Star Trek: The Next Generation

"Rightful Heir"

3 stars

Air date: 5/17/1993
Teleplay by Ronald D. Moore
Story by James E. Brooks
Directed by Winrich Kolbe

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

Suffering a personal spiritual crisis that causes Worf to be late for work one day (an offense which Picard finds to be transgressive to a bizarre degree — maybe only slightly less severe than killing Duras in "Reunion"), Worf requests a leave of absence to go be with other Klingons and immerse himself in his spiritual side, something he has found gnawing at him ever since his experience with the young Klingons in "Birthright, Part II." He goes to a colony on Boreth, where Klingons are awaiting the return of the ancient warrior Kahless, who has been prophesized to return. While sitting in a trance after several days or weeks or however long it takes for a Klingon's head to clear, Worf witnesses Kahless materialize before him, in the flesh. Later, Worf engages the outspoken Kahless (Kevin Conway) in a bat'leth fight. Because he's annoyed. Or maybe because it's fun.

And we've just barely gotten started. "Rightful Heir" is nothing if not ambitious in its storytelling, even if it threatens to ascend into the stratosphere of the absurd. The story at first seems like it's going to be another slog through ponderous Klingon mumbo-jumbo much the way the juiceless "Birthright, Part II" was, but Ron Moore shows here why he earned his reputation as the Klingon Guy; "Rightful Heir" has plenty of Klingon Claptrap, yes, but it also gains steam after the first couple acts with the much-needed juice, political shenanigans, and earnest dialogue. What starts as an out-of-left-field crisis of Worf's spirituality becomes, by the end, a battle for the hearts and minds of the Klingon Empire (albeit one told via microcosm on a few sets on the Enterprise).

The literal return of Kahless manages to pose the question of resurrection and prophecy in sci-fi allegory terms: If, say, Christ claimed to return from the dead after millenniums and was not accompanied by a hell of a convincing show of sound and fury, who would actually believe it to be true? Okay, maybe don't answer that, but I tend to think (hope?) most sane people — even believers — would be extremely skeptical. (I personally find the notion of belief in literal resurrection, religious or otherwise, to be silly on the level of believing in magic, but, hey, that's just me. I guess that would put me on Team Gowron for this story's sake — if not for all the political corruption, of course.)

The crucial element of success here is the story's suggestion of sprawling consequences for the Klingon Empire, as Kahless' return implies the dawn of a new era of leadership — but one that Gowron is not simply going to step aside and cede. Gowron engages Kahless in a bat'leth battle, and Kahless loses, which goes against the prophecy of Kahless' greatness. Worf (and, by storytelling microcosm, many others) begins to lose his faith, suspecting that political manipulators Koroth (Alan Oppenheimer) and Torin (Norman Snow) may be manipulating the entire situation for their own political power play — which it turns out they are, because they actually created Kahless as a clone from the long-dead real man's preserved DNA. (While the Klingons are allowed to believe in the supernatural, the supernatural itself does not actually exist here, this being Star Trek.) This actually proves to be an interesting story twist; it's a prophecy come to life because of science. But how much resonance does Kahless hold for the empire? Enough to divide it, it would seem.

Worf's proposed solution to this complicated quagmire is one of compromises that considers the importance of symbols like Kahless alongside the pragmatism of the political realities. (And I liked the way Worf's conversation with Data, of all unlikely people, ended up helping Worf come to his decision.) If you like Klingon politics, you will probably like "Rightful Heir," which is ultimately as intriguing as it is borderline ridiculous. And it's got the juice.

Footnote: Ron Moore also seemed to be trying out lines for later use here: Worf's "And if you do not tell me what you have done, then I will kill you right here!" sounds a lot like his line to Picard in "First Contact," which I still love for its gloriously theatric delivery: "If you were any other man, I would KILL you where you stand!"

Previous episode: Suspicions
Next episode: Second Chances

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87 comments on this post

Fri, Aug 31, 2012, 12:13am (UTC -5)
Ron Moore also had Tom Riker say that the Defiant was a "tough, little ship" in the DS9 episode, "Defiant". *William* Riker would make that same description of the vessel in Star Trek: First Contact.

Just sayin'.
Fri, Aug 31, 2012, 12:20am (UTC -5)
At this stage in the series I was soooooooooooooo over Klingon drivel and Worf was becoming a bore. This episode didnt help on either front. I hated the idea of a clone of Kahless. All the ritualistic stuff was I guess meant to be deep but was pretty pretentious. Gowron--do we need to see him whiney and growling about a threat to his rightful place in the Empire?!?..Uh nope.

Overall I thought this was one too many visits to the Klingon well by Moore and TNG.

I thought it was a snoozer up there with Birthright II. Only worthy of 1.5 stars.
Fri, Aug 31, 2012, 5:17am (UTC -5)
Guess I have to disagree with you again, David, lol. I love Klingon drivel!

But I've had a crush on Worf since he grew his hair long. I think I share with many other women the desire to find out if he really would be too much to handle (remember when he discussed that with Guinan? Yummy!)--so Worf on center stage is just fine by me!

I share your skepticism about the return of a "savior" Jammer, and have often pondered what would be convincing evidence of a deity. I heard one comedian suggest putting a million dollars in his bank account--I guess that would work for me, too!
Fri, Aug 31, 2012, 1:20pm (UTC -5)
Let's not kid ourselves. This is an episode of DS9. It has all the hallmarks: person of faith finds himself at odds with his secular society and needs to introspect or meditate or whatever to figure it out. Person of faith encounters a deeply fulfilling event in his spiritual life for which he shall act as stand-in for all or most of his society. Person of faith comes to find that this spiritual event was a rouse and a lie, but this crater-sized disappointment is barely adressed, and more egregiously, the original spiritual problem which led to this situation is totally forgotten about. Boy is it familiar.

We also have the "sprawling society" trope. Look, the interconnected and continuity bejewelled societies of (especially) DS9 are fun. It's fun to keep track of who's who and who is loyal to whom and to see familiar faces interacted with the main cast. No arguments from me. But in the end, the profundity of the society is no more or less valid than any other alien-of-the-week. The allegorical elements of the societies either work or they don't but it depends not one bit on whether that allegorised society is a one-stop planet or a decades-old fictional culture like the Klingons.

I am reminded of just about the only interesting thing Ezri Dax ever said, that the Klingon culture is doomed to collapse in hypocrisy. Worf's (the show's) solution, rather than to attempt to use this betrayal by religious leaders as a means to begin to purge Klingon culture of its poisonous tendencies, is to validate their idiocy AND use it to gain political control. What an unbelievable bastard! And I'm drowning in the irony of this coming from a man who was claiming to be under a genuine spiritual direst. I'm not saying I don't believe that the allegory is effective or true-to-life. On the contrary, I think corrupt governments use religion at every opportunity to manipulate and seize more power, but Worf's rôle in this has to be completely ignored if we are to see him as an heroic figure hereafter.

I'd give it 2 stars.
Fri, Aug 31, 2012, 2:22pm (UTC -5)
Once you go Klingon, you won't go back.
Sat, Sep 1, 2012, 9:39am (UTC -5)
I've always taken issue with TNG (and to a lesser extent, DS9) using the Kahless character, considering how it originated on TOS. It's a really weird bit of continuity.

In "The Savage Curtain", Kahless plays like most Klingons in TOS -- as a real bastard (who has weird voice-mimicking abilities?). It would have made more sense for TNG to simply invent a new Klingon Christ figure.

Strangely, Trek continuity was generally at its worst in TNG as compared with DS9 and VOY (though not Enterprise, which is an entirely different discussion). And yet, the creators brought back the Kahless name here (and earlier in TNG, with incorrect pronunciation). Total misfire, if you ask me.

The episode otherwise is pretty good. It's really the last glimpse of Worf as we've known him (the creators take the character in weird places in season 7) until he appears on DS9.

However, I did think that it's odd that Kahless or the emperor doesn't get mentioned again until "The Way of the Warrior" and is never seen again.
Nick P.
Mon, Sep 10, 2012, 4:19pm (UTC -5)
Weird episode, I WANT to hate it, but for some reason it is very watchable.......I think Jammer is right, it bates you into thinking it is another boring spiritual quest, and swithces to a real fun political drama. And yes, this is the last time until DS9 Worf acts pretty much in character.

So, is this Kahless ever mentioned again in Star Trek?
Sun, Sep 16, 2012, 11:56pm (UTC -5)
Worf makes reference to Emperor Kahless in his first appearance on DS9. And then again in "The Sword of Kahless". I think that’s pretty much it.

Good review Jammer. I used to love this one but after re-watching I think 2.5-3 stars is about right.

Minor point: I always thought Worf (a Starfleet lieutenant) has far too much influence here. It's clearly just for the sake of the plot but stands out like dog's [email protected]
Fri, Jul 5, 2013, 12:27pm (UTC -5)
@Jammer: minor correction, I don't believe worf requests a leave of absence. Picard asks Worf if there is a place he could go, then tells Worf to take leave.
William B
Fri, Sep 20, 2013, 3:30pm (UTC -5)
I'm not quite sure how I feel about this one, all things considered. A few quick notes (I probably will have to think about this at length before coming to any real conclusions):

1) Picard's anger at Worf's showing up for late one day really is weird. Mostly, I think the reason is that Picard is emphasizing Worf's (minor) screwup just so that he can transition more easily into telling Worf to take a leave of absence without Worf arguing about it.

2) I like the justification given by Gowron for having the Enterprise transport Kahless -- keep him away from Klingon ships!

3) Clone-Kahless sure takes the revelation that he's a clone in stride after the first scene where he finds out. And I think that hints at one of the episode's big problems -- in its rush to make Worf the protagonist, Kahless is basically sidelined in the key decision-making scene which decides the fate of the Empire and Clone-Kahless' role in it.

4) I really like Data's role in the scenes with Worf, since in a lot of ways it is meant as a bookend to "Birthright," in which Worf's spiritual insight was part of what sent Data on his path there, and here Data sends Worf partly on his path.

5) On the other hand, I struggle to find a link between what Data actually says to Worf and what Worf concludes in the next scene. Data's lines are about Data's own spiritual crisis, and, at core, are about the question of whether or not a person can believe that one has a spiritual component; Data, even more a walking machine than humans are (and we are, as Picard pointed out back in "Datalore," machines of a sort too), is in an even better position than humans to reflect on the necessity of making a leap of faith to believe in one's personhood besides being a mere collection of neurochemical processes. However, that leap of faith, which basically amounts to *believing that one has a spiritual side, a "soul", perhaps*, is not the same as the leap of faith required to believe that Clone-Kahless is actually Kahless. That's, like, not a leap of faith at all.

Now, what I think Worf probably is saying is that Clone-Kahless, as the biological heir to Kahless and as a repository of his teachings, is someone people want to believe in because they want to believe in Kahless' teachings, and they crave what Clone-Kahless can give them as a symbol. They want to believe in him as being a representative of those teachings, in other words. But Worf doesn't quite seem to believe this, because that's pretty close to what Clone-Kahless says at the episode's end -- that as long as Kahless' teachings live on, it doesn't truly matter whether "the real Kahless" returns. But Worf seems to still be surprised by this revelation, so I'm not clear what exactly he thinks the leap of faith he refers to means, and I think that makes it hard for me to see the episode as holding together.

6) I think that, at core, this is what the episode is about, anyway. Klingons want to believe in Kahless, because the Empire has descended into decadence and corruption, and Worf himself has lost touch with the Klingon spirit. Klingons like Korris and Konmel from "Heart of Glory" try to recapture the Klingon spirit only by becoming more vicious hunters/predators, which is not a real option. What they need is to find something intrinsically Klingon in Kahless. Initially, Worf (and the other worshipers) believe that they need to *see Kahless*, the original, the supernatural article, in order to incorporate him into their lives. At the episode's end, a way of reinterpreting Kahless as a secular person -- Kahless' great "supernatural" feats as a representation of the meaning of his teachings, in other words -- is proposed, through Clone-Kahless. The leap of faith is in believing that it doesn't matter whether Kahless really does literally return in a supernatural sense, but that a metaphorical, non-literal return of Kahless into the hearts and minds of the Klingon people by reintegrating his teachings, perhaps with Clone-Kahless as a symbol of that, can be accomplished and lead to the same thing. I think that is how religion can be interpreted in the 21st century: the value of the moral teachings in different religious traditions can be integrated into a secular world by recognizing that it is the *moral* teachings themselves, and not the literal meaning, that is important, which is what Clone-Kahless suggests at the end (and to a degree, I think is what Data's spiritual crisis resolution is about, too -- Data doesn't believe that he will live on into some literal afterlife, but still believes that he has personhood, even though that can't be strictly proven).

The question is why Clone-Kahless is necessary for Klingons to accomplish this integration of the value of Kahless' teachings in a way that doesn't require Kahless to have literal supernatural powers. Really, he shouldn't be; isn't Clone-Kahless also a symbol of the religious hierarchy's deception and clear attempt to seize political power from Gowron? And so, when Worf says that he will FORCE A WAR on Gowron if Gowron does not accept Worf's proposed solution of installing Clone-Kahless as emperor, I don't really know what he's talking about or hopes to accomplish. Surely Klingons can incorporate the teachings of Kahless into their everyday lives on their own, without Emperor Clone-Kahless presiding over them? Worf does not himself seem to want Clone-Kahless as his personal emperor, and so his insistence that this is what Klingons Want And Need is deeply condescending.

7) And, in general, I guess the problem is that it's hard to tell what exactly it is that Kahless represents at this stage in the story. Kahless opposes corruption and decadence, right? Well, yes, but I'm not sure how different Kahless' finding joy in fighting is from the Klingons drinking in between brutal fights in "Redemption II," which mostly sickened Worf and put him off Klingon society and which he largely saw as decadent. Kahless wants Klingons to have joy! Well, okay. Certainly there's lots of evidence that the Klingon Empire is a screwed up place, with values out of whack, but I don't think that we see enough to understand why Kahless himself is such an inspirational figure.

Anyway, having talked it through, I think this is probably a 2.5 star show -- it has some good ideas, and some effective drama, and the very very end of Worf's spiritual crisis when he talkes with Clone-Kahless on the transporter pad makes sense to me and ties in with his conversations with Data and *to some degree* feels connected to Worf's overall decisions. But I don't really buy Worf's solution of Clone-Kahless getting Emperor status, and certainly not when it's under threat of Civil War.
William B
Fri, Sep 20, 2013, 3:45pm (UTC -5)
You know, I just rewatched the last few minutes of the episode -- from the last Data/Worf scene on -- and I think maybe I'm too harsh on the episode, though not too harsh on Worf. Worf *is* condescending to the Klingon people in this scene, projecting his own need for spiritual guidance onto the Klingon people (with some evidence) and assuming that they, unlike him, will be able to take guidance from Clone-Kahless, the kind of guidance he felt initially from him before the revelation of his true nature shocked Worf and left him betrayed. If Klingons can get the guidance from Clone-Kahless without being lied to, then they can get the best of what Worf experienced without the worst. This still leaves Worf in a position of making decisions for the whole Empire based not so much on right/wrong as based on attempts to maintain the political balance of power and to do the best good for the Klingon people; he thinks and acts as a politician rather than a man, and this makes him not much different from Gowron. As Elliott points out above, there is a direct line between this and Ezri's speech in "Tacking Into the Wind"; Worf keeps taking measures to forestall the Klingon Empire from collapsing onto itself from its own inertia, because he loves the Klingon Empire but fails to believe in it. This makes him a tragic figure in some respects, but in others is makes him a big part of the problem. I guess the real question, perhaps, is whether "Tacking Into the Wind," at the end of Worf's arc, actually helps resolve these issues or just cements the essential problems of Worf's character; I can see either argument. But I think maybe this is a low 3-star show, and forms a reasonable part in the saga of Worf's involvement in Klingon affairs, which continues to make him an outsider even as he takes a more and more active role, and even if his actions are not necessarily right.
Fri, Jan 10, 2014, 12:29pm (UTC -5)
Klingons are the Star Trek species I like the least. So you can imagine how I felt about a Klingon-related episode.

And I feel it's so unfair, because it's the most developed species in ST. It's the one we see the most and that seems like a real society. But I hate everything they stand for: Tradition, machismo, violence, ignorance. One wonders how such a species would ever have arrived to Warp drive.
Sat, Jan 25, 2014, 10:49pm (UTC -5)
Boring!!! I usually like the Worf episodes but this seemed to be an excuse to bash faith and religion. I watch a lot of sci-fi so I'm used to atheistic views popping up in storylines: not a big deal. This however was heavy handed and boring. They may as well have had a bunch of atheists sitting around a table discussing how religion is a tool invented by the government to control the people. Yeah, and not to mention, man made God and not vice versa.
Basically it was a one sided dialog, unlike the Riker episode where he fell in love with the adrogynous 'woman'.
Thu, Jan 30, 2014, 4:51pm (UTC -5)
I *am* an atheist, and I found this boring. I finished a knitting project while watching it, lol. Then again, I don't like Klingons to begin with. Honor, warriors, sword, blood, blablabla.... not my thing. Give me the Romulans any day!!!!!
Mon, Feb 17, 2014, 8:00am (UTC -5)
Great concept that did not live up to potential. Little too much "klingon blabber". The original concept was more "christ-like"...which was entertaining, but Berman heavily censored this out of Moore's work.
Sat, May 31, 2014, 2:54pm (UTC -5)
What I don't get is this. If this Kahless is a clone, how does he remember appearing to Worf in a vision when Worf was a child?
Fri, Jun 27, 2014, 7:08pm (UTC -5)
@William: The leap of faith isn't believing that Clone-Kahless is really Kahless. The leap is believing that he will lead the empire in the way he was designed to, like Kahless. That he has Kahless' purity of heart. His warrior spirit. His sense of honor and duty. That he is a symbol for what Klingons are "meant" to be.
Andrew T
Sun, Jul 6, 2014, 4:35pm (UTC -5)
What shocked me in this episode was how insensitive they were to the Kayless clone who had to listen to them all call him a fraud, while he was probably trying to deal with the fact he had just been declared a clone.

Still I do like this episode and Birthright, so I feel season six was pretty strong with klingon episodes that I enjoy.
Tue, Aug 12, 2014, 8:06pm (UTC -5)
I'm having a hard time with this episode. I've thought about it and thought about it, and still don't know how I feel about it. The idea surrounding this episode is a good one, I think. There's a ton of interesting possibilities here, both with the return of Kahless as well as the revelation that he's a clone. There are so many interesting players involved as well.

But that may also be why it's hard to judge the episode. There's a heck of a lot of plot to get through, and because of that certain aspects of it seem a bit rushed. Or not given the attention they deserve. Worf's crisis of faith is a central theme to the episode, and it starts out very well. But his final solution, while smart, seems to come out of nowhere. And there really isn't a resolution to his issues. Did he seem to go with what Kahless and Data said, that it doesn't matter whether or not what you believe is the truth? That's not a very satisfactory resolution, as it is in complete contradiction to everything we saw from Worf beforehand. After all, we know he's a believer, but he wasn't satisfied with that. He was still trying to get a vision of Kahless, he still wanted confirmation of his belief. And then when Kahless did appear, Worf wanted confirmation of that. Either way, while Worf has his faith, he still wants to know what is real.

But on the other hand, perhaps it is fine that Worf's issues are left unresolved. After all, it would be unrealistic to assume that Worf's faith journey would wrap up nice and neatly in 43 minutes. Perhaps it is better that it remains unanswered here.

Meanwhile, Gowron's story is just as interesting. Watching this, I was saddened by what DS9 did to him. Here, Gowron is a pretty shrewd politician, which fits ok with his previous portrayals. He's a jerk and unscrupulous, but he knows what he's doing. So why did he have to turn into such an incompetent buffoon by the end of DS9 that Sisko told Worf to go into the assassination business?

So I like what Gowron did here. He was plainly skeptical, but still very cognizant of the threat Kahless represented to his power. All of his moves here rang true, from asking the Enterprise to transport Kahless (wow, an excuse to keep the main cast involved that actually worked in-universe!), to his probing of Kahless' story. And when, during their duel, Kahless tried to use his oratory skills to stop the fight (as he successfully did with Worf), Gowron was not fooled and finished the duel. And despite Gowron being a complete bastard, by the time he actually won there was enough doubt about Kahless that we were actually cheered by his victory.

But our time with Kahless is fairly short. We don't really get much on him or on the priests who cloned him. How did Kahless not have any doubts before this? He was imprinted with only stories, not his whole life. How would that feel to him? How did he instinctively know what his role would be? And how much of the original Kahless is still a part of him? Will he be successful as a ceremonial emperor? There was a lot of potential with Kahless, but he was shunted aside too easily. Andrew mentioned the insensitivity of everyone talking about him as if he wasn't there. I liked that scene; I thought that insensitiveness worked given the high stakes involved. But it does accidentally mirror the plot itself, as the role of the Kahless clone is shunted aside for matters of faith and politics.

I also am not sure where Worf came up with his plan or why. Or why it had to be him. It seemed like the whole final solution came about because Worf is a main character so of course he has to be the one to come up with it. It doesn't really fit with Worf's character; as WilliamB pointed out it is a remarkably cynical and political move. Yes, Worf's done that before, but only when forced on him and dealing with his own honor. This is different; I don't think it fits in with Worf's character. Suggesting it? Maybe. But demanding it or forcing civil war? Yeesh.

Ah, what the heck. It's a good episode. And a pretty good Worf episode. And an ok Klingon episode. I'll take it.
Wed, Aug 20, 2014, 5:59am (UTC -5)
Skeptical, I disagree on the notion that DS9 suddenly made Gowron incompetent. For starters, we don't know if he was ever a particularly effective tactician to begin with, but that wasn't the problem on DS9. The problem was he was *intentionally* making Martok (who apparently WAS an effective tactician) look bad by sending him into hopeless battles to discredit him.

I do wish we'd seen more of what supposedly made Kahless great, emphasizing a sense of honor, but for an episode about faith, Worf's proposed compromise of having Kahless installed as emperor was the best possible compromise to avert division or even another civil war. Neither Gowron, nor Korath, seem particularly happy about it (maybe not even Worf, for that matter) but seem to understand it's the best solution there is.

All in all, despite being an agnostic myself, I really enjoyed this episode and what address, regarding faith and symbols.
Sun, Aug 24, 2014, 4:06pm (UTC -5)
Todd, good point about his rivalry with Martok. I had forgotten about that aspect. Which did, actually, fit in with what we know of Gowron. I never got the impression that Gowron was a particularly honorable Klingon, but I think he did care quite a bit for the good of the Empire. That's what he talked about in Redemption, and it's what he talked about here. He was also a perfect embodiment of a politician. So I guess the question is, is he the type of person who would put his own personal position ahead of the good of the empire? If someone put the question to him, I assume he would say no, but he does seem to have an inflated sense of ego (see Unification where he tried to rewrite history). So I guess I can see him turning into a Nixon, where paranoia ends up causing other problems.

Sure, Martok had no political ambitions, but how would Gowron know that? All he knows is that a Changeling replaced Martok, and the Changelings tried to have the Federation assassinate him. Presumably, the plan would be that the Changeling Martok would then become chancellor. So presumably, there was a reason even then that people saw Martok as a natural successor. And thus that would be reason for Gowron to be worried about him.

And yet, would Gowron really intentionally start losing the war (and that was my impression of the DS9 episode in question)? That seems a harder pill to swallow. But I will admit that Gowron's fall is more complex than I initially made it seem.
Sat, Jan 31, 2015, 11:04am (UTC -5)
Could people please provide examples of Gowron acting like a jerk, being dishonorable (before Tacking into the Wind), complete bastard, etc. I have been watching Netflix this past month (medical issues) and I just don't see it.

Everyone points to his rewriting history as an example of corruption. It was a matter of survival. No leader of any country is going to state that a foreign power was responsible for their rise. That's insane, and a death wish.

I sometimes wonder if Gowron functioning as Worf's shadow hasn't set him up to be the depository of negative projection from the audience also, and not just Worf.

And no, Gowron would not intentionally start losing any war to eliminate a rival. I think one problem I carry is that I played Star Trek: Klingon where you get to know Gowron better than you do just watching the shows. Since this storyline was created by the same folks to create the show, I was of the impression that it was canon (Events occurred after Way of the Warrior). So, I was quite shocked by events in When it Rains and Tacking. The fact that there was no lead up to him going insane, and that appears to be what happened, it feels highly contrived. The fact that Worf kills his Shadow is bad news for Worf. He will remain fractured the rest of his life.

I didn't care for these events at the time they first aired but watching episode right after episode really makes it clear that whatever happened to Gowron, it happened off screen. Foul!

Also, Gowron did not kill K'Mpec. It is obvious from the show and script and Ron Moore said he didn't. I do agree that he is insecure. He was never able to build enough support. I can't help but to wonder if he ever stopped to think about the "few rewards and no glory" that the chancellorship offered.

In Rightful Heir, I was astonished with Worf's demanding attitude that things will be his way or there will be another Klingon Civil War.
William B
Sat, Jan 31, 2015, 12:15pm (UTC -5)
@Cleopaddera: I generally agree; in TNG at least (I haven't rewatched DS9 lately), I interpret Gowron as decent for the most part. The "problem" is that Gowron acknowledges political necessities in a way that Worf largely doesn't. I like the interpretation of Gowron as Worf's shadow.

I think the worst thing Gowron does in TNG is the implicit threat he offers K'Ehleyr in "Reunion." That is bad, and a sign that Gowron uses intimidation covertly, rather than (say) overt shows of strength. In "Rightful Heir," Gowron is somewhat positioned as a heavy as a skeptic, but...well, he's RIGHT about Kahless not literally being true, and his position is thus validated. I keep meaning to rewatch this episode in particular to suss out Worf's views a little more clearly actually.

I guess the difference between Worf's commitment to honour and Gowron's pragmatism comes about in instances such as Gowron's refusal to grant Worf's family name credibility unless it can benefit him, e.g. However, this puts Gowron at a lower level of "corruption" than K'mpec. More "Tacking" spoilers: Worf finds it difficult to openly acknowledge his personal ambition. I also rather agree about Worf being fractured in "Tacking" -- killing the shadow/ogre "father" to install the "good father" into a job that Martok may not even want can be interpreted as Worf acting out his own issue. Leadership can ONLY fall on people who don't want it, which is why Worf thrusts it onto Martok rather than himself, thus absolving Martok and himself of accusations of self-interest, at least on the surface. Except that Martok is symbolic of the Klingon that Worf wants himself to be, etc.; eventually Martok will have to do something to acknowledge political realities, and then Worf will break with him or grow up. Note that this isn't me saying that Gowron's behaviour in "When It Rains" is just acknowledging political realities, which it isn't, but ironically it's kind of the opposite -- following GLORY to its extremes, the way Worf follows an occasionally narrow conception of HONOUR to its extremes.

That said, Worf gives the Klingon death yell to Gowron when he dies, and there is some respect there. It's not like with Duras. Gowron is being selfish, myopic and insane, but I think that Worf acknowledges that Gowron is not *deliberately* endangering the empire so much as failing to let reason in. On that note, I do think it's worth noting that trying to steal the glory and win the Dominion battle actually has some potential benefits; if it works, not only would it solidify Gowron's personal hold on power, but it also would create a situation in which the Federation and even Romulans are deeply indebted to the Klingon Empire, and also would give the Klingon Empire the spoils of war, which are considerable. It's a foolish gamble to make, but IF IT WORKS it's a more ethical way of using the war to gain power and influence in the quadrant than what the Federation is doing with Section 31 and planning for Federation/Romulan conflicts e.g.
Thu, Apr 30, 2015, 9:29pm (UTC -5)
Hey William B,

I don't get how people keep saying Gowron wouldn't give Worf back his honor. Gowron wasn't even Chancellor when Worf asked him to do it. How can he give back something when he doesn't have the authority to do so? When he finally became Chancellor the first thing he did, in the very same scene, is give Worf and Kurn back their names.

Fri, May 1, 2015, 7:19am (UTC -5)
"I don't get how people keep saying Gowron wouldn't give Worf back his honor. Gowron wasn't even Chancellor when Worf asked him to do it. How can he give back something when he doesn't have the authority to do so?"

They discussed giving him back his honor when he eventually became Chancellor and Gowron refused.

William B said "I guess the difference between Worf's commitment to honour and Gowron's pragmatism comes about in instances such as Gowron's refusal to grant Worf's family name credibility unless it can benefit him"

This is 100% true. From Redemption -

"WORF: It was Duras' father who betrayed our people to the Romulans at Khitomer, not mine.
GOWRON: Duras? There is proof of this?
WORF: There is.
GOWRON: Why would you accept dishonour to protect Duras?
WORF: His family was too powerful. To expose him would have split the Empire. Instead, the Council chose to blame my father.
GOWRON: The Council knew?
WORF: I believe you to be a man of honour, Gowron. I ask you, restore my family name.
GOWRON: Worf, you killed Duras. I consider that no small favour. But what you ask is impossible.
WORF: But after your installation
GOWRON: The grasp of Duras reaches out from the grave. Much of the Council is still loyal to his family. I must have the Council's support to survive. I cannot expose their treachery. You chose to accept this disgrace for the good of the Empire. Now you must live with your decision, like a Klingon. "

TLDR - That would be bad for my political situation dude.

"GOWRON: Kurn will follow me? He has opposed me in the past.
WORF: I am the elder brother. He will do as I say.
GOWRON: What is it you want in return?
WORF: You know my price.
GOWRON: The return of your honour. For the support of four squadrons? No, that will not be enough. The Duras family controls most of the fleet. We must have Federation help.
WORF: They will not intervene.
GOWRON: Perhaps not yet, but Starfleet Command will listen to Picard and Picard listens to you. "

TLDR - I'll give you back your honor if you get the Enterprise to fire photon torpedoes for me!!

And then finally when Kurn saves Gowron's ass, THEN he gives them back their honor. To say he's an opportunist is not an understatement. I too thought he was a decent guy, but he's not the kind of guy to do something that will cost him just because it's the right thing.
William B
Fri, May 1, 2015, 12:54pm (UTC -5)
Whew, thanks Robert :) Now I don't have to write a response -- that pretty much covers it.

I think Gowron is a somewhat well-meaning, pragmatic politician, who frequently gets blinded by his own personal glory -- which has been the biggest sin of TNG-era Klingons since "Heart of Glory." I think he abstractly wants to help Worf out, and is pretty disgusted with how Duras has turned the tables on the House of Mogh the way he has, but he's not about to stick his neck out. His worst behaviour is in DS9, but (spoilers for DS9) it's worth noting that the Klingons aren't entirely wrong about the Cardassians being a threat, or that the Changelings may have infiltrated their ranks; and at the end of season seven I don't think he is *consciously* sabotaging everything in a quest for personal glory, so much as too rigid in his thinking to accept that that is his real primary motivation. Rightful Heir is actually probably the episode that shows off Gowron in the best light -- pragmatic, skeptical, caring about the Empire, a man of some faith who is also no fool. Probably this or By Inferno's Light is the episode which leaves me with the overall most positive impression of the guy.

It *is* true that Gowron doesn't have the authority to reinstate the Mogh family name in Redemption Part I, and it's also true as Robert says that he refused to promise Worf to do so even in exchange for favours. But he certainly had other options. If he really wanted to, he could have gone before the Council and loudly announced that new information has come to light that Worf's discommendation was false, or whatever. It would have been political suicide, but in the interests of The Truth he might well have made an effort to turn the Council around and recognize Worf. I don't blame him for not making Worf's honour the hill he will die on when the Empire is going toward civil war, though.
Sat, May 23, 2015, 7:05pm (UTC -5)
If Gowron could only see the future and his end in "Tacking into the Wind" :P

I think this episode adds a thread to the Klingon backstory that has been built over the years in TNG and concludes in DS9; it's a marvelous tapestry, the only complete story arc across all of Star Trek to be honest.
Sun, May 24, 2015, 7:05am (UTC -5)
I've always had a hard time with this one. I agree with SkepticMI about Gowron's use; something that always nagged at me on DS9 was the difference in Gowron from Reunion to the end. But the casting here has always bothered me, like most of the Klingon casting in TNG after Reunion; the clerics had the right look but not the right look, and Kahless, though I cant necessarily fault the performance, but the physicality just ruins it; I damn near laughed along with Gowron.
Wed, Jul 29, 2015, 12:47pm (UTC -5)
This is one of the better Klingon episodes. I like how it exposed how the Klingon clergy would pull a stunt to get butts in the pews (so to speak). I like how technology proved Kahless, and then later proved that technology created Kahless (I also like the cleric's protest, "maybe this is the way Kahless is supposed to return!" Very astute.
I also like the subtle posturing between Gowron (political power) and the clergy.
While it does work well during first viewing, it wasn't great in the rewatching so 2-3/4 stars for me.
Mon, Sep 14, 2015, 11:31pm (UTC -5)
Robert, My take on script quote No. 1 -

Sorry Worf. I don't have control of this situation and the Duras family is trying to take over the Empire. If I am to remain in office - and live - and deal with this, I can't make any promises to you at this time.

script quote No. 2 -

Oh, first add this to beginning: "Your forces are weak Gowron . . . You will need help to fight the family of Duras."

A lot of honor in that.

Since when is Worf's family honor more important to anyone who is attempting to put down a coup? Why does Picard and Worf think it is of greatest importance? Isn't getting the Duras family under control what takes priority?

Worf's honor versus Gowron's pragmatism is not even comparable. That's romantic thinking. And Worf is not a politician trying to run an empire. He's a Federation officer. You can't compare the two.

I'm not saying that the writers realized that Gowron was in no position to grant anything before Picard placed the cloak-of-office on his shoulders, but in reality he had no official power.

And I wasn't commenting on the Worf's "committment to honor" versus Gowron's pragmatism. You can't compare the two. I don't deny Gowron's political nature. I'm just saying Worf's asking for this honor at this time did not make sense, and because Gowron didn't grant it until after he became Chancellor does make him mean to Worf.
Mon, Sep 14, 2015, 11:42pm (UTC -5)
Here's the whole exchange you partially quoted:

Gowron: Your message said it was urgent. What do you want?
WORF: Your forces are weak, will need help to fight the family of Duras.
GOWRON: From one dishonored Klingon...
WORF: I offer you four Klingon squadrons.
GOWRON: Why would they follow you... a Starfleet officer?
WORF: They are pledged to support... my brother, Kurn.
GOWRON: Kurn is your brother?

And this is where you take it.

The take: Gowron, I can help you put down the Duras but only if you give me what I want.

Worf putting his wants above the needs of the Empire?

See you in a couple of months. Cheerio!
Tue, Sep 15, 2015, 7:25am (UTC -5)
"Worf putting his wants above the needs of the Empire?"

I will disagree (sort of) with this.

Mostly because actions speak louder than words.

When Gowron is attacked Worf and Kurn fight with him before he agrees to return their honor. Worf's conversation with Kurn makes it clear that Worf thinks it's their duty to support Gowron.

For what it's worth I think the demand about the honor is just the price of getting into bed. If we're going to be allies, if Kurn is going to go all out with all of his allies and convince them all to support you and declare his loyalty to you, etc., etc.... shouldn't Gowron give some support back? Or is the "alliance" all one way?

I did however say "I too thought he was a decent guy, but he's not the kind of guy to do something that will cost him just because it's the right thing."

I didn't necessarily mean that in a damning sort of way, in fact... for a politician the other way might be more damning.

To put it the other one... Kurn's ships fired at Duras' ships prior to Gowron giving their honor back. So they painted bullseyes on themselves and hadn't yet gotten anything. There's only 2 ways to look at that. Gowron and Worf are both opportunists and Gowron is better at it. Worf's more honorable. I choose B.
Wed, Sep 30, 2015, 10:30am (UTC -5)
Hmm, an episode that says that religion has a valuable element to contribute to society? I think you know already that my score for this episode is going to be above average. :P

"Rightful Heir" is exactly what "Birthright, Part II" was not - exciting, interesting and engaging. What we have here is not only a good Klingon episode but TNG's long-standing treatment of religion almost completely turned on its head. Granted, that treatment had definitely been softened somewhat over the course of the previous couple of seasons, but this is still a dramatic turn. Can anybody honestly, with a straight face, say that this is same way religion in general was treated in episodes like "Who Watches the Watchers?" or "Devil's Due"? Of course it's not. And yet, the message isn't simply "religion is good." It's shown here warts and all. Yes, religion and religious institutions can be corrupt, just any Human (or Klingon) institution. We have overly ambitious clerics who are only using the cloned Kahless to further their own political aspirations. We have the heavily implied suggestion that this resurgence in Klingon faith will lead to a possible civil war. Not exactly good things, to say the least. But, we also have religion presented, from Worf's own mouth, as something that can offer moral guidance. It's also shown to be something of a check on the runaway corruption and decadence of not only the Klingon government but also Klingon culture at large. Good things, to be sure.

What stands out most, however, is that all sides in this debate are given equal credence and respect. It's okay for Riker to be a firm atheist (he has absolutely no doubt in his mind that Kahless is not supernatural). It's okay for people to have the firm belief that he is, in fact, the real Kahless. It's okay for people to be agnostic (which is the only word I can think to use to describe Worf in this episode, since he wavers back and forth between belief and skepticism and doesn't really fall into either camp by the end). It's even okay for people to have faith in the presence of proof that this isn't the real Kahless. At no point are any of these positions looked down upon or ridiculed. We don't get a scene like in "Who Watches the Watchers?" were Picard decries all religious belief as a return to the Dark Ages of superstition, ignorance, fear, inquisitions, holy wars and chaos. In fact, Picard at one point flat out says that they shouldn't "tell anyone what they should believe." Bravo!

The solution to the crisis of Kahless vs. Gowron is what really makes "Rightful Heir" such a standout episode - especially here in late sixth season TNG (which has really had a massive slide in quality since "Aquiel"). The institution of Clone Kahless as a figurehead Emperor (or the Klingon spiritual leader) with nothing but moral authority at his command while Gowron retains all the political power is a stroke of genius. It allows Klingons everywhere to make up their own minds as to whether or not they believe in the religion - and isn't that what Trek is supposed to be about, acceptance and toleration of others even if you personally don't agree with them? In fact, it strikes me as rather similar to what we're supposed to have in the real world (or at least in the West) - a rock-solid separation of church and state. (I say "supposed" because anymore I see plenty of people who don't understand the concept. It's supposed to protect both the church and the state from interference by the other. But so many people now-a-days have no problem with the state interfering in any kind of religious activity/belief. But have a public official even utter the word God and you would think it's the end of the world. Hell, I've even encountered people on this very site that say that the state should imprison people for speaking about their religion in public!) The Klingon High Council will not interfere in the Emperor's sphere of influence and Clone Kahless, though he can issue statements on public affairs (i.e. the Klingon invasion of Cardassia on DS9) he has no ability to actually implement political policy. Nicely done!

If there's one thing that wasn't nicely done in this episode it's the opening scenes between Picard and Worf in his quarters. Jammer calls Picard's reaction to Worf being late for his shift "bizarre." Well, that's quite an understatement! What the hell was that?! Talk about coming completely from out of left-field! He's late for work so Picard comes down on him like a ton of bricks? WTF?! So he was late, who cares? It makes me wonder if Picard does the same thing to everyone under his command who shows up a few minutes late. I can imagine him in "Schisms" when Riker constantly oversleeps because the aliens are messing with him....

RIKER: I'm sorry, sir. I just overslept. It was...

But, then again, Picard is often harsher on Worf than he is with Riker. Like when Worf, in fully compliance with Klingon law, tradition and culture, killed Duras in "Reunion" and Picard came down hard on him. But when Riker straight up violates the Prime Directive, with Picard's full foreknowledge, in "The Outcast," Riker doesn't even get a slap on the wrist.

So, a wonderful treatment of religion, a nice conclusion, great performances (especially by Kevin Conway - they simply could not have gotten a better person to play Kahless) and nice set designs for the Klingon monastery all add up to a real winner of an episode.

Diamond Dave
Sat, Oct 10, 2015, 2:30pm (UTC -5)
I particularly like the change up in this episode, from what appears to be an internal story about Worf's crisis of faith to what becomes an external story about the struggle for power in the Klingon hierarchy. It's interesting that Kahless, the warrior leader, eventually becomes a kind or moral authority back by the religious authority of the clerics. But real power is clearly separated out.

There are some sterling performances here, particularly among the guest cast. And the exploration of Klingon politics and faith is an interesting one. But for an episode that has big implications, it still seems a bit too small - and the full range of possibilities not really played out. 3 stars.
Thu, Mar 2, 2017, 4:45pm (UTC -5)
A very good episode. Worf episodes are usually good. Gowron and his actor are always a great addition.

"What kind of fools do you have working for you, Picard?"

"Have you ever fought an idea, Picard? It has no weapon to destroy. No body to kill."

"A clone? Did you really think you would get away with this kind of fraud, Koroth? I will have you and this abomination put to death!"


I also liked how they didn't reset the ending - that Kahlass became the emperor.

In the end, it's an episode about faith - and it's done in a respectful way, rather than an all out bigoted assault, which many writers choose to do. Well written, well acted, and a satisfying ending. 9/10.
Wed, Apr 26, 2017, 10:11pm (UTC -5)
Where was Alexander this episode? Or during the Birthright two-parter? Worf just leaves for weeks at a time without even a mention of his son. They should have just had Alexander go back to Worf's parents or something, Worf's a terrible father.

Are Klingons really willing to follow any old guy who claims to be their god with zero proof? Seriously, Harry Mudd would have a field-day with these people. Cloning Kahless seems like a huge disrespect to him, and if I were a Klingon that would really shake my faith, knowing they were giving me a fake god, and my real god was apparently just letting it happen, leading me to doubt his existence.
Peter G.
Wed, Apr 26, 2017, 10:43pm (UTC -5)
@ Outsider65,

Kahless wasn't really their god, more like a legendary demi-god akin to a Greek hero like Achilles. SPOILER - According to Worf in DS9 the Klingons killed their gods, which although that information comes later it resonates with the fact that all the Klingon rituals we've seen up until this point have involved 'spirituality' but nothing of a divine inclination. What Koloth did here is more like cloning JFK than cloning Jesus in terms of its political and religious ramifications. In a strict sense what they created isn't a fake Kahless at all, since prophecy can work in funny ways and there's no reason the prophecy couldn't have been foretelling the cloning of Kahless. Not every prophecy has to resolve in a supernatural manner.
Wed, Apr 26, 2017, 11:48pm (UTC -5)
@Peter G.

That makes more sense. But the way Kahless was portrayed here was intentionally Christ-like, rather than just as an honored warrior like back in TOS. The visions were portrayed as them actually thinking he had appeared to them, and they expected supernatural phenomena of him, as well as a second coming.

Previously we saw a stature of two naked brothers wrestling on Worf's table, so I always thought Kahless was more of a "Romulus and Remus" kind of guy, so the savior portrayal was really odd to me.

I think at this point in time they hadn't really solidified Klingon belief yet, hence the back and forth portrayal of Kahless.
Sat, Sep 9, 2017, 3:16pm (UTC -5)
"He.. is a clone".
Tue, Nov 14, 2017, 5:38pm (UTC -5)
Not a bad episode, whether you like Klingon episodes or not, but certainly not a very good one. What starts out as how to prove Kahless is a fake and can't possibly be real turns into a interesting game of how to prevent a Klingon civil war as the heavy religion/faith theme is created.

It was pretty disappointing that Kahless was cloned (how else would he pass all the medical scan tests?). That in itself should be some form of blasphemous act by the Klingon religious elder.

Gowron is a terrific character and his shrewd, cunning mind is on full display here. Like Worf he challenges Kahless to a fight. (Correction to Jammer's review: It was not a bat'leth fight; it was a fight with daggers between Gowron and Kahless).

But what makes "Rightful Heir" something better than mediocre is Data's conversation with Worf about how he took a leap of faith to not be just a computer and to believe that he's human. Worf draws on that sharing to craft perhaps the only possible solution where Kahless is a figurehead and Gowron retains power -- a sort of win-win. (Although, I have my doubts about how it actually should play out in the future.)

2.5 stars -- a good story that started off slowly and poorly (as far as I'm concerned) with Worf's crisis of faith (ugh...), Picard ripping into him (not fully justifiably) and Kahless somehow re-appearing. Much better 2nd half with Gowron involved and the idea of using the figurehead to get Klingons back on track with their faith. In the end, I think I felt pity for cloned Kahless who watches Worf/Gowron decide his fate.
Derek D
Sat, Jan 27, 2018, 11:24pm (UTC -5)
A very difficult one to judge. I'm usually a huge fan of the Klingon episodes, but even i found this to be too much Klingon too soon after Birthright.

"If you like Klingon politics, you will probably like "Rightful Heir," which is ultimately as intriguing as it is borderline ridiculous. And it's got the juice."

I weight the borderline ridiculousness a little more heavily than Jammer. 2 1/2 stars
Wed, Jan 31, 2018, 3:37pm (UTC -5)
Just a small note regarding Picard's behavior at the start of the episode; I was initially flabbergasted by the whole thing as well, but then I realized: Picard is treating Worf exactly how Worf would prefer to be treated by his superior officer. In a slightly more... Klingon manner, if you will.

Even among Starfleet personnel, Worf takes his obligations and duties very seriously. Obviously, a random officer may oversleep on occasion, they're only human - but Worf? For Riker that is so hard to fathom that he immediately runs to his quarters with two security escorts, thinking that something very-very bad must have happened. And he's right, at least to the point that for Worf really is bothered by the whole situation; not just his spiritual issues, which are the main point of the episode, but also the fact that these issues negatively affect his performance on the Enterprise as well.

So, what does Picard do? Instead of trivializing Worf's problems, the captain reinforces his earnestness and dedication, and pushes him to seek a solution, while also immediately offering him his full support in the matter. And as Worf's superior and comrade, I do believe that really is the best he can do.
Fri, Feb 9, 2018, 4:17pm (UTC -5)
I saw this episode as part of a big TNG rewatch (yes, every episode), and by this point, I was just so burnt out on all the Klingon stuff. With as much character potential as Worf had, I feel like they made him either ridiculous or boring in TNG, and this episode didn't help. Definitely not a fan of this one in the context of rewatching the whole series, but maybe if I took a long break and came back to it as one-off watch, I'd enjoy it more.
Sat, Dec 1, 2018, 5:37pm (UTC -5)
Star Trek seems unable to separate culture from race. Maybe that's just the rule in the ST universe, but I'm finding it more and more irritating. Klingon's should be able to transcend their culture, but the message always seems to be that Klingons can't be Klingons without a warrior/honor culture. If anything is holding the Klingons back, it's their honor culture. Valuing death in battle is just a deception to promote willingness to fight in wars. There's a whole realm of unexplored Klingon way of living if they could just manage to transcend their warrior culture.
Jer Jer
Sat, Feb 2, 2019, 9:29am (UTC -5)
2 episodes in a row of boring drivel.

So, there is Kan't-care-less, the GREAT WARRIOR. Romping around all primitive and ancient.

1500 years later, they have warp drive and set up a monastery-thingie on a distant planet.

So, putting this in a human context, counting from the Dark Ages, we have maybe the next 100 years to reach 24th century tech.

And Klueless pointed at a random star in the sky. Scientists somehow figure out exactly which planet around that random star he was pointing at, and randomly choose a spot to build their moon base "second coming" cult house?
Wed, May 1, 2019, 9:16am (UTC -5)
Worf wasn't just 'late for work', he was eyes-glazed-over immersed in some spiritual ritual which turned his quarters into a smoke-house, and had no apparent intentions of turning up for work that day at all. And Picard was so rough on him that he gave him an indefinite leave of absence and a shuttlecraft. At least they didn't turn the whole ship around this time, but I wonder how often shuttlecraft get loaned out to crew members to go on non-Starfleet related spiritual quests, or to go shopping or whatever.

I was also a bit confused as to how a clone is supposed to automatically have their original's memories (like visiting Worf as a boy). To achieve something like that, I'd have thought you'd require a literal duplicate like next week's Riker.

I do like Worf, but I can't say I like Klingons much. The Klingons were maybe fleshed out a little more in DS9, though I still wasn't fond of Klingon-centric episodes, and had to resist counting how many times per episode Worf would say 'honour' (with double points for 'he/she/they have no honour!'
Tue, May 7, 2019, 7:50pm (UTC -5)

TNG continues its focus on one crew member at a time. I didn't mind this one as it was about Worf. It is an interesting juxtaposition seeing the Klingons combine their Viking and high tech ways. Not quite believable but there you go.
Robert Sliwinski
Tue, May 14, 2019, 11:46am (UTC -5)
Kahless’s forehead is more gnarly.
Fri, Aug 16, 2019, 3:13pm (UTC -5)
I think that the Klingon stuff had run out of steam by this time-one cannot quite forgive the Birthright story earlier this season and this wasn't much better.
The episode was elevated by the usual star turn from Robert O'Reilly as mad eyes Gowron.

I( think the idea of bringing Kahless back as a clone may have seemed fresh in the nineties but it seems cliched now
Sun, Aug 18, 2019, 2:55pm (UTC -5)
@Lupe Clone Kahless didn't automatically had those memories, the priests say they basically uploaded into his head their religious texts and presumably whatever else they wanted, since their plan involved Worf. It's why he didn't know things like who the man from legend he spoke was .
Picard Maneuver
Thu, Apr 16, 2020, 2:56am (UTC -5)
Doesn't the Enterprise have fire detection? It's hard to believe Worf would be able to ignite a bunch of candles and a firepit without a bunch of alarms going off. I mean even in the early 90s let alone hundreds of years after.

Picard must have been thinking, "Oh my God not this Klingon shit again. How many times does this have to happen? It's like every other week my chief security officer goes on some soul-searching sabbatical. I'll bet I'll have to use up the rest of my diplomatic capital bailing Worf out when he stabs some high-ranking Klingon to death. Again. I might even miss another conference and PowerPoint slides diverting the Enterprise to rescue him. God I miss Tasha. Girl grew up on Rapeworld yet didn't complain half as much as this crybaby Klingon. I wouldn't have minded giving her my painstick. Consensually, of course. At least beyond reasonable doubt."

They really didn't get how DNA worked, yet, did they? While it is possible for it to survive for 1,000 years, it does so frozen or otherwise preserved, not out in the open on a knife that's probably been handled as many times as years have passed. Any blood on it was probably from someone who cut himself within the past few years.

I love Gowron's cynicism. He was right about everything. But, man, I thought fake, left-handed holodeck Geordi had an existential crisis when discovering the truth. He's got nothin' on fake Kahless'. Also, why is Kahless a fat midget? I mean, really. He looks like a bowling ball. I expected a Viking god.

DATA: "Has this experience only deepened the spiritual crisis that originally sent you to Boreth?"
WORF: "Commander, I have discovered nihilism."

I like how Worf gets to decide the political and cultural overhaul of the entire Klingon Empire because reasons.

Christianity would be a lot more fun if people swung bladed weapons at each other after verbally sparring with Bible quotes. I think it used to be more like this.
Sat, Jul 18, 2020, 12:03pm (UTC -5)
The ponderous Klingon mumble jumble is really tiresome.
anchors away
Fri, Aug 28, 2020, 8:48pm (UTC -5)
Tying this episode with "Who watches the Watchers", the whole senior staff were SO afluffle that they had "given someone a religion/belief system" that Captain Packard offers to die to restore their atheism. Of course, in that case the Prime D had been violated, that's why they had to all the plot stuff and show how Captain Pickird wasnt a god.

However, that episode gave us ein genauer Blick on how Captain Puckered viewed "belief." He considered it outdated, of the stone age. So....why is he telling Worf that "hey, I know you have a spiritual hole inside you, go take some time off for Klingon church."
Mon, Sep 7, 2020, 9:07pm (UTC -5)
I first must thank Picard Maneuver for some good laughs. I really enjoyed that review.

Whenever the word Klingon is mentioned, I become enervated to the point of no return. In this case I coined the not very original, but still useful moniker "Kahless from Payless" to express my feelings about the whole made-up tossed salad of cultures packaged as "Klingon". But more than that, it expresses my opinion about the love/hate relationship the TNG producers had with their own Klingon inventions.

What a world is this warriors' world. What a 'world of honor'. Ee-oit. The writers started with the High Council (a parcel of hypocritical rogues if ever there was one); then moved on to the moribund toad Kempek who kept drinking from the very cup used to poison him, but upheld Worf's shame if it was the last thing he was going to do. Good going.

Still, even these travesties of justice weren't enough to satisfy the writers' desire to demonstrate how thin the paper screen of Klingon excellence really was.

Here's a quick litany: Duras the worthless, his two creepy sisters, and the little kid Tural; the repugnant Kern, the head-butting guy in Ten Forward (from The Chase) with his size 18 Klingon Keds; the visvious lady Klingon scientist ready to rear into Beverly.

Pause in the litany --Gowron was great in his own way- but apart from him what bunch of turkeys.

Litany resumed: the spineless lot from Birthright, and yes Kahless the emperor; all we can do at this point is whimper the question: Who's next, the god emperor of Dune? Herbert Herbert Herbert.
Mon, Sep 7, 2020, 9:19pm (UTC -5)
Correction: "the viscious lady Klingon scientist ready to tear into Beverly"....
James G
Mon, Nov 2, 2020, 1:33pm (UTC -5)
Well - if Klingon political matters are preposterous, Klingon religious affairs are, it turns out, doubly so. Personally I find it laughable to imagine that a civilisation that had mastered warp-drive, interstellar navigation and the rest might still believe in primitive nonsense like an afterlife and a supernatural messiah, so I was never going to be a fan of this one.

I was splitting my sides laughing when Kahless appears in front of Worf. Imagine a TNG episode in which Riker has shore leave on Earth, and he manages to conjure up Jesus' second coming. And the fight between Kahless and one of the other Klingons! Someone hands his opponent a knife. Here - see if you can kill Jesus!

I've got to say though, Worf looks great with crimped hair. And I didn't see the twist coming. I assumed, like most viewers I'm sure, that Kahless was some sort of con-man. I did quite like the clone idea, although it raises some interesting ethical questions. Kahless seems to take it quite well, though.

But that conclusion. The entire Klingon species will be asked to accept as their emperor someone who was made in a laboratory last week.

I can't deny that I was entertained, albeit partly because the whole thing is unintentionally hilarious. But what an absolute load of nonsense.

Here's a thought - if the Klingons are so interested in their messiah, why don't they travel to the past and go and look for him? Very doable in the Star Trek universe. Similarly, if time travel is possible in the 24th Century, will teams of historians sneak back a couple of thousand years to have a closer look at Jesus? I think the temptation, from a historical perspective, will be very strong. And if there are Christians left in the 24th Century (I sincerely hope not), I think they'll be disappointed.
Fri, Nov 13, 2020, 11:57am (UTC -5)
Third episode in a row when a supporting actor took the lead role and quite frankly, they weren't up to the challenge. ST:TNG works when Patrick Stewart is chewing the lines and to a lesser extent Brent Spiner, but everyone else is 'meh in their acting chops. Michael Dorn's acting is downright terrible most of the time and he proclaims his lines with all the subtlety and nuance of blender with misaligned motor.

As for this episode. Didn't give a rip about Payless one way or the other. Would have been better if Go-on had just put a blade in his ribs and said, "So much for Payless..." As it was, the resolution was stupid. We're supposed to believe that Go-On would agree to installing a rival for his position of power and authority? Go-On is much too canny of a Klingon to think that setup would do anything but undermine him as a leader. For example, let's say Go-on wants to start a war with the Cardassians and as he's making his case, the people say, "Hey, let's go see what Payless thinks!"

Yeah, that's going to work out REALLY well.
Hotel bastardos
Tue, Dec 1, 2020, 10:38am (UTC -5)
Concocted in a test tube.... compared to a fungus... mechanically abomination.... somewhat less than kahless ,one could say....
Hotel bastardos
Tue, Dec 1, 2020, 11:53am (UTC -5)
"on your feet lieutenant!" - when Monsieur Picard speaks- you know you've been spoken to... No more mooching around in yer scratcher...
Wed, May 12, 2021, 10:34pm (UTC -5)
Life imitates art - the Russians/Klingons are back!

In my write-ups for the TOS episodes "The Enterprise Incident" and "Balance of Terror", I explained how for Star Trek writers over the decades, the Romulans have stood in for China, the Vulcans for Japan, and Klingons are Russia.

[For students of history who love DS9, the Dominion was the Turks ("orientals"), and the worm hole is the Hellespont.]

With "Rightful Heir," we have a TNG episode that almost 30 years ago predicted the Klingons/Russians would try to use cloning to bring back an ancient warrior.

To boldly go, indeed.
Thu, May 13, 2021, 2:06am (UTC -5)
The Dominion was like the Ottoman Empire?? Are you sure? So the Jem Hadar are the Janisarries?! The capital of the Dominion wasn't in the wormhole?! The Turkish elite certainly had no "we don't kill each other" code, for the ruling family it was kind of the opposite.
I demand proof! :)
Thu, May 13, 2021, 6:10am (UTC -5)
So all the established species in Trek had real-life analogues then? So what were the Cardassians? The Ferengi? Borg?
Thu, May 13, 2021, 6:49am (UTC -5)
Most species are amalgamations of several countries at various points in time.
Jason R.
Thu, May 13, 2021, 7:55am (UTC -5)
I wouldn't call the Dominion totalitarian. We see in various episodes that Dominion vassals like the Karima are more or less free to go about their business. That does not suggest a totalitarian structure.

Frankly, I am not sure they map well onto any particular regime in history but I confess I don't know much about the Ottoman Turks.
Thu, May 13, 2021, 8:47am (UTC -5)
True. The Dominion is more like an apartheid autocracy. The term totalitarianism is problematic as is the term absolutism. For similar reasons. What is commonly seen as the dividing line between totalitarian systems and autocratic systems is the treatment of the people. In totalitarian regimes people are "activated" meaning that they have to be indoctrinated or show their loyalty constantly. In Autocracies the population is supposed to be passive. If you don't cause problems, then the autocratic authority will not bother you if you don't show up at the local dictator appreciation meeting.
Peter G.
Thu, May 13, 2021, 9:48am (UTC -5)
Putting aside that the TOS Romulans were given Roman titles and an aristocratic bearing, I'd say the Dominion is most like the Roman Empire. They conquer regions that are sometimes allowed to self-govern within parameters, the legions come in when there's a problem, and the leaders are declared to be gods. Although to be fair, this was probably not uncommon, since afaik the Persians for example also deified their leaders.
Fri, May 14, 2021, 12:25pm (UTC -5)
@Tom said, "So all the established species in Trek had real-life analogues then? So what were the Cardassians? The Ferengi? Borg?”

I’m going to go with what @Booming said, that "Most species are amalgamations.” DS9 isn’t SW:Episode 1 ;) That said, the Ferengi are pretty obvious. The word “Ferengi” means "foreigner" in general, and refers to the Frankish people in particular. The Borg are clearly Norwegian. And everyone knows the Cardassians are Armenian but currently live in LA! Thanks guys, I’ll be here all night :-)

@Peter G., maybe we could agree to a certain extent on the Eastern Roman Empire or the Persian Empire. You’re right that both deified their rulers, and in DS9, the Founders were clearly running a pre-monotheistic domain.

So, @Booming, I was actually going for a time period long before the Ottomans. The geographic region is probably similar to what you and @Peter G. are pointing to. Instead of “Turks” I could have said “Anatolian". And FWIW, I don’t think Anatolia had a fixed capital at Byzantium. If anything, the Turks - both now, and a thousand years ago - favor the Galatian capital, while the Seleucids used Antioch. Either way, that's a fair distance from the worm hole.
Fri, May 14, 2021, 3:19pm (UTC -5)
Before the Ottoman Empire there was the Eastern Roman Empire and Constantinople was the capitol of that for more than a thousand years and the ERE controlled Anatolia for the most part until the 13th century. Basically until the Forth Crusade. A thousand years ago there were no Turks in Anatolia. That started with the Seljuk Turks at the end of the 11th century. I guess the Bulgars are technically Turkic but they never conquered Constantinople or invaded Anatolia.
And apart from Seleukos Nicator himself and Antiochos the Great none of the Seleucid Kings actually moved past the Hellespont with significant troops and Antiochos was beaten badly by the Romans when he did.

I would say that the straits of Gibraltar and the Muslim invasion in the 8th century stopped by Charles Martel would fit far better if you want to use a European example . Without the victory at tours we would all be Muslims today. Alhamdullilah :)
Fri, May 14, 2021, 9:36pm (UTC -5)
See now @Booming, that's an interesting suggestion. Under the Cardassians, DS9 was known as *Terok* Nor, and under the Muslims, Gibraltar was known as *Ṭāriq* Jabal.

I only wish you were less pedantic.

When you insist that "a thousand years" is not precisely accurate because the exact number is really 951 years, you don't come across as a good-faith conversationalist, but rather someone who just likes to fight. We're talking about time periods that span millennia - it is common in to round to the nearest century or so.

When Weyoun tells Sisko,

WEYOUN: The Dominion has endured for two thousand years, and will continue to endure long after the Federation has crumbled into dust.

Sisko doesn't say, "actually The Dominion only endured 1,897 years".
Instead he gets to the point,

WEYOUN: But we'll leave that to history. Right now, we have a more pressing concern. The Gateway must be destroyed. Agreed?

SISKO: Agreed.

Sat, May 15, 2021, 4:50am (UTC -5)
Agreed to what?
I made the statement in reference to this
"the Turks - both now, and a thousand years ago - favor the Galatian capital"
This is false. For several reasons.
-The Ottoman capital was Istanbul/Constaninople for most of the time and they never had their capital in Galatia.
-The Sultanate of Rum had it's capital in Lycaonia, not Galatia.

I also have never heard a single reference about the wormhole being a stand-in for the Hellespont. Is that just speculation on your part?
Tue, May 18, 2021, 9:12pm (UTC -5)
I'm not sure why you're so obsessed with the Ottomans. Both @Peter G. and I are talking about civilizations that are much older as being the model for the Dominion.

Anatolia has seen civilization for more than 10,000 years.

The Dominion was said to be 2,000 years old. Here on Planet Earth, that would far, far predate the Ottomans. At the very least, we're talking about one of the pre-Islamic, pre-Christian civilizations of that region.
Wed, May 19, 2021, 2:13am (UTC -5)
You lack manners.

"The Dominion was said to be 2,000 years old. Here on Planet Earth, that would far, far predate the Ottomans. At the very least, we're talking about one of the pre-Islamic, pre-Christian civilizations of that region."
Yes, 2000 years ago Anatolia belonged to the Roman Empire. Good point. We all remember the stories of the Romans swarming over the Hellespont and invading Europe. If you ever get to a point where you have a point, let me know.
If not then I guess we have to just accept that this is what you would call an oligopoly of opinions.
Wed, May 19, 2021, 2:56am (UTC -5)
And if you are still hellbent on seeing the Hellespont as a stand-in for the wormhole then why not mention Persia???
A godking. A huge fleet destroyed by the gods and a gigantic army vs. those brave Hellenes fighting for truth, justice and the Greek way or something.
Peter G.
Wed, May 19, 2021, 12:24pm (UTC -5)
@ Booming,

 "And if you are still hellbent on seeing the Hellespont as a stand-in for the wormhole then why not mention Persia??"

We literally both did mention Persia. You ok over there?
Wed, May 19, 2021, 4:06pm (UTC -5)
True. But the discussion was about what he? wrote here
"[For students of history who love DS9, the Dominion was the Turks ("orientals"), and the worm hole is the Hellespont.]"
" Instead of “Turks” I could have said “Anatolian". And FWIW, I don’t think Anatolia had a fixed capital at Byzantium. If anything, the Turks - both now, and a thousand years ago - favor the Galatian capital, while the Seleucids used Antioch"

He writes lots of stuff that is just plain wrong and when I told him, he went into insult mode. So I had to tease him a little.
Thu, May 20, 2021, 11:46pm (UTC -5)
No, Booming, you did not "have" to do it.

Think of all the past times you've did something like this. Did ever get you anywhere useful? You're just achieving two things, both of them negative:

(1) You goad the other person into "teasing" you back for a potentially long time, and you usuallly end up being hurt far more then the other person.
(2) The resulting back-and-forth completely derails whatever ongoing discussion that was taking place, because people start arguing the silly statements you've deliberately inserted in your comments.

So what's the point?
Fri, May 21, 2021, 3:27am (UTC -5)
You are of course right. It always makes me very emotional and it hurts me and it derails the thread. The thing is when somebody writes something like "If anything, the Turks - both now, and a thousand years ago - favor the Galatian capital" that bothers me because so much in that sentence is wrong, same goes for some of the other stuff he wrote. If he had just said that he made the statement in error, fine. Everybody makes mistake. So when he insulted me for pointing it out, I actually thought about just ignoring him. But then I thought that he writes nonsense and then attacks people who point it out and gets away with that and that is not right. It sets a bad example.
Why do we call out children for certain bad behaviors but ignore them in adults? Is it not one of the main problems of our time that people spread falsehoods and when called out, attack the people pointing it out?
But you are right. Every time I call somebody out for writing nonsense, I get a little closer to just saying "Whatever. Nobody cares anyway."
Maybe next time... :)
Fri, May 21, 2021, 4:39am (UTC -5)
I never said to ignore such people when happens. I simply said that trolling them back is counterproductive. What's the point of spreading *more* falsehoods, even if it's just as a tease, if your goal is to educate people about the truth? Doing this just clouds the truth even further, and in the end - nobody learns anything.

"Is it not one of the main problems of our time that people spread falsehoods and when called out, attack the people pointing it out?"

Yes, it's a big problem when people do this as a deliberate tactic to further an agenda and silence the opposition. A very *very* big problem.

But this isn't what happened here, is it? People make mistakes all the time, and they also get defensive when their mistakes are pointed out. It may be annoying a times, but there is really nothing you or I can do about it. Such is life.

As they say: Welcome to the internet.
Sat, Jun 12, 2021, 10:08pm (UTC -5)
@Peter G. wrote, "We literally both did mention Persia."

Interestingly, I was watching "The Adversary" the other day, and this line popped right out at me,

KIRA: The closest one is the Ulysses. They're studying protoplanetary masses in the Helaspont Nebula.

If you recall, in that episode, the Dominion replaces an ambassador with a Changling and convinces Starfleet that there has been a coup on the Tzenkethi homeworld.

So the Defiant heads towards the Tzenkethi boarder to show the flag,

KRAJENSKY: We need to remind the Tzenkethi that the Federation is committed to protecting our colonies near their border.

SISKO: You want to show the flag.


Both DS9 (Bajoran space) and the Tzenkethi space run along Cardassian space. But lo-and-behold, between the two is the... (drumroll please) Helaspont Nebula! And the ship closest to that region? The Ulysses!

This isn't quite Babylon 5 level epic, but it shows the writers were actually literate. No surprise then, when I saw "The Adversary" was written by Robert Hewitt Wolfe. "Turning and turning", indeed.
Sat, Jul 17, 2021, 8:55am (UTC -5)
Did Worf talk the truth about what happened in Birthright part 2? At the end of that episode, he lied to protect the secret of the dishonoured. Now he's gone and spread the word anyway.
Top Hat
Sat, Jul 17, 2021, 9:21am (UTC -5)
Perhaps he just told Picard what happened, rather than any Klingons.
Flying Ox
Sun, Aug 1, 2021, 11:46pm (UTC -5)
This episode strikes me as a little weird in light of the overall continuity. Do we ever see Kahless again? Gowron says Worf's word carries weight in the empire - have we ever seen this in effect? Speaking of Gowron, never again will we see him this intelligent.

I see arguments that Gowron was always manipulative and selfish, but even if that is the case, in DS9 I would never guess that Gowron would be able to understanding the finer details of politics that he displays here. Gowron in this episode at least seems to be concerned with keeping the Empire intact, citing already forming divisions, whereas in DS9 he's perfectly happy throwing the entire Alpha Quadrant down the gutter for his own ego and not being able to see the big picture at all even when so much Klingon deaths on his own hands.

I don't mind Gowron turning more corrupt, but turning more stupid to become a mere strawman to be taken down is pretty disappointing.
Mon, Aug 30, 2021, 12:53pm (UTC -5)
So, this insipid pile of crap gets full consideration, as everyone goes spelunking for deeper meaning in bland Klingon "politics" Worf magically navigates, yet "Suspicions" is garbage from the get-go, case closed. I'd say I'm surprised, but I'm not.
Tue, Mar 15, 2022, 7:34pm (UTC -5)
Nice review, I really like this episode. It's very interesting and lets us see another side to Klingons even though it isn't the most well written example.
Fri, Jun 3, 2022, 9:13am (UTC -5)
Worf goes on some stone-age "spiritual" mumbo-jumbo "journey"?

No, thanks, fam. I'm good.

Thu, Sep 22, 2022, 7:02pm (UTC -5)
"We are humans!" Doesn't that sound silly? So why do Klingons, Romulans, etc. identify with their species so much? I really liked this episode though. I'm curious though, if they could give their clone such accurate memories and make even him believe he was the real Kahless, couldn't they have programmed some uber warrior training as well? Or any warrior training because it seems even Worf's son Alexander could have beaten this guy.
Sat, Feb 18, 2023, 9:30pm (UTC -5)
Great episode, loved it!

Brilliantly constructed, awesome concept and great performances all around, Bravo!

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