Star Trek: The Next Generation: Reunion   Rewatch 
January 8, 2021 6:17 AM - Season 4, Episode 7 - Subscribe

Picard and Ambassador K'Ehleyr scramble to prevent a Klingon civil war after the chancellor deeply swallows of poisoned kegs, and swiftly is gone, leaving bitter dregs.

We will proceed according to the traditions and the precedents set down in Memory Alpha:

• This is the first Star Trek writing credit for Brannon Braga. Braga referred to working on the teleplay as an "illuminating, exhilarating" experience.

• The episode was also the first writing collaboration between Braga and Ronald D. Moore, who were at the time the two youngest members of the writing staff. Braga noted that the experience "launched a long and fruitful partnership."

• Michael Piller commented, "I killed K'Ehleyr. The original idea was about Worf's kid and bringing K'Ehleyr back, who was having a relationship with Duras. But when we started talking about how to make the story work, I'm the one who said she should die… You wanted to get to a place where Worf was going to take Duras apart, and there's no real good reason for him to do it unless she dies… he had it coming."

• Ron Moore added, "We love Suzie and that character, but it worked because you cared about her and we made an effort not to do it capriciously and for no reason, just to get her off the show so Worf wouldn't have to deal with her. I have pals on the show and they were upset. It took Worf's character in a different direction, which is sort of what we did with 'Sins.' Anybody who watches that episode is moved and outraged by the killing of K'Ehleyr. You're mad and you have that same need for vengeance that Worf does. If we've tapped into those feelings so when Worf goes back to his quarters and grabs that sword and the audience is screaming for Duras' head, then you've done it."

• Director Jonathan Frakes remarked, "Rick's been throwing me nice episodes. Three people got killed, there was murder and revenge. I've been lucky. Suzie was great. A lot of people are sorry she's dead. It's a character that people really loved or hated because she was so big and shameless in her performance. I loved it."

• This episode marks the first appearance of the Vor'cha-class attack cruiser, the first Klingon vessel designed for any of the spin-off series. Due to budget constraints, earlier episodes reused footage or used models of the K't'inga-class battle cruiser or the Klingon Bird-of-Prey built for the movies.

• The episode also marks the first appearance of the iconic Klingon bat'leth. Visual effects supervisor and martial arts expert Dan Curry designed Worf's bat'leth for this episode and worked with Michael Dorn to develop the movements used in wielding the weapon.

• In this episode, K'Ehleyr is offered a seat on the High Council, yet in TNG: "Redemption" and subsequent episodes, it is said that women may not serve on the Council. Concerning the place of women, Ronald D. Moore commented: "I co-wrote both 'Reunion' (in which K'Ehleyr was offered the Council seat) and DS9: 'The House of Quark' (in which Grilka was told she could not serve on the Council because she's a woman). The reason for the change was: a) to service a plot element in 'House of Quark'; and b) to differentiate the Klingons from the UFP and the Romulans. The idea was that the Klingons were a traditionally patriarchal society and that while many elements of that have disappeared over the years, the Council itself was still the province of male warriors. This is not an endorsement of that idea, but rather an attempt to make them *different* than us. For example, their government is not a democracy, but rather an oligarchy ruled by powerful Houses, with an Emperor as head of state and we certainly aren't promoting that either! It's an alien society with alien values and we shouldn't be able to identify with all aspects of their culture. That said, I've always tried to treat Klingon men and women with a great deal of respect and have never tried to show the female warriors of the Empire as any less worthy or respected than their male counterparts. No male Klingon would ever question for even a moment the notion of serving under a woman on a ship, or fighting with them at his side".

"Captain, I must request permission to send another officer."
"May I know your reason?"
"My dishonor among Klingons may offend Ambassador K'Ehleyr."
"Lieutenant, you are a member of this crew and you will not go into hiding whenever a Klingon vessel uncloaks."
"I withdraw my request, sir."
- Worf and Picard

"Not even a bite on the cheek for old time's sake?"
- K'Ehleyr, to Worf

"I don't want to be a warrior."
- Alexander

Poster's Log:
Ronald D. Moore says "Hey, Klingons mature faster, okay?" regarding Alexander's apparent age in this one. For more on that topic, consult this (spoiler-filled) section of the MA page on Alexander.

There's some unintended comedy in here, and not just from Robert O'Reilly's wondrous eyeballs. Alexander is…well, it's a part that not many child actors could have done justice. His reaction to seeing K'Ehleyr dead just seems strange, as if the actor got overwhelmed rather than the character, but they went with the take anyway.

Nevertheless, "Reunion" is a powerful follow-up to "Sins of the Father", and if K'Ehleyr had to die, the way it happens here fits. I find myself getting into the Klingon episodes a bit more than I expected to on this rewatch, and this one is full of fun, cool stuff: K'mpec's attitude, K'Ehleyr investigating, Picard being steely at Klingons, the introduction of the pivotal and beloved recurring character Gowron, and of course, Duras getting his due.

Poster's Log, Supplemental:
The character Alexander returns in seven subsequent TNG episodes and two DS9s. IIRC, Alexander was pretty unpopular back in the early days of the WWW and just prior thereto. Count him among those things that it took DS9 to redeem, like the Ferengi. That said, the character does IMO contribute some good stuff to at least a couple of his TNG appearances; I'm thinking of "Rascals" and "Firstborn" in particular.

Even though my memory of this one was pretty clear, it seems that the remaining Klingon Business episodes of TNG are a bit of a fog for me. The best guess I have of how many Lursa and B'Etor episodes there are, for instance, is "more than one?" So I'm looking forward to this arc continuing.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil (16 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Of course, you know that I'm going to like this episode, as it's another big part of Worf's arc and the overall big Klingon arc that will continue on in this series (and also through much of DS9). But... I do have to look at some of the discussion above among the writing staff about their justifications for killing off K'Ehleyr in light of the Women in Refrigerators trope. [Note: WiR had not been identified as such at the time that this episode had been produced, although I'd started to pick up on it well before then.] Worf could have been spurred on to kill Duras if it had been, say, Kurn who had died, although Kurn will also play a part in the following events in this arc, and we would have been deprived of the excellent DS9 episode "Sons of Mogh." It also would have made for a different family dynamic if Worf hadn't been raising Alexander alone. But, still. (WRT the whole "women can't serve on the Council" thing, I'd note that, in DS9's "House of Quark", Grilka did end up serving as the head of her house; maybe it's the sort of thing that can be allowed via special dispensation of the Chancellor, or something.)

Nevertheless, great ep. The thing where K'mpec's corpse gets zapped with painstiks to prove that he's dead reminds me of some real ritual involving royalty, but I can't quite put my finger on it. (Maybe proving via a mirror held up to the mouth and nose that a pope is deceased?) Robert O'Reilly's first appearance as Gowron is good; it's a reminder to me that Gowron was never really portrayed as a good guy, even though he was preferable to anyone from the House of Duras, of course. And the bat'leth is for my money one of the great distinctive SFF weapons; even though I've heard/read people who are serious about their sword-fighting say that it's not very practical, it looks cool, which is important.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:29 AM on January 8, 2021 [4 favorites]

I had never seen any K'Ehleyr episode before this full watch and I found her totally enchanting every time. A great actress and a great character who I wish they’d kept around.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:16 AM on January 8, 2021 [3 favorites]

On the whole, I enjoyed rewatching this episode. It left me wanting more. Suzie Plakson as K'Ehleyr is the highlight. Yes, they killed off the female love interest. But in life, K'Ehleyr was a powerful character, strong and feminine, which don't have to be mutually exclusive. I enjoyed all the other Klingons as well. Obviously, the writers took the time to worldbuild here (though sometimes it felt like the characters were spelling things out for the audience's sake, ugh). If there is a weakness in this episode, for me its Picard. When he gets into the Klingon stuff, the formality is overone IMO. And I got tired of the cadence the writer's give his little pow-wows with Worf: the Captain being all business and then the little personal discussion. That's fine if it happens once. But Picard and Worf privately chat... three times in the episode. Double-ugh.
posted by Stuka at 9:38 AM on January 8, 2021 [1 favorite]

Nevertheless, great ep. The thing where K'mpec's corpse gets zapped with painstiks to prove that he's dead reminds me of some real ritual involving royalty, but I can't quite put my finger on it.

Are you thinking of the pope? From Wikipedia, "In recent centuries, when a pope was judged to have died, it was reportedly traditional for the cardinal camerlengo to confirm the death ceremonially by gently tapping the pope's head thrice with a silver hammer, calling his birth name each time."

This one is fine. The acting all around is great, especially Suzie. At the end when Worf does his thing and he declares that that Duras killed his mate and the other Klingons forget about their discommendation outrage and accept Worf's claim of vengence, it is a very cool moment.

RDM and Braga's Klingon worldbuilding here works for me because it's covering new ground and not retconning stuff we've seen in earlier episodes.

They should have brought Suzie back for at least one guest shot as Dr. Selar.
posted by Fukiyama at 10:06 AM on January 8, 2021 [5 favorites]

Plakson does come back in an episode of VOY as a Q, aka “Suzie-Q”, and also as an Andorian in ENT.
posted by Halloween Jack at 3:39 PM on January 8, 2021

I was actually looking forward to discussing this episode, because Suzie Plakson!!!! Even though it brings in the supposedly cute but just irritating kid character that infests all shows.

But I'm just blinded with rage at those fucking comments about fridging her I can't even talk. Fuck those guys with a chainsaw. I was pissed off enough about them killing her off, a grudge I've held since freaking 1990, but now I just wish I could take a blowtorch to them. Fucking men in show business, DIAF, all of you. This is why we can't have nice things.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 6:28 PM on January 8, 2021 [2 favorites]

On the one hand, I love that the political intrigue is brought to an abrupt end and Gowron rises to power because Worf killed Duras for unrelated reasons. On the other hand, K'Ehleyr is one of my favorite recurring characters, and I really wish they hadn't killed her off.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 6:34 PM on January 8, 2021 [2 favorites]

Ugh. The whole K'Ehleyr murder was wrong in so many ways that I'm not even going to get into it.

But you know what else boiled my biscuits about this one? Jean-Luc making Worf eat shit at the end of it. Your security officer specifically asked to be recused from this duty due to personal entanglements, you ignored and mocked his request, and then when shit went pear shaped you just dumped on him without taking any responsibility yourself. You're the fucking captain! An ambassador was murdered on your ship on your watch! What were you going to do about it? Worf handled the situation in a way that respected Klingon customs more than you ever could. That's why you wanted him involved in the first place, right? I can not believe I am this pissed off about a thirty-year-old sci-fi serial.

I'm so fucking cheesed I can't even complain about the child actor this week! Maybe there will be another one in the next episode, or Wes will fail upwards, or something. Small pleasures.
posted by phooky at 8:00 PM on January 8, 2021 [6 favorites]

I’m so fucking cheesed I can't even complain about the child actor this week! Maybe there will be another one in the next episode

I have (good?) news for you....
posted by hanov3r at 3:41 PM on January 9, 2021 [3 favorites]

Well, at least we'll never have to worry about the traitorous House of Duras ever again.
posted by ckape at 11:14 PM on January 10, 2021 [6 favorites]

I realized while trying to sleep that the episode never actually establishes who poisoned K'mpec. Presumably it was the same house that blew up the first ceremony, was working with the Romulans, and murdered an ambassador to protect their secret history of treason, but on the other hand Gowron has crazy eyes.
posted by ckape at 6:48 AM on January 11, 2021 [1 favorite]

how many Lursa and B'Etor episodes there are

AFAIK (without looking it up), besides their upcoming initial appearance, they show up on DS9 (unsurprisingly, they have dealings with Garak), and then in Star Trek: Generations, where they have dealings with Soran.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:00 AM on January 11, 2021

If there is a weakness in this episode, for me its Picard.

See, I've always adored him in this. The excitement Patrick Stewart unleashes when there is finally a private moment with the Klingon lieutenant is just delicious. As the consummate diplomat, Picard is eating this intrigue up.
posted by rocketman at 7:57 AM on January 11, 2021

I didn't remember how strong this episode is, it could have been great had they bothered to give K'ehylar a good death, killing off a henchman and putting into motion the disgrace of the Duras clan would have been nice. Anyway, the absence of someone like Plaksin can really be noted as the later seasons struggle to find interesting things to do and say about life in the Federation.
posted by skewed at 8:27 AM on January 11, 2021 [1 favorite]

It's been a heck of a week, but here's the cards of the episode from the Star Trek CCG:

Klingon cards a-plenty! Premiere included Duras, K'Ehleyr, Kle'eg, for personnel, I.K.C. Buruk, I.K.C. Vor'Cha, and I.K.C. Vorn for ships, and Klingon Right of Vengeance if your Klingons ever lost a melee combat for some crazy reason. Kle'eg is functionally identical to Gorath, for whatever reason: same skills, same stats. For whatever reason the Vorn never got a matching commander, but the Buruk got retconned to have Kavok.

In the typical style of the Q-Continuum set, here's the flavorful but not very useful really Klingon Painstik.

In Second Edition's Energize set some Klingon 'interference' cards appear in the form of Ja'chuq and I.K.S. Qam-Chee, as well as a nice draw mechanic on K'mpec, Klingon Supreme Commander. You could round out your Klingon strategy with some event destruction with Sonchi and some extra points to spend on K'Ehleyr, Diplomatic Advisor from Strange New Worlds.
posted by StarkRoads at 12:12 PM on January 11, 2021

A good episode for Trek serialization. Maybe the first episode that solidly feels like a "middle". Follows up on important plot points from before, and doesn't really feel finished by the time it ends. It's pretty obvious that we'll be hearing about all this again, and that's exciting.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 1:29 PM on October 23, 2021

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