“Tribunal” is the 25th and penultimate episode of the second season of the syndicated American science fiction television series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the 45th episode overall.
It is the first episode directed by cast member Avery Brooks (Commander Benjamin Sisko), as well as the first episode of the series to air after the finale of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Set in the 24th century, the series follows the adventures on Deep Space Nine, a space station located near a stable wormhole between the Alpha and Gamma quadrants of the Milky Way Galaxy. In this episode, Chief O’Brien (Colm Meaney) is convicted and later accused at a tribunal held on Cardassia Prime, where the legal status of the accused is determined before the trial even begins: guilty. This episode provided a look at the Cardassian judicial system and culture.
Chief O’Brien is just about to head off on vacation, but he can’t bring himself to let someone handle his duties while he is away and so he annoys the other members of the command staff with reminders about various things until they order him to leave. While he is on his way to meet his wife Keiko, Miles runs into an old crewmate named Raymond Boone (John Beck). The two had served together on the USS Rutledge, before O’Brien served aboard the Enterprise and long before he arrived on Deep Space Nine. The two old friends chat briefly and part ways.
The O’Briens set off for their trip, but do not get very far before their runabout is stopped by the Cardassians and Chief O’Brien is arrested. His wife, Keiko (Rosalind Chao), is released and returns to the station, where she promptly meets with Commander Sisko to discuss the situation. Keiko expresses her fear and dread about what will happen to her husband under the Cardassians’ care, since it’s common knowledge that the Cardassians use torture to get what they want from their prisoners. Odo gently confirms that she is correct. Commander Sisko is informed that O’Brien has been declared guilty and sentenced to death, and will have a ceremonial “trial” in which the verdict is read. He will then be executed. So far, no one has been told what the charges are.
On Cardassia Prime, O’Brien is taken to a prison and processed. In the process, his clothes are torn off and he is injured while resisting the guards. The judge who will be overseeing his case (Caroline Lagerfelt) enters and greets him, informing him that he will be represented by one of Cardassia’s most distinguished advocates, Kovat (Fritz Weaver). O’Brien, in turn, asks what he is being charged with and she won’t answer him.
Constable Odo (René Auberjonois), thinking quickly, uses the fact that he is still an officer of the Cardassian court (as a result of working for the Cardassian leadership on Terok Nor prior to the Federation taking charge of the station) to get himself appointed to the legal team representing Chief O’Brien. Odo and Keiko promptly depart for Cardassia.
Meanwhile, the crew of the station discovers that a number of warheads have been stolen from the station and have probably ended up in the possession of the Maquis, a faction that has been attacking the Cardassians. Major Kira (Nana Visitor) looks into the station’s records and finds that the transfer of the warheads was made by Chief O’Brien. She plays a security log containing O’Brien’s voice, and in it he clearly requests access to the warheads. This evidence will be used by the Cardassians to demonstrate his guilt before his execution.
Lt. Dax (Terry Farrell) examines the security log, convinced that O’Brien’s vocal command is a simulation. A voice sample was altered into a message that O’Brien never actually said. When Odo offers to produce this evidence, the judge refuses to accept it. The senior officers work under the belief that the Maquis stole the warheads and correctly identify Raymond Boone as the person Chief O’Brien was talking to prior to departing the station. Later, Dr. Bashir (Siddig El Fadil) is confronted in a darkened infirmary by a shadowy figure who asserts that Raymond Boone is not a Maquis agent and that the Maquis had nothing to do with the warheads.
The crew brings Boone in for questioning and upon researching his personal history, several inconsistencies begin to become obvious. Primarily among these is that several major life changes happened around the same time i.e. getting discharged from Starfleet, divorce from his wife and estrangement from his parents. When Bashir examines Boone, he finds that the man is not the real Boone but a Cardassian surgically altered to look like him. His appearance was apparently altered so that he could serve as a deep cover spy in Starfleet. With little time left before the end of the ceremonial trial, Sisko arrives in the courtroom with “Boone”. The judge sees that the game is up, and releases O’Brien, leaving Kovat horrified that the Cardassian government will surely kill him as punishment for apparently winning his case.
Star Trek TV Series
You can find a full index of Star Trek TV series here.
Star Trek TV Series, Films, and Documentaries
You can find a full index of all Star Trek TV series, films, documentaries here.
Production & Filming Details
- Director(s): Avery Brooks.
- Writer(s): Bill Dial.
- Release Date: 05 June 1994.
- Running Time: 45 minutes.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.