Star Trek: The Next Generation – Heart of Glory [1.19]

The Enterprise picks up three Klingon fugitives whose presence creates a particular dilemma for Lt. Worf.  These Klingons are unhappy with the way that peace with the Federation has impacted their people, and long for battles and glory.  When Klingon authorities come to arrest them, they escape, and Worf must face down their leader with the Enterprise at stake.

Story by Maurice Hurley and Herbert Wright & D.C. Fontana.  Teleplay by  Maurice Hurley.  Directed by Rob Bowman.

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Comments:
In spite of some weak moments, Heart of Glory is one of the best episodes of Next Generation up to this point, and and one of the most important in that it lays the groundwork for not just Lt. Worf as a character but the Klingons as they will be represented for the rest of Star Trek’s run on television (to date).  It’s really here that we begin to get all that stuff about Klingon honor and warrior culture, that successfully achieves one of the goals of the new series and bring them beyond their original series origins as generic baddies.  Actually, to be fair, this development was always there in the original series in a latent way, but not until now has it been so explicit.

All of this Klingon development would fall completely flat if it weren’t for Michael Dorn’s strengths as an actor.  He is able to use his voice and body language in a way that became a bit cliched as the series went on, but only because it was so effective.  The other Klingon characters are effective and the dilemma that they face in their failure to adjust to the changing ways of their people is well realized.

The weaknesses to the story come, as they often do, with the apparent inability of the Starfleet characters to do their job well.  It’s sort of cool that the Klingons have a phaser hidden in their armor, but it doesn’t speak well of Enterprisesecurity that they aren’t able to pick upon this at all.  More than that, the security officers (though they do take down one of the escaped Klingons) seem to be trained to stand or squat in the complete open when they’re in a shoot out.  It’s like they want to get themselves shot.  On top of all of that, it seems fairly evident from the moment that the Klingons arrive that they’re lying, yet nobody is really suspicious.  (Who knows, maybe it’s just obvious to me because of dramatic conventions).

Incidentally, Picard really ought to instruct his officers that they need to report to him when a visitor to the Enterprise is lying to him, even if they do have deep personal connections to the liar.  Worf doesn’t tell Picard that the Klingons are actually escaped fugitives, which is the sort of thing you’d think he’d want to know.  Previously, Data made a similar omission in Datalore.  I guess Worf redeems himself by killing Korris point blank with a phaser.

Shout Outs to the Past:
References are made to the Ferengi and separating the saucer section of the ship.

The Romulans and the Neutral Zone are mentioned again.

Setting Up the Future
• This story gives us Worf’s backstory.  This includes references to Worf’s original home planet Khitomer, his later home Gault, his foster parents, and his foster brother.  Many of these elements will feature prominently in later installments of Star Trek.

• There is also reference to the Talarians for the first time, who won’t show up until Season Four

• And as previously mentioned, this episode is the first place we start getting a lot of Klingon culture and lore, including the Klingon death ritual.  This will also show up in future episodes.

• Geordi’s Visual Acuity Transmitter will pop up once of twice again in the series, although not nearly as often as you’d expect.

Guest Cast
• Vaughn Armstrong plays Captain Korris.  This is his first Star Trek role.  He went on to have roles in Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise, and multiple Star Trek video games.

• David Froman, who appears as Captain K’Nera, was later a regular on Matlock.

• Dennis Madalone, who appears as Ramos (the security officer who just leaps out into the open and into the line of fire), was a stunt coordinator on Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager

Observations
• It’s a nice bit of characterization with Geordi and his visual acuity transmitter – even if the actor playing Data from Geordi’s point of view is clearly not Brent Spiner.

• The whole story begins at the edge of the Neutral Zone.  What Neutral Zone?  In the original series, there were at least two – one for the Klingons and one for the Romulans.  In this story, the crew is completely surprised to find Klingons on board the ship, and also stunned at the prospect of Romulans being anywhere nearby.  You’d think that if this were either of their Neutral Zones that they’d be prepared for the possibility of the relevant race showing up.

• This establishes that Worf is the only Klingon in StarFleet

• Tasha asking Picard whether or not she should lead the team or stay at tactical makes her sound pretty inexperienced.

• The little girl is pretty relaxed about it all, being potentially held hostage.

• Wesley and Troi do not appear in this episode

• The Security Team are pretty lame – Ramos just jumps out into the line of fire, while the other guy takes down one guy but just kneels there in the open in the meantime.

• Up until this point, only three people had died in Next Generation – in this episode, three Klingons and two security officers are added to that number.  All die in battle.

• For the first and I think only time in Star Trek, the Klingon homeworld is referred to as “Kling.”  This was later, wisely, changed.

Dialogue High Point
The best dialogue is the first real “Klingon” speak that we have in the series, between Worf and Korris.

Worf:  You have talked of glory and of conquest and legends we will write.
Korris:  Yes, the birthright of every Klingon.
Worf:  Yet, in all you say, Where are the words: duty, honor, loyalty, without which a warrior is nothing?

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7 thoughts on “Star Trek: The Next Generation – Heart of Glory [1.19]

  1. This was a solid episode. One of the best of the season. All three Klingons delivered good performances, and the look into Klingon culture is great. The stuff with the Visual Acuity Transmitter was weak – it was filler, pure and simple, and not even particularly interesting filler. Even Riker seemed annoyed at how long that bit was taking. IN fact, the entire sequence on the freighter went on longer than it should’ve. Once the Klingons were on board the Enterprise was when the episode became good.

    This actually isn’t the first reference to the Romulans. I think they were last referenced in Angel One – near the end, the Enterprise was supposed to rush to the Neutral Zone to save an outpost that was at risk of being destroyed by several Romulan ships. I can understand why you’d forget that, considering how awful that entire episode was.

  2. Yeah, re-reading my comments, I can see that you’re right – the Romulans have been mentioned at least once before, if not more. I’ve adjusted that in the text, thanks!

  3. I kind of get the feeling in this episode that the TNG writers still hadn’t fully developed in their minds what the relationship between the Klingons and the Federation was at this point. Koriss’ and Konmel’s emphasis on the word “human,” when discussing Worf’s presence on a “HUMAN Starfleet vessel” would seem to indicate that they would have more expected to see him aboard a non-human Starfleet vessel. This could easily be interpreted as indicitive merely of the bad blood between Klingons and Humans specifically, but is it also possible that, at the time this episode aired, the writers had a notion of Klingon Starfleet vessels? The fact that the Klingon commander on the K’tinga had both the Empire and the Federation insignia behind him also tends towards this assumption. I know in season 2, in the Pakled episode, Wesley makes a comment about the “Klingons joining the Federation.” Again, this can be explained as merely a reference to the Alliance–not necessarily formal entry into the Federation–but I think it also serves to illuminate the fact that, in the minds of the TNG writers, the relationship between the Federation and the Empire was largely ambigious.

  4. Also, I’m glad that the security team actually accomplished taking down Konmel here; it’s better than the Redshirts on the old Enterprise ever did.

  5. I think your absolutely right, David, about the writers still figuring out how to characterize the Klingons in the 24th century. I didn’t remember that comment from the Pakled episode, but if it’s true than it seems clear they were still hashing it out.

  6. It’s not the fact that they died that bothered me, it’s how foolishly they seem to stand around when they’re in battle…as if they are just waiting to be shot.

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