Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Trials and Tribble-ations"

3.5 stars

Air date: 11/4/1996
Teleplay by Ronald D. Moore & Rene Echevarria
Story by Ira Steven Behr & Hans Beimler & Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Directed by Jonathan West

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"I can't wait to get back to Deep Space Nine and see your face when you find out I never existed." — Bashir to O'Brien, attempting to dissect a pre-destination paradox

Nutshell: Heavily nostalgic and quite fun. Motivation for the show beyond its very existence is scarce, but if you're a Trek fan you won't likely care.

Returning from Cardassia, Sisko and the Defiant crew are hurled back in time by a Klingon in disguise, and find themselves face-to-face with the original USS Enterprise and its crew, right in the middle of the events that took place in TOS's "The Trouble with Tribbles."

"Trials and Tribble-ations" comes advertised as a "special" episode of DS9. And "special" is the key word here. In many ways, this episode is about as atypical as I expect the series will ever get. There are things in this show that I never could've imagined would happen—it seems the producers of the show merely had a sudden, unrestrained sentiment of nostalgia and decided to see it through for themselves and everybody else.

It's tough to review this episode looking at the usual things that characterize an episode of Deep Space Nine. To analyze the plot would be absurd. Even scrutinizing characterization is best left in the back seat in favor of looking at the nostalgia factor.

Is there a plot here? Well, barely—just enough to serve as an excuse for the show's events. It seems awfully convenient that security would be so light on the Defiant that the "passenger" would have access to the Bajoran time orb, allowing him to catapult the ship back 100 years and set his master plan in motion—but, hey, who cares? It's what happens once the crew gets back in the past that makes the show a winner. Plotwise it's still not a whole heck of a lot—the events are perfunctory more than anything else, simply going through the motions just to give the show some semblance of a standard structure. In the episode's first few acts, Sisko and his crew go undercover (i.e., change into the uniforms of the time period and carry the contemporary equipment) to search the old Enterprise and the K-7 space station for signs of Darvin (Charlie Brill) who beamed off the Defiant to carry out his devious plan. Once they find Darvin, he reveals to Sisko that he's too late—there's already a bomb planted in a tribble, set to detonate and kill Kirk and change history to Darvin's (who was captured and dishonored by Kirk) own advantage. One rather silly notion is the fact that Darvin would reveal to Sisko what his clever plan is—for the obvious reason that it allows Sisko to foil it (but not before first searching through 1,771,561 tribbles, naturally).

But who cares about any of this plotting anyway? The point of "Trials and Tribble-ations" is its own high concept—that of the DS9 crew being integrated into footage of the original "Trouble with Tribbles" episode via the latest in digital manipulation and photography fakery. And what else can I say?—the results are convincing. Very convincing. I doubt that I could fully appreciate the amount of work and effort that went into making this episode so seamless.

One of my favorite sequences involves the reworking of the original "Trouble with Tribbles" scene where Kirk asks "Who threw the first punch?"—you know, that bar fight Scotty started by punching the insulting Klingon. (The entire brawl, by the way, has also been redone, and O'Brien, Worf, and Odo are now participants.) This time, though, O'Brien and Bashir are standing among the line of officers Kirk questions. It's odd how convincing the scene is, yet how much we're aware that the whole scene is a fabrication. I think, perhaps, that's why it's so hilarious and why we get a kick out it as well as much of the episode—visually we're stunned by how real it looks, but intellectually we're aware that the whole show is just an amiable, lighthearted hoax.

Aside from the digital tricks, the very fact that the producers reconstructed this entire old-Trek environment is a feat that's pretty astounding. Every little detail has been recaptured here, from the cheesiness of those old, low-tech sets (many of which have been painstakingly rebuilt to shoot the new footage) to the comparatively goofy costumes, '60s hairstyles, original props, starship and station miniature styles, and, of course, metal-trimmed devices. ("Classic twenty-third century styling," Dax notes—Terry Farrell delivering the line with tongue firmly in cheek.)

And that's crucial to the show's success. This is, without a doubt, the most apparent nostalgia episode the franchise has attempted, and a big part of getting the big picture right is in getting the little details right—and, believe me, these details are very right.

Another important part of working nostalgia without getting overly hokey is finding the right tone. "Trials and Tribble-ations" finds a similar tone of humor that reminds us about everything that was entertaining about the original "Trouble with Tribbles." A few scenes from the original episode have been inserted here purely for their amusing stand-alone entertainment value.

Also, part of the fun is the way the show pokes fun at those old, original Trek episodes. Really, "Trials and Tribble-ations" seldom needs to go out of its way to poke fun at yesterday's Treks—a lot of the humor is evident merely by comparing the way the new shows are and the old ones were. I think that's precisely the point. DS9 does not, for example, have a farcical bar fight every third week. TOS, on the other hand, loved getting into big, inconsequential fist fights, and seeing it break out here was a joy.

In finding the right tone, "Trials and Tribble-ations" also knows better than to try to take itself remotely seriously. Case in point: Worf's explanation of why Klingons have "changed" in appearance since 100 years ago—"We do not discuss it with outsiders." This is probably the most perfect answer that could've been written: a non-answer. For that matter, I also greatly enjoyed O'Brien and Bashir's entertaining-as-usual scenes together—especially the "pre-destination paradox" bit, where Bashir claims he could be his own great-grandfather (??!!), which in another episode might be relevant, but here is just a passing joke that pokes fun at Trek's own love for time-travel plots.

While "Trials and Tribble-ations" is a fun little package that we're all probably going to love, I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't point out the few things that aren't quite ideal here. First is Dax's behavior. What in the world did Terry Farrell drink before some of her scenes here? She's got pep. Too much pep. At times, she seems way out of character. Her reactions to seeing Kirk ("It's Jim Kirk! Don't you want to meet him? It would be fun!") are far too excessive to be convincing. As a science officer you would think Jadzia would be a little more reluctant in threatening the time line to indulge in a little bit of "fun."

For that matter, I thought the constant references to Kirk were a little bit over-enthused. Yeah, sure, he's Kirk and he's cool and all that, but I think the legendary captain was placed on too high a pedestal at times in this episode, and I sometimes got the sense that the writers were feeling just a little too proud of their nostalgia.

That's a minor complaint—surely nothing that significantly hurts the show. And I suppose even the writers can get swept up in all the endearing Trekkian qualities considering how close to the show they are. After all, they only get one shot at it, and on an occasion as such they're trying to make it, I suppose it's better to go a little overboard than to miss the opportunity. As a quick comparison between the two "30th anniversary shows" that have appeared on DS9 and Voyager, let me add that, in the nostalgia category, "Trials and Tribble-ations" beats Voyager's "Flashback" by a mile. "Flashback" had a better character core, yes, but "Trials and Tribble-ations" is not pretending to be anything other than a special anniversary episode, and on that level it's quite a success because it's taken to a daring new level that "Flashback" didn't attempt.

"Trials and Tribble-ations" is told in flashback by Captain Sisko to two of Starfleet's official "temporal investigators" who want to know exactly how and why Sisko ended up in the past. This use of narration makes sense—considering this episode exists on circumstances so far outside the conventions of a typical episode of DS9, the narration adds an extra element of unreality—almost like a person telling a tale which is merely a fictional story. I liked this offbeat notion. I also liked the idea of temporal investigators. (As much as Trek messes with the time line, you would hope someone out there would be trying to keep track of the paradoxes.)

When it comes down to it, this installment is a paradox in itself. It's little more than a series of events that try to give it a reason for its own existence. Everything that happens here is motivated purely to feed the episode with something to do. But I say who cares? Sit back and enjoy an interesting experience, characterized by a paper-thin story and some sweeping moments of yesterday's Trek. The show is not a model of the virtues of DS9, perhaps, but it's definitely a winner and a classic, and a show I'll remember for quite a long time. A special episode it's called, and a special episode it is.

Previous episode: The Assignment
Next episode: Let He Who Is Without Sin...

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98 comments on this review

idiotghos
Sun, Sep 9, 2007, 2:08pm (UTC -5)
I don't see how you gave this 3 and a half, Jammer. It does exactly what it sets out to do, as you stated in your review. It gets absurd at times, but so did "In the Cards".
Jayson
Sat, Feb 9, 2008, 7:31pm (UTC -5)
If it were up to me it would have gotten four stars for sheer ingenunity and being the classiest tribute to the original series yet.

Finally, while there are alot of great moments in this episode the one thing that I love is when Sisko just breifly ogles Dax when they are on the Enterprise just out of the cooridor.
Anthony2816
Fri, Apr 4, 2008, 4:30pm (UTC -5)
Did watching the two "temporal investigators" make anyone else think of Penn and Teller?
dan b
Sat, Dec 20, 2008, 7:58am (UTC -5)
4 stars please re-rate this! This is an excellent job of production!
Blue
Tue, Mar 17, 2009, 8:00am (UTC -5)
I'm probably in the minority here, but I thought this episode was one of the worst DS9 eps I've ever seen. It's even worse than Let He Who Is Without Sin (the Risa ep everyone seems to hate). Maybe it's because I didn't really watch much Original Series and thus missed the relevant Tribble episode, but Trials and Tribble-ations just seemed the worst kind of pointless fan service possible. It relied on one gag- putting DS9 characters in TOS scenes. Kinda amusing the first scene, but after that, it's just beating a dead horse. The worst part is that it wasn't funny! Where were the jokes? If they're gonna do what is clearly supposed to be a comic inconsequential episode, why didn't they just go for the gusto and turn it into a total farce? I have rarely been so bored during a DS9 ep; at least the Risa outing had lots of scantily-clad women!
Chris UK
Sun, Apr 26, 2009, 2:13pm (UTC -5)
I have to respectfully disagree with Blue. I thought this was one of the funniest episodes of DS9. I prefer it to "In the Cards", actually.

For a start, there's the idea that the great Klingon Empire declared war on the tribbles. Just imagining a fleet of feircesome Klingon Battle Crusiers in orbit of the Tribble homeworld is fantastic to me. I also loved Worf's answer to the question of the Klingons' appearances.

Then there's the pre-destination paradox conversation. "Ridiculous? If I don't meet with her tomorrow, I might never be BORN!!!". I loved that they were willing to poke fun at some of the more absurd concepts in time travel.

I disagree with Jammer on the issue of Dax. I don't think she was too peppy at all. Kirk was a major figure in Starfleet history and I think anyone would be excited at the prospect of meeting someone like that. O'Brien's "Let's buy him a drink!" was hysterical, especially when it wasn't even Kirk who he had seen. I don't see why Dax is criticised for not focusing on the danger of altering the timeline when it's Sisko who completely outdoes her at the end by striking up a conversation with Kirk.

I don't think the "point" of this episode should even enter into discussion. It was a 30th anniversary show, and never pretended to be anything else. If it tried to be something other than that, then such analysis might be warranted. But in the end, it's a fun nostalgi trip with some of the better humour in DS9 that I can remember.
Masamune
Tue, Jul 21, 2009, 12:05pm (UTC -5)
The ultimate punchline would've been if an extra had noted Sisko's resemblance to a certain Gabriel Bell. But I suppose they did that with Little Green Men already.
Destructor
Sun, Aug 16, 2009, 7:39pm (UTC -5)
Watched this with my girlfriend last night and we both laughed and laughed- and she's never seen a single TOS episode, let alone the Tribble one. Which to me demonstrates that it is funny even as a standalone episode.
Donnydingbattered
Tue, Mar 2, 2010, 8:42pm (UTC -5)
The only problem I had with this episode were the extras they hired. Such as the Asian Engineer who confronted Obrien and Bashir, and the other red shirt actors in green screen roles seemed kind of wooden. But by the time I finished that last sentence I realised this was part of the joke. The red shirts were always just glorified extras and pretty wooden.

Bashir's great grandmother was a treat.
karatasiospa
Sat, May 29, 2010, 5:23am (UTC -5)
Did anyone notice that DS9 had many connections with the TOS imagery, more that any other post-TOS series? The mirror universe, Kang/koloth/kor, the genetically engenered and ofcourse this episode.
Jayson
Sat, May 29, 2010, 12:09pm (UTC -5)
Kara, I think it's no secret that the guys running DS9 were fans of TOS. While I'm not a huge fan of TOS I thought it was really neat that they chose to embrace their past rather than run from it.
Christoff
Sat, Jun 26, 2010, 3:32pm (UTC -5)
Have to say Jadzia Dax looks well hawt in this episode. its also nice to see Sisko among the original Trekkies, better than Generations in my opinion.
Callie
Thu, Jul 1, 2010, 3:35am (UTC -5)
This is one of my favourite episodes of any Trek series. I think it worked perfectly for what it was -- a tribute to TOS. The way the DS9 characters were integrated into the scenes from the original episode was brilliant, especially when you watch the side-by-side comparisons on YouTube. Even the little detail of Sisko and Dax tossing the tribbles and hitting Kirk worked perfectly!

Of course, my favourite bit is the, "Those are KLINGONS?!" piece.
doc ostrow
Sat, Dec 4, 2010, 8:31pm (UTC -5)
Sisko states that command uniforms were gold. They were not. They were actually green that looked gold on television. The remastered episodes show them as green.
ScooterGirl
Tue, Dec 7, 2010, 10:13pm (UTC -5)
Doc, the only one I saw with a green shirt was Kirk (who also was the only one showing a bit of chest!) All the other command level officers were wearing gold. Anywho, as a side note I think that "Trials and Tribble-ations" is the only episode on the entire DVD collection that has its own specialized audio on the episode sub-menu; Tribble cooing substitutes for the usual station computer beeps and boops. Like Odo says, they are very pleasing sounds!
Latex Zebra
Thu, Dec 23, 2010, 2:45am (UTC -5)
Watched this again last night. Utterly brilliant. The bit where the Temporal Investigators are talking about Kirk.

'17 seperate violations, the biggest file on record. The man was a menance.'

I was rolling up.
Garon43
Sun, Mar 13, 2011, 5:20am (UTC -5)
The only reason kirk had a green shirt is because they had to dress him in something different for "The Enemy Within" episode when a transporter accident created the kirk double so that the audience could tell them apart. The rest of the shirts are gold.
Marcel
Fri, Mar 25, 2011, 6:58am (UTC -5)
4 stars at the least. They've done a terrific job, it's become a nice funny episode, ode to the classic trek. I love the 2 time agents Lucsly and Dulmur [aka Scully and Mulder] ;-)
Mia
Wed, Apr 20, 2011, 1:49pm (UTC -5)
I absolutely loved this episode. I think that the DS9 actors struck the right chord, including Dax. I love TOS, but it was often more tongue in cheek than the later series tend to be; so if the DS9 characters were played as per usual, I think there would have been jarring differences between them and TOS characters. But this episode appears to have been lovingly written and performed. Is there anyone out there who has never dreamed of meeting their hero?
Jay
Sun, Oct 9, 2011, 6:22pm (UTC -5)
Of the forehead thing, Worf says "we do not discuss it with outsiders, but he was raised by humans and is an outsider himself...how did he hear about it?
Justin
Sat, Mar 24, 2012, 9:35pm (UTC -5)
This is nothing more than fan fiction with a big budget.

Brilliant, hilarious, and superbly designed fan fiction with a big budget. It's Trek at its absolute most fun. Loved the temporal investgations guys. Their deadpan delivery of their lines was flawless.

Dulmer: What was the date of your arrival?
Sisko: Stardate 4523.7
Dulmer: A hundred and five years, one month, twelve days ago.
Lucsly: A Friday.

Cracks me up every time.
Latex Zebra
Tue, Apr 17, 2012, 5:09am (UTC -5)
Given how old the Dax symbiote is and its place in Trek history I'm amazed that at some point it hadn't met Kirk already.
Snitch
Tue, May 1, 2012, 4:43am (UTC -5)
This was a hilarious episode and a great way to honor the TOS. Terrific job by production to make it look so smooth.

4 Stars from me.
Skywalker
Sat, May 19, 2012, 9:14am (UTC -5)
The best stand alone episode of the series. Brilliant!!!
ian
Sun, Jul 15, 2012, 11:35pm (UTC -5)
Actually, if you study the behind the scenes information on TOS you learn that ALL the command level shirts WERE green in the show. They only appeared gold on TV. This includes not only Kirk's special alternate shirts but all of them.
The photonovels and the remastering does show this.
The only scene that was really messed up is when you first see Chekhov and Uhura in the bar on the station. In the original they first meet Kirk and Spock who were already there in the bar. In this version they simply walk in and you see ODO in the backround...
Herman
Sun, Jan 6, 2013, 11:39am (UTC -5)
The special effects are on the level of Forrest Gump, which was released only 2 years earlier. Must've been quite expensive. Great writing too. I agree it deserves all 4 stars.
Patrick
Mon, Apr 15, 2013, 10:01pm (UTC -5)
I remember being filled with AWE at this episode. I have a "kinda" love/hate relationship of DS9, and this was the episode where I had no choice but to tip my hat to them--this was ingenious. There's no other word.

It characterized for all time the disparity in quality between this and Voyager during the 5 years they shared the air together. The same broadcast season, Voyager had released "Flashback", their 30th anniversary tribute episode. It was a convoluted, pointless mess. "Pay no attention to the plot--Sulu and the Excelsior is her!" In short, it was lame. And then came "Trials and Tribble-ations". An episode that's perfectly structured, layered and FUNNY! It utterly smoked "Flashback" and I'm sorry to say outclasses TNG's "Relics" in all fairness. It was an obvious labor of love from first to last frame.

Modern Trek had dipped its toe in doing meta humor with TNG's "Hollow Pursuits" (with commenting on the dangers of Trek fans who get caught up in too much escapism), and in "All Good Things…" (with Q making his quip about Picard's 'Trek to the Stars'.) But, "Trials and Tribble-ations" does a freaking cannonball in the deep end of the meta humor pool--and it works perfectly without tearing up the fabric of Trek's fictional universe. Here they admit the absurdity of the almost ubiquitousness of time travel throughout the different Trek series with 'Temporal Investigations', and the brilliant non-answer why old school Klingons have smooth foreheads. (It's a testament to DS9's overall quality that these things were tackled with simple, adept humor than the convoluted seriousness of Star Trek: Enterprise years later). Drama is relatively easy, but good comedy is the true test.

But, beyond how cool it is to see TOS through a modern Trek lens (and face it, the CGI model work is where TOS-R was born); it is beautiful how organic the tone in humor is. The back and forth between the DS9 characters is just as breezy as the TOS characters in the original episode. "Your flap is open" is one of the best double entendres in Trek history. ("You're draining power")

And lets not forget the serendipity factor. Odo is still a humanoid at this point, which happens to let him appreciate the appeal of the Tribbles. Jadzia mentioning who her host was at that time in history and her desire to see Koloth at his prime are good uses of continuity. And of course the teeny tiny 'blink-and-you'll-miss-it' scene where Kirk sits on the Tribble in his command chair and then turns his head and "looks" at Jadzia on the bridge who just shrugs at him.

This episode is not deep. So what? Neither was the original "Trouble with Tribbles"--and it's always in the Top 10 of best of lists of TOS--if not the tippy top. It's ingenious Trekkian comedy and so is this.
Paul
Tue, Apr 16, 2013, 8:43am (UTC -5)
@Patrick: Totally agree.

This episode isn't perfect. The fact that the Defiant decloaks to beam the senior staff over and the Enterprise, the Klingon ship and the station don't notice multiple times is kind of hard to swallow. Also, Darvin gaining access to the Orb of Time and the fact that he so easily figures out how to use it is a stretch.

Also, the scene where Worf explains the Klingon foreheads doesn't make sense with Enterprise's stories a decade later. Genetically engineered Julian Bashir would have unquestionably known about Phlox's efforts to restore a genetic experiment gone bad.

But with those points put aside, this is really a great episode.
Patrick
Tue, Apr 16, 2013, 11:53am (UTC -5)
"The fact that the Defiant decloaks to beam the senior staff over and the Enterprise, the Klingon ship and the station don't notice multiple times is kind of hard to swallow."

I believe Chief O' Brien explained how they did that in the early part of the episodes involving the original Enterprise's duotronic systems...or something.

"Also, Darvin gaining access to the Orb of Time and the fact that he so easily figures out how to use it is a stretch."

What's *really* a stretch is that the Cardassian government just gives up a device capable of FREAKIN' TIME TRAVEL to former enemies. Maybe the device didn't work for them? They could've have just used that as a throwaway line.

But, this is like Voyager's "Living Witness" whose story pivots on something contradictory to established continuity. It's so damned excellent, that I can forgive a few lapses in story logic.
Paul
Wed, Apr 17, 2013, 1:10pm (UTC -5)
@Patrick: Totally agreed on the Cardassians.

As for the O'Brien line -- that worked when only the Enterprise was orbiting the station (and if you ignored the fact that the station probably had sensors). But when Koloth's ship arrives ...
Pete
Mon, May 6, 2013, 6:53pm (UTC -5)
3.5 stars?! I would give this 100 stars if I could. This is in my top five Treks of all time in ANY series! And I could re-watch this episode over and over more than ANY episode. This episode is perfection as far as concept and execution - as well as special effects - even in 2013. I put this in the elite group of episodes - along with "The Inner Light", "The Visitor", "Yesterday's Enterprise", "Timeless", etc. I would give it the precise placement of "Tied For Third Place" with "Yesterday's Enterprise." As far as it's place in DS9 - number Two, behind "The Visitor," and before "In The Pale Moonlight." Those are the "big three" in DS9 in my opinion. Oh how I wish there was another Star Trek series on par with DS9, TNG or Voyager. I have the sinking feeling that it will not happen. At least we have Abram's movies - which are pretty damn good. However, a movie every three years doesn't cut it. I need a weekly fix.
navamske
Sun, Jun 2, 2013, 11:22am (UTC -5)
Two things:
-- I wish they had acknowedged Scotty's future by having Worf say (to his companions), "Hey, I know him. He shows up on the Enterprise-D like 102 years from now after living in a transporter buffer for 75 years." Or O'Brien could have said it -- I don't remember if he was in "Relics."
-- When they remastered "The Trouble with Tribbles," they should have put some of the DS9 characters in the background. Or at least created an alternate version of the episode like that so as to keep one version 100 percent faithful to the original.
Nick P.
Thu, Jun 6, 2013, 11:24am (UTC -5)
What a delightful episode! I wasn't expecting the high quality of this episode, it is virtually seemless. Everyone on this board keeps saying how it was similar to Forest gump, are you kidding me? This is lightyears BETTER than Forest Gump. My favourite scene is the one when Sisko and Dax look momentarily stunned for a second, and than Kirk and Spock come walking up, it was filmed with such love for these characters. It would be like walking down the street and having a president out walking his dog, it was perfect. I love how it wasn't "really" sisko and Dax, it was us. If me and you had been there. That is what I kept getting from this episode, it isn't really the DS9 crew there, it is us, and it was a perfect love letter to the TOS.

I loved all the little touches. I loved how the extras mostly had 60's haircuts, I loved the machinery (like the tricorder) they obviously got out of storage, I love how they lit the scenes just like in the original series.

I love everything about this episode......except dax. Why is she a whore this season...Seriously? She wants to bone everybody on the original enterprise, she spends the next episode forgiving infedelity, and than admitting curzon died in a sex act....I am actively loathing Dax this season....
ProgHead777
Sun, Jul 28, 2013, 2:52am (UTC -5)
Anyone analyzing the plot or even the characters in this episode is wasting their time. This was a love letter to TOS and to Trekkies of every generation, nothing more, nothing less. I suspect Dax's uncharacteristic behavior is because she's playing the role of the Trekkie, here. "ZOMG, IT'S KIRK!" I thought it was cute.

According to Memory Alpha, it was briefly considered to make this episode the season 5 premiere, partly so it could air on the actual 30th Anniversary but ALSO to set it apart from the season proper and the series as a whole. In other words, it would have made this a stand alone episode that could be considered apocryphal. Obviously that's not what happened but it's further proof that this episode was intended NOT to be taken seriously for anything other than what it is: a buttload of fun. 4 stars.
Mad
Sun, Aug 11, 2013, 4:55am (UTC -5)
@Nick P. There is no defense for the shit she pulls of in Let He Who Is Without Sin... but seriously, slut shaming much? God forbid someone would be sexualy liberated without hurting anyone.
ZurielSeven
Sat, Aug 24, 2013, 12:42pm (UTC -5)
"Another glorious chapter in Klingon history. Tell me: do they still sing songs of the Great Tribble-Hunt?"

Managed to mock Klingon culture and history with classic Odo snark! One of the best lines of the entire season. My only regret is that he didn't say that to Chancellor Gowron and the Council in the Great Hall.
Kotas
Thu, Oct 24, 2013, 9:18pm (UTC -5)
A fun throwback episode. Among the best "just for fun" eps in DS9. The time police were hilarious.

9/10
eastwest101
Sat, Nov 16, 2013, 7:19pm (UTC -5)
A wonderful homage to TOS and a brilliant technical tour de force.

Very funny and works well on numerous levels, as an excellent technical example of superimposition, editing, lighting, sets, props, wardrobe and acting plus a brilliantly deftly handled paradox comedy, as a "fanisode", a love letter to TOS and a bit of scriptwriters navel gazing and also on deeper more interpretive/reflective levels.

Did anyone else feel that Sisko's narration to the time police had some elements of the script writers talking about their issues with working within the Star Trek "universe" and the ire of the tragic hardcore Trekker fan base?

One of the funniest and strongest episodes of DS9 and a good example of what they were capable of when it all came together perfectly.

You can tell the writers, effects, technical staff and actors had a lot of fun here.
Moonie
Fri, Dec 6, 2013, 12:10pm (UTC -5)
This was my first DS9 episode. I was sort of familiar with who's who on the space station but this waas my first full episode (I'm a reborn Trekkie and catching up - so far, I'm almost through TOS and TNG and at the begining of season 2 of ENT).

First, I gotta say that I love Sisko. I didn't expect that reaction, but, I think he's fantastic. His voice, his demeanor, his looks - he definitely won an admirer.

Second, as for the episode - I loved it. I wqatched it back-to-back with The trouble with tribbles, and at one point in the middle of it I think I exclaimed "this is my favorite Trek episode EVER!". I'm not sure that is really the case but it's definitely one of my personal favorites. I want to go out and tell everyone about it. How can people LIVE without watching Star Trek? Without knowing about Tribbles?

In short, it was awesome. I can't wait to get started on DS9 for real.
Jack
Sat, Dec 14, 2013, 10:40pm (UTC -5)
So what's the story with Trill in this time. TNG made it seem like First Contact with them was a fairly recent, since Crusher barely knew anything about them in "The Host". But Emony met McCoy according to this episode, and its implied that was rather intimately (I wonder if Leonard knew about the symbiont inside). And if the Federation of the TOS era knew about Trill, it's strange that Dax hid her spots at the beginning of the episode.
Vylora
Wed, Feb 26, 2014, 3:19am (UTC -5)
Despite a couple minor logical gaffes - this episode coasts by on more than just pure nostalgic fun and great visuals alone. Definitely a classic.

4 stars.
Yanks
Wed, Mar 5, 2014, 11:01am (UTC -5)
This episode is simply perfection in every way.

Best "crossover" episode of the franchise.

12 stars!!

Bravo!!
Sunil
Wed, Mar 5, 2014, 4:50pm (UTC -5)
By far one of the best episodes. Felt so nice to see future meeting the past. Done very well!!!
Trekker
Wed, Mar 19, 2014, 8:36pm (UTC -5)
Probably my favorite non-serious, non-drama episode of Star Trek. It is the perfect touchstone episode for generations of Star Trek viewers that no other series after it could do.

DS9 at its peak was a show with good ideas and a self reflection on its own history.

9.5/10 - Half a point off just because they didn't send the tribbles into the Bajoran sun :p
Alex
Wed, Apr 2, 2014, 11:15am (UTC -5)
Anything less than 4 stars is laughable. This is about as perfect of a nostalgia trip you will ever find on any show ever made.

And OMG the ending. Capt. Sisko's "I'm still open to suggestions people" and then we pan out to see DS9 flooded with tribbles. Hilarious! A perfect end to a perfect episode.

INFINITY STARS out of 4 stars
Jim
Tue, Sep 2, 2014, 2:26pm (UTC -5)
I watched most of the TOS as a kid back in the 1960's when they originally aired on a B&W TV, no less. Color of the shirts were shades of gray!

While I watched all the TNG episodes as they aired, I missed quite a few of the DS9's due to not having the channel where I lived and no cable. I just watched the DS9 tribbles episode this years and loved it - definitely a must see for all the old school trekkies! I can over look the minor gaffs and inconsistances purely for the nostalgia! I only wish there was a trek series still being made in 2014 - c'mon Paramount - time for a new series! BTW, the HD remastered TOS series looks great - now you can clearly see those stunt doubles! Hah hah. The space scenes look like they would've if they would have had the technology. Bravo!
Gordon, Edinburgh
Fri, Oct 31, 2014, 10:59am (UTC -5)
I love this episode as much as most people above but for me there's still a gaping plot hole with the Klingons in the bar - namely why don't Bashir and the others recognise them for what they are? Sure, they don't look anything like the Klingons that they've known all their lives but surely there are pictorial records from Kirk's time, showing what they were like back then?
Peremensoe
Fri, Oct 31, 2014, 11:25am (UTC -5)
:facepalm:

The thing about Klingon appearance was a JOKE.

The sensible way to understand Klingons is that they have *always* had the ridges and so forth. If the scene was serious, Bashir and the others simply wouldn't have noticed anything different about the Klingons in the bar. But it was a winking, fourth-wall-crossing joke, from the writers to the audience.

It's the later-made Enterprise episodes that fail, catastrophically, by not getting the joke.


navamske: "When they remastered "The Trouble with Tribbles," they should have put some of the DS9 characters in the background"

What for? We *have* the version with DS9 characters right here. It's even on the remastered TOS DVD! The original version is clearly a timeline in which Darvin never returned.
Robert
Fri, Oct 31, 2014, 11:38am (UTC -5)
"The original version is clearly a timeline in which Darvin never returned. "

I disagree. If Sisko wasn't in the original timeline then who dropped the tribble on Kirk?

I don't know that I would have monkeyed with the episode, but it might have been funny to have it as an alternate version on the TOS blu ray discs.
Peremensoe
Fri, Oct 31, 2014, 11:51am (UTC -5)
"If Sisko wasn't in the original timeline then who dropped the tribble on Kirk?"

Heh. I'll call that a joke too.

Or, if fanwank we must: the tribble that Sisko drops takes the place of another (or the same) tribble that was originally dislodged onto Kirk's head without a person's presence in the bin. The trajectories of all the falling tribbles are necessarily created differently when Sisko is up there, but the appearance to those below works out to be the same. Sisko's toss is the final lucky piece of timeline conservation. ;)
Elliott
Fri, Oct 31, 2014, 12:59pm (UTC -5)
Yeah, that's exactly what we Trekkers need, our own Hayden Christiansen shoehorned into in Jedi moment. We should probably redub all the lines about Eugenics to have taken place in the 2030s instead of 1900s. Oh and we could go Abrams and digitally graft on little Nokia logos onto the communicators, and hell, throw in a scene where we actually see Trobbles mating (in CGI of course)!
Grumpy
Fri, Oct 31, 2014, 1:10pm (UTC -5)
Gordon's observation is well taken, but it is hardly a "gaping plot hole." As Peremensoe says, it's a joke -- a setup and punchline that has nothing to do with the plot. It is, perhaps, a gaping flaw in series continuity that should've been evident at the time (i.e. before Enterprise revisited the issue). Notice the crew weren't surprised to learn that Darvin (and we never did learn his Klingon name) was a surgically-altered spy. At least, the fact that such spies existed was not surprising.
Sonya
Sun, Nov 23, 2014, 9:58pm (UTC -5)
I know I'm in the minority, but I couldn't wait for this episode to be over. I wasn't really a fan of TOS, though. Dax was particularly annoying during this episode, but I suppose they had to dumb her down and sex her up to make her fit the TOS female standard.
dlpb
Wed, Dec 24, 2014, 2:35pm (UTC -5)
Ridiculous, yes. But also thoroughly well put together, especially on a technical level. A fitting tribute. I would be the first to complain if this wasn't up to par, but it was a fun episode and did justice to the original material. It's always nice seeing Kirk.
dlpb
Wed, Dec 24, 2014, 2:38pm (UTC -5)
And yes, the show was poking fun at itself numerous times. The stardate nonsense, the Klingon appearance in original series, and so on. It was nice to see the writers laughing at some of the sheer absurdities with the series' writing and continuity.
stallion
Thu, Jan 8, 2015, 6:14pm (UTC -5)
It's funny to take a look back at the Trek franchise. In away it was a Marvel universe before marvel. I wish they would had done more, but DS9 actually had quite a bit of character crossover. They had Picard, Thomas Riker, Worf (who became a main character)Robert Zimmerman, Tuvok, The whole cast of TOS. Not only that, but Bashir, Morn, and Quark appeared on other trek shows.

It's a shame the writer staff split up while working on different Trek shows. I feel like Robert Hewitt Wolfe, Ira Steven Behr, and Ronald Moore would have had a great time working on Voyager and Enterprise from the very beginning.
Nathan B.
Sun, Jul 12, 2015, 11:32pm (UTC -5)
"Trials and Tribble-ations": what a wonderfully whimsical, touching, hilarious tribute, deliberately but oh so playfully delivered!
Lucien D
Wed, Aug 5, 2015, 6:48pm (UTC -5)
The reason it was a 'very special' episode is to celebrate the 30 year anniversary of Star Trek itself.
William B
Sun, Jan 3, 2016, 12:14pm (UTC -5)
This is so. Much. Fun. This episode is a love letter to TOS, as mentioned, partly inspired, it seems, by "Forrest Gump's" concept of inserting its hero into old footage directly, and written by fans. It is a specific genre of fanfic, something pretty close to author insert. And so in order to avoid becoming bad fanfic, the (many!) writers of the episode cleverly insert implicit roadblocks: in keeping with not polluting the timeline, the whole plot is basically various ways to keep Our Heroes from doing what they want to do, which is to interfere, get involved, and (accidentally) mess up what's great about the actual timeline by participating in it. Given the J.J. Abrams movies', at least to this viewer, sapping the joy out of the franchise by endlessly repeating it, it's a joy to watch the characters struggle to control their urge to become a part of the story with the recognition that their interference in the lives of these legends they admire (in-universe: the crew of the Enterprise; out-of-universe: the cast and crew, the magic of the original series in general and "The Trouble with Tribbles" in particular) will destroy it. I love how villain Darvin's evil plan is both totally ludicrous (in a funny way) and thematically on point: Darvin, a century later, wants to rewrite the original episode as a kind of fanfic with himself killing Kirk, supplanting the hero of the story like any Gary Stu; defeating Darvin goes alongside the impulse to control one's own urge to start "honouring" TOS by remaking it. But, hey, a little fanservicey self-insert fic is okay, once in a while: Sisko playing the fan and meeting Kirk at the end is maybe pushing things a bit, but it's hard to deny satisfaction forever.

The rest of what there is to talk about is whether the episode is funny. I thought so: the temporal investigations team, Bashir's panic about a predestination paradox, Worf's non-explanation of the Klingon makeup difference, the Odo/Worf exchange over the hysterical idea of the Klingon empire tracking down and destroying the tribble homeworld, Miles' excitedly pointing at Scotty, Chekov and (third guy) and saying "That's him! That's Kirk!", the brawl, the delightful silliness of Dax's low self-control at wanting to return to that time, the repetition of the 1,776,561 (=11^6) number of tribbles (despite the silliness of Dax and Spock making an estimate to the nearest unit when they only state that the litters are ten *on average*). And the pure sense of wonder at seeing these characters in the same frame as the original series characters, the sense of affection and goodwill and love. Or, I guess, narcissism (this is the franchise commenting on itself, after all), but that's okay every once in a while.

It's not the deepest story but it's also something that I don't think is easy to pull off. 4 stars.
Diamond Dave
Mon, Jan 18, 2016, 2:49pm (UTC -5)
It's always a testament to a show hitting its straps that it can swing from something as utterly bleak as 'Nor The Battle To The Strong' so quickly to something as light and funny as this, and pull both off successfully.

Put simply, this is a joy. Yes it's shamelessly fan service, but who cares when it's done this well. From Odo's entrancement with the tribbles ("soothing, isn't it") to Worf's hatred of the same, from Bashir's confusion over whether to sleep with his great-grandmother to the Department of Temporal Investigations, this is genuinely funny and it doesn't let up. Technically this is also a tour de force.

And we have Dax in a miniskirt. Grrr. "He put a bomb in a tribble?" indeed. 4 stars.
PaulF
Mon, Feb 29, 2016, 3:52pm (UTC -5)
Did nobody notice Bashir's McCoy-ism when he said "I'm a doctor, not a historian. How should I know?"?
Luke
Fri, Apr 29, 2016, 1:15am (UTC -5)
Berman and Braga should have taken notes on this episode. If they wanted to send "a valentine to the fans" with the final episode of ENT, this is how it should have been done. The nostalgia factor is high but the focus never once leaves the "Deep Space Nine" characters. Kirk, Spock and company may take up a lot of screen time, but they don't push our regular characters out of the way - like Riker and Troi do in that episode which shall not be named.

"Trials and Tribble-ations" is indeed just an immense amount of fun. It isn't perfect, but it definitely achieves what it sets out to do and then some - play tribute to Trek's past. Watching the "Deep Space Nine" characters Forest Gump their way through the events of "The Trouble with Tribbles" is a very enjoyable experience. Jammer may be right that the episode is awfully light on plot, or meaning, or connection to the rest of the series. But, so what? It's fun!

There are problems, however. The biggest, as Jammer points out, is Dax's actions. She just goes all googly-eyed fan-girl on absolutely everything (wanting to throw caution to the wind and meet Kirk and Spock just for the fun of it, drooling over the TOS era tricorders, fawning over how great a lover McCoy was, etc.). I'm not a big fan of her character to start with (no surprise, I'm sure) but even I thought this was a disservice to the character. Most of time I was just left thinking "grow up, Jadzia". Another major problem was the completely unnecessary pointing out of the differences between TOS and TNG era Klingons. We simply did not need an explanation, any explanation. When Kor, Kang, and Koloth showed up on DS9 back in "Blood Oath" with full forehead ridges, I thought the message was clear - Klingons always had forehead ridges. The powers that be were trusting to the audiences' intelligence to simply suspend disbelief, wink at the screen and accept that the Klingons in TOS had the ridges. But now along comes an explanation, even it is ultimately a non-answer. Totally unneeded and, to be honest, something of a slap in the face to the audience. It's like the writers were saying "we don't trust the audience to understand what we were trying to do in "Blood Oath" so we better spoon-feed them something". UGH! This will even lead to another unnecessary (though surprisingly well-done) explanation in ENT's fourth season. There are also some little nitpicky problems, such as the Defiant again being cloaked in the Alpha Quadrant (in the 24th century) without care for the agreement with the Romulans.

Still, all of those problems only harm the episode a little and only hold it back from a perfect score. As an anniversary tribute episode, it probably couldn't get any better than this. Imagine trying to write a story that straddles the line between being a loving tribute but also something of a parody, a story that's driven by nostalgia but doesn't rely on it and a story which must be told within the limits of another story. That's right, Brannon Braga had quite a difficult task when he wrote "Flashback" and he fucked it up royally. "Deep Space Nine's" team, however, confronted the same situation and they managed to create a classic episode beloved by just about everyone.

9/10
Robert
Fri, Apr 29, 2016, 7:45am (UTC -5)
@Luke - Just make sure you don't take a shot every time the Defiant cloaks in the Alpha Quadrant or Voyager loses a shuttle. :P
Luke
Fri, Apr 29, 2016, 8:23am (UTC -5)
It's the casual use of it in the Alpha Quadrant that bothers me. Under extreme conditions - like numerous times during the war - I don't have a problem with it. They're at war so the technical legalities of the agreement be damned. I don't even have a problem with it being used in "The Way of the Warrior" because it's directly addressed - Bashir calls Sisko out on the use of the cloak and Sisko says he doesn't care because getting to Dukat is more important. Hell, if they just did something similar whenever they violate the agreement it wouldn't bother me so much. As it stands, however, it looks like the writers just forgot about the agreement and like using the cloak for no reason. Picking up an Orb in a non-hostile region of space? Use the cloak!

As for Voyager losing shuttles.... whatever you do, don't make a drinking game out of it. You'll die of alcohol poisoning right quick. :-)
Quarkissnyder
Mon, Jul 18, 2016, 2:34pm (UTC -5)
Loved it. That is all.

Well, almost all: What is the Klingon lifespan? We know that Vulcans live about twice as long as humans but I don't recall that Klingons due. So why is Darvin just on the far side of middle age?
Peter G.
Mon, Jul 18, 2016, 2:53pm (UTC -5)
@Quarkissnyder,

You can see the JRR Tolkien coming through by TNG, where the Vulcans are to an extent stand-ins for elves and Klingons for dwarves, all the way down to the Klingons now being finalized as being an honorable warrior race. In Middle Earth the dwarves don't live as long as elves but still far longer than humans. In Star Trek is appears that Klingons likewise can't match a Vulcan ~250 year life span but do life upwards of 150 years.
SouthofNorth
Tue, Aug 9, 2016, 3:22am (UTC -5)
Great episode. My only suggestion is that they should have had twins playing the temporal investigators, one made up to look a little older than the other, with the implication that they were the same man at different ages.
Zuriel Seven
Fri, Sep 16, 2016, 11:14am (UTC -5)
At 29m 25s, the Prime universe version of "Cupcake"!!!
Paul Allen
Mon, Dec 26, 2016, 7:19pm (UTC -5)
Nick P: "Why is she a whore this season...Seriously? She wants to bone everybody on the original enterprise"

Yet when Kirk wants to do the same, no-one bats an eye, he's just a "ladies man", amirite? Fuck that.

Seriously Nick, any level of slut shaming is unacceptable here, and your comment should be deleted.
Paul Allen
Mon, Dec 26, 2016, 7:19pm (UTC -5)
Fantastic, wonderful, whimsical, joyful episode. 12 stars out of 4. :)
SpaceHippy
Fri, Feb 3, 2017, 6:31pm (UTC -5)
PaulF, I know your post is a year old but I was surprised you were the first to comment about Bashir's "I'm a doctor, not a historian" when they were donning the TOS uniforms. Nice subtle tribute to McCoy but probably missed by a lot due to the distraction with all the eye candy.
???
Sun, Jun 18, 2017, 6:06am (UTC -5)
3.5 ... 0.0 ?!
Startrekwatcher
Fri, Aug 11, 2017, 2:48pm (UTC -5)
3.5 stars!

Too bad DS9 didn't have more fun TNGesque episodes like this one

The idea for the episode was fantastic--Clever and inventive in how they set this story inside an original TOS episode merging both seamlessly with all the modern Trek sensibilities while still retaining the TOS feel

Cool seeing TOS uniforms in a modern trek series. The recreation of TOS corridors were well done. In fact the entire episode was so well done that it was hard to tell where old footage ended and new footage began. Especially enjoyed the scene with Dax and Sisko in grain compartment with Kirk just outside it

Liked the little touches like Dax wanting to see Koloth in his prime given their history or being Dax she would find Spock--not Kirk--the handsome one. Fun neat idea making a furry little tribble a mortal enemy of the Klingons--and I loved idea that a tribble melted the heart of Odo. It also made sense Dax could work the bridge controls given past host alive during this era as well as being a science officer

Brilliant! Hiding explosive in tribble as Arne says poetic justice for Kirk foiling him originally

The episode was framed well with Sisko recounting what happened to the temporal investigators

I was never a fan of "Troible with Tribbles" but This episode made "trouble with tribbles"more interesting than the original ep with how it streamlined things and focused on the interesting and key events

The way they chose to end the episode could not have been any better with the revelation of having brought back tribbles fr the past and seeing them populating the Promenade and one stop Quark's head. Very good!

Liked the wise pairings the writers made ie sisko and Dax--Avery Brooks and Terry Farrell work well together and Odo with Worf. I also enjoyed the way they chose to handle the Klingons radical change in appearance

I also got a kick out of making Arne Darvin the antagonist and I thought it was also near that the original actor was able to reprise his role for this episode.
Rahul
Thu, Aug 31, 2017, 6:44pm (UTC -5)
As a huge fan of TOS, I loved how DS9 superimposed itself on the classic 60s episode so seamlessly -- and with tremendous respect and reverence for Kirk and co. It was great to see Sisko, Dax and others dress like they did for TOS and shoehorn in some interactions with Kirk. The technical side of this episode is brilliant.

Overall though, one has to consider the feeble plot and some of the goofy acting as drawbacks. The original episode will always be the greatest comedy episode pulled off by Star Trek., while the DS9 version is kind of in between comedy and seriousness. It is a special episode paying homage to TOS and it does even just use some footage from the original episode on its own for good measure.

I found Dax's character here annoying but I'm also glad Worf was asked about the appearance of the TOS Klingons -- to not even touch on that would have been a big omission.

I can't rate the DS9 version higher than "The Trouble With Tribbles" for which I gave 3.5 stars. The technical brilliance of the episode is negated by the lack of plot so I'd rate "Trials and Tribble-ations" 3 stars. For me, TOS will always be the greatest Star Trek series and I also enjoyed ENT's "In a Mirror, Darkly" Part I for its attempt at a tribute to TOS.
Jason R.
Thu, Mar 8, 2018, 6:02am (UTC -5)
I didn't see the Enterprise episode so correct me if I'm wrong but didn't the Klingons originally look like TNG era ones but they became human looking due to genetic engineering? If so, wouldn't the other Klingons in the bar have recognized Worf as one of their own?!

Also, was Sisko planning to keep Kirk's autograph after he gets him to sign off on that report at the end?
RandomThoughts
Sat, Apr 7, 2018, 3:54am (UTC -5)
@Jason R.

Yes, the Klingons might have recognized Worf as one of their own, but he was wearing a hat. Since they were so worried about fighting, they just didn't notice...

:D

Regards... RT
Iceman
Mon, Aug 20, 2018, 12:36pm (UTC -5)
I don't see "Trials and Tribble-ations" as a stone cold classic like many others, but it's certainly excellent. The episode's special effects are just fantastic-they still look just as good today as they did in 1996. It's also an immense amount of fun seeing the DS9 crew in TOS uniforms and walking aboard the original Enterprise. The plot, though, is quite thin. "Trials and Tribble-ations" is mainly content to coast on humor and nostalgia, which takes it quite far, but not quite far enough to consider this one of the very best of DS9.

3.5 stars.
Springy
Wed, Jan 16, 2019, 10:00am (UTC -5)
Loads of fun. Nicely "blended," without the nostalgia being overdone.

Some great moments, like O'Brienthinking the random lieutenant is Kirk, and more.

Jadzia looks great and you can tell Terri F is having fun. Brooks does fine.

The Klingons look different thing - they handled it well. Best not to explain at all.

And tribbles. Gotta love tribbles.

Couldn't be cuter.
Lew Stone
Wed, Oct 9, 2019, 12:28am (UTC -5)
I really enjoyed this episode. I thought the blending of the two series was seamless, the acting was good, and I enjoyed and understood the DS9 crew being a bit ga ga for Kirk and co.

3 stars
Mike
Sun, Oct 13, 2019, 1:31pm (UTC -5)
Loved it! My favorite parts were Worf describing the Klingon war against the tribbles, “mortal enemies of the Klingon Empire”, the Klingons obliterated the Tribble homeworld, lol, I howled.
And Dax looking smoking hot in a Starfleet mini skirt. Thank the stars!
MusicalTurtle
Sun, Nov 3, 2019, 6:31pm (UTC -5)
Wonderful fun! I've not seen any of TOS so I genuinely have no idea where the original footage starts and stops, other than scenes with the original main characters are obviously original. Maybe I'd have enjoyed it even more if I were a TOS fan but as it was, I *thoroughly* enjoyed it.

Memory Alpha mentions O'Brien mistakes Shatner's stunt double for Kirk :D it also explains how meticulous they were with recreating the sets, even down to examining parts with a magnifying glass! A labour of love on the entire technical side too, such as using the same type of film as the original for the scenes set in the past. I already loved it from my previous watch-through but finding out the background elevated it even further in my estimation.
Elizabeth
Wed, Dec 4, 2019, 9:00am (UTC -5)
Love this episode, but noticed something in the comments from the posters Mad and Paul Allen. Of course you're so concerned about *slut shaming*, or maybe you get your rocks off on the idea of sexed women unrealistically drooling over men. As a feminist, let me let you in on a secret, there is no such thing as female sexual liberation in capitalist society, it's a way that men reframe treating us like pieces of meat, sexual objects, by pretending that it is liberating instead of humiliating, and it's a lie that many women convince themselves of to cope with the constant degradation of being viewed sexually by men.
methane
Wed, Dec 4, 2019, 8:14pm (UTC -5)
" there is no such thing as female sexual liberation in capitalist society,"

This is utter nonsense. Capitalism implies people control their own lives, not others. The further away you move from that, the further EVERYONE is from liberation of any kind.
Fenn
Tue, Jan 14, 2020, 10:29am (UTC -5)
This was some good fun, no doubt about it. Impressively done, too -- it's seamless, I can't tell what's what! It's the same sort of "wow, how'd they do that?!" I remember experiencing as a young teen watching Forrest Gump for the first time. Now I know roughly *how* they'd do something like this, but something about the impossibility of what's being pulled off so well will never fail to impress.

But as someone who's never seen TOS, it doesn't carry any personal nostalgia for me, and I get the impression that'd be what bumps it up from "damn good fun" to "one of the best" for many. On the other hand, maybe it's even fresher for me given that I haven't seen the source material. The very concept of tribbles is somehow perfectly tuned to amusing the little kidliest parts of my sense of humour. I bloody love the little gags like a food tray full of stuffed full of tribble, and while that's probably from the original episode rather than unique to this, the fact that it's new to me means I get the full fresh experience watching this. (I wonder what it'll be like to watch 'The Trouble with Tribbles' after having seen this first?)

And yet there's also a lot of fun moments that are clearly original to DS9. Odo making a tribble friend was adorable: as a newly-minted humanoid, he now has the capacity to appreciate small furry animals! And then there's the fact that -- gasp! -- one of these tribbles is a BOMB! Camera pans over a floor covered in tribbles*, with ominous music: which of these adorable fluffs is hiding a Deadly Secret?? And now we watch our crew wading kneedeep in adorable and tossing various floofs behind them. Topped off with Deadly Tribble Space Explosion. It really is the pinnacle of glorious silliness.

* I sent a screencap of this scene to my partner, who replied "oh wow, assorted hairpieces of British Prime Ministers".

Everyone's clearly having a wild time doing this. It comes through in every second of the show, and it's infectious. What a way to do a time travel episode, huh?
Jamie Mann
Sun, Jan 19, 2020, 4:01pm (UTC -5)
It's a time-travel episode. It's a comedy episode. And it's also a homage to the 30th anniversary since Star Trek began.

And it works, not least thanks to some superb technical wizardy to splice the DS9 crew into the original TOS footage.

Well done to all involved!

The only negative point of any note is that the Department of Temporal Investigations was a one-off gag used to provide some straight-man comedy.

(Though I know there's been a few books featuring them...)
Elliott
Sun, Mar 22, 2020, 3:28pm (UTC -5)
As I said in my preamble to “Flashback,” “given the way the two teams of writers handled their 30th Anniversary assignments, I actually think DS9 and Voyager should have swapped source material. TUC is the kind of political story that I think would sync up very well in the developing plotline on DS9 (think of the potential references to be made between Worf and Ezri later on), and 'The Trouble with Tribbles' presents precisely the low-stakes fun that Voyager needs to refresh itself of all its Kazon baggage (we could have seen Neelix thrown across the room during the bar fight!).”

Unlike ST6, there isn't a whole lot for me to say about TTWT. I like it. The Spock/Bones scene is one of my favourites in the entire franchise. There are problematic elements endemic to the era—queer coding and sexism that do make me frown slightly—but it's a fun ride that has enough confidence in its characters to make jokes at their expense (especially Kirk) without seeming cruel or expoloititive. Let's see how the Forrest Gump version holds up.

Teaser : ***, 5%

Two unhappy dudes, the X-File Anograms, arrive in Ops and are greeted by an unusually sweet Major Kira and a bad joke from Dax. They're from Temporal Investigations and are here to question Sisko. They don't beat around the bush.

DULMUR: Captain, why did you take the Defiant back in time?
SISKO: It was an accident.

He explains that the Cardassians decided, for whatever reason, to return the Orb of Time to the Bajoran people. Why on earth would the Cardassians want a magical Time-Turner? I can't think of any use they might have for that. His report transitions to a voice-over narration as we see the Defiant and her mission.

For reasons, the entire command crew went along to Cardassia for this little trip. They picked up the Orb and a human passanger called Barry Waddle. Despite his name, appearance and cadence, he is in fact NOT a rejected Hanna-Barbera character. He explains that he's a merchant who was trapped there when the war began. Worf's odour is made the subject of another lame joke, demonstrating that we're off to a rough start in the comedy department.

While cloaked, the Defiant begins encountering chrototons and the Oh Fuck alarm goes off on the bridge. There's a flash, then Dax reports that they're 200 light years from where they should be. The cloak is briefly dropped and the transporter activated, then they spot a ship nearby. And what could it be but the Enterprise, no bloody A, B...you get the idea.

Act 1 : ***, 15% (short)

So, they figure out that Waddle is really Darvin, the Empire's squirreliest Klingon. Odo and Worf explain the premise of TTWT to the remainder of the command crew on the Defiant, as well as speculate on what Darvin is up to with these time travel shannigans. Sisko determines that they'll have to split up and search the Enterprise and K-7, which leads to the donning of period uniforms, equipment and, um, haircuts? Dax makes a quip about women “wearing less” and Bashir's like, “I'm a horny moron.” This is meant to be a good-natured jab at TOS' synchronistic sexsim, but er...why isn't the very pregnant Major Kira wearing a mini skirt, folks? Come to think of it, are there *any* women on DS9 (or TNG or Voyager or Enterprise or...) who couldn't pull off the mini skirt? Sure is lucky the guys aren't wearing chest-huggers, isn't it?

Act 2 : ***, 17.5%

We pick up with O'Brien and Bashir beaming aboard the Enterprise and contending with the old technology...and more miniskirts. Meanwhile, Dax turns out to be a fangirl of 23rd century design, having been alive for it. I suppose there is something of an allegory going on here, with Dax representing the kind of Trek fan who was actually alive during TOS' original broadcast, and Sisko having caught the reruns in syndication. And Odo, in appropriately garish civvies, report to K-7's infamous bar, where we see the remastered Tribble sale to Uhura. A waitress gives Odo a clue about Darvin's whereabouts and we're off.

I dunno, the things that I find most amusing are notions like Bashir's “stress study” of O'Brien. This is such a 1990s concept—half of the charm at least in this story comes not so much from the 24th century meeting the 23rd, but from the 90s meeting the 60s. I kind of want the Enterprise engineer they encounter to call Miles a pansy and offer Dr Bashir a cigarette to calm his nerves. The deliberate joke, of O'Brien not knowing how to work the old tech, is kind of a flop for me. Hey, but while we're ogling miniskirts, allow me to note that the engineer is a cutey. Put him in a skirt.

Worf joins Odo at the bar where the sound of Odo's new Tribble sets the Klingon to rages, accompanied by Very Serious Music. M'kay.

Act 3 : ***.5, 17.5%

Worf's take on the Klingon-Tribble blood feud, which if memory serves, was hinted at, but never explained in TTWT, is probably the comedic highlight of the episode.

WORF: Hundreds of warriors were sent to track them down throughout the galaxy. An armada obliterated the Tribbles' homeworld. By the end of the twenty third century they had been eradicated.
ODO: Another glorious chapter of Klingon history. Tell me, do they still sing songs of the great tribble hunt?

The Red Alert is sounded, as anyone who watched the original episode would be expecting right about now. But this means that Koloth is about to enter the picture, which Dax knows ahead of time. Sisko pours some cold water over her fangirling by beaming O'Brien and Bashir over to the station to check it out. Flirty blue miniskirt (Watley) makes another appearance to set up the temporal causality joke.

BASHIR: Ridiculous? If I don't meet with her tomorrow, I may never be born.
KIRA [OC]: Chief, are you ready for transport?
O'BRIEN: Are we ever.
KIRA [OC]: Stand by.
BASHIR: You saw the way she looked at me. You can't just dismiss this.
O'BRIEN: I can try.
BASHIR: All right, fine. But I can't wait to get back to Deep Space Nine and see your face when you find out that I never existed.

Hysterical. Dax and Sisko happen to run across Kirk and Spock during one of the (very funny) comm calls to Baris.

DAX: Oh, come on, Benjamin. Are you telling me you're not the tiniest bit interested in meeting one of the most famous men in Starfleet history?
SISKO: We have a job to do.
DAX: But it's, it's James Kirk!
SISKO: Look, of course I want to meet him. I'd like to shake his hand, ask him about fighting the Gorn on Cestus Three.

I...what, seriously? You want to ask Kirk about “Arena”? About punching a lizard man? Says a lot about Sisko, none of it good. Anyway, O'Brien and Bashir join Worf and Odo at the K-7 bar, berating them for sitting around getting drunk for the last three hours. This leads to another infamous bit about the makeup change on the Klingons, whom our characters don't recognise. Worf's enigmatic delivery is amusing, and Dorn is especially on his game in these scenes, but I think it would have been funnier just to put him in 1960s makeup without explanation and that back in the ridges when they return to the 24th century. And we would have been spared that silly Enterprise arc about the Augments. The bar fight continues, but good god do I miss the soundtrack from the 60s. This standard issue dissonance is fucking lame, especially since the DS9 editors made sure to include all the campiest bits of Cyrano Jones from the original footage. Anyway, Bashir and O'Brien are nabbed by Starfleet security while Odo and Worf spot the appearance of Darvin.

Act 4 : ****, 17.5%

We watch Kirk dressing down his MEN, which happens to be my least favourite scene from the original episode. O'Brien and Bashir have taken the place of two nameless crewmen, which is a commendable feat of digital engineering for the time. They escape and discover that the Tribbles have started appearing all over the ship.

Meanwhile, Odo and Worf have apprehended the older Darvin and beamed him back to the Defiant. Once again it's the subtle jokes that are the best in this episode. The conceit that this mincing, vaguely Mel Brooks-sounding little man is a disguised Klingon just fantastic.

WORF: You are no hero to the Empire.
DARVIN: I will be. I've been thinking about my statue in the Hall of Warriors. I want it to capture my essence. Our statues can be so generic sometimes, don't you think?

It turns out Darvin has planted a bomb inside one of the Tribbles. He's managed to determine exactly which Tribble out of the hundreds of thousands now pooping and breeding all over the Enterprise will be in proximity to murder Kirk...somehow. So, Dax suggests she and Sisko risk scanning the ship from the bridge, using the internal sensors to detect the explosive, while O'Brien and co. are tasked with somehow scanning all the Tribbles on K-7. We learn two important things; that none of the Enterprise Tribbles is carrying the bomb, and that Emony Dax was one of Bones' 8,000 ex-girlfriends. The camera pans to the quadrotritikale store on K-7re we see a single, unmoving Tribble as ominous music plays. You could almost call it Pythonesque.

Act 5 : ***.5, 17.5%

The crew on K-7 are frantically scanning the breeding Tribbles (and amusingly tossing them aside after each scan). Dax uses her brain, which is a nice change of pace, in guessing they should tail Kirk to narrow down their search. So, she and Sisko determine to search the storage locker that's holding the booby-Tribble, discovering the poisoned grain. Another subtle bit I liked was the added conceit that as the pair search and toss aside the gorged Tribbles, they land on Kirk's head. Sisko finds the bomb and has Kira beam it into space just in time.

SISKO [OC]: By the time we returned to the Defiant, Major Kira had discovered how to use the Orb to bring us back to our own time.

Are you fucking kidding me? Well anyway, Sisko decided he had to meet Kirk real quick before returning to the present. The Time Cops suggest there won't be any negative fallout from their little adventure. Quark makes an appearance as we see that DS9 has been overrun with stowaway Tribbles. And so, every habitable world in the AQ and GQ is destroyed by Tribble infestation, ending all known civilisation for ever. The end.

Episode as Functionary : ****, 10%

In the most recent episode of the Picard series [SPOILER], Seven of Nine emerges from behind a bulkhead on the crashed Borg cube and Jerry Goldsmith's Voyager theme swells in the strings. It's a moment that feels like a gift especially for me. The TOS fanfare and the TMP/TNG theme is everywhere in homages and spinoffs that keep getting churned out, but the fact that the composer went to that extra effort just for Voyager fans who happen to have musical ears is a personal touch that I can't help but find endearing, regardless of how well the character or the episode are actually doing (for the record, I give the show 2/4 stars so far). That's the best explanation on my difficulty with this episode. I know that for a majority of the fanbase, this is like 40 straight minutes of that nostalgic feeling presented like a personal gift under their Star Trek Christmas tree. I like TOS, but I didn't grow up with it, so the nostalgia factor is pretty abstract. Being a musician, I also regard the Trek franchise much like the collective output of a composer or a trend in music. There are early periods, middle periods and late periods. There is always something to appreciate about all the phases in a composer's output, but the *best* representation of their work is pretty much never the early stuff. TOS is, to me, the adolescent phase of Star Trek. It's often great—turbulent, probing, fascinating, exciting, beautiful, weird, disturbing—but it's not fully itself. Trek's maturity began with the films and found its full flower in TNG, when the impulses of philosophy and production were balanced in a way that felt completely cohesive. With DS9 and Voyager, we are still in that period, though perhaps approaching a mid-life crisis point.

So there are times when watching this episode that I feel as though I'm looking through a photo album or being shown home movies. I appreciate the nostalgia, the love that clearly went into this production, just like I admire those people who hand-sew excellent costumes for conventions or build scale models of starships. I applaud your passion. But you can't honestly expect me to be able to judge it fairly or objectively beyond saying, “good job. You did the thing. Yes, that is a beehive, yes that's a 1960s turbolift, yes that's Bill Shatner, all right.”

That's why I award the episode a functionary score of 4 stars. This is not a four-star episode by my standards, as the act-by-act hopefully elucidates. But as far as the goal the episode set for itself, of being a frequently-amusing unapologetic homage to the original series and its aesthetics, it is perfect. And I won't deny that.

Final Score : ***.5
William B
Sun, Mar 22, 2020, 6:23pm (UTC -5)
@Elliott, this is the smallest of points to mention, but the Arena thing can be kicked down the road a bit to earlier in the series. Kassidy is from Cestus III, which is because the writers wanted to reference Arena before, but we can also say that Ben feels a personal connection to that "adventure" because of his, er, currently imprisoned lady love. The "real" reason is more likely that Behr or Moore or someone really likes Arena and so brought it up both when Kassidy first showed up and here, rather than that Yates is particularly on Sisko's mind.
Chrome
Sun, Mar 22, 2020, 6:44pm (UTC -5)
Elliott wrote:

"So there are times when watching this episode that I feel as though I'm looking through a photo album or being shown home movies. I appreciate the nostalgia, the love that clearly went into this production, just like I admire those people who hand-sew excellent costumes for conventions or build scale models of starships. I applaud your passion. But you can't honestly expect me to be able to judge it fairly or objectively beyond saying, “good job. You did the thing. Yes, that is a beehive, yes that's a 1960s turbolift, yes that's Bill Shatner, all right.”

That's why I award the episode a functionary score of 4 stars. This is not a four-star episode by my standards, as the act-by-act hopefully elucidates. But as far as the goal the episode set for itself, of being a frequently-amusing unapologetic homage to the original series and its aesthetics, it is perfect. And I won't deny that."

It's interesting that you figure nostalgia so much into this episode, but I think there's more to the use of TTWT than that. I recall reading an article years before this episode was made (circa mid 1990s, pre-internet) which stated that TTWT is "the most well-known Star Trek episode of all time." Whenever they advertised collections of TOS episodes for sale, there would absolutely be clips from this episode shown because it's just that iconic. So I think while using TOS can be seen as using nostalgia as a selling point, like using Scotty in "Relics" or something, the use of TTWT is even more significant because it's a part of Star Trek that even non-fans who have no nostalgia for the show are familiar with.

@William B

Good point. I thought Brooks himself might like "Arena" but I never thought that "Arena" had already been referenced in DS9. That's pretty cool!
Elliott
Sun, Mar 22, 2020, 11:28pm (UTC -5)
@William B

Interesting note! I admit I did not recall that Kassidy trivia at all. I realise it's largely a matter of taste, but of all the things Trek is famous for, the Kirk fights are amongst my least favourite. That Sisko would choose that display of testosterone-addled silliness as the topic of conversation he would choose with Kirk is...on brand, but just makes my eyes roll. It's not something I take particularly serious, of course.

@Chrome

I'm not sure I understand your point. If TTWT is one of those iconic episodes (I agree it is) that transcends Trek fandom to normal popular culture, it still qualifies as a nudge towards nostalgia, although most of the jokes in *this* episode don't have anything to do with the Tribbles directly. The Klingon makeup, the time paradox, the gratuitous fight, Kirk's stunt double, Bones' many exes...those are all things for the fans.
Chrome
Mon, Mar 23, 2020, 6:08am (UTC -5)
@Elliott

“If TTWT is one of those iconic episodes (I agree it is) that transcends Trek fandom to normal popular culture, it still qualifies as a nudge towards nostalgia, although most of the jokes in *this* episode don't have anything to do with the Tribbles directly. The Klingon makeup, the time paradox, the gratuitous fight, Kirk's stunt double, Bones' many exes...those are all things for the fans.“

My point is we shouldn’t conflate notoriety with nostalgia. As I said, viewers only vaguely familiar with Trek who watch this for the Tribbles won’t feel nostalgic because they don’t have old sweet memories of watching Star Trek. For some, this was an opportunity to find out what Tribbles and Kirk are about for the first time! That’s pretty significant. This episode opens up a whole new portal into TOS for some viewers.
Peter G.
Mon, Mar 23, 2020, 10:32am (UTC -5)
@ Elliott,

You may call Arena "testosterone-addled silliness" by way of getting in another dig at Sisko (in his interest in a pugilistic story), but the fundamental point of that episode is that even when faced with a scary monster Kirk will spare its life because killing just to kill is wrong. Sure, he outsmarted it and wounded it, but the point of the episode is that even in the I Am Legend scenario of being the only human, no one else to talk to, no support or real technology to speak of, he will still exercise mercy despite being *able* to kill. I think it's probably called "Arena" because the box of 'kill or be killed' he was put in turned out to be a box he could step out of and refuse to participate in. This is by no means a novel TOS story, as this sort of theme frequently arose, but it hardly illustrates bad taste in any sense on Sisko's part to admire it, as it has both parts of Starfleet in it: strength, and compassion.
Elliott
Mon, Mar 23, 2020, 11:06am (UTC -5)
@Peter G

Just to clarify, I think "Arena" is a pretty good episode overall, for many of the same reasons you cite, it's just that the fight *itself* is silly. It's a part of the Trek lore, just as much as the Tribbles and Spock walking around with his brain removed. I understand the irrational affection completely, but I stand by the idea that the fight is silly.

To me, it would be like a 25th Century captain wanting to ask Picard what it was like to phaser Dexter Remmick's head off in "Conspiracy." Even if you have a fetish for exploding monsters...why?
Chrome
Mon, Mar 23, 2020, 12:07pm (UTC -5)
I think Elliott's right on this point. Sisko being curious about Kirk "fighting the Gorn" is illustrative of Sisko's character. We know the man boxes and likes a good fight; I don't see any reason to dance around that.
Peter G.
Mon, Mar 23, 2020, 12:38pm (UTC -5)
@ Chrome,

It's not so much the issue that there is fighting in Arena and Sisko being interested in that, it's Elliott's connecting that to what he sees as a character flaw in Benjamin in being a violent, unprincipled person. So it's the nuance and interpretation I'm contesting, not the fact alone that Ben may have indeed been interested in the fact of the combat itself. My point is that I don't think it's fair to assume that Ben was interested in it *only* because it was a cool prize fight, but that retaining its proper context, I would assume Ben liked the combo of the fight followed by the peaceful and humane resolution. If Sisko had primarily been excited to hear about a kick-ass fight then he could just as soon have asked about fighting Khan hand to hand and winning, as opposed to the Gorn, whom he beat with a shotgun.

To me the Arena incident is less about Kirk getting into fisticuffs and more about his resourcefulness. If we're looking for an apples-to-apples comparison, what Kirk did in Arena is much closer to O'Brien in "Empok Nor", using his wits over he brawn. I sort of feel like this is getting into the weeds, as my main point was that I think it's unfair to hear a line like this in passing and use it as fuel to support a "Sisko as barbarian" message without retaining the full context of what the Arena incident was like and meant in the end.

I agree with you that Sisko's interest in this, as opposed to hearing about some diplomatic mission, certainly suggests he thought he Kirk as the action hero and wanted to hear stories about that sort of thing. I just don't think it helps prove that Sisko is just a brute.
Andrew S Gill
Fri, Apr 10, 2020, 11:20pm (UTC -5)
I just started binging the entire Star Trek timeline starting with the TOS which I absolutely loved. I thought TNG was good, but I'm liking DS9 better though not as much as TOS. I have to say this episode is probably my favorite Trek episode I've watched to this day. I don't think I've seen a better show do a better job paying homage to its predecessor as well as this episode did..

5 out of 4 stars.
Triniray
Wed, Jun 24, 2020, 9:16pm (UTC -5)
Brilliant episode. Watching DS9 simultaneously with Voyager and liked both tributes, but absolutely LOVED this DS9 iteration. I was never crazy about Dax, but since episode 1 of S5, I am seeing little things to give her more of a playful character, and she's growing on me, sexed overtones notwithstanding.

All the DS9 characters used had a moment to shine and I like that, and I also liked that care was taken to give all the original TOS cast a chance on the screen! Kudos for the scene where Sisko and Dax were dropping tribbles on Kirk's head where it was made to look like the original footage. Brilliant!

This can be nothing less than 5 stars, and DS9's stories certainly hold their own when held against TNG.
Dirk
Sun, Jul 26, 2020, 7:45am (UTC -5)
Utterly satisfying episode, and really pays homage to the original Star Trek. I know I've watched this at least ten times, but I enjoy it more each time. I grew up watching TOS, it really melds the original and DS9 together with artistic flair and a great script. Nearly every character is given at least one good scene. Even Dax, who I usually find grating, is tolerable ("and women wore less" - she sure has the legs for that uniform). (My biggest issue with Dax is that she has many lifetimes of memories, but doesn't act like it - I expect someone that depth to be wise and measured and unfortunately she's mostly written like a giddy schoolgirl.)
I won't repeat the many good comments here except to note that the production, editing and pacing were all top notch.
"Do your people still sing songs of the great Tribble hunt?" The constable at his sarcastic finest!
SlackerInc
Sat, Aug 22, 2020, 3:22am (UTC -5)
This was so great! I can't believe I never caught this one before. Like Startrekwatcher, I was never a fan of the original "Tribbles" ep, so this actually redeems it.

The technical wizardry, especially given the technology of the time, is incredibly impressive. And it was just so fun.

You can't nitpick this one to death or you ruin that fun. I haven't read all the comments, but I've been gritting my teeth waiting for someone to complain that in the corridor where Sisko and Dax are pretending to work on some sort of panel, there is just a smooth wall in the TOS scene. Relax, everybody!

I kind of wish they would have done a whole series based on time cops chasing miscreants around the TOS universe. I say "would have" because I don't trust the current Trek brain trust to do it right, but if they turned it over to Seth McFarlane, it would be pretty great.

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