326. Blood Oath
FORMULA: Errand of Mercy + The Trouble with Tribbles + Day of the Dove + Reunion
WHY WE LIKE IT: The TOS Klingons are back!
WHY WE DON'T: Uhm... how is that possible again?
REVIEW: While I don't want to get into the cosmetic changes to Kor, Koloth and Kang too much (given all we've learned about the subject in later years, we might say they got some cosmetic or genetic surgery to get them in line with other Klingons later), there are some more important character changes to address. Some might say that only Kang really sounds and feels like his Original Series self, but accepting that Klingons can live that long, you must also accept that time can change a man. Especially in the Klingon world where old age is seen as a dishonor as the opportunity to die in battle grows less and less likely.
Kor is a shadow of his former self, dealing with his survival by living in past glories and indulging in food and drink a little too much. He's become ridiculous. Koloth is least like he was, from prancing dandy to "ice man", but again, age tempers a man. He's incredibly serious to the point of embarrassment when he appears the fool. He's a man who is deathly afraid of appearing weak. As for Kang, while he's played closer to the original vision, he's embittered by long life, and looking for a way out. He's simply tired.
Giving Dax Klingon roots and making her the fourth member of this quartet will direct the rest of her story, so it can't be called a convenient plot device. The connection between these four may be convenient now, but since it is not forgotten later, and like all things Klingon, it's all about giving it a sense of the Epic.
Maybe Kang's refusal to let Dax go on his suicide run goes on a little too long, but we get plenty of action at the end, including some very nice bat'leth work. What's especially good is that this isn't a mercenary story (where it's all about the guest-stars). Dax really does drive the action by implementing strategies and having a choice to make at the end. To kill or not to kill the callous Albino. That choice is taken away, so she's still a virgin, but it still haunts her. What might she have done? For Kang, it's the end of his story, so dying was a foregone conclusion. Koloth didn't have much of a story either, so out he goes. It's Kor who survives, ironically the most degraded of Klingon heroes, but also the most interesting of the characters. Dax returns to the station and to a classic DS9 resolution: A deafening silence. How bad is the damage to their relationships?
LESSON: Klingons ROCK!
REWATCHABILITY - High: Stunt casting and fanfic fare becomes a character-building story with nice action and moral dilemmas for all. Better than it should have been.