Sunday, May 1, 2011

2-19. Blood Oath.

A final mission for some old friends.


80 years ago, a pirate known only as The Albino was conducting raids against the Klingon Empire. The Empire assigned three of its best captains to destroy his operation: Kang (Michael Ansara), the strategist; Koloth (William Campbell), the icy killer; and Kor (John Colicos), the full-blooded warrior. The captains succeeded, but the Albino escaped and took revenge, arranging to fatally infect each of the three Klingons' first-born sons. Kang's son was also the godson of Curzon Dax, who along with the three captains swore a blood oath to hunt down The Albino and take revenge.

Now the three old Klingon warriors have come to Deep Space 9. Dax realizes instantly what this must mean. She privately doubts that she can murder anyone in cold blood, even the assassin of her godson. But when Kang refuses to acknolwedge her as the Dax he knew and releases her from Curzon's oath, Dax becomes determined to make him change his mind and see it through - even when Kang indicates that this will be a one-way mission!


Commander Sisko: Attempts to stop Dax from pursuing Curzon's blood oath. He takes an authoritarian stance, ordering her to stay on the station. When it is clear that this won't work, he tries to reason with her. The one thing he doesn't attempt to do is to forcibly restrain her, which perhaps demonstrates the level of respect Sisko has for Dax. Under similar circumstances, I would fully expect Sisko to call security on his other officers, but he allows Dax to leave.

Major Kira: She also attempts to talk Dax out of the blood oath. She uses Dax's own words about each Trill life being separate and individual - that Jadzia is not bound by any of Curzon's obligations. She also speaks as the voice of experience when it comes to killing, advising Dax of the personal cost of what she proposes to do.

Dax: This is an excellent episode for Terry Farrell. The Trill/host divide has been an interesting area to explore in previous episodes, which have mostly fallen on the side of the personality being more Jadzia than Dax. Here, we see the other side. Jadzia may be very different than Curzon, but she still carries all of his memories and the emotions that go with them. The Albino's murder of Curzon's godson weighs on her just as it did on him. The Blood Oath Curzon swore may not technically bind her, but she insists on upholding it, even if she has to fight Koloth, Kang, and Sisko to be allowed to play her part. Farrell does a splendid job throughout this episode, and does some particularly good nonverbal acting in her final scene, a wordless tag that is flawlessly played not only by Farrell, but also by Avery Brooks and Nana Visitor.

Klingons: This episode reunites TOS viewers with the three most memorable Klingons from the 1960's series: Kor (John Colicos), Kang (Michael Ansara), and Koloth (William Campbell). It's not surprising that Kang and Kor come across more strongly than Koloth, given that they were stronger characters to begin with. It is interesting the way in which the characters have been developed. The coolly diplomatic Koloth is now referred to by Kor as a "stone face" who "feels too little." Kor, the most outright warrior-like of the TOS Klingons, has become a creature of appetites for - well, basically for "wine, women, and song" - while ruminating on his days as a warrior, and clearly regretting that those days are now behind him. Kang is the leader, stubborn and fatalistic, and the most inclined of the three to dismiss Jadzia as not being the same person as Curzon. In his own way, he is also trying to protect Dax, believing that their mission is a strictly one-way affair.


Blood Oath is an irresistibly entertaining episode. Its main drawing point may be "episode with the TOS Klingons," but writer Peter Allen Fields has crafted a story that uses those three characters for something other than just a big TOS reunion.

In fact, other than building on their 1960's characterizations, this episode has no real connection with TOS. The words "Kirk" and "Enterprise" are never uttered. Nor are the words "Tribble," "quadrotriticale," or "Organian." Instead, the three Klingon warriors are united with Dax on a quest, in a story that owes more to Akira Kurosawa's samurai pictures than to 1960's Trek, and I think the episode is much the better for it. This is a good story first, and features the three TOS Klingons mainly as a bonus for fans. You could watch this episode without having seen a second of 1960's Trek and not feel as if you were missing anything.

This is a tightly-paced episode, one which effortlessly mixes thoughtful moments into a genuinely exciting storyline. The final action scene, as Dax and the Klingons infiltrate The Albino's lair, is unusually well-executed for 1990's television. All of the performances are good, with the scenes between Michael Ansara and Terry Farrell particular high points.

In short: A good one.

Overall Rating: 8/10.

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