Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Season 4, Episode 18

Hard Time (15 Apr. 1996)

TV Episode  |   |  Action, Adventure, Drama
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O'Brien tries to re-integrate to life on the station after serving 20 years in a virtual prison.



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Title: Hard Time (15 Apr 1996)

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O'Brien has been accused by the Argrathi of espionage and has already been sentenced: twenty years jail time in a artificial reality. While O'Brien felt like he was twenty years in a cell, only a couple of hours has passed. But the memories sure feel real for the chief. The crew of Deep Space Nine do their utter best to let O'Brien re-adjust to the 'new' situation, but it is clear the happening has had a major impact on him. He gets increasingly more violent to even his closest friends and refuses to go to a psychiatrist. O'Brien even purposely tells he was alone in his cell, while this clearly isn't true. Something about his cell-mate Ee'Char is bothering him immensely. The fact that a hallucinative Ee'Char hunts him is driving him mad. Written by Arnoud Tiele (

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis





Release Date:

15 April 1996 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


This episode features a performance by Margot Rose as K'par Rinn, one of O'Brien's jailers. She previously appeared in the beloved Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Inner Light (1992), as Kamen's wife Eline. In that Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987) episode, Picard is swept into an imaginary world for 50 years, as O'Brien is swept into a cell for 20 years in this Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993) episode. See more »


Dr. Julian Bashir: I wasn't there with you, I didn't see what they did to you. But I do know you suffered, and that you're still suffering now, and I'm trying to help.
Chief Miles Edward O'Brien: I never asked for your help.
Dr. Julian Bashir: You didn't need to ask. I'm your doctor, and your friend.
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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - Main Title
Written by Dennis McCarthy
Performed by Dennis McCarthy
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Civilized treatment?!
3 January 2015 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

When the show begins, a much older Mile O'Brien is shown in a prison cell. He has a very long beard and tattered clothing and it's obvious he's been there for many years. However, soon you realize that this prison was a virtual prison and instead of being for 20 years, it actually only lasted a few hours. So what gives? Well, it seems a planet's government think that O'Brien was involved in espionage and they sentenced him to this 'humane' treatment-- implanting very, very clear memories in O'Brien. However, despite being released, it soon becomes obvious that the alien world did TOO GOOD a job on him--and they left him with horrible post-traumatic stress disorder and he's only a shell of his old self.

This episode is truly amazing. The idea is very novel and it really gave Colm Meany (O'Brien) a great chance to act and even further expand his character. Well done and a very sick sort of punishment, to say the least...and a bit heartbreaking as well.

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