Of all of TNG's enemies the Cardassians were the best. The Ferengi were supposed to be the villains but they were comic relief. As for the Borg they were the most powerful but they were had no personality. Enter the Cardassians who were a hybrid of the Klingons and the Romulans and will be the main villains in Deep Space Nine with Gul Dukat as the bad guy. As for The Wounded it was a great episode because it showed a flawed Starfleet Captain. Captain Maxwell is similar to the TOS Captain Willard Decker.
.... By all accounts, "The Wounded" should have been one of the best episodes of Star Trek: TNG's fourth season and perhaps one of the best of the series. However, a couple of crippling flaws keep it from being one of the all-time great TNG episodes.
"The Wounded" is certainly a good episode - a very good episode even - notable for giving Transporter Chief Miles O'Brien a prominent role. O'Brien's former captain Maxwell goes rogue, diving into Cardassian space and destroying Cardassian stations and ships. This, of course, strains Federation and Cardassian relations to the brink of war and the Enterprise takes off after Maxwell to stop his deadly actions - but is Maxwell in the right or is he protecting the Federation?
Colm Meaney is a fantastic actor (even outside of Star Trek) and he created a terrific character with Miles O'Brien. I think the extent of Meaney's talent as an actor is no better shown than through the character of O'Brien, a character that was not meant originally to be particularly important (let alone an important character to carry over into another Star Trek series - which would be Deep Space Nine) but that ended up to be thanks to Meaney's natural genuineness and screen presence.
The overall storyline too is a good one - engaging and thrilling.
But the episode falls apart a little at the end. First of all, Bob Gunton's performance of Cpt. Maxwell is just awful - absolutely unconvincing as a tough starfleet captain. Secondly, the ending sees O'Brien trying to stop Maxwell's crusade against the Cardassians - through song. Yeah. It only takes a very heavy-handed, cheesy and poorly acted (on Gunton's part) ending to keep an otherwise good episode from Star Trek greatness.
This tense "brink of war" episode, featuring Captain Picard and Chief O'Brien, is an edge-of-your seat thriller that leaves the viewer guessing how it will end until the resolution. With guest star Bob Gunton as Captain Maxwell (whose character is reminiscent of Captain Decker from the original series episode "The Doomsday Machine", but more subtly played), the introduction of the Cardassians, and the continued emergence of Chief O'Brien, this episode is not only great in its own right, but also an important forerunner to the next Star Trek spinoff series, Deep Space Nine.
A rogue Starfleet captain wages a vendetta against the Cardassians, an alien race that just ceased war with the Federation. The Enterprise must work with the Cardassians and the captain's former subordinate Chief O'Brien to stop him.
A very good episode that introduces many important elements to the series. First of all, we get our first look at the Cardassians, a race that would get some development in TNG before becoming a major power on DS9 and affected the course of storylines for years to come. We get some information on them here, where they're said to be ruthless and warmongering, but are shown to be honorable when need be and, in a twist at the end, deceptive. With Picard's final statement to the Cardassian commander, there is a fine setup to the conflicts to come. This episode also fleshes out the recurring character Chief O'Brien, who here gets one of his largest parts up to this point. O'Brien's history fighting the Cardassians is revealed as is his relationship to the rogue Captain Maxwell, wonderfully guest acted by Bob Gunton. It's a wonderful look of the effect of war, how it can turn decent people into broken shells of their former selves, of the prejudice formed when one is forced into mortal combat with a group of others, and at the importance of duty to the greater good where in this case Picard must do whatever he must to preserve the peace, even when he knows that Maxwell may be right. It is a fine entry in the series and another sign that by this point the show had long since found its stride.
This is probably the best episode of the fourth season (with the possible exception of the two-parters) and one of the best stand-alone episodes of the entire series, and is highly recomended for fans of the the next series, Deep Space Nine.
"The Wounded" marks the introduction of the Cardassians and a seminal episode in the character development of Miles O'Brien, both of which would become key to Deep Space Nine when it would be introduced two seasons later. The introduction of a hint of darkness in a major character would also be expanded upon in that spin-off, but here it is used to show that the scars of war can leave lasting effects that sometimes even the individual affected cannot see.
But even in addition to the character development for Deep Space Nine, "The Wounded" stands on its own. Both of the major guest stars, Marc Alaimo (Gul Macet) and Bob Gunton (Benjamin Maxwell) portray their parts excellently. The plot itself is also excellent, leaving the viewer guessing as to who truly is in the right until the very end, and even then no doubt viewers will disagree about whose actions were more justified.
Overall an excellent episode and a prime example of the best Star Trek has to offer.
It's interesting to see the Cardassians in their infancy as a Star Trek race given their importance a few years later in Deep Space 9. Although the demeanour is correct thanks in large part to Marc Alaimo (Dukat in DS9) as Gul Macet is there, the minor details aren't. For one Macet has a beard which just looks wrong and Kanar the Cardassian drink of choice is not pronounced correctly. The uniform isn't as pronounced in its back bone or shoulders either which considering the neck scales makes them look a little on the light side. What I enjoyed a lot about this episode though is Chief O'Brien's development of being a war hero. It's surprisingly deep and introduces the mention of the Cardies war against the federation with skill. His hatred of himself and what he became rather than the Cardassians themselves feels very sincere. It interjects into his married life as well, which is a surprising thing as so soon after his wedding you wouldn't expect even more development like this for a secondary character. It's all setting him up for DS9 of course and I might say so in a very good way.
I don't know whether the idea for Deep Space Nine existed at this point, but as the other reviewers mention this episode was pivotal in the creation of that show. Besides the introduction of the Cardassians and the significant development of O'Brien's character, it was also among the first episodes to introduce moral ambiguity to the Star Trek universe.
There may be one or two earlier episodes where the Starfleet uniform hides a villain, but in those cases it's dismissed as "one bad apple". Captain Maxwell is not a bad apple - he's a formerly good man who ends up doing horrible things in the Federation's name. Having disposed of the annoying utopian veneer, the writers would feel much more comfortable testing the audience with the idea that even the good guys aren't perfect.
In terms of appearance the Cardassians are still embryonic, but in terms of personality a lot of the substance is already there. (Given continuity, now doubt, by the inspired casting of Marc Alaimo.) The Cardassians, along with the Romulans, were the best villains Star Trek ever had.
Finally, a few words about Chief O'Brien. The character had been around since the first season and given a name in the second. That said, he'd played largely a bit role until this episode. This was the first episode about him, and Colm Meaney shows us why he is among the best actors that Star Trek ever had.
The "Enterprise" while traveling in Cardassian space is fired apon by a cardassian warship. Cardassian and the Federation are supposed to be allies. A renegade Capt. Maxwell is taking it apon himself to fire apon Cardassian supply ships. Maxwell believes
The "Enterprise" while traveling in Cardassian space is fired apon by a cardassian warship. Cardassian and the Federation are supposed to be allies. A renegade Capt. Maxwell is taking it apon himself to fire apon Cardassian supply ships. Maxwell believes they are ships carrying weapons. Maxwell has been ignoring Starfleet for months. Now Picard is now taking Maxwell into custody to Starfleet Headquarters. Maxwell agrees to follow Picard back to Federation Space. Maxwell suddenly changes course and returns to Cardassian space. How will this end? You will have to watch this episode that I have rated a 8.1.
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