Star Trek: TNG Season 6 “Birthright, Part II” and “Starship Mine”

I smell DEAD ROMULANS!

I smell DEAD ROMULANS!

I’m going through “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and reviewing every episode, complete with commentary and a grade from A-F. I’ve also included a score and comment from my wife, who has never seen the show before. There are SPOILERS for each episode below.

“Birthright, Part II”

Plot

Worf has been captured by Romulans in what is ostensibly a prison planet. But it turns out the Klingons held here are staying willingly, and have integrated with the Romulans who are there captors. Indeed, some have even intermarried and had Klingon-Romulan children! After causing some trouble, Worf is placed under guard, but he continues to work to try to instruct the young Klingons in the ways of their people. He gets through to young Toq, who had been assigned to guard him, after a hunting outing. Toq comes back singing and translating a Klingon hymn. Tokath, the Romulan commander, decides he must execute Worf, but the young all go to stand with him and he must relent, allowing several to leave with Worf to return to the Klingon Empire.

Commentary

Klingon-Romulan Children, Batman!? WHAT?

That was about Worf’s reaction, too. He had a similar negative reaction when he saw Toq using a Klingon spear to till soil.

I loved the scene in which the Klingon hymn was passed along from person to person–something which had apparently become a lullaby was suddenly infused with much cultural meaning. The development of Toq’s character was fascinating, and it provided a great way to see the conflict that was playing out on a smaller scale.

What makes this episode particularly fascinating is the competing moral themes found therein. On the one hand, can you truly fault a Romulan who wants to have peaceful coexistence with Klingons, and helped forge his own vision of that peace in a part of the Romulan Empire? On the other hand, should that peace be based on deception–or at least withholding truth? These aren’t easy questions to answer, and the episode largely just leaves them hanging out there. We are clearly supposed to side with Worf and truth, but on the other hand we can’t help but sympathize with the desire for peace.

I’ll admit it: I’m a sucker for Klingon culture, so this one was just a slam dunk for me all around. The one thing I think it may have missed out on was developing the story we got in part I regarding Data a bit more. Otherwise, this episode did everything right.

Grade: A+ “Epic exploration of recovering lost culture.” 

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A “It was a good exploration of the Klingon identity.”

“Starship Mine”

Plot

The Enterprise is docked for repairs, but when Picard goes back on board to retrieve his saddle, he discovers a plot to steal highly dangerous material off the ship. He thus works to thwart the perpetrators as much as he can, ultimately managing to destabilize the material such that it explodes just after they escape.

Commentary

Okay, so my plot summary left out the scenes in which the crew had to deal with small talk (oh no!) and try to figure out how to mess with their captors back on the surface, but this one really has very little plot overall. It’s all about Picard stopping the plot to steal explosive crap from the ship. It’s not bad, but it isn’t great either. It’s kind of ho-hum, really.

It was great seeing Data adapt himself to small talk. I mean, seriously, the scene in which he and “Hutch,” the Starfleet commander on the surface are going back and forth endlessly with their banter was just fantastic. I laughed out loud (not lol’d, but in reality).

Once again we run into the very real problem of stretching the suspension of disbelief beyond the limits. How is it that they wouldn’t actively be scanning to make sure Picard came back to the planet? Why wouldn’t they just beam him back, thus preventing him from interfering with the capture of the materials? Why even let him go back to the Enterprise? Clearly, the plot had help from the top levels, so they could have easily just said that the scan was in progress and Picard couldn’t return to the ship. Problem solved, right? But no, they don’t do that. Oh, and by the way, they also didn’t bother to put in any failsafes on the system such that if it were about to, I don’t know, kill somebody, it would stop automatically and send a warning back to the control console. All of this makes this a tough episode to swallow.

Also, did “Hutch” actually die in this? I don’t remember it being stated definitively, but he was a really fun side character and it’s sad he got dispatched so quickly. It would have been great to have him continuing his small talk banter after being captured!

What I did like, apart from “Hutch,” was seeing the ways Picard came up with to thwart the people on the ship. It was fun seeing all the Jefferies Tube scenes with him crawling all around everywhere and setting up traps. It made the episode more compelling than it would have been otherwise.

Not a terrible episode, but not up to the standard I’ve come to expect either.

Grade: C+ “It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t compelling.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B- “Not as interesting as other episodes, but still was fun to see Picard going all around the ship.”

Links

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason– Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

Star Trek: TNG– For more episode reviews, follow this site and also click this link to read more (scroll down as needed)! Drop me a comment to let me know what you thought!

SDG.

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