I’m super excited for this review, not only because it’s an episode I truly love, but also because it’s my 100th episode review here at Trekkie Feminist!
“Blood Oath” is an incredible episode about a young woman who is underestimated by three older men, all battle-hardened warriors. However, she persists and uses her physical strength, personal experience, cultural knowledge, and scientific skills to prove herself worthy of not just undertaking, but effectively leading their harrowing mission.
I mean, you know it’s going to be good as soon as Dax busts a drunken, aged Kor out of Odo’s holding cell, and gets the biggest Klingon bear hug ever.
So Kor, Koloth and Kang, three Klingons you may remember from key TOS episodes, have come to DS9, only older and more ridgey.And there’s more!
Where Kor is super pumped to see Jadzia (and is totally willing to accept her new gender), Koloth starts out insulting her. He didn’t know Curzon was dead. Jadzia basically stares him down and refuses to be dismissed.
Finally, Kang arrives and the four go back to Dax’s quarters, where she works to persuade Kang she still has Curzon’s soul.
Dax: I am Dax, godfather of your son.
Koloth: You are no one’s godfather.
Dax: I am Dax, godfather of your son
Kang: So, you are the same Dax who took a blood oath with us to seek vengeance?
Dax: Don’t mistake a new face for a new soul, Kang. I still feel at one with your family just as I did eight decades ago. I hope one day you will embrace me as a brother again.
Koloth: Brother! Ha!
Kor: Brother, sister, what’s the difference. We’re here now.
Dax: I’m Dax. My gender doesn’t matter. I’m awesome.
Koloth: Bah! Chicks can’t be godfathers.
Dax: I’m Dax. I’m a woman godfather because I destabilize the entire concept of gender. Suck it up. I’m awesome.
Kang: I dunno…
Dax: I know I look different but have you guys looked in a mirror lately?! Let me be your brother.
Koloth: Bah, humbug! Chicks can’t be brothers either.
Kor: Get your head out of your ass, Koloth. Gender has literally no bearing on this situation.
It’s so great.
So over the course of these conversations we learn all three Klingons were friends with Curzon Dax when he was a diplomat. Curzon had joined them in a “blood oath” to seek vengeance for the death of the three Klingons’ sons.
The man they need to seek out and kill is called “The Albino.” I have to pause all my raving about how awesome the rest of the episode is to just say: Seriously? The Albino? Ughhhh. Way to reinforce a horribly offensive and damaging stereotype, and in the most obvious way possible.
You know what? I’m not going to reinforce the stigma experienced by people with albinism. Buddy has got to have an actual name. We don’t know what it is in canon, so for the rest of this review, I’m calling him Steve.
Anyhow, Dax and Kang go for a walk and she keeps trying to persuade him she’s still committed to the oath, but he refuses to recognize her and instead releases her from the oath.
The next scene might be my favourite Jadzia/Kira scene of all time. Jadzia, usually the one most equipped to give advice, asks Kira about her experiences killing during the Occupation.
Dax: Were they all faceless Cardassians or did you know who you were killing?
Kira: Why are we talking about this?
Dax: If it bothers you, we can stop.
Kira: It bothers me.
Dax: I’m sorry.
She asks Kira something really personal, she realizes she didn’t really have her consent to pursue that line of questioning, she apologizes. Much win.
But Kira is understandably concerned and pushes Dax to tell her what’s up. It is, in my view, totally appropriate to push, given that it comes out of Dax saying she might be thinking of killing someone.
Kira insists that Jadzia has no obligation to fulfill Curzon’s oath:
Kira: Look, you’ve said yourself every new life for a Trill has to be a new life. If not, you’d wind up paying off old debts forever. These Klingons can’t possibly expect you to keep this oath.
Dax: No, they don’t. That’s just it. They say I have no obligation to them. But I do. I know it, I feel it. If not to them, I owe it to Curzon.
This is important because it’s clear it is very much Jadzia’s decision, and it is both entirely emotional and entirely valid. She decides her memories of her godson, named Dax, and her feelings for Curzon and the Klingons, compel her to do this. Dax’s honesty prompts Kira to open up more about her own experience.
Kira: Jadzia. Your questions about my experience with killing, if you’re wondering what it’s like: when you take someone’s life, you lose a part of your own as well.
My heart, you guys.
Anyhow, Dax regains her determination and takes another shot at her old Klingon friends. First, she shuts down Kor’s dabo girl shenanigans and helps him realize he could actually be a hero again.
Kor: Hey, I’m having fun!
Dax: (THIS LOOK)
Then she spars with Koloth on the holodeck, demonstrating her physical strength as an asset in battle and finally convincing him that, at minimum, some women can kick major ass with a bat’leth.
Finally, she uses her memories, diplomatic skills, and knowledge of Kang’s psychology, to convince him to let her come on the mission.
Dax: You dishonour yourself, Kang, by placing your own honour above mine.”
What an awesome, awesome message. If you fail to see others as equals and treat them with the same respect you expect for yourself, it dishonours you.
All kids have to watch this episode, right? No? Ok, we’ll work on that.
Oops, she forgot to convince Sisko, though. Dax is angry that Kira told Sisko but Sisko argues it was Kira’s job as his first officer to say something. Given Dax is putting herself at risk, I’d tend to agree.
Sisko threatens she might not get her job back if she defies his orders but it’s like Dax has had enough of persuading dudes today so she just goes.
On the Klingon ship, Dax shows she’s not just going to follow her friends’ lead unquestioningly. She points out flaws in Kang’s plan and even figures out he believes they are doomed, because he made a secret agreement with Steve to meet a buttload of Steve’s people in honourable combat.
Dax is basically like, “Your friends might be unquestioningly loyal, but I think we can win this with bat’leth skill…and science.”
Dax: When we establish a low orbit, we modulate your disruptor banks to bombard the compound with tetryon particles. Every directed energy weapon will be neutralized.
Kang: You’re certain such a thing could be done?
Dax: If Curzon were here, you’d be out of luck, but Jadzia Dax is a science officer.
And this is so great because it’s a woman science-ing but also because it shows Jadzia is more than just Curzon-Point-2. She can not only live up to Curzon’s reputation, but actually exceed it.
Thanks to Dax’s phaser-deadening science they are able to attack several sentries and break into Steve’s compound fairly easily. FYI, this is Steve:
Ok, back to awesome Jadzia holding her own with Steve’s sentries:
Long story short, Koloth is killed fairly quickly. Kor is slightly wounded. Meanwhile, Steve mortally wounds Kang and starts to gloat over him when Jadzia disarms Steve and holds her bat’leth to his throat. Turns out Steve is not only maniacal and racist (he calls Klingons ‘filth’), but also sexist.
Steve: And who are you, girl?
Dax: You knew me as Curzon Dax.
Steve: The Trill. Of course. You’re far too young and lovely to sport such a deadly weapon. All right, then, use it, if that’s what you came to do. Kill me in cold blood. Run me through the belly and cut out my heart. Isn’t that what your blood oath promised? Or have you lost your appetite, my dear?
Me: Eat his heart! Eat his heart!
Kang struggles up from behind Steve and stabs him through the abdomen.
“Thank you for saving the death blow for me. You have honoured me one last time, godfather to my son,” Kang says, finally recognizing Dax’s ability to be a young woman, an old friend, and a godfather, and giving her the value and respect she deserves.
Kor sings over the bodies as Jadzia mourns Kang and Koloth.
The very last scene is Jadzia returning to DS9 and taking her station in Ops, with significant glances but no words from Kira or Sisko.
So to conclude, I want every kid to watch this episode. I want every girl to know that they have the strength and smarts within them to keep coming back and prove them all wrong when they underestimate you. I want every boy to know that if you make assumptions about someone based on age or gender, it limits you as well as the other person. I want every kid to know there are options beyond the obvious sex/gender binaries – that if it feels right to you you can be many things at once.
After all, if Dax can be simultaneously an old man and a young woman, a Trill scientist and a Klingon warrior, just think of what else is possible!
Bechdel Test: Pass. Kira and Dax talk about a plasma leak, then about what it’s like to kill.