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.
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.
• 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
• 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?