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3 September 2014
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Deep Space Nine
The Cardassians


Gul Madred The Cardassians are arguably Star Trek's most dramatically engaging and complex villains. A reptilian, warmongering race living under a brutal and morally primitive regime, they were originally a peaceful people that have gradually been corrupted by military rule.

First introduced in the Next Generation fourth season episode The Wounded, the depths of the Cardassians' barbarism was highlighted in the following year's two-part story Chain of Command, where their leader Gul Madred tortured Captain Picard into near-submission. However, recent episodes of Deep Space Nine - where the Cardassians are typically the showcase villains - have presented the race in less absolute terms. This shift is frequently expressed in the ambivalent form of Gul Dukat, played by Marc Alaimo.

The history of the Cardassian empire reveals an analogy of some of our most infamous dictatorships. Their military authority has long believed that ending the Cardassian people's starvation must come at the cost of plundering and destroying other planets' resources and cultures. A central focus of this rigidly executed policy has been Bajor, which the Cardassians ruthlessly subjugated and exploited for 35 years.

The tension between the Bajorans and the Cardassians has been a central theme of Deep Space Nine, where Captain Sisko has to balance his empathy for the plight of the Bajorans with the need to maintain a peace treaty between the Federation and the Cardassians - an invariably fraught task. The Cardassians' military hierarchy is denoted by Senior Officers carrying the prefix 'Gul' (such as Gul Du Kat and Gul Madred) and subordinates a less strapping 'Glin.'

Key Cardassian episodes: Ensign Ro, Chain of Command 1 and 2, The Chase, (The Next Generation), Emissary, Return to Grace, Tribunal (Deep Space Nine).


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