The Wounded

The Federation and the Cardassians enjoy a tenuous peace. But that peace is thrown into jeopardy when Captain Benjamin Maxwell takes his ship into Cardassian space and starts blowing things up. Things with Cardassians in them. Captain Picard is ordered to take the Enterprise into Cardassian space, stop Maxwell, and preserve the peace at any cost. Oh, and bring some Cardassians with you. All of that and – believe it or not – this is a Miles O’Brien episode. Find out why when we put The Wounded in the Mission Log.

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  • Durakken

    This episode is completely forgetable. Most episodes after hearing the synopsis I have a pretty clear memory of the episode. This one I don’t remember even seeing it though I know I have.

    With regards to something you guys sorta brought up and have brought up the half in the past…

    These guys live in a world where as far as we can tell there is little or no loss in their society. They have near infinite energy, replicators, etc and for people who are rather detached from people like a society might get with stellar travel you could live yourself with no loss whatsoever. Think about it, you need a house you got it, you want the type of food you want you got it, you want entertainment, you got it. That guy that died hundreds of years ago didn’t write another book, tell the computer to make it. Someone takes your shirt, here’s a new one. etc etc etc. So when they experience a loss it must be a very foreign feeling…And going nuts from any loss, let alone family, really isn’t all that outrageous.


    Another interesting thing you guys brought up was the idea that people don’t eat other peoples’ food and people are all distinctly diverse and you commenting on how that is strange, but I gotta say, that struck me as another thing that can be said to be connected to a very “toxic” ideology’s idea, which is called “Cultural Appropriation”. Could it be that in Star Trek’s timeline people made these crazy arguments and people accepted them so that people have very distinct cultural lines that it is considered wrong/taboo to cross and thus people don’t partake in others’ culture?


    O’Brien is an Non-Commissioned Officer. If he was the best tactical officer on the ship, it was likely a very low ranking ship because it means that there would be no Commissioned officers to be considered above him and him at a much lower rank. O’Brien’s rank is Chief Petty Officer, the highest rank of a Non-Comm and obviously changed focus so I would say that him being on the Enterprise is indeed a much higher position than whatever he was on the Rutledge.

  • Wildride

    Weirdly, the end of this episode is the opposite of The Neutral Zone scene between Marc Alaimo and Patrick Stewart. Both are very much a case of “You think we’re not paying attention, here, but you are very much wrong about that.”

  • CmdrR

    Why are Cardassians so mean? 35 hours per day in the make-up chair! That’s why! btw, Congrat on getting through the entire podcast without a “Keeping up with the Cardassians” reference.

    • Yeah – we just knew we couldn’t go there.

    • Dave Steph Taylor

      Totally. Love the Cardassians, some crazy make up.

  • CmdrR

    Ted Knight as Carter Winston, the 23rd Century fashion pioneer who brought the ‘ascot ‘n 70’s pornstar mustache’ look to the galaxy.

    • We’re hoping this look will come back.

      • Muthsarah

        You joke, but I really do wanna see this.

        You commented in jest a week or so ago, re: my questioning of how well you remembered Space:1999, since I had barely heard of it anywhere, and so was surprised that you guys could really have remembered it so well as to bring it up in your show without explanation, and so assumed maybe nobody else reMOTEly my age likely could have understood it as well, it being a VERY 1970s series, though I am not such an authority on the show, which I assumed couldn’t been a cultural staple for you guys as I hadn’t heard it spoken of ever, though you asserted that it was common knowledge to those born in that decade.

        That said (in classic ABCDEDCBA fashion), I now feel, more than ever, compelled to see this show (Space:1999) first-hand. Because the more I see of ostentatious 70s fashion, the more I love it. EsPECially the idea of people going into space dressed for the discotheque. Trek used to be fun and innocent that way.

        The new Trek movies are too wedded with the idea of appropriating the shallowest look of the 60s with modern flash. Would it hurt them to throw one bushy mustache, frizzy/fluffy hair, or pair of bell-bottomed slacks into the mix? Trek existed in the 1970s too. Someone’s gotta represent.

        • No joke – I’ve got a stack of ascots. For real.
          And do check out Space: 1999 – the first season being far better than the second. Remember, Ken had never seen it so we’re not automatically assuming everyone is familiar with it. For a good number of sci-fi fans though, it filled the gap between Star Trek and Star Wars. The ’70s were indeed very different…

          • Muthsarah

            Really? I remember it differently: That you guys waxed rhapsodic about this sci-fi show I had barely heard of. Which made me feel left out. And thus, outraged. In the middle of my own podcast.

            I can’t speak for the kids of the 70s (since I was born in a later decade), but the more I look back on it, it seems like a more vibrant, chaotic (in a good way), and innocent time to be alive. Or, at least, to have been young. Today, Star Trek, and everything else, is conceived entirely by committee, with more attention paid to each story’s appeal to the international market – while still being able to appeal to the know-nothing franchise-virgin audience – that everything ends up feeling sterilized, safe, and samey. Continuity is bad for business. Subtlety is bad for business. Messages are bad for business. Character-based drama is bad for business. ‘SPLOSIONS! are GOOD for business. Shallow, one-note characterizations are good for business. Fanservice is good for business. Doubling-down on tired pop culture references are good for business.

            Whereas, for better or worse, back in the 70s, everything seemed to be “Hey, make it fashionable and futuristic, put in a funky soundtrack, give ’em big hair, and you’re good to go!

            Really, the idea of a TV series that came out and left no apparent impression on me, decades later, rings to me like a certain success. If it failed to resonate down the years, surely it MUST have been very of-its-time. And, thus, a fascinating cultural artifact. Which makes me want to check it out.

            I’ll look into it. I heard Christopher Lee was in an episode. And he makes everything good (see also: the very 1970s Bond flick “The Man With the Golden Gun”, one of my favorites).

            As for the ascots: Dude, you have a forum. And a Facebook. Pictures. You know we’ll love ’em. So strut!

          • Dave Steph Taylor

            I don’t get the love for Space:1999. It is ok as 70’s SciFi goes but nothing memorable.
            Too each their own I guess.

  • Muthsarah

    As for this specific episode (I’m re-listening to this so before I place my comments….it’s my fourth-favorite episode, it’s serious).

    1. Why would we take Glin Nicey seriously but not necessarily Glin Sleezy? Well…I think that has a lot to do with Gul Not-Dukat. We (meaning I) WANT to believe him more than anyone. Nicey is chatty and friendly, and we want to believe he’s really like that. Sleezy does something highly suspicious, but he’s reprimanded, publically, by Not-Dukat, because it’s worth more than anything to believe he, of all of them, is the good one. Now, is he? Probably not. I’ve always read that he was more embarrassed by Sleezy’s actions (or being caught doing said actions), because it would cost him “points” with Picard. From the very beginning, he’s needling Picard about how unreasonable Maxwell is being, how the Federation broke the truce, how he’s super skeptical that PIcard even means well in hunting down Maxwell, how PIcard won’t give him the Phoenix’ prefix codes, how Maxwell is a menace, etc. And when Glim Sleezy gets caught, well, that cost Not-Dukat some leverage. He’s clearly upset, but given what we saw of him later, I think it’s clear he doesn’t really object to what he did, only that he got caught. Not-Dukat is cynical as hell. “Why didn’t you search that vessel?” Why even ask, if you weren’t expecting him to admit that he wasn’t allowed to? If Not-Dukat was in Picard’s position, of course he would have been more aggressive. He wanted to score points. Picard just wanted to get out of the game.

    2. You (or Ken) say that the Cardassians are REAL “bad guys”, the best of Trek. Yeah, they are. Even if you wanna consider The Borg. And I do. But still. The Cardassians are the best. Especially from an American point-of-view – where, as bad as they are, we/the Federation are nonetheless the big guys, and the “bad guys” are a smaller, less-potent power (the Federation were able to hold them off despite Wolf 359 and read their transponder codes, and a scout ship seemed to think it could fight the flagship but it got beaten down easily, but who still made peace with them despite these huge technological advantages) than nonetheless act provocatively and are afraid of our/the Federation’s size, and that fear helps to keep them together in their paranoia. It’s not fully explored until much later, but they are by far the most fleshed-out race in all of Trek. Yeah, more than the Federation, even (not a race, but you know, in a nation-state way), complete with tragic backstory and obligatory Nazi parallels. Because everything ties back to the Nazis, eventually. Right now, they’re a highly-suspicious, militaristic empire. Kinda like the Romulans. Except that, while the Romulans favor the indirect approach – whether due to paranoia or a rational sense of weakness – the Cardasisans have a bit of an honor-system going on. Which will be far more developed later on. Two parts Romulan to one part Klingon. Good formula for an Evil Empire staffed with mostly-relatable baddies. Even this early, Gul Not-Dukat plays things FAR more subtley than most Romulans, Jarok being the lone exception (being a Defector). But that’s where the genius in the character works – you WANT to believe him, and he does a good job on selling himself as an honest, honorable enemy. Until he gives it away near the end, once he realizes that PIcard won’t actually bite. When Picard chooses not to answer Maxwell’s challenge, Not-Dukat must realize that Picard is either A) weak, and a coward, too afraid of war to stand up for his convictions, which probably prompts his attitude towards Picard in that final scene, or B) principled, but hamstrung by “the bureaucracy’s” rules, so even if he sees through deception, he’s too hidebound to take the initiative, in which case Not-Dukat feels like its safe to walk the line of civility.

    I’ll have more to say about next week’s episode. You guys (rightfully) loved all over this episode. So I am pleased. Next week….more problematic. I personally like it, even if I realize I’m in a narrow, narrow minority.

    • Dave Steph Taylor

      Totally agree about the Cardassians. They really get their place in DS9

  • I recall reading that in WWII white US soldiers had more issues/PTSD from killing Germans because they looked alike. Less from Japanese killing because of differences. I relate to O’Brien when I feel racist islamaphobic when one of my Moms dear friends was Palestinian. Fear of the Other. Dogs of War. Great episode. “You cant handle the truth!!!” Wish they showed the Nebula class MORE!!! What a cop out w the Phoenix ready room scene. Got budget?!? I would have preferred a secret msg to the Phoenix First Officer and he allows O’Brien on board.

  • Dave Steph Taylor

    Such a fun episode. Action, intrigue, rouge Captains and an awkward breakfast.

    1- So glad the Cardassians ditched their strange head gear when they came aboard the Enterprise. What an awkward setup. Other than that, love the look. The Cardassians are an interesting foe. We have an uneasy alliance with them, but don’t trust them. They are used very well in DS9.

    2- The Phoenix quite handily takes out the Cardassian warship quite handily, even with shields down. I can not remember, but are the Cardassians slightly inferior?

    3- During the discussions of comparing this episode to WW2, I thought of the Cold War. Technically we were at peace with the USSR, but distrust, intrigue and spy games were played by both sides.

    4- Of course, the parallels run deep with this episode and Star Trek 6. Old Soldiers having a hard time letting go of the past. I too wanted to know about the rest of the crew of the Phoenix.

    5- Seriously, why did Picard let Maxwell go back to the Phoenix? Everyone watching knew he was not going to follow through.

    • Muthsarah

      2 – I’ve always gotten the impression that the Cardassian Empire is not meant to be viewed as a serious threat, at least not to The Federation.

      Not just in this episode, where the over-confident scout ship gets swatted by the Enterprise – and where the Phoenix is able to outrun and out-shoot the Cardassian warship despite the latter getting a shot in through the Phoenix’s shields, which doesn’t appear to have even damaged it much – but also in their struggles to keep Bajor occupied, the eventual collapse of their military government, and how easily the Klingons defeat them despite just emerging from their own civil war. The Cardassians are nasty customers, but, like the Romulans, they are paranoid with good reason – they’re nowhere near as stable or powerful as they want others to think they are. They have to use a lot of resources just to maintain their system from perceived internal threats (the Obsidian Order is revealed to be a state-within-a-state with a military capability even the military leadership doesn’t know about), but they also feel they must act aggressively to keep up appearances and justify their own existence. Not unlike how struggling dictatorships will try to provoke convenient wars to play up for their populace the existential threat coming from, sometimes, everywhere else, so as to back up their claims that military rule is better than the alternative – foreign domination or destruction. And all this time, they speak loftily of their own innate superiority over others. Chauvinism borne from insecurity.

      Season Six’s Chain of Command starts this fleshing-out of the Cardassians’ dark present being the result of a tragic past – an economic collapse, political chaos, then the military declares martial law and then just stays in power. They’re a small empire compared even to the Romulans, let alone the massive Federation and Klingons (which I have to intuit because we had never heard of them before) and they’re weak to their core. They act tough in order to cover that up. They lack the caution of the less-turbulent and more isolationist Romulans, but they share their paranoia. Probably one reason their secret military orders are eventually convinced to team up against a real existential threat. They understand each other better than anyone.

      5 – Picard has a lot of respect for Maxwell, and probably empathizes with him over his loss. Also, he has his own suspicions about the Cardassians, and he doesn’t want to punish a man who – for whatever else he’s doing – is acting in good faith and very likely could be doing the wrong things, but for the right reason.

      • Dave Steph Taylor

        -In the Episode, the Federation and Cardassians just finished a war that neither wanted to resume. At least in the Episode, it seems like they are a legitimate threat.

        -The breakfast/dinner was a bit of fun. Those awkward first months.

        -As far as Maxwell. He totally broke Starfleet rules, killing hundreds and almost plunged the Federation back into war. No way would he be allowed back onto his ship. I do like the back and forth with him and Picard. Picard had some tough choices. He suspected that the Cardassians were up to no good, but was under orders to maintain the peace.

        • Muthsarah

          In this episode, we’re only a half season away from Wolf 359, where Starfleet lost dozens of ships. Even though The Federation (being the good guys) must be against war in general, I think it’s important to understand the “historical” context. Also, it probably explains why the Federation was willing to sign what would turn out to be a very unpopular peace treaty, ceding several worlds with Federation colonies to a brutal empire (where the Maquis come from).

          As for the Cardassians not wanting to resume the war (which is hard to determine), I think the ease with which the Enterprise and Phoenix dealt with two Cardassian warships, and the Cardassians being unaware of Starfleet’s ability to read Cardassian transponder codes, points to a clear technological disadvantage. Cardassians could be dangerous to civilians, or with landing parties, but in a pitched battle in space, they never once – in any series – come off looking terribly threatening.

          The Cardassians probably don’t want war either, not because of any high and lofty goals, but because they’re too afraid they’ll lose, which could be fatal to their regime.

          I agree it’s a stretch for Picard to let Maxwell back onto his bridge, but arresting a twice-decorated captain, and friend, during an already tense moment could have been really ugly, especially if it turns out he was right all along. His actions may have been against the rules, surely, but there are always going to be gung-ho captains and admirals and the like who could resent Picard for what he did. If confronted that directly, Maxwell and his loyal officers might even have resisted. Picard is first and foremost a diplomat, and one thing diplomacy requires is trust. If you can’t trust someone to do what they say they’re going to do, you’re not going to get anywhere. The only alternative is to resort to threats or brute force. And that’s not Picard’s way, at all.

          Obviously, though, the main reason for this was plot. But at least as it ultimately works as a story, and makes some sense, that’s enough for me.

    • Derwood

      Although its decked out with the standard Federation wall to wall carpet and leather Rocaro seats, its well known that the Enterprise has notoriously bad suspension and no seatbelts. I am guessing that the Cardassian ships are probably worse… therefore during the war, they developed a system of face bumper-wear to protect them from repeated concussions and bloody noses.

  • Matt Bell

    The breakfast scene between the O’Briens was really odd (as you guys pointed out, they ought to have shared a meal together before now) but knowing that was originally written to be between Miles and his new girlfriend makes a lot more sense (real world).

    From an in universe perspective, it does suggest that they got married very quickly – and perhaps they did! The marriage customs of the 24th century may be very different in some areas to our own; the TMP novelisation mentions fixed period marriages (Kirk just got done with one as the book begins) and in a military organisation like Starfleet there may be several perks to “officialising” the relationship between your boy/girlfriend, even if you decide to separate later.

    • Yep – seems that given GR’s interest in how romantic relationships would play out in the future, this scene has an oddly stereotyped sitcom feel to it. Might have been better if we saw the relationship develop over time or, at least, play out differently.

  • wry observer of folly

    I like the veiled reference to Wolf 359. The previous year, Starfleet was ready to take on the Romulans. (See the Defector) This year… maybe not so much…