Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch: “The Way of the Warrior”

“The Way of the Warrior”
Written by Ira Steven Behr & Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Directed by James L. Conway
Season 4, Episode 1
Production episode 40514-473
Original air date: October 2, 1995
Stardate: 49011.4

Station log: Sisko and Kira are moving through the corridors with phaser rifles. They break into guest quarters and use phasers on wide beam to try to find a changeling. In another room a piece of chair changes into a bird, and Sisko and Kira give chase to the Promenade. Bashir and a security team set up, but then the display face of a Promenade directory turns out to be Odo. O’Brien comes up to Odo and says, “Bang, you’re dead.”

It was a drill, and it took way too long for them to flush Odo out. And the Founders are better shapeshifters than he is. They need to do it again and find him faster next time.

Sisko and Yates have a date. Yates approves of his new bald head. They exchange gifts: he gives her a scarf of Tholian silk and she gives him a baseball cap from the Pike City Pioneers, her brother’s baseball team. He also prepared a huge meal for them, which their attempt to enjoy is interrupted by a call from Dax in Ops.

The new Klingon flagship, the Negh’Var, has arrived at DS9 and General Martok wishes to speak to Sisko, asking for shore leave for his warriors on the station. When Sisko agrees, dozens of Klingon ships decloak.

Quark’s is packed full of Klingons amidst all the other customers. It’s also incredibly quiet. Quark is disconcerted: the ambient noise level is less than 30 decibels. It’s usually in the 60s, and when Klingons are in the bar, it’s above 80. He’s nervous—he’s never heard of a quiet Klingon before.

Sisko and Kira meet with Martok. The general insists on blood screenings to make sure that none of them are changelings and then says that the High Council has sent them to help their Federation allies against the Dominion. Sisko’s pointing out that the Jem’Hadar have given the wormhole a wide berth of late falls on deaf ears.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: The Way of the Warrior

Over breakfast, Garak and Odo discuss news from Cardassia. The Cardassian Union has sealed their borders. Odo’s heard nothing, and neither has Garak from the one or two friends he still has back home. Their conversation is interrupted by a Klingon named Drex harassing Morn. Odo gets him to move along, but only after a lot of posturing. When Garak returns to his shop, Drex is there with four other Klingons, who then beat the crap out of him. Garak insists on not pressing charges, to the chagrin and surprise of Bashir, Sisko, and Odo.

Kira’s report to Sisko on the number of Klingon ships—they think it’s twenty, but it’s hard to tell with them constantly cloaking and decloaking—is interrupted by a distress call from the Xhosa, which is Yates’s ship. She only left the station an hour ago, and now she’s under attack. Sisko takes the Defiant to her location: they find a Klingon Bird-of-Prey holding the Xhosa in a tractor beam.

Sisko hails Commander Kaybok, who says that he’s under orders from the High Council to search ships and determine if there are any changelings on board. Kira tartly points out that this is a violation of Bajoran law—they’re still in Bajoran space—but Kaybok says he has his orders and signs off.

So Sisko fires a warning shot. Kaybok is outraged, and so is Sisko. Kaybok disengages, but says that Gowron will hear of this.

Unfortunately, this just means that the Klingons have moved to unclaimed space and are checking vessels there instead. Tellingly, they’re avoiding Federation and Bajoran ships, but they’re still performing random unwarranted searches.

Martok then comes into Sisko’s office, glowers at him, slams a d’k tahg down on his desk, and leaves. Dax identifies the dagger as belonging to Kaybok, and interprets Martok’s actions to mean that Martok had Kaybok killed for his actions. Concerned that this is getting out of control, Sisko sends for the only Klingon in Starfleet to help him out: Worf, son of Mogh, who is greeted at the docking ring by his former shipmate, O’Brien. (Quark sees him board and mutters, “Just what this station needs—another Klingon.”)

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: The Way of the Warrior

Worf reports to Sisko, and promises to get some answers as to what the Klingons are really doing here. His first stop is Quark’s, where he briefly joins O’Brien and Bashir in a game of darts and meets Kira and Dax before he finds who he’s looking for: Drex who, it turns out, is Martok’s son. Worf introduces himself, backhands Drex, takes him down, and leaves with Drex’s d’k tahg. (Dax is impressed, and O’Brien proudly says, “What’d I tell ya?”)

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: The Way of the Warrior

While in his quarters unpacking his stuff—his mek’leth, a picture of him and Alexander—Worf is greeted by Martok who demands his son’s d’k tahg back. Worf gladly gives it back—he just wanted the general’s attention. He demands to know why Martok and his troops have behaved so dishonorably—attacking Garak, detaining ships without provocation, executing a commander who refused to fire on an ally—and all Martok will say is that his orders come directly from Gowron and his mission will determined the fate of the empire. So not ominous at all…

Worf goes to the holosuite and after a bat’leth fight with Dax that probably isn’t foreplay, Worf explains that not only was Martok not forthcoming, but attempts to contact Gowron, Emperor Kahless, and his brother Kurn have failed. Dax suggests that maybe there’s someone on board who owes his family a favor—and sure enough, there’s an old comrade of Mogh’s on board named Huraga. After a great deal of drinking and singing and headbutting, Huraga tells Worf the truth: the Klingons plan to invade Cardassia. The Central Command, apparently, has been overthrown and the civilian Detapa Council is now in complete control. Gowron and the High Council believe that the Dominion engineered the coup, as they don’t believe civilians could overthrow the military without help.

Sisko calls Martok to the wardroom, after talking to the Federation Council. The Federation doesn’t support this invasion, and if they go through with it, it will jeopardize the alliance. By the time Sisko and Worf get back to Ops, Martok’s entire fleet heads directly to the Cardassian border.

The Federation Council’s orders to Sisko are to do nothing. They’ve tried to contact Gowron to no avail. They can’t warn Cardassia that the invasion fleet is coming because that would be a betrayal of the alliance with the Klingons. There’s also the concern that the Klingons won’t stop at Cardassia—they may hit the Federation or Bajor next. Sisko’s solution to the conundrum is to summon Garak to the wardroom to fit Sisko for a new suit while they talk casually about the invasion. Garak immediately contacts Dukat, which enables the Cardassian military to respond.

In response to the Federation Council’s condemnation of the invasion, Gowron has ordered all Federation citizens expelled from the empire, all ambassadors recalled, and he’s withdrawn from the Khitomer Accords, ending the treaty between their governments.

Then, to everyone’s surprise, a single Klingon ship decloaks. Gowron’s on board, and he’s asking to speak to Worf in person. Worf beams over to find Gowron happy to see him. He wants Worf to come with him to invade Cardassia, by way of making up for his betrayal. But Worf refuses, citing his oath to the Federation. Gowron refuses to accept an oath given to the people who turned their back on the empire, and threatens to strip Worf of his name, his lands, his titles, everything. Worf says he’ll still have his honor and beams back to DS9.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: The Way of the Warrior

Later, O’Brien joins him for a drink in Quark’s, where they reminisce and Worf tells O’Brien that he intends to resign. Staying in Starfleet will serve only to remind him of his disgrace. However, Sisko refuses to accept his resignation. He needs Worf on the station as long as the fighting between the Cardassians and Klingons continues.

Kira informs Sisko that Bajoran Intelligence has learned that the Klingons have broken through the fleet and will occupy Cardassia Prime in 52 hours. Sisko contacts the civilian government—only to speak to Dukat, who is now the chief military advisor to the Detapa Council. (Dukat insists that as a loyal Cardassian officer, he serves the legitimate government, whoever that might be. Sisko translates that to, “You saw which way the wind was blowing, and changed sides.”) Sisko offers to get the members of the Detapa Council to safety, so he and Dukat agree on a rendezvous point, where he’ll meet Dukat and the council with the Defiant.

Sisko leaves Kira and O’Brien behind to check on the tactical upgrades they’ve been making to the station, and gets a chance for a quick goodbye and a quicker smooch with Yates before heading out under cloak to the rendezvous point.

When they arrive at the rendezvous, they find Dukat’s ship under fire by three Birds-of-Prey. Reluctantly, Sisko orders the cloak dropped, the shields raised, and the weapons readied. “We’re going in.”

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: The Way of the Warrior

Dukat’s engines are down and weapons lost, so Sisko needs to beam him and the councilors on board. The Defiant does well in the battle, especially with some tractor beam tricks that Worf pulls, but they have to lower the shields to beam Dukat and the councilors over. Once that’s done, they turn and head home, but the cloak has been damaged by the battle and it won’t engage. They’re being pursued by two ships. Bashir performs blood screenings on all the Cardassians, a procedure Dukat finds offensive, to which Bashir, speaking for the entire viewership and every Bajoran ever, replies that he finds Dukat offensive.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: The Way of the Warrior

Several dozen Klingon ships arrive at the station. Bashir prepares his medical staff for boarding parties, and also refuses Odo’s offer of a deputy assigned to the infirmary. He doesn’t want his patients distracted by a firefight in his doorway.

Quark insists on defending his bar with the disruptor pistol he had from his days on a Ferengi freighter. Odo thought he was the cook, and he was—and everyone on that ship was a food critic. But it turns out that Rom used the disruptor parts to fix the replicators. (“I will kill him,” Quark declares, and Odo smirks and asks, “With what?”)

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: The Way of the Warrior

Gowron and Martok demand that Sisko turn the council over to them. Sisko points out that they were all tested, and they’re not changelings. Sisko also says he has 5000 photon torpedoes armed and ready.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: The Way of the Warrior

The battle is joined. The station takes out eight Klingon ships and heavily damages more before they manage to take out the shields, enabling boarding parties to come into Ops, the Promenade, and the Habitat Ring. Odo’s people contain the ones on the Promenade, and Dukat and Garak are keeping the ones going for the council at bay. In Ops, Worf, Sisko, Dax, and Kira kick major ass, and O’Brien is badly hurt (Worf saved him from being killed).

Once Ops is secure again, and Dax reports a Starfleet task force less than fifteen minutes away, Sisko calls Gowron. The chancellor’s interpretation is that Sisko’s shields are compromised, he’s been boarded, and more Klingon ships are on the way—he should surrender. The captain counters that his shields are holding and the boarding parties are contained—and his reinforcements are closer. Between them, Sisko and Worf convince Gowron to stand down, Sisko by reminding him that this is what the Founders want, for the Alpha Quadrant powers to be at each others’ throats, so the Dominion can waltz in; Worf by quoting Kahless: “Destroying an empire to win a war is no victory, and ending a battle to save an empire is no defeat.”

Gowron stands down, the Detapa Council is safely returned to Cardassia Prime, and DS9 is getting back to normal. Worf has changed his mind about resigning thanks to a pep talk from Sisko, and he’s now DS9’s Strategic Operations Officer. However, it’s not all sweetness and light: the Klingons have refused to give up the outlying Cardassian colonies they conquered in the first wave of the attack and they’re fortifying their positions there. This conflict is not over.

Can’t we just reverse the polarity? O’Brien has upgraded the crap out of the station’s tactical systems, giving them some serious weaponry and shield power. Martok scans them and assumes it’s just duranium shadows and thoron fields—the very same thing that Kira and O’Brien used to fool the Cardassians into thinking they were better armed than they were in “Emissary.”

The Sisko is of Bajor: The newly promoted captain has a newly shaven head, which meets with the approval of his new girlfriend. He brings Worf on board to find out the truth behind the Klingon task force, and is further proactive in rescuing the Detapa Council. He also has completely gone back to looking like Hawk from Spenser: For Hire, and as an added bonus, the first shot we get of him, he’s holding a big gun. Only thing missing is the shades…

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: The Way of the Warrior

Don’t ask my opinion next time: Kira gets stabbed when Ops is boarded, but she waits until after she takes down the guy who stabbed her before collapsing onto the deck. Because she’s just that awesome.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: The Way of the Warrior

The slug in your belly: Dax has a calisthenics program for the holosuite very much like the one Worf had on the Enterprise-D (seen in “Where Silence Has Lease,” “The Emissary,” and “New Ground”). Worf assumes it was Curzon’s program, but Dax insists its hers, and she holds her own against Worf, though he does win the fight.

Amusingly, Dax takes down a Klingon in Ops with a bat’leth in the exact same way Worf took her down in the holosuite earlier.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: The Way of the Warrior

Preservation of matter and energy is for wimps: Odo and Garak have breakfast together, as Odo suggested back at the end of “The Die is Cast.” Odo has also mastered the trick of faking drinking coffee via his shapechanging ability, to help make him look like he’s participating.

Odo also tells Bashir that if a Klingon kills him, he expects an entire opera on the subject to be composed, and Bashir agrees, but says he doesn’t particularly want to listen to it.

Rules of Acquisition: Quark gives Garak a bottle of kanar on the house. He regrets not going into weapons like his cousin Gaila, but he wanted to open a bar because he’s a people person. Selling weapons would be a waste of his charm and love of conversation. He makes Garak drink root beer, which is cloying and bubbly and happy—just like the Federation. But if you drink enough of it, you get to like it. It’s insidious—just like the Federation. They both hope that the Federation can save them, which ends one of the single best conversations in any Star Trek series ever.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: The Way of the Warrior

There is no honor in being pummeled: Worf was meditating on Boreth when Sisko called for him. He’s considering resigning his commission, feeling lost after the Enterprise’s destruction and being once again kicked out of the empire, just as Sisko did in “Emissary,” and just as the wormhole experience convinced Sisko to change his mind, Sisko convinces Worf to change his and come on board as strategic operations officer. He’s also now back in command red, as he was in TNG’s first season before moving to security.

Plain, simple: Once again, the crew decides to use Garak’s spy past for their own purposes, in this case using him as a back-channel method of contacting Cardassia to warn them about the invasion. He also fights alongside Dukat while defending the Detapa Council from the Klingon invaders of DS9, but in the end Dukat gets to go home while Garak is stuck in his tailor shop.

For Cardassia! The Detapa Council has overthrown the Central Command, since the Obsidian Order is no longer a factor in keeping the civilian council in check. Cardassia closed its borders at the time of the coup, so no one knows what’s happening at first.

Victory is life: Gowron insists that the Founders are behind the coup on Cardassia. It will be revealed in “Apocalypse Rising” that it is, in fact, Martok who has been replaced by a changeling. “By Inferno’s Light” will reveal that Martok was captured some time prior to this episode (because he doesn’t recognize Worf), which means that the Martok we see in this episode is truly a Founder in disguise. The fact that he passes a blood screening in the very episode after the policy was established shows that the Founders didn’t take long to figure a way around it.

Tough little ship: The Defiant has new ablative armor, which enables them to withstand a Klingon onslaught while beaming Dukat and the Detapa Council (which is totally the name of my next band) on board.

No sex, please, we’re Starfleet: Do not detain Sisko’s girlfriend. Sisko will own your ass. As Kaybok learned to his eternal regret.

What happens on the holosuite stays on the holosuite: Dax takes Kira to a re-creation of the Hoobishian baths on Trill in a difficult attempt to get her to relax. Later, they go to a re-creation of King Arthur’s court, with Kira as Guinevere, which leads to an entertaining first meeting of Worf for the pair.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: The Way of the Warrior

Keep your ears open: “I didn’t know you spoke Klingon.”

“Oh, you’d be surprised at the things you can learn when you’re doing alterations.”

Odo and Garak after Garak understood Drex’s insult directed at Odo in Klingon.

Welcome aboard: Robert O’Reilly returns as Gowron, firmly establishing him as a recurring guest on this show, having already been so on TNG. Last seen in “The House of Quark,” he’ll be back at season’s end in “Broken Link.” Also back are Penny Johnson as Yates, Marc Alaimo as Dukat, Andrew J. Robinson as Garak.

We get a new recurring regular as well, in J.G. Hertzler as Martok. Last seen as the Vulcan captain of the Saratoga in “Emissary,” Hertzler will continue to recur on the show through to the end, mostly as Martok.

Patricia Tallman, a regular stuntperson on both TNG and DS9 (and probably best known in genre circles as Lyta Alexander on Babylon 5, and who also guest starred on TNG’s “Starship Mine”) gets a rare shot at a billed speaking part, as the Defiant weapons officer.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: The Way of the Warrior

In addition, Obi Ndefo gets to be obnoxious as Drex (he’ll next appear in Voyager’s “Blink of an Eye” as Kelemane), Christopher Darga gets to be outclassed by Sisko as Kaybok (he’ll appear in Voyager’s “Think Tank” as Y’Sek and Enterprise’s “Unexpected” as another Klingon, Vorok), and William Dennis Hurt gets to croon drunkenly with Worf as Huraga.

Trivial matters: In this episode, Michael Dorn joins the opening-credits cast as Lieutenant Commander Worf, making Dorn the only person to be an opening-credits regular on two different Trek shows. The character was last seen on screen in Star Trek Generations. In addition, the characters of Dax and Bashir were promoted to, respectively, lieutenant commander and full lieutenant. Starting with this episode, the actor playing Bashir is credited as Alexander Siddig (though he will return to the use of Siddig el-Fadil as a director credit). And, finally, Avery Brooks has shaved his head and kept the goatee he grew for “Explorers,” thus giving Sisko the look he’d maintain for the rest of the series.

This episode was originally aired as a two-hour movie, thought it was split into two parts for reruns. It’s the only time Trek has done a mid-series two-hour episode that was written and created as such—all the others were series premieres (“Encounter at Farpoint,” “Emissary,” “Caretaker”), series finales (“All Good Things…,” “What You Leave Behind,” “Endgame”), or two-part episodes that were aired in a single two-hour block (“The Killing Game,” “Flesh and Blood”).

Sisko makes reference to the Khitomer Accords, the first time the treaty between the Klingons and the Federation—the existence of which was implied back in the first season of TNG both by Worf’s presence generally and the episode “Heart of Glory” in particular—has been named. The peace talks between the Klingons and Federation were established as being on Khitomer in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

Bashir and Garak’s brief mention of the Betreka Nebula Incident was enough for your humble rewatcher to base an entire book around: the Lost Era novel The Art of the Impossible spells out the specifics of that eighteen-year “incident.” It is also in that novel that Curzon Dax (one of the main characters in the book) comes to the conclusion that Sisko quotes in this episode about how the only people who can handle the Klingons are Klingons. It also has a mention made by Mogh of his good friend Huraga.

Drex is never seen or even mentioned again on screen, despite his father becoming a recurring charater, but he does appear in several novels, including The Left Hand of Destiny Books 1-2 by J.G. Hertzler and Jeffrey Lang, and your humble rewatcher’s novels Diplomatic Implausibility and A Singular Destiny—in the latter, Drex dies a warrior’s death.

Sisko makes reference to the destruction of the Enterprise-D in Star Trek Generations, and O’Brien’s prediction that they’ll build another one comes true, as seen by the Enterprise-E in Star Trek: First Contact. Worf and O’Brien also discuss the events of “The Best of Both Worldstwo-parter, as well as the propensity on TNG for the holodeck to go wrong (“11001001,” “The Big Goodbye,” “Elementary, Dear Data,” “Ship in a Bottle,” “A Fistful of Datas,” etc.).

Worf’s time between the destruction of the Enterprise-D and his going to Boreth to meditate is chronicled in the novel Triangle: Imzadi II by Peter David. Boreth itself was established in “Rightful Heir.” Worf’s affinity for prune juice—which gets a very abortive laugh from Quark—was established in “Yesterday’s Enterprise.”

The closest TNG ever came to an ongoing story arc was the Klingon political shenanigans that ran through “Sins of the Father,” “Reunion,” “The Drumhead,” “The Mind’s Eye,” the “Redemptiontwo-parter, the “Birthrighttwo-parter, and “Rightful Heir.” The arc is carried over to the spinoff here, and will continue until one of the final episodes of the show, “Tacking Into the Wind.” Gowron reminds Worf of the favors he did for him in two of those episodes, restoring his family name (seen in “Redemption”) and putting his brother Kurn on the High Council (established in “Rightful Heir”).

Worf says he’s never been on a Federation starship with a cloaking device, which isn’t strictly speaking accurate, as the Enterprise was fitted with a modified cloak in “The Pegasus.”

Quark’s cousin Gaila was first mentioned in “Civil Defense,” as was his ownership of a moon. This episode establishes his past as a weapons dealer. Gaila will be seen in “Business as Usual.”

The drinking song crooned by Worf and Huraga will be heard again twice on Voyager, in “Barge of the Dead” and “Prophecy.”

This is the third DS9 episode to be novelized, and the second straight season premiere to be novelized by Diane Carey, who also novelized “The Searchtwo-parter a year ago (and which your dumbass rewatcher forgot to mention in his piece on same back in October). In an amusing bit of trivia, I actually wrote the back cover copy for The Way of the Warrior novelization, in which I provided the line: “Sisko must risk destroying the Federation-Klingon alliance to prevent a full-scale war!” which is hilarious because Sisko actually did destroy the Federation-Klingon alliance…

The road from the destruction of the Obsidian Order in “The Die is Cast” to the overthrow of the government in this episode is chronicled in Una McCormack’s novel The Never-Ending Sacrifice.

Walk with the Prophets: “This we do not forgive—or forget!” What an exhilarating thrill-ride of an episode. This fourth-season premiere kicks everything up a notch. You thought we got status quo changes in “The Die is Cast”? This time we get the Cardassian government overthrown and the Klingon Empire abrogating the Khitomer Accords. The Dominion threat is ramping up, and they don’t even appear in this episode (well, at least not overtly) and they still succeed is stirring up some serious chaos, sundering an alliance that has been a cornerstone of 24th-century Trek and was the plot of the last full-on original series movie. Where the Dominion threat was starting to seem like all bark and no bite for much of the third season (only “The Die is Cast” and “The Adversary” indicated that they were doing anything at all), now it feels aggressively real because just the paranoia they’ve sowed is enough to significantly change the political face of the quadrant and cause a lot of ships to fire on a lot of other ships.

Even without the shifts in the balances of power, this would be a great episode. The entire cast shines brightly, from Dax’s continued attempts to get Kira to enjoy life for once, to Odo and Garak sharing breakfast, to Sisko’s deepening relationship with Yates, to Bashir’s bantering with Odo and snarking off Dukat, to Garak and Dukat’s mutual loathing society, to Quark and Garak’s magnificent root beer conversation (seriously, best two-person scene ever), to, of course, the arrival of Worf.

There aren’t a lot of people from other Trek shows who would fit into the ensemble of DS9. It’d be fun to have the Emergency Medical Hologram from Voyager around (as the fifth season episode “Dr. Bashir, I Presume?” will show), but aside from that, the only person who’d really fit into the messier world of DS9 is Worf. Always the outsider, he slides in perfectly to a show that includes outsiders up the kazoo. Of all the characters on TNG, Worf was the only one who had to regularly make hard choices that had awful consequences (Picard often made hard choices, but they weren’t that hard because, well, he was Picard and he was always effortlessly right, and while he suffered plenty of awful consequences, they were generally externally imposed), and that puts him right at home in the Bajoran system.

And he has to do it again here. It’s to the credit of scripters Ira Steven Behr and Robert Hewitt Wolfe that Worf has to make the same choice he made in “Sins of the Father,” with the same consequences, but this episode never feels like a rerun of the TNG episode. But Worf still has to be the one honorable person in a sea of Klingons who claim honor in theory a lot more than they do in practice, and he’s the only one who suffers for it.

Gowron has been moving along nicely as an opportunist. He was described way back in “Reunion” as an outsider who challenged the High Council often, and his self-serving ways were established soon after in “Unification I” when Worf mentioned his rewriting of history to exclude Picard and the Enterprise from their role in his ascension. Here, Gowron berates the Federation for not supporting his invasion, for not being willing to die alongside Klingons who are trying to protect them. Of course, he went to all that trouble to not tell the Federation ahead of time, probably because he knew they would, in fact, condemn the invasion. But then he holds that over Worf’s head, giving him an impossible choice: go back on his oath to Starfleet, which would be a victory for Gowron, as it would be a poke in the eye to the Federation, or stay with Starfleet and be condemned, thus crippling a thorn in his side. (Never mind that Gowron owes his chancellorship to Worf—nobody has a shorter memory than a politician, and that’s what Gowron has proved himself to be over and over.)

Worf also begins to be integrated nicely into the cast. They keep it simple at first, limiting his interactions to Sisko (who’s the lead), Dax (who groks Klingons), O’Brien (whose friendship with Worf is long-established), and Odo (who shares Worf’s outsider status, and who gets a great scene with Worf where he tries to be friendly and understanding, and when Worf blows him off, he turns on the Odo snideness). Plus, there’s his first meeting with Bashir, Kira, and Dax—I particularly like how proud O’Brien sounds when Worf kicks Drex’s ass, like he’s been talking up Worf’s awesomeness to the rest of the crew for days. Plus Worf gets to put his tactical-officer chops to work on the Defiant (which is a ship Worf was born to serve on; not surprisingly, Sisko will put him in charge of the day-to-day of the Defiant going forward).

On top of that, we get a lovely little “Emissary” redux, only this time the station isn’t the gutted husk the Cardassians left behind and they don’t need to bluff anybody. The grishnar cat has teeth, to use the metaphor that Sisko threw back in Gowron’s face, and it’s very satisfying to see that the wormhole and Bajor has a station that can truly serve as a useful line of defense. And we get the guy-about-to-resign plot, which feels like it should be more annoying than it actually is. Maybe it just feels right for Worf to be so out of sorts, and just as right for Sisko to pay forward the lessons he learned in the premiere episode…

In the end, though, it isn’t brute force that wins the day, it’s reason. Sisko and Worf are able to convince Gowron that continuing the violence will only make a bad situation worse, and so he retreats.

Getting there, though, has been a great deal of the fun. This episode is just the perfect season-opener, giving everyone a moment in the sun, introducing a new character to the ensemble, and kicking the storyline from a year ago into high gear. Points also to every single actor, each of whom just kills it, from little things like Nana Visitor’s righteous indignation at Kaybok for violating Bajoran law and Alexander Siddig’s complete confidence in a much more mature Bashir and Andrew J. Robinson’s general snottiness, to bigger things like the sparkling chemistry between Avery Brooks and Penny Johnson, the beginnings of the chemistry between Michael Dorn and Terry Farrell (“I’ll go easy on you”), the competition between Robert O’Reilly and Marc Alaimo to see who can twirl their moustache most effectively (Alaimo wins by a ridged nose, but only because he gets Robinson to play off of a couple times), the triumphant debut of J.G. Hertzler as Martok, and Armin Shimerman playing Greek chorus commenting on what’s going on from the Quark’s bar (culminating in the great root beer discussion, and yes, I keep harping on it, but damn, it’s brilliant).

But the star of the show, in more ways than one, is Avery Brooks. Sisko comes into his own, being magnificently proactive. Brooks’s charisma truly shines through here, perhaps best seen in the wardroom where he and Worf confront Martok. He’s in a room with two badass Klingons, but there’s no doubt who’s the biggest badass in the room. Sisko started out as the guy who got the crappy backwater assignment. Now, if the Federation is going to save everyone, as Quark and Garak ask each other, it’s going to be because Sisko’s at the heart of the conflict.

 

Warp factor rating: 10


Keith R.A. DeCandido reminds everyone that you can preorder The Klingon Art of War (out in May, and which has mentions of the events of this episode) from either Amazon or Barnes & Noble (in either hardcover or eBook).

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