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July 23 2024


An archive of Star Trek News

Redemption, Part One

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at May 9, 2009 - 12:59 AM GMT

See Also: 'Redemption, Part One' Episode Guide

Plot Summary: Picard, in his capacity as Klingon Arbiter of Succession, is en route to Gowron's installation ceremony as leader of the High Council when Gowron's flagship intercepts the Enterprise. Gowron warns that the sisters of Duras are trying to stir up a civil war. Because Duras died at Worf's hand in a battle of honor that implicated Duras in a Romulan conspiracy, Gowron wants Picard to ban the entire Duras family from Council meetings, but Picard believes that such an act would involve the Federation in a Klingon power struggle. While Gowron is aboard, Worf asks him to restore honor to the House of Mogh, but Gowron advises him that that would cause further dissension in the Council. Worf's brother Kurn is disgusted with both Gowron and the Duras faction and plans to lead a new alliance with his own squadron, but Worf insists that Kurn remain loyal to the chosen leader. The Duras sisters interrupt Gowron's installation by presenting Duras's son Toral, who despite having been born out of wedlock challenges Gowron for the leadership of the council. The sisters are still having secret meetings with the Romulans, though they attempt to persuade Picard that Toral will be better for Federation interests. Unswayed, Picard rules that Toral lacks the experience to lead the Council. A majority of Klingons follow Duras's son anyway. Gowron is frustrated that Worf cannot persuade Picard to provide Federation aid to allow him to take his rightful place. While they are arguing, followers of the Duras family attack Gowron's ship, which is saved by Worf's strategy and the arrival of Kurn's squadron. Gowron takes his place as leader of the Council and restores Worf and Kurn's family honor. Worf then asks Picard to help stop the Duras rebellion, which is contrary to the interests of both the Federation and the new Klingon leadership, but Picard again insists that he cannot intervene in a Klingon dispute. Then Picard orders Worf to return to the Enterprise, to which Worf responds by resigning from Starfleet to stay with Gowron. Meanwhile, the Duras sisters go to meet with a Romulan leader who looks exactly like Tasha Yar.

Analysis: For fans of both Klingons and Romulans, there was never a more intense period in Star Trek history than the end of Next Gen's fourth season and the start of the fifth. The leadership of both societies seemed to be in flux and their relations with the Federation were as tense as they had been in a generation. As season finales go, "Redemption" doesn't have the character depth and the complex plotting of "The Best of Both Worlds" - with the exception of Picard and Worf, the rest of the regulars are under-used or absent altogether, and there's a lot of performance and posturing instead of from-the-heart dialogue - but what it lacks in subtlety, it makes up in grand theatrics.

The Klingons, who have whittled their ruling class down to a few families with lots of dark secrets, are on the verge of civil war! The sisters of the dead, disgraced challenger, who are denied the right to sit on the Council by their own misogynistic culture, have found a sympathetic ally in a female Romulan leader with a shockingly familiar face! A Federation captain is trapped between his dual responsibilities as Arbiter of Succession and Starfleet officer, and, moreover, between upholding the noninterference directive and stopping a takeover that could lead to war! A Klingon raised by humans must avenge his family honor while protecting his secret brother's identity and continuing to do his Starfleet duty! I wasn't such a big fan of the Klingon arc the first time through Next Gen, but now that I know the long-term fates of all these people, it's so much more interesting. Oh, Gowron, if you knew what Worf had in store for you, you might never have restored his family honor, and Kurn, you might never have listened to your secret brother!

As for Worf, who barely knew what it meant to be a Klingon in early episodes like "Heart of Glory," he is moving further and further away from the human society in which he lives, though his values (as Picard points out) are mostly still more human than Klingon. A lot of the time when we see Worf, it's either in straightforward work situations or as growling, straight-faced comic relief, so it's easy to forget that the character must be lonely and conflicted, perhaps replaying the events that led to Alexander's conception, K'Ehleyr's murder, his own discommendation, and Duras's death, thinking about how things might have been different. Worf now knows he has a Klingon son, though he has sent the boy to be raised by humans as he was raised; he also knows he has a brother, though they cannot acknowledge each other so long as the name of Mogh remains publicly besmirched. Though he is confident that his father was innocent of the charges the Duras family transferred onto Mogh, he knows very little of his Klingon family. Suddenly the putative leader of the Klingon High Council is on his ship, in need of his aid. How could Picard not expect Worf to take this opportunity to change his family's fate and make his mark on all of Klingon society?

The Klingons, after all, look pretty pathetic, despite all their posturing and waving of ceremonial weapons. The leading families are so corrupt that they can be swayed to follow an inexperienced, illegitimate child over a properly chosen leader. I'm not clear on why this generation of Klingon society has become so much more sexist than the last one, when Marta could serve beside Kang on his ship; it seems pretty stupid, given that it provides ambitious women with an incentive to ignore the High Council and pursue their own agendas. Athough Lursa and B'Etor may lack K'Ehleyr's diplomatic training, her self-control and her desire to find common ground with traditional enemies, they are full-blooded Klingons when it comes to fanatical devotion to family advancement and their scheming has more far-reaching effects than that of anyone on the Council. Ultimately, they're responsible for the death of James T. Kirk! How many men tried and failed to accomplish that? Even though their nephew is a pathetic excuse for a Klingon warrior - as Picard says, he has no experience as a leader or a fighter - it's hard not to root a bit for the Duras sisters. Compared to the idiots in the Council, they're a breath of fresh air.

Though "Redemption" is Worf's episode, it's a terrific outing for Picard as well. Having accepted the role of Arbiter of Succession because he thought it was in the best interests of both the Federation and Klingon Empire, he now finds it impossible to serve the interests of either without a potential conflict. He's trapped between cultures and duties just as much as Worf, and a bad decision could cost him just as much. One wonders why he doesn't warn Starfleet when Gowron turns up to announce an impending civil war - I would think that Picard would receive not just advice, but new orders - which makes me believe that he trusts his own judgment on these matters more than a bunch of admirals who don't know the personalities involved the way Picard does. He says he doesn't want Worf using the Enterprise for the personal reason of clearing Mogh's name, yet Worf has Data doing his homework, and Picard is comfortable looking over the same information as a means to thwart the Duras family's ambitions.

Worf is invaluable to Picard, not as a security officer, but as a man positioned deep inside the Klingon Empire with loyalties to the Federation. Picard knows that Worf and Gowron are right when they say that the Duras rebellion represents a threat to the Federation, not just to Gowron's followers. Does Picard deliberately goad Worf into resigning because it's the best way to influence the Klingon conflict without the appearance of outside meddling? Watching again, now that I know the outcome, it sure looks that way. Picard doesn't want to lose Worf's loyalty or friendship; he arranges a salute by the entire crew, who line the corridors to bid farewell as Worf makes his way to the transporter room, making clear his approval of Worf's decision to depart and his personal loyalty to the Klingon. Picard already suspects what the unnamed Romulan whom we now know to be Sela makes clear, that there's much more to this conflict than is apparent to more than a handful of people. "Humans have a way of turning up when you don't expect them," announces Sela as she steps out of shadows. Fade to black. It's nearly as chilling as the appearance of Locutus of Borg.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.

Michelle Erica Green is a former news writer for the Trek Nation. An archive of her work can be found at The Little Review.

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