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Improbable Cause

Production no.: 465
Teleplay by: René Echevarria
Story by: Robert Lederman & David R. Long
Directed by: Avery Brooks
Stardate: not given 
First satellite airdate: April 22, 1995
Andrew Robinson .......
Carlos LaCamara .......
Joseph Ruskin ............
Darwyn Carson ..........
Julianna McCarthy ......
Paul Dooley ...............
Enabran Tain

Garak and Bashir are having yet another of their lunchtime debates, this one about Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. From Garak's Cardassian perspective, the play is a farce about a supposedly brilliant leader who can't see what's going on under his own nose. Bashir is eating rather quickly, which Garak notes as a human characteristic. "Fear of starvation amid plenty -- it points to some dark secret hidden in the human soul, a gnawing hunger. Perhaps someone should do a study." Yet Garak subtly makes sure to get up when Bashir does, with the excuse that he's been eating Delavian chocolates all morning and isn't really hungry. They part after Garak promises to bring Bashir some of the chocolates.

Kira catches up to Bashir to talk to him about a soon-to-arrive ambassador. Suddenly there is a violent explosion nearby in Garak's shop. They rush to the scene, where Bashir finds Garak lying on the floor, not seriously injured but a bit stunned. "I'm afraid your pants won't be ready tomorrow after all," the tailor says.

Sisko, O'Brien, and Odo investigate the explosion, which was caused by a rupture in a power conduit behind a wall. Odo believes it was deliberate, and this is confirmed by the presence of nitrilin, a rare element that he guesses to be residue from a micro-explosive device rigged to cause a rupture. Sisko has Kira delay departures from the station, and decides to have a talk with Garak.

Garak, who is being treated in the infirmary, professes innocent surprise that anyone would want to kill him, a simple tailor. Odo isn't buying, and neither is Sisko, who suggests that Garak give serious thought to that question. "Well, let me see -- there's the Nausicaan whose wedding suit I misplaced, and the Yridian I owe money to, and, of course, there's always Major Kira," Garak says. Sisko asks if this attempt could have anything to do with the reason for his exile. Garak is straight-faced as he replies, "I seriously doubt the Finance Ministry would try to have me killed for failure to pay my taxes." Skeptical, Sisko and Odo leave him with a security detail.

"Someone should do a study," remarks Bashir pointedly. "To try and figure out why some people can't bring themselves to trust anyone, even if it's in their own best interest." "Why is it no one ever believes me even when I'm telling the truth?" complains Garak. Bashir relates the fable of the boy who cried wolf, but Garak misses the message that constant dishonesty destroys one's credibility. To him, the moral of the story is "that you should never tell the same lie twice."

A bit later, Garak arrives at security, where Odo has asked to see him. "I have bad news for you," Odo tells him sardonically. "Major Kira has an airtight alibi." He wants Garak to look over passenger manifests, to see if he recognizes any names of people who might wish him harm. Garak obliges, but says he doesn't see any names that are familiar to him. Odo has him keep looking, remarking that Garak should have plenty of time on his hands now. Then O'Brien comes in with the results of a biomolecular scan of Garak's shop: there were traces of living tissue.  Odo recognizes it as remains of a pheromonic sensor, which is triggered when a person of a particular species gets within range. They are commonly used by Flaxian assassins, and a Flaxian came aboard the station just this morning.

The Flaxian, Retaya, is a merchant dealing in fabrics and fragrances, though Odo notes when he questions him that Retaya had been a suspect in a murder previously. Odo then opens Retaya's sample case of perfumes, pretending to be interested in buying something for a "lady friend". Since he doesn't have a sense of smell, he has Retaya describe the aromas inside the various bottles that he takes out while he continues the questioning. Retaya, of course, claims an alibi for the time of the explosion. Once Odo has selected three bottles, he proposes mixing two of the perfumes, which is fine with Retaya. But when Odo starts to add the third, the merchant stops him. "I really don't think your lady friend will like the aroma." "Much less the fact that when these three fragrances are combined, they produce a gaseous mixture that can trigger a fatal heart attack when inhaled," points out Odo. Retaya pretends to be appalled at the notion. Odo knows he's lying, but can't prove it right now, so he ends the session, letting Retaya know he's still a suspect.

Later, Odo watches Retaya as he's about to depart the station. O'Brien tells him he has put a transponder on the Flaxian's ship. "Who do you think he's going to lead you to?" the Chief asks. "If I knew that, I wouldn't have to follow him," Odo says.

When Odo boards the runabout to follow Retaya, he is surprised to find Garak there. "I happen to know that you're too dogged an investigator to allow the only witness in this case to simply disappear," the Cardassian says. "Congratulations," replies Odo sarcastically. "Your powers of deduction are truly astonishing. Now if you will kindly disembark, I will get on with my dogged investigation." Garak does no such thing -- he wants to come along. They argue until Garak points out that the Flaxian will soon be out of tracking range. Finally Odo gives in. "Trust me, Constable, I can be a most pleasant traveling companion," Garak says. "And this promises to be an interesting trip." However, as they are following Retaya, the Flaxian's ship explodes. "It seems that our interesting trip has just been cut short," comments Odo.

A discussion is held in the wardroom, where O'Brien says that according to the telemetry of the transponder, there was an interference pattern, which Dax guesses was caused by a forced neutrino inversion. Odo recognizes this as a common technique used by the Romulans, leading him to the theory that the Romulans hired Retaya to kill Garak, then killed Retaya when he failed in his mission. Sisko asks Garak if he knows why the Romulans would want to have him killed. Garak says he has no idea; Sisko doesn't believe him, but Odo, oddly enough, does. "Because if he did know, he'd already be spinning out an elaborate web of lies to cover up the truth." "Well, the truth is usually just an excuse for lack of imagination," Garak philosophizes. "If you want to know what the Romulans have against me, you'll have to ask them." Sisko says he will, though he doesn't expect them to be entirely forthcoming.

However, when he and Odo contact a member of the Tal Shiar, the woman very matter-of-factly states that they did destroy the Flaxian's ship. She says Retaya was wanted for crimes against the Romulan empire, and his death was a legal execution. Probing, Sisko mentions the possibility of his having been an assassin, and the fact that someone tried to kill Garak. The Romulan plays it cool, and continues to do so when Odo remarks on the timing of their having caught up with Retaya hours after the attempt on Garak's life. After cutting transmission, Sisko and Odo discuss what they know so far. Neither one believes the Romulan's story, and they still don't know why the Romulans would want Garak dead. "Considering those uniforms of theirs, you'd think they'd appreciate a decent tailor," remarks Odo wryly. His investigation is at a standstill; there's no proof of Romulan involvement, or even that Retaya was the one who tried to kill Garak.

"What do we know about Garak?" Sisko thinks aloud. "He was exiled from Cardassia, for what reason, we're not sure. He never leaves the station. He avoids contact with other Cardassians. And it's possible that he was once an intelligence agent of the Obsidian Order." It's reasonable to assume that the Order might have something to do with these events, but they're notoriously uncooperative about answering questions concerning former agents of theirs. Odo, however, has certain resources in the Cardassian government, which he'd rather not elaborate on, but he asks Sisko for the use of a runabout, and Sisko agrees.

In a cavern on a moon somewhere in Cardassian space, Odo meets with a Cardassian informant who speaks from the shadows, not wanting Odo to see his face. The informant confirms that the Romulans were behind the attempt on Garak's life. He claims not to know why, "but I do know that you are investigating a very insignificant piece of a much larger puzzle." The informant speaks of unusual Romulan activity near the Cardassian border, which sounds to Odo like they're planning an invasion. "It doesn't make any sense," the informant puzzles, to which Odo says, "Does war ever make sense?" "Still the wry observer of humanoid folly," the informant remarks. "Tell me, do you still do the Cardassian neck trick?" Odo replies with an edge that he doesn't.

Back to the matter at hand, the informant tells Odo that five other former operatives of the Obsidian Order died yesterday, and that there were indications of Romulan involvement in each case. He tosses Odo a PADD with the names of the dead operatives, suggesting that he show the list to Garak and ask him about it. "I trust you'll agree that this information satisfies my debt to you." Odo does. "However," the informant adds, "if you do learn something from your tailor and wish to share it with me, I would be indebted to you again." "I'll consider it," says Odo.

Garak is amazed when he sees the names, though not particularly grief-stricken. He admits that he did know them, but not through being in the Obsidian Order. Odo loses his temper. "I've had enough of your dissembling, Garak. I am not Dr. Bashir, and we are not sparring amiably over lunch! Now, you dragged me into this investigation, and you are now going to cooperate with me." Odo then proceeds to confront Garak with the knowledge that the tailor actually blew up his own shop. Garak professes astonishment at the outrageous notion, but Odo is convinced of this. He says he knew it ever since he spoke with the Flaxian. Retaya was planning to poison Garak, and assassins don't like to vary their methods. "I think you spotted him on the station, and then blew up your shop so that I'd begin an investigation." "That seems like a very elaborate way to get you involved," Garak counters. "If I needed your help, I could have just asked." "But you couldn't be sure that I'd take you seriously, or that I'd help you," Odo points out. "Besides, I think you secretly enjoyed destroying your own shop." Garak doesn't deny that. "Well, I admit watching it burn wasn't exactly tragic."

Now, Odo says, Garak is stuck with him. He wants to know who the dead operatives were and what their connection is to Garak. Finally, Garak levels with him: they were all associates and trusted advisors of Enabran Tain. He doesn't know why the Romulans wanted them dead, but he says Tain might. "That is, unless he's suffered an unfortunate accident as well," notes Odo. "That is a distinct possibility," Garak says grimly. He asks to use Odo's communications system, and Odo allows him to do so.

Garak puts in a call to Tain's home, and speaks to an old Cardassian woman named Mila. Odo can't help but notice the aura of affection and regret between the two. Mila says that Tain is not there, and she doesn't know where he is; he left yesterday in a great hurry. She is obviously afraid. "He's in trouble, isn't he? You have to help him, Elim. I know you're still bitter because of what happened between the two of you, but you must help him." With a trace of emotion showing, Garak promises to do so. He cuts the transmission, and tells Odo he'll need a runabout. "We'll need a runabout," Odo corrects him. "I'm coming with you."

Bashir accompanies Garak to the airlock as the tailor makes ready to depart, and asks if there's anything he can do for Garak while he's gone. Garak tells him there's an isolinear rod in his quarters, which Bashir is to find and eat; realizing his leg is being pulled, Bashir smiles, gives him back the chocolates Garak had given him, and wishes him luck.

Garak and Odo leave for the Unefra system, near the Cardassian border, where Tain has a safe house that no one is supposed to know about, especially Garak. Odo probes Garak a little about Mila, who Garak says has been Tain's housekeeper and confidante for over 30 years; Odo is a bit surprised that someone who worked for Tain would be so fond of Garak, as he understands Garak and Tain didn't part on the best of terms. Garak admits to that much, and he concedes that he can see why Odo would be curious as to why he would risk his life for Tain. "You owe him something," Odo guesses, playing the game. "A logical deduction," says Garak. "I see why you're the constable." "But it's more than that," Odo presses. "He means something to you, something personal." "Ah, now you've just moved from deduction to supposition," Garak replies, not giving an inch. "You wouldn't risk going into Cardassian space for just anyone," Odo continues. "It would have to be someone important to you, someone you cared about. I think you were more than Tain's advisor. I think you were his protege, and he was your mentor. That is, until he sent you into exile -- and yet, despite all that, you care enough about him to risk your life for him. Or is all that just supposition?" Garak gives him a long look; Odo has indeed hit very close to the truth. But then he turns it around.

"Very interesting analysis. Very interesting. Particularly coming from you...It's been my observation that you always act from a sense of justice, or at least what you consider justice. There's no feeling behind what you do, no emotion beyond a certain distaste for loose ends and disorder. You don't know what it means to care about someone, do you? People are just interesting creatures to be studied and analyzed." "Is there any point to this?" Odo asks. Garak drives it home. "Only that I find it interesting that you ascribe feelings and motivations to me that you know nothing about. Or am I wrong? Tell me, is there one person in this universe you do care for? One person who's more than just an interesting puzzle to be solved? Is there, Odo? Anyone?" This time it's Garak who has hit very close, but Odo doesn't blink. "If there were, I certainly wouldn't tell you," he says. Garak smiles. "And that would be a wise decision."

When they finally reach the Unefra system, they are barely out of warp before a Romulan ship decloaks on top of them, and nabs them with a tractor beam. Odo tries sending a distress signal, but the Romulans jam the transmission. Then two armed Romulan guards beam on board. On the Romulan ship, Odo and Garak are marched into a ready room where they are stunned to see none other than Enabran Tain sitting there as if he owns the place. "Ah, Garak. It's good of you to come. It spares me the trouble of having to send someone else to kill you."

Garak recovers his cool enough to converse with his mentor. Odo isn't nearly so amiable. The sparring continues lightly, but with a dangerous undertone. "Frankly, I don't find any of this interesting," declares Odo. "You both go to such lengths to hide the true meaning of your words, you end up saying nothing." "I think you'll find when I have something to say, you won't have any trouble understanding it," Tain says evenly. He then reveals why he's here: this ship is part of a combined fleet of Romulan and Cardassian vessels that will soon be traveling to the Gamma Quadrant. "You're going to attack the Dominion, aren't you?" Odo realizes. "You're going to stage a first strike against them, before they can come into the Alpha Quadrant."

Garak is impressed. "A daring plan. I didn't think there was anyone in the Central Command bold enough to take on the Dominion." "Who said anything about the Central Command?" Tain says. "This is a joint operation between the Obsidian Order and the Tal Shiar. We've been building a fleet of ships in the Orias System for months now." Odo points out that the Dominion will certainly strike back, causing a war that Romulus and Cardassia might not win, but Tain doesn't think so. The plan is to wipe out the Dominion in a single blow by eliminating the Founders. Odo can't help but look somewhat troubled by the prospect of the destruction of his people, despite the fact that he has turned his back on them. Tain notes this, but says they know the location of the Founders' homeworld -- which Odo realizes he got from the Romulans, who were given the information by Starfleet as part of their deal for the cloaking device on the Defiant.

For his part, Garak wonders why Tain found it necessary to kill him and the others. Tain replies that he doesn't plan to go back into retirement. Therefore he decided to eliminate his old associates because they knew things that might be used against him. "Like I used to say -- always burn your bridges behind you. You never know who might be trying to follow." Garak points out that Tain also used to say that the Tal Shiar were sloppy -- he shouldn't have relied on them. Tain agrees; they shouldn't have hired the Flaxian to blow up Garak's shop. When Garak tells him he blew up his shop himself, Tain is amused. "You blew up your own shop? You, my friend, are a true original. If you hadn't betrayed me, things would have been very different."

"I never betrayed you!" Garak exclaims with sudden passion. "At least, not in my heart. Why do you think I'm here? I came because I thought the Romulans were trying to kill you. I came here to save you." Tain studies him. "I never thought I'd hear myself say this, Garak, but I believe you. You can go." He adds that Odo will have to stay, but Garak is free. If he warns anyone, it's too late for them to do anything about it. "Central Command will have a war on its hands, whether it wants one or not. And as for Starfleet, this isn't their fight. They won't interfere."

"It's a trick, Garak," warns Odo. "After all this, he won't let you just walk away." "It's not a trick," Tain counters. "It's a choice. You can walk out that door, or join me...That is what you've been waiting for, isn't it? To end your exile, to come back into the fold. I'm asking you to serve Cardassia again, by my side." Garak is taken aback. "You'll pardon me if I appear a little startled, but are you saying that all is forgiven?" "I can't forgive what you did," Tain tells him, "but I can try to forget. To put it aside as if it never happened. So, do you want to go back to your shop and hem pants, or shall we pick up where we left off?"

Odo sees what's coming. "Garak, this is the man who put you into exile. This is the man who just two days ago tried to have you killed." "Yes," Garak says, gazing at Tain like a starving man who has just been offered a feast. "He is. But it doesn't matter. I'm back." He crosses over and takes hold of Tain's arm, together again.

To be continued...

  • This story became a two-parter late in the day, as the only solution to the writers' dilemma over how to end it. Since "Through the Looking Glass" was to be shot immediately afterwards, the production team decided to film "The Die is Cast" after "Looking Glass", and switch the airdates. "Looking Glass" was aired first, and the two-parter thus could air consecutively. Fortunately, actor Paul Dooley was able to keep his schedule open to do "The Die is Cast".
  • The hairstyling team received an Emmy nomination for this episode.