This review contains spoilers.
The Enterprise meets a Klingon battlecruiser and is surprised to find Ambassador K’Ehleyr on board, because normally John De Lancie’s the only guy who can turn up more than once in the same role. Although Worf feels embarrassed to greet his former fling/true love (depending on who you ask) because of his recent dishonouring at the hands of Duras and the Klingon Council, he soon forgets all that when she turns up with a child who looks a lot like a mini-Worf. Uh-oh.
K’Ehleyr warns Picard that Chancellor K’mpec is dying and wishes to see Picard. K’mpec reveals that one of the two candidates to succeed him has poisoned him. It’s either Gowron, or Duras. He asks that Picard arbitrate the succession battle and expose the dishonourable murder to help secure the future of the council. Then he dies off screen.
Meanwhile, K’Ehleyr confirms to Worf that the boy, Alexander, is his son. She kept him secret because there’s already one annoying brat on the Enterprise and no-one wanted a second around, but Worf is upset because he doesn’t want his dishonour to pass onto the boy, as tradition dictates.
Both Gowron and Duras soon arrive at the Enterprise and are keen to move on to the bit where they fight for the leadership of the empire. Picard, still investigating the murder, stalls the proceedings by demanding they do the long, long version. Then a bomb goes off killing some of both Gowron and Duras’ aides, so now he has to investigate the attempted murder of at least one murderer. Cancel the shore leave, Riker, this one’s not getting done for a while.
When the crew discovers that the timer on the bomb was of Romulan origin, Picard gathers Gowron and Duras and gives them the bad news. Although neither is pleased to be in the same room as the dishonoured Worf, he gives them hell for being too dumb to notice obvious Romulan technology in the bomb that attacked them.
Throughout the episode, K’Ehleyr has been trying to discover the truth about Worf’s dishonour, and when he gets cold feet mid-way through the Klingon marriage oath (awkward) she takes it upon herself to do a little digging. She discovers the truth about Duras’ dishonour, which had previously been conferred to Worf to maintain the Empire (in the season 3 episode, Sins Of The Father. I hope you’ve seen both that and K’Ehleyr’s first episode, season 2’s The Emissary, otherwise none of this makes any sense). Her success is short-lived, however, because Duras’s Google Alert tells him he’s been rumbled, so he immediately goes to kill K’Ehleyr. No word on how he expected to get away with that, but we’re not dealing with a particularly calculating mind here.
Doctor Crusher reveals that she’s done a bit of CSI: Sickbay and found out the bomb was implanted in the forearm of one of Duras’ men. He’s bang to spacerights! All they have to do now is beam him directly to the brig, right? Right? Well, no. When Worf and Alexander return to their quarters, they discover K’Ehleyr on the brink of death. She implicates Duras with her dying words, and so Worf grabs the nearest Bat’leth and heads off for a fight.
By the time Picard & co. realise that Worf is gone, he’s already beating the hell out of Duras aboard someone else’s ship. Riker and Data turn up just in time to watch Worf impale him in the chest. It’s pretty badass, not to mention the first time Worf has actually won a fight that didn’t involve holograms.
Back on the Enterprise, Picard gives Worf a very stern talking to about how he can’t just go off killing potential political leaders simply because Klingon law allows it. He places a formal reprimand on Worf’s record, but sympathises with him by asking whether his father’s name can be cleared. Worf suggests that in time, it will be, and then he goes to tell Alexander that the adoptive human parents who raised him have agreed to raise Alexander as well, so thankfully he won’t have shoulder any actual responsibility that might impede future story decisions. He also admits the truth of Alexander’s parenthood, saying to him “Yes, Alexander, I am your father.” Say, that’s a good line, they should use that in some other star-based franchise.
TNG WTF: Picard really drops the ball in this episode. On the one hand, he spends a lot of time telling Worf to suck up his dishonour and stop going on about how his tedious “culture” and “beliefs” are getting in the way of his work. But then when Worf kills a prospective heir the Klingon leadership he’s all like “I suppose we’ll have to put a black mark on your permanent record for this.” Sorry, WHAT? If you can’t rely on your chief security officer to not murder a powerful political force in a rival empire for reasons of personal revenge, he’s not really a very good security officer and should probably receive a little more than a slapped wrist.
TNG LOL: This episode is oddly (well, not that oddly) short on laughs. Though Worf’s face when K’Ehleyr arrives with Alexander in tow is pretty funny (as is the sight of a Klingon child, to be fair. It’s like a lion cub: aims for angry but hits adorable.
There is also a moment where Alexander is in his room and Worf and K’Ehleyr get called to the bridge. They both go to leave, which poses the question: who’s babysitting Alexander?
To Boldly Go: Investigating radiation anomalies in the Gamma Arigulon system. Well, someone’s got to.
Mistakes and Minutiae: This is the first episode written by Brannon Braga, Star Trek‘s most prolific writer. He might’ve helped run the franchise into the ground by positioning Voyager and Enterprise with their noses dipped from day one, but when he was good, he was very very good. (He also wrote Sub Rosa, so when he was bad, he was horrid.)
Who’s That Face?: Robert O’Reilly plays Gowron. He’s played several Star Trek bit parts, but I’ll always enjoy his appearance as Kavok in the TNG video-board game (kids, ask your parents about Atmosfear.)
Time Until Meeting: 5:57. Right in there with K’Ehleyr briefing the senior staff on a potential civil war in the Klingon Empire.
Captain’s Log: Well. That’s one hell of an episode. If you ever needed proof that a Klingon-centric version of Star Trek might be a good idea, look no further than Reunion. It’s positively operatic in scope. You barely even notice that Data doesn’t learn anything about human nature or that no-one inverts any polarities. In many ways, it’s the forerunner to DS9, where this sort of plot would’ve been stretched over many episodes.
Perhaps what really makes it exciting are the irreversible changes it makes to the status quo, and the way it neatly sequelises two previous stories. This gives you the sense – one too often absent – that things aren’t going back to normal at the end. Sure, Alexander gets shipped off to limbo (where he will be recast) and they wouldn’t necessarily have to bring back Gowron again – but they definitely killed off a recurring character, even if it was only her second appearance. It’s been three years since a death that memorable on Star Trek, and K’Ehleyr was a much better character than Yar.
In fairness, it could’ve done with a little more room. It feels like the plot rushes onwards and as much as they do a good job of making Gowron seem threatening, there’s little concession made to making Duras anything other than the obvious candidate. A double episode could’ve given the characters more time to interact and built up Worf and K’Ehleyr’s romance a little more effectively, as well as Worf and Alexander’s relationship. It’s rare that TNG episodes feel overstuffed, but this one definitely does.
Props to Michael Dorn, too. Worf has always been one of TNG‘s better-realised characters but by this point he’s absolutely nailed it
Read James’ look-back at the previous episode, Legacy, here.
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