Monday, January 8, 2018

Episode Review: The Way of the Warrior (Deep Space Nine, Season 4)

For those who are new to my episode reviews, you can find the post where I establish my point criteria here

Overview – The Klingons arrive at the station amidst rumors of the Cardassian military government being overthrown by a civilian group. The Klingons suspect that the Dominion has somehow orchestrated the coup on Cardassia and have come in the guise of supporting their Federation allies. Sisko suspects that there is more to the Klingon visit than is being revealed, and as tensions rise he requests a specialist for handling the Klingons. Lieutenant Commander Worf arrives on the station and immediately gets to work on learning the true intent of his people. When he discovers the goal of the Klingons is to invade Cardassia, both Worf and Sisko are caught between conflicts of conscience that will ultimately have repercussions on the entire Alpha Quadrant.

Score: 9/10 – “The Way of the Warrior” is a special two hour episode that marks a big moment in the series. First, and foremost, Michael Dorn reprises his iconic role of Worf and joins the main cast. Storyline wise, we have the Klingons go nuts and throw the quadrant into chaos. While this is later revealed to be the work of the Dominion, it is absolutely a game changer for the world of Star Trek. We see some promotions in the cast, most notably Dax to Lieutenant Commander, and Bashir to full Lieutenant. Sisko adds to his new look by shaving his head, and it is perfect for his character. I think this is where Avery Brooks could really deliver the tough-as-nails persona of Captain Sisko. It was nice to have Kassidy Yates comment on how much she liked the new look. It was almost as if she was saying it for the rest of us. We see the Klingons like many feel they should have been for a while, all action and conquest. It was an interesting Trek universe development, having the allies go back to adversaries. The battle for the station is still one of the most impressive battles, giving us some great action. I particularly enjoyed the battle for ops. When the first wave was finally repulsed, we were left with only Sisko, Dax, and Worf- standing. While some of the other officers were only injured (Kira and O’Brien being most prominent), the loss of life by Sisko’s crew was sobering in that it further signaled to the audience that a corner had been turned and things were never going to be the same again.

Relevance – 3 points. In addition to introducing Worf as a full cast member, there is also the introduction of General Martok. This sets up one of the more interesting and popular recurring characters in Deep Space Nine. What happens in this episode will have major impacts on several episodes throughout the rest of the season. The mentioning of the Enterprise’s fate in “Star Trek: Generations” gives us a point here. There is also a point scored for reference to the Khitomer Accords, which were the backdrop of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. I also score a point for the opening segment, showing the crew respond to the results of the previous season’s finale. There are many other connections to other episodes, such as referring to the defeat of the Obsidian Order in the previous season, O’Brien and Worf discussing the events of “The Best of Both Worlds”, and Worf continuing to drink his beloved prune juice. Overall, if you are going to understand the story of DS9, this is an episode that you cannot miss.

Continuity - 2 points. Character continuity is maintained. Everyone is acting the way we would expect. Sisko’s method of using Garak as a means to warn the Cardassians of the incoming attack is a good example of this. Worf is obviously uneasy with the deception, and Sisko is particularly adept at manipulating the situation with a clever loophole. Story continuity is going to lose a point here. Worf, on board the Defiant, mentions that he has never been on a Federation ship with a cloaking device. In truth, the seventh season of TNG the Enterprise is fitted with an experimental cloaking device, so Worf has been on a Federation ship with a cloak before. Universe continuity is also intact, so we can score a point in that category.

Character Development – 3 points. While this is a largely Worf-centered episode, it is important to note that it is solely a Worf focus. This is one of the strengths of introducing a well-established character into a cast in that there was little need for a lot of back story. Work again is forced to choose between the Federation and the Klingon Empire, and again he is cut off from his people. He contemplates resigning from Starfleet, which is something Sisko understands all too well. This allows a much different relationship to develop between Worf and his captain from what he had with Picard. The respect Worf develops for Sisko has more to do with sharing a common experience of loss rather than the inherent “respect the rank” that Worf had for Picard. This is not to discount the Picard-Worf relationship on TNG, just to highlight a major difference. Worf sees Sisko on more equal footing than Picard, whom he continued to elevate. Sisko gets some credit for his solution to the Klingon problem, and his new look really has him being able to stand up to the Klingons in a more convincing way. We see some good moments with Sisko in this episode. Dax also shines, albeit to a lesser degree. She further adds depth to her Klingon connection, and she seems to lay some of the groundwork that will eventually lead to her romance with Worf.

Social Commentary – 2 points. With so much going on in this episode that it is easy to overlook what social commentary the episode is making. As is common with Worf, the pull between two groups or societies that one is connected to can be examined. Is it Worf’s birth culture or his adopted culture that he owes allegiance to? We see a similar struggle with Sisko as he tries to navigate a fine line between appeasing the Federation’s alliance with the Klingon Empire and doing what his gut tells him is the right thing by saving the Cardassian empire from total annihilation. We too can find ourselves pulled between two conflicting forces. It’s a real sense to try to figure out where our true loyalties lie.

Cool Stuff – 3 points. The battle between DS9 and the Klingons is fantastic, and is only a precursor of the epic battles that became famous in this series. Point scored there. I also scored a point for the root beer scene between Garak and Quark. While originally played for comedic purposes, it is cleverly twisted into an insightful commentary of the Federation. A final point is being scored for the plot device used by Sisko to inform the Cardassians of the impending Klingon invasion. By discussing the matter in front of Garak, who had been called in to measure Sisko for a new suit, it allowed the resourceful tailor to sound the alarm. There are many other cool parts of this episode, from Worf’s arrival on the station to Sisko’s shaved head to the breakfast between Garak and Odo, but three points is the limit here.

Rank – Admiral (22 points). This is such an important episode for the series that it had to be done well. On that front, it was mission accomplished. We have action, intrigue, comedy, and some great acting. What a way to welcome Worf into the DS9 family.

If you would like to read other reviews from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, please click the following link.

If you would like to read an episode review from any of the Trek series, click the following link to get to the series catalog. If the episode you want reviewed has not been done yet, then feel free to request it in the comments and I will see what I can do.

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