In which Worf is haunted by his past again, Worf is haunted by his past again, and Worf is haunted by his past again.
We’ve just had five episodes in a row regarding family ties and the impact that the Fleet life has on them. What’s rather nice is that we haven’t just gone down a checklist. The characters are deep enough that their stories interleave enough to be interesting. Anyway, let’s see what today’s episode is about!
The Enterprise is investigating radiation anomalies called in by another starship, the LaSalle. This seems to be kind of a throwaway line, but I am given to wonder why the LaSalle didn’t do its own investigation. A few possibilities suggest themselves. Likely, the LaSalle was in a hurry doing some interstellar good deeds, but it’s also possible that she simply isn’t the overdesigned everything-platform that the Enterprise so clearly is. I mean, come on. When you have a physical fencing gym, I don’t care how illustrious Admiral Sulu was – it’s because you ran out of useful science equipment to install. We have yet to see a time when the Enterprise has lacked the capacity to do something unexpectedly mission-critical, and that would seem to be the design niche of the Galaxy-class frame. Smaller ships are quicker to build, easier to operate, and cheaper by whatever metric you care to judge by. At the end of the day, however, it takes the Enterprise to just spot an anomaly and go ‘oh hey, cool, let’s check it out.’
So they’re checking out this radiation when a Klingon attack cruiser sidles up to reveal K’Ehleyr, who you will remember from “The Emessary” as that woman Worf proposed to after their second one-night-stand. Worf is still super-awkward about it, although he claims that it’s because he doesn’t want to offend a Klingon guest with his presence, due to the discommendation. Either Picard doesn’t believe him or has unprofessional feelings about the validity of that particular bargain, because Worf is going to go greet his ex anyway. K’Ehleyr beams over with someone in tow. Worf is… surprised.
Young Alexander has been something of a loner up until now, but it looks like the children of the Enterprise have not been taught to be racist. K’Ehleyr is not particularly enamored of all the Klingon nonsense she has to put up with from Worf – ‘blah blah I’ve been ritually dishonored blah blah do I even have to ask if he’s mine blah blah.’ Also, she’s mainly here because of an impending Klingon civil war.
She does not take the civil war all that seriously, except in that it’s going to happen and drag in the nearby empires, including the Tholians, the Ferengi, and eventually the Federation. Kempec, the guy who’s done the best job at holding things together, is dying and has come to meet with Picard, because Picard is good at talky words.
Kempec has been slowly poisoned over the course of months, presumably by one of the sides of the impending civil war. Since Kempec can’t trust anyone and since Picard did so well in “Sins of the Father” and also has a reputation for being a mediator, it’s going to fall to him. Particularly since he can’t refuse without it being an insult from the Federation to the Klingon Empire. And here’s the fun part. Picard doesn’t pick the successor, he picks the two strongest challengers to fight for succession. Now, we’ve been told that there are only two contenders, but it becomes clear that some legal trickery is going to be perpetrated up in the Great Klingon Hizzles. Kempec wants Picard to figure out which of the two contenders – Gowron or Duras, is the most dishonorable, and prevent them from taking the Empire, for various reasons.
Little Alexander is bad at sharing, and bad at being Klingon. K’Ehleyr doesn’t want him to be forced into Klingon culture, because she’s also half human. Warf doesn’t want to acknowledge him, because Alexander would bear his hereditary shame. Before K’Ehleyr can pry the truth out about why Worf ultimately accepted the discommendation, though, the two Klingon Imperial Hopefuls arrive.
Duras is as abrasive as ever, but Picard handles him in true Klingon fashion – by telling Duras to go screw. Worf and Picard have a heart-to-heart about how the next few days are going to be super uncomfortable, and we get to see Worf grapple with more of the consequences of his backroom dealing. He accepted discommendation for the stability of the Empire, and now Duras has the chance to lead that stable empire. One could go further and posit that whatever his father got out of betraying Khitomer to the Romulans also contributed to the meteoric rise of his fortunes. There’s a great moment where you can see Worf realizing this chain of consequences and really grappling once again with the meaning of honor, if the whole system is corrupt.
So, who do you think the next president of the United States is going to be?
Harsh and bitter truths aside, we know that Duras is an honorless serpent. Gowron is an outsider who often challenges the council. A maverick, if you will. In order to prove that Kempec is dead, Picard gets to hit his corpse with a painstick. So do Gowron and Duras, who seem to enjoy it way too much. Then, an explosion.
In a tender moment, Worf and K’ehleyr admit that they love each other, but the timing is wrong again, because Worf can’t allow his son to suffer his disgrace. In other words, Worf is going to keep whining about that over and over again until it gets reversed.
Picard needs to find any way he can to extend the ceremony in order to prolong his detectivery. That’s a word, right? Turns out that, like many things, the ancient rites used to take a lot longer before people realized they had more important things to do. It seems Picard will want to be very concerned about making a proper showing as the first non-Klingon to arbitrate the ritual, and will insist on doing things according to the ancient forms. You know, to further the bonds between the Federation and the Klingons. Wink.
While Worf spends a little Father-son bonding time with Alexander, Gowron tries to bribe K’ehleyr into having Picard choose him. We already know what a scumbag Duras is. Gowron deals like a Ferengi and makes vague allusions to how Kempec was stubborn and is now dead. but the bomb that exploded in council chambers was of Romulan design, and we know who fell in with Romulans way back in the day. And this is why aristocratic oligarchies are terrible.
The motive, of course, is that if the Klingon Empire were to form an alliance with the Romulan Star Empire, it could represent an existential threat to the Federation. So of course Picard will need his chief security officer present at the next mediation meeting. It’s just such a shame that they won’t be happy about it, but such is life.
K’ehleyr spends the time during the next meeting listening to every one of Worf’s logs made during “Sins of the Father.” Which seems like a gross invasion of privacy until you remember that she’s only listening to mission logs which haven’t been classified. If she knows him well enough to piece together something he didn’t want her to know… such is life? Of course, she also has diplomatic access to high council records, which may be cheating. Then again, it’s a good thing she tried because she discovered a top security clearance set by Duras himself. When he goes back to confirm the findings about the Romulan explosive, Duras finds out that K’ehleyr is looking into these things and goes out, presumably to see about having her killed.
Crusher figures out that the bomb was implanted in the forearm of one of the guards – Duras’ guard, in fact. That, and Worf coming into K’Ehleyr’s quarters to find her bleeding out on an ottoman ad living just long enough to implicate Duras, seem to clinch things. As soon as Crusher arrives (and honestly she should be able to revive K’ehleyr as long as they can find or replicate some Klingon donor blood, she hasn’t been dead more than a few seconds) Worf leaves Alexander with her and goes off to get his Bat’leth and leave his communicator and exact some good old-fashioned revenge.
Apparently, even discommended non-persons can claim the Right of Vengeance for a fallen mate. And he’s a better swordsman than Duras, it seems. You think for a moment that he’s going to do one of those things where the hero fells his enemy and drives the weapon into the ground right next to their head, maybe giving them a badass scar, and making a point about mercy and justice.
So the Klingon council doesn’t much care. He was within his rights. Also, Gowron is now the prime contender and is unlikely to pursue the matter too forcefully. However, since the Enterprise is still a vaguely military organization and does not allow its crew’s individual traditions to supersede their duty. For the murder of a foreign dignitary and frontrunner for the leadership of an allied empire, Worf gets summarily discharged without honor and thrown in the brig. Nah, just kidding. He gets an official reprimand on his record. Again, the foreign power didn’t seem to care. Plus, Worf now has a kid to take care of, and it would be hard to do that without whatever passes for a salary in the 24th century.