Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

Season 2 Episode 22

The Wire

Aired Weekdays 11:00 AM May 08, 1994 on Syndicado
out of 10
User Rating
158 votes

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Episode Summary

Stardate: 47849.8 Bashir tries to save Garak from a bizarre illness that is soon discovered to be a strange addiction.

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  • Garak takes center stage

    The Bashir/Garak relationship is finally given the main story in this bottle episode that begins like an allegory for drug addiction before becoming a playful character study of Garak's past. Both and Siddig El Fadil and Andrew Robinson give (at least to this point) their finest performances in the series. (Paul Dooley adds a tremendous assist as Enabran Tain, Garak's mentor). Garak's role in this episode is particularly a watershed moment. The show's growing list of recurring characters began enriching the show from the getgo, but here one becomes as important as the regulars, setting the stage for more of the same in the future.

    Deep Space Nine's first female director, Kim Friedman, proves her mettle, building the intensity in gutsy crescendos and covering for the lack of budget with dramatic character pieces.

    And while "The Wire" is great entertainment in its own right, it's one of those Deep Space Nine episodes that becomes even more interesting to look back upon as the series progresses.

  • A perfect vehicle for Robinson and Siddig.

    When Garak begins to suffer debilitating headaches, Bashir tries to offer his assistance to find out the cause. Garak initially refuses due to his usually secretive and distrustful nature, but his pains soon become too much for him to endure alone. He reveals that an implant in his brain, put there by the Cardassian Obsidian Order, is the cause, as it's breaking down due to constant use. He eventually allows Bashir to turn it off, but Garak's health soon takes a turn for the worst. Bashir has to eventually turn to the very man who had the device implanted into Garak for help, a man who may have other ideas.

    I've always thought of "The Wire" as one of the strongest episodes of DS9's second season, and indeed of the entire series. The script is one of the best of that season, and the director does a fabulous job, but I have to give most of the credit for the success of this episode to the two actors who head the episode. Both Alexander Siddig (credited at this point as Siddig El Fadil) and Andrew Robinson deliver what are perhaps their strongest performances to this point in the episode. Furthermore, there's no "B" story that distracts us from what is definitely Garak and Bashir's show and most of the other characters make little more than cameo appearances throughout. The only exceptions are Quark and Odo, though their only roles seem to be vehicles to either move the plot along or provide exposition at certain occasions. However, their involvement works well within the structure of the episode and never once seems out of place – Odo's concern about Garak's involvement with several cases involving the Obsidian Order was a nice touch.

    Garak has been my favorite character in the series ever since he was introduced in the first season's "Past Prologue," and he's undoubtedly a favorite among many DS9 fans as well. However, Garak was little more than a supporting character in his first three appearances, although arguably an important one, which in some ways didn't allow either the writers or the actor to fully exploit the character's potential. "The Wire" is Andrew Robinson's first opportunity to take that wheel and he takes full advantage of it. Robinson's performance in this episode is probably his strongest in the entire series, although he'll come close in subsequent episodes. He depicts Garak's deteriorating condition and various mood swings with the effortless grace of a master performer. I'm not an expert in withdrawal symptoms in humans, much less aliens, but Robinson makes Garak's suffering during the conversation with Bashir in his quarters very believable.

    Despite all his suffering through the episode, Garak does maintain a certain level of evasiveness when it comes to his past. In particular are the three different tales that he tells Bashir over the course of the episode, each of which are given reasons for his exile on the station. Almost predictably, the episode never confirms which of them, if any, are even true. It's possible certain elements of Garak's stories are true, but the general impression the episode's conclusion leaves on me is that Garak made the whole them up. Although it does help retain a certain mystique regarding the character, it a little disappointing in that Garak's reasons for exile are rarely even hinted at again in the series. Conversely, the cranial implant that causes all the trouble is a rather convincing plot device and hints at least at the level of Cardassian biotechnology, as well as the lengths that the operatives and hierarchy of the Obsidian Order will go to protect their secrets. Additionally, Enabran Tain proves to be a rather interesting character, and Paul Dooley does a fantastic job playing him. Being so integral to Garak's life even at this early stage, I'm glad he doesn't turn into a one shot character, which he could have easily become. When he was first introduced in "Emissary," Bashir struck me as a rather annoying, and honestly, useless character. However, it's clear that his character has evolved over the course of the series even at this point, and by the time "The Wire" is developed that the writers and actor Alexander Siddig have gotten a basic handle on the character. "The Wire" could be seen as sort of when Bashir "matures" into a character that is at least tolerable to the viewer. Siddig does a fabulous job conveying Bashir's concern over some who he has come to regard as a friend, along with the compassion and determination that will define the character over the remainder of the series. It was also a great idea for the writers and Siddig to make sure that Bashir never loses his composure, even in the face of the vitriolic, and undoubtedly hurtful, comments that Garak hurls at him during his tirade. It's obvious Bashir doesn't take Garak's withdrawal-fueled tantrum personally, which is important for the character as both a doctor and as someone who considers himself Garak's only friend at this point. The only time Bashir does vent his frustration is at the end of the episode, in which he is clearly and understandably annoyed when Garak attempts to carry on with their usual weekly ritual as if the events in the episode have never happened. It's also nice that the writers also made sure that Bashir doesn't readily accept any of Garak's explanations behind his exile. One could expect that Bashir has become used to the fact that Garak isn't entirely honest, especially about his past, and given that the latter tells him three different reasons, the former's statement of "I forgive you – for whatever it is you did" after hearing the third tale sums up his feelings perfectly. Kudos to both the writers and Siddig for pulling this off in the episode.

    "The Wire" is one of the better episodes of the second season and credit has to go to the episode's writer and especially Robinson and Siddig. The story is not without its problems, mainly in the fact that we never come as remotely close to finding out what it was that got Garak kicked out of the Order and exiled to a Bajoran station as this episode comes. But that's probably more a statement on the failings of series producers, who likely considered the matter closed, than on the episode itself. But the episode does unravel some elements of Garak's character that will echo throughout the course of the series. Highly recommended for viewing.

    Best Quote – "Of all the stories you told me, which ones were true and which ones weren't?" "My dear Doctor, they're all true." "Even the lies?" "*Especially* the lies." –Bashir and Garak.moreless
  • A series classic. DS9's best recurring character gets to strut his stuff.

    I don't disagree with much in the other review for this episode, but it did surprise me that the reviewer felt he/she had to defend the episode. I mean, this is an absolute classic with little if any to apologize for!

    This is ostensibly a show about Bashir and his relationship with Garak, but Andy Robinson utterly dominates the proceedings. It's a rich performance - normally, we merely see Garak's smooth, urbane demeanor, but here the facade is pulled aside and we can never look at the character the same again.

    Aside from this duo and Odo, the rest of the cast plays a very minor role. Really, the fourth spot on the cast belongs to Paul Dooley, who introduces us to Garak's mentor and does so in brilliant fashion.

    My only beef with the other reviewer is about Quark's conversation with Boheeka - in my opinion, it's excellent and fits right in with the rest of the episode.

    One final comment - Garak's final conversation is among my favorite script bits of any DS9 episodes. "Even the lies?" "ESPECIALLY the lies!"moreless
  • A memorable episode more revealing than given credit for

    For some reason I remember this episode. It sticks out for me. The emotion between Bashir and Garek. The lies. The dialogue that did not rely on visual flashbacks. The issue of addiction, something Star Trek did not do well in the past, portrayed here realistically. This episode is very underrated by the fans and I am disappointed that I am its first review. It deserves far more credit.

    On question about the episode I cannot quickly answer is what is the meaning of the name? I always assumed personally that it was a reference to the device in inside Garek's brain described in the dialogue as resembling perhaps, a wire. Or it could be a reference to the idea of a wire-tap as used by the Obsidian Order or even Odo?

    One down note to the episode is the corny dialogue in the scene where quark talks to the Cardassian officer who sets off an alarm while looking up the schematics for Garek's implant because even the part number is classified.

    This episode is pivotal as the series' first mention of the Obsidian Order and the Tal Shiar, establishing Garek's first name and Bashir's middle name, introducing Enabran Tain and gives the first hint that Garek is Tain's son, something not confirmed until the end of the series.

    Its easy to poo-poo The Wire as a boring and meaningless bottle show, but without it and shows like it, the overall quality of Deep Space Nine as a series would had suffered.moreless
Armin Shimerman

Armin Shimerman


Terry Farrell

Terry Farrell

Lt./Lt. Commander Jadzia Dax (Season 1-6)

Rene Auberjonois

Rene Auberjonois

Constable Odo

Nana Visitor

Nana Visitor

Major/Colonel/Commander Kira Nerys

Avery Brooks

Avery Brooks

Commander/Captain Benjamin Sisko

Alexander Siddig

Alexander Siddig

Dr. Julian Bashir

Jimmie F. Skaggs

Jimmie F. Skaggs

Glinn Boheeka

Guest Star

Ann Gillespie

Ann Gillespie


Guest Star

Paul Dooley

Paul Dooley

Enabran Tain

Recurring Role

Andrew Robinson

Andrew Robinson


Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (3)

  • QUOTES (8)

    • Bashir: (after Garak tells the third version of his downfall) Why are you telling me this, Garak?
      Garak: So that you can forgive me, why else? I need to know that someone forgives me.

    • Quark: (as Garak starts his third bottle of kanar) Come on, Garak, don't you think you've had enough?!
      Garak: On the contrary, anyone who talks about the numbing effects of your liquor is severely overstating the case!

    • Enabran Tain: I want him to live a long, miserable life. I want him to grow old surrounded by people who hate him, knowing that he'll never come home again.
      Bashir: What a lovely sentiment.
      Enabran Tain: And it's from the heart, doctor.

    • Bashir: And so they exiled you.
      Garak: That's right! And left me to live out my days with nothing to look forward to but having lunch with you.
      Bashir: I'm sorry you feel that way. I thought you enjoyed my company.
      Garak: Oh, I did! And that's the worst part. I can't believe that I actually enjoyed eating mediocre food and staring into your smug sanctimonious face.

    • Bashir: Of all the stories you told me, which ones were true and which ones weren't?
      Garak: My dear Doctor, they're all true...
      Bashir: Even the lies?
      Garak: Especially the lies.

    • Garak: Did anyone ever tell you that you are an infuriating pest?
      Bashir: Chief O'Brien, all the time, and I don't pay any attention to him either.

    • Bashir: I'm a doctor, not a botanist.

    • (about the Obsisian Order)
      Odo: They're the ever-watchful eyes and ears of the Cardassian government. It is said that no citizen can sit down to a meal without each course being carefully documented.

  • NOTES (7)

    • This episode marks the first appearance of Enabran Tain. It was intended to be Tain's only appearance, but as with Garak, the character proved popular with fans and the producers were impressed with Paul Dooley's performance that the character would make several more appareances and his relationship with Garak will continue to evolve. He would next appear in the season three episode "Improbable Cause".

    • Julian and Jadzia look at a display labeled "File 839472-58" while trying to find out what's wrong with Jadzia's plant. Writer Joe Menosky began including references to the number 47 in almost every episode of Star Trek since season four of The Next Generation. It is an in-joke, referring to The 47 Society at Pomona College in California, a college which Menosky attended.

    • Cirroc Lofton (Jake Sisko) does not appear in this episode.

    • The Obsidian Order was originally supposed to be called the Grey Order. The name was changed once members of the crew realized that Babylon 5 (which was also airing first-run episodes at the time) already had an alien group called the Grey Council.

    • Not surprisingly, Andrew Robinson counts this as his favorite episode.

    • In an interesting bit of foreshadowing, Garak hands Bashir a data rod with a story set in a futuristic war between the Cardassians and Klingons. The fourth season of Deep Space Nine would begin with a war between the Klingons and Cardassians with results the author of Garak's tale more than likely didn't expect.

    • Garak reveals several elements from his past in this episode. However it's unclear which ones he was lying about. The only things revealed about Garak in this episode that are more or less confirmed by later episodes are his first name (Elim) and his service with the Obsidian Order.


    • Bashir says "I'm a doctor, not a botanist." This is a nod to Star Trek: TOS and specifically Dr. McCoy who would often say "I'm a doctor, not a (insert numerous other professions.)"

    • Death By Ecstasy

      The plot of this episode is nearly identical to the short story Death By Ecstasy by Larry Niven, in which a man is murdered by a device like the one implanted in Garak. It was first published in 1969, and done as a graphic novel in 1991.

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