Episode 2.25: Tribunal

Somehow, Miles O’Brien became the writers’ whipping boy.  He regularly faces torturous experiences.  Here he faces humiliation, dehumanization, and pain.  I like this episode for the political game that is being played.  The writers are already using the Maquis to further the tension between Bajor and Cardassia.  As the third season starts, the problems for the crew of DS9 expand to a broader political arena.  The Dominion and the Maquis draw the crew out of the Bajoran system.  The introduction of the Defiant also helps with this.  This episode (and the finale, The Jem Hadar (Ep. 2.26)) have conflicts with ramifications beyond the Bajoran system.  I enjoyed the twist at the end.  Boone being a Cardassian surprised me, and I enjoyed how Sisko subtly communicates his knowledge to the Archon, instead of broadcasting it across Cardassia.  It’s a move a Cardassian would respect, since it isn’t obvious yet makes a very clear demand.

Cardassia Prime is harsh.  There are angular lines, drab colors, little vegetation.  Contrast this with Bajor, which tends to have curvature to the buildings, bright colors, and lush vistas.  The Cardassian culture is a militaristic state, complete with constantly playing propaganda.  The State can never be wrong, and Order is paramount.  Kovat’s job isn’t to fight for his client; his job is to fight for the solvency of the State.  A strong, ordered Cardassia is a safe and prosperous one.  Chaos cannot be tolerated.  All of the state-sponsored injustices (the removal of a molar, the predetermined verdict, the encouragement to falsely confess, etc) support the idea that chaos is detrimental to Cardassian citizens.  They see inefficiencies in the democratic (Federation) system of law that lead to uncertainty and disunity.  Consider appeals, divided courts, hung juries.  Our democracies certainly sacrifice order and closure for the sake of justice.  It is neccessary given our human imperfections.  But Cardassia is never wrong.  To even bring trial means the State is correct in its accusations.

For two episodes now, we have seen Odo go against the rule of law for the sake of justice.  One of the strengths of Odo’s character is how he strives to pursue justice over order.  This is interesting since the Founders consider justice equivalent to order.  The influence of being “raised” on Bajor has instilled in Odo a desire for something deeper than superficial order.  That’s really the failing of the Cardassian state (and the Dominion as well).  Order is superficial; already, we have seen dissident Cardassians in Profit and Loss (Ep. 2.18).  Order controls only behavior, but not the hearts and minds of individuals.  Justice appeals to something beyond ourselves; it inspires a sense of righteousness that seems universal.  Odo’s actions (and the viewer’s outrage at O’Brien’s treatment) imply the virtues of justice are cross-cultural.

Random Thoughts:  1) Another fantastic guest actor in a single episode.  Fritz Weaver, Conservator Kovat, has won a Tony for Best Lead Actor (1970, Child’s Play) and has been inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame.  In addition to his theater work, he tends to take television and movie roles in the science fiction and fantasy genre.  2) Caroline Lagerfelt, Archon Makbar, also has a strong career in theater.  She’s performed on Broadway in several roles.  3) I debated a bit on whether to add Odo as a key character here or not.  But given Odo plays a central role in exploring justice vs order, it’s appropriate.  4) Bashir seems to get regularly involved in clandestine operations (Obsidian Order, Maquis, Section 31).  I’m just noticing this on this watch-through of the series  5) The writers must not have gotten fully into the swing of torturing O’Brien yet, as he still gets his vacation at the end.  6) Sisko tries to sugarcoat the news to Keiko that O’Brien is likely being tortured.  That’s somewhat at odds with his attitude in Whispers (Ep. 2.14).  7) Sisko’s harder nature (compared to Picard) comes out again: “If that sounds like a threat, it is.”  8) O’Brien gives a great “everyman” speech.  He’s not perfect, but tries.  Just wants the respect of his daughter.  9) I liked Odo’s sarcastic tone toward the court and the proceedings in general.  It helped emphasize the lack of justice.


~ by Joshua Black on October 30, 2016.

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