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Tribunal (episode)

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Obrien breaks down
Series: DS9
Season: 2x25
Original Airdate: 1994-06-05
Production Number: 445
Year: 2370
Stardate: 47944.2
Story by: Bill Dial
Directed by: Avery Brooks
Raymond Boone

When Cardassians arrest Miles O'Brien for working with the Maquis, he's put on a Cardassian trial, where the verdict is already decided, and is always guilty.

Summary

Teaser

Chief O'Brien and his wife Keiko are scheduled to go on vacation, but as a workaholic, he finds it difficult to let go. Out of uniform and carrying his bag, O'Brien reminds Dax of various things that need attention as he makes his way to the turbolift. She assures him that she will look after the station as if it were her own child, although this does not seem to make him feel any better. Kira seems annoyed, albeit in good humor, and she reassures O'Brien that the rest of the crew are perfectly capable of running the station without him for a week. He reminds her that he will be available over subspace, at which point the major politely requests that he "get out of our hair."

O'Brien takes the hint and gets in the turbolift as Dax reminds him to have a good time, something he seems to have forgotten. As soon as the turbolift leaves, Commander Sisko emerges from his office and tells Dax and Kira that O'Brien has been driving him crazy all day. The turbolift returns as he speaks and O'Brien starts to tell Sisko something about a recently installed subroutine, but the commander orders him to disembark Deep Space 9. Only after O'Brien is gone do Sisko, Kira and Dax allow their true amusement to show through.

O'Brien hurries along the Promenade on his way to the runabout and nearly drops several PADDs he is carrying. A nearby human moves to help with the load, but O'Brien reassures him he has it under control. As O'Brien walks away, the man seems to recognize his face but not his name. O'Brien realizes who he has just seen and turns back, recognizing Raymond Boone, one of his former colleagues from the Rutledge. Boone recognizes the name Miles O'Brien immediately and is glad to see him after so long.

Boone is impressed with O'Brien's status as Chief Engineer, Boone says he left Starfleet eight years ago and now resides on Volon III; a confused O'Brien points out that Volon III is on the Cardassian side of the Demilitarized Zone. Boone admits that the new Federation-Cardassian Treaty puts him and his fellow colonists in harm's way, but as he mines ladarium, he says the Cardassians leave him alone. O'Brien is nonetheless surprised and does not understand how Boone could live among the Cardassians after what happened at the Setlik III massacre. While Boone says the incident convinced him to leave Starfleet, it convinced O'Brien to stay in. The two plan to meet the next time Boone is on the station, but Boone loses his friendly air once O'Brien is gone.

Obrien voiceprint
Boone's recording
Boone enters his quarters carrying a data pad. He has recorded the exchange with O'Brien, and now he sorts through it to find the portion where O'Brien stated his name. "O'Brien! Miles O'Brien," it says.

Act One

On the way to their vacation destination, Miles is engrossed in something he is reading as Keiko asks if he brought the holo-cam along. He asks if he was supposed to do so and she reminds him that they went over the list of items to bring along last night in bed. "I was dead as soon as my head hit the pillow," Miles says, his mind obviously elsewhere. He sarcastically claims there must have been someone else in their bed, as he only remembers falling asleep. Dismissing her husband's sarcastic remarks, Keiko asks what he is reading, and to her chagrin, he informs her it is a technical update manual.

Switching subjects, Miles observes that it might have been a good idea to bring Molly with them on their vacation and wonders if she will be okay with the Petersons. Keiko sarcastically tells him that Molly likes the Petersons more than her own parents, reassuring him Molly is fine. However, he suggests traveling back to Deep Space 9 to pick up both the holo-cam and Molly, which would only cost a half-day's worth of vacation time. A stern look from Keiko causes him to rescind his suggestion and he goes back to reading. After a moment of awkward silence, Keiko asks how many he brought; he innocently asks what she means, although he knows she is referring to his update manuals. "Just a few," he claims sheepishly. Keiko simply stares at him, her arms crossed.

Miles finally takes the hint and sets his manuals aside. He tells the computer to play something by Minezaki; Keiko is still annoyed, but a smile begins to appear on her face. As the music plays, Miles gets up and kneels beside Keiko, bringing their faces close to one another. The two of them embrace and begin kissing one another, but as they do, they are stopped by Keiko's chair, which refuses to allow Keiko to lean back any further. Laughing, she asks if the runabout chairs recline, to which Miles admits he wishes they did. "You're an engineer — do something about it," she suggests playfully, adding, "I'll make it worth your while." They resume their embrace and forget any hostility they may have felt earlier when the computer announces that a vessel is approaching.

The computer identifies the ship as a Hideki-class Cardassian patrol vessel. Miles tells the computer to raise the runabout's shields as he returns to his seat. They try to send an emergency subspace message to DS9 but the Cardassians jam their transmissions and hail them. With a hint of contempt, O'Brien opens a channel with the vessel and identifies himself. On the other end is Gul Evek, who politely informs him that they have spoken before and orders him to shut down the runabout's engines to prepare for an inspection. Although Miles points out that they are nowhere near the Cardassian border and Evek thus has no authority to search the runabout, Evek claims the question of authority can wait; for now, he warns O'Brien to comply or he will take "preemptive action." As Evek says this, the computer alerts Miles that the sensors have detected a photo lock-on from the Cardassian vessel, an indication that Evek is prepared to open fire. Giving O'Brien ten seconds to comply, Evek terminates the communication.

Obrien under arrest
Gul Evek places O'Brien under arrest.

Reassuring Keiko that neither of them has done anything wrong, Miles lowers the runabout's shields. Evek and two other Cardassian soldiers beam aboard and materialize behind him the moment he does so. Evek thanks Miles for his cooperation and informs him that the Cardassians have orders to arrest him. Keiko is aghast as Evek tells the other soldiers to search the ship and a baffled Miles asks what the charges are. "You have the right to refuse to answer questions, but such refusal may be construed as a sign of guilt," Evek informs him, to which Miles demands to know what the charges are. Evek asks if Miles would like to deny all knowledge of the crime; when Miles again asks what the crime is, Evek interprets his response as a "no." Keiko insists that they have rights as Federation citizens. Somewhat dismissively, Evek acknowledges that their "rights" under the Cardassian Articles of Jurisprudence will be protected.

Miles demands to speak to Commander Sisko, and with a mix of sternness and compassion, Evek assures him that they with contact Sisko and see that Keiko is returned safely to DS9. He goes on to explain that Miles will be taken to Cardassia Prime, where he will await trial. Miles seems to realize the futility of arguing and pushes Evek out of the way, attempting to grab Keiko, but one of the Cardassians shoots him with a phaser. Keiko cries out as her husband collapses and is beamed aboard the Cardassian ship along with Evek and one of the officers. The remaining officer restrains her from reaching for the command console, and she screams her husband's name as the camera fades out.

Act Two

Obrien spotlight
"Would you care to make a confession?"

The setting is now Cardassia Prime. A government building looms prominently in the distance and large viewscreens placed strategically on the walls of various buildings display a Cardassian man giving a speech. A pair of soldiers forcibly escorts O'Brien into a darkened room and walk off-screen as a bright light shines on him. "Remove your clothes," a deep, emotionless voice commands. The overly bright light shining on him moves in a circle as he speaks. "My name is Miles O'Brien. My rank is Chief of Operations, Starfleet; I'm a Federation citizen," he defiantly states to the owner of the voice, a uniformed Cardassian whose features remain anonymous. "Remove your clothes," the man repeats bluntly. O'Brien repeats his statement as well, still somewhat disoriented, but the soldiers who brought him in grab him as he does so, slamming him against a nearby wall. Each soldier grabs a side of O'Brien's shirt and together they rip it off. Forcing him to the ground, they remove his pants as well. "Would you care to make a confession?" the faceless voice asks, and O'Brien repeats his statement yet again, although less adamantly this time. Still emotionless, the officer orders the soldiers to "process" O'Brien.

O'Brien's head is restrained as one of the soldiers uses a pen-shaped device to perform a retinal scan, causing a picture of him and a dossier to appear on a nearby screen. The soldiers drag O'Brien to a sleek chair with arm and leg restraints. He manages to punch one of the soldiers and begins to get up, but the other restrains him and administers a sedative. As the sedative begins to take effect, the chair shifts to a horizontal position and O'Brien once again proclaims his Federation citizenship, the defiance of his original statement all but gone this time. One of the soldiers clips a sample of O'Brien's hair while the other uses a pair of pliers to remove one of his molars. Finally, pale blue light engulfs O'Brien's body, presumably forming a holographic record, and the chair returns to its vertical state as a female Cardassian enters, formally clothed.

She approaches the now-silent O'Brien and asks the interrogator if O'Brien has been processed. Observing a cut on O'Brien's forehead, she remarks with a tinge of annoyance that the prisoner was not to be harmed. One of the soldiers explains that O'Brien had to be restrained and the other brings in a black jumpsuit-like garment. Now assuming a more amicable demeanor, he hands the garment to O'Brien and motions for him to stand. The female walks alongside O'Brien and apologizes sincerely for the way he has been treated. She introduces herself as Makbar, the Chief Archon, and assures him that she wants his stay to be as comfortable as possible under the circumstances. By "circumstances," she means the holding cell (similar in appearance to those aboard DS9) to which she has led him.

Makbar checkup
Makbar and O'Brien

Makbar follows O'Brien into the small cell and informs him that she has scheduled his trial to begin in two days; he has been assigned the venerable Kovat as his public conservator, or lawyer, which Makbar takes as a good sign. After all, she explains, many feel Kovat to be the best legal counsel in all of Cardassia. However, when O'Brien asks again what he is being charged with, she takes on a decidedly less comforting tone. "All in good time, Mister O'Brien," she says as she exits the cell. "All in good time." A dazed O'Brien is left, still naked and holding the black jumpsuit, to wonder what his fate will be.

Aboard DS9, Keiko sits in Sisko's office with Sisko before her Odo at his side. He informs her that Starfleet Command has ordered the Enterprise, Prokofiev, and Valdemar to the Federation-Cardassian border near the Demilitarized Zone, hoping that the threat of endangering their treaty with the Federation will give the Cardassians incentive to release O'Brien. However, this is not good enough for Keiko, who insists that her husband is being tortured. Odo, who served aboard DS9 when it was Terok Nor under Cardassian rule, confirms that the use of torture is standard Cardassian interrogation policy, further worrying Keiko. She reveals that O'Brien spoke to her on numerous occasions about the Starfleet officers whom the Cardassians took prisoner at Setlik III and what they were like after their release. The thought of being like them disgusted and scared him. As much as Sisko wants to help, he reminds her that they do not know where O'Brien is being held. Seeming to understand his logic but not wanting to admit it, Keiko leaves the office.

Sisko and Odo follow Keiko into Ops, attempting to reason with her, but their conversation is cut short when Major Kira announces that there is an incoming transmission from Cardassia Prime. It is Makbar, who introduces herself as "the Archon representing the Cardassian Empire in its case against Miles O'Brien." While she claims it is not possible for Sisko to see or speak with O'Brien, she assures him that O'Brien is being treated with great care and respect. Warning her that O'Brien had better be treated properly or he will hold Makbar personally responsible, Sisko assures her his warning is a threat. Makbar goes on to announce that the charges against Chief O'Brien will be revealed at the trial as per Cardassian Jurisprudence. Keiko finds this outrageous and demands to know how they are supposed to prepare for a trial without knowing the charges, but Makbar claims the verdict has already been reached; the trial is to demonstrate how it was reached.

While Makbar offers Keiko the opportunity to attend the trial, she tells Sisko that only family members of the accused enjoy this privelege. Odo interrupts to inquire about O'Brien's nestor, a type of advisor. The court has assigned O'Brien a conservator and a nestor by default, but Odo volunteers to take on the role of nestor instead. When Makbar informs him that the nestor must be an officer of the Cardassian court, he reveals that Gul Dukat made him an officer four years ago in order to testify in criminal cases during the Cardassian occupation of Bajor. Reluctantly, Makbar agrees. Odo now takes the stage, inquiring as to the penalty O'Brien faces for his crimes. Makbar informs him that O'Brien has been scheduled for execution next week. Keiko is appalled by the notion of condemning a man to death before the trial even begins, but at Makbar puts it, "We believe in swift justice." With that, she terminates the transmission.

Once the transmission ends, Odo tells Sisko that the he and Keiko will leave immediately for Cardassia Prime and they exit in a turbolift. Meanwhile, Sisko tells Kira to conduct a complete security sweep of the station for anything that might explain what has happened. Noting O'Brien's well-known dislike of Cardassians, Kira asks what she should do if she finds he is guilty. Sisko grimly admits he wants to know that as well, if it is true.

Act Three

Kovat and Obrien
Kovat and O'Brien

O'Brien lies in his cell as an older Cardassian man approaches. Entering the cell, the Cardassian speaks in a soothing voice and warmly introduces himself as Conservator Kovat. Kovat sits next to O'Brien, who impatiently asks why he would need a lawyer if he has already been sentenced. The role of conservator, Kovat explains, is to help the accused concede the wisdom of the state; O'Brien refuses to dignify such a statement with a response and simply laughs. Undaunted, Kovat maintains his comforting demeanor and relates an old Cardassian expression: "Confession is good for the soul." In addition, he adds, hearing the guilty confess makes the public feel better, and while such is not the primary purpose of the trial, he points out that it's not a bad side effect. O'Brien looks at Kovat as if he were insane.

Kovat seems pleased as he reviews the information collected during O'Brien's processing. When O'Brien asks what he has been charged with, Kovat dismisses the question and claims there is no need to worry about it at this point. O'Brien calls the entire process insane and gives up on getting any straight answers. Whatever O'Brien may or may not have done, Kovat reassures him it does not matter in the long run. "The purpose of this trial is to demonstrate the futility of behavior contrary to good order," he says, calling the entire process uplifting for everyone. "Not everyone," O'Brien corrects him, but the words fall on deaf ears. Kovat enthusiastically describes how all crimes are solved on Cardassia and even the poorest of the poor can walk the streets in the dead of night safely. O'Brien informs Kovat that he is not guilty and holds the entire process in contempt, an attitude Kovat claims will put on a good show. Before Kovat leaves, O'Brien asks if he has ever won a case. "Winning isn't everything," Kovat proclaims as he walks off stage.

Meanwhile, the crew of DS9 has discovered plenty of evidence — all of it pointing directly at O'Brien. Twenty-four photon torpedoes have been stolen from a weapons locker, and Dax points out that they were beamed out of the locker in such a manner that it would require a transporter expert. Bashir sees what she is getting at, but he refuses to believe it. Furthermore, however, Kira has verified via command logs that O'Brien was in the locker minutes before the beam-out took place; his voiceprint is even in the computer. Frustrated, Bashir wonders why anyone would steal photon warheads. Kira points out that a Maquis raider stole photon launchers from a Bolian freighter two weeks ago — launchers, but no warheads. They only find more questions as they dig deeper, such as how the Cardassians found out O'Brien was carrying the warheads and who in the Maquis he could have been giving them to.

Odo visits O'Brien in his cell to see if he has been treated properly, and when O'Brien mentions that the removal of one of his molars, Odo is familiar with the practice. All Cardassians are required to give one of their molars to the Cardassian Bureau of Identification, a procedure normally performed at age ten. While Keiko has come with Odo, she is not allowed to visit her husband in his cell. However, Odo grimly informs him that families are always invited to trials and executions so the public can see them weep. The thought of this appalls O'Brien and he says he does not want Keiko to be present. He desperately asks whether the Cardassians told Odo anything about the charges against him, which they have not, although Odo has an idea.

Odo and Obrien
Odo and O'Brien
Rather than explain the theory outright, Odo uses indirect questions to test O'Brien's responses. He asks if O'Brien has ever had dealings with the Maquis, but the chief is unsure of what he means; rather than explain, he asks if O'Brien knows anyone in the Maquis, which he denies; finally, he asks if O'Brien has ever sold weapons to the Maquis, which he also denies with visible frustration this time. O'Brien wonders if anyone will ever tell him what he supposedly did, at which point Odo realizes O'Brien truly does not know anything. He reveals that Commander Sisko contacted him several hours ago to inform him of the missing warheads and that they suspect the warheads were in the cargo bay of the runabout. This begins to clarify things for O'Brien, as he knew the Cardassians found something in the cargo bay. However, he denies any knowledge of the theft and begins to break down.

O'Brien confides in Odo that he has been in Starfleet his entire adult life and during that entire time, no one has ever questioned his loyalty. Odo observes as O'Brien speaks, gaining new insights into his colleague's personality. While O'Brien admits he is not an angel, he claims he has never cheated nor stolen, and tried to be the best human being he can. Odo tries to comfort him by reassuring him that being accused of a crime is not a dishonor and Keiko will be at the trial but not weeping. "And neither will you," he adds. "I want the Archon to see the unwavering eyes of an innocent man." Calling for the guard, Odo exits the cell. O'Brien thanks him for coming and he exits.

Act Four

Dax discovers that while O'Brien’s voice opened the weapons locker, the voice was a fabrication assembled piece by piece from existing recordings. As she shows Bashir, the piques in the sound clips are slightly out of synch when compared with a recording from the real O'Brien. Meanwhile, Kira has narrowed a list of potential Maquis suspects down to twelve people who were on the station on the day of the theft and isolated Raymond Boone, who several merchants observed talking with O'Brien. Sisko tells Security to find Boone at once.

Makbar
Makbar

Broadcasting live to all of Cardassia, Makbar announces the commencement of O'Brien's trial. She sits at high podium emblazoned with the Cardassian emblem; to her left sit several young children, while to her right sits the chair from which witnesses testify. Kovat stands in front of the podium and informs her that his client is ready. The children tap their knuckles against the sides of their seats respectfully as O'Brien enters and takes his place at a raised seat facing the Archon. The Archon offers O'Brien a chance to "spare your family and the Federation further humiliation" by confessing; he declines without hesitation. Keiko enters with Odo, and Makbar per Cardassian Articles of Jurisprudence offers her a chance to disassociate herself from her husband and testify against him. Giving O'Brien a supportive look, Keiko adamently refuses. She and Odo sit directly in front of O'Brien on the main floor next to Kovat's seat. Makbar is about to call the first witness when Odo interrupts her.

Before the hearing proceeds, Odo requests that he be allowed to confer privately with Kovat, which perturbs Makbar. She concedes that it is Odo's first time serving as nestor and he therefore may not be accustomed to protocol, but the nestor has no authority to address the court. He begs the court's indulgence and Makbar reluctantly does so; Kovat begs Odo not to ruin the case for him as he is only a year away from retirement. The idea that an innocent man could be convicted seems incredulous to the conservator when Odo informs him of the new evidence. Regardless, however, he reminds Odo that no evidence may be submitted after the verdict has been reached. Odo attempts to press the matter but Makbar impatiently interrupts their conference to ask Kovat if they are ready to proceed, which he hurriedly claims they are. Odo does not concur.

Cardassian courtroom
Odo, Keiko and Kovat

Despite Makbar's warning, Odo requests permission to address the court and proceeds to do so over Makbar's objections, asserting that O'Brien's conservator refuses to bring to light new evidence which would prove his client's innocence. Kovat can hardly believe his ears as Odo speaks, and Makbar exclaims that Odo is out of order. Given the situation, Odo angrily demands to know what he is supposed to do. Respect Cardassian judicial procedure, Makbar claims, pointing out that were this a Federation courtroom he would ask that she do the same of their procedures.

Odo uses this point as a segue to the fact that no crime has been committed against Cardassia and therefore the trial should be taking place in a Federation courtroom in his estimation. When he mentions that the crime in question was committed aboard a Bajoran space station, a flabbergasted Kovat proclaims he is extremely humiliated and denounces the case as he attempts to leave the courtroom. Makbar sternly orders Kovat to sit down before warning Odo not to try the patience of the Cardassian people, for he will find the punishment very unpleasant. "I regret that I have no molars to give your Bureau of Identification," he concedes with disdain. Makbar explains that she fully expected the Federation to come up with fabricated evidence to confuse the issues at hand, and as such, she rules that no new evidence may be submitted.

Back on DS9, Sisko and Kira stand beside a seated Boone and attempt to extract some form of information from him. Talking to O'Brien does not mean he is guilty, Boone claims; after all, they're old friends from the Rutledge. When Sisko reassures him that they do not plan to turn him over to the Cardassians, Boone observes that he has no reason to think they will since he has done nothing wrong. Sisko tells Kira to hold Boone for further questioning.

Meanwhile, Bashir enters the infirmary to find the lights malfunctioning. He attempts to access them through the computer and is about to leave when a voice from behind him tells him not to turn around. A man stands in the shadows, his features indistinguishable, and claims that Boone is "not one of us." As Bashir realizes the man is from the Maquis, he asks for more information. All the man will say is that the Maquis knew nothing of the theft of the warheads. Bashir turns around seeking more information only to find the man gone and the lights once again functional.

Act Five

Cardassian Court TV
The trial is broadcast to all of Cardassia.

On Cardassia Prime, Gul Evek can be seen on the same wall-mounted viewscreens as Makbar was previously. He describes the Maquis as "savage, Federation-born killers" as the camera switches to an interior shot of the photon torpedoes from O'Brien's runabout, which he cites as evidence of his accusation. After Evek confirms for Kovat that the Maquis are based in the Demilitarized Zone, the conservator asks how Evek knew the weapons were intended for the Maquis. Evek claims to have received the information from "reliable sources" but does not reveal the nature of his sources, causing Odo to interrupt the proceeding yet again.

Odo wants Evek to reveal his sources, and more to indulge Odo than out of her own curiosity, Makbar asks whether Evek can do so. Evek claims the details of how he obtained the information cannot be revealed without risk to national security, an answer Makbar accepts but Odo does not. He presses for more information on how Evek learned the warheads were in the runabout; again, Evek quotes "reliable sources," for which he gives the same rationale. Although Odo is still unsatisfied with Evek's answers, Makbar impatiently dispenses with the issue. The trial, she says, is already the longest in the history of Cardassia. Kovat resumes his questioning and promises to be as brief as possible.

A pair of Bajoran deputies escorts Boone into the Infirmary aboard DS9, where Sisko and Bashir are waiting for him. Bashir asks why Boone has not spoken to his parents in eight years and Boone claims he never got along with them; his parents, however, told Bashir otherwise. Sisko continues to connect the dots, adding that Boone divorced his wife of fifteen years and was discharged from Starfleet around the same time he stopped talking to his parents. Bashir finishes by explaining that all of these things happened shortly after Boone's return from Setlik III. On hearing all of this, Boone seems to know what they are talking about and attempts to push his way past the deputies guarding the door. He is restrained and placed on a biobed.

"Some romantic vacation," O'Brien remarks to Keiko. She reassures him that there will be others, but he does not share her optimism and asks that she not be present at his execution. Their conversation is cut short as a bell announces Makbar's return and the room stands respectfully. Taking her seat, Makbar announces that the offender will testify. O'Brien informs he he has nothing to say to the court, but he is compelled to testify under Cardassian law. Kovat meanwhile suggests to Odo that he advise O'Brien to confess and throw himself on the mercy of the court. "I never heard of a Cardassian court showing mercy," the constable counters. That, Kovat insists, is not the point, but Odo declines despite Kovat's urging. The irony of Odo interrupting before and refusing to speak now is not lost on Makbar.

Kovat approaches the witness stand and inquires whether O'Brien was abused as a child. Annoyed, O'Brien wonders what Kovat is talking about. He hypothesizes that perhaps O'Brien's parents were abusive and that perhaps the chief hated them. O'Brien informs Kovat he loved his parents, and when Kovat suggests spousal abuse on Keiko's part, he indignantly describes her as "the most wonderful, supportive person I've ever known." Kovat respectfully apologizes for the question, claiming he is only looking for a reason why a fine man such as O'Brien would become a criminal. Perhaps O'Brien could assist him, Kovat suggests, but O'Brien insists he is not a criminal. "Well," Kovat declares in a resigned tone as he resumes his seat, "I tried."

With Kovat done, Makbar takes over, asking O'Brien how many Cardassians he has killed. He has not killed any since the Federation-Cardassian War, but she requests a count that includes the war. Odo asks what relevance such information has, but she insists O'Brien's war experiences are very much relevant and repeats her question. O'Brien admits he is unsure of the number. What then begins as a neutral question becomes very much loaded as Makbar asks whether there is a warm place in O'Brien's heart for the Cardassians now that the war is over and whether he has stated on numerous occasions, "The bloody Cardies can't be trusted." He reluctantly admits this is true, at which point Kovat chimes in and concedes the verdict on his client's behalf. Despite O'Brien's objection and adamant insistence that he is innocent, Makbar orders him to stand down. Before he can do so, a guard escorts Sisko and Boone into the courtroom.

Kovat wins
Kovat realizes he has won.

On seeing then newcomers, Kovat objects but Makbar, now staring intently at Boone, silences him. She addresses the court to proclaim that the Cardassian system of jurisprudence has worked once again and a guilty man has been brought to justice. However, she claims to see in O'Brien the potential for rehabilitation. In the spirit of furthering Cardassian-Federation relations, she says she will set aside the verdict and release O'Brien into the Federation's custody. As the courtroom clears, a dumbfounded Kovat asks Odo what has just happened, still in shock. "You won," Odo remarks dismissively. "They'll kill me," Kovat whispers to himself.

Sisko explains on the way home that Boone was actually a Cardassian spy who replaced the real Boone eight years ago, as genetic tests from Doctor Bashir confirmed. They first became suspicious when Boone's wife spoke of how radically different he was when released from imprisonment after the Cardassians captured him at Setlik III. O'Brien is still confused as to why the Cardassians would want to frame him, but as Odo points out it was never about O'Brien. The entire scheme was an elaborate plot to give the Cardassian Central Command an excuse to destroy the Federation colonies on the Cardassian side of the Demilitarized Zone. After all, if the Federation itself was supporting the Maquis, the Cardassians would have no choice but to use military action. When Sisko entered with Boone, Makbar knew he had the ability to embarrass the High Command with all of Cardassia watching.

Memorable Quotes

"I've been told that I've already been charged, indicted, convicted, and sentenced. What would I need with a lawyer?"

"Well, Mr. O'Brien, if it sounds immodest of me I apologize, but the role of public conservator is key to the productive functioning of the court. I'm here to help you concede the wisdom of the state."

- O'Brien and Kovat


"I've been in service to the Federation — Starfleet — all my adult life. No one has ever questioned my loyalty. No one in my entire life has ever had cause to ask, 'Miles O'Brien, are you a criminal?' I took an oath to defend the Federation and what it stands for. I don't steal from them, I don't lie to them... I'm no angel, but I try to live every day as the best human being I know how to be. I need my little girl to wake up every morning and look up at me and see a man she can respect! Until now, she could."

"Being accused of a crime is not a disgrace, Chief. Some of the great figures of history have shared the honor."

"I didn't figure on dying a martyr."

"Not all of them were martyrs. Not all of them died. Some of them were just innocent men like you."

- O'Brien and Odo


"The offender Miles O'Brien, human, officer of the Federation's Starfleet, has been found guilty of aiding and abetting seditious acts against the state. The sentence is death; let the trial begin."

- Makbar

Background Information

  • Although generally well received among fans, "Tribunal" has been criticized for having a deus ex machina-style ending.
  • The plot of the episode elaborates on a statement made by Gul Dukat: "On Cardassia, the verdict is always known before the trial begins, and it's always the same." (DS9: "The Maquis, Part II")
  • The discussion to to which Evek alludes occurred when O'Brien contacted Evek for assistance in exterminating a colony of Cardassian voles that had made its home aboard DS9. At the time, he was credited simply as "Cardassian Officer." (DS9: "Playing God")
  • Andrew Robinson (Garak) has likened the Cardassian brain to the reptilian portion of the human brain, which in Robinson's words "knows what boundaries are ... [and] how to take care of itself so that the species survives."[1] Consequentially, Cardassian philosophy places order above both freedom and equality, resulting in an Orwellian society where the good of the state is placed above that of the individual. Kovat epitomizes this philosophy in his defense of the legal system: "Whatever you've done, whatever the charges against you, none of that really matters in the long run ... This trial is to demonstrate the futility of behavior contrary to good order."
  • One might wonder how a system of justice with so much potential for abuse could survive for hundreds of years as Makbar claims it has, but if prior episodes are any indication, other aspects of Cardassian society reflect a similar attitude. For example, The Never Ending Sacrifice, which tells of seven generations of a Cardassian family all living in servitude to the state, is "the finest Cardassian novel ever written" according to Garak. (DS9: "The Wire")
  • When O'Brien is subjected to extremely bright light in the darkened processing room, the Cardassians are employing a psychological tactic known as monopolization of perception. Often used in interrogations and brainwashing, the most common defense is for the captive to focus on something dear to him or her (in O'Brien's case, the Federation and Starfleet). This is why he repeats his statement of identity several times despite the hopeless circumstances.
  • The chair in which O'Brien is placed during his processing is conspicuously similar to those used at most dental offices.

Links and References

Guest Stars

References

Cardassia Prime; Cardassians; Cardassian Articles of Jurisprudence; Cardassian Bureau of Identification; Cardassian Union; conservator; Enterprise-D, USS; Federation-Cardassian War; Hideki-class; Maquis; Minezaki; Prokofiev, USS; Rutledge, USS; Setlik III; Setlik III massacre; Valdemar, USS; Volon III;

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