Star Trek: The Next Generation
"Redemption, Part I"
Air date: 6/17/1991
Written by Ronald D. Moore
Directed by Cliff Bole
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
On the eve of Gowron's installment ceremony as chancellor of the Klingon High Council, Gowron himself contacts the Enterprise with urgent news that a Klingon civil war may be imminent. The High Council has been polarized into Two Warring Factions [TM]: those who follow Gowron and those who still support the powerful family of the late Duras, now being led by his feisty troublemaking sisters, Lursa (Barbara March) and B'Etor (Gwynyth Walsh). Worf finally reveals to Gowron that it was Duras' — not Worf's — father who conspired with the Romulans at Khitomer. He offers Gowron the support of his brother Kurn's battalions of fighters — in exchange for setting the record straight and restoring his family name.
The percolating Klingon/Romulan conspiracy issues that have been popping up for more than a year finally come to a head with "Redemption," in which the lies and deceit threatening to turn the Klingon Empire into a kleptocracy finally begin to collapse under their own weight. Gowron is trying to hold it together, but the influence of Duras reaches beyond the grave. I for one would like to know what it is about the Klingon High Council that continues to see a point in following a family name when it obviously can do nothing but lead the Empire to ruin. Lursa and B'Etor reveal Duras' illegitimate son Toral (J.D. Cullum) as a challenger to Gowron. Why would any Klingon follow Toral, a bratty little shrimp with no useful warrior experience?
"Redemption" is good, but — what can I say? — it's no "Best of Both Worlds." It's heavy on exposition and long-winded Klingon posturing, which unfurls from the lips of the actors as if speeches are intended to move mountains. With all the setup, it takes quite some time for the story to get rolling.
But once it does, it pays off. Gowron restores Worf's family name, which is a satisfying vindication after Worf's lengthy burdens over the matter. And the story again puts Worf uncomfortably between cultures, where his attempts to bring down the Duras family are impeded by Starfleet's (and Picard's) vow not to interfere in internal Klingon affairs. Worf's personal conflict is the true heart of the story, despite all the political shenanigans (which are many). This culminates with him resigning his commission to join his brother in the fight. The show's highlight comes when Worf walks to the transporter room as the crew gives him a silent tribute in the corridor, standing at attention. Ending the season with Worf leaving the ship (even if we know he will be back) feels appropriate. This has been a season with no shortage of complicated Klingon matters.
The episode's final shot reveals Sela (Denise Crosby), the Romulan from the shadows, which is a bizarre WTF moment not unlike the final shot of Enterprise's "Zero Hour." I'll save discussion of that for part two.