The dying Klingon Chancellor K’mpec requests that Picard serve as the arbiter between the leading contenders to replace him as leader of the Empire. At the same time, K’Ehleyr returns to the Enterprise with her child, Alexander, a result of her last encounter with Worf. Work and K’Ehleyr nearly renew their relationship, but Worf is reluctant for his dishonor to pass on to Alexander should their relationship become public. Picard mediations between the Duras and Gowron to be the next Klingon Chancellor are interrupted when Duras murders K’Ehleyr, who had deduced his role in the Khitomer disaster and Worf’s discommendation. Worf seeks the vengeance, and ends up killing Duras. Alexander goes to live with Worf’s human parents.
Teleplay by Thomas Perry & Jo Perry and Ronald D. Moore & Brannon Braga. Story by Drew Deighan and Thomas Perry & Jo Perry. Directed by Jonathan Frakes.
Reunion’s weakest point is its title, which could easily apply to probably dozens of other Next Generation episodes. Other than this, it is an excellent episode with strong writing and direction, and a real sense of drama and consequence. It is also perhaps the strongest Klingon-centric of the show so far, and that is saying something considering how good Sins of the Father and A Matter of Honor were.
A lot of the credit goes to Jonathan Frakes, who directs his second episode of the series. The pacing and storytelling here are suburb, with not a single wasted moment. The writing is also good, even though the episode boasts a hefty five different writers. In spite of this, the writing is smooth and there is an absence of any awkward moments of illogic that so often plague the show.
The episode represents significant development on a lot of fronts. Of course, the “Klingon plot” gets some major forward movement, with a new chancellor and a direct inference that the Romulans are involved. And of course, Worf gains a son, even if he does get shipped off to earth at the end of the story. For good or for ill, he will return and become part of the show’s recurring cast.
There are a number of standout performances from the guest cast, most notably Suzie Plakson, who returns as K’Ehleyr, recreating a character who really will be missed at the end of the show. A lot of fans were upset at the time at her death and it’s easy to see why. She’s got sharp dialog and strong characterization, and good chemistry with Worf. Their relationship is perhaps the most believable romance that the series has pulled off to this point. Charles Cooper also does an excellent job in his small but pivotal role as K’mpec, bringing a gravitas to the character that one can believe of the longest serving Klingon chancellor in history. And amongst the newcomers, it’s Robert O’Reilly in the comparatively minor part of Gowron who is truly memorable – he is welcome addition to the show’s recurring cast (especially since so many others are killed off in this episode!)
But of course the episode really belongs to Michael Dorn and Patrick Stewart. Both actors get a lot to do and have a number of good scenes with each other. Picard gets to engage in some serious “don’t blink” political intrigue with the Klingons, proving just how tough he can be without having to throw a single punch or fire a weapon (eg. “There is no delay. It is the time I have chosen.”) And for Worf, the Klingon ethics that were emerging in The Defector bear some serious fruit in this episode. His revenge killing against Duras is exactly what we wouldn’t expect of a television hero, especially with Riker’s last moment arrival giving him (and the writers) every reason to hesitate and “think better” of his actions. Instead, in spite of Picard’s speech at the end, the show puts us right in the heart of a Klingon way of seeing things – the most successfully the show has ever done this with another culture. It’s a pivotal moment for Worf’s development, ensuring that we would never see him (or indeed, the series) in the same way.
Shout Out to the Past:
• There are three major returning guest stars in this episode: K’Ehleyr The Emissary, and K’mpec and Duras, both from Sins of the Father. All three are killed in this story.
• Similarly, the events of Sins of the Father, especially Worf’s discommendation, are referred to many times.
• There are also references to the Ferengi, Tholians, Worf’s human parents, and of course, the Romulans.
Setting Up the Future
• Of course, Gowron will appear many more times, as the Klingon High Commander.
• Alexander will re-appear as well, eventually returning to the Enterprise.
• Duras’ death will not be the end of the trouble caused by the Duras’ family. The episode also sets up the involvement of the Romulans with the larger “Klingon plot”.
• Also, Worf speaks of his dishonor, and of the Klingon council, saying, “The day will come when my brother and I will convince them to speak the truth.” These things will be addressed again before the season is over.
• Robert O’Reilly has appeared on the series before, but this is the first time he’s played Gowron. Gowron will go on to reappear another dozen times or so in the franchise.
• Jon Steuer, who plays Alexander, was a regular for several years on Grace Under Fire.
• April Grace makes her first of six appearances in the franchise as Transporter Chief Hubbell in this episode
• Mirron E. Willis plays Klingon Guard #2. He would go on to appear as a Kazon in a couple of episodes of Voyager.
• Tracee Cocco plays the uncredited role of Ensign Jae for the first time, a character who will appear in 58 episodes of the series and three movies.
• Whoa! The Klingon life-cycle is crazy! Alexander was only conceived about 1 1/2 years ago. He looks like he’s about four. And he’s only half Klingon.
• K’Ehleyr gets a bunch of good lines: “Not even a bite on the cheek for old times’ sake?” and “The usual excuses – tradition, duty, honor,” and “You talk like a Ferengi.”
• The scene between K’Mpec and Picard is great. Strong performances from both Patrick Stewart and Charles Cooper.
• Gowron’s eyes make their buggy and insane debut, as well as his creepy and hissy voice. I like his line, “You will die, slowly…Duras!”
• This episode marks the debut of the bat’leth, a memorable Klingon hand-to-hand weapon.
• Good development with the revelation of the involvement of the Romulans…
• OK, this episode is largely free of annoying moments or logical lapses, but what’s the story with the Klingon who had a bomb inside of him? What was he supposed to accomplish? Kill Gowron? Pretty poor showing. And if this is a known way for Klingons to kill themselves, why would they bother using a Romulan component to the weapon? Seems like the perfect opportunity to cause problems for yourself.
• Also, how was Duras hoping to get away with killing K’Ehleyr? I guess he thought he’d get away with it from a Klingon culture point of view.
• The Klingon death scream, Alexander running away…good stuff.
• Jonathan Frakes has a slightly larger role than he did the last time he directed an episode. He must be growing in his confidence.
• “You have never seen death. Than look and always remember.” Crazy Klingon child-rearing.
• Before going to kill Duras, Worf removes his sash – I’m not sure what that’s about. In fact, I’ve never been sure what Worf’s sash is meant to represent.
• I’d thought that in other episodes, people could fool the computer by removing their commbadge. That is not the case here.
• The crew of the Enterprise represents only 13 different planets. I guess I’d have guessed it was more.
• None of the regulars have much to do here beside Picard and Worf. Wesley has only two lines, and Troi has only one!
Crazy Talk: Captain Riker (Huh?)
This is the first episode of the show since Family that absolutely requires Picard’s presence. It would have required re-writing the opening, but it would have been fairly easy to bring Ambassador Picard or Fleet Captain Picard into the story. The downside would have been that Picard would have been yet another familiar character who would have needed re-introducing in an episode that was already chock full of them.
Dialogue High Point
My favorite line is Picard’s repreminding speech to Worf at the end.
Mister Worf, the Enterprise crew currently includes representatives from thirteen planets. They each have their individual beliefs and values and I respect them all. But they have all chosen to serve Starfleet. If anyone cannot perform his or her duty because of the demands of their society, they should resign. Do you wish to resign?