Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Rules of Engagement"

2.5 stars

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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89 comments on this review

Tue, Feb 24, 2009, 11:16pm (UTC -5)
That there can be Klingon lawyers is as funny as the notion of Klingon scientists (see J'Dan, TNG's The Drumhead).
I can see a whole gaggle of Klingon lawyers getting off of work, drinking blood wine and talking about the glorious sub-paragraphs of Proposition 17: Rules and Regulations regarding Tribble contamination.
Dull, dull, dull.
At least Ron Canada has a great time playing the hammiest Klingon ever.
Tue, Mar 3, 2009, 12:36pm (UTC -5)
It's rather obvious why an officer in the Bajoran militia is passed over in the chain of command of a Starfleet vessel...

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

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

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

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

Also think about this. Kira being a bajoran officer most likely shouldn't even belong in the command seat of a federation ship. England is an ally to the the United States but do you think we would allow a english officer to captain one of our aircraft carriers? When you see it from that angle it becomes a lot easier to understand.
Thu, Mar 10, 2011, 8:51am (UTC -5)
The situation with Bajor is unique but not unprecedented in US history. In WWII and Korea we had American Generals commanding British troops. Even some units at the platoon level were combined for brief times. DS9 is a joint command. A combined unit of Bajorian and StarFleet personnel. At the time it made sense. Star Fleet was willing to mix and relax it's standards in order to bring the back water world of Bajor up to par with the Federation. Then they found the wormhole and suddenly this backwater was now the front line. THEN war breaks out and it really gets out of hand. Kira gets pushed behind because the Federation is being forced to take a more proactive role.

I never much cared for Worf being added to DS9. I thought he hurt the show by diluting the cast with one more character to hog screen time. He was always well portrayed. And his character got far more development then he could get on static TNG. But his development was at expense of all the other characters but most heavily on Kira, and lesser so on Odo and Sisko. It also didn't help that he really didn't have a job on the station that wasn't replacing someone else that did the same job be it Kira, Sisko, or Odo.
Sat, Mar 17, 2012, 8:10pm (UTC -5)
Sisko had no reason to chew Worf out, IMO. Any ship de-cloaking in the middle of a battle should be considered hostile. The premise behind this entire episode was preposterous and ill thought out.
Thu, May 17, 2012, 11:34pm (UTC -5)
I agree with the last post. It was pretty clear that what happened was an accident and that pretty much anybody in command of a starship CURRENTLY ENGAGED WITH a hostile enemy, particularly one engaging in hit-and-run/cloak tactics, would likely have made the same mistake. Why would Worf or any other starship captain expect a simple unarmed transport to suddenly de-cloak in front of them in the middle of a battle with hostile forces in the first place? O'Brien would have made a different decision if in charge? Really? Interesting episode but I think that Worf's case for acting as he did was stronger and more obvious than what it was made out to be in this episode IMHO. I don't honestly know how anybody would've reacted differently under the same exact circumstances.
Paul York
Thu, Jun 7, 2012, 4:40pm (UTC -5)
Kurn and Alexander got the worst of the deal, in terms of Worf's on again off again relationship with the Klingon Empire. Kurn ended up suicidal and had to adopt a new identity, and Alexander ended up an inept Klingon warrior, laughed at by others, living in the shadow of his father (though at least he had human culture to fall back on if he wanted). Nonetheless, as O'Brien states, Worf is honourable. At least, in the end, he is vindicated by Martok. He is a very interesting character, caught between two worlds (very similar to B'elana Torres, who actually is split into Klingon and human selves in one episode of Voyager).
Gaius Maximus
Sat, Jul 21, 2012, 9:31pm (UTC -5)
My big problem with the episode is that I cannot believe that even the Federation would by goody-goody enough to consider extraditing one of their officers to a power that they're basically in a state of undeclared war with. Punish Worf themselves, sure. Give him to the Klingons, no way.

Also, putting O'Brien next in line on the ship is just absurd. This is a guy who pointed out that he's have to call Nog sir as soon as he graduated. The only time he should take command is if everyone else is dead. The anonymous ensign at the helm should have been in line ahead of him. Also, I really felt that Sisko or O'Brien should have pointed out that for all the combat situations O'Brien has been in, he's trained as an engineer, not a ship commander.
Mon, Aug 20, 2012, 7:38pm (UTC -5)
There are certainly plenty of plot holes and contrivances here.

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

I also think it was timely for for the show to explore the inherant contradiction between Worf's warrior ethic and his desire to become a command level Starfleet Officer. On TNG they pretty much shouted him down for every suggestion he made on the bridge, it makes sense that he's going to run into some issues here.
Fri, Sep 7, 2012, 3:27am (UTC -5)
The Klingons by this point are such a two dimensional, one-note culture that I wasn't bothered by the lawyer. The writers over the years wrote themselves into a corner by never giving the race any depth. Their stories never went beyond "Argh! Honor! Me tough smash you! Good day to die (doesn't die)!" Too black and white.

The Cardassians are much more interesting as an aggressive species because they have multiple motives for their actions. They don't fight just for the sake of fighting. Realistically, the Klingons would have either gone extinct long ago or concquered the alpha quadrant. The way they are presented is as an expanding empire, but they don't seem to have expanded in a century. Oh well, maybe the rebooted universe can make them interesting again.
Fri, Sep 7, 2012, 12:26pm (UTC -5)
Sintek, that's one of the reasons I love watching DS9. The Cardassians and Bajorans were fully fleshed-out ideas and believable unlike most of the species in Star Trek. They tried to give the Ferengi some depth on the show but couldn't get past "greed! Stupidity! Comic relief!" With the Bajorans and Cardassians their species wasn't all about one thing.
Cail Corishev
Tue, Sep 18, 2012, 7:39am (UTC -5)
As odd as Klingon lawyers and scientists are, Klingon spies, as we see later, are even stranger. How on earth does spying fit into the in-your-face idea of Klingon honor?

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

The great Kirk destroyed a cloaked Klingon ship by shooting at its exhaust. So if a civilian ship had flown in the way and attracted the torpedo, Kirk would have been a murderer instead of a hero? Nonsense.
Tue, Nov 20, 2012, 1:27am (UTC -5)
This is an episode I disliked because of its script. It has interesting visual settings, something different.

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

Well, with another premise, this episode could have been great, but the writing is too poor and flawed to make it even good.
Thu, Jul 11, 2013, 10:40am (UTC -5)
I don't think DS9 is trashing Klingon canon or law.

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

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

I think it is wrong to say that DS9 is somehow a departure from previous depictions of the Klingons, I think it is very true to what they have previously been shown to be.
Thu, Jul 11, 2013, 7:25pm (UTC -5)
Yes, insofar as Klingon "honour" goes, "Sins of the Father" (only the third major Klingon episode of TNG) had the High Chancellor arranging to falsely accuse Worf's father of treason for political expediency. In "The Mind's Eye" and "Redemption", Klingons conspire with Romulans, and the same occurred in STVI also involving elements of Starfleet.

So I don't really get the objections with respect to Klingon "lore". We've also seen repeated examples of Worf's being pretty unrepresentative of his culture.
Wed, Oct 23, 2013, 6:07pm (UTC -5)

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

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

I don't know, but they're so dumb and representative of everything I despise (violence, "honor", mysoginy, machismo...) that I just can't stand episodes with them as the main plot. Worf excepted, of course, since he's about as Klingon as Picard (obviously, since Klingons as they're written on this show could never be actual main characters since they're so shallow and stupid).
Mon, Feb 17, 2014, 3:35am (UTC -5)
This one has the most attention-grabbing teaser I've seen in a long time. Then it plunges us right into the courtoom. We all know Worf is not an indiscriminate killer, and a civilian ship that suddenly decloaks in the middle of a space battle does so under its own peril. The real question is how the battle actually happened and whether the Klingon lawyer (funny concept huh?) can prove his case to the judge and give the Klingons an excuse to increase their hostilities. But since when do they need one? Oh, well.

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

This episode rubbed me the wrong way from start to finish. I have yet to see a Season 4 episode since the premiere that makes really good use of the Klingons.
Mon, Feb 24, 2014, 7:31pm (UTC -5)
The Federation didn't put Worf on trial to just "give him away" to the Klingons. It was an extradition hearing from the Klingons to bring Worf to the empire. Obviously likely to stand trial in their judicial system.

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

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

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

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

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

3.5 stars.
Tue, Jul 29, 2014, 2:11pm (UTC -5)
Sisko (Avery) making the drama feel just a tad overly theatrical.

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

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

But back to the trial.

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

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

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

Great personal drama in this one.

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

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

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

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

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

Wipes tear from face.

Was there even a "B" story?

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

That's my 2 cents.
Sun, Mar 8, 2015, 9:43am (UTC -5)
Nah! ST does not do courtroom dramas well from Q's stuff in TNG to this Klingon parody. Come to think of it DS9 tends to parody all things Klingon, what was that rubbish in the Sword of Kahless with the great late John Colicos? They find the legendary bat'leth and then they squabble over it and beam it into space? Come on!
Sun, Mar 15, 2015, 9:17am (UTC -5)
The Klingons had cut off diplomatic relations in an earlier episode. Presumably this meant they wasn't even an extradition treaty to allow this request?
Wed, Jul 1, 2015, 7:26am (UTC -5)
Ugh. Two stinkers in a row. Really disappointing, considering how strong season 4 had been up to this point. The only thing that "lawyer" proved is how ridiculous the Klingons are. He repeatedly states that Worf acted as a klingon would in that situation. If that's the case, WHY ARE THEY TRYING TO EXTRADITE HIM? According to what the lawyer presents, he acted as a Klingon would, so why would they want to put him on trial? In their eyes, he did nothing wrong.

Once again, I tend to dislike Klingon-centered episodes. Jons above pretty much stated my feelings about Klingons.
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)
@ Yanks:

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)
I'll agree with you there Teejay.

...but he was a lawyer :-)
Ben Franklin
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.
Ben Franklin
Thu, Sep 24, 2015, 1:05pm (UTC -5)
Oh.. and it's total BS that O'Brien says he WOULDN'T fire on the decloaking ship. Of course he would! They were in the middle of a firefight with cloaking and uncloaking ships! Properly written for his character, if O'Brien is asked "During a firefight with cloaking ships, a tachyon surge in front of you is closing in, do you fire?" the answer is YES OF COURSE!

This just adds to my ire towards this episode. And I usually love Klingon episodes...
Wed, Sep 30, 2015, 12:43pm (UTC -5)
Ben Franklin, ok, an "extradition hearing" run under a federation judge (Star Fleet rules)...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. Brooks' acting. My god, he is seriously the worst actor in all of Trek when he has to act emotional/excited/angry. It's immersion shattering.
Tue, Oct 6, 2015, 11:24am (UTC -5)
"4. Fake dilemma. Everybody agrees that if you fight Klingons/Romulans, if you want to survive, you have to shoot at decloaking ships. If some civilians transport were to decloak in the heat of battle, that's just bad luck for them.
And O'Brien disagrees? O'Brien???"

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

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

As I quoted above, Sisko's quote was spot on... even if his acting wasn't.
William B
Wed, Nov 25, 2015, 11:57pm (UTC -5)
So, I agree that Worf should not have fired on the decloaking ship without verifying that it was an enemy vessel. As improbable as it seems for a civilian ship to decloak in the middle of a battle, Sisko's statement that Starfleet prioritizes civilian lives above their own ships' security and (especially) that this was an area known to be used by civilians. That said, the situation is so contrived that I cannot quite understand how the court case went on as long as it did. Yes, Worf acted inappropriately, to some degree, according to Starfleet protocol, but it was such an obvious accident and an obvious mistake to make, and, more to the point, it is impossible to understand how the Klingon rules of engagement would view firing on a decloaking ship in the middle of an ongoing battle as a beyond-the-pale act of murder instead of an accident. In fact, it seems pretty possible that Klingon rules of engagement don't have anything against firing on civilians accidentally, because Ch'Pok cannot seem to keep straight from one minute to the next whether it's a good thing or a bad thing to fire on civilians in battle. In order to corner Worf, Ch'Pok bounces back and forth between "any Klingon would have fired on that ship with intent to kill" and "you are the ultimate un-Klingon coward for firing on those civilians," with endless variations designed to vex Worf until Worf finally loses his cool, which proves that he totally fired on those civilians because he lost his cool, I guess, which shows he should be extradited because his heart is Klingon, and only the Klingons can prosecute a person whose heart is Klingon, and by extraditing Worf for being a Klingon in his heart the Klingon Empire will embarrass the Federation for having such cowardly officers that act like Klingons, which, uh, wait, let me start over. Ch'Pok's irrational baiting could maybe play in lower court circuit, but surely a Vulcan admiral JAG would be able to recognize that none of what he is saying holds together. When Kurn put Worf through his paces, basically snarling at Worf about how Worf's actions have ruined his life and then attacking him for Worf's weakness in criticizing him, this made sense because Kurn was angry, broken, and also ambivalent about what Worf had done and how he should respond. Ch'Pok is attempting some sort of legal trickery which really does not work. I don't know what extradition between the Federation and the Klingons look like -- actually probably at the moment there *is* no formal extradition -- but it seems to me that whether or not a person is Klingon by birth doesn't matter, especially since Worf's Klingon citizenship has presumably been revoked; Kirk and Bones were extradited in STVI not because they were Klingon, but because they committed a crime against the Klingons, whereas Ch'Pok really does seem to be arguing that Worf's actions are only a crime if he is Klingon (which he is, unless he's not enough of a Klingon and then...).

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

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

The episode is pretty dull, really, and very by-the-numbers as a court case. The theatrical talking-in-flashbacks device is neat, though is not enough to save the episode. There is some good current-state material for Worf, but not really enough to sustain this episode. 1.5 stars.
Mon, Nov 30, 2015, 3:05pm (UTC -5)
The Sisko scene at the end was completely unnecessary. Sisko has sufficient evidence to show that the whole trial is a farce. Why would Sisko or the JAG waste any more time, or poor Worf's time with such a circus?
Mon, Dec 28, 2015, 7:15am (UTC -5)
"Wow does Jammer know his stuff. I teach film, so I was impressed with how Jammer throws out terms like "diegetic" and "non-diegetic" (fancy terms for the elements that literally occur within the fictional action of the story and those elements that occur outside the storyline (such as when Dax breaks with the fictional world and speaks to the camera)."

Sorry, but Dax momentarily speaking to the camera has NOTHING to do with diegetic/non diegetic. First, she does not break from the fictional world. She is simply reminiscing and we are watching her recollection of events, but she never leaves the "fictional world" of the story. She was not knowingly addressing the audience either. Are you sure you teach film?
Diamond Dave
Sun, Jan 3, 2016, 6:06am (UTC -5)
I liked this one a lot. Despite it being a fairly worn courtroom premise, this is directed with some real panache by Lavar Burton and the performances - led by Ch'Pok - carry it along with some speed and not a little wit (Quark's recollections being a fine example). The plot issues identified by others bothered me not at all, but that often happens I find. 3 stars for me.
Tue, Apr 12, 2016, 8:17am (UTC -5)
"Rules of Engagement" is a fairly standard, average episode with a few nice flourishes and some really glaring flaws.

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)
"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?"

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)
Agreed that Martok improves him a lot. I liked him much more after the middle of S5. I thought he was effective in "Apocalypse", "Par'Mach" is alright... it's better than any of his S4 episodes but not that great, and he's AWFUL in the Risa episode.

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)
@Robert - "The only real question is.... which is worse? This? The one about Kurn? Or the one about the stupid magic Bat'leth?"

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)
@Luke - I like Ezri in the ensemble. She works pretty well in nearly every episode where she's not carrying it herself. And that's not a knock on the actress. That's just me hating "Prodigal Daughter" and "Field of Fire". She got 3 episodes and the only one that didn't SUCK was really a Garak episode.

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)
A counselor who happened to take Forensic Psychology AND had the firsthand knowledge of a killer.

...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)
It was less boring than this one.... I don't know that it was better :)
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)
LOL! See!!! It's another starship sized plothole. Let's just drive the Defiant right through that thing!!!
Tue, Apr 12, 2016, 6:45pm (UTC -5)
Robert (and Luke):

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)
@Skeptical - I've wondered that myself (and I definitely agree that true or not it had no bearing on the train-wreck that is "Without Sin").

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)
What happened to Worf? I'll tell you, it's Ron Moore. He did the same damn thing in BSG. .... let's slap these characters around a bit, because we can and it will be cool - but let's do it for no reason... it cought up with him in BSG, he had no idea how to close out the series because everything he did in season's 3&4 had no end goal in sight. .. .and it showed.

Ron Moore:

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)
@Yanks - I love "Change of Heart", but I do agree with you that some of the knocking Worf around had no end goal in mind. It always grated me that Worf get's his honor back like a season later and Kurn's ordeal was all for nothing.
Wed, Apr 13, 2016, 9:12am (UTC -5)
Oh god, I thought that one was the worst Robert. A mission that could change the tide of the war and ... well, screw it because my honey got hurt. That's sooooooooo Klingon Warrior-ish.
Wed, Apr 13, 2016, 10:44am (UTC -5)
I don't know about "Change of Heart", I'll have to wait until I get to in my re-watch. But, the idea of Worf deciding to save Dax instead of completing the mission does ring true to the character for me. This is, after all, a guy who, when his first lover was killed, went on a epic murder spree in complete defiance of Federation morality and Starfleet regulations.
Wed, Apr 13, 2016, 11:38am (UTC -5)
@Yanks/Luke - I'm going to side with Luke here. Every Klingon "hero" on the show is honorable in their own way, but not all in exactly the same way.

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.
William B
Wed, Apr 13, 2016, 2:03pm (UTC -5)
I agree with Luke, Chrome, Robert on "Change of Heart" -- I think Worf is a romantic and believed that it was the right thing to do to save his wife, even though he did *initially* want to follow his duty. My primary problem with CoH is that I think that the characters are too blase about the consequences of Worf's choice, in particular with weird "oh your career will suffer" stuff rather than the possible millions dead, etc. -- but that doesn't tank the episode for me, which I think comes out to average or slightly above. (I gave it 2.5.)

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.
William B
Wed, Apr 13, 2016, 2:05pm (UTC -5)
Sorry I meant to credit Skeptical with his great "conspiracy-theorist" post as well.
Thu, Apr 14, 2016, 1:09pm (UTC -5)
@ Chrome
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)
"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."

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)
I don't know that I know Martok or his wife enough to gauge the reaction. Also note... I'm not disagreeing or agreeing with Worf's choice... only that I think it suits him and comes organically from the character. For what it's worth, I don't think Dax's request for him to go on was bravado. I genuinely believe SHE would have left HIM to die.

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)
@Chrome - In THIS, I think the episode does side with Yanks.

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)
Oh yes, and I see now that the writers wanted to keep to the Federation and Klingons only semi-enemies at this point. However, it's a really a non-issue as this case is settled in such a way that it's not going to have any affect on relations either way. I'm not sure why they bring it up only to give us the ending they did.

The verdict is the Klingons have become Romulans.
Mon, Jun 6, 2016, 6:19pm (UTC -5)
This episode confused me the first time I watched it last year.
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)
Honestly, unless every single officer was killed, O'Brien would not end up in command. He's an NCO--a Chief Petty Officer. That's enlisted and that means that an Ensign straight out of the Academy outranks him.

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)
Going through D9 again and it's fun to back to Jammer's reviews that I read way way back in the day.

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)
I would give it 3 stars.

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)
Hello Everyone

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)
I'm of mixed mind about this episode. On the one hand, the plot holes are huge. Why would a transport ship even have a cloaking-device? This is supposed to be high-end military equipment, the Star Trek equivalent of our sneakiest stealth-bombers and quietest submarines. But a transport ship has one? Wuh? That's like a 747 having stealth-bomber tech, or a cruise-ship that can run as quietly as a military submarine. It's ridiculous.

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)
Ugh. I don't know what's worse: Another Klingon episode, forced courtroom setting, whatever was going on with the flash-back re-enactment crap, or having the commander of the station suddenly having all the training to be Worf's lawyer.

1 star
Tue, May 30, 2017, 12:23am (UTC -5)
I wonder why people are so bemused by seeing a Klingon lawyer. Of course there are lawyers in Klingon society. Guess what? There are Klingon bakers, Klingon cops, bankers, fitness instructors, doctors, scientists, porn stars, mechanics, actors, bartenders, teachers, construction workers, and everything else. Not 100% of the Klingon population is in the military. Only the ones we see are though! I wish ST did more in showing us what alien societies are like in whole.

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)
@RustyShackles - I actually liked the idea of the Klingon lawyer, but I still thought the episode was dumb (to which I went to great lengths to discuss above). I thought we needed more things like the Klingon lawyer or the Ferengi scientist from TNG though. We don't always want these races to feel 2-dimensional. I even liked the take of the Klingon lawyer feeling that his battles are in the courtroom.
Sat, Dec 30, 2017, 5:05am (UTC -5)
Watched this one again...

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)
Man, I really hated this episode. Boring as hell. Overacting by Sisko to the max. Worf being used like that, like a prop. Inconsequential, predictable and with plot holes. 1.5 stars and nothing more. And what is up with that stupid ship's bell on a space station?
Thu, Jun 21, 2018, 7:29pm (UTC -5)
As far as Trek court-room dramas go, this one is below average. And the Klingon subterfuge seems like something the Romulans would do. Ch'Pok is a devious character and lies about how all those dead Klingons are etched in his mind and then Sisko trips him up. I've always had an issue with Avery Brooks' acting and here he is too theatrical like he's forcing himself to be a real defense attorney.

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)
"Rules of Engagement" is one of those numerous DS9 S4 episodes that, even if it doesn't quite work, isn't that bad either. It's competently watchable, but frustratingly bland and boring.

2.5 stars.
Fri, Jan 4, 2019, 1:12pm (UTC -5)
It seems that a lot of the hatred toward Klingons comes from racist white boys who see the Klingons as a culture with values more in line with most of humanity (read: non-white, non-western people) and can’t stand to see that, that you are so obsessed with and insecure about your own supremacism that the existence of values that do not fit into the degenerate western paradigm are too much to even acknowledge!

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)
I prefer to think that Lord Voldemort has values more in line with the rest of humanity, but maybe I'm just asking for an argument when I say loaded things like that.
Sun, Jan 6, 2019, 11:03pm (UTC -5)
Not a bad story, but way, way, way too much Brooks.

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.

Subpar, overall.
Mon, Jan 7, 2019, 1:15am (UTC -5)
Having read the comments, I'm with those who point out the horribleness of Brooks' acting in this ep. Wildly over-the-top, it is one of his worst performances in the series so far, with, for me, a huge detrimental effect on my enjoyment of the ep.

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.
Dark Kirk
Mon, Feb 4, 2019, 8:20pm (UTC -5)
I think the concept that a Klingon would choose to indulge his thirst for battle by becoming a courtroom lawyer is a lot of fun.

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