Star Trek: The Next Generation: Heart of Glory   Rewatch 
June 8, 2020 10:37 AM - Season 1, Episode 20 - Subscribe

Klingon renegades visit the Enterprise, forcing Worf to confront the warlike ethos to which they relentlessly kling.

It is a good day to cite a fan wiki:

• Director Rob Bowman noted about this episode, "It was a very late script that [co-executive producer] Maurice Hurley wrote in two days."

• This was Vaughn Armstrong's first appearance on Star Trek, playing Captain Korris, and his only appearance on The Next Generation. He later played an unequaled twelve other roles in various Star Trek series.

• Worf actor Michael Dorn once referred to this episode as somewhat lacking in how it portrayed his character, commenting, "Even that one I must admit was just information. It was an informational show. They were explaining where he came from, why he was there, and whether he was loyal. And that was it. You really didn't see the complexity of Worf."

• The scenes showing Riker and Data through the visual acuity transmitter were filmed with the photo doubles of Jonathan Frakes and Brent Spiner: Richard Sarstedt and Ken Gildin.

• La Forge's VISOR is tied into the Enterprise-D's viewscreen during the away mission, allowing the bridge crew to see what he saw. It wasn't used again until "The Mind's Eye", although Dr. Tolian Soran later used it against the Enterprise-D in Star Trek Generations. The appearance of images varied in each occurrence, so much so that it seems no different than normal visual perception in Generations.

• While in the engine room, Korris says the following: "I would rather die here than let the traitors of Kling pick the meat from my bones." The writer of that line intended for "Kling" to be the name of the Klingon homeworld, but it was later officially changed to "Qo'noS" in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, since it was decided that "Kling" sounded a bit odd. The Star Trek Encyclopedia lists "Kling" as the name of the First City, but this connection isn't considered canon since it was never established in any episode.


"Cowards take hostages, Klingons do not."
- Worf


"The true test of a warrior is not without, it is within."
- Worf


Poster's Log:
Boy, real good thing Remmick wasn't on board for THIS one, what with the manifest failures of the security department.

I'm just gonna cut to the chase here and posit that this franchise didn't really figure out the Klingons until Ronald D. Moore got involved. (We have to wait until midway through season 3 for Moore's first Klingon episode, and the first really essential Worf episode, "Sins of the Father"—though I seem to recall season 2's "A Matter of Honor" being a lot better than this one.) TOS Klingons are just a mishmash of Soviets and Ming the Merciless, and in "Heart of Glory," though we see a lot of steps in the direction of what Klingons would become, they're awkward, hobbling steps—to say nothing of the especially simplistic and reductive Planet of Hats-ism on display here, which more than anything else makes this, in my view, just a poor episode. (See also the Proud Warrior Race TV Trope.) I also shook my head sadly at the fact that Worf's second warrior-death-cry was accompanied by the staggered jump cuts backing up and away a la McBain's big "Men-do-ZAAAAAA!" scene.

Ultimately, the fact that Michael Dorn gets some overdue and much-deserved screen time was just about the only thing I enjoyed here, and that's saying something because I always like to see Vaughn Armstrong. I guess I also appreciated that the Klingon captain is quite reasonable.

TNG newbs: get used to the phenomenon of Klingons showing up and immediately accusing Worf of not being a real Klingon. It's as reliable as the Badmirals. IIRC there's maybe one incidence of that NOT happening when we meet a new Klingon character on this show. It's probably not an overstatement to say that Worf's entire character arc in TNG is him fighting, inside and out, that whole "you're not a real Klingon" thing. It IS done well at times, to be sure—and without it, of course, Worf would never have become a fan favorite character—but it does get tedious now and then. Thankfully, the writers seem to have gotten it largely out of their systems by the time he transfers to Deep Space Nine.

Speaking of getting stuff out of their system, I'm quite glad that the VISOR Video Toaster doesn't get much re-use.

We will meet Worf's foster mom and dad in the season 4 episode "Family", and his foster brother in the season 7 episode "Homeward". We will meet the oft-referenced Talarians in the season 4 episode "Suddenly Human"; their big reveal will, I think, prove underwhelming given the number of references to them.

Aaaaaand we will see the Batris ship model …it looks like eleven more times!?!

Poster's Log, Supplemental:
"Greatest Generation" episode link. They seemed to like it a lot more than I did for whatever reason, which is a little odd because I love Worf.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil (29 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
This is my favorite S1 episode, by far, and one of my favorite TNG episodes, and always has been; I've gone through all of S1 so far (and watched/rewatched a handful of eps from other seasons) during this rewatch, and there are more good ones this season than I previously gave the show credit for, but I haven't changed my mind about this one.

As I said in a comment in the previous episode thread, Worf was kind of neglected by Roddenberry in his concept for the show and its crew*, and that probably was to the character's benefit. We've already discussed how Roddenberry's conception of humans as having worked through all of their major problems not only hobbles the show's writers in their having to fit any sort of conflict into Roddenberry's Box, but also results in a sort of crypto-racism in that only aliens are allowed to have problems. But, because of that, it also makes them easier to write for. And so it is for Worf, who up until now has been a usually-stoic, occasionally-growly minor player who has already shown signs of being subject to The Worf Effect, but otherwise hasn't had a lot of really good character moments. This episode changes all of that. These other guys show up, and... I hate to disagree with CheesesOfBrazil, but even though they really are leaning hard on the Klingon hat, I'm going to maintain that that's really lampshaded, because they're leaning on it so hard, and insist that it's not just the likely cure to whatever species of anomie or malaise that plagues them, but that it could totally work. And it totally couldn't have! There is just no fucking way that they, even with Worf's help, could have not only taken over the whole stardrive section but operated it long enough to scare up a bunch of other would-be rebels. And, even if they managed to do that, somehow, it still would have been a fool's crusade; even though the Khitomer Accords wouldn't be spelled out until Star Trek VI, a few years after this episode, the captain of the Klingon ship that comes after them can't muster up more than a little bit of reflexive nostalgia for the old days. Whether or not "it's bred in the bone," they're not ready or willing to throw down.

The real battle, as Worf puts it, is inside of him, and it's not 100% certain which side he'll come down on, as other characters notice and comment on. Worf has, consistently, through two series (another brief reminder: he's the character with the most appearances in the entire franchise), been an incurable romantic WRT his people and their character, despite (maybe even a little because of) the numerous counterexamples appearing in his life and occasionally trying to kill him. It was almost funny when he became DS9's resident Klingon expert, because that would be like having an expert on the United Kingdom who believed that King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table were real. He has the sort of pure faith in the Klingon way that only a lonely orphan raised in a radically different society could have. One thing that Michael Dorn brought to the character early on was that, when he was listening to Korris and Konmel's (heavily-altered) account of their battle with the other Klingons"Ferengi", his eyes are shining, and Worf will get this look many times in the future, especially when other Klingons are telling their tales of glory. (Also with Jadzia, of course.) And the two duplicitous warriors pick up on this, of course--how could they not?--and use it against him.

But then they collide into the other pillar of Klingon society, which is honor, and the pursuit and maintenance of which is maybe the core of Worf's character. Worf says, "The true test of a warrior is not without, it is within." And, for him, that was most certainly true, growing up in a society that valued peaceful resolution of conflict, and that (as Korris cannily observed) couldn't really understand him, not because Klingons are all that different from humans, but because the mostly peaceful and safe Federation probably doesn't have a lot of orphans. Worf's opponents growing up were his own loneliness, his rage at abandonment, his survivor's guilt, and he seems to have won, but the price of that victory was that he was in service to those principles that he leaned on--the "duty, honor, loyalty" that he cites to Korris--and he would not abandon them as he had been abandoned. No matter how much he may have wanted to. (I don't think that he was ever in any real danger of joining forces with them, but the appeal was still there, nevertheless.) And so, in the end, he's left howling into the void, alone. ...OK, not quite the end, because there remains the Klingon captain's offer, and an oddly jokey coda where Worf reassures Picard that he has no intention of taking the other captain's offer. (Yet.) But still, I loved it.

About the only part of the episode that I didn't really like was their making a big deal of the Geordie's-VISOR-view, since what we see on the screen really is a cheap, cheesy Video Toaster effect instead of the psychedelic spacestravaganza that the bridge crew keep exclaiming over. (Fun fact: Video Toaster was created in part by Brad Carvey, Dana Carvey's brother. A future version was co-developed by Wil Wheaton.) But, otherwise, this episode was great. Vaughn Armstrong knocked it out of the park, and the goldshirt who dies was stunt coordinator and occasional background actor Dennis Madalone.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:02 PM on June 8 [4 favorites]


There's a few cool things about this episode, I like how Geordie just assumed Androids have a visible halo around them and was surprised to find that normal eyes don't see it, and the GeordieVision effect was crude but sort of gets across the idea that his brain is constantly getting barraged with visual information at a much higher resolution and across a much wider spectrum than anyone else.

Also "yelling to warn the afterlife that a warrior is coming" is my favorite defunct Klingon cultural artifact. It doesn't really make a lot of sense for a warrior culture to stop to scream every time someone dies but it sure is fun.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 12:27 PM on June 8 [1 favorite]


I also enjoyed this episode more than I remember, though the first-act seemed like largely a waste, they spend an inordinate amount of time on Geordi's visor-thing, which could have been cut entirely (and would have relieved Patrick Stewart of the obligation to act like Picard's head was exploding with amazement at the fact that Geordi can pick out details amongst a flurry of data). Then we get some more time wasted making it clear that Data is really strong, and at this point I'm thinking "Wait, I thought this was a Worf episode?!?". Finally, after casually noting that the ship's structural integrity has probably less than five minutes left in it, the away team stumbles upon the Klingon survivors and then we cut to Michael Dorn thinking "Hot damn, it *is* a Worf episode!"

There was a lot of talk about blood and bone and the spirit of the hunter between all the Klingons... it was a bit over the top, but still enjoyable, I don't recall so much attempt at poetic dialogue in any previous episode.

Poor Denise Crosby, they really had absolutely zero idea what to do with her, and barely felt like trying. They toss her a bone by giving her a tense scene with the transporter, and after a really bad fake-out from the director/editor, she gets the away team back just before the ship explodes (except it was clearly several seconds after, and they were all dead, but whatever). Crosby does her best to look tense and then relieved, but the rest of the crew never even acknowledges the effort. Boo! Then later, she gets stuck narrating the Klingon prisoner's escape sequence to the bridge ("Captain, we have an emergency hostage situation! Oh, no, nevermind, it's okay now! I'll keep you all updated as events warrant!"). Last, the head of security doesn't even get to take lead on the attempt to bring in the escaped, armed intruder running around the ship.
posted by skewed at 12:28 PM on June 8 [4 favorites]


Something I just realized: I stuck an asterisk in my comment without finishing it below. What I meant to note was that there's a bit in the second volume of The Fifty-Year Mission about how, at the end of the fourth season, there's a continued-next-season cliffhanger episode titled "Redemption" that's all about the Klingon Civil War and Worf being at the center of it, his having previously [redacted], and Gene Roddenberry objected to that, because in his mind Worf was just a minor recurring character... despite his having already been the center of several episodes, most of which tied his characters into the ongoing proto-Game-of-Throne-ish plot arc concerning the Klingon Empire. At that point, Roddenberry wasn't much involved directly in the show any more, and it's also possible if not likely that his deteriorating health had maybe diminished his thought processes, but it's still kind of incredible that Roddenberry had somehow missed all of that.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:21 PM on June 8 [2 favorites]


Since we're putting up links to ST podcasts, I want to put in a plug for Trekabout by mefi's-own Automocar - I really loved their episodes on TOS, TAS, & DS9, and if I'd been able to slog through Voyager or Enterprise I probably would have liked those episodes too, so I'm very happy to be able to finally listen to their TNG journey -- TREKABOUT EPISODE 67: COMING OF AGE/HEART OF GLORY
posted by oh yeah! at 4:39 PM on June 8 [1 favorite]


I like this episode. I like the Klingons in it. The early season Klingon lore was pretty simple, but it was for me fun. RDM came in and while things did get fleshed out, I don't think more was necessarily better, just different. He kept adding more and more cruft, especially in DS9 to the point I lost all interest in his Klingon stuff and look back to episodes like this one with longing.
posted by Fukiyama at 6:15 PM on June 8 [1 favorite]


So one of the reasons Ben and Adam from Greatest Gen liked this one over the others in this season -that like this one were pretty good for season 1 but not great compared to the heights TNG can reach in the future, is that both of them are filmmakers and videographers so they tend to enjoy the middling eps that are shot really well over the middling eps that are shot poorly. I personally really like this ep- though objectively it's like a C+ or B- overall. Moore for sure fleshed out the Klingons more- and as an old Tolkien nerd god help me I love backstory- BUT sometimes teasing is better than an info dump. Dorn really doesn't get enough credit as an actor- and I REALLY hope he shows up as captain of the Enterprise E in ST:Picard's second season.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 6:19 PM on June 8 [1 favorite]


I personally found the doubt of Worf a little distasteful. After all, the Klingon outlaws were just rabble. Dishonourable by all standards, Federation and Klingon.

Also vaguely racist to assume Worf could abandon the ideals that the Federation and Starfleet has instilled in him for some thugs that happened to have evolved from the same starsystem.

Have we ever seen a Klingon not in that specific uniform? Even the Duras sisters' ensemble were based on those core elements. Is there such a thing as Klingon casualwear?
posted by porpoise at 7:55 PM on June 8 [5 favorites]


I’ll be by sometime tomorrow to expound at some probable length.

In the meantime, I was interested by CoB’s dismissal of the overhead pullback shot as hackneyed. The shot in McBain that he references is a satire of a shot very near the end of the hugely successful 1988 LA cop film Colors, starring Sean Penn and Robert Duvall, directed by Dennis Hopper (!) and with cinematography by Haskell Wexler, which was widely praised in reviews of the time.

The shot is easily locatable on YT; I will eschew linking here.

I recall seeing it in context, probably not on theatrical release, but likely on video sometime the next season, and when I watched “Heart of Glory” this weekend I assumed the shot was lifted by TNG from the film.

While this is just barely possible, MA tells us that “Heart of Glory” was first broadcast in March of 1988, while Colors achieved theatrical release the following month.

I’m not quite cine-scholarly enough to know off hand or to track down other instances of this specific shot, but in this case it seems quite likely that TNG was employing it before it acheived iconic and then-overused status.

That by no means invalidates CoB’s reaction to it as overused. But maybe it was not yet overused in March of 1988. McBain’s reference to the shot certainly postdates both this episode and the film.
posted by mwhybark at 10:40 PM on June 8 [1 favorite]


(re: leisurewear: it would seem so)
posted by mwhybark at 10:53 PM on June 8 [1 favorite]


Oh god the worst bit of the 24th century bar the borg is the fucking 80s/90s bus seat fabric/pattern tunics. BARF.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 12:32 AM on June 9 [2 favorites]


The VISOR was an amazing idea in the 80s, but now it almost seems funny that this is supposed to be hundreds of years in the future and poor Geordi is stuck with wraparound shades that only permit him to see the world as a cheesy music video. I don't know if we've really gotten much closer to giving sight to the blind since this show aired, but somehow the VISOR seems pretty antiquated anyhow. As futuristic tech it no longer feels ambitious enough. Now we'd expect a sci-fi story like this to involve much better cybernetic implants or maybe stem cell treatments, and we'd certainly expect sci-fi tech to grant normal vision, or vision better than normal, instead of this mess.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:24 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


I hate to disagree with CheesesOfBrazil, but even though they really are leaning hard on the Klingon hat, I'm going to maintain that that's really lampshaded, because they're leaning on it so hard, and insist that it's not just the likely cure to whatever species of anomie or malaise that plagues them, but that it could totally work. And it totally couldn't have! There is just no fucking way that they, even with Worf's help, could have not only taken over the whole stardrive section but operated it long enough to scare up a bunch of other would-be rebels.

I think you're right about the lampshading to an extent—we can definitely give these writers credit for elevating Worf here, both w/r/t the ensemble and by comparison to these other, more foolhardy Klingons—but thinking back to the various times Starfleet ships have been taken over by fewer than 4 people, and also considering that Korris is able to get far enough to threaten the entire ship single-handedly? (which, implausibly or not, must have been meant to demonstrate how badass Klingons are, if TWO of them can defeat the entire security department)… I'm not so sure that this part of the plan is that ridiculous.

And, even if they managed to do that, somehow, it still would have been a fool's crusade; even though the Khitomer Accords wouldn't be spelled out until Star Trek VI, a few years after this episode, the captain of the Klingon ship that comes after them can't muster up more than a little bit of reflexive nostalgia for the old days.

This is definitely the case, and I kept thinking about it during this episode. Had the dialogue included some more direct "WTF are you guys thinking? what's your actual endgame here?"-type stuff, I'd be more on board with the lampshading argument. We know Dorn can do withering dismissal! Instead, I think found the story so grating because it felt…not fully fleshed-out, I guess, which makes sense given the rushed writing process. (In spite of that, it IS a pretty watchable hour of Trek, with good pacing and fun action. I didn't mention this above, but the director, Rob Bowman, was a big part of The X-Files.)

Along these lines: am I misremembering, or was there an episode where they revived a pre-treaty Klingon crew who wanted to go fuck up the Federation and had to be convinced that the war was over? Or am I conflating some other episode (possibly "The Neutral Zone") with this one? Maybe my disappointment with this episode is because of unconscious expectations of it being better because of that other one, if indeed that other one exists.

While this is just barely possible, MA tells us that “Heart of Glory” was first broadcast in March of 1988, while Colors achieved theatrical release the following month.

Interesting stuff! I didn't know about Colors. And you're right, it wasn't as hackneyed in 1988, but shots very similar to it were. That sort of stuttering-zoom (I'm sure there's a term, but I too am not quite cinephil…iac enough to know it) was common in the '60s, though more often for zooming in to something thrilling (even Kubrick used it in 2001). And it's not even the visual element alone that bugs me, so much as, like, Worf's known these guys for all of an afternoon? And his death cry (while apparently mandatory) is impassioned enough to warrant that visual? Ehh. Would've fit better if it'd been an old friend or comrade. Anyway, kind of a minor detail.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 3:56 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


Along these lines: am I misremembering, or was there an episode where they revived a pre-treaty Klingon crew who wanted to go fuck up the Federation and had to be convinced that the war was over? Or am I conflating some other episode (possibly "The Neutral Zone") with this one? Maybe my disappointment with this episode is because of unconscious expectations of it being better because of that other one, if indeed that other one exists.

You are remembering correctly. That was The Emissary, season 2 episode 20 (so, a full year in the future), the first ST appearance by the delightful Suzie Plaxson.
posted by Mogur at 4:04 AM on June 9 [2 favorites]


Is there such a thing as Klingon casualwear?

Sweatpants have no honor.
posted by Servo5678 at 4:36 AM on June 9 [2 favorites]


thinking back to the various times Starfleet ships have been taken over by fewer than 4 people, and also considering that Korris is able to get far enough to threaten the entire ship single-handedly? (which, implausibly or not, must have been meant to demonstrate how badass Klingons are, if TWO of them can defeat the entire security department)… I'm not so sure that this part of the plan is that ridiculous.

Well, I'd split that up into two parts: one, yes, security on the 1701-D is pretty bad, but two, getting access to critical parts of the ship and running it are two entirely different things. The first part is pretty obvious; although the Klingons as a whole have been allies of the Federation for decades, and the Federation and the parts of the galaxy that it occupies have likewise mostly been at peace (despite the recent war with the Cardassians and skirmishes with the Ferengi), the actions of the security team in apprehending Korris and Konmel are bafflingly bad--they all bunch up together instead of having part of the team flank them from the other side, and there's either no capability for sealing doors so that you wouldn't end up with the potential hostage situation that we saw, or no one thought to use it. Also, no one thought to scan them for weapons, which is how we got the cool scene where all those tubes and decorations on their armor actually did something. (Something else that became apparent was that their armor isn't merely decorative; Konmel took several blasts before falling, which explains why Worf couldn't just stun Korris at the end.) And, in general, there have been some incredible security lapses in this season: the crew showing Lore how to operate the controls on the bridge, not checking Picard's old foot locker in "The Battle", and of course the Bynars.

But, as I said, getting into the ship and getting away with the ship are two different things; the Bynars did it, but they had seemingly full access to the ship's functions (except auto-destruct), and a very limited and specific mission to accomplish. K&K would have been trying to get away with it in an occupied area of space while being chased by ships of two galactic powers (three, if the Romulans took notice); they get in one battle and basically it's all over. Ships may have gotten progressively more automated; Voyager is almost the size of the Constitution-class Enterprise, but crews about 150 vs. 400. The E-D, or even just part of it, would seem to require substantially more. The lax security may have fooled K&K into thinking that they could get away with it, but I think that there was also a whole lot of magical thinking in their calculations.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:06 AM on June 9 [3 favorites]


Is there such a thing as Klingon casualwear?

The captain of the Klingon ship appears to be wearing a cloth version of the Klingon costume. Not quite casual, but softer looking. Also, he has a cool Zoom background for those conference calls with Picard and Worf. The only other Klingon outfits I remember are like robes and hoods that look like they were borrowed from like Ladyhawke or Monty Python and The Holy Grail’s costume department.

The concealed, some-assembly-required weapon was cool, but presumes they were expecting to get arrested, not searched, and put together in the same cell. And what about the third guy? Did he have nothing, a redundant set of parts, different bits? Could there have been a situation where the wrong two Klingons got a cell and couldn’t put together a weapon?
posted by rodlymight at 10:22 AM on June 9 [2 favorites]


Wait, I just remembered that they take some stuff of the dead Klingon. So their plan required that all 3 of them be held together. Not a terrible assumption given what we’ve seen of Starfleet security but you’d think Klingons (who they were presumably expecting to face) would know better.
posted by rodlymight at 10:29 AM on June 9


Shouts to the late great DC Fontana for laying the groundwork for future Trek in this story, as she did so many times in the original series.

The Traitors of Kling would be an awesome band name.
posted by StarkRoads at 12:18 PM on June 9 [2 favorites]


I want to start by restating that I am not a person of color and am not speaking for the viewpoint of any person of color. I will note that much of my interest in thinking about the depiction and meaning of people of color in Star Trek came from a series of conversations with a good friend who is a person of color, a gay ex-marine that I have known for thirty-four years. I have only occasionally discussed these topics with him over time but it was his remarks that catalyzed my interest in thinking about this stuff. I also try to keep in mind the ongoing experience of learning how to discuss this sort of thing in inclusive and respectful language here at MetaFilter. I'm doing my best, but I am sure I will still make mistakes.

As you'll know if you've read through much of my Fanfare stuff, I am adoptee and have a particular and specific interest in looking at adoption as depicted in genre fiction, and this is the first of many TNG episodes that will give me an opportunity to do so in some probable depth.

It seems almost too obvious to state, but I think it's important to keep in mind that Geordi LaForge and Worf – son of Mogh, of the Klingon House of Martok, of the Human family Rozhenko - are played by African American actors and consequently the roles take on a burden of representation and reflection that other primary characters on the show are largely free of. I will return to LaForge in other posts as well, but in general their characters appear to stand at polar ends of a spectrum of caricatured representations of men of African descent in popular American media. Worf is the wild warrior barely acculturated and emanating threat, while LaForge is calm, cultured, civilized - but who sees more deeply than those around him.

The show, and the performers, clearly strive to present these characters as fully-developed protagonists, appealing entities with independence of action and thought, but they do appear to begin in these predefined boxes available to African American performers.

I wanted to start by taking a closer look at the sequence which introduces us to POV via Lieutenant LaForge's VISOR. The script takes the time to really kinda clumsily use exposition to tell us about the device. (My friend upthread's observation about LaForge's blindness years ago was that he was "emasculated", which utterly shocked me. He went on to liken the VISOR to a slave collar, in a moment of inspired hyperbole which no doubt contributed to the memorability of the remarks.)

The in-universe SF intent of the exchange is to introduce us to an interesting new technology and ask us to become narratively invested in how someone who grew up using this or similar technology might interact with it - it's sort of intended as a proxy demo for advanced and alternative UI and data visualization techniques. I mean, when he looks at the impending point of bulkhead failure, Riker observes that what LaForge sees resembles a spectrograph, a heatmap. This is actually a little forward thinking for Trek, although direct sensory UIs has been a concept introduced and explored in written SF since at least the psychedelic seventies. It's a concept that is, as we see here, difficult to represent in film and TV on a budget. Which is why we get all the exposition, I think.

We also already know that the episode was written in a hurry. From my perspective, that's great, because that means the writing and editing team did not take the time to think through some of the implications of what they were writing.

So let's take apart some of what LaForge's dialog and viewpoint tell us about what the writers were doing when they construct him in these scenes. First of all, his VISOR effectively give him a superpower. He can see more than you, than us. He is better able to view and interpret important structural details of the world around him. That visualization is even in brilliant hyperchroma, a psychedelic rainbow that Geordi (forgive me) reads. How does he manage this overwhelming cascade of visual information? Well, he tells us, "I select what I want and then disregard the rest."

Huh. I mean, how else can this be read? LaForge has special powers to see the world differently and in greater detail and he is able to sort it out into meaningful detail versus noise. I hesitate to use the term but the character of the uniquely-gifted person of African descent who sees more and interprets it for those around him has a good-sized body of critical literature.

I guess one other thing I was struck by is his comment regarding selecting what he wants and disregarding the rest. He is not discussing social interaction here, of course, but this reminds me of suggestions that seem to come up in discussions of microaggressions, suggestions I understand to be unhelpful and psychologically costly for the persons experiencing the microaggressions. Had the dialog come from Data, who presumably also has a differentiated optical system, it would not stand out to me in this manner as strongly as it does. So I would tend to see this as a reflection of 1988's values and an example of how we see the show today differently than the creators and audience did at the time.

Alrighty then, on to Worf.

Here, we see possibly his first personal encounter with adult Klingons as an adult, excepting the Q-power-summoned Klingon woman we saw briefly in an earlier episode this season. I think this script, in developing this encounter, was written primarily to explore and develop the inherent dramatic possibilities of what the audience and crew perceive as his potentially split loyalties. However, that's not the primary focus of what I want to pick apart here.

I wondered in a comment last episode if the writer's bible noted that Worf was an adoptee. While the script here does not use the word adoptee or adoption, it would seem that by this point in the show's development his backstory had been in place prior to this episode. Worf is inferentially asked at one point by Konmel how much time he has spent among Klingons and Dorn's line and delivery are a bit odd.

"Hardly --- none." He replies. It's not clear as delivered if the line is intended to convey that Worf began to say "Hardly any" before altering his description to "None" or something more complicated, "Hardly none," dismissively responding to the implication that he has not spent any time among Klingons. Dorn's delivery seems to support the first reading.

The episode does appear to imply that this is the first time Worf has encountered adult Klingons as an adult, but that reading is shown to be incorrect in later episodes. My suspicion is that the episode was written and performed with the concept that this was Worf's first encounter with Klingons.

With that in mind, I am interested in some of the nuances of his behavior. He is immediately anxious to be involved in any interaction with both the group of Klingons on board and with the Klingon captain sent to take them into custody. As HJ observed upthread, Worf's eyes are shining as they recount their recent battle and he immediately engages with them on a basis of combative verbal interaction.

If this were indeed his first encounter with Klingons, he would be undergoing an experience shared with many interethnic adoptees in the US - persons of color, of domestic birth or international origin, adopted by the economically dominant ethnic group in the US, often find the experience of first interacting with people of their birth culture uniquely engaging and challenging. It's not uncommon for the experience to be fraught. In general, initial encounters tend to result in a deepening of self-examination on the adoptee's part and not uncommonly a strengthened embrace of the culture they grew up in. Over time, though, this can change.

The most challenging reunion encounter for any adoptee is when they meet close biological relatives for the first time, and we are some distance from that here. I would say that almost certainly inadvertently this episode does a decent job of heightening and fictionalizing the stakes and experience of an interethnic adoptee's initial encounter with their birth culture.

Thanks for bearing with me, and I hope I have done justice to the topics. I am sure you'll appreciate that I wanted to take my time in constructing this comment.
posted by mwhybark at 3:39 PM on June 9 [10 favorites]


Worf definitely became my favorite in this episode, partly because he seemed to have inner conflict I found interesting. Troi's problems were her mom embarrassing her and romantic confusion. Typical pretty girl issues. Data wanted to be human...eh. Worf, though, had all this mystery, backstory and obvious angst. And a way of telegraphing that the Federation humans could really get on your nerves sometimes and were often clueless and patronizing.

And a damn sexy voice didn't hurt either.
posted by emjaybee at 12:07 AM on June 10 [2 favorites]


alas, this is my last MetaFilter post. I had two comments deleted in other threads in the last 24h. It was a good run, a fine twelve years. But my work here is done, I think.
posted by mwhybark at 3:17 AM on June 10 [2 favorites]


"Hardly --- none." He replies. It's not clear as delivered if the line is intended to convey that Worf began to say "Hardly any" before altering his description to "None" or something more complicated, "Hardly none," dismissively responding to the implication that he has not spent any time among Klingons. Dorn's delivery seems to support the first reading.

Hm, I'd have to rewatch it. I may have been distracted by reading the CC's, but I just dismissed it as a flub, either by Dorn or the screenwriter.

My suspicion is that the episode was written and performed with the concept that this was Worf's first encounter with Klingons.

Seems a safe assumption, even ignoring the "hardly none" line and just considering what we know of his backstory. At minimum, it's likely his first such encounter as a mature adult established in his career.

And the fact that Korris & Kompany are in some ways kind of doofus Klingons may well not have been clear, or as clear, to Worf-now compared with, say, Worf of late DS9.

If this were indeed his first encounter with Klingons, he would be undergoing an experience shared with many interethnic adoptees in the US - persons of color, of domestic birth or international origin, adopted by the economically dominant ethnic group in the US, often find the experience of first interacting with people of their birth culture uniquely engaging and challenging. It's not uncommon for the experience to be fraught. [...] I would say that almost certainly inadvertently this episode does a decent job of heightening and fictionalizing the stakes and experience of an interethnic adoptee's initial encounter with their birth culture.

Kind of wish I'd read this comment before watching "Heart of Glory"! I suspect looking at it from this angle would add some (much-needed IMO) weight and heft to the experience of the episode.

alas, this is my last MetaFilter post.

Ah dang, Mike. Take it easy! Hope to see you around again.

For the foreseeable future, my weekly agenda permits me to do both weekly TNG posts. I think I'll stick to the Monday/Friday schedule for now.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 6:00 AM on June 10 [2 favorites]


alas, this is my last MetaFilter post.

Really appreciated your perspective and passion in these posts. Safe travels.
posted by StarkRoads at 7:39 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]


Just want to reiterate what everyone else is saying — thank you for adding your thoughts to the site and these posts. I’m sorry to see you go, and you will be missed.
posted by Alterscape at 10:27 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]


Whatever is next for you, mwhybark, I hope it's joyful. You will definitely be missed here!
posted by Servo5678 at 10:46 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]


I already miss him.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:36 PM on June 10 [3 favorites]


Sorry to see you go...
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:05 AM on June 13 [1 favorite]


Just want to mention that Kurak, a Klingon scientist, and Ch'Pok, a Klingon lawyer, wear clothing different from Klingon warriors. From TNG and DS9 respectively. Also, K'Ehleyr! I bet House of Quark from DS9 has some examples too...
posted by Mister Cheese at 9:40 PM on June 20 [2 favorites]


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