Recap / Star Trek Deep Space Nine S 04 E 18 Rules Of Engagement

Commander Worf is on trial. The cause of which is to establish motive in a horrible tragedy. In the heat of battle, did he purposely fire on a transport ship full of innocent civilians? Or was it simply a case of reflexive action in a heated situation?


  • Armor-Piercing Question: Ch'Pok has O'Brien on the stand, and tells him to imagine that he was in command instead of Worf during the same situation. Would he also give the order to open fire? O'Brien says he wouldn't, but also points out that he wasn't in command and that it's easy to throw stones after the fact.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Ch'Pok verbally hammers on Worf's honor and pride until Worf rises from the witness chair and knocks him to the deck, to prove that Worf is capable of attacking anyone if sufficiently provoked.
  • The Chains of Commanding: Sisko gives a lesson recap on them to Worf at the end of the episode.
    Worf: Life is a great deal more complicated in this red uniform.
    Sisko: Wait 'till you get four pips on that collar. You'll wish you had gone into botany.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Quark is more concerned trying to figure out who was sitting at the bar than remembering what Worf was doing there.
  • Courtroom Episode
  • Debate and Switch: The situation regarding firing on a civilian ship ultimately goes unresolved (though Sisko, at least, believes Worf was wrong to be so quick on the trigger), as the situation is proven to have been deliberately set up to disgrace Worf.
    • Not to mention the question of why an unarmed freighter would decloak right in the middle of a battle—again, becoming irrelevant once the Frame-Up is revealed. Same can be said of the question of why an unarmed passenger freighter even has a cloaking device in the first place...
  • Frame-Up: The entire situation was a ploy by the Empire to disgrace Worf. The transport ship was totally empty, and its passengers had already died in a horrific crash in the not-too-distant past.
  • Ham-to-Ham Combat: With Sisko and two Klingons in the room, this is pretty much inevitable. No wonder they need a Vulcan admiral to keep everyone under control.
  • Invisibility Flicker: Worf's battle plan is to shoot at whatever starts to decloak—just as the Klingon Empire wants.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The witness flashbacks speak directly at the camera, almost appearing to talk to the viewer.
  • Murder Simulators: While Dax is on the witness stand, Ch'Pok questions her about a holodeck program Worf ran shortly before the escort mission, which casts him in the role of one of Klingon culture's greatest heroes, who ordered an entire city put to death after he conquered it. He uses this as evidence against Worf by forcing Dax to acknowledge that Worf does give the order to slaughter the inhabitants, and she is overruled when she tries to point out that this is required in order to finish the program. The argument is presented in much the same way that Moral Guardians use to attack violent video games today.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Everyone's reaction when the transport blows up.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Ch'Pok may be a lawyer, but he proves he's still a Klingon by treating the trial as a fight.
  • Punch Clock Villain: Ch'Pok isn't evil; he's just doing his job, and even offers to defend Worf himself if the ruling is for extradition. (How much he knew about Worf being set up is never totally clear.)
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: When Sisko confronts Ch'Pok with the evidence that Odo found, proving that the Klingon Empire set Worf up to look like a murderer.
    Sisko: Tell me, Advocate...isn'
  • Too Dumb to Live: Subverted. Decloaking in front of an active warship in mid-battle may seem stupid, but considering the Klingons were actively trying to get Worf to blow up the transport, not so much.
  • The Voiceless: Morn. When Quark is trying to recall his story, he suddenly remembers that he was talking to Morn and Morn said...and then he's told to just get on with it.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Sisko chews Worf out for shooting at something before making sure it's a legitimate target. He then treats it as a potential Career Building Blunder by assuring Worf that he'll still make a great captain someday.
  • Would Not Shoot a Civilian: Sisko makes it clear that a Starfleet officer never fires at a target unless they are absolutely sure it is a hostile, even if it means hesitating will cost them their life. (Although somehow nobody had a problem with it when James T. Kirk was faced with practically the exact same tactical situation in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, and didn't even wait for the bird-of-prey to decloak before firing.)