Star Trek: The Next Generation – Redemption, Part II [5.1]

The Klingon civil war is well underway between the forces of the family Duras against the forces of Gowron, which include Worf and his brother Kurn.  Picard organizes a Federation task force to create a sensor blockade which will reveal the involvement of the Romulans in supporting the Duras family.  Data captains one of the starships in this blockade.  The Romulans are led by Sela, who turns out to be Tasha Yar’s half Romulan daughter from an alternate reality (really!)  Picard convinces Gowron to mount an attack designed to provoke the Romulans into running the blockade, but Sela does not fall for it.  Still, Data is able to develop another means to detect the Romulans, exposing and thus ending their involvement.  Without their support, the Duras fall, and Gowron’s position as leader of the Klingon High Council is confirmed.  Worf returns to duty with the Enterprise.

Written by Ronald D. Moore. Directed by David Carson .

Previous Episode: Redemption • Next Episode: Darmok

Comments:
I find Redemption Part II tricky to write about, in much the same I found the first part hard to pin down.  In most ways, there is nothing wrong with the episode.  It’s an enjoyable tale that we’ve been building to for a while now, with some decent Klingon-fighting-Klingon action, some mysterious intrigue from the Romulans, and a determined Picard who is committed to get in the middle of them.  It’s a story we’ve been demanding, in a sense, with all the set-up of the Klingon politics over the last couple of seasons.  It’s also a significant story for Worf in that it’s where we see him actually pull back for the first time in his “Klingon-ness” and realize that he is indeed, in his heart of hearts, a Starfleet officer.  And so at the time, it was quite a big deal.

But watching it 20+ years later, it’s hard for me not to feel a little “ho-hum” about it all.  The actual drama is good, but not outstanding.  Worf’s character growth and the treatment of the civil war itself are all pretty simplistic and quickly resolved, especially when I know what’s coming up in Deep Space Nine in a couple of years.  That’s the show where Star Trek really began taking serious risks with its characters and storytelling – where we really saw a war story, with all of its accompanying victories and tragedies and brutality, being told in detail, and where Worf ended up diving even further into his Klingon-heritage.  So the events here are decent, but look a little pale in retrospect.

I don’t think it really helps that so much of the episode’s run time is taken up with the subplot of Data taking on his first command.  It’s a little forced, since Data has actually commanded the Enterprise on many occasions.  In my view, Data actually proves in this episode why he is an excellent officer, but not the best commanding officer, due to his complete inability to offer any sort of explanation to anyone about anything he is doing.  He is correct in what he does, of course, but rather than giving any indication of his discoveries to either his crew or his commanding officer, he just gives the appearance of acting like he’s gone crazy (again).  But all that aside, the scenes are not bad – they just seem filler – as if the episode doesn’t really have a lot to say about the war itself.

The other notable thing about Redemption part II is the presence of and focus on Sela.  Now, personally, I hate Sela.  I think her existence takes much of the story of Yesterday’s Enterprise – one of the best installments of the entire series, and sort of throws it under a bus.  Tasha Yar, who in an alternate timeline was able to choose to die a death that had meaning and purpose, ends up dying another death that was meaningless and purposeless.  That said, at the time the episode was made, she was intriguing because we didn’t know what the series was going to do with her, and how it was going to resolve the emotional angst that her presence stirred up.  Unfortunately, we know with the benefit of hindsight that the series did almost nothing with her, and left all that angst unresolved.  It would have been far better to not have introduced her at all, and left the alternate Tasha to her fate, rather than bringing up yet another story element that really doesn’t have anything to do with the main plot.

That said, it was effective that Sela was smart enough to not be fooled by Picard’s plan.

So, Redemption Part II, like Part I, is not a bad episode by any means, but it doesn’t really hold up under close scrutiny all these years later, either as a major myth-building season-spanning two parter (like The Best of Both Worlds did) or as a brilliant Klingon story (like Reunion was).

Guest Cast
Fran Bennett plays Admiral Shanthi.  She played Troy’s Nana in an episode of Community that I watched not long ago, and appeared in a three-part episode of Quantum Leap.

Shout Out to the Past:
Of course, there are lots of references to Yesterday’s Enterprise with the (proper) introduction of Sela.

Setting Up the Future:
Sela, Lursa, B’Etor, and even Toral will all return in future Star Trek installments to cause more problems.  Gowron will continue to be the Klingon leader until near the end of Deep Space Nine, and Kurn will also re-appear.

Observations:
• Klingon recreation is absurd, but funny.

• Lt. Commander Hobson is a worthy but obvious character in the subplot about people getting over their prejudice of Data

• Is it really honorable to stab some guy who is being blocked by someone else (as Gowron does with his challenger)?

• O’Brien serves in a tactical position – it was previously established that he had been a tactical officer in the past.

• Guinan just knows enough to keep the plot moving along.  It’s a bit over the top for her to tell Picard that he’s responsible for this whole Sela situation

• What happened to all those other survivors that the Romulans captured, whom Tasha was trying to save by her agreeing to wed the Romulan guy.  Apparently they never got home (because the crew believes the Enterprise-C to have been lost with no survivors).

• They are working hard to expose the Romulan connection.  But wasn’t there already a Klingon spy that they had previously caught who had made a big deal about being in league with the Romulans?

• Nice line from Data when Lt. Hobson requests a transfer.  “I understand your concerns. Request denied.”

• Worf’s refusing to kill Toral is an appropriate balance to what we saw in Reunion.

Crazy Talk: Captain Riker (Huh?)
You know, I think we’re done with this whole speculation.  I still think it would have been a good idea, but I concede that the series would have had to change pretty significantly from what it was.

Dialogue High Point
From Gowron, who always impresses with his crazy eyes and line delivery.

Worf has been captured by the Duras.  I hope he dies well.

Previous Episode: Redemption • Next Episode: Darmok

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