There’s a lot I could say about this episode. It continues O’Brien’s status as the member of the crew most likely to be given a really rough time in life. It makes good on a small conversation from an earlier episode. It shows just how messed up the Cardassians are as a society.
It’s also the first episode of this series to be directed by a member of the cast, namely Avery Brooks. I think I’ll stick with that.
The O’Briens are going on vacation, and apparently, you can just borrow a runabout from the station if you have a high enough rank from the looks of things. Miles had a brief run-in with an old shipmate named Boone, and Boone acted a little weird, but not in the way I might have expected at first glance.
See, en route to the resort planet, Cardassians stop the ship and arrest Miles for…something. Keiko is allowed to return to the station, and therein lies the problem. Miles, you see, was found guilty of a crime. They don’t tell him what the crime is. His trial is held after the verdict and execution date have already been set. And there doesn’t seem to be a damn thing anyone can do to change anyone official’s mind about it.
Gul Dukat had, back in the two-parter that introduced the Maquis, mentioned how Cardassian justice works. A verdict is found first, and the resulting trial is there to show the rest of the people why the verdict was correct. Sure, Miles gets a public defender, a renowned one at that, but his job isn’t to win the case but to make Miles look good for the rest of the Cardassians watching the trial. After O’Brien gets slapped around a bit and a tooth removed (something that happens to all Cardassians when they reach a certain age), it’s off to trial. Again, no one told him what he was accused of.
That takes detective work back at the station. Normally, that would be Odo’s job. This time around, he can’t. As the head of security for the station when the Cardassians ran things, he actually is an officer of the Cardassian court system, allowing him to accompany Keiko back to the Cardassian homeworld to argue in O’Brien’s defense. And for a member of the court, it sure is odd that Odo seems to have no idea how their legal system works, since he keeps pointing out that O’Brien was framed and witnesses should be called and all kinds of things, and the judge keeps telling Odo to shut his big mouth.
As it is, the rest of the crew back at the station does find O’Brien ordered some warheads removed, presumably to be sold to the Maquis. The voice recording is a fake, and that Boone guy is clearly the responsible party, but between a shadowy Maquis agent slipping into Sickbay to tell Bashir that they aren’t involved and Sisko learning Boone has had no contact with any of his family, be it an ex-wife or his parents, in eight years, and yes, he is a double-agent of some sort. That said, I was pleasantly surprised to see Kira actually thinks O’Brien, who apparently hates Cardassians since his times in the border wars, actually could have done it. That’s the sort of thing that makes Deep Space Nine the most nuanced of Star Trek series.
Then it turns out Boone is missing a tooth. He’d been replaced by a Cardassian, hence the distance from his family, and Sisko’s arriving at the court with Boone in tow actually has the judge suddenly decide to show mercy to a convicted O’Brien and let him go. Apparently, the whole thing was a plot to give the Cardassians an excuse to take over the Federation colonies in the disputed zone. Now, maybe, O’Brien can go on a vacation with the wife…and not have to get some therapy for the PTSD he almost certainly got this episode, but I somehow don’t think we’ll see much of that here.
Besides, the season is almost over, and we still don’t know who or what this “Dominion” is.