Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch: “Sons and Daughters”

“Sons and Daughters”
Written by Bradley Thompson & David Weddle
Directed by Jesús Salvador Treviño
Season 6, Episode 3
Production number 40510-526
Original air date: October 16, 1997
Stardate: unknown

Station log: The I.K.S. Rotarran has rescued the away team (and presumably the prisoner Keevan) from the dark-matter nebula and returned to Starbase 375. Bashir and O’Brien are grateful to be off the Klingon ship with its Klingon food and Klingon singing to all hours of the night, while Worf and Dax are grateful for some alone time.

The Rotarran then continues to a rendezvous with the Vor’nak, taking on crew replacements—one of whom is Worf’s son Alexander. Worf had no idea that Alexander had even enlisted. Alexander identifies himself only as Alexander Rozhenko, saying he has no House. So, y’know, obviously some bitterness.

Kira and Odo meet in Quark’s to discuss resistance strategy, only to be joined by Jake, who wants in. Kira and Odo don’t actually say yes, though he does impress them with the fact that he knows that Dukat makes Kira greet him every time he returns to Terok Nor.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Sons and Daughters

This time when Dukat returns, it’s with his daughter in tow: he’s brought Ziyal back from Bajor. Kira is guardedly glad to see her, and not so happy to be dragooned into dinner with her and Dukat to catch up.

The Rotarran’s orders are to guard a supply convoy to Donatu V. The last several such convoys were destroyed by the Jem’Hadar, so they have to protect this one at all costs. Martok also asks why, after all they’ve been through, Worf never once mentioned that he has a son. Worf gives a bit of the backstory, explaining about K’Ehleyr and her death and Alexander being on the Enterprise and him not wanting to be a warrior. Worf does not know why Alexander has enlisted as he hasn’t spoken to him, and Martok urges him to do so. Worf says he will deal with Alexander in his own way, which is a total recipe for disaster…

Worf calls Alexander to his quarters, hoping to speak to him as father to son, but Alexander makes it clear that he has no interest in that. As usual, Worf handles it in the worst possible way, and it devolves into the inevitable shouting match.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Sons and Daughters

Kira goes to Ziyal and explains that she’s not coming to dinner as she despises Dukat and wants him to die. Ziyal explains that she came back to the station because it’s the only home she has—mainly because the two most important people in her life, Dukat and Kira, are there. She tried to attend the university on Bajor, but while everyone was polite, she was obviously an outcast as the daughter of the former prefect of Bajor who was waging war on the Emissary. She’s also forgiven Dukat for abandoning her to blow up with everyone else when Cardassia joined the Dominion because he’s all she has, apart from Kira.

Kira relents and agrees to come to dinner, but she refuses to enjoy it.

Alexander goes to the mess hall, where he is teased and hazed and made a figure of fun for being raised by humans. This results in a fight between Alexander and Ch’Targh, during which Alexander gets his ass handed to him (though he does, at one point, draw blood).

Worf interrupts the fight before Ch’Targh can do any real damage, which only pisses Alexander off, and Ch’Targh snidely asks if Worf will fight the Jem’Hadar for him, too.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Sons and Daughters

Kira comes to dinner and discovers that Ziyal is an artist. She’s actually getting her drawings exhibited at the Cardassian Institute of Art. She wants her art to help bring Cardassians and Bajorans together, which she says sounds a little silly, but both Dukat and Kira think she could very well pull it off and are impressed with her art. Dukat even admits that Kira was right to send her to Bajor and expresses gratitude for Kira taking care of Ziyal.

Martok tells Worf that he needs to make sure that Alexander is prepared to be a warrior—not as his father, but as his first officer. Moments later, there’s a battle alert. Alexander says there’s a Jem’Hadar battle ship targeting them—but the weapons never strike the ship. It turns out that Alexander forgot to erase the most recent battle drill from the sensor log. Ch’Targh jokes that he should be vigilant—there may be more hostile simulations lurking in the shadows—and Alexander laughs with them. Martok sees it as the crew starting to accept him, but Worf bitterly says that he’s being accepted as the ship’s fool.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Sons and Daughters

Worf tries to train Alexander to defend himself against a Jem’Hadar kar’takin with a bat’leth, but Alexander makes a total pig’s ear of it. Worf wants to know why Alexander didn’t continue the training he started on the Enterprise, and reminds him that this is war. The Jem’Hadar will cut him to pieces. Alexander’s response: “Then I will be dead and you will be happy. Now leave me alone.”

Dukat informs Kira that three of Ziyal’s drawings will be exhibited at the Cardassian Institute of Art, and he’s having a celebration in his quarters that evening, to which she is, of course, invited. Later, he has Damar deliver a dress to her to wear for that party. For about three seconds, Kira is delighted, and then realizes just what has been happening. She returns the dress to Dukat, reminds him (and herself and the audience) that she despises Dukat with the fiery passion of a thousand white-hot suns and she won’t be coming to the party. After she walks out in a huff, Ziyal enters, and Dukat—deciding, apparently, that he hasn’t been creepy enough—gives the same dress to his daughter.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Sons and Daughters

Martok walks in on Alexander doing really poor bat’leth drills. He wants to know why Alexander is there—he knows why all the other warriors are on board, but the boy obviously is not responding to the call of Kahless. Alexander refuses to speak of it, calling it a private matter, and then Martok announces that Worf has requested that Alexander be transferred off. “He has no right—” Alexander starts, thus showing his complete lack of understanding of how chain of command works, which Martok then explains to him. He says he just wants a chance to prove himself, and Martok points out that he just gave him one and he failed it.

So Alexander goes to Worf, challenging him. Worf refuses to accept it, and Alexander accuses him of sending him away again, abandoning Alexander just like he always has. Their argument is interrupted by a call to battle. This time there’s really-o-truly-o Jem’Hadar attacking. Alexander’s barely able to keep up with what’s happening. However, he can fix a damaged plasma injector before it badly damages the ship, and he volunteers to do so, since he’s of no use on the bridge. Ch’Targh volunteers to go with him—it’s a two-person job—and Worf tells them to go.

Martok engages in some impressive battle maneuvers and the Rotarran destroys both Jem’Hadar ships. Worf then checks on Alexander, only to find that, after he and Ch’Targh fixed the battle damage, Alexander locked himself in a corridor by mistake. Worf promises to be a better father to Alexander (Alexander, not being stupid, says we’ll see if Worf actually means it), and also promises to train him in being a better warrior. Alexander is then officially made part of the House of Martok.

Ziyal is disappointed that Kira didn’t come to the party, and Kira says that she won’t ask Ziyal to choose between her and Dukat—it’s no choice, Dukat’s her father. And then she walks away.

The Sisko is of Bajor: Sisko and Martok wager a barrel of bloodwine over who will set foot back on Deep Space 9 first.

Don’t ask my opinion next time: Dukat tries to deepen the imaginary relationship he and Kira have by having them bond over the one thing they truly share: affection for Ziyal. (Though one wonders if Dukat reconciled with Ziyal solely for the purpose of getting Kira closer to him.)

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Sons and Daughters

The slug in your belly: Dax messes with Worf’s head by pretending that she won’t join the House of Martok when they’re married. This totally works, which is why Dax did it, reminding him that life when they’re married will be difficult but also fun.

There is no honor in being pummeled: Worf continues to be the worst father ever, as he and Alexander pick up right where they left off: Worf not understanding at all how to communicate with his son and Alexander being surly and stupid.

Rules of Acquisition: Quark urges Jake to stay the hell away from what Odo and Kira are planning, and also offers him a job as a waiter. Jake greets this offer with the disgusted silence that it deserves.

For Cardassia! The Dominion is giving a dozen or so industrial replicators to Bajor. Dukat, of course, describes it as “Cardassia” giving those replicators to Bajor, with the Dominion only getting a token mention at the end.

No sex, please, we’re Starfleet: The episode opens with Worf and Dax sucking face, though both are hugely disappointed when they’re interrupted by the Rotarran’s arrival at Starbase 375.

Keep your ears open: “I tell you, Worf, war is much more fun when you’re winning. Defeat makes my wounds ache.”

Martok, sore loser.

Welcome aboard: Marc Worden becomes the latest person to play Alexander; he’ll return in the role in “You Are Cordially Invited…” Sam Zeller and Gabrielle Union play Ch’Targh and N’Garen, respectively, while recurring regulars Marc Alaimo (Dukat), Casey Biggs (Damar), J.G. Hertzler (Martok), and Melanie Smith (Ziyal) all return.

Trivial matters: This episode was filmed second in order to accommodate the location shooting for “Rocks and Shoals.” This caused occasional problems in the writers room, especially with regards to the station arc…

The Klingon half of this episode was inspired by the 1950 John Ford film Rio Grande.

Marc Worden is the fifth person to play Alexander, following Jon Steuer in TNG’s “Reunion,” Brian Bonsall throughout the fifth, sixth, and seventh seasons of TNG, James Sloyan (as the fully adult Alexander from the future) in TNG’s “Firstborn,” and Richard Martinez in the photo Worf unpacked in “The Way of the Warrior” (and which he also looks at in this episode).

Both Ch’Targh and N’Garen appeared in the video game Dominion Wars, and your humble rewatcher had Ch’Targh appear briefly in the novel Diplomatic Implausibility.

One of the new transfers to the Rotarran identifies himself as the son of Ch’Pok, the advocate from “Rules of Engagement.”

The results of Sisko and Martok’s bet will occur in “Sacrifice of Angels.”

We’ve now seen three different methods of bringing someone into a Klingon’s House: two rituals, the ruu’stai from TNG’s “The Bonding,” and the ritual in this episode, plus Martok’s more prosaic placing of the House emblem on Worf’s baldric in “Soldiers of the Empire.”

Donatu V was established in “The Trouble with Tribbles” as the site of a major battle between the Klingon Empire and the Federation 25 years prior to that episode.

This is the first time the Jem’Hadar bladed weapon (first seen in “To the Death”) is called by its name of kar’takin.

Walk with the Prophets: “There is a bond between us.” In general, DS9 has done right by Worf. He’s advanced in rank, something the rest of the TNG cast—locked into movies that only come out every couple of years—were not really permitted. He’s been allowed to do well, not be defeated or stymied to show how badass the opponents are. He’s even had a relationship that hasn’t been cut short* (K’Eylehr, killed in “Reunion”), doomed (Ba’el in “Birthright, Part II”), or started too late (Troi, a relationship that didn’t really commence until TNG’s series finale).

* At least not yet. Sigh.

So why did they feel the need to resurrect one of the worst aspects of the character? TNG spent the fifth, sixth, and seventh seasons showing us that Worf was the worst parent ever, resulting in a lot of annoying storylines and tiresome scenes of Worf and Alexander shouting at each other. The only time Alexander wasn’t actively unpleasant was when he was placed with other characters (Lwaxana in “Cost of Living,” other kids in both “Imaginary Friend” and “Rascals”).

One could hope that the recasting of the role would improve things, but Marc Worden would do the world a favor by changed the R in his last name to an O, thus letting folks know what to expect right off. (He was even worse in his one-episode role as a Jaffa on Stargate SG-1.) Worden is simply dreadful here, made all the worse by the story surrounding him by superior actors in Michael Dorn, Sam Zeller, and especially J.G. Hertzler, all of whom act him right off the screen.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Sons and Daughters

The hearts-and-bat’leths resolution is wholly unconvincing, as Alexander is still an incompetent dip, the crew still doesn’t take him seriously, and Worf is still the worst father ever. One successful battle against two Jem’Hadar ships (whose success was on the backs of Martok, Worf, and N’Garen in any case) should not have had the profound impact it did. This wasn’t like Worf and Martok’s fight in “Soldiers of the Empire,” it was just a routine battle that they won. Why does that change anything? Aside from showing off Martok’s battle prowess, and making us wish they’d gotten David Graf and Sandra Nelson back (Zeller in particular does decently, but both his Ch’Targh and Gabrielle Union’s N’Garen are pale imitations of Leskit and Tavana), the entire Rotarran plot just feels like a waste of time.

Luckily, the sodden Klingon plot is leavened by what’s going on back at the station as Dukat continues trying to get Kira to approve of him. If she won’t take his side as the “leader” of Cardassia (since he’s too arrogant/blind to see the strings Weyoun is manipulating), then she’ll get his approval as Ziyal’s father. Ziyal is indeed the one thing linking the two of them, as from the git-go Dukat has viewed Kira’s guidance as important to Ziyal, going all the way back to “Return to Grace” (though with some hiccups along the way).

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Sons and Daughters

It almost works, too. Luckily this time around, it doesn’t take a suicide to get Kira to snap out of it, she just needs to see herself in the mirror holding up Dukat’s gift dress. Having last time gotten herself out of the large-scale spider’s web she was trapped in, she now has to get out of the much smaller—but also far creepier—one Dukat is weaving. Marc Alaimo plays this all beautifully, because you just don’t know for sure if there’s any genuine emotion there or not. He seems to genuinely care for Ziyal, but you can’t help but wonder if he didn’t reconcile with his daughter for the express purpose of using her to get closer to Kira. He wants the Bajorans to approve of him and love him and hold him and squeeze him and call him George, and he sees Kira as the gateway to that. And when it doesn’t work, he can just give the fancy dress to Ziyal. (Which actually tops the cup-Kira’s-cheek bit in “A Time to Stand” as Dukat’s creepiest moment.)

This is half a great episode, so the rating below seems very fitting…

 

Warp factor rating: 5


Keith R.A. DeCandido actually had little trouble aping Marc Worden’s voice for Alexander in A Time for War, a Time for Peace and Articles of the Federation. Go fig’.

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