|Gowron and his amazing technicolor dreamcoat|
This was a dense episode dealing almost entirely with the Klingon Empire, the ascension of Gowron as the new Chancellor of the High Council, and the house of Duras throwing everything into chaos and war.
This was mostly a Worf episode, with Picard taking over the B-plot. The arc was a good one, showing the conflict in Worf about his heritage versus his loyalties. He had made a commitment to Starfleet, but when it came time to fight for his people (and brother), it was kind of perfect that he resigned his commission. Even though it probably won't stick thanks to the magical Star Trek reset button, it feels weighty because of the way this story has been built up over the last couple of seasons.
That continuity is probably the strongest element of this episode. We've had Duras cause problems for a while now, and Gowron was introduced as a potential contender for Chancellor. There's Alexander, and Worf's choice to ship him away to live with his parents. Then there's Kurn, and the dishonor Worf accepted to keep the High Council from being torn apart. It's nice that all those plot threads finally came together, and the result is a Klingon civil war.
Picard's plotline was just as nuanced and perhaps even more difficult a balancing act than what Worf had to go through. Picard had so much on his shoulders, dealing with an potentially explosive situation as an outsider with a tremendous responsibility, and as a Starfleet officer who knew full well the consequences of the political situation. It goes to show how amazing Patrick Stewart is as an actor, because he managed to convey all those complex emotions with mostly body language and expression.
The Duras sisters are a fun new element to the show. Lursa and B'etor are so convinced of their beauty and skills of manipulation they don't see how utterly inept they are at it. Picard played it well, using tact and patience to get out of that situation where it could've easily turned violent. In the end they were greedy, stupid, and bent on seizing power for themselves at any cost, including conspiring with the Romulans. Yet they do work as effective antagonists, showing that the Klingons are more multi-faceted than they have typically been played before.
The same can be said for Gowron, who showed a lust for power but with the temperament of a good leader. Perhaps he is the lesser of two evils, but at least he holds honor (the bedrock of the Klingon society) above all else. It was appropriate that once house Duras declared war on Gowron's leadership of the Klingon Empire he re-instated Worf's honor and name. I also liked how he accepted Worf's advice while dealing with the attack on the Bortas, Worf's plan didn't fully work but it bought them enough time for Kurn to come to the rescue.
This episode officially revealed Sela, who looks uncannily like Tasha Yar (both played by Denise Crosby). Her first appearance was in "The Mind's Eye," even though she was hidden in shadows.
Deanna, Geordi, and Beverly were basically in one scene at the end and had no dialogue. Data only had one additional scene with basically one line of dialogue. Not that any of them were needed for the plot.
I absolutely loved the line up of officers sending Worf off to war. It was touching and made for a powerful conclusion to the episode.
Checking Memory-alpha for some extra bits. I found a story about how Ronald Reagan came to visit the set during the filming of this episode. When asked about how he felt about the Klingons in full makeup he said, "I like them. They remind me of Congress."
The Duras sisters (introduced in this episode) are famous for the ridiculous amount of cleavage prominently displayed in their costumes. It does work for the characters, making them a bit absurd and hard to take seriously, but at least the cleavage was real.
Gowron: "I return your family honor. I give you back that which was wrongfully taken from you. Let your name be spoken once again. You are Worf, son of Mogh."
Picard: "Mr. Worf, your discommendation is a facade to protect less honorable men. It is a lie. Lies must be challenged."
Worf: "I've been told that patience is sometimes a more effective weapon than the sword."
Picard: "Patience is a human virtue, one that I'm glad to see you've taken to heart. But doesn't this situation require a more... Klingon response?"
Picard: "You have manipulated the circumstances with the skill... of a Romulan. My decision will be announced at high sun tomorrow. Excellent tea. Good day, ladies."
Picard: "You took the best qualities of humanity and made them part of you. The result was a man who I was proud to call one of my officers."
As the first part of a two-parter, this was an excellent episode. What's funny is in retrospect, the arc nature of this episode is the kind of thing I love, but when it originally aired I absolutely hated it. I guess time really does change your mind about things.
3 1/2 out of 4 Klingon Warriors fighting with honor.
J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related.