Production Order: 20
Air Order: 20
Original Air Date: March 21, 1988
We start out this week with serious music, and a serious tone. We're headed towards a fight. Worf reports that Starfleet has sent a message about something to do with skirmishes in the Neutral Zone, but no one knows who is involved. They want the E to investigate.
Right away, Riker is suggesting that they separate the saucer, before they've even found out what's going on, if anything actually is going on.
So they jet off to the Neutral Zone, and scans there show some kind of battle activity. Data shoots down Riker's theory that it could have been Ferengi, but then suggests Romulans. I instantly fall asleep.
Please God, not fucking Romulans. Romulans are the Daleks of Star Trek: some ubiquitous Big Baddie that's always lurking somewhere, supposedly ready to strike, that mostly just gets talked about frequently by the on-screen characters. When they actually do show up, the episodes aren't terrible, but it feels like a lot of hype for the pay-off we get. We've already been subjected to the Mysterious Activity in the Neutral Zone B-plot, and it felt slap-dash and annoying at best. All throughout this series, we're gonna get the same thing: mentions of "stuff happening" near or in The Neutral Zone, or the E is going to show up there and have accusatory conversations with other ships that basically boil down to both sides asking, "What are you doing in the Neutral Zone?"
We get it: the Neutral Zone is like a 7-11 parking lot at 2 am - even if you have a legitimate reason for being there, you still look suspicious.
So we finally arrive, and they find a Talarian freighter adrift in space.
Life support failing, ship in bad shape. Riker suggests that lack of another ship doesn't mean that Romulans couldn't be cloaked nearby.
I've watched this episode. It's not Romulans. Stop saying Romulans.
No Romulans in This Episode
Worf says he thinks there might be some life signs on board the other ship, but there's a ton of interference because the ship is going to explode soon, so he can't be certain.
"Okay, let's do an away team," says Picard. "Yar, you need to stay here, because you get a maximum number of lines each week, and I don't want to blow them all in this early scene."
Honestly, I can't tell if this reaction from Denise Crosby is just her reacting to this news on her own, or her reacting as Yar. Either way, someone in a gold uniform is sad about being Set Dressing.
|That Red back there knows what's up.|
Picard's Log 41503.7: It's just a recap from the cold opening.
There's a tiny scene next, where Riker, Geordi and Data are about to transport over, but first they pause to talk about this new device that Geordi and Data have been working on. Basically, they hooked up a GoPro through Geordi's VISOR. It'll transmit everything he sees straight to the viewscreen on the bridge. It's still experimental, and has limited range, but Picard is eager to try it out, so they'll switch it on for this away mission.
They beam over with stun-set phasers.
Geordi switches on the GoPro. So it's not just a camera that they attached to the VISOR, they're actually running the visuals through the VISOR, so what's being piped back to the viewscreen is actually what Geordi sees.
The bridge crew are kind of speechless when they see what comes through. Picard murmurs something about "finally understanding" Geordi.
He asks Geordi to look at something that caught his eye, and Geordi laughs. "That's Commander Riker!"
(Technically, it's Jonathan Frakes' photo double, but close enough.)
"Something you've learned, " guesses Picard. "Now look at Data!"
It's becoming a bit of a toy now.
"Data has a weird aura around him!"
"That's because he's an android," Geordi replies.
"You say that like everyone sees that aura," Picard protests.
"Don't you?" asks Geordi.
|Also Brent Spiner's photo double.|
"Um, this is fun and all," says Riker, "but life signs? Ship blowing up soon?"
"Oh, right," replies Picard. "Yeah, get on that."
So our boys pick their way through a half-destroyed ship, following their scanners, and Data reports the way ahead is pretty dangerous.
"Is there a way that's not dangerous?" asks Riker.
"Which way is the least dangerous?" asks Geordi.
There's goofiness here, where Riker and Geordi want to know which is the safest route, and keep asking that question in different ways. Data keeps replying that they're about equal. He finally gives them the non-frustrated android version of, "Just pick a fucking route!" and the audience is relieved that we're done with this conversation.
Geordi locates a spot in the bulkhead that is breaking down. Riker can't see it with his naked eye, but Picard can, as he is watching the footage on the E of Geordi's GoPro thing. Geordi guesses they have five minutes or less to find the mysterious life signs and haul ass out of there before the hull ruptures.
Guess what's behind Door #1?
"What's going on?" demands Picard.
"Klingons," replies Riker.
His tone of voice doesn't quite have an "ugh!" component to it, but there's a bit more disgust than the first officer of the Starfleet flagship should have when encountering a race with whom they've signed a peace treaty.
Suspicious music! Commercial break!
When we return, Data rushes off from some tiny errand and says he's found a quicker way away from engineering, then he scans an unconscious Klingon on a table. The man is barely alive. Korris, the Klingon leader, says he will carry the injured man, and they rush away from engineering.
Picard orders Yar to the transporter room, and she gets thrown a screentime bone by being able to run the transporter while the chief looks on in the background. That makes no sense, but she gets a few lines about how the interference is too great for the transporter to work, so I guess the writers are putting forth the effort to work her in. The away team and the Klingons stop and assemble, and Yar attempts the transport. They appear partially on the pad, then fully back on the freighter ship. Everything is going critical. The ship explodes, and all is thought lost, but then a moment later, the patterns reappear on the transporter pad, followed by fully-formed people.
The injured Klingon is not doing well, so Picard leaves Crusher to it and introduces himself to the other Klingons. Korris introduces his first officer, Konmel.
"Soooo, you were in the Neutral Zone, on a Talarian freighter," begins Picard.
"Okay, so, it's like this," says Korris. "We were hitching a ride on this freighter. They were taking us to this outpost, and we were in our quarters when we were attacked by a Ferengi cruiser. The battle must have pushed us into the Neutral Zone by accident. Anyway, the Talarians are not good fighters, and that first attack nearly took us out, so they allowed us to take over. We had the Talarians call the Ferengi and agree to surrender terms. Then, when their shields were down, we blew them out of the water."
"Cool story, bro," says Worf. "But those weren't Ferengi weapons."
"What's your name?" asks Korris, deflecting.
"You serve on this ship?"
"You're right. We were attacked by Ferengi, but they were using Klingon weapons," says Korris smoothly.
Ugh. I wanna call bullshit on this, but remember in season three of TOS when somebody stepped on the Warbird model and the show had to make do with using Klingon cruisers, covering the weirdness by saying that the Romulans were using Klingon ships now? Yeah. So we gotta believe that, even though this sounds fishy as hell, there's already been a precedence set that frenemies of the Federation share technology, and that this excuse is completely legit.
"There's some stuff I'm not clear on..." starts Picard.
"We're hungry and tired," says Korris, deflecting again. "We can answer questions later."
He'd really like to sit down to a nice meal with Konmel and get their story straight.
"Cool," says Picard, who is pretty sure that Korris is full of crap.
Worf offers to show the pair to quarters, and they leave.
Riker approaches Picard. "Well, that was shady as fuck."
"Yeah, it was," agrees Picard."Contact Starfleet and see what they know about Korris & Co."
"It'll take 48 hours to get a response," points out Riker.
"Meh. They'll be with us for a bit," Picard shrugs.
Korris and Konmel invite Worf to eat with them in their quarters, and of course Worf agrees to it. Why wouldn't he? Worf wants to know what the hell is up with these super-sketch Klingons, and they want to know why he's serving in Starfleet.
Right out of the gate, Korris is kind of a dick. "What's it like for the hunter to lay down with the prey?"
Konmel jumps in, and together, they make Worf out to be some prissy little girl with ribbons and curls who is afraid of spiders.
"WTF is your problem?" demands Worf, who is clearly pissed off.
"We just want to see if it's still possible for you to get angry," says Korris smoothly.
"It is," growls Worf.
Picard calls them to let them know that their buddy is dying, and they better hustle it back to sick bay. When they get there, dude is taking his last few rattling breaths, and Korris forces the guy's eyes open. Korris, Konmel and Worf all start making this growling sound, then turn their faces to the ceiling and let out this howling scream. Then Konmel takes a spike from the dead guy's boot, like a memento, and they start to exit.
On their way out, Crusher asks what they would like to have done with the body.
"It's an empty shell now," replies Korris. "Please treat it as such."
Crusher nods and I briefly wonder what other cultures might have that same thought process toward death.
The three Klingons walk back down the hall. Everyone is giving them a wide berth and some side-eye.
Konmel remarks that it sucks that their friend died in another way other than at the hands of an enemy, and Worf demands to know what the deal is, because weren't they attacked by "an enemy"?
Korris deflects again, which seems to be his second-greatest character trait, right behind Shady as Fuck.
"How did you end up in Starfleet?"
And now, twenty episodes in, we finally get Worf's backstory:
The Romulans attacked the Khitomer Outpost, and everyone died. Worf was buried in some rubble and left to die. A human Starfleet officer found him, and took him to Gault, telling his wife to raise Worf as a son.
Konmel asks how old Worf was at the time.
"Before the Age of Inclusion," Worf replies.
He then explains that when he and his foster brother were old enough, they enrolled in Starfleet Academy. His brother hated it and left, but Worf stayed. Konmel, who seems way less judgey about this than Korris, asks how much time Worf has spent among Klingons.
"Almost none," replies Worf.
Korris and Konmel decide to manipulate Worf, playing up on the fact that he is different than the people who surround him, and guessing that he was treated differently because of it. They go with the "no one understands you" tactic. Worf agrees that he still has feeling of that nature, the more primal Klingon instinct, but adds defiantly that he does not let those feelings dictate who he is or what he does. He drops the mic and makes to leave, but Korris stops him.
It seems that Korris and Konmel have decided that he isn't a prissy little girl, and that he's actually pretty awesome.
They give him the low-down: they commandeered that freighter, ditching the crew someplace else, and went off in search of a place where they could be warriors again. Apparently, the peace between the Klingon Empire and the Federation is driving them nuts, and they really just want to run off and play Lord of the Flies somewhere. There was no Ferengi ship. They destroyed the Klingon cruiser that was sent to bring them back to their homeworld.
Worf is incensed that they would blow up a Klingon ship, but Korris protests that he didn't want to do it. He's just frustrated that the Empire has peace and he has nothing to do. He thinks that he can no longer be a Klingon warrior with no one to battle. He then asks if Worf is able to show them around the ship.
"Of course," Worf replies, and they follow him out the door.
Really, Worf? Really? Dude just admitted to blowing up a ship of Klingons, and he's probably going to commit treason, if he hasn't already, but sure. Show him around the flagship of the Federation. That sounds like a great idea.
Up on the bridge, Picard tells Data and Riker that it was strange to see Worf participate in the Klingon death ritual, that it was like looking at someone he had never known. Data says that he's pretty sure that that was the first time that outsiders had been witness to that ritual. Picard says he thinks he understands the significance of looking into the dying man's eyes, but he does not understand the howling. Data explains that the howling warns the dead that a Klingon warrior is about to join them. Picard and Riker look a bit disconcerted, but that makes perfect sense to me.
Worf takes Korris and Konmel down into engineering. They comment on what awesome battles they could fight.
"You know, nobody thinks like that anymore. You guys are relics," replies Worf.
Not to be outdone, Korris answers, "Maybe you don't think that way because living with weak-ass humans has turned you into a giant pussy."
Back on the bridge, a ship has been detected, heading for them. What kind of ship, you ask?
"Klingons," sneers Riker. This time he does not try to disguise the disgust in his voice.
THESE ARE YOUR ALLIES, RIKER.
I realize that old habits die hard, but that treaty wasn't signed five minutes ago. At least, I don't think.
So the Klingon commander K'Nera comes on the main viewscreen, and we get the same old convo that we always get in this situation ("What are you doing in the Neutral Zone?"/ "What are you doing in the Neutral Zone?").
Then Picard explains that they were just checking out the remains of a battle, and they picked up three Klingon survivors.
"Damn, that was all that was left of the Klingon cruiser?" asks K'Nera.
"What Klingon cruiser?" asks Picard. "We got three Klingon survivors from a Talarian freighter. The captain is named Korris."
"Oh!" yells K'Nera. "WTF? That guy is still alive? He's a criminal! Okay, hang tight. We're like, one hour out, we'll come and collect them from you."
|Wow, K'Nera is rocking some serious 80's hairband hair here. It's like he called|
Picard in between applying layers of Aquanet while getting ready for prom.
It's interesting to note the insignia on the wall behind K'Nera: the stylized triangle that represents the Klingon Empire, and the star-filled circle with the wreath-thing around it that represents the Federation. The Klingon Empire is all in. What's more, this'll play out in the scenes that follow.
K'Nera signs off, and Picard turns to Yar.
"Where are they now?"
"Near the Battle Bridge."
"Okay, that could suck for us," decides Picard. "We need to put together a security team."
"Should I get some lines and screentime, or stay here and pretend to push buttons?" asks Yar.
"Girl, go get you some lines," says Picard.
Worf is in the corridor telling Korris and Konmel about saucer separation when Yar and a team of four Golds roll up armed with phasers. Korris immediately guesses that they have come for him and Konmel. Yar explains to Worf that Picard wants the others taken into custody, and to stand aside. Korris begs Worf to join them. Korris and Yar are literally standing at opposite ends of a corridor, calling to Worf like a puppy.
Worf is uncertain.
Dramatic music! Commercial break!
When we return, the tension is broken by a nearby lift opening, and a mother and daughter stepping out. The little girl walks up to Korris, who picks her up. Yar calls the bridge to report a hostage situation. Korris grins and hands the kid to Worf, who gives her back to her mother. They exit quickly. The golds take Korris and Konmel away.
After they're hauled off, Yar confides to Worf that she thought Korris was actually going to take that kid hostage.
"Cowards take hostages," says Worf flatly. "Klingons do not."
Worf enters the bridge and Picard tells him that a Klingon vessel is here to haul off the pair in the brig. Worf protests that they will be tried and executed if turned over, and Picard replies that he knows.
"This situation sucks," he tells the lieutenant. "It must suck doubly for you."
"It does," Worf nods. "There are no other options?"
"I don't think so," says Picard.
Worf returns to his station. But when K'Nera requests to speak to Picard, Worf asks if he can talk to K'Nera. Picard gives him permission.
"I want to plead for leniency here," Worf tells K'Nera.
"Can't do it," K'Nera replies. "They're going to fuck up all of the shit between the Federation and the Empire. Gotta punish 'em."
"Well, yeah, I get that," argues Worf. "But what if we punish them in some other way than by executing them with dishonor?"
"Why do you care?" asks K'Nera.
Did I miss something? Is it Deflection Day, or something?
"Look, they're warriors," says Worf. "They're not doing well with this peace thing, and it's driving them nuts. I totally sympathize, because part of me feels the same way. Instead of executing them, send them to some remote planet where they can die like warriors, defending themselves."
"Dude, I'd totally do that if I could," K'Nera replies. "I don't want to execute them any more than you do. I'm also struggling with this peace thing. But I don't have a choice. The Powers That Be say this is how we have to do it, and I'm not allowed to question that. Send 'em over."
He signs off, and Picard tells Yar to escort the prisoners to the transporter room.
Meanwhile, Korris and Konmel are sitting in the brig furiously assembling a phaser-thing from parts of their armor, including the spike that Konmel took off the dead guy's boot. This was planned pretty meticulously, so I guess they figured something like this might come up.
Korris shorts out the forcefield and Konmel zaps the guard, but not before the guard calls for back-up. Konmel then gets into it with another gold in the corridor, but this one is able to get some shots in. Three shots and Konmel goes down. Korris, in the meantime, grabs the phaser of the downed gold, kills the one in the corridor with it, then takes off down the hall with the phaser-thing that he and Konmel built.
Yar gets there in time to check the still-smoking body of the gold in the hall, calling back to the bridge that Konmel and a gold are both dead.
Picard calls K'Nera to report that Korris has escaped.
"He's a tough mofo," says K'Nera. "It wouldn't be considered weak of you to ask for our help in catching him."
"Bitch, did I say we needed help? No. It's just gonna take a few minutes for us to get him." Picard signs off.
Korris books it to main engineering. He climbs the ladder to the second floor and aims the weapon at the dilithium chamber of the warp core.
Yar calls Picard to report in. either Korris can hear Yar's comm badge, or Picard puts himself on PA in engineering, because he addresses Korris:
"This is really not a good idea, you know. You really can't win."
Korris yells back that he's only going to speak to Worf.
Worf asks for permission to leave the bridge and Picard says they'll both go. They get into the lift.
Dramatic music! Commercial break!
Worf and Picard high-tail it to engineering. Yar says no one has a clear shot on him, so she recommends waiting him out.
"No way," says Worf. "He's only gonna wait until he thinks he no longer has an advantage, then he's gonna fire that thing into the dilithium crystal chamber."
"That would blow us all up, and him, too," says Yar.
"Yeah, he knows," replies Worf. "Lemme talk to him."
Picard lets Worf take a crack at it, and Worf climbs the ladder to the second level.
"Sweet!" says Korris when he sees Worf. "We'll be comrades in arms. You tell Picard to give us the Battle Bridge, and we'll separate from the saucer section, and go live as warriors."
"Nah," says Worf. "Picard won't agree to that."
"He has to," argues Korris. "He has to, or I'll blow up his ship and everyone on it."
Worf pulls his phaser. "Dude, put your weapon down."
"Bro, are you serious? You've lived with humans too long! You've been corrupted by them, and now you're soft!" Korris is clearly losing his mind. He's out and out screaming at Worf now as all of his plans go up in smoke. And the actor playing Korris is totally getting into it, because he's burst a blood vessel in his eye, which makes Korris appear all the crazier. He appears to be channeling Lenore Karidian at this point.
Korris finishes with, "YOU ARE NO KLINGON!"
"Perhaps not," deadpans Worf, and he shoots Korris.
Korris falls forward through the glass walkway of the second level, hitting the glass walkway on the first.
They got some pretty epic shots for that.
Worf climbs down and turns Korris over just in time to catch his last breath, and perform the Klingon death ritual for him.
Again, some more great shots.
Picard and Worf make their way back to the bridge, and this part is a bit awkward. Like, Worf killed a guy... just now. Then he performed the death ritual... then he and Picard rode the lift back up to the bridge, like it's business as usual. I guess they needed something to bridge the gap, but it's a bit weird.
Picard opens the channel to K'Nera and tells him that both Klingons are dead, K'Nera asks to speak to Worf.
"How did they die?" K'Nera asks.
"Well," says Worf simply.
K'Nera pauses, then tells Worf that when his tour with the E is over, it would be awesome if he would come and serve with them, because K'Nera feels like Worf's experience would be a great advantage to their fleet.
Worf is super flattered and says he also thinks that would be awesome. K'Nera signs off. Worf begins to return to his station. he feels a lot of eyes on his back, and turns.
"I was just being polite, sir."
"Ah." That's all Picard can muster. "Commendable."
"No, really," insists Worf.
Lawl. Worf, you liar. You know that's a sweet-ass assignment.
"I have no desire to leave the Enterprise," he persists.
"Okay, that's good," agrees Picard.
"The bridge wouldn't be the same without you," he adds.
I feel like this is one of the better episodes of season one, for three really excellent reasons:
Firstly, the beginning scene with Geordi's VISOR GoPro-thing was fantastic. This episode was primarily about Worf, but we started out with a quick bit about Geordi. Picard's remark about "understanding the man" extends to Worf as well later, but in our early scenes, we get to know Geordi better by seeing as he sees. It's not just that he's blind, it's that the equipment he uses to help him see give him a completely different view of the world. This comes with both advantages and disadvantages - he sees the metal fatigue in the hull of the freighter, signalling that they have less than five minutes to perform a rescue job and leave; but he also is not able to see the world as everyone else sees it. He misses things. These are things that he mostly doesn't realize he's missing, because they've never existed in his world, but recall that Riker the Q gave him perfect eyesight as a gift in "Hide and Q." He's very briefly seen what things look like to other people, and requested his blindness and VISOR back. We get to know Geordi a little better in this opening scene by seeing what he sees, and knowing that he knows what he's missing.
Secondly, we got Worf's backstory here. It seems so odd to just plop a Klingon on the bridge of the Enterprise and not say anything about it. Are we allies with the Empire now? Did Worf defect? Is he just some random Klingon? It took us twenty episodes to find out, but it actually seems worth it, because we also got a Worf-centric episode, and the backstory is actually pretty killer. It makes me wonder if the backstory was original to Worf's character bible, or if Maurice Hurley simply wrote it as canon, and it stuck. If it was original, were the writers simply looking for the perfect script in which to reveal it? It's interesting to see which characters we have backstories for, and which ones are a bit incomplete. Worf and Data now have well-rounded backstories, and we have most of one for Tasha Yar. We have bits and pieces for the Crushers, a little about Troi, and almost nothing for Picard or Riker. Having a backstory is great, because it means having a base from which to build character, an excuse to ask the question, "how did this affect this person years later?"
Speaking of which, third: character development. Even sans backstory, the character development we get here is amazing. Set-up: two renegade Klingons can't deal with living in peace, so they decide to break away from society, and they encounter Worf along the way. Worf, who has lived with humans for most of his life, and Worf, who admits to having to 'reign it in' to get by. The others attempt to stoke the fire inside by encouraging him to join them, and Worf is forced to make a choice between straddling the human-Klingon world, or giving in and joining them. You can see his dilemma: he feels for them, understands their frustration. He toys with the idea of going with them, despite the fact that he knows that they are probably criminals. Then, when talking with a crazed Korris on the second level of engineering, he tells the other Klingon that the true battle of a warrior lies within, not without. This actually ties nicely back in with what he told Wes last week, about how he struggles still to be reliant on others for his safety. I don't know if Maurice Hurley had read that script and incorporated some of those feelings, but both point to a man who battles inner turmoil on a daily basis.
That brings us to our Bonus Round. Korris and Konmel's story is that of the soldier who returns home from war and finds it impossible to reintegrate. It's a bit different here, as they weren't "missing" one war specifically, but the act of being war-like. Both Worf and K'Nera agree that they feel the same way, but have decided that putting those feelings aside is allowing the Klingon race to continue to grow and survive. Korris and Konmel cannot find their way to this new way of thinking, and go for option B: running away. How often does the wayward soldier do the same when he finds reintegration impossible? It isn't touched on too much in this episode, but just enough to give one pause, and to recognize that this happens in today's day and age as well.
- This is the only time when "Age of Inclusion" is used to describe a Klingon coming of age ceremony. In future mentions, it is referred to as "The Age of Ascension" and the ceremony generally takes place before the age of 13.
- This episode establishes that it takes three phaser blasts to kill a Klingon.
- Korris' death was originally supposed to take place on the ground floor of engineering, but they had never shot upward around the warp core before, and thought it might make some cool shots.
- Korris refers to the Klingon homeworld as Kling, as it had not yet been established that the Klingon homeworld is called Qo'noS. The Star Trek Encyclopedia then tried to make "Kling" the name of the First City, but because it's never mentioned again onscreen, it isn't considered canon.
- All of the footage of the Klingon cruiser is lifted from the first movie.
- In sick bay, Picard refers to the freighter as being Tarellian rather than Talarian. Remember the Tarellians? There actually appear to be multiple species in the Star Trek universe with that name, all spelled differently. As this is the earliest known species in this series with that name, I have to assume that this is the name Patrick Stewart tripped over when he meant to say Talarian.
- This is the first time we hear about the Talarians, but we won't actually see any of them until season four.
- The script for this episode was written by co-executive producer Maurice Hurley over the course of two days.
- There's a matte painting in the freighter that was re-used from the first movie.
Red deaths: 0
Gold deaths: 2 (One officially declared, but I think it's safe to say that the one in the brig died as well.)
Blue deaths: 0
Obnoxious Wes moments: 0
Legitimate Wes moments when he should have told someone to go fuck themselves: 0
Sassy Geordi moments: 0
Sassy Wes Moments: 0
Sassy Worf Moment: 0
Sassy Riker Moments: 0
Sassy Yar Moments: 0
Sassy Picard Moments: 0
Sassy NPC Moments: 0
Sassy Data Moments: 0
Sassy Crusher Moments: 0
Sassy Data Moments: 0
Sassy Crusher Moments: 0
Number of times that it is mentioned that Data is an android: 1
Number of times that Troi reacts to someone else's feelings: 0