EPISODE #503 (COUNTING BEGAN WITH #401)
STARDATE UNKNOWN; FRAMING STORY SET IN 2373
1996 was the thirtieth anniversary of the debut of the original series. It was a big year for Star Trek. First Contact did well at the box office. Who can forget Worf’s terse declaration, “Assimilate this!” followed by weapon fire? That Fall Deep Space Nine entered its fifth season and Voyager its third. Each series had a special thirtieth-anniversary episode. Flashback, the Voyager episode with Captain Sulu, was lackluster, to state the case generously. The fault for this lay entirely with the concept and the script. But Trials and Tribble-ations was a fun and triumphant romp through The Trouble with Tribbles.
The episode opens with Starfleet Temporal Investigations agents Dulmer and Lucsly (their names based of Mulder and Scully) arriving on Deep Space Nine to question Captain Benjamin Sisko. These agents have no sense humor. They claim to hate jokes, and they give every impression of telling the truth about that. They even dislike Commander Jadzia Dax’s quip that they are always on time.
Dulmer and Lucsly ask Sisko why he took the Defiant back in time two weeks previous. Sisko explains that he did not. The story goes like this:
Sisko took the Defiant to Cardassia Prime, for the Cardassian government wanted to return a Bajoran orb–in this case, the Orb of Time. While there, Sisko took on a guest, one Barry Waddle, a merchant trapped on the planet during the Klingon invasion at the beginning of the fourth season. Waddle says he is glad to be around humans again. He even insults Klingons, saying that they smell foul. Commander Worf finds this annoying, but Dr. Julian Bashir and Chief Miles O’Brien tell Worf that he smells very pleasant–even like lilac.
Waddle used the Orb of Time to take the Defiant through time–105 years, one month, and twelve days, to be precise–and space to Space Station K-7, where Captain Kirk is 18 hours away from exposing Waddle’s younger self, then known as Arne Darvin, as a Klingon spy. Waddle/Darvin plots to assassinate Kirk with an exploding tribble.
These facts become clear during the episode. First, however, Sisko and crew see Kirk’s Enterprise on their screen.
Having begun to discover Waddle/Darvin’s plot, our heroes travel incognito in teams to the Enterprise and Space Station K-7. They change clothing, Worf wears a hat that conceals his brow ridges, and they seek to locate Waddle/Darvin and to foil his sinister plot.
So they begin to pass through the background of the familiar events of The Trouble with Tribbles. Here the real fun begins. Dax, O’Brien, and Bashir get 1960s hairstyles. Bashir gets to say, “I’m a doctor, not a historian.” O’Brien and Bashir become caught up in the bar fight, and O’Brien gets to lie to Captain Kirk. He is thrilled, and wishes that his wife could have seen that. Dax gushes nostalgically about “classic twenty-third century design” and notices that Spock is more attractive in person than in pictures. And, in the K-7 bar, Odo, O’Brien, and Bashir quiz Worf about why Klingons of 2268 look different than those of 2373. “We do not talk about it with outsiders,” Worf replies.
The technical wizardry of Trials and Tribble-ations is evident in the integration of 1996 cast members into 196os footage. Examine the two images above for evidence of this.
And examine the image above carefully. The man wearing a red shirt and playing with a tribble is David Gerrold, author of The Trouble with Tribbles.
Odo and Worf return Waddle/Darvin to the Defiant, where he reveals his exploding tribble plot. Sisko and Dax decide that staying close to Kirk is the best way to find said tribble. This is an effective strategy, for they realize that the tribble bomb is probably in the grain storage bin at K-7.
They find the tribble bomb, which Major Kira, aboard the cloaked Defiant, beams into outer space.
Before using the Orb of Time to return to 2373, Captain Sisko indulges himself. As Lieutenant Sisko in 2268, he presents Captain Kirk with the next day’s duty roster and says what an honor it has been to serve with Kirk on special assignment.
(The original footage for this scene comes from Mirror, Mirror, another wonderful and legendary episode.)
Dulmer and Lucsly, satisfied, give Sisko and crew a pass.
But they do not know that tribbles now infest Deep Space Nine.
Trials and Tribble-ations is an episode best enjoyed by viewing it, not reading a summary of it. So, if I inspire you seek it out (in a way consistent with U.S. copyright laws, of course), I have accomplished my goal.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
MARCH 12, 2011 COMMON ERA
All images are screen captures I took via the Power DVD program. Star Trek is property of CBS and Paramount Pictures.