Star Trek: The Next Generation – Sins of the Father [3.17]
Kurn, a Klingon officer on board the Enterprise in an officer exchange program, reveals himself to be Worf’s heretofore unknown brother. Kurn shares with Worf of a danger to their family honor which only he can address back on the Klingon homeworld. There, Worf discovers that his father’s honor is being sacrificed by the Klingon high council for political reasons, when the real culprit is a conniving Klingon named Duras. To save his brother’s life, and to preserve the possibility of one day reclaiming his family’s honor, Worf accepts “discommendation” – a renouncing of Klingon honor.
Teleplay by Ronald D. Moore and W. Reed Moran. Based on a teleplay by Drew Deighan. Directed by Les Landau.
Sins of the Father is quite a good installment of Next Generation, and the beginning of new story arc the series dealing with the intricacies of Klingon politics. It is the realization of the potential that the show established in previous Klingon-centric episodes such as Heart of Glory and A Matter of Honor. But with this episode, the show jumps into new territory – introducing complex narrative elements that are clearly going to take a while to resolve. With the exception of the Borg (and their never developed predecessors, the parasites), it’s the first time the franchise has done that. And as interesting as the Borg are, they are essentially just another big enemy alien race. The Klingon provide much more complex story dynamics, and opportunity to truly develop an alien culture, not just an alien threat.
The guest cast in this story is excellent. Three new characters make their debut who all will return in later episodes: Kurn, Duras, and K’Mtec. All of the performers do a good job. I particularly enjoy Charles Cooper as the tired but pragmatic Klingon Chancellor. But the best addition to the Star Trek-extended universe is Tony Todd. He does a fantastic job as Worf’s heretofore unknown brother, both when he is simply the gruff visiting first officer, and then when the story opens up to the much more elaborate family / Klingon societal drama direction. Thankfully, Kurn is the character that will be appearing the most out of all this group in the future.
Michael Dorn also does a great job, showing firmly that he’s really got this Klingon honor thing down. Having this episode follow the Data-centric The Offspring highlights some of the best elements of Next Generation. Worf, like Data, has got the capacity to function well as part of the ensemble, but also to carry whole story arcs that run over several seasons. (Only Picard comes close, but that’s just because he’s the captain and is always involved with everything). They can do this in a way that really none of the other regular cast members can. So between this episode and last season’s The Emissary, the series has really created an effective environment to explore Worf’s character.
One of the few element of the story that I wasn’t crazy about was the old Klingon woman. It seemed a bit much that it turned out that Worf discovered he had a secretly alive brother and a secretly alive nursemaid right around the same time. And I thought the characterization was a bit extreme – not as subtle or interesting as the others. The other thing that isn’t really as strong as it should be is this idea of “discommendation” that is brought up out of nowhere at the end. It’s not easy to fully appreciate the shame that this is apparently supposed to represent to Worf, robbing the ending of some of it’s power. But it’s a minor issue, not really taking away from a strong set episode that sets up even stronger developments in the future.
Shout Out to the Past:
When Kurn first turns up, there are a number of direct references to Riker’s tour aboard the Klingon vessel in A Matter of Honor.
Worf’s backstory regarding the Khitomer massacre, first mentioned in Heart of Glory, I think, is referred to a lot.
There is also a reference to the Age of Ascension, a ritual Worf performed on the holodeck in the 2nd Season.
Set up for the future:
So much, so much. As mentioned, Duras, Kurn and K’Mpec all appear again, and there will be many episodes in the future featuring the future development of the Klingon empire and the fate of Worf’s family honor. I’m not sure when it appears again, but certainly there is some major stuff going on by the end of the fourth season.
• Charles Cooper plays K’Mpec in this and other episode of the series. He also played another Klingon, Koord, in Star Trek V.
• Tony Todd will reprise the role of Kurn a few times in the years to come. He also appears recurringly in the series Chuck and 24, and in a few different horror franchises. He will also play the adult Jake Sisko in a classic episode of Deep Space Nine.
• Patrick Massett appears as Duras, a role he also will reprise.
• Kurn has some good lines when he is playing first officer: “I will try some of your burned, replicated bird meat!” and “Just a short while ago I had to stop myself from killing Commander Riker.”
• I think this might be the first time Worf’s father, Mogh’s name is mentioned.
• K’Mpec is an interesting character, showing a different side to Klingons than we’ve seen before.
• Right here, in this story, the special bond that Worf has with Picard is created and solidified. I especially like the bit where Worf must tell him to be silent.
• Those Klingon assassins are not too effective against Picard.
• The secret council meeting between Worf, Duras, Picard and K’Mpec is quite an effective scene.
Dialogue High Point
A great, super-cool line from Worf:
It is a good day to die, Duras, and the day is not yet over.