Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Way of the Warrior, Parts 1 and 2   Rewatch 
January 7, 2016 12:13 PM - Season 4, Episode 1 - Subscribe

"What's that..? Is that..? It IS! That's everyone's favorite Klingon officer's entrance music!" When a Klingon fleet under General Martok arrives at the station ostensibly to protect the Alpha Quadrant from the Dominion, Sisko recruits Lieutenant Commander Worf to discover the Klingons' true intentions.

All quotes, trivia, etc. from Memory Alpha :

"This season premiere was initially aired as a single, two-hour long, feature-length episode, the second of three examples of its kind in the series, the first being "Emissary" and the third being "What You Leave Behind". In repeat showings, however, the episode was edited into two one-hour parts."

* "Let me guess, Klingon blood wine."

"Prune juice. Chilled."

(laughs) "Prune juice!" (stops laughing when Worf glares at him) "If you say so."

- Quark and Worf, upon their first meeting

* At the end of season 3, the writers had planned on doing a "Changelings on Earth" storyline, which would end on a cliff-hanger. However, Paramount said that they didn't want a cliff-hanger ending, forcing the writers to go in a different direction. This not only necessitated a rethinking of the end of the third season, but also a rethinking of the opening of the fourth. The "Changelings on Earth" two-parter was molded into the fourth season episodes "Homefront" and "Paradise Lost", while the rethinking of the end of season 3 produced "The Adversary", a show which left things very open-ended as to how the series was to proceed. Falling ratings had led to the studio giving the producers a mandate to do "something" to shake up the series. Initially, there was some discussion about having the Vulcans leave the United Federation of Planets. However, Ira Steven Behr found himself returning to the episode "The Die is Cast", specifically the line spoken by the Founder; "after today the only threat remaining to us from the Alpha Quadrant are the Klingons and the Federation. And I doubt either of them will be a threat for much longer". Behr discussed the line with Ronald D. Moore, who had written it. Behr commented to Moore, "Maybe we're making a mistake. Maybe the Vulcans should not be the ones leaving the Federation. Maybe it's the Klingons who should break off diplomatic relations. That might bring more heat to it." Behr then pitched a Klingon arc to Rick Berman, who loved the idea. Behr and Berman then brought up the idea to the producers, who liked it, but wanted another element. In response, Berman suggested using the opportunity to bring in the popular Worf as a main character. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, pp. 250, 255-256; Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 100)

* The scene between Garak and Quark in which they discuss root beer was added late in production because the episode was coming up a minute or two short. Armin Shimerman and Andrew Robinson wanted to play the scene with an obvious layer of subtext, but director James L. Conway felt it should be played exclusively for laughs. In the end, Ira Steven Behr came down on the subtext side of the debate, saying of the scene "it was never meant as a joke. It was two aliens giving their individual viewpoints about what it was like to live under the Federation. They have serious problems with the whole Federation philosophy, and the fact that it's such a behemoth organization. But at the same time... even though they question the giant, they want the giant on their side when they're in trouble." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 261)

* During the battle sequences between the Federation and Klingon fleets, the effects department used Playmates toys, Ertl model kits and Hallmark Bird-of-Prey Christmas ornaments in the background in an effort to keep production costs down. When one of the toy ships was required to explode, special effects manager Gary Monak filled it with explosives and party glitter. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, pp. 263-265)

* Robert Hewitt Wolfe commented that: "I thought it was a very satisfying story. I thought it was attention grabbing. I hope it served its purpose in bringing back some of the TNG fans to the show, to make its case that DS9 was something really special. That it really deserved attention. I thought it did a great job. More to the point, it didn't ignore our already rich, established characters to do that. Every character in there had a great moment - an action sequence or a couple of action moments of their own, so we didn't just make it a Worf show. It was really a situation of bringing Worf in, but not surrendering the show to a new character. When a lot of shows are in the process of bringing in a new character, there's always a danger of slighting the characters that are already established. I was happy that DS9 didn't become the Worf show. We just had this great new element in addition to all the other great characters. It didn't just have a wholesale change. The truth of DS9 is, we had a great ensemble cast. Michael Piller created all these terrific characters. My biggest concern about bringing on Worf, wasn't so much servicing Worf - Michael Dorn's a great guy and a terrific actor and Worf is a great character. My concern was protecting what we had done in the previous seasons. 'Way of the Warrior' did that, bringing in a new, great character to our family without throwing out all the wonderful things that had been done up to that point". ("Flashback: The Way of the Warrior", Star Trek Magazine, issue 127)

* Worf's claim to Dax that he has even tried to contact Emperor Kahless is a reference to the Next Generation episode "Rightful Heir", in which a clone of the historical Kahless is installed as a kind of spiritual adviser for the Klingon populace.

* The various mentions of the destruction of the USS Enterprise-D refer to the film Star Trek Generations.

* The Cardassian Dissident Movement which takes over control of Cardassia Prime from the Central Command was first introduced in the second season episode "Profit and Loss", while it was showing to be gathering momentum in the third season episode "Second Skin".

* This episode was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Special Visual Effects.


Drex's insult to Odo: "Does your mother let you talk to adult men?"
Dax's quip to Worf: "Yeah, but I'm a lot better looking than he was."
Huraga's drinking song: "And the blood was ankle deep / And the River Skral ran crimson red / On the day above all days / When Kahless slew evil Molor dead."
Martok and Gowron, in battle: "They fight like Klingons!" "Then they can die like Klingons! Destroy their shields! Prepare boarding parties!" "I understand. All ships, concentrate fire on their shield generators."
Martok, near the end of battle: "But Gowron, victory is near."
Gowron, right before the battle:"Today is a good day to die.", as explicitly translated by Worf. Note however, this is different than previous Klingon versions of the phrase, which are usually stated as "Heghlu'meH QaQ jajvam", instead of "CHEGH-chew jaj-VAM jaj-KAK!" as in this episode.
posted by Slothrop (14 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I didn't know to put the "rewatch" label on this, but obviously this is a rewatch.
posted by Slothrop at 12:17 PM on January 7, 2016

This scene, in which Worf meets many of the DS9 crew for the first time, is one of my favorite scenes in all of Trek. And, in general, this is really a great episode and a great way of bringing the character into the series. I watched it right after "The Adversary", and even though there's the obvious difference of Sisko's shaved head, it's pretty striking that they start off the episode with their drilling in the same sort of phaser-sweep of everything that they did aboard the Defiant. Another neat callback to an earlier episode is when the Klingons scan the station, find that it's heavily armed, and assume that it's a sensor trick, which is exactly what the crew did all the way back in the series premiere, "Emissary"... only this time they're not bluffing.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:13 PM on January 7, 2016 [3 favorites]

I dunno . . . it came off kinda bubbly and cloying to me.
posted by Herodios at 1:24 PM on January 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

Boy Jadzia had her sights set on Worf pretty much from day one, didn't she?

Kidding aside, it's interesting how much more seriously everyone takes Worf in DS9. He's not just the guy who gets beat up a lot anymore. Martok actually seems a bit intimidated by him, and Gowron definitely views his support as an important political asset. Only Drex is unimpressed, but it's pretty evident that he is a moron. I guess all that time he spent at Dahar Master camp really paid off.

This really is a terrific episode. Here we begin to understand the degree of the Dominion's infiltration of Alpha quadrant political systems, even if we don't fully see it yet, the various bits of espionage and related maneuverings are well thought out, and yet there is also plenty of action- Worf no-look knifes a guy; Kira gets stabbed and still beats up a Klingon; Garak and Dukat bitch at each other like an old married couple; and I love how over-the-top Robert O'Reilly is willing to go in every scene he's in ("And this, we do not forget...or forgiiiive."). It's all excellent.

And of course, the famous root-beer dialogue.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:47 PM on January 7, 2016 [3 favorites]

Gowron (Robert O'Reilly) definitely has the face that launched a thousand GIFs.
posted by Slothrop at 3:09 PM on January 7, 2016 [6 favorites]

I really enjoyed these episodes. I feel like Michael Dorn really rounds out the cast, and Worf's ties to the Klingons bring them and their political maneuvering into the show, making the galaxy feel much bigger.
You all knew it was coming
The root beer speech! Shimerman and Robinson really had the right idea with this one. As different as Quark and Garak are from each other, they both know they can live in the Federation, but not in the Dominion. The relish with which Robinson exclaims "it's vile!" Like he's surprised at just how terrible it is (root beer can be weird, y'all). And there's no drawn out explanation, they get right to it.
His warning to Dukat is a treat too.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:12 PM on January 7, 2016 [7 favorites]

One of the quotes from Memory Alpha that best sums up my take on this episode is a quote from Robert Hewitt Wolfe wherein he observes that the episode "appeals to the thirteen-year-old boy in all of us". One of the things I enjoy about Trek is that the action scenes are the result of an earnest attempt by the Federation to look for other alternatives. Revenge, torture and unthinking violent masculinity are always criticized by the show/universe's perspective.*

It's fun that we are at the point where Worf joins the show. To me, Worf is the second most interesting/important character in all of Trek, behind Spock. Really, I prefer Worf to Spock, but I can recognize that Leonard Nimoy's portrayal of Spock really launched the franchise as an enduring pop cultural and sci-fi phenomenon. Worf though has the title of being the actor in the most episodes of Star Trek and he is certainly given some of the richest development over time.

* - MeFi DS9 commenters' observations about unthinking sexist masculinity are spot-on, though, sadly.
posted by Slothrop at 11:18 AM on January 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

So, here's a weird thing that has happened in my head over the past few years.

I made contact with my birth family in my mid forties about four years ago. I'm an adoptee who was relinquished at birth. Unlike Worf, the people who raised me are both of my biological species and share my general skin tone.

On initial run, Worf's status as an adoptee always seemed like a throwaway gimmick TNG implemented for the obvious humorous possibilities rather than as a platform for the serious investigation of adoption, caregiving, identity-formation, and natal difference.

Over time, the character's arc actually did begin to seriously examine many of these issues with intent, as a way of exploring his role as the known Other. This seems to mostly be without the intent of showing us adult adaptions to adoptive status - I would point at Worf's disrupted relationship with Alexander as a clear example of this.

The show also valorizes Worf's successful quest to seek identity-reintegration with his natal culture. This is in spite of some things that appear to be unambiguous about Klingon culture within the show, such as the culture's reliance on and celebration of conquest and enslavement.

I do think both series at times successfully, largely by accident, illuminate American adoption in the late 20th century, specifically and primarily the adoption growth industry of the era, overseas adoption, but also with respect to the growing practice of birth-family reunion and open adoption as at least an ideal.

I suppose, given the character's role, it's only reasonable that we see little of Worf struggling with self-loathing or loathing of either of his cultures - that's maybe more Spock's gig.

Nonetheless, hey, that's some solid SF-ing there, to build in social commentary about an aspect of your audience's experiences without even meaning to do so, commentary that becomes visible only in retrospect. Or via retconning, I suppose, although I think reading themes is maybe not subject to retconning since the reading happens in my head, in the observer rather than in-universe.

Thanks for taking the time to share my musing here.
posted by mwhybark at 6:12 PM on February 4, 2016 [5 favorites]

it's interesting how much more seriously everyone takes Worf in DS9. He's not just the guy who gets beat up a lot anymore.

That's the first thing I noticed. Worf shows up, wins some fights, has his input meaningfully considered, and contributes to the plot rather than getting thrown around the room, being ignored, being dismissed, and maybe being visible in the background while Picard makes a speech.

I was also struck by what Miles said about Sisko being the best person for Worf to learn about being a commander from. At first, I scoffed because they both served under Picard, who is an excellent captain and who Worf has very strong connection to, but I thought about it more and I think that Picard was an ideal captain for Worf to serve under, but Sisko actually is a better captain for Worf to learn about being an commanding officer from. Worf will never be a peacemaking diplomat like Picard, and Sisko's aggressiveness is a lot closer to the sort of leader Worf would be. Sisko's relative aversion to decorum and rule-following (for a Starfleet captain, at least) also couldn't hurt considering how rules and decorum obsessed Worf is (and the person Worf spent most of his career serving under is).

I never got this far when the series originally aired, so I'm interested to see where the Worf plot goes, I guess is what I'm saying.
posted by Copronymus at 9:44 PM on November 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

Y'all all had many smart things to say about this episode, but I just wanted to add how great it is that the new DS9 game is hide-and-seek with Odo.
posted by asperity at 7:47 PM on December 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

Putting the bloodletting scene in the Wardroom into an episode released at the literal peak of the AIDS epidemic sure was a choice.

The Odo / Quark scene with the disruptor was a genuinely great bit of comedy. I rarely appreciate DS9’s attempts at humor, but this one landed.
BASHIR: They broke seven of your transverse ribs and fractured your clavicle.
GARAK: Ah, but I got off several cutting remarks which no doubt did serious damage to their egos.
BASHIR: And while we're on the subject, Constable. I'm sure there's more than one Klingon who thinks that slaying a changeling would be worthy of a song or two.
ODO: Doctor, if a Klingon were to kill me, I'd expect nothing less than an entire opera on the subject.
BASHIR: Maybe. I just don't want to have to listen to it. Watch your back.
I appreciate that the writers finally seem to be writing to each actor’s strengths (except perhaps for Michael Dorn in this episode), if only because it means we get to see more Garak, Odo, and Quark. Even Dax is finally getting some good character development.

On the other hand, I’m sure Worf appreciates having a captain who listens to his tactical advice.

I sure hope they’re going to write their way out of the “Secret Cylon” plot, because I’m pretty sure that the “anybody could be a changeling” plot is already feeling tedious and played-out.
posted by schmod at 6:54 PM on February 25, 2021

My brain keeps thinking Martok must be Rip Torn under that make up, but apparently it's someone named J.G. Hertzler.
posted by RobotHero at 8:47 AM on April 26, 2022

Worf shows up, wins some fights, has his input meaningfully considered, and contributes to the plot

And he learned how to aim a phaser! One of my favourite parts of the boarding sequence is that all our heroes, Worf included, make nearly every shot they take.
posted by Banknote of the year at 4:20 PM on October 6, 2022 [1 favorite]

When Worf first started to appear Mr Corpse and I both yelled "YES!" So happy to see him.

I found it hard to believe that the DS9 gang could really beat up that many Klingons in hand-to-hand combat. Yes, Kira is an experienced fighter, but Klingons are... Klingons!

I'm glad the Klingons are going to have more of a role.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:40 AM on January 13

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