Star Trek Deep Space Nine: Sons of Mogh

"You took away my honor and only you can give it back."

While the Klingon Empire stoops to deceit in their march towards all-out war, Worf is visited by a family member who taxes his sense of connection to two very different worlds.

The thing which separates Deep Space Nine, for me, from the run of the mill (and even from other Treks)  is how it constantly weaves in events from the past and shapes them into a journey for the future. The exciting thing is how this is done on multiple levels. Take the context for this episode's Plot B. We're learning about Klingon behavior since leaving the Federation. Predictably, they're getting ready for war; unpredictably, they're doing so with deception by laying mines all along the border between Cardassia and Bajor in a manner which would leave the Bajoran group trapped. This goes against the historical notions of Klingon honor, while giving lip service to that honor itself.

I felt that this was a sort of parallel between our main characters for the Plot A of this episode. Worf and his brother are both products of Klinzhai, they are both extremely connected to the warrior tradition. I mean, isn't that why Worf and Dax have so much steamy sexual energy? How many times have we seen Dax speaking Klingon? She joined Klingon warriors in a vendetta back in season two (and "Blood Oath" also started out with a drunken Klingon). Dax embraces warrior culture and Klingon culture, and Worf sees in Dax, I think, a confusing mirror image of Worf, a mix of Federation and Klingon culture. For Dax, a Trill, it's perhaps easier or expected to move between cultures in such a way. I do not think it comes as easily to Worf.

But it's that very internal division between Federation and Klingon culture which causes the major problem of this episode. Once Worf rejected Gowron in "The Way of the Warrior" at the beginning of this season (and what a change that was after TNG) his family was left in disgrace, lost power, and wound up drowning in a pit of dishonor. Kurn shows up drunk on Deep Space Nine and begs for an honorable death. It's clear from the beginning that Worf also has extremely deep feelings for his brother. Now, we can discuss this as you will, but I think when Worf agreed to provide that honorable death, that agreement was about more than just giving Kurn honor. By proxy, Worf was also killing himself and his connection to the Federation, just as (later in the episode) Kurn sets up a security-related event to set up his own death, and the ship's crew in Plot B set up their own destruction through the planting of dishonorable hidden mines. When Dax takes a few random words from Quark and pieces together that Worf is about to use adanji  to prepare for the ceremony of Mauk to'Vor, a ritual honor killing, she immediately runs to interfere. Given her knowledge of Klingon culture, and her clear feelings for Worf, is it that much of a reach to think she was running to save the precarious balance of Worf's soul?

Add yet another layer. While Worf's brother lives, Kurn needs guidance and support to live – and he's depending fully on Worf for that. Worf does pretty much everything he can think of – including going into debt to Odo to get Kurn a job in security – but without any connection to the Federation Kurn just gets into more and more trouble. He tries to suicide-by-criminal (a unique version of suicide-by-cop.) When Worf confronts him and talks about honor, what's interesting is that Kurn also finds the action of the Klingon Empire dishonorable. Kurn voted against Klinzhai withdrawing from the Federation. Worf's rejection of Gowron wasn't the only reason the sons of Mogh are in the pickle they are now. Kurn doesn't seem willing to accept his own part in their dishonor, and his own guilt, and he's stopped from suicide only by the tenets of the Klingon warrior culture which has rejected him.

The episode's ending was bitter, bitter, bitter for me. To sacrifice a brother in soul to save the brother's body, I don't know if that's something I'd agree to. Even worse, to do it without Kurn's explicit consent seems a little like a kind of rape. But without the drastic step of erasing his brother's memory and giving him a new family, Worf sees clearly, Kurn's days are numbered. Again, this was Dax's idea – and while it's a horrible, horrible idea, it might be the one pathway that allows Worf to live with himself. And the result? Kurn lives as someone else's son, and the Sons of Mogh are separated again.

Is Worf still a Klingon?

By my lights, he's definitely still Klingon. It's not that he's left that world behind. It will forever be a part of him. What's happening to Worf is that his sense of honor is becoming more, not less, refined. Worf claims he's losing the warrior instincts of a Klingon. I claim he's choosing to give people the opportunity to show their own honor. Worf claims he's rejected Klinzhai and Klingon culture. I think he's embraced the honorable part of that culture – but over the years and two separate series, he's seen the dark side of Klingon culture, the deceit and the Romulan- or Cardassian-like plotting, and he rejects it. If I had to choose a parallel for Worf, it might be G'Kar from Babylon Five – except Worf doesn't seem to have G'Kar's ability to express himself.

Bits and Pieces

I learned more about Klingon weapons in this episode. I think it's telling that of all characters Worf is okay with a smaller weapon because he doesn't need the confidence boost!

Tony Todd is back! Before, he was Jake. Now, he's Kurn. I honestly appreciated his excellent acting in both episodes.

Kira and O'Brien have some lovely moments in the plot B of this episode, especially when they set off those mines and flush out enemy ships. Kira looks like a warrior, too.

Sisko has no choice but to reject the ritual. In this episode, he's representing the Federation side completely, but I am not sure he wants to. Great acting here.

Quotables

Dax: So you think that I was overconfident?
Worf: You were overconfident. You thought by distracting me with your outfit you would gain an advantage.
Dax: My outfit?
Worf: Er, I thought that–I mean, I only assumed that–
Dax: You thought I wore this for you? Talk about overconfidence. (She turns away and smiles)

Quark: No, this was more than his standard rudeness. He came in here, ordered some Klingon incense and nearly threw me across the bar when I tried to give him some replicated incense.
Dax: What kind of Klingon incense?
Quark: Something called adanji.
Dax: Why would he want adanji?
Quark: Why? Is there something special about adanji? (Dax walks away) That's it. I'm going to stop talking to the customers.

Kurn: Did you fight them? Did you threaten to kill them both if they interfered? And are you standing here now with the mevak dagger ready to slit my throat and bring me the death I deserve? No. For a moment in your quarters during the ritual you were Klingon. But your Federation life has claimed you again and now it is claiming me as well. I have no life. I have no death. Whatever is to become of me is up to you.

Overall

As some of you know, this is my first time watching this series. I had a hard time sleeping after watching this episode. I hope to god Worf is okay.

Five out of five psychological and physical land mines.

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