Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Guilty Pleasure With Aliens On Star Trek The Next Generation, "The Emissary" Lives Up!

The Good: Acting, Character, Sense of Humor, COSTUMES, Special effects, Plot
The Bad: Nitpicks, minor melodrama moments
The Basics: A great episode, "The Emissary" features Worf and his first love interest in the series. A welcome development.

In a sequence that is, no doubt, intended to be funny in "The Dauphin" (reviewed here!), an earlier second season Star Trek The Next Generation episode, Worf reveals that Klingon mating begins with yelling, then throwing heavy objects at the male. Michael Dorn, who plays Worf, delivers the lines well, but it seems contrived in that episode and the humor falls flat. Enter "The Emissary," where Worf has the chance to illustrate and, in the process, create something much more meaningful.

"The Emissary" finds the Enterprise picking up a small high warp tube that contains a lifeform. That lifeform happens to be Klingon Special Emissary K'Ehleyr. K'Ehleyr is a unique individual (at least until Star Trek: Voyager came along later and tried to capitalize on her popularity with a similar character): half human, half Klingon. As well, it seems she and Worf have a bit of a history. The stoic and conservative Worf fell in love with K'Ehleyr and wanted to be married with her. K'Ehleyr is not the marrying type and they parted ways. Enter K'Ehleyr now, years later, for a dangerous mission. It seems some Klingons were put in suspended animation at the height of Klingon/Federation discord and a ship full of angry Klingons is about to awaken and go on a killing spree. K'Ehleyr's job is to safeguard Federation lives at any cost.

"The Emissary" is probably not a perfect episode. It's a wonderful piece of work and because I have, for years, been blown away by Suzie Plakson's performance as K'Ehleyr. She creates a character that is vibrant, exciting and original. Suzie appeared earlier in the season as the Vulcan Dr. Selar in "The Schizoid Man" (reviewed here!). As a credit to her acting ability she creates distinctly different characters. K'Ehleyr is a character that has depth and backstory and she steals every scene she's in.

The plot works well. The reason for that is that it effectively balances a Worf love story with an interesting tale that has real menace to it. The writers used a plausible technique for allowing hostile Klingons to be utilized with the Klingon sleeper ship. And given the state of Klingon intelligence, there's a legitimate question of how and where the T'Ong will materialize.

Michael Dorn, as well, gives a great acting performance. Here he's given the chance to give range to Worf, who has had a tendency to be underused in the series thus far. Dorn uses more than just his voice here; his talent is revealed in facial expressions, eye movements and subtle body language, especially in the love scene.

"The Emissary" is basically a chance to reveal the sensitive, emotive side to Worf and it works as that. Worf is a character that has always had intrigue and layers. Given the opportunity to see his attempt to love and grow in that way, it's a welcome thing.

This is an episode that is essential to the fan of Klingons or Star Trek The Next Generation. But for people who are not fans of Star Trek? I don't know how much this episode would have to offer, save the easy eye candy of Suzie Plakson as the wonderful K'Ehleyr. Well, for a change, that's enough. Fortunately, this episode backs up the sight with substance.

[Knowing that VHS is essentially a dead medium, it's worth looking into Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Complete Second Season on DVD, which is also a better economical choice than buying the VHS. Read my review of the sophomore season by clicking here!


For other Star Trek episode, season and film reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2008, 2002 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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