Star Trek 332: Tribunal

332. Tribunal

FORMULA: Chain of Command Part II + Court TV

WHY WE LIKE IT: Cardassian's crazy-ass justice system.

WHY WE DON'T: Plot holes you could fly a runabout through.

REVIEW: There's always a danger in sci-fi when you create a society based on satire. The Ferengi were certainly initially hurt by their being a parody of capitalism, and TOS had many societies that were too extreme to be believed. That the Cardassian justice system manages to be so steeped in Kafka and Orwell and still make it believable is wondrous indeed. In part, this is achieved by using DS9's best victim, O'Brien to ground the absurdity. It also helps that the system as presented makes an internal kind of sense. The reasons for such practices are well explained and justified and everything from the perverted version of Miranda rights to the lawyer who's never won a case comes off as biting satire and very dark comedy.

And while overall Tribunal doesn't add much to O'Brien's character beyond what we already knew (his prejudice is addressed, but likely not altered), it's also a good Odo episode. Setting up Things Past in Season 5, Odo seems here to be a man haunted by his role during the Cardassian Occupation, and resolute in not letting another innocent man die. The rest of the cast is focused on getting O'Brien off the hook, which is your standard tech-assisted detective work stuff (with Bashir as a spy's preferred pawn again).

In fact, that's where the episode suffers. The Cardassian system is designed to be unfair and invincible, even to the truth, but for the episode to work, it has to fail too often. Odo shouldn't be able to interrupt the Archon that often, especially after her Nth warning. Sisko shouldn't be able to bring Boone into the courtroom. And lastly, why couldn't the Cardassians just shut the cameras off as they were about to be embarassed? It happens all the time in real life.

I do believe this is also the first time we see the establishing shot of Cardassia, with its clawed walls and Big Brother propaganda screens. It's a great look. Avery Brooks gets to direct an episode here, and he has great ideas when it comes to Cardassia's extreme lighting conditions. The camera angles play into the various power relationships and are interesting too, so I'd say good job. I could, however, do without O'Brien's goofy/creepy grin after he gets off.

LESSON: Better be careful what you say about the bloody Cardies...

REWATCHABILITY - Medium-High: Chain of Command used the dehumanizing aspect of Orwell's influence better, but it's still a well scripted and acted piece of black comedy. One shouldn't scrutinize the plot too much however, and I wonder how much it could have been fixed by mentioning dissident help just once.



Blog Archive


5 Things to Like Activities Advice Alien Nation Aliens Say the Darndest Things Alpha Flight Amalgam Ambush Bug Animal Man anime Aquaman Archetypes Archie Heroes Arrowed Asterix Atom Avengers Awards Babylon 5 Batman Battle Shovel Battlestar Galactica Black Canary BnB 2-in1 Books Booster Gold Buffy Canada Captain America Captain Marvel Cat CCGs Charlton Circles of Hell Class Comics Comics Code Approved Conan Contest Cooking Crisis Daredevil Dating Kara Zor-El Dating Lois Lane Dating Lucy Lane Dating Princess Diana DCAU Deadman Dial H Dice Dinosaur Island Dinosaurs Director Profiles Doctor Who Doom Patrol Down the Rabbit Hole Dr. Strange Encyclopedia Fantastic Four Fashion Nightmares Fiasco Films Within Films Flash Flushpoint Foldees French Friday Night Fights Fun with Covers FW Team-Up Galleries Game design Gaming Geekly roundup Geeks Anonymous Geekwear Gimme That Star Trek Godzilla Golden Age Grant Morrison Great Match-Ups of Science Fiction Green Arrow Green Lantern Hawkman Hero Points Podcast Holidays House of Mystery Hulk Human Target Improv Inspiration Intersect Invasion Invasion Podcast Iron Man Jack Kirby Jimmy Olsen JLA JSA Judge Dredd K9 the Series Kirby Motivationals Krypto Kung Fu Learning to Fly Legion Letters pages Liveblog Lonely Hearts Podcast Lord of the Rings Machine Man Motivationals Man-Thing Marquee Masters of the Universe Memes Memorable Moments Metal Men Metamorpho Micronauts Millennium Mini-Comics Monday Morning Macking Movies Mr. Terrific Music Nelvana of the Northern Lights Nightmare Fuel Number Ones Obituaries oHOTmu OR NOT? Old52 One Panel Outsiders Panels from Sheena Paper Dolls Play Podcast Polls Questionable Fridays Radio Rants Reaganocomics Recollected Red Bee Red Tornado Reign Retro-Comics Reviews Rom RPGs Sandman Sapphire & Steel Sarah Jane Adventures Saturday Morning Cartoons SBG for Girls Seasons of DWAITAS Secret Origins Podcast Secret Wars SF Shut Up Star Boy Silver Age Siskoid as Editor Siskoid's Mailbox Space 1999 Spectre Spider-Man Spring Cleaning ST non-fiction ST novels: DS9 ST novels: S.C.E. ST novels: The Shat ST novels: TNG ST novels: TOS Star Trek Streaky Suicide Squad Supergirl Superman Supershill Swamp Thing Tales from Earth-Prime Team Horrible Teen Titans That Franchise I Never Talk About The Orville The Prisoner The Thing Then and Now Theory Thor Thursdays of Two Worlds Time Capsule Timeslip Tintin Torchwood Tourist Traps of the Forgotten Realms Toys Turnarounds TV V Waking Life Warehouse 13 Websites What If? Who's This? Whoniverse-B Wikileaked Wonder Woman X-Files X-Men Zero Hour Strikes Zine