Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Deep Space Nine 4x1/4x2 "The Way of the Warrior"

rating: ****

the story: The Klingon Empire readies for war against the Dominion, which causes Sisko to request Worf's assistance.

what it's all about: People tend to have a bad habit of assuming that when story elements are mandated, this inevitably results in a story that can't possibly work.  Look, this is all a part of the creative process.  If you can't figure out to make someone else's idea work, then quit frankly you're not very creative.  It's as simple as that. 

This is relevant to "Way of the Warrior" because Paramount, in the interests of shoring up flagging ratings for Deep Space Nine, requested the show's producers insert the Klingons, and Worf, into the series.  This wasn't what the producers had been planning for the fourth season, something they'd already been denied to do at the end of the third season (relax, though; it'd finally materialize in the two-part "Homefront"/"Paradise Lost" near the middle of the season).  And in a lot of ways, "Warrior" is a rephrasing of not only the third season finale, "The Adversary," but the two-part "Improbable Cause"/"The Die is Cast" from earlier that season, plus the ambitious three-part "The Homecoming"/"The Circle"/"The Siege" that started out the second season.  But does all this mean "Warrior" is worthless rehash and creatively bankrupt?  Far from it!

The fourth season begins with a bang.  Introducing the Klingons turned out to be one of the best things the series ever did.  Klingons were involved in the first-ever sustained serialized storytelling Star Trek, during the middle of Next Generation, which is probably why Deep Space Nine happened to begin with, a whole series that would eventually embrace serialized storytelling as its mandate, so in that sense, formally introducing Klingons into the mix (they'd appeared sporadically before this) was at the very least a nod to Deep Space Nine's origins.  It was also the first time the Klingons really got to return to the epic nature of their Next Generation heyday, complete with Gowron pleading with Worf to once again consider what was in the best interests of the Empire, an echo of exactly how it all began, resonance that's the key to all great storytelling.

That General Martok makes his debut in "Warrior" is also one of the best things that happened in the story, especially the way he does.  He doesn't appear again until "Apocalypse Rising," the fifth season premiere, which eventually leads into one of the most pivotal recurring roles of the series.  So all that begins here.  As does Michael Dorn's addition to the regular cast, making him the only Star Trek actor to be a regular in two series.  Worf's solitary nature became prominent in his appearances throughout the rest of Deep Space Nine, putting him in an entirely new light, as a character who belonged in this series.  "Warrior" not only picks up the Klingon thread from Next Generation, but Worf's role in it, and out of it.  This was a series full of outcasts, and that's exactly what Worf always was.  That he had a family among Picard's crew, where fans will always remember him best, is also a fact of the franchise, but it cannot be discounted how well Worf fits in with his second family.

The siege of the station, once fighting breaks out, is one of the most thrilling sequences of the whole series, more than making up for its predecessor in "The Siege," which ended a three-part affair with more of a whimper than a bang.  This is what the series needed to give credibility to its Dominion ambitions, a preview of the war that was to come.  It neatly outlines the stakes of the conflict, and how things would work from then on. 

But for anyone coming merely for Klingon drama, it fills its quota of that, too, amply contributing to a fine Star Trek tradition.  Plus, you get to hear Quark compare the Federation to root beer.  If you never love a Ferengi in any other scene, I think you'll agree how well this one works.

criteria analysis:
  • franchise - The grand Klingon opera continues!
  • series - Although it's just beginning in Deep Space Nine!
  • character - Enter: Worf!
  • essential - Puts everything in new perspective.
notable guest-stars:
J.G. Hertzler (Martok)
Robert O'Reilly (Gowron)
Penny Johnson (Kasidy Yates)
Marc Alaimo (Dukat)
Andrew Robinson (Garak)
Patricia Tallman

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