Thursday, November 10, 2016

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Episode 20 (Heart of Glory)

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

Warning: I’m going to give away major details about this episode. If you’re not into reading everything about the plot, you might want to wait before reading this review.

When The Next Generation first appeared, there was this Klingon named Worf that served on the bridge. This was a bit unusual to those familiar with the original series because there was always a sense of hostility between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. Now, we have a Klingon serving on a Federation ship. It’s since been firmly established that there was a peace between the two governments. This was the first episode to really deal with it in any form.

The Enterprise encounters a freighter in the Neutral Zone. (This presents a problem since entering the Neutral Zone is considered an act of war.) When a landing party beams over, they find three Klingons. The story that the Klingons give the landing party is that a Ferengi ship attacked the freighter. The Enterprise can’t tell much, but they do know that it wasn’t Ferengi weapons that damaged the freighter. When Picard calls them on their story, the Klingons say that the Ferengi were using Klingon weapons.

Not having reason to suspect the survivors, they are given quarters on the Enterprise. While there, they talk to Worf, who has lived most of his life among humans. (Worf was orphaned when the Romulans attacked a Klingon outpost.) His adoptive father was in Starfleet, so Worf joined Starfleet when he was able to. The two surviving Klingons question Worf’s loyalty to the Empire, but Worf insists that he is a Klingon.

Eventually, a Klingon ship finds the Enterprise and, when the Klingon captain finds out about the survivors, demands that the two Klingons be given over to him. It turns out that the two survivors are renegades. They apparently aren’t too happy with the peace treaty. They feel that it’s robbed them of their heritage. (Notice that this is the only time in The Next Generation that the Klingon home world is referred to as Kling. After this episode, it’s referred to as Qo’nos. I don’t recall what it was referred to in the original series.)

Worf has a choice to make. He’s loyal to the Enterprise, but he’s also a Klingon. He understands the Klingons’ reasons for not liking the treaty and pleads with the Klingon caption for consideration. Ultimately, it’s not up to him; his job is to simply escort the two renegades back to the home world. The two renegade Klingons know what’s up. They attempt to flee, but both are killed. With nothing left to do, the Klingon ship goes back to Klingon territory.

There are several interesting points in this episode. First, it’s established what Geordi La Forge sees. For those not familiar with the show, he’s the one wit the finny-looking eyewear. It’s a mechanism that allows him to see, but his vision isn’t really like normal vision. Instead, he sees all sorts of strange patterns. The device that transmits to the ships main viewer doesn’t last long and is never used again in the series. (A lot of technology is only seen once or twice in the series, but I won’t get into that here.)

Another thing I noticed is that one Klingon fell through a glass floor in Engineering. (The floor is supposed to be made of transparent aluminum or some other 24th-century stuff, but in reality is nothing more than modern-day conventional material.) I don’t think that I’d be willing to break that easily. Also, there were these skirt-like uniforms that appeared in the first few episodes of The Next Generation. Yes, they were ugly, but I think that the glass floors in Engineering were what really did them in.

The Klingons underwent a major redesign for the series. There was never any official explanation for it. (When prompted in a Deep Space Nine episode, Worf simply says that it’s not something that Klingons like to talk about.) The Romulans, who are mentioned in this episode, were also updated, although to a lesser extent. The truth is that it’s simply a matter of having enough of the right kind of makeup. It does provide for a few continuity problems, but I’ll save those for other episodes.

This one is three stars and recommended. 

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