Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Soldiers of the Empire   Rewatch 
June 13, 2016 11:46 AM - Season 5, Episode 21 - Subscribe

Qoy qeylIs puqloD. Qoy puqbe’pu’. yoHbogh matlhbogh je SuvwI’ Say’moHchu’ may’ ’Iw. maSuv manong ’ej maHoHchu’. nI’be’ yInmaj ’ach wovqu’. batlh maHeghbej ’ej yo’ qIjDaq vavpu’ma’ DImuv. pa’ reH maSuvtaHqu’. mamevQo’. maSuvtaH. ma’ov.

Hear! Sons of Memory Alpha. Hear! Daughters too:

- Ronald D. Moore's original idea for this episode was for Worf and the crew of the Rotarran to answer a distress call from a Klingon colony. When they arrive, they find all of the inhabitants missing. Nearby is a lake surrounded in a mysterious fog, and when they approach it, a boatman appears and takes them to the entrance to Gre'thor. Once inside, they meet a friend of Martok's, who wants them to take him with them. And then they meet Worf's father, Mogh. There were a number of reasons that this particular story never made it into production. Firstly, Ira Steven Behr felt that the episode was trying to accomplish too much– showing both the realistic day-to-day operations of a Klingon Bird-of-Prey and a mythic journey to the afterlife. Behr also felt it was too late in the season to do such a philosophical show dealing with life, death and hell. As well as this, the concept proved to be too complex and expensive. However, it is worth noting that Moore's idea formed the basic plot of the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Barge of the Dead", which he also wrote.

- Of special importance to Ronald D. Moore in this episode was giving each Klingon an individualized personality and look. Of the characterization of the crew of the Rotarran, Moore says, "One of them thinks they're cursed, and one of them is a female engineer who doesn't want to give up. And then there's the troublemaker who just enjoys making the situation worse and worse in a perverse desire to destroy them all." However, individualized physicality was also of vital importance; "On some of the shows where we've had a lot of Klingons on camera, even I get them confused. So we wanted more visual distinction here, and as a result, one was given short-cropped hair and one had no sleeves. Tavana's hair is red, and there was even a blond Klingon."

- The Warrior's Anthem first heard in the CD-ROM adventure Star Trek: Klingon enters Star Trek canon in this episode. Of the scene when the Rotarran crew break into song, assistant director B.C. Cameron said, "Everybody sang. All the background players, the extras, the crew. We had big cards with these Klingonese words written on them for the actors to read. For days, that's all you'd hear on stage: people singing this battle song."

- There is a short scene of Dax pushing some buttons on a control panel. Ronald D. Moore commented: "Dax was actually sending a message to Ortakin (Tavana's lover) warning him of the impending mutiny. Ortakin shows up on the bridge a few seconds later with two other armed Klingons. The cutaway to Dax didn't read as well on camera as we had hoped and now Ortakin's arrival is a bit mysterious."

"Doctor... thank you."
"If you really want to thank me, don't walk in here dripping blood anymore. It takes days to get it out of the carpet!"

- Martok and Bashir

"Two years I spent on the Cardassian border. Two years fighting Guls and Legates and Glinns. They were cunning enemies. Always had us chasing holo-projections and sensor ghosts. Everything was a game with them. Always had a plan within a plan within a plan, leading to a trap. It was an honor to kill them. The Cardassians. Ah! But you can respect a Cardassian because he fights for his people and he follows a code, just like we do, but not the soldiers of the Dominion, not the Jem'Hadar. No. They don't fight for anything. They fight because they're designed that way, because they're programmed to fight."

"They have no honor."

"You're right. That's why they're better than us."

- Leskit and Ortakin

Hear! Sons of Kahless. Hear! Daughters too.
The blood of battle washes clean
The warrior brave and true.
We fight, we love, and then we kill.
Our lives burn short and bright.
Then we die with honor and
Join our fathers in the black fleet,
Where we battle, forever battling, on
Through the eternal fight.

- Klingon Crew - war song translation
posted by Halloween Jack (3 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Worthy of note: Depressive Deep-Voiced Klingon was one of the twelve Cylon models in Ron Moore's BSG.

This is such a nerd-friendly episode. Even the scene where Old Cynical Klingon is comparing Cardassians and Jem'Hadar just feels like a bunch of abnormally-hirsute Trek nerds comparing Kirk and Picard. (Not gonna lie: I took a Klingon language class. But, full disclosure, it was only one hour long and I retained just about nothing.)

I remember the first time I saw this, I thought to myself, "At last, a chance to show things from the Klingon perspective, maybe get deeper into the Worf character too. Please don't screw it up." And IMO, they did not. Parts of it are still thrilling after several viewings.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 3:03 PM on June 13, 2016 [6 favorites]

Yeah, one of the great aspects of this episode (besides seeing some variations on the standard Klingon armor-and-fuzzy-sleeves getup) is that it's very unapologetically Klingon. A lot of the episode is basically their arguing over Martok choosing not to blow up this or that Dominion ship, which would not really be questioned if this were the Defiant, but it isn't, and there really is something intrinsically wrong from the Klingon perspective in just letting an easy kill go like that. (You can argue that the Empire has already been hurt worse by the Dominion than the Federation was, because of fake-Martok and the brief Klingon-Federation War, and also that the Jem'Hadar really want the Klingons to throw down, but still.) Even Dax is down with getting it on with them. I really regret that we didn't get more of this particular crew; there's an episode early in the sixth season that's partly set aboard the Rotarran, but I don't know if any of this crew comes back for it.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:24 PM on June 16, 2016

This episode would not have been worth producing had the writers not established Dax as a Klingophile early in the series. Because she could interact with the crew in a way Worf would not be comfortable. And therefor she understands she needs to push Worf to confront Martok.

Without Dax, Behr or Moore would have lamented in an interview, “We wanted to do an episode aboard a Bird-of-Prey with a Klingon crew, but idea never got out of the writers’ room. There was always some element missing that we could never figure out.”
posted by riruro at 7:57 AM on June 23, 2016 [4 favorites]

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