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The Sword of Kahless (episode)

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"The Sword of Kahless"
DS9, Episode 4x09
Production number: 40510-481
First aired: 20 November 1995
79th of 173 produced in DS9
79th of 173 released in DS9
  {{{nNthReleasedInSeries_Remastered}}}th of 0 released in DS9 Remastered  
390th of 728 released in all
Teleplay By
Hans Beimler

Story By
Richard Danus

Directed By
LeVar Burton
49289.1 (2372)
Arc: Worf vs. Duras (6 of 6)  
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Klingon Dahar Master Kor, Jadzia Dax, and Worf search for the fabled Sword of Kahless on a remote planet in the Gamma Quadrant.


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Dahar master Kor is seated in Quark's, regaling a crowd with the story of the glorious battle between Kor, Kang, and Koloth, and the forces of T'nag. Almost the entire bar is gathered around the old Klingon, except Worf, who huddles uncomfortably at the bar. When Kor finishes, Jadzia Dax notices Worf and invites him to meet her old friend. Worf declines, reminding her that he is considered an outcast by most Klingons, but she insists. Introduced by Jadzia anyway, Kor calls Worf a traitor and a pariah, followed by a long uncomfortable pause – after which he smiles, extends his hand, assures a visibly upset Worf that anyone so disliked at the highest levels of the Klingon Empire is a friend of his.

Worf prepares to accompany Jadzia Dax and Kor, a legendary Klingon warrior, on a mission to recover the Sword of Kahless, the mythical, millennium-old weapon of the Klingon Empire's first leader – an artifact missing for centuries. When the drunken Kor finally retires to his quarters after first speaking with Worf, he is attacked by a Lethean, who reads his mind, then erases the incident from Kor's mind.

The next day, Captain Sisko – hoping to restore Federation/Klingon relations – allows them the use of a runabout for travel to the Gamma Quadrant world where the sword is believed to be located. Upon arrival, the three get into a deserted, protected chamber, but find that all the artifacts hidden there have been removed. But Worf, unwilling to give up, discovers another hidden chamber, where they finally find the Sword of Kahless. Later, Worf decides that it is his destiny, not Kor's, to possess the Sword and lead his people.

The long journey takes the three of them to an abyss, where Kor slips and loses his footing, but still holds the Sword. Worf saves Kor by grabbing the other end. Straining, he tries to convince Kor into letting go and landing on a dangerously small ledge, but Kor refuses. Dax helps pull up Kor and holds on to the sword herself as the other two are fighting over it. She holds it even as she sleeps. Dax is awakened by the sound of Worf and Kor, ready to fight to the death. Then, Worf and Kor turn on each other, and Worf is on the verge of killing Kor when Dax stuns each of them with her phaser, then transports the three of them back to the runabout. Later, on board, Worf and Kor realize that the Sword turned the two against each other, and will probably divide the Klingon people as well. They make the decision to beam the sword into space, to protect the Empire.

Memorable Quotes

"You know what I like about Klingon stories, Commander? Nothing. Lots of people die, and nobody makes any profit."

- Quark, to Worf

"Which of us had slain him? No one could say for certain, so we cut out his heart and all three of us feasted on it together!"
"Big heart."

- Kor and Jadzia Dax, poking holes in his story about his, Kang, and Koloth's battle against T'nag

"Kor! I have someone I'd like you to meet."
"I'd like you to meet our strategic operations officer, Commander Worf."
"Ah, Worf the traitor, the pariah, the lowest of the low. (big pause then a grin) It's a pleasure to meet you. Any enemy of Gowron and the High Council is a friend of mine."
"This is a great honor."
"No doubt."
"Worf is a great admirer of yours."
"Yes. Please. (they sit) I have heard stories about you since I was a child. Your confrontation with Kirk on Organia, your attack on Romulus, your defense of the Korama Pass..."
"Everything I have done pales in comparison to what I am about to achieve. I am on a quest. A quest for the most revered icon in Klingon history..."

- Jadzia Dax, Kor and Worf

"Damn that Ferengi and his replicated bloodwine!"

- Kor

"A true warrior has no need to exaggerate his feats."
"You'd better hope that I exaggerate, or else when they start singing songs about this quest and come to your verse, it will be "and Worf came along.""

- Worf and Kor

"The sword will unite us if it's held in the hands of a true Klingon, not a politician like Gowron, or some toothless figurehead like the Emperor. The sword must rest in the hands of someone who has been hardened by battle, pure of heart, who understands loyalty and honor. A warrior like Kang and Koloth."
"Someone like you?"
"The Empire could do far worse."

- Kor and Worf

"Did you see the look on the face of that Klingon that I killed? It was as if he understood the honor bestowed upon him. The first man in a thousand years to be killed by the Sword of Kahless."
"I'm sure he was very proud."

- Kor and Dax

Background Information

  • This episode was written in an effort to more fully integrate the character of Worf into the Deep Space Nine world. All of the fourth season episodes to that date, with the exception of "The Way of the Warrior", had been green-lit prior to the confirmation of Michael Dorn's arrival, and as such, Worf tended to be confined to the B-stories of these episodes, if he even figured in them at all. "The Sword of Kahless" was the first show put together after Worf joined the cast, and as such, the producers felt it should focus on him. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
  • A certain degree of knowledge of Worf's backstory from the USS Enterprise-D is necessary to fully understand this episode, especially the events portrayed in the episode "Rightful Heir". In that episode, the clerics of Boreth create a clone of Kahless the Unforgettable and try to convince the Klingon people that it is the real Kahless returned from Sto-vo-kor and that he must assume his post as leader of all Klingons. However, after he is defeated in combat by Gowron, the identity of the clone is revealed, and Worf suggests that he be made into a figurative Emperor, with Gowron still in control of the Klingon High Council. The clone accepts and becomes the moral leader of the Klingon people.
  • This episode is probably the closest to the Indiana Jones series that the Star Trek franchise will ever get, with the search for the Sword of Kahless being similar to that of the search for the Holy Grail in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Indeed, of this episode, director LeVar Burton says, "it's the search for the Holy Grail and it's about how the importance placed on the end of the quest, or on the object, affects who we are. The truth is that life is not about the destination, it's about the journey." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
  • This episode was not a popular one amongst the fans, something which disappointed writer Hans Beimler and producer René Echevarria. What particularly disappointed them was the fact that many viewers were unable to accept the notion that the bat'leth itself had no actual power. According to Echevarria, "A lot of fan reaction was that there must be a tech explanation, that the sword must be emitting something. I was astonished." Beimler explains Echevarria's astonishment when he says, "the sword itself doesn't have any magic. It's the concept of the sword that has the power. We wanted to explore the notion that there were some dark streaks to be revealed within these characters. The minute anyone starts talking about the sword it starts infecting them, so Worf gets caught up from the very beginning." Both men were disappointed that many fans missed this point, instead assuming that the Sword of Kahless had some mysterious power that simply wasn't revealed in the episode. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
  • In Hans Beimler's original draft of the teleplay, the scenes in the caves as Worf, Dax and Kor escape were much more elaborate, and involved a running battle with Toral's forces as well as booby traps exploding, floors falling out and arrows shooting from the walls. These scenes were no doubt inspired by the opening sequence of the 1981 Steven Spielberg film Raiders of the Lost Ark, but early in the pre-production process, Steve Oster made the decision to cut them, not for budgetary reasons, but for time considerations. To set up and execute all of Beimler's gags, Oster estimated, would have added an entire day onto the shooting schedule, and that was something that they simply could not allow to happen at the time. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
  • In an early draft of the script Kor referred to the warship IKS K'Tanco, a vessel commanded by Kang. It is possible that this ship is the Template:ShipClass battle cruiser Kang commanded in VOY: "Flashback". For more information of that ship, see Kang's battle cruiser.
  • The final design of the Sword of Kahless was done by Dan Curry, based upon an illustration by John Eaves. Originally, Eaves was assigned to design the sword himself, but after making some preliminary drawings, he went to Curry, who was the original designer of the bat'leth, and allowed him to finish the project. (Deep Space Nine Sketchbook: John Eaves, DS9 Season 4 DVD, Special Features)
  • This is the second episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine to be directed by LeVar Burton.
  • Toral was last seen in the TNG episode, "Redemption II". where he was played by J.D. Cullum.
  • The Hur'q are also mentioned in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Affliction".
  • Worf makes a reference to Kor's battle "with Kirk on Organia," a reference to TOS: "Errand of Mercy" where Kor made his first appearance.
  • Upon the opening of the wormhole, Kor remarks that their quest for the sword, "will be glorious." He says something similar to Kirk towards the end of "Errand of Mercy" regarding the possibility of facing the USS Enterprise captain in war.
  • Cirroc Lofton (Jake Sisko) does not appear in this episode.

Video and DVD releases

Links and references


Also starring

Guest Stars


Uncredited Co-Star


Alvanian cave sloth; Ambassador; Bajoran wormhole; bakrinium; bat'leth; bloodwine; Cardassia; cave-rat; caves of No'Mat; cleric; Dahar master; Degebian mountain goat; Earth; Emperor's Crown; Federation; Fek'lhri; Ferengi; First Empire; Gamma Quadrant; Gowron; Great Domes of Qo'noS; Hall of Heroes; heart; House of Duras; Hur'q; jamming signal; Kang; Kirk, James T.; Kahless (clone); Kahless the Unforgettable; kilometer; Klingons; Klingon-Cardassian War; Klingon Empire; Klingon High Council; Koloth; Korma Pass; legion; Letheans; Lukara; meter; Milky Way Galaxy; mining; Mogh; Molor; "Old Man"; Organia; Pakleds; poison; Qo'noS; Quark's; Right of Vengeance; Rio Grande, USS; Romulus; Rozhenko, Helena; Rozhenko, Sergey; runabout; Sabak; Sabak's armor; serpent of Xol; Shroud of the Sword; Sword of Kahless; T'nag; Torch of G'boj; Torna IV; tricorder; Vulcan; Vulcan (planet); Yridian brandy

External links

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"Little Green Men"
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
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