Raging about my own incompetence regarding bash et al.
So, apparently ssh only passes one string as the command to the remote host. Seems logical, but really broke my thinking process about how and where variables are evaluated (I needed a variable to be parsed on machine, then send a command including that value to remote... But since it contains spaces I do the sensible thing by putting quotes around it, and that doesn't do anything because ssh only sends a single string)
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