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The Trek Nation - The Emissary

The Emissary

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at February 15, 2008 - 10:57 PM GMT

See Also: 'The Emissary' Episode Guide

Plot Summary: The Enterprise is ordered to retrieve a special emissary from a perilous journey aboard a probe for a mission of utmost importance. She is K'Ehleyr, half-Klingon, a half-human ambassador, sent to warn Picard that he must intercept the Klingon ship T'Ong before its warriors wake from a 75-year cryogenic sleep believing that they are still at war with Starfleet and attacking Federation colonies. Worf has met K'Ehleyr before and resists Picard's orders to work with her to come up with some solution other than attacking and destroying the T'Ong. When they quarrel, K'Ehleyr tries to relax using Worf's holographic calisthenics program, where she and Worf become excited fighting projections of hostile aliens and make love. Worf insists afterward that for the sake of honor they must take the Klingon oath of marriage, but K'Ehleyr refuses to become his wife for honor's sake. She still believes that the T'Ong must be destroyed, but when the ship fires on the Enterprise, Worf proposes that he act as captain and demand that they stand down. Picard agrees, and Worf, dressed in a Klingon captain's uniform, informs the captain of the T'Ong that during the Klingon crew's hibernation, the Klingon Empire and Federation have become allies. The Klingon captain agrees to cease hostilities and Worf explains that K'Ehleyr will beam over as temporary commander until the Klingon ship Prang arrives to escort the T'Ong home. K'Ehleyr admits that she was tempted to take the oath with Worf and he expresses hope that they will meet again.


Analysis: This chain in the links of development of second-generation Klingons has much to recommend it: the first Klingon-Human hybrid we meet (and a more together one in many ways than Voyager's B'Elanna Torres), a bit of backstory on Worf's dating life and an indication why he hasn't had much of one since, a nod to the Klingons of the original series and our first inclination that Worf would make a fine ambassador - the role he ultimately accepts after the end of the Dominion War. Though K'Ehleyr is sent as "The Emissary" of the title, her suggestions are less concerned with outreach than tactics: she believes the safest route for the Federation is to have the Enterprise destroy the T'Ong before its Klingon crew can awake and go looking for Federation targets. No one among the Klingons has been able to discover the T'Ong's original mission, so K'Ehleyr believes they must assume the worst: that it was lauched as a ship of war to infiltrate enemy territory and will begin to do so as soon as its crew comes out of hibernation. Like Worf, K'Ehleyr has issues with her dual Human and Klingon heritage, but unlike him, she isn't as proud of her Klingon side; she blames it for her temper and believes the Klingon honor, especially as defined by Klingon men, is more foolhardy than admirable.

Worf will never be the life of the party, but at the start of the episode, he's trying to negotiate a comfortable position among his crewmates, competing successfully in poker against Pulaski's assumption that he must be bluffing. He has no qualms about expressing his disdain for K'Ehleyr in front of his crewmates, though she has already impressed them by her willingness to travel aboard a Class 8 probe and her openness about her heritage. Troi is curious about what it was like growing up as part of two such different worlds, but while the counselor believes she got the best of both cultures, K'Ehleyr says her Klingon temper can be terrifying even to herself. She smashes a table in frustration at Worf's resistance and tries joking with him, then tries arguing, but he won't admit that there are any merits either to her insistence on the need for force or to her personal strength until he watches her on the holodeck fighting the monsters in his calisthenics program. Fighting leads to exercise leads to sex; "Some calisthenics programs are better than others," K'Ehleyr observes.

And then, according to Worf, sex leads to the bonding oath. By Klingon tradition they are already mated, and he insists that they are honor-bound to solemnize it. "I am not going to become your wife!" K'Ehleyr retorts, saying that marriage is out of the question and anyway Worf only wants to do it because of absurd Klingon tradition. Meanwhile he labels her dismissal of what they have shared a human attitude and rages that she has rendered it meaningless. Considering that he was raised by humans and only knows about Klingon culture through study, it seems a bit extreme on his part and again she doesn't seem like the finest of ambassadors simply because she's so entrenched in her own position and concerns rather than trying to defuse his. Just as the T'Ong crew must be informed that not all Klingons hate the Federation now, Worf could afford to hear that Klingon culture is not monolithic. But K'Ehleyr isn't really interested in speaking for the Klingons here, just in protecting herself and getting away from Worf's macho expectations.

When the T'Ong arrives, Picard hopes to implement LaForge's plan to reprogram the computers and keep the crew asleep till the Prang arrives, since it appears that the Klingons have not yet awoken. But he underestimates them, approaching a seemingly powerless T'Ong only to watch it fire at the Enterprise, then cloak. K'Ehleyr believes the T'Ong must be destroyed and tells the captain that its crew should be allowed to die in battle. Then Worf hits upon the solution, and the next time we see him he is in Picard's chair, asking the T'Ong captain whether he has lost his mind: "Drop your shields! This is an act of treason!" Worf looks more comfortable as a battle commander than an ambassador, yet when asked by Riker how he enjoyed his first command, Worf says only that the chair is comfortable. He has even more difficulty admitting to K'Ehleyr that his wish to take the oath with her was not a matter of honor alone...that he has strong feelings for her, as she does for him.

Despite some choppiness in the pacing and a resolution so quick as to strain credulity, this is a very enjoyable episode about Klingons in general and Worf in particular. He and K'Ehleyr make a lovely couple, which makes it all the more poignant for viewers who have already seen The Next Generation through and know how their love story ends. It's also entertaining to see Troi asking questions about Klingons as potential mates, knowing that she will have a romance with Worf in the future as well. Now we know precisely how much Worf defines himself by his concept of Klingon honor - a concept that will be extended to all of Star Trek's Klingons as they evolve in the post-Kirk era.


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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.