Star Trek: The Next Generation

“The Emissary”

2.5 stars.

Air date: 6/29/1989
Teleplay by Richard Manning & Hans Beimler
Story by Thomas H. Calder
Directed by Cliff Bole

Review Text

Starfleet sends the Enterprise on an urgent mission to rendezvous with a special emissary with crucial information, and it turns out the emissary is the half-human, half-Klingon woman K'Ehleyr (Suzie Plakson, appropriately tall and formidable, but also personable), who was involved in some mysterious way with Worf six years earlier. Worf is not pleased to see her.

I gotta say: I wanted to like this episode — with its Worf character development, Klingon angst that turns to Klingon sex, and, of course, Suzie Plakson — but ultimately it just doesn't work. K'Ehleyr briefs the Enterprise staff on the situation: A Klingon ship whose crew has been in stasis for the past century (and thus still thinks the Klingons are at war with the Federation) is about to awaken, and the Enterprise may be the only ship close enough to stop them before they unleash a fury of terror on nearby Federation colonies. I find this plot just a little bit ludicrous. The Klingons of the old era are seen as not merely aggressive, but also apparently as mindless drones — and besides, where would the honor be in destroying colonies with minimal defenses?

More interesting is the backstory that surrounds Worf and K'Ehleyr; they had an unconsummated relationship six years ago, and they haven't spoken since the relationship ended. This episode establishes Worf's attitude on relationships, which is that they must be taken seriously — as seriously as, say, a heart attack. K'Ehleyr, unlike Worf, has an outward sense of humor, but pursuant to all Trekkian characters who are trapped between cultures, she struggles with her Klingon temper. Unfortunately, the Worf/K'Ehleyr bickering is not performed well enough to transcend cliché.

The high point of the episode comes when K'Ehleyr uses Worf's holodeck exercise program and Worf joins her in a battle that turns to (apparent) heated sex. I guess one of my problems with the episode is that the sex and its aftereffects are kept so far off the screen that it's something of a letdown. The episode tiptoes around the word "sex" so carefully that it doesn't seem like the characters actually had it. Worf's attitudes on sex are the same as everything else — he takes it as a deadly serious enterprise that must end in marriage (which K'Ehleyr doesn't want) and doesn't seem to know what fun is. You've got to admire his personal code.

Worf also gets his "first command" in a scene of trickery that persuades the Klingon ship to stand down. Unfortunately, like a lot of the episode, the concept is better than the execution, which feels forced.

Previous episode: Manhunt
Next episode: Peak Performance

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75 comments on this post

    In The Emissary, How did that probe go Warp 9? Where is the engine, and how could a lifeform be that close to it and survive? Outrageous...

    In the Emissary the probe has been in space. Touching it with your bare hands is not advisable! Would have thought it was a bit cold?

    Why did Starfleet send the probe? Couldn't they just simply send all the vital information of the mission to Captain Picard via... email?

    I agree that the Klingons' total unwillingness to listen to any kind of reason strains credulity. That said, I think it works within the context of the episode, which at its most fundamental is about Worf's "Iceman" (--Riker) persona and stubbornness. Worf has a personal code of honour which is so rigid that he will not bend or permit humour or bluff or any of those things, right now in his life. Worf's attitude toward sex as automatically entailing mating for life is one of those Klingon codes that we suspect actual Klingons don't actually take seriously -- the Klingon women on the Pagh were considering having casual sex with Riker, for instance, which may or may not have been a joke but at least was on the table as a joking matter; Worf is attached to Traditional notions of honour which are not only viewed as antiquated by humans and K'Ehleyr, but (though this episode doesn't state this) even by other Klingons. The 23rd century Klingons are meant to reflect this trait of Worf's to the extreme -- their dedication to old values at the expense of reason keeps them out of step with the "modern" world, in which Klingons are not only allied with the Federation but are closer to adopting Federation (human) values.

    The story of Klingons in most of TNG and DS9, with Worf as the most significant character (B'Elanna has a much different story on Voyager), is about whether it's possible to integrate Klingon values of honour-through-combat, chivalry, and deep passions and violence, into a "modern" world in which those values are not only no longer necessary but largely counterproductive. Violence no longer *should* be the solution to conflict resolution; notions of honour can sometimes lead to inflexibility. On the other hand, Worf in particular and Klingons in general have passion, courage, bravery and integrity that are useful traits which should not be discarded; and these traditions help them deal with their *powerful* emotions such as anger which otherwise become impossible to direct properly (leading to broken glass tables). I think that if anything, this is "about" how we, as 20th-21st century viewers, should integrate old traditions into our modern culture, in which we (mostly) value peace, diversity and liberalism but are somewhat alienated from our past and we lack clearer, universally accepted values. Worf and K'Ehleyr are two characters trapped between two worlds -- Worf hangs onto the tradition especially strongly because he is surrounded by those who do not hold it; K'Ehleyr largely tries to avoid her Klingon side but still has ties to her. I think the two are partly attracted to each other because the other offers something they lack -- for all Worf's seriousness he wants some of K'Ehleyr's levity, and vice versa.

    As a result, for Worf to come up with a way to "trick" the Klingons into recognizing the Klingon/Federation alliance represents a form of creative thinking that helps get *Worf* out of his own rigidity, which is what allows for the reconciliation between him and K'Ehleyr at the episode's end.

    I don't mind that the 1989 writing bounces around the sex word too much; it was clear enough to me. I think Worf and K'Ehleyr have great chemistry and the episode gets to the heart of who Worf is in lots of interesting ways. The implausibility of the Klingon ship is still a problem, but not a big one for me because it reads as thematically on point. On the low end of 3.5 stars for me.

    Actually, I liked this one A LOT more than Jammer.

    Maybe it's the context of the episode, and I don't mean the story within "The Emissary", but the episodes that preceded it. After 3 long hours of "We're far from home", crazy sex-driven Lwaxanas and lame irish stereotypes I was ready to embrace any resemblance of a good story. And this was the ok story I was looking for: Character development and a brand new interesting Klingon.

    What's not to like? The execution was a bit cliched and bad, yes, but they were aiming for something that could change the way you looked at Worf forever. That's a lot more fun than the menopause issues of the Trois.

    The only part I could do without is the "Klingon lost in time" story. As soon as they woke up, they should have contacted the Empire for feedback and that's it, problem solved.

    @ William B: Just another thoughtful analysis of yours :) I'm starting to like reading your comments, I never gave so much thought to early episodes, so it's cool to read stuff that sometimes makes more sense than the actual episodes we're discussing, hah.

    @Rikko, thanks! I enjoy your take on this episode too. (I forget whether there was some reason established that the Klingons couldn't receive messages from the Klingon High Command -- but I think there may have been. They might also believe it to be a trick, thouse paranoid Klingons.)

    I too believe that this is a better episode than Jammer gives it credit for. I tend to be a sucker for Klingon episodes (I must be Ron Moore's favorite fan), but really, this isn't even much of a Klingon episode. It's a Worf episode through and through.

    Very often, Worf is the token "bad guy". Not bad, per se, but he exists for the sole purpose of giving the barbaric hostile suggestions and being shot down by the enlightened Picard. There's a whole Youtube compilation of it if you don't believe me. So it's great to actually see his side of the story for once. He's not just the angry, susicious Klingon. He is someone with deeply held beliefs, proud of his deeply held beliefs, and surrounded by people who do not agree with (or, quite possibly, openly condescend about) his beliefs. No wonder he's so reserved, so repressed, and always uncomfortable with himself.

    Or maybe this was the episode that gave him that characterization, I don't know. Either way, it worked in this episode. The, uh, pillow talk scene was a particular favorite of mine. I find Jammer's dismissal of Worf as being simply overly serious to be wrong. Is it just being too serious to believe that strongly in your culture and your honor? Is it really too serious to want to marry someone you love? Because frankly, that's what it comes down to. Worf wants to formalize and honor his relationship with K'Ehleyr and to pledge his commitment to her, while K'Ehleyr simply wants a good time with no thought or care to what Worf wants. While that may be a bit dismissive of K'Ehleyr's side of the story (and indeed, it's not exactly fair to declare marriage before discussing it with your girlfriend...), that is Worf's side. And when it's put that way, it's hard to dismiss his feelings as just him being overly serious.

    People also have a tendency to dismiss TNG as too perfect, that nobody ever disagrees with one another, but clearly this is not the case here. It would be quite the cliche to have Worf and K'Ehleyr abandon their worldviews for true love. It's clear they both care deeply for each other. But at the same time, I applaud the writers (particularly on Worf's side, since he'd representing traditional values and is thus the easy punching bag for Hollywood) for letting the characters stay true to themselves. It really does make sense, and it represents Worf's full understanding of himself. He knew, particularly after his failed oath, that he and K'Ehleyr really could not be together. And he was fully prepared to let it go, even if it hurt him. That shows a true maturity of the character.

    One interesting irony that I noticed. When it comes to the romantic subplot, Worf is shown as the inflexible one, unwilling to compromise. But when it came to the sleeper ship subplot, it was K'Ehleyr who was the irrational, illogical one who just wanted to fight. Again, not a cliche. It shows that Worf is not just being inflexible for inflexibility's sake, but that he had a reason to be the way he was with K'Ehleyr. He can be open-minded when need be.

    So yes, I think this was a great character-driven episode. While the sleeper cell subplot may not have been completely airtight, it was done well enough. They sealed up some plot holes easily enough (Klingon ship would be a few days late, new Federation colonies in the area that could not defend themselves), which is good enough that the rest of them can be explained away. Maybe the crew was ordered to have radio silence, and thus would ignore any orders coming from Klingon High Command. Maybe Starfleet thought K'Ehleyr's presence would be an absolute necessity, hence why she was shot there in a probe (a cool scene, by the way). In any case, the problem was set up reasonably well enough, and it was solved in a clever matter. And dealing with the problem only highlighted and supported the character driven aspects of the show. All told, well done.

    The premise is beyond ridiculous. Does anyone really believe that a captain would wake up after 75 years and have it never occur to him that the political situation would have changed? Klingons are aggressive but not total idiots. The first thing he would have done is contact the empire.

    As soon as I saw who was inside the probe, I knew this was going to be an exciting episode. I haven't got much to say (there's plenty of brilliant analysis here already), except that I, too, enjoyed this more than Jammer. But then I tend to enjoy character-driven episodes a wee bit more than plot-driven ones, and so I can ignore the weak excuses for having K'Ehleyr show up on the Enterprise, and just enjoy the fact that she's there. I must have missed this episode when it originally aired, because I remember being surprised when all of a sudden Worf had a son a few seasons later. I'd probably give this one at least three, if not three and a half stars.

    A climb back to respectability after a series of below par episodes. The chemistry between the dour, honourable Worf and the sardonic, wisecracking K'Ehleyr is memorable, and gives both a chance to shine. The conclusion is effective, giving Worf an opportunity for command ("comfortable chair") and showing he is more than simply rigid inflexibility. 2.5 stars.

    It's hard to believe that Klingon-Human hybrids exists (K'Ehleyr and B'Elanna Torres, and its hard to believe they're the only two in the universe) without a Federation doctor having no clue about it. I'd presume that as rare as they are presented here, such case studies would be part of a medical school curriculum, especially a Starfleet medical school.

    I love this episode! One bit of fun business--after K'Ehleyr storms away from Worf and says "MEETING ADJOURNED!" and she stomps down the hallway, a passing crewman totally checks out her caboose. She's a goddess, and if I were gay, I would totally go for K'Ehleyr.

    I enjoyed this one. But the more I watch next generation the more I feel sorry for those transporter chiefs. Every time they finally have something to do some smart ass bridge officer relieves them of duty.

    This episode is a classic, and I think it deserves a higher rating for showcasing how outstanding Dorn can be if given an episode to showcase. I always get a kick out of the "Klingons do not bluff!" line at the beginning, and it turns out to be true in this episode! Worf isn't playing around when he hooked up with K'Ehleyr, he really intends to start a relationship with her.

    It also comes into play when Worf commands the Enterprise. Really, the only choices the Enterprise had were to talk down the Klingons or destroy them. When Worf told the captain that he if he didn't listen he would "die in ignorance" he probably intended to carry out that threat. It was after all, K'Ehleyr's first suggestion.

    Finally, I love the Sci-Fi at the beginning of this episode. I think what happens to DS9 and Voyager is that they forget that first and foremost they are shows about science and should be showcasing technology to some degree. K'Ehleyr being sent riding a warp speed probe is an amusing science notion; imagine riding in this small tube and outside is the vacuum of space. This sounds like not only an efficient usage of existing probes, but a smart way to hide something of value in a vessel that's usually ignored. What's more, the idea is similar to the Hyperloop trains being considered in the U.S. which are ultra-fast but sealed in a vacuum underground, not unlike the vacuum K'Ehleyr's probe travels.

    4 stars. Outstanding, especially for a season 2 episode.

    I just watched this one again after four or five years. I remember liking it, and I still do like it. It is a lot of fun, and a good Klingon and Worf episode. ("Comfortable chair". Ha-ha. Love that line.) Two and a half stars are not enough...come on, Jammer, let's give it a three.

    I gotta agree with lizzzi......I rewatch every episode with K'Ehleyr...she has a certain "presence" and her sarcastic wit makes for a good watch!!!

    Four stars from me. I don't give a damn how ludicrous the frozen-Klingon plot is. Kheylar and Worf battling over love, sex, honor, and their mixed cultures, make it great.

    I'm trying to remember if there's any romance on the show that I liked better. PIcard and wife on "The Inner Light" is all that comes to mind as a possible rival.

    One of the poster's before asked: "In the Emissary the probe has been in space. Touching it with your bare hands is not advisable! Would have thought it was a bit cold?"

    Actually, no. Space is technically "cold" in that it doesn't have molecules to pass on heat, although there is still radiation that keeps empty space around 3 degrees Kelvin. However, objects in space, in fact present the opposite problem. Since space is a near-perfect vacuum, it cannot conduct heat, therefore space is a perfect INSULATOR, meaning it's almost impossible to let off heat. Only through radiation is it possible (aside from gathering the heat into special repositories through conduction/convection and jettisoning them into space) to release heat energy.

    So, the probe would be more likely to be scalding than cold, because it would be quickly radiating and conducting all of its remaining excess heat now that it is in an atmosphere and able to do so (it would be assumed that the probe was continuously radiating heat during its journey, or its occupant would have been boiled inside).

    @ K9T,

    "Since space is a near-perfect vacuum, it cannot conduct heat, therefore space is a perfect INSULATOR, meaning it's almost impossible to let off heat. Only through radiation is it possible (aside from gathering the heat into special repositories through conduction/convection and jettisoning them into space) to release heat energy. "

    Sorry to nitpick, but this is incorrect. Your comment that a vacuum cannot *conduct* heat is technically accurate, but your conclusion that a vacuum is therefore a perfect insulator is inaccurate because conduction is not the only means of heat transfer. Electromagnetic radiation can transfer through a vacuum just fine, and 'heat energy' (aka infrared radiation) as well as various types of high-energy EM radiation can certainly move through vacuum easily. In fact the lack of a need for a conductor through which these move was a problem for physicists in the early 20th century and they felt the need at the time to posit the existence of an "ether" which was the universal conductor through which they felt the EM waves had to pass. So yes, a 'hot' object in space would certainly emit radiation and would become 'cooler' over time. Not only particles fly around through space; there is also all kinds of EM radiation including X-rays and gamma rays, which are quite dangerous to life, thus requiring either an atmosphere or technology to protect us from them.

    This is a hit-and-miss episode and I think Jammer's review reflects how I feel about it and where it falls short. The premise is kind of ridiculous that a Klingon warship will "thaw" and just start kicking ass on Federation colonies - but that is the B-plot. Worf getting the Klingon battlecruiser to lower its shields if threatened with phasers also is hardly believable.
    What is good about the episode is getting to see Worf's traditional beliefs - but that he is not just rigid. K'Ehleyr is a good character - quite an impressive woman - a good balance that pushes Worf.
    One thing that cracks me up is in Worf's calisthenics routine, one of the bad guys he battles is Skeletor!
    Anyhow, lots of dancing around Klingon sex - but ultimately (and of course it would) things are left off in a reasonable way between Worf and K'Ehleyr. I rate this 2.5/4 stars - can't say it's a strong episode but the character of K'Ehleyr adds a lot of spice in a much better way than, say, Laxwana.

    Did the probe have inertial dampeners? A good Worf episode even if it didn't make much sense.

    I thought Worf should have proclaimed that he took over the Enterprise through battle and forced the crew to submit to him and was now using it for the glory of the empire.

    I really liked this episode-it could easily have been in one of the later and vastly superior seasons rather than the normally ghastly season two.
    I absolutely loved K'ehley-oh for Peter's sake-Kayleigh.
    Her wit and sense of fun perfectly complement's Worf's deadpan broodiness.
    The pre credits poker game deservedly goes on quite a while and helps set the tone for melting the 'iceman'
    The Klingon ship from the past plot is entirely disposable but it was nice to see Michael Dorn doing so much.

    4 stars from me.

    I agree with the many (all?) of you above who rated this more highly than Jammer. I loved the Worf/K'ehleyr relationship dynamic. I loved the poker scene. I loved "Comfortable chair" and the ending confrontation with the Klingons. I thought it was foolhardy to trust that once the Enterprise left that the Klingon crew wouldn't have second thoughts about surrendering--only one Federation member would be on the ship which would leave her vastly outnumbered. Be that as it may, really enjoyed this. 3 1/2 stars

    An underrated episode.

    I like William B's comments, but I'd argue that the episode doesn't simply say that Worf is a relic and that his concepts of honor and tradition are thoughtless, robotic, devoid of feeling and outmoded, but that it adopts a more nuanced message.

    Worf's passions are sincere, his love is deep, he just expresses these feelings in very traditional ways. It is the modern Klingon woman, and Worf's human counterparts, who fail to read him (as the poker scene shows), who fail to recognize the complex, cunning and feeling being behind the "iceman" persona they falsely ascribe.

    Yes, Worf does learn to relax (as Worf says during the poker scene, "Klingon's never bluff", yet at the end of the episode bluffing is precisely what he does), but his up-tightedness is also a kind of nakedness; a very brazen openness.

    Anyway, this episode has some great lines of Trekkian dialogue:

    TROI: And you believe you can convince these Klingons that the humans are now their allies?
    K'EHLEYR: No, not a chance. If you ask me, talking will be a waste of time. Klingons of that era were raised to despise humans. We'll try diplomacy. But I promise you it won't work. And then you'll have to destroy them.
    PICARD: No.
    K'EHLEYR: No? Captain, these Klingons are killers. You'll have no choice.
    PICARD: We shall find another choice.


    WORF: Sir. I suggest Commander Riker or Data would better serve Special Emissary K'Ehleyr.
    PICARD: Are there any personal reasons you don't want the assignment?
    WORF: Yes.
    PICARD: Any professional reasons?
    WORF: No. I withdraw my request, Captain.

    There are lots of other great little bits of dialogue in this episode.

    @Trent, good points. It's worth noting that K'Ehleyr and the other humans assume that the "frozen" Klingons cannot possibly be brought into the present, which itself seems to be a misreading of what traditional values actually mean. K'Ehleyr (expanded out into a whole series for B'Elanna) ascribes all the things she doesn't like about herself to Klingonness, and so also *intellectually* misreads Worf even though she is attracted to and cares about him, and I think largely emotionally gets him even though she doesn't quite know how to deal with what she sees in him.

    Anyway I don't think I was trying to say that the show views Worf as completely outmoded and robotic, and was trying to get across that "his passions are sincere, his love is deep"; I read the Ice Man thing more as being about rigidity rather than lack of emotional affect. But rereading what I wrote, I think I was mistaken at the time as to the degree to which Worf was rigid, and some of the reasons. His wanting to be permanently mated to K'Ehleyr, for instance, isn't about dogmatism so much as viewing in tradition an outlet for his romantic passions; he really *does* want to be with K'Ehleyr permanently, and assumes that she shares his values enough to want the same thing as him.

    Another thing that just occurred to me: the Klingons waking up from their cryogenic slumber also mirror the reopening of Worf's heart to romantic love, which we gather has been somewhat suppressed since the end of he and K'Ehleyr's previous tryst. IIRC, the only hint of a Worf-romance was that Klingon woman Riker created with his powers back in Hide and Q. There is a bit of a recurring theme of Worf being afraid of letting himself be passionate because he is afraid he will hurt those he cares about if he does so (e.g. Guinan pointing out that Klingons laugh, but Worf generally doesn't in Redemption), which maps him a little bit onto Spock, despite the huge differences in other ways.

    The most noteworthy thing about this episode to me is the Cliff Bole / Ron Jones partnership, which has a legendary status in my mind in Trek history. The two of them created Best of Both Worlds together, and this episode has much of the creepy tone and eerie soundtrack that would later be greatly expanded upon in BoBW. These two had other episodic partnerships together as well, including A Matter of Perspective and the earlier Lonely Among Us, the latter of which is certainly a weird and eerie episode. I'm sure the pairing was coincidental as the producers hired them and they found out they were paired together, but especially in The Emissary I think there are hints at the tone and sound we'd later get in BoBW.

    I'll also throw in one more observation, which is in the powerful scene between Worf and K'Ehleyr when Worf says her refusal to marry him after their sexual union dishonors Klingon tradition, her reply is "Worf, it was what it was, glorious and wonderful and all that, but it doesn't mean anything," to which he says "That is a human attitude." This furthers my observation of the libertine view Roddenberry seemed to be putting forth about sex in the future and how it's just a physical thing that means nothing. To be fair, this exchange doesn't quite mean that every human thinks this, but to categorize that type of materialist view of sex as being a human attitude does suggest to me that it's more than just the view of some humans, but is perhaps more prevalent than just that. This hearkens back to Okona's episode where clearly sleeping around was something that just happened and was commonplace, where here Worf is showing us that for Klingons the traditions place a higher meaning on the act than just being fun. Once again I'm happy to note that this whole business was dropped as of around S3 where the series would finally stop making claims one way or the other about what should mean what. In the end, I think TNG's best message is that each person has their own values, and the worst way of telling that theme is for the series to be periodically dropping hints about free love.

    Paul C: Temperature in space doesn't work that way. Space itself is nothing (well, almost nothing) so in ordinary terms it has no temperature, neither hot nor cold. Given that the probe has both a life support system and a warp engine, getting _rid of_ heat, ie keeping the waste heat from the systems from cooking K'Ehleyr, would be a major design problem.

    @ Sullivan,

    Yes, outer space has heat energy and it's easily measurable. It's basically a matter of how much radiation is in the area, assuming for the sake of argument that there are no parties in the area of inspection. There usually are some particles, but we can ignore that for now as photons are enough to make things hot. The lack of heat means things are cold. Paul C's comment mentioned that the probe would be cold to the touch, which doesn't need to have anything to do with "temperature" (i.e. the measurement of the excitation level of atomic matter) but can still be measured on a hot/cold scale. The 'temperature' of outer space is usually referred to as being around 3 degrees Kelvin, and although this can be confusing since in a vacuum there aren't any particles, there is still a range of heat (or lack thereof) which would make things either hot or cold to the touch. And outer space would be very cold!

    In fairness to the actual question, we'd have to know how well insulated the life pod is. If it's 'perfectly' insulated then the outside might be close to the temperature of space, whereas if heat escapes then it might be warmer. I tend to agree with Paul that if something from outer space came aboard I definitely wouldn't touch it with my bare hands. That's the sort of thing they'd do in a Ridley Scott movie.

    The Cosmic Microwave Background actually is "particles," with a thermal distribution of 2.73 K or so, but it's just highly diffuse photons, dark matter, a few hydrogen atoms per cubic metre -- so "vacuum" in space is not really vacuum. The 3K heat level of vacuum isn't a wholly meaningless construct but represents the thermal distribution of the actual particles that are there.

    That said, it's also valid to observe that in the near-vacuum of outer space, heat doesn't get transferred away very quickly from a probe; there's very little ability to conduct heat away, and no convection to speak of. However, the probe should still radiate heat away (as light, e.g.), so unless it's connected to an extremely large heat bath inside to maintain the surface temperature of the probe constant at room temperature, it's probably going to be cold to the touch by the time someone gets to it. A quick Stefan-Boltzmann law calculation taking the surface area of the probe as being about 10 m^2 (order of magnitude, etc.) and assuming it's a perfect black-body whose surface is at ~300K implies it'd give off about 5 kW of radiation, so for a day in space it'd lose about 400 MJ of heat by radiation alone. Water's heat capacity is 4 kJ/K / kg so assuming there was a heat bath inside, assuming it changes by ~1K inside means you'd need a heat bath which is the equivalent of a hundred thousand kilograms of water inside the probe to offset the radiation losses. Future materials sure are nifty.

    Sorry, what I meant is the CMB is photons; the hydrogen etc. should be in thermal equilibrium with the CMB. The vacuum of space is the CMB photons plus the dark matter, etc., whose thermal distribution is unknown since it's not measurable right now.

    Sorry, I misread Peter's statement and was disagreeing more than I intended to. Photons are particles but I get the use of "particles" to mean specifically non-relativistic particles travelling at sub-c, the way radiation and non-relativistic matter are often separated.

    Anyway, point is, it's true that it takes a bit more time for an object to cool down in space because there's less ability to transfer energy directly by conduction etc., but radiating heat away will still remove heat relatively quickly when we're talking about a space pod that's been out for several hours, as is what's happening here.

    I had no issues with the Worf-K'Ehleyr story thread. They hooked up six years earlier, he wanted to "take the oath," she didn't, he got pissed off at the rejection of both him and his values, and walked out. Pretty straightforward. And given how this ep was followed up two seasons later in "Reunion", when K'Ehleyr WAS willing to take the oath but Worf turned her down because of his discommendation, makes this beginning tale quite satisfactory.

    The "rouge Klingon sleeper ship" thread didn't make sense for one fundamental, underlying reason: It was a century less advanced than the Enterprise. Why would the latter have had to destroy the Klingon vessel? Could they not have just taken out the Klingons' weapons and engines and towed the ship to Q'onos for the present-day Klingons to deal with? Yes. But this thread had to be linked to the other one so that Worf and K'Ehleyr got their scene on the bridge, posing as the commanders of the Enterprise. A case of two decent story threads that were not quite compatible.

    @JASmius This was addressed in the episode:

    "PICARD: Could the T'Ong be disabled rather than destroyed?
    LAFORGE: We could probably knock out their warp drive engines without damaging the rest of their ship.
    K'EHLEYR: That would gain you nothing. Disable the ship, and K'Temoc will destroy it himself.
    WORF: Klingons do not surrender."

    @Peter G. As William B points out, this episode is one of several that suggest Worf is an arch-traditionalist. Therefore, I would take his comment that K'Ehleyr has a 'human' rather than a Klingon attitude towards sex with a grain of salt.

    @ Michael,

    I hear you, and that's a good thing to keep in mind. Isolation I might have concluded the same - in fact I used to. But in my recent-re-watch I noticed the ongoing early trend of 'sexual liberty' in TNG and in that context I think this scene fits into it too neatly to be dismissed. While it's true that Worf is being portrayed as a traditionalist, I would argue that at this point in the series his "traditionalism" in regards to marriage is a placeholder for what we currently think of as social conservatism; sex should involve marriage, with K'Ehleyr speaking for the sexual freedom movement. It wasn't until Ron Moore got his hands on the Klingon story writing that we eventually got what we came to know of as Klingon culture. In TNG S1-2 it seems mostly to involve enjoying battle, yelling for the dead, and honor; but we know little else.

    Looking back at this ep retrospectively it seems tempting to suggest this is an early instance of us learning about an alien culture, especially with how much we get to know the Klingons starting in Sins of the Father and onward. But seeing it strictly in context of S1-2 I feel like Worf is being used as a mouthpiece for conservatism as we now know it, not some alien sort that has been invented brand new for this episode. I can't be sure of it, but that's my hunch for now.

    My take is that Worf isn't traditionalist, it's just that because he grew up with humans, he only knows about his people through books and legends. Thus Worf has an exaggeratedly high regard for Klingon traditions in theory, but in practice he isn't very Klingon. A TNG episode which speaks to this is "Redemption, Part II" where Worf and Kurn find themselves at a bar with the rival Klingon factions but they're all drinking together happily. Unlike other Klingons, Worf cannot him enjoy himself, perhaps because of his Starfleet training, or perhaps he's seeing the reality of how his people fight and celebrate and he prefers what he read in books. It's nice that this episode speaks to this, because in the end Worf will choose to leave the Klingons and stay in Starfleet.

    Incidentally, I've known people like this in the U.S. and I'm probably guilty of it too with my own ancestors. We often only have a vague idea of the rich cultures we came from and try our best to exemplify the parts we like.

    In addition Chrome, I'd suggest that Worf's perspective is one of a very rarified elite in Klingon society. He isn't just a Klingon living among humans; he is basically royalty in exile. His perspective comes from being the heir to one of the great houses in Klingon society. His ideas about honour, family, marriage etc.. would not be from the point of view of a rank and file Klingon.

    Just try to keep in mind how much had been established by this point in the series. There was so far no such thing as the House of Mogh, and no sense that Worf wasn't a regular-type Klingon. That would only be introduced later. Likewise we hadn't yet seen that Klingons don't tend to live up to what Worf thinks are Klingon traditions. So far the main canon established was that they are warriors, honor the dead, and according to A Matter of Honor, "A Klingon is his work, not his family." That would be retconned later by Ron Moore, but as of this point none of that existed.

    I'm pretty sure the writers of this particular one were using Worf and K'Ehleyr to comment on human social values and that their intent wasn't really to explore a new and alien culture. Worf's values are all-too-familiar here on Earth in certain social circles and the argument he and K'Eyleyr have echoes the very foundation of the 'sexual revolution', of which Roddenberry was a huge proponent.

    I don't know, Peter, in light of this episode focusing on how Klingons handle war and romance, I see this one very much establishing Klingon lore before they added other tenants of Klingon tradition in later seasons. Worf also gets a chance to show how un-Klingon he can be, by going against his original recited statement "Klingon do not bluff!" by actually bluffing within the episode.

    I always thought of the argument between Worf and K'Ehleyr over marriage as one highlighting how different humans and traditional Klingons view the subject matter in the 24th century. Worf's first instinct is to follow tradition the way he believes is true Klingon, but ultimately he honors K'Ehleyr's wishes on the matter.

    @ Chrome,

    "Worf also gets a chance to show how un-Klingon he can be, by going against his original recited statement "Klingon do not bluff!" by actually bluffing within the episode."

    I sort of think this part was supposed to show that Worf has compromised a little and taken a page out of K'Ehleyr's book; the more human and non-violent approach to dealing with the Klingons. Rather than show how un-Klingon Worf is, I think the intent of this part is to show that even though he's set in his ways he's open to learning new things as well. The bluffing scene is, I think, supposed to be something new for Worf rather than a way of showing that he thinks that way regularly. So while his values are those of a traditional Klingon he's also adaptable, which he gets from Starfleet. It's not that he isn't one or the other; it's that he's both.

    "I always thought of the argument between Worf and K'Ehleyr over marriage as one highlighting how different humans and traditional Klingons view the subject matter in the 24th century."

    I mean, yes, literally speaking that's what's happening. But it can hardly be a coincidence that their disagreement is exactly the one in the conservatism vs free love argument in the States. The episode seems to me to be fundamentally about what was at the time contemporary human culture, and if I'm not mistaken (and maybe I am) Worf's position is meant to show the side of social conservatism losing ground and even admitting that it's too set in its ways. K'Ehleyr gets a sort of victory by the end as Worf realizes that her position is just as grounded in conviction as his, and that he does love her, and so by the end I think he bends a little. Not enough to have a relationship without marriage, but enough to begin to realize that her contempt for tradition has more to it than her merely being stubborn. I take from this that the underlying message we're meant to take from it is that on some level the free love movement is "correct" but that it will take conservatives a long time to 'come around.'

    @Peter G.

    I agree that Worf learned something in this episode that was a step along the way of him not conforming to Klingon values, but I'm still not really sure the writers intended for him to buy Klingon values wholesale to begin with. The episode indicates that Worf and K'Ehleyr were an item before the episode happened, so there must be a part of Worf that actually is attracted to non-conformist Klingons, as we never see him seeking a traditional Klingon woman. The closest I can think of is that DS9 episode "Looking for Par'mach..." where Worf is interested in Grilka, but he gets taken aside both by her ward and by Jadzia and explained that the relationship never would've worked anyway. Even so, Grilka has a penitent for Ferengi so she's hardly a traditional Klingon herself.

    As to whether the writers intended this be an indictment on conservative values of romance, well I suppose that message is definitely out there. They're certainly not *endorsing* a traditional romantic relationship. I'm not sure if the free love movement of the 60s that Roddenbery was into would have been a very bold statement in 1989, but it's notable that K'Ehleyr stays strong in her convictions, never bowing to Worf's will. I guess the question for the viewer then, is if K'Ehleyr really did the right thing? Eventually there will be consequences to the encounter in the form of Alexander.

    @Peter (and Chrome etc.), I think it depends on how you define "the free love movement." If "the free love movement" generally refers to *any* extramarital sex at all, then I agree that the episode ultimately seems to be supporting that. However, if the free love movement refers to more generally what people seemed to be proposing in the 60's, and what Roddenberry seemed to favour -- which is to say, that sex didn't have to mean anything, and generally didn't, and that sex could be removed from love entirely -- i.e., to support a kind of Riker-ish attitude towards sexuality, I disagree that this is what the episode is saying.

    It's a classic romance structure in which both romantic leads start with uncompromising positions and then eventually compromise and start to move towards each other -- and that means that *both* of them start to bend. You've covered Worf's side well, so I won't harp on about that, but let's look at K'Ehleyr's side: she spends the episode basically insisting that there is no point even to try talking to the thawing Klingons. Her episode-long thesis turns out to be totally wrong, and it seems to be that she is blinkered by her own relationship issues with Worf, and to her own relationship with her Klingon-ness. She seems to be both attracted to and aggravated by Worf because he embraces his Klingon-ness whereas she overtly rejects it but it keeps coming back to her, and I think her outsize, glass-table-breaking rage is meant to show not just a Klingon temper (to what she attributes it) but a basic sense of anger that she has at not having as much control over herself (and her Klingon history) as she'd like. What she *wants* is to erase the old Klingons (i.e., THE PAST) entirely, but this is totally the wrong approach. Just as Worf needs to incorporate a little of K'Ehleyr's "modern" flexibility to save the day, K'Ehleyr needs to don the dreaded Klingon uniform and accept a little bit of her Klingon half, and to accept that the Klingons are possible to reason with if approached in the right way.

    On that note, I think the episode basically bears out that it's not unreasonable for K'Ehleyr to not want to get married after having sex once. However, K'Ehleyr's statement that "it didn't mean anything" (a nod to the free-love philosophy?) is revealed at the end to be an *outright lie* she reached for in a panic, at the episode's end:

    K'EHLEYR: I hid the truth from you. Last night did have meaning. I was tempted to take the oath with you, but it scared me. I've never had such strong feelings toward anyone.

    I don't think the episode exactly goes out of its way to say that someone like Riker is wrong and deluded in being promiscuous, but it is very specific in revealing that K'Ehleyr's whole attitude towards Klingons -- who, as Peter points out, are coded as traditionalists / social conservatives -- is misguided and full of her own hang-ups. She doesn't yell at Worf for bringing up The Oath because she is genuinely opposed to it, but because a part of her does believe in it, and she is trying to shut down that part of her because she doesn't feel ready to choose how to spend the rest of her life -- particularly not when she and Worf already have a very volatile relationship which could easily sour. She specifically reached for free-love-type arguments as a way to get out of a lifetime commitment which terrified her, but she eventually admits that *of course* their sex had meaning, and that it was something that was associated with deep love and emotions for her.

    I guess what I'm saying is, I know a lot of free-love types who have casual sexual relationships, and that does not match up with what this episode seems to be saying about K'Ehleyr and Worf. Nor is it really validating the social conservative take on sex and marriage. I think it's saying that in their case, the sex was *very* meaningful and significant, and indeed maybe life changing for K'Ehleyr, but not enough for her to be willing to take the plunge and reorder her whole life to marry Worf. And even then, part of that is fear -- which is framed as a character flaw on her part rather than a virtue! -- which she anticipates she will maybe get over:

    K'EHLEYR: Maybe someday, when our paths cross again, I won't be as easy to get rid of.

    Maybe that is still closer to "the free love movement" than the social conservative perspective, but I think it's still showing significant flaws in "the free love movement" by having K'Ehleyr's attempt to brush their night off as being a complete lie, and having her completely misread the traditionalist Klingons for the whole episode.

    @ William B,

    A strong argument. I'll have to think it over some more, maybe watch it again. My last rewatch left me thinking the episode was siding with K'Ehleyr but maybe I was missing some clues to the contrary.

    And by "free love movement" yes, I basically meant the notion that sex can be a part of committed attraction or detached from it, whichever those engaging in it decide. Obviously even in TNG S1-2 there is marriage so sex would be seen as being available with either option. The wrinkle in this episode is that K'Ehleyr admitting the sex meant something doesn't necessarily mean it *must* always mean something; it may just mean that she had intended on it being free love and realized that that's not what she had really wanted - maybe even because of her Klingon half kicking in. I guess what potentially muddies the narrative (or at least my version of it) is that she's half Klingon, which puts my suggested reading of it as...him being a social conservative and her being...half a conservative? Or a free love advocate with conservative impulses? It becomes a mess at this point, I guess. I mean, she certainly wanted to be a free love advocate, but is her inability to stick with that a result of the fact that free love isn't really possible, or due to the fact that she secretly wanted marriage too on some level and so free love wasn't really what they were in for, even though it could totally be what others are in for.

    Bah, I guess I'll just have to watch it again and see if I get anything new from it.


    Yeah, I was thinking about K'Ehleyr being half Klingon too, and I agree that this muddies things. I also agree that the fact that K'Ehleyr thinks that sex did mean something in this case doesn't mean that it would *always* mean something. And I think maybe there's where I agree with you on the sort of overall shape of TNG (at least early TNG) with regards to the free-love material.

    If she's, uh, half-conservative (????), then it may be that we are led to view things in this way:

    Maybe the point is that free love is fine for some people -- like Riker, again as the classic example within this series. But Riker, at least at his best, is basically open about what he wants. I don't think Riker have sex with someone *knowing* that that person would expect marriage and then balk afterwards; he'd be pretty forthright ahead of time. K'Ehleyr's free-love advocacy comes after she's already crossed a line with Worf that she should reasonably have anticipated, and so I think in her case, not only is she wrong, but I think we can see that she's using the free-love thing as a shield to avoid dealing with her feelings. Now K'Ehleyr still is surprised by Worf, but I think that speaks to how much she was caught off guard by her own emotions. If she wasn't intensely caught up with feelings for Worf, she would have probably been able to think through how Worf would take it, and while I think K'Ehleyr has flaws I think she'd probably generally be considerate about another person's values. The reason she isn't with Worf is because she's so overwhelmed -- because sex with him is an expression of love, and her attempt to deny that only makes her more miserable.

    So I guess I should say, I think the episode's point is more nuanced than that free-love is correct and that social conservative people will slowly catch up. I don't think it's arguing against the free love position in all cases -- basically I imagine they'd have to have Riker get scolded, at least indirectly, for this to be the real meaning -- but I think it *is* saying that there's a lot of value in the social conservative position, and maybe some of the people who rail against it most strongly are people who actually do believe in it deep down, and who are hurting themselves by trying to deny it.

    That's, I acknowledge, not *quite* what I was saying above, because I was maybe more characterizing it as being more critical of "free-love" in general, which you're right it probably isn't.

    @ William B,

    "Maybe the point is that free love is fine for some people -- like Riker, again as the classic example within this series. But Riker, at least at his best, is basically open about what he wants."

    Amazingly, even though Riker is exhibit A for free love, his backstory as seen in S1-2 is that he's ambitious and chases women to compete with his dad, and refrains from committing to shield himself from the realization that he blew it with Deanna and chose his career instead, even though she was clearly "the one". I doubt this was strictly intentional, but the overview seems to me to suggest that Riker's behavior is more of a defense mechanism than a 'legitimate' approach to love. I guess that jives with your read of K'Ehleyr being in denial because her true feelings are too much, and yet I suspect that this was going on under Roddenberry's radar because I doubt her would have agree with the notion that a policy of free love is something you adopt when you're in denial.

    Heh, I agree about Riker actually. In a lot of ways it is as if Riker needs to waste a decade of his life before accepting that he wants to be with Deanna and is just afraid of intimacy. Future Imperfect suggests also that he is partly in love with a hologram -- which (to me) suggests he also has a kind of idealized picture of what a romantic partner should be, or what it would take for him to settle down, which is basically an impossible standard. We can maybe tie in his mother's death too.

    I still used him as a kind of shorthand for saying that I don't think the series is really entirely arguing against the free-love position. However, in practice I think it is mostly ambivalent about it -- not fully against it, but suggesting it is incomplete or may be a defense mechanism people use because of fear of real intimacy.

    2.5 stars? Too high. And some people have it should be even higher?
    BORING episode.

    Ahh, Keylar, the woman responsible for Alexander. Love the Klingon tradition of have sex/say the oath.

    Sorry @Michael you calling anyone "arch" is ironic and hypocritical. I mean weren't you ranting on Star Trek Voyager 7th season episodes because they had the gall to be opposed of class level massacre (essentially letting the poor die in order to let the upper class live) and then being upset because they chose to recognize alien rights, hologram rights, human rights and other "political correctness" that disgust You? Pot, kettle, black.

    A lot of symbols and foreshadowing here. Kheylar arrives in a box she calls a coffin and is killed off in a later episode, looking ahead at her death. She says she won’t be so easy to get rid of and proves it by brining a child with her who is always now attached to Worf. The poker game is a game of bluffing, a new skill for Worf that he has to immediately use. The penultimate would be if we get a Captain Worf series eventually that picks up is thread. Stellar episode, folks.

    There is far too much boning on the Enterprise. And on the holodeck now? I hope there is a cleansing routine that runs afterwards. And an automatic privacy lock. As I recall, pretty much anyone can just wander in

    A ho hum episode.

    I enjoyed the poker game at the start though.


    I feel bad for whoever had to scrub all that Worf jizz out of the Holodeck.

    Love,K'Ehleyr! Love that she comes literally encased in a hard shell. Riker calls it a coffin. Yeeee.

    Lots of inner vs outer lives stuff again, as both K'Ehleyr and Worf try to protect their soft, marshmallow centers.

    Also K'Ehleyr's half human status gets us looking again at what it means to be human, and she had a great exchange with "the Android."

    Along with the story about the Klingons-displaced-in-time, we get our passionate-duo talking about their own past and how they've become who they are. Unlike the sleeping Klingons, they've grown and changed and are able to get to a new and better place with each other.

    Some nice dialogue for K'Ehleyr and Worf, and K'Ehleyr and Deanna.

    The problem of the week is a bit contrived, but who cares. The ep also hammers the idea of options and freedom of choice - with K'Ehleyr at first insisting they have no option but to blast the Klingons out of the sky, and Worf insisting he and K'Ehleyr must wed.

    But they find other answers. I love the solution of confronting the Klingons with Worf and K'Ehleyr acting as Captain and First Officer of the Enterprise.

    They use pretense to solve one problem, and drop their pretenses to solve the other.

    Well acted, well scripted - a winner.


    I liked your juxtaposition of the Klingons who never grew or changed versus K'Ehleyr and Worf, who did change and were able to become people of great importance in their time because they could change and meet the needs of the times.

    You mention that the problem of this week is contrived, but I wonder if they're not basing it off an existing Earth military circumstance. One that immediately springs to mind for me, is the Japanese who had militant remnants after WWII based on islands in isolation who for whatever reason didn't get the message from the Emperor that Japan surrendered. Anyway, I remember reading that it was difficult to handle these groups because despite their outdated notion of the conflict, they were ready to fight to the death with any foreigners who approached them.


    I suspect you are right that the concept of "old warriors who don't realize the war is over" is based on those WWII stories.

    Still a BIT contrived (the old Klingons are not as hard to contact and the worry is not just about them defending themselves aggressively), but honestly, not horribly contrived. Not at all.

    I consider the ep a 4 star, myself. K'Ehleyr is one of the best Star Trek characters ever, and Worf really comes alive as a rounded out character in this ep.

    I want to file a complaint with Star Fleet HR. Do they hire "any" full blood aliens? All of them are half human. Troi is half Betazoid; Worf and K'Ehleyr are half Klingon. Even Spock was half human and Vulcan.

    Worf never even had a woman, even on Risa, so you would think he would instantly do the Riker Leap on K'Ehleyr. Poor Alexander is only 1/4 Kilngon from their mating? Although he looks full Klingon. At least they look better than the pure Klingon's. I could never do the deed with the Duras sisters, L'Ursa and B'Etor. I would take K'Ehleyr off Worf's hands had he not knocked her up.

    @ Mr Peepers,

    Worf is a full Klingon, he's just an orphan raised by humans.

    Um, Alexander is 3/4 Klingon.

    Tuvok and T'Pol were pure Vulcan, Dr. Phlox was pure Deobulan and none of the main DS9 cast were mixed species.

    Yes, Alexander is 75% Klingon, 24% palm oil and 1% flavorings and emulsifiers.

    "Mr Worf I ORDER you to relax!!!'
    After Picard ordered Worf to spend time with someone he is clearly uncomfortable with.
    Picard and Riker seem like bullies here, as if they're trying to think of ways to tweak and prod Worf because they're bored. Lame

    I actually liked Worf's little gambit. It was, as far as TNG goes, a nice little twist to see the half-human wanting to blow them the hell up while the full klingon thinks of an elegant solution.

    I remember consistently enjoying all the Klingon stuff until I really, really didn't.

    "Damn you, Worf!"
    Love her line delivery, standing sideways and looking over her shoulder at the end. Watching this episode for the umpteenth time, and closely listening to Ron Jones's music- sublime.

    I like this a lot and Plakson's K'Ehleyr is one helluva character. "These are KLINGONS. They'll ATTACK. In their minds, we're the enemy, and there's NO way we're going to talk them out of THAT." It's a remarkably convincing performance and character.

    It's also nifty to see K'Ehleyr playing the hard headed Klingon role instead of it being Worf, and how that may be more him being spiteful to her than him being in Picard Reasoning Mode.

    Though, with the quite obvious history between the two, why didn't Picard assign someone to work with them, like Deanna and/or Data?

    Unfortunately, it is tarnished by the ridiculous notion of a 75 year Klingon sleeper ship.

    Though, to be fair, this was the third Klingon appearance on TNG, when they were still rather undefined.

    So, what came later is retcons. To the extent Klingons had been defined by this point, a 75 year sleeper mission is something they do.

    Though, I can't see why Worf's bluff would work. If these guys signed up for this 75 year mission, it's hard to see them so easily tricked.

    As far as I could see, the only person who was totally, 100% convinced that the old Klingons would never listen to reason was K'Ehleyr. Riker probably agreed, but I don't remember him saying so. Picard and Worf clearly didn't.

    Speaking of K'Ehleyr, I found her too snarky and condescending to be likable. I read somewhere that the director later admitted he had "let her get too broad" in her acting. It wasn't so bad as to be ridiculous, but just a bit over the edge for me.

    How did the old Klingons know they were in the 24th century? That was never explained.

    Despite a few flaws, I liked the story line, loved that Worf the unappreciated came up with the brilliant ruse (which was NOT a bluff, merely a ruse), and thought Michael Dorn did a terrific job.

    My wife loved Suzie Plakson in this one, to the point where she was disappointed that she couldn't join the cast as a permanent member. It never occurred to me before, but why didn't they try to replace Tasha with another female cast member? Plakson would've been as welcome as anyone as far as I'm concerned, especially as they lost their only non-caregiver woman on the show and desperately needed one. Even a comedienne would have done well, but maybe someone with more capacity than Sonya Gomez had.

    @Peter G "Even a comedienne would have done well"

    Whoopi Goldberg

    I always find the sexually charged holodeck scene between Worf and K'Ehleyr so funny. In a way that takes me out of the episode. Its so dumb.

    The two of them are going through Worfs exercise program and then get all horny. Then it cuts to a commercial break (you gotta keep it tasteful)

    When we cut back they play the scene as if the two had just had sex and they are in that chill post-sex cool down period.

    But both of them are still wearing their space onesies. There is no sign of them having taken them off or gotten dirty. It doesnt show them in the process of putting them back on. They are just wearing them. This implies that they had both already gone through the task of getting dressed again, which is more something you would do right before leaving.

    I know this sounds like a minor detail, but it really makes the scene feel weird and takes me out of it.

    The same is true of a lot of TV/movie sex. Characters are oddly modest when they shouldn't be.

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