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Star Trek Deep Space Nine: Tribunal

Odo as the Nestor, looking up at Makbar.
Being accused of a crime is not a disgrace.

O'Brien has discovered shiny gigolo wear. Appropriate as he’s going on vacation with Keiko. But can any attempt Miles makes at scaling the heights of fashion turn out well? I mean, he's immediately accused of a crime.

Miles is a workaholic. I'm not sure if I find this as funny as the show wants me to; how often has the station crashed or been taken over by alien viruses or whatever? I have to admit, however, that his head popping up from the elevator was hilarious. Here, we see Miles ostensibly forced to relax – no Molly, no books, nothing but Keiko, some music with two instruments, and a kiss timed for the counterpoint. I'm actually a little surprised and impressed with Miles – and then the Cardassians arrive.

This is a weird sort of episode for me. On the one hand, the plot of the episode is fairly standard. O'Brien is found to be guilty of collaboration with the Maquis, in particular of illegally giving them weapons. He doesn't even have a chance; Cardassian trials are shows in which the guilt or innocence of the victim (usually guilt) has already been decided. By the end of the episode we find out he's been framed with voice recordings and plastic surgery; an 'old friend' named Boone, who'd been with O'Brien on the Rutledge, turned out to have been a surgically altered Cardassian spy, so O'Brien gets off. It's not that great or exciting a plot, and we've already had a few episodes with characters imprisoned. They figure out Boone is really a Cardassian, and the situation is unraveled by a deus ex machina.

But I think it's also fair to look at the rest of the episode – which is an ensemble performance that should not be ignored, one in which Keiko takes a far bigger role than usual; Odo steps up as Nestor, an officer of the Cardassian court; Sisko stands up for O'Brien, Kira, Dax and Bashir investigate the situation and people on DS9; we learn a ton of stuff about the Cardassian legal system – and we're introduced to Chief Archon Makbar, whose hairstyle reminds me weirdly of the characters in The Fifth Element, or maybe Ayesha, the golden queen from Guardians of the Galaxy 2. Makbar is a very effective antagonist; her overly-sprayed hair stays in place just like the Cardassian legal system is supposed to.

By the end of the episode I admit to being much more afraid of the Cardassians. The guilt-before-trial thing alone is terrifying, but the scene where O'Brien is stripped naked and processed terrified me. Even the subsequent fake-nice conversation with Makbar just has overtones of hell and reich and darkness. O'Brien's assigned lawyer, Kovac, came across as more of an end-of-life therapist with overtones of the mayor of Camazotz.

Bits and Pieces

The Cardassians take teeth as part of the 'processing' they put prisoners through. A very dark version of the tooth fairy, isn't it?

It's nice to see the Maquis still having an effect on this region. But their visit to Bashir was very darkness and Deep Throat, wasn't it?

Kovat at the end, thinking he's going to be killed by Cardassians. Oh well, it will probably be very uplifting, Kovat!

At the end O'Brien almost goes back to work – then Sisko reveals he's been in touch with the lagoon and extended O'Brien's vacation.


Keiko: Do these chairs recline?
O'Brien: I wish they did.
Keiko: You're an engineer. Do something about it. I'll make it worth your while.

Kovat: This trial is to demonstrate the futility of behavior contrary to good order. Everyone will find it most uplifting.
O'Brien: Not everyone.
Kovat: Once again, justice will be done. Our lives will be reaffirmed, safe and secure. Here on Cardassia, all crimes are solved, all criminals are punished, all endings are happy. Even the poorest of our subjects can walk the streets in the dead of night in perfect safety. You're only one man, but your conviction will be a salutary experience for millions. Now then, the trial opens tomorrow. Do you have any questions, anything you want to tell me?
O'Brien: Only that I am not guilty of any crime, and that I hold this whole procedure with nothing but contempt.
Kovat: That's good, that's good. Maintain that level of arrogance in the courtroom and we should put on a very good show indeed.

Gul Evek: According to reliable sources, the Maquis arranged the theft.
Odo: I object.
Kovat: Madame Archon, please!
Makbar: I thought we went over this yesterday, Mister Odo. What is it this time?
Odo: Gul Evek has tied the Maquis to this plot by quoting reliable sources. I think we deserve to know who these reliable sources are.
Makbar: Can you provide any details, Gul Evek?
Gul Evek: I'm afraid that information cannot be revealed without risk to national security, Madame Archon.
Makbar: That's an acceptable answer.
Odo: Might we know how Gul Evek learned the warheads were in the runabout?
Gul Evek: Yes, of course. We learned about them from reliable sources.
Makbar: Are you satisfied, Nestor?
Odo: Madame Archon!
Makbar: Enough. This is already the longest trial in the history of Cardassia.


Not a great and exciting episode, but I always love seeing the crew pull together like they did here. Three and a half out of five tech update manuals.

1 comment:

  1. Evidently all Cardassians give a tooth to the government when they reach puberty, or thereabouts. One aspect of this is that the treatment they were giving to O'Brien was perfectly normal in their eyes. Even he says, when Odo appears, that he was not really mistreated.

    It does make their culture creepy - but fascinating.

    Odo had some great lines!


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