Star Trek: The Next Generation – Birthright, Part II [6.17]

Worf finds himself a prisoner in a camp in which Klingons and Romulans have learned to live peacefully together, but only because the Klingons have given up their warrior ways.  Worf must face his own prejudices when he realizes the woman he has become attracted to is in fact half-Romulan.  Worf also begins to teach the young Klingons about their culture, stirring up discontent in many.  This eventually helps to convince both Romulan and Klingon leaders to allow those who want to to leave, with the promise the they will keep the existence of the camp secret to all others.

Written by Rene Echevarria. Directed by Dan Curry.

Previous Episode: Birthright, Part I • Next Episode: Starship Mine

Like in many of the Next Generation two parters, Birthright, Part II is where you feel like that the episode has really gotten to the story that it was interested in telling.  Except for the fact that Worf is in the prison camp, pretty much nothing is left over from Part I (including, of course, the Data plot in that episode).  Even the issue of Worf’s father, which was the emotional centerpiece of the first part, is barely even acknowledged here.  It creates a bit of a disconnect between the two parts, I think (especially since without either the elements of Worf’s father, or Data’s dreams, the title doesn’t even make any sense.  Or I don’t know, maybe it’s supposed to refer to the warrior spirit as the birthright for the young Klingons?)

However, having said all that, Birthright, Part II is not a bad episode, at least not anywhere near as bad as I remembered it.  Really, I recalled it being boring and pointless, with another badly developed romance and further proof that the Romulans were a waste of time on Next Generation.  But as occasionally happens, I find that rewatching it forces me to reconsider my opinions.  Birthright, Part II is not the best romance we’ve ever seen on Next Generation, it’s not the best Klingon story, it’s not the best Romulan story, and it’s not the best Worf story.  But it’s not the worst of any of those either, and it manages to talk about some interesting topics while being reasonably entertaining.

Worf’s prejudice and bitterness towards the Romulans is an idea worth revisiting, and his romance with Ba’el is not a bad way to do this, at least in theory.  It’s interesting to see him so flawed – much more blatantly so than any of the regular human characters are ever allowed to be.  But still, the romance, and the episode in general, fails to spark.  I’m not sure how it could have been improved, but I think overall it’s challenging for Star Trek to be at its strongest when it loses the ensemble nature of the series, and Birthright Part II almost exclusively focuses on Worf, with only the scarcest of appearances by the others.

I also think that aside from Tokath, the Romulans in the story end up being poorly underwritten.  There’s a lot about the sacrifice all the Klingons have made for the sake of their families, but very little about why these Romulans have all chosen to live this sequestered life.  Did they just follow their commander?  Or did they have a conviction about establishing peace with the Klingons as well?  That might have been a dimension worth exploring – rather than the basically unrelated Data subplot (as enjoyable as that was) from Part I.

Anyway, the end result is that it’s an okay story that’s only memorable because it’s one of the show’s few two-parters.  But now it’s behind us, and onto other things.

Guest Cast:
• Of course, Richard Herd, James Cromwell, Jennifer Gatti and Cristine Rose are all back from the last episode.  Cromwell’s character has no lines, which is apparently due to him actually breaking his leg.

• Alan Scarfe, who plays Tokath, also played an admiral back on Data’s Day, and was also a regular back on TV shows called Seven Days and Mysterious Island.

Shout Out to the Past:
• Other than obvious references to Part One, and a reference to Kahless, there’s nothing really.

• Troi is not in this episode (except for in the recap to Part I.  Data is almost not in it either (he appears, but has no lines) – not sure if that’s been true of any of the regular characters before.  Does he still get paid as a principle in a case like that?

• A nifty lines:  “A place can be safe and still be a prison”

• It’s sort of interesting to listen to Worf telling his Klingon stories

• My kids thought it was pretty obvious that the girl was the daughter of the Romulan leader

• I like the line from Toq when he comes home from his hunt:  “Tonight, as we came home, we sang a song of victory.  A song known only to me as a lullaby.  But it is a warrior’s song…Fire streaks the heavens…Battle has begun.”

• Another good one from Worf:  “And what about Toq?  I saw what happened to him when he caught the scent of his prey on the wind.  For the first time in his life, he felt powerful, and that is what he has been denied living here.”

• And another good one:  “That death will be honourable.  The young people will see what it is to die as a Klingon.

• And almost the best dialog of the show, where Ba’el says, “They will kill you,” and Worf responds, “Yes, but they will not defeat me.”

• Worf brings honour to the older generation at the end, which is appropriate.

Dialogue High Point
Worf, taking Toq out on the hunt:

Yes, this is the moment where life and death meet.  This is what we are.  Warriors.

Previous Episode: Birthright, Part I • Next Episode: Starship Mine

One thought on “Star Trek: The Next Generation – Birthright, Part II [6.17]

  1. A decent episode, at least. Some good stuff in it. It’s not outstanding, though it’s interesting to note how far the show had come by this point. If this had been a season 2 episode, it would’ve been one of the best of that season. Coming in season 6, it’s just OK.

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