Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1996): S05E06 – Trials and Tribble-ations


“Trials and Tribble-ations” is the 104th episode of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the sixth episode of the fifth season.

It was written as a tribute to the original series of Star Trek, in the 30th anniversary year of the show; sister series Voyager produced a similar episode, “Flashback” (S03E02). The idea for the episode was suggested by René Echevarria, and Ronald D. Moore suggested the link to “The Trouble with Tribbles” (S02E15). The pair were credited for their work on the teleplay, with the story credit going to Ira Steven Behr, Hans Beimler and Robert Hewitt Wolfe.

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, Captain Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks) and the crew travel back in time to prevent the assassination of Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) of the USS Enterprise by a Klingon using a booby-trapped tribble.

Moore had originally suggested re-visiting the planet seen in The Original Series episode “A Piece of the Action” (S02E17) but was convinced by Echevarria that the digitally inserted shots previously seen in Forrest Gump (1994) could be done on a small budget. After a test shot was completed, the rest of the production team were also convinced that it could be achieved. The budget was set at $3 million, with extensive work completed on matching the film techniques used during The Original Series.

Some original costumes were found for the Klingons while others were made from patterns created by Robert Blackman. Greg Jein created new models of the Enterprise as well as Deep Space Station K7 and the Klingon cruiser, while 1,400 tribbles were purchased from a company owned by Majel Barrett. Charlie Brill returned to Star Trek to appear once more as Arne Darvin, and Deirdre L. Imershein was cast in part due to her being friends with one of the production crew members. Walter Koenig, who portrayed Ensign Pavel Chekov in The Original Series, showed the Deep Space Nine cast how to work the consoles on the Enterprise sets.

“Trials and Tribble-ations” was warmly received by critics with praise directed at the nostalgia and level of detail seen on screen. It was the most watched episode of the fifth season. “Trials and Tribble-ations” was nominated in three Primetime Emmy Award categories and for the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation but did not win any awards. It was released on VHS initially alongside “The Trouble with Tribbles“, and later as part of the normal release schedule. It was subsequently released as part of the season five DVD set.


On board Deep Space Nine, Captain Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks) is being queried by Department of Temporal Investigations agents Dulmer (Jack Blessing) and Lucsly (James W. Jansen). The Captain explains that he was on the USS Defiant, returning from Cardassian space with the Bajoran Orb of Time. They had picked up a hitchhiker on the way, a human called Barry Waddle. Suddenly the ship found itself some 200 light years away from its previous location and over one hundred years in the past, near Deep Space Station K7 and found the USS Enterprise in orbit. They discover that the hitch-hiker was Arne Darvin (Charlie Brill), a Klingon agent who had previously been caught by Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) on K7 whilst trying to poison a shipment of grain.

Fearing that Darvin may be attempting to assassinate Kirk, the crew dress in period uniforms and investigate the Enterprise. They attempt to interact with history as little as possible whilst investigating Darvin. The crew does not initially recognise the Klingons of the time period, and when Lieutenant Commander Worf (Michael Dorn) is asked about the difference in appearance, he replies that the matter is not discussed with outsiders. Doctor Julian Bashir (Alexander Siddig) and Chief Miles O’Brien (Colm Meaney) get involved in a bar brawl between the Enterprise crew and a number of Klingons on shore leave. Captain Kirk disciplines them on the Enterprise alongside Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott (James Doohan) and Ensign Pavel Chekov (Walter Koenig). Bashir and O’Brien notice that the ship is covered with tribbles. Worf and Odo (René Auberjonois) detain Darvin and return him to the Defiant. There, Darvin admits that he planted a bomb in a tribble to kill Kirk.

Sisko and Lieutenant Commander Jadzia Dax (Terry Farrell) board the Enterprise but can find no trace of a bomb. They overhear a conversation about the tribble infestation, and deduce that the bomb is in the grain storage compartments. They enter the compartments and discover that the poisoned grain has all been eaten by tribbles, who are now all dead. Suddenly Captain Kirk opens the compartment and is covered in falling tribbles. Dax and Sisko find the bomb before it can kill Kirk and the Defiant transports it into space where it explodes. The crew of the Defiant use the Bajoran Orb to travel back to the present time, and Sisko finishes explaining the situation to the Temporal Agents. After the agents have departed the station, Odo summons Sisko to the promenade, where Quark (Armin Shimerman) is in his bar with numerous tribbles around him.

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Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s): Jonathan West.
  • Writer(s): Ira Steven Behr, Hans Beimler, and Robert Hewitt Wolfe.
  • Release Date: 04 November 1996.
  • Running Time: 45 minutes.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

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