well as possible with his meagre resources.

     What's With That Cardassian in the Hallucination? 
  • So in the episode "Far Beyond the Stars", Sisko is hallucinating that he's in America in The '60s and is a writer, writing about DS9, but sometimes, he briefly starts seeing the real world in pieces (like seeing a man he's hallucinating Worf as turn into the real Worf). During the scene where thugs were beating somebody up, one of them briefly turned into a Cardassian man. Why was there a Cardassian on the station and why was he beating someone up? Was it Garak?
    • It was Dukat. The cops were played by Marc Alaimo and Jeffrey Combs (Dukat and Weyoun) and they briefly turned into their DS9 counterparts during that beating.

     Damar, Women and Children 
  • The episode Tacking Into The Wind where Damar delivers the line what kind of state tolerates the murder of innocent women and children? What kind of people give those orders? which of course leads to some essential character development for him when Kira reminds him of the war crimes perpetrated by the Cardassians toward the Bajorans. One small problem though: the Jem'Hadar and the Founders have no women and children and thus wouldn't have the same cultural blocks that we do. And on that note, when have we ever seen the and women and children double standard from the 24th century Federation or the Cardassian Union? The former loves all life and considers gonads of no importance, and the latter is arguably more matriarchal than patriarchal as whilst we never see any discrimination towards women in the military, male scientists are rare and are both patronized and considered inferior as we see in the episode Destiny.
    • Why do you think Damar knows anything about the Founders and their 'personal' lives? Also, it's Damar himself asking why anyone would give such orders, because of what just happened to his family. Of course he questions the brutality of that. The Founders aren't idiots, they know that "solids" have major attachments to their family units, making it a major punishment to inflict on a traitor. The Federation is irrelevant to this point, it was the Cardassians, during their occupation of Bajor, that committed similar atrocities. Which is why Kira, a Bajoran, is the one who brings up his hypocrisy in that moment, why Damar quietly recognises she is right, and why Garak then states that he needed to hear it.

     Why wasn't Terok Nor destroyed? 
  • Why didn't the Cardassians blow up Terok Nor before withdrawing from Bajor?
    • The station had thousands of Bajoran civilians living on it(in addition to the workers). It was a city and an ore-processing facility, not a military installation. The only possible reason for blowing it up would be "for the evulz".
    • Try reading the Star Trek: Millennium trilogy. Not exactly canon, but a) it's excellent and b) explains a lot.
    • At the time it was in orbit of Bajor, if it exploded pieces of it might have hit the planet caused damage or killed people. The last thing Cardassia needed was more reason for the Federation to be pissed at them.
    • Given the usual reliability of Cardassian technology, I always assumed they tried and the self destruct failed. They do have a scrapped fusion reactor or two, perhaps they were supposed to explode instead of just shut down improperly.
    • They also left in a rush. One of the plot-points they depended on in early seasons is that the Cardassians didn't even have a chance to completely wipe the computers— O'Brien manages to retrieve all the engineering records from it, he tells Bashir that he could pull the medical records if he let a program run for a couple of weeks, and in one episode he pulls enough image data from a communication recording to identify the man making the recording. (The image they pulled was just a blurry mess, but it was good enough to match with a database of known faces.)
    • Of course this also brings up another problem— why didn't the Federation ever replace the computer system? The Cardassians are known to be magnificent bastards, and early in the series they find the replicators were sabotaged by Bajorans... who knows what kind of backdoors or boobytraps are in the thing?
      • That actually came up in the episode "Civil defense", where O'Brien and Sisko accidentally trip an anti-insurgency program that was buried in the computer. In their defense, they were trying to wipe Cardassian files out of the computer at the just didn't work out too well.
      • And then we find out that the head of Starfleet security on the station was busy installing his own backdoors and booby traps into the computer.
      • In addition, in "The Forsaken", O'Brien tells Sisko that it will take approximately three years to carry out the necessary upgrade.
      • O'Brien refers to the process as 'a root canal'.
    • Given how quickly and how often the Cardassians tried to reoccupy the station, they seemed to view their departure as a temporary one. Before the wormhole was discovered, Bajor had nothing to offer anyone. The Cardassians likely assumed that Bajor would descend into civil war, the Federation would leave after realizing nothing could be done to stop the fighting, and the Cardassians would come back to 'restore order.'