Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Season 4, Episode 17

Rules of Engagement (8 Apr. 1996)

TV Episode  -   -  Action | Adventure | Drama
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Reviews: 3 user | 1 critic

When Worf destroys a civilian shuttle during an engagement with the Klingons, an extradition hearing is held to see if he must face charges.



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Title: Rules of Engagement (08 Apr 1996)

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Episode cast overview:
Jake Sisko (credit only)
Deborah Strang ...
Admiral T'Lara
Helm Officer


The Klingon Empire has asked the Federation to extradite Worf for murder. Worf commanded the Defiant which was guarding a Cardassian convoy offering medical aid to the Pentath colony. The convoy was attacked by the Klingons and in the heat of battle Worf gave the order to fire on a decloaking ship. It was a civilian transport, 441 Klingons died. The Klingon advocate Ch'Pok is trying to prove to admiral T'Lara in a hearing that Worf's bloodlust took over. Ch'Pok has a hidden agenda and he openly admits it. The Klingons see this as the perfect opportunity to gain sympathy and weaken the Federation. Captain Sisko is defending Worf and asks Odo to try to find out why the civilian transport joined the battle. Sisko's defense in the meantime is not going well. With every witness Ch'Pok's reasoning seems more and more plausible. Written by Arnoud Tiele (

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis





Release Date:

8 April 1996 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


This takes place in 2372. See more »


During Worf's trial, Captain Sisko starts with 4 rank pips on his uniform, but in subsequent shots, only 3 pips are present. (This is not only a continuity error, but a factual error too: Sisko is indeed a captain.) See more »


[on behalf of his crew, Sisko has invited Worf to a party at Quark's]
Lt. Commander Worf: But I do not feel like celebrating.
Captain Sisko: Part of being a captain is knowing when to smile. Make the troops happy, even when it's the last thing in the world you want to do. Because they're your troops, and you have to take care of them.
See more »


Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - Main Title
Written by Dennis McCarthy
Performed by Dennis McCarthy
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User Reviews

One of the bad ones....
7 August 2011 | by (a world partitioned by petty, squabbling nation-states) – See all my reviews

I am about half-way through the entire Deep Space Nine series, and some of these 'filler' episodes are agitating to watch. Don't get me wrong, I understand that to enjoy most Star Trek materials, there needs to be some suspension of logic (especially the time travel episodes). Deep Space Nine is prime-time TV science fiction from the 90's, it can't be measured with the same yardstick as more mature and sophisticated productions like Battlestar Galactica: Re-imagined. This is where Ron Moore cut his teeth, and I always felt that many of Deep Space Nine's episodes were quite impressive and demonstrated his writing talent. But having made that disclaimer, I have to say that the script for this episode stands out as particularly bad.

The Klingons have declared war on the Cadassians. Since the Federation refused to support the invasion, Chancellor Gowron declares the Federation-Klingon peace treaty/alliance to be null and void. Worf, while commanding the Defiant on a convoy escort mission in a 'combat zone', is harassed by Klingon warships. After a number of 'shoot-then-cloak' attacks against the Defiant, Worf decides to adapt to the strategy and fires on a ship just as it de-cloaks, destroying the ship. As it turns out, the ship is actually a Klingon civilian transport with some 400 passengers on board. So the Klingons are apparently outraged and demand Worf's extradition to the Klingon Empire where he can stand trial for "murder." The premise for the story is virtually nonsensical. It is inconceivable that the Federation would even consider extraditing Quark under such circumstances, let alone one of their own officers. That the Klingons would make such a request is suspicious enough, but what's worse is that none of the obvious questions were asked during Worf's extradition proceedings.

Why would a Klingon civilian transport ship be equipped with a cloaking device? Why would you install classified military hardware on a civilian transport ship to begin with, then send it to a combat zone? What conceivable reason would there be to cloak a run-of-the-mill civilian transport ship? Are there cloaking device dispenser booths on every planet in the Empire to ensure that every Klingon and their grandmothers owned a ship cloaking device? Why did the civilian transport ship de-cloak in the middle of a battle between Federation and Klingon warships? It seems the answers would be obvious, and one hardly needs to rely on Odo's contacts in the Klingon Empire to dig up some incriminating evidence that would indisputably establish this extradition as a farce (speaking of which, for someone so anti-social, Odo seems to have a lot of social 'contacts'....). I would not have taken this episode so seriously if it didn't take itself so seriously (I don't care to run the premise of the Ferengi episodes through a fine comb, because they are just plain fun to watch), and as I said, this one stand out as particularly bad.

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