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

Hard Time (15 Apr. 1996)

TV Episode  -   -  Action | Adventure | Drama
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Ratings: 8.0/10 from 454 users  
Reviews: 3 user | 1 critic

O'Brien tries to re-integrate to life on the station after serving 20 years in a virtual prison.



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Episode credited cast:
Hana Hatae ...
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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?


47 Reference: O'Brien opens weapons locker 47. See more »


Major Kira: What you think you experienced in prison, the things you remember, didn't happen... It wasn't real.
Chief Miles Edward O'Brien: It's real to me, Major... It's real to me.
See more »


Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - Main Title
Written by Dennis McCarthy
Performed by Dennis McCarthy
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User Reviews

Colm Meany kills it in this one.
9 December 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Colm Meany is one of the best Character Actors of the 20th and 21st Centuries - And also the 24th century.

I've seen EVERY DS9 Ep - Except this one - I somehow missed it, during the First Run Eps on Fox Syndication - I may have missed it due to the crummy "Syndex" laws in Southern California which prevented syndicated shows from being shown on any stations but the one handling the syndication for that particular city. But enough of that... I never knew there was a DS9 Ep I missed during it's first run.

Upon watching the DS9 4th Season DVD Extras, it mentioned this Episode, and I realised, I had NEVER seen Colm Meany with a huge mane of Irish Hair, in a prison. And I am so thankful for the DVD set which allowed me to go back 16 years and see this amazing Ep.

Colm Meanys - Or Rather, O'Briens inquisitive scientific and engineering nature, gets him into trouble with the "law" on a Gamma Quadrant planet- And they "Incarcerate" him... for a Long time.

But HOW this incarceration was handled, was very interesting... It relates to the TNG Ep "The Inner Light". But whereas Picard has a life-enriching experience, O'Brien has just the opposite.

And so this show deals with how O'Brien deals with his friends and family upon his release. And Dr Bashir cannot help O'Brien out as a "friend" - Only as His Doctor.

I'm not going to say more - This one ep, is so good, that I will NOT put a spoiler in here. I've seen Colm in Feature films like "Con Air" and "Layer Cake" - "Int5ermission" was another of Colm's dark films. He's as good a crook as he is an O'Brien character. This 'sode reveals the darker side of O'Brien.

After season 2 of TNG, I missed NO TNG or DS9 Eps, ever again- Not by choice. This one slipped through the cracks of Syndication.

Had I seen this Ep First Run, I would have reacted the same way a lot of people reacted to TNG's "The Inner Light" - to this Deep Space 9 Ep "Hard Time" - It is Meany at his Irish Best! And that is why I love Ireland and The Irish, mostly due to Colm. Slainte!

6 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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