Star Trek The Next Generation: Reunion

It's a boy!
Two big plot threads from Worf's past show up and wreak havoc at the same time.

In a futile attempt to put off writing this review, I went back through the first three seasons to track how many Klingon-dominated episodes there have been so far. Not many. Season one's "Heart of Glory," season two's "A Matter of Honor" and "The Emissary," and season three's "Sins of the Father," around one per season. "Reunion" is actually a double sequel, a follow up on the two best Klingon episodes so far, "The Emissary," which introduced K'Ehleyr as Worf's love interest, and "Sins of the Father," which was about Worf's discommendation.

This is an excellent episode. So why was I reluctant to review it? Because they killed off my favorite Klingon character ever. I remember how upset I was about K'Ehleyr's death when I first saw this episode. Seriously, why couldn't they have gotten through this one without killing her off?


Why did I love K'Ehleyr? Because she was complicated, smart and emotionally strong, deeply sarcastic at pretty much all times, and yet I always believed she cared deeply about Worf. She was certainly a match for him physically, and she always defeated him in a battle of wits. Like Worf himself, she was half-human, and yes, before anyone starts posting comments, I know that Worf was fully Klingon in a biological sense. But he was raised by humans and he deliberately chose to serve in Starfleet, not in any way a typical Klingon. K'Ehleyr, physically half-human (like Spock and Troi, like many other Star Trek characters), had a background and character that made her pretty much perfect for Worf. I especially liked that K'Ehleyr figured out what happened at Khitomer on her own, and that she was human enough to care absolutely nothing about Worf's discommendation.

I'll admit killing her off gave the episode an impact that it probably wouldn't have had otherwise, and it did leave Worf as a single father, an interesting new role for him to explore -- except that in the end, Worf sent Alexander off to live with his adorable adoptive human parents, the Rozhenkos, whom we just met in the outstanding episode "Family." So how much single-fatherdom could they possibly explore? I mean, what about the day to day stuff, talking about what he learned in Starfleet preschool, tucking him in at night? Would all that have diluted Worf's character, made him less of a bad ass? Well, yeah, but that would be okay with me.

While K'Ehleyr's death pissed me off, I did like that this episode refused to tie up the story of Worf's discommendation and the Klingon High Council into a nice little bow. The exposition was heavy on the ground, but it didn't drag at all. We had the mystery of K'mpec's death from poison, a Klingon suicide bomber, and the continuing conflict between Worf's deep desire to follow Klingon traditions and his human sensibilities, particularly his feelings for K'Ehleyr. In fact, in the end, Worf didn't hesitate to take up his family bat'leth and avenge K'Ehleyr, refusing to even consider the possibility that he could someday overturn his discommendation. I bet most Klingons would have done the opposite.

This episode also introduced Gowron (Robert O'Reilly). I loved his bug eyes and homicidal grin, which were somehow creepy and hilarious at the same time. Even though we already knew Duras was despicable, Gowron came across as possibly evil, too. It was never obvious who was behind the poisoning. (It was Duras, wasn't it? I don't think they said outright.)

So yes, this is an excellent Klingon episode with lasting repercussions and a devastating character death. The only thing that would have made it better is another guest spot by Tony Todd as Worf's little brother Kurn. The one thing that didn't work for me (other than K'Ehleyr dying, of course) was Picard putting a ding in Worf's permanent record. Picard was the only one who knew the whole story, and as Worf's cha'DIch, had to understand why Worf did what he did. Right? Well, maybe that mark on Worf's permanent record was way down at the bottom, and in very small type.

Bits:

-- Stardate 44246.3. The Gamma Arigulon something something system.

-- Good continuity, with Worf screaming the Klingon death ritual after K'Ehleyr died. I also liked that Worf told Alexander to look at his mother and always remember, which was pretty much the opposite of what a human father would do.

-- According to Memory Alpha, this was Jonathan Frakes' second directing job, plus the first Star Trek episode written by Brannon Braga, who wrote a zillion of them. No wonder it was a good one.

-- K'mpec's costume was amazing, which I also mentioned in my review of "Sins of the Father." Charles Cooper (K'mpec) also played a Klingon general in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier in which he wore the same outfit.

-- Why did they have to make K'Ehleyr's name so freaking hard to spell? I wrote it down at least five different ways just in the course of taking notes for this review. What's wrong with "Kaylar?" Jeez Louise.

Quotes:

K'Ehleyr: "Not even a bite on the cheek for old time's sake?"

K'mpec: "The Klingon who kills without showing his face has no honor."

Worf: "A warrior does not ask so many questions."
Alexander: "I don't want to be a warrior."
I think he might be a chip off the old block, and by that, I mean K'Eylehr, not Worf.

Four out of four family bat'leths,

Billie
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Billie Doux loves good television, especially science fiction, and spends way too much time writing about it.

1 comment:

drnanamom said...

I enjoyed this episode as well although I tend to like Klingon episodes. They tend to send up, while still respecting all the macho crap that maleness seems to require in our society. I agree with you that it would have been interesting to watch Worf being a father and it would have been even more interesting to watch his family, if they hadn't killed off "K" (I'm not even going to try and spell it.)