Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Rules of Engagement"


Air date: 4/8/1996
Teleplay by Ronald D. Moore
Story by Bradley Thompson & David Weddle
Directed by LeVar Burton

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"The truth must be won... I'll see you on the battlefield." — Ch'Pok to Sisko

Nutshell: Some interesting director's techniques and a marvelous ending, but the story and courtroom scenes are completely routine.

Klingon prosecutor Ch'Pok (Ron Canada) heads an extradition hearing against Worf (defended by Sisko), who he wants to bring back to the Klingon Empire to answer for a severe charge. The charge: Worf is accused of wantonly destroying an innocent Klingon commuter ship which suddenly decloaked in the middle of a battle between the Defiant and some hostile Klingon vessels. It was a tragic accident in any case—441 defenseless Klingons were killed. However, the details are clear and confirmed: There were only seconds to react, and Worf's order to fire seemed justifiable under the circumstances of the battle.

Ch'Pok, however, does not intend to argue the facts. He intends to "put Worf's heart on trial"—to prove that because Worf is Klingon, his boiling blood got the best of him, causing him to open fire without thinking things through. In turn, Ch'Pok argues that since Worf's heart is Klingon, he should be extradited.

"Rules of Engagement" is an episode like many in the second half of DS9's fourth season have been. It's a small, mostly-contained story that tries to work in elements of the larger-consequence, long-term story arc of the Klingon/Federation political situation. Consider "Return to Grace" and "Sons of Mogh," for example. Both had something worthwhile to add to the canvas, while neither were really that pressing on their own. "Rules of Engagement" is another that falls into this "relevant but not compelling" category, but it's probably the least urgent and impacting of the three because its plot really doesn't have very far to reach.

It's simultaneously a Trek Courtroom Drama, a Worf Episode, and a Web of Conspiracy. And while it's a decent, solid episode with the expectedly up-to-par performances and some nice director's flourishes, these elements simply don't come together to become anything more than an average episode with flaws that are evident, even if they're not particularly clumsy.

Really, the biggest problem with this episode is that we've already dealt with most of the issues in "Sons of Mogh." Again, we have the Federation and the Empire clashing their agendas, and, again, we have Worf on the fence, proclaiming to be a Klingon at heart with duty and loyalty to the Federation. Again, we have Klingons coming forward and telling Worf that he doesn't fit in anywhere, and, again, we have Worf proving that he can indeed maintain ties with both sides, even if he and others aren't happy with the fact.

Meanwhile, we have the extradition hearing, in which Ch'Pok uses sensational tactics to pressure Worf into active loss of his temper, much to the ire of Vulcan T'Lara (Deborah Strang), the extradition arbitrator who ultimately holds Worf's fate in her hands. The courtroom situations are adeptly written by Ronald D. Moore, and director LeVar Burton (who is becoming prolific these days) successfully pulls off an interesting technique in which flashback is used in a cross between diegetic and non-diegetic senses, as the characters in the flashback actually speak to the camera as witnesses on the stand. Still, despite these strengths, Star Trek is not Law & Order no matter how hard it tries; and sometimes "Rules of Engagement" seems to be trying almost too hard—Sisko shouts "Objection!" a little bit too emphatically on occasion, making the drama feel just a tad overly theatrical.

There's also the problematic ending, where it seems Ch'Pok may be on his way to a victory until along comes the reliable deus ex machina—Odo finds a record that proves, in fact, that the ship destroyed was not carrying innocent people; the passenger manifest is identical to that of a ship that crashed months ago. What does this mean? It means that the entire situation was staged by the Klingons in an attempt to force Starfleet from abandoning its relief effort of escorting Cardassian convoys. Uh-huh. This "revelation" is awfully unlikely and contrived for starters, and also seems rather dishonorable and "un-Klingon-like" to me. It's also an all-too-easy way of resolving the episode—using a conjured plot manipulation instead of basic story strength or character truths. At least it gives Sisko the chance to put Ch'Pok on the stand and grill him with a hypothetical situation game, which turns out to be an absolute delight thanks to Avery Brooks' delicious performance as a bombastic lawyer.

There's also a very welcome reflection scene between Sisko and Worf after the hearing is resolved. Sisko points out that Worf did indeed make some big mistakes in his command decisions, and he offers some advice. I particularly like Sisko's response to Worf's brooding behavior: "Part of being a captain is knowing when to smile." (I think it's about time Worf lightens up.) The final exchange is also nicely put:

Worf: "Life is a great deal more complicated in this red uniform."
Sisko: "Wait until you get four pips on that collar."

But one last annoyance that I want to bring up (even though it isn't crucial to the plot) is the question of Kira's rank aboard the Defiant. Even if I still don't understand the justification, I'd be willing to grant that Worf would take command over her (if, for no other reason, because Sisko ordered him to command the mission). But then the story declares that if Worf was injured, O'Brien would take command of the ship. Why is this? (Besides the obvious fact that the plot here requires it?) What is Kira's purpose on the bridge? O'Brien isn't even an officer—he's an engineer. Yet, according to this episode, he would be fighting the Klingons while Kira follows his orders. This makes no sense at all.

I like Worf's addition to the cast, but I don't like what has been happening with Kira. Her role as a strong character has seemed slighted all this season, and the way the producers seem to dance completely around the established chain of command without so much as a passing reference to it does not sit well at all.

Previous episode: Accession
Next episode: Hard Time

Season Index

45 comments on this review

EP - Tue, Feb 24, 2009 - 11:16pm (USA Central)
That there can be Klingon lawyers is as funny as the notion of Klingon scientists (see J'Dan, TNG's The Drumhead).
I can see a whole gaggle of Klingon lawyers getting off of work, drinking blood wine and talking about the glorious sub-paragraphs of Proposition 17: Rules and Regulations regarding Tribble contamination.
Dull, dull, dull.
At least Ron Canada has a great time playing the hammiest Klingon ever.
Mart - Tue, Mar 3, 2009 - 12:36pm (USA Central)
It's rather obvious why an officer in the Bajoran militia is passed over in the chain of command of a Starfleet vessel...

Well, at least it makes sense to me that Kira is not in the chain of command.

Durandal_1707 - Sun, Oct 4, 2009 - 5:57am (USA Central)
Except that we saw Kira in command of the Defiant just a few episodes ago in "Sons of Mogh."
gion - Tue, Feb 16, 2010 - 5:32pm (USA Central)
Indeed, Kira probably shouldn't even *be* on the Defiant, except as a passenger, nor should she have an authorisation code as seen in "Defiant". DSN sometimes tends to "forget" the distinction between Bojaron Militia and Starfleet for the sake of the story.
Hapworth - Thu, Apr 1, 2010 - 12:48am (USA Central)
Wow does Jammer know his stuff. I teach film, so I was impressed with how Jammer throws out terms like "diegetic" and "non-diegetic" (fancy terms for the elements that literally occur within the fictional action of the story and those elements that occur outside the storyline (such as when Dax breaks with the fictional world and speaks to the camera). I too was impressed with Lavar Burton's decision to take such a risk, which is rare in television (at least in the 90s, unless your name is David Lynch). I wonder if Burton was influenced by the Scorsese films, such as "Goodfellas," which came out a handful of years before "Rules of Engagement." There's a moment in the trial scene of "Goodfellas," near the end of the film, where Ray Liotta disrupts the diegesis (the fictional world of the film) to speak directly to the camera. Anyway, sorry to hijack this thread (as if anyone will really read this). I am in the habit of watching a few episodes of any given ST series and then rushing to Jammer's Web site to read his reviews. After I finished with "Rules," I ran here to see if Jammer too were impressed with director Burton's moves in this episode. Kudos to Jammer! The man knows his stuff! This man is the man!!!
Lihtox - Sun, Jun 13, 2010 - 10:50pm (USA Central)
O'Brien's taking command was a hypothetical situation so I wouldn't read too much into it. It's true, though, that it would have been better if the Defiant wasn't always crewed with DS9's entire senior staff; who was in charge guarding this highly valuable space station? If Kira (and Odo) had regularly stayed on the station (unless there was a specific reason for them to be on board), then it would have made more sense. Ah well, the challenges of putting on a TV series, with appearances required by contract, etc.

I wish Ron Canada had had the opportunity to say, angrily, "I am a Klingon Lawyer!" Talk about a Klingon with something to prove. :)
Doug - Thu, Nov 11, 2010 - 4:49pm (USA Central)
Well, they've had Klingon scientists on The Next Generation and someone has to develop the guns and ships, so it shouldn't be surprising that some Klingons don't get to fire the guns or man the helm
Travis - Fri, Feb 18, 2011 - 5:46am (USA Central)
One major plothole in the story that wasn't pointed out here. At different points of the episode Worf is accused of accidentally destroying the ship and willfully destroying it. These are huge legal differences.
Dave - Tue, Feb 22, 2011 - 11:07pm (USA Central)
Jammer, your reviews are on point most of the time. But this one isn't. This episode deserves a minimum of 3 stars. Is the story standard stuff? Yes it is. But the direction and acting alone makes this a 3 or more star show easily.

I get that Kira is your favorite character, but giving this show 2 1/2 stars because you don't like the role she plays in it doesn't work. I am retired military, so I can see the reasoning why they're are times when Worf is in command of the Defiant and not Kira. Worf is new to command, so I see it as the writers are using this time to provide Worf with a mentor with Sisko. Works for me. Kira has gotten her time to shine more than any other character except Sisko. I love Kira but I am glad they changed her a little this season. She is still a tough b***h when she needs to be, but now she has mellowed out. She can't play the role of a resistance fighter forever; people change(and to be honest I was sick of hearing about the bajoran resistance by then).

Also think about this. Kira being a bajoran officer most likely shouldn't even belong in the command seat of a federation ship. England is an ally to the the United States but do you think we would allow a english officer to captain one of our aircraft carriers? When you see it from that angle it becomes a lot easier to understand.
Nathan - Thu, Mar 10, 2011 - 8:51am (USA Central)
The situation with Bajor is unique but not unprecedented in US history. In WWII and Korea we had American Generals commanding British troops. Even some units at the platoon level were combined for brief times. DS9 is a joint command. A combined unit of Bajorian and StarFleet personnel. At the time it made sense. Star Fleet was willing to mix and relax it's standards in order to bring the back water world of Bajor up to par with the Federation. Then they found the wormhole and suddenly this backwater was now the front line. THEN war breaks out and it really gets out of hand. Kira gets pushed behind because the Federation is being forced to take a more proactive role.

I never much cared for Worf being added to DS9. I thought he hurt the show by diluting the cast with one more character to hog screen time. He was always well portrayed. And his character got far more development then he could get on static TNG. But his development was at expense of all the other characters but most heavily on Kira, and lesser so on Odo and Sisko. It also didn't help that he really didn't have a job on the station that wasn't replacing someone else that did the same job be it Kira, Sisko, or Odo.
Justin - Sat, Mar 17, 2012 - 8:10pm (USA Central)
Sisko had no reason to chew Worf out, IMO. Any ship de-cloaking in the middle of a battle should be considered hostile. The premise behind this entire episode was preposterous and ill thought out.
Duge - Thu, May 17, 2012 - 11:34pm (USA Central)
I agree with the last post. It was pretty clear that what happened was an accident and that pretty much anybody in command of a starship CURRENTLY ENGAGED WITH a hostile enemy, particularly one engaging in hit-and-run/cloak tactics, would likely have made the same mistake. Why would Worf or any other starship captain expect a simple unarmed transport to suddenly de-cloak in front of them in the middle of a battle with hostile forces in the first place? O'Brien would have made a different decision if in charge? Really? Interesting episode but I think that Worf's case for acting as he did was stronger and more obvious than what it was made out to be in this episode IMHO. I don't honestly know how anybody would've reacted differently under the same exact circumstances.
Paul York - Thu, Jun 7, 2012 - 4:40pm (USA Central)
Kurn and Alexander got the worst of the deal, in terms of Worf's on again off again relationship with the Klingon Empire. Kurn ended up suicidal and had to adopt a new identity, and Alexander ended up an inept Klingon warrior, laughed at by others, living in the shadow of his father (though at least he had human culture to fall back on if he wanted). Nonetheless, as O'Brien states, Worf is honourable. At least, in the end, he is vindicated by Martok. He is a very interesting character, caught between two worlds (very similar to B'elana Torres, who actually is split into Klingon and human selves in one episode of Voyager).
Gaius Maximus - Sat, Jul 21, 2012 - 9:31pm (USA Central)
My big problem with the episode is that I cannot believe that even the Federation would by goody-goody enough to consider extraditing one of their officers to a power that they're basically in a state of undeclared war with. Punish Worf themselves, sure. Give him to the Klingons, no way.

Also, putting O'Brien next in line on the ship is just absurd. This is a guy who pointed out that he's have to call Nog sir as soon as he graduated. The only time he should take command is if everyone else is dead. The anonymous ensign at the helm should have been in line ahead of him. Also, I really felt that Sisko or O'Brien should have pointed out that for all the combat situations O'Brien has been in, he's trained as an engineer, not a ship commander.
John - Mon, Aug 20, 2012 - 7:38pm (USA Central)
There are certainly plenty of plot holes and contrivances here.

But Ron Canada, like Tony Todd a few episodes earlier, is such a compelling Klingon that I was still very much entertained.

I also think it was timely for for the show to explore the inherant contradiction between Worf's warrior ethic and his desire to become a command level Starfleet Officer. On TNG they pretty much shouted him down for every suggestion he made on the bridge, it makes sense that he's going to run into some issues here.
Sintek - Fri, Sep 7, 2012 - 3:27am (USA Central)
The Klingons by this point are such a two dimensional, one-note culture that I wasn't bothered by the lawyer. The writers over the years wrote themselves into a corner by never giving the race any depth. Their stories never went beyond "Argh! Honor! Me tough smash you! Good day to die (doesn't die)!" Too black and white.

The Cardassians are much more interesting as an aggressive species because they have multiple motives for their actions. They don't fight just for the sake of fighting. Realistically, the Klingons would have either gone extinct long ago or concquered the alpha quadrant. The way they are presented is as an expanding empire, but they don't seem to have expanded in a century. Oh well, maybe the rebooted universe can make them interesting again.
Travis - Fri, Sep 7, 2012 - 12:26pm (USA Central)
Sintek, that's one of the reasons I love watching DS9. The Cardassians and Bajorans were fully fleshed-out ideas and believable unlike most of the species in Star Trek. They tried to give the Ferengi some depth on the show but couldn't get past "greed! Stupidity! Comic relief!" With the Bajorans and Cardassians their species wasn't all about one thing.
Cail Corishev - Tue, Sep 18, 2012 - 7:39am (USA Central)
As odd as Klingon lawyers and scientists are, Klingon spies, as we see later, are even stranger. How on earth does spying fit into the in-your-face idea of Klingon honor?

I never was convinced that Worf did anything wrong. Even if the ship had been filled with civilians, as someone said earlier, a ship that suddenly de-cloaks in the middle of a firefight is fair game. If it gets destroyed, that may be a tragedy, but it's no one's fault (but that of the pilot who flew it there). The idea that a Federation officer in the middle of a battle against ships that can cloak is always going to wait for confirmation that the target in his face is still the same target it was moments ago is silly.

The great Kirk destroyed a cloaked Klingon ship by shooting at its exhaust. So if a civilian ship had flown in the way and attracted the torpedo, Kirk would have been a murderer instead of a hero? Nonsense.
Arachnea - Tue, Nov 20, 2012 - 1:27am (USA Central)
This is an episode I disliked because of its script. It has interesting visual settings, something different.

But there are so many things that don't work !
- Why would a Klingon lawyer reveal the reason he's here to Sisko ? (because we viewers are so dumb as to not understand ?)
- Ds9 is ruining the Klingon's lore that's been so well developped on TNG.
- O'Brien is a mechanic and a soldier, not a decision maker: why Sisko agrees for him to be an expert in commanding decisions ? Then, it's also completeley out of character; we've seen Miles making rash decisions during the heat of battle.
- There was a pattern in the cloaking/decloacking route of the Klingon ship and Riker would have been praised for his cunning to recognize it. But Worf is being reprimanded by self-righteous Sisko for firing on a suddenly decloacked ship during the heat of the battle ?
- Sisko says: it's the search of the truth. He defends Worf during the hearing, but he believes Worf is guilty... Talk about the truth :p
- If Sisko thought Worf should'nt have taken the assignment, why did he give it to him in the first place ? If he believes that Worf is too Klingon to take command, then he is at fault, not Worf.
- To conclude, why would the Federation agree to a hearing for an extradition ? Klingons rejected the peace treaty, they are no longer allies, almost at war.

Well, with another premise, this episode could have been great, but the writing is too poor and flawed to make it even good.
T'Paul - Thu, Jul 11, 2013 - 10:40am (USA Central)
I don't think DS9 is trashing Klingon canon or law.

Why? In TOS, the Klingons shown to be underhand and dishonourable, in STVI also they were involved in intrigues, and such things also occurred in the oft-vaunted TNG.

For me, honour in the Klingon empire is an ideology, often praised but seldom practiced, just as the Federation values (the so-called "Gene's vision") are often not put in practice as much as the lofty speeches would have us believe, once again, even in TNG.

I think it is wrong to say that DS9 is somehow a departure from previous depictions of the Klingons, I think it is very true to what they have previously been shown to be.
Josh - Thu, Jul 11, 2013 - 7:25pm (USA Central)
Yes, insofar as Klingon "honour" goes, "Sins of the Father" (only the third major Klingon episode of TNG) had the High Chancellor arranging to falsely accuse Worf's father of treason for political expediency. In "The Mind's Eye" and "Redemption", Klingons conspire with Romulans, and the same occurred in STVI also involving elements of Starfleet.

So I don't really get the objections with respect to Klingon "lore". We've also seen repeated examples of Worf's being pretty unrepresentative of his culture.
Kotas - Wed, Oct 23, 2013 - 6:07pm (USA Central)

Another so-so episode. The second half of season 4 is a major lull compared to the first half.

Jons - Mon, Feb 3, 2014 - 5:52am (USA Central)
I can't stand Klingons. I think they're the stupidest invention in Star Trek. Both originally (where they're just SO obviously just space soviets... I mean they even have Russian accents for Gods sake! so subtle) and in post-TOS where they are just caricatural "MANLY MEN" presumably supposed to get 100 pounds 14 year old nerds to vicariously feel masculine. Or something.

I don't know, but they're so dumb and representative of everything I despise (violence, "honor", mysoginy, machismo...) that I just can't stand episodes with them as the main plot. Worf excepted, of course, since he's about as Klingon as Picard (obviously, since Klingons as they're written on this show could never be actual main characters since they're so shallow and stupid).
Dusty - Mon, Feb 17, 2014 - 3:35am (USA Central)
This one has the most attention-grabbing teaser I've seen in a long time. Then it plunges us right into the courtoom. We all know Worf is not an indiscriminate killer, and a civilian ship that suddenly decloaks in the middle of a space battle does so under its own peril. The real question is how the battle actually happened and whether the Klingon lawyer (funny concept huh?) can prove his case to the judge and give the Klingons an excuse to increase their hostilities. But since when do they need one? Oh, well.

I liked the mix of actual testimony and fourth-wall breaking; it's something we don't see very often. The problem is, the writers tried way too hard to make it seem like the Klingons had a good case when they didn't at all (hello?! it's called a war!), and to create uncertainty and doubt over Worf's decision--an angle most of the audience wouldn't go along with. The lawyer's tactics were ridiculous and completely out of order in any court. Even without the revelation that it was all staged, it's hard to believe Worf was in any danger of being convicted of...what? War crimes? Sisko chewing out Worf at the end was just wrong. He chose Worf to lead the Defiant on the mission, and he wasn't in command when the battle happened any more than O'Brien. He wasn't even there.

This episode rubbed me the wrong way from start to finish. I have yet to see a Season 4 episode since the premiere that makes really good use of the Klingons.
Vylora - Mon, Feb 24, 2014 - 7:31pm (USA Central)
The Federation didn't put Worf on trial to just "give him away" to the Klingons. It was an extradition hearing from the Klingons to bring Worf to the empire. Obviously likely to stand trial in their judicial system.

I did find some plot points a little on the tidy side, but nothing glaringly bad and actually quite plausible considering the circumstances. As for the hypothetical scenario of O'brien being in command, it was simply to question what he would have done in Worfs position. Nothing more, nothing less. Whether Kira was there or not or if it was because of Worf hypothetically being injured or not is really a non-issue. I understand the confusion of Defiant command structure and I have my own thoughts on it. But in this case it is irrelevant within the context of a "what-if" scenario put forth by the questioning.

Concerning the combat situation, I 100% agree with following certain rules for the protection of innocent life. The Defiant was on a convoy mission in an area of space known for shipping traffic. Despite its unlikely-ness that a ship would choose that particular time to appear, it is the right thing to do to be aware of that possibility and adjust your tactics accordingly. It is no different than real-life conventions of war that steps to protect civilians are taken.

Of course war in and of itself is never a good idea, but sometimes it happens. When it does, then you do what you can to make the right decisions. This episode shows that situation for Worf. It does a great job of portraying the decisions during the heat of the battle versus the hindsight of it all.

I've always liked this episode overall, though. It's not Law & Order and I don't really think it was trying to be, though I do understand the comparison. A lot of the direction was unique enough to me within its own setting to enjoy it on its own terms. The story being about an extradition trial against Worf on DS9 that delves into the difficulty of command decisions in a combat situation during a time of shaky political relations (to put it mildly).

One of my favorites of the season and enjoyed it quite a bit more than Jammer. But, damn it, I do love his reviews. And I appreciate the sounding board he's allowed for us. (:

3.5 stars.
Yanks - Tue, Jul 29, 2014 - 2:11pm (USA Central)
Sisko (Avery) making the drama feel just a tad overly theatrical.

Really, just a "tad"? Ya think? Just like every other time he is required to show emotion...

While I'm on the Avery acting thing, it was just HORRIBLE, when Sisko is crossing Ch'Pok, he seemingly has the breath in every 3 words or so to get a frakin sentence out. Jesus, does anyone direct these things? Is this the best he can produce?

But back to the trial.

Loved the flashback actor talking to the "judge" presentation. Very well done.

I LOVED Ron Canada in this one. Loved the "Klingon approach" to trying to get Worf. .... and he DID!! If it wasn't for Odo digging up the truth here, Worf was TOAST!

Also loved it when Sisko asked Ch'Pok "Care to step onto my battlefield?" You just knew he couldn't turn down this challenge.

Great personal drama in this one.

Now to Sisko and Worf in Worf's cabin. This line was pretty funny from Worf:

"...I did not realize it until I stood there looking down at him, blood trickling from his mouth..."

Just loved the delivery on that one. You know, that guy I just planted on the floor :-)

I think Sisko goes from the proper ass chewing - to making Commander someday too quickly. Worf screwed the pooch here, he didn't identify the target before he fired, in an environment rich with civilians. That's no minor transgression folks; that might even be ground for demotion. If I'm Sisko, I make Worf prove to me that his tactical judgment and the ability to set aside his Klingon urges have improved before all but telling him he's going to make commander.

Great statement here from Sisko:
"Worf. We don't put civilians at risk or even potentially at risk to save ourselves. Sometimes that means we lose the battle and sometimes our lives. But if you can't make that choice, then you can't wear that uniform."

Wipes tear from face.

Was there even a "B" story?

3.5 stars. (4 had Avery been able to act… Jesus)
Zuriel Seven - Wed, Aug 20, 2014 - 3:12pm (USA Central)
To many people's point about O'Brien taking command, there is a possibility that O'Brien's years since we've seen him on the Enterprise have been as a senior non-com, which may be often classified under enlisted service. O'Brien has been fond of his discussion of being enlisted since his discussion with Worf's father... Given that he's addressed as "Chief", he likely has reached the advancement of "Chief Petty Officer" or its senior or master designations, which, in Naval tradition, provides for his technical job specialization as well as his command experience despite his lack of officer's status.
Jeffrey Jakucyk - Wed, Nov 19, 2014 - 5:30pm (USA Central)
For some reason, that bell the arbitrator rings irritates me to no end. It's being gently rapped by a soft rubber mallet. You call that ringing a bell?
dlpb - Thu, Dec 18, 2014 - 6:54pm (USA Central)
Entertaining, but as usual full of holes. The biggest one is that the trial would not be allowed to proceed in this fashion. Firstly, having one judge is unlikely to happen, and even if that was the case, "as far as logic dictates" is plainly ridiculous. Court rooms work by law and strict rules. A judge would work within those confines (Starfleet rules in this case), not Vulcan "logic".
MsV - Mon, Mar 2, 2015 - 5:01pm (USA Central)
I have a few comments or opinions about this episode: First, Klingons as a whole are crap. Second, Kira should not be able to command a Federation Starship, not unless there is an emergency situation (like Sisko, Worf, Dax and Obrien are missing) Third, the Federation would never extradite Worf regardless how much the Klingons cried. Fourth, On TOS, if have seen Scotty sit in the Captain's chair, when Kirk and Spock were on some mission and this was more than once. Scotty was an engineer like Obrien but, Scotty had a higher rank, I believe Lt. Commander.

That's my 2 cents.
Icarus32Soar - Sun, Mar 8, 2015 - 9:43am (USA Central)
Nah! ST does not do courtroom dramas well from Q's stuff in TNG to this Klingon parody. Come to think of it DS9 tends to parody all things Klingon, what was that rubbish in the Sword of Kahless with the great late John Colicos? They find the legendary bat'leth and then they squabble over it and beam it into space? Come on!
Robin - Sun, Mar 15, 2015 - 9:17am (USA Central)
The Klingons had cut off diplomatic relations in an earlier episode. Presumably this meant they wasn't even an extradition treaty to allow this request?
Teejay - Wed, Jul 1, 2015 - 7:26am (USA Central)
Ugh. Two stinkers in a row. Really disappointing, considering how strong season 4 had been up to this point. The only thing that "lawyer" proved is how ridiculous the Klingons are. He repeatedly states that Worf acted as a klingon would in that situation. If that's the case, WHY ARE THEY TRYING TO EXTRADITE HIM? According to what the lawyer presents, he acted as a Klingon would, so why would they want to put him on trial? In their eyes, he did nothing wrong.

Once again, I tend to dislike Klingon-centered episodes. Jons above pretty much stated my feelings about Klingons.
Yanks - Wed, Jul 1, 2015 - 10:25am (USA Central)

The whole purpose of the trial was to convict Worf under Starfleet/Federation rules and discredit him because he chose to serve in Starfleet. As Sisko and Odo proved, it was a set-up.
Teejay - Fri, Jul 31, 2015 - 2:53am (USA Central)
@ Yanks:

Yes, what you say is true, it just seems to be a very sneaky, non-Klingon way to handle the situation.
Yanks - Fri, Jul 31, 2015 - 1:16pm (USA Central)
I'll agree with you there Teejay.

...but he was a lawyer :-)
Ben Franklin - Thu, Sep 24, 2015 - 1:00pm (USA Central)

No, they weren't convicting Worf in a Starfleet court, they were in an extradition hearing which means the exact opposite of what you are saying. The actual court case would be in a Klingon court, therefore, that is where the "conviction" would take place. So Teejay's original point is actually quite correct.

The whole episode is dampened by the fact that it should never really have taken place at all. First of all, the Federation & Klingons currently have no diplomatic relations (previously mentioned "The Way of the Warrior"). Second, there is absolutely no precedent for Starfleet to consider collateral damage during a battle to be indictable as murder. Thirdly, the fact that the Klingons would try to bring someone to trial for collateral damage is hugely laughable! This isn't "innocent schools getting bombed" collateral damage, they're in the middle of nowhere in space FFS!

To complete my rant about this episode, there really isn't any character development throughout the episode since Worf is still the honorable, honest, Starfleet-rooted Klingon he's always been. It's just been proven in an unnecessary extradition hearing. However, I love Klingons and the good direction from Burton and performance from Canada saves this tragedy of an episode.

2/4 from me.
Ben Franklin - Thu, Sep 24, 2015 - 1:05pm (USA Central)
Oh.. and it's total BS that O'Brien says he WOULDN'T fire on the decloaking ship. Of course he would! They were in the middle of a firefight with cloaking and uncloaking ships! Properly written for his character, if O'Brien is asked "During a firefight with cloaking ships, a tachyon surge in front of you is closing in, do you fire?" the answer is YES OF COURSE!

This just adds to my ire towards this episode. And I usually love Klingon episodes...
Yanks - Wed, Sep 30, 2015 - 12:43pm (USA Central)
Ben Franklin, ok, an "extradition hearing" run under a federation judge (Star Fleet rules)...

"set-up" still applies as does my comment to Teejay.

DJD - Mon, Oct 5, 2015 - 6:46pm (USA Central)
I agree with the general consensus of the comments: stupid episode. EVERYTHING is contrived.

1. The premise. The Klingons know that Worf is commanding the defiant. They engage in an elaborate hit and cloak game that goes on for minutes - that despite the Defiant having proven itself to be just about the deadliest ship outside of the Borg or Species 8472 - just to set up a pattern and finally draw Worf to fire on a decloaking fake ship. Oh p-uh-lease. Bond villains have less elaborate plans.

2. The trial. The Federation and the Klingons are at war. Nothing else. The Defiant escorted a couple of Cardassian ships. It was then attacked without warning. That is an ACT OF WAR. Nobody on the Federation's side would have agreed to a trial after that.

3. The Klingon argument. The Klingon lawyer makes the case that Worf must be handed over because only Klingons could judge an act of bloodlusty killing. What?! The Vulcan should have shot him down on the spot! It's like Nog cheating on a stock deal and Liquidator Brunt arguing only the Ferengi could judge him for that.

4. Fake dilemma. Everybody agrees that if you fight Klingons/Romulans, if you want to survive, you have to shoot at decloaking ships. If some civilians transport were to decloak in the heat of battle, that's just bad luck for them.
And O'Brien disagrees? O'Brien???

5. Worf predictably going nuts. Like calling George McFly "chicken".

6. Odo's timing. So he checked up all the passengers' backgrounds and couldn't find anything halfway through the episode. Five minutes before the end he found they all had "survived" a crash 3 months ago. What the hell was the good Constable checking beforehand?!?!

7. Brooks' acting. My god, he is seriously the worst actor in all of Trek when he has to act emotional/excited/angry. It's immersion shattering.
Yanks - Tue, Oct 6, 2015 - 11:24am (USA Central)
"4. Fake dilemma. Everybody agrees that if you fight Klingons/Romulans, if you want to survive, you have to shoot at decloaking ships. If some civilians transport were to decloak in the heat of battle, that's just bad luck for them.
And O'Brien disagrees? O'Brien???"

Love your post DJD and I felt many of the same frustrations, but Obrien is correct here. It doesn't matter, you MUST identify your target before you shoot. It's just the way it is.

All the crap in this episode, they got this right.

As I quoted above, Sisko's quote was spot on... even if his acting wasn't.
William B - Wed, Nov 25, 2015 - 11:57pm (USA Central)
So, I agree that Worf should not have fired on the decloaking ship without verifying that it was an enemy vessel. As improbable as it seems for a civilian ship to decloak in the middle of a battle, Sisko's statement that Starfleet prioritizes civilian lives above their own ships' security and (especially) that this was an area known to be used by civilians. That said, the situation is so contrived that I cannot quite understand how the court case went on as long as it did. Yes, Worf acted inappropriately, to some degree, according to Starfleet protocol, but it was such an obvious accident and an obvious mistake to make, and, more to the point, it is impossible to understand how the Klingon rules of engagement would view firing on a decloaking ship in the middle of an ongoing battle as a beyond-the-pale act of murder instead of an accident. In fact, it seems pretty possible that Klingon rules of engagement don't have anything against firing on civilians accidentally, because Ch'Pok cannot seem to keep straight from one minute to the next whether it's a good thing or a bad thing to fire on civilians in battle. In order to corner Worf, Ch'Pok bounces back and forth between "any Klingon would have fired on that ship with intent to kill" and "you are the ultimate un-Klingon coward for firing on those civilians," with endless variations designed to vex Worf until Worf finally loses his cool, which proves that he totally fired on those civilians because he lost his cool, I guess, which shows he should be extradited because his heart is Klingon, and only the Klingons can prosecute a person whose heart is Klingon, and by extraditing Worf for being a Klingon in his heart the Klingon Empire will embarrass the Federation for having such cowardly officers that act like Klingons, which, uh, wait, let me start over. Ch'Pok's irrational baiting could maybe play in lower court circuit, but surely a Vulcan admiral JAG would be able to recognize that none of what he is saying holds together. When Kurn put Worf through his paces, basically snarling at Worf about how Worf's actions have ruined his life and then attacking him for Worf's weakness in criticizing him, this made sense because Kurn was angry, broken, and also ambivalent about what Worf had done and how he should respond. Ch'Pok is attempting some sort of legal trickery which really does not work. I don't know what extradition between the Federation and the Klingons look like -- actually probably at the moment there *is* no formal extradition -- but it seems to me that whether or not a person is Klingon by birth doesn't matter, especially since Worf's Klingon citizenship has presumably been revoked; Kirk and Bones were extradited in STVI not because they were Klingon, but because they committed a crime against the Klingons, whereas Ch'Pok really does seem to be arguing that Worf's actions are only a crime if he is Klingon (which he is, unless he's not enough of a Klingon and then...).

Anyway, the episode's dubious legal hoops are largely there to examine what motivates Worf at this stage in the game, and how much he is truly a Klingon, and what that means now that Klingons are once again something like adversaries (or, neither allies nor adversaries but maybe both, as Ch'Pok suggests). The episode-long question of whether Worf behaved wrong on the bridge does basically come down to his intent, and his intent is a mixture of several factors, including Klingon blood-lust, his desire to prove himself to his people, his desire for revenge, and his relative inexperience in command. As with "Dax," the episode zags in court and avoids answering the "question" of the episode, but "Dax" had a somewhat better-posed and less answerable question ("is a Trill responsible for the actions of their symbiont's previous hosts?") and the twist that let Dax off the hook on the stand also said something about her (and Curzon's) character. The question that the court case sort of poses is something like, "Is Worf's heart Klingon, but, like, Klingon in a bad way, I mean, or not Klingon enough but overcompensating Klingon," so that the irresolution in court is not quite as satisfying. Really, there's no reason Worf couldn't have accidentally killed some civilians in battle, in a way where he was genuinely not criminally responsible but still made what ends up being a bad command decision -- there are all kinds of military mistakes that are the result of bad judgment but are not reprimandable offenses. And until the twist, this episode did seem to be portraying a case where Worf was in a situation he was not entirely prepared for and made some decisions that maybe were just a fraction off, leading to lots of deaths, because, you know, *command*, in which charges should probably have been dismissed no matter whether Worf said he was hoping he'd go into battle at Quark's the day before or not. That the Klingons actually faked the -- it's too stupid, I'm not even going to say it -- feels like a cheat and even an unnecessary one.

The last scene between Sisko and Worf is pretty good though, and in particular because Sisko does seem to get through what the episode has really been suggesting: Worf made several errors in judgment, none of which were deserving of major charges or for him to be extradited, but all of which could potentially have resulted in loss of life which would have been catastrophic and would have been on Worf's conscience. That Worf could lose his cool in court and play Ch'Pok's dumb game, that Worf was excited at the prospect of battle and even shared that publicly, and that Worf did not check the ship before firing are signs that the transition from tactical, where his battle-readiness was appropriate and was also kept in check by Picard/Riker/Data, to command. But he is learning. That Worf's loneliness and resentment are coming out in his command decisions -- that he may have been taking out his anger over his loss of status and loss of his brother on the ships he was fighting -- is an interesting wrinkle for the character, and I do not think it is particularly damning at all given that it seems to me that other than not checking the decloaking ship -- i.e. his not considering the pretty remote possibility that a civilian ship would decloak in the middle of a battle -- his behaviour in battle was entirely appropriate.

The episode is pretty dull, really, and very by-the-numbers as a court case. The theatrical talking-in-flashbacks device is neat, though is not enough to save the episode. There is some good current-state material for Worf, but not really enough to sustain this episode. 1.5 stars.
Chrome - Mon, Nov 30, 2015 - 3:05pm (USA Central)
The Sisko scene at the end was completely unnecessary. Sisko has sufficient evidence to show that the whole trial is a farce. Why would Sisko or the JAG waste any more time, or poor Worf's time with such a circus?
Denebian - Mon, Dec 28, 2015 - 7:15am (USA Central)
"Wow does Jammer know his stuff. I teach film, so I was impressed with how Jammer throws out terms like "diegetic" and "non-diegetic" (fancy terms for the elements that literally occur within the fictional action of the story and those elements that occur outside the storyline (such as when Dax breaks with the fictional world and speaks to the camera)."

Sorry, but Dax momentarily speaking to the camera has NOTHING to do with diegetic/non diegetic. First, she does not break from the fictional world. She is simply reminiscing and we are watching her recollection of events, but she never leaves the "fictional world" of the story. She was not knowingly addressing the audience either. Are you sure you teach film?
Diamond Dave - Sun, Jan 3, 2016 - 6:06am (USA Central)
I liked this one a lot. Despite it being a fairly worn courtroom premise, this is directed with some real panache by Lavar Burton and the performances - led by Ch'Pok - carry it along with some speed and not a little wit (Quark's recollections being a fine example). The plot issues identified by others bothered me not at all, but that often happens I find. 3 stars for me.

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