Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

“The Sword of Kahless”

3.5 stars.

Air date: 11/20/1995
Teleplay by Hans Beimler
Story by Richard Danus
Directed by LeVar Burton

"A true warrior has no need to exaggerate his feats."
"You'd better hope I exaggerate, or else when they start singing songs about this quest and come to your verse, it will be 'And then Worf came along.'"

— Worf and Kor

Review Text

Nutshell: Deep Space Nine goes the "Indiana Jones" route, and the results make for a very refreshing hour.

"The Sword of Kahless" is an enjoyable fable for a simpler time. It's the kind of story where people go on a hunt for ancient, larger-than-life treasures that have been lost and forgotten for centuries. Here's an episode that totally forgets about the ongoing arcs of Starfleet politics and Dominion threats and just puts three people on a quest with only the most rudimentary objectives.

The three people are Worf, Dax, and over-the-hill warrior Kor (a lively John Colicos, again reprising his TOS character as a follow-up to DS9's second season episode, "Blood Oath"). The object they seek is the long-lost Sword of Kahless: the mythical bat'leth wielded by the legendary Klingon warrior over 1,000 years ago. Kor reveals to Worf that he has found a new lead to this illustrious object.

Within the opening two acts, the three adventurers take leave from their duties, head off in a Runabout, and find the Sword of Kahless. Locating the sword proves to be the easy part. (Perhaps too easy. If you find it hard to believe that Kor happens to be the first Klingon who manages to put all the clues together to track down the planet where the sword has been locked away for centuries, you are probably not alone, but never mind that now.)

LeVar Burton, who directed the episode, makes the discovery of Kahless' bat'leth feel like a find of Indiana Jones scope. Set in an obscure underground cave on some remote planet, this scene is filled with a genuine sense of awe and wonder, as if the sword is the embodiment of greatness. The seekers are honored to have found it. David Bell's score is effective and resonating (and I hesitate to think how the scene would've played if Jay Chattaway had scored it). The sword could mean a lot to the Klingons. Worf hopes that it might be the symbol that may help the Klingons reunite.

But once the adventurers have found the sword, keeping it proves more difficult. A group of renegade Klingons led by Toral Duras (Rick Pasqualone)—a name from Worf's past who now believes that if he holds the sword he will be able to take over the empire—is hot on their trail. The chase begins through the caverns; Worf, Kor, and Dax get a respectable head start.

Unfortunately, this is just the beginning of the problem. A rift begins to form between Kor and Worf over what to do with the sword once they escape the planet. Before long, these two are practically on opposing sides. Worf initially wants to hand the sword over to the Klingon emperor who may be able to use the sword to unite all Klingons. Kor, who has strong doubts about the emperor, thinks that would be a big mistake. As their journey continues, both begin having delusions of grandeur. Kor begins thinking his feats as a warrior along with the sword would make him a reasonable leader for the entire Empire. And, in a rather unexpected scene, Worf quietly tells Dax that he felt finding the sword was his destiny, and that he has a greater purpose in his existence—to lead the Klingon Empire.

Kor and Worf suddenly find themselves pointing out each other's shortcomings with some subtle-as-a-sledgehammer remarks. Worf flat out tells Kor that he drinks too much and that exaggerating his feats makes him seem foolish. Kor questions Worf's loyalty to the Empire, bringing up that old issue again of Worf being a Starfleet officer. Watching these two Klingons' verbal sparring and bickering is very entertaining and often humorous. A lot of the points they make about each other are relevant.

The conflict escalates to the point where the two begin contemplating "getting rid" of one another. There's one scene where Worf nearly lets Kor drop off a cliff rather than risk losing the bat'leth. Another where the two are just about ready to go blade-to-blade before they are interrupted. Where's Dax through all of this? Well, she's there the whole time...and has the unfortunate task of mediating these two as they rapidly turn into maniacs. It's a job I wouldn't want. Ultimately, Dax has to stun the two Klingons to get them to stop fighting. The show's funniest moment comes when she tells Kor "Be quiet!" right before she phasers him.

Still, it's a wonder she didn't phaser both of them earlier in the episode. My only real quibble with this episode is how long Dax lets these two bicker before finally putting her foot down. It almost stretches on a bit too long.

The most intriguing aspect about this episode, however, is why it is these two honorable warriors turn against each other. Although the story doesn't come out and say it in so many words, there is a strong insinuation that the sword itself has some sort of spell or curse on it that causes these two Klingons to feel a very strong, if not dangerous, feeling of self-power. This is a very offbeat notion for the series—a mythical element I find very appealing. It's the perfect touch to this legendary adventure. It even would've been fine with me if the story had come right out and said it.

After waking up from being stunned, the two warriors come to their senses and realize that the Klingon Empire is not ready for the Sword of Kahless to be returned. They reluctantly decide to beam it into space from the Runabout. Kor comments that it may be lost for another thousand years. Worf's last line is a very appropriate and poignant closing for this adventure: "When it is destined to be found, it will be." The final shot of the sword floating away in space is also a particularly nice touch.

Hans Beimler's teleplay is an illustration of fine storytelling and memorable flourishes. This kind of vehicle is perfect for Worf. It deals with the honor and adventure qualities that best distinguished his character on TNG. In addition, there are also some genuine character-building scenes for him here. It's the first episode since the season opener that really gives him a worthy story, and Michael Dorn turns in a strong performance.

One last thought: It seems only Klingons in the Star Trek universe get the chance to experience adventurous legends and myths. Has the Federation become so dry?

Previous episode: Starship Down
Next episode: Our Man Bashir

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Comment Section

88 comments on this post

    I hated this episode! It started out very promising... I have seen all four Indiana Jones movies and the connection did not even occur to me. It started out very promising, with ideas of changing the Empire for the better and improving relations between Federation and Cardassia, but after three neverending acts of wandering through caves squabbling about Klingon values, they decide to abandon the sowrd in SPACE. And Why? Because it wasn't their "destiny" to find it. In other words, this episode will have no consequences on the rest of the series, which is something DS9 usually takes pride in.

    Yeah, wasn't impressed, didn't get much out of it. Amazed the J-dawg gave it 3.5 stars, that implies a near-classic episode, instead of a big snore-fest.

    Funny you mention the mystical powers of the sword. The writers intended for the sword to have no powers, and it was just Worf and Kor's nature to turn against one another over it. But apparently that doesn't come across. Anyway, I give the episode 3 stars for adventure, even if it winds up meaning next to nothing.

    Erm.... no. Didn't like this one too much. I don't think that the sword is supposed to have some sort of mystical curse to it. It just represents great power to the Klingon characters in the episode. I don't like the characterization of Worf here one bit. We know him as a noble man. Here he comes across as having a messiah complex.

    Also, the plot has way too many holes to be taken seriously. I mean, it isn't extremely bad, but not excactly good either. I did like Colicos' performance somewhat, but it wasn't a masterpiece either. Other than that, the episode feels way too standard to impress in any way. I would give it 2 stars.

    I loved this episode. The quote Jammer used is one of many humorous moments in this episode but that one made me proper lol!

    Just watched the episode again, and enjoyed it.

    Yes, the Federation has become that dry. It is a reflection of their audience. It seems to me that Star Trek fans generally aren't people of great literature, culture, or even sociology.

    There is no room for mythology, character development in stories that do not further the big picture of the series. There is no adventure. If it does not fit in their limited scope of enlightened humanism, it is shunned and despised. As Edington once described, the Federation is just like the Borg, pnly more more deceitful and deceptive.

    In the other timeline from "Yesterday's Enterprise" it took nearly 20 years for the Klingons to bring the Federation to its knees.

    Damn... they must not have been serious about detroying the Federation. Long live the Empire!

    I cannot believe worf would kill that old kingon, how fucking selfish is that? Man I lost alot of respect for him there because i would have let go assuming there was a ledge there. Man i hate Worf now.

    I love that episode. Worf , Dax and Kor in a raiders of the lost ark in space type of adventure was so fun to watch.

    I agree with the Jacobian. This episode seems intent on destroying all of the goodwill previously built up toward Worf. According to Memory Alpha, the fans wanted to believe that the sword had some magical evil influence so they wouldn't have to believe that Worf could be such a coward as to try to trick Kor into falling to his death, and the writer and producer of this episode felt they had failed in their mission to get the fans to accept that Worf really is that much of a politically ambitious craven schemer in his heart. This is 180 degrees reversed from what the character has always been. The fact that they were surprised and disappointed that the fans couldn't accept this turn shows that they completely failed to understand this character they had borrowed. I feel that this treatment Worf sealed the show's fate, ratings-wise, but that is just a theory based on my personal feelings (but I believe they are widely shared among Star Trek fans of that era -- Worf does not underhandedly try to assassinate anyone for personal gain: PERIOD).

    I actually fell asleep during thisbone for the first time in any Trek episode. Soooo boring!

    I liked this one. OTT Klingon shenanigans at their (almost) finest.

    John Colicos is gold.

    Worf's whole persona is that he's humble and loyal to a fault, even when it costs him and his family everything. That's been drilled home through 7 seasons of TNG and every other episode of DS9 that he appeared in. So for him to suddenly decide to anoint himself emperor is light-years out of character. I know what the writers say, but I'm going to continue to assume the sword was putting a whammy on them. That way, it's an enjoyable adventure, instead of a huge insult to a major character, not to mention the audience's intelligence.

    I neither like this episode as much as Jammer and the other enthusiasts nor do I hold it in the disdain of others. It's a fairly good Klingon outing -- no more, no less to me.

    Not sure why beaming the sword into space makes it "lost" for another 1000 years...from what we've seen any starship's sensors can pick up something that size.

    As for exploring the Federation's myths, I think Star Trek V was quite enough of that idea.

    I had trouble making it through this one, but I suppose that's true whenever Dax teams up with her Klingon pals. I had no problem with adventure aspect of it; I just don't find Klingon rhetoric to be at all interesting. Worf was completely annoying. 1 star.

    So, Kor's description of his dream didn't sound so intense as Worf made Klingon dreams out to be a few epsiodes ago.

    (Yes, I know, Worf was probably joking)

    This one really disappointed me. Kor and Worf were at each others throats so much that it's just not believable, leaving us to assume that the Sword has some kind of ill effects on its possessor (similar to the One Ring in LOTR). Unfortunately, the writers never came out and said that, instead asking us to accept that Kor really didn't respect Worf, and Worf was willing to put Kor's life in jeopardy to hold on to the artifact. The plot was no great shakes either. I'm just going to try to forget this ever happened.

    3 and a half stars? Man, you have a lot of learning to do about reviewing shows.

    I don't believe for one second that the sword had any sort of magical effect on the Klingons. I DO believe, however, that the pure significance of having an object that is so highly revered above anything else in the empire can have deep personal effect on said characters. It's purely a psychological matter and has nothing to do with an unseen force and I'm glad the latter was never implied.

    As for the Worf issue, there was several times that Kor insulted his honor. That's a big deal to Klingons that is very well known and it effects the best of them, including Worf. Couple that with the above-mentioned psychological effects at play and you have a recipe for a not-so-happy time. I didn't see anything in here that led me to believe that Worf as we knew him was ruined. Now the physical fight between the two of them made a lot more sense than the scene with them on the ledge. I agree that scene didn't work at all but it was the only major flaw in an otherwise good episode.

    As always, Colicos as Kor is always a treat.

    I liked this one but not as much as Jammer. 3 stars.

    Really liked the scene with Dax getting fed up, one of the few times I can say that Farrell provided some truly solid and memorable acting... As soon as she got pissed, in my head I was thinking "IT'S CURZON TIME". However, the episode did do three things I didn't like. First off, yeah... The ledge was completely out of left field, and I don't think that Worf, even in his darkest times, would resort to such underhanded deception. No amount of greed could account for that being okay in any manner with his character. Other Klingons? Sure. Then there's, as Jammer said, the bit about the sword seeming to have magical properties, which lends to my previous gripe. Still, though, that seems almost like it's pulling a "Dramatis Personae"... But I digress. Plus, the cave trek seemed to just trudge on and on like a tortoise through molasses.

    Still, I'm quite okay with Colicos's acting, top-notch as ever.

    I'd give it 2 and a half.

    Just another screwed up Klingon episode.

    Worf is TOTALLY out of character.

    As much as I love John Colicos as Kor...

    I thought the sword itself looked fantastic.

    The sword should have been taken back to the Klingon High Council.

    Worf's family honor should have been restored.

    One star for me.

    They couldn't have returned the blade because they realized doing so would've defeated their original purpose. The blade didn't need to be cursed- the clout it promised alone was curse enough, and someone who doesn't believe that kind of power can sour good intentions real quick is either very innocent or very naive(spelling?).

    All that aside a good show, I especially liked Quark's amuzing perspective on 'Klingon' stories.

    I really liked this episode and regardless of how Worf was portrayed prior I could totally see how a relic of that power could potentially corrupt even the most noble of people. Imagine finding the Holy Grail or Excalibur? Now toss in the idea that the sword might have held some sort of magical aura or somesuch over it and there you go.

    I mean it's not completely out of left field for DS9- a show that prominently features Prophets & Pah-Wraiths & other mysticisms, is it?

    By the way, GREAT site you have here! DS9 is my favorite Trek show by far and your reviews have been very entertaining.

    I enjoy Dax's storylines because I like how Farrell protrays her. She is not the stronger actor on the show, but her mannerisms as Dax are truly fascinating. There is always something slightly manly in her body language.
    Other than that, I felt that the episode went too far with Worf too. If it had been another Klingon, I'd be ok, but Worf would never kill someone like that. I don't even object to his political ambition, I object to his coward attempt against Kor.

    An insult to the great Colicos. Klingons depicted as posturing buffoons not honourable warriors. They find the bat'leth, squabble over it and beam it into space? Gimme a break!

    It comes across as sub-Lord of the Rings dross. Sword = ring, whatever. And increasingly I find Klingon-centric episodes annoy me. Or rather Klingon beliefs need to be shown as relevant to the ongoing arc involving the Dominion. This was what made 'The Way of the Warrior' so compelling. Whereas all this stuff about ancient relics and a semi-mythical past just seemed like so much bombast. I'm starting to prefer the Ferengi.

    I always picture Toral Duras following the runabout and finding the sword a few minutes after they beamed it out. Ha. I also don't get why Dax phasered Kor after she phasered Worf. Worf was already knocked unconscious and Kor was just thanking her. Unless Dax is just mean there is no need for her to do that. It wasn't funny. Just more tearing down her character.

    I'm not sure how anyone who has seen TNG and episodes of DS9 with Worf could ever believe that he could do something so dishonorable as to try to trick a Dahar master to falling to his death. I'm completely blown away that anyone would actually LIKE the idea that the sword lacked any kind of special power over the mind (like the One Ring as another poster mentioned).

    Vylora mentioned that the Dahar master insulted Worf's honor and that (combined with some psychological effect of having the sword) would be enough for him to completely turn on over 7 years of character development. Absolutely RIDICULOUS. A dishonorable murder (tricking the Dahar master to fall off the cliff) is, in and of itself, a total betrayal of the Worf character no matter how much "dishonor" the Dahar master committed. If it was really that bad, Worf would have challenged him immediately upon being dishonored (as seen many times throughout his character's existence).

    Furthermore, it is clear that Worf's reasoning is much more along the lines of a messiah complex than of being dishonored and over-revering the sword. The fact that both the Dahar master AND Worf both have the same exact Christ-complex upon obtaining the sword nearly proves the fact that the sword has some sort of direct "magical" effect on its Klingon possessors.

    I'm sorry, but if you really think that 7 years of character development could be suddenly upended in half of an episode WITHOUT any real external influence is a little naive. Additionally, (SPOILER ALERT) let's visit further into the series where Worf has several opportunities to seize power in the Klingon empire and DOES NOT. This is because he doesn't really have any political ambitions and is primarily motivated by a personal code of honor. A code that this episode clearly violates in a very direct and obvious way.

    I can usually excuse consistency violations of the Trek universe, but after growing with Worf's character for 7 years, this kind of infraction is near inexcusable. I'll give an extra 1/2 star for decent action sequences and the fact that I enjoy Klingon lore.

    1.5 stars

    This episode is really disappointing to me. It started out VERY strong for me. I was excited to see Kor and Dax back together, it seemed a good way to tell an interesting Worf story (something that's proven challenging for the writers in the past) and actually pulled continuity in properly with the emporer (something DS9 often fails to do despite that being something of their USP in the Trek series') All of it up to the point where they get the sword is wonderfully done and had me on the edge of my seat waiting to see where this great adventure would go next... and then they wandered around in a bad cave set doing a bad LOTR LARP for 2 acts and threw the sword into space.

    The idea that Kor would get power hungry and want to rule the empire? Sure. He's a former military commander who somewhat pines for the old days of the empire and knows his time has come and gone (as we saw in Blood Oath) It's an interesting heel turn that makes for an interesting story for Dax (His old friend whos loyalty is torn and now has to face killing the last of her old Klingon friends who she fought beside in Blood Oath) and Worf (the outsider who holds Klingon culture so close to his heart and looks up to Kor with such reverence, believing himself unworthy of his presence) now having to work together to stop him and get the sword back leading to a chase to a new fantastic location and... waitwhat? that DIDN'T happen? Worf became power hungry and evil instead and Jadzia just had to act like a chiding mother to both of the silly klingons? We learn nothing about Dax in this, we either have to believe the sword had magic powers like the one ring or accept that Worf would trick someone into falling to their death (let alone someone he holds in such high esteem) which completely shatters his character we've seen so far... and then they just like... throw the sword away?

    The episode would have been much better if they toned done the Worf being evil, toned up the Kor being evil, spent money on a third set and made it a proper Indiana Jones style chase across the galaxy like The Chase. Possibly ending with Worf standing over Kor once again with the chance to murder him or spare him as he did Duras and Kor egging him to do it and be a proper Klingon and Dax telling him not to be and be a proper Starfleet Officer making the whole story a metaphor for his internal discord between these halfs of himself.

    1 star.

    I'll join the haters. Worf was at his worst here. Plus, it was all dreary. If you'll notice, DS9 tends to do better with races that aren't the traditional pillars of Trek. Their Klingons are especially weak and cliche-ridden. This is just more of the same silliness, and I couldn't get through the episode.

    I can't help but feel down on any episode for which "but it's a magic sword!" is the scenario in which the episode is better-written.

    There are some good things here. From time to time, when Kor and Worf lament what they have lost, it is genuinely touching: Kor feels out of place in a world that he has somewhat outlasted, and Kang and Koloth are dead; Worf's feelings of personal security have been wiped out by his full-on exile from the Klingon Empire and the destruction of the Enterprise. Kor's constant self-mythologizing gradually turning Worf from starry-eyed to jaundiced is enjoyable, arises from the characters and ties in with the episode's broader themes. There are some nice actiony set pieces, though overall I think this aspect of this episode is dated.

    Still, the episode hinges entirely on the idea that this bat'leth is so significant that a bunch of people believe that it's plausible that simply bringing the sword in will automatically confer total rulership of the Empire too them, and ends with the conclusion that this icon is too potent to be allowed near Klingons. This makes the Klingons as a whole look pretty dumb -- I get that it is a religious symbol, yes, but it's also a sword. If we accept this dubious premise, we come to the much worse sin of the episode's, which is to have Worf go so power-mad that he immediately starts tricking an old man into falling off a cliff, lies about it, and when called on it, starts ranting like a lunatic bout how this would have been Kor's own fault.

    I think that Beimler has confirmed that the sword is not meant to have magical powers, that we are instead seeing the corrupting influence of power, yeah, yeah. Look, I'm not saying that Worf cannot be corrupted by power; it's pretty clear much of the time that Worf has to keep his instincts and prejudice very much in check, and it's easy to see how losing touch with this could easily develop. But there's becoming corrupted by power by spending years on the Council, and there's being corrupted by power by spending hours with an inanimate object. The paranoid raving that comes late in the episode owes something to, among other things, "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre," but it's important to remember that Humphrey Bogart's Fred C. Dobbs was a greedy son-of-a to begin with, whereas the episode takes a character whose primary traits are his dedication to duty and personal integrity as established over seven years and pushes him to power-mad fantasies with the thinnest of build-up.

    The nods to continuity -- Toral, the talk of the Kahless-clone -- are fine and suggest for a moment that Worf's past is coming back to him and that Worf will be forced to confront his old choices...or, you know, nah. I guess those Vulcans who found the planet but couldn't get past the force field didn't think of reversing the polarity. That's why Dax is the science whiz. 1.5 stars, I guess.

    I am going to elaborate a bit --

    Worf has played kingmaker before for both state (Gowron, to some extent, in "Redemption") and church ("Rightful Heir"). And spoilers, he will again. In some senses Worf is eminently corruptible by power, because he seldom really doubts his right to shape the future of the Empire, to some degree. Worf can be stubborn and closed-minded with the best of them. While I think "Starship Down" overplayed its hand a tad, Worf barking orders without thinking much about his men does seem a somewhat plausible result. Worf's greatest flaw might be a lack of self-awareness, which ties in with his seriousness and lack of imagination. "The Drumhead" showed an example of how Worf entirely convinced of the righteousness of his position could be able to steamroll over others' rights in his pursuit of the truth. "Where Silence Has Lease" suggests that Worf's bloodlust is so close to the surface that it takes a direct order to remind him he's not supposed to fight his best friend. And what's more, Worf right now feels totally alone -- he's lost the support system of his TNG crew, does not feel at ease on DS9, once again feels that he's a terrible father who should best stay out of his life, has given up a tremendous amount for an Empire that has turned its back on him.

    So I can, don't get me wrong, sort of get where they were going here. The SoK offers the possibility for Worf -- and Kor, whom time has past by, and all of whose friends are either dead or (in Dax's case) in a not-particularly-familiar body -- to gain a karmic victory on the Empire, for all that they have lost and all the sacrifices they have made. Toral's return maybe even underscores how far Worf's integrity has gotten him -- Worf chose not to kill the brat because he was a child, and now here he is banging down his door.

    But the episode just gets too cartoonish. The ledge thing might have almost worked if they had played it for ambiguity -- that Kor may have survived the fall but Kor and Jadzia weren't sure what Worf intended -- but for him to essentially admit he was going to trick Kor to his death seals the episode's fate. Worf getting into a fight with Kor is eye-rolling, but could maybe have worked, but it would fly in the face of Worf's whole...everything to use such base trickery. Even Worf telling Kor that he's old and worthless and he might as well let go and die would have been more believable. And when he cops to it, Dorn can't help but deliver the lines they've written for him like a half-wit supervillain.

    The episode is a half-hearted adventure at the beginning, and then the paranoia gets ramped up to 10 with very little in between. And it's very disappointing as the first real Worf vehicle on this show.

    Starts off looking like a fun Indiana Jones-style romp but quickly gets dull and boring with too much running around caves and having the same argument.

    That said there is one magnificent scene - as Worf seems like he is emoting on his childhood feelings of being an outsider to Dax, only for it to develop by his recounting of his vision of Kahless to a full blown rant about how he is the chosen one. Wonderfully written and played, and totally against expectation. It has to be said though it also seems a bit too out of character for Worf to even get to that point... 2 stars.

    Don't confuse unmentioned hypothetical curses on objects with poorly written character interactions.

    Let's translate this into human terms. Let's say I find the Ark of the Covenant. We have three religions that want to claim it as theirs. We have any number of nation states that would want to have it to gain influence in international politics. People would be willing to kill over it, perhaps. One thing I doubt would happen is people from the *same* country/religion fighting over it with some sort of messiah complex. Especially people not having a messiah complex before. Or the premise that giving it to someone (the pope maybe?) would unite the world. I mean if you already believe him you'll do what he says regardless. If not, no ancient artifact would change your mind.

    "The Sword of Kahless" is probably the best example of Star Trek doing an Indiana Jones style story. It's easily much better than any of the attempts to do so made by TNG. Unfortunately, the episode isn't allowed to fully indulge in that mythic element and instead is mired in standard Trek secular rationalism. In one way that's to the episode's benefit (more on that later) but in another way it really harms the story.

    How does it harm it? Well, for an Indiana Jones type story, there such aren't a lot of adventure elements present. Where are the things like rolling boulders, darts coming out of the walls, pits filled with snakes and all the various other traditional booby traps these stories are well known for? Instead, the only thing standing in the way of reaching the Sword are a force-field and a holographic wall, both of which are easily overcome with techno-babble. Now, again, I really do not mind techno-babble but it was woefully out of place here. Let's have some adventure! Have the trio swinging across precipices, dodging poisoned-tipped arrows, etc. Don't have them just routinely staring at tri-corders and setting up interference fields - we've seen all of that countless times before. For an episode that (as Jammer rightly puts it) is really trying to break away from Trek's usual dry, mythology-scarce routine and tell a story about the quest for the Klingon Holy Grail, it sure sticks to the status-quo rather rigidly.

    But how does cleaving to Trek rationalism help? It's the fact that Worf and Kor aren't under any kind of mystical (or techno-babble) influence from the Sword when they go all paranoid and maniac on each other. The Sword isn't cursed and it isn't generating some kind of radiation field that affects them. It's just their own personalities and thoughts about this legendary object that send them over the edge. As SFDebris said in his review - "One of the criticisms of this episode is that the Sword was not directly affecting them. That they're behavior seems so out of the ordinary that it was stupid for it not to have been some kind of influence. Well, character consistency is generally in the eye of the beholder so I won't disagree with that. But, I think the case can be made that the continued reverence shown towards the Sword and, more importantly, the continued belief that its very presence can move that many of the Klingon people is an indication of just how important it is to them. That a symbol can have that much power, to sway an Empire, yet can be held in one's own hands, is what the corruption is. It's not the Sword that's corrupting them. It's the idea of the Sword. It's unimaginably powerful - that's what's doing it to them. Imagine for a moment that you came across an alien robot somehow. It's completely indestructible. It's utterly unstoppable. But its got a small unjammable transmitter that you talk into and the robot will obey, without question or hesitation, anything you tell it. You have just suddenly become the most powerful human being on Earth. You could order the robot that if anyone killed you, it must annihilate the world. And no one would dare try to stop you or what you choose to do for fear of retribution. All of that is sitting in your hand! All of that kind of power - to do anything you want. You could make anybody do what you say because they fear what you're capable of doing. The only thing that can be done to strip you of that power is to take away that little transmitter. And, after all, if somebody did do that, not only would they be depriving you of that power but it would also be putting it into someone else's hands. Someone who might not use it for good, like you believe you're doing. So, by keeping it, you're actually benefiting the world. You're going to ensure that everything is done right and not wrong. I hope this analogy might make things a little more clear about what's going on inside Worf and Kor's heads. The Sword essentially has this kind of power over the Klingon people. So it's not unreasonable to think that the two men might start considering keeping it for themselves and start mistrusting each other to the degree that they do." In other words, the episode is a story about how absolute power corrupts absolutely. And, in that, it's wonderfully in keeping with a lot of Trek themes, going back to the beginning of TOS.

    But what really made "The Sword of Kahless" so enjoyable for me were two things. First, the fact that they FINALLY gave Worf something to do. Ever since "The Way of the Warrior" he really hasn't had much to offer "Deep Space Nine". Oh, sure, he's been in all the episodes since then and even had a relatively important B-plot in one of them. But, all told, he's had less than two dozen lines - combined - since the season opener! Here we're actually getting his, and the whole Klingons-as-villains, story actually focused on again. Second, this episode is almost pure continuity porn. And I love continuity porn! It's what made the fourth season of ENT so amazing. The episode has references and call-backs and serves as an outright sequel to no less than six previous episodes ("Errand of Mercy", "Blood Oath", "The Way of the Warrior", "Redemption, Part II", "Rightful Heir" and even "Distant Voices" of all outings!). And, I'm probably missing a few more. My God, that was glorious! If only more Trek episodes were this interconnected with the rest of the franchise.


    The episode starts out well enough. I was fully expecting this episode to be the start of a Klingon arc and tie into "The Way of the Warrior" in some way. Unfortunately, the last third of the episode is padded out with unnecessary bickering between: Worf, Kor, and Dax and a completely unsatisfying ending where they beam the sword in space. This one deserves a 2.5.

    I've seen this episode many times and love the richness of Colicos acting. Dorn keeps up with him beautifully which is no small feat. Klingon natures would naturally become very inflamed on acquiring the Sword. Kor and Worf are very heavy hitters even for Klingons. Dax was equal to the task of moderator and deserves her place as a heroine.

    Kor at one point stares at Worf for 3 hours (and Worf does not exaggerate!) Kor as old as he was and after walking and fighting all day could still concentrate and stare at Worf for 3 hours. (Try concentrating for 5 minutes after a long work day.) Kor has incredible Will. Remember at the end of TOS ' Errand of Mercy' Kor took delight in a possible challenge of Wills with Kirk and the Federation. Kor values strong will even for a Klingon.

    Lastly Kor and Worf ended as understanding friends. I believe that Kor learned to respect Worf for his single mindedness. These things are the most important for Kor. All in all Kor admires strength, courage and will. Worf has all of these.

    Astounding to see, after all these years, all the comments that failed utterly to understand the character-driven nature of this episode (and ultimately of Star Trek). This is a solid episode all around, and like any discussion among fans of "The Tholian Web" will break down into an oil-and-water separation between those who believe that Spock and McCoy's dispute was caused by the phenomenon-of-the-week's sci-fi effects on their minds, and those who grasp that the very point of the episode was that the conflict, and its resolution, came from within them as characters, so this episode (with no doubt some exceptions!) serves as a good litmus test for those who understand Star Trek's messages and those who like the pretty colors it serves up much better.

    There is something in a certain common sort of Star Trek fan, as one of the few insightful comments above notes, that has a severe problem with nuance, and tends to obsess over ephemera instead of grasping the enduring strength of the franchise which has given it such lasting appeal. That kind of fan, with few exceptions, will despise this episode.

    This sort of Star Trek fan watches "Sword of Kahless" gripping the edge of their seat with both hands, waiting for the Sword of Kahless to be revealed as a reverse tetryon theta wave emitter that's warping the minds of the characters through telepathic hypnosis, and screams in frustration as the near-perfect narrative end of the show - establishing the Sword, like all good Star Trek concepts, as a Rorschach blot - robs them of the umpteenth two-parter about Klingon politics they feel they deserve.

    There is ample justification, both within and surrounding this episode, for the actions of each character within it - it just requires an understanding of nuance and an acceptance that there are no easy answers offered here. As Whoopi Goldberg's Guinan once pointed out after Worf's annoyed insistence to her that "Klingons do not laugh", they very much do - Worf is the Klingon who doesn't, the Klingon who feels his life demands he be more Klingon than any Klingon, as illustrated in his story about his vision in this episode. Kor, an updated and expanded version of Colicos's character from the old series, is the Klingon who laughs, at others and at the glory of his own victories, and too much for Worf's taste, feeding into Worf's paranoia that Kor will shatter their society completely if he returns with the Sword. Jadzia views herself, just as the viewer is prone to do, as the sensible bridge between Klingon overreaction and the "real world" - but her own even-handedness flares much too easily into frustrated condescension that stokes the fires of conflict rather than cooling them... and after Worf and Kor have their last squabble, Jadzia needlessly and dismissively shows both her companions the wrong end of a phaser, suggesting that while she was never tempted to seize the Sword as a means to power, the quest for it had become, for her, a way of asserting her own sort of superiority over the genuine, galaxy-altering power of the symbolic to the society in which she, just as Curzon did, stood with one foot in and one foot out, refusing to accept all its implications while daring anyone to tell her she didn't belong (a conflict that first arose in the previous "Blood Oath", which reintroduced Kor and paved the way for this episode, and would only be resolved in the later episode "You Are Cordially Invited", where Worf and Jadzia are wed - two episodes which form a triptych with this episode much as the two other "Kor episodes" form their own).

    If you want a microcosm of how enjoying the episode pivots on nuance, put aside the question of the mind-bending powers of the Sword that some viewers felt it necessary to invent for themselves (and that the show's creators disowned as a disappointing fan-created fantasy) and look at the "debate" above about the moment where Worf insists that Kor release the sword and drop to a ledge below. What really happens in the show, pace the claims above? Worf insists that there is a ledge beneath Kor, and if he would just release the Sword, both he and it would be safe. Kor insists that Worf intends to kill him, and refuses to let go. When Jadzia and Worf rescue Kor, he turns, and sees the ledge - Kor admits its existence, but says it would have been no safe refuge; Worf disagrees, too hastily for Kor; Kor angrily accuses Worf of plotting his demise; Worf, enraged at the dishonorable implication, retorts that Kor would rather drag the Sword and its promise for their society to its demise rather than pass it to another.

    Was the ledge really too small to support Kor? Did Worf really intend to send Kor to his death so Worf could seize the Sword himself, or do the same to try to keep it from the hands of a man who would misuse it at their people's great expense in a time of need? Or did Worf see the Sword as so important that he simply showed little care for Kor's survival? Or, did Kor turn to find the safe haven Worf promised, and lash out only to defend his own actions a few seconds previous, something perfectly in character for him? What was the truth of the ledge?

    It seems unlikely from what we know of Worf (again, from inside OR outside this episode's story) that he would kill any man in such a way, no matter his feelings for him. In the same sense, it seems at least a little likely from what we know of Kor that Kor would exaggerate the threat to himself just to push Worf into a fight or defend his own claim in extremis - or both.

    But we DON'T know for sure - and we don't know because the show, quite ON PURPOSE, refuses to SHOW us the ledge. It could very easily have answered this question, soothed the fears of the antsy Worf super-fan or shown us a new, truly nasty angle from which to view Worf... but it does neither, because the very ambiguity of the question is the strength of the episode, and the nature of the Sword as a symbol, not to the Klingons, but in the much more important sense: to us, as the viewer, as a symbol of power and how it bends people - to self-serving fantasies of personal glory, to no less self-serving visions of "selfless" heroism, or to perhaps the most insidious of selfish delusions, that we're better than the rest, the ones above it all even as we stand in the thick of the fight.

    So we don't know how big that ledge was, or how wide, or how much weight it would have supported, or whether Worf perceived it accurately, or Kor did, or Jadzia, even. We never will, and that's very much the point.

    And since all three of the characters are meant to be our heroes despite their faults, in the end, they all realize the nuance that many of the viewers who comment above couldn't be trusted to grasp: the Sword's keen edge has nearly severed the ties of friendship, trust, and honor that allowed any of them to hold it for the brief moments that each of them did. And so they send the unfeeling artifact (in a brilliant reversal of the original series' episode-ending "beam up" moments of resolution) on its own short journey to the dark night outside, to wherever fate leads it, realizing that while its power may have been too much for them, they have their victory, because they were too much for it as well. It's not the franchise's best episode, nor the series'; it has its weak points, its slow parts, its dusty alien politics and its hokey technobabble - but it's still a good episode, and it does what Star Trek should.

    I felt the show pretty much came right out and said that it wasn't the sword at all, but rather the Klingons, who were the problem. The sword wasn't cursed. The Klingons just weren't ready to have it yet. If anything I think that makes the episode feel even more mythical, like the sword is testing them, and they both realized they failed.

    This was utterly tedious. Easily in the top five worst episodes of DS9 I've seen so far.

    Totally agree with Jammer on this one. Colicos, even stronger here than in "Blood Oath," gets a number of terrific scene-stealing lines as Kor in a story that features him more centrally. And Dorn, in his first substantial DS9 "Worf episode," gives a strong performance in a story that hearkens back to the essence of his character while developing it a bit. I loved the sense of continuity in the frequent references back to TNG's classic "Worf episodes" (I had honestly forgotten there was a "Klingon emperor") and the reappearance of Toral Duras. Kudos to DS9 for delivering a classic TNG-style adventure story in the midst of several heavy arc-dependent stories. I like how the Dax/Kor relationship merged with Worf's storyline here. This is the rare DS9 episode that hearkens back to TOS, to TNG, and to its own character continuity (Dax) all at once in a story that hangs together organically rather than feeling like a staged "event episode" recalling past glories. Very nicely done and fun to watch; at this point in Season 4 of DS9, it's great to see Worf's character display a bit more edginess on this series than he did on the more utopian TNG, perhaps a sign of the big difference between the two shows.

    DS9 does Indiana Jones and does it well. A high 3 - much better than Blood Oath, which despite the worthwhile moral dilemma was really slow and badly executed (especially at the end).

    Wow what a crock! Beaming the sword into space is the equivalent of destroying it. Either is will float into a star and be annihilated or simply never be found again since no future sword-hunters will have a handy shroud to lead them to it or a treasure room to preserve it. For Worf and Kor to toss something they claim to be so precious seems just a way of exonerating themselves for their own terrible behavior - as if they were compelled to try and kill each other by an object. I was surprised that Dax let them go through with it. She should have zapped them again and left them unconscious til they were at home. If any Klingon were to hear of this wouldn't they consider this a horrible dishonor to Kehless? Basically they decided to cut the baby in half.

    I agree with Sbestos, I also didn't think that they should have just tossed the sword out of the literal airlock, and that doing so did smack of Worf and Kor trying to let themselves off the hook.

    I'm conflicted about this episode. It's okay but not particularly great. I turned it off midway because I was growing bored with the plot, came here and read what happened next, then decided to go back and finish it. Character assassination does seem to be one of the problems here - like others have pointed out, it's outlandishly out of character for Worf to attempt to trick someone he idolised, into falling to an ignoble death. If I somehow managed to meet JK Rowling and she invited me on a quest for the Holy Grail, I would NOT be conspiring to kill her. lol.

    Dax was ... all right, but this is yet another Curzon 2.0 episode of hers. Sometimes it feels like her life is just an extension of Curzon's, which technically it is, but it feels as if she's rather one dimensional, compared with Ezri. I like Dax, but she basically feels like a female, younger, hotter version of Curzon, who also likes to hang out with Klingons and considers herself "one of the boys."

    @ Vii,

    "Dax was ... all right, but this is yet another Curzon 2.0 episode of hers. Sometimes it feels like her life is just an extension of Curzon's, which technically it is, but it feels as if she's rather one dimensional, compared with Ezri. I like Dax, but she basically feels like a female, younger, hotter version of Curzon, who also likes to hang out with Klingons and considers herself "one of the boys.""

    I think this is part of a semi-intentional character arc for Jadzia, where as I see it she falls too easily into taking up Curzon's hobbies and attitudes. This appears to frequently be a source of inner conflict for her, as she has the know-how of how to act like him, but *isn't* him, and doesn't always react how she would like to. It smacks to me of a weakness on her part in falling in with the ways of an old host rather than finding out who Jadzia is and how she's different from the other hosts. There are hints of this conflict here, in "Blood Oath", and even in "Let He Who Is Without Sin" where she tries to act the carefree hedonist like Curzon while ignoring the actual circumstances of her life.

    I think you're right that it's a Curzon 2.0 episode in a way, but in the right way. It once again shows how much trouble it is for her to just pretend to be the Old Man.

    Peter G: "I think you're right that it's a Curzon 2.0 episode in a way, but in the right way. It once again shows how much trouble it is for her to just pretend to be the Old Man."

    I completely agree. And Sisko wasn't doing her any favours by constantly referring to her as 'Old Man.' Oh dear.

    I like Jadzia, but she seems overly defined by her past hosts, Curzon in particular, in a way that Ezri never was. As you suggested this is possibly a personality weakness of hers. Jadzia mentioned that she used to be shy and introverted, which did not change until she had received the Dax symbiont, upon which she turned into Curzon 2.0. In her case, I think it's possible that the symbiont's personality overshadowed Jadzia's, which is why she was excessively influenced by the characters of her past hosts, as she was probably meeker to begin with. Ezri on the other hand strikes me as someone more aggressive, who isn't afraid to do what she wants. She left her homeworld and an overbearing family to pursue something she wanted to do, and this force of character might have been why her personality was not overwritten by that of the Dax symbiont.

    Stupid. I hated this ending when it was called "The Pearl" by John Steinbeck and I hated it now with Worf. Stupid stupid ending.


    An interesting and nice review, although it is several years old I would like to point out that it seems a lot of emphasis is placed on the excitement of the adventure and how funny the bickering between Worf and Kor is. While there's nothing wrong with this in and of itself, it's interesting how my focus is shifting from fun to character interaction. Having faced difficult (other?) people myself, bickering may seem funny but quickly becomes tiresome. To me Dax seemed wise not to involve herself to quickly with Worf and Kor's verbal sparring. Before you know it you find yourself acting just as dumb.

    Alright, time for to stop rambling...

    An enjoyable tale of a quest for an ancient weapon that is revered by the Klingons; plays out fairly predictably -- like something from Indiana Jones. Bad guys are after the sword, both Worf and Kor fall under its spell and then are at each others' throats.

    It was good to see Colicos again -- he was the first Klingon 60s Trek focused on in "Errand of Mercy" -- and glad that this episode briefly referenced that. He was a harsh dictatorial type in that episode but old age has softened him. Really liked him in that TOS episode.

    I'm not sure why Dax came on the trip -- but it was hilarious when she finally had enough and phasered Kor.

    I think Jammer's rating is a tad high on this episode. I actually think it dragged on too long with Kor's tales, talking about glory. Also find it unlikely that the 3 on the quest could overpower a greater number of Klingons adversaries twice. I thought it was slow paced at times and had a whole lot of wandering around in the caves in darkness.

    But there is the example of the lesson of what each man's quest for glory/honor (those Klingon buzzwords) that the sword can bring them and what it does to them -- some familiar lessons we've seen before in Indiana Jones.

    The ending is nicely done and just barely gets "The Sword of Kahless" to a rating of 3 stars for me. Nice change of pass in DS9 to thrown in an episode that has nothing to do with the greater story arc. Sometimes those episodes can be silly but this one's a reasonable take on Indiana Jones for me.

    2.5 stars

    It started out as a pretty interesting episode with the search for the sword. Locating the sword happened to quickly. I also found it hard to believe the Vulcans couldn't figure out a way to bring down the force field but Fsc does it fairly easily. Plus another episode where a Federation officer takes a measley runabout to the Gamma Quadrant violating the Dominion territory.

    Anyway the moment they escape Torel the story becomes a rather underwhelming exercise heavy on petty bickering and then the sword is beamed into space to float away. And of this was trying to be like Indiana Jones the last thing you do is halt the episode in its feet at the halfway mark and spend the remainder with a bunch of boring talky scenes

    3.5 stars. Wow, really starting to doubt these ratings now. Snorefest indeed. With no consequences. 1.5 stars

    Despite some credulity problems, this show is a good example for a particular strength of DS9: repeated guest starring. (Due to their way of serialization, TOS, TNG and VOY can hardly compete with this.)

    I will always enjoy John Colicos in this role. Does anybody but me have this "Grandfather-tell-me-a-story"-feeling during the first scene? Although he only appears in three eps (I believe), his character is fleshed out surprisingly well, and Colicos' acting adds a lot to it. It's one of the reasons why I prefer DS9's Klingons to TNG's ones.

    Why is it called the "Sword" of Kahless? Shouldn't it just be called the "Bat'leth"???

    This drove my wife and I crazy. Since when do Klingons call it a sword? Why didn't this bother anyone else? How did Jammer not get driven nuts by this?

    And then Dax calls it a Bat'leth a couple times, which just makes it all the more infuriating.

    And then they beam it INTO OPEN SPACE???? It's never getting found now...

    "The Sword of Kahless" starts off as a very strong, exciting episode, but screeches to a halt when the titular sword is found. It turns into a bad Lord of the Rings homage. When an episode doesn't have much depth or strong character work, it needs to be exceptionally well written, like "Little Green Men". "The Sword of Kahless" isn't. It loses its momentum early on, and unfortunately never regains it.

    2.5 stars, barely.

    Okay, a little more backstory before we get into this one. First, allow me to repeat what I wrote about Worf in his re-introduction, as this is the first S4 story since WotW conceived with him in mind:

    “Worf himself is was an excellent example of what multiculturalism means in the Federation. He was educated about Klingon honour and warrior culture—and certainly had the natural temperament to match—but he wasn't *indoctrinated* with it. He was able to parse out the symbols and artefacts of his culture which gave him identity, while still conforming to the ethics of the Federation...This is not to say that Worf was flawless. His personal history with the Romulans, much like Picard's with the Borg, led to some questionable choices in episodes like 'The Enemy'...Then along came 'Birthright'...which caused serious damage to Worf's character...Worf, upon meeting a group of young Klingons who, like him, were NOT indoctrinated by Klingon silliness, becomes a hardline conservative Klingon-values man, and doubles down on his racism towards Romulans...This crap is re-enforced soon after in 'Rightful Heir,' which establishes that Worf isn't just spiritual (which is fine), he's explicitly religious, not to mention absurdly credulous. After all the craziness he has seen on the Enterprise (“Where Silence Has Lease” comes to mind), the appearance of a Kahless clone is enough to turn Worf into a zealot.”

    Next: while, Kor had some memorable lines in “Blood Oath,” that story wasn't really about him. That story could have worked with three theretofore unheard of Klingons of old (although it certainly would have been less effecting). Now, however, we are going to be doing a bit of character study. So let's talk about “Errand of Mercy” (a four-star episode, in my book, FYI). For my money, Kor is actually a more effective foil for Kirk than Kahn. His ruthlessness is perfectly captured in his verbal dismantling of illustrious captain:

    KOR: The fact is, Captain, I have a great admiration for your Starfleet. A remarkable instrument. and I must confess to a certain admiration for you...You of the Federation, you are much like us.
    KIRK: We're nothing like you. We're a democratic body.
    KOR: Come now. I'm not referring to minor ideological differences. I mean that we are similar as a species. Here we are on a planet of sheep. Two tigers, predators, hunters, killers, and it is precisely that which MAKES US GREAT [shudder]. And there is a universe to be taken.

    As has been discussed before, in the TOS era, the Federation was an analog for the United States and the Klingons for the USSR (duh). However, with TNG and continued human evolution (c.f. “The Neutral Zone”)–saying nothing of the fall of the Berlin Wall—that analogy becomes largely irrelevant by the time we get to DS9. What makes Kor so compelling, especially in his interactions with Kirk, is his ability to ferret out hypocrisies within our protagonist. Kor himself is very comfortable with his methods (imperialism, torture, war), whereas Kirk believes the rhetoric of democracy makes him immune to such evils. He describes himself as “a solider, not a diplomat,” emblematic of the differences between the 23rd and 24th century Starfleets. Indeed, Picard seems more like Ayelborne than like Kirk.

    Conventionalisations, I should say.

    Teaser : **.5, 5%

    Kor is again aboard DS9, telling tall tales about his TOS-era glory days to a captured audience in Quark's bar. Quark isn't very impressed, but Worf is particularly enraptured, but too in awe of the old master to engage with him personally. Dax pokes a few holes in his story, but of course, the details don't really matter to Kor, what matters is the moral of the story, which is that Kor kicked everyone's ass and ate the the heart of T'Nag. Jadzia takes it upon herself to make Worf really uncomfortable, per her idiom, but introducing him to Kor directly. Worf thinks his disgrace in light of siding against Gowron will dishonour the old story-teller, but Kor is no fan of Gowron himself. It turns out Kor is on a quest for the legendary Sword of Kahless (title drop), which he quite loudly and drunkenly announces to Worf and the rest of the bar. Worf believes that the return of this artefact would change the course of Klingon history. How, isn't specified, but post-”Birthright” Worf isn't particularly concerned with making sense. As I said, he's been transformed into a credulous zealot, so attach some vague Klingon mysticism to the artefact, and Worf is all over that nonsense. He invites himself (respectfully) on Kor's little quest. Oh and Jadzia is going along, too. In for a penny, in for a pound, I guess. As in “Blood Oath,” she wants to apply some, you know, science and reason to their adventure. Kor asks her to confirm the authenticity of the sword's shroud which Kor happens to have in his possession.

    As he stumbles him drunk ass back to his quarters, Kor is assaulted by a Lethian who steals some information from him. So, I guess we're in for another medical drama plot.

    Act 1 : ***, 18%

    Well, instead of entering another Menosky head-games script, Kor just awakens to the chiming of his door, believing himself to be hung-over. Didn't “Distant Voices” establish that Lethian attacks were usually deadly? Oh no! Continuity violated! Bad show. Bad show. While Kor slept on his floor, Jadzia has confirmed that the shroud is *probably* authentic. So they're off! But not before Jadzia get's Elrond—I mean Sisko's blessing. Turns out the shroud was recovered in the GQ.

    WORF: The Hur'q invaded our homeworld over one thousand years ago. Whatever they could not pillage, they destroyed. They took the Sword and my people have been searching for it ever since. It is said its return will bring back a new era of glory for the Klingon Empire. With the Sword, the Emperor will be able to unite my people again.

    “It is said” by WHOM, Worf? I get so frustrated by these crap. Read actual mythology and you will see that prophecies are proclaimed by specific beings with specific agendas, because mythology is meant to be revelatory about ideals, morality, etc. Here, it's just treated like some arbitrary plot contrivance. The Sword will unite the Klingon people because I fucking said so. Well, Sisko sees the upside in the Federation helping the Klingons recover an important relic, contrivances aside. Of course, this is bound to piss Gowron the fuck off, but never mind logic; give that man a runabout!

    Before they enter the wormhole, Kor is careful to preface their adventure with legendary rhetoric. There is something kind of sweet about his need to couch himself in the trappings of an adventure. Later while he rests, Dax and Worf make small talk. It's interesting that, after grappling with her beliefs in “Blood Oath,” Jadzia seems to view Kor as an anachronism. She finds the Dahar master endearing, but doesn't really take all his posturing about legend seriously. She's humouring him out of affection but no longer seems to actually take all this Klingon crap very seriously. I;d call this very positive character development for Dax. Then there's Worf who can't seem to see that behind the legend, Kor is an old man well past his days of influence. Kor awakens and recalls his dream to the pair, where the Sword has brought Kang and Koloth back to life in the presence of the Emperor himself. Dax seems to recognise what the Sword means for her friend, a way to re-capture the glory of the past.

    They arrive at the Hur'q homeworld and narrow their search to a chamber protected by a force field. Dax is able, with minimal effort, to technobabble her way through, something the Vulcan survey team was unable to manage. Yeah...that sounds like Vulcans. They enter the chamber and learn that someone has already ransacked it, taking all the stolen Klingon artefacts with them.

    Act 2 : **.5, 18%

    While Kor feels sorry for himself...I mean the empire, Dax and Worf discover evidence of a second, more secret chamber. Using the magic of SCIENCE, the trio enters and discovers the Sword, still backlit after ten centuries because...anyway, Worf allows Kor to take hold of the artefact. Their victory is short-lived however, as they are confronted by Duras' son, Pipsquea'Q. It seems that at Kor has boasted about his quest in bars across the galaxy, prompting the employ of the Lethian. The trio are able to subdue them and escape, but Worf is injured in the process. A jamming signal is preventing the trio from beaming back to the runabout, but Kor's grandstanding is starting to become a liability.

    DAX: Kor, go make sure no one's following us.
    KOR: Did you see the face of that Klingon that I killed? It was as if he understood the honour bestowed upon him. The first man in a thousand years to be killed by the Sword of Kahless.

    As they walk through the tunnels, Kor questions how Worf could have spared Pipsquea'Q's life in “Redemption,” you remember, in the days before his character had been assassinated. Despite Jadzia's claim that Kor is not “like most Klingons,” his attitude is very much the same of a typical Klingon in balking at this mercy. After all, if Worf had been a good little Klingon and killed the boy, Kor's drunken ramblings wouldn't have gotten Worf stabbed. You THINK about what you did. Jadzia chastises her friend for being so cruel, but Kor is being especially hard-headed. This is rather disappointing, as Kor's gifts are in disarming his opponent through pointing out hypocrisies (this was true in “Blood Oath” in his dialogue with Kang, as well as with Kirk in EoM). His attitude here is just sort of generically Klingon, posturing and senseless.

    Act 3 : *.5, 18%

    The trio slay a small cave-cat thing and eat it around a fire (much like the Torri in “Faces”). Kor is already cooking up ways to embellish the story.

    WORF: A true warrior has no need to exaggerate his feats.
    KOR: You'd better hope that I exaggerate or when they start singing songs about this quest, they'll come to your verse and it will be, and Worf came along.

    So much for Kor preferring friends who don't smile much. Also, exaggerating is one thing, but whence this contempt for Worf? Would he have so easily cut out Koloth's and Kang's contributions to their adventures? Kor certainly doesn't hesitate to kill people, but it's always for a reason. You'd think he'd have some empathy for Worf's choice to spare the Son of Duras. Despite being out of character, Kor does make a valid point in his argument with Worf. The Emperor is a fucking clone and Worf was wrong to support him and the Klingon clerics. They both believe that whoever wields this Sword will “unite” the houses of the empire—still no word on how. Worf will give it to nuKahless but Kor is starting to think he'll just do this himself. Think of how big his statue will be if he did all that!

    While Jadzia changes his bandage, Worf expresses his concern over the man not living up to the legend. So, basically Worf's reasoning is that, while a clone of Kahless is so worthy of honour that he should be granted a status that throws Klingon society backward to a more theocratic and monarchic state than it already suffered from, ceding power to Kor would be a big mistake because, hey, he drinks too much and exaggerates. Nothing Klingon about that. Oh, and to top it off, since apparently the Sword is NOT powerful enough to deliver control unto nuKahless, Worf will just have to seize power for himself. How did he reach this conclusion? Well, hold on to your butts for the asspull of all retcons here: it turns out that retarded vision that was alluded to in “Rightful Heir” about Worf doing amazing things and what not wasn't about THAT plot, but THIS one. And next week, when Worf gets turned into a Bond villain, THAT will be his glorious destiny, and when he punches a Klingon lawyer in the face, THAT will be his glorious destiny...see, now that Worf has been transformed into a credulous, gullible zealot, no stupid plan is beyond his scope.

    Act 4 : .5 stars, 13% (very short)

    Kor has overheard Worf's mad ramblings as the trio reach a dangerous chasm. Kor, slips and of course, ends up holding onto dear life by the handle of the Sword itself, the other end grasped by Worf. While it should be pretty easy for him and Jadzia to pull him up together, Worf insists that Kor has to let go and be rescued by a ledge below him that may or may not exist. Kor isn't about to let go or allow Worf to assume power, so yeah, they pull him up. They get all alpha male and begin fighting over the damned thing. Dax offers to play Switzerland and carry the Sword herself, but not before confirming that Worf nearly let the old man die for his ambition. Both Worf and Kor taunt each other like childish morons while Dax tries to get some fucking sleep.

    Act 5 : *, 18%

    Before this idiocy can continue, the trio are finally confronted by Pipsquea'Q's men and there's a brief battle. While they successfully fight them off, Kor and Worf are quickly at each other's throats over possession of the Sword. So Dax shoots them both. Good. She forces Pipsquea'Q to unblock their signal to the runabout.

    In the epilogue, Kor and Worf determine DESTINY has determined that they should throw the magic sword back into space and let some other people find the damned thing. More bullshit about destiny and a complete lack of taking accountability for their actions, and it's over.

    Episode as Functionary : *.5, 10%

    As usual, DS9's greatest strengths are in drawing on continuity. Here, threads from a TOS story and a TNG story unite to provide a sequel to a S2 DS9 story. Ferrel, Dorn and especially Colicos put in strong performances, the set pieces and battles were handled pretty well I think. But holy shit does this story fall off the rails after the second act.

    The idea of a corrupting influence, the adventure-tale mythology angle and all that, wasn't a bad one at all. “Blood Oath” had the air of a popcorn adventure as well. But that story used the veneer of an adventure story to reveal things about Jadzia and draw a contrast between the promises of legends and the realities of cold-blooded murder. It may not seem obvious, but what ruins this story is exactly what ruined “Sub Rosa.” Transposing a genre into Star Trek requires a very deft hand. There are no such things as ghosts, so, whatever, just call it an anaphasic lifeform and be done with it! Use all the same trappings and clichés of Gothic stories but with a really lame sci-fi band-aid over the genre-discrepancies. This approach completely ignores WHY Gothic stories can be so resonant—the ghosts are a way of discussing the psychology of the protagonists. They are symbolic. Something similar applies to the mystical objects in quest mythology. Such objects *represent* something sociological or psychological. Their magical abilities are analogies for the forces which drive human beings to behave in certain ways. That magic absolutely NEEDED to be present with the Sword of Kahless in order for this story to work, because otherwise, the potential for craven mad power-grabs would have to be present within Worf's and Kor's characters well before this episode. So either we take this episode at face value and assume that Worf and Kor have always been completely irredeemable assholes, or we head-canon some sci-fi whatever properties onto the Sword to patch together this insanity.

    The interactions between post-Sword Worf and Kor are extremely unpleasant to watch. Neither seems remotely in character and Worf's actions in particular are rather unforgivable. I cannot believe the episode didn't include some sort of reckoning between the two regarding their horrible behaviour. The only character who doesn't come out of this story looking awful is Dax, whose frustrations with her Klingon idiots captures the audience POV quite well.

    Final Score : **

    @ Elliott,

    I won't critique your objection to the episode, which I think echoes complaints other have made as well, however I think it's important to always keep in mind that Worf and Kor are Klingons. Despite what sometimes happens on Trek (deep down, everyone's human) if we give due credit to different species being actually different than us then two Klingons trying to kill each other - even in a petty way - can't be interpreted within the same moral framework as if it was two humans. If a human tries to kill another over some object, yeah we could call that person "horrible" (although I wouldn't). But for a Klingon? I think the most aggressive condemnation would be that it was cowardly, or dishonorable, but 'behaving like children' isn't exactly an attitude that seems to bother Klingon honor for the most part.

    That being said, I do think that we basically have to make one of two decisions: the thing was cursed, or else the writers took a departure from reality and miswrote two characters. I guess my head canon goes with the first, and strangely when I rewatch the episode my "sense alarm" doesn't really ever go off. Maybe it's because I've already adopted the head canon years ago; I'm not sure. On paper this sounds like a big plot problem, but in viewing I don't find that it hampers the story much to worry about why they're behaving strangely.

    @Elliott & Peter G

    When I first viewed this one on its airdate, I sort of believed Kor and Worf were capable of killing eachother over ambitious zealotry to retrieve the Holy Gr...I mean Sword of Kahless. So I think the episode sort of works in a bottle like Peter G said where all Klingons are somewhat violent at heart and when the stakes are high enough punching, stabbing, murder - you name it - are all on the table.

    However, as I’ve rewatched TNG and “Blood Oath”, it really feels like there had to be some sort of unexplained magic curse - like an Indiana Jones artifact - in order for this story to work. Under normal circumstances, Worf would never seize power like he aspires to here (Hell, he’s had the chance to seize power numerous times including “Redemption” and he turned it down because of his honor - or we might say Federation influence but the point remains.) Kor also goes off the deep end in a way that’s really unflattering to the character and doesn’t really hold with the generally decent person we see in “Blood Oath” or even the first few acts here.

    So yeah, I don’t even mind there being a curse per se, but even Indiana Jones was smart enough to explain its curses and give both possible magical and scientific reasoning for them. Without that, I feel like part of this episode is really lacking. To that end, throwing away the artifact seems like an outrageously drastic solution to a problem not well articulated.


    I'm not going to defend this one much at all. I gave it a half-star extra for the potential. I agree that it fundamentally misses the mark on what a quest episode should be about-a mystical object that represents something tangible, like the One Ring or Excalibur. From a surface-analysis level, there are also serious pacing issues here. Instead of keeping a sense of pulpy momentum all the way through like the Indiana Jones movies (1 and 3, at least) or the first Pirates of the Carribean film, it devolves into Worf and Kor arguing over nothing (which, as you pointed out, doesn't feel true to their characters) in the same terrible cave set Trek's been using since "The Enemy" (or possibly further back, I can't remember). The writing staff had a good idea, but this needed a few more re-writes. So it goes with a 26 episode production season I suppose.

    Starts out as a good adventure story, but then devolves into boring quibbling between the crew. With better editing and a b-plot for filler this could have been a great episode.

    I like Worf, but this was only marginally engaging beyond my interest ing the character.

    I was bored and read an article about the Rose Bowl while they worked their way back through the caves.

    Maybe I missed something that would have better explained that decision at the end. They send the Sword of Kahless hurtling through space?



    I'm not a fan of this episode, but I think the decision at the end is more or less explained. Klingons view the Sword as having mystical powers and Kor and Worf seem to think it's possible they were meant to find it. They found themselves corrupted by the tremendous power it represented so decided that, taking themselves as representatives of Klingons at large, the people weren't ready for it. But beaming it out into space rather than destroying it allows for divine forces to allow Klingons to find it "when they are ready." Kor seems to imply at the end that they were meant to find it, but not keep it, which suggests possibly that they -- and perhaps by extension Klingons at large -- were meant to learn a lesson. For Worf it appears to be that he can be corrupted by political power, which is maybe obvious but is perhaps relevant now that he's on command track, is in a more politically charged environment, and has already started making decisions that could affect the Federation and the Empire (in TNG to an extent, but also in the season premiere here).

    my take on the sword was that its power was not supernatural, but metaphysical in nature. its gravity as a symbol of klingon honor and love of martial glory in the service of the empire was so powerful, that it was able to amplify and distort these qualities in kor and worf, which i found interesting and entertaining.

    This is the second episode where Dax joins Klingons on a quest.

    Not to be a curmudgeon (ok Im gonna be one) but this was a J'AFOKE: Just Another Fusty Old Klingon Episode, for me, all told. Lots of Worf grumble-breathing before each line delivery in keeping with the over earnestness of all Klingon plotlines, and The Precious - as that's what it is - not really earning enough of its reputation as a weapon to really rally behind the actors or story. I am sure the actor playing Kor got a kick out of flexing his bellowing lung muscles, but by this point in Star Trek I am just really burned out on the cranially ridged ones, and poor ol Worf that can just never get a break.

    The one redeeming feature was Worf at least touching on his galaxy level relationship rejection, I only wish there had been a little more but I have my doubts that it would have been handled well enough to bring the rest of the episode up.

    Another episode which is mostly set away from DS9. If only there was any examples of a TV show which could successfully maintain an interesting story in a single location. Like pretty much every soap opera ever made, or even Babylon 5...

    Beyond that, for all that John Colicos does an excellent job of chewing the scenery as Kor, it's a pretty weak episode. The "mythical quest" plot doesn't really fit that well into the DS9 structure and much of the "search" elements of a quest-plot are trimmed out or hand-waved away with some technobabble, so that Worf and Kor can spend more time glaring at each other.

    Not bad, but equally, not great.

    Not that impressed with this one. Worf and Kor turn from friends to enemies far too quickly (to the point where they plan to murder one another) then put their differences aside and give up the sword just as easily. It's entertaining but I don't think it was believable in terms of plot or what we know of Worf. Even if you suppose the sword is cursed that wouldn't explain how Dax was unaffected or how Worf and Kor were able to just give it up in the end. And of course, a curse isn't very Star Trek.

    I think the ep would have been better sticking with the Indiana Jones premise.

    This episode was good, but had two flaws, one being that this isn't how Worf is as a character, wanting to kill another that he respects over the artifact despite how famous it is, and secondly there was a very easy solution- give it to Dax and have her care for it and return it to the emperor. It could have ended the war and saved thousands or millions of lives, so they gave that up because what? they couldn't agree on who gets to present it? very stupid conclusion to the episode.

    I think this episode's tonal shift, which begins after the sword is discovered, puts people off. This episode starts off as an expansive adventure and then abruptly turns into a claustrophobic two-man show, which can be jarring.

    But think if you prepare yourself for this - watch the episode and come back to it some years later - "Sword of Kahless" plays better, and I would tend to lean toward Jammer's positive review of the episode (though I wouldn't call it great), and the user "Truth Be Told", who I think left an interesting review here in 2016.

    Some complain that Worf behaves out of character, but there are TOS episodes where Kirk acts a bit out of character too. You just treat them as little standalone allegories. I think you can cut Worf some slack here too.

    But I don't think you need to. Worf started becoming a jerk midway in TNG. He turns into a kind of hyper-conservative Klingon traditionalist, believing in various quasi-religious stuff and increasingly obsessed with restoring the Empire to his ideal conception. And so when faced with Kor, a man who brags, who exaggerates everything, who's always drunk, who slays lowly cave rats, who doesn't embody what Worf, a kid who spent his life outside the Empire and idealizes his People, believes A True Klingon Should Be, he naturally lashes out.

    Worf doesn't just have a sword, he has the power to choose what the future of the Klingon Empire looks like. He has the power to reshape and redefine his people. And so when seeing that he may be putting a drunken oaf on the throne, I think it's natural that, in his mind - a mind perverted by Klingon superstition and myth and tales of personal honor - he becomes obsessed with putting forth himself as The Ideal Klingon. Who else knows what's best for a nation that one who resents a nation for not being what he envisions it should be?

    I thought the second half of this episode had many interesting scenes. I liked the ledge scene, for example, and its ambiguity; was the ledge too small, or was Kor exaggerating yet again? Don't both Klingon's see in the ledge what they want to see?

    I also liked Worf's revelation that he intends to bring the sword to the Emperor. I found that quite chilling and deliciously dark. Having always viewed Worf as a bit of a dope, I thought drawing out this twisted side of him worked well.

    I thought Jax was excellent throughout. Terry's acting chops aren't the best, but the character's always fun, and I liked seeing her bash Klingon's about.

    She also, in this episode, embodies the Federation's role as galactic peacekeeper. She comes across two Alien Factions threatening to kill one another, and solves the problem like some kind of Trekkian King Soloman. Stun both of them with a phaser and throw the sword away: no toys for anybody!

    I thought this episode missed a big trick by discussing who might actually be worthy of the sword, leading the Empire, and worthy of the political backing this entails. Who would the Federation as a political body want to install? Who would the Federation give the sword too? If Sisko was on that runabout, he'd probably secretly beam that sword back aboard and then give it to Starfleet Intelligence or Section 31. But the sword is never treated as useful political capital in this episode, it's never discussed tactically by the Feds as something that might be used for the galactic good, or peace.

    Part of this is because a very specific type of tale is being told (a parable about the corruption influence of power; "Lord of the Rings" on a microbudget, or a retelling of the John Houston classic, "Treasure of the Sierra Madre"), which is fine, but a more interesting angle would have included the Federation's opinions on the matter. And is it right for the Federation to meddle in this way for the greater good?

    That's a future Trek script for you right there; a Federation ship finds the floating sword and debates about how to use it to install a pro-Federation Klingon regime.

    Elliot said: "I should have proofread that post. A bit rushed today, sorry. "

    I think I beat you to most typos on this page. Sorry for the bad grammar above, this episode had me in a rush to get my thoughts down while the episode was fresh in my mind.

    Man, you know how some things once seen can never be unseen?

    Early in the episode when they are looking at the Vulcan schematics (or are they satellite photos?), it looks like a round-faced Vulcanoid is looking out from the image.

    Okeish episode. The ending too abrupt. About that ledge? Ambiguity? No, Jadzia says “ that ledge would have never supported him”. Which says it all and isnt really like Worf except when the sword is like the ringggg...

    The great thing about the sword is that it DIDN’T have any secret powers or directly put spells on Kor or Worf. If it had, that would have been rather cliche, like the Ring.

    That it holds no real powers actually illustrates just how dangerous it is. In effect, Kor and Worf behave as if it has powers.

    I really hate how Worf was written on this show sometimes.

    although I get why Jammer rated this episode so high , for me at times it was a platitude, the whole Turel thing was just useless filler (like hey remember this kid from that one episode of tng and Duras clan) , basically a whole lot of nothing with him.

    As for the LOTR parallel , it's easy to make but also necessary and plausible in some way as to why no ordinary Klingon can wield the sword. Heck this came out in 1995, probably a good chunk of the audience have probably never read the books before Peter Jackson made it main stream fantasy.

    7/10 just a solid Korr Klingnon quest

    I enjoyed this story right up until I found out the sword wasn't cursed.

    Of course, this being Star Trek, I always assumed that it was not a magical curse. I figured we would find out that it had been exposed to psionic radiation causing it to emit a telepathic resonance that increased aggression in Klingons, or something equally technobabelly. A sci-fi version of a curse, in other words.

    To find out that that wasn't the writer's intent, and that they just thought it was good writing to have Worf, fucking painfully noble WORF, just be the sort of honorless, power-hungry piece of shit who would murder an old man over an antique sword completely ruins the episode for me. It goes from a fun little take on Indiana Jones and LOTR to the abominable creation of idiot writers in one move.

    I recently discovered your excellent TNG reviews....I cannot believe I just now realized you have reviews for other star trek series too!. DS9 is my favorite trek series. This is one of my favorite episodes.

    Probably the most disappointing ending in any Star Trek show? And another character assassination of Worf!

    This could have been excellent but it was spoiled.

    @Truth Be Told

    It does not work well as moral enlightenment episode because there is hardly any elaboration on that. If they spent time discussing it then it would have been better. The viewer is left to make that part of the story up in their minds.

    After being endlessly annoyed and bored to death, I came here to enjoy jammer ripping this stinker apart for showing worf completely out of character and after an interesting buildup ending in 25 minutes of totally silly bickering between Wort and forget-his-name-and-don't care.

    To find that he gave this 3 and a half stars? Wow.

    Let me out it this way : I can agree with the second half of that rating, but more than half a star for this utter failure would be really too much.

    And to be perfectly clear : while the endlessly boring script and the downright ridiculous mischaracterization of worf is easily threshold territory if worse (saved only by there not being a rating below zero stars), that half star is only for the entertaining confusion of having gotten such a fundamentally different impression of this episode than Jammer.

    Half star for that. Zero for the episode. Boy, what a stinker :-D

    I knew in the first five minutes that I would hate this episode and that Jammer would love it.

    A crusty old Klingon with his medieval bullshit plus some cockamamie quest for some mystical artifact equals SNOOZERS!!! If I want that crap, I'll watch Indiana Jones. I don't, so I don't. I don't, therefore, want it on a sci-fi show.

    I read Jammer's synopsis and decided not to spend the next 35+ minutes watching it. It's decent enough a story - creative and imaginative. It's just not what I'm into and it's not what I want from Star Trek.

    I see the next installment is some time-travel routine into, whaddaya know, whodda thunk it, the 20th century. Yeah... I'll skip that one, too.

    The ending ruined the episode. It's unrealistic, and isn't it obvious that the Kingons left on the planet will escape and in time figure out what happened? Worf will somehow be in greater disgrace that he already is and Kor will join him. It's one of those PC endings common in the Berman era.

    Like many, I thought this was a great concept and a great first half that fell apart with poor writing. Just a couple of thoughts; this episode was not exploring Klingon mythology. The artifact was real and was based on true history. I know a lot of folks get a knot in their rope because they think its a positive endorsement of religion, but it doesn't change that these are true historical events in Trek canon.

    I also think Duras and his men got past the forcefield in that cave a bit too quickly for a group that was otherwise inept. You could say their ship helped them, but if that was the case, they should have been hot on the heels of our trio instead of taking hours to catch up to them.

    I didn't catch the later seasons of DS9 in real time, but I'm beginning to see a theme as season 4 moves along, that the writers have some great stories to lure in the viewer, but they have absolutely no idea how to properly execute them.

    I enjoyed the adventuring theme of the episode. It was good to see Kor again too. But Worf was so out of character, it did bug me. He was prepared to let Kor fall to his death, and he wanted to become the supreme warlord of the Empire. Sounds ridiculous and nothing like Worf. I guess the argument is that the sword had that effect on him, and that was the moral of the story - the sword is dangerous and divisive. I'm not convinced that simply beaming it into space was the best decision despite the danger the sword represents. It was a cool final shot of the sword drifting away but I find it hard to believe Worf and Kor would agree to simply throw it away.

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