The Great Star Trek DS9 Rewatch: Rules of Engagement

When Worf is accused of destroying an unarmed Klingon freighter, the Klingon government demands his extradition. A hearing is held on DS9 to determine his guilt or innocence, with Sisko as Worf’s advocate. Can the captain prevent Worf’s extradition?

With Rules of Engagement, it feels as if the writers suddenly realised that we hadn’t had a courtroom drama in a while, and that we could probably get away with another one. As we know from the likes of The Measure of a Man, such episodes can be excellent, but I’ve never really liked this one. I dislike the stylistic decision of having witnesses address the court from within their flashbacks – it’s not breaking the fourth wall, of course, but it feels uncomfortably close.

Even putting that aside, the story is not especially engaging. There’s no real evidence to speak of, so it mainly consists of character witnesses and circumstantial evidence surrounding Worf’s essential Klingon nature. Did he kill 400 innocent civilians? Of course he didn’t.

The first duty

  • Would Worf’s getting extradited really ruin the reputation of the entire Federation? I guess he’s quite well known, but he’s just a lieutenant commander.
  • Apparently, Starfleet stakes its reputation on the fact that its officers never lie or commit fraud – except for all those lying, incompetent admirals we’ve seen over the years.
  • Again, are there so few lawyers in Starfleet that Sisko has to act as an advocate?
  • I love that Sisko is not afraid to stand up to Worf and put him in his place – it’s what makes Sisko a good captain and it’s what Worf respects and needs. Picard was a very different person, but he also had the strength to hold his own with the Klingons, as we saw from his role as Arbiter of Succession.
  • Odo apparently has contacts in the Klingon Empire. Odo has contacts everywhere when the plot demands it.

Summary – Rules of Engagement: Worf only kills honourably.

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