Revisiting Star Trek TNG: Heart Of Glory

Review James Hunt 22 Feb 2013 - 07:36

James' weekly look-back at Star Trek: TNG's first season comes to a Worf-centric episode that's worth a watch...

This review contains spoilers.

1.20 Heart of Glory

The Enterprise enters The Neutral Zone where there are reports of a battle having recently taken place. Discovering an abandoned and heavily damaged freighter with weak life signs on board, Riker, Geordi and Data beam over for a poke around. Picard suggests they use Geordi's "visual acuity transmitter" so that they can see what's going on. Presumably because it's quicker than the current protocol of having Riker give vague verbal reports about everything he can see.

Once on the ship, the bridge crew monitors what Geordi can see, and Picard insists he give very specific verbal reports about everything, particularly Riker and Data, two things he could see for himself. So that experiment fails. They do, however, discover three Klingons! They bring them back to the Enterprise just as the freighter explodes. There's a moment of tension where it looks like the away team has been killed – not, you understand, the tension of whether they've died or not, but the tension of whether we're about to watch an episode about their crew-mates thinking they've died. Dodged that bullet.

In sickbay, the two Klingons who aren't in critical condition tell some obvious lies about their situation. Worf shows them to their room and they make fun of him having gone soft, then it turns out the Klingon in sickbay is about to die so they go back and do the Klingon Death Howl, which will almost never appear in Star Trek outside this one episode.

After this, Worf goes off with the remaining Klingons (Korris and Konmel) and, presumably wary of the fact that their rebellion has just shrunk by 33%, they declare Worf their brother, admit they just told a huge sack of lies and invite him to join their fight against the Klingon-Federation alliance even though he's currently working for the Federation and, by his own admission, hasn't spent much time with any other Klingons. They'll recruit anyone.

Rather than dob them in, Worf is apparently torn between loyalty to his people and Starfleet, so he continues to give them a guided tour. I say "apparently" because that's what the script thinks is happening, but what's really happening is Michael Dorn is straining to get every ounce of nuance from a script that requires him to listen to other people telling him how he feels. Subtle, it ain't.

Meanwhile, a Klingon ship arrives and its captain, K'Nera, quickly brings Picard up to speed about what's going on. Realising he's now harbouring some Klingon terrorists, Picard sends Yar and a security team to arrest them. Cornered, they ask Worf to join them, and he looks at them, then at his Starfleet brothers, then at them, then at Starfleet, then them, then Starfleet, and then there's an ad break, then he looks at them, then Starfleet and the audience screams OH COME ON SOMEONE DO OR SAY SOMETHING! At which point a small child runs out of a nearby turbolift and into Korris' arms, which causes them to go peacefully.

With the prisoners in the brig, K'Nera explains that they'll be tried and executed. Worf makes an impassioned plea for the lives of the only Klingons he's ever known (who, unfortunately, are still terrorists) because their thirst for battle is genuine and understandable. K'Nera says he agrees, but his hands are tied. Luckily, in the Brig, Korris and Konmel manage to MacGuyver a slightly wobbly-looking disruptor out of parts of their uniform and get into a firefight (their phaser is set to green, with impact sparks).

Konmel is shot and killed after taking about three steps outside the brig door (apparently they forfeited their right to non-lethal settings the moment they escaped) but Korris, forgoing the Klingon Death Howl as he steps over his friend's corpse, makes it to engineering and sticks his gun right up the ship's Dilithium Chute. One shot could blow the Enterprise into smithereens! He declares that he will only negotiate with Worf.

Worf turns up and Korris suggests that they steal the Stardrive section of the Enterprise and incite a revolution. Worf tells him he's being ridiculous and then shoots him over a balcony, through a pane of strategically-positioned (and strategically un-reinforced) glass, and eventually to his death. Worf quickly runs down the ladder and shows viewers the Klingon Death Howl for the second and basically final time ever (in fairness, it happens twice more in about the next twenty years of Star Trek episodes, but that's only Worf doing it over his dead girlfriends.)

On the Bridge, Picard explains to K'Nera that there's been a slight problem with their captured criminals. K'Nera checks with Worf that they died in a manner befitting a Klingon Terrorist, and Worf explains that they did. K'Nera invites him to serve on his ship when he's finished on the Enterprise, and Worf says he'd be honoured to. Everyone raises a whimsical eyebrow, and Worf explains he was just being polite, and Picard says he's glad, because the bridge wouldn't be the same without him. Just like it isn't the same without Troi and Wesley, who are mysteriously absent throughout this entire episode.

TNG WTF: Ah, the Klingon Death Howl. Something that you do to Klingons who die to warn the afterlife that a Klingon Warrior is coming. But only if you've got time to do it without endangering your own life, apparently. Poor Konmel.

TNG LOL: "Cowards take hostages, Klingons do not!" sez Worf, who we now realise has almost never met another Klingon. Who made him the expert?!

Also, a very famous moment of hilarity: Korris refers to the Klingon homeworld as "Kling". A name so ridiculous that it was later explained away and replaced with the much cooler-sounding Qo'noS (pronounced Kronos).

Mistakes & Minutiae:  During the final scenes in engineering, Picard accidentally calls the freighter "a Terrelian ship" rather than "a Talarian ship", as established earlier in the episode. Whoops.

Time Until Meeting: No meetings! This is quite an action-packed episode, so that's presumably why.

Captain's Log: Now, this isn't a bad episode, but one imagines it could have been much better if they'd realised it was supposed to be about Worf earlier on. Instead, the opening scenes barely feature him and are focused on showing the audience what Geordi sees as they attempt to find the survivors on a doomed ship. It's a nice little set piece, but it makes absolutely no sense in the context of the episode that follows.

Still, once it gets going, it's good. You can believe Worf might feel drawn to these Klingons and the spirit they possess, it's just unfortunately they made them so unambiguously evil and neglected to give the audience any insight into Worf's thought processes. When it originally aired, it was probably more effective because people presumably expected that a Klingon, Starfleet's natural enemy, would turn on the crew eventually – but removed from that suspicion, it does a poor job of making the case.

Still, it's a decent and nicely-paced episode, although it's a rare instance of an early TNG story where the solution to the crew's dilemma is just to kill the person causing the problem. Not exactly Star Trek, but it sort of works because the rest of the episode is about a Klingon's violent urges, so there's a certain aptness in Korris losing because Worf does exactly what Korris has been trying to make him do.

Watch or Skip? Watch.

Read James' look-back at the previous episode, Coming Of Age, here.

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