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Star Trek DS9 - Season 2 - Episode 25

Star Trek DS9 - 2x25 - Tribunal

Originally Aired: 1994-6-5

O'Brien is arrested by the Cardassians and put on trial for a crime he insists he did not commit. [DVD]

My Rating - 5

Fan Rating Average - 4.91

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# Votes: 22 1 3 16 6 17 19 16 10 11 5

Filler Quotient: 2, filler, but an enjoyable episode nevertheless. You can skip this one, but you'd miss out on some fun.
- There's no essential plot or exposition in this episode that renders it unskippable, but it's a decent episode, even though it could have been better.



Remarkable Scenes
- O'Brien finding it difficult to leave the station.
- Keiko appearance.
- O'Brien's reaction to being captured by the Cardassians.
- O'Brien's objections to the Cardassian legal system.
- O'Brien to Odo regarding his capture: "They did some dental work that wasn't much fun"
- Odo pestering Makbar at the trial.
- Makbar laying into O'Brien for being a racist against Cardassians.
- The abrupt change in the attitude of the Cardassian court when Sisko showed up with the Cardassian spy.

My Review
This episode was the much anticipated closer look at the Cardassian justice system. We've gotten tidbits of information about it since TNG: The Wounded and onward. This episode bears the most resemblance to TNG: Chain of Command. When O'Brien is first captured by the Cardassians, his treatment is nearly identical to how Picard was treated in that episode. Unfortunately, this trial is largely a waste of time. Sure, all the Orwellian references were kind of amusing, but it was also pretty heavy handed. After a while I was thinking to myself "yeah, yeah, I get it. Totalitarian dictatorship with show trials."

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Pete Miller on 2006-06-12 at 2:45am:
    I enjoy any O'Brien episode, but this one is spectacular. I especially love the speech O'Brien gives Odo in the cell about his personal convictions and morality, as well as loyalty to the federation despite his own opinions. He is truly a good man, and one of my favorite characters in Star Trek. It's a damn shame he didn't get more screen time in TNG. Him and Picard would have gotten along well
  • From milesmust on 2011-09-04 at 1:39am:
    This is very clearly a quintessential "O'Brien must suffer" episode (the producers intentionally put Miles through the meat grinder at at least once per season, src:

    This is quite fascinating to watch, although I agree with the reviewer there is a touch of absurdity about the court proceedings.

    The judge is too lenient at certain times, too stubborn at other times, depending on what the plot requires. It really doesn't seem to make much sense - since the purpose and proceedings of these show trials is so well established, why wouldn't she just find Odo in contempt and have him removed, rather than put up with his attempts to defend Miles?

    I haven't fully thought it through, but it might make more sense in light of the revelation at the end: that this was a highly politicized ploy from the very beginning, rather than some ordinary trial. This particular show trial had an interplanetary audience as well as its usual audience, and Odo had a legal right to serve as Nestor (which was a cool twist, btw).

    So, pretty good episode, but whether it makes sense or not, much of the trial proceedings are kind of irritating to watch.
  • From Axel on 2015-05-17 at 7:09am:
    So let's see, we have TNG: Face of the Enemy (Troi abducted), TNG: The Mind's Eye (La Forge abducted), DS9: In Purgatory's Shadow (Bashir abducted), and also this episode...O'Brien abducted. It seems to me that the Federation has a border control problem, and going anywhere on your own in a shuttlecraft is pretty risky.

    I also thought the Cardassian judicial system was a little too absurd. Granted, trials are often for show in dictatorships and military juntas of any kind, but in this episode it seemed to be almost comically ridiculous. It would be more apropos to have a Cardassian regime that simply makes its victims disappear, denying them the opportunity to be martyrs or visibly oppose the state. This insidious reality of totalitarian regimes is something that has been described by those who opposed both the Nazi and Soviet systems.

    In any case, I did enjoy a few of the plot twists and I thought it had some terrific acting.
  • From Zorak on 2016-05-14 at 4:03pm:
    Episodes like this annoy me a bit. It's hard for me to take the plot seriously when it's based off of the fact (shown time and again throughout Star Trek) that any foreign government can abduct a Federation citizen for whatever reason they choose with no consequences. They kidnaped the Chief of Operations for Depp Space 9. How is that not an act of war? The excuse of the week should hardly be relevant.
  • From ChristopherA on 2020-07-21 at 6:46am:
    I was amused by the Cardassian “legal system”. It is sort of a cross between two real-world concepts – show trials which look like a modern trial and pretend to determine guilt or innocence but are actually rigged by the state, and the fact that many cultures have simply given authority figures the job of deciding who is guilty and punishing them, with nothing like a modern trial at all. It was somewhat absurd, but interesting. However, not quite interesting enough to fill a whole episode, it did get somewhat repetitious and stretched.

    I agree that the idea the Cardassians could just abduct anyone at any time with no repercussions was disturbing and kept weighing on my mind the entire time. Another episode where I felt our heroes were insufficiently outraged by what was going on, as if the Cardassians were justified in entering Federation space, overpowering and capturing a Federation vessel, and kidnapping a Federation officer simply because they unilaterally declared that person to be a criminal (which, in Cardassian terms, means an enemy of the Cardassian state – a category which likely includes an awful lot of Federation citizens).

    Now, I can believe that the episode could have gone forward as shown anyway, with the Federation letting it slide. Previous episodes with the Cardassians have made clear that the Federation really wants peace and is willing to make sacrifices to get it. Starfleet Command may well be willing to sacrifice one life to avoid the devastation of a war they do not feel ready to fight. But you would at least expect more displays of outrage, saber-rattling, and heightened tensions over this act of war.
  • From Steven Wrieden on 2023-08-26 at 8:14am:
    This was certainly inspired by Franz Kafka's The Trial.

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