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Retro Review: Civil Defense

Posted by Michelle - 28/09/12 at 12:09 pm


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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

Season: 03 Episode: 07 (s03e07)

Original US airdate: 11/07/1994

When an automated Cardassian self-defense program is activated, not even Gul Dukat can save Deep Space Nine.

Plot Summary: While working with Jake on converting the station’s ore processing facility to handle deuterium, O’Brien tries to delete a file and inadvertently triggers a Cardassian security program designed to suppress a Bajoran worker revolt. The two Siskos and O’Brien are trapped in ore processing while the entire station hears a recorded message from Gul Dukat threatens to use neurocine gas in the ore processing facility. Jake is able to open a hatch to an ore processing bay before that happens, but station security goes on lockdown, with Dukat’s recorded image reporting that workers have escaped. Odo and Quark are locked in the security office and Bashir is trapped in Ops with Kira and Dax – fortunately, since Dax’s hands are severely burned when she tries to override the security program. Garak uses his Cardassian access code to reach Ops but can’t override the computer program, which is now threatening to release neurocine gas in the habitat ring. He suggests destroying the station’s life support systems to stop the gas from being filtered through it, though this will leave only 12 hours of air. Kira reluctantly does so, but the phaser blast activates the next level of the security program, which turns on the station’s self-destruct mechanism, and when Garak tries to input Dukat’s security codes to override it, a replicator produces an automatic weapon which fires energy blasts at all non-Cardassians. Then Dukat himself arrives, saying he got a message about a Bajoran worker revolt on Terok Nor. He taunts the Starfleet crew and demands a permanent Cardassian garrison on the station in exchange for his assistance, then finds that he can’t leave the station, for his superiors expected him to flee from a Bajoran revolt. To protect Cardassia from his cowardice, he can’t even stop the self-destruct. Sisko and O’Brien try to reach the fusion reactor, but when they realize they won’t have time to disable it, Sisko proposes directing the explosion into the station’s deflector grid. While Jake rescues an injured O’Brien, Sisko contains the explosion, and the station survives the blast.

Analysis: The first time I saw “Civil Defense,” I felt like someone had inadvertently left off the last act, and watching it again, I feel that even more strongly. How does the crew restore life support in the few hours left to them when so many personnel have been evacuated via runabout? How come O’Brien never noticed vast supplies of neurocine gas hidden in the station’s machinery? How come Dukat gets to walk away without a word of censure? I expected to learn that the gas wasn’t really neurocine, that it was all a ploy left in place by Dukat as a means to return the Cardassians to the station, or that Garak knew full well that destroying the life support would step up the security measures but also knew it would summon Dukat, or that the self-destruct had been left in place by the Bajorans to reveal ongoing Cardassian treachery…something to give the episode some meaning besides a stupid accident that it’s ridiculous a team of Starfleet officers never saw coming in all the many months they’ve spent making the station their home, even hiding in dark corners while the Circle took control. There’s a lot of potential for this episode to have an underlying plot, or at least some significant character development, but except for a couple of scenes with Quark and Odo used primarily as comic relief, ultimately all that happens is that lots of equipment gets blown up for no good reason, not even as an excuse to change the production design for future episodes.

Apart from Quark and Odo, who have a few moments of being nice to each other – Odo assures Quark that even if he’s not the wealthiest, he is the most devious of Ferengi, and Quark sighs that Odo’s personal honor and integrity are why the Cardassians didn’t trust the shapeshifter, which is probably going to get them both killed now – all the characters are very grim and cranky except the Cardassians, who snark so gloriously that I’m sorry to admit the episode is quite boring until they turn up; it feels like a limp cousin of any of the Next Gen or Voyager stories like “Disaster” where the ship encounters [name of spatial phenomenon] and the crew tries in isolation to [perform technobabble solutions]. Sisko complains that Dukat’s voice in the pre-recorded warning messages is very annoying, but it’s what gives hope that the episode will be about something bigger than crawling through access tubes and watching computer panels explode. Then Garak walks right through a force field and for a moment there’s a real chill in the air – wow, is Garak up to no good? But he’s promptly defanged by demonstrating that he can’t fix the problem any better than the Starfleet officers, leaving Dukat to swagger into ops, chew the scenery and steal the show. I hate it when he does that almost as much as Kira hates it, but let’s face it, the writers take more care to make him entertaining than they did with anyone else! I love that he calls Garak “tailor” as if it’s a slur about Garak’s sexual orientation; it’s so very Dukat. A man who treats all women as potential conquests would likely treat “tailors” as contemptible.

So Dukat demands to see Kira alone, insists that she permit Cardassians to return in force to the station or he’ll let all its civilians die (a bluff, she must know, since his presence shortly before the station’s destruction will mean war with the Federation), lets an automated firing system nearly kill the crew including an already-injured Dax, all while strutting so outrageously that Garak accuses him of trying to make himself attractive to Kira – which Dukat has tried before and will try again, but not while he’s threatening to let her and everyone else die – not even Dukat is THAT arrogant. He is, however, arrogant enough not to realize that his superiors never fully trusted him, that they put him in charge of Terok Nor not as a reward but as a way to keep him exiled the way Garak appears to be exiled now, and they fully suspected that if a real problem arose, he might flee! I find it really hard to buy into the Cardassian self destruct routine; it’s hard to accept that they’d have blown up the station just to put down a Bajoran rebellion, especially when they have that gas available to kill the people while leaving the structures standing. I have no problem believing they’d kill all the Cardassian officers and overseers slowly and agonizingly as punishment for not keeping the revolt under control, but they wouldn’t want to wreck their fine furniture. And if they did decide it was worth blasting it all into space just to set an example, why would they keep giving the Bajorans time “to think it over” and quite possibly engineer an escape? That self destruct would go off in five minutes, just long enough to get the really important Cardassians evacuated while leaving everyone else to a brutal fate.

The real problem with all the escalating announcements of higher security protocols is not that they’re unbelievable or unnecessary, though. It’s that they waste time which could be devoted to a more interesting or complex plot. Look at both scenes in which Jake saves the day with relative ease; the entire episode would work fine or arguably even better without him, since we wouldn’t have to sit through Sisko’s predictable concern and warnings directed at his son, and O’Brien could be the engineer-hero instead of just the engineer with unpleasant flashbacks to all the times the same thing happened to LaForge while Wesley Crusher was getting the glory. I can’t tell whether Dax is calm working on computer programs because she’s a wonder at keeping her cool in tough situations or because the writers forgot all about her burned hands. I’m probably giving the impression that this episode is no fun to watch, which isn’t true; there’s a lot of snappy dialogue, the action jumps around to three different parts of the station which helps the pacing, and Dukat in all his menacing glory – particularly with both Kira and Garak as foils – is always compelling to watch. But really this is an episode that doesn’t go anywhere in terms of character development, Cardassian-Bajoran relations, the power struggle between Dukat and Sisko, or much of anything besides Odo and Quark’s love-hate relationship – and since, as always, we can be sure the station isn’t actually going to get destroyed – it ends up feeling too much like an exercise in futility.

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  • hostile_17

    I think sometimes with Star Trek, it’s just a story. It doesn’t have to mean anyting deeper. And this is one of those episodes.

    It’s just good fun. Nothing more, nothing less. As such it’s one of my favourites. The good character moments are just gravy.

  • Zeo Ranger IX

    Love this episode.

    And this: I love that he calls Garak “tailor” as if it’s a slur about Garak’s sexual orientation; it’s so very Dukat. Did I miss Garak’s “coming-out” episode?

  • http://twitter.com/robtclements Robert Clements

    Not a great episode – to me, the best material maybe the development of the Garak/Dukat relatgionship (possibly not the correct word in this context) – but i think you’re over hard on it. An acknowledged “bottle episode” – cheap to shoot, with minimal new sets & extras – its as close as mature DS9 ever got to making an entertaining episode just for the Breen of it. I prefer the big story arcs; but a little, fairly silly thriller isn’t completely off my screen

  • http://twitter.com/robtclements Robert Clements

    Not a great episode – to me, the best material maybe the development of the Garak/Dukat relatgionship (possibly not the correct word in this context) – but i think you’re over hard on it. An acknowledged “bottle episode” – cheap to shoot, with minimal new sets & extras – its as close as mature DS9 ever got to making an entertaining episode just for the Breen of it. I prefer the big story arcs; but a little, fairly silly thriller isn’t completely off my screen

  • Guest

    Garak’s “coming-out” episode plays nonstop in Michelle Erica Green’s head (and nowhere else).

  • http://twitter.com/Pioneering Joe Dempsey, Sr.

    My favorite part is when Dukat, immune from the food replicator’s weapon, orders a drink for himself. The replicator removes the weapon and replicates his drink. The others thinking that the coast is clear, start to come out of hiding. However, as soon as he removes his drink from the replicator, it re-materializes the weapon. Dukat admonishes the others with a quick finger-wagging “Ah-ah-ah!” as the replicator weapon starts firing at only the others as they run for cover. Dukat then sips his drink with a satisfied smirk. Priceless! :-D

  • http://twitter.com/Pioneering Joe Dempsey, Sr.

    Yes, after all these years Michelle still hasn’t resolved her strident feminist paranoia. Male chauvinist pigs lurk everywhere! Sad.

  • Nobody

    Despite the fact that Garak’s coded queerness has been a popular fan speculation since the day “Past Prologue” erred, like clockwork somebody will be on here attacking her whenever she mentions it, as if she invented it. This despite the fact that Andrew Robinson has owned up to playing him as bisexuality and attracted to Bashir, so I suppose he should really be the one you take to task over not understanding Garak!

  • Mike

    He also owned up to being a fruit vendor from Mars… see, anyone can say that anyone else said something… it doesn’t make it so. Care to direct us with a link? I don’t buy it.

  • Azrael

    Andrew Robinson made that statement in an Amazon.com interview about his DS9 novel “A Stitch in Time” which centers on Garak and provides backstory on his life. This is even referenced in the wikipedia article “Sexuality in Star Trek” which can be found here.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexuality_in_Star_Trek

    So basically Nobody was right, Mike was wrong, end of story.

  • Nobody

    It might be prudent to do two minutes worth of research online before calling somebody else a liar. Just for fun, here’s another example from an interview by Robinson from… who’s that?… Michelle Erica Green! http://wayback.archive.org/web/jsp/Interstitial.jsp?seconds=5&date=980760720000&url=http%3A%2F%2Ffandomshop.com%2Ftv%2Finterviews%2Fandrewrobinson.html&target=http%3A%2F%2Fweb.archive.org%2Fweb%2F20010129093200%2Fhttp%3A%2F%2Ffandomshop.com%2Ftv%2Finterviews%2Fandrewrobinson.html

  • Geiger

    I wouldn’t say there was no character development, maybe just not much. I had been re-hooked into the series by this point and I was surprised and impressed that Sisko was enough of an engineer to fix the core meltdown. If they had Kirk or Picard, there’d be a new vapor cloud near the wormhole. What’s more is they made me believe he was actually fixing it, rather than tapping a few buttons to sound the all-clear signal.

    Another thing that impressed me was that while he did show concern for O’Brien collapsing, he ultimately left him to die so he could save the station. Of the other captains, I think only Janeway would have done that, and only if they were writing her especially bitchy that episode.

  • Mike

    I asked for links, you provided them… I didn’t call anyone a liar, I just said I didn’t believe it until I saw it… Now I believe it… well, to an extent. It may be that that was on Robinson’s mind, but it wasn’t part of the writer’s makeup of the character in any way… so, sure, I guess he could’ve had that thought, but thankfully, he wasn’t the one actually controlling the character. Otherwise, it might’ve been Dukat’s son he was interested in, but it wasn’t.

  • Nobody

    Your first post accused me of making up this perfectly truthful claim — that’s being called a liar in as many words. And you did it in a spectacularly dickish fashion too.

    Dickishness to go beside avowed homophobia. Honestly, what would have been wrong if there had been a plotline where Garak was interested in Dukat’s son? Would that have made the show LESS interesting? It could have been done well or poorly, but what, intrinsically, in your words, would have been wrong with it?

  • Azrael

    I dunno about this Mike guy but considering how Berman made every woman in the mirror universe bisexual or plain lesbian it would not have surprised me had a male character been romantically involved with another. Heck remember the TNG episode with the androgynous species with occasional “gendered” individuals, one of whom Riker got involved with. Jonathan Frakes wanted the character to be played by a guy, not the woman who got the role.

  • http://twitter.com/robtclements Robert Clements

    Actually, Mike, it’s a little more complex that Nobody claims. A Stitch in Time was written after the end of the DS9 run (albeit based on character notes Andy had written en route); & as anyone who loves the show will attest, the Garak who entered the show in Past prologue isn’t the same Elim Garak who left it in What you leave behind

    Admissions by both Andy & Sid that they both camped up the early conversation (to the point where they were told to tone it down) are commonplace; & while that in itself didn’t make the character gay, for many gay fans it formed a bit of a buzz. Star Trek always lost its spine when it came to homosexuality; which makes the early Garak a bit of an icon

    For the record: straight, militant feminist & supporter of gay rights & total curmudgeon

  • Mike

    My first post didn’t accuse you of making up anything. The point was about context and I was asking for a reference for your comment, as I didn’t believe it. Did I think you were lying? To be honest, your motives didn’t really enter into my thoughts, as I didn’t really care, and don’t, for the record, what they were/are. Thus, I certainly wasn’t suggesting you were lying. Could you have been lying? Sure. Was it possible you were mistaken, or in some way wrong without knowing it? Also, quite possible. I was asking for a link regarding what you were saying. It was given, and as Robert Clements points out, it’s not quite as cut and dry as all that, but I gave you a pass on it anyway… as it wasn’t really relevant. Now, to your second point… Avowed homophobia? I’m sorry, what? You’re reading an awful lot into what I’ve said, here most of all. Where did I express any dislike or discrimination toward any homosexuals? That I don’t think an actor should make character decisions over the writers’ heads on matters such as this? What if Chris Pine suddenly decided that he wanted Kirk to like guys? Should the writers have control of that, or should the hired actor? As a writer, I inherently believe it is the writer’s purview, not the actor’s to make fundamental decisions about key characteristics, and sexual preference is certainly one of them. Now, had the writers wanted Garak to be gay, then, sure, have Garak chase all the tail he wants around the station. But that’s not what the writers wanted, envisioned, nor allowed. As such, yeah, I want the character to be portrayed the way the character is meant to be portrayed… And in this instance, that’s not a homosexual, a bisexual, a transgender, or anything else you want to conjur up. Elim Garak was a heterosexual male Cardassian living in exile aboard Deep Space Nine. Period. Constantly looking to the actor’s performance for a subtext that isn’t supposed to be there as some sort of social justification or piece of pride is exactly the opposite. Homosexuals are given no advantage by co-opting heterosexuals and pretending they’re gay any more than the inverse. If someone is gay, fine. Garak wasn’t. So, I don’t really see the point of focusing on an aspect that doesn’t exist. And, if you’re comeback is that it does exist, and that it exists in Andrew Robinson’s performance, then I must ask: Does that mean he’s acting gay? And what exactly does that mean? And isn’t that a far more insidious and discriminatory mindset than anything I’ve said?

  • Mike

    For the record, I don’t hate women and I don’t have a problem with homosexuals. In fact, I think women are great, wonderous, fascinating, and wholly worthwhile luminous beings. Homosexuals don’t bother me in the least, in terms of what they do in their bedroom or personal lives. My only problem, and this would be true of the inverse as well, is with misreading or misleading people in support of an agenda rather than the truth. I think women are great, but I also don’t think men doing great things in any way lessens anything anyone else does, regardless of their genetalia. Sometimes, here, it seems like in order for a woman to get ahead, it has to be at the cost of a man. Similarly, because Star Trek hasn’t decided to actually showcase a homosexual doesn’t mean that a homosexual agenda should be allowed to appropriate anyone or anything that isn’t actually theirs, per se. I’m repulsed by anything that uses gender as a means to degrade people, male or female, and I’m repulsed by anything that tries to alter aspects of a character or story for personal or political gain. Many of the characters of The Maltese Falcon are actually gay. Do I think that should’ve been glossed over or that we should pretend the subtext isn’t there? Hardly. It’s informative on the relationships between the characters. I don’t hate homosexuals, I don’t hate heterosexuals. I hate when either tries to alter reality for their own petty agenda. In the case of The Maltese Falcon, the characters were gay. In the case of Elim Garak, he isn’t… It’s just as wrong for people to try to make Elim Garak a homosexual as it is for those characters from the tale of the black bird to be mutilated into being straight. Neither is right, and just because it’s fashionable to be on a high horse in defense of homosexuals, defense of truth is a position I’m perfectly comfortable taking, even if dealing in reality makes some people uncomfortable… For the record :)

  • Nobody

    And I quote: “He also owned up to being a fruit vendor from Mars… see, anyone can say that anyone else said something… it doesn’t make it so.” How you can say bald-faced that this is anything other than a accusation that I fabricated this claim is nothing less than astonishing. You must be a politician.

    There is no such thing as acting gay. There is such a thing as acting “camp.” In fact, camp IS acting. It’s a mode of queer masculinity based on a certain kind of willful display and exaggeration of “swishy” characteristics as a way of confronting people (think John Waters, or Jack from Will and Grace for useful examples). Garak is a camp character; this is evident from the first time he appears and anyone who says otherwise has never met a camp gay man in their life. He was recognized as such early on: for instance, The New Trek Programme Guide (at least one of whose authors is gay) notes that he seems to be “our token camp character” in 1995. And to quote Alexander Doty, “But one thing about camp is certain . . . Camp is queer.
    There is nothing straight about camp. While camp is queer, however, not all
    queers are camp or do camp. On the other hand, straight-identifying people can
    use camp strategies in producing or reading cultural texts. But try as you
    might to neuter it or to heterosexualize it, camp remains a queer thing.”

    Lest this become a gender studies lecture, I’ll just say in brief that “queer” has become a useful term for sexual ambiguities that doesn’t need to be channeled into the comfortable categories of gay, straight, or even bi.

    So “is Garak gay”? The question is a non-starter, but it’s the wrong question. He is a fictional character with no intrinsic sexual preference except what is imbued in him by the writers and his performer (and yes, the performer is important. If you think otherwise, you might as well just read screenplays. On a TV show, he or she is often the only constant, since writers turn over frequently). Is Garak “gay-coded” or “queer coded”? You bet he is, and not just because of the stereotypical occupation tailor and the fact that he seems inordinately interested in Bashir’s company. Think about it for a second: a man living in strange company with barely-concealed secret that he refuses to articulate, which people around him guess that cannot really prove. Tortured by a mysterious past. Accepted into the local culture to a degree but always an Other, never fully integrated. Now these are all dated stereotypes of a self-hating closet case, but they work as a shorthand to convey something about Garak’s character… the show reaches into a stock of familiar tropes, uses them in a new way, and Garak is the result.

    Here’s why your position, and everyone else who comes on here to lambaste claims that Garak is a queer (or queer-coded) character, is homophobic: it is telling other people how they should engage with an open text. It is obviously the case that some fans, gay or otherwise, have gotten pleasure from interpreting Garak is queer. Where do you get off telling them that they’re wrong? This comes off as defense and, literally, phobic… there is fear involved, fear that a character you know and love might be anything other than what you have always felt. It’s closed-minded and intolerant.

    Finally, I’d like to see your evidence that Garak is straight. Is it Ziyal? Because, first of all, that plotline seems to have been introduced to “straighten out” Garak — a literally phobic move. And it didn’t failed, on virtually every level… the actors had no chemistry and the plotline was dull and got next to no screen time (Robinson has commented on his dislike for it). In fact, one might argue it even heightens Garak’s queer implications for that very reason — Robinson plays it a bit like a man going through the motions, who has a legitimate fondness for Ziyal but no real passion or attraction. Of course, it is equally possible to argue that Garak is using Ziyal to get back at Dukat (in his own mind, if in no other place) and it’s not about traditional sexuality at all.

  • Mike

    First, whether you fabricated it or were mistaken I did not know. The more I read from you the more obvious it is that you were likely simply mistaken, given your penchant for over-reading into the subtext of material. Secondly, the Original Series is campy… what you describe, let’s put a finer point on it, is flaming. Why fear the real word? But does that describe Garak? Not really. And do actors inform the character through their performance? Sure… but they do not define them, and certainly not to the extent you suggest. Andrew Robinson wasn’t in charge of what happened to Garak, nor whom he was. Was he able to interpret that character and give him dimensionality? Sure. Can the actor choose if his character is gay? Nope. As such, regardless of whether you see him being flaming or not, it doesn’t make him gay. “Think about it for a second: a man living in strange company with barely-concealed secret that he refuses to articulate, which people around him guess that cannot really prove. Tortured by a mysterious past. Accepted into the local culture to a degree but always an Other, never fully integrated. Now these are all dated stereotypes of a self-hating closet case, but they work as a shorthand to convey something about Garak’s character… the show reaches into a stock of familiar tropes, uses them in a new way, and Garak is the result.” I thought about it for a second, and I come away with a simple conclusion: Garak wasn’t gay, he was a former intelligence agent for the Obsidian Order now living among the people he was supposed to perceive as the ultimate enemy. And the fact that the writers and producers intentionally instructed the actor to stop interpreting the character as something, suggests that he was not that thing. No matter how much you wish it were so. Thirdly, I’m not telling anyone how to engage in an open text. I’m suggesting that Garak’s sexuality isn’t an open text. Not only does he never engage in any homosexual relationship, but he does engage in a heterosexual one. Because you didn’t think it had spark doesn’t negate its existence. Furthermore, the writers and producers, you know, the ones that actually have the power to decide these things, made it clear he wasn’t a homosexual. Me pointing that out and expecting folks to accept reality isn’t being homophobic. I’d contend that trying to force a character who is heterosexual to be homosexual is rather heterophobic… and certainly closed-minded and intolerant. I mean, you basically just said that if someone acts a certain way they must be gay… that’s rather narrow. In the end, it’s people like you that think Bert and Ernie are gay. Here’s a clue: They’re muppets… And Garak was a Cardassian… and none of them are homosexuals, regardless of how much you want it to be the case.

  • Mike

    But let me also clarify a point: Just because Garak isn’t gay, it doesn’t mean that someone who is gay couldn’t take heart or notice of his situation and apply it to his/her own. That is to say, in TOS, just because people aren’t actually half white and half black it didn’t undermine the subtext of that episode, did it? But you wouldn’t say that Frank Gorshin’s character represented black people or white people in particular, would you? They were each representative of people who were essentially the same and yet were trying to artificially separate themselves… it was a racial metaphor. So, sure, homosexuals could look to the estrangement and isolation of Garak and take away from it that it’s a gay allegory or metaphor, but that doesn’t make Garak gay any more than Frank Gorshin’s character in TOS was specifically a KKK member. And if Michelle presented Robinson’s performance as including a metaphorical reference to discrimination against and the constrained life therein of someone closeted, that’d be fine… But that’s a fine point, not a dull one… it requires a more deft touch than the “Garak’s gay” sledgehammar we’re met with. Truthfully, I’m not sure why this is such a hard idea to understand. Star Trek has always been morality plays for a contemporary audience in the guise of science fiction to alienate us enough from the subject to be objective.

  • Nobody

    I’m glad we agree: Garak isn’t gay. Garak is gay-coded.

  • Nobody

    Also, try this on for size: for a long time gay, lesbian and bisexual people were starved for representations of their own kind and for queer love in the media. Under those circumstances (and given many times finding another gay person was a matter of “reading past the surface,” anyway), is surprising that they would often look past the superficial straightness of certain fictional characters to try to “claim” them as queer?

  • http://streetsofgotham.insanejournal.com/ seventhbeacon

    Good review, yeah, a lot of fun to watch but not much to take away from it. Like a JJ Abrams film! ;)

    As for the Garak gay/gay-coded debate (which I’ve said my piece on before, I’m in the camp that he wasn’t barring lack of evidence and relationship with Ziyal later), it may be best to simply not debate, but embrace these immortal words from the Tailor/Spy himself:

    Dr. Julian Bashir: Out of all the stories you told me, which ones were true and which ones weren’t?
    Elim Garak: My dear Doctor, they’re all true.
    Dr. Julian Bashir: Even the lies?
    Elim Garak: Especially the lies.

    There may be a benefit in not ever having a definitive answer (even though I have mine).
    I don’t know if this is a misquote, but I also seem to recall: “The truth are the lies you choose to believe.” I couldn’t find it on a google search, so I may be remembering it incorrectly.

  • Mike

    So, is the same eagerness there to claim Harry Mudd or Trelane? Both of which are undeniably flamboyant, but neither, particularly homosexual…

  • Nobody

    Not that I’ve noticed, but I’m no expert. But Q? Definitely.

  • Mike

    Funny… I thought that anyone that acted like that was “gay coded”… I mean, to the point where you accused me of never having been around a flamboyantly gay man… So, I’m just asking… Are Harry Mudd and Trelane both gay coded characters in your book? I don’t think it’s a hard thing to determine nor answer from how you previously laid things out… I just find it curious that some characters you glom onto and others, not so much… But between Garak and Q and Trelane and Harry Mudd, I’d contend that the latter are far more flamboyant than either of the previous two.

  • Nobody

    Flamboyance and camp are not synonymous (and to answer a dangling thread, people do tend to call TOS campy but this means something different than “gay camp” — actually some scholars would content that the endearingly cheap and outdated elements of TOS are more usefully tagged as kitsch than camp). Camp can actually be done rather subtly (John Waters would never be mistaken for a heterosexual man, but he’s no flamer either). Gay-coding is not an intrinsic property of any character, but part of the interpretative procedures of a community. It may simply be the case that Mudd and Trelane, comic villains defined at least in part by being pathetic, are not inviting characters to embrace. Q and Garak, both charismatic and ambiguous anti-heroes (however differently), are.

  • Mike

    So, if gay coding is an interpretive thing done after the fact by the community, what you’re actually saying is that it has no real foundation and is just willy nilly regarding whatever character they choose to glom onto… In this case, the more interesting Garak and Q, and not the oafish Mudd or petulant Trelane… Yeah, I can agree with that. A complete farse.

  • Nobody

    No, it has a foundation. That foundation resides me people’s interpretative abilities. And that is as real as anything else in fiction.

  • John

    Except RIker, is not gay so it would not have made any sense.

  • Guest

    “Here’s why your position, and everyone else who comes on here to
    lambaste claims that Garak is a queer (or queer-coded) character, is
    homophobic: it is telling other people how they should engage with an
    open text. It is obviously the case that some fans, gay or otherwise,
    have gotten pleasure from interpreting Garak is queer. Where do you get
    off telling them that they’re wrong? This comes off as defense and,
    literally, phobic… there is fear involved, fear that a character you
    know and love might be anything other than what you have always felt.
    It’s closed-minded and intolerant.”

    So when the show portrays him as heterosexual and some fans get pleasure from that, where do you get off telling them that they’re wrong? That comes off as defense and literally heterophobic. How dare you tell people how they should engage with an open text?

    lol…seriously, you have no idea what “open text” means.