Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Wounded   Rewatch 
January 25, 2021 9:08 AM - Season 4, Episode 12 - Subscribe

When Captain Benjamin Maxwell apparently goes rogue, the Enterprise is ordered to apprehend him before his actions result in another war between the Federation and the Cardassian Union.

If Captain Picard orders me to tell you everything I know about Memory Alpha, I will. But who I choose to spend my free time with, that's my business

Story and production
  • Jeri Taylor noted, "It was sort of Heart of Darkness with the rogue captain out of control. It started with the idea that if you had been at war with a country and now you are not at war with them anymore, you can't just immediately become friends. If you're trained to look at people as the enemy, it's hard to now be their friends. While in the 24th century people have a much more expansive view of the galaxy and are able to do it a little better, we planted the idea that some people had just a little more residual problem with that sort of thing, and harbored some resentment. [It's] a very provocative kind of area to get into. The material was somewhat epic in nature, which is always fun to do, and yet at its core was this very personal story between him and Picard, where two strong and able people tee off against each other." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 214)
  • The scene where O'Brien and Captain Benjamin Maxwell sing "The Minstrel Boy" was suggested by Michael Piller. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 152)) "The Minstrel Boy" was originally written in memory of those who died during the 1798 rebellion of United Irishmen.
The Cardassians
  • This episode marks the debut of the Cardassians. They went on to have a prominent role in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, in which Colm Meaney and Marc Alaimo play Miles O'Brien and Dukat respectively.
  • Director Chip Chalmers enjoyed dealing with the new race. "We introduced a new enemy that's finally able to speak on the level of Picard. They're not grunting, they're not giggling, they're not mutes or all-knowing entities. Here are the Cardassians who also graduated first in their class and they're able to carry on highly intelligent conversations with Picard, but they're sinister as hell." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 214)
  • Michael Westmore created the reptilian makeup design of the Cardassians. He recalled, "I created a twin row of bony ridges, which started from the peak of the eyebrows and ran all the way back into the hairline. Then ridges went down the sides of the neck and flared out to the shoulder tips, giving the Cardassians a strange, menacing appearance, like a praying mantis, or a king cobra." (Star Trek: The Next Generation 365, p. 188) The spoon-like indentation was inspired by an abstract painting he had seen two years earlier of a wide-shouldered woman with what appeared to be a spoon in the center of her forehead. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 153))
  • The facial hair and headgear worn by Cardassians are unique to this episode and never shown again. Additionally, Cardassian energy weapons are pink here, but amber in all subsequent appearances.
  • This episode marks the first appearance of kanar, a Cardassian alcoholic beverage, though the pronunciation (KAY-nar) differs from later appearances (kuh-NAR).
  • This is also the first appearance of the Galor-class warship.
Cast and characters
  • This is the first TNG episode featuring Colm Meaney's character, Miles O'Brien, prominently in the story of the episode. Meaney was later a regular cast member on DS9. It is also the first episode to reference the Setlik III massacre, which would later be mentioned in numerous episodes of DS9.
  • This is Alaimo's third appearance in TNG, each time as a different alien species. In his fourth and final TNG appearance in "Time's Arrow", he played a Human character, namely Frederick La Rouque, a 19th century professional gambler from New Orleans.
  • Gates McFadden (Beverly Crusher) does not appear in this episode. Besides Season 2, in which she was not a regular cast member, this is McFadden's only non-appearance.
  • "The Minstrel Boy" was later used in one of O'Brien's final scenes in Star Trek, near the end of DS9: "What You Leave Behind".
  • This episode reveals that the corridor located behind the port entrance in the observation lounge leads to a turbolift.
  • This episode contains the first appearance of the Nebula-class starship. It is also the only appearance of a Nebula-class ship in this particular configuration.
Poster's Log:
I think there's a discussion to be had about titles, names, and how people address each other on this show / in this franchise. Gul Macet consistently refers to Picard as "Captain" or "Captain Picard", while Picard sticks to "Gul Macet" or (in one instance) "Macet". I've noticed this while rewatching DS9 as well - Sisko is "Commander" or "Commander Sisko" to Gul Dukat, while Sisko calls him "Dukat" or "Gul Dukat". I can't recall hearing a Federation officer call a Cardassian officer by just their title (outside of generic references like "... in my experience, Cardassian Guls ..."). Why?

How long have O'Brien and Keiko known each other? This really feels like the first couple of meals they've had together, ever, and they each have no idea how or what the other eats.

Picard's final speech to Macet is really well delivered, and Stewart really sells the idea that he knows both what the Cardassians are doing and that his job is not to police them but to maintain the fragile peace they're operating under.
posted by hanov3r (21 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Strong episode, and an important one. Folks who haven't seen Deep Space Nine yet and are thinking about doing so?: This is one of the must-see DS9 "prequel" episodes of TNG. The others are season 5's "Ensign Ro", season 6's "Chain of Command" 2-parter, and season 7's "Journey's End" and "Preemptive Strike." (I'd forgotten how early the Cardassian stuff starts; I would've bet on this being a season 5 episode for some reason.) "Lower Decks" is also relevant but not-quite-essential viewing pre-DS9.

Kind of interesting that Macet is one of the least despicable Cardassians we, like, ever get, and he's the first one. (BTW, yes, there was indeed a noncanon Trek novel in which Macet is revealed to be Dukat's cousin or something, accounting for their similar appearance.)
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 9:38 AM on January 25, 2021 [4 favorites]

I just love the look of the Nebula class.

Regarding titles of non-Federation characters--does that only apply when their titles aren't in English? I suspect it may have to do with writers not wanting audiences to get confused and think that "Gul" was part of someone's name, whereas it's clear when they say "Ambassador T'Pel" or "General Martok," we know their title and name are separate.
posted by pykrete jungle at 10:00 AM on January 25, 2021 [2 favorites]

This is my favorite TNG episode, mainly because it's such a meaty drama for the actors to tear into. Bob Gunton (aka the warden from "Shawshank") does some great work here.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 10:04 AM on January 25, 2021 [4 favorites]

This is also my favorite TNG episode, not only for the strong and relevant concepts but also for the execution. There's always, for me, a bit of trepidation in approaching a favorite TV episode or movie that I haven't seen in a while, in case it doesn't hold up; no such danger here, and there are even one or two things that I picked up on that I hadn't before. When the Cardassians beam on board, and the introductions are made, and they're leaving the transporter room, Troi looks back at O'Brien with concern... but then goes on without saying anything. Maybe she's sensing that Miles may not be aware at that point of how he really feels about them. Frankly, it's one of my favorite Troi moments.

In general, the ep takes aim at a couple of conceits that have been core to the show, at least definitely at the beginning even though they've been chipped away somewhat in subsequent seasons: that humanity has essentially purged itself of negative emotions, and that Starfleet isn't a military organization. The former was mostly Roddenberry's bête noire, and gently eased off to the side so that the writers wouldn't be burdened by trying to fit things into Roddenberry's Box, and the latter... well, officially, Starfleet isn't a military unit, but they still have to perform essentially military functions. (Infamously, when DS9 gets the Defiant, it's officially classified as an "escort".) This ep suggests that Starfleet is not that good at either preparing its personnel for the possibility that they might have to take lives in the course of their work, or at helping those personnel deal with the trauma of war. It's probably not a coincidence that the Rutledge's unofficial ballad was written centuries earlier. And, speaking of which, "The Minstrel Boy" is not only apropos for a ep featuring an Irish character, but also speaks to the pathos at the core of it; the song's title character doesn't have to deal with the aftereffects of war. Here's the part of the lyrics that weren't quoted in the ep, but are relevant, I think:
The minstrel fell, but the foeman's chain
Could not bring that proud soul under
The harp he lov'd ne'er spoke again
For he tore its cords asunder
And said "no chains shall sully thee,
Thou soul of love and bravery
Thy songs were made for the pure and free
They shall never sound in slavery"
The minstrel passed on into glory and martyrdom, but Maxwell and O'Brien have to live with the knowledge of what they did and what happened to them. "It's not you I hate, Cardassian. I hate what I became because of you" and "I'm not gonna win this one, am I, chief?" are two of the saddest lines in all of Trek. Picard also has a great bit: "I think, when one has been angry for a very long time, one gets used to it. And it becomes comfortable like…like old leather. And finally… it becomes so familiar that one can't remember feeling any other way." (Also note that Picard describes his own experience with the Cardassians in terms of having to cut and run to avoid losing the Stargazer.)

And, needless to say, great performances all around. It would make sense that Macet is Dukat's cousin, because of Marc Alaimo's unmistakeable mannerisms, but Macet really has none of Dukat's swaggering egotism, which Alaimo got down pat literally from the first moment that Dukat appeared. The other Cardassians are also good, especially Glinn Daro (played by the evocatively named Time Winters), and Bob Gunton is likewise great as a man who hides his grief and rage with well-practiced amiability. But the real star here is Colm Meaney, who adds more to his character here than he's been able to in the series to date. Meaney had already been working in TV and movies for over a decade, but his career really picks up after this, and if that wasn't directly because of his work here, I'm sure it didn't hurt.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:21 AM on January 25, 2021 [6 favorites]

The Wounded is an excellent episode and one of my TNG favorites. I love the scene when PIcard confronts Maxwell in his ready room. It's not often that Trek put two alpha Starfleet captains in the same room to butt heads. The scene is well written, and Patrick and Bob deliver the goods. Also, I love the Phoenix. It's a cool starship.
posted by Stuka at 11:55 AM on January 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

The moral complexity of this episode is kind of off the charts as far as TNG goes. Chief O'Brien's suppressed racism, and Maxwell's atrocities contrast with Glinn Daro's presumably genuine apology for the Setlik III massacre for being based on faulty intelligence, makes Starfleet look like the baddies here, Picard's revelation at the end notwithstanding.

Gul Macet's alarm that Starfleet is capable of reading their transponders is was fun.
posted by skewed at 12:55 PM on January 25, 2021 [3 favorites]

Cards from the episode in the Star Trek CCG:

Premiere featured Ben Maxwell, who at least has cool card art. 9 Integrity, though? Ala Kai Opaka? Hmm. His ship is also here. U.S.S. Phoenix is an Uncommon that's directly worse than a common without it's captain, ah well.

The Cardassians from this episode didn't get made until The Dominon set, after the Cardassian affiliation was fully introduced in the DS9 set. Telle, Daro, Macet, and Trager are all pretty average. Daro, as an expendable common, was a popular choice to report to and run Ore Processing Units at least. At the time, OPUs were popular to throw into a lot of different decks for draw manipulation, Daro was as a consequence a more 'popular' card than one might expect just looking at him.

Perhaps that accounts for Daro's return in Second Edition, with around 20 other purple-bordered personnel in the first set. Later, Macet, Skeptical Commander could help make the most of your Treacherous Cardassians when aboard Trager, Patrol Ship.

Lastly, Keiko O'Brien, Botanist turns up as a support element for decks running cards that cost a lot to bring into play. 2E is abstract like that.
posted by StarkRoads at 3:00 PM on January 25, 2021

"The Wounded" introduces the Cardassians and has an interesting plot.

But in my mind it has definite issues. I think Maxwell's motivations are poorly explained. Having him just out for revenge for the Cardassians slaughtering his family at Setlik III would be motivation enough, but mixing that in with them secretly prepping for war... That almost sets it up so that if we take away that angle, Maxwell may never have gone rogue. I would have been interested in learning more about how Maxwell got burned by the bureaucrats in Starfleet to the point he didn't trust them to act on the intelligence he had gathered. Maybe something along the lines of Setlik having been a preventable tragedy had Starfleet paid attention to something sooner?

O'Brien was "tactical officer" aboard Rutledge. He certainly gets a lot of command positions for being a noncom.

Chief O'Brien's suppressed racism

Is it racism though? I thought he was pretty clear he didn't hate them, he just hated how he turned out due to the war with them.
posted by Fukiyama at 3:40 PM on January 25, 2021

It's interesting seeing people say this is their favorite episode--I had literally no memory of it, even after I watched it again. I can't recall ever seeing it at any point, which is weird because: a) I taped every episode on Saturday nights and then watched them a couple times that week until the new episode aired, and b) it had Colm Meaney singing Minstrel Boy, which is one of my favorites. I don't know why I remember nothing about this. I have a vague recall of Maxwell being one of those "boo, hiss" type guys when he's showed up earlier, and it was probably because of this episode, but I can't come up with any more than that. I think if I had remembered this episode, it'd be because of that breakfast scene and how weird it is that Miles and Keiko don't ever seem to have discussed food during their courtship (so hard agree, hanov3r).

I got very tired of the Cardassians on DS9, but since I bounced on that show partway through its run, they felt a bit fresher here, although my favorite Cardassian stuff comes up later in Chain of Command.

The spoon-like indentation was inspired by an abstract painting he had seen two years earlier of a wide-shouldered woman with what appeared to be a spoon in the center of her forehead.

I...really thought that was going in another direction, because a spoon is not what that forehead thing reminds me of. It's one of the reasons I always had a hard time settling in to taking them seriously whenever they appeared.

I'm glad the hipster facial hair went away, too.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 3:45 PM on January 25, 2021

kitten kaboodle, the ep probably has a bit of extra power for DS9 fans, because of its status as a sort of unofficial pilot for that series.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:15 PM on January 25, 2021

I guess I will say something about the Cardassians. In "The Wounded," they do appear to be everything the writers wanted them to be: on par with the Federation, a credible long-term adversary that's not comical, too powerful, or stuck behind the Neutral Zone.
posted by Stuka at 5:58 PM on January 26, 2021 [3 favorites]

Side note, but: I always translated "Gul" in my head as "Colonel," not "Captain." Which isn't much of a distinction, in some ways, so it makes sense they'd function as peers - a US Navy Captain and an Army Colonel are both O-6s. But there's a long traditional of juntas run by "the colonels," and that always seemed to be the role the guls played in Cardassian society.
posted by Mr. Excellent at 7:48 PM on January 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

I always translated "Gul" in my head as "Colonel," not "Captain."

That makes sense.

It also brings up another question - why is that particular rank not translated by the Universal Translator? I'm hard-pressed to think of other non-English ranks heard in the various series. We get Legates and Commanders and Sub-commanders and Captains and Senators and Admirals and Generals... and "Guls"?
posted by hanov3r at 8:30 AM on January 27, 2021

Well, and "Gropplers."
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 9:35 AM on January 27, 2021 [3 favorites]

And DaiMons.
posted by Servo5678 at 10:04 AM on January 27, 2021

I'd guess that the variation might have to do with the ranks not corresponding exactly to Starfleet equivalents. Heck, even in our time, the same words don't mean the same thing in different branches of the military--an Army/Marines/Air Force captain is the same pay grade (0-3) as a Navy lieutenant, and a Navy captain is the same pay grade (0-6) as an Army/Marines/Air Force colonel. You also don't hear about commodores and marshals in the US anymore, because they basically don't exist. So, a gul is basically the equivalent of a captain, the rank probably covers a lot more ground--the only named Cardassian ranks are legate, gul, and glinn.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:34 AM on January 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

We're only a dozen or so episodes away from the one where we argue about the ridiculousness/impossibility/inconsistency of the universal translator, so I'll hold my comment until then.
posted by skewed at 1:58 PM on January 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

Halloween Jack, holding his breath.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:53 PM on January 27, 2021 [4 favorites]

It's neat how Colm Meaney and Miles O'Brien have similar arcs in the Treks, both starting out as a nobodies and rising up through sheer competence. He's come a long way from "Battle Bridge Conn" and "Security Guard 1" to the Chief we know and love.
posted by rodlymight at 10:45 AM on January 31, 2021 [3 favorites]

I'm glad they changed up the Cardassian uniforms, especially but not just that weird headpiece.

When Maxwell asked O'Brien, "How the devil did you get over here?" it reminded me of one of my favorite Police Squad bits ("Who are you and how did you get in here?" "I'm a locksmith, and I'm a locksmith.")
posted by ckape at 10:42 PM on January 31, 2021 [1 favorite]

Did they just get a really good deal on third-rate Kryten costumes or something?
posted by Kyol at 6:25 PM on February 9, 2021 [2 favorites]

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