Friday, December 30, 2016

Deep Space Nine 4x9 "The Sword of Kahless"

rating: ***

the story: Worf joins Dax and Kor on an epic quest.

what it's all about: "Sword of Kahless" was always an easy episode to underestimate.  On the surface it might seem gimmicky and unnecessary, Deep Space Nine struggling to find relevant stories for a character (Worf) who had already experienced an incredible and in some ways franchise-defining arc in Next Generation (storytelling that helped form the basis of Deep Space Nine itself).

But it lays down two very important foundations for Worf in his new series: first, it introduces the idea of his relationship with Dax, and it finally gives him another Klingon to work off of who's happy to be a Klingon and isn't actively seeking a way to sabotage Worf's standing in the Empire.  Kor, an original series Klingon who returned in the landmark "Blood Oath" earlier in the series, was more a lead-in to Martok, who would emerge as one of the most important recurring characters of the series and one of Worf's defining relationships, but that hardly matters.  When he returns in the final season ("Once More Unto the Breach"), his appearance in this episode takes on greater resonance.  Watching as Kor, Worf, and Dax struggle to figure out each other is the real pleasure of the episode.

"Sword" also helps demonstrate all over again how important Kahless is to Klingon culture, as well as put a definitive spotlight on the Klingon weapon, the bat'leth, that was already an iconic element of Star Trek lore at this point, but had never really been the focus of an episode before.  We'd seen Worf and other Klingons use these fancy curved blades, and heard of how Kahless created the first one, but it somehow seems so much more important when it becomes the object of an active obsession.

A treasure hunt was the subject of popular fiction dating at least back to Treasure Island, but more contemporary storytelling had Indiana Jones become an icon in this kind of adventure.  "Sword" came before a glut of more recent stories, most famously Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code, began to flood the market, even before Lara Croft made it cool again in video games.

criteria analysis:
  • franchise - A fine addition to the Klingon tradition.
  • series - A fine next step in Deep Space Nine's Klingons.
  • character - Works quite well for Worf, Dax, and Kor.
  • essential - It's not groundbreaking, but it'll do.
notable guest-stars:
John Colicos (Kor)


  1. When Dax introduces Worf to Kor - who in turn calls him the lowest of the low, a traitor and any enemy of Gowron is a friend of mine, pleasure to meet you! I just had a hearty laugh :>

    1. It was such a brilliant decision, bringing them together.


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