Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Enter The Klingon Threat, Push Back The Dominion That Is "The Way Of The Warrior!"

The Good: Decent plot, GREAT character development, nice special effects, acting
The Bad: Change in direction of the series
The Basics: When tensions rise with the Klingons, Worf arrives at Deep Space Nine to lend a hand.

When the third season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine concluded, there seemed to be a very real and imminent threat of the Dominion. The most vicious villain the Federation had ever encountered seemed to be looming around every corner, threatening the entire Alpha Quadrant. In the opening moments of the fourth season premiere, "The Way Of The Warrior," it seems to pick up right where the third season ended. Too bad it did not remain there.

When the Klingons, under the leadership of General Martok, arrive at the station en masse to help defend the Alpha Quadrant, Captain Sisko is instantly suspicious. His difficulties with the Klingons grow as Sisko finds freighters in Bajoran space being harassed by them. When his girlfriend, Kassidy Yates, runs into problems with the Klingons, Sisko feels he has run out of options and he calls upon the only Klingon he can count on, Worf. Worf arrives, moody and difficult, wounded from the destruction of the Enterprise. Worf soon learns that the Klingons are planning to invade Cardassia under suspicion that a coup on Cardassia was Dominion-initiated. When the Federation refuses to condone the invasion, the peace with the Klingons comes to an abrupt and fiery halt.

This is a huge turning point for the series and "The Way Of The Warrior" is probably the best way they could have gone about it. While it seems that the main point of the episode is to introduce Worf as a new member of the crew and welcome Michael Dorn to the permanent cast, it pulls it off with style. While the initial reaction by the fans of the Star Trek universe might be negative, there seems to be no more permanent way to add Worf to Deep Space Nine than making a full transfer. The necessity of a sustained conflict with the Klingons works quite well to overcome that obstacle.

The thing is, the addition of Worf is not a bad idea. Out of all of the characters from Star Trek The Next Generation, Worf makes the most sense to bring over to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Why? He had the most character in a way that was genuine and practical. While Data grew quite a bit, his arc was near its end and his growth largely internal and Picard was completely impractical to bring over. Moreover, elements of Worf's story on Star Trek The Next Generation were serialized and make "Way Of The Warrior" quite practical, like "Redemption I and II." (reviewed here and here, respectively). Following the events of Star Trek: Generations (reviewed here!) Worf feels a sense of displacement and that is the effective pretense for him joining the Deep Space Nine crew. It's not a bad pretense, either!

Michael Dorn is an actor with a great amount of professionalism and he fits in almost instantly with the cast of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Moreover, Worf's tormented character works well on this series. It makes sense that introducing Worf would be almost a second pilot, a new movie (or double length episode).

The special effects in this episode are extraordinary. In the battles that the Defiant and the station initiate, there are phenomenal effects. This is the payoff for seeing years of Deep Space Nine simply sitting there; this time, we see its teeth. The destruction DS9 lets loose on the Klingon force is amazing. It's too bad that we cannot see this episode on a movie screen. It is certainly impressive enough in scope for that.

But, as impressive as the effects are, they do not hold a match to the character advances in "The Way Of The Warrior." While Worf enters as dark and moody, we get quite a bit more from the other characters. Dax once again is called upon for her Klingon knowledge and delivers wonderfully in that regard. Kira finally reveals the source of her dislike of holosuites: a lack of imagination and that issue is explored well in the first half of the episode. Bashir does a great job at adding to his compassion with a fine illustration of his phaser technique.

The real character greats are Odo, Elim Garak and Gul Dukat. Garak appears as his usually shifty self and his dialog is extraordinary. Every line he delivers is wonderfully devious and inscrutable. Odo, feeling isolated from his people now more than ever, has to cope with being out of control in the face of a Klingon invasion. Gul Dukat here has a great part where he illustrates both his love of Cardassia and his desire for self-preservation. The scenes where Dukat and Garak interact are gruesome and funny and worth the price of the video alone.

The acting here is excellent as well and it begins with the introduction of Martok. J.G. Hertzler gives a wonderful performance as the newest Klingon on the scene and it is easy to see why he becomes a recurring character. He is forceful of voice and has great body language and demeanor for a Klingon.

Andrew Robinson give his usual scene-stealing deliveries as Garak and for the first time, Marc Alaimo infuses some deadpan humor into Dukat. These two gentlemen go a long way to defining the Cardassian sensibility. There is a scene between Robinson and Armin Shimerman (who plays Quark) that resonates as one of the series' funniest and most intriguing scenes and in large part it is pulled off because of the deep apparent respect the two actors have for one another that shines through in their characters.

But the ultimate acting credit must go to Dorn who is given the daunting task of squeezing into a cast that has had three years to become accustomed to one another. He insinuates himself with grace and dignity, easily justifying his presence on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

"The Way Of The Warrior" is one of the very last, completely accessible episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. It's an action adventure story that is full of character and there is a lot to enjoy for anyone who likes science fiction or fast, intelligent dialog. Expect to pay a little more for this video because it is a double length episode. Due to the way it adds a new cast member and changes the direction of the series, a part of the essential Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

[Knowing that VHS is essentially a dead medium, it's worth looking into Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - The Complete Fourth Season on DVD, which is also a better economical choice than buying the VHS. Read my review of the turnaround season by clicking here!


For other Star Trek episode, movie or DVD set reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2007, 2003 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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