Monday, March 13, 2017

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Episode 65 (Sins of the Father)

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

Star Trek:  The Next Generation had a few of what the Starburst ads would call contradictions.  There was a android trying to be more human.  You had a blind man piloting a starship, even though that didn’t last very long.  (He was eventually promoted to chief engineer.)  Another notable contradiction was a Klingon serving in Starfleet.  Worf was believed to be the only survivor of an attack on Khitomer by the Romulans.  There are no other Klingons in Starfleet, but there is an exchange program which Commander Riker participated.  Now, it’s Commander Kurn’s turn to serve aboard the Enterprise.

Things aren’t that good for the crew.  Kurn has a surprise inspection of engineering while they’re doing maintenance.   Young Wesley Crusher can’t seem to do anything right.  The only one that has it easy is Worf.  In fact, Kurn is being condescending towards Worf.  Well, Worf has enough and confronts his new commander only to find out that Kurn is actually his younger brother.  Worf had believed he was an only child.  Kurn was left with a family friend, who raised him upon news of his parents’ death.  Much later, he found out the truth.

Why the ruse?  Partly, it was to see what kind of Klingon Worf was.  There’s also some news that was probably better delivered in person:  Mogh, their father, is posthumously being accused of aiding and abetting the enemy.  Specifically, Mogh is being accused of supplying access codes to the Romulans so that they could attack Khitomer.  As the oldest (and presumed only) child of Mogh, it’s Worf’s right and responsibility to challenge the accusation.  Funny that no one on the Klingon High Council mentioned it to him.

When Worf and Kurn go to the Klingon home world, Worf has Kurn say nothing of their relationship, but allows Kurn to be his second.  (Worf won’t be allowed to actually fight.)  After the initial announcement of Worf’s intent to challenge the accusation, Chancellor K’mpec calls a recess and pulls Worf aside.  He tells Worf that everyone knows that Mogh didn’t do it.  They need a fall guy and they figured that Worf, being comfortable in Starfleet, wouldn’t challenge.  He can walk away and they’ll forget all about it.

Worf insists that he’s still a Klingon and still cares about honor.  He’ll challenge, even if it means that he’ll be executed.  Kurn is called away and attacked and nearly killed with a ceremonial blade.  He lives only to tell Worf that he’s as good as dead anyway, being the son of Mogh.  It’s curious, though.  Someone supplied the access codes and there’s supposedly proof supplied by a captured Romulan ship, but it doesn’t add up.  So, Captain Picard, now Worf’s new second, finds another survivor of the Khitomer attack:  Khalest, Worf’s nurse.  She’s hesitant at first, but agrees to accompany Picard back to the hearing after he fends off some Klingons.

Once back, we find out that it was actually Duras’s father that was the traitor.  Duras is too powerful and well connected.  If it came out that his father was the traitor, it would divide the Empire.  So, Worf agrees to be the fall guy, accepting discommendation and insisting that Kurn keep his identity hidden.  One day, it may be necessary to have an inside guy.

When I first watched the episode, it was just an episode where Worf is kicked out of Klingon society.  He has to do the wrong thing for the right reason, even though everyone knows what’s going on.  After rewatching the episode and reading about it, people pointed out how several Klingons (including the Chancellor) acted dishonorably.  Not only did they knowingly place blame on the wrong guy, but they weren’t even going to say anything about it.  They were going to quietly place blame on Mogh and assume that Worf was going to sit there and take it.

At first, it seemed kind of ironic.  Then, I realized that even Klingons have political motives.  Just as we assume that all Vulcans are motivated by logic and that all Ferengi are motivated by profit, we assume that all Klingons are motivated by honor.  This adds a certain depth to the race.  It kind of makes sense, too.  The Chancellor has to make a decision for the good of the Empire.  Does he tell the truth and act honorably or does he try to cover it up and protect the greater good?  His only mistake was underestimating Worf.  It takes a while, but Worf eventually comes to realize that protecting the Empire may mean living a lie.

Star Trek: The Next Generation was very episodic.  (It wasn’t until Deep Space Nine’s final season that we’d have something that was heavily serialized.)  This is one of a few episodes that you’d have to view in order.  Those coming into the series with this episode will probably understand what’s going on, but may wonder what becomes of Worf’s honor.  This is something he’s going to have to live with for the rest of this and all of the next season. 

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