Category Archives: Klingon


“Before I restore your family honor, you must tell me why Klingon blood is no longer pink. And don’t tell me, ‘It is a long story.'”

Part I: The Enterprise heads to the Klingon homeworld so Picard can finish his duties as arbiter of succession (see “Reunion”). New Klingon leader Gowron (Robert O’Reilly) pops up and tells Picard he needs help to avert a civil war (actually a “KLINGON CIVIL WAR”, as Gowron says, somewhat annoyingly). Turns out the family of Duras — who had been in the running for the top spot before Worf killed him and went medieval on his ass — is staging some sort of a power play. Later, at Gowron’s induction, Duras’s sisters, Lursa (Barbara March) and B’Etor (Gwynyth Walsh) show up and bring with them Duras’s illegitimate son, Toral (JD Cullum), whom they say should rule the empire (females can’t serve on the council, apparently). Meanwhile, Worf convinces his brother Kurn (Tony Todd) to support Gowron in hopes that doing so will force Gowron to return their family honor (see “Sins of the Father”). Picard rules against the Duras claim and civil war erupts. The Federation can’t intervene in an internal matter, so Worf resigns from Starfleet to fight for Gowron — who overturns the decision that made Worf a pariah now that Kurn and his allies have joined his cause. Meanwhile, we learn that the Romulans — including a blond commander who looks a lot like the mom from “Pet Semetary”  — are helping the Duras.

Part II: With the war raging and Gowron losing, Picard gets Starfleet to approve his plan to determine whether the Romulans are helping the Duras family. He takes a small fleet to the Romulan border equipped with Geordi’s newest innovation that will determine if cloaked ships are in the area. That prompts Romulan Commander Sela (Denise Crosby) to appear. She demands Picard remove the blockade and tells him that she is Tasha Yar’s half-Romulan daughter, and that Tasha was on the Enterprise-C when it was captured 23 years earlier. Guinan (who has an inkling of what happened in “Yesterday’s Enterprise” because of her Guinan-ness) confirms the claim. Sela’s people find a way to disrupt Picard’s sensor net, but Data saves the day by finding another way to detect the Romulans, who turn back once they’re discovered. Without Romulan assistance, the Duras forces fall to Gowron, and Kurn rescues Worf (who had been captured). Lursa and B’Etor escape, but Gowron gives Worf the chance to kill Toral. He declines, and with the war over, resumes duty on the Enterprise.

“I am secretly looking forward to becoming a Bajoran security officer.”

Why it’s important

This two-parter, perhaps more than any other episode, cements the power triangle among the three Alpha Quadrant heavyweights. The Romulans want to undermine the Federation/Klingon alliance at nearly any cost. The introduction of Lursa and B’Etor is important, as well, as they show up in DS9 (“Past Prologue”) in TNG’s seventh season (“Bloodlines”) and, most importantly, in “Star Trek: Generations”. Toral shows up again, too, in DS9’s “The Sword of Kahless”.

Of course, the events here kept the Federation/Klingon alliance from crumbling, as the empire led by the Duras family likely would have allied itself differently. Gowron’s installation and victory is key, too — as is the establishment his strong relationship with Worf . This shows up again in later TNG with “Rightful Heir” and when Worf joins DS9 in “The Way of the Warrior” and Gowron asks for his assistance in the invasion of Cardassia. Not believing Gowron’s rationale — that the Cardassian government had been taken over by Changeling infiltrators — Worf refuses and again becomes a pariah.

And, the introduction of Sela brings back the events from “Yesterday’s Enterprise” but also sets up Sela’s involvement in the Romulan plot to invade Vulcan in the “Unification” two-parter.

Lastly, Picard’s efforts to assemble his small fleet sure seems to indicate, once again, that Starfleet has a relatively small number of vessels and that the Borg attack in “The Best of Both Worlds” really weakened the Federation’s defenses. Dialog with Picard, Riker, La Forge and Data seems to indicate that many ships didn’t have full crews and were still under construction. Keep in mind that these ships had to be relatively close to the Klingon Empire — and that the ships destroyed at Wolf 359 were pretty far away.

And, again, all that’s in keeping with what we see of Starfleet in TNG. But DS9’s later seasons would seem to indicate that 40 starships is a very, very small percentage of the Federation’s forces.

“Now that that K’Ehleyr hussy is out of the way …”

What doesn’t hold up

Part I mostly works, though it’s weird that Worf wears his Starfleet uniform while on leave and doing back-alley stuff with Kurn and Gowron. Isn’t that sort of representing the Federation in internal Klingon affairs? Oh, and since when can women not serve on the High Council? Gowron offered K’Ehleyr a spot there in “Reunion” and Azetbur serves as head of the council in “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country”. Now, the second instance was produced AFTER this episode premiered, but still. Are we to believe that Klingons became less progressive after “Reunion”? Maybe it’s because all their blood turned red?

Part II is far more problematic. Picard’s blockade doesn’t make a ton of sense — as we’re talking about, you know, three-dimensional space. Couldn’t the cloaked Romulan ships just fly around the Starfleet vessels? I guess that doing so would have slowed them down …

Also, what’s the deal with Worf when he sees Sela on the viewscreen after he’s captured by Lursa and B’Etor? He hardly reacts — when his reaction should be like Picard’s from earlier in the episode (my guess is a scene where he learned of Sela was cut for time). Speaking of weird reactions, the whole business on the Sutherland — the ship Data commands in the blockade — was poorly done. Hobson (Timothy Carhart), Data’s first officer, is WAY too pig-headed in his distrust of Data. And the drama at the end where Data defies orders to test his theory — when he could have messaged Picard to stand by while he tested another approach — was dumb.

There’s also the matter of Romulan supplies being key to the Duras’s war efforts. What kind of supplies are we talking about? Weapons? Food? Dilithium? Pink blood? If Picard’s big idea is to use the blockade to demonstrate Romulan involvement, why didn’t he try to determine whether any recovered supplies could be traced to the Romulans? Surely, some ship wreckage could have been obtained or Data and Geordi could have done some technical magic to determine whether anything was of a Romulan origin (as they did with a detonator in “Reunion” and with phasers in “The Mind’s Eye”).

Honestly, the blockade/supply business is something that might make sense in a story about a 20th-century naval battle. But it’s almost preposterous in a universe where ships can travel in three dimensions and replicators and other technology are available. Unless the Romulans were providing fully functional ships or troops — which would have obviously been traced back to them — what supplies could they have provided that weren’t easily attainable?

Finally, it’s hard to believe that Worf could just resume duty with no questions asked. Picard likely could have stalled on filing the resignation paperwork. But what if the war had gone on longer than what seems like a few weeks? Given the dialog at the end of part one — in which Worf talks about how he has spent most of his life around humans — it would have been much more believable for Worf to stay with his people, especially given the high standing his family has in the years to come. He, Gowron and Kurn could have pretty much ruled the empire — but Worf goes back to being a lieutenant in Starfleet? Hmmm …

“Let’s negotiate, Picard. I like to ‘Seal-a deal.’ Get it?”

Final thoughts

Part II reminds me of the TV show “LOST” or the worst of the rebooted “Battlestar Galactica”. Glaring logical problems are necessary to prop up (somewhat) compelling drama and action. It’s a shame, because the Klingon intrigue was a major undercurrent of second-generation Trek, and a lot of it works, especially the back stories and the general look and feel.

That said, even part II has some cool moments, like the scene on Kurn’s ship to start the episode. The Klingon stuff in TNG is really the closest thing the series had to a mini arc (other than the Borg stuff and the regular Q episodes). TNG, of course, aired in an era when serialized dramas were much less common than they are today — or even when the other three second-generation series were being broadcast.

Coming later this week …

Here come the Bajora. I mean, the Bajorans …


This is not Klingon blood.

Our old buddy Ambassador K’Ehleyr  (Suzie Plakson from “The Emissary”) shows up and Picard is forced to mediate the transfer of power within the Klingon Empire. High council leader K’mpec (Charles Cooper) is dying and Duras (Patrick Massett) and newly introduced Gowron (Robert O’Reilly) are the two guys vying for the spot. Of course, we all know from “Sins of the Father” that Duras is likely untrustworthy as his pops conspired with the Romulans back in the day and he and K’mpec conspired to blame it on Worf’s father. But Picard has to judge on the merits, and an unstated point is that it’s unknown if Gowron is any better. Turns out K’mpec was poisoned (he dies early in the episode) so the Enterprise crew must stop whoever did that from leading the empire. Meanwhile, K’Ehleyr  brings with her Alexander (Jon Steuer), a small Klingon boy, and tells Worf that he’s a daddy (do Klingons smoke cigars?). Worf can’t acknowledge the connection because his dishonor would carry over to Alexander. K’Ehleyr, not buying Worf’s evasive answers, starts snooping around and figures out that Duras’s dad was the real traitor — in fact, Duras is conspiring with the Romulans in this episode — and Duras kills her when she confronts him. Worf claims the right of vengeance and kills Duras in some neato sword fighting. This, essentially, makes Gowron the new leader and gets Worf in some hot water with Picard. Worf then tells Alexander that he’s his father and sends him to live with his human parents.

No, seriously. this is NOT Klingon blood. Was Duras really Colonel West?

Why it’s important

In what is essentially the sequel to “Sins of the Father” and “The Emissary”, we learn more about the power struggles within the Klingon Empire. That someone as obviously skeezy as Duras could be next in line is pretty terrifying and doesn’t speak well of the Klingon political system.

Continue reading “Reunion”

“Sins of the Father”

“Are you the ‘Traitors of Kling’?”

Klingon Commander Kurn (Tony Todd) comes on board as first officer as part of an exchange program. Kurn bullies everyone but Worf — an affront to our favorite Klingon — and eventually reveals that he was testing his long-lost older brother. Turns out Kurn was on the Klingon homeworld when Worf was orphaned at the Khitomer outpost, but Kurn’s real identity is not publicly known. He tells Worf that the Klingon High Council is planning to blame their father, Mogh (who died at Khitomer) for conspiring with Romulans in the attack. Picard takes the Enterprise to the homeworld to let Worf challenge the ruling. Turns out Duras (Patrick Massett) the son of Worf’s father’s greatest enemy is leading the charge, the result of some new-found intelligence. The Enterprise investigates and determines that Duras’s father was actually to blame — and Mogh was blamed publicly to preserve the empire (Duras has a powerful family). When pressed with the evidence by Picard and Worf, Klingon leader K’mpec (Charles Cooper) won’t let the truth come out, for fear that it would cause civil war. Worf, in a selfless move, accepts discommendation, which makes it look like he accepts his father’s guilt. He’s allowed to live, but only as an outcast among his people.

“For a Klingon, you look a lot like old Jake Sisko …”

Why it’s important

Although “A Matter of Honor”, “Heart of Glory” and “The Emissary” showed us a lot of TNG-era Klingons, “Sins of the Father” is the first time we see the Klingon homeworld and how the empire is governed. It’s important from an atmospheric standpoint and a cultural one. The Klingons are ruled by a bunch of high-ranking warriors, who have no real problem doing dishonorable things, despite the pretense of honor. That’s something that comes back into play a lot over the next decade of Trek.

The attitude of some Klingons toward their Federation allies shows up here, too. Duras notes that the Starfleet officers wear a “child’s uniform” a description other Klingons make over the years. And, of course, the events revolving around Worf’s family continue to have ramifications throughout TNG and into DS9. It’s too long a list to get into here, but we’ll discuss in later reviews.

K’mpec and Duras — two guys who could really use a box of Tribbles.

What doesn’t hold up

Kurn’s pig-headedness with the Enterprise crew is a bit much. It’s used to advance the story, but it’s hard to figure why he acted that way — other than to fill the show’s first 10 minutes. By the third season of TNG, we already knew Klingons were different. That said, I did love the dinner scene and Kurn’s reaction to human food.

There’s also the issue of just how connected Worf is with the empire. At this point in TNG, he seems like an outsider, though one who knows a lot about Klingon culture and whose standing isn’t problematic. He doesn’t know, for instance, that his father is being accused of crimes that would dishonor his family until Kurn tells him. In fact, that’s one of the reasons the High Council chose to blame Mogh — because it wouldn’t really affect Worf.

But in later episodes, Worf is much more involved with his house, which apparently is one with great standing (and has noble bloodlines). We’ll discuss this further, as well — though the schism is most noticeable when Worf becomes a regular on DS9.

Lastly, the creators clearly hadn’t figured out what to call the Klingon homeworld. Picard actually tells Wesley to “set course for the first city of the Klingon Imperial Empire.” That might be the clunkiest line of dialog in all of TNG. I guess we should be glad they didn’t call the planet “Kling” (see “Heart of Glory”).

Final thoughts

This is a strong episode that really sets a lot in motion for the next 10 years. But there’s too much Klingon bellowing, especially in the show’s middle acts. Tony Todd is actually great as Kurn, though he’s better in later episodes. The first scene in the council chambers (listen to Michael Dorn say “faaaaaaatherrrr”) is a bit much.

Of course, this episode sets the course for Picard’s involvement in Klingon affairs, as we’ll discuss in later reviews.

Coming later this week …

Riker finally becomes a captain! It’s cause for celebra — oh, wait. Scratch that …

“Yesterday’s Enterprise”

War, what is it good for? Absolutely nothin’.

A ship emerges from a spacial rift, and everything changes. The Federation is at war with the Klingons, Tasha Yar is alive and back at tactical and Worf is the ship’s counselor (well, except not that last one). Turns out the ship that emerged is the Enterprise-C, the predecessor to Picard’s vessel, and its trip forward in time from the middle of a battle with the Romulans (in response to a distress call at a Klingon outpost more than 20 years earlier) changed history. Only Guinan, because of her Guinan-ness, knows something is up, so she tells Picard the Enterprise-C must return through the rift and face certain destruction to restore history and avert the war. The Federation is about to lose anyway (sad trombone), so Picard goes against the advice of his senior staff and convinces the Enterprise-C’s Captain Rachel Garrett (Tricia O’Neal) of Guinan’s thinking. After Garrett is killed in a minor skirmish with the Klingons, Yar (told by Guinan that she died a senseless death in the “right” history) transfers to the Enterprise-C. Then, Picard’s ship must cover the Enterprise-C from three Klingon vessels as it tries to go back through the rift. Just as the Enterprise-D appears to be lost, the Enterprise-C gets through and history is restored. Only Guinan has any knowledge of what’s happened, and Picard and Co., go back to business.

The Romulans apparently didn’t target the Enterprise-C’s engines …

Why it’s important

From the standpoint of what we do on this site, this episode, on its own, wouldn’t have made the tapestry. That’s not to say it’s not one of TNG’s best. But, like “The City on the Edge of Forever” from TOS or DS9’s “The Visitor”, the events here didn’t really happen. The time reset undid what we saw during the episode.

But … we learn later that sending Yar back with the Enterprise-C had huge effects in the Star Trek universe. Yar, captured by the Romulans with other Enterprise-C survivors, became the consort of a Romulan officer. That produced the child Sela (also played by Denise Crosby) who appears in the fourth and fifth seasons as a major Romulan player. She was part of the plot to brainwash Geordi and make him an unknowing assassin of a high-ranking Klingon (in “The Mind’s Eye”), she was instrumental in supporting one side in the upcoming Klingon civil war (in the “Redemption” two-parter) and she was part of the attempted Romulan conquest of Vulcan (in the “Unification” two-parter). In short, Sela kept herself busy.

This episode probably has some time paradoxes we could explore. But big picture, we try not to get too deep into the logic of time travel on this site. Trek’s remarkably inconsistent with cause-and-effect stuff and pretty much says (in DS9 and Voyager) that there is no logic to time travel. In other words, after years of dealing with time-travel writing constraints, the creators pretty much threw up their hands.

I eat pieces of shit like you for breakfast.

What doesn’t hold up

This episode, of course, hinges on Guinan’s ability to have a perception beyond linear time. This shows up in later episodes, but it’s a shame that Guinan’s back story was really never fleshed out. How do her people have this ability, or is she the only one who does? How is she so familiar with Q? Are her people more advanced than humans?

But, really, that’s a small gripe. Keeping Guinan mysterious wasn’t the worst choice the creators could have made.

There’s also the line from the Enterprise-C tactical officer Shooter McGavin — I mean, Richard Castillo (Christopher McDonald) that the Klingons and Federation were working on a peace treaty shortly before he left with the Enterprise-C. That’s part of the inconsistent storytelling regarding exactly when the two powers 1) stopped fighting and 2) became allies that we discussed in our review of “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country”. In this episode and in much of TNG, it seems that the alliance is only about 20 years old — and “Star Trek VI” leaves the point unclear. But in DS9 and Voyager, the alliance is said to be about 80 years old, and that it was established immediately after “Star Trek VI”. That, of course, doesn’t jibe with Castillo’s comments — unless the two sides stopped being allies and became them again, or something.

This episode is another instance where it’s clear the Romulans’ decades-long absence as discussed in “The Neutral Zone” was just bunk. Granted, in the alternate timeline, Picard and Co., don’t know what happened to the Enterprise-C. But it’s made clear later — and by implication here — that the “correct” history knows the Romulans attacked and destroyed the Enterprise-C about 20 years before the Romulans showed up in the first season of TNG, which was purportedly several decades since last they were seen. In fact, it’s implied that the loss of the Enterprise-C in the battle with the Romulans was of major historical import, as the gesture resonated with the Klingons and the two parties became allies.

Most of the other complaints surround how the Enterprise-D still looks and feels relatively familiar, despite the fact that the Federation has been at war for 20 years. Much of the redress of the ship and the uniforms look great. But the large windows in the front of the ship (in Ten-Forward) and the fact that all the senior officers (sans Worf and Troi) are on the Enterprise-D is hard to swallow. But that’s just minor nitpicking. This episode is another example of third season TNG really hitting its stride.

Final thoughts

Some would say this is TNG’s finest showing. Personally, I prefer “The Best of Both Worlds” because of the dramatic payoff of seeing Picard assimilated by the Borg and Riker giving the “Mr. Worf … fire!” command. But “Yesterday’s Enterprise” is either second or third on my list of the best of TNG, right next to “The Inner Light”.

It’s a small thing, too, but the introduction of the Ambassador-class starship (of which, the Enterprise-C is one) was kinda cool. Up until this point, TNG had mostly reused ships from the Trek movies (with the exception of Constellation-class vessels in “The Battle” and “Peak Performance”) and those ships all had a boxier feel than the Galaxy-class Enterprise-D.

Coming next week …

Worf’s father conspired with the Romulans? Jigga-what?

“Heart of Glory”

“We never beat James Kirk!!!!!!”

The Enterprise finds a small group of Klingons on a crippled freighter who are actually renegades threatening “the alliance.” There’s no talk of the ice world of Hoth or X-Wings, so I’ll go ahead and guess the alliance in question is the one between the Federation and its former nemesis, the Klingon Empire. The renegade Klingons, of course, long for the “old ways” and threaten to destroy the Enterprise to prevent capture when a Klingon warship comes calling. Worf’s loyalty to Starfleet is tested (a theme we’ll see time and again for the next 12 years) but our favorite Klingon (belatedly, as we’ll discuss) does the right thing and saves the day by killing one of the Klingons who threaten the ship.

“Worf — it’ll be nice when you’re all paranoid in later seasons to the point where you wouldn’t let a major security threat roam the corridors of the Federation flagship. Something to think about.”

Why it’s important

The presence of Worf in TNG’s first season  had been an indication that things were somewhat copacetic between the Federation and the Empire — at least, compared with most TOS-era Trek. But this is the first episode that cements the bromance that we see for most of the next decade or so between the two powers. The ending of hostilities/formation of an alliance with the Klingons also becomes the major point of  “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country”, which premiered about three years after this episode, though it took place about 80 years earlier in the Star Trek universe.

Of course, this is the first episode to explore Worf’s backstory (what’s up, farming colony of Galt?) and details mentioned here pop up over the next decade. Lots of other Klingon items — the death scream, etc. — show up later, too. As noted previously, the Klingons really changed (beyond the forehead ridges) starting around “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock” and continuing through TNG and DS9. It’s an ongoing evolution, as we’ll discuss below.

How Geordi sees Riker. Time well spent, creators.

What doesn’t hold up

The episode paints Worf as a sort of unknown among Klingons. While his rescue by a human Starfleet officer and subsequent backstory are mentioned, his presence in Starfleet is a surprise to Korris and Konmel. That makes sense in this episode, but it’s odd given apparent high standing of the House of Mogh — named for Worf’s father — in future episodes. Wouldn’t the average American know if a Rockefeller were serving in the Russian navy?

Smaller details are off, too. Korris notes “the traitors of Kling”, which was either a bad idea for the name of the Klingon homeworld (called “Kronos” starting in “Star Trek VI”) or a strange term used as some sort of generic way to describe the Klingon people — i.e., “the traitors of man.” If the latter is the case, it’s odd that we never hear that kind of language again. Or maybe it’s just good that the term was put out to pasture.

From a character standpoint, Worf knew Korris and Konmel were up to no good pretty early in the episode — they admit destroying a Klingon ship — and his inaction nearly cost 1,000 people their lives. While this works dramatically, it doesn’t fit Worf’s paranoid/dutiful persona that we see in subsequent years, nor is it something we’d want to see from any member of the Enterprise crew (Picard asks Data about his loyalty in “Datalore”, when our favorite android is put in a similar situation). That said, the rest of the Enterprise crew is pretty chill about letting the Klingons have the run of the ship, given the odd circumstances surrounding their recovery from the freighter. Chalk it up to first-season rough spots, I guess. Keep in mind that Picard, a few years later, is actually hesitant to let three kids see the Battle Bridge. Maybe Picard trusts shady Klingons more than some kid who does a science project about radishes?

Final thoughts

This is a fascinating episode for a lot of reasons, but I love Picard and Riker’s reaction to learning that Klingons were on the freighter. It shows the schism between making the Klingons our new BFFs while still acknowledging the bad-dudes backstory. It’s interesting, too, because the portrayal of Klingons that we truly see starting in the second and third seasons — more snarling and animalistic — is fairly subdued here. The reliable Vaughn Armstrong puts in a good performance as Korris, but his portrayal comes across strangely (“I will speak only to my countryman — only to Worf!”). He sounds more Cardassian than Klingon.

Lastly, the whole thing at the beginning of the episode where the bridge crew can see from Geordi’s perspective while he’s on the freighter with Riker and Data was really odd. It had little to do with the rest of the episode, it makes Starfleet technology seem limited (are visual feeds that hard to pull off in the 24th century?) and it’s especially weird as we never see the crew try this again. It almost comes across as the crew wanting to see what Geordi sees rather than wanting to use a visual feed for the sake of a visual feed. And having a visual feed would have been especially useful to Picard in early TNG, when he often asks Riker-led away teams what they see. Having a visual record of the Borg ship in “Q Who?”, for instance, would have been pretty valuable.

Coming later this week …

The crew ends its first season by learning the term “low-mileage pit woofie.” Oh, and the Romulans are back.