Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Deep Space Nine 7x7 "Once More Unto the Breach"

rating: ****

the story: Kor discovers that it's a good day to die.

what it's all about: This is the episode Deep Space Nine kind of tried making for four seasons, and finally got it right.  This is its answer to "A Matter of Honor," the Next Generation episode where Riker serves aboard a Klingon ship, and as such is as close to a Klingons-only episode as Star Trek is ever likely to get. 

It's also a follow-up to the earlier "Blood Oath," in which original series Klingon warrior Kor (plus a few others) returns to the franchise for one last glorious adventure.  In "Blood Oath," Kor is among friends and as such has trust that he'll be taken at face value.  When he next resurfaces, in "Sword of Kahless," he first comes across Worf, who represents the current generation he probably has been shielded from for years, and they quickly develop a rivalry.  In "Once More Unto the Breach," it isn't Worf that's the problem, but Martok.

Like the last few episodes, this is another guest-star spotlight, and it falls both on Kor and Martok, for whom this serves as his most personal episode, in which we learn about his background and how it's connected to Kor (not in a positive way, alas).  It's the first time two guest-stars of any species dominate an episode, so it's nice that it happens for the Klingons, long a franchise favorite.  It's a little weird that Worf plays second third fiddle in such a Klingon-heavy episode, but that also speaks to how he's finally found Klingons (well, Martok anyway) he's completely comfortable around.

Anyway, this is also an episode about aging, which is something Star Trek has done before (we can start the conversation with Kirk, really), but never before quite this intimately, with the subject of the study in such a vulnerable position.  When we saw Sarek (in the eponymous Next Generation episode) in a similar predicament, the main thrust is placed on a debilitating illness, not his age.  The whole matter becomes especially poignant for a Klingon, of course, because Klingons have some pretty rigid expectations about dignity, as we've seen elsewhere.

criteria analysis:
  • franchise - One of the great Klingons episodes.
  • series - A war story that necessary.
  • character - Operates as a Kor and a Martok episode.
  • essential - And as a study of aging, in a way that had been done before.
notable guest-stars:
John Colicos (Kor)
J.G. Hertzler (Martok)

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