4.09: “The Sword of Kahless”

Synopsis: Kor returns to the station, and recruits Jadzia and Worf on a quest to find a legendary Klingon artifact.

OK, so, I should probably say from the start that, in general, I just don’t find Klingon stuff all that interesting. Discovery has come closest of any Trek to getting me interested in the Klingons, but even that’s mostly down to the strength of Mary Chieffo’s performance as L’Rell. So this episode just starts at a disadvantage with me. There are some great moments, but it just…it feels overlong, I think? I look at any given scene, and I think “yeah, that’s cool”, but taken together, it just seems to drag.

Apparently most of the scenes of Dax, Kor, and Worf making their way through the caves were meant to be much more action-driven, and have something of an Indiana Jones feel to them — fighting with Toral and his men, or running into booby traps — but it would’ve required too much production time, and they scrapped them in favor of a Treasure of the Sierra Madre thing instead. That might be why the episode seems to drag a bit; personally, I tend to prefer the times when Deep Space Nine‘s conflicts center on two or three characters in a quiet room together to the times when its conflicts center on fight scenes or space battles, but this isn’t an episode that started out like that, so when it shifts to something a bit more quieter and contained (relatively, anyway; these are Klingons we’re talking about), it represents a change in tone and just seems to bring the pace to a halt.

Overall, though, I’m probably best represented in this episode by Jadzia, who just has less and less patience for any of this as it goes on, eventually just stunning both Worf and Kor and dealing with Toral herself.

I guess there’s some decent Worf stuff, though?

We do get some interesting insights into Worf here — apparently part of the reason for this episode was that apart from “Way of the Warrior”, all the episodes up to this point in the season had already been greenlit when they added Worf to the cast, so his role in them is generally pretty small, and they wanted to do more with him. I like Worf in general, and as I’ve noted before, I feel like DS9 does some interesting things with him and gives him a bit more depth, and this episode is part of that, though not my favorite example.

Using Toral, rather than a random Klingon, is an interesting choice, and I might actually have liked a little bit more about the fallout from “Redemption” for him — for Worf to have declined to kill him under the Right of Vengeance was shocking to other Klingons at the end of that episode, but even Kor (who, despite Worf’s current status among Klingons, is happy to have him as a part of the quest) is disdainful, even disgusted: “any Klingon who denies himself the Right of Vengeance is no Klingon at all.” Toral’s family is disgraced; we’ve seen Lursa and B’Etor since then, but what have the last few years looked like for him?

I appreciate that the show offers something of an explanation for how, despite having been orphaned pretty young, Worf still has such a thorough understanding of Klingon tradition and ritual — that the Rozhenkos facilitated his efforts to connect with his birth family and helped him to visit them on Qo’noS. I feel like DS9, in general, tends to do a bit more with Worf’s struggle to find a place in Klingon society? I’m having trouble verbalizing this, because certainly, TNG explored it as well, but…perhaps a good way to put it would be to say that TNG — at least early on — tended to take Worf’s cultural Klingonness for granted more than DS9 does. (Which just makes DS9’s nonuse of Alexander feel like that much more of a missed opportunity.)

It’s striking, also, that Worf has already opened up to Jadzia a great deal — they won’t actually get together as a couple until the next season, but they’ve already started to gravitate towards each other, laying the groundwork nicely.

Also, Worf’s story about running away into the mountains actually put me in mind of some of Michael Burnham and Spock’s memories of their childhood on Vulcan in Discovery‘s second season, and gosh, now that I’m thinking about it, I would love to see some Michael-Worf interaction. (Or, if I’m being honest, Michael and pretty much anyone on Deep Space Nine; she feels like a character who would fit in well there.)

Miscellany

  • Speaking of Michael Burnham, I found it interesting that Worf is so concerned, here, with trying to unite the Klingons, given that Klingon disunity is such an issue in Discovery, as well.
  • I really like the scene with Sisko shaving? The framing in the mirror is cool, and I just like it when the show has people living their lives.
  • Worf’s starstruck face when first introduced to Kor is such a damn delight.

Also, this happened while we were watching:

Worf: “If [Toral] wants [the sword], give it to him.”
My roommate, with whom I just watched “Redemption” a month or so ago: Yeah, give it to him RIGHT IN THE THROAT! FUCK OFF! YOUR FAMILY HAS NO HONOR!

Horniness rankings

  1. The moment when Jadzia tears off pieces of her own uniform to make bandages for Worf? Extremely horny.
  2. Jadzia and Kor are both extremely horny for adventure.
  3. Worf is, in general, extremely emotionally horny, honestly.

One thought on “4.09: “The Sword of Kahless”

  1. I didn’t think very much of this episode. It’s OK. I think Kor has diminishing returns as a character every time they go back to the well with him, and I kind of wish they’d left him alone after “Blood Oath” because it’s hard to top that. That said, John Colicos gives it his all again here, and captures that wonderful self-awareness that Kor has that made him such a gem in “Blood Oath”. His performance is less opera, less Shakespeare, maybe more Arthur Miller – a once-great man mostly at peace with his descent who maybe sees one more shot at glory. He does do a wonderful job rolling out his lines though, making some hack dialogue really work.

    The pairing of Kor with Worf was also pretty inspired, especially as Worf begins the episode in awe of Kor and his legendary exploits, and ends it realizing that Kor is just a regular old flawed Klingon like all the rest of them.

    Originally, I thought it was curious that the episode went out of its way to remind us of the plot details of “Rightful Heir”, which aired about 2 years before this episode. At first I thought this was kind of a waste of space in the script, but in rethinking it, it was interesting that they brought attention to the fact that the monks’ attempt to unify the Klingon people by giving them a literal Kahless had completely failed – the Kahless clone was ineffectual and essentially ignored by Gowron. It puts the quest in a quixotic light; if Kahless’ heir himself wasn’t enough to do it, why would the sword do it? Perhaps the thinking was that the sword was an authentic link to Klingon history, whereas the Kahless clone was seen as a fraud.

    Using Toral as the villain was a fun touch, opening up another rift between Worf and Kor. Also, the way Michael Dorn pronounces “Duras” always sounds so disgusted and disdainful. It’s wonderful. I don’t know if they deliberately wrote the name so it would sound scummy, but if they did, it worked.

    I didn’t think the pace of the episode worked at all; as you point out, it did have a lot of problems with momentum, although I don’t know that I think a constant cycle of traps and action scenes would have worked any better.

    Also in watching the end scenes I had the strangest thought that if this had been a Voyager episode, they would have spent the third act discovering that the sword was actually inhabited by some kind of telepathic subspace energy matrix intelligence (remains of a Hurq, maybe) that was subconciously manipulating Worf and Kor to discord and strife. That would of course have been really stupid. So thanks for not being Voyager, Deep Space Nine.

    Amusing line at the very end. Having found the sword in a vault to which they were led by a ton of clues, they have to know that beaming the thing literally just out into space is the next best thing to vaporizing it. It’s not like anyone is going to find a chunk of metal a meter long in the vastness of space, especially when all the extant clues point to it being in a Hurq vault. Maybe Worf and Kor go back to the station and start a thread on social media with a new stream of clues strongly hinting that the thing is floating in space somewhere.

    0

Comments are closed.