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TNG 4-26

TNG 4x26

Original airdate: 6/17/1991
Rewatch date: 3/3/2012

Picard returns to the Klingon High Council to coronate Gowron and offer Worf a chance to regain his family name. However, the Duras family and the Romulans are intent on starting a civil war.

Spoiler-free notes:

Worf has Yar's spiky weapon from "Code of Honor" in his quarters, visible practically from the opening shot of the episode. I'm sure this isn't meant to remind us of anything.

Picard convincing Worf to do something about his discommendation is awesome. "Doesn't this situation require a more Klingon response? Your discommendation is a façade to protect less honorable men. It is a lie. Lies must be challenged."

Klingon civil war?! Me likes the sound of that! Seriously, the political intrigue gets stronger and stronger, and this episode marks another leap forward in that direction. It takes ideas that have been building for some time, like Klingons working with Romulans to undermine the alliance with the Federation, and expands upon them, giving the audience a glimpse of how stories can evolve in this new, multi-episode paradigm. As with the hints of the Borg that started in "The Neutral Zone" (an episode that also planted the seeds for this story arc), we are being shown that little hints and clues scattered throughout the show can actually be requited later on. This is the kind of stuff that gets the fanboy in me really happy (more about this at the end).

If women are not allowed to sit on the council, as Gowron claims, how was he able to offer a seat to K'Ehleyr back in "Reunion"? Come to think of it, isn't there a female High Chancellor in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country?

Gowron is easily one of my favorite Klingons (although not my favorite, which is a tie between Worf and someone we haven't met yet). I don't know if it's the severe way he delivers his dialogue, his wild eyes and crazy smile, or the way he's written as being simultaneosly ambiguous, dangerous, and honorable, but there's just something special about Gowron that makes him a great character.

Another great Guinan scene. "Guess I could come down to that level for awhile." I'm really glad she brings up Alexander, because the fact that Worf has a son shouldn't be swept aside. However, as a nitpick, Guinan has already made Worf laugh, in "Yesterday's Enterprise."

Just as it's good to be reminded of Alexander, it's good they bring back Kurn. All the various aspects of Worf's ongoing story are coming together for this one.

What's the deal with Kurn's bowl of sand? I like to think it's Mogh's ashes, but there's no real reason to believe that.

At the High Council, how come Picard--the only human--is the only character speaking Klingon?

Ah, Klingon cleavage.

Man, that shadowy Romulan woman sounds familiar. Where do I know her from? Oh yes, from just a couple of episodes ago, in "The Mind's Eye." I'm sure that's all it is. There's no way she'd be anybody else, because that would be a mind-blowing twist.

Yar's spiky weapon reappears in Lursa and B'Etor's room. It's a bonafide motif.

"You have manipulated the circumstances with the skill of a Romulan. My decision will be announced at high sun tomorrow. Excellent tea." Picard is so cool.

This episode plays out like a good chess match. Moves, counter-moves, gambits, people thinking three or four moves ahead... Such good writing, and a reminder of what Picard once said about the Romulans.

Wait... is that Yar?! Wha?!! What a twist! Such an amazing cliffhanger. It's reminiscent of the previous season's, "Best of Both Worlds," in that it involves one character potentially leaving the show and a previous crewmember apparently transformed into an enemy.

I remember, after watching "The Mind's Eye" with my brother, that we convinced ourselves that the shadowy Romulan from that episode was, in fact, Yar, but at the same time, we thought it was crazy. We spent hours theorizing how it could be possible--how it could work--and we considered that it might have something to do with the events of "Yesterday's Enterprise." However, that didn't seem to make sense, as Yar would wind up being many years older and there's no reason she would work with the Romulans. We were unable to fully put the pieces together, but we had an incredible amount of fun trying to puzzle it out. Not only was this a formative moment for me, informing how I continue to watch TV today (and why I love Lost so much), but it is also an important evolution in the development of Star Trek. By this point, the stories have gotten deep and intertwined enough to allow for an insane twist like this one, and they've grown into something that can be appreciated on a whole new level.

Final Thoughts: Season 4

Best episodes: "Reunion," "Clues," "The Drumhead."

Worst episode: "Qpid."

The fourth season is a natural extension of the third. It unabashedly delves deeper and deeper into its characters, allowing them to become dynamic as events transform them. The writers are informed by episodes past and future, and the actors are given more opportunities to push themselves into unexpected places. Still, the show doesn't completely foresake its episodic roots, and some of the season's best episodes, like "Clues," are stories that stand pretty much alone. This season shines as the strongest character-driven season thus far, but it's not without its missteps. Much of the show's sci-fi, action, and adventure are put on the backburner for large swaths of the season, and there are a few episodes, like "The Loss," "Night Terrors," and "In Theory," that are snoozers that rely on dumb science. Still, the price is worth it, because the show continues to mature and grow into exciting new territory, as exemplified by the enormous--almost epic--story being told in "Redemption."

TNG 4x25
"In Theory"
Star Trek: The Next Generation
TNG 5x01
"Redemption II"
Copyright 2012 e. magill. All rights reserved.