(written from a Production point of view)
Three old Klingon warriors reunite on Deep Space 9, seeking Curzon Dax, with whom they entered into a blood oath to one day exact revenge on an enemy for killing the warriors' firstborn sons. Finding Jadzia as worthy a warrior as they felt Curzon to be, she joins the Klingons in completing their vendetta.
In his bar, Quark complains to Odo that an elderly, drunken Klingon is monopolizing one of the holosuites, endlessly re-fighting the Battle of Klach D'kel Brakt, a battle the Klingons won over the Romulans a century ago. He has only paid for an hour, but has been in the holosuite for three. With Odo standing by, Quark shuts off the power, and the Klingon, Kor, storms out with a bottle of Breshtanti ale in his hand. He lunges drunkenly at Quark, but Odo pacifies him by telling him a "victory celebration" is awaiting him, and leads him to a holding cell to sleep it off.
Koloth, Kor's friend, comes to bail him out; however, when he sees Kor is still quite drunk, he furiously tells Odo to keep him. Shrugging, Kor passes out again, while Odo rolls his eyes.
In Ops, Odo brings a report to Major Kira and apologizes for being late, as it's been a "Klingon afternoon." Dax overhears the name at her station and has Kor released. She reveals to him and to Koloth that she is their old friend and comrade, "Dax" – Curzon Dax having been the last host of the symbiont now inside her. Kor is delighted that their old friend now inhabits a beautiful woman's body, but Koloth protests that some mistake has been made. Dax realizes that their meeting has been arranged by another old friend, Kang, who arrives and tells them that he has finally found "the Albino."
Eighty-one years ago, the three Klingons and Curzon swore a blood oath to hunt down and kill the Albino, no matter what. After Dax does some convincing to Kang that she really is Dax, Kang explains he has finally tracked him down to a hideout in the Secarus system – and, to ensure that no warning causes the Albino to flee before they can reach him, Kang killed the traders who disclosed the location to him.
Walking alone with Dax on the upper level of the Promenade, Kang muses that times have changed, and nothing is quite the same as it was in the Klingon Empire, not even a blood oath. With that in mind, he tells Jadzia that she has no obligation to honor her past host's commitments, and formally releases her from Curzon's oath.
While on duty in Ops, Dax asks Kira about her experiences in the Bajoran Resistance and how she felt when she killed Cardassians. Kira is very uncomfortable talking about those days, but wants to know why Dax is asking. Dax reluctantly explains; the Albino was a heinous criminal who led pirate raids on several Klingon and Federation colonies, until a task force commanded by Kang, Kor, and Koloth destroyed his power base. Although many of his followers were captured, the Albino escaped and promised revenge on the firstborn children of Kor, Koloth, and Kang. Four years later, he managed to keep his promise by infecting each of the three Klingons' firstborn sons with a deadly genetic virus; Curzon was godfather to Kang's son, who was named Dax in his honor, and swore the oath along with the other three. Kira tries her best to dissuade Dax from her mission, reminding her that it was Curzon's godson who died, not Jadzia's and that she should not be expected to pay keep her former host's commitments. Dax is unswayed, telling Kira she still remembers the boy's funeral and how she felt when her godson died. She feels like she owes it to Curzon to fulfill the oath, even if the other Klingons don't expect her to. Kira finishes by answering Dax's original question; "when you take someone's life, you lose a part of your own as well."
Dax talks to Kor at Quark's, who is as joyful as ever: "Oh, of course you should come! The splendor of fighting and killing, a bloodbath in the cause of vengeance; who wouldn't want to come!" But when she asks him to speak with Koloth and Kang on her behalf, he hesitates, calling himself an old man whose influence and power are long past.
Dax confronts Koloth in a holosuite while he is practicing his bat'leth techniques. He believes she is too young and fragile to accompany them, so she challenges him to a duel to show him that she still retains Curzon's skill with the weapon. After a few rounds, Koloth concedes that her presence will do honor to their cause, but Kang remains adamant in his refusal.
Outside the holosuite in Quark's, Dax presses the matter: ultimately, Kang does not have the right to deny her vengeance against the Albino, who killed Dax's godson. Angrily, Kang agrees to allow her along, storming, "come and be damned!"
As Dax packs in her quarters, Commander Sisko arrives to preemptively deny her a leave of absence, telling her that he cannot condone murder in the name of vengeance, nor can he understand why Jadzia feels the need to do so to honor a commitment Curzon made. Dax tells him that Curzon is a part of her, and Curzon understood and embraced the Klingon concepts of honor and vengeance. When Dax begs him not to make her disobey a direct order, Sisko does not prevent her from leaving, but warns her that she shouldn't expect to just return to the station like nothing has happened. Dax responds that the consequences she faces are up to him.
Aboard Kang's ship, on the way to the Albino's hideaway, the Klingons and Jadzia discuss their strategy. Kang advocates a surprise frontal assault on the compound's main gate. His intelligence indicates that the Albino only has forty guards, and the shock and awe of their appearance will give them a decisive advantage. Koloth and Kor endorse the plan and march out of the room triumphantly to sharpen their blades but Dax stays to confront Kang. Unlike them, she can see that the plan is suicide, and demands to know what Kang is really up to. In fact, she says, if she didn't know better, she'd think Kang had been paid to lure them into a trap.
Kang admits that when he first learned the Albino's location, he visited the system to see if it was true, and was contacted by the Albino. The Albino offered Kang a "glorious" battle against forty of the Albino's best warriors and Kang accepted, believing that if he could not kill the Albino, he could die trying.
Believing that Klingons embrace death too easily, Dax urges him to consider an alternative strategy. Kang insists that the Albino's defenses cannot be penetrated by the four of them, and victory is impossible. But Dax has the idea of disabling the guards' phasers, by reconfiguring the ship's disruptors to bombard the compound from orbit with tetryon particles. The resulting dampening field will disable any energy weapons inside. Although the Klingons will likewise be unable to use their hand disruptors, they will have a significant advantage over the guards in hand-to-hand combat. Kang agrees, saying, "perhaps it is a good day to live."
After beaming down to Secarus IV, Dax scans the area with her tricorder and detects a gravitic mine buried inside the main entrance: the Albino obviously never intended to keep his bargain with Kang. On the other hand, the booby-trap gives them the advantage, since the Albino will be focusing his defenses on the main gate. The four of them quickly work out an alternate plan of attack: Dax will create a diversion by sabotaging the compound's armory, drawing a fair amount of the guards away from the main house, while the Klingons disable the power station, knocking out the Albino's communications and scanners.
However, Kor points out that if the Albino lied to Kang about facing him down honorably, he might not be in the compound, or even on the planet. Koloth tells everyone to wait for a few minutes while he goes and asks somebody. The others wonder if he's gone insane, but sure enough, he comes back a few minutes later, having stealthily ambushed a "very helpful" guard, who has confirmed the Albino's presence. The four warriors prepare to split up to fulfill their roles in the attack, and Kang locks hands with his fellow Klingons: "May Kahless guide us on this day of vengance!" After a moment's hesitation, Dax puts her hand on the others'.
When the armory explodes, the Albino realizes that his trap has been outmaneuvered. Before he can order his guards to draw back into the house, the power station is sabotaged, leaving him trapped inside his main hall with his Markalian aide and only a few guards, with no way to signal the others and no functioning phasers. The Klingons and Dax storm into the hall and fight his guards hand-to-hand. Koloth is mortally wounded when a guard stabs him in the back, while Kang fights his way up the stairs through to the Albino.
The Albino manages to mortally wound Kang, but turns to find Dax's bat'leth at his throat. She introduces herself as the former Curzon Dax, and he smirks that she doesn't have it in her to murder him, alluding to the traditional consuming of the enemy's heart once they have been slain. She hesitates, and meanwhile Kang stabs his knife into the Albino's back. He falls to the bottom of the stairs to his death. On the surface, he thanks Dax for the act of friendship in "letting" him have the death blow, but the knowing eyes between long friends hints at the deeper reality: that Kang has saved Jadzia from being forced to make the decision to kill the Albino. Kang utters, "It is a good day to die," before dying. Dax murmurs sadly, "It's never a good day to lose a friend." The only Klingon left standing, Kor, sings in honor of his fallen comrades, as he stands over the body of the dead Albino.
Dax returns to the station and resumes her post; however, it is clear from the looks of both Kira and Sisko that they may not be able to regard her the same way again.
"Shut off the power."
"He'll kill you!"
"No, he said he'll kill you – shut it off."
- - Odo and Quark, evicting a drunken Kor from the holosuite
"How did you get in here?"
"I am Koloth."
"That doesn't answer my question."
"Yes, it does."
- - Odo and Koloth, in Odo's office
"I do not go into battle with one whose honor is washed away in Breshtanti ale… keep him!"
- - Koloth, seeing the drunken Kor
"Security reassignments, major. Sorry it took so long; it's been a Klingon afternoon.
"A Klingon afternoon?"
"Every time Klingons visit the station I wind up with a Klingon afternoon – but this is definitely one I'll cherish forever."
- - Odo and Kira
"I don't have to tell you what this oath meant to Curzon."
"Jadzia Dax took an oath, too, when she joined Starfleet. You're subject to orders, lieutenant."
"Don't do it, Benjamin. Don't make me disobey a direct order!"
- - Jadzia Dax and Benjamin Sisko
"This is a mistake! Kang must not have known…"
"Ah, but what a beautiful mistake!"
- - Koloth and Kor, referring to Dax's new identity as Jadzia
"Is Kang coming?"
"Of course he's coming; he's brought the four of us together after eighty-one years!"
"Could it possibly mean that he's…"
"Yes… that is exactly what it means: I have found The Albino."
- - Dax, Kor, and Kang
"This time, we will reach the Albino! And when we do, I will cut his heart out and eat it, while he watches me with his dying breath!"
- - Kang
"The Korvat colony. First day of negotiations, I walked out on you, right in the middle of that long-winded speech of yours. You should have seen the look on your face. Nobody had ever had the kajunpak't to show their back to the great Kang before Curzon did."
"I almost killed Curzon that day."
- - Dax and Kang
"You've said to yourself, 'Every new life for a Trill has to be a new life'! If not, you'd wind up paying off old debts forever. These Klingons can't possibly expect you to keep this oath!"
"No, they don't… that's just it! They say I have no obligation to them… but I do! I know it – I feel it!… if not to them, then to Curzon."
- - Kira and Dax, regarding the blood oath
"Quark, you devious little Ha'DIbaH! Bring wine."
- - Kor
"There is tension on your face, Koloth! You ought to drink more."
- - Kor
"Of course you should come! The splendor of fighting and killing; a bloodbath in the cause of vengeance; who wouldn't want to come!"
- - Kor, to Dax
"You say they promised you an honorable battle hand-to-hand combat at the main threshold."
"Take a look at this. This indicates a gravitic buried at the main threshold."
"Yes, and he plans to detonate it the moment we enter the compound."
"That's what you get for making a deal with the devil, Kang."
- - Dax, telling Kang about the mine, response from Kang and Koloth, and Kor, after Dax tells Kang about the mine
"Where are you going?"
"I'm going to find out if he's inside."
"And how do you intend to do that?"
"I'll ask somebody!"
- - Koloth, offering a simple solution, and Kor wondering if he's gone mad
"May Kahless guide us on this day of vengeance!"
- - Kang, before the Klingons storm the Albino's compound
"Look upon your executioners, killer of children!"
- - Kang
"I was right, Dax. It is a good day to die."
"It's never a good day to lose a friend."
- - Kang's dying words to Dax
Story and script
- Peter Allan Fields' original story, entitled "The Beast", did not feature Kang, Kor, and Koloth. They were to be new characters, but Robert Hewitt Wolfe, a big fan of The Original Series, suggested using the three most popular Klingons from that series. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion) The idea came up in a conversation between Fields, Co-Executive Producer Ira Steven Behr, and Executive Producer Michael Piller. (Star Trek - Where No One Has Gone Before, paperback ed., p. 186) Fields based "The Beast" on Akira Kurosawa's 1954 film Seven Samurai and John Sturges' 1960 remake of that film, The Magnificent Seven. He modeled Koloth after James Coburn's character of Britt and Kang after Yul Brynner. Kor was based on William Shakespeare's character of Falstaff, who appeared in Henry IV, Part II. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- John Colicos was approached by Michael Piller and allowed to give his own input to the script. Colicos commented, "When I started reading the script, I spoke to Michael Piller and said, 'I don't really want to play this character, because it's totally contradictory to the original Kor. I have a huge following from the original one, and if he becomes just a buffoon, then I'd honestly rather not do it.' He said, 'No, [Kor] starts out as a rather dipsy, Falstaffian character, but becomes quite heroic in the end.' I said, 'Let me see the last two chapters, before I commit myself finally.' And then there was a question of whether we should all be killed off, whether this was the last hurrah for the 'Over the Hill Klingon' gang. [Piller] said they were contemplating keeping one of us alive, and I said, 'Well, I better be the Ishmael who lives to tell the story.' When they gave me that, I said, 'All right, fine.'" ("The Sword of Colicos", Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - The Official Poster Magazine, issue 8)
- The writing staff toyed with the idea of having the three Klingons appear as they did in the original Star Trek, but decided against it. When Michael Ansara asked why the Klingons now looked different, he was told, "Klingons live to be very, very old and that's a natural physical metamorphosis." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Several terms are used in the pronunciation guide in the script but not in the final script itself. These include "Cheron", "becht" and "ghoptu".
- Before the episode entered production, Junie Lowry-Johnson and Ron Surma checked to see if Michael Ansara, John Colicos, and William Campbell were still acting. They found the first two easily, but had difficulty finding Campbell. He was actually doing Star Trek cruise conventions at the time. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion) "We were quite pleased that all three of these […] actors were willing to reprise their roles," stated Peter Allan Fields. (Star Trek - Where No One Has Gone Before, paperback ed., p. 186)
- Regarding the start of filming, William Campbell commented, "I went down there not realizing that they had this age thing of 85 or 100 years later, I thought we would just be older, that we didn't evolve with the carbuncle on the head, and the other changes they've done. However, when I walked in there said to Rick Berman, 'Somebody out there we were going to have to put this make-up on, á la Michael Dorn.' And he said, 'Well, yeah. It's 100 years later, and don't ask me why they do it. This is the way Klingons look now, and you've evolved into this.' I said fine, but I had just thought we were going to to come back as the Over the Hill Gang-type thing. Of course it had a lot more significance than that. We were all senior officers, we were part of of this special quest. I thought they did a phenomenal job the the make-up, although Michael Ansara said to me, 'Bill, I haven't worked in six years, this is going to kill me!" ("The Honorable William Campbell", TV Zone magazine, issue 60)
- The interior of the Albino's fortress was built on Paramount Stage 18. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion) The fortress set was actually built on Stage 18 for the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Masks", as Masaka's temple. TNG's Stage 16 was taken up by the Barkonian village set constructed for "Thine Own Self". (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)
- The exterior of the Albino's fortress was a house in Pasadena designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for Mr. and Mrs. George M. Millard. A model of it, which was blown up to show the destruction of the compound, was built on Paramount's Van Ness parking lot. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- To set the mood for the fight sequence, Director Winrich Kolbe had Richard Wagner's Götterdämmerung played on-set. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- The episode's score was performed with extreme gusto. Composer Dennis McCarthy noted, "We just went for it." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- The news that the three most well-known TOS Klingons would be returning to Star Trek in this episode was received with huge excitement from Star Trek fans. (Star Trek - Where No One Has Gone Before, paperback ed., p. 186)
- The music of this episode proved to be very memorable for Dennis McCarthy; "What I remember about the episode is the force of the music." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Terry Farrell is a big fan of this episode because she feels that it reveals a great deal of depth to Dax. Farrell feels that each of the three Klingons require a different approach from her, and that the character is capable of switching gears like that is something she is quite proud of; "With Kor, I had to convince him that he was a hero, and that in my eyes he would always be a hero, so that was philosophical. With Koloth, I had to prove that I was strong enough to go to battle with him, so that was physical. And with Kang, I had to prove to him that my desire and need to be a part of this blood oath was strong enough that I could not imagine staying behind, that I was mentally strong and capable enough. So I had to exhibit the honor, the physical strength, and the mental perseverance to go with them." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Winrich Kolbe commented, "It was the closest thing to Beowulf that I ever saw. There was a mythological quality to it and these guys were real heroes. I played Wagner in my mind the whole day and it had a feel that was beyond episodic television. It was really The Three Musketeers on a smaller scale and I loved it." (The Deep Space Log Book: A Second Season Companion) This statement should make Dax as the "fourth" musketeer D'Artagnan, Kor as Porthos, Koloth as Aramis and Kang as Athos.
- On the return of the TOS actors, Michael Okuda commented, "At first, you almost didn't recognize them because they were in heavy Klingon makeup. But as soon as Michael Ansara opened his mouth, there was a powerful sense of déjà vu. Having the three original Klingons on the show was magical for everyone." (Star Trek - Where No One Has Gone Before)
- William Campbell commented that he, Michael Ansara and John Colicos all greatly enjoyed the episode, commenting, "When it was all over and we finally saw the finished show, we really loved it." One particular scene Campbell enjoyed was the brief scene with Rene Auberjonois. "That was the scene when I walk in to get Colicos out of the drunk tank, and Odo turns around and says, 'How did you get in here?' I say him, 'I am Koloth!' and he says 'You're not answering my question,' and my reply is, 'Yes I did.' In other words, Koloth can do anything. An actor can't have a better intro than that, and all the fans who had seen the old show identified him immediately." ("The Honorable William Campbell", TV Zone magazine, issue 60)
- William Campbell also said this episode was his most difficult acting job, and one he would have liked to do again. (Deep Space Nine Chronicles)
- As a fan of the Klingons generally and especially those characters featured in this installment, Robert O'Reilly reminisced about "Blood Oath", "I was literally in ecstasy watching it. I was more excited to see that show than I was to see King Lear on TV, and I love Lear." (The Official Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Magazine issue 16, p. 23)
- In her book Star Trek - Where No One Has Gone Before (paperback ed., pp. 184 & 186), J.M. Dillard described this episode as "compelling" and also remarked, "The return of Kang, Kor, and Koloth was moving and powerful."
- This episode "reunites" three Klingons from The Original Series, one from each season: Kor (from "Errand of Mercy" in season one), Koloth (from "The Trouble with Tribbles" in season two), and Kang (from "Day of the Dove" in season three).
- This episode marks the deaths of Koloth (William Campbell) and Kang (Michael Ansara), although Kang later appeared in VOY: "Flashback". Incidentally, Kor (John Colicos) is the only one of the three Klingons to survive the events of this episode. However, Colicos was the first of the three actors to pass away, on 6 March 2000. Campbell died on 28 April 2011, and Ansara on 31 July 2013.
- John Colicos reprised his role as Kor in season four's "The Sword of Kahless" and season seven's "Once More Unto the Breach".
- Colm Meaney (Miles O'Brien), Siddig El Fadil (Julian Bashir), and Cirroc Lofton (Jake Sisko) do not appear in this episode.
- The late Christopher Collins previously played another Markalian, Durg, in "The Passenger". This was also his last Star Trek episode, as he died from a cerebral hemorrhage seventy-seven days after the episode aired.
- Michael Ansara appeared in DS9 again, as Jeyal in "The Muse".
- Klach D'kel Brakt, referred to in this episode, is later revealed in ENT: "The Augments" to be the Klingon name for the "Briar Patch" seen in Star Trek: Insurrection.
- "Trials and Tribble-ations" later touched upon the issue of the changes in the Klingons' physical appearance, while the Star Trek: Enterprise episodes "Affliction" and "Divergence" ultimately explained why Kang, Koloth, and Kor have the updated Klingon look in "Blood Oath".
- When Kor pulls open the holosuite door at the beginning of the episode, the "whoosh" sound of The Original Series doors can be heard.
- Andy Mangels and Michael A. Martin's novel Forged in Fire is a prequel of sorts to this episode, giving more insight as to the background of the Albino (whose name, we learn, is "Qagh") and Curzon's relationship with the Klingons. There was a sequel, a comic book story called "Remembrance".
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 20, 22 August 1994
- As part of the UK VHS collection Star Trek - Crossovers Set: 6 November 1995
- As part of the DS9 Season 2 DVD collection
Links and references
- Rene Auberjonois as Constable Odo
- Siddig El Fadil as Doctor Julian Bashir (credit only)
- Terry Farrell as Lieutenant Jadzia Dax
- Cirroc Lofton as Jake Sisko (credit only)
- Colm Meaney as Chief Miles O'Brien (credit only)
- Armin Shimerman as Quark
- Nana Visitor as Major Kira Nerys
- John Colicos as Kor
- Michael Ansara as Kang
- William Campbell as Koloth
- Bill Bolender as the Albino
- Christopher Collins as the Albino's assistant
- Sam Alejan as Human science division officer
- Ivor Bartels as Human operations division officer
- Bob Bralver as Albino's guard
- Christopher Doyle as Albino's guard
- Sue Henley as command officer
- Hubie Kerns, Jr. as Albino's guard
- Ken Lesco as Albino's guard
- Irving E. Lewis as Albino's guard
- Dennis Madalone as Albino's guard
- Robin Morselli as Bajoran officer
- Joe Murphy as Albino's guard
- Denney Pierce as Albino's guard
- Sandra Wild as a dabo girl
- Unknown actress as a dabo girl
- Chuck Borden as stunt double for Christopher Collins
- George Colucci as stunt double for John Colicos
- Caron Colvett as stunt double for Terry Farrell
- Yannick Derrien as stunt double for Bill Bolender
- Tom Morga as stunt double for William Campbell
2290; 2345; 2363; Albino's discarded wives; Albino's sanctuary; baakonite; Bahgol; Bajoran Resistance; Bajoran wormhole; bat'leth; Battle of Klach D'kel Brakt; blood oath; Breshtanti ale; calisthenics program; Cardassians; centimeter; d'k tahg; d'akturak; dabo girl; Dahar master; Dax, son of Kang; Dax, Curzon; Dayos IV; eye contact; Federation; Ferengi; firstborn; Galdonterre; genetic virus; godson; gravitic mine; guest of honor; heart; holosuite; host; hug; Ice-man; Kahless the Unforgettable; Kang's Bird-of-Prey; Kang's warship; kilo; Klach D'kel Brakt; Klingon death ritual; Klingon Empire; Klingon law; Klingonese; Koloth's warship; Kor's warship; Korvat colony; kuttar; Markalian; meter; Milky Way Galaxy; morality; N'yengoren strategy; orrery; palate; plasma leak; Promenade; QiVon; Quark's; racht; Replimat; rib; riddinite; Romulans; sanctuary; science officer; scorcher; Secarus IV; Secarus IV traders; Secarus system; Starfleet oath; stone face; tennis court; tetryon; tetryon radiation; trader; tricorder; Trill
- "Blood Oath" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Blood Oath" at Wikipedia
- "Blood Oath" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Blood Oath" at MissionLogPodcast.com, a Roddenberry Star Trek podcast
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