Mark Watches ‘Deep Space Nine’: S07E07 – Once More Unto the Breach

In the seventh episode of the seventh season of Deep Space Nine, a Klingon hero requests Worf’s help. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.

Trigger Warning: For discussion of classism, mental illness/ableism, and nonconsensual drugging.

This is a solid episode that sort of falls apart by the end, which is unfortunate, since there are two great ideas rooted in the story. “Once More Unto the Breach” aims for the sort of epic narrative that is befitting of a Klingon, and given how much honor matters to a warrior, I was very interested to see if the show would grant that to Kor and how. It made sense to me that eventually, a Klingon’s ambition would prove to be disadvantageous in the long run, and that was the case with Kor. After decades of seeking glory and honor solely for himself, he’d developed a sizable number of enemies. So many, in fact, that he literally could not find an assignment within the Empire.

Initially, that seemed confusing to me, especially given his prestige. This specific character had appeared in a number of Star Trek episodes, and we always got a sense of grandeur during said appearances. Many of the Klingon characters here couldn’t resist talking to the great Dakar master, so… why no position within the military? How can someone be so revered and yet unappreciated and unwanted at the same time?

The key to that is in Martok’s reason for despising him. Of everything in “Once More Unto the Breach,” that motivation is the most interesting thing here. I hesitate to necessarily refer to this as classism, since bloodlines and familial ties also play into it, but there’s an obvious parallel here. Years prior, Kor’s rejection of Martok’s application to be in the military was based on him being “lower” class. And seriously, I UNDERSTAND THE RESENTMENT THAT MARTOK FEELS. Deeply! It’s such an awful (and at times traumatizing) thing to be treated poorly and passed over because of something like this because it makes you feel worthless. Invaluable. Dirty. And if Kor rejected Martok for this reason, then how many others has he treated poorly? What if that’s another reason why he developed so many enemies over the years?

Concurrent with this, the script also tries to address Kor’s senility. I say “tries” because it’s brought up in one fleeting moment in the hallways of Martok’s ship, and then in a disturbing sequence on the bridge, wherein Kor believes that he’s still fighting an epic battle alongside Kang on Caleb IV. Understandably, after nearly sending everyone to their deaths, he’s stripped of his duties, left to sulk about the ship as they head to their next rendezvous point.

It’s at this moment in “Once More Unto the Breach” that the script wanders away from either of these stories. Kor’s classism is never brought up again, and he’s never made to understand how much he affected the life of a lower-class Klingon who just wanted to contribute. His possible mental illness is also never explored beyond the scene on the bridge. Instead, Martok’s assistant has a neat scene where he bemoans the newer generation, then conspires to drug Worf so that Kor can go in his place on a mission that will certainly end in death? I mean, I have to assume that Darok was the one who got Kor the hypospray.

No one seems bothered much by this turn of events, and I guess it’s because Kor helps them escape the Jem’Hadar. In this case, the ends justifies the means, I guess. It’s a sloppy ending, and that’s why it’s so unfortunate that the good shit isn’t given more attention in the story. It could have been a great episode instead of just an okay one.

The video for “Once More Unto the Breach” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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