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The Trek Nation - Redemption, Part Two

Redemption, Part Two

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at May 15, 2009 - 9:27 PM GMT

See Also: 'Redemption, Part Two' Episode Guide

Plot Summary: As Worf and Kurn execute a daring plan of attack to fight off Duras ships, Picard tells Starfleet admirals that he believes the Romulans are interfering in the Klingon civil war and suggests taking a fleet of ships to blockade the border so that the Romulans cannot send supplies across. LaForge has told Picard that multiple ships can set up a tachyon field to detect the Romulans even when cloaked, so Picard has Riker command the Excalibur and - after Data points out his own experience - the android command the Sutherland, over the Sutherland's first officer's objections. While Gowron's forces fight among themselves, Worf is abducted and brought to the Duras sisters, who want to recruit him to their side by offering him marriage to B'Etor. Worf declines, saying he will not live in a Klingon Empire without honor. Romulan leader Sela then orders her henchmen to torture Worf for information. She also visits a shocked Picard, who has been told by Guinan that despite what he remembers as true, he personally sent Tasha Yar into the past and made Sela's birth possible. Sela claims that any human loyalties she ever had died with her mother and warns Picard that the Romulans will attack his fleet if he doesn't move it from the Romulan border. Together Picard and Gowron agree that the Romulan aid to the Duras forces must be stopped. Gowron launches a full-strength attack that causes the Duras sisters to beg the Romulans for aid, but when the Romulans approach the tachyon field, Data is able to reveal their presence to the Starfleet ships. Facing war with both the Klingons and the Federation, the Romulans withdraw, forcing the Duras sisters to concede their defeat. Gowron offers the life of Toral to Worf as compensation for Duras's slurs against Worf's family, but Worf refuses to kill the boy and asks Picard for permission to return to the Enterprise.


Analysis: As an action movie, this latest Star Trek installment is superbly done: it has a double dose of villains, family drama, a mess hall fight, a space battle, a time travel-fueled surprise guest appearance by an actor no longer in the series, even ambitious women with prominent bosoms. Yet when it comes to emotional drama, it doesn't come close to the standard set by such stories as "Amok Time" or "The Best of Both Worlds." Oops, does it sound like I'm talking about Star Trek XI? Of course I'm actually talking about "Redemption." The second half of the two-parter, and fifth season opener, is one of The Next Generation's most action-packed hours, and I really can't fault it for that. Nor, in fairness, can I complain that the show didn't do justice to the character issues unfolding within the story; we certainly aren't finished with Worf and Kurn, Sela and Picard, the Duras Sisters and Gowron, or any of the other alliances and conflicts that emerge herein. Yet there's nothing in this hour to provide the sort of chills from the moment when Picard says "Data, sleep," through the mouth of Locutus of Borg. I'd certainly recommend the "Redemption" two-parter, particularly to anyone interested in Klingons, and especially in the context of all the Klingon and Romulan stories surrounding it. But it doesn't make my Top 5 TNG list.

Which isn't to say that there aren't things I adore. Sela, for one. Her potential as a character was never realized on this series, though what awesome glimpses we get. As a little girl, she betrayed her mother - Tasha Yar, someone we (and the crew) know and love - to the Romulans and got her executed. Then she turned on her mother's people and everything they stood for, rising high in the ranks of the Romulans despite her human blood, making an alliance with the least honorable of Klingons to advance Romulan interests. It's unnerving that she seems to have Tasha's sense of humor without any of Tasha's humanity, no sense of compassion or fair play, though we can only guess at the guilt that lies under her defiant explanation of her mother's fate. She plays hardball with Picard, and she accepts the consequences when her plans backfire; her supply ships turn back over the objections of other Romulans, because Sela knows she can't afford to drag the Empire into a war with the Federation. Yet.

I've been talking a lot about women's roles in Star Trek lately in reference to the new film, and I have to say: what fantastic women there are in "Redemption"! Not only Sela, whose interests have nothing to do with the ones typically given to female characters - sure, she can be flirtatious, but she's complex and conflicted, her life seemingly shaped as much by her mother's absence as by the presence of the father who raised her - but the Duras sisters too! Yes, they spend a lot of time talking about men, but in the rigid patriarchal society in which they live, what choice do they have? They understand that they'd be better off with Worf as their friend than their enemy, not only because it would take an important ally away from Gowron's forces, but because they know Worf comes from a culture where women speak as equals. B'Etor may hint that she wants to marry Worf for his big brawny Klingon muscles, but her stated fantasy is of a partnership - herself and Worf ruling the Klingons in the name of that wimpy child Toral. I can't fault Worf for refusing when he knows B'Etor to be a collaborator with the hated Romulans, but oh, what a partnership that would have been, with furniture as well as heated words thrown around every time they disagreed.

Even though Sela, Lursa and B'Etor are the ostensible villains of the story, they aren't vilified, because no one is made to appear overly admirable in this messy struggle. Data must pressure Picard to put him in command of the Sutherland, subtly implying that the captain is showing bias against him because he's an android. First officer Hobson isn't nearly so subtle: he declares his prejudices outright, stating that he doesn't believe in Data's ability to command a starship, accusing him of insensitivity to the "real" people on board. The Starfleet officers' limitations pale, though, in comparison to the Klingons. One of Gowron's men accuses him of weak leadership, claiming that's the real reason Klingons are supporting the Duras faction, and it's really hard to argue with that assessment, given that Gowron doesn't want to listen to Worf or Kurn, Kurn would rather get drunk with his men than worry about necessary repairs, and would-be boy-king Toral shows more willingness to march into battle than Gowron. It's possible that I'm looking at Gowron with too much hindsight - I know that in coming years, he will repress the records of the Federation's aid during this civil war, withdraw from the Khitomer peace agreement, blame Martok for his own military weaknesses, and ultimately push Worf beyond the breaking point - but even this early on, Gowron doesn't come across as a particularly skilled or virtuous leader. It's pretty pathetic that the best tribute to Worf he can come up with is to hand Worf the life of Toral.

Worf, at least, is done second-guessing his instincts as a Klingon. While the Duras faction is the enemy, he never loses sight of the need to defeat them, but once the war is over, he has no patience for intra-Klingon power struggles. It doesn't bother him that Kurn is in command and has lived his entire life in training to be a warrior; Worf is still confident enough to claim the privileges of an older brother and tell Kurn what he thinks they should do. He's no more fearful of insulting Lursa's honor to her face, nor of being sent by Sela to be tortured by her henchmen. When the moment comes to choose between the Klingon way and the human way, Worf spares Toral's life, insists that Kurn has no more right to harm Duras's son, then asks Picard for permission to return to duty aboard the Enterprise. Worf finally knows exactly who he is.

And poor Picard. He has no memory or understanding of how Tasha Yar ended up a Romulan prisoner, but he accepts the responsibility for having put her there, even though it makes no logical sense to him. He, then, is responsible not only for the immediate crisis - the fact that Sela is supporting a Klingon faction hostile to the Federation - but for Tasha's unhappy fate, a loveless marriage to a Romulan captor, followed by a botched escape attempt and an execution. Picard clearly wants to find something admirable in Sela, to see something of her mother in her personality the way he can see it all too clearly in her face, though he announces that he will ruthlessly set such considerations aside in their power struggle. If only there had been more time to explore the emotions of this dynamic in the midst of the Klingon storyline.

I can't fault the visual effects, though - I love the scene where Kurn takes his ship plummeting toward the sun much the way Kirk took a Klingon ship in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, and the scene where Data orders Hobson to fire and expose the ghostly outlines of the cloaked Romulans. And I love the grand theatre of the Klingon High Council, the circle of oligarchs, Worf dropping the knife with which he's supposed to avenge his family's honor. "Redemption" may not be the best of Star Trek episodes, but it has a great deal to recommend it, and on top of that, it's great fun.


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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Michelle Erica Green is a former news writer for TrekToday. An archive of her reviews can be found at The Little Review.