Star Trek: The Next Generation

"Heart of Glory"

3 stars

Air date: 3/21/1988
Teleplay by Maurice Hurley
Story by Maurice Hurley and Herbert Wright & D.C. Fontana
Directed by Robert Bowman

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

A long last, it's the Worf episode we've all been waiting for, giving this guy his first real spotlight in a season where we had no idea who the hell he was (aside from "that Klingon guy").

The Enterprise crew rescues three Klingon survivors from a Talarian vessel just before it explodes (the episode benefits from some convincing and gritty production design on board the wrecked Talarian ship). One of the Klingons dies on the operating table; the other two offer up a less-than-convincing story about how they came to be on the Talarian ship. In reality, they are fugitives from the Klingon Empire who destroyed a Klingon ship sent to bring them in. While on board the Enterprise, the two Klingons, Korris (Vaughn Armstrong) and Konmel (Charles H. Hyman), attempt to convince Worf to join them out of a sense of shared Klingon warrior brotherhood.

The episode has a few problems, mostly involving the story's confused attempts to create drama from the question of whether Worf will actually join these two fugitives. I'll concede that Worf feels the warrior's call and has some sympathy for these two Klingons' state of mind, but he also clearly ignores the fact that these are dangerous men, and after they confess to him that they destroyed the Klingon ship, Worf takes them on a tour of sensitive areas of the ship, which I find doubtful. Then there's the standoff between the Klingons and Yar's security team, which makes much out of the question of Worf's loyalty before becoming a nonstarter. The Enterprise crew seems as mystified about Worf as the writers, which strikes me as a little tough to swallow.

But the show has a lot of good elements that become launchpads for future Worf- and Klingon-themed shows. The warrior code, the death rituals, Worf's intriguing backstory, the notions of honor and brotherhood — all interesting stuff. The final showdown in engineering between Worf and Korris makes for some good dramatic fireworks (with Armstrong in full teeth-gnashing-madness mode) and ends with the first of many choices Worf makes that puts him uncomfortably in between his Klingon and Federation identities.

Previous episode: Coming of Age
Next episode: The Arsenal of Freedom

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18 comments on this review

Wed, Aug 15, 2012, 2:45pm (UTC -6)
Wow, no comments yet? I'll be first then!

This was the ep that definitely proved Worf was a far more interesting character than Tasha Tar, at a time when they were simply doing the same job: Being the aggressive man/woman of action.

I shouldn't bash Denise Crosby so much for this, because the writers are the ones to blame here. While Worf got an interesting look and was from an intriguing species, Tasha was only human and the writers didn't develop her any further than that.

Now, on to the episode itself. It was pretty interesting to see, being the first character based ep of a guy I wanted to know more about from day one.

But it makes the same plot mistakes of "Datalore". That's it, the bad guy is clearly a bad guy to the audience, yet the Enterprise crew doesn't seem to notice and prefer to show them around the ship (and vital places while we're at it!).

And Worf's conflicting desires to join or not to join his comrades aren't very believable. Do we really think a trained Starfleet Officer will give everything away for a bunch of renegade guys? If that was an imperial call, maybe.

All in all, it's one of the best S1 episodes, imo. This is how you make good use of a ,previously, supporting character. Way to go Worf! Hope there are more episodes based off this klingon.
Tue, Oct 23, 2012, 4:58pm (UTC -6)
Totally agree: The biggest plot hole is that Worf (soon to be the Enterprise's security chief and resident hawk when it comes to any threat) would allow the renegades to get a tour of the ship. An episode later in TNG or DS9 would have had Worf give the tour and find out what Korris and Konmel did later.

The other problem with this episode is the fact that Worf apparently isn't known to many Klingons. Given that he was an orphan saved by a human Starfleet officer, that made sense at the time of this episode.

But by the third season, it becomes clear that Worf is well known in the Empire. And by the end of the series and early DS9, the House of Mogh has been restored (or, at least, is important again).

But what happened between the time Mogh died and the Klingon Civil War (outside the period when Worf was banished). Who oversaw the House of Mogh? How did they have lands that were seized after Worf's decision in "WOTW"?

I've always thought this was an unexplained loophole.
Sun, Nov 4, 2012, 2:50pm (UTC -6)
I remember watching this episode for the very 1st time, I was 12 years old by then. When the 3 Klingon dudes did their howling ritual, I was so horrified that I instantly switched off the TV.

Oh, Worf is awesome and way more interesting than characters like Tasha, Troi or even Geordi. And as Captain Picard said: "and Mr. Worf, the bridge wouldn't be the same without you". So damn true!
Tue, Nov 13, 2012, 8:47pm (UTC -6)
"Birthright II" would turn Worf into the Klingon fugitive. It's funny to see this episode, which for S1 is fantastic, as the fugitives are trying to turn Worf from assimilation...

By season 6, Worf is wearing a ponytail (unique to Klingons, and - of course - the other TV show, known as "My Little Pony") and is convincing others to eschew assimilation of the culture they're adapting in, and the background of their all being in a prison camp is the only reason I can begin to swallow that episode's intent. Worf was always an outsider looking in and read up, but the logic behind "Heart of Glory" is more plausible, and it's definitely not preachy.

The death yell is chilling and worthy.

If anything, the Geordi VISOR plot is cool but inappropriate given they're going into a critical response rescue mission...

And, of course, Worf freely showing the ship to people -- in other episodes he shows himself to be a mindful security-driven officer, but in this episode he's a total twit. Minus 1 point for that.

So I rate it 3 of 4 stars...
William B
Tue, Mar 26, 2013, 8:50pm (UTC -6)
This is certainly one of season one's best efforts, and may be the most important episode of the season (next to perhaps Encounter at Farpoint) in terms of introducing important elements. "Datalore" comes close for Data, but no other episode does as much to take a character from having no real personality or identity and making him a compelling figure. It does the same with the Klingon race, convincingly serving as a bridge between the portrayal of Klingons in TOS and the movies as aggressive but treacherous and the ritualistic, honour-obsessed people they are through the 24th century shows.

The primary thing that holds the episode back is that neither the writing nor Michael Dorn are quite able to do justice to Worf's struggle at this point, or to write him in a manner that makes his contradictions clear. What is Worf thinking through most of the episode? It's not that easy to say, and a lot of the episode is taken up by characters saying what Worf is thinking, and we have to evaluate for ourselves how much they are correct. This isn't a bad structure for a closed-off guy like Worf, but it sometimes hits with a thud (as when Picard says something on the bridge about seeing Worf in a new light or...something) and I don't think that Dorn himself is able to convey the inner conflict and motivations well enough.

That said, there is enough here for us to understand where Worf is coming from most of the time, if not all of the time. A nice touch in the episode is the notion that Worf's plight actually reflects the plight of Klingon society generally -- the bonding between Worf and the captain of the Klingon vessel sent to collect Korris and Kommel is maybe my favourite part of the episode (though his having both Klingon and Federation insignia behind him is a weird touch that doesn't jive with Klingon sovereignty). Worf is a symbol of Klingon/Federation cooperation, but he rebels against the taming influence of peace internally even more than the rest of the Klingons because he is even more committed to peace and to the Federation values. The question of whether the Klingon Empire can survive the peace with the Federation without losing its fire is related to the question of whether Worf can himself, which is related to the question of whether humans can connect to the primal instincts without being overtaken by them. That is all interesting enough to carry the hour.

The Geordi-VISOR stuff feels badly out of step with the rest of the episode. This episode also has one of my favourite bits of goofy, bad dialogue in the series:

Data: All routes are equally dangerous.
Geordi: Well what's the LEAST dangerous route, Data?

Hee. Anyway, 3 stars.
William B
Tue, Mar 26, 2013, 8:56pm (UTC -6)
Another problem I have -- at the episode's end Worf (rightly) lays into Korris for going on about glory without talking about duty and honour ("without which a warrior is nothing!"). Part of the problem I have is that I don't think that any episodes before this one had particularly established honour and duty as central Klingon tenets. TNG inherited a Klingon race from TOS which was largely underhanded and sneaky, and eventually portrayed them as mostly honour and duty-bound but with lots of hypocrisy which led to people (especially Duras and his sisters, but also Gowron and even Worf himself) going on about honour but acting another way. Still, watching this episode I almost felt shocked when Worf started talking about the importance of duty & honour because I had no real idea that those ideas were already on the writers' minds at this point -- I had just assumed that the concept of honour as central to Klingons hadn't yet been thought of and had written that off as a flaw. As is, the episode is closer to how Klingons are portrayed later but there is a bit of whiplash taking the episode as an independent work (and as the first episode focusing on Klingons in TNG). Still a good episode and good speech.
Shehbaz Ahmed
Wed, Nov 27, 2013, 9:20pm (UTC -6)
This is my favorite episode of season 1 by far!! It was nice to see Worf interacting with other Klingons for once. But why is Picard so freaked out by Klingons at the beginning of the episode? They are your allies
Mon, Dec 2, 2013, 3:44pm (UTC -6)
@Shenbaz: In early TNG, it's pretty clear Starfleet doesn't feel particularly comfortable around the Klingons. This episode and "A Matter of Honor" show that the alliance is an uneasy one. Picard's involvement with Gowron strengthens ties between the two sides. It's also possible that Romulans re-entering the picture in TNG's first season helped the Federation and the Klingons get closer.

Keep in mind that the Federation and the Klingons really weren't allies until the 2340s. They weren't enemies after STVI, but the events of "Yesterday's Enterprise" indicate that a treaty was being worked on before the Enterprise-C's battle at Narendra III.

Wed, Jul 2, 2014, 3:34pm (UTC -6)
Oh, the honorable Klingons. Taking hostages, the incident with the little girl, is "Not our way", says Worf. Yet twenty minutes later, Korris is pointing a weapon at the ship, supposedly threatening to blow up that same little girl and all the occupants of the Enterprise. Sounds like a hostage taker to me.

Korris and his mates killed a whole bunch of people who were just following orders. I don't think they, the renegades, deserved our sympathy. Worf should have been fighting mad.

I'm also a little disappointed that Enterprise security officers, supposedly the best in Star Fleet are so dim witted and unprepared. "Don't be an open target" should probably have been the first lesson in their training.
Sun, Nov 23, 2014, 9:05pm (UTC -6)
Reasonable and competent. This is an all right episode that introduces us to a slice of 24th-century Klingon culture. It also (kind of) works as a real introduction to Worf, who has otherwise been a speaking extra up to this point. I think the three other Klingons in this episode did a solid job - more believable than the average meathead Klingons that show up in later TNG and DS9.

One point already raised by William B is that the other Klingons tend to have more lines than Worf. While the character now has something like 11 seasons of development under his belt, I can see how Worf would have felt a bit distant in 1988 even after the airing of this episode. A notable moment comes at the end when the bridge crew seem to not be able to figure Worf out. Interesting (or out-of-character?) considering Remmick described that Enterprise crew as family at the end of the previous episode.

I haven't seen this one in a long, LONG time. It's one of the episodes I used to re-watch a lot on VHS when I was a young'un. When the episode started, I thought I'd misremembered the episode title because the rescue on the freighter took such a large portion of the episode. It's neat how they managed to fit in some Geordi moments (with the visor camera) but ultimately I wish a few of those minutes could have gone towards the Klingon story.

Anyway, this is a pretty decent one. It has some of the standard S1 problems of being a bit stilted, but unlike most of the rest of the first 25 episodes it's paced and written reasonably well. I want to agree with the 3 star assessment, but I don't want to recommend on that big of a curve. It's one of the better S1 outings but I think it plays more like a 2-1/2 star show. I recommend it nonetheless.
Tue, May 12, 2015, 6:42am (UTC -6)
As an add on to what the others were saying, Yar and her team are shown to be quite inept. Her security team doesn't even check the prisoners for the most basic weapons. The prisoners assemble the weapons and the guards are looking the other way...I half expected the captain to chew her out...the breakaway floor at the end was another LOL moment...
Thu, Jun 11, 2015, 9:27pm (UTC -6)

Diamond Dave
Thu, Aug 20, 2015, 1:42pm (UTC -6)
Finally, we get to see the Klingons and are introduced to Worf in more detail. And it's an effective episode, particularly as it begins to explore the fundamental tensions inherent in Worf's character and his foot in both cultures. And it also sets up the Klingons nicely - the ones who crave battle and glory above all else are the outlaws here.

On the debit side it takes an awfully long time to get going - the business with Geordi's visor particularly seeming like a pointless filler. 3 stars.
Mon, Sep 14, 2015, 11:24pm (UTC -6)
Poor Tasha. What a dreadful Chief of Security.
Wed, Dec 7, 2016, 4:17pm (UTC -6)
Well, this was not half bad ,especially for season 1.
Worf's lack of security sense whilst showing the self confessed renegades around the ship was just unconvincing and the death ritual was a bit much but the story was workeable.
Sat, Apr 22, 2017, 12:43am (UTC -6)
Best episode of Season 1. Great character development, good acting. This is the first one that didn't make me sick to my stomach with wooden acting, boring story or sickly kids.
Fri, Nov 17, 2017, 7:08pm (UTC -6)
On the X-Files, you always knew a Rob Bowman episode; it looked like a feature film, was gorgeously lit, had great action scenes, felt kinetic and muscular and had clever camera work.

Watching season 1 and 2 of TNG, Bowman's (a young, novice director at the time) episodes are the ones that stand out. They have an energy about them, the best of which is arguably Heart of Glory, an excellent little episode which, if I'm not mistaken, is our first re-introduction to the Klingon Empire.
Sarjenka's Little Brother
Tue, Jan 9, 2018, 1:51pm (UTC -6)
Forgot to comment on this one. I think it's a worthy first entry into the pantheon of Worf/Klingon episodes.

And I liked seeing that the alliance with the Klingons was a very shaky one. Makes a lot of sense.

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