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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39 comments on this review

Wed, Aug 15, 2012, 2:45pm (UTC -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
"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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
@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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)

Diamond Dave
Thu, Aug 20, 2015, 1:42pm (UTC -5)
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 -5)
Poor Tasha. What a dreadful Chief of Security.
Wed, Dec 7, 2016, 4:17pm (UTC -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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 -5)
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.
Peter Swinkels
Sat, Mar 3, 2018, 11:02am (UTC -5)
Nice episode, but don’t they check prisoners for items that would allow them to build a phaser before putting them in a holding cell?
Gaius Maximus
Thu, Mar 22, 2018, 6:06pm (UTC -5)
A pretty good episode, especially for Season 1, but it bothered me how long Picard spends marveling over Geordi's VISORvision in a dangerous situation. Bet he would have regretted that if he'd gone on a minute longer and it led to losing half his senior staff when the freighter blew up before they could beam back. I also wonder if the third Klingon might have had a better chance for survival if the away team had gotten to work right away instead of chatting.

When I was a young kid watching for the first time, I thought for a long time that the Klingons had actually joined the Federation rather than just allying, and seeing things like the Federation symbol on the Klingon transmission makes me understand why.
Prince of Space
Sat, Mar 24, 2018, 3:59am (UTC -5)
So cute to watch Starfleet “security” in action. Lieutenant Moe, escort the prisoners to the brig! Ensigns Larry and Curly, accompany him!

I can only assume it was a simpler viewing audience back in the 80’s and 90’s? The security people jumping into the open and firing one time and then waiting for the bad guys to shoot them just seems goofy now. Is phaser fire a round-robin affair in the future?

Man, I’d push the hell out of the phaser button if I were a Starfleet security dude. “Yes, Captain, I neutralized the threat. I also regret to inform you I destroyed Shuttle Bay 7, 8, and half of deck 11.”
Mon, Apr 16, 2018, 12:21am (UTC -5)
Hello Everyone!

@Prince of Space

I loved your phaser comment. :)

I touched on this in some comment, somewhere, but it seems Starfleet just doesn't know how to use their phasers. They fire them precisely, as if they need to aim perfectly, like the Klingons must do with their single-shot weapon. A beam weapon needs to be used like a machine gun, sweeping back and forth over everything, or perhaps even set it to the wide setting we so rarely see. Then when the smoke cleared, they'd have two baddies down, and have to call for a damage control team. :)

Regards... RT
Sun, May 13, 2018, 11:32am (UTC -5)
The Geordi visor thing is never used again that I remember. It seems like simple tech--why not just have the away team strap a GoPro on their heads?
Sat, May 19, 2018, 6:17pm (UTC -5)
I was bored. I like Worf but these guys he became sympathetic with were annoying at best.
Daniel B
Sun, May 20, 2018, 3:30am (UTC -5)
An average episode. Good general story brought down by some dumb moments and huge obvious plotholes like "why can't you beam the guy out of engineering?" but it was one of the first episodes that really showed that TNG could become a good show and go somewhere useful that TOS had not gone before.
Thu, May 31, 2018, 9:40am (UTC -5)
Definitely one of the highlights of TNG Season 1 (which isn't saying much) however this is a good episode on its own merits. It does have some of the flaws that plagued TNG S1 but establishing Worf as a character and fleshing out the Klingon species was huge for Trek and this episode did a reasonably good job getting that started.

Clearly Korris is delusional and misguided but through him and the effect it has on Worf we get the picture of a warrior race, the quest for glory etc. It's misplaced given the alliance between the Klingons and Federation but it's not unreasonable given nationalistic tendencies people can have popping up. Worf is called a "brother lost among infidels".

As for Worf's development, it's pretty good here as he tells Korris about duty/honor/loyalty coming from within. Easy to see how some nut jobs can take valid and good principles and distort them for whatever means they see fit. Bottom line, Korris is a fugitive criminal but he serves a good purpose. Worf's line "they died well" is understood by the Klingon captain, even if strictly speaking, it may be a tad hollow in truth.

As for what didn't work -- too much time was spent examining the cargo ship before it blew up and Geordi's visor nonsense really hasn't aged well. Why not a regular camera on his head FFS?? And why were Riker and Geordi not in some kind of enviro-suits with oxygen masks when going aboard?

And then there's the phaser shootout scene where Korris escapes -- how lame were the Enterprise security officers? Seriously, this was a pitiful action sequence. Absolutely no cutting edge to it. The hostage scene with the little girl could have been a really strong moment -- Worf didn't seem to know what to do or maybe he realized the girl wouldn't be harmed as Klingons apparently don't take hostages.

This episode also had a decent musical score, which is very rare for all the Treks coming after TOS.

3 stars for "Heart of Glory" -- the 1st Worf episode has plenty of strong points and sets the stage for plenty more to come regarding Klingons. We can gather a great inner conflict is going on within Worf's mind although that much wasn't reflected well in his acting. Some weak points given it was TNG S1 but it goes a good length to fleshing out Worf/Klingons in the era post-TOS with some interesting philosophical debates.
Sat, Dec 8, 2018, 9:10am (UTC -5)
I never understood why that detention cell seemed to be located at some random spot along a corridor. You would think there would be a more and practical area to hold prisoners.
Sat, Dec 8, 2018, 10:41pm (UTC -5)
They probably hadn't built the brig set yet :)
Tue, Dec 18, 2018, 9:30pm (UTC -5)
Meant to write, "a more secure and practical" area to hold prisoners. You are probably right. A budget issue.
Tue, Feb 26, 2019, 8:05pm (UTC -5)

this episode gave a good look at Worf. I think there were some issues with the mechanics of the conflict with the Klingons: why were they left with sharp implements in their cell? why didn't Worf see them as traitors? he was initially shocked at what they had done but then became buddy buddy with them. I think the Trek series always has some problems fleshing out the Klingons.
Tue, Feb 26, 2019, 11:31pm (UTC -5)
I didn't really understand why Picard was talking about Worf feeling allegiance to "his own kind". The Klingons who were after the two traitors were also "his own kind".

Although we've been Klingon'd to death now, it's important to remember that when this episode first aired, it was the first good look at TNG-era Klingons.

I don't feel super strongly about this one one way or another - 2.5 stars.
William B
Wed, Feb 27, 2019, 7:12am (UTC -5)
Leaving the Klingons sharp implements in their cell is, I think, a plot contrivance and nothing more significant -- a flaw to move the plot along.

Worf not seeing the Klingons in this ep as traitors, though, I think has character meaning. The Klingons claim that the Empire has become too "safe," that they have lost much of the Klingon warrior spirit which led them to conquest. I think the bottom line is that Worf (and the Klingon official we see at the episode's end) are sympathetic to this idea, not because they think that peace with the Federation, not doing huge imperial expansion stuff, etc. are bad, but because they understand how much meaning for Klingons is derived from the fight, the conquest. It is very difficult to take an entire culture whose meaning is derived from external conquest and then channel all that meaning and energy into personal "conquest" (conquering one's fears and weaknesses, fighting more abstract foes such as injustice). This is what Worf and the modern Klingons want to do, but they still have a certain respect for the warrior spirit that drives the outlaw Klingons in this episode. Worf will stop and even kill them (and does) but that doesn't mean he won't feel an allegiance to them, and a desire to bring them with him into the modern era of Klingons who (at the moment) coexist peacefully with the Federation.
Peter G.
Wed, Feb 27, 2019, 10:37am (UTC -5)
You know, up until this moment I had no idea how much this episode was about America. Future episodes about the Klingons, especially by Ron Moore, tended to be more about a foreign culture that was managing between corruption and honor, but this episode seems to squarely sit in the territory of "your glory needs to come from something other than victory in battle", which is a completely relevant message for America and not a particularly apt one about other nations in the 80's.
Wed, Feb 27, 2019, 11:22am (UTC -5)
@Peter G.

Of course you're right that this show was written by Americans with America in mind, but wouldn't this message be a message for all the allies of WWII? The UK, for example, has seen its share of victory in battle historically, but you could say that post-1950 it has worked to identify itself and its culture in a non-military fashion. The 20th century is remarkable in that it had a series of large "wars to end all wars", so the question of what the warriors do in relative peace is an appropriate one that the writers might hope is inclusive of other nations.
Peter G.
Wed, Feb 27, 2019, 11:57am (UTC -5)
@ Chrome,

If you take the episode to be descriptive of changes already made - sort of like a memory book - then I suppose it could apply to any previous world power. And to most of the world beside. But if the episode is more of a warning, a call to stop being trapped in the violent ways of the past and to try to find new ways for glory other than fighting, then the only country in the world it could reasonably be applied to in the late 20th century would be the U.S., and arguably the odd country in the mid-East. There have been other conflicts since WWII, but predominantly they weren't part of a larger pattern of war. Another take could be a continuation of TOS take on the Klingons, as USSR stand-ins, however given the specific story shown in Heart of Glory, namely that an old romantic view of triumph may still arouse sympathy but still need to be retired, that certainly cannot apply to Russia, as I can't imagine anyone watching TNG would have held romantic notions of the 'good old days' of the warlike Soviets. So my conclusion is that it must be seen as a call towards peace to the U.S. specifically.
Fri, Mar 29, 2019, 4:37pm (UTC -5)
Why is there no sort of protection for vital parts of the ship? There don't even seem to be security doors or some authentication system. Any drunken idiot can potentially enter and blow up the whole ship with a single shot of his phaser. And you don't even consider sending security teams to protect these crucial areas, even after a breakout of dangerous suspects and at least one security officer killed in action?

I really enjoyed the episode, but these security measures are ridiculous. It's the bad guys in general being that incompetent.
Daniel B
Fri, May 31, 2019, 12:58pm (UTC -5)
"Of course you're right that this show was written by Americans with America in mind, but wouldn't this message be a message for all the allies of WWII? "

It's not just a message for the victors. It could have been a message for Imperial Japan as well (something the Klingon Empire resembles many times but I rarely see that comparison drawn).

"I really enjoyed the episode, but these security measures are ridiculous. "

Not to mention that they could have just beamed the guy with a phaser out of the vicinity of the warp core.
Sun, Jul 28, 2019, 10:39pm (UTC -5)
A slow start on that Talarian vessel - endless. But picked up well once we got back on the Enterprise.

Nice intro info and development for both Worf and Geordi, as we watch Picard begin to understand their inner lives. There's quite a bit of talk about individual perspectives and inner lives (and outer shells) - what makes us who we are.

A good one.
Fri, Sep 20, 2019, 10:21pm (UTC -5)
Yar should be working on her resume after Picard fires her for the inept security job. I suspect the Klingon captain had heard through the grapevine all pathetic star fleet security is and was thinking: "2 Klingon warriors against a whole star fleet vessel? oy! I best send over some help because those guys are worthless."

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