A task force of Klingon ships commanded by General Martok camps out around DS9 to await a potential Dominion incursion through the wormhole. Tensions rise as the Klingons throw their weight around: a gang of them beats up Garak, and Klingon ships begin boarding and searching other vessels for changelings without cause. Captain Sisko decides that the best way to handle Klingons is with another Klingon, so he sends for Lieutenant Commander Worf. Worf challenges Martok by slapping around his son, and learns that Sisko's suspicions are correct: there's something else going on which Martok suggests could determine the future of the Klingon empire.Worf convinces a friend of his father to tell him the whole story: the Klingons believe Cardassia has undergone a Dominion-engineered coup, so they are preparing to invade Cardassia themselves. The Federation opposes the move, but Chancellor Gowron and the Klingon High Council go ahead despite the harm it could cause to the Federation-Klingon alliance.Sisko "accidentally" lets Garak overhear a discussion about the attack, so he can pass the information along to the Cardassians. It seems the Klingon fears of Dominion influence are unwarranted. The Federation condemns the attack, so the Klingons end their peace treaty with the Federation. Gowron arrives at the station and invites Worf to join him, but Worf refuses to abandon his Starfleet post, so Gowron strips his family of their lands and honors.Sisko contacts Dukat (now military advisor to the new civilian government of Cardassia) and offers to help him get the Cardassian council members to safety. After a large battle, they get the council on board the Defiant and head for home, pursued by a large Klingon fleet. This brings us to an impressive battle sequence as the station (armed with 5000 photon torpedoes and multiple phaser banks) holds off the Klingons until reinforcements arrive. (This was also the last battle in the whole Star Trek franchise to use models rather than CGI, which makes it an especially impressive achievement for the special effects team.)The Klingons back off, but make it clear that they do not forgive and forget. Worf goes through some soul-searching, but decides to stay in Starfleet and becomes DS9's new Strategic Operations officer after Sisko provides Worf with some of his own insights.
- Armor Is Useless: Averted—the Defiant's ablative armor protects her while her Deflector Shields must be lowered for transporter use. Though they lengthened the time they could spend without shields with some Tractor Beam antics, the little armored brick survives several direct hits from a Klingon heavy cruiser's main gun thanks to the stuff.
- Badass Boast: Dax, when Worf warns her that a bat'leth duel between them wouldn't be a fair match: "I'll go easy on you." Even though she loses, she still lasts longer than Worf probably expected.
- Bashir warns Odo to watch out for the attacking Klingons, as there will certainly be some eager to have a song made about their slaying of a Changeling. Odo's response?Odo: Doctor, if a Klingon were to kill me, I'd expect nothing less than an entire opera on the subject.
- Bashir warns Odo to watch out for the attacking Klingons, as there will certainly be some eager to have a song made about their slaying of a Changeling. Odo's response?
- Batman Gambit: Worf approaches Martok's son, Drex, at the bar, immediately beating him up and taking his d'k tahg. He did this because he knew it'd force Martok to come to him.
- Big Badass Battle Sequence: Both the Klingon fleet and the station combine Beam Spam and Macross Missile Massacre.
- Brick Joke: Early in the episode, Drex and his buddy harass Morn. Several scenes later, Drex causes trouble at Quark's and Morn hastily leaves.
- Callback: When trying to get Worf to play darts, O'Brien likens the game to poker—a game regularly played by Worf and others on TNG. He then compares it to target practice, which was another thing Worf was known to do in the Holodeck.
- Also, Sisko passing intel to Garak under the pretense of getting fitted for a suit is the same pretense Garak used to pass intel to Bashir in "Past Prologue."
- Casual Danger Dialogue: Garak and Dukat while fighting Klingons:Garak: I find this hand-to-hand combat really quite distasteful!
Dukat: I suppose you prefer the simplicity of an interrogation chamber!
Garak: You have to admit—it's much more civilized!
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Dukat is now a part of what he was quick to acknowledge as Cardassia's wholly legitimate new civilian government because—as Sisko puts it—he "saw which way the wind was blowing and switched sides."
- Continuity Nod: When Sisko warns the Klingons about the station's armaments, Gowron and Martok suggest it is an illusion created by thoron fields and duranium shadows. Both the weapons figures and this Techno Babble fakery method come quoted from the pilot episode, Emissary, when O'Brien really did fake their presence in this way. But now, three years later, the station really does have all that weaponry.
- The destruction of the Obsidian Order is referenced, and without the ever-watchful Order around, it was easier for the dissident movement to force the Central Command to yield its control of Cardassia to the Detapa Council. Thus, in a way, the Dominion did play a role in the coup; just not the active role the Klingons thought (or was manipulated into- this particular Martok is later revealed to be a changeling.)
- When meeting with Sisko, Worf admits he's considering resigning from Starfleet due to what happened to the Enterprise. When advising him not to make any quick decisions, Sisko recalls how he felt the same as Worf way back in "Emissary."
- The Federation's condemnation of the Klingon Empire's attack on Cardassia leads to the Klingons withdrawing from the Khitomer Accords, ending the peace treaty between the two powers. Later episodes reveal that Sisko's old friend Curzon Dax, the host of the Dax symbiont before Jadzia, was one of the negotiators responsible for the treaty.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: Worf effortlessly stomps Drex. The first step in casting off The Worf Effect.
- Death Glare: Worf gives Quark one for laughing at his Drink Order of prune juice and another later when Quark says he's glad that they're rid of all the Klingons.
- Enemy Mine: Garak lampshades it when he and Dukat are forced to work together to fight off Klingons.
- Fake Action Prologue: The episode starts with half the main cast and several redshirts hunting a changeling infiltrator—who turns out to be Odo acting as said infiltrator during a drill.
- When the gang of Klingons confronts Odo and Garak, they accidentally let slip why they're there in the first place, saying that they don't obey the dictates of Changelings "Or their Cardassian Lapdogs." Worf later learns that the entire reason for the invasion is because the Klingons think that Cardassia has been compromised by Changelings, who they think engineered a coup on Cardassia Prime.
- Towards the end of the space battle, we see Gowron starting to realize his stupid mistake and consider pulling back. However Martok appears to be goading him to press on. One season later you discover why he is pushing this untenable position.
- Jadzia Dax flirts with Worf the moment they're introduced. For those who don't speak Klingon, she responds to Worf identifying her as once being the famous Curzon Dax with "Yes, but I'm a lot better looking than he was."
- Gunship Rescue: Downplayed when Sisko and the Defiant rescue Kassidy Yates from the Klingons. (They only fire one warning shot before Kaybok backs down.) Played straighter when they rescue Dukat and the Detapa Council.
- Heroic B.S.O.D.: Worf turns out to have taken what happened to the Enterprise pretty hard—to the point where he intends to resign from Starfleet."It will not be the same. The Enterprise I knew is gone. Those were good years, but now it is time for me to move on."
- "Hey, You!" Haymaker: How Worf introduces himself to Drex right before kicking his ass.Worf: You are Drex, son of Martok.
Drex: That's right!
Worf: I am Worf, son of Mogh. (punches Drex)
- Honor Before Reason: Though he had admitted feeling out of place since the Enterprise's destruction, Worf refuses to join in Gowron's invasion plan because he thinks it's wrong and because he vowed allegiance to the Federation. Even when threatened with being stripped of his land and privileges, Worf responds that he will always have his honor."It is not what I owe them that matters; it is what I owe myself. Worf, son of Mogh, does not break his word."
- It's also reversed, since the Klingons being trapped into certain courses of action or risk being dishonored is a recurring plot point. This is actually the episode that most fully explores how Worf's human-inspired version of honor is different from the Klingon norm; from the mainstream Klingon perspective Worf's argument makes no sense, and Gowron is visibly confused. For instance, Klingons consider hiding near the site of a destroyed ship to ambush anyone trying to rescue survivors to be perfectly honorable since the kill would bring them glory, but it's shockingly dishonorable to the human characters.
- I Choose to Stay: After convincing Worf not to resign, Sisko offers to pull some strings and get him transferred to the Venture. Worf says that won't be necessary. The next shot, he shows up in the control room in a command uniform.
- Imposter-Exposing Test: While it had been used successfully once before, this is the first time we see blood screenings on a large scale used as a standard Changeling test. Of course, the man who introduces the idea would later be revealed to be a Changeling himself, meaning they had a workaround already.
- In Vino Veritas: Worf uses a little song and bloodwine to get one of the Klingons to tell him the truth about Martok's task force.
- It's Quiet... Too Quiet: Quark says this with a bar full of Klingons not partying like they usually do. It's the first hint that something serious is up.
- Kick the Dog: A few Klingon thugs harass Morn For the Evulz.
- Know When to Fold 'Em: Even the Klingons understand this at times.Worf: Kahless himself said, "Destroying an empire to win a battle is no victory."
Gowron: "And ending a battle to save an empire is no defeat."
- A Lady on Each Arm: Gender Inverted by Jadzia when she shows up with two shirtless holo-dudes.
- Lethal Chef: Quark was apparently this during his time as cook aboard that Ferengi freighter, which is why he still has (or had) a disrupter pistol.
- Lock and Load Montage: Sisko unveils the station's new weapons array with this.
- Macross Missile Massacre: During the battle between the station and the Klingon armada, DS9 becomes this. Torpedoes... torpedoes everywhere.
- Made-for-TV Movie: A two-parter that aired as one, and it effectively serves as DS9's second pilot episode.
- Major Injury Underreaction: A group of Klingons gang up on Garak, putting him in sickbay.Bashir: They broke seven of your transverse ribs and fractured your clavicle.
Garak: Ah, but I got off several cutting remarks, which no doubt did serious damage to their egos.
Bashir: Garak, this isn't funny.
Garak: I'm serious, Doctor. Thanks to your ministrations, I am almost completely healed, but the damage I did to them will last a lifetime.
- Also, Kira literally gets stabbed in the back by an attacking Klingon. Unfortunately, Kira's too busy being a badass to care, and beats his sorry ass anyway.
- Mythology Gag: Prune juice!
- Worf's transfer involves switching from the gold uniform to red. On TNG, he wore red in Season 1 and switched to gold in Season 2.
- Nice Hat: A literal use of the phrase by Worf to Kira, who meets him on emerging from the holodeck wearing a Middle Ages dress with a huge two-pointed hat.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Drex and his buddies subject Garak to one, most of which occurs off-screen.
- On Three:
- Sisko does a nonverbal one with Hand Signals before he and Kira phaser-sweep one of the empty cabins.
- Bashir starts a count when preparing to phaser-sweep the promenade, but Odo grabs him before he can finish.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: After their ships first arrive at the station, a bunch of Klingons go to Quark's and... don't make a sound.Quark: Have you ever met a quiet Klingon?
- Palm Bloodletting: Martok makes Sisko and Kira do this along with himself so they can all prove that they're not changelings.
- Pay Evil unto Evil: Worf beating up Drex, who had earlier harassed Morn and led a beatdown on Garak. Worf later tells Martok that he did know about the latter incident, and he notes other misdeeds Drex had participated in since the Klingons came to the station.
- Scylla and Charybdis: Sisko has to do this twice, both times choosing between the Klingons and Cardassians. In the first case it's whether to warn the Cardassians of the Klingon invasion, when Starfleet has ordered him not to. He takes a third option by 'accidentally' letting Garak eavesdrop on them discussing the matter. However, later he is forced to take a more direct decision - whether to rescue the Cardassian Detapa Council from the Klingons blasting away at their ship, and put 80 years of peace with the Klingons at risk. He does.
- Second Person Attack: When Drex punches a restrained Garak, as it cuts to a commercial break.
- Seduction-Proof Marriage: Parodied. In Jadzia's King Arthur holodeck program, Kira plays Guinevere. Sir Lancelot steals a kiss from her and she punches him out.Jadzia: He's supposed to kiss you!
Kira: But I was playing a married woman!
- Take a Third Option: The Klingon sneak attack on Cardassia leaves the Federation in a bind. If they don't warn the Cardassians, the Klingons will have a new power base and an impetus to attack DS9 to gain control of the wormhole. If they do warn them, the they'll be betraying their allies under the Khitomer Accords. Sisko chooses to surreptitiously let slip to Garak about the coming invasion, who quickly warns Dukat, giving the Federation Plausible Deniability
- This Is Unforgivable!: Sisko and Worf finally manage to get Gowron to back down, over Martok's objections, since an all-out war plays right into the Dominion's hands. As Gowron orders the withdrawal, he leaves with this message:Gowron: You have sided against us in battle, and this we do not forgive... or forget!
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: The holodeck scenes highlight the contrast between Dax and Kira. Dax enjoys getting a massage from Mr. Fanservice and playing a medieval princess, but Kira has to be dragged into it, with less-than-successful results. That being said, Dax also enjoys doing Klingon workout programs and spars with Worf using Bat'leths.
- Took a Level in Badass: The station itself. O'Brien has spent the last three years turning it into a floating torpedo turret—turning what was an illusion in the pilot into a reality here.
- Tranquil Fury: After having to execute one of his subordinates because of Sisko's interference, Martok calmly walks into his office, slams the dead officer's knife into the desk, curses Sisko, and walks out.
- Try Not to Die: Cassidy to Sisko before the latter goes on the rescue mission.
- Ungrateful Bastard:
- Dukat. Lampshaded by Dax betting that Dukat would start complaining before thanking Sisko for rescuing him.
- Gowron, who owes his position as Klingon chancellor to the Federation and particularly Worf, withdraws from the Khitomer Accords and begins a war against his former allies.
- Wham Episode: Worf arrives on the station and the camera pans up from his feet to his face. His character develops much more deeply on this show than it could on TNG, and the show itself takes a more serious, arc-based direction at about this point. This is when the scope of the show expands to include all the familiar powers of the Alpha Quadrant, and it puts us on notice that anything can happen to the political situation between them.Worf to Martok: You must think me a fool to make your lies so transparent!
- Gowron ends the Klingon-Federation alliance that has stood for almost 80 in-universe years since Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.
- Wham Line: Sisko's "I've got five thousand photon torpedoes armed and ready to launch".
- "Two decades of peace with the Klingons, and it all comes down to this..."
- The Worf Effect: A rare example for DS9. When Klingons beam onto the station, even the smallest humans and Bajorans knock them out left and right with as little as their bare hands.
- Worthy Opponent: Gowron and Martok speak of the station's crew as this (in Klingon; a bit of research is needed to translate it).Martok: <They fight like Klingons!>
Gowron: <Then they can die like Klingons!>
- You Have Failed Me: Kaybok's fate, courtesy of Martok. It's played rather sympathetically because Martok makes it very clear to Sisko that he holds him, not Kaybok, ultimately responsible for the failure.
- Your Mom: Drex insulting Odo in Klingon, as suggested by Garak's reaction: "Actually, I'm not sure Constable Odo has a mother."