DS9: S5E06: “Trials and Tribble-ations”

In which an anniversary is celebrated, references are made, and an extinct species is resurrected. 

"We at the DTI do not have a sense of humor that we are aware of."

“We at the DTI do not have a sense of humor that we are aware of.”

A courier ship is docking at Deep Space Nine, carrying two serious men in serious suits. Dulmur and Lucsly are here from the Department of Temporal Investigations are here to go over The Incident, and they don’t appreciate Dax joking. They’re here for one thing and one thing only – the truth. They prefer stories start at the beginning, if possible, and they hate it when people claim that they went back in time because they were predestined to go back in time because the past already has them in it. They hate that.

Sisko starts with the accident that sent the Defiant back into the past. The Cardassians wanted to give an Orb back to the Bajorans – one which turned out to be the Orb of Time. They locked it away to be eventually verified, and they also took aboard a human refugee, Barry Wattle, who’s sick of Cardassian Morning Fish-juice and grateful to get back to some good old Klingon coffee. The Defiant cloaks to avoid Klingons, and we see Miles fill Dax in on a good way to mess with Worf’s head, when a chroniton radiation burst fills the ship with orange light, and they wind up 200 light-years from their position and someone beams out. When they decloak, the see a Consittution-class ship, registry NCC-1701. No bloody A, B, C, or D.

Lucsly and Dulmur don’t like being reminded of Kirk – he was not one to play by the time travel rules. He’s got 17 temporal violations under his belt, and presumably that doesn’t even include the sanctioned trip. On the date of their arrival, the Enterprise was in orbit around K-7, which you may or may not already remember based on the title. They also find that the Orb has been stolen, by Arn Davin, a Klingon modified to look human. He also looked human 105 years ago, when he was attempting to mess with Federation colonial settlement by poisoning a shipment of quadrotriticale. As you may recall, Kirk stopped him then and he became an outcast for his failure. Odo and Worf recount this story, culminating with access to the Time Orb and his probable attempt to kill Kirk and ‘fix’ his history.

Look at Bashir in back, still not over the uniform colors.

Look at Bashir in back, still not over the uniform colors.

To blend in, the crew suit up in the appropriate garb of the time, including the classically reversed division colors, and the miniskirts. And the beehive hairdos. Odo and Worf get civvies, and they develop a search pattern, including trying to avoid major intrusions into the past. I can’t help but wonder how much of that part of Sisko’s orders is just editorializing to try to make himself look good for Lucsly and Dulmur.

Like a '67 Chevy. But in space.

Like a ’67 Chevy. But in space.

I want to take a moment on design here, because the dichotomy of design will never be more apparent than the DS9 establishing shot of Kirk’s Enterprise. The Defiant and Deep Space Nine are all details – contrasting textures, little protrusions, functional bits and bobs everywhere. Even with the added decals and ribbing lines for this closeup, the Constution class is… stately. Simple. Elegant.

On board, Sisko and Dax drink in the history, while Miles and Bashir try to figure out the turbolift. Neither of them are historians, but fortunately they’re joined my a science officer who unwittingly demonstrates the handles. All teams start scanning, although Dax takes a moment to admire the classic tricorder design.

Odo, meanwhile, is over in the bar, scanning as well, and watching Cyrano Jones sell some junk to Uhura and Chekov. Unthinkingly, he orders a Raktajino from the human waitress whose government is in a state of cold-war-enforced-by-aliens with the Klingons. She mentions the other guy who tried to order one, which is the best lead so far. He is, however, distracted by Uhura and the tribble. Meanwhile, Miles and Julian are running scans, marveling at the primitive technology, and catching the eye of the guy who’s job it actually is to touch that piece of paneling. While Bashir explains away Miles’ lack of historical knowledge, Worf finds Odo with a Tribble, and does not like it. Klingons, as you may recall, do not like tribbles. They are considered ecological menaces and mortal enemies of the Klingon Empire. The Klingons obliterated the Tribble homeworld by the end of the 23rd century.

"Julian... do not do the nasty in the pasty."

“Julian… do not do the nasty in the pasty.”

A red alert hits when a Klingon D7-class ship uncloaks – the IKS Groth, Koloth’s ship, here to fulfill his role in the past. Dax wants to show up to meet Koloth, but Sisko’s definitely in favor of not taking unnecessary risks like letting Dax enjoy the past like this. Instead, they send Miles and Bashir, just as they find the lovely doctor, scourge of the turbolifts, watching out for Bashir’s flap. She also lets Bashir know when she’s scheduled for her physical. You know… in case he wants to trade shifts with someone. Turns out, there’s a nontrivial chance she might be Bashir’s great-grandmother, and he’s his own great-grandfather, who nobody else ever met.

Sisko and Dax happen to be in the area when Kirk delivers some lines, and Jadzia starts crushing on Spock fiercely. She’s definitely having too much fun for the safety of the timeline. After all, Dax was around at this time and wants to take part again, where to Sisko it’s safely the Forbidden Past.

Bashir and Miles join Worf and Odo in the canteen, waiting for everyone important to pass through the area. And the timing is good – in comes Scotty, Chekov, and William Shatner’s stunt double, just in time for possibly the greatest meta joke ever put to screen. The waitress comes by to warn them against ordering Raktajino, because she already told all the smooth-headed Klingons there isn’t any. Worf confirms that they’re Klingons, and that The Incident is not spoken of to outsiders. It’s about now that the barfight starts. Worf and Odo spy Darvin and book it after hime, while Julian and Miles get grabbed by an MP who’s clearly made out of teak.

A quick stop back in the frame story, and we rejoin Miles and Bashjir, lying to Kirk and stepping on tribbles. Odo and Worf have caught Darvin, but he doesn’t seem too put out. He’s clearly already put his plan into motion – he put a bomb in a tribble, as poetic justice for the role of the Klingon/tribble reaction in Darvin’s downfall the first time through. Thus, Dax and Sisko will use the Enterprise internal scanners to see if any of the tribbles are bombed, and since Miles and Julian won’t be able to get access to K7s, they’ll manually scan all 1,771,561 tribbles, by hand, in under an hour.

Pretty sure humans don't have a word for 'running into someone you had sex with in a past life and wondering if it would be different this time around' but somehow she nails the facial expression.

Pretty sure humans don’t have a word for ‘running into someone you had sex with in a past life and wondering if it would be different this time around’ but somehow she nails the facial expression.

Turns out Dax met McCoy when he was a student and it was in Emony judging collegiate gymnastics. Small universe. Also, they banged. Also, Trill have been part of the Federation since before Kirk’s time. Or at least, they’ve been on friendly terms. Sisko finishes his scan, and determines that the bomb isn’t on the ship, and must therefore be on K7.  Zoom camera on one of the grain storage bins and a curiously still tribble.

The K7 search team does not have a good handle on search tactics, but Jadzia has a plan to narrow the search – which coincidentally involves following Kirk around and going everywhere he goes, and overhear his plans to investigate the storage. Thus, they descend into a tribble-pit full of poisoned tribbles, and a faint bomb signature, that they only have to find. Cue the best scene in Star Trek. Again. Dax and Sisko keep scanning tribbles and tossing them out the hatch, where they bounce off Kirk’s head one by one.

And my second-favorite 'space a plush toy' scene, too.

And my second-favorite ‘space a plush toy’ scene, too.

In the end, of course they find the trapped tribble, and beam it out into space to explode harmlessly off the bow. having saved history and exposed Darvin again, it’s a simple matter to return themselves to the present… after Sisko did, in fact, take the opportunity to be the guy with the clipboard for Kirk to sign, which he admits to gladly. The two DTI agents seem satisfied that no harm was done, and leave the station. Now the only remaining order of business is to get rid of all the tribbles aboard the station… Technically, that’s not changing the past.

Did we miss something awesome?