Written by Brannon Braga and Rene Echevarria
Directed by Winrich Kolbe
When Star Trek: Deep Space Nine first premiered, there was a brief crossover where it was shown that the station’s Commander, Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks) had issues with Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) and at the time that seemed to be the only connection the two shows would have. Midway through the sixth season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, that all changed and signs of things to come also became apparent.
The Enterprise makes a stop at Deep Space Nine. There the Klingon Worf (Michael Dorn) learns that the father he always believed had died at the Khitomer Massacre might be alive.
An alien by the name of Jaglom Shrek (portrayed by James Cromwell) informs Worf that not all the Klingons died at Khitomer. Many were abducted by the Romulans and brought to a Prison Camp on a planet not far from Deep Space Nine. Shrek offers to sell Worf the information, but Worf has a hard time believing that his father is still alive and did not perish defending Khitomer. Dying in such a way is considered honorable among Klingons while being taken prisoner is considered to be less honorable.
Meanwhile, Dr. Bashir (Alexander Siddig) begins working with the android Data (Brent Spiner) and the Chief Engineer Geordi LaForge (LeVar Burton) on an artifact found in the Gamma Quardant and figure out exactly what its purpose is and how it works. At one point, it sends out a plasma shock which overloads Data’s circuits causing him to have a hallucination. The hallucination involves Data’s creator, Dr. Noonien Soong (also portrayed by Brent Spiner).
The two stories never come together, and in many ways that’s good as both involve characters reconciling thoughts and feelings about their long lost “fathers”. Data’s quest is resolved in this episode, while Worf’s continues into Birthright Part II.
Worf has been shown as having conflicting feelings about his father throughout the series, translating into a certain discomfort about his own place in the Klingon Empire. His father being alive would certainly bring dishonor, but at the same time, it would also answer a lot of questions Worf has. Michael Dorn does a terrific job showing this conflict in Worf during this episode, while in the back of my mind was always what this meant for the events that Worf had allowed to take place before now with regards to his discommendation by the Klingons and subsequent re-entry into their ranks.
Data’s piece is also intriguing. I could guess that he had a dream of sorts, and who doesn’t ask what their dreams mean? Brent Spiner stretches himself in a believable fashion, and the plot furthers Data’s Pinocchio-like quest to be more human. It’s nice to have a plot that has a purpose and doesn’t reset itself at the end of the episode. Alexander Siddig makes a nice complement to the duo of Burton and Spiner, adding a different personality to the mix during this time.
I was astonished to see James Cromwell as yet another personality in the Star Trek universe. He’s probably best known to Star Trek fans as Zefram Cochrane in the movie Star Trek: First Contact and also appeared in the third season episode, The Hunted. I immediately recognized him, but it was easy to forget the actor’s other roles as he gives Shrek a distinctive personality so it doesn’t feel like it’s just James Cromwell here once again.
The story is a good one as Worf must decide whether or not he should find out if it is true that his father is still alive, and the heck with the consequences. With there being a Birthright Part II, there’s really no surprise in that he goes off with Shrek at the end to search out the planet and the colony Shrek has described, and viewers are left hanging with the same questions Worf is.
Birthright Part I is not quite compelling enough to end a season with, but it does make a decent story. It was a smart idea to combine the two stories into one episode, rather than have to very similar episodes in close proximity to each other as has been done before. I think this would have made the stories a bit worn, while here they fit together nicely.