Star Trek: The Next Generation
"Birthright, Part II"
Air date: 3/1/1993
Written by Rene Echevarria
Directed by Dan Curry
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
Worf discovers a secret community that a quarter of a century ago began its life as a Klingon prison camp for the Khitomer massacre survivors but has since evolved into a place where Romulans and Klingons coexist peacefully. Once the warden of this facility, Romulan Tokath (Alan Scarfe) now leads it as its patriarch, having long ago abandoned his life as a military officer to instead build a community and a life that eschews the hatred that Romulans and Klingons typically hold for each other. Fearing Worf will bring others that will dismantle this way of life, Tokath forbids Worf from leaving, instead telling him he must assimilate into this community.
"Birthright, Part II" contains interesting issues worth exploring but is a failure at turning those issues into compelling drama. On the one hand, we have Tokath, who is wearing blinders in thinking he has done everyone a favor in turning a POW camp into a closed community that, make no mistake, is still very much a prison, even if it might be a pleasant one. On the other hand is Worf, who wants to expose the lie that is this place, where Klingon culture has been all but eradicated, resulting in a generation of youths who have no idea how Klingons elsewhere live. (Tokath and the Klingon elders have fed the new generation plenty of lies about life outside the community.)
Unfortunately, some rather clunky execution makes this a deadly dull affair. This community is depicted with such confined sterility that it's hard to imagine the Klingon elders didn't revolt against it decades ago. And when Worf begins trying to win the hearts and minds of the younger Klingons, including a young man named Toq (Sterling Macer Jr.), the lessons are so simplistically depicted that the storytelling never transcends that of a wooden, preordained parable. Worf takes Toq — initially a staunch skeptic — on a single ritualistic hunt that magically awakens the Klingon blood inside him and turns him into an instant believer.
Meanwhile, a superfluous romantic angle between Worf and Ba'el (Jennifer Gatti) is established for no good reason except, apparently, because she is Klingon and female. It's certainly not because Worf and Ba'el have a single thing in common or any sort of chemistry, because they don't. Actually, Ba'el is half Romulan, and Tokath is her father, which results in predictable Worf reactions of disgust, then reconsideration, then begrudged acceptance.
Ultimately, Tokath gives Worf an ultimatum: stop stirring dissent, or be put to death. Worf, naturally, chooses the honorable choice of death (which, ultimately, is averted by a display of Klingon solidarity). That Tokath thinks he can, by killing Worf, undo the power of knowledge that Worf has unleashed is a testament of Tokath's willful self-delusion. Tokath has essentially traded everyone's freedom of mind for the manufactured illusion of peace while telling himself he has created something grand — which is destroyed here when the lie is revealed. That's not a bad story. The problem with this episode, however, is that it tells this story without ever bringing a moment of tension or drama to it. It's a static recitation of ideas, painfully short-changing what could've been an admirable tale of the power of Worf's righteous will.