Star Trek

Star Trek

Monday, January 15, 2018

ST:TNG Season Three, Episode Eighteen "Allegiance"

ST:TNG Season Three, Episode Eighteen "Allegiance"
Production Order: 18
Air Order: 18
Stardate: 43714.1
Original Air Date: March 26, 1990



Picard's Log 43714.1: "We killed this plague thing on this one planet, and now we're gonna go meet up with the USS Hood."

Picard is in his quarters, chillaxing in a chair with a book when he decides to take a nap. He stretches out and closes his eyes, just in time to miss some kind of floating blue rectangle block thing that hovers over him, takes a scan, and then he glows blue and disappears.
On the bridge, Data tells Riker that there's a weird energy coming from Picard's quarters. A page to the captain gets no response. Worf calls for a security contingent to meet him at Picard's quarters.
Picard wakes up on a slab. He's in a room with three more slabs, two more people, and one of those tall metal heaters that restaurants turn on for customers who are foolish enough to eat on the patio when it's cold as balls outside.
Picard tries to call someone on his comm badge, but there's no response.



In the meantime, Worf busts into Picard's quarters. Surprisingly, Picard is there. With his book and a booze.
"How come your security contingency is all up in my space?" he asks.

Dramatic music! Opening credits break!



Picard walks around the metal patio heater. One of the other people seems to be asleep, while the other one meditates deeply. Or, you know, deeply enough that he doesn't realize there's a dude walking around the room. Or maybe he doesn't care. Whatever.
Picard approaches the sleeping person, possibly with the intent to wake her up, but instead he puts his hand on her throat like he's going to choke her? WTH?
Anyway, she wakes up startled, because some stranger is choking her, and there's a weird moment where's she's like who the fuck is choking me and why? and he's all startled, because why the fuck did he think grabbing her throat was a good idea? He steps back and she sees that he's a Starfleet captain, and now she's all flustered, because she's clearly a cadet from the Academy, and I guess if a Starfleet captain wants to choke you out, maybe you're supposed to let them?
I'm at a loss here.
He introduces himself to her, and she says she's Mitena Haro, a first year. She's all starry-eyed, because it sounds like the Academy professors talk about Picard in class. She names off some of the stuff he's done.



They've sufficiently "woken" the meditating guy, who says he's Kova Tholl.
They start sharing info. Neither of the others know why they're here, or where "here" is. Haro has been here three days, and was studying by herself at school when she fainted and woke up in this room. Tholl was meditating by himself when he also passed out. He's been here twelve days.



Their captors have never shown up or made themselves known. Picard goes to the patio heater again, and Tholl reaches into the stem to pull out a red urinal cake.
"It's edible," he says, "but I wouldn't call it food."
Picard takes a bite and comes to the same conclusion. Then he tries a wall panel.
"Yeah, I wouldn't touch that," says Tholl. "I tried to before, and they shot some kind of energy beam at me as punishment. Crazy-painful."



Other Picard enters the bridge. Riker tells him they'll meet up with the Hood in 36 hours, and Picard starts talking to Data about some nearby pulsar.
"We should go there," says Other Picard.
"We can be there in half an hour at warp 7," says Wes.
"Cool," says Other Picard. "Let's go at warp 2 instead."
"Um, that'll take 31 hours."
"Awesome. Make that shit so."
"Okay?" interjects Riker. "We're gonna be late to meet the Hood?"
"Probably," shrugs Other Picard.
Riker glances at Worf. "Will you tell the Hood we'll be late?"
"Nooo," says Other Picard. "All communications with other ships need to go through me first. Also, Riker, can I see you privately?"
"O...kay?" replies Riker.
So just that we're all on the same page: when you're supposed to meet someone, you should skip out on it, and also not inform them that you will be late. And also, you're not allowed to talk to anyone else without telling Other Picard.
He's kind of an asshole.



Riker and Other Picard go into the ready room, but not before Riker and Data exchange WTF? looks. Then Data exchanges a WTF? look with Worf, because WTF?
In the ready room, Other Picard talks to Riker about how sometimes he has captain's privilege and isn't allowed to tell Riker about top-secret stuff, even though he really, really wants to, and Riker's all "yeah, I guess that's happened before," and Other Picard is all, "Cool, I can't really talk to you about shit for the next few days, okay?" And Riker says that's fine, and when questioned about it, Riker responds that the crew knows that's sometimes a thing, and they'll comply as well.
"Awesome," says Other Picard as Riker exits.



Back in The Room, Picard is attempting to use the wall panel to tap out beeps in the first six prime numbers, to let their captors know that they're intelligent.
"That's dumb," says Tholl. "They're probably watching us talk on some closed-circuit tv. They know we're not unintelligent."
"I need to communicate with them," Picard insists, "to find out why we're here."
"We're here because they want us," sighs Tholl.
Spoilers: Tholl is a Debbie Downer asshole.
"Yeah, but why us specifically? Are you special?" Picard asks Haro.
"Not really," she shrugs. "I'm good with field coils, like engine propulsion? But if they wanted me for that, why would they take a cadet and not a real engineer?"
"Dunno. Hey, don't your people have some ongoing problems with (this other species that has nothing to do with this story)?"
"Yeah," says Haro. "But I don't think this is (that species)."
"My people don't have any enemies," says Tholl smugly.
Good for you, Tholl. Your race bought the universe a Coke.
"Fuck off," says Picard. "You guys get steamrollered by someone else every fifty years or so."
They get into a brief argument about nonviolence and letting someone comfort you for the sake of maintaining peace, when there's a whirring noise and another dude appears.
I'm pretty sure he's the lovechild between Pumba from The Lion King and a Tolkien orc.



Dude immediately pulls a knife on them. The others flinch, but Picard steps forward.
"No! Hey! We won't harm you! We're also captives, and we have no idea who kidnapped us, and we're just trying to get home, and again, no one is going to hurt you."
Which is what should have happened when Picard beamed over here: you tell that person everything you know in the first breath.
"I don't trust you," says the new guy. Still brandishing a knife.
"You don't get a choice," Picard says. "Also, were you kidnapped from Chalna?"
The knife goes away. "You know my planet?"
"Yeah, I was the captain of the Stargazer, and we went there once."
And that's seriously how Picard breaks up a knife fight. He just says he visited this guy's hometown one time like ten years ago, and the guy's like, "Okay, cool, I won't hack a hole in your torso with a serrated switchblade."



Back on the E, a bunch of our senior bridge crew are having their weekly poker night. Other Picard comes in, and he asks Geordi about the operating efficiency of the engines. He asks if Geordi might be able to bump it up about 2% more. Geordi says his luck sucks now anyway, and leaves to get that freaking 2%. The others offer to deal in Picard, but he says he wants to watch, which is... who watches a poker game? After Troi wins the next hand, Other Picard asks if he can talk with her in the corridor.
"How is the crew feeling after I switched our course?"
"Um, fine? Nobody has any problems with it. They have full confidence in you."
"If it falters," he asks, "will you let me know?"
"Haven't I always?" she asks, confused.
"Yeah, just let me know."
He walks off, and she goes back to her game.



In The Room, our captives are playing "Getting To Know You" and "Who Kidnapped Us?" The guy with the Pumba/orc face is named Esoqq, and he says that he's slain all of his enemies. He and Tholl get into a heated argument about who is more civilized and whether or not that's a good thing. Picard tells them the argument is pointless, and Tholl fires back with a question as to how long the Federation has been having issues with the Romulans.
"A long-ass time, fuck off," replies Picard.
Esoqq goes to the patio heater and takes a urinal cake. When he asks about it, Picard tells him it's food. Esoqq licks it, declares it poison.
"How long until you have to eat?" Picard asks him, as he threatens to eat Tholl.
"Three or four days," growls Esoqq.



There's a short scene here where Other Picard is talking to Crusher in her officer. He's apparently gone to her a month before his annual exams and actually asked to have it early.
"You're very healthy," Crusher tells him. "But why are you here?'
"Eh, you always cajole me into coming, I figured I'd give you a break from that for once."
She smiles and tells him he can go back to work.
On his way out, he turns and asks if she wants to have dinner with him tonight. She assumes it's casual, and that it'll be in Ten Forward, but he says no, in his quarters, which is more intimate.
"Well, aren't you full of surprises today!" she says.



Picard and Tholl start an argument as to whether escape is necessary. Tholl points out that they haven't been mistreated, so they should just stay put. Picard points out that Esoqq will starve sooner rather than later, so they should work together to get out.
"Whatever," shrugs Tholl. "I'm not helping you."
The other three go to the wall panel. Esoqq punches through the front piece, and Haro says she can rewire it to open the door. But when she does her thing, the door opens one inch, slams shut again, then some laser or something above the door bathes them in green light, and they writhe on the floor in pain.
"Told you so," says Tholl dickishly.
"Hey, thanks," says Picard's face.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!



Other Picard and Crusher have their date, and we advance the will they/won't they arc a bit. They dance around the idea of being together, which Other Picard says he wants, but Crusher says she likes just being friends for now. He put on romantic music and asks her to dance. She says she thought he didn't dance, and he replies that he does on special occasions.
So they dance, and talk some more, and then they kiss, but he abruptly tells her that she should probably leave. He's polite and doesn't seem upset, but he goes to the wall and opens the door and just stands there.
"Um, okay?" she says, confused.
She leaves.



We've now reached the point in every captive story where everyone turns on each other. Esoqq accuses Tholl being the captor, as he knew that messing with the equipment would get a person zapped. Tholl accuses Esoqq of being the captor, as he was the last to appear. Haro is accused of fucking up the rewiring, Picard is accused of ordering people around. Haro comes to Picard's defense, stating all of the stuff he's done, to no avail. The others don't care. They all argue and turn on one another, verbally.



Riker's Log, supplemental: "We're still 18 hours away from that pulsar, and now the captain has slowed us to half-impulse power. Nobody knows why."

Riker and Troi sit at a table in Ten Forward.
"This is fucking weird," says Riker. "Why did we just leave a mission to crawl toward a pulsar?"
"He does seem kind of detached," admits Troi.
Picard comes in and starts handing out compliments like candy. Then he buys a round of ale for the whole bar, which is extra weird, because I'm pretty sure everything in Ten Forward is free. He offers up a toast to "the best crew in Starfleet."
Then he starts then singing a fucking song and gets the others to join in. Worf and Geordi look weirded out and mumble the words.
"This is batshit crazy," Riker tells Troi.



Riker invites the senior officers to his quarters to discuss Picard's odd behavior. They each share the weird encounters they've had with him lately, and come close to comparing it to the episode where he was possessed by an alien ("Lonely Among Us"). When it's Crusher's turn, she tells them she had a strange date with Picard, and his physical results were pretty much the exact same as last time, which shouldn't be possible. She and Troi agree that he seems to be going out of his way to prove that he's not crazy, just so that they won't think that later. It's more than a little sociopathic, tbh.
Data points out that they haven't figured out what that energy spike was in Picard's quarters a little while ago.
"None of this is enough to justify mutiny," says Worf.
"Nobody is mutinying," Riker says firmly. "Right now, we're just exchanging info."
But there's an implied "... in case we have to mutiny."



There's a short scene here where the occupants of The Room are still arguing about who might be part of the people who kidnapped them. The other three want Picard to prove that he isn't the enemy, to which he replies that he cannot.
"We have to trust each other, but we can't prove if any of us is the enemy," he says. "We also can't prove if we're trustworthy. We just have to go with it."
And he tries to screw with the panel again.



The E has finally arrived at the pulsar, and Other Picard orders them to go in realclose. Sensing this could suck, Riker tells Worf to beef up the shields. Data reminds Other Picard that they can only hang out this close to the star for about 18 minutes before the shields fail.
"It's cool," replies Other Picard.
Riker asks to speak with him, and they go into the ready room.
"You're acting weird, and I don't want to have you relieved, but you're putting the crew in danger, so I will if I have to," Riker tells Other Picard.
And then Other Picard puts that final nail in the coffin for me: he pulls rank and gaslights Riker.
"Are you sure you're not the crazy one? I won't relieve you of duty if you go to sick bay and get a full exam to prove you're not."
Fuck off, Other Picard.



Esoqq gives Picard his scary-ass knife, which Picard uses to cut some wiring in the wall panel. Finished, Haro takes over, and her fiddling with it opens the door an inch again. She admits that she probably overloaded it, so Picard and Esoqq each grab one half of the door to pry it open. Picard commands Tholl to help them, and he does so begrudgingly, but when the door opens, it is onto a solid metal wall. No exit.
Tholl yells at Picard for wasting their time.
Picard considers Haro.



On the E, one of the shields has failed, and Data is using another to boost it.
"Take us in a lot closer," says Other Picard.
Data reminds him that they'll all get radiation poisoning and die, but Other Picard wants to be right on top of it, anyway.
"Yeah, not doing that," announces Riker.
Other Picard looks at him and relieves him of duty. "Mr Worf confine him to quarters."
Riker glances back at Worf, who takes his hands from his station, and stands with them behind his back.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!



We get a stand-off between Riker and Other Picard. Other Picard keeps trying to get Worf to take him away, but Worf ain't going nowhere. Riker tells Other Picard that he's putting the crew in danger, and he won't put up with it. Riker orders Wes to back the ship up, and Wes is kind of stuck in the middle - he wasn't at that meeting. He pauses before doing as Riker asked, because, you know, he doesn't want to die.



 So we're back in The Room, and Picard is done.
"We're not captives," he surmises. "We're lab rats. This is an experiment, and the thing we have in common is how we react to authority. Tholl is from a race that will simply bow down to whomever is in authority. in order to keep the peace. Esoqq is from a people who detest authority. I'm a Starfleet captain, trained to command. And Haro is a cadet, trained to take orders and defer to command. Then we're set a bunch of tasks that are kind of impossible. Esoqq can't eat the food, which makes him a threat to the rest of us. We work as a team to get the door open, and we find we're still trapped. We're in an experiment, and you -" he points at Haro "- are observing us."
She tries to protest, but he brings up that she knows about classified missions he did, that she mentioned that plague he just helped cure, and how the hell would she know about that?
She pauses, like Wes did, then tells him that he's right.
There's a flash of light where she was standing, and suddenly she's a completely different alien. Two more aliens appear.
For some reason, they look like Johnny Bravo.




The aliens get right to it: they "borrowed" Picard, Tholl and Esoqq and replaced them with replicas. Apparently, they have some kind of transporter than can make copies of people, complete with full brain scan and memories, and they used that to make duplicates.
"You mean an impostor is running my ship?" demands Picard.
"Not anymore," admits one of the aliens. "Our species are all linked telepathically, so we know that Commander Riker has taken over your ship. Along with having better transporters, we all have better ways of communicating."
Hmmm, not very smart to admit your evil kidnapping and replacement plot to your captives, then brag about how all your tech and skills are better. Especially considering that Esoqq is large, pissed off, armed, and probably hungry. Bet your shiny happy extraterrestrial ass tastes great with Chianti and fava beans.



The aliens admit that they'd like to continue the experiment, but they have a double-slit problem here where all of their subjects are now aware of the experiment. So they have to put them back. Each alien grabs a person, there's a flash of light, and The Room is empty.

Picard and his alien flash onto the Enterprise bridge. The two Picards size up, then one turns into another alien.
"Why were you using us to study authority and command?" Picard demands. He glances at Riker, who nods and presses some buttons on one of those little command centers next to the captain's chair.
"We don't have those concepts on our planet," says one alien. "We also studied how Esoqq's and Tholl's people deal with those concepts as well."
Riker looks at Data, who presses some buttons, and at Worf, who does the same.
These aliens are going on and on about their experiment this whole time, keeping them distracted.
"You can't imprison people and experiment on them," says Picard. "It's immoral!"
"Yeah, we've heard that," says one alien. "We plan to study that, too."



"Now!" yells Picard.
And a forcefield goes up around the aliens. They freak out. "Whhhhyyyy?"
"Because it was bitchy of you to declare that we're primitive because we communicate vocally. I was able to tell my crew with a look that I wanted to hold you here. Also, I too wanted to do an experiment. I wanted to see how you guys would react to being imprisoned."



Seriously? Fuck off.
They protest that they never meant any harm, and never harmed any of their subjects.
"Dude, imprisonment is injury!" yells Picard.
They don't respond. These dipshits keep whimpering and touching the forcefield, which clearly gives off tiny shocks.
Picard gives the sign to turn it off. "I hope you'll think twice about imprisoning people and experimenting on them. Also, we now know of your people and how to imprison you. Get the fuck off my ship."
The aliens disappear.



Picard tells Wes to get them to the Hood at warp 8. He asks Riker how things were going, how much his replica fucked up all of the shit.
"Crew is okay, replica was pretty close. Some weirdness, though."
"What kind of weirdness?"
Riker can barely contain himself. "Weeellll, I'm not really sure you're that good a singer."
"Singer?" Picard looks like a combo of pissed and startled. "I think I look forward to your report?"
The lift door opens and Crusher enters the bridge. She missed the aliens, the swap, and the doppelganger. She's certain that the guy she made out with is the guy in the chair.
She smiles at him in a knowing way, and calls him captain in a mildly suggestive tone.
He does a slow double-take, looking mildly uncomfortable.

They take off for the rendezvous.





This episode is not my favorite. I mean, I don't hate it, but it mostly ranks a "meh" for me.
As with many Star Trek episodes, the background story had a lot to do with how the episode turned out, so let's start there. "Yesterday's Enterprise" was expensive AF, so they had to make some cheaper episodes to make up for the fact that they spent beaucoup bucks on one episode. "Allegiance" and "The Offspring" were both written with smaller budgets in mind, which makes sense. With the exception of The Room, this might have been a bottle show, as The Offspring was.
And for the most part, the writers really liked this episode. They liked that they could explore Picard's character a bit, and have fun with Other Picard.
But this episode didn't do it for me, honestly. I found it a bit boring. I guess the Other Picard moment where he leads the crew in song was amusing, but the date with Crusher was awkward, and didn't actually further that will they/won't they arc, because that wasn't actually Picard, and how hideous would that convo between Crusher and the real McCoy  Picard be later? Ugh, that's like British comedy awkward.
I didn't really care for the other captives that Picard was with, either. Haro I found to be a bit too subservient. I know she didn't really exist, but it got a bit annoying. Tholl was obnoxious, kind of an asshole, and insisting that they do nothing and just hang out for the rest of their lives, because their captors had provided food and shelter for them, and had not physically harmed them.
One can be nonviolent, and not take shit from others, Tholl.
He was smug, too. Fuck smug people.
Esoqq... meh. I don't really have any feelings either way about Esoqq, though I do like the fact that he threatened Picard, but Picard responded by being concerned about him starving to death. So points to Picard, but that has nothing to do with Esoqq. Maybe he would be more interesting if we had encountered his species before, but he's a one-off, so I have even fewer reasons to care.
Truth be told, I barely recall this episode.

*******
Fun facts:

- This show has been compared to a Twilight Zone episode, called "Five Characters In Search of An Exit" and the TOS episode "The Empath."
- The song that Picard leads in Ten Forward is Heart of Oak, the marching song for the Royal Navy.
- This is only one of two times that Picard will drop in on the weekly poker game.
- This is the second time we see a Bolian (though technically Haro is not a real Bolian, she's another kind of alien).
- Esoqq's costume was later modified to become that of Morn on DS9.
- Picard references "Who Watches the Watchers" when discussing missions he has completed. This is how he suspects Haro of not actually being a cadet - the Mintaka III mission was something a first year would not know about.
- A reaction shot of Worf looking at the replica of Picard changing back into the alien was actually stock footage from "The Survivors." Worf is wearing a slightly different uniform in that shot.
- This episode was nominated for an Emmy for make-up.


Red deaths: 0
To date: 1
Gold deaths: 0
To date: 1
Blue deaths: 0
To date: 1
Unnamed color crew deaths: 0
To date: 127
Obnoxious Wes moments: 0
Legitimate Wes moments when he should have told someone to go fuck themselves: 0
To date: 0
Sassy Geordi moments: 0
To date: 9
Sassy Wes Moments: 0
To date: 0
Sassy Worf Moment: 0
To date: 6
Sassy Riker Moments: 1
To date: 11
Sassy Picard Moments: 0
To date: 8
Sassy NPC Moments: 0
To date: 0
Sassy Data Moments: 0
To date: 5
Sassy O'Brien Moments: 0
To date: 0
Sassy Crusher Moments: 0
To date: 2
Sassy Troi Moments: 0
To date: 4
Sassy Guest Star Moments: 0
To date: 2
Number of times that it is mentioned that Data is an android: 0
To date: 21
Number of times that Troi reacts to someone else's feelings: 2
To date: 23
Number of times that Geordi "looks at something" with his VISOR: 0
To date: 4
Number of times when Data gives too much info and has to be told to shut up: 0
To date: 2
Picard Maneuvers: 1
To date: 23
Tea, Earl Grey: 1
To date: 4




Uhura Selfie




Tuesday, January 9, 2018

ST:TNG Season Three, Episode Seventeen "Sins of the Father"

ST:TNG Season Three, Episode Seventeen "Sins of the Father"
Production Order: 17
Air Order: 17
Stardate: 43685.2
Original Air Date: March 19, 1990

Okay, sorry. Roomie moved out and took her laptop, and then I caught several weeks' worth of that Christmas plague that everyone was getting. Also, the laptop that I'm borrowing won't allow me to access Paint...?

*******



Picard's Log 43685.2: "You remember that time that Riker was first officer on a Klingon cruiser? We're gonna do the opposite and have a Klingon first officer here."

Picard and Riker are walking to the transporter room, talking about what this experience will be like for everyone aboard. Picard says he heard Commander Kurn requested the E specifically.
Kurn beams aboard. He gets down to business, relieving Riker and refusing to be shown to his quarters. He wants to go to the bridge right away.



Once on the bridge, Kurn tells the crew that he is impressed by their service record, and hopes they will live up to their reputation.
Wes gets yelled at by Kurn for whispering to Data, though that was probably warranted. Don't talk when your CO is talking, Wes. They all sit down and Picard tells Kurn where they need to go.
Kurn gives Wes the coordinates and barks "Execute!"
"Engaged!" Wes calls back, plugging in his numbers.
Wil Wheaton kind of rocks forward here, like he's going to barf all over the comm panel. I guess he's supposed to be startled or something, but it's a weird acting choice.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!



Riker joins Wes in Ten Forward. Wes is pretty sure Kurn hates him. Geordi approaches to complain that Kurn did an Engineering inspection during a maintenance cycle and found the whole section lacking.
"Klingons have a different command style," says Riker. "He's probably leaning a lot on everyone."
"Yeah," says Wes bitterly. "Just not the guy who would mind."



On the bridge, Worf is scanning a debris field up ahead at Kurn's request. Kurn is hella patronizing, and Worf looks ready to hit him. In fact, Kurn looks eager for that fight. But Worf is a good officer, and so his nostrils flare, but he returns to his station.



Kurn gets into the lift with Riker. They're both going to a dinner in "the captain's mess."
"Can I give you a suggestion as to how to deal with the crew?" Riker offers.
"Fuck your suggestion!" Kurn replies.
"Hey, this isn't a Klingon ship," snaps Riker.
"No, it's not." They get out of the lift. "If it were, I would have killed you for trying to make a suggestion," Kurn finishes.



At the dinner, Kurn is unimpressed with the way that humans mostly cook their food. Crusher offers him caviar (a raw alternative), and Picard admits that the replicator doesn't do fish roe justice, so he's squirreled away a few cases for occasions like this.
Kurn sounds genuine when he says he's honored, but he wipes a literal handful of caviar on a turkey leg in a rather disgusted way.
Troi asks Kurn how how he's getting along on the ship and Kurn jovially replies that he almost killed Riker just now. He then implies that Worf should not be eating the bland human shit-food served on the E.
Klingons got no tact.



Later, Worf shows up at Kurn's quarters. Because Kurn can't resist telling Worf what a sissy he thinks Worf is, he insults the comfort level of the E. As in, it's too comfortable and only a complete wuss would be okay with that. Worf shrugs this off and asks if he has offended Kurn.
"Nope," replies Kurn. "I find you to be a capable Starfleet officer. Too bad you're not a real Klingon."
This, of course, has the effect Kurn wants. Worf gets pissed and throws a chair.
"Ha! You are a Klingon after all! Also, you're my older brother."
HOLD. THE MOTHERFUCKING. COMM BADGE.
Commercial break!



When we return, Kurn explains how this could be so: he was just a baby when Worf's family got transferred to Khitomer. Kurn was too little to go, so they left him with another family.
"That's crap," says Worf. "My adoptive human family was told I had no living relatives."
"They assumed I also died at Khitomer," Kurn explains. "And my adoptive father Lorgh had no soms, so they just kind if let me carry on thinking I was part of that family. The whole thing came out when I hit the Age of Ascension."
"So you used the exchange program to spy on me?" asks Worf.
"Yeah, I had to find out if you were the right kind of Klingon. Also, as the eldest brother, you have to bring the challenge."
"Could you quit with the truth bombs?" demands Worf. "What challenge?"
"The High Council is about the declare our father a traitor to the Empire."



Worf goes to Picard to ask for leave.
"Basically," says Worf, "Duras, the douchey son of my father's biggest rival, is claiming that my father helped the Romulans attack the Khitomer Outpost. Because a warrior is responsible for his family's actions and vice-versa, if I don't win the challenge, they'll execute me and disgrace my family's name for seven generations."
"That's fucked up," says Picard. "Also, that was 20 years ago. Why are they bringing this challenge now?'
"Dunno," shrugs Worf. "Can I have leave?"
"Hell no," says Picard. "I mean, you can, but I'm going with you, to provide moral support, because I think you'd do the same for me."
Okay, that's a bit "taking my CMO on the away team because we're buddies," but whatever, Picard.
They exit the ready room and Picard tells Kurn to change direction and head for Qo'nos.



Worf and Kurn meet up in Ten Forward. Kurn tries to mansplain the challenge procedure, but Worf brushes him off. He already knows it.
"You can bring the challenge, but you can't fight," says Kurn. "You have to choose a cha'DIch to fight for you. Please, please, please pick me!"
Now that they're going to challenge, Kurn is super excited. Worf agrees to make Kurn his armed wingman, but tells him that he can't reveal that he is also a son of Mogh.
"Why? Because if you lose we'll both be executed? I don't care!"
"Too bad," replies Worf. "On this ship, you're my commander, and I have to obey you. But in Council chambers, you're just the cha'DIch, and you obey me."
Kurn is properly chastised. "Yes, brother."



The E rolls up on Qo'nos, and that's some sexy matte painting right there. They added thunder and lightning in the background, too. Either fancy effects or maybe some model-work. It's fabulous either way.

This yumminess is bought to us by Syd Dutton.


Our boys beam down into Council chambers, and Worf has added one of those floor-length Klingon vests to his regular uniform and sash. He's got Kurn, Picard and Riker with him, and they all step forward.
"I am Worf, son of Mogh," he announces, "and I've come to challenge the lies being spoken about my father!"
Fuck yeah, Worf! Get it!

Dramatic music! Commercial break!



They start the challenge. Worf formally announces himself and agrees to pay with his life if he fails in his challenge.
"Why the fuck are you here, Kurn?" demands K'mpec, the Chancellor in charge.
"I'm cha'DIch," Kurn replies.
Some dude steps forward and hands him a scary-ass Klingon knife, which Kurn accepts.
"Why the hell are you here?" asks Duras of Worf. "You're not a Klingon! You're wearing little kid clothes, and you brought outsiders in!"
"Fuck off," replies Worf. "I am still Klingon."
"Yeah, seriously," says Picard. "I'm here of my own volition. Worf is a great officer, and has earned my admiration and trust."
"Fuck off, Duras," says K'mpec. "If a commanding officer wants to tell us that he admires Worf, we'll make a note of it. He's a good character witness. Anyway, start the challenge. Tell us what charges you're bringing against Mogh."
"New evidence has come to light," says Duras, "that Mogh sent access codes to the Romulans at Khitomer. Lots of people died on Khitomer. My father died on Khitomer." He steps up to Worf. "Your father was a traitor. By bringing the challenge, you are a traitor." He backhands Worf, and based on the fact that Worf just takes it, it's probably part of the ceremony. "You're a fool, and when you lose this challenge, you'll die a fool." He rips off Worf's sash. "You don't get to wear our people's symbols."
Worf is cool as a cucumber. "It is a good day to die, Duras. And the day is not yet over."
Ohhhh, damn.





K'mpec calls a recess. Picard and Riker return to the E, where Picard decides that he wants to bone up on info about Khitomer, Romulan tactics, and Klingon law. He gives Data the assignment of looking up shit on Khitomer and the Roms.
Downstairs, K'mpec asks to speak to Worf alone. When Kurn walks away, another Klingon brings him a note. He walks off.
K'mpec tells Worf that he should not have brought the challenge.
"I served with your father, and don't want to remember him like this. You would not have been harmed in your life with the Federation. Just go back to your ship and your life there, and no harm will come to you. But if you stay for the next part of the challenge, you could lose your life."
"The fuck?" asks Worf. "Why would I not challenge? I'm still a Klingon, and that's my father's honor! Is this the Council speaking, or what?"
K'mpec gets pissed off that Worf would question him.



Upstairs, Data and Riker are just starting their investigation into the Khitomer Massacre. They look up the logs for the USS Intrepid, the first Federation ship on the scene. Riker calls Crusher, and asks her to look up the logs for every ship that responded to the Khitomer's distress calls.
On the surface, Kurn goes to meet up with whoever sent him the note.
Surprise, surprise, it's Duras.
"I know that you're a son of Mogh," says Duras. "You were smart to hide that fact. You should just walk away, not say anything, and then you won't be killed."
"Screw you!" says Kurn.
"Fine," says Duras.
He leaves. And shocker, it's an ambush. Two other Klingon warriors jump out and attack Kurn.
WTF? That's not honorable. That's some straight Romulan shit.
Kurn gets stabbed and left for dead.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!



Upstairs, Kurn is being tended to by Crusher.
"He'll make a full recovery," she assures him. "That wound was kind of messed up, though."
"It was made with the ceremonial knife of an assassin," sighs Worf. "You should have let him die. Now that Duras knows we're brothers, we'll both be killed."
"Sounds like you've given up already," notes Crusher.



On the bridge, Data tells Riker and Geordi that the Klingons recently captured a Romulan ship whose logs had new info about Khitomer: there was a transmission from the outpost with Mogh's security codes to the Romulan ship just before the shields went down.
Riker suggests that they cross-check that against the Intrepid's logs.
"Okay," says Data. "But the Intrepid was pretty far away. It might not match up exactly."
They check, and see the gap in the Intrepid's logs. But Geordi notices that the timing doesn't sync up when the gap vanishes.
"Somebody screwed with these logs," he says.



In the ready room, Picard and Worf talk about the fact that something is not being talked about here.
"They didn't expect you to challenge," says Picard. "They're hiding something."
"Fabulous," growls Worf. "So it's not just Duras that's my enemy. It's the High Council, too." He pauses. "I have to choose a new cha'DIch. I pick you."
"You should probs pick someone younger and stronger," Picard suggests.
"No, you're who I want," asserts Worf.
Picard gives the ceremonial response, and agrees.



Worf and Picard beam back down to the Council chamber for the Mek'ba, the second half of the challenge.
"I haven't given up my challenge," announces Worf, "even though a fucking coward set a trap for my cha'DIch."
Duras is all insulted by this, but Picard steps forward between them.
"Get the hell out of here, human," snarls Duras.
"Bite me," says Picard. "I'm cha'DIch now."
"You have to fight to be cha'DIch," says Duras. "Starfleet doesn't teach people to fight."
"You wanna go?" demands Picard.
The other, set-dressing Klingon steps forward and gives Picard the crazy ceremonial knife, which he accepts.



Upstairs, Crusher tells Riker that she's found something: Worf wasn't the only survivor of Khitomer, a woman was found with him. Kahlest was taken to Starbase 24 with severe injuries, then returned home later.
"We should find her," says Riker.
Downstairs in the Council chambers, Duras begins his accusations.
Riker calls Picard. Picard makes a hand gesture at K'mpec, who nods his approval at Picard taking a call. Picard walks away while Riker tells him about Kahlest, and about how she lives nearby. Then Picard steps back into the chambers to request a recess.
K'mpec seems thoroughly over this shit already, and agrees.



Picard pulls Worf aside.
"You know someone named Kahlest?"
"Yeah, she was my nanny. But she died at Khitomer."
"Naw, she survived. And she may have seen some shit go down. She lives nearby. I'm gonna go see her."
Worf grabs Picard's arm. "That sounds dangerous."
"Bitch, I'm cha'DIch."
Picard leaves, and the camera zooms in on Duras and his two assassin guys, in the shadows nearby.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!



Picard goes to Kahlest's house, but she refuses to help him. She seems to have been following the challenge and knows what's going on, but she tells him that her life essentially ended on Khitomer, and shit has fallen apart.
"Was Mogh a traitor?" he asks.
"No," she says. "He suspected that someone else was a traitor, and followed that person to Khitomer."
"Do you know who the traitor was?"
"No. Go away."
Sensing he won't get anywhere, Picard takes off. But guess who is waiting for him outside? Fucking Duras' assassins.
They try to take him down, but Picard is as good as his word, and he's actually doing pretty well. He dispatches the first one. The second corners him and is about to cut a captain, but Kahlest puts a knife in his back.
"Thanks," says Picard.
"You're a good cha'DIch," she replies.
"Would they recognize you?" he asks, trying to convince her again.
"K'mpec would," she answers. "He tried to hit that back in the day, but he was too fat for me. Yeah, I'll go with you."



Back in the Council chambers, K'mpec and Duras are ready to hand down a judgment and condemn Worf, but then Picard bursts in like some avenging human angel with Kahlest in tow.
"I got another fucking eyewitness," Picard yells.
"Oh, hell," says K'mpec. "Recess!"
He drags Worf, Picard, Kahlest and Duras back into his own private chambers.
"What do you know?" he demands of Kahlest.
"Fuck that," says Picard. "She's supposed to make her report in open chambers. Will you allow her to speak there?"
"...no," says K'mpec quietly.
"This is bullshit," says Duras.
"STFU, you dishonorable asshole," K'mpec snaps.
"Hello, confession!" shouts Picard. "This is about your dishonor, isn't it?" he asks Duras.
K'mpec pauses, then tells Kahlest that she can go. He already knows what she has to say.
"It was good to see you," he tells her.
"You are still too fat," she replies.



I'm not normally down with body shaming, but that shit's funny.



K'mpec spills the beans: when the Romulan ship was captured, other Klingons knew that a Klingon had given the access codes of the outpost to the Romulans. Duras' father Ja'rod had given the Romulans the codes, but that family was too powerful. The truth would tear the empire apart, plunge them into civil war. So they falsely accused Mogh, because Worf was in Starfleet, and they didn't know that Kurn was Worf's brother. They figured Worf wouldn't care. K'mpec had tried to ask Worf to drop the challenge, but now it was too late.
"His challenge was successful," argues Picard.
"No, his challenge failed before he ever made it," K'mpec says.
"Bullshit!" says Picard. "What does that say about the Empire?"
"We won't destroy the Empire over one family's honor," K'mpec declares.
I'm sorry, but isn't that what you're doing now?
"You're such hypocrites," snarls Picard.
"STFU, cha'DIch," snaps Duras.
"Fuck off," Picard answers. "You will not execute my security officer, or his brother to keep your fucking secrets."
"You're interfering in internal affairs. That could destroy our peace treaty, between the Federation and the Empire," K'mpec says angrily.
"Those agreements weren't based on lies," yells Picard.
"No, I'll die for the Empire," says Worf quietly to the room at large.
"NO!"
"STFU, cha'DIch," snaps Worf.



"Let Kurn go," says Worf. "Nobody needs to know that he's a son of Mogh. Leave him alone, and I will accept discommendation."
K'mpec is excited about this. He can have his Klingon cake, and eat it, too. "You'd be willing to say this in open council? It's like admitting your father's guilt."
"Yes."
K'mpec nods. "You are a Klingon after all. Things discussed here today do not leave this room."
Duras turns to leave, but Worf stops him.
"You are the son of a traitor."
And he backhands Duras. K'mpec nods sagely, and it's obvious that he's 1000% done with Duras' shit, and wishes he could do the same.



Kurn and Picard are walking to the Council chambers.
Kurn is frustrated that Worf would accept discommendation.
"I was ready to die," he says.
"Worf wants you to live, with your honor intact," says Picard. "Someday, you will have to clear your father's name. But make sure you tell your children about his sacrifice. It's a big one."
Kurn nods.
In the Council chambers, Picard and Kurn flank Worf.
Worf says something quietly in Klingon, accepting his discommendation, and K'mpec replies in Klingon also. Then he crosses his arms across his chest, and spins so that his back is facing Worf. One by one, each of the Klingons encircling Worf does the same until the circle is complete.
Worf looks at Kurn. "You must do the same... brother."
Resolutely, Kurn raises his arms to cross his chest, then clenches his fists, and spins around.
Quietly, Worf and Picard exit the chambers.
Worf has accepted disgrace to save the Empire.
Chills.



*******

OMG, I love TNG Klingons, you guys. The aesthetics are sexy. And the politics are sexy AF.

I have this theory (and maybe you know it) that every iteration of Star Trek does one species really right, and then creates another, which it then ignores. The next show then fixes the previously ignored species. For TOS, the species that they developed into a really well-rounded culture was the Vulcans, thanks mostly to Leonard Nimoy, who did not half-ass things. The species they fell flat with was the Klingons, who had no culture or aesthetics beyond asshole-ishness, a hatred of Tribbles, and a look comprised mostly of fu-manchus and blackface. (Okay, no. TOS blackface was not the same as Jim Crow-era blackface. Looking at you, "Holiday Inn," WTF? But my argument when reviewing TOS remains the same - if you want to do a species of brown aliens, hire brown people to play them, FFS. There is no shortage of quality brown actors in the world. In fact, we got several in this episode!)
It was until TNG that the show runners actually bothered to develop Klingon culture into the rich tapestry that we know today. And while Klingon ships were featured in previous episodes, it wasn't until this episode that the writers and designers were actually forced to ask, "Who are these people?" And that's really where this episode comes together, a blending of story elements and aesthetics. It's a good story that brings in the political nature of Klingons, tangled up with secrets and honor, and then filmed in specific ways with limited color palettes and sharp angles. (Notice, though, that the greys and blacks were retained from the TOS.)

Thank god they got rid of that eyeshadow, though. All the females
in this episode looked normal.

Red was effectively added, probably to convey passion. Symbolism is everywhere. Ritual is important. Even when Duras and Worf backhand each other, the audience feels as though it is part of something bigger, something that has spanned millennia.
The showrunners might have shrugged it off, but instead added in little details: it is of utmost importance that each Klingon acts a certain way. Personality can be accounted for, of course; they are not the Borg. But through ritual and rehearsed response, one gets the feeling that each member of the species knows exactly how to act in each situation - these things have been handed down to them from previous generations. These things are backed up by tiny asides in the script: both Kurn and Picard responded the exact same way when offered the position of cha'DIch; the backhanding ritual and response; the final ritual of the Council literally turning their backs on Worf. Even in season two, when Worf presents Pulaski with the Klingon tea ceremony, where she knows much of the ritual herself. An outsider may go through the motions and say the right words, as both Pulaski and Picard did, but the feeling emerges that it is the Klingon so intimately connected to the movements and responses, who feels the deeper meaning within each ritual.
So now the brass tacks of the story...
The piece with Kurn might have gone sideways, but it didn't. I'm always wary when they introduce new family members for established main characters, as I wonder what kind of sentimental crap they're going to dredge up, or use to make fun of that main character. Sometimes it feels like poorly-plotted fan fiction. While it does feel a bit like they pulled in Kurn specifically as a convenient way to introduce the challenge, Tony Todd rose to the challenges of being "the long-lost brother" and it doesn't seem quite so disjointed to welcome him into the TNG extended family. (Kurn will show up in two more TNG episodes, be mentioned in a third, and appear in one more episode of DS9.) Kurn has his own interesting backstory which helps weave him into the episode, though he does kind of get lost in the story once he is stabbed by Duras' assassins.
The really important parts of this episode are three-fold: firstly, it continues to enrich the few things we have seen thus far of Klingon culture: the reenactment of Worf's Age of Ascension rites ("The Icarus Factor"), that tea ceremony ("Up the Long Ladder"), the death ritual ("Heart of Glory"). Here, we see Qo'nos, the Council chambers, and the ritual of discommendation. We learn that a Klingon may bring a challenge to the Council, but will require someone to fight for him should the need arise. We learn that there is some intrigue in the upper echelons of the governing body, and that at least the current Council members favor peace and lies over civil war.
Secondly, we are reminded that Worf is an outsider no matter where he tries to represent himself. Though he is respected and liked among his crewmates, Worf is viewed as a mysterious Other. His personality is often chalked up to his race. They assume that he is an expert at all things Klingons because he is one, despite the fact that he barely remembers his time among his own people and was raised by humans. He has most likely had to learn about his own culture through second-hand sources. His own people misunderstand him as well. They view him as a human in Klingons' clothing, and assume that he will not care if his family is disgraced because he "has his own life in the Federation." Other Klingons give him shit for eating cooked food and holding his temper. In his guise of "just another Klingon commander," Kurn makes fun of Worf, and goads him into staring a fight, just to see if he "has a Klingon heart." He spends quite a bit of this episode surprising others, both in his knowledge of the Klingon world, and his willingness to participate in it.
Thirdly, this episode not only subtly changes the character of Worf, but it opens the door for more continuing story arcs. Michael Dorn noted that this particular episode changed the way he played Worf, that he gave him more to play with and think about going forward, but didn't think the writers considered that when they came up with the script. Basically, he Nimoyed Worf. What's more continuing arcs had not really been done in TOS, and only kind of touched upon with TNG, but this episode opened a whole can of worms concerning Khitomer, the House of Mogh, and the ongoing storylines with Duras. It provided the opportunity to explore Klingon culture, and what discommendation actually means.

Bottom line: Yes, more of this please.

Fun Facts:

- This story was actually two different scripts, one where Mogh's honor was challenged, and Worf goes to Qo'nos to fix it; and one where Kurn reveals himself as Worf's brother. Ronald D Moore was in charge of combining them into one story.
- Originally, there was no ritual response for accepting a cha'DIch position. Patrick Stewart mentioned to Moore that he would like for Picard to know what to say to accept the position, so responses were written for both Kurn and Picard to say. The response is: "I accept with honor. May your enemies tremble before you."
- The Klingon spoken at the end during the discommendation translates as:
   Worf: "I fear your judgement."
   K'mpec: "Coward!"
- Richard James, the art director, and Jim Mees, the set decorator, both won Emmies for this episode.
- The captain of the USS Intrepid was listed as Drew Deighan. Deighan wrote the original spec script  which this episode is based on.
- The Great Hall set was built off of the Tanuga set from "A Matter of Perspective."
- This is the first time we see Qo'nos.
- The guy who played K'mpec (Charles Cooper) also played General Korrd in Star Trek V. K'mpec is wearing the same coat as Korrd wore.
- This is the first time we see the captain's mess. It is a redress of the Obs Lounge.
- Kahlest tells Picard that Mogh was loyal to the Emperor, but the Klingons haven't had an emperor for centuries. Possibly she was talking about Kahless and his teachings.
- In the Council chambers, Worf calls Duras a Ha'DIbaH (animal). However, he mixes up two letters and accidentally says "ha'bidah." He is not the only actor to make that mistake.
- Memory Alpha doesn't say whether or not Kahlest is the female version of the name Kahless, but I'm making it a headcanon that it is.



Red deaths: 0
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Unnamed color crew deaths: 0
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Uhura