Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

“Blood Oath”

3.5 stars.

Air date: 3/28/1994
Written by Peter Allan Fields
Directed by Winrich Kolbe

Review Text

Back when Dax was Curzon Dax, he became friends with some Klingons while serving his diplomatic duty. Later, those Klingons fell into discord with a shady character known only as "The Albino." The Albino swore vengeance upon the first born of each of the Klingons—and kept his promise, killing the infants with a deadly virus. Among the murdered was Curzon's godson. Along with the three Klingons, Curzon took a blood oath to avenge the deaths of the children. Now reunited on DS9, the three Klingons, Kor (John Colicos), Kang (Michael Ansara), and Koloth (William Campbell), find Jadzia, who must now struggle with the moral dilemma of keeping her oath and helping kill the Albino, or sticking to her nonviolent Federation values.

"Blood Oath" is an irresistibly entertaining hour of Trek that has two levels and works splendidly on both of them. On one side, it's a lively warrior tale with lots of believable Klingon culture. The three old Klingons (reprising TOS roles from decades earlier) are always a pleasure to watch. In particular, Colicos' turn as Kor, the lighthearted of the bunch, is a joy, and has some wonderful scenes. The other side of the episode is Jadzia's dilemma, which takes on surprisingly deep and serious power—especially in a probing scene where Kira pulls Dax aside and offers some insightfully solemn words about killing. Difficult as it may seem, Fields' even-handed teleplay skillfully weaves the pulse-pounding glory of battle together with the negative connotations of violence—resulting is a very entertaining and interesting episode.

The plot moves along nicely and plausibly, the characterizations are flawless, and the stylized action scene in the final act features an impressive scope. I think Jadzia gets off a little easy in not having to make the final choice of whether or not to kill the Albino (Bill Bolender), but the wordless coda where she returns to DS9 to find a scornfully silent Sisko and Kira is beautifully done.

Previous episode: Profit and Loss
Next episode: The Maquis, Part I

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79 comments on this post

    Just on Blood Oath. Doesn't anyone else find it hard to sympathise with Jadzia's dilemma about killing the albino when she kills about 10 henchmen to get to him?

    The scene in "Blood Oath" between Jadzia Dax and Kang where she 'plays the same trick on him' is one of the best in Star Trek.

    I love TREK, TOS most of all so this is one of my favorite DS9 episodes for the obvious reason: Kor, Koloth and Kang on screen together.

    And being a TOS fan I really only have one complaint with this episode: how do you have an episode guest starring the three main TOS Klingon warriors and not have a Kirk reference. I would have loved to see a scene where the three of them are comparing Kirk war stories.

    If you think about it those paid bodyguards could have been innocent, honest employees with wives, children, mothers. Oh, wait, no, I forgot, they were wearing helmets, with reflective strips over the eyes so they couldn't see crap. So nevermind -- as long as they're faceless it's all good. Slaughter away.

    I have to disagree with the score for this episode. I really didn't find it interesting on any level. It was the 2nd episode I ever saw of DS9. Luckily I stuck with the series in spite of it. 'The Wire' is what got me hooked.

    I found it strange that a Klingon would have humans guarding his grounds.

    I don't think the Albino was a Klingon (non-canon sources may disagree). Whether he was or not, he certainly loathed Klingon "filth" and would not have employed them.

    A decent episode and a refreshing break from symbiont-focused Dax epiosdes.


    So if we assume that the forehead ridge problem is "real" rather than just a wardrobe improvement (and Enterprise, stupidly, has made it medically canon). are we to assume that Koloth, Kang, and Kor all had forehead reconstruction surgery?

    It's not clear if Dax kills anyone - they all seem like nonlethal takedowns - unlike the ones the Klingons score.


    I find the glorification of archaic warrior cultures just as annoying as the glorification of the "simple life".

    I've always loved this episode.

    The performances by John Colicos as Kor, Michael Ansara as Kang and William Campbell as Koloth were just outstanding. Outstanding actors reviving outstanding parts.

    Love the humor injected throughout the episode.

    I'm not sure I agree with Sisko's argument with Jadzia. If someone had slain Jake when he was a young boy Sisko would have been doing the same thing.

    Good on her for completing Curzon's blood oath.

    I also like how she made significant contributions to this quest. She just didn't show up and swing a bat'leth.

    I do agree that this was a big step for Jadzia. This was no easy decision. Taking someone’s life is no joke. Even if it's a child murderer.

    The ending in ops was done to perfection.

    A 4 star episode IMO.

    I realize that Star Trek is in part supposed to be a family show, but the lack of blood in battle scenes always bothered me since it takes away from the realism. I also found the part where Jadzia says "she's lost and looking for a tennis field" unnecessary because it is trying to funny in a scene which is supposed to do the exact oposite.

    Apart from that, a good episode which I enjoyed watching. The final scene was superb.

    This is the episode that brought me back to DS9, years after I caught glimpses of the show in its original run. As soon as I saw Odo and Quark in the first scene the good memories started to flow.

    Terry Farrell's limits as an actress are clear, but her physical presence and skill are impressive in the battle scenes. The returning Klingon actors are excellent. Jadzia having to convince each of them in turn to bring her along is very smartly written.

    The Albino doesn't get as much depth or history as I would like, but the purpose of the episode is clear: for the old warriors to go out fighting, and that they do. The integrity of Jadzia's character is preserved when she is unable to kill a man who is not fighting back, but her participation in the mission still lends her much-needed depth, and the ending scene where her colleagues look at her differently--Sisko cold and accusing, Kira disappointed yet understanding--speaks volumes. A poignant and thrilling episode that stands out as one of Season 2's best.

    As of 2014, all three of the Klingon actors are no longer with us: Michael Ansara (Kang) passed away last year at age 91, William Campbell (Koloth) in 2011 at age 87, and John Colicos (Kor) in 2000 at age 71.

    I have a problem with Jadzia completing Curzon's blood oath, for one reason. She decides arbitrarily when she is going to be like Curzon or when she isn't. Remember when she was dealing with Arjin and she said, "I am not Curzon," when she was not going to be unnecessarily hard on him. Also, in "Dax" where she was willing to die for an oath Curzon made 30 years before, there are other times too. Jadzia doesn't seen to think things out. There were other ways around each situation. Zadzia is one of my favorite characters on DS9, but I would have kicked her out of Starfleet for what she did.

    Jadzia believes she is still Curzon when it suits her. In other episodes she defiantly says "I am not Curzon. I am Jadzia!!" It's pretty annoying. She also arrogantly tried to tell Bashir and others how much she knew about Klingons. I was so happy when Worf finally told her "you are not Klingon". Sisko should have told her if she left for this blood oath mission then not to return because he would have to detain her until star fleet could come pick her up for her trial for disobeying orders and breaking the law.

    After a disappointing string of episodes since "Whispers" (and, "Whispers" excepted, an overall pretty weak run since "Necessary Evil"), it is a relief to come to "Blood Oath," which has a kind of confidence and forward momentum that this last set of ungainly episodes has lacked. Each scene leads seamlessly into the next, the episode tackles several ideas simultaneously and effectively, has richly drawn characterization, and takes each step with precision -- even if I don't always agree with the steps the episode takes.

    First off, the choice to bring in three Klingons from the original series is great, and not just as a gimmick. It helps that all three are played by charismatic actors, of course, and that in a matter of moments they manage to (re)create distinctive characters who are genuinely recognizable as the men they were in the original series but seen from different perspectives. Beyond that, what makes it work is that their being a part of Trek history gives a kind of weight to them as characters and as myths that otherwise would be hard to pull off. When Jadzia indicates that she owes something to these three men, I think we are also seeing DS9 "saying" that it owes something to these men who were a part of TOS in some small way.

    Within universe, what's remarkable is that while all three were antagonists, they were all Klingons who never *quite* fought Kirk to the death, as some might have. Kor and Kang both appeared in episodes which ended with truces with Kirk (and the Federation), whether forced by more powerful beings or chosen by the characters themselves. Koloth appeared in a comedy, and William Campbell gave a performance not too different from his take on Trelane -- the conflict ended up coming more or less to naught. So we *saw* these Klingons in the process of being dragged, somewhat reluctantly, into a just-beginning era of peace with the Federation. Of the three, Kor wanted most to enter glorious battle with Kirk for the sake of the glorious battle itself, holding no particular ill will toward Kirk but sad that he and Kirk missed the chance to fight each other, but despite his passions was also the most easy-going of the three and accepted that peace was the way things would be and adapted, and Kang was the one who had the most anger and the most sense of desire for combat for the sake of what he considered to be the right thing to do (exploited by that weird war creature) and, ultimately, the strongest will and most independent streak -- traits which do come up in this episode. This being the case, it makes sense that Kang is the one whom Curzon Dax won over eventually -- the independent-minded, stubborn man, the thinker -- back in the day, and that he did so by forming a common bond with the Klingons, in a similar way to the way Kirk managed to, with difficulty, in "Day of the Dove."

    The three Klingons, then, began their careers before peace was a goal the Klingon Empire reasonably expected to take on, back when the warrior culture was all, and not just the warrior ideal tempered by recognition of the human(oid)istic value of peace that we see in the TNG era, but the actual conquest-centred berserker battle ideal -- AND they were the generation that also presided over the forming of the beginnings of peace with the Federation. Curzon Dax was the ambassador who fully got through to the Klingons, and even managed to become a godfather to one of Kang's children. And so the Curzon/Kang bond is not only a personal bond, but the representation of something far broader: it is the two cultures coming together for something. When Sisko asks Jadzia how Curzon, who had a fundamental respect for all life, could agree to a blood oath to murder someone, Jadzia mutters somewhat unconvincingly that Curzon had respect for Klingon values, which in itself is hardly sufficient -- "respect" is a pretty airy term to describe approval of *and participation in* murder. And yet, *of course* Curzon took on a blood oath -- he is *the person* who managed to get through to Klingons and made serious strides toward peace between the Klingons and the Federation. He convinced Kang to at least begin to give up the dreams of the Klingon Empire conquering the whole quadrant, and talked him down to coexistence. How could he then deny Kang his right to personal vengeance?

    That is what I find particularly poignant about the three Klingons in this episode, particularly Kang. As in "Heart of Glory," we are looking at Klingons who are no longer valued because the warrior ethic cannot fully coexist with civilization. Kang talks about it here:

    KANG: The old Klingon ways are passing. There was a time, when I was a young man, the mere mention of the Klingon Empire made worlds tremble. Now, our warriors are opening restaurants and serving racht to the grandchildren of men I slaughtered in battle. Things are not what they used to be, not even a blood oath.

    And yet, let us be clear, Kang was one of the people whose foresight, open-mindedness and courage *brought this new future on*. He accepted the "weakening" of the Klingon culture in exchange for friendship and understanding with the Federation, as represented by Curzon Dax, and I think that overall he is not even advocating for a full-on return to the Old Ways. He is merely remarking that the man he is (and Kor and Koloth are) no longer has any place in the new world that he, with Curzon, helped to create, hence his desire to make one final glorious stand in battle. Koloth spends his time practicing, Kor spends his days drunk and/or in holosuites reliving great battles that he fought but unable even in a holosuite to win them again. Neither of them have quite the self-awareness that Kang has, which is why he leads them into their deaths without them quite recognizing it. If it were Curzon Dax with him, well, Curzon owed him an oath and would not break it, and Curzon would be an incredibly old man, ready to die at any instant. (Although I'm not sure if Kang thought through what would happen to the symbiont if Curzon was slaughtered by the Albino's men far from Federation or even Klingon space.) But Jadzia is a young woman, the next generation who *has* a place in this world.

    That, I think, is why Jadzia feels such an intense need to fulfill Curzon's oath. She is released from it, but she can also see that these men are on death's door, that they have *helped create* a world which no longer has a place for them. The compensation for Kang et al. giving up their Empire is the friendship that they formed with Curzon, and as long as they are alive it is hard for her not to want to keep up her end of that trade. Some of this is that Jadzia simply has trouble distinguishing herself from her past hosts, which comes up again and again, but I think that the interspecies nature of the oath here makes all the difference. It does *not* seem to that Jadzia is so hurting from the death of "her" godson that she wants vengeance, at least to me; she seems to be "trapped" by honour, even if it's an honour that she keeps being released from.

    Along those lines, I love that not only does Kang release Jadzia from her oath officially, but Jadzia has to *fight* her way to be included. None of the three Klingons seem to hold her to that oath on the basis of duty; Kor, the quickest to accept her in, accepts her purely because he sees the fight as awesome and he can't imagine why anyone wouldn't want to go, not quite recognizing the depth of sacrifice that Jadzia will be making in going. Koloth is suspicious of her but comes to accept her. And Kang does everything he can to release her, before finally reluctantly accepting that she can come die with him because he cannot genuinely stop her, in good conscience, much as he would like to. Jadzia's effort to free them from certain death reflects, I think, a somewhat naive hope that she *can* save them from dying; she does not quite seem to understand that these men's lives are at an end anyway, at least joyless Kang and Koloth, though Kor has a few years left in him if only because he still has some joie de vivre left. I wonder if Jadzia's inability to accept their deaths has to do with the way Curzon still lives in her, and the guilt that may well follow, that Curzon "gets" to live on for further generations and the people he bonded with so closely die.

    I love how Sisko and Kira both slam Dax, hard, for going along with this blood oath. The scene where Jadzia asks Kira what it's like to kill someone has a quiet intensity and to me is one of the best Kira scenes so far -- a hint at exactly how much trauma has piled up in her and how much she needs to keep it buried. Jadzia never particularly argues with Sisko or Kira that it is right to murder, in cold blood, a person, even a child-murderer, and I think that ultimately she *doesn't* believe it is justified. The episode spends little time discussing this, partly because I think that it is made clear why the Klingons view it as justified -- the Klingon value system has been expanded on enough before that I think it is obvious enough why they think vengeance is justified, ESPECIALLY in the case of someone who murdered children through a virus. And so Jadzia's actions come down to a case of (possibly misplaced) loyalty, of whether loyalty can really trump other concerns. I do think that if it were a matter of killing some innocent person because of a past host's oath, she would feel differently about it, but she can understand the Klingon value system enough to believe she can follow it.

    I agree with posters above that the episode cheats a little by having the Albino's guards wear visors on their faces. I think the episode's greatest flaw is that the fact that Jadzia is not just signing up to kill one child murderer and ancient enemy, but also to help kill dozens of guards, goes mostly unremarked upon. Jadzia does only knock the guards unconscious, for what it's worth, but the Klingons very clearly slaughter them. Now, it doesn't bother me in terms of the Kor/Kang/Koloth characterization; for them, killing people in battle is a matter of course, and the men are armed (though they are only fighting with dead rifles in the end!), on their feet, are specifically *hired* to fight, and for that matter are willing to work for a ruthless, dishonourable killer. Still, Jadzia should recognize that these guys are people, and that attacking a person's stronghold and killing the guards after disabling the security system is murder and immoral by Federation standards. She is aiding and abetting, and the mitigating factor that the Albino is apparently a remorseless child-murderer does not really apply to the Albino's guards, who may not even know what kind of man they are working for.

    What I think happens, though, is that Jadzia is simply unwilling to take seriously what moral lines she is crossing, and to consider them carefully. In the end, she seems unable to kill the Albino, and I tend to think that she would not have been able to. When Kang kills the Albino, and thanks her for giving him the killing blow, I *suspect* that he knew that Jadzia was incapable of the act, and is giving her an out to save her honour (from her obligation to the oath) while protecting her peacenik morality to some degree. I suspect that because Kang is depicted throughout as intelligent, able to understand alternate value systems, and protective of Jadzia as bystander. Jadzia's inability to go through with the killing, but *enabling* Kang to stab the Albino (in the back!) basically sums up the bad faith that Jadzia is acting in. She cannot turn her back on her loyalty to these men who meant so much to her, but she cannot fully own the actions that she is taking for them. This does not put her in a favourable light, but I think that this is very much believable as a characterization choice; for Jadzia to want to have it both ways, and finally to be unable to choose at the crucial moment, makes sense to me. Giving Kang the final blow also allows him the satisfaction of dying while having redressed a personal wrong and going out as a warrior, which means that Dax did succeed in that sense -- though at some personal cost to her soul, whether she swung the bat'leth or not.

    The look that she is given at the episode's end by Sisko and Kira is chilly and effective, but I do agree that it's pretty light, consequence-wise. Yes, Worf killed Duras and got off with a reprimand, but Worf killed a Klingon, on a Klingon ship, in full keeping with Klingon law; Dax went to *some outpost* in possibly neutral space to kill a guy and abet the killing of bunch of guards of unknown species, not to mention going AWOL for surely a few days. I don't really see how she can get away with no consequences, except that Sisko and Kira like her and so will turn a blind eye except for their angry stares. I don't think so.

    But, well, lack of consequences aside, I find this episode pretty riveting all the way through. I really think this is a great show, centrally about balancing personal loyalty to morality, with Dax consciously committing to a course of action she is emotionally unprepared for. 3.5 stars.

    @William A rare case of post that my eyes looked at and thought TLDR, but that I actually made it to the end of. Very well said, and I think this was one of the first (with "Duet" and "In the Hands of the Prophets" being the others) that really showcased how DS9 could be awesome when not trying to be TNG on a space station.

    I will take a minor exception with something you said at the end. I'm 99.99999% sure that she does not go AWOL.

    SISKO: No leave of absence.
    DAX: Kira shouldn't have told you.
    SISKO: Kira is my First Officer.
    DAX: I don't have to tell you what this oath meant to Curzon.
    SISKO: Jadzia Dax took an oath too, when she joined Starfleet. You're subject to orders, Lieutenant.
    DAX: Don't do it, Benjamin. Don't make me disobey a direct order.
    SISKO: I never understood this. I mean, whatever else Curzon was, he did have a fundamental morality. He wouldn't condone murder any more than I would, and yet he swore to kill this Albino and now you plan to go out and kill in his name. What about the laws of the Federation?
    DAX: The Klingons have their own set of laws. This is justice to them.
    SISKO: And to you?
    DAX: I've chosen to respect their codes of honour in this matter, yes.
    SISKO: You really think you're capable of doing this?
    DAX: I don't know. There's only one way to find out, isn't there.
    SISKO: Let's say you are. Let's say you even survive this insanity. You expect to just come back here and resume your duties as though nothing's happened?
    DAX: I guess that'll be up to you.

    I read this exchange as ambiguous with regards to her leave request. Ergo when she returns and faces no consequences I assume he approved it. They are best friends. She flat out says "Don't make me disobey a direct order." I choose to interpret the scene as him reluctantly caving.

    I also want to say that I read a lot into the body language of the scene, and I think he's scared for her... of losing her, of her regretting this, more than he's judging her. I think it was a really good scene with a lot of subtext.

    @Robert, thanks!

    I see your point about whether Dax actually goes AWOL or not. It does seem as if Sisko maybe grants her leave, though I don't think the episode *quite* says either way. I suspect that maybe Sisko "caves" in that he either retroactively grants her leave request, or just does not file the paperwork either way and says nothing upon her return.

    He definitely is more worried about her dying (or losing a piece of her soul) than he is about the guy she's killing, I agree. I also think it's a great scene. It does also matter, I think, that Sisko may see himself as something of a mentor to Jadzia (and of course, her actual commander), but that he still holds Curzon up a bit, and acknowledges that there are some things about this guy that Sisko can't quite hope to understand, but that he more or less accepted, and it's hard for him to then deny Jadzia those same qualities, even though I think as her commanding officer he does have a pretty big obligation to discourage her going out to murder a guy (and possibly his entourage of guards). It is definitely in character for Sisko to refrain from actively punishing Jadzia because of their friendship, though.

    Sometimes it's wise to put your critical faculties on hold and just enjoy the big dumb fun when it's put in front of you. If you can't enjoy John Colicos furiously chewing the scenery, it's time to give up the Trek watching. But there's a lot more at work here - not least of which the interplay between the leads.

    That said, Dax's decision making never really quite convinces, although having said that the discussion with Kira is another high quality scene, and the necessarily bloodless battle at the end is something of a disappointment.

    "Look upon your executioners, killer of children" indeed. 3.5 stars.

    Saw this again over the weekend. What a huge difference having guest actors the caliber of Colicos, Ansara, and Campbell makes. Just incredible jobs all around.

    Also the scene where Dax talks to Kira about killing people during the occupation was just so well done. You could really see the turmoil going through Dax during this talk. And to cap it off with an unspoken scene at the end was another genius stroke.

    I don't know, this might be a 4 star episode with me.

    "And being a TOS fan I really only have one complaint with this episode: how do you have an episode guest starring the three main TOS Klingon warriors and not have a Kirk reference. I would have loved to see a scene where the three of them are comparing Kirk war stories. "

    If I remember right, Dax says it's been 80 years or so since she's seen these guys. I don't think they'd just randomly pull out a Kirk reference in a setting that doesn't justify it. I mean they hadn't seen him in at least that long.

    "I found it strange that a Klingon would have humans guarding his grounds. "

    Oh I don't. Remember, the Albino killed children with a virus- probably the worst thing you can do in the Klingon culture, honor-wise. I don't think too many Klingons would WANT to guard his sorry ass!

    After spending an entire episode in Season One ("Dax") drilling it into the heads of everyone in the audience that each new Trill host is completely different from previous ones and an entire episode just two prior to this one ("Playing God") where she so resolutely declares that she isn't like Curzon in any way, shape or form that it makes the metal on Wolverine's skeleton look like Jell-O, Dax just up and decides to say "screw that noise; I'm Curzon now!". And so doing, decides to go off and help murder a man in cold blood. Ummmm, okay then. Let's be honest here, Dax's motivations don't really make a whole lot of sense. Basically meeting some old friends from another lifetime causes her to really want to indulge in some bloodlust and protocol (as well as Starfleet regulations and Federation law) be damned. This unsavoriness, however, is very adequately covered over by three outstanding scenes involving other people's reactions to her decision - the scene where she asks Kira what it's like to kill, the one where Sisko tries to talk her out of it and the final, wordless, scene of her return to Ops and a sullen (disappointed?) Sisko and an understanding Kira. Terry Farrell also smooths out the edges of Dax's questionable decision with quite possibly her best performance on the show yet. But, I am going to tuck this little incident away so as to pull it out again in a later episode, because it really highlights another major problem I have with Dax's character. More on that when the time comes.

    Despite that, however, I'd say "Blood Oath" is a good episode, but not a great one. It's definitely a breath of fresh air after the mid-season slump Season Two suffered before it. It's got some really good action - probably the best DS9 has offered yet. And the Klingons are all mostly enjoyable, with the possible exception of William Campbell as Koloth (he plays him really stiffly). Kor is definitely the stand-out. It's nice to see a character who loves life so much and yet isn't annoying, like Dax so often is. I especially loved this exchange (there's just something about the understated confidence that I really like).....
    ODO: How did you get in here?
    KOLOTH: I am Koloth.
    ODO: That doesn't answer my question.
    KOLOTH: Yes it does.

    Still, I have to wonder if this episode would be thought of so highly if it wasn't for the nostalgia factor involving the three main Kilingons from TOS. "Blood Oath" absolutely demands a familiarity with these characters and I just don't know if it would work if it was just some random Klingons. But, I won't hold that against the episode, because, well, who ever watching this episode wasn't familiar with them?


    "Still, I have to wonder if this episode would be thought of so highly if it wasn't for the nostalgia factor involving the three main Kilingons from TOS. "Blood Oath" absolutely demands a familiarity with these characters and I just don't know if it would work if it was just some random Klingons. But, I won't hold that against the episode, because, well, who ever watching this episode wasn't familiar with them?"

    Well, Luke, um, when I first watched this episode I didn't recognize them as veterans of TOS, so I guess there is one person out there who was like that... And since I'm now a guinea pig for your little thought experiment, I will say I did enjoy the episode despite not having the nostalgia factor. Then again, I'm also apparently the only person in existence who actually liked Jadzia, so I guess I'm doubly weird...

    "Then again, I'm also apparently the only person in existence who actually liked Jadzia"

    Both myself and my daughter like Jadzia. And probably Terry's grandma, lol. You're not alone!

    Dax came up with the plan to neutralize all the energy weapons in the area using by using technobabble. And this is a universe where replicators can create anything, right? Awesome, this is a surefire plan! It'll give the protagonists a great advantage when they show up with replicated machine guns, right? Right???

    So, uh, why weren't they replicating themselves some futuristic rifles and loading themselves down with as much ammo as they could carry?

    This happens in other episodes where phasers can't work because of "reverse tetryion quantum fields" or whatever. It seems that whenever their weapon technology fails, they resort to primitive hand to hand weapons rather than slightly less primitive firearms.

    At least Picard used a Thompson sub machine gun against the Borg.

    Swords and knives are the Klingon way ... if Dax had been helping Al Capone, John Dillinger and Meyer Lansky avenge the murders of their kids, then Thompson sub machine guns would be appropriate

    This episode is gold. Live they girl talk between Kira and Jadzia. Love the guest stars and Klingon blood oath talk. This is why I live T.V. sci-fi.

    Boy, isn't it great to see these three reprising their TOS roles? It's so enjoyable to watch strong actors. And they play them the same way they played them in TOS. Only a bit more tired. Perfect. Too bad Koloth had to die. But one of them had to. Good stuff.

    I really don't get why people throw the word "murder" around so much for this situation. Knowing what we do about Klingons this killing is justice and completely above the board.

    Now, Starfleet being pissy about one of their officers being involved, even if legally helping an ally, sadly not surprising. Never seemed to stop Picard though, did it?

    I enjoyed this, but it didn't stand out as one of the best for me. Of course I loved the great old warrior Klingons, but Dax really sunk this one for me. As others have pointed out above, she's Curzon when it's convenient, and her fairly-lame line delivery in this one was tedious.

    I was also disappointed that we didn't get to hear the Klingon death bellow by anyone, despite losing two great Klingon warriors. That might have bumped this up a star for me if Jadzia had done it for her old friends. I did like the warrior beginning to sing the songs for his fallen comrades.

    Unlike most, I did not care for the final scene. I thought it would have made more sense for Jadzia to report to Sisko and say, "I await whatever punishment you feel correct." THEN but to silence and the glaring stares. As it was, it almost seemed like she was trying to sneak onto her post without them noticing.

    3 stars.

    I admit off the bat I had pretty much zero interest in these three Klingons from TOS. None of them made that much of an impression but I suppose if you're going to do a story about three old Klingons might as well use ones seen before.

    I enjoyed the teaser.

    The story makes sense. Terry Farrell was fair but I can't help but feel a better actress at have done more for me caring more for Jadzia's predicament. As is I mainly felt it was just "there"

    The dialog was very sophisticated and in spots poetic and the writer clearly has a great vocabulary.

    The plot was okay. I didn't feel like I should have the need for vengeance even though the Albino's acts were horrendous. Also the efforts to convince Kang to allow Jadzia to come along went on too long.

    The action at the last of the episode once the quartet arrived at Albino compound has to be the most impressive--from location filming, the armed extras, the buildings. All that left quite an impression on me

    Ever since I saw it, I can't hear Patty Smyth's song "The Warrior" without a montage of this episode running through my head. :)

    Truly great "Klingons and Jadzia" story. Also, while I love Worf, I'm glad he wasn't there at the time because it was fun to see Klingons without his (often lovable, I admit) grumpiness and puritanism.

    First of all, it 's awesome to see Kor, Koloth, and Kang all back with the original TOS actors, however, it's only Kor that delivers the goods for me. Koloth didn't have his same flair as he did in "The Trouble With Tribbles" and Kang was really stiff and 1-dimensional.

    One of the things DS9 spent a fair bit of time on, like TNG, was fleshing out Klingon society/culture/history, which is a worthy endeavor. However, what these old Klingons hold onto as values (honor, being a warrior, etc.) are interpreted in a wishy-washy way. Like when Dax convinces Kang to let her go on the quest. Seems like Kang flip-flopped pretty easily.

    And Kang wants to go on a suicide mission and simply be happy dying trying to avenge his son -- he initially has no reason or decent plan for success. "It is a good day to die", a Klingon warrior is always prepared to die -- maybe it's just me but I find this idiotic.

    I thought the infiltration and final battle scene were a tad comical with 3 old Klingons getting the job done after something from the ship disables all phasers on the planet...ummm OK. I guess this was supposed to be a heroic scene with Koloth and Kang dying heroically, but not before getting their revenge.

    The strange part is the strongest part of the episode is actually not the 3 venerable Klingons but is the part where Dax asks Kira about killing and the final scene where she returns to the station and just starts working while others wonder what happened. This was a cool way to end the episode. Dax kills a bunch of people and helps Kang kill the albino -- so I guess she lost a part of her life, as Kira pointed out in the episode's best line.

    Not quite good enough for 3 stars for me, so a high 2.5 stars it is. The final battle scene was predictable enough and I can't say it was anything special. I expected more from Koloth and Kang. Fine to study the Klingon culture/traditions but they continually come across as impractical and somewhat ridiculous -- really have to question their beliefs as a foundation for an empire. No matter, this was supposed to be a fun episode and it largely was but it's nothing exceptional.

    Teaser : ***.5, 5%

    Quark is complaining to Odo about a Klingon—a drunk Klingon—overstaying his welcome in a holosuite. Odo has him shut the programme down before it's through. And who should emerge—er--stumble out but Kor, considerably greyer and bumpier in the forehead than we saw him last century. Odo throws his drunk ass in a holding cell. After a few seconds of montage music, Koloth lets himself into Odo's office. Koloth would see the Dahar master and his friend, Kor, released, but is ashamed to see that he has sullied their very serious mission—whatever it is—by his drunkenness, and leaves him to sleep it off in the cell.

    So, if one is a TOS fan, this teaser is absolutely squee-inducing—so much so, that one is liable to forget that there is a plot here. Structurally, this effectively sets up the plot, introduces some character dynamics and gives René Auberjonois a chance to show off his signature harrumphing.

    Act 1 : ***, 17%

    Constable Harrumph shares his Klingon grief with Kira in Ops, giving Dax the opportunity to overhear his exposition. She name-drops the *other* TOS Klingon (Kang) before heading to the security office herself and claiming responsibility for the drunk Kor. What we quickly learn is that some time after Kirk's five-year-mission, all three major TOS Klingons got together, had their foreheads un-smoothed and befriended Curzon Dax. Beyond friendship, Curzon was a chief diplomat with the Klingon Empire. When Kang finally makes his appearance, he announces triumphantly, “I have found the albino!” Erm, cool, dude. Dax doesn't exactly look pleased to hear this news.

    Kor is more or less over Dax' change of host, but Kang and Koloth are skeptical. The writers have chosen to repeat the sexism-as-stand-in-for-warrior-culture cliché from “The Outcast.” For those who don't remember, Worf was suddenly cast as sexist, transphobic, homophobic—all of the culturally conservative touchstones that make an easy strawman and totally ignore the Klingons' history of sexual equality. In any event, Kang reveals the backstory that led to his discovery of The Albino, and the episode is suddenly framed as a quest, with the penetration of the Albino's sanctuary and eventual murder of the Albino himself as the ultimate goal. The reason for this is hinted at—Dax is (or was depending on whom you ask) Godfather to the Kang's' son. She is visibly troubled.

    Act 2 : ****, 17%

    Walking the Promenade, Dax relates to Kang the story of Curzon's death—a popular topic among old men and all Klingons. Almost unbelievably, Kang knew that Dax was serving on DS9, but had no idea that his good friend had died, or obviously been replaced by Jadzia. Contrived backstory aside, the substance of the ensuing journey is made plain: Trill ideology means that the commitments of previous hosts are to be forgotten in each subsequent generation of host, the idea being that the Symbiont's life is enriched by a diversity of experience; Klingon ideology is quite the opposite, as it employs pre-modern codes of chivalry and honour that bind clans, families and houses to commitments (especially titular Blood Oaths) across generations, thus a Klingon's life is has very little to do with diversity. Curzon understood the Klingon spirit—and Jadzia seems to as well, so the choice of which ideology she embraces will be interesting to see.

    Kang also broaches another fascinating topic, which we can call Disneyfication. Sacred cultural items, foods, legends, customs, etc. are commodified to be bought and sold in the marketplace of appropriation. Meaning has been all but destroyed in favour of commerce, the inevitable result of a Neoliberal philosophy. There is even a “meta” layer to this idea in that the Klingon culture being discussed is made up for a television show. It freely appropriates from real cultures and histories and makes for cosplay and Klingon-to-English dictionaries. It's a rich topic. Kang's pessimism in the face of his culture's slow demise leads him to release Jadzia from Curzon's obligation to the Blood Oath against the Albino.

    In Ops, Dax asks Kira about her history of killing Cardassians during her time with the resistance. Now, we haven't really explored this issue this season. The last time it really mattered from a character perspective was in “Duet.” All subsequent references to her activities never carried the moral ambiguity of her actions. So, Kira's response “Why are we talking about bothers me,” is really welcome. I also love the camera placement when Kira confronts Dax about her plan to help in the murder, from well below, creating the sense that Dax is being probed uncomfortably. Both Ferrel and Visitor give pretty stunning performances in this scene. She reveals the story of how the Albino had our Klingon friends' first-born sons murdered via some sort of virus—as children. In “Playing God,” we saw a Dax who admitted to being continuously confused by the person she was as a result of joining. We saw in “Dax” how the strong ethical and emotional concerns of Curzon weigh especially heavily on her psyche. So it is no surprise that she feels overwhelmed by him in this moment. Kira finally answers Jadzia's question about killing. It's a little cliché, but true nonetheless; you lose a little bit of yourself.

    Okay, try not to be surprised, but Kor is drunk, again. In the ensuing conversation with Dax, the quest structure of the episode is fleshed out further.

    1. Kor, the most easy-going of the trio, represents Dax' id, as well as the first riddle of the Klingon heart. Her instincts tell her she must fulfil her oath, and that is precisely the truth of the Klingon heart. A real warrior would not be able to ignore the primal need to exact vengeance or honour such a deep commitment. Kor needs no further convincing in the matter, but the other trials will be harder.

    2. Koloth, who in his waning years could still muscle his way past Odo's security, represents Dax' ego, as well as the second riddle of the Klingon body. Dax confronts him in the holosuite. He accuses Curzon of having made the oath as a political gesture—very un-Klingon of course. So, she demonstrates that she THINKS like a warrior, as well as FEELING like one. She fights him, proving that she has the skills to fulfil the oath (Kor's littler interjection “There is tension on your face, Koloth. You ought to drink more!” lol). Koloth Stoneface is convinced. But Kang is still stubborn.

    Act 3 : ***.5, 17%

    3. Kang, of course, represents Dax' super-ego and the final riddle of the Klingon soul. Dax reminds him that Curzon impressed Kang by essentially forfeiting his life during negotiations. For the cause of peace, Curzon demonstrated that it would have been a good day to die. Jadzia throws Kang's pessimism from the previous act back in his face. She accuses him of playing Klingon, of being the Disney version of the man she knew, successfully pissing him off, and thus solving the final riddle.

    “Come and be damned.”

    Later, Sisko confronts her in his quarters, pre-emptively denying her a leave of absence for her little quest. Sisko quickly jumps between desperate tactics to get her to stay: he's the stern friend. That fails. He's the rules-lawyering commander. That fails, too. So he drops the act and reveals that he's terribly scared for her. The question remains, can and should Dax choose Klingon ideology over Trill ideology, Klingon justice over Federation justice, Curzon's life over Jadzia's? She turns it around on him—the consequences to her actions, from Starfleet anyway, will be his to impose or ignore. Given his actions in “Emissary,” “Captive Pursuit,” “Progress,” and “Duet,” I think we know there won't be any.

    Act 4 : ***, 17%

    So, the Fellowship of the Bat'leth is on its way, discussing strategy. Dax points out that their most likely method for success would be the element of surprise, but Kang continues to be the pessimist. It's clear that he does not expect them to succeed, but wants his expected death to be met with typical Klingon glory. That's all he hopes for now. The other Klingons are on board with the Kang's dicks first strategy. Dax is ready to die—maybe—but she sees through Kang's suicide strategy. It turns out Kang had already scoped out his lead on the Albino and tried to keep Dax away for this very reason. Dax isn't having it, and she's got that science officer advantage Curzon could never offer: TECHNOBABBLE! Horray! So they will carpet the fortress with nonsense particles, forcing the battle to be fought with melée weaponry only, giving the Klingons a decisive advantage. Kang perks up.

    Act 5 : ***.5, 17%

    Jadzia continues to dazzle with her tricorder, while the Klingons continue to dazzle us with their over-the-top personalities. Once they figure out their plan of attack, the quartet gathers at the threshold. It is here that the score takes centre stage for a bit, creating a foreboding tone in what is ostensibly the gearing-up before battle. It alone serves to remind us of the character stakes on the line for Dax. The ensuing action is pretty good. Of note is that Jadzia avoids lethal force until she is being directly attacked, in other words, it's self-defence; also, the Albino himself displays enough cunning and bravado to justify the way he's been built up during the dialogue in the episode so far.

    The battle climaxes, Koloth and Kor are wounded. Kor is particularly effective in his Romantic take. Finally, Kang is wounded as well, but Jadzia disarms the Albino and has him dead to rights. This is of course, the moment when Jadzia has to choose whether to complete the quest, kill the murderer and ally herself to Klingon philosophy. But, irritatingly, the Albino seems to have an omniscience about her character journey that's a little too corny for my tastes. He encourages her to kill him in cold blood, a task he apparently knows goes against her nature, despite having just encountered her. His monologuing gives Kang the opportunity to be the one to kill him, sparing Dax her choice. Finally, only Kor is left to sing over his fallen comrades. The camera pans back to reveal the Albino's sanctuary ablaze. One can almost hear Kang's distant proverb: “We need no urging to hate Humans. But for the present, only a fool fights in a burning house.” Indeed.

    There's a brief epilogue where Jadzia returns to her post on DS9, Sisko and Kira have meaningful stares for her, but no words.

    Episode as Functionary : ***.5, 10%

    I wonder if in the process of crafting this episode, the writers took note of Colicos' superb performance and decided to let him live at the last moment so they could bring him back. The range of emotions we get from him—sardonic, playful, wistful—is captivating, despite the more minor role he plays among the guest stars. The score was above average here, and really, there were no weak performances to speak of.

    What is most effective about this story is its post-modern take. This is an adventure tale with clear stakes, heroes and villains (“Meet your executioners, killer of children!”). It invites us to enjoy the popcorn and have fun. But, tying Dax' character arc to the narrative means that we have deconstructed the legend. We have put a Federation lens on the concept of the vengeance kill and it makes her and us uncomfortable. While we may cheer Dax on in convincing her old Klingon pals to let her join the quest, what Kira warned has come true; she lost a part of herself, that is Jadzia lost to Curzon. Despite Sisko's objections, I think Curzon would have killed the Albino, but Jadzia can't do it. The lesson for her, really, is exactly the same as it was in “Dax;” her life is just beginning, she needs to stop living Curzon's. So the real tragedy here is that, in the end, Jadzia is just as stuck as she was in season 1. What's better, though, is that finally, a Dax story gives her genuine agency and control over these choices. As William B notes above, so engaged is her agency, that she is acting before fully internalising the emotions that go with those actions.

    Overall, that makes for an effective character *study*, framed within an excellent adventure quest story, populated with excellent and nostalgia-heavy guest stars. Oh, and as predicted, Sisko lets her off the hook. I know, utterly shocked over here.

    Final Score : ***.5


    "What is most effective about this story is its post-modern take. This is an adventure tale with clear stakes, heroes and villains (“Meet your executioners, killer of children!”). It invites us to enjoy the popcorn and have fun. But, tying Dax' character arc to the narrative means that we have deconstructed the legend. We have put a Federation lens on the concept of the vengeance kill and it makes her and us uncomfortable. While we may cheer Dax on in convincing her old Klingon pals to let her join the quest, what Kira warned has come true; she lost a part of herself, that is Jadzia lost to Curzon."

    I really agree, and I think the meta thrill of seeing these three TOS Klingons once again really adds to the punch. It occurs to me that *all three* were adversaries in episodes where the conflict was either averted at the last moment (Kor, Kang) or never particularly heated up beyond comic insults and subterfuge (Koloth). Kor indicated that fighting Kirk "would have been glorious," and as you pointed out Kang said he didn't need artificial reasons to hate (fight) humans. Even in TOS, Roddenberrian philosophy prevented us from seeing these figures in action, and even in those episodes suggested that we maybe pay a certain price in having the pre-modern concept of battle glory snuffed out. I think the episode is pretty brilliant in teasing out our desire to see these three old warriors unleashed at last, and then also forcing us to see the carnage that has wrought.

    Also, love the "burning house" callback.

    "Blood Oath" marks the point when the second season turns a corner. It's a pretty fantastic piece of television. It's incredibly well acted, written, and produced. It also makes the best use of Dax in an episode so far. As I said on the review for "Dax", They've generally struggled because Jadzia is so well established. This episode ties her character into an adventure that's of much bigger scope-and it works brilliantly.

    3.5 stars.

    I'm surprised to see such high praise for this episode. It continues the second season trend of characters making morally questionable or reprehensible decisions with little to no lasting consequences. I'm not sure who to be more disgusted with - Dax for murdering a bunch of Klingons to help her friends get revenge or Sisko for allowing her to get away with it all for the price of a scorned face. I mean, she's a Starfleet officer for cripes' sake.

    I don't find it that great, though more because the bulk of the episode is slow and repetitive and the action at the end is poorly executed. There's also an issue with the more old-school acting style of the the three Klingons not being a good match with the show's sensibility, as well as Farrell's ability to sell the material.

    Watching and commenting:

    Ah, Michael Ansara: "I have found the Albino!"

    "I will cut his heart out and eat it, while he watches me with his dying breath!"

    "You try to speak like a Klingon, but the words do not fit in your mouth."

    Very "Wrath of Khan."

    Interesting dilemma for Jadzia. I like the friendship and dialogue between Jadzia and Kira.

    This keeps making me think of the hunt for, and killing of, Osama Bin Laden ("No, I will not sneak into his bedroom and murder him like a kah'plakt!"). It's uncanny since this was made in 1994.

    I don't understand Kang's explanation here of why he agreed to fight 40 warriors, but OK. And Jadzia plan to disrupt phasers - it's that simple?

    4 against 40? Holy Kahless, Batman!!!

    Anyone ever seen "Foul Play," with Chevy Chase and Goldie Hawn? They search for the Albino in that, too.

    Hmm. All up in the air about consequences for Jadzia. We shall see.

    Good ep overall.

    @ Springy,

    Ah, hearing those quotes gives me such nice nostalgia. Thanks for that. About Kang agreeing to such an outrageous fight, I think that's explained by Jadzia's comment to him about the whole matter: he never really intended to get out of there alive and wanted the most glorious defeat he could muster. After all this time failing he wanted his failing to finally give him a glorious death. Victory was never his expectation, and in the writing of the episode I think that's exactly why he and Koloth die. They had no more joy of life in them and wanted the Albino to finally put them out of their misery, and maybe if they were lucky to do the same to him (for B5 fans, think of G'Kar and Londo at the very end for an analogy). They knew going in that's what they wanted - but not Kor! And not Jadzia. And big surprise, their reason for keeping Jadzia behind was BS - they didn't want her there because it was a suicide mission for old men. I think deep down it was out of concern for her, not for dismissing her, that she had to fight so hard to join. But really the other two were screwing over Kor, who I think really did want to live, and indeed only he and Jadzia do. Her presence turned it from a suicide pact into a real chance for life, but only for those who really wanted to live.

    I'll give this one ***.5 myselt, and honestly I'd be temped for **** .

    A very enjoyable episode!
    Was this the first time we see until upstairs at Quark’s outside of the holosuites? I like the glowing lamp on the wall, the red light district!

    This is a great episode and it's the beginning of a stretch of great episodes running to the end of the season that's one of longest in Trek history. However, I do have to disagree about the effectiveness of the moral dilemma element. Part of it is that it just doesn't work for me on a personal level because I don't think there's anything morally or ethically wrong with killing a child murderer. But even aside from that, I have some other issues. Although Nana Visitor gives a wonderful performance in the scene where Dax asks Kira about killing, I find it hard to believe that Dax doesn't have any personal experience with the subject in all her lifetimes. Even with Joran's memories still surpressed, none of her other past hosts ever killed someone? None of them ever fought in a war? (Remember, Kira's impassioned speech is based on her wartime experiences.) And in the end, Kira and Sisko are so disappointed in her actions that they go so far as to... subject her to disapproving stares and then never mention the subject again. As serious consequences go, this does not impress. And of course, Dax herself is so deeply affected by her actions that...she also never mentions it again or gives any sign that she was changed by it in any way. The episode is a fun romp, but it would have been better without the moralizing about the terrible moral weight of killing a terrible person, a weight that totally fails to materialize.

    Forgot to mention, and I honestly don't know the answer to this, but would the censors really have thrown a fit if they dribbled some cherry syrup on the sword blades after someone gets stabbed? I'm not looking huge amounts of gore, but seeing blades get drawn out shiny clean from a stab wound is hard on the ol' suspension of disbelief.

    Reading the comments now, I kind of wish I had enjoyed this episode more as so many others seem to have loved it. I am mid way through a TOS watch so have not yet met the Klingons we see here, and that might have redeemed it for me. As it was, this was "just another fusty ol Klingon episode" with talk of being a great war-yer, people with the physical presence of Angela Merkel doing bladed weapons katas, and combat scenes that can only be seen as a bit of fun.

    Don't get me wrong, a bit of fun is fine, but for me ST is at its best when inducing feelings of awe, sadness or pride, which this season has had some amazing moments of. Usually built around Federation ideals and appeals to morality, or just to the more tender hidden parts of loved characters, these are the times when I am utterly glued to any Star Trek episode. For "Blood Oath" I felt myself rolling my eyes and wanting to skip forward a little too often, none moreso than when Kor started a Klingon two-note dirge at the end, reminding me of the face-planking monks from Life Of Brian (DONA EIS REQUIEM * SMACK *).

    Perhaps if there had been a little more malice in the combat to actually showcase the desire for vengeance they all share, it might have meant something, but this was pure 1980's A-Team pre-watershed biff-a-thon.

    The one redeeming moment for me was Jadzia's return to Ops, and the clever way the fallout is left hanging and only suggested by looks. This element is probably the most intriguing of the episode and I hope it comes up in future episodes.

    I find this episode superb. The authors show great respect for the Klingon culture, contrary to what those idiots in Discovery have done to Klingons, beneath comptempt.
    I also love how Jadzia behaves herself, she had no obligations.
    Episodes like this persuade me that DS9 is the best Star Trek series

    Yay, another clunky episode.

    The three Klingon warriors are a delight to watch, especially with their ties back to TOS. But the entire premise around Dax's blood oath is odd.

    First, as others have noted, Jazdia has previously taken pains to separate herself from Curzon, and the episode Invasive Procedures strongly suggested that the symbiote either has little influence on the host or no morals.

    Then too, Jazdia is a starfleet officer, and sworn to uphold Federation ethics.

    And yet, she agrees to take part in an assassination attempt. Worse, it's not even an attack on an individual, but an assault on a fortress filled with other people who will have to be killed to complete their goal.

    To be fair, Star Trek has always had an odd contradiction at it's heart: for all that the Federation is always portrayed as a forward thinking society, Starfleet crew are seemingly all trained to fight and even kill as part of their normal routine. From ensigns to engineers, everyone is expected to pick up a gun and know how to use it - and rarely if ever do they show remorse or even receive counselling for it. Instead, they zap their enemies and show up for work the very next day.

    Obviously this is partly because this is a space opera, and the main characters all need to take their turn at the action. And I suspect it's also partly because the Federation is at least partly supposed to be an idealised take on American pioneers - blazing a path into the unknown with one hand on their gun. Or to quote Star Trekking: we come in peace and shoot to kill!

    There's perhaps a deeper philosophical question here around the expectations a society should have of it's citizens, and the moral implications of a society where the killing of other sentient beings is treated as little more than part of the day job.

    But back to the episode, and it does have some good points. The three Klingon warriors do a good job of chewing the scenery - there's perhaps some shades of the Seven Samurai in their gathering for one last glorious battle.

    (And perhaps another reason why Jazdia's initial attempts to join them are rebuffed, as she is young and has her entire life ahead of her)

    Equally, the battle at the end is fun, even if the fight choreography is a bit limited. The use of helmeted minions is a bit odd - it stands out in a series which prides itself on having a wide variety of aliens - but was presumably intended to facilitate the reuse of both actors and costumes.

    Overall, it's a fairly entertaining episode, with shades of both TOS and TNG in its setup and conclusion. It's just a shame the writers had to twist Jazdia's characterisation into a pretzel to make it work.

    I enjoyed this on both the philosophical level and the "old Klingon warriors reclaiming a bit of old glory" level. I hadn't known till reading up afterwards that these were TOS characters -- I suppose that for some viewers, this really would have been like seeing an old friend.

    I don't see any hypocrisy in Jadzia deciding when she does or does not want to be Curzon. She's got centuries of past lives to draw upon, but she's forging herself as an individual in spite of that, and she has every right to use her own judgement in deciding which elements of her symbiont's past she wants to live up to. When reminded of Curzon's history of being harsh or even abusive to potential joined Trill, she makes the choice to reject that, and confidently states "I'm not Curzon". And when she feels honour-bound to help old Klingon friends for the sake of Curzon's blood oath and Curzon's godson, she makes her own choice to follow through on that -- to be Curzon when she feels that it's right.

    I don't see any contradiction in this. After all, the episode Dax argued from both sides on the extent to which she was Curzon, and didn't (or couldn't, or even shouldn't) come to a conclusion. I think the conclusion is clear: she isn't Curzon, and yet she *is* Curzon. That's simply the nature of her being.

    I did a bit of a curiosity search on the ep's dialogue (thanks to to see how Jadzia describes herself. There's nothing equivalent to "I'm not Curzon", no such bold statements here. The closest she gets to inhabiting the Curzon identity is "I who *was* Curzon Dax". She consistently makes it clear: "Curzon's dead, but Dax is alive as part of me."

    I guess with those language choices, then, the side she falls on in the episode Dax's debate is "not Curzon, but *was* Curzon".

    For a culture of warriors who want to die in glorious battle, these Klingons sure have remarkably long life spans.

    Fantastic episode though, for sure.

    If I ever meet someone who learned Klingon, I’m watching this episode with them. I’m sure it would be very illuminating. It’s also the first episode I’ve seen that clarifies who Jadzia Dax is.

    “It’s also the first episode I’ve seen that clarifies who Jadzia Dax is.”

    Indeed. It establishes that she is Curzon Dax Version 2.0.

    "The only weight I carry now, dear comrade, is my own bulbous body. I was once, if you remember, far less than you see and far more and far more than what I have become."
    - Kor, Klingon Dahar Master (in Jon Colicos's inimitable voice)

    Blood Oath may not be the season's best episode -- though it is close -- but it is its most poignant. It is an adventure story, a mythical quest, the best Dax episode by far, but it is also a love letter to the franchise's past, embodied in the original three Klingons from TOS that make an appearance.

    And what a trio they are! While Koloth had a strong screen presence, I was mesmerized by Kor's joyful wistfulness, the way he can turn from a silly drunkard to a larger than life figure to an old man living in his past. And don't get me started on Ansara's (Kang) voice and line delivery. Brilliant.

    A few episodes ago, I was critical of how abruptly writers began to retool Dax's character, and while I still think they could have been a bit more elegant, Peter G. shared an interesting view of her that did change my own understanding of Jadzia's motivations. Admirably, writers stuck with it and proceeded to feature the new and improved Dax, although hampered to an extent by Farrell's limited range. Dax's dilemma in this episode is well structured: before she can embark on the quest, she has to prove her worth, and before she can do that, she has to confront her own feelings regarding the matter. Are Curzon's commitments her own? Is she willing to kill to honor them? What will those closest to her think of her? There's a lot to untangle here and it leads to several outstanding scenes: Jadzia's clumsy attempt to get Kira's insight into what it means to kill; reminding Kor of his own legend, as he is still a Klingon Dahar Master (the quote at the top); intense confrontation with Kang ("Come and fight with us. Come and be damned!"). This is some quality stuff.

    But what I find most fascinating about this episode is the way it interprets the Klingon culture. It's an opinion shared by many that Trek has over the years bungled Klingons more often than not by turning them into bloodthirsty savages who drink, fight, and yell a lot (let's not even mention Discovery). To me, Klingons are at their most interesting when writers embrace the underlying theatricality of the race, when they paint them with bold strokes and find in them virtues and flaws that speak to the viewer as commentary we can all understand and sympathize with. In that sense, Kor, Kang, and Koloth are not just men, they are forces of nature, embodiments of everything fans find so compelling about the race: true honor, relentless devotion to a cause, enjoying life to the fullest, but also rashness, cherishing past more than looking towards the future, being much too eager to welcome death.

    Related to this, I appreciated how Jadzia's own outside perspective as someone who is intimately familiar with Klingon culture but isn't a part of it, allows her to see the folly of the original plan ("It is a good day to die" vs "It is a good day to live") and propose the alternative that utilizes skills specific to her, Jadzia as opposed to Curzon. Writers manage to imbue Jadzia with a specific voice that nevertheless owes much to Curzon yet is distinctly her own, something they've had significant problem with in the past.

    The ending? Kang and Koloth die, but they *are* Klingons. We in the audience may be sad that they didn't manage to pull off a miracle and live, but to the two Dahar Masters, that's the way to go: in a blaze of glory. A fitting end for legends.


    Not quite. If we assume half-star increments and a minimum rating of 1 star (although Jammer's ratings can on occasion dip lower), there are 7 possible star ratings available. On the other hand, on a 1-10 scale with half-point increments, there are 20 possible ratings. Obviously, one rating system won't mirror the other perfectly.

    Anyway, I'm using the old Jammer 10-point scale from back in the day where:
    1 star and below = 2 and below
    1.5 stars = 2.5 - 3.5
    2.0 stars = 4.0 - 5.0
    2.5 stars = 5.5 - 6.5
    3.0 stars = 7.0 - 8.0
    3.5 stars = 8.5 - 9.5
    4.0 stars = 10

    I like the because it reserves the elusive 4 star rating only for the best of the best.

    Ugh, that last sentence should read "I like the *system* because..."

    This is my first DS9 post. The episode was fair only, despite great appearances by the 3 historic Klingon guests. The visual similarity of the "storming the fortress" sequence to that old Arnold movie Commando was just too obvious. My wife and I call it the "shooting gallery/video game" effect, one that features tons of anonymous extras whose only reason for existing is to get picked off by the heroes.

    Kang needed to say something like: " we Klingons have the reputation of being great warriors, but it isn't true. We're just better at spotting opportunities during the chaos of battle". This way he Klingon mythos could finally advance beyond the simple honor thing that's talked about ad nauseum all the time.

    We also think that Jadzia should have done gymnastic stunts, rather than sword play.....kicking the Albino in the back so that he falls upon the baatleth of the dying Kang.

    Some blood on the blades would have been nice. Down the road there was blood during the "let's prove we are not shapeshifters by slicing our palms" scenes ...

    The very last scene -- silence and an exchange of knowing looks, well-done. Perhaps Jadzia could have gone to Morn for advice...

    I enjoyed the conceit of the "Klingon's Last Stand." Reminded me of the old Seven Samurai trope. I liked the sequence of Jadzia convincing each member of the Blood Oath that she deserved to come along. I also appreciated the sneaky narrative cop-out in which Jadzia only knocks out her enemies, whereas the Klingon warriors go for blood. In the end, she gets away with fulfilling the oath without killing anyway. I find it fitting for her character--clever enough to get the perfect outcome. Of course, it isn't as perfect as she hopes. The final scene suggests a lingering guilt that comes with being accomplice to murder... and even more heinous acts.

    The only thing missing here is for someone to fulfill the Klingon ritual and take a bite out of The Albino's heart. Call me a bloodthirsty millennial spoiled by video games and Game of Thrones. But I figure that the image of Klingon blood dripping from Jadzia's teeth ought to set the record straight regarding the morals of this episode. Vengeance and cannibalism are not cool. Duh.

    Meh, I've rewatched this, and when Jadzia gets into that Proud Serious Dax mode, it does not work for me at all. It's just all Really Serious Terse lines and staring. I just don't think the actress was able to bring this aspect of the character alive, and a whole episode of it is a chore to watch. I wasn't sure in Playing God, but here it seems clear in contrast with these veteran actors.

    Also, it was well established that trill's aren't bound by past lives oaths, and the Klingons understand and honor that. I thought it would be better if Jadzia was just lying and her oath/honor talk was just a front while in reality she just secretly wanted revenge, perhaps for unstated reasons.

    Probably the show wasn't ready to go that far with a Starfleet officer, but making it about honoring a past life's oath for dubious reasons makes this seem sort of like a misdemeanor, while if she was really after revenge, it gets a lot closer to flat out murder.

    Still, with misgivings, it's very strong. Obviously it's a hoot to bring back these three old Klingons. And there was something hilariously retro 60s about calling their foe "the Albino."

    Jadzia casually asking Kira what it's like killing someone was gold because of course Kira figures that out pretty darn quick.

    And I did not like AT ALL that Odo got so submissive to Koloth when Koloth says he's a Dahar Master. Koloth essentially threatens Odo.

    First, why would Odo know much of anything about Klingons, especially those kinds of details. Maybe he gets a monthly security magazine? But that's minor, Odo could have learned.

    The bigger problem is Who Freaking Cares? This is a Bajoran station and Odo is security chief. Is Koloth actually going to attack Odo?

    This is just flat out of character for Odo. It's just sort of a variant on the Worf Effect. The script made Odo back down in submissive awe just to establish how Significant it is to be a Dahar Master. Never mind that there's another one in the drunk tank.

    And maybe they should wear a Dahar Master belt or button or something?

    This episode was dull. Jadzia did not mesh well with the Klingons in terms of acting and motivation, and she never felt emotionally connected to their cause. She needed to be angry about the deaths of the children for her part to work, but she seems to be going along with it because she thinks she should, not because she genuinely has feelings. I wish more of her emotions had come out.

    As for the Klingons, they were a waste. Neither in looks nor behavior had they anything to do with their TOS counterparts, so they might as well have been new Klingons we've never seen before. Either that or write a completely different episode that would have had something to do with their pasts.

    The quest of the Klingons wasn't interesting, and the viewer does not come to hate the Albino as much as they should for an episode like this to work.

    @Nissa, excellent points.

    "she seems to be going along with it because she thinks she should"

    This is EXACTLY how I felt about myself while watching the episode and even wrote it into my review when I listed my complaints and said the episode was still "very strong".

    The reality is I didn't think it was very strong at all. They went to a fair amount of trouble to make this work but it still didn't really work.

    I'll go to bat for this one.

    "This episode was dull. Jadzia did not mesh well with the Klingons in terms of acting and motivation, and she never felt emotionally connected to their cause. She needed to be angry about the deaths of the children for her part to work, but she seems to be going along with it because she thinks she should, not because she genuinely has feelings."

    This is literally the point of the episode, that she didn't feel the same as them or fit in, and was going along to try to get something Curzon had that she had lost. Look at her scenes with Kira, she is totally supposed to be unsure about what she's doing or what she wants. She wants to be included with them, but it doesn't even seem clear to her why. She not only doesn't kill the albino, but won't partake as the others do in the bloodthirsty glory that goes along with it. The whole episode is a lesson in that she isn't who she thought she was, or wanted to be.

    "As for the Klingons, they were a waste. Neither in looks nor behavior had they anything to do with their TOS counterparts, so they might as well have been new Klingons we've never seen before."

    Koloth is hard to recognize, but when's the last time you watched Errand of Mercy? That is very clearly Kor. I also think Kang is quite recognizable, and they are all amazing nods to TOS and the nostalgia that Jadzia is herself trying to live out. It's not just fun casting, but plays directly into the episode's themes.

    One of my favorite DS9 episodes. Countless great lines and moments. For some reason I always get a kick out of odos "Klingon Afternoon" term and have used that reference many times around some very confused co workers, friends or strangers.

    Not just my favorite DS9 episodes, but one of my favorite episodes of any Trek show, ever. The tie through the three Klingons to the Original Series is inspired. Farrell does a great job with Ansara, Colicos, and Campbell. There's a great deal of heroism along with loss in this episode. It's a powerful, powerful episode. Max stars or whatever.


    Good gods, boring as cow dung that's been baking in hot summer sun for two weeks.

    Watching paint dry is riveting compared to this. A couple Klingons with their retrograde tribal codes, some blood oath going back generations, interminable dialogs about some ancient pledges or whatever... - yeah...did I say B-O-R-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-N-G!? Hands down THE worst ep. of the show to date (S2E19); nothing comes even close.

    I wonder what it is that an episode like this repulses me so strongly while it's extolled by most others. Is it because I don't care about Trek "canon" and "continuity"? Is it because I can't bring myself to care about the characters and their back stories, etc., with a few desultory flashes of exception? Is it that I have way different expectations from the SCIENCE-fiction genre compared to others?

    I mean, I'm a very empathetic person (often too much so for my own good), so I can picture myself in most anyone's shoes. I also am capable of being deeply moved by and involved in fictional characters' lives: Battlestar Galactica is a testament to that. I guess, maybe, I need characters to develop through action, through decision-making, rather than through introspection and discussion 🤷‍♂️

    Whatever it is, I made it through a whole 20 minutes of this atrocity playing in the background but couldn't hack even that so I just skipped it altogether at that point.


    Agree 100%, it was somewhat shallower than I would have wished. Still, Colicos, Campbell and Ansara are always worth seeing, and I am glad that they all survived long enough to reunite in this episode.

    However, I have learned that it is far safer in the Trek fan multiverse to employ the default that all Klingon episodes are gritty, insightful and deserve a 3 star rating as a minimum.

    Thanks, partner, for the insight. Maybe my lack of familiarity with the three gentlemen in question made me not connect at all with this eppy.

    I'm generally not a fan of things Klingon, much as I liked Worf in T.N.G. I especially detest the Klingon "court intrigue." It's like retarded medieval barbarians but with silly prosthetics. Klingons in battle or joint Klingon-Federation ops are a different matter though - they're always fun.

    To each their own, I guess...

    I think a good portion of the appeal of this episode is the quite amazing callback of three classic TOS actors into roles that are better fleshed out here than they were in the original incarnation, especially Kang and Koloth. Kor got a pretty reasonable treatment in the original. And another large portion of the appeal is the use of classic Trek actors to create and anchor a tie-in to show us something about Curzon Dax and his life. These Klingons are relics, and a question is being asked about their relevance in their old age. Jadzia also needs to explore the relevance of Curzon's memories and his/her blood oath in its old age: is it still relevant, is there anything more to do about it? So the Trek callback serves to look into Dax's past in a way that merely giving us exposition could never do. Structurally speaking I think it's brilliant.

    That leaves the actual plot involving the Albino, which I suppose depends a lot on how much mileage a viewer can get out of a quasi-Viking revenge caper. For me that part works extremely well, functioning on a level of high theatre more so than cinematic action. In fact one could easily see this story staged and work just as well - if not better - than it does on camera. A lot of the plot is told through characters and their relationships rather than visuals, and it therefore seems inevitable that if you're not hooked into the fundamental intrigue of the three Trek actors returning then it's going to be doubly hard to establish why you care about the ebb and flow of their revenge story.

    @Michael it gets much better as the episode progresses. I too struggled to watch the first part.

    The Klingons did look less Klingon in this episode. Perhaps a means to pay homage to TOS?

    This was first in a series of DS9 episodes that tried to romanticize Klingons. It doesn't work. The Klingons are backwards, barbaric, and impulsive. If they work in an episode it is because the episode is showing how stupid and backwards they are. But when you make them the protagonists the episode becomes bizarre, unbelievable, and not that interesting.

    This was the first episode that I cared about Jadzia Dax. On a different note, I enjoy that DS9 isn't just the Sisko show. The commander is neither omnipresent, nor always right. Nor does the show have to make him at peace with all his crew. When this show ends, neither Jadzia nor Sisko are entirely happy with each other. That's life sometimes, even for people who are very close.

    An additional comment -- Some of us, like me, are old enough to remember when The Original Series was broadcast (I was 14 on September 8, 1966 when "The Man Trap" was first broadcast.) I didn't miss a show for the first two seasons.

    The impact of "Blood Oath" lies in its homage to the Original Series by casting Michael Ansara (Barbara Eden's husband among other items), William Campbell, and John Colicos as the three Klingon warriors. Each of them and their corresponding Klingon character had figured in an episode of The Original Series.

    But those shows were broadcast in the late 60s. "Blood Oath" came in 1994, 25-30 years after the shows in which the three actors had been featured.

    For those of us who grew up with Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, recognizing Kang, Koloth, and Kor from the shows we knew so well was an exciting revelation. When this show was first broadcast, I remember having the impulse to stand up and cheer as the connections to the old series were revealed.

    That sense of appreciation is likely not share among those who are more recent viewers of either TOS or DS9.

    Then, I like the story and its execution. The twist here is that without Jadzia, they fail. With her, the sought-for revenge is secured.

    I'm also a strong fan of Terry Ferrell and her portrayal of Jadzia Dax. I stand with Armin Shimerman (Quark) as one who applauds her efforts in the role. She did fine, especially among an ensemble as strong as the one that served as the cast of DS9. "Blood Oath" is one of her best efforts as Dax.

    Another thing I love about this episode is that in bringing back three Trek actors 25 years later, you can get amazing collage of performance styles that span not only cinematic eras but also ages. These are older actors, who grew up in a different time. They were all on TV when the camerawork was different and the stories more reliant on the actor selling the scenario. A Western wasn't a Western because of the scenery, it was a Western because of the gruff manner of the actors, the costumes maybe, and the tone given off in dialogue. You can do a Western technically-speaking in even a modern setting if the tone is right. And the same is true of sci-fi in the way TOS did it.

    Each of the three actors brings something very unique, and very out of style for normal DS9 performances. Maybe Quark and Odo come the closest to having that old-school stylized, almost theatrical, flair and energy that make the scenes larger than life. It's this energy that makes an actor portray more than just a mere person, but an attitude about life, an entire worldview. Kang represents the grim determination and almost cynical gravity of the world of death that being a Klingon brings. Kor shows us the mirth and overfilled chalice of enthusiasm that battle entails for them; and Koloth has Campbell's signature verve and wit, showing us a Klingon that thrives on his intelligence as much as his blade. In TOS Campbell especially has a particularly cutting turn of phrase, most notably as Trelane, and I think it's the Trelane performance that shows us what to look for in the older Koloth. Koloth is more subdued, but he's given a far more respectable showing than he had in Tribbles, where he was more a cartoon villain and didn't have as much of a chance to shoot ascerbic remarks across the stage.

    Remarkably, these acting styles work perfectly, even in the quite realism-laden sets of DS9, even side by side with Terry Farrell, who is by no means a theatrical actress or over the top in any way. It's quite intructive just how much you can get away with in how to play a role when it's done with conviction and skill, and so long as the portrayal really tells us something. We can see something similar with Garak, where his otherwise flambuoyant style still meshes perfectly when acting with people like Brooks (in his more somber moods). It just goes to show how far creativity can go in performance, and how playing a role straight is usually just an excuse for a lack of imagination.

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