Star Trek: The Next Generation


3.5 stars

Air date: 11/5/1990
Teleplay by Thomas Perry & Jo Perry and Ronald D. Moore & Brannon Braga
Story by Drew Deighan and Thomas Perry & Jo Perry
Directed by Jonathan Frakes

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

Klingon ambassador K'Ehleyr (Suzie Plakson; my, she's tall) comes aboard the Enterprise, and she brings along with her a surprise for Worf: a young Klingon boy, Alexander, Worf's until-now-unknown-to-him son. She's also here on official business. A power struggle is imminent in the Klingon Empire between two rivals, Duras (Patrick Massett) and Gowron (Robert O'Reilly, making an instantly memorable impression with those crazy eyes) vying to become the next chancellor of the Klingon High Council. Failure to resolve the dispute could result in a civil war that could eventually sprawl well outside Klingon borders. K'Mpec (Charles Cooper), the dying chancellor, puts Picard in charge of the mediation and reveals that he has been poisoned by either Duras or Gowron in a gutless assassination for the power grab.

Like "Legacy," this is another example of TNG's standby, "two warring factions with the Enterprise as mediators," except this time it's done well. Whenever you involve the Klingons, there's an elevated, juicier flavor to the political intrigue and the mediation proceedings. Some scenes play like grand melodrama. And, of course, the way this all ties in with Worf raises the personal stakes. Worf selflessly accepting discommendation to save the Empire in "Sins of the Father" plays into matters here, with not only the Klingons shunning him at every turn, but the very notion that he cannot acknowledge his own son because the dishonor would be extended to him.

Then there's K'Ehleyr, the non-traditionalist call-it-how-I-see-it when it comes to the Klingon Empire, which plays in stark contrast to Worf's traditional values. I love K'Ehleyr's impatience with Klingon politics. When asked, "War over what?" she responds dryly, "The usual excuses: tradition, duty, honor." After a bombing on board a Klingon ship, evidence reveals a link with the Romulans, which means someone is involved in a conspiracy (although I wasn't quite sure what the bombing's goal was). K'Ehleyr starts poking into files to find the truth, discovers Duras is the conspirator, and in a shocking turn of events, Duras kills her.

Equally adrenaline-worthy is Worf going into full Klingon mode and throwing aside his Starfleet badge to claim his right for vengeance and battle Duras to the death. The themes of culture clash are in full force here, whether it's the conflict between being a Starfleet officer and taking Klingon vengeance rights (Picard reprimands Worf in a good scene), or the gulf between K'Ehleyr's human sensibilities and Worf's Klingon ways, or how it all ties into how Worf interacts with a son he doesn't know.

Previous episode: Legacy
Next episode: Future Imperfect

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25 comments on this review

Tue, Dec 18, 2012, 7:51pm (UTC -5)
Suzie Plakson would have made a great regular on one of the Trek series. She had quite a presence.
Paul C
Thu, Aug 29, 2013, 1:06pm (UTC -5)
Yes only flaw with this excellent episode is a bomb going off for no reason at all!

Otherwise stunning & shocking. Always feel sad when Plakson dies, excellent character.
Nick P.
Wed, Sep 25, 2013, 8:59am (UTC -5)
2 comments for possibly one of the most important and well done episodes of worf, and star trek cannon from here on? Wow.

I think this episode is amazing! Every beat is perfect, the pace is perfect, this is the only watchable Alexander piece. When I was a kid and Work impaled Duras with Riker screaming in the background, I was stunned, I couldn't believe peace loving Star Trek did this! But I was happy to. And then the scene where alexander asks worf if he is his father and Worf hugs him....I still cry...
Sun, Sep 29, 2013, 9:12am (UTC -5)
Excellent episode, I expected 4 stars before opening the page!

By the way, the bomb was a way to kill Gowron: dispute solved, and Duras takes power. Eventually the opposite happened: Duras killed, and Gowron takes power!
Mon, Mar 10, 2014, 6:01pm (UTC -5)
Alas, poor K'Ehleyr. It's a shame she hated her Klingon side so much, this episode kinda proves that she could use it effectively. It was very fun seeing her stand up against Gowron and Duras, even if the latter didn't exactly work out well for her. She was an interesting character in her two appearances, more than worthy of a more permanent role in the franchise. Killing her off is a bit of a loss.

But only somewhat, because between the first instant we see her lying there dying to the last instance we see Worf standing over Duras' body is one of the most intense sequences in all of Trek. Every single moment of that time is perfect, from Worf howling to the Klingon underworld to Alexander running away to Worf's comment to Alexander to the fight on the Klingon ship to Riker arriving in time but Worf ignoring him in the heat of battle. You cannot tear your eyes away from the TV.

And then there was the scene with Picard and Worf. This is completely uncharted waters for us. A member of the senior staff just committed murder! What was Picard going to say? And then, he simply... let Worf go with a slap on the wrist? Yeah, it's a black mark on his record, but no demotion, no prison, no nothing?

And yet, it kinda makes sense. Picard's in completely uncharted waters here too...

For one, look at the geopolitics (er, astropolitics?) involved. Duras just murdered a Federation diplomat. That is a horrific response for a member of the Klingon High Council, and would undoubtedly have put a serious strain on Klingon/UFP relations. A few episodes later, Picard would be willing to have the Enterprise destroyed and to start a war with the Romulans when he believed they had kidnapped a Federation ambassador; why should it be any different here? Even worse, the murderer had a 50/50 chance of being the next chancellor. How could the Federation work with the Klingons after that? Would there be war? And keep in mind, at that point Picard knew that Duras was working with Romulans, or at least had strong evidence of it. Having Duras as Chancellor would be intolerable to the Federation, yet their hands were tied legally. Worf's actions untied them in a manner that was perfectly legal in the Klingon justice system.

It's hard to punish a guy too much when he just saved the Federation. Even a pair of humpback whales know that much.

Secondly, this is the inevitable endgame of the Federation's obsessive "tolerance" culture. By claiming that all cultures have a right to exist, the Federation essentially endorses Worf's commitment to the Klingon culture. And if Worf is to be allowed to act in a Klingon culture, what happens when that culture clashes with Federation culture? Presumably, duels are highly frowned upon in the Federation, yet perfectly rational for Klingons. If your culture places "tolerance" above its own morals (including "duels are bad"), then how can you punish someone for that?

Picard's speech to Worf provides the answer. You can respect other cultures, but only insofar that they respect Federation culture. In other words, duty to the Federation morality comes first. This isn't as obvious as it might seem; given the obsession with tolerance today there are plenty of examples where the law and public opinion is murky on where the majority must sacrifice their culture to the minority and vice versa. With Worf being the only Klingon in Starfleet, it may be possible that this possibility was not clearly spelled out, and Picard may have felt some responsibility for that. After all, he explicitly endorsed Klingon civil code last year by not only allowing Worf to stand trial, but by accepting the role of Worf's fighter during the trial. Picard's actions led to the death of at least one Klingon during Sins of the Father, why is this much different? So he had to be lenient this time while laying down the law that it could not happen again (presumably Sisko didn't get the memo when Worf killed Gowron...).

And finally, it just seems like a slap on the wrist to us. To Worf, Picard's note that it would go in his record was, essentially, an attack on Worf's personal honor. And we know how much that means to him. Notice how much he stiffens when Picard says that to him. To Worf, the knowledge of severe disapproval from his superior officer was punishment enough. And Picard undoubtedly realized it. Especially since he softened up immediately afterwards, asking Worf about how long he would allow the discommendation to last.

One last comment as a random aside: just how ridiculously stupid is the Federation? K'Ehleyr is the Federation ambassador to the Klingons and not vice versa, correct? If so, why the heck would they send someone who HATES Klingon culture to be an ambassador there??? That's some rather insulting diplomacy there. At least they had Curzon... Of course, if she was the Klingon ambassador to the Federation, then that makes more sense...
Thu, Sep 25, 2014, 5:12pm (UTC -5)
Fantastic episode.

Really is a shame that K'Ehleyr wasn't kept around, but I do think it was crucial to Worf's character development that she died. She was a rare kindred spirit for Worf: a Klingon working in the federation.
I had forgotten that she was half-human before she appeared in that first episode a few seasons prior. So she pre-dates Belanna Torres as a female half-klingon half-human.
Sun, Dec 14, 2014, 11:21pm (UTC -5)
Not sure why you gave this 3-1/2 stars -- it's clearly a four-star episode. Great script, excellent direction by Frakes (who's since become one of the best directors in television) and fantastic performances all around. This is high on my best-of-Trek list.
Sat, Jun 27, 2015, 11:19pm (UTC -5)
"Reunion" is one of the prime examples of what Trek can, and should, be. It's pure, unadulterated universe building, nothing else. There is no "seek out new life and new civilizations" or "boldly go where no one has gone before" here. And thank God for it! It's an unabashed attempt to showcase the larger picture in this fictional universe. What this episode provides via the Klingon Empire and with Worf's personal story is exactly what I thought was missing from "The Best of Both Worlds."

By dealing with entities and people we already know, it allows for scenes that would otherwise be as enjoyable as watching paint dry (scenes of people talking in the Observation Lounge and the scenes between Picard, Gowron and Duras) to instead be infused with a great amount of drama and emotional investment.

And I have to say, massive props are due to the writers for having the guts to do two rather unexpected things - having K'Ehleyr die and having Worf do the non-PC thing of killing Duras in full Klingon berserker mode. Both of those were major risks for this show that often doesn't rock the boat.

Hands down one of the best of TNG and quite possibly one of the best of the whole franchise.

Diamond Dave
Fri, Sep 11, 2015, 4:19pm (UTC -5)
And so we delve deeper into the murky world of Klingon politics. As noted above, this adds more flesh to the bones of an existing story line, a welcome development now possible with 80 odd episodes in the bag.

The return of K’Ehleyr spices matters wonderfully, and the shock of her death to Worf killing Duras in revenge is a great sequence. Worf's struggle with his loss of honour is well documented, as is the revelation and slow acceptance of his son.

And introducing the excellent Gowron is another plus. 3.5 stars.
Andrew Taylor-Cairns
Fri, Mar 4, 2016, 5:39am (UTC -5)
An excellent episode! It's so sad seeing K'Ehleyr dead, but Worf's reaction, and then murdering Duras, was all fantastic to watch. This is one of those episodes that never loses its power over me.
Sun, Mar 6, 2016, 10:12am (UTC -5)
Great Episode and great turning point for Klingon story arc.

This is the ultimate Klingon political episode of TNG along with Redemption.

DS9 would follow this to the end with Taking into the Wind, where [major spoilers removed by Jammer].
Tue, May 17, 2016, 1:06pm (UTC -5)
Excellent episode, especially the great performance of Suzie Plakson. The single downer is the introduction of the runt character, Alexander, who went on to become the most annoying character in the entire franchise.
Thu, Jan 12, 2017, 9:51pm (UTC -5)
Have to concur, it's a 4 star episode. The bomb thing is easy, he meant to blow up Gowron but didn't quite get close enough, only got his guard/aide instead. Can't see how this isn't 4 star, it's definitely a stronger episode than BOBW II for example.
Tue, Jul 18, 2017, 4:27pm (UTC -5)
Terrific episode - great to see K'Ehleyr again but also too bad we won't be seeing her again. She brings a spark to the episode, her facial expressions, her attitude. What's with the Klingon kid showing no expression at all upon seeing her killed? I would have expected some tears, crying. The part about the son drags the show down a bit, although at the end when Worf says he's the father was a nice touch.

As for the main plot, it's the usual Klingon stuff with Duras/Gowron acting like tough guys - both equally distasteful in a power struggle. But the plot plays out well although I do feel the part of the bomb going off was left a bit up in the air. Small detail that isn't too important.

Good episode for Picard to have to take on the job of arbitrating between the 2 Klingons. Also liked his talking-to to Worf after Duras is killed was well done. Liked how he had to deal with the 2 Klingons - they did respect him ultimately.

I still feel the Klingons are a bit ridiculous given how their customs operate. Apparently no issue for Worf to kill Duras for the Klingons, but StarFleet gives him a reprimand - whatever that turns out to be.

I'd rate "Reunion" a strong 3.5 stars. It really picked up with K'Ehleyr's murder - a big moment - and the chain of events that set in motion. Wonder where it leaves the Klingon empire with Gowron in charge...
Sat, Sep 16, 2017, 5:43am (UTC -5)
Agree with the strong 3.5 stars, probably actually a 4 in my book. One of my favorites. Though I do agree with what was mentioned above, the sub plot involving the bomb going off required more thought. Was the bomb intended to kill Galron? If so then why didn't the bomber stand closer to him? It seemed to effect everyone the same. And what was with Dulras' rush, the "finish this now!"? Oh well, a small flaw in an otherwise stellar episode.
Derek D
Mon, Dec 11, 2017, 10:54pm (UTC -5)
I LOVE the episodes involving Klingon politics. For me this one is somewhere between 3.5 and 4, so let's call it 3.75. Hell, it really is a classic--4 stars.
Fri, Feb 9, 2018, 4:13pm (UTC -5)
Super episode-great link to Sins of the Father and good introduction to Gowron.
I agree that Suzie Plaxton played her character brilliantly and a shame they bumped her off.

This was a brilliant Worf episode.
Wed, Mar 7, 2018, 7:46am (UTC -5)
A great episode. It occured to me, whilst rewatching TNG's Klingon episodes, that TNG's increasingly bland scoring never really affected its Klingon episodes, which used a pretty cool, portentous, epic score to lend gravity and scope to what were really very small tales, set on very small soundstages.
Peter Swinkels
Thu, Apr 12, 2018, 2:00am (UTC -5)
Not much to say, except that Gowron’s crazed eyes give him a highly recognizable appearance.
Cody B
Thu, May 3, 2018, 7:04pm (UTC -5)
@ Trent: I’m pretty sure I can hear a little bit on the Klingon theme from the Trek films used in TNG when there are Klingon action scenes. They don’t completely reuse the theme from the films but the melody is in there
Sarjenka's Little Brother
Fri, Jun 8, 2018, 9:56pm (UTC -5)
Shakespearean in tone and body count.

Boy, I sure did hate to see K'Ehleyr go. Made for great drama, but the character and Suzie Plakson brought so much. I wish they had given her more appearances as Dr. Solar.

Count me among the fans that loved these Klingon and Romulan political intrigue episodes.
Fri, Jul 6, 2018, 1:13pm (UTC -5)
Totally boring. I paid very little attention while it played in the background and I scrolled through Instagram.
Sarjenka's Little Brother
Mon, Jul 30, 2018, 5:55pm (UTC -5)
Well, do what you want. But perhaps you might have enjoyed the show more if you had put away your Instagram, and perhaps the Instagram might have been better if you had turned off the show.
Fri, Sep 28, 2018, 9:51pm (UTC -5)
30 minutes of tedious Klingon politics followed by 15 riveting minutes of palpable character drama. K'Ehleyr's death was appreciated. She was well written, but the actress left much to be desired. And of course, the resulting drama was spectacular.
Sun, Oct 21, 2018, 5:47am (UTC -5)
2.5 stars

Not really excited or really drawn in to this episode. I much prefer Sins of the Father or Redemption to this

Just fell flat. Never a fan of the Kehlehr character or the Worf romance angle. I’d eventual go on to like Alexander but didn’t do much for me here. I also thought Picard was a little crusty in his attitude from way he treated Worf to his attitude with Kmpec.

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