Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Once More Unto the Breach   Rewatch 
October 24, 2016 7:54 AM - Season 7, Episode 7 - Subscribe

I know thee not, old man: fall to thy prayers; How ill white hairs become a fool and jester! I have long dream'd of such a kind of man, So surfeit-swell'd, so old, and so profane; But, being awaked, I do despise my dream. Make less thy body hence, and more thy grace; Leave gormandizing; know the grave doth gape For thee thrice wider than for other men. --From the works of the greatest playwright of the Klingon Empire, William Shakespeare

Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light:

- As is hinted at in the conversation between O'Brien and Bashir in the teaser, Ronald D. Moore based this episode on the legend of Davy Crockett and the Battle of the Alamo; "Did Crockett surrender? Was he executed? Did he die on the Alamo walls, swinging his flintlock over his head? It depends on whether he's a hero or not, or if he's a legend to you. If he is, then he went out a hero. If you don't think that, then he's just another guy and it doesn't matter how he died. It felt like we could send Kor out the same way. It doesn't really matter how Kor died. It doesn't really matter what he did in those final moments of his life. What matters is the legend." This notion of the legend being more important than the fact recalls the 1962 John Ford movie The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. It also recalls the second season episode "The Homecoming", specifically the character of Li Nalas, who was based on the Jimmy Stewart character from Valance.

- Moore based the rivalry between Martok and Kor on class issues mainly due to how each actor had portrayed their respective character in the past; "John Colicos always played Kor as an aristocratic and 'to the manor born' Klingon who ruled by 'divine right'. J.G. Hertzler always made Martok seem like a guy, like a common soldier who was worked his way through the ranks. So there was a natural antipathy between the two characters."

- This episode is one of J. G. Hertzler's favorites. Talking about it in an interview he said, "To have the amount of profound artistry inherent in John Colicos and Neil Vipond working around you is what you live for. When you get that much experience on stage that still has the juice – that's what made that episode. Plus I had two beautiful Klingon females on either side of me. That didn't hurt!" He also comments, "It's my favorite Deep Space Nine script. It was an actor's dream. I got to really let loose my most venomous, vindictive anger at this old man, and just attack him relentlessly. I think that made some of the viewers uncomfortable, because it was hard to like Martok in those scenes, but we all do things that people don't like. It made my character three-dimensional, so I was happy." Furthermore, "I told the producers that Martok shouldn't join in singing the ballad at the end. They were worried about that, but I said, 'Listen, Martok can give Kor all the due praise, but he cannot sing to him because the hatred is still there, underneath. He does not forgive what that man did.' I thought that was more important for my character than bringing him all the way around. I wanted to leave that show unfallen."

- Kor's toast to Jadzia Dax, "To absent comrades," is reminiscent of Kirk's toast of Spock in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and Picard's toast of Data in Star Trek Nemesis, "to absent friends," which is the traditional naval toast of the day for Sunday.

- John Colicos gives his last performance as Kor in this episode. He first appeared in the role thirty-one years previously in TOS: "Errand of Mercy". This was Colicos' final acting role before his death on 6 March 2000.

"The only real question is whether you believe in the legend of Davey Crockett or not. If you do, then there should be no doubt in your mind that he died a hero's death. If you do not believe in the legend, then he was just a man, and it does not matter how he died."

- Worf

"I heard the news about Jadzia."
"She died a warrior."
"I expected nothing less."
"To absent comrades."

- Kor and Worf

"You'd make a pretty good counselor. You wanna trade jobs?"
"Oh yeah, people would love to bring their problems to me... 'You dreamed about what? You're crazy! Get out of my office! Next patient!'"

- Ezri and Kira

"Savor the fruit of life, my young friends. It has a sweet taste when it's fresh from the vine. But don't live too long... The taste turns bitter... after a time."

- Kor

"When I reach the halls of the hallowed dead, I will find your beloved, and remind her that her husband is a noble warrior... and that he still loves no one but her. Goodbye, my friend - live well."

- Kor, to the incapacitated Worf
posted by Halloween Jack (7 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Where was Alexander Roshenko?

As many will know, I am not a fan of the Klingons, so this wasn't an easy watch for me. Martok it one of the most believable Klingons, though, and Colicos as Kor is excellent, he brings a certain air to the character, and his portrayal of Kor's befuddlement as his memory goes is so well done it adds a level of pathos to the character, something usually lacking in Klingon portrayals.

I loved Martok's reason for despising Kor, and how angry he became at the mention of Kor's name. The idea of using class as a reason for conflict between characters, and the almost allegorical way in which it is used here is great: how much talent do Western countries waste because of their class systems, particularly in the UK and USA.

Worf is actually decent in this one, he doesn't have a great deal to do, but what he does do he does well. The interactions between Martok and Worf are well written and believable. The way the raid pans out is nicely done, too often the good guys are in and out and it is all done and there are not problems, but this is much better - seeing a Klingon Bird of Prey destroyed really hits hard because there were people on there who died.

The only real issue in this episode was the speech Quark makes to Ezri - wtf? And for Ezri to say she isn't interested in Worf, given what is coming up - oh please, at least give the poor character a mind of her own - she made it through Starfleet Academy before being joined, she can't be that lame and weak a person.
posted by marienbad at 1:39 PM on October 24, 2016 [3 favorites]

Also, the lighting and set decoration in the Bird of Prey was fantastic!
posted by marienbad at 1:40 PM on October 24, 2016

This is a really good entry in the Old Soldier/Blaze of Glory categories, in which the old dudes want to go out swinging rather than fading away; think The Shootist, Going in Style, Space Cowboys, The Bucket List, etc. There's a bit of added pathos in Kor's revealing that he has no family or friends; part of that, we know, was his having the bad misfortune to outlive Kang and Koloth in "Blood Oath."

But it's also good for revealing some of the less cool aspects of Klingon society, which Ron Moore is so good at; although Martok has a personal beef with Kor, some of the other warriors are happy to join Martok in mocking Kor on general principles, even though they were impressed as hell with the Dahar Master just a few hours before. Klingons don't seem to believe in retirement plans. Also, they're not immune to classism; we'd known that there was a certain Game of Thrones-ish aspect to their society, with the great houses running the High Council and selecting the chancellor from among their own, and various intrigues often resulting in assassinations and war (Star Trek VI and the House of Duras in TNG), but there was also the assumption that you could advance in their society meritocratically; not only did Kor block Martok's application to Klingon West Point, but he didn't even remember doing it, adding insult to injury. (Well, he had trouble remembering anything, but you know.) Martok is still pissed that he might have ended up like his aged manservant, Darok. (Speaking of whom, Darok was great; his little speech with Kor in which he gently prods Kor into assuming Worf's place in the suicide mission was just wonderful.)

The friendzoning of Quark wasn't much of a much, but whatever. There are much more Ezri-heavy episodes coming up.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:59 PM on October 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

I feel like this episode could have fallen flat (compared with other DS9 Klingon-focused installments, anyway) were it not for the Martok angle, and of course for Hertzler's performance. It just fit so well—I just rewatched "Errand of Mercy" and Kor did indeed feel aristocratic (although the aim may have been for "effete"). To have that contrast with Martok, and to pit two characters for whom the audience likely has affection against each other, made the story richer and realer.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 4:07 AM on October 25, 2016 [3 favorites]

In the Memory Alpha entry for the character, the moment in Act Three, when Kor's dementia time-slips his perception to a long-ago battle, implies that he explicitly mentions his command of the Koloth. This is not mentioned in the episode article, and I do not recall one way or the other personally. However, if so, this is a rare instance of TAS story and plot elements entering into TNG/DS9 canon, as this command is first encountered in the TAS episode The Time Trap.

I remember enjoying this very much, as was true for the other two DS9 Kor episodes. I pretty much don't give a rat's ass for Moore's interest in fleshing out Klingon society, so it's a bit odd that I like these episodes as much as I do. In general, whenever I watch one of the Klingons-are-people-too episodes I wish as much energy had been expended on making Bajoran society and religion persuasive and well-conceptualized, but that's just me, I know.

After thinking about it, beyond the craft and performanc elements of script and veteran actors such as Colicos in these episodes, the reason I like them boils down to one thing: fanservice.

It's to my good fortune that Moore was so invested in these episodes and that the foreground ensembles were so great, but really, just stick a TOS role-originator in a role reprise in whatever flavor of Trek is operating at the moment and I'm good. So my critical radar may be off for these sorts of episodes.

Tangent: CoB, is there a TOS rewatch hereabouts?
posted by mwhybark at 1:09 AM on October 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Found it! Ended in February, looks like.
posted by mwhybark at 1:15 AM on October 29, 2016

(Many years later) I note that the bloodwine they’re drinking to Kor with at the end is the 2309 vintage, the good stuff that Nog found for Martok last episode.
posted by Naberius at 7:42 AM on March 10

« Older Elementary: Render, and Then S...   |  Blindspot: Blindspot Season 2 ... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments