Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Season 3: “House of Quark” and “Equilibrium”

“K’plah. Or something.”

I’ve completed my re-watch of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Now it’s time to start Deep Space Nine! I am much less familiar with this show, though I’m pretty sure I’ve seen about 80-90% of the episodes. It’s been so long that I’m sure it will all feel brand new. My wife has never seen the show. She and I will go through, review every episode, and give commentary and a grade from A-F. There are SPOILERS for each episode below. Without further adieu, here’s:

“House of Quark”

Synopsis

Quark tries to get a Klingon, Kozak, to pay his bill, but the latter objects, leading to a scuffle in which Kozak trips and is killed by his own blade. Quark milks the incident for all its worth, playing it up as though he’d engaged the Klingon in combat and defeated him. Another Klingon, D’Ghor shows up and gets the true story from Quark, but then insists Quark maintain the facade of combat to not dishonor his family. Then, Kozak’s widow, Grilka, comes on station and kidnaps Quark. Before he knows it, Quark has legally married Grilka, who made the move to prevent D’Ghor from seizing the property of her house.

Back on the station, Keiko has closed down the school due to lack of students and flounders looking for something to do. Ultimately, she goes on assignment to do some botanical work to engage her mind more.

Quark digs through the Klingon finances to see how D’Ghor has cheated Grilka and confronts him at the Klingon High Council, but the Klingons are unimpressed with his use of finances to try to settle a dispute about honor. Quark challenges D’Ghor to combat, then, to settle the dispute like a Klingon. When they meet in combat, Quark throws down his blade, calling the fight for the sham that it is. D’Ghor goes for the killing blow anyway, however, showing he has no honor. He is discommendated immediately by the High Council. Grilka thanks Quark and her house is restored to her. K’plah all around.

Commentary

My goodness was this episode fun or what? Okay, let’s get this out of the way: the episode completely ignores all kinds of gaping plot holes and inconsistencies with how we have learned Klingons operate. But these are child’s play for this fun episode. Yes, it seems obvious that the Klingons would be pretty ticked off that D’Ghor has dishonorably used his money to build up others’ debt, but you can sort of see them reacting the way they do, can’t you? Forget all these numbers, fight to the death! K’plah!

None of this has to make sense. Quark is going Klingon, baby, and he does it like a good Ferengi, looking to get whatever profit he can; and if he can’t he wants to at least escape with his life. He does it in a clever way, but that underscores Quark’s own brilliance. He’s a manipulator, and he’s taking a calculated risk. Yes, he knows he will die in combat; may as well try a different route, because otherwise he’s dead. It’s the exact kind of thing his character would do. I loved it.

Also, as a kind of afterthought, the episode explained why we won’t be seeing Keiko or lil O’Brien for a long time. I wonder if there was some issue with these cast members.

Anyway, fun, fun, fun episode.

Grade: A “Implausible? Goes against what we know about Klingons? Ignores major details and plot holes? Check, check, check. But is it a rip-roaring good time? Check.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A “It was just a high quality Quark episode. Rules of acquisition for the win. That was sweet!”

“Equilibrium”

Synopsis

Dax starts to exhibit elements of a personality that she doesn’t remember. The DS9 gang takes her to her home planet for treatment, but not all is as it seems. There’s a cover up happening, and Dax is at the center of it. It turns out that a violent person had taken control of the Dax symbiont and that this meant the possibility of getting paired with a symbiont is much higher than anyone has been led to believe. Finding that out, though, would undermine the whole of society on the planet, and the episode ends ambiguously as Jadzia discovers the missing personality and accepts it into herself.

Commentary

I thought this was a weird episode, but not as weird as some that have come before. The biggest problem here is the big question mark surrounding Dax’s society. It seems clear that a society with a hidden self-contradiction is not going to last indefinitely. Will it come up again? I hope so, but it’s always hard to tell in Star Trek. Things are picked up and dropped like children with toys, never to be seen again. Oh well.

The episode’s premise is decent, but it is also kind of hard to believe. An entire personality completely blocked from both the Trill and the human host? I don’t know if I buy that, but I guess I’ll ease off on the suspension of disbelief for now. Or would that be increase my suspension of disbelief? Oh well.

A lot happens in this one, but it really is pretty bare bones. That’s what made it work. If there’d been much more to the main plot, or too much on the side, this episode wouldn’t have worked at all. As it stands, it does work, even if it feels a little unsatisfying.

Grade: B “A good development episode for Jadzia Dax, but too many unanswered questions remain.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “I liked getting to learn more about Dax and the symbionts, but it just felt off somehow.”

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: DS9- 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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Star Trek: DS9 “Blood Oath” and “The Maquis Part 1”

Time to kick ass.

I’ve completed my re-watch of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Now it’s time to start Deep Space Nine! I am much less familiar with this show, though I’m pretty sure I’ve seen about 80-90% of the episodes. It’s been so long that I’m sure it will all feel brand new. My wife has never seen the show. She and I will go through, review every episode, and give commentary and a grade from A-F. There are SPOILERS for each episode below. Without further adieu, here’s:

“Blood Oath”

Synopsis

A group of Klingons shows up on Deep Space 9, immediately causing problems with their carousing. After several arrests, Jadzia Dax hears their names and realizes they are sincere friends of Dax’s from the past. She reunites with them and discovers they have come to gather in order to fulfill a blood oath all of them took–including Dax–to avenge themselves against a pirate, “The Albino,” who killed the firstborn sons of the Klingons after they destroyed his base. They have finally found his location and plan to kill him. Jadzia insists on being included–one of the murdered Klingon children was Dax’s godson, after all, and Dax also swore the blood oath–but two of them oppose her inclusion. She finally convinces them to let her come with as part of the honor of Klingon oaths. Major Kira and Commander Sisko each try to convince her not to go, but she does. En route, she discovers that the whole thing is a set up–The Albino knows they are coming and has agreed to give them a “chance” to kill him under his own conditions. Jadzia rebels against the notion and instead devise a way to attack the weapons of The Albino. They attack in the manner she plans, and manage to confront The Albino in his lair. Jadzia herself disarms The Albino, and one of her companions kills him. Two of her best friends are lost in the battle, but she and Kor leave, the latter singing praises of the battle they just fought.

Commentary

BUM BUMBuMbuM buM BUM *Guitar Riff*

Sorry, this episode just really needs a heavy metal soundtrack going along even as I think about it. It was totally badass. In this episode, Jadzia Dax goes with a group of Klingons to take Klingon-style revenge: a Bat’leth to the gut. Yeah. Totally awesome. It also provides a significant amount of character development for Dax, as she struggles to decide whether it is morally acceptable for her to go on this quest for revenge, as well as balancing her former host lives against her own perspectives.

Now, accompany all of this with a group of rambunctious Klingons causing problems all over DS9 for Odo and Quark? Yeah. Not a ton to say about this one because the plot itself basically demonstrates how amazing it is.

Grade: A+ “They really needed to have a soundtrack filled with heavy metal… or Klingon opera, for this one. It’s an epic episode.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A “It was just an epic Klingon feud of destiny.”

“The Maquis, Part I”

Synopsis

Tensions from the colonies–both Cardassian and Starfleet–that are along the border between the two nations (what is the right term for Starfleet anyway… conglomerate of utopic homeworlds? I don’t know) spill over to DS9 in a big way as a Cardassian freighter is destroyed. A Vulcan attempts to buy weapons from Quark to help in the same conflict. Apparently, they may be part of a group calling itself The Maquis that seeks to limit the Cardassian influence on their colonies through force. Gul Dukat stops by for a visit and, in a trip with a Runabout, shows him the conflict that continues to develop between their peoples. An old friend of Sisko, Calvin Hudson, has been sent to try to stymie the conflict. Chief O’Brien demonstrates that the device that destroyed the Cardassian freighter was of Federation origin, and Sisko moves to defend Dukat. He’s too late, and the Cardassian is captured. Sisko goes in pursuit, but is confronted by Hudson, who has apparently joined the Maquis himself.

Commentary

The Cardassians continue to be a much more interesting foe than even the Romulans were in TNG. Unlike so many of the aliens that are foes of the Federation in Star Trek, the Cardassians aren’t just one trick ponies. The Romulans, for example, you know are going to be lying and plotting. The Ferengi are greedy and that’s about it (but DS9 is also changing that perception), the Borg are rather generically horrible. Yes there are exceptions, but overall the aliens in earlier Star Trek had very little by way of dynamics. The Cardassians feel like a bigger challenge because they have, for better or worse, more humanity in them. “The Maquis” helps develop them even more, showing Gul Dukat as a manipulator, yes, but a manipulator who may not always have the worst possible intentions at heart.

The ending was kind of expected for me. I figured it would be Hudson. But, though predictable, it also shows the episode’s writers weren’t just pulling things out of a hat whenever possible. It is cohesive and a great setup for what is to come.

Grade: A- “The conflict between Starfleet and the Cardassians continues to be compelling, with both personal and broader conflict drawing viewers in.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “It was pretty good, but not particularly memorable.”

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: DS9- 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.

Star Trek TNG Season 7: “Firstborn” and “Bloodlines”

firstborn

Father and son, together 4evah!

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.

“Firstborn”

Synopsis

Worf’s son, Alexander, is uninterested in becoming a Klingon warrior. He decides to take Alexander to a Klingon celebration, and Alexander begins to enjoy some of his heritage. However, an assassination attempt on Worf while the two are visiting leads Alexander to realize that he prefers to avoid the violence inherent in much of his cultural background. Meanwhile, K’mtar, a Klingon who has the credentials to prove he is to be trusted as a member of the family, arrives to try to help instruct Alexander. As he pushes Alexander to become a warrior, it becomes clear to K’mtar that Alexander will not be shaped in that fashion. He decides to kill Alexander, only to be thwarted by Worf. K’mtar reveals that he is Alexander and came back in time to try to get himself on a path that would save Worf’s life in the future. Worf notes that K’mtar has already changed Alexander’s fate and that they can go on a path that pursues peace rather than war. The father and future-son embrace.

Commentary

Wow, that summary made the episode seem a bit more straightforward than it was. This was complex episode, and one that had much going for it. Sure, it was unbelievable in many ways (don’t ask too many questions about time traveling or what happened to K’mtar after the episode), but the core plot was enough to carry this one in ways recent episodes haven’t been.

There’s something particularly touching about seeing a son driven to the heights that K’mtar was to try to change his destiny and the life he and his father would live. Moreover, the way that Worf acknowledged that K’mtar had already helped change… himself?… was touching in a way that you wouldn’t really expect a Klingon-centered episode to be. I admit I didn’t really mind the bit of lacking closure, in which K’mtar and Worf just hug and peace out, though it would have been nice to have some sense of what happened to K’mtar after this episode. The main issue is that right after this, Worf and Alexander’s interaction isn’t so much “Hey, Alexander, I affirm what you want to do/be” as it is “Hey, we don’t need to do crazy try to kill each other stuff right now.” Oh well, baby steps.

Let’s also acknowledge I’m heavily biased towards Worf-centric episodes. I love them. Worf is awesome. Please make a Captain Worf Star Trek series! Moving on…

Grade: A- “A bit of a rush at the end but overall this was a very strong episode.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “It was good acting and a good plot but it lacked something to make it remarkable.”

Mother-in-Law’s Grade and Comment: B+ “I appreciated the interwoven plot and action, but I wanted more suspense or foreshadowing.”

Father-in-Law’s Grade and Comment: B+ “More foreshadowing would be good, and the end was a bit of a letdown–future-Alexander just walks away. What happens to him?”

“Bloodlines”

Synopsis

DaiMon Bok is back and he threatens to kill Picard’s son. Wait, what? Yes, apparently Picard has–unbeknownst to him–a son, and the Enterprise goes to try to protect him. As Picard and his son, Jason Vigo, interact, Bok continues to make threats that he can, apparently, make good on. Picard’s son starts to have unexplained seizures, and Dr. Crusher investigates. Ultimately, Bok kidnaps Jason but when Picard confronts Bok, he reveals that Crusher discovered Bok manipulated DNA to make it appear Jason was his son, and the other Ferengi realize that the whole situation is unprofitable, abandoning Bok to his fate.

Commentary

I didn’t mention the very end, where Picard gifts a prayer stick to Jason that the latter had said was basically worthless before. It has new worth now, and that sums up what this episode has going for it. From the start, it seemed pretty clear Jason wouldn’t be Picard’s son. Illegitimate child with Picard? I think not. But the fact that Picard made such efforts to bond with Jason, despite the latter’s “disappointing” qualities, made this a great character-building episode. It was great to see Picard introduce his archaeological collection to his “son,” only to have Jason dismiss it as worthless. It shows that what we value is often highly subjective, and that relationships are complex. Not only that, but Jason’s character was also developed remarkably well over the course of the episode.

Can we finally get rid of DaiMon Bok? I don’t know. At least he makes it seem like the Ferengi may need to be taken somewhat seriously. The early seasons of TNG didn’t do any favors in that regard.

Grade: A “It had the right mix of suspense and feels. I liked it a lot.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A “It’s hard to go wrong on episodes that center around Picard.”

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.

Star Trek: TNG Season 6 “Rightful Heir” and “Second Chances”

I shall call him, Mini Me. No wait, "Riker, Junior Grade."

Red: “I shall call him, Mini Me. No wait, ‘Riker, Junior Grade.'” – Yellow: “I prefer Thomas.”

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.

“Rightful Heir”

Plot

Worf is bothered by some religious angst and is released by Captain Picard to go on an existential quest to find his faith. He goes to Boreth, a place where Klingons often have experiences of Kahless, their mythic warrior-figure. After some disappointing times, Kahless appears to Worf, but it turns out he is more than a vision–he is real! He claims the rights due to Kahless as the returned demigod/deity of the Klingons, but some–including Worf–are skeptical. After Gowron, the current head of the Klingon Empire, issues a challenge which Kahless passes, the stakes are raised even higher. However, Gowron later defeats Kahless in combat, undermining the notion of Kahless being the greatest warrior of all time. It turns out Kahless is, in fact, a clone that was given many of the memories of the true Kahless. The threat of civil war looms because Kahless has already attracted a large following. To avert this, Worf calls Gowron to make Kahless the kind of moral leader over the Klingons while Gowron retains civil authority. Gowron and Kahless agree. Worf is left wondering whether his faith in Kahless was misplaced or whether it could remain genuine.

Commentary

I pretty much loved this episode. If you’ve been following my reviews, you’ll know I’m a sucker for Worf episodes and Data episodes. This is clearly a Worf episode, but there are some great discussions about the nature of faith and belief with Data sprinkled in.

The plot is quite strong–there’s a sense of mystery surrounding Kahless. As the viewer, you are almost expected to be skeptical, but you are taken on a ride of evidence right alongside Worf–one which involves eventually believing Kahless might be vindicated as the real deal. Only, it turns out Kahless is a clone. What does that do to the faith Worf and others placed in Kahless? The question is left pretty much open-ended.

Kahless goes on to be the moral compass of the Klingon people–something that is an intriguing look into the needs of the Klingon Empire. Kahless himself notes that they are floundering in need of the realization that to be Klingon is to go beyond mere fighting for fighting’s sake. There is honor involved–joy, even. It’s a fascinating insight into Klingon culture that we’ve been developing quite a bit throughout TNG. I love it.

Overall, this is a super-solid episode. I forgot to mention the scenery paintings were really neat too. I liked every set as well. Just awesome.

Grade: A+ “Look, it was just awesome. Klingons. Awesome.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “It was a very interesting premise, though it seemed a strange direction for Worf’s character.”

“Second Chances”

Plot

The Enterprise is trying to recover some data from a lost outpost. Riker leads an away team down and, well, there’s another Riker there! Turns out the transporter fluke that got Riker out 8 years ago actually managed to copy him and leave one copy on the planet’s surface… alone… for 8 years. Riker 2 [the double, Thomas Riker] tries to integrate with the crew while Riker 1 continues to try to operate as normal. Ultimately, Riker 2 rekindles his relationship with Troi, but has to leave to go elsewhere to continue his Starfleet career.

Commentary

Surprise! We have two Rikers! But only for one episode… for now (eerie music). Google it if you’re curious, but you’ll spoil the fun like I did. Anyway, I quite enjoyed this episode. There are a lot of moments for pondering “what ifs” here that are worth thinking about. Most importantly: What if William Riker wasn’t so dumb about Troi and they just got back together! Come on!?

Thomas Riker should have killed Will Riker and replaced him. Apparently that’s what the writers thought too. The Star Trek: The Next Generation 365 book (which is excellent and should be required reading for TNG fans) told me so. Apparently, even Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troi) thought that’s how the plot should have gone, to allow for a continued romance between, well, Riker and Troi. Alas, instead we have to deal with the continued, constant sexual tension between the two until Star Trek Nemesis, but that’s a different story.

Anyway, another what if is whether you would make the same choices twice. Obviously this isn’t the exact same scenario for each Riker, but Thomas has a kind of fresh chance to repeat the same path William took–or not. It’s an intriguing look at free will and how character can help determine the choices people make.

An enjoyable episode that is really just dragged down a little by some of the same suspension-of-disbelief problems and lots of continuity difficulty. I mean if they can do things like this with a transporter, how would they let anyone stay dead? Oh well. It’s TV, not real life.

Grade: A- “Thomas Riker, you poor man.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “An intriguing exploration of what could go wrong with the transporter in an alternate universe within our own universe. Whoa.”

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.

Star Trek: TNG Season 5: “Unification Part I” and “Part II”

Data wants in on that action.

Data wants in on that action.

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.

“Unification Part I”

Plot

Ambassador Spock has gone to Romulus and the security risks are huge. Picard and Data are dispatched to investigate and recover Spock while the Enterprise is sent to track down some missing ships and suspicious activity surrounding them. Picard and Data have to co-opt a Klingon starship to get to Romulus, and they encounter a good deal of resistance. Meanwhile, Riker and crew discover there is something untoward happening with the disappearing ships. After Picard and Data arrive on Romulus, they are captured, only to discover they have found Spock! Oh, and Sarek dies.

Commentary

This is a pretty solid set up for a two-part episode. The stakes feel pretty high as it is understandable that if Spock is capture, all kinds of important information might be extracted from him. Many of the scenes are high-impact as well, such as the pretty cool scene with the junkyard dog and Troi. Look! The episode can use irony to combat the objectification of women!

The initial scenes with Sarek and Picard trying to discern Spock’s intent reveal some real depth of character for both Sarek and Spock that wasn’t there before, and that alone makes this episode worthwhile. But there is much more, such as the interesting concept of political movement in Romulus towards reform, the need to compromise, and some really neat political intrigue.

I have to wonder, though, what’s going on with the Klingons. I suspect we’ll see some interesting flare-ups happen with them again, because they really seem anti-Starfleet all of a sudden.

Overall, Part I is a fun watch with some really great moments. Can’t wait to watch the next part!

Grade: A- “A great beginning that has me excited for the conclusion.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: B+ “An intriguing beginning, I look forward to seeing what happens next!”

“Unification Part II”

Plot

Spock is working to try to reform Romulus from within, but it seems that elements in the hierarchy are moving at a too-convenient pace. Meanwhile, Riker and crew work to trace the path the missing Vulcan ships took. As Spock and gang are captured and seemingly forced to watch while the Romulans destroy the Vulcans, Riker’s suspicious nature saves the day. Picard and Data manage a great escape while Spock stays behind to try to work further towards reform.

Commentary

The range of sets and scenes in the episode was really impressive. I particularly enjoyed the alien bar with the four-handed piano player. It had just enough flare and fun to keep me smiling the whole time without ever seeming to overdo it. Romulus’ various sets were pretty awesome, too, and watching the Enterprise range all over the place was pretty neat. The production values across the board were great.

The plot is exciting, too. As betrayals are unveiled and the stakes are continually raised, it never feels like it is overly forced. The Romulans just seem cunning enough that they just might try to pull something like this off, and Spock and gang aren’t overly gullible about what’s happening. It was a great way to balance the buildup to betrayal with necessary skepticism of the good guys.

Seeing Spock talk about his father has the emotional impact it should and Picard giving him his father’s love is a touching scene. Spock’s decision to stay behind seems to exactly fit his character as well.

This is a two-part episode I’m genuinely shocked I didn’t remember. Maybe I only managed to watch it once before or something, but this thing has impact. Weirdly, I discovered from reading some comments online that it apparently doesn’t sit well with many hardcore Trekkies because they feel it was a desperate movie tie-in. But neither I nor my wife felt that way about what is, really, a great episode. Are some things too convenient? Sure, but that’s just par for the course in TNG.

Grade: A “A few flaws don’t mar what is otherwise a pretty awesome episode.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “The follow-through on the first episode’s beginning was very good, but it lacked a little something awesome.”

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.

Star Trek: TNG Season 5 “Redemption Part II” and “Darmok”

Let's Darmok this, Shaka arms wide Temba. Sort that out for me!

Let’s Darmok this, Shaka arms wide Temba. Sort that out for me!

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.

“Redemption, Part II”

Plot

The Klingon Civil War continues as Romulans try to influence it through the Duras family. Picard gains permission to form a task force to prevent Romulan supplies from getting through to the Duras faction as Worf continues to fight for his honor among the Klingons. Data is assigned to captain one of the ships and his first officer doesn’t trust him to succeed. As Picard and the Romulans, led by the apparent daughter of Lieutenant Yar, play a chess game to see who will outsmart whom, Gowron and his forces attack several Duras bases, pressing them to the limit. Data’s decision to disobey an order in order to prevent the Romulan fleet from breaking through saves the day, and the Duras family is defeated. Worf, however, spares the life of the young Duras child and returns to duty.

Commentary

As with almost every one of the Klingon story arc episodes, this is jam-packed with story. There’s so much going on that I just will pick out a few highlights. First- Data: “I understand your concerns… request denied.” – In response to his first officer’s request to transfer. Epic.

Worf’s character is, in my opinion, one of the more complex ones in the series now. The writers have done well by putting forth his balanced loyalties and cultures sometimes face off against each other as he paves his own way between human and Klingon. His ultimate decision not to kill Toral–the Duras child–was just such an excellent moment. It really showed how he has come into his own rather than doing what is expected of him.

The way the heat was turned up during this Civil War arc over several episodes is also impressive, and seeing it come to fruition was great. I think having the Romulan commander be Tasha Yar’s daughter was unnecessary, and there are all kinds of questions we could ask over Worf’s leave of absence, resignation, and reinstatement, but none of that mars what is a simply phenomenal conclusion to a major story arc. The fact that they left it just open enough by sparing Toral and leaving Worf to develop further was also brilliant.

Grade: A+ “An overarching plot is brought to an epic conclusion with enough left open to continue it if desired. Worf’s back!”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “A satisfactory conclusion to the Worf Saga.”

“Darmok”

Plot

The Enterprise comes into contact with the Tamarians, a people who have tried to connect with Starfleet in the past but have failed due to an apparently incomprehensible language barrier. Picard is kidnapped by the captain of the Tamarian ship–Dathon–after another failure in communication, and as he delves into the motivation behind Dathon’s motivations, Riker and crew try to rescue him. Ultimately, Picard begins to realize the Tamarians are communicating in metaphor, and after Dathon is injured by a strange beast on the planet, tells the story of Gilgamesh to him. Dathon dies, and the crew of the Enterprise rescues Picard, who manages to forestall any conflict with the Tamarians by conversing with them via metaphor.

Commentary

Here’s an amazing idea for an episode: how do you create a language barrier for a people who has a “universal translator” at their disposal? Make the language entirely dependent on metaphor–references to things beyond the words and even grammar themselves. The universal translator can make the words, but cannot convey information it doesn’t have about what the metaphors mean.

Sure, this idea starts to break down the more you think about it (after all, to have metaphor, you have to be able to tell other people what the metaphors are about; or, as one friend said: “You can’t build starships with metaphors”), but that’s beside the point. The point of “Darmok” is that moment of connection, the transcendence beyond language when two people are able to come to an understanding of each other. And that’s where “Darmok” excels.

Viewers will probably figure out the metaphor angle faster than the crew/Captain did, but that doesn’t take away from the journey the episode takes as Picard struggles with Dathon to come to a mutual understanding. When Picard finally figures it out and then has his attempt to fight with Dathon interrupted by getting partially beamed up, his frustration is palpable: it’s just at the wrong moment! Then, when he tells the story of Gilgamesh to Dathon as Dathon is dying, it’s a beautiful scene which required the investment of time before it to be pulled off.

“Darmok” is such a memorable episode that it sticks with you for years afterwards. It’s one of the only episodes with a name I have memorized, and its impact is undeniable. Sure, you can’t push the premise too hard without finding some cracks in the edifice, but you don’t want to. It’s just that great.

Darmok and Jalad at Tenagra!

Grade: A+ “One of the most unique and satisfying episodes in the series.”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A “They did a great job imagining a different culture with its own language and the challenge of communication.”

Two A+ this week means this episode-combo can only be tied for the highest grade ever awarded!

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.

Star Trek: TNG Season 4 “Redemption, Part I”

*Sniff* - See you later, buddy!

*Sniff* – See you later, buddy!

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.

“Redemption, Part I”

Plot

The crew of the Enterprise, and in particular Worf and Picard, are thrust directly into a potential civil war building up in the Klingon Empire. Gowron seeks to take his place as the head of the High Council, but the Duras family claims a newly found child should instead take the place of the Klingon leader. Meanwhile, Worf–prompted by Picard–seeks a way to clear his father’s name and restore his family’s honor. Gowron is reluctant to give Worf’s family their honor back for the little support Worf can offer, but ultimately, after Worf’s brother saves Gowron, does restore Worf’s honor. However, the split in the Klingon Empire–revealed to be prompted by the Romulans, remains wide.

Commentary

Watching TNG all in a row makes you much more cognizant of the continuous storylines that are threaded throughout. There are the stories of Data’s development towards humanity, Wesley’s growth, and Troi/Riker’s past, among others. Worf’s Klingon background, however, is one of the hardest-hitting themes of the series.

We have seen Worf enduring much hardship for the last season and a half or so, with his family’s name dishonored among all Klingons due to his decision to take the fall for the Duras family due to the political pressures building in the Klingon Empire. To have him finally seek to clear his father’s name is a wonderful premise for this episode to go along with the real tension of the possibility of a new Klingon-Romulan alliance.

Gowron’s restoration of Worf’s honor was an awesome moment, finally clearing Worf’s family’s name. But even more epic was Worf resigning from the Federation after Picard chose to maintain a strict non-interference policy related to the Civil War. The final scene, in which Worf leaves the Enterprise with the whole crew honoring him on the way to the transporter room, seals the deal on this excellent episode.

Also, let’s not forget the scene with Guinan schooling Worf in phaser tag.

Grade: A “Worf’s family is redeemed, but at what cost?”

Wife’s Grade and Comment: A- “This episode was chock full of intrigue and featured an exciting cliffhanger.”

Okay, I accidentally managed to review an episode twice this season, so this single-episode review wraps up season 4! Next we’ll have the Season 4 awards post, and then dive into season 5!

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.