Top Ten Best Star Trek: The Next Generation Episodes #4

tng16Sins of the Father won an Emmy for art direction and I agree, it shows the Klingon homeworld in the best light ever, and that’s ironic, cause there’s a lot of darkness.  This episode is sorta like the last one I reviewed, Chain of Command.  All the crew are on edge because Commander Kurn hops aboard to give them a dose of Klingon military discipline and they’re not used to it.  They’re used to sitting around a lounge having drinks.  Fortunately, the comparisons to Chain of Command are limited to the opening act, because the rest of the episode revolves around Worf and the legacy of his father.

tng17Kurn is played expertly by Tony Todd.  You really believe he’s a tough guy.  He barks orders to anyone who will listen, but he’s really just a good guy with a honorable sense of duty.  Yeah, he’s a jerk, but he’s really just playing it up a little bit so he can be tough for his brother.  He wants to stand by his brother’s side and he doesn’t even care if he gets stabbed in the gut or not.  

Tony Todd appeared several times as Kurn on Star Trek: The Next Generation, and later on Deep Space Nine too.  In this episode, he’s a little more edgy than his later appearances, and he does a great job.  The way he talks is just right for an overzealous Klingon.

 tng20This episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation won an Emmy for art direction.  The latter half of the episode can’t look any better and there are all sorts of things to appreciate.  The costumes, the make-up, and the props are almost secondary to the environment.  The Klingon home planet is almost a work of art, and it’s lit very well.  The setting (and the matte painting) inspires the mood for Worf’s trial as he fights for his life.  The camera zooms in on him at one point and he tilts his head up in pride, but it’s the lighting that really sells it, as if telling us that Worf really isn’t a traitor, he’s a proud and fearless guy.  It’s great.

The Klingon homeworld Qo’noS is so imposing, Patrick Stewart looks small in comparison.  I mean, literally, he looks tiny compared to the other actors.  The Klingons are just that friggin huge and tough.  Luckily, he doesn’t need to be a physical badass, because he can carry a scene with his dialogue, which is especially true when Worf and Picard confront K’mpec at the end of the episode.  K’mpec is played by Charles Cooper, who also appeared in Star Trek V as a Klingon.

Honest Picardo:  You admit the truth, and yet you expect him to accept punishment? What does this say of an empire who holds honor so dear?
Honester K’mpec: The empire will not be destroyed for one family’s honor.
Honest Picardo: Unacceptable, K’mpec!
Honester K’mpec: You have no say in this, cha’DIch!
Honest Picardo: I speak now as the captain of the USS Enterprise and Lieutenant Worf’s commanding officer! You will not execute a member of my crew, nor will I turn his brother over to you!
Honester K’mpec:  This is not the Federation, Picard. If you defy an order of the High Council, the alliance with the Federation could fall to dust.
Honest Picardo: The alliance with the Federation is not based on lies, K’mpec. Protect your secrets if you must, but you will not sacrifice these men.

tng18K’mpec is a strained military leader.  He has a serious problem, a complicated political issue he has to solve in order to keep his seat on the ruling council and probably save lives.  He doesn’t want the whole planet going to pot, basically.  He has evidence that one of his buddies on the council helped the Romulans massacre some Klingons on Khitomer, but since they’re so high and mighty, he can’t just put the boots to them. That would pretty much be suicide.  Instead, he blames Worf’s father, who is dead anyway, and Worf is in Starfleet.  Makes sense, right?  I guess that’s The Next Generation’s comment on politicians.  Yay commentary.

tng22K’mpec never counted on Worf hiking all the way home to stand up for his Dad.  Since he was raised by humans, you’d think Worf would be the most detached Klingon ever, but his proud, mixed background was the subject of several episodes of the series.  If I remember right, he had a rather plump mother and his father was a merchant or something, so I’m not sure where he gets his warrior side from.  This episode doesn’t answer that question.  More to the point, it stands Worf up against his Klingon side, making him confront it like an enemy.  He’s treated like a foreigner amongst his own people.  It’s really striking how poorly he’s treated.

I was half-expecting Worf to say “screw this, I’m going home” and take off back for the Enterprise.  What have the Klingons ever done for him?  Why’s he like them so much?  That’s like taking my dog up north to the farm and letting him play with the other dogs.  My dog is a house dog.  He’s not like those farm dogs who run up and down acres of farmland.  My dog doesn’t even like those other dogs.  On the other hand, my dog likes to run and when we let him loose on the farm, he isn’t afraid to go at it.  How’s that for a metaphor, huh?  My dog is like Worf.  He doesn’t exactly fit in, but he’ll still try his best to be a Klingon.  

All in all, I’d say this was a great episode.  It’s held together by great dialogue and some political undertones (overtones?), which make the whole thing deeper and more meaningful.  Tony Todd is perfect as Kurn and Charles Cooper gives a practiced performance as a Klingon jerk leader.  Both of them take it easy and let their mannerisms sell the dialogue.  They both feel like a natural part of the setting, and they don’t need Robert Redford to sell politics and art for them.