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
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143 comments on this post
Tue, Feb 24, 2009, 11:16pm (UTC -5)
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.
Tue, Mar 3, 2009, 12:36pm (UTC -5)
Well, at least it makes sense to me that Kira is not in the chain of command.
Sun, Oct 4, 2009, 5:57am (UTC -5)
Tue, Feb 16, 2010, 5:32pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Apr 1, 2010, 12:48am (UTC -5)
Sun, Jun 13, 2010, 10:50pm (UTC -5)
I wish Ron Canada had had the opportunity to say, angrily, "I am a Klingon Lawyer!" Talk about a Klingon with something to prove. :)
Thu, Nov 11, 2010, 4:49pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Feb 18, 2011, 5:46am (UTC -5)
Tue, Feb 22, 2011, 11:07pm (UTC -5)
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.
Thu, Mar 10, 2011, 8:51am (UTC -5)
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.
Sat, Mar 17, 2012, 8:10pm (UTC -5)
Thu, May 17, 2012, 11:34pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Jun 7, 2012, 4:40pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Jul 21, 2012, 9:31pm (UTC -5)
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.
Mon, Aug 20, 2012, 7:38pm (UTC -5)
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.
Fri, Sep 7, 2012, 3:27am (UTC -5)
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.
Fri, Sep 7, 2012, 12:26pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Sep 18, 2012, 7:39am (UTC -5)
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.
Tue, Nov 20, 2012, 1:27am (UTC -5)
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.
Thu, Jul 11, 2013, 10:40am (UTC -5)
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.
Thu, Jul 11, 2013, 7:25pm (UTC -5)
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.
Wed, Oct 23, 2013, 6:07pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Feb 3, 2014, 5:52am (UTC -5)
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).
Mon, Feb 17, 2014, 3:35am (UTC -5)
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.
Mon, Feb 24, 2014, 7:31pm (UTC -5)
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. (:
Tue, Jul 29, 2014, 2:11pm (UTC -5)
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)
Wed, Aug 20, 2014, 3:12pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Nov 19, 2014, 5:30pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Dec 18, 2014, 6:54pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Mar 2, 2015, 5:01pm (UTC -5)
That's my 2 cents.
Sun, Mar 8, 2015, 9:43am (UTC -5)
Sun, Mar 15, 2015, 9:17am (UTC -5)
Wed, Jul 1, 2015, 7:26am (UTC -5)
Once again, I tend to dislike Klingon-centered episodes. Jons above pretty much stated my feelings about Klingons.
Wed, Jul 1, 2015, 10:25am (UTC -5)
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.
Fri, Jul 31, 2015, 2:53am (UTC -5)
Yes, what you say is true, it just seems to be a very sneaky, non-Klingon way to handle the situation.
Fri, Jul 31, 2015, 1:16pm (UTC -5)
...but he was a lawyer :-)
Thu, Sep 24, 2015, 1:00pm (UTC -5)
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.
Thu, Sep 24, 2015, 1:05pm (UTC -5)
This just adds to my ire towards this episode. And I usually love Klingon episodes...
Wed, Sep 30, 2015, 12:43pm (UTC -5)
"set-up" still applies as does my comment to Teejay.
Mon, Oct 5, 2015, 6:46pm (UTC -5)
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.
Tue, Oct 6, 2015, 11:24am (UTC -5)
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.
Wed, Nov 25, 2015, 11:57pm (UTC -5)
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.
Mon, Nov 30, 2015, 3:05pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Dec 28, 2015, 7:15am (UTC -5)
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?
Sun, Jan 3, 2016, 6:06am (UTC -5)
Tue, Apr 12, 2016, 8:17am (UTC -5)
I really liked Ron Canada's character, Advocate Ch'Pok. It's really nice to see a Klingon who isn't a solider. It's also interesting that the Klingon martial spirit extends into areas of Klingon life that aren't directly related to the military. His love of the fight and view of justice as a battle for the truth sits rather nicely with established Klingon cultural norms. And it's a good thing that they actually let the man emote as the character and flesh him out - something he was apparently absolutely forbidden to do in his previous Trek appearance (TNG: "The Masterpiece Society"). And the directorial technique of having the characters speak directly to the camera is a rather sly way of breaking the fourth wall without actually breaking it. It also enlivens the flashback sequences more than it really has any right to. Sadly, however, these are about the only good things the episode offers.
On the bad side we first have the courtroom scenes themselves. Leaving aside the fact that this doesn't make for a very convincing court setting - where are any witnesses?! - the main problem is Worf himself. For most of the episode, really right up until he takes the stand himself, he is essentially a non-character. He just sits there completely passive and immobile. He adds practically nothing the proceedings. Given that this is supposed to be an episode focused almost exclusively on him, he plays a shockingly small role!
The biggest problem, however, is the final scene between Worf and Sisko after the trial ends. Sisko chewing Worf out over putting civilians at potential risk in order to save himself and the crew of the Defiant makes absolutely no damn sense. Worf didn't make that decision simply to protect himself. He didn't even make it in order to simply protect his crew. The Defiant was charged with protecting a convoy! And they were the only protection those - what's that word, oh yeah! - civilians had. He would have been totally negligent to not open fire on the that ship. Here he was, in a combat situation where the enemy was engaging in cloak and run tactics, and he was supposed to stop and verify that no civilians were at risk, even when a ship decloaks right in front of them? Umm, what?! Okay, first off, they weren't in Klingon space (they were near territory the Empire had annexed but they were still in Cardassian space) so why would anybody ever think that a Klingon civilian transport ship would even be in the area? Second, why would a civilian ship have a cloaking device in the first place? Third, in the midst of combat, sometimes civilians unfortunately get caught in the crossfire. That's a sad, lamentable thing, but it's the hard truth about war. Civilian casualties should be minimized, no doubt, but you can't always avoid it. If Worf had hesitated to fire he would have been endangering the lives of not just himself and his crew, not even just the lives of the civilians aboard the convoy, but also of the millions (perhaps billions) of people in the Pentath system who were dependent upon the medical supplies the convoy was carrying. Was he honestly supposed to endanger all those civilians' lives in order to not endanger potential civilian lives? If these are the rules of engagement that Starfleet requires of its officers, than I'm just going to say it - they are much too damn strict! Sisko should not have raked him over the coals like that.
WTF HAIR - 30 (+4)
Tue, Apr 12, 2016, 8:39am (UTC -5)
100% agree. I can usually get past plot holes, but not in this episode. And the trouble gone through for an elaborate plot to screw over Worf just felt like it imbues him with a level of importance that he really shouldn't have.
The Klingons are spending this much time and energy to disgrace the only Federation Klingon? Really? They have nothing better to do. I was very hesitant at the time about the addition of Worf, and the honest truth is that every Worf episode in S4 sucks. It wasn't until S5 that I could see a Worf episode without wanting to smack the TV.
The only real question is.... which is worse? This? The one about Kurn? Or the one about the stupid magic Bat'leth? (You liked that one, and it is probably the only one I'm not tempted to skip in reruns, but it's not one I care for all that much either)
I was ready to send Worf packing by the end of the year. It was like S7s Ezri episodes. That said, he did ok whenever he had a B plot focused on him. Those always turned out better than his A plots.
Tue, Apr 12, 2016, 9:16am (UTC -5)
The only time they got Work "right" was when they battle the Jem'Hadar or when Work was with/under Martok. Other than that they butchered him.
Tue, Apr 12, 2016, 9:35am (UTC -5)
After that we get Inferno's Light and Purgatory's Shadow (which has the Jem'Hadar AND Martok... so yay) and Soldiers of the Empire. So S5 is a mixed bag (with "Without Sin" being the low point) but on the whole it's a vast improvement over S4 and like you said... a lot of that comes with Martok.
And "Without Sin" is a worse episode than "Sons of Mogh" but I like "Mogh" less because of what they do to Kurn. By S6 I felt he really fit in with the show and everything was in a better place.
Tue, Apr 12, 2016, 10:52am (UTC -5)
Oh, there's no question about it. "The Sword of Kahless" is easily the best Worf-centric episode of Season Four - mostly because the Bat'leth wasn't actually magical. The addition of Worf to the show is a welcome one and something I think works fairly well thus far - he is being used effectively in B-plots, just not A-plots. I do agree that it's not until Season Five, and especially with the introduction of Martok, that the writers finally settle in with the character and start giving him good A-plots.
Just don't be hating on Ezri, okay. I really like Ezri! :-P
Tue, Apr 12, 2016, 11:07am (UTC -5)
That said she was good in the opener, in the 10 part finale, "Take Me Out" and "Badda Bing". She added to the ensemble just fine, but you could delete her 2 episodes and replace them with an O'Brien feature and an extra Sisko episode (or a Kira one) and the 7th season would improve from it.
Vulcan murderer? Psychopathic murdering brother? WTF is the counselor doing getting murder mysteries. Really people?
Tue, Apr 12, 2016, 11:33am (UTC -5)
...Okay, there were reaching. I thought that was a fun episode though. Much better than this one.
Tue, Apr 12, 2016, 11:35am (UTC -5)
Tue, Apr 12, 2016, 1:20pm (UTC -5)
I think this show had more *potential*, and it's definitely fun to watch Sisko and Ch'Pok chew the scenery in a courtroom setting. You just have to turn off your brain and not ask important questions like "Why would the Federation even consider extradition to an aggressive power during wartime?"
Tue, Apr 12, 2016, 1:53pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Apr 12, 2016, 6:45pm (UTC -5)
You know, there's a little conspiracy theorist inside of me that thinks the writers were deliberately sabotaging Worf in S4. I mean, as you and Luke said, the three Worf episodes this season weren't all that great. But more importantly, Worf comes off as unpleasant in all three. We have the episode claiming Worf did the wrong thing by firing on the ship here, we see him ruin his brothers life in Sons of Mogh, and we see the most honorable man in the glaxy attempt to murder an old man in Sword of Kahless. And his subplots in other episodes (which you said you liked him in) also makes him look like a bit of a jerk, or at least a doofus. I mean, just look at Begotten or Bar Association...
Like I said, I wonder if it's a bit deliberate. The charitable explanation is that they were just trying to ensure that the series maintained its own identity and simply overcompensated in trying to keep Worf from turning into the focus of the show and remaking TNG. A not quite as charitable explanation is that the writers were upset at having this thrust upon them to improve ratings and took out their frustrations on Worf's character. And a highly uncharitable explanation is that they were using Worf as a straw man to prove that they were just so much better than TNG.
Regardless of the explanation, or even if there was a conscious effort on their part, I agree that his character drastically improved from Season 5 on, minus Let He Who Is Without Sin of course (but then again, no one saved their dignity there).
Wed, Apr 13, 2016, 8:31am (UTC -5)
There were 2 or 3 things going on here that I think came into play if and that there may be grains of truth to each of your theories.
#1 - I genuinely believe the writers felt that if they had to do Worf they were going to tread different territory than TNG did and that him taking on a red shirt was a good way to do so. Worf has been shown to have difficulties with command in the past and so some of the jerk/doofus thing was trying to make his move TO command or AWAY from security feel hard for him. In some cases it worked better than others. I felt that O'Brien teaching him how to command engineers in "Starship Down" was effective character work for both of them and their friendship, even if it did make him look stupid. I also liked his bits in Bar Association... Worf was always kind of a cranky old man loner sort of thing (in a good way), so the move to the Defiant felt kind of cool for him. So on the charitable side I honestly believe they were trying to add new depth to the character.
#2 - On the other hand in "Hippocratic Oath" you get Worf bungling Odo's investigation and then we end with this exchange.
"WORF: When I served on the Enterprise, I always knew who were my allies and who were my enemies.
SISKO: Let's just say DS Nine has more shades of grey"
This probably best supports your "using Worf as a straw man to prove that they were just so much better than TNG" argument. It's a literal slap at TNG's predictability, lack of grayness/flavor.... and the setup for it made Worf look pretty stupid. I'm sure in their head they saw it as good character development ("Worf is having a hard time leaving security behind") but in practice it came off as him being incredibly dense.
#3 - Of course the biggest issue are the 3 full Worf stories (not counting Way of the Warrior... which is perhaps DS9's most perfect episode ever and was more of an ensemble piece). They all had a lot of potential. Worf, Kor and Dax go on an Indiana Jones style adventure! How could that go wrong? We get a return to TNG's best arc (Worf's family/honor arc was probably the best continuous storyline they ever pulled off)! On a serialized show that's got to go well.... right? And then there's this episode where we explore a Klingon lawyer (an idea I rather like). We also (sadly) see that Trek courtroom dramas kind of suck on DS9 (or maybe in general without Patrick Stewart). None of these are bad ideas, and I really don't know how they went so poorly, but none of them were particularly kind to Worf (in addition to sucking) and I don't get the feeling there was a unified reason but I don't like it.
We had Worf nearly kill Kor, mind rape his brother and get pissed and deck a lawyer in a courtroom. Poor judgement abounds and each of these instances shouldn't have made it out of the writer's room.
Wed, Apr 13, 2016, 8:56am (UTC -5)
Let's fuck with Worf... wouldn't it be cool if he was pussy-whipped and couldn't really act like a Klingon Warrior (Change of Heart)
Wouldn't it be cool if the prime directive really didn't exist and Worf got involved in Risa internal affairs [oh, we can put Dax & Leeta in a one-piece (Let he who is without sin)
Wouldn't it be cool if his brother wanted Worf to kill him, you know in that honorable suicide ritual where he doesn't actually commit suicide - someone kills him, but he couldn't because he's stupid and tries to do it on the space station and the result is Worf agrees to a TNG mind wipe for his brother without getting his permission. (Son's of Mogh) ...
I could go on...
I CAN see the extradition hearing for Worf because the Federation needs to maintain good relations with the Klingons. I can also see the Klingons, especially with Gowron at the helm, using this tactic to get back at Worf.
Wed, Apr 13, 2016, 9:02am (UTC -5)
Wed, Apr 13, 2016, 9:12am (UTC -5)
Wed, Apr 13, 2016, 10:44am (UTC -5)
Wed, Apr 13, 2016, 11:38am (UTC -5)
We don't have a pamphlet with the Klingon honor rules in front of us. There are many hints about Klingon honor and about Worf's character specifically that indicate that he might think nothing is more dishonorable than leaving his wife to die in a clearing.
"You were at my wedding. You heard the story of the first two Klingon hearts and how nothing could stand against them, and how they even destroyed the gods that created them. I have heard that story since I was a boy but I never understood it, I mean really understood it, until I was standing in the jungle with my heart pounding in my chest and I found that even I could not stand against my own heart. I had to go back and it did not matter what Starfleet thought or what the consequences were. She was my wife and I could not leave her. "
Worf has always been written as sort of a romantic. I don't see the idea that he couldn't leave his wife as a character assassination on par with nearly murdering Kor or mind wiping his brother. It's just part of who he is. You might even consider it a flaw of his.... but it's not a contrived flaw. It's just part of him.
And the show does it damnedest to not condemn him for it -
"SISKO: And one last thing. As a man who had a wife, if Jennifer had been lying in that clearing I wouldn't have left her either."
We've also seen O'Brien deck Odo to save Keiko and Kira release a prisoner for Odo. And we've seen Odo "murder" an entire colony to save Kira. Condemn Worf for it if you must... be he's in good company and this was totally consistent for his character.
Wed, Apr 13, 2016, 11:47am (UTC -5)
"I CAN see the extradition hearing for Worf because the Federation needs to maintain good relations with the Klingons."
Except that Sisko asks Ch'Pok about this point blank:
SISKO: Advocate, how would you describe the current relationship between the Federation and the Klingon Empire?
Ch'Pok: There is no formal relationship between our two governments.
Huh? So there's no extradition treaty then? If there is no formal relationship, what legal rights does the Klingon Empire have here? They threw out the Khitomer accords. Funny thing is, this same issue comes up with Dukat in "Ties of Blood and Water" when Cardassia wants to extradite Ghemor and Sisko tells Dukat to shove it.
I think DS9's writers just wanted to do "A Few Good Men" in space and didn't bother about the details.
Wed, Apr 13, 2016, 2:03pm (UTC -5)
I do think that all three Worf vehicles this year are weak. I still kind of like Sons of Mogh, which makes me in a relative minority, but even that I think is a 2.5 show, and its biggest draw is the idea that Worf *no longer* fits in with Klingon culture *internally*, which the show somewhat promptly drops. I think Worf's choice with Kurn is wrong, for what it's worth, but I can see a certain kind of desperate Worf making that choice, more so than I can see Worf trying to trick Kor to falling to his death etc. However I can see the argument that that particular moment is only one scene in TSoK and not the whole point of the episode, whereas the Kurn thing is unavoidably part of SoM. The rest of TSoK is...well, I'm not wild about it still, but it's not as egregious in characterization. RoE is pretty weak. And the flaws that the episodes expose seem to go in different directions. Maybe we could see RoE which ostensibly is about Worf's warrior bloodlust as consistent with SoM which is about Worf's realizing he's lost his warrior battle readiness, or even Worf trying to prove something in RoE, but it still feels like they are trying to write how Worf is bad at everything now even though whether his flaw is that he's too much a warrior or not enough a warrior changes from episode to episode.
I actually am not that wild about Worf's arc in The Way of the Warrior, though it is the best Worf episode in season four obviously. I think his scenes talking to other Klingons work pretty well, but the whole "the Enterprise got destroyed so I will now be a mercenary!" element feels tacked on and unconvincing to me. So really there is a lot of flailing in season four with Worf, and I agree that it's worth asking why the writers kept finding ways to tear Worf down. It is not that it's automatically bad to undermine and criticize a character and expose some flaws, but with Worf there is the sense that they were doing it pretty aimlessly in s4 as Robert said, with something that seems like a tinge of writerly resentment at having to write this character / desire to take shots at TNG, though mostly I think they were just trying to find a novel take on him.
The big things that DS9 did for Worf are the two defining relationships for him in this series: (spoilers I guess, since I warn sometimes) Dax and Martok. The Worf-Matrok bond is the best thing about Worf in this show. And ultimately while I found the build-up to Worf/Dax pretty hard to watch, especially "Let He...," I think I like some of the final result in s6. Eventually they found some good material for the character. But it took a while.
Wed, Apr 13, 2016, 2:05pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Apr 14, 2016, 1:09pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Apr 13, 2016, 11:47am (UTC -5)
Just because there is not a treaty doesn't mean that Sisko isn't trying to maintain relations with the Klingons. They are fighting together at this point.
No one is siding with me? sniff...sniff.... :-)
As for that quote from the wedding ceremony... everything is exaggerated.... to include Worf's little journey with his friends. To take that quote literally in defense of his complete disregard of his orders and mission, after Dax TOLD him he needed to go (she knew what was at stake), is a huge stretch. What do any of you think Martok's wife would have done to Martok had he done something like that?
Thu, Apr 14, 2016, 1:44pm (UTC -5)
Yes, they're clearly at war. Next season's "Nor the Battle Too Strong" makes it clear that the Klingons are taking Federation worlds by force.
That's what makes this unbelievable. And your explanation kind of works, but it would've been nice if the *episode itself* had given that explanation. Otherwise it sounds ridiculous to hand your own military officer over to the enemy you're fighting during wartime.
Thu, Apr 14, 2016, 1:56pm (UTC -5)
In "You Are Cordially Invited" Sisko reminds Dax that compared to her Worf is just a kid. I think Dax would have left him. Although I think we may all be discussing different things. There really are 3 points.
1. In a poll of Klingon Warriors.... how many would find Worf's action more honorable than finishing the mission and leaving your wife to die, how many would find it a coin toss and how many would find it less honorable. How many would take the extreme points and find one action or the other DIShonorable? I actually think the answer to this is rather grey.
It seems to me that you think the answer to this question is an obvious "dishonorable"... but I'm not so sure.
2. Do Klingons always behave honorably? The answer to THIS is definitely no. Worf behaves almost like a caricature of Klingon honor when he's doing so, having not really been raised by them. His honor is a mix of values that seems to fall somewhere between an idealized Klingon of legend and human values. Klingons would find betraying your chancellor to humans reprehensible, yet Worf found a situation where his honor demanded he do so. HIS "theoretical" honor is different than what Klingons do "in practice".
3. Is the decision organically true to Worf's character? This is what makes a bad decision (assuming it IS bad) good writing or good character development. This I answer with yes. I personally think it is organic to his character.
Thu, Apr 14, 2016, 2:03pm (UTC -5)
Just because something is happening in S5 doesn't mean it has bearing on S4.
Some quotes -
In this episode they could even sort of still be considered "frienemies"
"SISKO: Advocate, how would you describe the current relationship between the Federation and the Klingon Empire?
CH'POK: There is no formal relationship between our two governments.
SISKO: What would you call us? Informal friends? Informal enemies?
CH'POK: I would say there is potential for either label, but at the moment neither is entirely accurate. "
Broken Link (S4 Finale)
"GOWRON: The Klingon Empire is tired of words, of negotiation, of the endless delaying tactics of the Federation. Therefore, as of today, a Klingon task force has been dispatched to the Archanis Sector. Starfleet has ten days to abandon their bases and withdraw their forces from the Sector.
GOWRON: Any Starfleet vessels found in the Sector after that time will be considered the enemy and fired upon.
GOWRON: No misinterpretation of my words. Archanis is ours and we will take it back. Resist us in any way, and there will be war! "
Apocalypse Rising (S5 Premier)
"O'BRIEN: Looks like they had a run in with some Klingons. Weapons systems, shields and comm. system are all pretty shot up.
KIRA: Life signs?
O'BRIEN: Two. One human, one Trill.
WORF: Permission to welcome the Captain back on board.
KIRA: Permission granted.
(Worf and O'Brien leave.)
(A short time later Dax and Sisko come up on the turbolift.)
KIRA: Glad you made it back in one piece.
SISKO: So are we.
KIRA: How was your meeting with Starfleet Command?
SISKO: I'm afraid the war's not going very well. The Klingons are throwing everything they have at us. Starfleet's been able to slow them down, but that's about all. "
So sometime between the S4 finale and the S5 premier the tension explodes into full blown war. But they are 100% definitely NOT at war in THIS episode. They are no longer allies, but that's not the same as war.
For what it's worth I'm not sure how they are guarding Cardassian vessels from Klingon attackers and still not openly at war, but if you want to go by what the episode SAYS... they are NOT at war.
Thu, Apr 14, 2016, 3:16pm (UTC -5)
Well you're quoting the line I have an issue with. If there's no formal relations, there's no legal basis for extradition. So yes, Starfleet appears to be bending over backwards to help the Klingon Empire at Worf's expense. Which begs the question, why? Does the Federation have a beef with Worf?
To quote Robert, "And the trouble gone through for an elaborate plot to screw over Worf just felt like it imbues him with a level of importance that he really shouldn't have. "
Fri, Apr 15, 2016, 10:32am (UTC -5)
The verdict is the Klingons have become Romulans.
Mon, Jun 6, 2016, 6:19pm (UTC -5)
Would the fact that a federation captain accidentally killed a few hundred Klingon civilians in the middle of their OWN ambush really gain the Klingons more allies or hurt the Federations image? The people who commonly execute the leadership of entire planets(Hundreds if not Thousands of people) and glassed an entire planet because it was the Tribble home world. heck they even celebrate massacres. I was on Worfs side the whole time.
The Klingon lawyer really saves this episode he was very entertaining to watch makes me wonder if there are any Klingon courtroom dramas where at one point both lawyers draw knifes and try to kill each other. 2 stars.
Wed, Aug 24, 2016, 7:41pm (UTC -5)
As for Major Kira, she's only officially in the chain of command on the station. The Defiant is a Starfleet vessel. The Bajorians don't have an official place there. DS9 is a joint outpost and she is in the COC there. (Dax would actually have been next in line to take command)
Sun, Sep 18, 2016, 2:39am (UTC -5)
ALthough, looking back... man, he doesn't seem too happy with things.. nitpicks a lot, complains... I guess a critic has to be critical....
Ron Canada was awesome here; I wish they brought him back as a Klingon for more episodes.. he really had a great presence as a Klingon.
I don't get Jammers beef with Kira not taking command on the Defiant. SHe is 2nd in command of DS9 due to it being a joint operation. The Defiant is Starfleet. However, of course, she takes command many times... ... I think they did blow it by saying OB should have taken command... he is not even an officer, so he was way down the ladder.
Looking back, they probably should have had OB taking up some sort of Officer's training and become a full and proper LT Commander by the middle of DS9. He operated in a leadership role ahead of many officers in pratical sense. I guess the writers didnt want to take away the "Chief O Brien" name.
Wed, Nov 9, 2016, 12:38am (UTC -5)
My main problem with it was that the Klingon prosecutor seemed to contradict himself and flip flop about Worf's behavior and Klingon heart.
He accused him of intentionally destroying the transport because of his "Klingon heart" but then mocked him for mourning of the innocent people he believed he had killed and claimed he was not a true Klingon.
If Klingons don't mourn of intentionally or accidentally killing 441 innocent Klingons then why would they bring up Worf on charges? Wasn't he just being a good Klingon by intentionally or recklessly killing all those innocent people?
Also, if Klingons are that violent that they kill inmcoents and feel no guilt, then are there really any "innocent" Klingons or are they a species of monsters and killing them no crime at all?
As others have mentioned, Odo's discovery was a cop out that allowed Worf's actions to go unjudged. This seems to be a common thing in Trek legal cases. Dax's hearing about whether she should be held responsible for the crime of her prior host was renedered moot when Odo discovered that Kurzon was innocent.
Fri, Jan 6, 2017, 1:08am (UTC -5)
I just watched this again the other day, and I find myself looking at the episodes with a different eye than I did when they were first aired. I also attempt to watch them without thinking about what happens later, which is somewhat easier with the passage of time. I seem to remember the big points, but the minutia is almost new to me again.
So there I was, watching it play out, and my strongest thought was this: How did the Klingons know to have the civilian ship de-cloak right then? Not the series of attacks before, or the ones after? Perhaps they realized the Defiant had finally figured out the pattern (since they moved to the area where they thought the next attack would come from), but what was the guarantee that they'd actually fire on it? Somehow, they had to figure out that the Defiant had figured it out, then put their civilian ship in to get shot.
And how did they know Worf would be in command? Did they have this plan waiting in the wings, to be pulled out at the last minute when they found out? And was the extradition attempt a part of the plan? This seems like an awful, awful lot of work just to try to embarrass Worf. Would the Federation have stopped going on escort duty for the Cardassians, just because one Klingon non-combatant was destroyed during a Klingon attack? For the last question, I say no.
I watched Dreadnought from Voyager after this, and it got me thinking: What if the new ship was full of explosives, or was there to ram the Defiant? Sure, they can take the time to scan the new ship, and by that time... BOOM! During an attack by the Klingons, ANY Klingon ship is fair game if it suddenly appears within the field of battle... at least that's my take on it.
I don't know, but it also seemed weird to me that the four-star (!) Admiral didn't have any staff hanging around during the proceedings. *ting-ting*... *ting-ting*...
I must admit, I still somewhat liked the 'gotcha' moment at the end, but find I enjoyed them (gotcha's) more when they originally aired, before the passage of time made me think about things a bit differently. They're sort of like watching a murder mystery and trying to figure out whodunnit, only to discover it's the 2nd cousin of the wife who everyone thought was dead, revealed in the last five minutes.
I did like this episode, and still do. I liked the back-and-forth between the Lawyer and Sisko/Worf, although it did seem to play out about one act too long.
Have a great day Everyone... RT
Sun, Feb 26, 2017, 4:07am (UTC -5)
On the other hand, the plot is really a plot-device to explore Worf's psychology in an uncomfortable and interesting manner.
So I'm not sure how to rate it, as it is a blend of some really good and really bad ideas, rather than something that is good or bad or even mediocre from beginning to end. I guess it averages mediocre, but saying so feels misleading.
Sat, May 6, 2017, 2:25pm (UTC -5)
Tue, May 30, 2017, 12:23am (UTC -5)
Such as the Ferengi, not 100% of the population are businessmen. No society could function like that.
Tue, May 30, 2017, 8:29am (UTC -5)
Sat, Dec 30, 2017, 5:05am (UTC -5)
The ending is even worse than I remember. Sisko lecturing Worf that he should be prepared to lay down the life of his crew in the middle of a war by firing only when a target is confirmed. Directly stating it's his duty as a Starfleet officer to be negligent to those under his command in order to be of most "moral". What a total joke that is. I do wonder what some of these deluded writers would think if they were drafted into the army and made to fight, rather than hiding behind their mansions and keyboards.
And it's nature to defend yourself when under extreme stress. Even friendly fire occurs from time to time. It's awful, but it does happen. The writers are so useless at times. So so useless. Can't they get any message across without it going against nature, or logic, or both?
Tue, Jan 16, 2018, 4:00pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Jun 21, 2018, 7:29pm (UTC -5)
And it seems quite basic that before firing upon a ship that de-cloaks, that the ship should be identified. So Worf just fires up on it? Sisko reprimands him for that -- fine. But this whole Klingon subterfuge is just not well thought out. Just using a list of the dead from another crash as the dead here? I think the episode went for the drama of a courtroom battle but didn't have enough meat on the bones.
What I did like is how Sisko explains the pressure of being a captain and a bit more texture to the Klingon warrior mentality -- Worf wanted a reason to attack. So there's something in Klingons that can make them go berserk -- like when Ch'Pok pissed Worf off enough so that Worf slugged him. But it's pretty clear what Worf's predicament is (family, son's future, relationship with Klingon Empire) -- all not good. And Ch'Pok succeeded in striking a nerve and nearly had the case won.
The other thing that was cool is the flashback testimonies -- although Quark's part tarnished the severity/tone of the episode.
The episode also reinforces the theme in Season 4 of the uneasy relationship between Klingons and the Federation. And Ch'Pok constantly talking to Sisko outside the trial about what the Klingons hope for was good for the viewer to get the bigger picture, but is dumb in terms of him helping achieve Klingon objectives. Seems like he could really take a lesson from the Romulans.
A low 2.5 stars for "Rules of Engagement" -- some good ideas here but when you open the cupboard, it's almost bare. Worf learns a captain's lesson and relations between the Federation and Klingons should get worse after this scheme is divulged. Ch'Pok was allowed to go over the line with his antagonizing of Worf and even obtaining the holodeck evidence (even if permission is given after the fact) -- so plenty of holes in this one that goes for the thrill of a courtroom battle and only partially realizes it.
Mon, Aug 20, 2018, 2:06am (UTC -5)
Fri, Jan 4, 2019, 1:12pm (UTC -5)
Jons, when you say that you hate masculinized cultures that hold honour as a paramount virtue, what you are really saying is that you hate Africans and Arabs and in my book that sort of racism warrants jail time.
Fri, Jan 4, 2019, 1:57pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Jan 6, 2019, 11:03pm (UTC -5)
The best scene was The Advocate goading Worf into punching him. I liked Quark's testimony, too, and how the characters sometimes testified from the scene itself.
Mon, Jan 7, 2019, 1:15am (UTC -5)
I also agree that the plot holes and contrivances were plentiful. I like Worf and appreciate his addition to DS9 . . . but this ep is not so great.
Mon, Feb 4, 2019, 8:20pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Mar 22, 2019, 10:15am (UTC -5)
We begin with a dream sequence, telegraphed by slo-mo, glissandi in the strings and dutch angles. This is Worf aboard the Defiant and witnessing a number of dead Starfleet officers and Klingon children. He awakens from this nightmare in one of Odo's cells. I guess Odo decided to regenerate or whatever he calls it during lunch because here he is at 4AM standing watch over his lone prisoner. Overall, this is exactly what a teaser should be, full of mystery and character and style.
Act 1 : **, 19%
Worf's hearing begins plainly enough. A Vulcan admiral dings her giant bell (you know it's RDM when there are anachronistic naval elements clanging about...) and informs us that the Klingon Empire wishes to extradite Worf on “charges of murder.” Let's get this stuff out of the way now. I'm 99% certain that Moore, “the Klingon guy,” wanted to write an interesting Worf story, and took as his inspiration a real-life incident, adapting elements to fit the current DS9 narrative. Upon first glance, those adaptations create some odd contradictions within the political framework of the universe.
-There are Klingon civilians, now?
-When did the Empire and Federation set up an extradition treaty?
While I would normally be willing to hand-wave these kinds of things away, provided the story was insightful and thoughtful, in this case, I actually think the contradictions serve the larger story we've been seeing all season of the collapse of the Empire. In all the Worf stories thus far on DS9 (and going back to “Redemption” on TNG), we have seen that the Klingons engage in the kinds of political games and unethical brinksmanship that might characterise the Romulans, but maintain a cultural currency called “Honour” (I've referred to this many times). Now we are being introduced to a Klingon *lawyer*--a symbol of the decadent decline of the culture if ever there was one.
The lawyer, Chickenbutt or whatever, stands up in typical TV courtroom style and accuses Worf of negligence during command, of allowing his lust for combat to override his good judgement. In other words, he's accusing Worf of acting like a Klingon is (usually) expected to, and perhaps genetically disposed to. His beef seems to be that Worf didn't act like a Starfleet officer. So the whole premise for extradition is incredibly dubious: Worf was negligent in his Starfleet duties, so he must be handed over to a foreign body for judgement; this body has determined that his actions were in keeping with the behaviour of a member of their own society; thus...um...profit?
Sisko, speaking on behalf of his officer, gives us the rest of the context. Worf destroyed a civilian vessel *accidentally* in the heat of combat. After the session is adjourned, Sisko instructs Odo to start digging into the civilian vessel's captain to try and discern a motive for the transport's odd presence in a battle to begin with. What's key here is the way Sisko frames his instructions:
SISKO: Was he reckless, did he have a reputation for drinking, did he have a death wish? Something.
Now, in episodes like “The Pegasus” or “The First Duty” (both RDM stories involving the malfeasance of Starfleet officers), Picard went digging for answers on behalf of his own (Riker and Wesley respectively). However in both cases, Picard was more concerned with the truth than he was over protecting his men. In Riker's case, he made it quite clear that he didn't care that he was his Number One or that Pressman was a decorated admiral or that Starfleet Intelligence seemed on board with the conspiracy; he was going to expose the truth; from “Redemption”: “It is a lie. Lies must be challenged.” In Wesley's case, we got the famous quote that gives the episode its title, “The first duty of every Starfleet officer is to the truth.” We also saw that in “Ex Post Facto,” Janeway determined to prove Paris' innocence to the Bird People rather than protect him from his punishment via other means.
Sisko is about to tell Chickenbutt that the hearings are “a search for the truth,” but his method suggests something else. What difference does it make if the captain were reckless, a drunkard or suicidal? If these facts emerge, all they do is cast aspersions on the character of the captain, “justifying” Worf's actions by demonstrating that in some fashion, the captain “deserved” what happened to him. Remember this for later.
In the meantime, Chickenbutt makes it clear that this hearing is putting the Federation in a precarious political situation. Well, no points for cleverness here. Again though, I think this highlights the contradictions of the current Klingon Empire. In battle, a Klingon would announce to his victim, “I am going to kill you; your house will fall....blah blah blah.” He wouldn't sneak up and stab him in the back, right? Oh wait...that's exactly what happened in “Blood Oath,” isn't it? Well, because Honour™ has been commodified, Chickenbutt can announce to Sisko, “This trial is politically advantageous to us,” because it's “honourable” to do so, even though the subterfuge behind the proceedings is anything but.
So, Chickenbutt makes his case back in the Wardroom to the Vulcan with the Silver Bell. He admits that the facts of the case are not in dispute.
CH'POK: We Klingons are not concerned with matters of fact and circumstance.
2 minutes earlier...
CH'POK: It's an interesting system of justice you have, Captain. It does have its flaws, however. It emphasises procedure over substance, form over fact.
Hypocrisy is the highest form of honour, you know. Heh...explains how Sisko got so many pips on his collar.
Anyway, Chickenbutt says that if Worf was acting in bloodlust, then it is for the Klingons to judge him. This is absurd on several levels. Obviously, proving such a thing is impossible beyond hearsay. Moreover, if Worf was acting in bloodlust, then it is by *Starfleet's* regulations that he is guilty of a crime, not the Klingons'. Thus, extradition would make less sense than it already does IF CHICKENBUTT IS RIGHT. The Vulcan is correct that logic demands they explore the question of Worf's motives, but the premise that this would lead to extradition is totally contrived.
Jadzia is called in as a witness and questioned by Chickenbutt. She consents, marginally, to the characterisation of Klingons as violent, bloodthirsty, etc. We witness the fourth-wall breaking flashback to one of her and Worf's skirmishes in the holosuite. Her testimony just seems to confirm Sisko's feelings that they are skirting around an unprovable issue. She says she recognises the killer instinct in Worf's eyes when they fight, but is certain he would never cross the line and kill her. Well, that's the nature of relationships. We have to trust each other to be better than our instincts might have us be. But this doesn't prove a damned thing.
No time to dwell on that, as Chickenbutt wants to submit a piece of evidence for consideration, Worf's personal log, without a warrant. He did say the truth had to be “won,” but he also decried the Federation's emphasis on “form over substance.” But we have seen Klingons emphasise form ALL THE TIME. It's the foundation of what they call “honour,” satisfying rituals and codes of combat and bloodlines, etc. All of that is insubstantial and procedural.
Anyway, Worf of course has “nothing to hide,” so gives his consent right there. Hey, Worf gets a line in his own episode! Chickenbutt questions Dax about a specific holoprogramme in which Worf cos-plays as a Genghis Kahn type figure who murders an entire city full of more Klingon civilians. And it turns out Worf played this programme right before he went on his Defiant mission. GASP! Why that proves...that proves that...he...that he...????? Nothing. It proves absolutely nothing. But, the cellos are playing ominous chords of ominousness, so I guess that means bad news.
Act 2 : **.5, 16%
We pick up with Sisko on the stand. He's asked to explain how he assigned Worf to the mission. One plus side to this premise is that Worf actually seems to serve a function on the station, providing military/strategic advice to Sisko regarding the Klingon fleet. Up until now, all we've seen him do, outside of his specific assignment in tWotW is Odo's job.
Quark gives his testimony next. We get a really uncomfortable series of visual gags involving Bashir describing the Wormhole like a giant sexual orifice to a Dabbo girl—no wait it was Morn. Much like in “Facets,” it seems like the rest of the cast is being shoe-horned into the plot for no other reason than to justify their paycheques. I should also say that so far, the fourth-wall games, while novel, are actually pretty distracting. It's kind of ironic. The trick is supposed to break up the dialogue-heavy testimony necessary to the plot, but the actors aren't able to give good performances because the timing of the shots doesn't accommodate natural speech or body language. They actors have to wait around inside the flashbacks for the testimony to be delivered to Chickenbutt before responding.
Act 3 : **, 16%
Odo isn't able to come up with any convenient facts for Sisko's case. One lingering question is why the transport dropped its cloak in the middle of the battle to begin with. Actually, my first question would be why the hell a civilian transport would have a cloaking device unless it was being used for espionage or smuggling or something. Seems like a giant red flag, but whatever, Sisko orders Odo to keep digging, now into the passenger list.
Miles gives his testimony. Again, Colm Meaney does his best, but the non-diegetic interjections continue to be distracting. We learn that Worf discerned a pattern in the battle tactics of the attacking Bird of Prey, and ordered torpedoes fired as soon as a vessel began to decloak, but of course, this was the transport, not the Bird. Chickenbutt's cross-examination reveals something disturbing about the mild-mannered chief, as it seems he's been in battle almost 250 times during his 22 years in Starfleet. Like, I know we retconned the border war with the Cardassians in order to make “The Wounded” work, but this is insane. In the 9.5 years we've seen O'Brien in Star Trek, he's been in battle, what, maybe a couple of dozen times? And half of those were from the transporter room. Anyway, battle-hard O'Brien is forced to admit that, had he been in command, he would not have fired on the vessel before it could be identified. This is meant to be a devastating turn of events for some reason. Again, if Worf violated protocol or whatever by not doing as Miles would have done, then his transgression was against *Starfleet*, meaning extradition isn't going to happen. But this doesn't stop Chickenbutt from suggesting Sisko concede the trial later on in Quark's.
Act 4 : *.5, 17%
Odo still has nothing to offer Sisko in his case, so we proceed with Worf giving his own testimony. He explains himself, that the possibility of a civilian transport ship decloaking right in front of his priapic phaser cannons was “remote.”
SISKO: Mister Worf, I want you to think about the civilians who died on that transport ship and answer one question. Under the same set of circumstances, would you do it again?
WORF: Yes, sir. If I had hesitated, I would have been negligent. I would have been risking my ship, my crew and the entire convoy.
This would seem to support Worf's claims that he doesn't allow his feelings to interfere with his professional judgement. Remember that we opened with a dream sequence that loudly broadcasted Worf's guilt over the incident. However, I seem to recall a certain Klingon lieutenant tearing off his combadge, beaming over to a Klingon vessel, and killing a man for murdering his wife. I'm not sure that I would call this behaviour “professional.”
So, Chickenbutt goads Worf over his Dishonour at the hands of Gowron. The Lawyer—perhaps fully aware of the irony—embraces the neoliberalised version of Honour™ that has made the Klingons so despicable:
CH'POK: A true Klingon rejoices at the death of his enemies. Old, young, armed, unarmed. All that matters is the victory. Tell me, Worf, did you weep for those children?
But Worf is still clinging (sorry) to a more authentic sense of honour, as he has always done. He feels conflicted over the incident because his values *are* informed by humanity. Worf recognises that Chickenbutt will say literally anything to get what he wants. One moment, he condemns Worf for murdering children, and in the next he chastises him for grieving for those children who died with honour, I guess. Eventually, he hits on Worf's berserk button by mentioning Alexander. Worf stands and knocks the lawyer around with the back of his hand and Sisko facepalms. We all know Sisko would never punch somebody who pissed him off. Never.
What's really stupid about this whole thing, honestly, is the Vulcan admiral. Not only does she have absolutely no control over the proceedings, but you'd think a Vulcan would question the brazen sophistry that Chickenbutt is using to manipulate Worf.
CH'POK: I thought you said you'd never attack an unarmed man. Perhaps you should have said, not unless I get angry, not unless I have something to prove. I rest my case.
What Worf actually said was that there is no honour in attacking those who cannot defend themselves. Neither of these men is armed (I think). Worf attacked another adult with his fists, non-lethally. This is not Starfleet behaviour—make no mistake—but, this isn't a “gotcha” moment, and I'm pissed at this derpy admiral for not realising this.
Act 5 : *.5, 17%
Well, with no help from logic, we're going to have to rely on the Deus ex Machina. Odo presents Sisko some new evidence which we don't get to hear about just yet because “drama.” The admiral resumes the hearing with her giant bell and Sisko asks to present his evidence directly to Chickenbutt, again for drama. Vulcans are well known do indulge these kinds of fancies, especially in court, so of course she agrees.
Mostly this is just a waste of time and feels very much like an episode of TV instead of natural drama, but I did lol at Avery Brooks' theatrical mocking of the word “Children...” The courtroom is at least a good venue for his style of acting as theatrics tend to be mode of choice. Well anyway, it turns out that the manifest of the doomed transport is exactly the same as one from an accident months ago.
Sisko pays Worf a visit later in his Defiant quarters. Worf admits that he did have something to prove while he was in command. Sisko rightly chews him out for this because, AGAIN, Worf's actions, whether they resulted in a massacre or not, were not *Starfleet*. The dressing down devolves into some pro-military masturbating that I can't bring myself to comment on right now. Whatever, it's over.
Episode as Functionary : *.5, 10%
I don't think this one works. Structurally, the only thing fresh about this story is the fourth-wall breaking stuff which, as I said, is distracting and I think hurts more than it helps the episode. Court dramas can be great in Star Trek. Just look at “Death Wish” or “The Menagerie.” But compare this to “The Measure of a Man,” or “Author, Author”: in both cases, the legal question, about Data's status and the Doctor's artistic rights respectively, work on their own, in isolation from the deeper philosophical and character questions that the trials provide us space to explore. As in real life, the use of laws to establish or curtail justice is agnostic on the Big Questions, because it must be, because those issues are subjective. Here, the contrived nature of the extradition hearing is so ridiculous that it feels a bit like a parody of those superior episodes, squeezing a courtroom drama in a place it does not belong in order to explore Big Questions. As I said, I would normally be willing to overlook this contrivance if it meant we got a good story out of the process, but the opportunity to look at Worf and his motives, which is the excuse we are supposed to accept as to why this drama is even happening, is wasted. We get one dream-sequence and one brief conversation on the subject of what Worf was going through. And the Big Questions are abandoned in the final act as we have our Deus ex Machina wrap-up.
The point of this episode, I think, is supposed to be that line “Life is a great deal more complicated in this red uniform,” which, okay, sure. But, there was nothing complicated about the situation we've just examined. Worf made a couple of bad calls, which he recognises as bad calls, because he allowed his emotions to cloud his judgement. That's pretty much it.
We do have to talk about Sisko a bit. In the last scene he says to Worf:
“You made a military decision to protect your ship and crew, but you're a Starfleet officer, 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...Part of being a captain is knowing when to smile, make the troops happy even when it's the last thing in the world you want to do. Because they're your troops and you have to take care of them.”
Remember that Sisko was originally trying to win his case by defaming the captain of the transport, as a drunk or something. He wasn't interested in the truth so much as he was interested in taking care of his troop. Sisko even makes the distinction between a military officer and a Starfleet officer in his speech, but then instructs Worf that he needs to be a good military man by ignoring the truth, smiling and taking care of his own troops. I gave up on Sisko all the way back in “Through the Looking Glass.” He has no moral authority anymore. But I had been encouraged by the way he's been used throughout most of this season. Seeing him play old tapes like this is disappointing.
Final Score : **
Fri, Mar 22, 2019, 11:23am (UTC -5)
I don't really want to die on this hill, but I'm not sure I agree about Sisko looking for information about the captain being incompetent or suicidal. Obviously it is there to help find information that can help Worf. But I think why a civilian captain chose to decloak in the middle of battle is relevant to learning the truth of the situation. Part of the core argument Sisko is making is that it's not reasonable for Worf to have anticipated the unlikely event that a civilian ship would decloak. If the ship did decloak because the captain did want to fight, or die, or due to incompetence, this reinforces Sisko's core argument that it's a reasonable (if, again, not Starfleet) assumption that a civilian ship would ordinarily not decloak. The point isn't that the captain had a poor character, but that he may have made a choice to enter the battle, or have been at fault in his particular action in another way.
Or to put in another way, in a sense the reveal that the ship was staged is a more extreme version of the same argument. Instead of the captain joining the battle against Worf, the whole thing was staged by the Empire. Worf was the victim of a deception. He *still* shouldn't have fired on the ship, as Sisko emphasized, even if it turns out to be more the Empire's (other captain's) maliciousness or aggressive intent that was the real cause of its destruction. But it reinforces that Worf's command instincts turned out to be correct.
Of course, the bigger reason Worf was fully exonerated is because it turns out no civilians died full stop. If a crazed captain had decloaked in an unexpected way and Worf destroyed them before they had shown direct evidence of attacking, I think he still would have been censured more (probably not extradited). If the captain had genuinely intended to fire on Worf, all it proves is that Worf's judgment happened to be correct, but not whether Worf had enough information to know that. Had Sisko dug up statistics on how rare it is for a competent, non-aggressive civilian captain to decloak in mid battle, I think his argument would be far more logically sound (and the judge is, of course, Vulcan). However, Klingons surely value accurate battle instincts: if Sisko could prove that the ship was decloaking in order to fire on the Defiant, would the Klingons really be able to argue that Worf following his correct battle instinct would be wrong, because his instinct was insufficiently backed by the facts? I guess the answer to that question based on this episode is, who the hell knows because the Klingon legal perspective is all over the place in this episode, and I think that rather than Sisko is the real problem with this story point.
Fri, Mar 22, 2019, 11:39am (UTC -5)
Fri, Mar 22, 2019, 11:43am (UTC -5)
I also see where William B is coming from just above. There's something in civil law for multi-party negligence known as "comparable negligence" where the triers of fact examine how much negligence each party contributed to the accident. To that end, it is relevant to figure out the transport's ships' level of negligence. Imagine if you were driving a car and all of a sudden someone was driving the wrong way on the street and you panicked, couldn't swerve in time, collided with the vehicle and killed the guy. There might be an argument that you we're negligent for not turning soon enough to avoid the crazy driver, even if ultimately the majority of the negligence lays at this crazy driver's feet for breaking the law while driving. That's what Sisko is trying to determine here. How much did the transport ship contribute to the accident?
That said, the story is very much a mess in the sense that Sisko does seem to be asking for Odo to *look for a Deus Ex Machina* to get out of the trial (Sisko: I know I'm reaching!). And yeah, searching for a miracle seems to be given higher priority than actually finding errors in the existing facts (there are plenty) that could've shown Worf was ineligible for extradition.
Fri, Mar 22, 2019, 11:50am (UTC -5)
I think this episode is weak for various reasons, but one thing I like about it is that I think the ending allowing Worf to be technically right but in a different way fundamentally wrong is a good conclusion. I don't mean that the way it's set up or executed is good, but structurally I think it's a good way to do a one-off that explores a character flaw without needing to upend the character. Worf having some bloodlust and anger at the Empire is also a reasonable place to go, as well as pointing out that without a Picard, Riker, Data or Sisko to restrain his inclination to fight from tactical he'll have to recognize the limits himself. It's a solid idea, not really brought out very well by the legal framework and incoherent political machinations.
Fri, Mar 22, 2019, 12:02pm (UTC -5)
I think you've helped me see another reason this episode doesn't quite work! The way multi party negligence works when eg there's a car accident is that everyone's statements are taken into account. And so knowing whether the other party is drunk is hugely relevant because that makes it more likely they're behaving erratically. However, one thing is, generally there is information missing in these cases. Unless there's complete camera footage, what happened from each party's perspective has to be reproduced from the accounts. So it's maybe not possible to know *how* recklessly everyone was behaving. However in this case, they have literally all the external data Worf et al had at the time. They only had the viewscreen and sensors, so there is no extra information that Worf et al had that can't be pieced together from the Defiant's presumably recorded viewscreen /sensor logs. So no external information about the other ship will really change how the law views Worf's actions; what was going on in the freighter captain's head provides no more insight into how Worf acted based on the information he had.
Unless the Defiant doesn't record its viewscreen and sensor logs, that is.
That said, I do think the law would still assign partial blame to both sides if both parties behaved in a negligent way. It's just that I think the 20th century analogues are a bit off from the situation in the episode.
"That said, the story is very much a mess in the sense that Sisko does seem to be asking for Odo to *look for a Deus Ex Machina* to get out of the trial (Sisko: I know I'm reaching!). And yeah, searching for a miracle seems to be given higher priority than actually finding errors in the existing facts (there are plenty) that could've shown Worf was ineligible for extradition."
LOL. Though in the ep's defense, I do think it's reasonable to wonder why the freighter would decloak in mid battle and to try to investigate that. The real problem isn't them "reaching" but, as you say, that the arguments for extradition are weak and contradictory and we have to mostly accept them on faith to let the story carry on.
Fri, Mar 22, 2019, 3:52pm (UTC -5)
"if Sisko could prove that the ship was decloaking in order to fire on the Defiant, would the Klingons really be able to argue that Worf following his correct battle instinct would be wrong, because his instinct was insufficiently backed by the facts?"
Well, no, but that didn't stop them from arguing that Worf should be extradited for behaving like a Klingon in the first place. It seems to me that the episode presented the case pretty clearly that Sisko's priority was protecting Worf, not ferreting out the truth. That's what that whole coda was about, no?
In other words, while the messiness of the story's construction is the primary culprit, making Sisko a line-officer type is I believe quite intentional.
@Chrome: Really interesting insight regarding the negligence of the parties involved! However, I think this story tries to make the case that Worf, the commander in uniform, arm of the state, is responsible for the lives of everyone else, including the civilians. That's why there are *ahem* rules of engagement in battle. In principle, I agree with this, and I think Sisko does, too. That's why he tells Worf that sometimes, they have to die to protect the innocent. But with the incident over, Sisko's priority is clearly protecting his own officer, above learning the truth and abiding by the consequences.
Fri, Mar 22, 2019, 8:48pm (UTC -5)
Hm.... I think I agree with you in broad contours. But I think my read of the episode is different enough that Sisko's behaviour isn't so objectionable in my read.
The episode's title is "rules of engagement" and the subject is obviously on that, but the actual, literal 'rules of engagement' that Worf was supposed to/not supposed to abide by are never discussed. This is one of the episode's many flaws. But I think that the intent of the episode was that Worf was in a legal grey area. The priority is to protect civilians, but the odds of a civilian entering a combat situation *are* extremely low. The Defiant was in mid-battle. If the odds were zero, obviously Worf is right; if the odds were high, obviously Worf is wrong. If the odds are infinitesimal -- well, where is the line drawn? I think even if we assume that there are official rules of engagement, they necessarily will involve some wiggle room, so that even if the situation depicted in this episode is incoherent, that it is attempting to *represent* a grey-area situation. The episode is so badly done that it's hard to know if my hypothesis of what the episode is attempting to depict is correct, but that's still how it read to me.
At the episode's end, Sisko tells Worf he's damn right he shouldn't have fired on civilians...but I think this instruction is not because Worf did break any laws or violate any regulations, but because, with retrospect and clarity, Sisko can tell that Worf erred on the side of fighting when he should have erred on the side of protecting civilians. However, if the situation were somewhat different, Worf would have been right. So I don't think this means that Sisko was lying or misrepresenting the situation in his opening statement and in his general approach to the defense. The only thing in his opening statement that seems to be an exaggeration is when he describes the accident as "unavoidable," which is a word that I'd say is too loaded for him to use given that he believes it could have been avoided. But otherwise Sisko's argument that Worf should not be extradited because he made a command decision based on the information he knew at the time is not only made because he cares about and wants to protect his officer, but because he believes this is true. I think it's possible for Sisko to both believe that Worf made a poor command decision and that he did nothing illegal, and certainly not extradition-worthy.
So anyway, with that in mind, I want to distinguish between two points here. One is whether Sisko is more concerned with helping Worf or finding out the truth. I agree with you that his *priority* was helping Worf.
The other is whether Sisko's strategy suggests dishonesty. You seemed to be reducing Sisko's argument to impugning the character of the other captain, which is not only "protecting Worf" but illogical and cruel. I don't think that's the case, because I think finding out why the other ship decloaked is both relevant and is seeking out the truth. If the captain decloaked because he was aggressive or incompetent, that does seem to me to be relevant.
I think another place where the situation is different from Picard in The First Duty and The Pegasus is that Picard wasn't acting as Wesley or Riker's attorney. The Measure of a Man makes clear that in these JAG trials where command officers are advocates, they are responsible for zealously representing/prosecuting their case. Obviously that doesn't extend into lying or other trickery, but I don't think that's what Sisko is doing here. I think he's trying to find any facts of the case that will help his client, which is what, as Worf's counsel, he should want to do, given that the adversarial legal system is still in place.
Now, all that said, maybe Sisko *shouldn't* have been Worf's counsel. Maybe it's inappropriate for Sisko to be both the CO who needs to find the truth about Worf's actions and the lawyer who needs to zealously defend him. It actually does seem like an obvious conflict of interest. In "Dax," Sisko didn't have any responsibility for the actions that Curzon had ostensibly taken and so there wasn't much conflict in him representing Jadzia Dax, but in this case he probably "should" be impartial when trying to investigate what happened and also be *required* to be partial while actually dealing with Worf's case. I think this is part of what makes the, uh, "pro-military masturbating" tone of the final scene rankle.
Fri, Mar 22, 2019, 9:21pm (UTC -5)
Sisko does say that they don't put civilians "even potentially at risk," so Sisko does seem to believe that the situation was not a grey area in terms of what the correct command decision was. But again, I get the impression it's because Worf focused on the wrong thing in a grey area, which is made worse in retrospect because Worf's heart was impure.
I don't like Sisko's "smile because the troops can't see vulnerability" stuff, don't get me wrong. And I can understand why you view this as a key to his behaviour throughout the episode. It certainly maybe is what Moore was trying to get across, and seems consistent with the way he writes military material. But I don't really think Sisko's behaviour in the episode body reads that nefarious to me. I think he fully believed the truth was that Worf's actions didn't earn extradition; that they were a bad call, not in keeping with the spirit of Starfleet, but not criminal.
Sat, Mar 23, 2019, 4:21pm (UTC -5)
And I'll on to this that this is one of my least favorite episodes of this season, and in the framework of the series one that I would reluctantly call a "skipper" (to use Yank's term, I think). It basically achieves not much at all.
In terms of the Klingon subject matter I wholeheartedly agree with Elliott that it's all over the place. What on Earth were the Klingons trying to achieve here? To take revenge on Worf? If so that point is utterly lost in the mix. Was this a scheme of Gowron's to trap Worf? If so that isn't even brought up. And Gowron doesn't even tend to work like that, so I really don't understand wtf is going on here. What we do get a question about Worf's...what...genetics? If it's an absolute fact that Klingons are more aggressive and enjoy battle more than humans, is this episode trying to say that Klingons must become exactly like humans to command starships? But that surely couldn't be a Federation message. Was Worf negligent in his general approach to command? Of course not. His only "crime" here was in perhaps enjoying the process of battle. But that's not new - through the series he brags about how awesome it is to have a war to fight, and no recrimination ever given. And nor should there be: a person is free to like or dislike whatever his culture and inclination suggest. So why is his Klingonness suddenly "a problem" here? It shouldn't be, and trying to pin his aggression on him as a fault is total BS. It's not only racist, in a sense, but also irrelevant to his duties. And I never heard it said before, nor ever again, that in the heat of battle during a war a starship should avoid firing on decloaking vessels? That would be a new one, and if it's new then it sure wasn't treated as one.
Basically it was a mess all around.
Wed, Apr 3, 2019, 1:42pm (UTC -5)
I would’ve also guessed that it would take the Defiant about 10 seconds to blow up a Bird of Prey — especially if they fire phasers and torpedoes simultaneously for once — but at least the ship isn’t shown to be ridiculously overpowered here.
Sun, Jul 7, 2019, 6:33am (UTC -5)
Sisko almost seems like an office manager having to accept that yes, this employee is a jerk and a massive liability, but the CEO wants him to stay in role and so everyone has to make the best of it. When Worf hit the lawyer, and especially after the ridiculous baiting went unchallenged by anyone in the room, I just felt fed up with Worf's character and ashamed on his behalf. In TNG I felt sorry for him, now I just feel tired of him.
I thoroughly enjoyed Avery Brook's performance here, as he shows that Sisko too takes delight in verbal combat. I love that slightly psychotic smile he often does, frequently accompanied by the short toot of laughter. Morally, yes he can be greyer than a Cardassians skin, but I do enjoy watching him.
Wed, Jan 1, 2020, 6:12pm (UTC -5)
A decloaking vessel. In the middle of a firefight. In a battle to the death. Against enemies who can turn invisible at any time.
I really can't believe that this would lead to a trial, and equally, I don't really buy into Sisco's chewing out of Worf at the end of the episode for failing to verify his target. The "Han Solo" idea that the Federation should always shoot second feels a bit too idealistic - it's something which would potentially have worked in TNG, but is distinctly out of place in the murkier waters of DS9.
(It also fails to take into account the fact that Worf was trying to defend the crews of the relief convoy - which were clearly shown as having taken severe damage, and at a more abstract level, the people waiting for the relief convoy would have suffered and/or died if the convoy had been destroyed. Ending the battle as quickly as possible was surely a key prerogative!)
Similarly, the deus-ex-machina used to bring the courtroom battle to a dramatic end is a bit too convenient.
Equally, the blending of past and present is neatly done, but I can't help but feel that it's too close to the reenactments performed in Riker's trial during "A Matter Of Perspective"...
Fri, Jan 10, 2020, 6:08pm (UTC -5)
For the most part, this was relatively straightforward in how it played out: nothing really took me by surprise. The civilian freighter was far too convenient for the Klingons to be anything but a setup, so a good part of this was spent waiting for the inevitable truth to come out. There was no way this would end with Worf extradited, at the very least.
I actually had the same thought as Jammer regarding Kira and the chain of command. As soon as Ch'Pok suggested O'Brien taking command, I expected O'Brien to respond that "I wouldn't, Kira would". But Kira's not the one on the stand, and it makes far more sense for the story -- and, in-universe, for Ch'Pok's trial -- that O'Brien is the one there instead. Kira's known Worf for a few months; O'Brien has known him for nine *years*. Ticks more boxes on usefulness as a witness.
Regardless, it would do at least *something* to smooth over this bump in the road if O'Brien *had* had a line mentioning Kira's presence. It's only a minor thing, though.
I honestly doubted O'Brien's answer of "no" when he gave it, wondering if it was coloured too much by hindsight and not what he might actually do in such a situation. All the way back in TNG's The Wounded, O'Brien recounts the first time he killed anyone: an accident when he took action in the heat of the moment, without checking vital information [the phaser setting] first. But that's clearly something that's shaken him, quite possibly enough to have affected him in combat situations ever since. He definitely doesn't strike me as someone who'd be comfortable in command, and I think it's plausible for him to have hesitated -- long enough to realise the ship was a civilian one.
I can't help wondering if, on the basis of personality, Kira would have answered "yes". She had to make those snap decisions for years. She'd have the knowledge burnt into her that, in a combat situation, hesitation is the difference between life and death. In that respect, it's a shrewd choice for Ch'Pok to choose a witness who *wouldn't* have made the choice Worf did.
Fri, Jan 10, 2020, 6:17pm (UTC -5)
- How did I forget to mention the final scene? That's the real purpose of this episode: we know which way the trial's going to go all along, but in the process we've exposed Worf further as a flawed character with ongoing issues regarding his dishonour, who's very much feeling the weight of that red uniform. Sisko talking it out with him at the end was absolutely the best scene we had here.
- Did love the directorial flourishes of having the witness testimonies take place in flashback. LeVar Burton's a hell of an alumnus from Star Trek cast members' directorial training.
- Cutting *just* as he's about to "speak" has been the best comedic timing of any Morn moment so far. Love it.
- Kira only gets sidelined to the same extent as Bashir does (though he'd have a lot less potential relevance here than she would).
Fri, Mar 13, 2020, 7:34pm (UTC -5)
Quite satisfying on multiple fronts.
Tue, May 12, 2020, 6:49pm (UTC -5)
Fri, May 22, 2020, 2:45pm (UTC -5)
>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.
There is a line in the final scene of the episode where Sisko says that Starfleet is NOT military and basically you ALWAYS identify a target before firing even if it means you lose the battle and your crew dies.
To me this seems like the distinction between a military decision and a police decision.
This comes in the last minute of the show. Up to this point, in both the episode and even in Trek in general, Starfleet is portrayed as having quasi-military structure and protocols. They even use naval ranks.
Up to this point, the logic of "99% chance this is an enemy ship, that seems like the right thing to do in the heat of battle" seems like a decision that would not be unreasonable. It's only AFTER the trial that we find out that Sisko's view is you do NOT fire until you've IDed the ship.
But if that IS Starfleet protocol - a police-style protocol, why ISN'T Worf negligent? He did NOT identify his target. If it's just Sisko's personal philosophy or rule, that's not how it seems to be presented. But then Sisko just as quickly says "but you'll make a great Captain anyway.
I know this episode aired years before the major focus on unjustified police shootings, but if the message is "don't shoot something unless you know what it is", it's undercut by the message that it won't hinder Worf's career that he did it, even if it was a Klingon trick.
Would we want a police officer promoted to Captain who was tailing a gang in a car, lost sight of them at a corner, then shot blindly at a similar car that pulled around another corner just because it was the same model? Would it really make it OK if the gang had planted that car to set the cop up? I would like to think not.
But back to the underlying issue, the "don't shoot something you can't ID" seems fo fly in the face of other successful tactics we've seen used before. Maybe this is specifically different because it was in a civilian traffic lane, but that seems like a contrivance.
Fri, May 22, 2020, 2:52pm (UTC -5)
It's moderately valid legal procedure, and the Klingon's lawyer's tactics play out as very cunning. The way he clearly knows he isn't allowed to use Worf's personal logs, but also knows that he can goad Worf into agreeing if he makes it seem 'unmanly' to conceal it. Obviously the script hands him these convenient moments like Worf using that holoprogram the day of the mission, but it still plays as a very capable legal mind.
My biggest criticism of the episode notwithstanding my last comment is more on the laziness of the Klingons.
They come up with this massive crazy plan and then they undercut themselves by being to lazy to make up 441 FAKE people? Why the hell would they be so obvious as to just recycle a passenger manifest fr such an important mission?
I was also not 100% clear - the FIRST time those 441 people took a trip and miraculously survived a crash - I THINK Sisko is saying that miracle actually happened?
That would seem like a big deal - big news - why use THAT manifest instead of a completely benign one that would draw less attention and probably be entirely unknown?
If this had worked, it would be a big story and it's foreseeable there would be people who followed the previous crash would might recognise the names of the 'dead'.
Actually, if they really survived the first crash, those 'dead' people are really alive somewhere.
So was the first crash also using the same FAKE list of people for some other intelligence mission?
If they were real, why doesn't Odo's background check on ANY of them bring up multiple people who survived a miracle crash?
Sun, Jun 28, 2020, 3:54pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Oct 2, 2020, 5:21pm (UTC -5)
Yes, the episode's flaws are apparent - the Federation would not hold a trial with people they are at war with, the arrival of "vital information" in the last act is a giant cliche, Worf's baited like Jack Nicholson is baited in "A Few Good Men", and the legal tactics seem incredulous - but there's so much good stuff here as well.
The battle scenes are great and original. The whole thing is shot with style and energy. The episode is brisk and moves at a good pace. The POV scenes are cool. Everyone looks great in a dress uniform. We get a Vulcan who isn't a complete jerk. We get a nice silver bell on a table which for some reason reminds me of Nick Meyers. We get a great Quark scene and hilarious Morn joke. In true TNG/TOS fashion, we get Sisko delivering some nice righteous monologues.
The Klingon lawyer was also good at chewing scenery, and I'd argue his legal approach was kind of clever; he's trying to establish Worf's motive for firing, which puts Wolf in an interesting double bind. If Worf proves his innocence ("I am not a blood thirsty Klingon!") he turns his back on a culture he's spent years trying to assimilate with. And if he proves the Klingon lawyer wrong, he's betrayed his values as a Starfleet officer.
Interestingly, the episode ultimately has Worf betray Starfleet. He gives in to baser urges and gives an order to fire on a civilian ship when he shouldn't have. Sisko berates Worf at the end for this, which many above see as hypocrisy. As William and Elliot say above, Sisko's priority should be toward truth, but in this episode be defends Worf's right to fire upon a ship in court, and then chastises him for doing it afterwards.
But for this never bothered me. I can easily see someone like Sisko thinking Worf was wrong to fire, but that it's also wrong to convict someone for firing, let alone extradite them to the Klingon Empire. I see Sisko's thinking as nuanced, rather than wholly hypocritical. After all, you can never fully know what conscious and unconscious variables led to Worf firing.
Beyond all this, I think the episode is aesthetically a step up from most DS9 episodes. It's tight, super-charged, and bombastic. It might be stupid at times, but I feel it has a muscular, energetic quality that's a lot of fun.
Tue, Feb 23, 2021, 1:32pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Feb 25, 2021, 6:15am (UTC -5)
Just like O'Brien Worf is a scapegoat.
Fri, Feb 26, 2021, 11:30am (UTC -5)
Mon, Mar 8, 2021, 11:15pm (UTC -5)
I also really enjoyed Burton’s directorial style and thought his riff on making DS9 a procedural drama wasn't exactly ‘innovative’, but a refreshing change.
Tue, Jan 11, 2022, 6:58am (UTC -5)
Watching this season again, I feel that actually, rather than inventing the role of "strategic operations officer" to allow Worf to join the cast, he should have been properly given the role of commanding officer of the Defiant. Indeed it's what he spends most of his time doing anyway.
It makes sense to have a ship like the Defiant attached to Deep Space Nine with the heightened threats of the Dominion and now the Klingons but it would also make sense for it to have a full time crew. It is an often criticised element of the series that the station's senior staff abandon their posts on the station to go gallivanting on a ship. It would make more sense to have the station staff have their roles on the station and a separate crew have their roles on the Defiant. No more O'Brien being responsible for upkeep of the station while also moonlighting as chief engineer of the Defiant.
So Worf commands the Defiant reporting to Sisko who gives out the missions as they serve the strategic interests of the station. It would be similar to how Picard would order Riker to lead an away team while he himself remained where he belonged, on the bridge of his ship.
Fri, Feb 4, 2022, 12:59pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Mar 20, 2022, 4:31pm (UTC -5)
Wed, May 4, 2022, 9:48pm (UTC -5)
Traditionally English common law was unwritten and decided by judges on the basis of their own sensibilities and the common cultural and social ideas of what constituted “the law”, positive law, that is written legislation passed by a government or put in place by some administration acting with authority given to them by a government only became dominant in English law in the 17th and 18th century, and even in Continental Europe where codified Roman law played a much larger role, there were still huge gaps in the law that were left to the discretion of judges and local authorities, and that only changed after Napoleon.
Thu, May 26, 2022, 10:53pm (UTC -5)
Thu, May 26, 2022, 10:54pm (UTC -5)
DS9 went out of its way to ruin the Vulcans.
Mon, Jun 20, 2022, 10:04pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Jun 20, 2022, 10:12pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Jun 27, 2022, 10:51pm (UTC -5)
Miles O'Brian is defenetly my favourite character in Trek universe but somtimes they pack a little bit to much in him. He started as a soldier / crew man / rating but then decided to go into engeneering where he waited the the transportation room and then started to advance. Where did he get all his experince to command warship in such situations? He is also involved in covert operations in other episodes. But he is the very competent engineer and for the last 4 years at least a family man.
I am aware that the writers have a tendenc to put more in some characters than is probable. Perhaps it is helped by that all Federation emplyees are of an extremely high standard, On the other hand Miles did have 22 years to gain this which is still much more realsitic than some of the characters in the DISCO.
By probably the same reason that the writers do this I do not mind it to much. I normaly just tend to rise one of my eyebrowes.
Sun, Aug 21, 2022, 4:59am (UTC -5)
"A particularly good example of this was the Iran Air Flight 655/Vincennes incident of 1988 in which the US Navy vessel USS Vincennes shot down an Iranian passenger aircraft, killing all 290 passengers and crew. The US government claimed that the computerized missile system mistook the aircraft for a fighter jet because it wasn't where it was supposed to be and because the pilot wasn't listening to the frequency on which the Vincennes broadcast a warning notification."
Fri, Sep 2, 2022, 11:51am (UTC -5)
Do we have an actus reus (wrongful act)? Yes, we do.
For there to be a crime though, there has to be a mens rea, too, i.e. the intent. The exception are strict liability offenses, which this was (apparently) not.
So far, so good. The problem is that the Klingon seeks to prove there was intent--whether premedidated or otherwise--by (successfully) portraying Worf as irascible, hot-tempered, pigheaded, frustrated, and vengeful. That is absolute trash law, not supported in any legal doctrine such as would likely apply in the jurisprudence of ye "enlightened" Federation. The only causal link, albeit very tenuous and circumstantial, is Worf itching for a fight to prove himself. That, though, is offset against the fact that attacking and killing unarmed Klingons not only goes against his credo but would NOT have enabled him to redeem himself in either his own eyes or those of the retrograde Klingon society. Deliberately perpetrating an act of dishonor, therefore, would have been a DISincentive.
I'm also shocked that he lashed out at the Klingon attorney, and that's largely on Cisco. Given 1) the Kilngon nature, 2) the Klingon lawyer's personality and tactics, and 3) the circumstances of the case, anyone could see from a billion lightyears off that the Klingon lawyer was going to try to get a rise out of Worf and provoke him into doing something stupid. That Cisco didn't forewarn him to cool his jets and stay the frack calm WHATEVER happens boggles the mind.
That said, Worf punching him was not an attack on an unarmed man using disproportionate force. Sure, it doesn't make for good optics but it is in no way comparable to deliberately vaporizing a vessel full of wumyn and kids using time-shifting or whatever torpedoes.
Also, what, no closing arguments?!?
And then comes the deus ex-machina copout. Words fail. I thought the previous episode, with that "emissary" dude, was ineffably frustrating through the trigger-happy smash of that illustrious reset button, thus avoiding having to explore a complex issue. This was even worse. Here, they wouldn't have needed to drag the story out even into just one more eppy; all they could've done was subject the legal argumentation proffered by both sides to some sensible juridical analysis and subsequent decision in judgment. But noooooo! Having Dodo swoop in with some groundbreaking revelation at the eleventh hour was so much easier. (Was it, though?)
Still, I enjoyed the ep. It was snappy and pretty dynamic, without being diluted by a B-story. I even enjoyed the twist at the end, too, frustrating though as it was for the lawyer in me. Some folks use dead people's identity to vote or to get phony passports; the Klingies did it to try to land Worf in hot water and gain a strategic upper hand.
It's a solid three stars for my money. What the heck, make it a 3-1/2; I'm feeling generous today!
Sat, Sep 3, 2022, 8:02am (UTC -5)
Assuming, for this episode, that that the treaty does not address it, you would default to whatever "law" the arbitrator is required to follow. That issue is also unclear, which undercuts the legitimacy of the episode. So, now, it's frontier law, implemented by a Vulcan, involving a high profile military incident of an officer serving on a station critical to the Federation's defense against the Dominion.
But, hey, Word growls a certain way so screw it. Hand him over!
Sat, Sep 3, 2022, 9:14am (UTC -5)
Rather I think they were trying to show that Worf can follow Federation rules and oblige to Federation customs to a degree, but due to Worf's Klingon nature he eventually reaches a certain point where Federation society (and therefore *the hearing's rules themselves*) can't properly contain or care for him.
This does against the grain of what we're taught about the Federation. Because ideally it could handle inclusion of any humanoid and be pliable enough to find an accommodation. Maybe Klingons are the exception. Or maybe they just need special care like Sisko gives to Worf at the end of the episode. That part is interesting, I think.
Sat, Sep 3, 2022, 9:51am (UTC -5)
Yes, sir/ma'am, you are right. It IS an extradition hearing. (That's what I get for reading my emails while watching this.) It means the actus reus/mens rea are not at the forefront of the considerations.
Now, and I'll confess to either having missed this or it not having been made clear, two questions arise:
1. Did the incident take place in undisputed Klingon space? From what I remember (I don't want to rewatch the ep. at this time), it happened either in disputed or in non-Klingon space. A criminal offense is, generally, tried by the authority in whose jurisdiction said offense was committed, regardless of the nationality of either the malefactor or any victims. If the offense took place in disputed space, then the Klingons' claim is very unlikely to succeed, and the most they can do is insist the Federation try him. It's more interesting if it happened in "terra nullius" (or the equivalent of, I guess, "high seas"). Then the Klingons' claim would be marginally stronger, being that one of the vessels was its own, but the Federation would still be under no obligation to hand Worf over and he could/should be tried under Federation jurisdiction.
2. You mention the terms of the treaty between the Klingons and the Federation. However, hasn't that treaty been formally declared null and void? Even if not, the Klingons' earlier actions would have served to defeat its objects and purpose anyway, which would have effectively voided it.
Absent such a treaty, containing clear provisions regarding extradition, the Klingons have no direct claim. If the incident took place in the jurisdiction of a third party, which does have a treaty with the Federation, then the Klingons could have tried to prevail on that party to seek Worf's extradition to IT for trial. Otherwise, the Federation could have entertained the Klingons' request out of good will (though Worf would then have recourse under the Federation's internal law), but, as you say, whose law would govern the decision on the extradition? It would have to be the equivalent of Earth's ius cogens, which I've no idea if it exists in the Star Trek universe or, perhaps, they could fall back on the defunct Klingon-Federation treaty.
I think, given all the above, the Klingons' best bet would be demanding the Federation try him under Federation law, with the Klingons appearing as "amicus."
Man, sorry for the length; my specialization is public international law, and this is the result! 🤦♂️🤦♂️
Sat, Sep 3, 2022, 11:57am (UTC -5)
Sat, Sep 3, 2022, 2:22pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Sep 3, 2022, 10:01pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Sep 4, 2022, 12:01am (UTC -5)
Looking at this from a legal perspective is probably not helpful. There is no actual international law, at least not what the term implies. While there are some arbitration mechanisms and the ICC all these mechanisms are voluntary. In other words, there is no enforcement system/authority to enforce rule/"law" breaking. International law should actually be called international agreements.
In this situation it might be more useful to look at it from a political framework. In international relations there are only three things that make states do things. War or the threat of war; economic threats for example sanctions; goodwill.
It seems that the episode implies that the Klingons hope that the Federation are so nice that they will just hand Worf over if he is guilty. In other words, they hope that goodwill combined with some vague threats about potential violence will do the trick. I guess the Klingon lawyer guy also makes some allusions to soft power, meaning that the Federation committed mass murder and let the perpetrator go free which could damage them in treaty negotiations with other powers. On the other hand one wonders if there is any competition on the soft power front here considering what Klingons do in war ( murdering unarmed soldiers and non combatants, eating both)
Sun, Sep 4, 2022, 1:26am (UTC -5)
Sun, Sep 4, 2022, 2:10am (UTC -5)
Sun, Sep 4, 2022, 4:46am (UTC -5)
It also has Status of Forces Agreements (SOFAS) with NATO countries under which military personnel of the U.S. can and will be extradited to foreign countries and/or tried in their courts under their laws.
So, there is clear law governing this process.
Sun, Sep 4, 2022, 5:34am (UTC -5)
A treaty or an agreement between individual states is not a law. It's a treaty. In the international sphere there is no absolute authority that enforces agreements, meaning that if the US for some reason decides that military personnel will not be tried in a foreign court, even one it has an extradition treaty with, then it can just do so and it has done so in the past.
Were all those war crimes US soldiers committed in Iraq or Afghanistan ever tried there? How a about drone pilots stationed in Europe doings things that are illegal in those European host countries? Were those ever tried in these host countries or tried at all? No. The host nation cannot really do anything about it if the US refuses, apart from banning US military personnel from it's soil or grumble and look the other way.
The international sphere is anarchic, meaning that there is no law.
Sun, Sep 4, 2022, 2:02pm (UTC -5)
The United States Constitution provides that the president "shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two-thirds of the Senators present concur" (Article II, section 2). Treaties are binding agreements between nations and become part of international law. Treaties to which the United States is a party also have the force of federal legislation, forming part of what the Constitution calls ''the supreme Law of the Land.''
Whether the U.S. elects to violate the law it creates with another country is another matter entirely. Is it international law in the sense of the U.S. subjecting itself to ICC or ICJ jurisdiction. Perhaps not.
But your position that "it is not a law" is dead wrong. If you wish to continue this argument, be prepared to cite to specific U.S. authority.
Sun, Sep 4, 2022, 3:12pm (UTC -5)
Ok I'll try it again and maybe it will become clearer. The difference between laws and so called international law.
You are probably in a country with the rule of law. Did you agree to those laws? No. If you break those laws, is there an authority that will punish you if you want to or not? yes. Do the laws apply to all adult citizens in your country? yes.
Now you are a country who violates international law. Did you agree that this "law "applies to you? Yes. Is there an authority that will punish you if you want to or not? Maybe. Does these laws apply to all other nations? No.
Here a little more
I would leave it at that because in my view international law is not a real system of laws but an always changing web of rules that, in most cases, only apply to pairs or small groups of nations. The rules can only be enforced by war or economic/political pressure. I also have very little interest in going into the specifics of how the state system developed after the treaty of Westphalia and how that relates to treaties, conventions and sovereignty.
Let's just say that in the situation we have here the Federation has no active extradition treaty, the Klingon courts are sure to not guarantee a fair trail and the Klingon prisons are inhumane. Any of those points by itself would make an extradition extremely unlikely.
Sun, Sep 4, 2022, 4:31pm (UTC -5)
As for the episode, if Worf were extradited by the arbitrator, it appears the Federation would have complied with the decision. Why? Because some legal apparatus somewhere requires it. Otherwise, there would be no point in having an arbitration. Could the Federation, with Worf's assent, tell the Klingons to pound sand? Yep, just like the U.S. could do so. But that does not change the fact that a legal framework exists.
Mon, Sep 5, 2022, 1:48am (UTC -5)
"you think treaties or SOFAS are not enforceable?"
Yes, that is what I'm saying. I guess it depends on you definition of "enforceable" but who enforces a domestic law? The state. Who enforces a treaty like SOFAS? Nobody, in your example the USA makes the decision that the continuing existence of the treaties or agreements in relation to SOFAS are of greater interest to the USA than not handing over a felonious citizen. The other nation effectively asks the USA to hand somebody over and the USA agrees. I would argue that enforceable means that the parties involved can be forced to do something if they want to or not. That is not the case in your example. In the end this is all voluntary.
"But that does not change the fact that a legal framework exists."
The episode does not give an indication that there is a formal legal framework. It could be that the Klingons just asked the Federation for arbitration. States often interact in informal ways. It might sound weird but states can just ask each other to do things. That the Federation as one of the involved parties is overseeing the arbitration is amusing. I guess the Federation is so good that even without a treaty it would willingly rule against itself. Let's not forget, the Klingons were attacking a humanitarian convoy full of medication to curb a plague outbreak. That the Federation even considers this is hilarious. You just want to hug and kiss the Federation. They are really going the extra ethical mile.
Sat, Dec 24, 2022, 9:07am (UTC -5)
Sat, Jan 14, 2023, 6:40pm (UTC -5)
I’ve read he was ill during filming. Which may be why (to me at least) it looks like they decided to do 60% of the normal Klingon makeup and rolled with it. His expressions remind me of K'ehleyr who was supposed to be half human. It could just be in my head but I’ve seen this a few times and it always comes back to me a few minutes in.
It’s still a good episode though and the cutaways during the trial are very well done. Just my weird gripe.
Sun, Mar 5, 2023, 2:48pm (UTC -5)
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