(written from a Production point of view)
|"Once More Unto the Breach"|
|DS9, Episode 7x07|
Production number: 40510-557
First aired: 11 November 1998
|←||155th of 173 produced in DS9||→|
|←||155th of 173 released in DS9||→|
|←||539th of 728 released in all||→|
| Written By|
Ronald D. Moore
With the Dominion War raging, the old Klingon warrior Kor feels left out of the action, and looks for some way to get his share of the honor of battle. However, his efforts to play a part are stymied by Martok, who holds a grudge with Kor.
Having just relived the Battle of the Alamo in a holosuite at Quark's, Dr. Bashir and Chief O'Brien heatedly discuss the fate of Davy Crockett, a legendary hero who died in the battle. O'Brien expresses his opinion that Crockett was executed by General Santa Anna as a point of pride, while Bashir believes Crockett was tired of living on his reputation and ultimately surrendered. Worf joins them and comments that it does not matter how Crockett died, but rather if they believed in his legend. If they did, then there was no doubt he died heroically.
Worf returns to his quarters and is surprised to find Kor waiting there. The venerable Dahar master commiserates on the death of Worf's wife, then admits he's there to beg a favor. Kor has lost whatever influence he used to have, and the Klingon Empire has decided that there is no place for him in the war. He asks Worf to intercede for him, that he may "end my life as I have lived it – as a warrior."
Worf approaches General Martok with Kor's request, and is stunned when Martok refuses, violently, warning Worf not to speak Kor's name again, "or I will forget that we are brothers!" Soon after, Martok unveils his new battleplan to Sisko: using only a Bird-of-Prey squadron, he will raid Dominion facilities and create chaos behind their lines. Sisko likens it to an ancient Earth tactic known as a "cavalry raid" and offers to join him with the Defiant. Martok politely declines, saying that the Defiant will be more useful in deterring Jem'Hadar ships that may be following once the Klingons head back to Federation-held territory.
Feeling unable to deny his old friend, Worf, on his own authority, appoints Kor as Third Officer aboard a ship in the Ninth Fleet. When he confesses to his actions, Martok explains his hatred of Kor: when Martok was still young, his officer candidature was refused by Kor, on the grounds of his humble birth. Martok could not even serve as a line soldier in the KDF fleet; instead, he was a civilian orderly aboard a ship, which "luckily" came under an inept Romulan attack, allowing the young Klingon to display his courage and military skills, and earn a battlefield commission. If Kor had had his way, he concludes, Martok would still be scrubbing decks, instead of playing the vital role in the war he now occupies. Worf, troubled to learn about this aristocratic, biased side of Kor he did not know about, begins to apologize, but Martok waves him down, saying it has been done, but warns Worf that he is responsible for Kor.
In Quark's, Kor is enjoying a catch-up meal with Ezri Dax, when Worf appears and instructs him to report for duty in the morning. Worf is troubled when Kor has difficulty remembering the name of the ship.
With the memories of his humiliation still vivid, Martok is aggravated when every member of his ship's crew is awestruck to have the living legend appear on board his ship. Noticing the tension, Worf warns Kor to stay out of Martok's way while aboard ship. This becomes increasingly difficult, as every member of the crew fawns on Kor in the ship's mess, listening to his war stories.
Martok takes a fleet into enemy territory for an audacious raid on a Dominion outpost on Trelka V. Unfortunately, Martok's attack plan bears many similarities to the one used a century earlier at Caleb IV, a famous raid executed by Kor and Kang against the Federation. When the raid takes place, Martok and Worf are wounded and the command falls to Kor. In the following moments, the old Klingon confuses reality with his memories and orders the bewildered bridge officers to make contact with "Kang" and drive them on to victory against the Federation. The ship is nearly destroyed by Kor's loss of concentration, before Worf is able to knock him out and resume command.
While the raid is going on, back on Deep Space 9, Quark eavesdrops on a conversation Ezri is having. From that he understands that Ezri Dax wants to engage in another relationship with Worf and he decides, with the not-so-wise advice of apprentice-barman Jake, to declare himself, telling Ezri that Jadzia was too good for Worf, and Ezri most definitely is, and it would be the worst mistake for her to resume a relationship with Worf just because she feels obligated by Jadzia's commitments. Ezri cuts him off and clears the air, telling him that she and Worf have agreed to just remain friends, and not pursue another relationship. Having said that, she is still charmed by the kind, dear and [for Quark] embarrassing declaration the Ferengi just made to her.
Kor eats in the mess hall, alone except for Martok's elderly aide, Darok. Martok comes in, along with two of Kor's former admirers, who start needling him mercilessly about his senility. Kor does not respond, but finishes his meal in silence and excuses himself. Martok challenges him to make some kind of response, and Kor simply tells his fellow Klingons to enjoy life for as long as they can, since "the taste turns bitter" as one grows old.
In Martok's quarters, Worf brings him the new personnel assignments. He has removed Kor from active duty, and concedes that it was a mistake to give him a position in the first place. Worf says that when they return, he will ask Chancellor Gowron to find some sinecure for Kor that will allow him to feel useful, while keeping him safely out of combat. Martok confesses that he did not take the satisfaction from gloating over Kor that he thought he would; the elderly Klingon is no longer an enemy, just an old man to be pitied, and a sobering glimpse of what awaits every Klingon who lives too long, even one of Kor's accomplishments.
The bridge officers grimly report that the Jem'Hadar will overtake them in about two hours, less time than it will take the Klingons to rendezvous with the USS Defiant and other Federation reinforcements. Worf devises a plan: he can have one Bird-of-Prey, with a skeleton crew, drop out of warp and fire a graviton pulse to force the Jem'Hadar to drop out of warp, and then engage them long enough for the rest of the fleet to reach safety. Worf volunteers to command the doomed ship.
Kor is lying in his quarters when Darok drops in and briefs Kor on the plan in secret. Darok says the plan is a good one, but its success hinges on the one ship being able to successfully engage and delay the Jem'Hadar, to prevent them from reentering warp to resume pursuit of the fleet. Kor, despite the recent drubbing his self-confidence has taken, can see a way to achieve this, and Darok encourages him that the ship must be commanded by a warrior of Kor's great experience – but, even more importantly, such a warrior could not hope to succeed unless he was completely confident in his abilities. Kor, with new resolve in his heart, replies he would not take on the mission unless he was this confident. Darok bows deeply and tells Kor it has been an honor to serve with him.
Soon after, Kor catches up to Worf in the transporter room, where the two say goodbye until they meet again in Sto-vo-kor. Worf, to his surprise, is then asked if he has any message for his late wife, but before he can respond, Kor stuns him with a hypospray. Before beaming away to the doomed ship, he promises the unconscious Worf that he will convey his undying love to Jadzia, and tells his old friend to "live well."
In space, the Bird-of-Prey Ning'tao de-cloaks as it drops to impulse, then turns about and hurtles back into warp, towards the enemy.
Darok brings a bottle of bloodwine to the bridge, in brazen defiance of regulations. Martok objects, and Darok says that, whether the volunteers fail or succeed, they will deserve to have their courage saluted. The bridge crew keeps a tense vigil as the Ning'tao drops out of warp and succeeds in pulling the whole Jem'Hadar squadron out of warp. The battle goes beyond their sensor range, and they can only wait. Martok expresses a hope that Worf will die gloriously – but when Worf himself appears on the bridge and states that this will not happen today, it dawns on him that Kor has taken control of the ship.
A short while later, the weapons officer reports in an awed voice that while transmissions from the Ning'tao have ceased, meaning that the ship has likely been destroyed, Kor has succeeded: the Jem'Hadar can no longer overtake the rest of the fleet before it reaches friendly space. For all his own tactical brilliance, Martok is unable to comprehend how a single ship was able to hold off ten. Worf says it does not matter how Kor did it, only that he has done it. Martok seizes the bottle from Darok and lifts it high, in salute to Kor, "a noble warrior to the end!" As the bottle is passed around the bridge, Darok, begins to sing, and the rest of the bridge crew (with the exception of Martok himself) joins him in honoring the fallen hero.
"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."
- - Kor and Worf
"The way of the warrior is not a humble one. Show some pride in your accomplishments!"
"I will try."
- - Kor and Worf
"I wished to speak to you about Kor. Now I know you have strong feelings -"
(loudly)"Clear the bridge!"
- - Worf and Martok
"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
"I was playing a deep game. I'm not the kind of man who just rushes in and declares himself. I like the chase. But then Mister Today-is-a-good-day-to-die shows up and spoils everything. And now, it's going to happen all over again with Ezri. New body, new personality, but she'll make the same mistake."
- - Quark, about Ezri Dax
"I've hated his name for almost 30 years. I've dreamt of the moment when I would finally see him stripped of his rank and title - when he would suddenly find himself without a friend in the world, without the power of his birthright...Well I've had that moment now - and I took no joy from it."
- - Martok, after humiliating Kor
"We are being pursued by a Jem'Hadar fleet. Worf believes he can stop them - with a single ship."
"(shows a datapad)It's a good plan, but it has one flaw: it depends entirely on Worf successfully engaging the whole enemy fleet, if only for a short time."
"It can be done... the key would be to confuse their sensors in the opening moments, with a spread of torpedoes."
"Perhaps, but it would take a warrior with three times the experience to accomplish such a feat. And such a man would have to be certain of his abilities."
"Such a man would not take the job...unless he were certain."
- - Darok and Kor
"It has been an honor serving with you... Kor, son of Rynar."
- - Darok, knowing what Kor is about to do
"I look forward to seeing you at the gates to Sto-vo-Kor."
"As do I."
"Do you have any message you want me to convey to Jadzia?" (Worf falls unconscious before he can respond)
- - Kor and Worf, before the former takes the latter's place on the suicide mission
"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
"Long live the Empire!"
- - Kor, as he beams to the Ning'tao
"(re: a bottle of bloodwine) On the bridge?!"
"If they succeed, you can drink to their courage. And if they fail, you can still drink to their courage."
- - Martok and Darok
"Die well, Worf."
"Today was not my day to die."
"Worf?! But then wh...? Kor!"
- - Martok and Worf
"One ship against ten... It doesn't seem possible.."
"He will succeed. He is Kor, the Dahar Master."
- - Martok and Worf
"How? How did that pompous old man hold off an entire Jem'Hadar fleet with only one ship?"
"Does it matter?"
- - Martok and Worf
"To Kor, a Dahar Master and noble warrior to the end!"
- - Martok
- The title for this episode comes from William Shakespeare's Henry V - Act III, Scene I, lines 1-34, as Henry rouses his troops before an attack on a French castle; "Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more; Or close the wall up with our English dead. In peace there's nothing so becomes a man/As modest stillness and humility: But when the blast of war blows in our ears, Then imitate the action of the tiger; Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood, Disguise fair nature with hard-favour'd rage; Then lend the eye a terrible aspect; Let pry through the portage of the head/Like the brass cannon; let the brow o'erwhelm it/As fearfully as doth a galled rock/O'erhang and jutty his confounded base, Swill'd with the wild and wasteful ocean. Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide, Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit/To his full height. On, on, you noblest English. Whose blood is fet from fathers of war-proof! Fathers that, like so many Alexanders, Have in these parts from morn till even fought/And sheathed their swords for lack of argument: Dishonour not your mothers; now attest/That those whom you call'd fathers did beget you. Be copy now to men of grosser blood, And teach them how to war. And you, good yeoman, Whose limbs were made in England, show us here/The mettle of your pasture; let us swear/That you are worth your breeding; which I doubt not; For there is none of you so mean and base, That hath not noble lustre in your eyes. I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips, Straining upon the start. The game's afoot: Follow your spirit, and upon this charge/Cry 'God for Harry, England, and Saint George'!" This speech is generally regarded as the finest battle rousing speech in all of literature.
- 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." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion) 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." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Kor is seemingly the only person, besides Captain Sisko and Jake, to have known Curzon, Jadzia and Ezri.
- This episode features the Raid on Trelka V. During the raid, the Klingons use the meter as a unit of measure instead of the usual kellicam.
- Strangely, the Dominion long-range tachyon scanner would never be mentioned again. It is possible it was a prototype.
- 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.
- 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." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Armin Shimerman sees this episode as setting up his character for the rest of the season; "For the most part, the season is about Quark either mourning Jadzia or pursuing Ezri. The audience would never accept them as a couple though, so there was never a chance for that. So I spent most of the season crying into my own drinks, woeing the fact that I was getting nowhere with Ezri. Although everybody else on the show seemed to get somewhere with her!" (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- A deleted scene in this episode involved Quark sitting at the bar and lamenting his failure with Ezri, and Jake attempting to cheer him up by making him a drink. The scene would have gone between the scene where Quark hears Ezri talking about Kor and thinks she is talking about Worf, and the scene where he confronts her about her feelings. In the scene, as Quark pours out his heart to Jake, Jake is getting flustered because he is trying to concentrate on making the drink, but Quark keeps distracting him, and he keeps getting it wrong, pouring it out and having to start again. The scene was cut for time.
- A script for this episode was sold off on the It's A Wrap! sale and auction on eBay. 
- Kor's speech to the younger Klingons about the sweet taste of life is reminiscent of what he said to the Organians in his first appearance: "I hope you will continue to savor the sweetness of your life."
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 7.4, 24 May 1999.
- As part of the DS9 Season 7 DVD collection.
Links and references
- Rene Auberjonois as Constable Odo
- Nicole de Boer as Counselor Ezri Dax
- Michael Dorn as Lieutenant Commander Worf
- Cirroc Lofton as Jake Sisko
- Colm Meaney as Chief Miles O'Brien
- Armin Shimerman as Quark
- Alexander Siddig as Doctor Julian Bashir
- Nana Visitor as Colonel Kira Nerys
- John Colicos as Kor
- J.G. Hertzler as Martok
- Neil Vipond as Darok
- Nancy Youngblut as Kolana
- Blake Lindsley as Synon
- Sam Alejan as a science division officer
- Uriah Carr as a civilian
- Cathy DeBuono as M'Pella
- Brian Demonbreun as a science division officer
- Wade Kelley as a Klingon officer
- David B. Levinson as Broik
- Angus McClellan as an operations division ensign
- James Minor as a civilian
- Robin Morselli as a Bajoran officer
- Chuck Shanks as an operations division officer
- Mark Allen Shepherd as Morn
- Unknown performers a
19th century; 2309; 2350; 2345; Alamo; American Indian; Battle of the Alamo; bloodwine; Borias Cluster; Caleb IV; Cardassians; cavalry raid; cloaking device; counselor; Crockett, Davy; Dax, Curzon; Dax, Jadzia; Dahar Master; Deep Space 9; defense condition one; disruptor; division; Dominion; Dominion War; Duke; Earth; Federation; Felton Prime; flagship; Gowron; graviton; guidance system relay; Halls of the Hallowed Dead; harem; House of Kor; House of Martok; humor; hypospray; inverse graviton burst; Jem'Hadar; Kahless the Unforgettable; Kalandra sector; Kang; Ketha lowlands; Ketha Province; Klingon Empire; Klingon High Council; Klingon Imperial Court; Klingon Imperial Fleet; Klingon Oversight Council; Korma Pass; Lurkan; main deflector; Manora shipyards; Mexicans; Mogh; Moscow Mule; Ninth Fleet; phaser; Qo'noS; Quark's; Renavi; Romulans; rum; Rynar; Saltah'na clock; Santa Anna; Sheva II; ShiVang; spacedock; squadron; Sto-vo-kor; supply depot; T'nag; tachyon scanner; targeting sensors; third officer; tongo; transporter room; Travis, William B.; Trelka V; vodka; warp field
Ch'tang, IKS; D5 class; Defiant, USS; Template:ShipClass; Template:ShipClass; Jem'Hadar fighter; Template:ShipClass; Klingon Bird-of-Prey; Klothos, IKS; Malpara, IKS; Ning'tao', IKS; Orantho, IKS; Slivin, IKS; Template:ShipClass; Template:ShipType
| Previous episode:|
"Treachery, Faith and the Great River"
| Star Trek: Deep Space Nine|
| Next episode:|
"The Siege of AR-558"