On Monday, the documentary What We Left Behind: Looking Back at Star Trek: Deep Space held a one-night-only theatrical engagement across North America. The film was a retrospective look at the dark horse series in the Star Trek franchise, but also shed light on some things left ambiguous by the series itself.
One of those things is the sexual identity of Garak, the Cardassian spy living in exile on Deep Space 9 as a “simple tailor.” Garak, played by Andrew Robinson, took a special interest in the space station’s Starfleet medical officer, Dr. Julian Bashir, played by Alexander Siddig. At first, it was not exactly clear what Garak wanted from Bashir — friendship, information, entertainment — but Robinson gives a pretty straightforward answer to that question in the documentary.
“At first, he just wanted to have sex with him,” Robinson says. “That’s absolutely clear.”
In the documentary, showrunner Ira Steven Behr admits that, despite having one of television’s earliest same-sex kisses, he didn’t feel like the show did enough to address sexual identity in the show. Garak’s sexuality is never addressed textually in Deep Space Nine, In an interview with ComicBook.com, Behr says he would have liked to have investigated that more.
“I wish we could have done a little bit more with the Garak character,” Behr says. “I talk about it in the doc. I mean, he was clearly gay or queer or however you want to say it. I think I would have loved to have taken that and see where that went and how that affected his relationship with Bashir.”
At the time Deep Space Nine aired, Garak was a divisive character. Fans found the narcissistic antagonist Gul Dukat more compelling than the mysterious Garak. Since Deep Space Nine has been available to stream in its entirety, that has changed, with Garak becoming the more popular Cardassian. Behr told ComicBook.com a bit about why he thinks that is.
“Garak is a mystery wrapped in an enigma,” Behr says. “So who he is, what he really is, who the hell knows? And I think it took a more sophisticated audience to really get behind that kind of a character, because back in the day, it seemed anyway, that mystery and ... I don't want to say subtlety, but something along those lines ... That's not what people want, that they wanted their TNG good, bad, everything very clear, everything very clean, everything very understandable. And at the end of the day, everything was safe. Everything was basically safe. And Garak is not a safe character. And the fact now that he's so popular says something about how the audience has matured. And that's a good thing.”
How did you feel about Garak? Let us know in the comments. What We Left Behind: Looking Back at Star Trek: Deep Space Nine will be available on home media soon.
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