Star Trek: The Next Generation



Air date: 3/2/1992
Teleplay by Ronald D. Moore
Story by Sara Charno & Stuart Charno
Directed by Chip Chalmers

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

An accident in a cargo bay crushes seven of Worf's vertebrae; Crusher tells Worf the injury may be permanent and that he may be a paraplegic the rest of his life. This is not good news for our resident Klingon (not that it would be for anyone, granted); he sees this injury as the effective end of his life — so much so that he wants Riker to help him perform a Klingon suicide ritual in the name of "honor."

"Ethics" a better episode than I had remembered from when I originally saw it, and also better than what I know from its reputation. Granted, there are some very silly notions in this episode, most of them beginning and ending with Worf and his beliefs. The notion of a Klingon warrior seeing honor in assisted suicide seems fairly absurd to me, especially since there are conventional treatment options that would give back Worf as much as 60 percent of his mobility.

Riker is appalled that he has been asked to kill a friend whose life is very far from worthless. If there's a saving grace to the story's notion of Worf's desire to die, it's that Riker argues vehemently against it more than once and denounces it as the selfish insanity that it is. The flip side of that coin is Picard, whose insistence on respecting cultural beliefs has him defending Worf's point of view — never mind that this ignores the fact that Worf is a Starfleet officer who has duties, and Picard is the captain of a starship that arguably should be looking out for the good of the community and not just this one person's wishes.

Enter into this fray Dr. Toby Russell (Caroline Kava), a surgeon who wants to try an experimental procedure to replace Worf's spinal cord with cloned tissue; there's a very good chance Worf would die on the operating table under this procedure, which has never been tried on a living patient. Crusher is not impressed with Russell's methods; Russell puts the acceleration of her research ahead of individual patients' welfare. In one scene, Russell treats a man with an experimental procedure rather than a conventional one, and the man dies. Would he have died otherwise? Probably, but Russell seems more interested in advancing her research than saving the patient. Crusher has a big-time problem with this, and rightly so. Their confrontations are a selling point here.

"Ethics" ends up being a fairly engaging hour that examines these arguments of personal responsibility alongside the beliefs that come into conflict. There's the two-pronged approach of doctors carrying out (or not) the Hippocratic Oath, as well as Riker as a man trying to balance the need to respect his own beliefs alongside those of his friend. There's a nice monologue where Riker calls out Worf for choosing such a selfish course of action that doesn't even consider that it would leave Alexander an orphan. (Worf makes for one awful patient, I must say. I also must say that the story acknowledges that point.)

The final act, where Worf goes through with the experimental procedure, over Crusher's objections — and actually dies (temporarily) on the operating table — is well executed, albeit shamelessly manipulative. And, of course, Worf — who is in what looks to be extended rehab by the end of the episode — will be magically 100 percent by the next installment. But for all its flaws, I found this episode solid because of its ability to argue the various sides of its issues, even if I didn't buy all of them.

Previous episode: Power Play
Next episode: The Outcast

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51 comments on this review

Wed, May 11, 2011, 6:29am (UTC -5)
Do you recall the first time you saw this one? When Worf died, I thought he might really be dead. They had killed Yar, after all.

I agree, they handled it well. I think I had a little tear in me eye when he came back.

Also wanted to say I like Caroline Kava in this episode very much--she played her part perfectly. They could have made her entirely a villain, and she wasn't at all. She DID care about her patients--just not quite as much as her own work. I loved her last look back at Crusher as she left the ship--I don't think her mind had been changed at all.

Having seen "Parallels," I was also thinking--"Hey, this is when Worf and Deanna first hook up!"

Wed, May 11, 2011, 8:11pm (UTC -5)
This episode definitely gives you a lot to reflect on. I thought Worf was the perfect person to use in this episode. I thought Deanna was used well and I liked that they brought in Alexander who I don't mind and I liked the idea of Worf wanting Troi to raise him. I appreciated the mention of dead crewmates with Yar and Marla Aster. I didn't have a problem with Picard's advocacy for Worf's point of view--it wasn't like he endorsed it just respected it.

Like I've mentioned elsewhere when I first saw this I wasn't up on actor contracts and so I genuinely thought Worf died.
Fri, May 13, 2011, 7:32pm (UTC -5)
Just occurred to me that a better choice for the accident victim would've been... Alexander. I mean, we *know* Worf's not going to die, but his son might. And if Riker is shocked that Worf would ask him to assist in his suicide, imagine how shocked Alexander would be when his dad tells him to off himself!
Fri, May 13, 2011, 7:34pm (UTC -5)
This one is easily a 3.5 if not a 4. I find it hypocritical that you dismiss Worf's beliefs here as "insanity" and praise Bajoran religious doctrine which brings that coveted "grey area" into DS9. Actually, I cannot only empathise with Worf, I personally know people who feel the exact same way ("if I'm ever told I have to live on life-support, pull the plug"). It's not insanity at all. Is it clear-cut? No, no. It's reasonable and complex and makes great use of Crusher, Troi, Riker, Worf and even Alexander in one episode that also features a strong guest character. Picard's speech to Riker is exactly why he stands as the moral compass of the Federation and Star Trek in general. Love it. Possibly the best Crusher episode of the series as well. Her delivery here is chilling and engaging.
Sat, May 14, 2011, 8:12pm (UTC -5)
An interesting episode, to be sure, and I've always like the Dr Russell character - both in conception and execution. A few other comments: For a long time I'd always thought that Worf was actually paralyzed below the neck rather than the chest - this is probably because he is seen lying down in nearly every scene. Surely he could get to a chair! I'm also a bit more convinced by Worf's wish to die overall - yes, he could regain some mobility, but what of bowel/bladder/sexual function? All would surely have been affected as well.

Also, the surgery scene is about as ridiculous as most TNG "medicine" is. But I suppose that's par for the course.
Mon, May 16, 2011, 6:06pm (UTC -5)
I don't really see what Picard should have done differently. Worf can resign his commission, if need be, but in his current state he'd be of minimal use to Starfleet anyway, so there aren't really any pressing justifications for denying him the chance to commit suicide. Picar strikes the right tone (unlike Sisko in "Sons of Mogh").
Plain Simple
Mon, May 23, 2011, 11:40pm (UTC -5)
@Grumpy: "Just occurred to me that a better choice for the accident victim would've been... Alexander. I mean, we *know* Worf's not going to die, but his son might. And if Riker is shocked that Worf would ask him to assist in his suicide, imagine how shocked Alexander would be when his dad tells him to off himself! "

Had they done that, it would've effectively killed Worf as a character. How could we, as the audience, continue to root for Worf as one of the good guys, if he instructs his son to commit suicide! No, it might've made for a powerful episode, but it would've been the end of the character of Worf on TNG.
Tue, Aug 16, 2011, 2:50pm (UTC -5)
Pet peeve #356: Why is it that despite the ship being rocked and attacked every other episode, nothing is ever secured? I can't imagine a more dangerous situation than those stacked barrels in the storage compartment all unsecured! Okay, I'll buy no seatbelts, but absolutely nothing aboard is secured against sudden movement of the ship. In the instance of Worf's accident which was entirely preventable by the simple expedient of securing the barrels, Picard should have been investigated and court martialed or at the very least, Worf would have had an air tight case if he decided to sue Starfleet.
Amd speaking of Worf and Starfleet, if he takes being a Klingon so seriously (more seriously than any "real" Klingons on the show)why did he ever bother joining Starfleet at all?
Tue, Aug 16, 2011, 2:57pm (UTC -5)
@ pviateur

There are no lawsuits in the 24th century because there's no money. Star Trek is never supposed to convince you of it's plausibility. It's an allegory for Christ's sake. Are these really the things people think about when they watch TV?
Sun, Sep 25, 2011, 6:35pm (UTC -5)
Interesting that in the time between when Worf "died" and when Alexander came in to gape at him, they dressed him and flipped him over on his back.
Captain Tripps
Tue, Oct 11, 2011, 1:45pm (UTC -5)
Suicide has been tied to honor in human culture since, forever, depending on the reasons and the methods. It kind of fits into everything else we know about Klingons as it is, and comes up again much later during DS9 with Kurn.

If I had been viewing this when it first aired, they would have had me convinced that Worf was actually going to die, they played that right to the end.
Sun, Oct 23, 2011, 8:59am (UTC -5)
Could they really have allowed Worf to die effectively from a barrel falling on him after all the fuss about Tasha's meaningless death?
Plain Simple
Sun, Oct 23, 2011, 1:09pm (UTC -5)
In some shows having a meaningless death would be called realism, but I guess it does not really fit the clean Star Trek universe. Unless you're wearing a red shirt, of course.
Fri, Nov 4, 2011, 12:31pm (UTC -5)
@ Chris...the mass of cargo that Danar knocked over onto Worf in S3's "The Hunted" seems much more significant then the barrel of whatever in this episode, but Worf wasn't even slightly injured by it.made the incident seem rather trivial and contrived.
Sun, Jan 22, 2012, 10:47pm (UTC -5)
Why couldn't they just put Worf in the transporter and rematerialize him using the pattern from the last time he used the transporter before the accident? That's exactly how they restored Pulaski in "Unnatural Selection"...
Plain Simple
Sun, Jan 22, 2012, 10:52pm (UTC -5)
@Jack: That's always been one of the wider problems when trying to see Star Trek as a whole: Technologies that magically save the day in one episode are conveniently forgotten the next week if the drama calls for a different solution (or lack thereof). I guess you just have to roll with it to enjoy the show. Sometimes it's quite jarring, but in most cases I don't care too much.
Mon, Jan 23, 2012, 9:58am (UTC -5)
True. Still, it's hard to grasp how "revolutionary" replicating a spinal cord is when the transporter essentially does the same thing, with the rest of a body attached, every time it's used.
Thu, Apr 26, 2012, 5:51am (UTC -5)
Thats because the show is not about the answer, its about the questions... Thats why everything is reset every week, to ask more questions on a different subject.

However its still TV, so it has to attempt an interesting story also.
Tue, Jun 5, 2012, 12:03pm (UTC -5)
Interesting look at euphonasia, I can definitely see how Worf would go for this route. Thought that Riker just leaving the knife in his room was a bit odd though, and seeing as Worf knows Picard is au fait with Klingon customs, I'd have thought that he would ask Picard. But anyway, the doctors discussions were interesting, and I sure as hell wouldn't want to be left with winy Alexander (who was ok in this episode), so I thought Diana did a good job. Liked it.
Thu, Jun 21, 2012, 8:54pm (UTC -5)
I'm with Jack. 24th century medicine ain't what it used to be.
Tue, Sep 11, 2012, 1:19am (UTC -5)
Agreed with the above about the lack of simple tie-downs for barrels stacked 15 feet in the air. An explosion that causes the barrels to fall is plausible, but simple unsecured barrels are yet another reason Picard should never be let near a starship after all he's let happen to his crew.
Tue, Oct 9, 2012, 4:50pm (UTC -5)
I've always wondered why they made Brian Bonsall wear blackface as Alexander. He's K'Ehleyr's son, and they didn't make Suzy Plakson do that.
Tue, Nov 20, 2012, 1:42am (UTC -5)
The quibbles about unsecured cargo, and about medical capabilities, have merit.

The concept and characterization, on the other hand, seems just fine. The Klingon attitude toward suicide in such a case is perfectly understandable to me. How did you think Worf would feel about it?

And I completely disagree that making Alexander the victim would be a major problem. Worf actually did attempt to kill Kurn, who was *not* crippled, and that didn't "end" him as a "good" character. I don't see why contemplating--with great anguish!--killing his son should be a "bad" thing.
Tue, Nov 20, 2012, 2:11am (UTC -5)
I mean, I think it's a better story this way--more character development for both Worf and Alexander, if he's the one laid low. I just don't think the contemplation of ritual death makes Worf a bad guy, whether it's his own death at hand, or Kurn's, or Alexander's. I'd be disappointed in him if he *didn't* want to do the honorable thing, by his lights--however much it hurt.
Wed, Jul 24, 2013, 2:31pm (UTC -5)
Cool episode. Despite the fact that you knew they wouldn't kill off Worf or leave him paralysed, the story was a nice character study. Everybody was in character and behaved as you would expect, except for Riker. He studied the Klingon culture extensively and should have known Worf would want to off himself rather than live as only half a man, give or take ten percent. I had to laugh when Riker quickly said that Worf could ask 'anything' of him because I knew what Worf was going to ask.
Crusher as expected, was a stick in the mud. Too stuck on her own ideals to give the other doctor decent credit for saving Worf's life. Anyone else would have said, ' I don't condone your methods but thank you for saving my friend.' Beverly just had to take the sarcastic route.
William B
Sat, Jul 27, 2013, 1:46pm (UTC -5)
Like Jammer, I had not remembered this episode as being very good, but it turned out to impress me quite a bit. In fact, it impressed me more than Jammer. The big criticism I had of the episode when I was younger was that I couldn't understand why Worf and Crusher didn't both agree to Russell's procedure earlier. Surely if Worf was going to kill himself if he didn't get full mobility, there was no reason for Crusher NOT to do the procedure? And surely there was no reason for Riker to even consider participating in the suicide ritual when he could just have gotten Worf to do Russell's procedure? I couldn't quite understand where the characters were coming from, and chalked it up to a failure in the script. But now I have a different perspective.

I do think that there are still areas where the script could have spent a little time polishing the characters' perspectives, but I recognize now, more so than I had before, how rigid Klingon beliefs really are, and what that implies. The episode should have underlined this point much more, but it seems as if Klingon beliefs dictated that Worf should simply kill himself -- even kill himself rather than consider any procedure, even one that has a chance of restoring his full mobility. The process of recovering his mobility is itself an embarrassment, and every minute that Worf continues surviving with a paralysis is, by Klingon standards, "borrowed time." Picard points out, when he talks to Beverly, that Worf simply cannot and will not come all the way to accepting Crusher's perspective, but that he may make the compromise to try a procedure that has a chance at restoring full mobility, even though (as the episode confirms at the end) it will still require work, and some admission of failings and some willingness to "be a burden." I had not realized until this viewing, more than a decade after I had last watched it, that even this represented a step for Worf that Klingon custom would not dictate; that even this represents a consolation toward acknowledging his body's fallibility and living with it rather than accepting death as a release from the possibility of being other than the great warrior he sees himself as being.

Similarly, while I had not understood why Crusher didn't concede earlier on to do the procedure for Russell, I now get why she refuses to go through the procedure until she does. She does really believe she can simply restrain Worf from committing suicide for days, weeks, a year if need be; and her commitment to life and humanist principles is strong enough that she also simply will not believe that Worf will never come around, until Picard tells her straight-out that he won't. I do think that there is still a bit of a miscommunication in this story -- Riker never goes to talk to Crusher about performing the ritual in her sickbay -- but I suppose the way this makes sense is that had Riker agreed to perform the ritual, he would then have to go argue his case to Crusher, and if Worf had someone agree to perform the ritual he would eventually have to appeal to Picard (or some higher authority) to grant him exit from sickbay. Because, as it turned out, Riker never did agree to the ritual, and Worf could not bring himself to put Alexander through it, it was never really an issue that he and Crusher were in direct conflict, even though they were in indirect conflict to enough of a degree that they both had to compromise and move toward the centre.

What really works about this episode, then, is that Worf's injury spins off and creates several different stories, all of which are related but not strictly the same. They are all about ethics -- medical ethics in Crusher vs. Russell, cultural ethics in Riker trying to decide what to do about Worf's request (and speaking to Picard about it), parental ethics in Worf acceding to his responsibilities as a parent to Alexander, personal ethics in Worf weighing to what extent he should sacrifice his honour and the aspects of personal integrity (and personal autonomy) that come with that to the greater community. Ultimately, it's Crusher and Worf who are the biggest protagonists of the episode more than anyone else, and they are also the two who make the biggest compromises in their beliefs to come toward the centre, because they recognize, ultimately, that the circumstances demand it and that the people they care about require it. They don't compromise all the way; while it might have been brave to have Worf accept partial paralysis (the "60% mobility" solution), Picard's description of this being too far for Worf to travel is effective and believable, and Worf's willingness to choose to at least attempt to live when his Klingon instincts tell him to die because his son needs a father is an impressive display of honour. Meanwhile, Crusher has to participate in a procedure with little chance of working, going against the "do no harm" dictum, because her patient's beliefs make this the only option. The other characters ultimately, while they may face their own struggles, maintain the positions they started with -- Picard firmly believing in Worf's individual rights to choose what he does with his life, Russell fully committed to her scientific research and to the long game of possible benefits down the road, Troi devoted to Alexander's well being above all else, and Riker, while he struggled the most of anyone, finally finding a way -- through Klingon law -- to force Worf into acknowledging his responsibilities to live for his son. Not all these perspectives are quite as fleshed out as I would like, but all of them make sense, and there is time devoted to all of them and reasons to sympathize with all their positions.

The standard issue medical drama jeopardy made me roll my eyes. That Worf had redundant synaptic functions which saved him is supposed, I think, to demonstrate that Russell's disinterest in anything but her own research hurt her -- it is ironic that the redundancy Russell could see no value in is the very thing that saved her patient and thus her research. I appreciate that irony, but wish they had approached this with a little more subtlety -- having Worf simply be in great trouble in surgery and pull through as a result of these backup systems would be preferable to a long scene in which Alexander is informed of his father's death. There is the slightest implication that it was Alexander and Troi's return to Worf's room which reactivated Worf's synapses, or something, which is cheesy. Regardless of the intent, I was kicked out of the story for this portion of the episode, though I appreciate why it was important to the show to make the procedure seem dangerous and nearly fail. Possibly there was no way around this issue, but I still am not entirely happy with the result.

Overall, I think this is a 3.5 star show -- not quite top of the line, but very very good (and the best episode since "Darmok").
Mon, Oct 21, 2013, 6:40pm (UTC -5)
I thought Crusher was especially impressive here... she's come a long way, and is almost as interesting as Pulaski. Excellent!
Fri, Jan 10, 2014, 11:39pm (UTC -5)
I actually really hated Dr. Crusher in this episode. If Worf wanted to try an experimental treatment, he should have every right to do so. After all, he doesn't regard his life as worth much at that point, and risking death means that the research can go forward and add meaning to his loss.
Sun, Apr 27, 2014, 1:59pm (UTC -5)
I have one major problem with this episode. It seems like the crew isn't that distressed after Worf is paralyzed. Things only get tense as it becomes more and more about Worf's honor-suicide.

Maybe it's down to the directing, but shouldn't they be pretty upset over simply the fact that Worf was so gravely injured? They're kind of smiling and have the same tone as usual.

We don't get a scene of the crew together talking about the paralysis, or them gathered around Worf to support him. Kind of strange.
Picard from USS Phoenix
Tue, Apr 29, 2014, 2:50pm (UTC -5)
"The notion of a Klingon warrior seeing honor in assisted suicide seems fairly absurd to me, especially since there are conventional treatment options that would give back Worf as much as 60 percent of his mobility."

One, thing that really irritates me about those reviews is this arrogant anthropocentrism: "Of course is a silly custom, because we humans automatically know what's objectively wrong and right!" This same happened when Jammer was talking about "TNG Half a life" when he automatically said that Kaelon's custom is obviously stupid, without even considering why it even existed in the first place. If aliens exists, they are culturally different that us - do we have the right to judge them by human standards? And both episodes were, essentially about euthanasia. That's what klingon custom stands for; it's just an excuse to talk about this difficult issue. It's all about human dignity, wellbeing and utilitarianism as well. Worf never would be happy knowing that he is not what he used to be, as well he would undoubtedly think that he is useless and, that he is burden for others - even if this wouldn't be entirely true. Now, do we have moral right to take away Worf's freedom to choose and force him to live unhappy life, because we don't like his point of view? What I like about this episode is that all all parties involved - Worf, Crusher, dr Russell, Riker - have good arguments to support their position and writers of "Ethics" didn't forced you to agree with any of them - they allowed us to draw your own conclusions, and that's why it's one of the best TNG episodes.
Sun, May 4, 2014, 2:22am (UTC -5)
Interestingly I happenend to watch this episode on BBC America the same day I watched DS9's "Sons of Morg" on DVD. Picard is seeing the death ritual from Worf's POV, while Sisko in no unsure terms refuses to allow Worf to assist his brother's suicide.
Sat, Jun 21, 2014, 11:59am (UTC -5)
Remember Me may be the best Beverly-centric episode, but this is certainly a worthy runner up. But it's not just Beverly, almost every character in the episode shines here. The title Ethics is quite appropriate here, as we get an examination of morality and how it intersects with everyone's culture. These sorts of episodes can be horribly preachy and completely destroy the narrative (see the next episode as an example). But here it was done well, mainly because nobody's views were shortchanged. We just got a great big mixup where nothing seemed easy.

The medical ethics was probably the most interesting part, thanks to some decent writing and good acting. Beverly is both naive and strong-willed; she has a stong basis in medical ethics and believes in them absolutely. She's right, of course, that the first rule is to do no harm. And she has some strong justifications in complaining about Dr. Russell's methods. In particular, Russell's actions at the conveniently timed emergency were fairly appalling. Mostly her lack of empathy and her ability to simply use people as experiments. Her complete uncaringness that one of her patients died is a strong rebuke to her position and is meant to make us despise her. And yet...

She's right about Worf! Beverly was wrong! Bev cared so much about her code of ethics that she didn't bother to consult with her patient's ethics. Like William said, she simply thought Worf would sit around waiting for a solution forever. In her rush to keep the Hippocratic oath, she forgot to look at Worf's side of things, and see that he would have gladly risked his life for an experimental procedure.

And at some point, don't experimental procedures need to be done? Don't we need to know if something like that would work? How many people need to die while we wait for FDA approval? And how many would die if we didn't wait for it?

So Bev has a point. But so does Russell. And in the end, it's Worf's ethics (that he can't stand living as a cripple, even if it's mostly a normal life for someone else) that forces Russell's way to be the right way. Or at least the right way in this case.

Meanwhile, Worf had some interesting problems too. He wanted to perform his ritual suicide, but didn't want to subject Alexander to it. But then he seemed at least willing to go with the treatment, or at least try to be rehabilitated until the shame got too much for him. But it did make it clear that he was conflicted, and it's quite obvious that he only doing it for Alexander. Once again, his Klingon ethics conflict with his desire to be a good parent to a decisively non-Klingon kid.

And that's not even getting into Riker's talk with Picard.

So on the whole, a pleasant, low key episode that works well.
Tue, Jul 8, 2014, 1:46pm (UTC -5)
essentially about euthanasia. That's what klingon custom stands for; it's just an excuse to talk about this difficult issue.

It's not a difficult issue. If someone wants to end their lives in a dignified fashion, it is THEIR right. It is THEIR life. Anyone who disagrees with this is denying them their freedom. Especially when they will suffer needlessly as a result.

Unfortunately, Star Trek always seemed to side with the deluded anti euthanasia side.
Mon, Aug 18, 2014, 7:50pm (UTC -5)
I honestly don't want to start a fight, but your stance assumes that an individual has the right to consider their own wishes before the wishes of those around them. This is as much a 'cultural' assumption as any other, and is only 'freedom' in the sense of holding the individual higher than the family/community/society. That's fine and I think I tend to agree with you, but that doesn't mean the issue isn't difficult. Especially in the case of the individual having a dependent. I think this showcases why Alexander was very necessary to the story here.

I think this episode to me is like Darmok to Jammer. I want to love the episode and I respect what it was aiming for, but it fell short for me. McFadden gets some great material and none of the deliveries are poor, but some of the scenes seem to be missing that extra 'something' that great actors like Stewart can bring to the table. Speaking of Stewart, I appreciated the need for the early Picard-Riker conversation, but it felt jarring to see Picard take an almost confrontational approach seemingly from the start. Was the beginning of their conversation cut during editting, or just never written/filmed?

Anyways, I think the main thing McFadden is lacking here is the ability to portray true arrogance. Her looks of disbelief, disgust, and disdain for the other doctor (and even her disbelief at Picard's stance) are passable, but somehow I wanted more. Her stubbornness, in my opinion, comes from a certain arrogance whereby she recognizes herself as THE medical authority on the ship. In her mind, that includes the ethics of medicine as well. At least, that's the idea I get from the dialogue, and I like that idea. I just don't fully get it from McFadden's actual delivery. Instead, I get a sort of 'conviction' without quite the 'fire' of arrogance/authority. It's not bad, but it just doesn't get me very engaged in the material.

Finally, the ending feels over-wrought when the viewer knows that Worf will survive. I don't remember seeing this one when it aired, so I can't say if those scenes would have been tense without knowing the outcome. Watching this now, I'd probably go with a low 3 star rating, mostly for the concepts and questions brought up.
Sat, Aug 30, 2014, 11:44pm (UTC -5)
"Ethics" - aka "Worf gets his spine crushed and Riker, Troi and Crusher give him shit for it for most of an episode."

While the whole Klingon honor thing gets to be a bit much in general, in this case it makes perfect sense to me a Klingon would have no interest in living with a severe physical disability. And thus it shouldn't be such a big surprise to Riker, either.

And Crusher mostly made sense, except that it made no sense she didn't want Worf to even hear about the experimental treatment - wouldn't it be her natural obligation to let him know?

I still liked the episode more than not - I just thought some of the character motivations served more to illustrate the extreme sides if the debate, rather than being so believable.
Fri, Oct 3, 2014, 12:28pm (UTC -5)
@pviateur: I was thinking similar thoughts when the barrel dropped on Worf. All they needed was an extra bar or two on that shelf, and no barrel would have dropped. But they had to have some clear-cut way to paralyze Worf, I guess.
Sat, Oct 18, 2014, 9:29am (UTC -5)
The episode was good but I would have liked some more involvement from Riker (for his conflict with Worf to have gotten a bit more intense and to have had at least some sort of follow-up after the procedure) and Picard (for us to have seen the at least one conversation he had with Worf).
The episode is also hurt by that the series hadn't previously suggested much closeness between Worf and Riker, at least for some time, and had between Worf and Picard.
Mon, Oct 20, 2014, 8:33am (UTC -5)
I actually liked the choice of Riker and, in the very next episode, Worf risks his career to go down to the planet with Riker and save Soren.

When Riker was considered for the Ares Worf wanted to go with him and felt certain Riker would accept, especially since he viewed it as a dangerous mission.

In another episode (can't remember which) they were playing one of those Klingon holodeck programs together.

They weren't close friends perhaps in a human sense (like O'Brien and Bashir) but I think Worf felt Riker was the closest he had nearby to a "Klingon Warrior". It made a certain amount of sense.

Picard was his commanding officer.
Wed, Nov 26, 2014, 12:55am (UTC -5)
What I would like to mention to everyone here who is saying that "people don't understand Klingon culture" in response to criticism of Worf wanting to commit suicide, is that Worf really is quite naive when it comes to Klingon culture. I mean, Riker knows more than Worf does, and he just did a very short tour of duty on one Klingon ship. So that whole argument seems very contrived to me.
Thu, Mar 12, 2015, 7:45pm (UTC -5)
I didn't expect this episode to be so well received in here. Frankly, I didn't expect to like this episode at *all*. But, honestly, I agree with the posters who think this is the best hour since "Darmok". Everyone's mostly mentioned the good stuff, but I'd just like the echo the enjoyment for all the different story threads that plausibly resulted from what could have been a one-note premise. I particularly enjoyed the Crusher-Picard scene, which made me miss the dynamic of the starry-eyed Federation gal vs. the seasoned Fed diplomat from "Symbiosis". Crusher doesn't get enough good material.

One surprising thing for me was the Worf didn't pick Picard for the suicide ceremony. Considering how much he'd already done for him on Qonos, you'd figure he'd be a natural choice. I thought Riker did well, though.

Troi's role also worked for what it tried to accomplish. And while Alexander's role is always seems a bit Full House-y to me, I liked seeing her not only take care of him but nearly get choked up at the thought of Worf entrusting him to her.

3.5 stars for me. Solid overall, and goes way over and above what it needed to.
Tue, Apr 28, 2015, 10:35am (UTC -5)
This episode was really good and exemplified one of the main reasons I love Trek. Who else would do a popular TV episode about a dry, intellectual subject like medical ethics.

I did understand Worf's expressed desire for suicide in the context of his Klingon warrior nature. The 60-70% mobility restoration of conventional treatment would seem to be enough, however. But that's besides the point. The episode seemed to be skirting around the issue of assisted suicide in our own culture, but it did not go far enough in that regard, in my opinion. They seemed to make it a point to say that Worf was not in pain, he was fully expected to live (i.e., his condition was not deteriorating and ultimately terminal), so those conditions don't meet the standards for euthanasia in our society.

Before the episode could fall short on the medical ethics front, the character of Dr. Russell, with her risky experimental treatments, brought that back into focus. Her character was perfectly written and acted, as was Dr. Crusher's in this episode. It is so rare to see a Crusher-focused episode, and she's a character I really like, so that also made it a winning episode for me.

The young boy who plays Worf's son is also consistently good. I mean, he looks like he is all of about 7 years old and under a lot of makeup and prosthetics to boot. That the kid does such a convincing job is remarkable.

Mon, Jul 6, 2015, 12:55pm (UTC -5)
This is a 3 star episode, very well done. The tit for tat rivalry between the doctors is great and very plausible. Tge guest doctor was very well written and performed. Others have suggested that the injury being non-curable in the time of transporter technology are spot on, this is an Aesop fable about the 20th century, not the 24th. Repairing spinal cords can't be more than a century away and I suspect within a generation. But that is a small quibble for this satisfying episode.
Fri, Aug 14, 2015, 2:21am (UTC -5)
All right, let's talk about doctor assisted suicide, shall we? :P

Let me just put this out on the table before I go anywhere - I'm all in favor of it, with the caveat that the person choosing it needs to be in his or her right mind when deciding the matter. Personally, I doubt it is something I would ever choose for myself and I would certainly use any and all powers of persuasion at my command to convince someone not to go through with it. But, at the end of the day, who am I to force someone to conform to my beliefs on the matter? It's that person's life and so it should be that person's decision. I guess I'm like Bill Clinton when he said that he was "personally Pro-Life but politically Pro-Choice," even though he was talking about abortion. While I may not agree with Worf's decision to end his life, ultimately it's his decision to make, not mine or anybody else's. I may even disagree with the cultural tradition that Worf is invoking here (in fact, I think it's stupid), but (again) since he's clearly in his right mind, a.k.a. not delusional, he should be allowed to do it if he so wishes.

What I love most about "Ethics" is that it takes the time to examine the issue from many different angles. You have Picard taking what is essentially the same position I would take. You have Crusher who is adamantly opposed to the idea. And you have Riker who is torn between which side to come down on. And to that the fact that they didn't feel the need to drag the episode down with some unnecessary B-plot with a tech issue and you have a real winner of any episode! Heck, they even have Alexander acting like a normal kid (always a plus for Trek in my book) and a fairly decent use of Troi as a counselor.

The one sticking point for me is that they made Crusher WAY to obstinate in her opposition, in my opinion. Now, I've said it before and I'll say it again, I really like the character of Crusher and love it when they allow her to have the spotlight. Here, however, she's just so maddeningly inconsistent. She's absolutely 100% correct in her denunciations of Dr. Russell; the woman clearly puts her research ahead of her patients. And yet, she's 100% wrong when it comes to Worf. This exchange is particularly glaring....

PICARD: If he can't make a full recovery, Worf will kill himself.
CRUSHER: Not in my Sickbay, he won't! I'll put him in a restraining field and post security around his door before I let him commit suicide.
PICARD: And how long will you keep him there? A week? A month? A year?
CRUSHER: If I have to. Suicide is not an option.

So, suicide is not an option, but forced imprisonment because you disagree with me is? Geez, Beverly, you're not making your case look good. Then there's this line (from the same scene).... "The first tenet of good medicine is never make the patient any worse." So, she's never harm you, now off to your jail cell, you thought criminal! Thankfully she eventually sees reason, but the fact that Picard, nor anybody else, never calls her on this rather blatant hypocrisy harms the episode for me.

Fri, Aug 14, 2015, 5:45am (UTC -5)
My family and I thought the same thing when we watched it.
Mon, Sep 7, 2015, 5:31am (UTC -5)
The idea is OK but the script is awful.

Nobody acts in character, except unfortunately Crusher, who is the cliche life-at-all-costs doctor. Even the guest character makes her argument well in one scene and then jumps to experimenting on people.

The outline of the script is exploitative in, again, cliche ways. Who are these people Riker mentions as dying? Are they really gonna kill off Worf. May as well kill off the voice of the computer.
Tue, Sep 8, 2015, 8:11am (UTC -5)
"Are they really gonna kill off Worf?"

Come on... main character (or the ship) in peril is basically a staple of EVERY OTHER Trek episode. If you use that as an excuse to not "buy" the episode, you're probably not buying the entire series :)

I do agree with you that the guest character could have been more smartly written to be less crazy. Crusher's assessment that she's a nutjob that got lucky is spot on, the episode could have made her "greyer".

I do wonder who you think acted out of character though?

And as for "Who are these people Riker mentions as dying?"

Sandoval and Fang-lee - They were never in the show before. Likely random "red shirts".

Marla Aster - The mother of the son that bonded with Worf in "The Bonding" following her death on an away mission where Worf was in command.

Tasha Yar - I should hope you know that one :)
Diamond Dave
Sat, Sep 26, 2015, 11:23am (UTC -5)
For an examination of medical ethics and those surrounding assisted suicide this fall short for me. The characters immediately take entrenched positions at polar opposites, which means we only get to see black and white, and not the shades of grey. So Picard is the cerebral, culturally sensitive opposite to Riker's visceral, anti suicide reaction. Crusher is the classic first do no harm doctor, Russell the opposite risk taker for the potential future benefit.

That this all winds up in a frankly unconvincing death scene - when, let's face it, the only tension is how Worf will recover, not if - merely adds to the vaguely unsatisfactory air.

That's not to say that there are not some scene highlights - indeed the Worf/Riker and Worf/Troi scenes match those where Crusher and Russell clash. But overall, once again this series, it misses as many hits as it makes. 2.5 stars.
Fri, Dec 11, 2015, 10:08pm (UTC -5)
I agree with Elliott (!!!) This is a 3.5 star show, knocking down 0.5 stars for the manipulative surgery scene. Everything else was stellar.

I understood Worf's point of view, and Picard's, and Riker's and Beverly's, and Russell's. There are no easy answers in situations like this, and the episode acknowledges it.
Jason R.
Fri, Jan 22, 2016, 4:25pm (UTC -5)
Many humans would agree with Worf. There is nothing "absurd" about his beliefs and I found Riker's speech insufferably arrogant and self righteous. Worf should have punched him in the face.
stephen palmer
Thu, Mar 31, 2016, 8:26am (UTC -5)
I'd like to draw attention to Worf's debilitated condition at the end of this episode. It really looks like Worf would take a long time to fully recover from his injury, despite the "miracle cure".
And yet, next episode shows him clobbering aliens as though nothing had happened. What could have been a a tremendous opportunity to show Worf's character and courage in a new light (recovering with dignity, taking the opportunity to further bond with his son etc) is lost.
I guess the story editors felt that episode to episode continuity like that might make Star Trek too soap opera-ish, but it does trivialise the seriousness of Worf's physical crisis in this episode.
Fri, May 6, 2016, 4:45pm (UTC -5)
While I like this episode I never understood why Dr Crusher was so against the procedure. Didn't Riker tell her Worf was going to commit suicide if he couldn't walk?
3.5 stars.

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