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TNG 4-12

TNG 4x12
"The Wounded"

Original airdate: 1/28/1991
Rewatch date: 1/4/2012


A decorated Starfleet captain goes rogue and attacks a Cardassian research station with no provocation. It is up to Chief O'Brien to stop his former commander from restarting a brutal war.

Spoiler-free notes:

I appreciate that the episode starts with some exploration of O'Brien's newlywed lifestyle--it reinforces the multi-episodic storytelling the show has been working towards--but by focusing on such a domestic aspect of two relatively minor characters, the show is running the risk of turning into a melodramatic soap opera.

Miles O'Brien's mother is yet another example of somebody who believes in cooking over replicators. Apparently, this is a common attitude.

The battle between the Phoenix and the Cardassian warship happens awfully fast. Maxwell must be one hell of a battle strategist.

The scene where O'Brien recounts his experience at Setlik III is heavy-handed as can be, but it still manages to be powerful and poignant. It's a shining moment for O'Brien.

I also really love the last scene, when Picard confronts Gul Macet, tells him, "Take this message to your leaders: we'll be watching," and then turns his back on him. Roll credits. It's always good to end an episode like this on a bittersweet note.

The Cardassians are an interesting mix of aliens we've seen before on this show. They are roughly equal to the Federation from a technological and military standpoint, but they have both the brutality of the Klingons and the slippery strategic guile of the Romulans. In the end of this episode, they remain fairly ambiguous as tentative allies, which leaves plenty of room for them to be fleshed out in the future.

Dealing with post-war racism is in keeping with Star Trek's overriding themes and ambitions. This episode plays around with some dark ideas, but it's overarching message is definitely a positive one. Personally, I believe episodes like this one are what Roddenberry--a veteran himself--was all about. Though there is no room for any light-hearted adventure or cool sci-fi in this story, it's still one of my favorites in Season 4.



Spoiler section:

This is the first appearance of the Cardassians, and though Marc Alaimo is a Cardassian in this episode, he is not playing Gul Dukat. Thank goodness they don't wear those silly-looking helmets ever again.

In many ways, this episode sets up DS9. Not only does it introduce the Cardassians, but it is the first episode to begin fleshing out O'Brien's character, not to mention all of the murky themes of political intrigue, the ramifications of war, and bitter divisions within Starfleet.





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