Revisiting Star Trek TNG: Sins Of The Father

Review James Hunt 11 Jul 2014 - 07:01

Worf's family honour is at stake in the latest Star Trek: TNG episode to be revisited by James...

This review contains spoilers.

3.17 Sins Of The Father

The Enterprise crew welcomes the arrival of Commander Kurn, a Klingon Officer who is replacing Riker for a while as part of the office exchange program seen in last season's A Matter Of Honour. He immediately takes his role very seriously, imposing discipline and order by shouting a lot, and insulting Wesley, much in the same way Picard did before he went soft.

Despite this harsh attitude, Kurn deliberately goes easy on Worf, giving him sarcastically exaggerated praise, addressing him like a child, and making fun of his diet. Worf eventually snaps and attempts to fight Kurn, which causes him to reveal the truth: he's actually Worf's younger brother! What a twist! A twist with no foreshadowing!

It turns out Kurn was staying with friends when Worf's family was killed on Khitomer. Thought dead, he remained ignorant of his brother until he reached the age of ascension, at which point his adoptive parents explained the situation. Naturally, he decided not to do anything with this information for several years, until the Klingon High Council accused Mogh (his and Worf's father) of aiding the Romulans during the attack on Khitomer that he and his wife died in.

As the elder son, Worf must now travel to Qo'noS to defend his father's honour. Picard, apparently unbothered by the mockery that's been made of the exchange program, agrees to ferry him. I guess no asteroid fields needed mapping this week. If Worf succeeds in challenging the ruling, his family's honour will be restored. If he fails, he'll be killed.

With Kurn acting as his bodyguard, Worf denies the charges against his father, while Duras, the child of Mogh's most hated enemy, accuses Worf of being a disgrace. During a recess, Chancellor K'mpec tries to persuade Worf to drop the case. This makes Worf suspicious since (as he's often demonstrated) Klingons are notoriously pernickety when it comes to matters of honour.

While the Enterprise crew try to prove what actually happened, Kurn receives a note asking him to meet the sender in a dark corridor with limited escape potential. When he gets there, Duras ambushes him and tried to turn him against Worf. When it doesn't work, he gets some guys to stab him.

Luckily the wounds aren't life-threatening, but Kurn can't be Worf's protector anymore. Worf asks Picard to do it, and while he tries to pass on the offer (perhaps noting what just happened to the last guy with the job) he ultimately can't reject it. Which is lucky, because apparently the Enterprise has nothing better to do at the moment, so it's not like he's needed on the bridge.

While, in the council chambers, Picard impresses the Klingons with his theatrical projection, the Enterprise crew discover that the Khitomer logs were tampered with to remove evidence that may exonerate Mogh.  All the need is a witness, and they find one of those too: Kahlest, Worf's nanny.

Picard goes to visit Kahlest to try and get her to testify in favour of Mogh, but she refuses. Suddenly, Duras' guys jump Picard, but in extremely unlikely circumstances he defeats one, while Kahlest kills the other. This changes her mind, and she agrees to testify.

When they present Kahlest and her proof (by which we mean, quite probably biased account), the chancellor calls a recess. In a meeting with Picard, Worf, Duras and Kahlest, he reveals that they already know Duras' father was the traitor, but that the truth would tear the Klingon council apart due to Duras' political allies. Refusing to allow his father to be a scapegoat, Worf eventually suggests discommendation so that Kurn can be spared. They agree to never speak of this again. Worf is ritually discommended and stripped of his honour, but Kurn remains free in Klingon society, able to one day fight to restore his family's honour. And then the episode is suddenly over.

TNG WTF: This episode barrels along at such a pace that it's almost possible to miss the strange logical leaps that keep happening. Worf accepts Kurn as his brother with remarkable ease (I guess he noticed they have the same forehead) and Kahlest's testimony seems like it'd be the final proof they need, when in fact it's far less helpful than the tampered sensor logs. Still, the Klingon justice system doesn't make a lot of sense anyway, so we can let it pass.

TNG LOL: A lot of Kurn's fish-out-of-water moments are great, but as quotable lines go, his response to a roast turkey – "How long has this bird been dead? It appears to have been lying in the sun for quite some time."- is about as good as it gets.

Time Until Meeting: 37:24. It's a Klingon meeting that also explains the episode's plot. What a treat!

Captain's Log: The glimpses into Klingon society are particularly interesting in this episode, but it's hard not to get the sense that all of Klingon culture involves shouting about honour and attempting to kill people. Even their assassins have special ritual blades, presumably so that you know someone was specifically trying to assassinate you, rather than offended that you questioned their judgement, or stepped on their side of the pavement or something.

Still, it's nice to get a Worf-centric episode that gives him some good material, and it sets up a few ongoing plots that'll be mined a lot in the future. Aside from the fact that most of the cast have absolutely nothing to do in the rest of the episode, it's not bad. Although the abrupt ending is a huge downer. It feels like the first half of a two-parter, but it isn't!

Watch or Skip? Watch. It's important to Worf's arc, if nothing else.

Read James' review of the previous episode, The Offspring, here.

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I value this episode purely for the fact that it ends in this downer. Seeing Worf take the blame for the greater good of the Empire highlightens his character and is - as I would argue - the first step on his transformation to the kick-ass Klingon we've come to love from DS9.

It is also noteworthy that in a time when every episode needed to go back to the joyful status quo (even though sometimes a deep thought is allowed), this one did not. I my mind, this signals the onset of the more gritty and "realistic" shows like DS9 and Babylon 5.

I like the ending too. Worf comes out as truly honorable and brave (for accepting the public humiliation) instead of reckless. It is also nice to have a look into Klingon society, and I enjoy Worf-centric episodes. When they let him develop, he is a great character, and Dorn makes him really likable. He is every bit the fierce Klingon, but there is an inherent sweetness to him that has me fangirling like a 15-year-old when they let it shine through.
And as you say, it is nice to see TNG resisting the urge to press the reset button.

Any episode with Data or Worf as the focus are always a highlight for me. This is where TNG started to get really good consistantly instead of flashes of really good ideas here and there.

Worf definitely had the most interesting character arc thru the series, with peaks and valleys in his character development. Most of the others didn't grow or learn from their experiences: Jordi and his dating confidence, for example. A possible exemption for Jean Luc with Borg incident and family ties.

This recap leaves out the most striking and memorable part of the whole episode: that circular panning shot as the assembled Klingons ceremonially turn their backs on Worf, leaving only Picard still facing him. You're in there with Worf, seeing it from his point of view. I still remember seeing that moment for the first time. There hadn't been such dramatic camera use in TNG before then, and it felt like they were raising the bar production-wise.

Also, stagey and melodramatic though it was, the cod-Shakespearean delivery of the Klingons gave Stewart a chance to stretch a little and show what he could do with that voice.

This has always been one of my favorite TNG episodes. In addition to the dinner portion where Kurn smears priceless caviar on the turkey, I also love when he tells Wesley to set course and yells 'EXCECUTE!' (instead of the obvious and more proper 'engage'.)

But my absolute favorite part of this episode is near the end when Worf slaps Duras in the face. Duras hangs his head in shame and K'mpek nods in approval. LoL!

I also love how Picard demonstrates his fluid Klingon just about every other TNG episode. How does Picard know the right words to accept when Worf asks him to be Cha'dich? I guess that's why he's Picard and we're not...

Worfs story doesnt complete until the later seasons of DS9 when he gains the high throne and gives it to the general.

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