Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

“Once More Unto the Breach”

3 stars.

Air date: 11/9/1998
Written by Ronald D. Moore
Directed by Allan Kroeker

"If they succeed, you can drink to their courage. And if they fail, you can still drink to their courage." — Darok

Review Text

Nutshell: A poignant, classy hour ... although they kind of botch the ending.

The war with the Dominion can be utilized in a great number of ways, and in "Once More Unto the Breach," it forms the basis for a refreshing episode about legends and pride.

I had a good feeling about this episode from the opening moment at Quark's when O'Brien and Bashir were debating the validity of Davy Crockett's legendary heroics at the Alamo. The two talk back and forth for a while about the matter, and then, out of nowhere, Worf says from the end of the bar: "You are both wrong. The only real question is whether you believe in the legend of Davy Crockett or not. If you do, there should be no doubt in your mind that he died a hero's death. If you do not believe in the legend, then he was just a man, and it does not matter how he died." Then he stands up and walks out.

I like it when Worf surprises me with a moment of depth and insight. I've complained that he can be a little too transparent about his feelings at times, but this little monolog shows how Worf can be both interesting and still perfectly in line with his character's parameters.

"Once More Unto the Breach" doesn't revolve around Worf so much as it does Kor (John Colicos), the infamous Klingon battle hero, who these days is struggling with utter uselessness. He's an old man feeling the burden of current politics; he's admired for his legends, but the people actually heading the Klingon Empire are old enemies who want nothing to do with him. His ruthlessness in pursuing glory in the past has finally caught up with him. Worf is the only place he can turn, and he humbly asks the favor of Worf: to find him a command on a Klingon ship that will give him one final battle so he can die the way he lived.

The prospect of uselessness is a frightening one. I liked the way it was conveyed through Worf's brother Kurn in fourth season's "Sons of Mogh" (also written by Moore), and I liked it as conceived here, as well. There's a quiet, restrained desperation behind everything Kor says to Worf ("It's not easy for me to beg you for help"). Colicos' performance is dead-on, capturing the sadness and loneliness of a warrior who has no battles left to fight.

The story's underlying elements form a classic Klingon episode, something we haven't really seen since fifth season's "Soldiers of the Empire" (which, incidentally, didn't work for me nearly as well as this episode). True, there was the mediocre "Sons and Daughters" from a year ago, but it was more of a father/son story than a traditional Klingon tale. This episode is more like the archetypal Klingon episodes—with tales of the distant past, a knife or two pulled on the bridge, and some Klingon songs. The more I think of it, the more this seems like "Soldiers of the Empire," only better.

This episode contains many tried-and-true but enlightening themes that form the interesting duality of division and unification: class, age, power, loyalty.

When Worf goes to Martok to ask him where Kor might be placed, Martok is furious. He wants nothing to do with Kor. Kor is the man who, when Martok was young, denied him enlistment in the military. Martok lay in disgrace for years after that, until an opportunity allowed him an officer's commission.

Ironically, but not surprisingly, Kor doesn't even remember it. For Kor at the time, Martok's origins warranted casual rejection without a second thought. Now Worf finds himself between two friends. He is able to walk the line and convince Martok to give him duties on his ship, the Ch'Tang (what happened to the Rotarran?), departing for a brief, moderately risky mission behind enemy lines.

"Once More Unto the Breach" is more about timing and charisma than it is about story. A plot description doesn't do justice to this episode. You get the words, but not the music.

Allan Kroeker gets mostly everything right here in attitude, atmosphere, and pacing. But what really works here are Kor and Martok and the way their perspectives provide an emotional center to the story.

Kor's situation, as I said, is a desperation born out of uselessness. But among the reasons for his uselessness is one very simple cause: old age. Kor has simply outlived his own purpose. There's another elderly character, named Darok (Neil Vipond), who serves aboard Martok's ship as some sort of yeoman. He obviously hates where he is, and he doesn't much like Martok. Darok's understanding of Kor's problem is one of the understated highlights of the episode. When Kor beams aboard Martok's ship, everyone is in awe of this legend. But after Kor makes a crucial mistake on the bridge, most of the Ch'Tang crew abandons and ridicules him—except Darok, who can feel Kor's pain. Ultimately, to everyone else, Kor is like a statue of himself—something to be respected as a reminder of a great man, but something that itself only sits and collects dust.

There are other scenes that work very nicely. I liked the dialog back aboard the station when Kor meets Ezri ("The same old Dax, only not"), as well as the scene between Quark and Ezri when he gives her a speech only to realize he didn't have all the facts when he was thinking up this speech.

I also thought Martok's caustic sarcastic assault on Kor for his embarrassing error was handled beautifully, and Kor's response—a solemn warning that getting old makes the sweet taste of life turn bitter—was even more beautiful. The way Martok grudgingly finds himself pitying the old man is great to see unfold.

Overall, I really liked "Once More Unto the Breach," but I can't shake the feeling that the episode doesn't seem to know exactly how to end. The ending, for me, just wasn't worthy of what came before. I liked what happened—Kor taking command of a Klingon Bird of Prey for a suicide battle to stall a pursuing wing of Jem'Hadar fighters—but I didn't like the way it happened. Specifically, I have some objections to the way Kor's final battle was handled as an off-screen event.

I feel that we needed to see, in one way or another, Kor go out in his blaze of glory. It would've been more ... Klingon. Or maybe some sort of epic cinematic approach could've pulled off the emotional payoff without showing the battle—I'm not sure. But I didn't care for the quiet way news arrived that Kor's suicide battle had gotten the job done. It just fell too flat.

Now, if I may play devil's advocate here, there's an interesting subtext here: The fact we don't know exactly what happened gives Kor's final battle a more legendary sense to it, sort of like the discussion of Davy Crockett that opens the episode. Martok's question of just how Kor pulled off the feat is answered with the perfect response from Worf: "Does it matter?" Not knowing how such extraordinary feats are accomplished is one way legends are born, and this idea proves pretty powerful.

And yet somehow ... it just doesn't feel right, all things considered. The episode sort of fizzles out, when a big, bold, grand finale was what it—what Kor—seemed to deserve. The ending as is works okay. A different, less casual ending would've made this episode a classic.

Next week: To the front lines...

Previous episode: Treachery, Faith, and the Great River
Next episode: The Siege of AR-558

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Comment Section

70 comments on this post

    Hi Jammer,

    I must respectfully disagree with you about the way the ending was handled. I thought it was perfect. Kor has always been a legendary Klingon, not just to other Klingons, but to the STAR TREK audience as well since the days he faced down Captain Kirk.

    If there's any character in the STAR TREK universe who deserved an ambiguous, mythic, unseen, purely lengendary end, it's Kor. Especially considering how the scene bookended the Davy Crockett theme, the ending as presented was far more poignant and relevant than a bombastic, explosive, albeit glorious end to Kor would have been.

    I love your reviews, but I agree with the previous comments on this one. The ending was, IMHO, one of the best in the series. As Worf says, does it matter how Kor did it? Absolutely not, and that's why we don't need (or want!) to see the action. All what we need to do is to drink bloodwine to Kor's memory and sing his glory.

    I think the Rotarran is a cruiser, while Martok chose to use Bird of Preys in his Cavalry Charge team, hence the Ch'Tang

    I find myself in agreement with both Jammer and the above comments. While I like the mystery surrounding Kor's fate (despite the odds severely stacked against him), I too would have wished for something more glorious. Perhaps the writers could have enhanced the dramatic effect for the viewer, by showing us something like a direct channel open between the Ch'Tang and Kor's ship. Worf, General Martok and the others would have then listened to Kor as he gave his final (?) orders...

    On the other hand,I loved Kor's quote in the mess hall. Not only was it poetic and à-propos, but also perfectly relevant outside of this episode or the Trek universe.

    "Savor the fruit of life my young friends. It has a sweet taste when it is fresh from the vine, but don't live too long. The taste turns bitter after time."

    I also liked the ending, I didn't think the episode "fritzes out", the Klingon warriors chanting (except for Martok who, in a nice creative touch, still can't bring himself to join in) made for an emotionally satisfying final scene. I also agree with the rest of your comments, and I can't think of anything bad to say about the episode... but it still would only get three stars from me.

    Poor Kor. I definitely appreciate the message this episode had about older people and the challenges they face in society when they start to be deemed "useless". For a bold, almost invincible seeming warrior to be (nearly) defeated by the mental difficulties that can come with age related illness was devastating to watch (and awesome for that exact reason).

    The ending... I can see Jammer's point, I'd have loved to see Kor go out in a blaze of glory. Especially if this was the last Klingon episode... I think it deserved that. I do appreciate what the characters said about the ambiguity of his demise, but for the last proper Klingon story featuring one of the original Klingons no less, I do think it deserved the conceit of showing Kor's last moments.

    I think the problem with the ending is the idea of Kor's dying off into legend needed some framing other than just a fade from a scene on the bridge where nothing happens to another scene on the bridge where someone reads a comm panel.

    What may have worked would be an excited but quiet retelling of one of Kor's great victories and how it inspired...I dunno Worf maybe as a child which is interrupted by the news that Kor won the battle. It would have sold the message of the legend more solidly and avoided the weightlessness of the slow ending as it stands. I don't, however, understand why this mostly æsthetic problem warrants the loss of three stars.

    Just rewatched this. The way the ending was handled was so moving, I actually shed tears. A fitting end to the classic character, and a triumphant final performance for John Colicos (who passed away shortly after).

    Jammer, I would love for you to watch this one again and comment on it; see how it has aged with time for you.

    I also loved the ending of this episode, actually this is one of my favorite episodes.. both Kor's haunting "fruit of life" speech, and the scene where Martok's aid Darok gives him his chance to die with honour were fantastically acted. I always think of that scene in particular, there's a real sense of camaraderie between Kor and Darok, the two old soldiers from a lost golden age. Darok, who has lived for as long and through the same time as Kor, understands and respects him in a way no-one else can and I thought it was a beautiful choice to make him the person who gives Kor his noble death rather than the more obvious choices like Worf or Martok. But then, Kor belongs to Darok's age, not theirs. I really like this episode every time I watch it. About the ending I have to agree with everyone above who rates it highly, I think showing clearly what happened would have devalued it, it's important that we saw it from the perspective of the people who will remember his legend. Not knowing the exact details makes Kor a larger than life figure, which he ought to be.

    I do agree that the ending leaves something to be desired. A more satisfying ending would have been to show the first part of the battle leaving Kor's ship taking a beating and in a seemingly impossible position to succeed and then leaving it hanging at that point, only to later find out that the mission was a success after all.

    Regardless, it's still a classic. John Colicos was at his best and J.G. Hertzler once again portrays Martok with wonderful depth and nuance. Next to Garak, Martok is DS9s finest non-regular character.

    Yep...Garak, Martok, Weyoun, Dukat and Damar are probably the finest quintet of nonregulars any show has ever had.

    I think it is far, far better to not try to show this sort of ending. Kor's feat is something that would be almost impossible to do justice to on screen. We'd be nitpicking how whatever they showed made sense. That's a far worse ending.

    I really liked how they didn't show it and it was left as a mystery. That worked for me.

    I absolutely love this episode, this is the kind of Shakespearean episode you so rarely get with modern TV and that Star Trek occasionally did so well... it's a great story with a great theme. I especially like Kor's haunting speech in the mess hall... "savour the fruit of life, my young friends...", and I loved the ending.. it was exactly what it needed to be, an ambiguous ending that will provoke stories and speculation, that's how you become a legend.

    I loved the ending. No matter how much money they spent or how exciting it was written, there is nothing that could top the viewers imagination. Just how did he stop all those ships? Perfect ending and a great sendoff for the character.

    p.s. Love the site by the way. :)

    We can arm-chair direct this all we want. All in all it's a great episode. All the ideas put forth in the review and in the comments would work great too, but you can't argue with success. Which is kinda the point of the episode in a way.

    And I agree with tim, this site is impressive and very enjoyable!

    Dear Jammer,

    I have just finished watching this episode for what seems like the 100th time. I hope you are aware I have been following your reviews since 1996 when I was at university in Portsmouth, UK, and Netscape was the preferred browser of choice, I'm now 36...but I digress.

    Your review was great but you wanted a pay off for Kor, yet they didn't give you one...this is the genius of this episode, we don't know what Kor did, yet it doesn't matter, he did what was necessary and it keep us wanting more, but we are not going to get it. This is the nature of a legend.

    I can't believe I wrote DS9 off as early as 1994 but I was young and inexperienced. To me DS9 is the soul of quote the Jem'Hadar, the core of Trek's being...

    A bit better than the average Klingon episode. Happy that Kor had a good death.


    This is a great episode guys. The final act was wonderful; a more bombastic climax would not have been fitting.

    Repetitive Klingon material, but with their usual weird appeal. I sort of like the ending not delivering everything. In the end, not an episode as good as the previous, but compared to the rest of S7, a total joy to watch.

    I am not usually a huge fan of the 'Klingon' episodes but this one worked for me, definately above average and dosen't fall into cliches too often, nice musical score and good guest acting really helps.

    Oh wow, thanks Alvin. I was not aware that John Colicos passed away so shortly after filming this. That kind of elevates this episode for me.

    I really felt for Kor when he approached Worf to help him die as he lived... as a warrior.

    I can understand Martok's disdain for Kor. From his perspective he's royalty and didn't want him to get a commission.

    I also love the story of Martok's path to a commission. A boy from the Ketha lowlands earned a battlefield commission. This guy is a true Klingon Warrior.

    I personally thought the ending was perfect. Kor was an unseen legend for everyone on the ship but Darok and they personally get to tell another story about the Dahar Master while drinking blood wine. Hell Martok may just tell this one.

    Thank god they sent this actor and character out on a high note. I would have hated it if the last time we saw Kor was in 'The Sword of Kahless'

    Was there a B story?

    4 stars for KOR the GREAT DAHAR MASTER!!! (raise mug of 2309)

    "MARTOK: To Kor. A Dahar Master and noble warrior to the end."

    I have a question for all ds9/quark fans. Would it have been ok with you if Quark had ended up with ezri? I ask this because I was reading about this epiisode on memory alpha and it says this

    Armin Shimerman sees this episode as setting up his character for the rest of the season; "For the most part, the season is about Quark either mourning Jadzia or pursuing Ezri. The audience would never accept them as a couple though, so there was never a chance for that. So I spent most of the season crying into my own drinks, woeing the fact that I was getting nowhere with Ezri. Although everybody else on the show seemed to get somewhere with her!"

    I was always upset that Quark never ended up with anyone. I wouldn't have been upset with Quark and Ezri as a couple. They seemed to have some chemistry in the emperors cloak. I know that was an alternate universe episode but I could have seen them end up together. They were about the same height too. Ha I mean even rom got a woman and he was a side character. I look at the episode Rules of acquisition and the episode where quark loves the cardassian woman and I can definitely see quarks desire for a relationship. I don't agree with Armin when he says the audience would never accept that but would accept Bashir and ezri. Am I wrong? Is it better just have quark be alone running the bar forever?

    I would have been fine with a Quark/Jadzia pairing. However, I would mostly have a problem with Quark/Ezri for the same reason that I do have a problem with Julian/Ezri -- the sense that Ezri is some kind of cosmic consolation prize for the guy who pined after Jadzia. The story even explicitly points out this risk in having Worf and Ezri briefly get together before pointing out that this is wrong, because both of them are just transferring feelings from the Worf/Jadzia marriage onto the new Dax host. For Julian and Quark, who were still spending screentime pining for Jadzia the episode she died, to be interested in Ezri romantically is hard to accept as being above board, and related to Ezri herself and not just Jadzia. I suppose a story could organically arise out of this, with Ezri and Quark both careful to question whether this is all about Jadzia or not.

    Once again though, this problem is specific to the idea of the dynamics around Dax switching hosts. NOT Quark himself; if Shimmerman is correct that "no one would accept Quark/Ezri," I object to that, since at least some people accepted Julian/Ezri and that has the same problems. I'd definitely be fine with a Quark romance, provided it's effectively portrayed etc.

    In general, IF Ezri (the character) was to be on the show, and IF an Ezri romance needed to happen, it would have been best for it to be a character who hadn't been romantically attached to Jadzia, even if in an unrequited way like Bashir or Quark. Granted, this doesn't leave many in the cast, especially since Sisko, Odo, O'Brien were in relationships already (and Kira for that matter, though it's pretty clear the writers would never have gone there except maybe in a mirror universe episode as a gag). They could have done a Jake/Ezri romance -- which would have given Jake something to do and maybe created an interesting conflict for Ben, and create a scenario where Ben would have to seriously consider the ramifications of his son being an adult and his old friend now being so young. Actually this idea sounds pretty good....

    Those are all good points William. It does seem that both Quark and Bashir saw Ezri as a consolation prize or as some form of Jadzia. I just think it would have been cool to see Quark in a relationship. The show always made Quark into a typical ferengi who was all about profit. But he actually did care about some things above profit. I was always intrigued by how loyal he was to the Nagus. He would have done anything for that man. And he was willing to leave the station and his bar to be with Natima. I think that if Worf had never come on DS9 then Jadzia and Bashir would have gotten together. Maybe that's why they had Ezri and Bashir form a relationship. Now that women can wear clothes and earn profit they could have had Pel come back at the end of the series. That would have been interesting. Not enough time I guess.

    I like your idea of Jake and Ezri. That would have been really awkward for Jake every time Sisko called his girlfriend "old man". Ha.

    I'm with Jammer on this one. I wish we could have seen something of the battle. Maybe the crew sees Kor's ship approaching the fleet before the viewscreen fizzles out of proximity? I don't know if that would have worked either, though...

    Like another poster above said, I'm not going to armchair direct this one. I like everything that happened in this one... but I just wish it didn't end with the crew just standing on the bridge like that.

    Anyway, this is a solid episode. The standout scene is Martok and crew mocking Kor in the mess hall. I found it tough to watch, but in an effective way. I like how Darok simply has none of it (Darok is a nice addition to this episode, actually), and I love Kor's reply.

    Also, kudos to the FX team once again. For a show that's been giving us lots of inventive battle encounters, we get yet another gem. In the last 10 or so episodes, we've had a Defiant-class ship getting destroyed by a Dominion supership, an epic three-fleet battle at Chin'toka, a bird of prey inducing a solar flare to take out a Dominion shipyard, a chase through an icy asteroid belt, and now a Klingon assault on a Cardassian ground base. And, of course, we all knpw what's coming next. It's awesome.

    Anyway, a solid 3 stars for this one.

    I actually liked "Soldiers of the Empire" a lot better, but this wasn't a bad episode. And normally I'm not too big on Klingon-centric episodes.

    A Jake-Ezri romance would have been an outstanding idea, now that you mention it, and it brings Sisko into the mix. I'm in the process of rewatching all of DS9 for the second time. During the original run, I didn't like Ezri at all. But this time I'm a lot more fond of her. Jake kind of fizzled out as the series came to a close. The secondary characters on DS9 are absolutely outstanding, and are perhaps even better than the main title characters!

    Some of the Bird of Prey maneuver scenes in Season 7 are quite stunning looking. The Visual Effects development from the beginning to the end of this series is massive. I've never seen another show that exponentially improves visuals over its run.

    This episode is so great.. Kor goes out with a bang and earns Martok's respect finally, some really great acting chops all around (except for that Klingon woman who strangely sounds a lot like Nog lol.)

    The shots with the Birds of Prey attacking surface objects was awesome and very unexpected. Had they ever done any ship to ground attacks within a planet's atmosphere before this point? I can't recall and I've seen them all before. Hmmm.

    I'm with Jammer. I would have liked to at least see 30 seconds or so of Kor's blaze of glory. As such this ep is a low to mid 3.5 for me.

    I see what the writers were aiming for - essentially an echo of the Alamo defenders, where we'll never know exactly what happened there, only the legends which will continue to live on - but it fell flat for me. At least a tactical display showing the positions of Kor's ship and the Jem Hadar ship would have been nice.

    Awesome special effects. This is the first time we've ever seen BOPs attack a surface target before. (Although I have to wonder why the Dominion doesn't have cloaking tech of its own given the obvious advantages.)

    Although I am ususally not a fan of Klingon-centric episodes, I do enjoy this one quite a lot.

    In regards to the ending:

    What if they had shown what appeared to be Kor's glorious victory, but it turns out that it's just Worf(or Martok) retelling the "legend" back on the station at Quark's, or something similar?


    Interesting idea, but I would have been epically disappointed with that.


    Yeah not crazy about the idea myself(although in the right hands it could've been done well), was just trying to think of something that could possibly pleased both sides of the aisle, so to speak :)

    As the end of the show's run gets closer, ever get the feeling we're tying up some loose ends? But it's good that the final outing for Kor is a strong one - something with nuance and passion and regret. It's a standout episode for Martok, as he runs from righteous anger to grudging respect.

    Ironically I also thought that the Ezri scenes - with Kor, with Kira, and with Quark were highlights too. Some very nicely played stuff there. 3 stars.

    I was a bit disappointed with how rushed the final acts felt. In particular, the lack of even a short battle sequence, perhaps kors final moments, certainly a reaction from dax.

    I did appreciate martok and the crew singing a song, but kors death is an *event*, I would have liked to see a little more focus on these moments, and less focus on Quark being awkward back at the station.

    It's in an episode like this one especially that I feel the STNG paradigm of starships and space battles falls flat. Let's be clear: nobody is fighting any kind of battle of courage here as a warrior. When Kor pilots the Bird of Prey, all he is really doing is giving commands to a computer, which is implementing those commands. He's probably not even controlling the ship directly, the way that pilots today get to maneuver their jets.

    Why can't the episode show what really happened to Kor? Because watching the old Klingon warrior shout commands like "modulate shield nutations" and "evasive pattern epsilon" to a computer lacks dramatic flair.

    This is one of the problems with the Klingons in the STNG breed of shows. How can a race of Viking warriors (basically) obsessed with personal courage and glory in battle exist in a universe that relies on computers and starships? Klingons belong on starships like biker gangs belong on nuclear aircraft carriers.

    The only episode I ever saw that made this kind of combat look truly heroic was Yesterday's Enterprise. But that was powered by Patrick Stewart's performance, as only he could make jumping over a console and mashing some buttons look baddass. ("that'll be the day!")

    I liked this episode, but I would suggest that for Kor's journey to truly end appropriately, he needed to die with a batleth in his hands, holding off a horde of Jem Hadar soldiers. Something more along the lines of Worf in the Dominion prison, where that Jem Hadar commander beat Worf into the ground, but admitted he could not defeat him. Now that's how to tell a Klingon story!

    @Jason R I think kang and koloth vs. the albino was about the best ds9 could muster for klingon deaths. Klingons didn't get the greatest treatment in this series.

    It wouldve been awesome if kor died in like, a lone run on foot through a Jem'Hadar base while saving the day or something.

    Among other things, what I appreciate about this episode is that the case against Kor is not only strong, but it's made by a character we are inclined to be sympathetic to. TNG's "Sarek" depicted the difficulty of aging on a universally beloved figure, and did it wonderfully. This episode is a bit different: while it is tragic that Kor is losing his abilities with age, in fact his whole legacy is in jeopardy as well. Kor indicates at the beginning to Worf that he made many enemies over the years, which is consistent with the Kor -- headstrong, ambitious, self-absorbed, quick to anger -- that we have seen since "Errand of Mercy." As a counterbalance, we have seen that Kor's speed to anger and pursuit of glory was also accompanied by a kind of simplicity; note how quickly he dropped the fight with Kirk once the Organians made it clear that it was not going to happen, and, similarly, how quickly his anger at Kirk dissipated. The one life-long vendetta we are aware of is to the Albino, and that is for child poisoning; otherwise it seems as if Kor lives fairly self-consistently by a code, one in which slights against him are more or less forgotten as he moves onto the next thing. Decades ago, no doubt there was no question, from him or anyone he took seriously, that great deeds of heroism were forever, and "minor" flaws or slights or even betrayals would be wiped clean by the grand heroic gestures. Suddenly he finds himself in a world where his present heroism has dwindled and the ways in which he crossed people means more to Klingons than his glorious accomplishments. The values have not entirely changed, but there has been a shift in emphasis, with glory and conquest meaning a little less and justice and fairness a little more, the past meaning less and the present meaning more.

    Martok's gripe against Kor comes down to Kor restricting Martok's chances to become a warrior for class/bloodline reasons, and based on the way Martok frames this story it seems as if Kor's response was more traditionalistic than Martok's family expected even at the time. Kor doesn't remember it and is surprised that anyone would hold that against him: he reminds Worf that they, unlike Martok, are of noble blood, a line stretching far back into the past, further back than their individual lives, again emphasizing that glory from past days (even from forefathers) is more important than abilities in the present. By placing Martok in this story, it gives weight to the idea that Kor may in some sense deserve his fate; Martok’s current success and value to the Empire, in spite of Kor having struck him off, demonstrates that the Empire is in many ways stronger for being more democratic and open. Kor is too old to be genuinely able to adapt to the Empire’s changing ways, in addition to his own abilities dwindling. But Martok also learns after attacking Kor that going after an old man, the shadow of what he once was, does not taste so sweet. Some of this is the recognition that Kor is no longer the threat to Martok he was before, and some of it is perhaps that Martok and the others recognize that the day may come when they, too, are forced to face not just the dwindling of their abilities, but a new set of values which reveal to them not only the flaws they knew they had but turn seemingly innocuous actions from years past into grave sins.

    Worf, who cares about both Martok and Kor, serves as mediator and has the interesting role in this episode as something like a sage, and perhaps as the storyteller. The way he deals with Kor is to mythologize: Kor, the Dahar Master, imperfect, it seems no longer belongs in the present, but his glory can live on in song. The mythology can capture what Kor brought to Klingons everywhere without needing to maintain every detail; the myth of Kor will last forever, even if the man himself was a mixed bag of strengths and weaknesses. It is appropriate that Kor’s last stand is offscreen in that sense, and that Worf, who has had the answer from the beginning of this episode in the Alamo scene with Miles and Julian, is able to frame it properly. I think it’s nice to have this story which in some ways is an elegy for a period of the Empire which is gone, personified in Kor, where Worf finds the best way to contextualize it, especially because of the events later this season (SPOILER) in “Tacking” where Martok again represents the best of the Empire in these new days and Worf helps bring him to ascendancy. I like, too, the use of Darok, who has more or less adapted to the role that he has as Martok’s…yeoman? adjutant?...with defensive sarcasm, but who is able to recognize Kor’s inability to adapt to this role and to do a service for him and for all old soldiers in the process.

    I don’t quite think it’s a great show. I think that the choice not to show the battle at the end is appropriate, but I agree that there should be some stronger framing device to let Kor’s moving off into myth take greater shape. While mercifully brief at only two scenes (three if you count her conversation with Kor), the “Quark misunderstands Ezri” plot is terrible sitcom misunderstanding stuff. I think the episode is a little slow at times. And one of the key moments in the episode, Kor’s lapsing into memory loss during the Ch’Tang’s attack, relies on too many coincidences at once—Martok and Worf both being on the ground, but somehow also both being awake enough to speak and eventually to throw and catch d’ktaghs without being awake enough to yell loudly not to do Kor’s stupid thing, and where is the ship’s second officer anyway? (On the other hand, I do appreciate Martok attempting to dagger Kor, even if I’m not entirely convinced by the set-up—this *is* a Klingon ship and they were in crisis mode.) Worf getting Kor a commission on Martok’s own ship seems like a somewhat annoying convenience, too. Still, the episode’s strengths outweigh its weaknesses by quite a bit; I think it’s a high 3 stars, and a worthy end to the character.

    In the end, Kor went out with a lot of class and gusto as a TOS alum and he actually got a mythic end.

    I think Klingon stories are good, maybe overdone by the time of DS9 after decades with TOS/TNG/DS9's Klingon war arc. This is a Star Trek species of warriors with both brutality and nobility, like an ancient Greek myth. In terms of the overall story arc, I like how they handled it. Yes, there were faults, but nothing too severe and I appreciate less big CGI action instead a subtle and silent in Klingon terms memorial to Kor.


    "Savour the fruit of life my young friends. It has a sweet taste when it is fresh from the vine, but don't live too long. The taste turns bitter after time."

    Beautifully handled episode on the ravages of ageing and the role played and problems presented with people in their advanced twilight years.

    And that ending? Superb.

    Rewatching this hits me harder atoday as my father is suffering advance Alzheimer's now

    "Savor the fruit of life my young friends. It has a sweet taste when it is fresh from the vine, but don't live too long. The taste turns bitter after time."

    The legendary Kor!

    What a wonderful episode with a powerful moral for younger audiences.

    Fucking bawling here lol.

    I thought this episode was well done and very moving. It's the only DS9 episode that has ever made me cry.

    I disagree with Jammer -- I liked the ending. Kor is dead, and how he died doesn't matter for the show. How Martok reacts to his death is much more important.

    Martok sure acted like a jerk, which was out of character for him.

    My-cho Qara,
    endo-do keela,
    bay doh chum
    ka ree-do meela,
    stum-pa rip-to,
    Maah-la ee'qo,

    ree-kaH! ree-kaH! ree-kaH!

    Maah, so faH ka'lee
    te cho-paH,

    ree-kaH! ree-kaH! ree-kaH!

    We raise a mug (in this case, of coffee...) to our colleague, Gordie.
    Very sorry for your father's health, sir.

    Hi gang, Mister Experiential here... And Gordie's post SCREAMS my recurring point about how some episodes that have questionable plots or devices (like the ending...) score major points with fans by virtue of their experiential value.

    In my case, this episode sings to me because I'm a fan of Colicos. Not was. Am. And as a previous poster pointed out, this was a swan song for Colicos in the ST universe, as he did pass into StoVoKor not much longer after this ep.

    I was/am a huge BSG:TOS fan. Baltar. Nuff said. And in much the same spirit as Gordie and some other posters calling out the "vintage" Klingon characteristics that Colicos mastered so well, I also see a lot of Baltar in this manifestation of Kor, specifically in how Colicos voiced him. Sends chills up my spine to hear that sheer evil accent.

    Just sayin'. Experience sometimes help trump mediocre writing. Godspeed Gordie.

    I liked Kor from ST:TOS thru ST:NG and DS9. Probably just because I like Colicos.

    The ending would have been fixable while still leaving the "how did he die?" Davy Crockett analogy intact.

    For one, don't bring the whole thing to a halt for a couple of minutes with nothing but updates on the battle from the officer at the sensor station. Keep the episode going and have quick updates every so often.

    Finally, just one brief shot of Kor at the bridge of the other ship with the fire in his eyes rekindled as he's going back into battle - you don't have to show the battle itself.

    3 stars.

    Seems appropriate given the final season to provide some closure and a sendoff to Kor. The scene in the mess hall was powerful. I felt so bad for Kor as Martok and the other Klingins mocked him and Kor's response was perfect. The other good scene was between Kor and the older Klingon. Very effecting

    Some of the other Klingon stuff was okay and works better now in hindsight. Such as the exposition about Martok's status in Klingon society and how that adds to the payoff layer in the Final Chapter

    The episode had some great visual effects of the outposts as well as the Klingon ship attacking them.

    I could care less about the pointless Ezri and Quark subplot.

    If you've seen 1 Klingon combat mission episode, you've pretty much seen them all but the insertion of Kor is cool, as we get a solid actor/character with a well-known background. The story is fairly typical of the main character screwing up and then redeeming himself. Of course, Kor has to go out a hero.

    Kor is the first Klingon Trek fans got to know from "Errand of Mercy" and it seems he's carried on in the same vein as that character, which has somehow led to falling out of favor in the Klingon empire. That's fine -- it creates a subplot of old generation vs. new generation Klingons which is applicable to any situation where the old lament at how the young do stuff while trying to remain pertinent. "Relics" is another example of this interesting theme.

    What I don't get is why Kor has to have some kind of dementia or forgetfulness such that he thinks he's fighting alongside Kang and trying to take down the Federation. So he's lost a few marbles, got the tactics wrong, nearly gets the Ch'Tang destroyed -- but somehow he's able to handle several Jem'Hadar ships and go out in a blaze of glory (supposedly, since we don't see it and only get verbal commentary). It's a tad too idealistic and contrived for me.

    How the other young Klingons turn on Kor so quickly -- going from revering him to ridiculing him was also a bit strange to me. Martok's reaction is more measured and more suitable and having the other elder Klingon (who has been reduced to administrative work but still has a warrior heart) was helpful for really contrasting the old vs. young. Kor has a great line to the younger crew about the bitter taste that was once sweet.

    As for the B-plot revolving around Ezri -- just more chance to figure something out (or not) on the romantic side for her. Still not sure what she is going to meaningfully contribute on DS9 -- hope it's not just love triangle BS. The idiot Quark thinks Ezri's in love with him -- whatever. I actually thought it was refreshing to not just have the whole episode dedicated to the Klingons and their mission and to insert some light-hearted Ezri stuff.

    2.5 stars for "Once More Unto the Breach" -- decent entertaining hour of DS9, really liked Colicos's acting as Kor in this episode that is basically a sending off for the character. It is heavy-handed in how it deals with the treatment of the elderly -- of course Klingons wouldn't do it compassionately. But then again Kor got what he asked for.

    As someone who has recently had to watch two of their best friends slipping into premature dementia, I found this quite poignant - which OTTOMH is nearly a first for a Klingon episode.

    Currently on my first run through of DS9.

    There have been many many beautiful moments throughout the previous 6 seasons but Kor's speech in the mess room was right up there for me. Haunting stuff.

    "Savor the fruit of life my young friends. It has a sweet taste when it is fresh from the vine, but don't live too long. The taste turns bitter after time".

    Wouldn’t The Legend of How Kor Died (a tale one suspects Klingons will tell their children while leaving out the facts that Kor was a provincial-minded bigot whose physical and mental wherewithal, as depicted in the first 40 minutes of the episode, are such that the final battlecould not possibly have played out as it did) be something teetering close to the passing down through the ages of the “ignorance” condemned by Picard in Who Watches the Watchers? In some Trek episodes, perpetuation of myth is seen as a social good (I.e.., the death of Li Nalas. We see Exultation of myth propagation in movies too (I.e. the closing line of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance - “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”)

    What a dfferent Worf we have here than the one from Peak Performance- the one who noted, upon hearing of the Zakdorns’ reputation as strategically gifted, states that the reputation (myth) means nothing since no one has actually tested it. That Worf believed in the importance of making conclusions based on evidence.

    Scratching behind the surface of what we have been told about legends has made us learn quite a bit about people and history. On the whole, critical thinking is a good thing.

    As for the episode’s not showing the battle, perhaps that was for the best given the episode’s myth fetishization. Taudience would have laughed at how it was depicted, given what we saw of Kor’s mental acuity earlier on. Kor’s actions would have come off as implausible, just as myths are.

    Here we go again. Klingons, blah blah, a glorious death, blah blah, blah blah.

    Having said that, this is perhaps DS9’s best attempt to explore this theme.

    One of the things I find most interesting is the fact that this episode paints Kor in a mixed light - he may be a hero, but he’s also an old and prejudiced reactionary, who doesn’t even remember the people whose careers he destroyed because they weren’t “purebred”. It’s a reminder that even heroes are human - or at least Klingon.

    And as other people have said, the fact that he dies in a mythical last-battle /which we don’t get to see/ is pretty much a perfect way to wave goodbye to the character.

    Though saying that, I don’t really buy into the Davy Crockett comparison, or Worf’s assessment of it. After all, the Texans weren't fighting a rearguard action and ended up losing the battle of Alamo; the question around Davy Crockett’s legend lies around whether he died fighting, or if he was executed after surrendering.

    Here, Kor was defending a fighting retreat and it’s fairly safe to assume that there was never any question of surrender. As such, it would have been more appropriate to draw parallels with the Spartan defence of Thermopylae, Little Big Horn or even the Battle of Samar, where a small group of US ships successfully fended off a much larger Japanese fleet, thereby protecting a fleet of ships unloading troops...

    (IMO, either way Davey Crockett can be considered a hero - after all, whatever happened, he chose to remain and fight. But it's still a poor parallel with the events in this episode)

    Initially skipped this one, but I'm glad I went back. Seeing that Moore wrote it convinced me to give it a try. It's not perfect but at least we finally have a Klingon episode that is more than just chest thumping. I enjoyed seeing a Klingon crew working together as a solid team, and seeing Martok's mansevant show compassion towards another marginalized warrior.

    Good review, Jammer. Honestly I disagree with almost all of your reviews - so I was surprised to agree with you for a change. (And, as always, I appreciate the work you've put into this website and providing fans a chance for thoughtful and civil discussion.)

    Jammer writes, " feel that we needed to see, in one way or another, Kor go out in his blaze of glory. It would've been more ... Klingon."

    But I think that we don't see it or really knows what happened is a callback to the start, "The only real question is whether you believe in the legend of Davy Crockett or not. If you do, there should be no doubt in your mind that he died a hero's death."

    My only fault with this episode is it presents a big point of contrition between Kor and Martok, but it's never resolved. Kor and Martok never directly talk to each other about this past experience - instead we only see Worf tell Kor of it, and that's it. It wasn't very cathartic.

    2/4 stars.

    The storyline that Kor was an entitled, snobby rich kid does not fit with the way his character has been portrayed to date, so I found it hard to believe that he would have blocked Martok because he came from humble roots. The fact that Martok--who has been portrayed as honorable--would ridicule an old man is also not believeable. He acted like Geordi did towards Scotty, although to be fair, Geordi always acted like a jerk.

    I'm not familiar with Kor's portrayal in TOS but if you look at knights in medieval times, while they were always striving for greater status and class, there was still very much a spectrum within their ranks from crass lowly commoners to sophisticated high society elites. Klingon culture being what it is, I have no trouble imagining a nobleman being excessively gruff and uncouth. Kor doesn't need to be a "snobby rich kid" he just needs to be dismissive of anyone he doesn't find worthy. He probably saw Martok's application and rejected it out of hand with no more than five seconds of consideration because it didn't meet some abstract metric of his. That Martok would find such action dishonorable, and treat Kor accordingly, is no surprise either. Long-standing grudges, discommendation, and inherited dishonor are de rigueur in their society. Klingon's aren't the "turn the other cheek" type, they're the "revenge is a dish best served cold" type.

    I liked this episode and agree with Jammer it's a return to form for the Klingon episode (last one unfortunately).

    The ending for me wasn't a problem , the weak part of this episode was all about Martok wanting to take out some sort of career vendetta against Kor. The initial reason was probably some lazy writing and that sort of corners Kor into giving Martok some closure ( Kor could of apologized as a way of showing he evolved or something).

    That being said, I thought the tension between Martok and Kor sort of alienated and took away from the episode's main theme which was ageism , could of made for an interesting plot on it's own regardless of Kor's past transgressions.

    In the documentary What We Left Behind, Michael Dorn said that this episode and Soldiers of the Empire were his two favorites.

    Great episode!

    I know some have qualms about the way the ending was handled. I personally liked it.

    I remember watching this when it came out, and was pretty disturbed at Martok for being such a jerk to Kor. I've always liked Martok, and here, he seems needlessly cruel (when making fun of Kor's lapse when he had to take over the ship after Martok and Worf were knocked out. But, after Kor's poignant reminder that the sweet fruit of life sours with old age, Martok did back down-even telling Worf that he took no pleasure in hearing Kor's being releaved of duty. I guess it shows growth.

    As far as Ezri goes, this maybe should have been said in a comment earlier in the season, but I like her! Not only do I like her backstory better than Jadzia, I always found her more attractive (not that that should matter for liking a character, but honestly, she and Kes from Voyager are the ONLY actresses from Star Trek that I found attractive-maybe because I was in my 20s at the time, the others seemed too old. Or maybe my tastes are just different. I did think Kira was ok looking, but her abrasiveness took that away VERY quickly)

    Another thing, has anyone noticed how much the Doctor aged? I guess it is because he was the youngest actor of the lot, but he seems A LOT older from seasons 1 to 7, and all of the others in the cast don't seem so to me

    While its themes of dimming faculties, the absurdities of old age and the cruelty of youth, make this one hard to watch at points, I give "Once More Unto the Breach" extremely high marks as containing more than a few strong scenes. John Colicos reprises his crafty Kor to good effect; the Dahar master is now humbled by age, and to his way of thinking too soon put out to pasture. Hertzler is great once again as Martok, in bitter mode, seething with hatred for Kor, but compelled to suffer him upon his ship.

    It's even a good outing for Worf (somewhat rare in DS9) as the image of earnest competence, doing what he can to re-elevate a faded idol.

    On board Martok's ship, we meet a strong supporting cast of Klingon officers (females), who first respect Kor, and later help Martok to humiliate him. Their tag-team ridicule makes for a terrific scene IMO. The moments featuring the aged wiseman Darok are also good and work to soothe.

    The bird of prey action scenes (several done in planet atmosphere) are great. Even the B scene (mis-informed relationship advice) with Ezri and Quark at the bar is nicely handled. Ezri's expressions are priceless.

    Jammer's review is excellent. However, I disagree with it insofar as I think they got the ending right and it feel just right. The final off-screen combat allows viewers to conjure their own images of Kor doing legendary work against the Jem'Hadar. I always had a weakness for Klingon laudatory singing and it works well to send our hero to Stovokor. For me "Once More Unto..." is worthy of 4 Stars.

    "Once More Unto the Breech" has always been one of my favorite Klingon episodes, and my favorite episode in season 7.

    Some comments above criticize the episode's "off screen" ending, but IMO it's this ending which elevates things. The ambiguity and uncertainty of the "off screen" climax allows Kor to achieve immortality; there's a mythic grandeur to Kor's blaze of glory.

    Mostly, though, I think this episode works really well as pure pulp. We get space shantys, we get the scenery chewing Martok (always a blast to be around), we get Kor the Dahar Master, and we get a couple female Klingons who have a quite interesting style of line-delivery.

    The FX work is also incredibly dynamic, with swooping CGI bird-of-preys, and hit-and-run attacks which make the Klingon ships seem far more maneuverable than they're typically portrayed.

    Ronald Moore's scripts are typically good at balancing machismo with soul. Here, despite all the Klingon bluster on display, we get a nice treatment of something akin to dementia, as well as old age, and feelings of uselessness. It's also interesting how this episode juxtaposes against DS9's critiques of combat, glory and war propaganda. The Klingon's seem to buy wholesale into what episodes like "Valiant" and the "Siege of AR558" critique, with Worf our mid-point, or mediator, between the two stances.

    Martok really should've had Kor killed after that incident on the bridge. It's the Klingon way. I know he gives Worf a lot of leeway, as the episode with Alexander indicates, but there's no way he should ignore Kor almost getting them all killed.

    Loved how this episode showed again how bad ass Worf could be on DS9. He sees Martok throw the knife at Kor. He catches it and smacks the crap out of Kor to shut him up and simultaneously save his life.

    I knew I recognized Kor, but I couldn't put my finger on it. I'm glad I went searching, because I ran across this little treat. Kor has been around since TOS: "Kor DS9 Tribute for kor the dahar master,"

    I agree with TheRealTrent. This episode ended perfectly off screening the Dahar Masters presumed demise in the heat of battle. Instead it focused on bookending Worf's Davey Crockett comment, "Does it matter?" and Martok and crew singing the praises of a man he hated but mere moments before.

    If this is not a four-star episode, it's only because of the pointless, boring B-story with Dax v.8.0. It's nothing but vapid padding to the main, Klingon-based, plot.

    That plot, despite the retrograde tribal Klingon nonsense, was very well done. It bore a powerful message about vanity and the transience of youth and strength. The ending was indeed, well, let's say fanciful, but that's okay. I agree with a few commenters above who posit that the apparently rushed and "off-screen" resolution add that little bit of mystique and immortality to the old codger's magnum opus and demise.

    3-1/2 stars.

    Dang. John Colicos remains, to this day, my favorite of all the actors to play Klingons. From his first appearance in TOS, he’s one of the few that found that perfect balance between bluster, brutality & quiet intensity. He didn’t have to shout all his lines, and yet you still feared him.

    The biggest weakness of this episode is not having Kor apologize to Martok. Martok changed his feelings towards a man who wronged him and many others and has no regrets about it, but Kor has no change?

    Two things:

    Like all of a sudden the special effects seemed way better. Not only the attack scenes, but there's an overhead shot of DS9 when the ships are leaving that took my breath away. I loved it!

    Second, I haven't seen mentioned, but did not Martok's plan fail miserably? He laid out a string of targets to Sisko in the beginning, and yet it seems they mostly failed on the first one and then got the hell out of Dodge. Did I miss something?

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