18. Hard Time (4.19)

Synopsis: Convicted of espionage, Miles O’Brien is given the memories of twenty years in prison in a matter of hours. Returning to Deep Space 9, O’Brien finds he cannot shrug the memory of his awful experience or rid himself of the guilt he feels over the death of his cellmate.

Memory Alpha SummaryThe apex of O’Brien suffering

Review: Pretty much any episode that features Colm Meaney is off to a strong start and this is no exception, especially because he suffers more than usual, up to contemplating suicide. There are so many things they did right with this story.

First of all, they decide not to go for any twist ending. They tell us the twist in the teaser, that O’Brien has suffered a twenty-year prison sentence in just a few hours. So instead of the episode relying on intrigue to sell it, it relies on exploring the human conditions of trauma, hatred, and sorrow. And Meaney knocks it out of the park. His speech where he talks about how humans were taught that they had evolved, yet when it came down to it, he murdered someone because he was hungry, was brilliant and something I have a hard time imagining Roddenberry would have done. 

Obvious parallels to the Inner Light, only way more somber. No complaints from me.

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