Monday, September 16, 2013

Deep Space Nine, Season 4: The Way of the Warrior

Deep Space Nine, Season 4
"The Way of the Warrior"
Airdate: October 2, 1995
72 of 176 produced
72 of 176 aired


The Founders ended season 3 with two ominous warnings. One, that the Federation and Klingon Empire now had their undivided attention after dealing crippling blows to the Cardassians and Romulans. The other, that they are "everywhere." What do the Founders have in store and what changes will it bring to the station?

Say what you want about the story. Pew pew pew!!!


Kevin: This episode has a lot riding on its shoulders. It has to maintain and build the momentum that the end of last season established. It's the first time that an episode not a premiere or a finale was being presented as a single two-hour episode. And it has to find a way to introduce a new character without feeling like it's taking shortcuts or just making a ratings grab. I think the epsiode largely suceeds on all fronts. This episode definitely has some verve. Matt found the teaser a little long when we watched it for the podcast, but I didn't mind that too much. I have always enjoyed the Ben/Kassidy scenes as one of Trek's more credible displays of romance. Beyond that, there's a lot of whiz-bang in this episode, much like other Klingon outings, like Redemption. From a purely entertainment standpoint, I think this episode definitely captured the energy that episodes like Improbable Cause/Die is Cast created.

Matthew: A lot of stuff certainly happened, and it was entertaining as a rule. Bringing the Klingons into the mix is a good way of indicating the large nature of the looming Dominion conflict - the Romulan episodes from last season were good but failed to register quite the same sort of scale. This is probably because the Klingons were much better developed in TNG, and so there is just more we want to see. How does Gowron react? How does this affect Worf''s family? These kinds of questions should be interesting on their own, but they're especially interesting to TNG fans.  All that said, I have some objections to the way things unfolded. First of all, the selective lack of translation of Klingon phrases, especially ones we've heard before in English, was dumb. As far as the battle goes, it felt like it went way too far to believe it could ever be stopped in the way it was here, especially since Worf opined not 30 minutes earlier that the Klingons wouldn't stop for any reason before complete victory against the Cardassians. Where is the Federation fleet again? Why did the Klingons halt their advance into Cardassia at all? If Starfleet was too far away to help DS9, they were certainly too far to help the Cardassians. Then, there was my most disdained aspect of big Trek battles, especially in DS9: the rampant use of "Trek Fu." I'm sorry, people, but when the attacker is a race established as a warrior culture, possessing twice the strength and twice the physical fortitude of humans, I'm just never going to believe it when a tiny woman like Kira, or even a man like Sisko, punches a Klingon in the face (especially with a backhand punch), removing him from the fight. No... Effing... Way. Either they should all be phasered into unconsciousness (or to death), or they shouldn't beam aboard at all. You're not making the DS9 crew seem like great fighters, you're just straining my credulity nearly to the breaking point.

Kevin: Let's just get right to the elephant in the room. The addition of Michael Dorn is clearly, from a production standpoint, a ratings grab. That's not a sin per se; shows need viewers. The question becomes how was it handled. Again, I think the show did a pretty good job. We explicitly mention the destruction of the Enterprise and Worf's studies at Boreth, so we have a logical reason the character is both available to be here and might be looking for a new job. Shifting the focus to the Klingons may seem a bit too much a gear shift, but I think working in the idea that the Dominion threat is being captialized on by the Empire is a good touch. Ira Steven Behr has explicitly stated that he was drawing off "Lovak's" warning that the Federation and Klingons are the only remaining threats. Real politics don't have discreet acts until history assigns them later. Real events overlap and interact, so as long as they didn't magically forget the Dominion, the complication of a bellicose Empire just made life more interesting for the view. From a character standpoint, Worf is the obvious choice to join the show. His life thus far has been the exploration of a non-Federation person in a Federation world, and that tension is what drives this iteration of the franchise. It's nice that Worf has never (nor will ever) completely settle the tension between his Klingon heritage and his Federation life. That's not the kind of thing you just 'resolve,' it's the kind of thing you learn to live with. It also allowed for some nice scenes with Sisko and his own desire to leave Starfleet. It's a nice footing for the characters to start on.

Matthew: Stunt casting is a dangerous thing.  It has already backfired disastrously in the Q and Lwaxana episodes of DS9. The basic question to ask is - does this story have a right to exist? In order to, it had better either advance the characters involved in interesting ways, or be such a good story in its own right that the character is secondary to the plot. The only episode that DS9 has done that even comes close is "Defiant" with Thomas Riker. This episode succeeds on both levels. Worf is actually shown to have grown and changed since TNG and Generations, an he has interesting choices to make. Should he leave Starfleet and pursue his spiritual growth? Should he become involved in Klingon affairs? The fact that Sisko has cogent advice for him regarding his own experience makes the show feel more natural.

Kevin: Other notes really help solidify this as a very good outing. The "root beer" conversation, in addition to being exquisitely acted, is the theme of DS9 writ small. I always appreciate anytime the writers can elegantly work in theming into an episode without getting preachy or stopping the story. I also liked it as the most credible internal argument for why people don't just all join the Federation. Anytime some character mentions growing up on a poor, crime-ridden world, I always wonder why everyone doesn't just join the utopian Federation. The attitudes displayed by Garak and Quark toward humanity's bubbly and cloying nature actually given that position some internal life.

Matthew: It's a real risk to bring in a star from another show, because he or she might take all the wind out of other characters' sails. The Garak/Quark scene you mention is a prime example of giving your regulars something important to do. Other scenes were less successful. Kira and Dax in the holosuite was pretty unnecessary. Quark looking for his disruptor was just a throwaway. It's really Sisko that gets the rest of the development, in his relationship scenes with Kasidy Yates, which were pretty solid.


Kevin: Some of the main cast didn't get a hell of a lot to do, but those that did, along with the guest stars really delivered. Brooks plays it much closer to the vest, and it works, especially opposite the Shakespearean Klingons. I liked his scenes with Kasidy a lot. It really reads like a real, developing relationship, not just love by dictate of the script. Michael Dorn did a good job here, too. Having watched Generations not that long before, I shared and understood his feeling of loss, and all of his scenes with Dax, Odo, Sisko, etc. played really well.

Matthew: It was Michael Dorn who had to sell the episode. He does. If he had come on and seemed out of place or like he was phoning it in, the whole thing could have felt phony and like a stunt. Instead, he does real character work, portraying Worf as conflicted and even a bit depressed. I was really involved in his character's struggles. I agree on Avery Brooks, he was restrained and effective.

Kevin: This is the first appearance of JG Hertzler as Martok, and he's great. Any episode with both Andrew Robinson and Marc Alaimo is never gonna be bad. It's just not. Their banter outside the Detapa Council quarters was genius. All around, the guest cast was really well cast and really delivered on the material they got. You could argue no one was really challenged by the acting material too much, but no one delivered a bum note either.

Matthew: Yep. Strong guest cast. Alaimo, Robinson, and now Hertzler are on the list of "guys whose presence brings any episode up a tick." Robert O'Reilly was good as Gowron, too.

Production Values

Kevin: I remember thinking what a upgrade this episode was. Obviously, it's the premiere and they blew a lot of their budget on this one, and it shows. The battle scene itself was pretty awesome. They used some combination of model work and CGI effects, and it works better than a fleet of CGI ships alone would have done. The scene was also well paced and framed. The quick cuts to the weapons turrets gave it an energetic, but not distracted feel. I liked the camera follow of a torpedo.

Matthew: We got a great morphing effect off of the Promenade info board. The battle was really good. I think the CGI was actually the station model, and all of the ships were either hero models or Playmates models with explosives stuffed into them. Any way you slice it, it's the most action we've seen in any Trek battle so far, even including the movies and some of TNG's better shows.

Kevin: Even smaller sequences, like the Bird of Prey and the Xhosa were nice. The camera moved around the objects together, giving a nice depth of field, and the little recoil of the Xhosa when the tractor got released was a nice touch. The other battle sequence with the Cardassian ship was great to. The tractored Vor'cha class cruiser just looked nifty.

Matthew: Kira's hair is ridiculous. The ladies' swimsuits are also ridiculous.


Kevin: Like "Redemption" before it, any grand Klingon saga is going to make me pretty happy. Add to that the fact that I think they successfully minimized the artificiality of bringing a previous shows' character on midstream, and you end up with a solidly above average episode. This is a 4 for me.

Matthew: This episode offers a very solid evolutionary story for the Worf character, married to an entertaining if somewhat logically creaky political/war thriller. Dorn nails it in the acting and justifies his presence pretty easily. The effects sequences in the battles set a high water mark for Trek's televised model work. So all in all, I agree with the 4. There's not enough here to make me consider this a classic, and a few things really irritate me, but it's solidly above average, for a total of 8.



  1. First of all I loved this episode. I like the plot and the action. But this was also an episode when Star Trek saved me and my brother from abject depression having just watched the Mariners eliminate the Yankees from the playoffs. So thank you DS9

  2. Baseball had the opposite effect for me with DS9. Whenever a Cubs game ran over, it cut off the episode because the WGN affiliate in Chicago aired it on Saturdays at 5pm.

  3. I should say that when I first watched this episode it was probably 2 in the morning. So we were tired but too depressed to go to bed.

  4. Pity the poor Yankees fans. How do they sleep at night averaging only one World Series win every 5 years?

  5. Well first of all when I first saw this episode, I had never seen the Yankees in the post season before and I was delusional enough to think we could go all the way that year. But yes if this happened more recently you could mock me. I know full well how lucky I have been.

  6. where are your reviews of season 5 to 7?