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The Trek Nation - Trials and Tribble-ations

Trials and Tribble-ations

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 10:30 AM GMT

See Also: 'Trials and Tribble-ations' Episode Guide

Asked to justify his apparent temporal tampering to a Starfleet board of inquiry, Sisko explains that he was inadvertently drawn into the past when Arne Darvin, the Klingon spy who poisoned the quadrotriticale on space station K-7 a century earlier, went back in time in an attempt to murder Captain James T. Kirk, whom the Klingon blamed for his ignoble life.

Sisko, Dax, Bashir, O'Brien, Worf, and Odo infiltrate Kirk's Enterprise and the space station to stop the assassin and preserve the timeline, ultimately finding a bomb in a tribble and saving Captain Kirk from certain death, if not from inundation by tribbles. The Deep Space Nine crew gets to meet legends from the past, and all's well that ends well.

Analysis:

I'm of a double mind about crossover episodes. If they're done well, they remind us of everything we've ever loved about Star Trek. But they also remind us of everything we loved about Classic Trek which the new generation of shows don't do nearly as well.

The two Deep Space Nine crossovers are outgrowths of comic classics - "Mirror, Mirror" and "The Trouble With Tribbles" - but, in using the humor from the original series, the DS9 episodes have highlighted just how humorless the new show often is. Hence, "Trials and Tribbleations" was a delightful surprise, but also an annoying reminder that DS9 never manages to pull off silly episodes with the aplomb of the original series.

This was a terrific Sisko episode. He was very funny but menacing in his dealings with the time-travel authorities, and he managed to be commanding yet enthusiastic during the crisis with the Klingon assassin. He reminded me of Kirk in all the best ways, despite the idiocy of his sending Worf to a station filled with Klingon-hostile officers - necessary for a tribble sight gag, and a joke about Klingon physiology to address inter-series continuity problems.

And this was a terrific Dax episode. Finally, a woman with a wandering eye to rival Kirk's, and she didn't even look at Captain Tomcat; she was too busy staring at Spock's eyes, and remembering McCoy's hands! I loved her cracks about the awful uniforms women wore on the original series, and the fact that Dax is apparently not going to let Worf get in the way of her enjoyment of the other men out there.

But most of all, this was a terrific Kirk episode. He was what made it matter: his life, his ship, his reputation. Even whining during the administrative disasters of the episode, he's grander than anyone else on the screen (no, I'm not referring to the size of his waistline in the green wraparound).

This was a man who could make jokes during crises, earn the loyalty of his crew by knowing when to commend devotion instead of pressing charges, and let his underlings work together to get the tough jobs done. In the end, he could sit back and check out attractive ensigns on the bridge - I think that last shot with Sisko was taken from "Mirror, Mirror" with Sisko in Marlena Moreau's place, but Kirk's leer was priceless under any circumstances!

I have nothing but praise for the intercut footage - the Zelig-ing, if you will - I refuse to use the phrase "Gump-ing" for something Woody Allen did first and better. Both the framing narrative and the framing footage worked superbly, and I'll be laughing at some of the lines from this episode for years to come. This is the first indication that I've gotten in a long time that the current crop of writers have the proper reverence for Classic Trek and the things that made it so appealing. I hope they continue to find ways to integrate the action, humor, and collaborative crew work of TOS with DS9's grittier politics, characterization, and role in the Federation.

Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Michelle Erica Green reviews 'Enterprise' episodes for the Trek Nation, for which she is also a news writer. An archive of her work can be found at The Little Review.