Monday, February 28, 2011

Worf Gets His Day In "Sins Of the Father!"

The Good: Excellent character development, Good recovery of a stale plot device, Excellent acting
The Bad: Hammy overdramatic moments
The Basics: In the episode that will define Worf's presence and character for over a year, "Sins Of The Father" puts the Enterprise at the Klingon Homeworld to defend Worf's family's honor.

One of the reasons I far prefer Star Trek Deep Space Nine to Star Trek: The Next Generation is that Star Trek Deep Space Nine is a serialized show, which means you have to keep up with the episodes as things that happen this week will affect how the characters are next week. It comes across as more organic and as more adult than episodic television as one must commit to it. In addition, things have consequences. One of the few characters to have a partial serialized plot on Star Trek The Next Generation is Worf; perhaps that's why he fit in so well on Star Trek Deep Space Nine.

Following up on the second season episode "A Matter Of Honor" (reviewed here!), the Enterprise receives Kurn, a Klingon officer who takes over as first officer as part of an exchange program. He begins to ride the crew hard, with the notable exception of Worf. When Worf confronts Kurn, the first officer reveals that he is Worf's younger brother and the purpose of his presence on board it to learn what kind of man Worf is. It seems their father has been charged with conspiring with the Romulans at Khitomer, the station that was destroyed where the child Worf was rescued from. Worf and The Enterprise go to the Klingon Homeworld to answer these charges against Worf's dead father. There they meet K'Mpek, the leader of the Klingon Empire, and Duras, a member of the High Council who has a supreme distaste for the songs of Mogh (Worf and Kurn).

"Sins Of The Father" immerses the viewer in Klingon law and culture such that it almost gets the viewer feeling like they are an exchange student. After years of obscure rituals, as we saw in the second season that Worf would share with Dr. Pulaski, Klingon culture is here being codified and law and tradition are being carefully cultivated. The level of work that went into figuring out the whole Klingon psyche is impressive.

But what makes this episode work as well as it does is that it chooses a great character to play the "long lost brother" card on. Data's demented sibling Lore made for a disappointing "Datalore" (reviewed here!). Here, the entire brotherly aspect is glossed over in favor of examining the legal obligations Worf has in the matter of his father's alleged conspiracy.

And the episode works because of Michael Dorn and Tony Todd. Dorn and Todd play Worf and Kurn, respectively, with an otherworldly detachment that defines the Klingon presence on screen. Instead of feeling like we are watching two men playing aliens, we become captivated with the performances at such a level that it feels like we are watching two aliens. Indeed, we are watching two Klingons, these two actors so convincingly create something unique with their performances.

It's a good thing, too. The episode rests on Worf and Kurn. It's refreshing that they chose to give Worf a continuing storyline and this episode has the most profound consequences his character will endure. It also goes a long way toward establishing the character; Worf develops from a pointless Klingon bridge officer in the series' first season to a vital member of the crew with a unique and compelling arc that will grant him a season finale in the fourth season. That's a huge leap.

But those who are not fans of Star Trek The Next Generation need not fear; this is near the beginning of Worf's arc. This is still accessible to those who haven't been watching. "Sins Of The Father," however, is your last chance to get on the boat. After this, well, there's too much that alludes back to this episode. Fortunately, it's well worth the trip.

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


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

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

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