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The Klingons. A warrior race by birth. These men and women serve the Empire with pride and honor in a way unparalleled in the galaxy. But what happens when a Klingon looses their nerve, their lust for battle? This is explored in the episode that originally aired on April 28, 1997. This is Soldiers of the Empire.
Combat Log: Fifty Third Day of the year of Kahless 999. Soldiers of the Empire
Worf is temporarily assigned to be the second in command of a Klingon Bird of Prey. There, with Dax by his side and General Martok in command, he must learn the balance between loyalty to his commander and loyalty to his crew.
General Martok finds himself being treated for near fatal wounds obtained in the holosuite. Julian derides him for participating in unnecessarily dangerous activities and Martok ultimately thanks the Doctor for his medical assistance. Soon after, after receiving orders from the Klingon High Council, Martok approaches Worf with an offer, he wants the Commander to join him on a mission to search for a missing Klingon starship in an area controlled by the Dominion.
After discussing the matter with Captain Sisko, Worf is given permission to temporarily join Martok on his mission. Worf is shocked when he learns that Jadzia plans to come along with him on his mission as the new science officer but graciously accepts her joining the crew. It isn’t long, however, that the two discover that the ship’s crew is not necessarily the best in the fleet and they have their work cut out for them.
On the Bridge, Martok is disgusted at the quality of the crew. It seems this ship has not seen victory in many battles resulting in a dysfunctional and disenfranchised crew. Martok is concerned that they will not be able to maintain the crew’s loyalty, but Worf believes he can whip them into shape. Meanwhile, at dinner, Dax makes it clear where she stands on the crew’s hierarchy by claiming her seat at the table. She impresses the crew with her knowledge of Klingon culture and willingness to partake in their traditions but impress them more when she informs them she has brought with her three barrels of Klingon Blood Wine. She soon learns that the moral is, in fact, not good and the crew is on the verge of giving up. Several have come to believe that their ship and crew is cursed, giving Jadzia some much needed insight. Their dinner is interrupted when the ship encounters a Jem’Hadar ship.
Scanning the ship, Martok allows the enemy to depart without a fight. The crew is shocked at his command and it is clear they are already loosing faith in the battle-avoiding Klingon Captain. Jadzia warns Worf of what she has learned, informing the Commander that the crew needs a victory or they may be faced with more than just an unhappy crew. They may be facing a mutiny.
Worf brings the concerns to Martok where he finds his Captain appears to be avoiding battle on purpose. Martok begins making excuses as to why he ordered the ship not to take down such an easy target but Worf remains unconvinced. It soon becomes clear that he will have a decision to make in the near future.
Jadzia witnesses the frustration first hand when she is forced to stop two members of the crew from killing one another. Afterward, she informs Worf that the crew believes that Martok has lost his nerve but Worf refuses to believe that his Captain is no longer a proper Klingon. Jadzia warns Worf that, if something is not done soon, the entire crew will end up killing one another and the Commander must find a way to prevent this from happening.
It isn’t long before they find a signal from the missing Bird of Prey, the B’Moth, but, after Worf heads off to inform Martok, it becomes clear that the tension is about to break. Martok fears that the Jem’Hadar have set up a trap using the B’Moth’s crew as bait. Worf informs his Captain that they should not make any premature judgments but not before he witnesses Martok having a breakdown concerning the danger of facing the Jem’Hadar warriors. It is abundantly clear that his Captain has lost his nerve and, with it, he may lose his life.
They soon get close enough to identify the damaged B’Moth in need of assistance. Worf orders the crew to mount a rescue of the remaining crew but Martok rescinds his Commander’s orders. The crew begin to get restless at this command and Martok insists that they make no move into Cardassian territory to rescue their fellow Klingons. Leaving Worf in command of the bridge, Worf realizes that he needs to challenge Martok for command of the ship, whether it means his death or not.
Worf, in command of the Bridge, soon finds himself challenged by the crew and, just as they are about to mutiny, Worf commands them to mount a rescue of the B’Moth. Just as they are about to get underway, Martok arrives and Worf challenges the General for command of the ship. Martok accepts and the two begin to fight. During the fight, Martok manages to come out on top, giving him the drive he needs to take the crew into battle. Just as the fight ends, a Jem’Hadar ship appears and Martok orders them into battle. It soon becomes clear that Worf’s plan worked out and, even though he lost the fight, the ship and it’s crew win the battle ahead of them.
Returning to the station, Martok informs Deep Space Nine that they have rescued members of the B’Moth who need medical assistance. He takes the crew of the Rotarran to Quarks bar to celebrate their first victory over the Jem’Hadar and there he welcomes Worf into the House of Martok as a fellow warrior and his brother.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
I really miss the Klingon-centric episodes of STNG and it was wonderful to finally see an episode that takes place mostly on a Klingon ship.
This episode is an important one for several characters, specifically Worf, Dax and the newly introduced General Martok. Worf’s journey has been one fraught with pain, dishonor and a struggle to find himself among both his adopted and birth heritage. Much like Spock, he is a man who straddles two worlds but ultimately belongs to none while desperate to find solace in both. So, when Martok offers him a chance to serve on a Klingon ship, Worf graciously accepts the opportunity, diving in with both feet. It is here he not only proves himself as a warrior but also manages to become accepted into a new house, replacing the fallen house of Mogh as his own. Additionally, this also serves as a wonderful chance for Jadzia to really get a chance to see what her Par’Mach’kai is made of.
For Jadzia, the trill has had a long history dealing with Klingons and the Empire. In fact, her previous host Curzon Dax has become nothing short of legendary among the Klingon people and his influence has been abundantly apparent in this newest of hosts. With her new relationship with Commander Worf, Jadzia has ample opportunities to embrace her adopted Klingon heritage and certainly does not shy from the chances. In this, we really get a chance to see more of how strong Jadzia is in the face of adversity while also seeing her deep love for Worf. The two are certainly a great pair and this is certainly just the beginning of a very cool relationship.
Finally, Martok. When we first met the General we had no clue that he was, in fact, a shapeshifter in disguise. So, when he appeared once again having been taken prisoner by the Dominion themselves, this was a wonderful opportunity to reinvent the Klingon played by the fabulous J.G. Hertzler. Here we had a warrior who, although captured, was determined to survive in order to lay waste to the Jem’Hadar warriors who forced him to fight for his life. During this long and grueling trial, Martok found himself beginning to doubt that he had what it took to remain a Klingon in the eyes of Kahless. Enter Worf. It is only when Worf arrived in his life that Martok found the fierce drive to continue fighting that he so desperately needed. Here was a man who, despite his mixed heritage, was a warrior at heart and showed Martok what he had lost. However, although Martok saw this in Worf, the damage was done and it would take some extreme events for Martok to find the warrior spirit in himself again. Of course, the General would find it in himself with a little help from Worf, officially sealing the deep friendship that began in their mutual detainment by the Jem’Hadar. They say War makes for strange bedfellows, but in this case, War brings about a bond that can not be broken.
Overall, this is a very solid episode directed by the wonderful LeVar Burton. Once again giving us a proper glimpse into the Klingon culture while moving the plot ahead and providing some fantastic character development for all who appear.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- In a past conversation with Michael Dorn, I learned that the intention was to allow Worf and Jadzia to have many more adventures like this one in season seven, unfortunately, these adventures never came to pass. I won’t tell you why, as you will find out soon enough, although I am sure many of you already know.
- This is not the last we will see of Martok nor the IKS Rotarran. They will return.
- We see Klingon wearing the neck bones of a Cardassian as a trophy, indicating that, at one time, the crew of the Rotarran was a formidable one.
- I have to say, Sisko is one of the most accommodating Station Commanders in Star Fleet, allowing not one but two of his senior staff to risk their lives on a Klingon ship.
- We see Worf accepted into the House of Martok, this will be important in the future.
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Late To The Game 12/16/2021 (Originally published 11/22/2019)
Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available. Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.
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