Thursday, August 03, 2017

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Episode 142 (Birthright: Part 1)

Data and Worf share a certain bond.  Both serve on the Enterprise as outsiders.  Granted, the Enterprise has people form lots of different races, but Data is an artificial life form and Worf is the only Klingon serving on a Starfleet vessel.  Even more, both lost their fathers at a young age.  Worf’s father was killed in a Romulan attack whereas Data’s creator was presumed to have been killed in an attack by a space-dwelling entity.  In Birthright, both have to deal with their respective familial pasts.

The Enterprise is visiting Deep Space Nine about some Bajoran aqueducts.  While on the station, Worf is approached by a Yridian claiming to have information indicating that Worf’s father is still alive in a prison camp.  Worf tells the Yridian to take a flying leap because a Klingon would rather die than be captured by a Romulan.

On the Enterprise, Data finds DS9’s Dr. Bashir in sickbay.  He’s testing some device that he assumes is a medical device.  Why does he assume that it’s a medical device?  Probably because he’s fresh out of Starfleet Academy.  Why is he testing it himself?  Maybe it was those engineering extension courses we’ll learn about later.  Data tells Bashir that he’s not authorized to be there before inviting him to engineering to properly test the device.

Data and Bashir hook the device up to the ship with the help of Chief Engineer La Forge.  The first thing Data does is stand right in front of it before letting someone else flip the switch.  So, of course he gets hit by an energy discharge and is knocked unconscious.  When he wakes up, he tells La Forge and Bashir about a dream he had of his creator.

Data finds Worf to talk about it.  Worf decides to find his father while Data decides to try the experiment again.  This time, Data has a complete dream where his father tells him he’s off to a good start, subconsciously speaking.  Meanwhile, Worf finds the Yridian again and demands that the Yridian bring Worf to the prison camp.  If he’s lying, Worf will send him on that flying leap.

It turns out that there really is a prison camp and that Worf’s father really did die in the Romulan attack.  Worf is initially urged to leave, but it’s too late.  The residents of the camp can’t risk anyone drawing attention to their existence.  Why not?  We’ll have to find out in the second part.  The episode ends with Worf being captured.

It’s nice to have continuity here. Data did find his father in an earlier episode only to actually lose him.  I imagine that Dr. Noonian Soong planned on raising Data himself.  The fact that the appropriate circuits were activated was an accident.  I was hoping that it would be carried over in the second part.  When the episode first aired, I’d have to wait an entire week to find out that Part II would be all about Worf.  I’d have to wait to see Data explore his dreams again, but it would be worth it.  We’d have at least one really interesting episode come out of this.

As for Worf, his family has been very important to him.  Because his father was said to be a traitor, he had to accept dishonor and discommendation for a good part of the series.  When he found out he had a brother, he hid the fact to protect his brother.  Family is important to Worf, as it is to all Klingons. This is a fact that will come into play in the second part.

My only regret here is that the Deep Space Nine aspect isn’t played up that much.  This is probably for two reasons.  First, Deep Space Nine was airing concurrently with The Next Generation at this point, meaning that the actors would have been busy.  Terry Farrell was supposed to guest star, but a scheduling conflict prevented that.  The second reason is that any actor would presumably have to be paid for said guest appearance.  Thus, you’re probably not going to have too many actors from the other series dropping by.

It’s an interesting episode that sets up another interesting episode.  It’s assumed that you have some familiarity with the series, although it’s not entirely necessary.  The key points are explained, although newcomers won’t understand it as regular viewers would.  At least there’s no shame in binging on The Next Generation.

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