Recap / Star Trek Deep Space Nine S 05 E 21 Soldiers Of The Empire
How Martok got his groove back.

Martok: On the bridge, during the fight, when you dropped your guard - how did you know I would not kill you?
Worf: I did not know.

Upon returning from captivity Martok is given a new command, the run-down bird of prey Rotarran. His mission is to rescue a Klingon ship lost patroling the border. As they set out Worf is asked to come along as first officer, and Dax volunteers to come along as well.

They soon find that the crew's spirits are down through lack of victory and lack of, well, spirits. The second ailment at least is solved when Dax provides a large supply of blood-wine for the crew, but that hardly solves the problem. And being Klingons, low morale can easily lead to violence.

Another problem comes up when they find Martok's morale is down; indeed he seems to have had his courage crushed by his captivity. The first indication is when they spot a Jem'Hadar ship and Martok refuses to pursue. Worf rationalizes this by saying they needed to continue on their mission. Whereupon Dax points out that that would be true on a Starfleet vessel but here on a Klingon ship that is almost cause for mutiny. A chance for a token victory absolutely cannot be thrown away and Martok's judgment if not his courage must be questioned.

They continue their voyage until they reach the border and find the distressed ship. Whereupon Martok again refuses battle. This time is enough. Worf challenges Martok for command. During the fight Worf deliberately lets his guard down. Whereupon Martok wins the fight but spares Worf's life. In his excitement at his victory, Martok gathers himself together and leads the Rotarran to victory completing his mission and destroying a nearby Jem'Hadar ship in the process. When they return, Martok is grateful to Worf for helping him regain his courage and offers to adopt him into his clan which Worf accepts.


  • Battle Chant: Helpfully translated.
    Hear! Sons of Kahless. Hear! Daughters too.
    The blood of battle washes clean
    The warrior brave and true.
    We fight, we love, and then we kill.
    Our lives burn short and bright.
    Then we die with honor and
    Join our fathers in the black fleet,
    Where we battle, forever battling, on
    Through the eternal fight.
  • Battle Couple: Worf and Jadzia, Also two Klingon crew members, Tavana and Ortakan.
  • Becoming the Mask: The whole crew becomes the Klingon Proud Warrior Race mask toward the end.
  • Beneath the Mask: We are given a glimpse of what Klingons are like under their swaggering and find that they are grumbling soldiers who hate their job as much as humans do.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: Martok reads out the crew's disciplinary reports in disgust, naming things like inattention to detail, tardiness, dereliction of duty, and insufficiently aggressive.
  • Canon Immigrant: "The Warrior's Anthem" that is heard twice in the episode was originally written for the Star Trek: Klingon video game.
  • Chastity Couple: Dax and Worf, temporarily at least. Presumably to avoid conflict of interest.
    Dax: On this trip Leskit, my bed is as empty as yours. But mine is empty by choice.
  • Chekhov's Lecture: Worf tells Sisko that back at the Dominion prison camp, he and Martok had a moment of tova'dok, or understanding, that gave Worf the will to keep fighting. They share another such moment on the Rotarran during their Duel to the Death.
  • Cruel to Be Kind: Worf incites Martok to help him find his courage again.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Worf, as first officer, calls the battle record a list of failures and says that the crew is clearly unworthy of his leadership before saying that he will nonetheless stand for them as first officer.
  • Drunken Spacer: Klingons, whenever they get a chance.
  • Duel to the Death: Averted. Both Martok and Worf survive.
  • Exact Words: Jadzia assures Worf that she's not planning a lengthy goodbye... and then follows him into the airlock, because she's signed onto the crew as well.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Martok
  • Fiery Redhead: Tavana, the ship's engineer. She strikes up a quick friendship with Jadzia and promises to protect her once the fighting breaks out.
  • Flynning: Worf swings his knife wide during the fight, which is dramatic but leaves him wide-open for a stab. It turns out this was deliberate, as Martok brings it up at the end.
  • Four-Star Badass: Martok, who suffers from the Worf Effect for awhile.
  • Future Slang: Par'Mach'Ai which is Klingon for Love Interest.
  • Honest Advisor: Dax to Worf, Worf to Martok.
  • "How Did You Know?" "I Didn't.": Knowing that Worf lowered his guard deliberately, Martok asks how Worf knew he wouldn't kill him. Worf replies simply, "I didn't". Martok is so impressed he officially adopts Worf as a member of his House.
  • I Owe You My Life: Worf to Martok, as to why Worf is so eager to serve on the Rotarran. In the Dominion prison camp, Worf's weariness of the arena fights made him decide to lose deliberately, until he made eye contact with Martok. Realizing that Martok could see his intention to commit Suicide by Cop, Worf couldn't go through with it and continued fighting.
  • Klingon Promotion: Any Klingon may challenge his superior officer if he believes he's not fit for duty.
  • Meaningful Look: Klingons describe a certain kind of Look as "tova'dohk," a moment of wordless understanding between two warriors.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: The Rotarron's duel with the Jem'Hadar ship.
  • Only Sane Man: For a while, Dax is the only one that can see the critical morale problems of the crew.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Martok wants to avoid a fight with the Jem'Hadar? That gets the attention of everybody on the bridge.
  • Planet of Hats: Discussed. Some of the DS9 crew are incredulous at the thought of cowardly Klingons, but Dax explains that Klingons are like any other race, and not all of them live up to their own ideals. And as we later see, the crew of the Rotarran are pretty far from the Proud Warrior Race Worf exemplifies.
  • Proud Warrior Race: Klingons obviously. However something of a reconstruction. Klingons have to be inspired to remember that they are a proud warrior race before they act like it.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The Rotarran.
  • Screaming Warrior: Martok lets out a roar of triumph after he stabs Worf.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Martok, also the crew of the Rotarran.
  • Slice of Life: Much of this is really about showing life aboard a Klingon ship.
  • Slut-Shaming: Leskit suggests that Jadzia is sleeping with Martok as well as Worf. She shuts him down thusly, to the approval of the crew:
    "On this ship, my bed is as empty as yours, Leskit. But mine is empty by choice."
  • Take a Level in Badass: When they destroy the Jem'Hadar ship.
  • Take a Third Option: Worf does this when faced with the choice of not challenging Martok and letting the crew descend into bloodlust and kill each other, or challenging Martok and killing him. He challenges Martok and deliberately throws the fight, to both remind Martok of what it's like to be a warrior and to let him keep his honor. Martok rewards Worf by admitting him into the House of Martok at the end.
  • Think Nothing of It: When Martok thanks Worf for reminding him of his duty as a Klingon warrior, Worf tries to brush it off by saying he was just returning the favor.
  • Throwing the Fight: Worf takes a dive in the knife fight between him and Martok, so Martok can get his mojo back.
  • Title Drop: When Dax is giving Worf a chewing-out in the corridor for being selectively oblivious to the morale breakdown on-board, she drops the episode title.
  • Triumphant Reprise: Worf and Dax sing the warrior's song early in the episode, but at a slow tempo, and are only joined by a couple of others while the rest of the crew rolls their eyes. At the end, the crew start the song and sing enthusiastically.
  • The Worf Effect: Invoked by Worf himself—he lets Martok win their duel to help him get his groove back.
  • Worthy Opponent: One of the Klingons wears a necklace of Cardassian neck bones and speaks admirably of the Cardassian foes he killed.