Monday, August 20, 2012

4-9. The Sword of Kahless.

Dax and Worf join Kor (John Colicos) on his quest.


Kor (John Colicos), the sole Klingon survivor of the fight against the albino, returns to the station with another quest. He believes he has identified the location of the Sword of Kahless, the Klingon weapon wielded by the legendary warrior who united the Klingon people. The sword was lost long ago, and Kor believes its return would allow the emperor to unite the Klingons and break the influence of the increasingly unstable Gowron.

Once Dax verifies Kor's evidence, Worf is eager to join them in the search. They find the sword fairly easily, only to discover that renegade Klingons from the House of Duras have followed them.  The trio is able to escape that trap, but then the real problem emerges.  With sword in hand, both Kor and Worf visualize themselves leading the empire to glory - even if one of them has to first kill the other to get the chance!


Capt. Sisko: He can immediately see the advantage to granting Dax's and Worf's request to join Kor's quest. If the sword is found, a united Klingon Empire would be far more stable than the current one - and if two Starfleet officers are among those who present it, then it would go a long way toward easing tensions with the Klingons. Still, he isn't fooled for an instant into thinking this is Dax's primary motivation. "You want to go along for the adventure," he observes, all too happy to grant her request.

Dax: With Worf and Kor both too personally impacted by the reputation of the sword, it falls to Dax to keep the party focused. When the two Klingons picture their own destinies if they return with the sword, Dax keeps them from killing each other. She pushes them to reach the surface and prods them toward the ultimate solution to the dilemma posed by the artifact.  Terry Farrell can't fully compete with the larger-than-life screen presences of Michael Dorn and John Colicos, but she plays well opposite both of them.  Also, some of Dax's grumpiness in the latter part of the episode is genuinely amusing - a good thing, when this is the exact part of the episode that otherwise becomes tedious.

Worf: Is hesitant when Dax introduces him to Kor. He fears that his status as an outcast will create discomfort, and is visibly relieved when Kor reacts to him with delight. He is deferential to Kor throughout the quest to find the sword. But once the sword is in their possession, he shows increasing distrust and even disgust toward the older Klingon, scorning him for his tendency toward drink and his exaggeration of his own feats. 

Kor: John Colicos returns as Kor. He is initially happy to invite Worf to join his quest, if only because Worf sharing the glory will annoy Chancellor Gowron. When he discovers that the renegade Klingon pursuing them was a boy whose life Worf spared, however, he reacts with disgust. "You should have been more of a Klingon!" he roars, finding the notion of choosing mercy over vengeance to be so utterly alien that it causes him to distrust Worf from that point on.


Season Two's Blood Oath saw great success in bringing the three best-remembered TOS Klingons - Kor, Kang, and Koloth - into modern day Trek. It was also a very well-crafted episode, one which pushed forward the development of Dax's character. It's also an episode that signposted a rise in DS9's average quality. This series had already been the best spinoff Trek, but the run of episodes that followed Blood Oath saw it rise to an entirely new level.

The Sword of Kahless is much less effective. Quest stories are difficult to do well on a television budget, and this episode shows some of the reasons why. Finding the sword is too easy, and the challenges overcome reaching it are barely worth mentioning, resolved with a bit of Technobabble. The bulk of the episode consists of watching the characters tromp around the patented Star Trek cave set, as Worf and Kor engage in protracted Klingon posturing - something which quickly grows tedious.

I think the episode wants to do something interesting, by showing how easily Kor and particularly Worf are corrupted by the idea of power. It is also refreshing that their actions are not the result of alien influence (something I started to suspect would be the case). But there's never any real sense that something truly momentous might happen. We know Worf isn't actually going to kill Kor, and we certainly know he isn't going to be killed by Kor. Nor is there any sense of danger, as the renegade Klingons hunting them are inept at every turn.

Worst of all, there's no sense of any consequences.  Worf attempts to trick Kor into dying at one point, something which should shake his sense of personal honor once his giddiness over the sword has faded.  But Worf seems untroubled by his actions even at the episode's end.  This seems out of character - not, I stress, that Worf would attempt to kill Kor, but that Worf would feel no guilt about his attempt after the crisis has passed.  The scene exists in a vacuum, forgotten as soon as it is over.

With little physical danger and no lasting emotional consequences, what we're left with is half an episode of two Klingons bickering like schoolchildren. All of this is presented with minimal atmosphere on a cheap-looking set, with no sense of any larger picture being affected. I was looking forward to seeing the second of DS9's Kor episodes.  Watching this throwaway, however, I couldn't help feeling a mounting sense of disappointment.

It's still watchable, mind you. It's not actively bad, for all its faults. But it isn't good, which is more than enough for me to rate it as the weakest Season Four episode thus far.

Overall Rating: 4/10.

Previous Episode: Little Green Men
Next Episode: Our Man Bashir

Search for Star Trek: Deep Space 9

Review Index

No comments:

Post a Comment