Follow TV Tropes


Recap / Star Trek: Deep Space Nine S05 E06 "Trials and Tribble-ations"

Go To
Please note Sisko and Dax in the background INTERNALLY SQUEEING.
The Defiant is thrown into the past by the Bajoran Orb of Time. But it's not just any past, it's the TOS episode "The Trouble With Tribbles", and the crew finds themselves trying to prevent an assassination attempt on James T. Kirk.

This was the Deep Space Nine Milestone Celebration for the 30th anniversary of Star Trek, along with Voyager's "Flashback".


  • Ascended Fanboy/The Knights Who Say "Squee!": Dax may be the most outwardly enthusiastic, but don't let that fool you. The other Starfleet officers are just as thrilled to be there and to see Kirk in action.
    Sisko: Excuse me, Captain. Here's tomorrow's duty roster for your approval.
    Kirk: Lieutenant... uh, Lieutenant?
    Sisko: Benjamin Sisko, sir. I've been on temporary assignment here. Before I leave I just want to say... it's been an honor serving with you, sir.
    Kirk: All right, Lieutenant. Carry on.
    Sisko: Thank you, sir.
    • O'Brien stands in line, as Kirk dresses down the brawl.
      "I lied to Captain Kirk! I wish Keiko could have been there to see it."
    • Behind the scenes, apparently it was normally forbidden for anyone to admit to actually being a fan of the franchise while working on the show. (Presumably this was to prevent writer's meetings or production from devolving into fan wank arguments.) This policy was rescinded for this episode only, to allow the ascended fanboys in the cast and crew to make everything as accurate as possible.
  • Aside Glance: Sisko gives a priceless one when Jadzia mentions that Bones McCoy has "the hands of a surgeon".
  • Author Avatar: Dax's enthusiasm for the time period of the original series was a direct reflection of the writers' love for the old show. It helps that Dax's actress, Terry Farrell, was a Promoted Fangirl of TOS.
  • Advertisement:
  • Back to the Early Installment: The plot sees the crew visit the "The Trouble With Tribbles" episode of the original Star Trek.
  • Bait-and-Switch: An absolutely delighted Jadzia, watching the bridge crew, comments to Sisko "He's so much more handsome in person." When Sisko responds that Kirk always had a reputation as a ladies' man, Jadzia responds that she's actually talking about Spock.
  • Bar Brawl: One of the most famous scenes in both tribble episodes. This time, O'Brien and Bashir get mixed up in it.
  • Been There, Shaped History: Dax met McCoy sometime in the past when she was still bound to Emony. (Based on her comment about him having "the hands of a surgeon", they may have shaped more than history.)
  • Brick Joke: Odo buys a Tribble from Cyrano Jones, clearly not knowing anything about it. At the end of the episode, the Promenade is swarming with Tribbles. Makes his question about whether or not Sisko told Dulmer and Lucsly about the Tribbles a case of Fridge Brilliance, since it was his fault.
    • We find out why Kirk was getting pelted with individual tribbles during the original episode: Dax and Sisko were tossing tribbles out of the way to scan for the one with the hidden bomb.
  • Call-Back: This site doesn't have the server space to list all the references to TOS in this episode.
    • Two to the earlier Deep Space Nine time travel episode "Past Tense" - Sisko knows his history quite well, but Bashir doesn't.
  • Cerebus Retcon: Remember the "Everybody Laughs" Ending of the original episode when Scotty revealed he beamed the Enterprise's tribbles to the Klingon ship? That resulted in an ecological disaster for the Klingon Empire and the Klingons hunting tribbles to extinction. Oops.
  • The Charmer: Averted. At one point Kirk glances over at Dax and she smiles at him. This was all the interaction they could show given what they had to work with, and they deliberately kept it as brief as possible to explain why Kirk didn't go over to talk to her (as one would normally expect him to do with an attractive woman like her, and Dax being...well...Dax).
    • Besides, Kirk was already occupied by the Tribble he'd just sat on, as well as all the other Tribbles swarming the bridge.
  • The Comically Serious: Dulmer and Lucsly.
  • Continuity Drift:
    • Dax recognizes Bones McCoy because she had met him as Emony even before he became a doctor and also sees Spock for the first time. Later in the series, it's implied that Curzon was present at the Khitomer Peace Conference (though it's possible that they never actually saw each other at Khitomer).
    • The Temporal Investigations agents have a brief aside about the number of Starships Enterprise, where Lucsly firmly states that there have been six. This was meant to be an reference to the newly-constructed U.S.S. Enterprise-E, which was due to make its first appearance in Star Trek: First Contact. The eventual creation of the Enterprise NX-01 would make it rather unclear which Enterprise Lucsly had been referring to.
  • Cuteness Proximity: To the tribbles, naturally. Even Odo is not immune to being infected with playful joviality by their presence.
    Odo: It's been my experience that most humanoids love soft, furry animals, (voice softens) especially if they make pleasing sounds.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: Played for Laughs. Sisko tries to contact the Defiant by tapping his Starfleet badge, before remembering that in this era they were just a cloth patch, and he has to use a handheld communicator.
  • Dangerously Short Skirt: The TOS-era miniskirts don't cover much. Not that Bashir and O'Brien complain when they see Dax...
    Dax: And women wore less.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Odo, when questioning Worf about the Klingons' history with the tribbles, is particularly merciless with the sarcasm.
    "Oh, another glorious chapter in Klingon history. Tell me, do they still sing songs of 'The Great Tribble Hunt?'"
  • Death Glare: As they leave the station, Lucsly can be seen scowling at Dulmer for approving of Sisko meeting with Kirk.
  • The Dreaded:
    • As far as Dulmer and Lucsly are concerned, the otherwise heroic James T. Kirk is this, courtesy of his record of temporal violations.
      Dulmer: His ship.
      Lucsly: James T. Kirk.
      Sisko: The one and only.
      Lucsly: Seventeen separate temporal violations. The biggest file on record.
      Dulmer: The man was a menace.
    • And Dulmer and Lucsly, or more specifically Temporal Investigations in general, are this themselves.
      Sisko: We'll have to search both without arousing suspicion or altering the timeline ourselves. The last thing I want is a visit from Temporal Investigations when we get home.
    • The tribbles are considered an ecological disaster by the Klingon empire after the events of "The Trouble with Tribbles". Worf is put on edge by the sight of one.
  • Eating the Eye Candy
    • Bashir, Sisko and O'Brien gaping at Dax's miniskirt.
    • Bashir and O'Brien are checking out Lt. Watley as she walks away from the turbolift.
    • Dax sighs over Spock's beautiful eyes.
    • An interesting case at the end involving the recut footage - when Sisko introduces himself to Kirk as a temporary lieutenant, the footage used is from the TOS episode 'Mirror, Mirror,' where Kirk and Uhura are reacting to a female lieutenant whose counterpart they interacted with in the mirror universe. With Sisko now in her place, Uhura seems ready to jump up and introduce herself.
  • Economy Cast: Averted when the corridors of Enterprise are packed with extras to show that it's a smaller vessel than the starships of later years.
  • Establishing Character Moment: A retroactive example with Dulmer, which actually comes at the very end of the episode when he admits to Sisko that he probably would have said hello to Captain Kirk himself if he had been in his shoes. His comment, along with Lucsly's reproachful reaction, sets them up for a Red Oni, Blue Oni dynamic when they go off to star in their own novels. (Lucsly, by contrast, is every bit as stern as he appears during his introduction.)
  • Fanservice with a Smile: The waitresses at the bar, in keeping with the original show.
    Bashir: I think I'm going to like history.
  • Fun with Acronyms: One that's been lying in wait for 30 years. When O'Brien and Bashir are poking around the wall access panel, a pipe in the bottom is clearly labeled "GNDN435." This duplicates rarely-seen-on-camera labels created by TOS designer Matt Jefferies. "GNDN" stands for "Goes Nowhere, Does Nothing."
  • Future Imperfect: A mild, internal example, with some of the DS9 crew not knowing things about this era, such as the Starfleet division colours being different, and what Captain Kirk looks like, and even that you have to grab the hand-holds before the turbolift will respond to voice command.
  • The Gadfly: After Darvin says Klingons are smelly, O'Brien and Bashir says they quite like Worf's smell, which is peaty with a touch of lilac. O'Brien later tries to get Dax to say she smells lilac around Worf, but she says she has her own ways of tormenting him.
  • Gilligan Cut: From Sisko's testimony to Quark's Bar, revealing that a Tribble or fifty had hitched a ride back to the present day.
  • Hand Wave: Upon seeing 23rd century Klingons, the crew asks Worf about the ridges (or lack thereof).
    "We do not discuss it with outsiders."
  • Head-Turning Beauty: Dax elicits this response from Bashir and O'Brien when she reveals herself in the 23rd Century miniskirt.
    Sisko: In the old days, operations officers wore red, command officers wore gold...
    Dax: And women wore less.
    Dax enters and everyone gawks at her as she performs a Girly Skirt Twirl.
    Bashir: I think I'm going to like history.
  • Hypocrite: Sisko vetoes Dax's wish to meet the past incarnation of a Klingon friend of Curzon's... only to make sure take the time later on to meet James Kirk himself.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Invoked by Darvin, who makes a Fantastic Racism comment about Klingons. It's played for an I'm Standing Right Here gag (Worf is present), but it turns out Darvin is a Klingon himself.
  • I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder: Bashir is a Doctor, not an historian.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: Dax's joke about how guys from Temporal Investigations are "always on time". Dulmer and Lucsly's reactions indicate they'd heard that one before, many, many times.
  • Interrogation Flashback: This episode uses an interrogation by Temporal Investigations as a framing device, where Sisko explains why it was absolutely necessary for them to travel back in time to the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Trouble with Tribbles."
  • Is That What They're Calling It Now?: Jadzia knew Dr. McCoy...quite well, apparently.
    Jadzia: Leonard McCoy! I met him when he was a student at Ole Miss!
    Sisko: Who met him? Curzon?
    Jadzia: No, my host at the time was Emony. She was on Earth judging a gymnastics competition. I had a feeling he'd become a doctor. He had the hands of a surgeon. (big smile, suggestive eyebrow raise)
    Sisko: (Aside Glance)
  • It's a Long Story: When Worf's crewmates see the QuchHa' crew of the IKS Gr'oth and can't believe that they're actually Klingons.
    Odo: Mr. Worf?
    Worf: (sighs) They are Klingons, and it is a long story.
    O'Brien: What happened? Some sort of genetic experiment?
    Bashir: A viral mutation?
    Worf: We do not discuss it with outsiders.
  • The Knights Who Say "Squee!": The episode is MADE of this.
  • Meet Your Early Installment Weirdness: "Those are Klingons?"
  • Ludicrous Precision: When Sisko tells them he time-traveled to when Captain Kirk was on K-7, the temporal agents instantly know how long ago that was and even provide the day of the week.
  • My Own Grampa: Lampshaded when Bashir encounters an attractive woman who has the same name as his great-grandmother. He starts panicking over the possibility that he is his own great-grandfather and that he could cease to exist if he doesn't get into her pants, but O'Brien tells him he's being ridiculous.
    Bashir: I can't wait to get back to Deep Space Nine and see your face when you find out that I never existed!
  • Mythology Gag: At the K-7 bar, O'Brien mistakes a Starfleet officer for Kirk. The actor who plays the officer was William Shatner's stunt double on TOS.
    • The crew is surprised when they see TOS era Klingons, since they lacked their trademark head ridges. When asked Worf deflects the question stating they do not discuss it with outsiders.
  • Needle in a Stack of Needles: Where did Darvin hide the bomb? Why, inside of a tribble...
  • Nerds Are Sexy: Dax finds Spock very attractive.
  • Never Heard That One Before: The Temporal Investigations guys to the time related joke Dax cracks.
    Dax: I guess you boys from Temporal Investigations are...always on time.
    (Dulmer and Lucsly exchange annoyed looks)
  • No Sense of Humor: The Temporal Investigations agents have heard every single time-travel joke Eleventy Zillion times already, thank you very much. Their annoyed reactions to everyone else's repeated joking makes them Comically Serious.
  • Not So Above It All: Not shown, but stated: when Sisko admits to getting Kirk's autograph before leaving the 23rd century one of the Temporal Investigations agents mentions that he probably would have done the same thing.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrats: Played with. Temporal Investigations is apparently seen by most Starfleet personnel as people who show up just to make life hell for anyone who time travels, but the two we meet are pretty reasonable guys. They do chide Sisko for some of his crew's temporal violations, but also assure him that there's little chance of any disciplinary action.
    • The Strange New Worlds story "Gods, Fate, and Fractals" by William Leisner runs with this, with Dulmer and Lucsly regarding themselves as the Only Sane Men in a Kirk-worshipping Starfleet that keeps casually messing with the timeline to disastrous consequence.
  • Oh, Crap!: Worf's reaction when he sees Odo's pet Tribble. Odo, of course, takes the opportunity to needle him about it.
    Worf: I have completed my search of the primary habitat level—(hears purring and tenses up) What is that sound?
    Odo: Soothing, isn't it? (reveals the tribble) The bartender called it—
    (the tribble shrieks loudly)
    Worf: A tribble. (gets a "This Is Gonna Suck" face)
  • Poetic Justice: Darvin claims that killing Kirk with a tribble-bomb is this.
  • Production Foreshadowing: Dulmer says to Sisko that there have been five vessels named Enterprise, prompting Lucsly to correct him by saying "Six", referring to the Enterprise-E, which was about to debut in Star Trek: First Contact.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Ira Steven Behr has said that the episode's premise was chosen because actor Charlie Brill, who played Arne Darvin, happened to come into the restaurant where the DS9 production crew was discussing different TOS homage-possibilities.
  • Red Shirt: One of the few times where a TOS Red Shirt in mortal peril survives.
  • Retraux: For the scenes in the past, the production crew intentionally used primitive equipment and lighting techniques to make the footage "mesh" with the original episode's.
    • David Gerrold noted that the one part of the episode's TOS sets that was out of sync with the original sets was some orange mesh. The company that made the original mesh had gone out of business some twenty years prior and it was Unobtanium by the time the episode was made.
  • Sarcasm Mode: Bashir and O'Brien go into this when, after searching half the Enterprise for Darvin, beam over to K-7 and find Odo and Worf sitting around.
    Bashir: Clearly we've been going about this search business all wrong, Chief.
    O'Brien: You're right. Why bother searching through twenty decks when you can just plunk yourself down at the bar and wait for Darvin to come to you?
    Odo: We have reason to believe that he'll return to this area.
    O'Brien: Ahhh, yes, the raktajino.
    Bashir: A vital clue that others might have missed. How fortunate it is that it has kept you two stuck at this bar for the past three hours having drinks while we've been crawling through conduits.
    • And as noted above, Odo himself goes into this mode discussing Klingon/Tribble history with Worf.
  • Scene of Wonder: Sisko and his officers are awestruck when they come aboard the original USS Enterprise.
  • Significant Anagram: The Temporal Investigation agents are named Dulmer and Lucsly, anagrams of Mulder and Scully.
  • Stable Time Loop: Dulmer and Lucsly ask Sisko if he thought their trip to the past was one of these (even calling it by its proper name, a predestination paradox), but Sisko says no.
    Dulmer: Good.
    Lucsly: We hate those.
  • Starring Special Effects: A subtler example than most, with the "special effects" in question being limited to the seamless insertion of new actors into old footage a la Forrest Gump. When trying to get the episode approved, special effects director Gary Hutzel showed what appeared to be a clip from the original episode to Ron Moore and Ira Behr, then pointed out that he had digitally edited in an extra actor. Having no idea that the footage had been edited in any way, the two were stunned and greenlit the episode on the spot.
  • Stock Footage: Well, duh. Most of this is taken from "The Trouble with Tribbles," of course, but there's also a little bit from "Mirror, Mirror" used for the scene in which Sisko meets Kirk.
  • Tempting Fate: Played for Laughs. The episode opens with Sisko receiving a visit from Temporal Investigations, and in the flashback, Sisko says the last thing he wants is a visit from them.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: The reaction of both Temporal Investigations agents upon finding out that Sisko's time-travel hi-jinks also involve a certain Constitution-class vessel and her infamous captain.
  • Time-Travel Tense Trouble: Odo while describing what's going on aboard Station K-7.
  • Too Much Information: Sisko's reaction (as an Aside Glance) to Dax fondly remembering that McCoy "had the hands of a surgeon."
  • Unobtainium: The above-mentioned orange mesh, the only part of the original sets that couldn't be acquired or fabricated to make the retro sets.
  • Villain Ball: Darvin's plan to kill Kirk probably would have worked if he hadn't bragged about it to the Defiant crew while there was still enough time for them to stop it.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: The framing story is Sisko explaining the episode's events to the Temporal Investigations agents.
  • Worth It: Before returning to his own time, Sisko can't resist meeting Kirk face-to-face (although still undercover). Back on DS9, he tells the Temporal Investigations agents, "If you want to put a letter of reprimand in my file for that, go right ahead." Dulmer even admits he probably would've taken the opportunity himself, much to Lucsly's annoyance.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: