Friday, June 3, 2011

Attack Of The Klingons, "Redemption" At The End Of A Great Season!

The Good: Excellent character development, Nice plot development, Great acting, Special effects, Ending
The Bad: Obvious setups
The Basics: Worf has his day in a season finale that opens the door to the collapse of peace within the Klingon Empire.

One of the aspects of change Star Trek The Next Generation underwent near the middle of its run was to make the series somewhat more serialized. If you've followed many of my reviews, you'll know I'm a big fan of serialized television; shows that build on themselves from episode to episode, so you need to tune in each week. Serialized shows tend to have the most realistic character development because they emphasize the consequences of actions, rather than simply having things happen week to week without continuity. Star Trek Deep Space Nine was built on the premise that it would be serialized and it probably would not have been successful had Star Trek The Next Generation experimented with it beforehand. "Redemption" is one of the episodes in the Klingon arc that has been threaded throughout the series.

Following Gowron's ascension to Chancellor of the Klingon High Council when Worf killed Duras in "Reunion," the discommendated Klingon aboard the Enterprise is given the chance to redeem his honor when Gowron actually is installed as leader of all Klingons. Gowron, politically savvy as ever, refuses Worf's request when he first approaches him. However, when Duras' sisters, Lursa and B'Etor, arrive to challenge Gowron for leadership of the Empire, Worf and his brother, Kurn rescue the Chancellor. When Picard, mediating a legal dispute brought about by the Duras sisters, rules in favor of Gowron, Duras's illegitimate son, Toral, splits the Klingon Empire in two and begins a Civil War. Caught between the demands of his StarFleet duties and his Klingon heritage, Worf must choose whose side he is on . . .

"Redemption" works on a good number of levels. The first, most significant, aspect is that it picks up one of the most compelling plot aspects to occur within the fourth season. Back in "Reunion" (reviewed here!), the matter of the death of the leader of the Klingon High Council introduced the potential of destabilizing the Empire. Here, we see the consequences of that potential. Even though Duras is dead, a new threat from his family appears to raise and execute the specters thwarted in "Reunion."

Perhaps more important, this is a wonderful opportunity to expand the character of Worf. Even though the episode is focused on Worf's reintegration to Klingon society, his essential humanism is explored. In one scene, Guinan alludes to Alexander, the first mention of Worf's son since "Reunion." "Redemption" is very much about consequences and Worf deals with the consequences of both his StarFleet duties and his personal choice to aid the Klingon Empire. This episode executes very well the conflict within him and makes it interesting to the viewer.

As much, Picard is forced to deal with his awkward role in Klingon society. He has balanced his roles as Arbiter of Succession and as Worf's cha'dich with his StarFleet duties and here his conflict of roles comes to a head. It's a nice bit of closure for this aspect of his character. From this point on, he has no official role in Klingon society.

And as far as characters go, this episode is very good for introducing some real great ones. Gowron, barely a cameo in "Reunion," becomes a viable, interesting Klingon in "Redemption." The Duras sisters are cunning and manipulative and they are an intriguing change to what we've seen of other Klingons in the past. And despite what cynics might say, they are far more than the outfits they wear. Toral, the illegitimate son of Duras, is also a worthwhile addition to the "Star Trek" universe.

The acting here is quite good. Michael Dorn provides a wonderful, compelling and anguished performance of Worf. As Worf struggles, Dorn increases the tautness of his face and he uses his eyes a great deal more. Indeed, Dorn's use of body language conveys almost as much as his tone of voice when delivering his lines and in "Redemption," he seems to be playing that up.

The only real flaw with "Redemption" is that it is quite obviously a setup episode. The episode is a series of setups. In the teaser, we instantly get the impression that Worf's discommendation is going to come to an end and the episode does that. Gowron's delayed installation is suggested fairly immediately as is a civil war and both of those things come to pass. Being a season finale, as well, this episode has the distinct feeling of being a setup for the next season and, indeed, it is a cliffhanger.

On the plus side, despite feeling continually like we are being set up for something else, "Redemption" delivers on every front and it doesn't feel so much like predictability as it does like foreshadowing and the last moments of the episode cement the idea of consequences in the "Star Trek" universe and the need to face them.

Fans of Star Trek The Next Generation will enjoy the number of loose ends tied up in this episode as well as the intriguing new aspects introduced here. Those who are not fans of the series may easily enjoy "Redemption," but are likely to be confused by the backstory as it does not explain the important specifics alluded to in the process of moving forward the continued plot.

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


For other Star Trek episode or movie reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2007 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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