Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch: “You Are Cordially Invited”

“You Are Cordially Invited…”
Written by Ronald D. Moore
Directed by David Livingston
Season 6, Episode 7
Production number 40510-531
Original air date: November 10, 1997
Stardate: 51247.5

Station log: DS9 is now the headquarters for the Ninth Fleet. Sisko and Kira are both happy to have things getting back to something like normal. Martok is less happy about being put in charge of the Ninth Fleet, as it means a crapton more paperwork.

Alexander is being transferred to the Ya’Vang, along with most of the Rotarran crew. Dax suggests to Worf that they get married right away on the station, instead of waiting until the end of the war to have it on Qo’noS. Worf agrees, and asks Alexander to be his sword-bearer.

Dax and Kira talk about the wedding, and how much Worf has been looking forward to having a traditional Klingon ceremony. And after going through five Trill weddings, she’s well and truly sick of the pomp and circumstance, and is more than happy to defer to Worf. However, first she must be approved by Martok’s wife, Sirella, since Dax is marrying into the House of Martok. Sirella, however, doesn’t actually approve of much of anything, not Martok, not Worf, and certainly not Dax.

Worf is surprised to learn that Sirella not only doesn’t approve of the wedding, she never approved of Worf being made part of the House of Martok. However, Martok was within his rights to bring Worf in—but the matters of household are entirely her domain as the Lady of the House, and Martok will not try to influence her decision, and he strongly suggests Worf not do so, either.

Worf asks Martok, Sisko, O’Brien, and Bashir to undergo kal’hyah with him and Alexander—the closest Klingon equivalent to a bachelor party, a four-day ritual. The five of them must go through six trials: deprivation, blood, pain, sacrifice, anguish, and death. (“Sounds like marriage, all right,” Bashir comments, prompting O’Brien to snarkily ask, “How would you know?”) Alexander doesn’t handle it all that well, but he insists on continuing the ritual. Bashir and O’Brien don’t do that much better, and at one point they’re hanging from a bar plotting Worf’s demise.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: You Are Cordially Invited

Sirella rides Dax pretty hard over her part of the ritual, making her go through it three times, and Sirella tries to talk her into abandoning the marriage, for she will always be an outsider. Dax’s angry response is to do it a fourth time. She also spoils the the recitation of Sirella’s family by introducing a dose of reality (like the fact that the founders of the Third Dynasty took on the names of the members of the Second Dynasty to create the illusion of an unbroken line, meaning Sirella’s ancestor wasn’t an emperor’s daughter, but a concubine who took the emperor’s daughter’s name).

Dax decides to throw a party in her quarters, complete with a fire-twirler, music, dancing, and food. Odo comes in with two deputies following up on noise complaints. Kira says the party will continue on her authority. It’s the first time Kira and Odo have actually spoken, as they’ve been avoiding each other since the Dominion left the station. Finally they decide to sit and talk.

Sirella then interrupts the party, and when Dax refuses to end the celebrating to perform another ritual, they get into a brief clash that ends with Sirella cancelling the wedding.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: You Are Cordially Invited

The next morning, a hung over Dax and Worf talk about what happened. (They briefly interrupt their chat to discover Kira and Odo in their closet, where they’ve been talking all night.) As far as Dax is concerned, Worf can finish his part of the ritual, and then they can get married in Sisko’s office. Worf is aghast at that notion, and says that maybe Sirella was right. (O’Brien and Bashir are relieved that at least they can eat.)

Martok goes to Worf on the Defiant, saying he has made a grave error. Worf admits that he does love Dax, but they are very mismatched. Martok points out that we can’t chose who we fall in love with. Sirella is no more who he expected to marry than Dax is who Worf expected. But to deny that love over a point of honor just leaves you alone with that honor, and honor isn’t very comforting when there’s no one to share it with…

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: You Are Cordially Invited

So Worf goes to Dax to apologize, but she doesn’t accept it. So Sisko goes to talk to her, to remind her that she isn’t Curzon, who was a Federation ambassador to the Klingon Empire and helped negotiate the Khitomer Accords. She’s a young woman who wants to marry into Sirella’s family. And if she’s going to expect to be treated like Curzon, she should also know that kissing Sirella’s ass was always going to be part of the deal. She’s leaving it pretty late in the game to start complaining about Klingon ritual, especially when she herself was going on earlier to Kira about how cute Worf is about it.

And so Dax admits that she wants to marry Worf and she accepts Worf’s apology and she sucks up to Sirella, and everyone goes to Quark’s. Sirella starts the ceremony, talking of the gods creating the Klingon heart, and then creating another so the Klingon heart would not be alone. When the two hearts began to beat together, they became so powerful they destroyed the gods who created them. Sirella closes by saying that no force can stop two Klingon hearts beating together—adding, “Not even me.” She marries them, welcomes Dax into the House of Martok, and then Sisko, O’Brien, Martok, and Bashir attack the groom.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: You Are Cordially Invited

The Sisko is of Bajor: The Federation News Service is publishing a book that collects the stories Jake wrote while living on the station under Dominion rule.

Don’t ask my opinion next time: Kira questions Dax as to why it’s only Worf’s wishes being fulfilled for the wedding.

The slug in your belly: The Dax symbiont is 356 years old, and the symbiont’s hosts have now been married six times.

There is no honor in being pummeled: Worf accelerates the wedding to accommodate Alexander, whose posting to the Ya’Vang means it may be months before Worf sees him again.

Preservation of matter and energy is for wimps: Odo and Kira finally talk out what they went through during the occupation. It happened off-camera, which is both unfortunate and kind of hilarious.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: You Are Cordially Invited

Rules of Acquisition: Nog’s dancing during the party was completely improvised by Aron Eisenberg. Which is a good thing, as I’m frightened by the notion that someone told him to do that…

No sex, please, we’re Starfleet: It’s not clear whether or not Dax intends to seduce Lieutenant Atoa. My money’s on yes, though.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: You Are Cordially Invited

What happens in the holosuite stays in the holosuite: Worf’s road to kal’hyah takes place on the holosuite.

Keep your ears open: “You’ve put on weight and your hair is going gray.”

“My deterioration is proceeding apace.”

“I thought you would be in your grave by now.”

“I shall endeavor to die this year, if possible.”

Sirella and Martok greeting each other.

Welcome aboard: Marc Worden returns for his second and final appearance as Alexander, Sidney Liufau plays Atoa, and recurring regulars J.G. Hertzler (Martok), Chase Masterson (Leeta), Aron Eisenberg (Nog), and Max Grodénchik (Rom) are all present. Finally, Shannon Cochran makes her third appearance in her second role on Trek, having twice appeared as the Maquis Kalita in “Defiant” and TNG’s “Preemptive Strike”; she’ll return as Senator Tal’Aura in Star Trek Nemesis.

Trivial matters: Worf’s foster parents and the crew of the Enterprise are not present, nor is their absence explained—though the war provides a handy excuse, certainly. While an attempt was made to get the TNG cast together for a cameo, only Jonathan Frakes and LeVar Burton were available, and they decided to make it all or nothing. As for the Rozhenkos, again, the war is a handy excuse (not to mention the fact that Georgia Brown, who played Helena, had died), especially given the last-minute nature of the wedding.

Worf was seen apologizing to the Enterprise crew for not waiting for their arrival to have the ceremony, blaming it on his desire to have Alexander there, in the novel Planet X by Michael Jan Friedman.

Glenn Hauman and Aaron Rosenberg used the ceremony established here as the basis for the first-ever Klingon-Jewish wedding between Captain David Gold’s granddaughter and a Klingon politician in the Starfleet Corps of Engineers story Creative Couplings.

The reference to Captain Shelby was supposed to be to the character from TNG’s “The Best of Both Worldstwo-parter. However, writer Ronald D. Moore had totally forgotten that the producers had promised Pocket Books that they weren’t going to do anything with the characters of Shelby, Selar, and Lefler, leaving them free to be used in Peter David’s Star Trek: New Frontier novel series. This led to a very embarrassed discussion among a very contrite Moore, Paula M. Block in licensing, and Pocket editor John J. Ordover. David covered this in the NF novel Martyr, by establishing another Shelby in Starfleet, who did make captain (an easy enough fix).

Shelby’s ship, the Sutherland, was previously seen captained by Data in “Redemption II,” also written by Moore.

This episode establishes that Curzon Dax helped negotiate the Khitomer Accords that were signed shortly after Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (a movie that also featured Michael Dorn as Worf’s grandfather and namesake). The novels Forged in Fire by Andy Mangels & Michael A. Martin and The Art of the Impossible by your humble rewatcher, among other stories, established that Curzon was an aide to Sarek of Vulcan as a young man, which is why he was at Khitomer.

Odo and Kira’s conversation in the closet was dramatized in Olympus Descending by David R. George III, the Dominion portion of Worlds of DS9 Volume 3.

This is the only time Sirella is seen on screen, but she does appear in The Left Hand of Destiny two-book series written by J.G. Hertzler & Jeffrey Lang, in which she dies with honor defending the empire.

Alexander will remain assigned to the Ya’Vang through the end of the war, as established in “Penumbra,” and beyond, as established in several novels that take place after DS9’s finale, among them the Genesis Wave books by John Vornholt, A Time to Kill by David Mack, your humble rewatcher’s A Time for War, a Time for Peace, and the aforementioned Left Hand of Destiny.

Worf mentioned in “Homefront” that the Klingons killed their gods. The ceremony provides one story for how that happened. Another will be seen in Voyager’s “Barge of the Dead,” with another in your humble rewatcher’s The Klingon Art of War.

Walk with the Prophets: “Kill Worf.” It’s nice after the heaviness of the occupation arc to get a more fluffy episode. Honestly, the whole thing’s worth it for Dax’s party with dancing Bolians, chest-bumping Morn, fire twirlers, and Nog doing that insane dance, the latter topped only by Dax doing the insane dance with him.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: You Are Cordially Invited

The wedding itself is magnificent, a great operatic ceremony, and I love the ritual.

But ultimately, this follows the expected tired beats of every TV show’s wedding episode, with the reversals and the cold feet and the last-minute hearts-and-flowers declaration of love and it’s just so tired. Worf’s kal’hyah makes for one good joke—when O’Brien and Bashir think they can eat now that the wedding’s cancelled—but it’s not enough to cover the fact that only Martok and O’Brien count as Worf’s closest male friends—okay, maybe Sisko. But hell, Worf is closer to Odo than he is to Bashir. Having Bashir be part of the kal’hyah just feels like it was done because Bashir’s in the opening credits.

Just in general, there’s the issue with not having anyone from the Enterprise present—or even mentioned. Worf should be undergoing kal’hyah with Riker and Picard by his side.

And then there’s Sirella. We’re introduced to her in a scene that comes across as a third-rate Beatrice and Benedick, and then we never see the two of them again, so the scene feels even more forced. Her objections to Dax are tiresome, and her forgiveness of Dax’s shortcomings never seen or explicated.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: You Are Cordially Invited

Everything in this episode happens because the plot says it’s supposed to happen. It’s right out of the cliché handbook of how to do a wedding episode (several of which were inTNG’s “Data’s Day” for the O’Brien wedding, and in fact I kinda wish O’Brien had made mention of the fact that his wedding was cancelled and uncancelled, too), with only a few touches to separate it. One of those—which I really appreciated—was that in these stories it’s almost always the woman who fusses over every detail and the man who couldn’t care less as long as he’s married at the end of it, and it’s nice to see those roles reversed. Plus the bachelor party is a lot more interesting than guys at a strip club. (Then again, I share Bill Cosby’s attitude toward strip joints: if you’re hungry, you don’t watch someone cook a steak.)

I’m glad that Worf and Dax are married, partly because they make an excellent couple (amusingly, for the very reasons Worf enumerates to Martok as to why they don’t work—but Dax needs someone to rein her in, and Worf needs someone to loosen him up). And the ceremony really is magnificent. But getting there was mostly a chore. I would have rather seen Odo and Kira’s closet conversation than suffer through a paint-by-numbers wedding-prep story.

 

Warp factor rating: 4


Keith R.A. DeCandido is at Dragon Con 2014 this weekend. His full, and rather insane, schedule can be found here. He’ll be doing two Star Trek panels: “Star Trek Authors” today from 7-8pm (along with Peter David, Jimmy Diggs, Christie Golden, and Thomas Zahler) and “Klingon History” Monday from 11.30am-12.30pm (along with Erika Figueroa and Morgan Skye). He’ll have copies of many of his books, among them The Klingon Art of War and Farscape: The War for the Uncharted Territories, with him for sale at the convention, particularly at his autographings on Saturday (noon at the SFWA table in the Hyatt and 2.30 in the autograph area in the Marriott) and Monday (10.30am at the SFWA table).

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