Written by Maurice Hurley, Herbert Wright, D.C. Fontana, Hans Beimler, Richard Manning, Hannah Louise Shearer, and Tracy Torme
Directed by Rob Bowman
This episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation finally gives some character development to crewmembers other than Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton), the teenaged son of the ship’s doctor, and Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart). In fact, we don’t even see Wesley during this entire episode. Therefore, I am not going to bring up his name again in this review!
After detecting a battle inside The Neutral Zone – a zone which serves as a buffer between the Federation and the Romulan and Klingon Empires – The Enterprise rushes in and rescues three Klingons form a badly damaged Talarian freighter.
This turn of events provides the writers with a reason to draw Lieutenant Worf (Michael Dorn) more into the forefront. Up until now all we know about him is that he is a Klingon serving on a Starfleet vessel. His part seems to have been standing there in the background looking menacing. The writers apparently figured out that the novelty of “look, we have a Klingon on the bridge of the Enterprise” was going to start wearing thin pretty soon if they didn’t do something. This is the first time we hear the background of a raid by the Romulans on Khitomer and his survival and subsequent adoption by a Starfleet officer.
We soon see Worf begin to sympathize with the rescued Klingons, especially after finding out they were rebelling against the “traitors of Kling” when they stole the freighter.
This part smacks of bad writing. Worf has graduated Starfleet Academy and been around humans for most of his life, yet as soon as some of “his own kind” come on board the Enterprise, his loyalties seem to waver. He sympathizes with these Klingons who are rebelling against the Klingon authorities who have embraced peace, yet he has no sympathy for all of the Klingons who were killed when they destroyed the pursuit vessel in The Neutral Zone. Captain Picard also seems to not entirely trust Worf during this time.
However, to me these plot holes are secondary to some of great information and insight we are given into the Klingon culture. The Klingon Death Ritual is first seen here. Worf also shows near the end how the Klingons focus more on honor than on anything else.
Another character who gets some development here is Geordi LaForge (LeVar Burton). When he is sent to the Talarian vessel as part of the away team, we get some insight into what his world is like. Geordi is the helmsman of the Enterprise, and he is also blind. To compensate, he wears a VISOR (which is actually a spray-painted girl’s banana hair-clip) to let him “see” the world. This functions in such a way that he sees much more than we do as human beings.
The android Data (Brent Spiner) has been working with Geordi testing out rigging a Visual Acuity transmitter to his VISOR. This will allow the Enterprise to pick up what he is seeing. It was fascinating to see the interpretation of how Geordi sees the world and very well done. Instead of seeing clean images, he is seeing light energy and its reflection as well as a variety of energy fields.
Unfortunately, this is not only dropped in the beginning of the episode, but for the remainder of the series. The idea of using Geordi’s VISOR to see things does not come up again until Star Trek: Generations. At that time, the images transmitted back to a scientist named Soran are very different from the images we see here, so there is no consistency.
Some of my favorite Star Trek episodes are those which feature the Klingons. Though this is far from some of the best ones, it is a decent beginning. It is good to see Michael Dorn and Levar Burton finally get some decent air time. Despite the problems with the writing, the character development comes along nicely. Both of these actors are very good and deserve more attention from the Star Trek writers.
Previous episode (link): Star Trek: The Next Generation – Coming of Age
Next episode (link): Star Trek: The Next Generation – Arsenal of Freedom