The Good: Acting, Idea, Characters
The Bad: Comes too late in the series to be useful.
The Basics: When Worf and Alexander are nearly killed, a mysterious figure aids them in discovering who is behind the attack in a decent father/son mystery.
When Worf, the Klingon on Star Trek The Next Generation discovered that he had a son in the episode "Reunion," the producers of the series were committing to the idea that actions in the Star Trek universe had consequences and that some elements of the show would be serialized. It was a great day for the franchise, because too often the series ignored the consequences of actions and decisions, making certain episodes lose realism with how the characters reacted. For example, that Picard never seems to resent Cardassians after having been tortured by them seems a little odd.
Alexander, Worf's son, was an intriguing addition to the life of one of the most interesting characters on Star Trek The Next Generation. He was 1/4 human, 3/4 Klingon, looked like a Klingon and behaved like a spoiled human. As the series wound down, the producers tried to tie up as many loose ends as possible. Alexander was one such loose end. In "Firstborn," he is effectively written out of the series.
"Firstborn" finds the Enterprise visiting a Klingon colony for a festival. On the planet surface, Alexander and Worf watch a Klingon play and Alexander seems to connect - for a change - with his Klingon roots. The two are ambushed and Worf gets them out of the jam with help from a Klingon named K'mtar, who claims to have been sent by Worf's brother to look out for them. The only clue to their assailant is a knife that indicates the son of one of the Duras sisters, two women who have never had children . . .
"Firstborn" is something of a mystery/chase story as the Enterprise spends a lot of time tracking the Duras sisters down (including contacting Quark on Deep Space Nine). What makes it worth watching is the meat of the episode, everything beyond that. K'mtar is a likable character that Worf is immediately suspicious of. Still, K'mtar's sole purpose seems to be to goad Worf into instructing Alexander on how to be a warrior. K'mtar's approach is one that Worf never tried with Alexander, trying to sell Alexander on the necessity and intrigue of being a warrior, a concept that goes over with the boy a great deal better than the "tradition" and "honor" reasons Worf used to spout at him before he accepted that Alexander was not and did not want to become a warrior.
"Firstborn" is one of those rare episodes where all of the guest actors are fantastic. It makes a great deal of sense that this episode would feel rather organic on the acting front as all of the guest stars have been in previous episodes. Brian Bonsall gives perhaps his most mature performance in his final outing as Alexander (the character was recast for his appearance on Star Trek Deep Space Nine). Both Gwynyth Walsh and Barbara March are magnificent as the Duras sisters, as they seem to have become quite comfortable with the roles. And James Sloyan, who had appeared on Star Trek The Next Generation as Romulans and other aliens and - by this time - on Star Trek Deep Space Nine as Dr. Mora Pol, gives a wonderful performance as K'mtar. Being a more mature and experienced actor, Sloyan brings a great deal of weight and emotion to the role and it pays off big.
It is Michael Dorn who manages to bind all of the performances together in his role as Worf. Dorn acts as a mediator between the mature acting of Sloyan and the young, emotive acting of Bonsall. Michael Dorn exhibits an impressive ability to go from doing physical acting (fights and the like) to dialog that is fairly extensive and emotive. "Firstborn" is an excellent example of this actor's ability to shift gears rapidly and still seem realistic.
"Firstborn" is a nice father/son story and it's a refreshing change from the usual Worf/Alexander story where the two are yelling at each other. Even people who are not fans of Star Trek The Next Generation or science fiction in general may enjoy the story on that level. People who are traditionally science fiction fans are likely to enjoy the father/son working together to solve the mystery aspect in the science fiction context.
[Knowing that VHS is essentially a dead medium, it's worth looking into Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Complete Seventh Season on DVD, which is also a better economical choice than buying the VHS. Read my review of the final season by clicking here!
See how this episode stacks up against the other Star Trek episodes, movies and DVD sets with links back to their reviews by clicking here!
© 2011, 2007, 2004 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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