In the sixth episode of the fifth season of Deep Space Nine, this is simply magical. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.
Incredible. INCREDIBLE. This episode should not have happened. It should not have worked. But the amount of work done here – from the sets, the lighting, the costume department, the cinematography, THE EDITING, and the hilarious script – makes “Trials and Tribble-ations” a goddamn spectacle.
I don’t speak about production issues as much as I should, and part of that comes from my sheer ignorance of how television shows do their thing. I don’t want to say shit that doesn’t make sense or is so far from the truth that y’all just laugh at me. (Except… that is literally my job. To be publicly wrong all the time.) Yet I think it would be foolish not to talk about the number of things that had to go into making this episode. The casting had to be perfect, and I only now just found out that THE SAME ACTOR WHO PLAYED DARVIN CAME BACK TO PLAY THE OLDER VERSION OF HIS ORIGINAL CHARACTER. (Feel free to laugh at me in the video when I make that ironic comment about how good the casting for Darvin was. WHY DO I DO THIS SO OFTEN.)
But then there’s the costuming. Seeing the Deep Space Nine cast in the Original Series uniforms was surreal, but I wasn’t ready for those first few scenes about K-7 and the Enterprise. The attention to detail here is unbelievable. And I say that not as hyperbole but as a description of my reaction. It seemed impossible to me that the show had not just sent everyone back in time to film this episode. They got the lighting perfect. They got the sets perfect. The controls, the com devices, the tricorders, THE WAY EVERYONE TALKED. Lt. Watley sounded like she belonged here. So did the unnamed engineer. IT WAS SO SURREAL.
Of course, the biggest achievement of “Trials and Tribble-ations” comes from the digital insertions. Y’all. Y’ALL. Aside from a few moments – which occurred only if I was really paying attention – most of the moments where insertions happened were seamless. Perfect. Flawless. They were pulled off so well that I could completely immerse myself in the story. I can’t speak to the expertise at work here, but let this ignorant fan admit that he was impressed by what these people did.
I wouldn’t say that this story is revolutionary or even perfectly written. It’s full of nostalgia, but like “Flashback,” it doesn’t exactly dwell in it. That’s accomplished by having the script poke a whole lot of fun at certain elements from The Original Series. There’s the comment about the color of the uniforms; Julian’s obsession with the predestination paradox; WORF’S REFUSAL TO DISCUSS WHY THE KLINGONS LOOK SO DIFFERENT IN THE PAST. Then we’ve got Dax, who is literally the stand-in for all of us if we ever got the chance to appear in this world. SHE IS JUST SO EXCITED ALL THE TIME AND SHE WANTS TO VIOLATE THE TIMELINE ONLY TO SAY HI TO KIRK AND SHE THINKS SPOCK IS DREAMY. She is all of us, and it’s fantastic.
Again, I don’t think the plot to find the bomb in the tribble is necessarily tense or fast-paced, but it’s still clever enough to remain entertaining. I especially liked that little detail explaining why tribbles kept falling on Captain Kirk’s head. Bravo!
Like “Flashback,” this episode serves as an adorable love letter to what came before. Yet I found myself far more pleased with this episode, even if I can recognize that the writing for “Flashback” felt stronger. Perhaps it’s just the general tone here; the writers and the productions staff gave us a humorous and silly episode, yet they took the execution of it very seriously. You can see it in every second of this episode, and I can’t deny what a huge contribution that made to my enjoyment of “Trials and Tribble-ations.” This episode gave me joy. It reminded me of when I first embarked on this journey over two years ago. Two years! I’ve watched Star Trek every week for two years now, and I’ve seen so much of it that I often forget how fun it was to get to watch a cultural icon.
Deep Space Nine still got to be itself in the process, too. And that matters so much.
The video for “Trials and Tribble-ations” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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