Jammer's Review

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.

Previous episode: Birthright, Part I
Next episode: Starship Mine

Season Index

30 comments on this review

Patick - Thu, Jul 12, 2012 - 1:19am (USA Central)
I had always wished that when Worf was on Deep Space Nine, that he would have made off hand comment of wanting to confront (and mostly likely kick the ass) of the wayward Yridian that set him up in this two-part episode. It wasn't like DS9 didn't sprinkle a lot of TNG trivia tidbits regarding Worf throughout his 4 seasons with them. (They mentioned Berlinghoff Rassmussen from TNG's "A Matter of Time" for chrissakes!)

God, I'm such a nerd.
Andrew - Thu, Jul 12, 2012 - 3:12am (USA Central)
This is such a horrible follow-up to the promising first part. It's strange that the plot with Data and Bashir is only in the first part. I know the story came to a natural end there, but it just shows how poorly planned the whole thing was.

Tim - Thu, Jul 12, 2012 - 2:30pm (USA Central)
I'm the opposite of most people on this pair of episodes (there must be a word for that!), I much, much prefer episode 2, I found it somewhat emotional and was very in to the story, but I know I'm in the minority!
bigpale - Thu, Jul 12, 2012 - 4:00pm (USA Central)
"predictable Worf reactions of disgust, then reconsideration, then begrudged acceptance."

Holeecow that's perfect
David - Thu, Jul 12, 2012 - 4:58pm (USA Central)
1 star--Just the epitome of bland Klingon storytelling, TNG moralizing, failed one-off romances and where is the rest of the cast.

One of the worst of the series' run.
grumpy_otter - Mon, Jul 16, 2012 - 4:06pm (USA Central)
I'll join you, Tim--I like this one too. I enjoy seeing Klingons who have taken a different path and thought everyone acted in this really well.
Elliott - Fri, Jul 20, 2012 - 12:49pm (USA Central)
Ugh. What a mess!

So, the Romulans and Klingons live together peacefully (albeit perhaps a bit too neatly) to the point of interbreeding. That's an interesting idea and it's a major point of relevance to the Trek universe. But all Worf cares about is whether the Klingons still hunt live game and sing old songs. Preserving cultural traditions is important and Tokath's fear that retaining old customs will undermine the new peace is also a reasonable character trait and an interesting issue.

We've got Idea A (Tokath) and Idea B (Worf) with plenty of time and room for a classical dialectical synthesis into Idea C, but the best the writers can do is to literally combine a Klingon and a Romulan into Bile. If that weren't stupid enough, instead of exploring the issues with her, they make her some generic Juliette character whom Worf loves for no reason.

Padding out the episode is a laundry list of clich├ęs: hidden heirlooms, spontaneous singing (and banging of tankards), and the "Klingon solidarity" moment (this hilarity echoed so well the buffoonery from Part 1's dream sequence--what balanced storytelling).

1.5* I think at best.
DeanGrr - Fri, Aug 17, 2012 - 11:18am (USA Central)
Haven't watched this for awhile, but I remember wanting it to be more exciting, compelling as a drama: similar to 5th season's Unification. Perhaps Garak was right, everything on Romulus is grey, "... the clothes, the people ... even the Romulan heart" ;) jk.

Like Jammer, I think the themes were compelling: mortal enemies learning to live in peace, and a closed community that values harmony over freedom. I bought Ba'el's attraction to Worf, the bold outsider, and Worf rejecting her because she was part Romulan was sad, and well written.

I guess it comes down to the standalone episode having only a short time to develop its story, and that TNG episodes relied on suspense and tension for excitement. In "Birthright II" it was a lot of people standing around talking (and a lot of grey, ;), but not a lot of jeopardy, which made it dull and wooden in parts.

Also, I think you have to be willing to accept "archetypal" characters and themes, like those used in myths, and accept symbolic sets, like those used in plays, to enjoy many Star Trek episodes. TNG and VOY, like others have said, are not usually told with consequences and complex emotional threads connecting the different stories.
Jay - Tue, Nov 6, 2012 - 12:48pm (USA Central)
So the old Klingon sez they tried to starve themselves to death but the Romulans kept them alive, then he tells Worf that he hopes if his son arrived, he'd be Klingon enough to kill him...but then...why doesn't he just kill himself now? Starving to death would have been suicide anyways, so what's the difference then and now? Agreed with all the others that this is a hot mess of an episode.
DPC - Tue, Nov 13, 2012 - 8:02pm (USA Central)
It's weird.

"Heart of Glory" (Season 1) has rogue Klingons harping on Worf for assimilating to Earthlings... the fact Worf would later grow his hair into a ponytail (while every other Klingon in existence never had) only solidifies that. By season 6, I started calling Worf "My Little Pony" as a result. It's a shame they can't use CGI to restore his hair, back to when it looked cool (seasons 4 & 5). But with all this assimilating, Worf doesn't realize his own assimilation, while whining to the other Klingons about lost heritage, smelling the blood, blah blah blah. There's a disparity, or rather a context I've yet to find that conclusively makes Worf's POV worthwhile rather than forced.

The episode wants to tell something very poignant, but it ends up being all over the map and not really knowing why, apart from heavyhandedly putting out one POV (a one-sided preach was normal for TNG by this period...)

I want to like the episode, but one has to ignore so many previous episodes, never mind Worf's abhorrent racism toward the girl of the story, who never did anything wrong but is treated as if she's a killer on death row once Worf finds out that - gasp - she's partly Romulan. No, he didn't learn from "The Enemy" about such compassion to an innocent person, but the circumstances of "Birthright II" really make Worf's reactions unpalatable.

It's got a good ending; Worf lying and Picard seeing through it (but having enough sense to leave it be).

By season 6, the Klingon multi-season arc had been done with, and this episode felt like it was burying the lore even further into the ground. Never mind DS9 digging things down another 500 feet... The TNG Klingons had some absolute mojo, but it got worn out. Mixed with TNG's preachiness of its latter years and, yeah, it's a clunker, regardless of what it's trying to say.

It's also amazing how quickly Worf gets his fellow Klingons to blindly side with him at the story's climax, where he's about to die. Or maybe it's an irony, but it felt contrived.

Thankfully the compound is a compound and not a real "melting pot" society being made for the benefit of all within. Otherwise I really would dislike this episode, since Worf would then be doing to these Klingons what the Klingons in "Heart of Glory" tried to do with him!
mephyve - Mon, Sep 2, 2013 - 6:11pm (USA Central)
Birthright was done a disservice by having Data's dream quest forced upon it. I think both stories were hurt by having to share screen time.
Part 2 was quite riveting and enjoyable. I'm sure Jammer has a good reason for giving only 2 stars, but I'm ll read about that later. As for me, I enjoyed Worf's journey. I'm glad he did not find his father here because he did not need to deal with anymore dishonor surrounding his family tree.
What we got was a good character study as Worf showed that he had grown in the area of teaching young Klingons their heritage. Rather than trying to force it on them, he led by example and let their instincts do the rest.
He did get past his apprehension of the half Romulan pretty quickly but TNG rarely handles romance right anyway. I think that the young Klingons' desire to leave once their blood started flowing, was quite believable. Worf had awakened what their parents had tried to bury.
I was impressed with Worf here. 3 stars from me.
William B - Thu, Sep 12, 2013 - 10:57pm (USA Central)
This is such a potentially interesting episode, totally botched in execution. I might write more about it later, but frankly it's all been covered above by Jammer and the other posters. I actually think the episode should have been great, even -- the suggestion that the price of cultural integration is the *loss* of culture, represented by Tokath's de-Klingoning the Klingons for the sake of peace, and that the price of maintaining connection to one's roots is that all the negative parts of the culture stay in if not left guarded, represented by Worf's genuine racism and blood hatred for Romulans being part of the package that also makes Worf a man of great and indomitable will. But the episode goes off the rails, forces Worf/Ba'el with no motivation, fails at having Worf learn about the advantages of some loss of the destructive elements of culture (i.e. blood feuds), has Tokath think ordering Worf's assassination after one song night is a good idea, and so on. Certainly, I could imagine that a genuine escalation to the point where Tokath decided to execute Worf could happen convincingly, but the episode's escalation is so silly and generic and half-hearted.

Probably the biggest problem with Worf's training sessions (aside from the point DPC makes that Worf's presenting himself as an authentic representative of Klingon Klingon-ness is hard to take without *any* suggestion from him or the show that Worf is essentially self-taught, sometimes assimilated into human values and sometimes hewing to Klingon traditions that all other Klingons ignore entirely) is that they are just so bloodless. The mok'bara scene, the throwing-a-spear-through-a-hoop scene (where Worf proudly proclaims that it's not a game!) and the "do you smell something?" scene are so low-octane as action scenes, especially the last one. I'm usually fine with idea-dramas, but the entire point here is that Worf reawakens Toq's Klingon heart through the heart-pounding excitement of the hunt and so on, which is represented here by Worf talking about how you can smell the game if you are in the right position. Comparing this to "Heart of Glory" -- well, there's no comparison; while that episode has some problems, Ron Jones' score and Rob Bowman's direction *sell* the adrenaline. This episode is so half-hearted that it's impossible to feel what it is that Toq feels about Worf, and Worf just comes off throughout as a pompous windbag.

And look, I get that dying for a cause is a great Klingon honour blah blah blah, but you still have a son, Worf. I thought that part of the point of "Ethics" was that Worf recognized that his responsibility to Alexander, who did not care about Klingon notions of honour and who was the son of K'Ehleyr who didn't care so deeply about those either, outweighs at least some of his monomaniacal devotion to Klingon honour and principles and the like. But of course, this episode makes it clear that Worf values Klingonness above all else, and his own identity as anything other than a walking dictionary of Klingon customs is erased. It's not wholly inconceivable that Worf would still choose to die rather than *escape* (which Ba'el offers him) because he cares so much about the honour of these kids (someone please think of the children!), but that he does not once mention Alexander, in an episode spurred on by Worf's recognition of how deeply he wants to know everything he can about his own father, reestablishes that Worf only marginally cares about his son.

1.5-2 stars, I guess.
Jons - Tue, Jan 7, 2014 - 4:52pm (USA Central)
So giving an opportunity to children to live in peace is a crime?

I don't understand. Many (billions) of planets aren't space-faring and live only on their planets. Starfleet doesn't feel they need to tell them they live in prisons.

What I see here is the potential for a new culture, that could possibly in 500 years become its own, entirely different. I don't understand the problem. And I don't understand how this doesn't fall under the Prime Directive. If the adults are happy here, it's their right to stay here and protect their children.

Also, seeing as how Klingons live, the "war" may be over but I don't think they're lying when they're describing a life of violence and death... I've always seen the Klingons like a weird cult I guess. They're my least favourite species in ST and I don't really understand their culture I'm afraid...
Paul - Fri, Jan 17, 2014 - 2:48pm (USA Central)
This episode got me thinking about what we know about Worf and how a lot of it doesn't make sense.

Around the age of 10, he was at the Khitomer outpost when it was attacked by Romulans. He was rescued by Sergei Rozhenko (sp?) and raised on Galt and later on Earth. When he was old enough, he enrolled in Starfleet Academy. A few years later, in 2363-4, he began serving on the Enterprise-D.

There's obviously a lot more after that, but anything after 2363 isn't important for my big question. Which is:

How did Worf learn all the stuff he espoused in this episode and other episodes if he spent ages 10-25 (or so) with humans and in Starfleet?

The only answer is that he spent some time with Klingons as an adolescent. It's unlikely that everything he learned was from reading about Klingon ways. But if he did, say, spend a few years on the Klingon homeworld or with Klingons elsewhere, why did he tell the Klingons in "Heart of Glory" that he'd spent "almost no" time with his own kind?

It's possible that that line from "Heart of Glory" was shrugged off as first-season backstory that didn't later fit (for instance, Troi never calls Riker "Bill" after the first season or we kind of overlook the fact that Data said he was in the "class of '78", which doesn't work given timelines established later).

But even then, it's odd that we never hear of how Worf learned what it is to be Klingon.

There are other characters who have backstory problems like this (Data seems to become a lot more human in the seven years of TNG than in all the years before TNG, after his rescue). But Worf's is unique because he is SO hardcore about his Klingon ways. The only thing I can remember about Worf learning to be a Klingon pre-TNG was some talk in "Rightful Heir" that he had had a vision of Kahless as a child.

Stuff like this happens on TV shows (Sisko refers to his father as deceased in early DS9 only to have him show up later, for instance). Still, I thought the Worf stuff was so glaring it warranted mention.
Trent - Fri, Jan 17, 2014 - 3:34pm (USA Central)
Wasn't it mentioned that he served onboard a klingon ship, or am I misremembering? It has been so long since I watched the early seasons of TNG.
William B - Fri, Jan 17, 2014 - 3:57pm (USA Central)
I tend to think of Worf's "I know so much about Klingon-ness!" as posturing, which is part of the reason I find myself pretty unsympathetic to Worf throughout this episode. Personally, I think that most of Worf's ideas about Klingon honour come from Klingon books and plays and opera and the holodeck programs that he spends time on, which I have no doubt are meant to represent genuine Klingon ideas and ideals. We know that Helena Rozhenko would make "authentic" Rokeg blood pie. Certainly Worf probably had some of that before the Khitomer massacre, but I kind of suspect that at some point or another he would just have to be guessing about which aspects of "authentic" Klingon culture were really authentic and what weren't.

This does have the effect that Worf is more spiritual, more preoccupied with honour, than most Klingons seem to be. Riker is surprised that Klingons laugh and have a good time, and Worf didn't exactly prepare him for that when helping him out. Worf himself is shocked and a little disgusted by what Klingon culture he takes in in "Redemption II." He definitely values Kurn and he tolerates Gowron, but with the possible exception of Kahless in "Rightful Heir" it's not really until DS9 that Worf finds another Klingon (Martok) whom he really genuinely admires and who lives up to Worf's standard of Klingon behaviour.

This is why "Rightful Heir" works as something of a corrective to this episode. Worf acts here like he knows what he's talking about and The True Klingon Way when he clearly does not. He doesn't really know what The True Klingon Way is with Alexander, either, which is part of why he can't really deal with him. In "Rightful Heir," I think the crux of Worf's crisis of faith is that he "knows," deep down, that he can't actually recreate all of Klingon culture in his head, and be a Klingon society of one, but he also knows from his experience in "Sins of the Father" through "Redemption" that Klingon society is corrupt and far from the ideal he imagines. With Alexander and in "Birthright, Part II" he BSes his way through an imagined ideal Klingon society, but in "Rightful Heir" it hits him that he has no idea what he's actually doing.
William B - Fri, Jan 17, 2014 - 4:01pm (USA Central)
*To be clear, Worf loves K'Ehleyr. He loves Alexander, too. He doesn't really admire her (and certainly doesn't admire Alexander) *as a Klingon*, though. He doesn't look up to her as a model of behaviour, or an exemplar of the way Klingons should be. In DS9, Martok (and, in "Once More Unto the Breach," Kor) fits that bill.
Paul - Fri, Jan 17, 2014 - 5:04pm (USA Central)
@William B: All good points. However, Worf's knowledge of what it is to be Klingon still seems like more than he could have come to without spending more time than it appears that he spent with them.

It's true that Worf doesn't quite fit in with other Klingons on some of the nuances. But his level of Klingon knowledge (again, based on what we know) should be closer to Odo's knowledge of the Founders, shouldn't it?
Paul - Fri, Jan 17, 2014 - 5:06pm (USA Central)
@Trent: Unless I totally missed it, I have no recollection of Worf serving on a Klingon ship (prior to the events of TNG and DS9).
William B - Fri, Jan 17, 2014 - 5:34pm (USA Central)
@Paul, well, I know what you mean. I think one thing to remember is that, as we can tell from Alexander's case, Klingons age very quickly, and so Worf's early experiences with his people could have a bigger impact on him than a human spending the first few years of their life with a people.

It's worth noting too that dialogue in "Heart of Glory" suggests that Klingon rituals are shrouded in secrecy, which contradicts that very episode's premise wherein Worf reveals that he grew up largely among humans and also knows about Klingon-specific things like the Death Yell. So the show is definitely not fully consistent on these points.

That said, there is a big difference between Worf's case and Odo's. Worf has his own memories, AND Klingon mythology is well known to him. Picard is able to pick up quite a lot about Klingon society from a few days' reading in "Sins of the Father," suggesting that while the inner workings of Klingon society are not common knowledge, they are accessible for people willing to do the work; I think Klingon opera and literature and mythology are something Worf would have regular access to. Before "The Search," Odo has no idea who his people even are, and after that they still remain completely alien with no real exchange of information. Odo's only real chance to find out about his people is through the Link, which conveys *something* but not everything. Worf had an incomplete understanding of his people, but a lot more than Odo was able to get.
Andy's Friend - Fri, Jan 17, 2014 - 8:19pm (USA Central)
@Paul and William B: Interesting debate. I've always considered Worf a first-generation child immigrant. It's the old story of the child that moves to another culture with his parents. Sometimes they integrate well. But almost always, if the cultural differences are significant (Which they are in Worf's case!), the child will feel somehow 'unlike' the rest of the population, and may come to dislike and disapprove of the culture he now lives in. And what does he do? He studies and reads all that he can about his native culture, the one he was safe and sound in, and which instinctively feels right to him.

Kids like this normally get to know the formalities of their culture - geography, history, religion, etc. - much better than the actual inhabitants of the countries they came from. But, if isolated from that native culture, they learn only what can be learned from books, in libraries - the 'high culture': music, litterature, arts and rituals - and not the kinds of things you learn about a culture by living and walking in its streets.

I've personally seen the phenomenon often among expats of various nationalities in Europe: the kids either end up being totally like the rest of their adopted society, with mostly superficial knowledge of their native ways, or highly knowledgeable experts on their home countries and cultures. Depending on where you live, you may have experienced this, too.

The latter, as they grow to know enormous amounts of such 'high culture' of their native people, will eventually 1) also begin to appreciate the good things about the new culture they now live in, and come to accept that culture; or 2) they end up convincing themselves of the utter superiority of their native culture, and reject the one they live in, and typically strive for either a) return home, or b) change or destroy the other culture.

Worf is a prime example of the former. Laas, that other one of the Hundred changelings we meet in "Chimera" [DS9], is a good example of the latter.

We've known Klingons a long time by the time of TNG, and I don't have much difficulty in believing that Worf, saddened by being all alone in a Human society, soaked up everything there was to learn about the Klingon 'high culture' and truly immersed himself in said culture. Which is the exact reason why he, in many ways, is more Klingon than Klingons. As in most cases, books and operas alone don't tell you the whole story ;-)
Moonie - Sun, Jan 26, 2014 - 8:34am (USA Central)
Ugh.

I really liked Birthright I but this, I hated. I just can't get over how much the Klingons annoy me. Warrior codes, ritual hunt, death before dishonor, family honor, etc. - ALL pretty sickening concepts to me. I realize I mostly comment when I really dislike an episode, truth is, there is much about Star Trek that I like but sometimes it just disappoints me on a really grand level. And I have my hot buttons. Alleged superiority of primitive cultures being one of them. Another, the glorification of the Klingons and their terrible ideas of honor. And yet another, the prime directive as a moral cop-out.

One good thing about this one? The Romulan commander. I liked him. I'm liking the Romulans more and more anyway. I think they're my favorite ST alien species.
Moonie - Sun, Jan 26, 2014 - 8:38am (USA Central)
@ Jons, thank you, once more I find myself agreeing with you.

After this episode, I outright hate the Klingons. And they were my least favorite species before. I just don't understand why people like them so much. Do they really *admire* their kind of lifestyle?? And honor codes??

Smith - Mon, Feb 17, 2014 - 12:30pm (USA Central)
The worst episode ever produced. Super boring and loses sight that klingon's are an abstraction for violent/backwards tendencies and if you look at them too close they disappear. Creating a cheesy culture mythos around klingons loses their soul and they become boring and simplistic. You can't romanticize barbarian behavior as it brings a story down. If you use it properly as a foil, it will bring the episode up. Only episode I fast forward over when rewatching TNG.
Eli - Fri, Feb 28, 2014 - 6:48pm (USA Central)
I enjoyed these episodes (Birthright 1 and 2) very much! I'd give them 4 stars. They are some of my favorite Star Trek episodes. My only quibble is that the Data story was not revisited in the second episode. The Data story had the potential to be something greater. But, it was still special.

Reasons why I like the episodes so much:

1. The Klingon culture was articulated in a very thoughtful manner. The cultural practices presented were vivid and intricate. Worf's defense of Klingon culture was poetic. The culture felt incredibly real and vibrant.

2. Worf's relationship to the half Romulan, half Klingon woman was complex and contained many interesting layers.

3. The context with which this isolated colony had developed, and the way which the Romulan and Klingons interacted in that context was fascinating.

4. The scenes with Data were great. Watching him learn to dream literally and figuratively was a very special experience. Watching him fly (through his eyes) was something transcendent.

Kudos to the writers!
SkepticalMI - Sat, Aug 9, 2014 - 12:08pm (USA Central)
There's one part of this episode that no one has commented on but is probably the biggest problem I have with the episode: the Worf/Ba'el romance. Oh, people have talked about it and its problems, but what about age? Worf is what, 30? 32? We have an upper limit of 25 for Ba'el, but she's probably closer to 16-18. She looks like a teenager and acts like a teenager. And no one writing or shooting this episode saw a problem with this?

I can understand Ba'el being attracted to Worf, being a teenager and all, but I simply cannot see the opposite. Worf very clearly sees these other Klingons as youths. He sees a clear generation gap, not just in terms of culture but also age and experience. There's something rather squicky about Worf taking advantage of Ba'el's inexperience. Even worse, there was no reason for it. The closest plot reason was to cause the rift when he finds out she's Romulan, but as Jammer pointed out that plot point was dropped like a hot potato and nothing of any relevance came out of it. And naturally the relationship was dropped immediately after the episode ended. It should never have happened at all.

Also, as a minor annoyance, even someone who likes Klingon episodes like me is starting to get sick of the way Worf describes everything. Every little detail is of profound implications? I'm starting to wonder if he just makes stuff up now. "It is the Moq'bagh, the right of calling shotgun. If I do not sit in that chair on the shuttlecraft my family will be disgraced for 12 generations!" "Uh, sure Worf. Whatever you say..."

But besides that, I liked the episode. Like Jammer, I thought the themes were excellent. Unlike Jammer, I thought they were played out relatively intelligently. It's not just that Worf needed to get them some adrenaline and they would become Klingons. In fact, I'm glad that it didn't require fights to awaken a Klingon spirit. From watching it, I felt that it wasn't necessary the power of what Worf was telling the kids or the spirit of Klingonosity that was awakening in them, it was mostly the force of Worf's character.

The old Klingons had been beaten down, cowed, and shamed. They lost the will to live, and had lost the will to rebel or even think for themselves. Even though it was clearly not Tokath's intention, he had beaten them into submission to the point that they were virtually lifeless. And they, either directly or indirectly, forced that lifelessness on their children. We see it in the way the kids don't question the prison aspect, despite the fact that there are walls, despite the fact that the Romulans wear uniforms and the Klingons don't. We see it in the way they are forbidden from questioning anything, and how what little tradition they pick up is completely meaningless to them.

So now here comes Worf, who actually has some life in him. He cares about something more than himself, more than the compound. He can explain what things mean. He has exciting stories to tell. He has a richer and deeper culture than anything these people have experienced before. In contrast, the camp offers nothing. It offers no defense of its culture, but rather tries to shut Worf down. It offers no alternative, no desires, no myths, nothing but mere existence and the suppression of anything else. Is it any wonder that the kids would be curious?

Yes, simply smelling one's prey is hardly an exciting transformation. But Worf was teaching Toq something new, something different, that hinted at a richer life than anything he had dealt with before. And Toq accomplished something in the hunt that he never did before. And he came back fresh and excited and wanting to share that experience with everyone else. And how did the Romulans act? By denying him his excitement, by decrying his accomplishments, and by executing the man who he had just befriended.

Regardless of the quality of Klingon culture, is there any doubt that their commitment to the culture of Tokath's suppressive, dictatorial reign would fade? They didn't realize how much of a prison they were in until they were given a peek of the outside world and saw it slammed shut in their faces. And given that it was their only glimpse of the outside world, they clung hard to it. Their "Klingonness" was only skin deep. It was only the fact that the person who showed them the outside world, whose convictions were so strong that they could not be beaten down even at the point of death, that made their Klingon side awaken. Perhaps they will lose the desire to be Klingon once exposed to the rest of the galaxy. But at least now they have a real choice.

To me, the quality of Klingoness was less important than the quality of having a strong moral center. I mean, I agree with WillliamB that Worf is hardly a true ambassador of what it means to be Klingon (and I like that they acknowledge this in Rightful Heir), I just don't think it was that important to the plot. In a situation like that, anyone would do to be able to teach the Klingon ways to these kids, at least enough to inspire them to learn more. The fact that it is someone with such a rock-hard set of ideals like Worf is more important than the quality of the teaching. I mean, it's important in the future, if these kids want to learn what it really means to be Klingon, but it's not important when it comes to awakening a spirit within the kids.

So yeah, other than the tacked on Ba'el romance I thought it worked ok. I also liked the old Klingon's last line that reinforced the fact that, whatever Tokath's intentions may have been, this is still a prison. Some posters here may be ok with suppressing all other thought for their idea of a utopia, but it's nice to see that Trek doesn't always do that.
msw188 - Thu, Aug 21, 2014 - 10:04pm (USA Central)
This is a hard pair of episodes to judge - interesting ideas but the execution is mixed.

SkepticalMI,
I pretty much agree with everything you're saying here. Especially:
"that plot point was dropped like a hot potato and nothing of any relevance came out of it. And naturally the relationship was dropped immediately after the episode ended. It should never have happened at all."
I know, right? Just like the Tasha Yar thing on Yesterday's Enterprise. Why doesn't anybody complain about that one?

(PS: I know there's no adult+teenager ick-factor in YesEnt, I'm just still trying to figure out why people like that episode so much)
Dave in NC - Sun, Aug 24, 2014 - 2:08am (USA Central)
I realized this MUST be the worst episode of TNG ever because for the fourth time I tried to watch this all the way through and I just couldn't. And I've seen Shades of Gray (twice)!

SO incredibly boring, with a soundtrack to match.

Just awful.
Polly - Sun, Aug 31, 2014 - 7:13am (USA Central)
The writers rather backed themselves into a corner with their creation of the Klingon sense of honour. Why the constant whining about the massacre of the Klingon men, women and children on Khitamer if a Klingon's greatest honour is to fall in battle? And how many times has Worf had the opportunity to die honourably in battle yet somehow flubbed it? In Chain of Command we hear Dr Crusher admitting that she doesn't feel proud of her escape, but no mention at all about Worf's view (probably just as well - it would probably take a full 2 parter to work through his need to redeem himself for not perishing in the caves). I'm not really complaining about the failure to kill him off - I like Worf - but I don't care much for Klingons in general. I'd be hard pressed to think of a single one in any episode of TNG who has acted honourably according to anyone's code. Good points made by Andy's Friend - the expat/exile Worf has grown up to be more Klingon than the Klingons.
Robert - Mon, Nov 3, 2014 - 10:48am (USA Central)
"Good points made by Andy's Friend - the expat/exile Worf has grown up to be more Klingon than the Klingons. "

Worf is like an American (or any other society's really) child. Filled with ideas of what America's promise is, propaganda learned in school, etc. and then ripped away from it he romanticizes it. He never got to live up to getting older and having the rose tinted glasses shattered (although they do a bit at the end of DS9). Worf may not be more Klingon than the Klingons but he probably lives up to what they think they are better than most.

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