Star Trek: The Next Generation – Redemption [4.26]

On the eve of Gowron’s official installation as Klingon chancellor, the family of Duras emerge with a new contender – the young Toral.  In his role as Arbiter of Succession, Picard discounts Toral’s claim, but Klingon civil war looms closer.  Worf teams up with his brother Kurn to gather allies for Gowron, in an attempt to convince him to restore Worf’s honor.  He is successful, and Worf resigns his Starfleet commission in order to fight alongside his brother against the family of Duras.  Duras’s family is in league with Romulans, including one who looks nearly identical to the deceased Tasha Yar.

Written by Ronald D. Moore. Directed by Cliff Bole .

Previous Episode: In Theory • Next Episode: Redemption, part II

Comments:
Redemption is one of those episodes of Star Trek that is unmissable because of its role in the overall myth of the series, but which as an individual story is nothing more than ” just fine”.  Of course, it’s only part 1 of 2, so that might make a difference (we’ll see).  There is a lot going on, including a lot of “important” events that build on two major plotlines of recent years – the troubles of the Klingon Empire and the sneaky doings of the Romulans.  Four new recurring characters are introduced and two others are revisited.  Worf and Picard are at the heart of it all, but they feel like they are treading familiar ground.  The plot is advancing, for sure, but doing so pretty much as one expects, with no real surprises along the way (beside for the bizarre closing cliffhanger).  So in spite of the overall quality, I can’t help feeling a little disappointed by the episode.

Maybe I’m asking too much of the show.  There’s certainly nothing wrong with Redemption.  It’s just that I want every story – and especially a big, season-closing, major myth building cliff hanger – to be not just solid, but strong, or at least to break some sort of new ground, and push our characters into new territory  We got this with the last cliff hanger – Best of Both Worlds, and we got this with the last Klingon show – Reunion.  But this time around the character work is good but does not bring us anywhere new, and the political drama that’s at the heart of things feel repetitive.  It’s almost like the writers realized that killing Duras was a mistake, or that without him around, they had to spend a lot of time introducing some replacement villains to keep things moving.

Out of that business we get the quite boring Toral, and the more fun and scenery chewing Lursa and B’Etor.  They will continue to menace the Federation for a few more episodes, and also make an appearance in Deep Space Nine, before they meet their end courtesy of a clever strategem of Riker’s in Generations.  The other big character to be introduced is of course the Tasha Yar look-a-like who emerges from the shadows at the end.  That was certainly a memorable cliff hanger, but I feel let down in advance by what is coming out of that (almost the only thing I remember about the conclusion).  On the other hand, it’s good to see Kurn again, and Gowron is always a strong presence.

All in all, the episode is really about maneuvering all the story elements into place for the outbreak of an actual Klingon civil war, which is what we’ve been pretty much waiting for since Worf’s discommendation.  Taking the whole episode to finish the build up is perhaps a bit much, even if the episode itself is still a decent one.

Guest Cast
• Barbara March makes her Star Trek debut as Lursa, a role she will be play several more times in Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek: Generations.

• Similarly, Gwyneth Walsh makes her first appearance as B’Etor, who appears every time Lursa does.  She was also a regular in a series called Da Vinci’s Inquest, which I had never heard of before.
• JD Cullum plays Toral.  He also appeared as the Prankster in Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.  He won’t play Toral when the character reappears in Deep Space Nine.
Shout Out to the Past:

There are direct reference to the events of Sins of the Father and Reunion, including a direct mention of Worf’s son Alexander.

Setting Up the Future:
In addition to debuting recurring characters Lursa, B’Etor, Toral and the as-yet-unnamed figure played by Denise Crosby, the episode obviously sets up the conclusion of the Klingon-Romulan plotline in the next episode, and it restores Worf’s family honor amongst his people.

Observations:
• There are a handful of decent lines through the story, “I have been told that patience is sometimes more effective than the sword,”  “It is a lie.  Lies must be challenged,” and “You have manipulated the circumstances, ladies, with the skill of a Romulan.”

• Pretty decent scene of Guinan on the phaser target range.  Maybe one of her better “dishing out sage advice” moments.

•  Worf gets a personal log entry!  Just like Data last episode.  That makes five episodes in a row featuring a supporting character’s log entry.

• I’m not sure why Toral has claim to Klingon leadership.  Just because he was Duras’ son?  Duras wasn’t the Klingon leader – he was just a guy who had the support to make a bid.  Toral’s claim is obviously doomed to failure and seems to be there mainly to just motivate the taking of sides amongst the Klingons.  Although I’m hard pressed to understand why anyone would want to follow that twerp.  I guess they are really following his sisters.

• Having said that, I like parts of Picard’s speech when he refuses Toral’s claim:  “…there is no basis for accepting a petition for leadership from a boy who has fought no battles, shed no blood for his people, earned no honor for himself. Perhaps some day he shall. But not now.”

• Worf resigning his commission is meant to feel like a big deal but I think we all knew even back then that this would not last, and that our status quo would be safe and sound by the time the 2nd part was over.

Crazy Talk: Captain Riker (Huh?)
You’d need Picard for this story, of course, but it’s exactly the sort of events that would pull the Ambassador back into action.

Dialogue High Point
Worf says to his brother…

We cannot regain honor by acting dishonorably.

Previous Episode: In Theory • Next Episode: Redemption, part II

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