Monday, February 19, 2018

Episode Review - Trials and Tribble-ations (Deep Space Nine, Season 5)

For those who are new to my episode reviews, you can find the post where I establish my point criteria here

Overview – Temporal Investigations arrives on DS9 to interview Captain Sisko on the recent voyage his crew made back in time to the 23rd century, where they encountered Captain James T. Kirk and the USS Enterprise on their mission to K-7. Sisko retells their adventure, how they were returning from Cardassia with a Bajoran orb and a human who was stranded on Cardassia when the Klingons invaded. Little does Sisko know that this human is actually a Klingon who was known as Arne Darvin, who nearly a century ago failed in his undercover mission to poison a shipment of grain and destabilize the Federation’s presence in this sector. As Darvin tries to assassinate Kirk, Sisko and his crew must covertly interact with Kirk’s crew and discreetly thwart Darvin’s schemes.

Score: 10/10 – The year was 1996. There were two Star Trek series on the air: DS9 and Voyager. Each one had a special episode linking their series to the Original to celebrate. This was DS9’s showing, and it is a classic. Using the ideas that was shown in the Oscar-winning movie “Forrest Gump”, the producers were able to splice the DS9 characters into one of the most beloved episodes in all of Star Trek, “The Trouble with Tribbles”. It was brilliantly executed and was so much fun to watch. To see classic scenes with our Sisko and his crew woven in was and still is a masterpiece of Star Trek. There is so much to comment on here. This was definitely a labor of love, and you could tell that by the amount of detail involved in it. From the uniforms to the sets to the props, everything is done so exceptionally well. I would recommend watching both this episode and “The Trouble with Tribbles” to gain a further appreciation for the detail. As an example, pay attention to the waitress in the bar who gets annoyed by everyone ordering raktajinos. She was played by an unknown actress in the Original series episode, and they recreated her to perfection in the DS9 version. There are so many inside jokes as well, especially relating to things that fans had been debating and commenting on for, well, three decades. I could continue, but I will save further commentary for the other sections here. Suffice it to say, this is one of the greatest episodes in Star Trek history.

Relevance 3 points. An obvious point for the retelling of the classic original episode. I am also scoring a point for Sisko mentioning how he wanted to speak to Kirk about fighting the Gorn. I can also score a point for the Dax-Koloth connection as well, but I think the third point should go to Worf’s explanation over the difference in the look of the Klingons. Enterprise had a two part story arc that provided a proper canon explanation for the difference, but Worf simply said it was a private matter that was not discussed with outsiders. O’Brien and Bashir asked if it was due to genetic engineering or a viral mutation, and the episodes in Enterprise decided to combine both theories into one.

Continuity – 3 points. Considering the amount of detail that went into this episode, there is no doubt that all continuity is in tact here. All the characters act the way that they are expected to. Of particular note, Jadzia’s nostalgia for the 23rd century is quite appropriate as she lived in that time. Universe continuity is intact as well here. I quite liked how Worf, as a Klingon, showed utter distaste for the little furballs. It was a nice touch adding some back story to the fate of the tribbles, and how the Klingon Empire eradicated them and their homeworld. Story wise not only is maintained, but the DS9 telling actually fills in a couple plot questions from the original episode. The best example of this is in the scene where Kirk opens the storage compartment and is buried in a pile of tribbles. When I saw that episode as a child, I always wondered why tribbles would randomly fall out of the bin. It was a delight for me to see Dax and Sisko tossing the odd tribble out of the compartment and have it be them pelting Kirk (inadvertently, of course). To whoever came up with that idea, I salute you.

Character Development – 2 points. Here I can only give two points. For everyone involved in this, nobody really gets their character developed much here. I will acknowledge that perhaps Odo gets the most growth and development to his character as he not only becomes enamoured with the tribbles, but he takes one back to the present and (accidentally) repopulates the species. It shows a softer side of the constable (who, if you recall, is still in solid form, so perhaps the tribbles brought him some comfort). It is also nice to see that Sisko was able to meet two legendary captains of past series, so I suspect that this could give him a bit of a rub as well. Also, we really see Dax get swept up into a nostalgic wave here, which adds a nice little subtext to her character. Not quite enough to get three full points, though.

Social Commentary – 2 points. While there was no real obvious social commentary made with this episode I really think that this episode was about celebrating the past. Similar to recreating the Enterprise bridge in “Relics”, I loved how they painstakingly replicated the sets, props, and costumes here. They gave so many hat tips to the fans. Dax seems to represent us, the fans, with her excitement about being on the Enterprise. They have the inside joke about Sisko and O’Brien wearing the wrong colored uniforms, acknowledging how TNG switched the command and support divisions colors from the original series. Everything about this episode was meant to celebrate thirty years of a classic television show, and it works.

Cool Stuff – 3 points. If I didn’t limit this section to three points this could become the highest ranked episode among my reviews. Let me pick my Top 3 here. First, and foremost, I love that they re-cast Charlie Brill to reprise his role as Arne Darvin. It was fortunate that he was available for it. He became the fourth and final actor to reprise their Original series character on DS9 (the other three also being Klingons). Second, to see the DS9 characters so expertly woven into the original series footage was delightful. I have two favorite moments of this, and I can’t decide which I like more. The first is when Dax is on the bridge, Kirk sits on the tribble that is on his seat, and he looks over at Dax, who gives him an innocent little shrug. The second is when Kirk is interrogating the line of crewmen who were apprehended brawling in the bar. O’Brien and Bashir are in the line, and O’Brien is even the one who Kirk asks if he threw the first punch. Finally, I need to score a point for the two investigators from Temporal Investigations. Their names, Dulmer and Lucsly, are anagrams of Mulder and Scully, the FBI agents from the X-Files.

Rank - Admiral (23 points). Seriously, this is a golden episode. I have yet to meet a person who did not appreciate the love and care that went into making this episode. An easy Top 10 of any DS9 list (and a strong contender of any favourite Trek episodes list), it allows the fans to celebrate the thirty (and now fifty) years of our beloved franchise with plenty of laughs and fun.

If you would like to read other reviews from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, please click the following link.

If you would like to read an episode review from any of the Trek series, click the following link to get to the series catalog. If the episode you want reviewed has not been done yet, then feel free to request it in the comments and I will see what I can do.

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