Saturday, July 23, 2011

4-07. Reunion

Picard presides over Klingon ritual.
















THE PLOT

A Klingon ship decloaks in the Enterprise's vicinity, bringing two familiar faces to the ship: K'Ehleyr (Suzie Plakson), Worf's old flame, arrives with Worf's illegitimate son in tow. She isn't just there to bring Worf the son he did not know he had, however. She also brings a message from K'mpec (Charles Cooper), the Klingon Chancellor. The old Klingon is aboard the ship, and requests a meeting with Picard.

K'mpec is dying, poisoned by one of the factions vying for the throne after he dies. He has but one request, though it's a big one. Picard is to oversee the dispute to determine who will be the next Klingon Chancellor: Gowron (Robert O'Reilly) or Duras (Patrick Massett), the latter of whom was responsible for Worf's discommendation and an attempt on Picard's life. K'mpec has one additional caveat. He wants Picard to determine which of these two Klingons was responsible for poisoning the old Chancellor.

"The Klingon who kills without showing his face has no honor. He must not lead the Empire. Such a man would be capable of anything... Even war with the Federation!"


CHARACTERS

Capt. Picard: This episode sees Picard as an expert tactician, coldly using the resources at his disposal to keep the Klingons off their guard. He brings in Worf to disclose to both Duras and Gowron details of a bombing on K'mpec's ship. This is not to share information. It's to rattle Duras and Gowron by bringing "the traitor" into the room and forcing them to treat him with respect, while at the same time dangling the Romulan connection in front of Duras in a way that is by no means lost on Gowron. Picard knows his people need time to investigate the explosion, and uses details of antiquated Klingon rituals in order to draw out the ceremony for as long as he possibly can. Gets a memorable scene at the end, in which he lays out for Worf that while he respects the cultures of everyone who serves on his ship, he will not allow individual cultural imperatives to overrule service to Starfleet.

Worf: Shame at his dishonor within the Klingon Empire leads to his initial refusal to claim Alexander as his son. He does not want the boy's name stained the way his has been, he explains to K'Ehleyr. The same concerns lead to his refusal to marry K'Ehleyr, even though he had previously pushed for that very thing. The events of the episode seem to focus him with regard to his discommendation. At the start, he seems to have accepted it as an irrevocable event. At the end, he acknowledges Alexander as his son and tells Picard that he and his brother will someday "convince" the Klingon High Council to reveal the truth.

K'Ehleyr: Though The Emissary was not a very strong episode (save by comparison with the dismal shows surrounding it), K'Ehleyr was an interesting character, and I'm glad the writers saw the value in bringing her back. Her lack of respect for Klingon society continues, bringing her into conflict with Worf when she refuses to raise her son with Klingon traditions. "He is my son, and I am half-human," she tells Worf, "He will find his own way."

Klingons: The corruption in Klingon society, introduced in Sins of the Father, continues to play a part here. The entire story of the episode is sparked by the poisoning of K'mpec - a method of murder that Klingon society considers without honor. Neither Duras nor Gowron behave in a particularly honorable fashion. Gowron, in his first appearance, is painted as practically a sociopath, and his hissed threat to K'Ehleyr has me half-wondering if he will be revealed to be the true poisoner at a later date. Duras, whose lack of honor is already well-known to viewers from his earlier appearance, murders an unarmed civilian, then begs for his life while in an unsurprisingly one-sided duel with Worf. The traditions that are so vital to the Klingons have become window dressing, hollow rituals which are adhered to but whose meanings have been forgotten.


THOUGHTS

With a script credited to four writers and a story credited to yet another four writers, there were a lot of cooks involved in the creation of this particular soup. Fortunately, it doesn't show in the final product, an episode which is likely the best single-part show so far this season.

A sequel to two episodes, Season Two's unremarkable The Emissary and Season Three's excellent Sins of the Father, Reunion manages to weave the various characters from both stories into a coherent whole. The backstory is doled out efficiently in a moody conversation between Picard and the dying K'mpec, a scene which is carried by the excellent performances of Patrick Stewart and Charles Cooper. From there, the tension builds and is maintained throughout. Jonathan Frakes' second episode as director, and the directorial confidence he displays shows why he ended up directing two of the Next Generation movies.

Some elements are not fully tied up. While we are encouraged to suspect Duras is guilty of all of the bad acts mentioned or on display in this episode, K'mpec's poisoning is never really tied to him. Indeed, the only reference of the poisoning after the first fifteen minutes comes from Gowron, making a threat to K'Ehleyr. If this is addressed in a future episode, I'll withdraw the complaint. For now, the vanishing of the poisoning thread is the one thing keeping this from earning full marks.


Overall Rating: 9/10







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