Tuesday, June 7, 2011

"Redemption, Part 2:" War Among The Warriors

The Good: Character, Pace, Acting, Special effects
The Bad: Obvious plot resolutions
The Basics: Picking up where the season finale left off, "Redemption, Part 2" begins a more serialized season with a series of important plot and character developments.

When the fourth season of Star Trek The Next Generation ended, Worf had left to go join the Klingons and the Klingon Empire had degenerated into a Romulan-inspired Civil War. This left a rather compelling cliffhanger and a lot for the series to resolve right away. Indeed, trying to top the previous season's "The Best of Both Worlds" cliffhanger, "Redemption, Part 1" (reviewed here!) gave it a run for its money by setting up more threads, if not better threads.

"Redemption, Part 2" does what it needs to in resolving the various plots. The Klingon Civil War is a huge obstacle to overcome and it takes most of the episode. Worf's participation in that gives us an anchor; it provides us with someone to watch that we actually care about. As Worf debates between his StarFleet sensibilities and his Klingon heritage, the mysterious Romulan figure introduced as the end of the first part is encountered by the Enterprise and explored. As Picard engineers a Federation blockade of the Romulan/Klingon border, a new thread is created which is Data taking command of a ship in the blockade. As Worf fights for Gowron and the legitimate Klingon government, the Romulan-led insurgency threatens to destabilize the Quadrant. And Data is put in command of a starship that might be all that can stand between hope and failure.

With all of the different threads, the last choice seems an odd one for the writers and producers to pursue. The conflict between Data and his first officer, Commander Hobson, seems somewhat forced and tacked on, as if the episode fell about five minutes short and they needed to add something to it. However, fans of the series, at the beginning of this season which is more serialized than the show has been, will appreciate Data's first command experience and the results of his place in the blockade will be alluded to again.

The genuine problem with Hobson and Data is that it seems like it ought to be old news. Data is such a well-defined character by this point in the series that the viewer often needs a reminder that he is an android. As a result, he is put in situations where he might take a piece of his equipment out of his arm to cause a distraction or have his head detached or such, but here we're reminded of his lack of humanity by a simple anti-racism message. It's pretty tired for the Star Trek universe as established. This is supposed to be a colorblind future where people are judged on their merits, yet Hobson uses some of the oldest rhetoric in the book. That said, it's a very short portion of the episode, which is why it has a somewhat tacked on feel.

The explanation of the mysterious Romulan is dealt with as well as it could be. Harkening to the events of "Yesterday's Enterprise" (reviewed here!), the new Romulan Commander makes an auspicious entrance and her arrival makes for a good story and ultimately works. Commander Sela is the logical consequence of the convoluted time-travel episode and it's the best idea that the writers could come up with if they were going to use that storyline. Fortunately, the machinations of the genesis of the Romulan commander are not belabored and instead the episode simply uses her. She is an intriguing character.

Worf's character is challenged the greatest here and as he experiences the Klingon Civil War, he grows by a strange integration of his initial characterization with his experiences over the prior four years. That is, Worf comes to acknowledge that he is an outsider and accept it better than he did while he was discommendated. So, rather than simply tie up the loose ends, this episode nicely progresses the Worf character. Worf actually grows! That's the best we may hope for from television and it also sets Worf up as a more serialized character (things in his character arc tend to have consequences).

The acting in "Redemption, Part 2" is a nice use of the talents of those involved. Tony Todd plays Kurn, Worf's brother, far more aggressively than in the first part and it works quite well, creating a vital character through harsher tones and more physical acting. Todd wonderfully contrasts Dorn's cooler, more depressed and conflicted portrayal of Worf.

Barbara March and Gwynyth Walsh create memorable characters of Lursa and B'Etor, which is probably they continue to return to the Star Trek universe. Even more compelling is the portrayal by Denise Crosby of Sela. Crosby makes Sela an interesting villain and creates a coolly hostile character distinctly different from her first season character Tasha Yar.

This episode is an essential part of the Worf character story and the plot is integral to the Klingon and Romulan plots that are developed in the future. "Redemption, Part 2," however, is almost impossible to view without the first part and is almost entirely inaccessible to those who are not fans of Star Trek The Next Generation. This is very insular, alluding to specific events in the Star Trek universe and the characters that have not been explored in the two parter but are essential to understanding why the characters do what they do.

Featuring a cameo by Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg), "Redemption, Part II" compellingly opens the fifth season with an exploration of consequences and the nature of being an outsider among ones own people.

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


For other Star Trek episode and movie reviews, please be sure to check out my index page on the subject by clicking here!

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

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