Written by Ronald D. Moore, David Carren, J. Larry Carroll, and Joe Menosky
Directed by Cliff Bole
Unlike the next Star Trek series, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: The Next Generation only made a scant few attempts at tying a theme together throughout it’s seven year run. The story that seemed to figure most prominently during that time involved the instability of the Klingon Empire, as well as the discommendation of Worf (Michael Dorn), a Klingon serving as Chief of Security aboard the Enterprise.
Although Klingon stories were featured from time to time throughout the series, the storyline involving Worf and his involvement in Klingon politics doesn’t really begin until the third-season episode, Sins of the Father. It is then brought up again in Reunion which changes Worf’s attitude greatly about accepting the discommendation in the name of preserving the Klingon Empire. He now has a son and has to think of the effect his discommendation has on someone else.
Redemption Part I is the season-ending cliffhanger for the fourth season of Star Trek: The Next Generation. It builds on the set-up in Reunion of Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) acting as Arbiter of Succession for the next Chancellor of the High Council of the Klingon Empire. Although everything seemed cut-and-dried at the end of Reunion with Gowron (portrayed by Robert O’Reilly) ascending to Chancellor, a new wrinkle has entered the canvas just prior to his installation.
The Duras family has brought forth an illegitimate heir to their line of succession. Duras himself was slain by Worf in Reunion after he killed Worf’s mate, K’Ehlyr in an attempt to hide that it was his father, not Worf’s, who was responsible for the treason at Khitomer. Toral (portrayed by J.D. Cullum) represents a great threat to Gowron’s already shaky support among the Council.
This episode is terrific because it works on two levels. On one, we have the continuing story of Worf within the Klingon Empire. This is a story which will continue through the years, but here is a very important piece of the puzzle. Although the focus seems to be on his family’s honor, Worf is also trying very hard to make sure the Klingon Empire is led by the candidate who is the best leader, not just the most powerful. This episode marks one of Michael Dorn’s best performances in this role. With all of the makeup he is buried under, his expressions, body language, and tone are used to convey most of his feelings in the various situations. He is also conflicted between his duty to his race as well as his duty to the Federation.
The second level involves Captain Picard and his role as Arbiter of Succession. In Reunion, he was reluctant to take on the role to begin with. Everything for him was fairly cut-and-dried at the end of that episode. Here, suddenly, the role takes on new meaning. He must find a way to make certain that the leader who should be Chancellor is named Chancellor, while trying to keep the Federation out of internal Klingon politics. Stewart does well in this role. While he maintains what appears to be a detached air about Picard, I knew he was searching for a way to make sure he had a good reason for disallowing Toral’s challenge and naming Gowron Chancellor.
One of the best scenes comes between these two actors when Worf, who was reluctant at first, finally breaks down and asks Picard for the Federation’s help on Gowron’s side should a civil war erupt. Picard must refuse, and this sparks a decision on the part of Worf which really comes as no surprise. This is a great moment for both actors as they are perfect in their roles: one as the representative of the Federation and Captain of it’s flagship, the other as a person stuck between two worlds and searching for his place in both.
What is a surprise is who is behind this whole situation coming to a head. The last scene carries a jolt with it that had viewers wondering “How…?” for the entire summer.
Though not quite the season-ending cliff-hanger The Best of Both Worlds Part I was, this does a good job of setting up a conflict to be resolves in the first episode of the fifth season. Does Captain Picard stay true to his word and stay out of Klingon internal affairs? Will the Romulans succeed in having their puppet as the head of the Klingon Empire? Will Worf serve on the Enterprise again?
These questions, and many others, will be answered on the next episode of……