In which all happy families are alike, in that they do not appear in this episode.
Worf and Jadzia are stealing a moment alone on the way back to starbase, but are interrupted before any serious hanky-panky can get started. They’re evidently in Worf’s quarters aboard the Rotaran. Worf has some last-minute reminders about Klingon propriety, and Jadzia still knows how to push his buttons. When they arrive at the starbase, Miles, Bashir, and the rest of the strike team are all pleased even to be eating canned field rations over Klingon cuisine and space shanties. Sisko and Martok are in good spirits, however, and make a friendly wager over who’ll manage to retake Deep Space Nine first.
The Rotaran, however, is not in great shape, nor is the Klingon empire. They’re low on reinforcementsm and only have about a third of what they requested. Martok welcomes aboard the newest five, one of whom Worf thinks he recognizes. In fact, it’s Alexander Rozhenko, who has no house. Martok apparently didn’t know Worf’s human last name, but he picked up on enough.
Meanwhile on the station, Kira and Odo plan the backbone of a resistance cell, and Jake asks to join in and prove himself. Kira’s called away for her regular Stand and Parade For The Return Of Dukat. Damar, as usual, plays grumpy cop, but in fact Dukat has brought Ziyal back from Bajor. She seems in fine spirits, but it’s also possible that she’s not as depressed about the Dominion-Cardassian alliance as Kira is.
The Rotaran‘s current mission is to escort a critical convoy, and by the time they get there Worf promises to have the new recruits trained. He also has to have a Conversation with Martok about Alexander’s upbringing. Last time we saw Alexander, he had no interest in being a warrior, and we don’t know why he wants to be one now. Martok tells Worf to go have his next Serious Conversation with Alexander. Alexander has grown in the time since they last spoke, and is really, really bitter at Worf. Salty, even. The conversation doesn’t really end well, or with anything resolved except that this unhappy family is as unique as all the others.
Kira shows up to Dukat’s dinner early to explain to Ziyal why she’s backing out. She didn’t like it on Bajor. Turns out if your father is Gul Dukat, you can’t really have a normal life on Bajor. Kira’s indignant, based on Dukat leaving her to die on DS9, but Ziyal is insistent and eventually Kira relents because she’s bad at breaking people out of abusive relationships if there’s no actual physical violence.
Alexander is not welcome at the Cool Kid’s table. He doesn’t know it yet, but he’s definitely Carrie at the prom right now. He finds out pretty quick/ Fortunately, Klingons have a way to deal with this, but unfortunately it involves a knife fight and Alexander is neither well-skilled or physically overpowering. Now, I can’t be sure because the bully might be toying with him, but it looks like this sort of combat is traiditionally done with knives, but not using them. They both have daggers drawn, but all the strikes are punches and pommel-strikes. One could infer that in displays like this, the knives are more for show, but you don’t want to let the crew actually kill each other over a little lunchroom high-spirits. Then again, as soon as I unpause from that analysis, Alexander draws blood, gets knocked across the room, and gets saved by Worf. It is deeply shameful.
Ziyal got some training in Bajoran artistic styles, but the end result is a blend of both a Bajoran and a Cardassian style. She’s got an ambition to bridge the cultural gap with her art, and she may have bridged a little of the gap between Kira and Dukat. A little. Let’s see how that gets ruined.
Worf and Martok chat further about the Alexander situation in the moments before the Jem’Hadar attack ships show up for the convoy. Alexander, at Tactical, counts down until the Jem’Hadar torpedoes hit, but they never do because they were illusory – there was a battle drill still loaded into the computer. Alexander’s not getting beaten up anymore, but he’s not getting much respect.
Dukat is gifting several industrial replicators to Bajor, buying the Dominion’s way into Bajor’s good graces. He’s also excited about the Cardassian insitute exhibiting Ziyal’s paintings. And in the spirit of attempting to fix broken relationships, Worf is now drilling Alexander using his tried and true “Defend Yourself” routine. He’s not a great teacher, but it probably doesn’t help that Alexander may have a little bit of a death wish.
Damar shows up at Kira’s quarters with a gift that Dukat wanted him to bring her. It is a slinky purple dress, because some tropes are unavoidable, but it ends with her storming back to Dukat to remind him of their relationship, very calmly and very finally. Dukat, after being called an opportunist, gives the dress to Ziyal instead.
Alexander is practicing forms, alone, until his hands go numb. Martok comes in to watch him fumble the blade, and throws a little warrior-monk philosophy at him. Alexander fails the test Martok offered him, and when he’s ordered off the ship, he challenges Worf (who requested the transfer) to a duel. Alexander’s grievance is that Worf never really behaved as a father. He abandoned Alexander at every opportunity. This revelation, now that it’s out in the open, will get a chance to heal during an actual battle. Alexander is slow and hesitant at Tactical, but offers to go seal a plasma leak that threatens to incapacitate the ship. The bully from Alexander’s first day joins in. After some tactical maneuvering which wins them the battle, Worf rushes off to make sure Alexander is okay. He’s not, he was trapped in corridor, but he aquitted himself well enough during the actual fight that even if he’s the ship’s mascot, he’s not dishonored.
Kira has to break up with Ziyal, but isn’t trying any emotional hostage-taking. Worf owns up to his mistakes with Alexander and inducting Alexander into the House of Martok. Even as Kira grows more islated, Worf gets himself a little less so. The ritual involves flaming blood shots. Klingons, amirite?