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 shoot full of innocent civilians on purpose? Or was it simply a case of reflexive action in a heated situation?


  • Anti-Villain: Ch'Pok isn't evil; he's just doing his job. (How much he knew about Worf being set up is never totally clear.)
  • 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, after some anguish, says he wouldn't.
  • The Chains of Commanding: Sisko gives a lesson recap on them to Worf at the end of the episode.
  • 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 the unfortunate situation of firing on a civilian ship in this situation 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.
  • 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-to-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.
  • 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.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Subverted. Decloaking in front of a 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.
  • 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.