Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Soldiers of the Empire"

2.5 stars

Air date: 4/28/1997
Written by Ronald D. Moore
Directed by LeVar Burton

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"If you really want to thank me, don't walk in here dripping blood anymore. It takes days to get it out of the carpet!" — Bashir to General Martok

Nutshell: Reasonably performed, but a pedestrian hour overall.

When the Klingon Empire offers General Martok the opportunity to command his first mission since returning from the Dominion prison in "In Purgatory's Shadow," he recruits Worf as his first officer. Along with Dax as the science officer, they take command of the Bird of Prey Rotarran, a ship and crew with a tarnished past (no victories in battle), in a search for the missing Klingon cruiser B'Moth, believed downed near the Cardassian border.

I generally like Klingons and their milieu when used effectively, but I've just seen so much of them that I don't find it all that interesting anymore unless it's part of a bigger, more interesting story—which is clearly lacking here. However, if you really like Klingons and are game for a very standard Klingon outing, you might like "Soldiers of the Empire," a fairly pedestrian outing that specializes in lots of Klingon honor dialog and clichés, but not much storyline.

The biggest problem with this episode is that it's far too routine. There just isn't much substance here. But at the same time, what is here is fairly well done, and done in the Klingon style that is very consistent with what we've always seen on both DS9 and TNG. Still, just about every scene in this episode amounts to "been there, done that," and the episode doesn't supply enough plot for us to sink our teeth into.

There are shades here of "A Matter of Honor" from way back in TNG's second season. Like that outing, a decent amount of this episode focuses on the way a Klingon vessel operates, forcing us to juxtapose it with Starfleet workings—not terribly fascinating this time around. The semi-twist in "Soldiers of the Empire" is that this Klingon crew is a disgraceful group that's down on their luck. They haven't been victorious in a battle yet; they've become renowned for turning and running from Jem'Hadar fighters.

There's a lot of dialog in this episode, and most of it comments on the lack of victory this frustrated crew has faced in past months. They're depressed, enraged, and hungry for blood. One almost gets the sense that this crew is a set of "Klingon underdogs," and the question of the episode is when there will be a triumph of these underdogs.

I will admit that a "Klingon underdog" is a fairly pathetic-sounding label to carry, and I did get the sense that this crew felt truly disgraced in the eyes of their people, and why. Unfortunately, this isn't what I would call compelling material, especially considering that there are five acts devoted to it, no B-story (not to say I wanted one), and limited action only to end the episode. One problem becomes that Ron Moore has a premise that simply doesn't contain enough material to stretch across 45 minutes of screen time. But Moore is no dummy, and he's quite experienced with the Klingon milieu. (He wrote or had a hand in writing many of TNG's most pivotal Worf/Klingon episodes, like "Sins of the Father," "Reunion," and "Redemption" parts I and II.) Moore is able to use what little story there is effectively, and most of what happens on the Rotarran makes a good amount of logical sense.

Once Martok takes command, he seems to be endlessly avoiding a fight with the Jem'Hadar—hardly plausible behavior for a Klingon captain. Some of Martok's rationales for avoiding battle make sense, slightly so even in Klingon terms: The mission is to find the B'Moth, not sacrifice the Rotarran in a blaze of glory, he explains to Worf and the crew. But there are signs Martok is slipping, and through the course of the episode they become progressively more evident: At one point he completely avoids a confrontation with a Jem'Hadar fighter that would've been an easy victory. He has his reasons, but the crew, including Worf and Dax, are very skeptical of his lack of Klingon initiative.

Dax knows one thing for certain: The crew's frustrations are about to explode. If Martok continues avoiding confrontations, someone will challenge his judgment and the crew will break into dissent. This leaves it up to Worf, naturally, to make the Big Honorable Decision. Worf has great respect for Martok as a warrior, a friend, and someone who saved his life. He believes in him and doesn't want to question his judgment, much less challenge his authority and kill him according to Klingon bridge procedure (ultimately to be the only way of preserving chain of command on the Rotarran).

I can appreciate the fact that Moore put Worf in a tough position, but this is about the millionth time we've seen Klingon Honor in need of satisfaction and Worf in the position to make the Big Honorable Decision. It's been done in episodes with much more relevance and power than this one.

Another problem I had with the situation was the characterization of General Martok. I just don't quite understand why exactly he was so "cowardly," at the end of the episode. Near the finale when it's obvious he's making the wrong choice, it doesn't seem in-character that he makes this choice. It feels a bit forced upon his character, who, as far as I can tell, still has his Klingon instincts and the need for vengeance against the Jem'Hadar (especially considering he was their prisoner for two years). There's discussion that Martok's Dominion imprisonment affected his Klingon lust for blood, but there just isn't quite enough development of the idea to really make his characterizations feel accurate. Martok's about-face after the ultimate confrontation (a knife fight that Worf loses), where he charges into battle and rescues the B'Moth survivors, also didn't feel completely justified. It was a bit too easy a solution to an underdeveloped problem.

Also, I must add that the ending might've worked a bit better if the preview people hadn't given it away, for all practical purposes, in last week's trailer. Because of the preview, we knew from the start that Worf was going to confront Martok for his cowardice, so it somewhat lessened the payoff's effect concerning Worf's solution to the problem.

I was, however, quite happy that the creators didn't decide to kill Martok in this episode (or something ludicrous to that effect), and that the necessary confrontation on the Rotarran didn't damage Worf's and Martok's relationship. In fact, I much liked the episode's coda, which had the opposite effect. Martok making Worf an official member of his family's house because of his honorable actions struck me as very sensible, and was quite moving—easily the best part of the show. These characters could really turn out to mean a lot for one another, and I look forward to seeing more of them together.

But the ending, for all its charm, doesn't make the rest of the show wholly worthwhile. This isn't a bad episode—it has some good work by the actors and some good moments. But it's not an important show either, because it doesn't have an urgent or enlightening story. It's merely standard Klingon stuff; very middle-of-the-road.

Previous episode: Ferengi Love Songs
Next episode: Children of Time

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76 comments on this post

Sun, Mar 1, 2009, 8:13pm (UTC -6)
This episode was sobering...I mean, so boring. The premise is so odd when you consider the iron Klingon discipline previously established in Trek canon - in this outing, the Klingons have lost a few battles and mope around like children.

Perhaps they lost those previous outings because they were so undisciplined? Because they wanted to engage in skirmishes with the Dominion when their assigned mission was to rescue the B'Moth refugees?

In fact, upon second look, sending Klingons on rescue missions seems contrary to the whole Klingon ethos of dying gloriously. No wonder the crew is annoyed.
Thu, Mar 19, 2009, 10:26pm (UTC -6)
Honor! Ka'plaugh! We must fight! Die with honor!

Klingons are 12 year old children playing at war. I wish they and the Ferengi would all just die. And this was one of the less boring Klingon episodes...

Sigh, yes I've started watching DS9 since September last year; at first I really liked it, but I hate hate hate these stupid stereotypical races and their stupid stereotypical storylines.
Sat, Feb 20, 2010, 6:55pm (UTC -6)
I guess Jadzia tagging along meant that Julian had to be both intelligence officer and fleet liaison in addition to being the chief medical officer...poor Julian!
Sun, Apr 11, 2010, 9:47pm (UTC -6)
I thoroughly enjoyed this episode, perhaps because I had not seen the preview, and the knife fight was very engrossing because I didn't want EITHER side to win (or rather I didn't want either side to lose), and I was very pleasantly surprised that Martok ended up getting the upper hand (it annoys me when the main cast always wins - it strains credulity and makes for far more predictable television). Finally, it was nice to see Jadzia back to her old self again instead of being the whiny girlfriend which she has been all season. In fact, my only complaint about this episode is that the action-packed final Act depicting the rescue of the crew and the battle with the Jem'Hadar is missing.
Fri, Aug 27, 2010, 10:57pm (UTC -6)
I like how Worf effectively pulled the Trek version of the race card in the beggining of this episode.

Sisko is looking at his request and asks why Worf wants to serve the Klingon Empire, when Worf tells this lame story about how Martok saved his life. Sisko is giving him some serious side eye, and probably thinking the same thing I was; which was "Really Worf? That's pretty weak. He gave you his warrior spirit with his eyes? Aren't you guys supposed to be tough or something? Talking with your eyes sounds like some Tyra Banks crap to me.". Well anyway, Sisko was thinking that minus the Tyra reference.

So, then Worf says something like "well, maybe it's something a human can't understand..." and trails off in such a way as to imply that he was mentally finishing the sentence with "because, you know, I'm a Klingon and I know the federation thinks we're a bunch of ignorant thugs.".

Sisko then immediately signs the release form, and you can almost feel him wanting to apologize and absolve himself of his "human guilt" by saying something like "hey, some of my best friends are Klingon!".

Haha, I enjoyed that sequence a lot. I liked this episode more than Jammer did. I thought the knife fight was pretty well done, and I liked seeing Jadzia be all kinds of bad ass in the mess hall. Also, I always enjoy Martok. He's another awesome secondary character on this show, along with my other favorites Nog, Garak and Weyoun.
Mon, Dec 27, 2010, 2:50am (UTC -6)
I liked this one quite a bit, despite some of it's flaws. It's all good fun, and I especially love the bit where the Bird of Prey spins around while you can still hear the Klingons inside singing. And the writers didn't make the same mistake they made with Ferengi Love Songs -- they remembered their needs to be a human viewpoint character to ground the story (technically Dax isn't a human at all, but in the context of this story, she serves the eyes of the audiance.) We also get a good idea how the Klingons view the Jem'Hadar. The show is a hoot.

But yes, the flaws. The only problem with story for me is that it can't make up its mind what tone to take with the Klingons When the crew is introduced, we are told that these are some freaky-ass Klingons with Cardassian neck bone jewellery and we should be awfully worried about them. Then we find out that they are essentially just child-like characters prone to self pity in desperate need of a win. When the crew finally gets around to the mutiny, we are no longer scared of them because we've begun to think of them as the Mighty Ducks. And you can safely assume Worf isn't going to kill Martok. We already saw a Martok die this season.
Jakob M. Mokoru
Tue, Jul 12, 2011, 6:43am (UTC -6)
Well, I'd always prefer an episode like this over previous "Ferengi Love Songs".

I agree with you all in that the episode has its flaws, but it is entertaining - and compare this episodes treatment of Worf and Dax to the really awful "Let he who is without sin" earlier this season!
Sun, Oct 9, 2011, 1:46pm (UTC -6)
As Jay mentioned, it was ridiculous of Sisko to grant Dax permission to tag along when she had extra DS9 dutues due to Worf's absence.
Chris Freeman
Sat, Mar 10, 2012, 2:29am (UTC -6)
I thought this one was really good. We had never seen a scrappy Klingon crew before - they don't even wear their entire uniforms (or maybe sleeves are optional now?). Martok being paranoid was handled well - he wasn't obviously unfit or crazy, just being cautious. But in Klingon eyes, it's very suspicious for him to back down from a fight, so there's this tension - was he broken by the prison camp or not? And I really did not know whether Worf would kill him or not.
But they ruined the episode by not showing them defeat the Jem Hadar ship!! I know the episode was about Worf and Martok, but we just spent an entire hour with this mopey crew and we don't even get to see them redeem themselves. Patak tease.
Tue, Apr 3, 2012, 12:06pm (UTC -6)
@Carbetarian, you mean his eye. Martok gave Worf his warrior spirit with his eye. Sammy Davis style...

@Chris, that word "patak," I do not think it means what you think it means.
Wed, Apr 4, 2012, 1:07am (UTC -6)
I mostly agree with the review, but I think the episode deserves at least 3 stars. It's definitely better than "middle of the road," especially if you like Klingon stories, which I do. Love the ending as well. It marked a turning point for Worf and finally put his outcast-yet-again status to rest for good. Except now I feel really bad for Kurn. The changing of his identity now rings as completely meaningless.
Fri, Apr 27, 2012, 7:41pm (UTC -6)
Great episode, I always enjoy the Klingon episodes
Sun, Jun 3, 2012, 5:31pm (UTC -6)
I'd give this episode 3/4 stars. I liked it a fair bit. While it isn't new that Worf goes for an honorable yet unconventional solution to a Klingon problem, I liked how the knife fight played out. Worf risking his life and losing to Martok on purpose was pretty nice.

While Jammer didn't think that made sense, to me it does make sense for Klingons (and perhaps even some humans). Worf's gambit was to get Martok's blood racing in a victorious fight so that the same thirst for battle would carry over to the mission and clear away Martok's irrational fears. That seems sensible from what we've seen of Klingon psychology before.

This is kind of an on-going theme for Worf, where he is a redeemer of the Klingon people. He kills the bad Klingons and enables the nobles ones (like the Kahless clone and general Martok).
Lt. Fitz
Fri, Jun 29, 2012, 9:20am (UTC -6)
I love the Klingon episodes too. Yeah, they are violent children, but it's fun to see what the writers come up with given the rules of writing for Klingons. A bunch of men singing together in US society is kind of considered effeminate, so it surprises my sensibilities while I am watching when such a thing happens, and I like those kind of social twists. It's fun to see these tough guys break out in song.

Also, I would hardly call this episode pedestrian. I can't remember another TV episode that showed Klingon crew procedure from undocking through to the conclusion that was reached. I like to see all the little details of crews on non-federation starships, and I felt like this episode provided a lot of new interesting details.

I'd give it a solid 3 stars. There were some parts that dragged. I'd rather they had reduced the amount of time spent on Worf trying to convince the General to fight, gotten the knife fight out of he way earlier and then showed the victory over the Jem Hadar. When I realized that they were not going to show the battle, I was disappointed.
Wed, Jul 11, 2012, 1:50pm (UTC -6)
I think many here are ascribing "Hewmon," motivations to the Klingons.
I thought this episode was one of the best because it gave us Klingons who were NOT stereotypical, but fully fleshed out individuals with their own motivations.
Jadzias little speech about the differences between Klingons sets up the premise very nicely regarding Martok's actions etc...
Mon, Aug 13, 2012, 4:06pm (UTC -6)
Boring?! Wwrrrrhaaa, knife to your ribs! Another fantastic Klingon episode with a very original take on a crew with crushed morale. Yeah, Sisko made a pretty stupid decision to let Dax tag along but otherwise it was great. And the solution our Microbrain devised had a Solomon artfulness to it. Kaplah.
Sat, Nov 10, 2012, 1:09pm (UTC -6)
Presumably they could just set the transporter to reconstitute General Martok with both eyes....he wouldn't need an artifical one.

Transporter technology really does make a mockery of just about every medical issue Star Trek confronts, large and small.
Sat, Nov 17, 2012, 3:16am (UTC -6)
I LOVED this episode ! I have to disagree with Jammer on this review...I though getting to ride along with the Klingons was great, the story's finale with the knife fight was only complaint ? We didnt see the final fight or the crew of the B'moth get rescued...
Sat, Feb 2, 2013, 4:42pm (UTC -6)
It's stated here that a Klingon can only challenge a direct superior in combat, but then at the end of the series Worf challenges Gowron.
Cail Corishev
Thu, Feb 21, 2013, 8:24am (UTC -6)
I like this one quite a bit; the bookends of Worf and Martok seeing into each other's souls and being there when the other is weakening as a man work well for me. It loses half a point for Jadzia tagging along and playing Tough Grrl (I realize she was needed to help Worf see past his hero worship, but her pushing Klingons around because she remembers once being a guy who used to hang with them a lot is silly; the honorary-Klingon-Dax thing was really overdone by this point), and maybe another half-point because it's annoying when the characters claim something must be "fight to the death" and then when no one dies everyone's fine with that. So a solid 3 at least for me.
Fri, Aug 23, 2013, 4:25pm (UTC -6)
To me, this was the best Klingon/Worf episode I've seen so far - including all the TNG episodes.

I've never liked the Klingons. I like the CONCEPT of a species that lives for honor and battle - but the way Klingons have been presented has been filled with obvious contradictions. An example: we learn again and again that honor is everything, and Klingons would die in glorious battle before retreating, running away or let themselves be captured and imprisoned. Yet, over and over, we meet or hear about Klingons who are still alive after retreating, running away or being imprisoned. And that's only one eaxample. The logic of the whole Klingon philosophy is full of wholes so huge that you could drive an ice cream van through them.

However, I've always liked the notion that Worf is a more strict follower of Klingon philosophy than any other Klingon we meet - he has not been disillusioned or watered down by the harsh realities of the decay of the proud Klingon Empire, such as his fellow Klingons - who live in that decay - have.
As a consequence, Worf IS proud, just, honorable and spiritual - where just about any other Klingon we meet is NOT. And here's where I get off of the bus. Worf is "the perfect" Klingon, that's all good and fine ... but why does every other Klingon have to be reduced to a cardboard figure, either fitting into the "drooling, brainless brute" box or the "deceptive liar" box?
Sure, they TALK about honor, but their actions are contrary to their statements ... over and over and over again. Surely, SOME Klingons MUST have SOME sense of the honor and spirituality Worf represents?

So, I got fed up with the nonsensical Klingons very early on. With the introduction of General Martok, however, I was intrigued. Here, finally, was another Klingon, that had more complexity to him, and who actually seemed to act according to his Klingon beliefs. At last we get another Klingon who's a good guy, someone we can root for.

In this epsiode, everything aboard the Klingon Bird of Pray made sense - it's the first time a whole Klingon episode actually made sense to me. Except for the fact that this crew was still alive after fleeing battle about a half dosen times ... really? How very Klingon of them to run away! And besides ... when was the last time we saw a defeated starship that didn't blow up?

Anyway, besides that, I felt that the whole "crew is low on morale, needs a victory" was pulled off very nicely - I could almost feel he tension in the air. All the little conversations, about duty, honor, defeat and shame walked a tightrope (between making sense and ... not) and didn't fall.

This episode gets three stars from me - 2 stars for the story, lacking in characterization as it was ... and an extra star for rekindling my interest in Worf and Klingons after 20 years of facepalming.
Sat, Oct 26, 2013, 10:18am (UTC -6)
A solid Worf/Dax and Klingons ep. Martok is a good character.

Thu, Jan 16, 2014, 10:18am (UTC -6)
I like this episode. Recreating an alien culture and environment is not the easiest thing to do in sci-fi, and attempts quite often turn into a farce (even in DS9, see the Ferengi episodes).
DS9 is my favourite Star Trek series. All the others are shallow by comparison. DS9 has well rounded characters, complex plots, it definitely isn't a kind of "they lived happily ever after" show, doesn't shy away from awkward situations and feelings, like violence, evil, betrayal, even homosexuality (even if the word is never mentioned).
Mon, Jan 20, 2014, 4:48pm (UTC -6)
The knife fight and the outcome wasn't spoiled for me so the outcome was genuinely a surprise to me seeing it a few days ago. Was a little predictable up to that point in places. I though the idea of a dishonourable/unsuccesful Klingon crew and ship was an interesting concept to explore myself.

A solid Klingon outing and much more watchable than Ferengi Love Songs.
Fri, Feb 28, 2014, 9:30pm (UTC -6)
Ah yes. Klingons. Interestingly varied bunch. Well-worn ideologically and culturally yet just enough possible intraspecies contradiction to make one think the writers purposefully undermine the races' stability in the eyes of the viewer.

Take for instance the code of honor. Within that code the Klingons are viewed by some as totally anathema to the prospect of rescuing other honorable Klingons to allow reconnection with the Empire and live to fight (and share glory) another day. The possibility of Klingons escaping a battle is further sacrilege from what we think we know.

("There is no honor to be had on this day!") or ("Losing the Empire to win a battle is no victory. Retreating from battle to save the Empire is no defeat.") are just examples of lines that seem to confer a sense of self-preservation common in many species. One could replace the word "empire" above with "starship" or "outpost" in a sense despite where the in-story quote stems from.

Consider: A lot of the stomping about, chest-thumping, overtly-posturing barking and growling about glorious deaths and no fear of battles is that of a vicious roar meant to distract, instill fear, and convey a sense of impenetrable protection of ones own unwavering devotion to self-patriotism and the Empire. In that sense, it would seem logical to assume that, despite the implied non-fear of death, that the Klingon species has an inherent need to live that may or may not come to the forefront of decision-making. The posturing DOES mean something. They do have a bite behind that bark. But sometimes living to fight another day, to reclaim glory, is just as honorable.

Perhaps I'm just reading too much into it. I do enjoy a good story as I do enjoy writing.

This particular episode was a decent Klingon outing that had a few neat ideas. But overall nothing about it stood out above the crowd. Just a step above average and worth watching.

A guarded 3 stars.
Sat, May 10, 2014, 8:04pm (UTC -6)
I enjoyed this outing, because as others have pointed out, we don't often get to see the 'different' sorts of Klingons as Jadzia points out early in the episode. It is a shame that we didn't get to see any real fighting, but really it wasn't the point of the episode, it seems... That being the tension building up to Martok and Worf's eventual duel. If there's one place I can find fault, it's that much of the plot is extremely formulaic, though I was surprised at Martok's victory. I'm probably still just too used to the abundance of Klingon deaths from back in TNG. Nice touch with Worf being taken in to Martok's house at the end, but it feels very bittersweet at this point, so soon after that awful ending of "Sons of Mogh" (I say soon, because at this point it's only been about a year for Kurn to adjust to his new life)...

Also, minor confusion... It takes... DAYS to get blood out of the carpet? Really Bashir? Come on now, this is the 24th century, I'm sure we've evolved past Oxy Clean by now.

3 stars.
Thu, Aug 14, 2014, 12:20pm (UTC -6)
Boy, Worf sure does know a lot of Klingon history/traditions for being raise by humans...

I ALWAYS love episodes where Martok has a primary part. He's the best Klingon of the lot.

At this point in the series we did NOT know whether Martok was going to be a reoccurring character anymore or not, so I did NOT know that Worf was going to just injure him. Very powerful fight scene with an outstanding result. Well done Worf, well done.

I'm not always huge on Klingon episodes, especially back on TNG, but I really enjoyed this one.

I loved the ending too.

“MARTOK: Worf. On the bridge during the fight, when you dropped your guard. How did you know I would not kill you?
WORF: I did not know.”

Very appropriate and moving that Martok invited and welcomed Worf into his house.

3.5 stars for me.
Fri, Aug 22, 2014, 9:04am (UTC -6)
Rivus, you missed the point of the "carpet" line. Notice how Bashir raises his voice, as if he's angry; then Martok, who was actually getting angry a moment ago, only grumbles and walks away; Bashir smiles after him. He is saying, if you want to 'thank' me, don't get yourself hurt like that again.
Sat, Sep 20, 2014, 2:09pm (UTC -6)
This episode is just kind of *there* for me. I forgot everything about it before seeing it again today, so it's not even that I knew what was going to happen.

I liked the downtrodden Klingon crew scenes, especially the older guys becoming a bit of a cancer to the junior officers. I also liked the plot of Worf standing up for a captain he knows is neglecting his crew and that that captain would be Martok, beat up and rusty from his time in the internment camp.

On the other hand, the knife fight climax wasn't all that satisfying. Worf loses and suddenly the crew are chanting Martok's name like a bunch of idiot sports fans. Great. So he won. He's the coward you wanted dead in the first place, remember? Except that he isn't anymore, changing his tune about fighting the Jem'Hadar pretty dang quick just because he won a fight.

I'd have softened a bit if we got to see the Rotarran in the fight they supposedly won, too, but it all happened off screen.

This one has some nice moments but I can't necessarily recommend it. 2-1/2 stars is all it deserves, but even that might be generous.
Tue, Sep 23, 2014, 4:43pm (UTC -6)
I'll add to what Peremensoe said about the carpet line as well. Bashir and Martok were locked up together for over a month in the Dominion camp.

I'd imagine after going through something like that together that they are closer than the scripts explicitly say, and little things like Bashir's concern for him is a subtle nod to an unseen history between them.
Wed, Sep 24, 2014, 9:28am (UTC -6)
I agree Robert.
Mon, Jun 22, 2015, 8:58am (UTC -6)
This could have been a good episode - the plot elements were all there - but as it was, I had to struggle to keep from falling asleep in the middle.

Still some good moments - especially Worf being willing to sacrifice himself to get Martok's courage back up. If that isn't the definition of honorable, I don't know what is.
Tue, Jul 14, 2015, 5:54am (UTC -6)
Not a fan of this episode, mainly because i just think Klingon "culture" is kind of ridiculous and unsustainable.
Nathan B.
Fri, Aug 7, 2015, 5:51pm (UTC -6)
One of the things I like about DS9 is the rehabilitation of the Ferengi. With so much focus on the Klingons beginning with "The Way of the Warrior," I felt things got a bit blasé. Fortunately, Martok would grow into one of my favourite characters. That starts to happen here, but it wasn't enough to make me enjoy the episode.
Sun, Jan 17, 2016, 3:20am (UTC -6)
Believe it or not, I actually liked Ferengi Love Songs better. At least that was funny. Klingons are so tiresome and Worf stopped being interesting after he left season 4 TNG.
Diamond Dave
Sun, Jan 24, 2016, 12:01pm (UTC -6)
Loved this episode. Not only have we got the drinking, singing Klingon fun on board what is to all intents and purposes an old school pirate ship (and the script is self aware enough to acknowledge this) we also see a side to the Klingons we haven't really seen before - both Martok and the crew (for different reasons) essentially broken by the Jem'Hadar.

It's also a great episode for Worf and Dax - for the latter being the conduit and outlet of the crew's discontent gives some meaty and welcome story. And for Worf, finding the way to give Martok his mojo back is similarly important. Stirring stuff. 3.5 stars.
William B
Fri, Jan 29, 2016, 9:01pm (UTC -6)
I like this episode, though I don’t have too much to say about it. One of the effective things about it is that it is something of a portrayal of Klingon PTSD—the crew have lost their way because of too many defeats, and Martok maybe has lost the willingness to take big risks as a result of his significant losses and suffering at the hands of the Jem’Hadar. As an episode about the long-term effect of demoralization on people whose self-worth stems from their ability to fight, this works very well. Some of the dialogue is similar to the discussions among the orderlies in “Nor the Battle to the Strong”—fixating on the recognition of inevitable death and defeat—but here the humour is not just bleak but also somehow hopeless. “Nor the Battle” was in some ways about Jake realizing that he was *not* one of the professionals that surrounded him, whereas here, the professionals who have managed to make it through other horrific war situations are gradually breaking down. Leskit’s description of the Jem’Hadar is one of my favourite instances of the demoralizing effect of the Dominion the show has done—where he acknowledges a certain respect for Cardassians, treachery or no, but the Jem’Hadar have no relatable motivations and thus will ultimately beat them.

Because there is no Riker character who is totally unfamiliar with a Klingon ship, there is none of the “getting-to-know-you” exposition *or* enlightenment from “A Matter of Honour” here, which prevents this episode from being too much a retread, despite being the second major episode focused on life aboard a Klingon ship and on the slow build to a first officer-captain confrontation. The material for Worf, gradually realizing what he has to do in order to do his duty to the crew and to Martok, is pretty effective, and I like how Dax was used as the crew’s mouthpiece to Worf. The crew’s increasingly open display of fear for the Jem’Hadar and depression at their multiple defeats externalizes what is going on in Martok’s mind, but is locked up deeply and which Martok is unable to confront—that he really is not so much afraid of the Jem’Hadar as unable to throw himself into the fight once more, possibly for fear of being recaptured and possibly because he does not want to take the risk of losing control. So I like how Worf’s duty to the crew and his duty to Martok seem to go against each other, but Worf actually finds a way to deal with both *because* they are, in effect, one and the same problem (the crew’s depression has the same roots as Martok’s).

I agree with the comment above that the crew’s complete turnaround on Martok strains credulity a bit—I mean, they were against him just before this, but I guess they just automatically side with whoever seems to be winning (and willing to fight)? And I did feel a bit cheated that Martok’s change in attitude about crossing the border comes without much explanation. And yet, I think the episode somewhat gives us the code for interpreting what happens in Worf’s initial dialogue scene with Sisko, where he refers to the shared moment between warriors in a look, and how Worf had essentially lost his will to fight and was somewhat willing let the Jem’Hadar kill him. As a description of “By Inferno’s Light,” I am a little unimpressed—I wish we had seen this moment if it was so crucial—but in terms of this episode I quite like Worf’s reasoning and how this comes around on Martok. Martok has in his own way “stopped fighting,” and he is now at the point where he actually risking his crew justifiably-under-Klingon-military-law killing him for cowardice and does not even realize it. I went and looked back at the Martok-Worf fight, and there are moments where the camera focuses on each others’ eyes (or eye in the case of Martok), and it does seem as if Worf returns here what Martok had done for him back in the camp—by challenging him in a way that allows Martok the chance to win, he allows Martok to reclaim his captaincy but also recognize that he *has* been unwilling to fight up until this time, in a way that confronting Martok in less potentially lethal ways would not have gotten through to him. Worf’s admission to Dax that he did not know entirely that turning his back on Martok would not mean his death is pretty great; he owed Martok a certain debt and I think was even willing to die to repay it, though ultimately his hope was that Martok would recognize what he was doing, as ended up happening.

The Worf-Martok relationship is a very strong addition to the show, and if much of the groundwork was laid in “By Inferno’s Light,” this episode solidifies it. It is still not a terrific show to me—there is a sameyness to a lot of these Klingon stories by this point, even if Martok is a good character, and as I said I find the crew’s turnaround on Martok hard to believe. But I like it overall and I like what it adds to the show quite a bit. 3 stars.
Wed, Feb 24, 2016, 11:44am (UTC -6)
4 stars.

DS9's first decent attempt at writing Klingons. Also a first time look at demoralized Klingons, which was fascinating. And the first episode that seems to show an honest sense of hopelessness against the Dominion. We've never really *felt* reasonable bleakness about the Dominion until this episode, where even some Klingons feel outmatched. Up until now it's always been a quick "oh no" and an easy inevitable out in true DS9 style. This makes us feel that the fear truly extends beyond the space station crew, and it only took a few dozen episodes for the writers to actually try and show it.

I also consistently enjoy Daxs ability to interact with Klingons. Aside from Riker and Picard, she's always good for getting away from the tired "non-Klingons and Klingons don't understand eachother" gag.
Wed, May 18, 2016, 2:06am (UTC -6)
"Soldiers of the Empire".... .... .... .... there really isn't that much to say, is there? It's a competently executed episode, with some good interactions between Worf and Martok and some nice world-building for the Klingons. But, other than the final scene where Worf is inducted into the House of Martok, there really isn't anything here that is essential to the long term story arcs of the series.

The problem with a story focused almost exclusively on the Klingons is that they, as a race, get awfully repetitive awfully quickly. You need a really good actor in order to give a Klingon character nuance, subtlety and charisma - that's why Worf and Martok work so well, the actors playing them are very good (and given enough screen-time to develop the characters properly). However, you simply cannot expect that from every single Klingon character. Spend too much time with a minor Klingon and you risk having them act like complete morons, much like the captain in TNG: "A Matter of Honor". While this episode is nowhere near as boring and bad as that one was, Jammer is right that there is a very distinct "been there, done that" vibe throughout the whole forty-five minutes.

The complete lack of a B-plot also harms the episode. I would have much rather the character of Dax been used in a B-plot focusing on her, O'Brien and Bashir trying to cover Worf's responsibilities back on the station. It would have actually given her role on the station some definition, which after almost five full seasons is still sorely lacking - seriously what does she do on DS9?! And just who had to take over as Fleet Liaison Officer once she joined up with the Rotarran? In fact, why is Dax even involved in this story at all, aside from being the non-Klingon character who works well with Klingons? Her presence in the episode does nothing to aid in the development of her and Worf's relationship. It doesn't really give her anything new to do. She basically spends the entire episode throwing her weight around (haven't we seen enough of that already?!) and pointing out the blindingly obvious to Worf. It looks as if she's only there to make Worf look like a fool for not seeing what is going on, thereby harming his character. At least with a B-plot back on the station we might have finally seen her doing some Starfleet duties that didn't consist of sitting in Ops and doing.... something.

Wed, Sep 14, 2016, 6:19am (UTC -6)
After Ferengi love songs, this episode felt like the perfect one!!! I liked it a lot, I guess I'm not yet bored by the Klingon episodes!
Tue, Nov 22, 2016, 11:48am (UTC -6)
I enjoyed this episode. The pacing was good, the acting was good, the ending was incredibly sweet and felt earned.

Klingon culture remains untenable. You only advance by killing someone? Really? So the entire senior staff killed each killed a commanding officer who exhibited cowardice? Worf didn't kill a CO to get his position. Neither did Martok. (What did happen to the previous captain anyway?)
Sun, Jan 22, 2017, 2:00am (UTC -6)
This episodes's main problem was that the writer's hand was too evident, resulting in the lack of subtlety we saw on the screen. It seems like Ronald Moore was a man with his eye to the spyglasss, missing everything else besides his target; the forcing of a confrontation between Worf and General Martok. By the end of the episode I felt that Martok was acting the less the part of a coward and more the part of a madman, so forced was the situation the show created to have him disregard his duty. Indeed, the comment made by the Klingon about the curse on the ship seemed to come to life and it almost seemed like the episode was about a curse that actually did exist and the curse caused Martok to slowly go mad, becoming more and more of a blatant coward. If that had been the episodes premise it would have been more believeable (assuming one acceptes the existence of a curse). But since there was no actual supernatural curse to cause Martok to act the way he did I agree with Jammer and then some that the cowardicewas forced on his character.

Also this episode would have felt much more satisfying if we had actually gotten to see some of the end game with the destruction of the Dominion ship and the rescuing of the crew.
Peter G.
Sun, Jan 22, 2017, 10:30am (UTC -6)
@ Brian,

I might suggest that the premise behind Martok's behavior is that he was broken by his time in the prison camp. A Klingon warrior wouldn't go in for psych treatment after such an ordeal, and he very likely wasn't recovered by this time. Taking that as the premise we might then suggest the converse - that his 'recovery' towards the end is a little pat considering how messed up his mind might be. Probably best to consider that this was the first step towards his recovery, and that the rest occurs offscreen. Nothing of what we see onscreen strikes me as indicating Martok is going mad.
Sat, May 13, 2017, 11:18pm (UTC -6)
Worf is so precious, wearing his Miss Universe sash and his family flair on top of his Starfleet uniform.

The Klingons are so cute, singing what I imagine is their version of "row your boat" as they head into battle. The exterior shot of their ship while they were singing reminded me of kids heading off to summer camp.

No idea how the federation lets their staff take time off to fight for other armies, but whatever. And Dax, honey, seek some counseling to get away from this horrible, emotionally abusive relationship with Worf.

Overall, fairly tolerable for a Klingon episode. Minimum Sisko overacting. Bonus: No Keiko.
Sat, Jul 1, 2017, 9:59pm (UTC -6)
Hi guys, Mr. Experiential here...

NO qualms with the many valid critiques here. I agree with most of them, and can agree to disagree with most of the rest. For starters, it was a lame crock to let Dax tag along.

But I came away from this one a little teary-eyed. because I'm something of a Worf fan for reasons many of us overlook.

As I have reported elsewhere, I love the scenes in TNG:"Family" in 10-Forward with Guinan and Worf's adoptive parents. Her encouraging words to them about what star Worf looks toward for "home" move me to tears almost every time I watch that one, especially since I am an adoptive parent with a little Klingon of my own.

This scene of Worf's "second adoption" into the House of Martok is not quite as touching, but is continuous in the legacy both good and bad that is Worf's. I was moved by it, no matter how contrived it may have seemed, just because of my own experience.

That is all.
Real Ric
Wed, Jul 12, 2017, 11:20pm (UTC -6)
3 stars.

As Chris pointed out above, we normally don't see this side of Klingon "warriors".

So many times we are told - either directly or indirectly - that they die in battle or if not they kill themselves, this time we see what happens when they don't and it makes you realize (whether you agree or not) why the Klingons are always going on about honor and death.

The crew were utterly downcast and a danger to themselves and their captain in their state but the highlight of the episode was the psychological damage done to Martok by his 2 years in a Jem Hadar internment camp.

The only criticism of this episode I have is its title - they should have called it "Sons of Redemption" or something along those lines because it's really an episode about how Martok got his fight back.

I really enjoyed this one and it takes place on a Bird of Prey - one of the most beautifully designed warships ever.
Mon, Aug 14, 2017, 9:22pm (UTC -6)
2 stars

I like that the episode tied into the new situation with the Jem'Hadar fiercely protecting Cardassisn borders and bringing the Klingons into it. I may have even liked the idea of an episode featuring a Klingon crew for an entire hour. The problem was this episode just really wasn't that interesting. Simple as that. I simply wasn't invested in the crew or their lack of morale or Martok's being crippled by his Dominion ordeal. I thought maybe this may have improved with age but having recently rewatched it--it is just as bland as I remembered from 1997

For all the talk about Ron Moore's writing this season it really wasn't all that great or even good--Looking for Parmach, Dr bashir I Presume?, this episode--all very meh
Thu, Sep 28, 2017, 5:28pm (UTC -6)
Enjoyable episode but nothing close to exceptional here -- it's an interesting setup with an underachieving Klingon crew and their self-doubt acting as underdogs against the Jem'Hadar. I found it hard to believe the crew hadn't been broken up and re-assigned given their poor record. How could the helmsman still be in his position given his attitude? Then there's the fight that breaks out in the mess hall -- I guess that can be expected on Klingon ship.

There's the examination of Klingon life on board a bird of prey - their traditions and customs. And of course much dialog about honor and power struggles. Nothing new.

Martok is interesting in this episode - I agreed with him about initially not taking out the 1 Jem'Hadar ship but then I disagreed with him about not rescuing the Klingons. Could he at least not have contacted the Klingon empire on what to do given the ship had drifted into Cardassian space? So Worf has to challenge him in a fight to the death but of course we know none of these 2 are going to actually die. As for the crew during this fight - I thought they were all behind Worf who wanted to save the Klingons but then they cheered for Martok after he won.

2.5 stars for "Soldiers of the Empire" -- a good Klingon tale of a typical mission and the things that could only happen on board a Klingon ship. This kind of thing has been done better, though, in TNG's "A Matter of Honor" when Ryker served aboard a Klingon ship.
Sun, Oct 1, 2017, 3:02pm (UTC -6)
2.5 fair judgement , I agree. There plot had possibilities but it became a little bit boring. The idea if describing a Klingon crew with low moral was interesting. And I enjoyed the song. I must also say the character Jadzia Dax gives many possibilities and they was well used in this episode.
Tue, Jul 24, 2018, 8:50pm (UTC -6)
I found this to be an ultimately unsatisfying episode; that's a real let-down for me because Martok is one of my favorite characters. Usually he brings out the best in Worf. I think the pacing was very bad. It was genuinely boring. You can show a dispirited crew (who may be bored themselves) without boring the audience. And Dax, once again, didn't really add anything. It could have redeemed itself with a hardcore battle with the Jem Hadar, but that was completely omitted, and relegated to a footnote. Overall the episode felt unfinished - an interesting setup with no juice.
Fri, Aug 24, 2018, 12:42pm (UTC -6)
"Soldiers of the Empire" genuinely surprised me-I thought it was pedestrian and boring just like Jammer, but on re-watch enjoyed it a lot. I have a soft spot for Klingon episodes, and this one is very fun. The ending is quite a big problem though-the big moment of the episode should have been the Rotarran crew's first victory-and the episode doesn't even show it. I understand the budgetary constraints, but it still takes away from an otherwise superb episode.

3 stars. It would have been 3.5 with a better climax.
Wed, Dec 12, 2018, 11:14am (UTC -6)
Ok, but a bit disappointing for a Moore episode who is usually better. The story had potential but was too inward focused and lacked sufficient outward focus. The plot focused on cheesy prattle and conflicts among the klingon crew inside of the ship instead of the search for the Klingon ship and dealing with the Dominion (which were much more interesting). For all the talk of battle...we don't have one battle scene in the entire 45 minute episode.

Something else that was a bit annoying was the inconsistency the writers have shown with relative ship strength. Based on other episodes one bird of prey is nowhere near as strong as one jem'hadar ship. Yet in this episode the implication was otherwise.
Thu, Jan 24, 2019, 10:30pm (UTC -6)
Very boring.

Terrible Worf portrayal, again. Jadzia apparently is a better Klingon than Worf, and he needs her to tell him what's going on, and then he needs her cajoling and nods and approvals every step of the way.

Also - it's hard to buy Martok's cowardice, or the method of the restoration of his spirit and the crews'.

Some nice graphics.

Overall, did not like it.
Trek Joy
Fri, Mar 1, 2019, 11:28pm (UTC -6)
I just don't understand Dax on this mission. And is it really plausible that she would have the physical strength to confront a Klingon male over a dinnet seat? Give me a break.

Random... how is it that every ship's docking clamps fit perfectly at DS9? Haha!

Boring episode except for Worf's interactions with Martok.
Thu, Jul 11, 2019, 2:18pm (UTC -6)
@TrekJoy -- I thought the same thing. Then again, I find all of the "Dax plays tough with Klingons" episodes to be ridiculous.
Fri, Jul 19, 2019, 6:35am (UTC -6)
In the Cards = 4 stars. Children of Time = 4 stars. Soldiers of the Empire = 2 1/2 stars.

I'm pretty much done with Jammer's DS9 reviews. It's pot luck whether a good episode will get a good score and it's virtually guaranteed that the uninspired fillers will be rated as classics. Sorry for being grouchy but I woke up ill today and decided to watch some of Jammer's higher-rated DS9 episodes, and needless to say, they didn't make me feel better.
Bobbington Mc Bob
Wed, Jul 24, 2019, 5:30pm (UTC -6)
Kind of felt like a retread of Riker's Klingon First Officer outing, and I would have liked to have actually seen the battle which we'd been building up to all episode. I like Martok, the actors voice is amazing to listen to and gives me an ASMR tingle, but yeah Dax acing a Klingon wor-yor seemed pushing it a bit. Also I think they gave her one of the special bras this week that Marina Sirtis once claimed to have popularised on set, given their gravitational mass-enhancing properties.
Sat, Jan 18, 2020, 1:20pm (UTC -6)
I am someone who generally likes the Klingon episodes, especially ones with Worf and Dax (it's not really the focus in this one, but it's always interesting to see how their respective backgrounds affect how they function in Klingon settings; it seems that Dax often fits in better than Worf does). I definitely felt the similarity to 'A Matter of Honor' here, of holding a borderline mutinous crew together through some incredibly tense situations. It doesn't do *too* much that's new in that respect, but it's still worthwhile to see a different sort of Klingon crew: low morale is a different problem to face. Less a "fish out of water" story, more about leadership in general.

It's interesting how General Martok fits into this. Both he and this crew have spent the recent past being beaten into submission by the Jem'Hadar, and it's made quite an impression on both. And yet it affects them in different ways. Some clearly spoiling for any kind of victory in a fight, even if it's with their crewmates. Some feeling as if they've already lost whatever battle they're going into. And Martok seems to have grown more timid. No doubt he's suffered enough punishment at the Jem'Hadar's hands for one lifetime.

Contrast Worf, who came out of the Dominion prison victorious -- not just in battle, but in spirit. He *does* repay what Martok did to him there, and while he doesn't win this victory himself, he plays the key role. His invitation to the House of Martok is a touching moment, and well-deserved.

(I will note, though -- near the end of the episode I was thinking "wait, they've only just resolved the power struggles, there's no time for the actual battle!" And then there wasn't. This story does enough on its own, and doesn't *have* to be about GLORIOUS KLINGON BATTLE -- we've had our fair share of that elsewhere -- but I still feel a little let down dammit.)
Tue, Feb 4, 2020, 1:51pm (UTC -6)
What a motley crew of Klingons!

An enjoyable episode. Went down like a mug of blood wine.
Jamie Mann
Sun, Feb 16, 2020, 7:32am (UTC -6)
An episode that's a bit predictable, but overall works well enough.

A ship which is low on morale, a commanding officer with doubts and a fiery second in command. Oh, and a neutral observer who's somehow able to pick up on subtle little details that the Captain and Second in Command have missed.

"The crew is deeply unhappy and on the verge of mutiny". Subtle little things like that.

Throw in some of the usual Klingon quasi-religious ritual, stir well, bake for 45 minutes and you have an episode which is ok. Not great, but ok.
Wed, May 6, 2020, 11:54am (UTC -6)
I thoroughly enjoyed this episode and would give it 3.5/4 stars. But then again, I’m a sucker for Klingons AND a sucker for underdogs. A lot of aesthetics and details harken back to “A Matter of Honor” with the twist of a crew that has lost its honor. The knife fight reminds me of when Godzilla was defeated and they kind of jump-started him with a nuclear bomb. This fight was the jump start for Martok to remember what it means to be a Klingon.

It also reminded me of Voyager, where Tuvok absorbs some of the serial killer sociopaths tendencies and realizes that killing a hologram is not the same as the real thing and thus unsatisfying. As much as Martok tries to remember what it is to be a Klingon by fighting holosuite programs, it’s just not the same.

Then the part at the end where Martok extends the invitation to join House Martok... man, that’s worth 3 stars just in its own. The only part I didn’t like was that there WAS a bit of filler, and then the final battle was totally skipped. They could have skipped the filler, shown Martok satisfying his bloodlust in an actual battle, and greatly improved this episode.
Dark Kirk
Thu, Jun 25, 2020, 8:09pm (UTC -6)
Saw this again the other day. This was one of Terry Farrell's best episodes.
Thu, Aug 6, 2020, 12:31am (UTC -6)
I'm going to assume the script was rushed in the writing stage. The material isn't compelling at all. Martok is my favorite Klingon, and JG Hertzler's acting is always a treat. But, as many have mentioned, this is just another retread of stereotypes. Nothing really convinces us that Martok is lesser for his incarceration.

Strangely, this really reminded me of an AA meeting, especially one where no one there has anything interesting to say.
Sun, Nov 15, 2020, 10:49am (UTC -6)
Ron Moore is arguably Trek's most consistent writer. And while this episode isn't as good as TNG's iconic "A Matter of Honor", or Moore's own "Once More Unto the Breach" (my favorite of DS9's Klingon episodes), it still has enough of those Ron Moore touches to makes it worth watching.

And so like a number of Moore's scripts (cf "Rules of Engagement"), this episode has a very militaristic, very nautical feel. The episode conveys well the ambience of a ramshackle warship, its cast feels like a band of ale-drinking, shanty-singing warrior-Vikings, and Moore sketches well the idea of a browbeaten, shell-shocked crew, whose "Klingon instincts" and "hungers for blood" are buried beneath layers of defeat, dejection, depression and even PTSD.

Like Moore's "Defiant", "Rules of Engagement" and "For the Cause", we also get a somewhat sophisticated take on naval combat, Moore eschewing FX porn for "highbrow" action scenes which slow things down, savor tension, and come at things from slightly odd angles.

And so in "For the Cause" we stalk a freighter while in cloak, in "Rules of Engagement" the episode revolves around a single salvo of fire, and in "Defiant" Sisko quietly co-ordinates the movement of entire fleets.

Here, meanwhile, Moore has Martok dodging Jem'Hadar fighters and then debating whether to scuttle/rescue a Klingon battleship that has drifted across enemy lines. In the way his violence always has an intellectual edge, Moore reminds me a bit of Nick Meyers.

90's Trek is always good with Klingon mess halls. "A Matter of Honor" showed us Riker ingratiating his way into a Klingon crew over plates of gagh and jugs of bloodwine. But here it is Dax who wields her sass, as she culturally appropriates her way into Klingon hearts and minds.

Also good is the episode's Martok arc, which convincingly picks up where "By Inferno's Light" left off. We see Worf and Martok growing close here, and we see a Martok who's been severely psychologically scarred by his time in the Dominion camps. The episode's ending, in which Worf is accepted into Martok's House, is particularly touching.
Sat, Feb 27, 2021, 10:10pm (UTC -6)
Not an ordinary Klingon episode. It shows the reality aboard a Bird of Prey, a reality (the crew is demoralised due to no victories for a while) that's the opposite of the glories usually depicted in their songs, a crew near mutiny.
Martok is one of the few genuinely noble Klingons, not a posturing caricature, and he is great in the episode, the usual actor continuing his great nuanced portrayal of the character. Terry Farrel continues to surprise, she was so bland in season 1, but she has matured as a performer alongside her character's maturity, she's more Klingon than the Klingons and more Ferengi than the Ferengis as the situation demands. The one narrative and dramatic weakness here is Worf challenging Martok on the Bridge. They could have come to the same plot resolution (rescuing the survivors of the B'Moth and defeating the Jem' Hadar) without this meaningless gesture, especially in the light of the final scene between Martok and Worf. I almost felt Worf didn't deserve the honour bestowed on him by Martok at the end.
Apart from that quibble this is among the half dozen great Klingon episodes spread throughout the Series, and among the best overall in the whole of ST. I adore Martok and Gowron as possibly the two most nuanced Klingon characters of all, ever. Just like Garak and Dukat among Cardassians. All four actors playing these characters are key to the greatness of said characters.
Tue, Apr 20, 2021, 3:28pm (UTC -6)
I watched the episode about a week ago ....needed time to reflect on it. The 'grouchy, out of touch skipper figure' (Martok) is a bit if a trope; so is the 'first mate damned if he does/damned if he doesn't figure' (Worf). But hey, tropes are sometimes pretty enjoyable if handled well. I thought the smart-allecky Klingon was great. Lots of well-timed morale-damaging repostes. I love those in these kind of doomed vessel dramas. Dax was enjoyable to watch, putting pressure on the timid Worf. Worf was enjoyable to watch in his special Klingon uniform his chagrin in having to deal with an even more timid Martok. I didn't really like the fight solution but I thought that the last scene where out-of-it Martok regains his street-cred and then thanks Worf with elevation to Family Martok, was unexpected, well-acted and memorable. This raised its overall level to a 3 star episode or nearly so.
Sun, Aug 15, 2021, 10:03am (UTC -6)
In the documentary What We Left Behind, Michael Dorn said that this episode and Once More Unto the Breach were his two favorites.
Wed, Oct 13, 2021, 6:12am (UTC -6)
The only issue with this episode is that they could have elaborated more on Martok's "cowardice" that I suspect is rationalized as tacticism but in fact is trauma due to the imprisonment. Let´s not forget that Jem'Hadars are the literal terror of the entire gamma quadrant. And for a Klingon it must be terrible to face defeat from such a mighty adversary that, by Klingon standards, has no honor. Given that Klingon's strength comes from honor in their culture. The old Klingon's speech to the young one reflects this.
They could have linked Martok's trauma to the low morale of the crew, that was also defeated by the Jem'Hadars.
So overall more of this, and perhaps less of Dax.

Other than that, I loved it, because I love every episode centered on the facets of Klingon society and culture. Plus the victory song in the end was so inspirational I almost smashed my mug on the table. QAPLA!
Mon, Jan 24, 2022, 11:26pm (UTC -6)
I would give this episode at least 3 stars. It does have some character development with Martok getting his mojo back and Worf getting a house. It does a good job of showing more than 2 dimensions to Klingons; that there are Klingons who aren’t that great at their job, but still get up and do it every day, and sometimes get a win with the right leadership.

I felt a special treat were the great Dax scenes - especially after the mess hall fight when she is telling Worf to get his head out of Martok’s ass and do his job - that intensity was so well done. I also like to think Dax so loathed the idea of taking on one of Worf’s DS9 duties that she would rather risk death on a garbage scow of a bird of prey.
Mon, Jan 31, 2022, 8:20pm (UTC -6)
I found Klingon episodes got really tired in TNG and DS9, but I did like this one.

The increased use of Martok helped a lot because I liked him a lot more than that sourpuss Worf became on DS9.

And a depressed Klingon ship crew is an interesting a believable concept. This depicts what's necessarily true, that most of their talk about wanting to die today is 99% bs.

A nice touch that curiously makes this world somehow more believable is the one Klingon crewman who rants about the Jem Hadar pronounces it slightly differently, something more like "Zhem hadar".

Jadzia was relatively well used here. I've liked the character less and less on my rewatch. She's just a boringly drawn character. Seems like half the time she's character shilling for Curzon (who cares??) and half of those times, those she's talking to start character shilling for Curzon too!

Apparently half the Klingon empire worship Curzon Dax.
Mon, Jan 31, 2022, 9:42pm (UTC -6)
Ya as the series goes on it becomes clear that the writers wish Jadzia was just Curzon to begin with.
Thu, Apr 14, 2022, 11:10am (UTC -6)
I am not a big fan of Klingon stories usually. I liked this one. It was a different side. Depressed crew, no victories, gun shy Martock, and I liked Dax being there on this one. I liked the end when Matock made Worf part of his family.
Thu, Sep 15, 2022, 6:41am (UTC -6)
The primitive Klingon shenanigans are both hair-pullingly frustrating and hilarious, but that's par for the course.

There are also things that don't make any dadgum sense in this ep., beyond Worf and Jax's relationship of Parmesan or whatever.

And yet, it was made for a very enjoyable viewing, worth at least three stars in my view. That despite there being no battles or any other major excitement.

The ending was quite sweet.
Mon, Jan 2, 2023, 7:08am (UTC -6)
This episode dumbed down the Klingons too much. That can work if there is comedy, but there wasn't enough to carry this episode. Without humor, so many dumb characters just drags down the show and makes it depressing to watch. Ira (correctly) complained about this episode and how Martok was the only Klingon that acted like a Klingon. He also remarked that directer LeVar normally was a good character director, which was a jab at Levar and the job he didn't do on this show.

The original Moore plot was very was to involve Martok and Worf in a figurative River of Styx as they try to communicate with the dead including Worf's farther...but Ira vetoed Moore in favor of a ship based episode. That could maybe work if there more space/battle scenes, but there weren't. The critical battle at the end wasn't shown which was an awful decision.
Wed, Aug 16, 2023, 12:48pm (UTC -6)
The episode works for me. Sure it makes no sense to detach Dax to the mission because she has "four months of leave," but she's needed to be the catalyst to trigger Worf's taking care of the situation. It's a very good episode for Dax and anytime they give her the stage, I'm interested to she what she does.

This is one of her best episodes. Terry played the role quite well. It's just that the ensemble's level of acting skill was so high, she was up against strong competition for recognition.
Peter G.
Wed, Aug 16, 2023, 1:36pm (UTC -6)
"This is one of her best episodes. Terry played the role quite well. It's just that the ensemble's level of acting skill was so high, she was up against strong competition for recognition."

I really agree with this.

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