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Primitive Culture: A Star Trek History and Culture Podcast

Sep 6, 2022

Cardassian war crimes and The Man in the Glass Booth

For many fans of Deep Space Nine, the penultimate installment of Season 1, “Duet,” is also the show’s first classic episode. A bleak exploration of guilt, responsibility, and forgiveness in the aftermath of war, it’s a story that could scarcely have been told on any other Star Trek series. One of Trek’s most popular bottle episodes, “Duet” is built on intense two-hander scenes between Nana Visitor and guest star Harris Yuelin, giving it the air of an intimate theater production. It’s perhaps no surprise, then, that the episode’s central conceit—a case of mistaken identity at the center of a potential war crimes trial—is lifted from a stage play, Robert Shaw’s The Man in the Glass Booth, which was later adapted into an Oscar-winning movie.

In this episode of Primitive Culture, host Duncan Barrett is joined by Clara Cook to discuss the parallels between “Duet” and this enigmatic source material, which in turn borrows from the real-life trial of Adolf Eichmann, the original man in a (bullet-proof) glass booth. Broadening the conversation to include Star Trek’s approach to war crimes more generally, we consider whether the Eichmann trial—as well as the Nuremberg trials immediately after the war—offer a valid precedent for Federation and Bajoran justice.

Duncan Barrett

Clara Cook

Duncan Barrett (Editor and Producer) C Bryan Jones (Executive Producer) Matthew Rushing (Executive Producer)