Garak makes the unpleasant acquaintance of Rugal, a Cardassian boy who has been raised by Bajorans and who now hates his own race. Gul Dukat insists to investigate the case, but Garak gives Dr. Bashir a cue that the boy, like other Cardassian orphans, was left behind on Bajor on Dukat's orders. Dukat later reveals that the boy is the son of Pa'Dar, an influential politician on Cardassia. Bashir and Garak take a shuttle to the orphanage on Bajor where any record about Rugal is missing. It turns out that Dukat deliberately separated the boy from his father and erased the evidence in the hopes of humiliating his political opponent. Sisko decides that, although the Bajoran foster father named Proka loves Rugal as if he were his own child, the boy should be returned to Pa'Dar.

Errors and Explanations

The Nitpickers Guide for Deep Space Nine Trekkers

Plot Oversights

  1. Garak seems inconsistent in his attitude toward the orphaned Cardassian children of Bajor. Alter visiting the Tozhat resettlement center, Garak tells Bashir that orphaned children have no standing in Cardassian culture. And while leaving the center, a young Cardassian girl asks Garak if he’s come to take her back to Cardassia. Garak gives her an uncomtortable “No" before scurrying away. Oddly enough, at the start of this episode - when first laying eyes on Rugal - Garak is immediately taken with the Cardassian boy. He even wanders over to his table to say hello. This leads to the infamous hand-biting scene and sets the rest of the episode’s events in motion. lt almost makes one wonder it Garak intentionally greeted Rugal - knowing the young man’s hatred of Cardassians - simply to stir up trouble. More likely that the hand bite from Rugal has made Garak wary of the girl.
  2. After the hand-biting incident, Bashir reports to Sisko. Bashir rides a turbolift up to Ops, hops off, and apologizes for being late. Sisko, Kira, Dax, O'Brien, and Odo stand around the center table, apparently having a meeting. When Bashir explains that Garak has just been bitten by a Cardassian child, Odo immediately leaves Ops. So...they weren't having a meeting? (Or was the meeting optional" for Odo?) Maybe Odo decided he was not needed for the rest of the meeting, possibly to question Garak about the hand bite.
  3. At one point Bashir questions a businessman over the Dabo table about Rugal’s upbringing. The man is on a winning streak and periodically interrupts his conversation with Bashir to yell, “Dabo!” Yet the last time we hear the wheel slow to a stop, nothing happens. The man doesn’t yell, “Dabo!” but neither does he moan, and the crowd is strangely silent as well. ls there some combination in Dabo where everything just stays the same’? Maybe everyone at the table is distracted by the conversation!
  4. Cardassian children must grow up fast. Rugal supposedly went to the orphanage when he was four. That was eight years ago. The first thing he remembers is his Baioran adoptive lather teaching him how to swim. One could surmise that he was adopted fairly quickly after arriving at the orphanage. That means Rugal is twelve, on the outside thirteen. He carries himself like a fifteen- or sixteen-year-old human. It may be natural for Cardassian children to look a few years older just after puberty.
  5. After Bashir interrupts his conversation with Gui Dukat, Sisko tells his CMO that he wants to meet with Garak at 2100 hours. Did this meeting ever take place? There's no subsequent mention of it. Perhaps it didn’t lead to anything useful.
  6. The entire premise of this episode deserves some scrutiny. Supposedly Gul Dukat has brought up the issue of the orphans to embarrass Kotan Pa’Dar-—a high-ranking member of the civilian assembly on Cardassia-because hearings are about to starting over the military’s involvement in the Circie’s attempted coup. (See The Homecoming, The Circle and The Siege.) I fail to understand how this conveniently embarrassing situation came about in the first place. Does Gul Dukat have some dirty little secret on every low-level civilian officer who ever worked on Bajor? Remember that this scenario began eight years ago when Pa’Dar was exarch of a Cardassian settlement on Bajor. This does not sound like a prominent position to me. in other words, Pa’Dar was a “nobody.” lt seems unlikely then that Dukat would single this particular person out to murder his wife and turn his son over to a Bajoran orphanage—-just in case the guy ever made it to the upper echelon of the Cardassian civil government. How could he possibly know Pa’Dar’s destiny? (The only conclusion is that Dukat was indeed a very busy boy all through his years on Bajor, collecting dirt and creating indelicate situations to later use as leverage against anyone who might possibly become a threat in the distant future!) Being an exarch may be more important than it seems to us.

Equipment Oddities

  1. Soon after Rugal bites Garak, Gul Dukat contacts the station. Sisko stands in Ops. Kira announces that he has a call. Sisko says, “ln my office.” Then the commander walks up the stairs and through his doors. He sits on his desk, facing a monitor on his back wall. Beside Sisko, we see his desk terminal. The message comes up on the monitor on the back wall. Why didn't the message go to the desk terminal? ls it standard practice for Kira to watch Sisko and route the message differently depending on where he sits, or did the computer do this automatically? The message could have been routed based on info from an internal tracking system.
  2. Here’s some picayune nitpicking for you. O'Brien comes home to find Keiko setting the table tor supper. Large decorative plates are already on the table. Keiko has three dinner plates in her hands. O'Brien takes them and sets them on top of the decorative plates. Next, Keiko calls Rugal to the table. Both he and O’Brien sit. Kerko walks over to the replicator. We hear the replication cycle completing, and she picks up some bowls of Zaba meat stew. When she sets them down in front of O’Brien and Rugal, we can see that the bowls match the dinner plates. lt appears that the stew constitutes the entire meal.. Did Keiko replicate the plates just so the bowls would look nicer on the table. Wouldn't this be considered -gasp - wasteful!? (Aaaaaaah! How could high and noble twenty-fourth-century humans do such a thing?) The plates could be there to catch stray bits of the stew that fall from the spoons.

Continuity And Production Problems

  1. Apparently Quark replaced one of his Dabo girls and kept the costume. This episode feature an alien female in a gold lamé outfit that has a large section of cloth strategically cut from the midriff area, exposing the lower third of her breasts. This outfit first appeared in Unification ll (TNG). However, in top portion of the dress was...shall we say “filled to capacity”? In this episode there’s a wrinkle down the center of it. Quark probably didn’t want to spend money getting it resized/replaced.

Nit Central

  1. ScottN on Friday, June 11, 1999 - 12:33 pm: So what happened to all the Cardassian kids still at the Bajoran orphanage? Mark Stanley on Tuesday, June 15, 1999 - 9:30 am: It's become a common fanfic convention to have Garak and Bashir making regular charity runs for the orphans of Bajor, particularly the abandoned Cardassians. What happens to them as they grow up is anybody's guess -- renounce their heritage and become second class Bajorans, or go back to Cardassia where they have no status at all? A quandry, to be sure.
  2. Keith Alan Morgan (Kmorgan) on Thursday, August 31, 2000 - 10:48 pm: If there were allegations of Rugal being treated badly, then shouldn't a psychologist have spoken to the boy, instead of O'Brien? Maybe they thought Rugal may be more responsive to O’Brien.
  3. Keiko is eating a stew with meat, however, IIRC, the NextGen episode The Wounded indicated she was a vegetarian and was bothered by O'Brien's request for a stew like his mom's made with meat. I guess her tastes have changed. Rene on Friday, September 15, 2000 - 8:49 pm: I don't think that's right...It was never indicated she was a vegetarian...she seemed pleased that his mom used real meat. Josh M on Friday, September 15, 2000 - 10:19 pm: Even if she is a vegetarian, maybe it's that veggie-meat or soy meat or something. Who says that it's real meat? Keith Alan Morgan (Kmorgan) on Saturday, September 16, 2000 - 10:14 pm: IIRC in The Wounded, Miles was tired of her vegetarian meals and Keiko reacted in a combination of shock & disgust "with real meat?". Perhaps I'm misremembering and/or misinterpreting, but it was my impression she was a vegetarian. Rene on Sunday, September 17, 2000 - 9:33 am: I think you're misremembering. I seem to remember her being amazed/envious that his mother used real meat.
  4. Dukat planned to use the boy to discredit Pa'Dar because when the government would reveal that the boy was abandoned on Bajor & raised by Bajorans it will offend the Cardassian people and Pa'Dar's career will be over. At the end Pa'Dar gets the boy, but the announcement will not be made. However, won't the Cardassians be suspicious that the boy is alive, wearing a Bajoran earring, knowing Bajoran beliefs, and probably considers his fellow Cardassians murderers? Don't Cardassians gossip? It may take longer, but I believe Dukat's plan would have eventually seen fruition. Not if there were rumours floating around that Dukat was responsible for the whole thing in the first place.
  5. D.K. Henderson on Wednesday, March 30, 2005 - 7:39 pm: Phil brought up a point in his book that was glossed over in the show. Just how did a Cardassian officer from Terek Nor get hold of a lost four year old boy? The boy had supposedly vanished after a terrorist attack. I find it difficult to believe that Bajoran terrorists would meet with Cardassians to hand a child over to them. A very obvious possibility is that Rugal's mother was murdered, their home destroyed, and Rugal kidnapped by Cardassians. Yet, confronted with the knowledge that Rugal had been turned in to the center by a Cardassian officer, Pa'Dar did not react the notion of his wife having been murdered by her own kind. He was simply pleased that he now had an "edge" to control Dukat with. Alternatively, the young Rugal could have been rescued from the wreckage by the female officer, who placed him in the orphanage before reporting to Dukat.

Deep Space Nine Season 2
The Homecoming I The Circle I The Siege I Invasive Procedures I Cardassians I Melora I Rules of Acquisition I Necessary Evil I Second Sight I Sanctuary I Rivals I The Alternate I Armageddon Game I Whispers I Paradise I Shadowplay I Playing God I Profit and Loss I Blood Oath I The Maquis Part 1 I The Maquis Part 2 I The Wire I Crossover I The Collaborator I Tribunal I The Jem’Hadar
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