Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Emissary [2.20]

The Enterprise is receives on board K’Eylehr, a half human-half Klingon envoy with whom Worf was nearly romantically involved many years prior.  She warns them of a Klingon “sleeper ship” from 75 years in the past that has just re-awakened, and are unaware of the current peace with the Federation and poses a threat to various facilities.  The Enterprise is the closest available ship, and only a clever deceit from Worf enables them to convince the Klingons to stand down without hostilities.  Meanwhile, Worf and K’Eylehr consummate their relationship and come into conflict about how to move forward.

Television Story and Teleplay by Richard Manning & Hans Beimler.  Based on an Unpublished Story by Thomas H. Calder. Directed by Cliff Bole

Previous Episode: ManhuntNext Episode: Peak Performance

Comments:
The Emissary is a worthy installment to Next Generation’s second season, with a decent story and some good character development, especially for Worf.  The Klingon plot is simple and a bit contrived, but still works well enough.  There’s some decent tension over whether there will be any choice but to kill these antiquated Klingons, and Worf’s solution is not too surprising, but still works dramatically, largely due to Michael Dorn’s worthy performance.  Some have commented that it takes the episode too long to actually get to the point where they are facing the Klingons, and this is true.  But it would not have made sense to drag out the confrontation with the Klingon ship simply because it would have been silly to show that it was any match for the Enterprise, from 75 years in its future.  So in the end, I’m not sure what else they could have done with it.

The story introduces one of the show’s more popular guest characters, K’Eylehr.  Even though she only appeared in two episodes, fans apparently took a real liking to her.  Watching this episode (for the first time, actually, I think), I had mixed feelings.  The idea of a half-human / half-Klingon wrestling between her two sides is intriguing enough, but overall I found Suzie Plakson’s “human” take on the character to be stronger than the “Klingon” one – I never completely believed that display of temper.  Still, you can understand Worf’s attraction to her.

It’s interesting to see Worf really emerge as a traditionalist, compared to K’Eylehr’s more liberal approach to relationship.  It makes for an interesting dynamic with Worf’s character – the Klingon who isolated from his own people, but for whom the culture is so important.  This idea has already been present (notably The Icarus Factor) but not as strongly as we see here.

The holodeck scene between Worf and K’Eylehr is filled with lots of snarling, sniffing, and bleeding, both in battle and in love.  I suppose the brutality of it is meant to highlight how different Klingon culture is, but it threatens to be a bit goofy.

However, what I ultimately like about the story is the way that the “action plot” and the “character plot” really flow together.  There are episodes of this show where you get a “meanwhile, back in the subplot” sort of feeling, but not here.  The threat of the Klingons who have not left their old ways behind them gives rise to the tension of Worf working so closely with his former (near) girlfriend, and the question of just how “traditional” they will be.  The final scene, where Worf beams K’Eylehr over to the Klingon ship, brings both stories to a conclusion, and the episode fittingly ends on that moment.

Guest Cast
• Lance Le Gault, who plays Captain K’Tomoc, also played Colonel Buck Greene recurringly on Magnum, PI and Colonel Decker on The A-Team.

• This is the second and last appearance on the show by Anne Ramsay as Ensign Clancy.  She’s had lots of TV roles, including as a regular on Mad About You.

• Suzie Plakson plays K’Eylehr was Dr. Selar earlier this season in The Schizoid Man.

• Diedrich Bader plays a Tactical Officer.  He has been a regular on The Drew Carey Show and Outsourced, and played the voice of Batman on Batman:  The Brave and the Bold.

Shout Outs to the Past
• Worf’s calisthenics program from Where Silence Has Lease is seen again.

• In a nice touch, Riker speaks a little Klingon.  (See A Matter of Honor)

Setting Up the Future
K’Eylehr will be back in a year or two.

Observations
• We have the series’ second poker game, which plays out in a pretty funny manner.  Participating this time are Worf, Riker, Data, Pulaski, and Geordi.  “Talk or play – not both,” says Worf.

• Wesley is not in this episode

• I like the moment where Picard challenges Worf if there are any professional reasons he doesn’t want to work wtih K’Eylehr.

• Worf stoically resists K’Eylehr’s charms and forward manner – but how long can that last?

• The Calisthenics fight isn’t all that impressive looking – the opponents seem to just to wait around to be hit, at least at Level 1.

• So, according to Klingon traditions – Worf and K’Eylehr are married!

• “Captain, let them die like Klingons, in battle.  They deserve that much.”  Nice line from K’Eylehr.

• It makes sense that the Enterprise is able to deal with the Klingon cloaking device.

• “How did you like command?” Worf replies, “Comfortable chair.”

• I’d be worried about beaming K’Eylehr over to these old style Klingons for the next three days.  How will they react if they figure out that the war ended not with the Federation defeated, but with the Klingons making peace?

• “K’Eylehr, I will not be complete without you.” — not a high point in the episode’s dialog, although it helps to remember this was before Jerry McGuire.

Dialogue High Point
I like the line Worf has to the Klingons as he tries to convince them of the new state of affairs:

Trust your eyes, or is your brain still stuck in its long slumber?

Previous Episode: ManhuntNext Episode: Peak Performance

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3 thoughts on “Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Emissary [2.20]

  1. The back-and-forth between K’Eylehr and Worf is a definite high point of this episode. In a way, Worf becomes a counter to the free love human society of the 23rd century, believing that sex means more than the physical act–a fact that the humans seem to have lost sight of (although they still did have premarital sex, I think I can give Worf a pass considering his bizarre disposition and his alien native culture). And it’s a nice touch that K’Eylehr acknowledges that there was something more before she leaves Worf. As much as you want to divorce the act of sex from the spiritual and commitment aspects–which the writers of TNG seemed to want to do most of the time–even they could not deny them completely.

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