Star Trek: The Next Generation: Redemption (Part I)   Rewatch 
March 15, 2021 10:04 AM - Season 4, Episode 26 - Subscribe

Picard balances his Federation and Klingon duties as new Klingon Chancellor Gowron faces a civil war. Worf and his brother Kurn fight to regain their father's honor. (Season finale)

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Script and story
  • According to Michael Piller, the "Redemption" story line was initially conceived as the cliffhanger for the third season, but was delayed for a year to make way for "The Best of Both Worlds". (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 175))
  • When considering the two parts of the story, Piller remarked, ""I've come to think of Part One as Shakespearean-style royal drama, I, Claudius-type intrigue at the highest levels." (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 175))
  • Gene Roddenberry initially objected to the premise. Ronald D. Moore recalled, "It was the first time we ever did a war story, even though it was with the Klingons. Gene wasn't a big fan of going in that direction, nor of placing such a big emphasis on Worf. Gene did not feel that Worf was a primary character – the show was about Picard. We had to fight a bit to get there." (Star Trek: The Next Generation 365, p. 217)
Production
  • This episode marks the 100th episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and is also the fourth season finale.
  • Former President Ronald Reagan visited the set during filming of this episode. After being introduced to several actors dressed in full Klingon warrior garb, Reagan was asked what he thought of the Klingons. "I like them," he said. "They remind me of Congress."
  • Brent Spiner and Ronald D. Moore recalled that during this visit, the ailing Gene Roddenberry dropped his cane, and the former President bent down to pick it up. ("Intergalactic Guest Stars – Presidential Visit: Ronald Reagan", TNG Season 5 DVD special feature)
Cast and characters
  • This episode introduces the Duras sisters, Lursa (Barbara March) and B'Etor (Gwynyth Walsh). Ronald D. Moore recalled that the sisters were Michael Piller's idea. (Star Trek: The Next Generation 365, p. 217) The sisters appeared several times during the show's run. They also appeared in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Past Prologue" and were ultimately responsible for the destruction of the USS Enterprise-D in Star Trek Generations.
  • The character of Sela is the daughter of Natasha Yar from the alternate current timeline created in the episode "Yesterday's Enterprise". Sela is played by Denise Crosby, who played Yar in that episode and the first season of TNG. Sela first appeared in "The Mind's Eye" (she was not identified by name in that episode and her face was hidden, only her voice was heard). The character returned in "Redemption II", "Unification I", and "Unification II".
  • Deanna Troi, Beverly Crusher, and Geordi La Forge appear only in Worf's farewell scene, and none have lines in the episode.
Sets, props, and costumes
  • The revealing costumes for the Duras sisters, designed by Robert Blackman, were quickly dubbed "Klingon kleavage" among fans. According to the production staff, neither actress used chest padding. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 169))
  • The chair in Worf's quarters was also seen in the episodes "Peak Performance", "Family", "Reunion", "New Ground", "Cost of Living", "A Fistful of Datas", "Birthright, Part I", "Parallels", "Genesis", and "Firstborn" and was used as the command chair aboard the Tarellian starship in the first season episode "Haven". It was designed by Peter Opsvik.
Continuity
  • Though Guinan mentions her bet with Captain Picard about making Worf laugh before he became a lieutenant commander, she had actually made him laugh in the opening scene of "Yesterday's Enterprise", after she said that there are some women aboard the Enterprise-D who might find him tame. She does, however, specifically mention that she has seen him laugh, and liked it.
  • Gowron states that "women may not serve on the council", but in the same production year we see Chancellor Azetbur in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country who is the daughter of former Chancellor Gorkon. In the chronology of Star Trek, however, Azetbur had been Chancellor almost eighty years before Gowron. Also, Gowron himself had offered K'Ehleyr, both a woman and a half-Human, a seat on the Council for her support. For more on this apparent inconsistency, see Klingon High Council.
  • Footage of the Klingon Bird-of-Prey firing torpedoes and flying towards the viewscreen is reused from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.
  • Worf's departure scene, in which the crew stand to attention on deck as he passes through to the transporter room, is echoed in "Homestead" when Neelix leaves the USS Voyager.
  • This episode features seven characters who later appeared in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Picard, Worf, Gowron, Lursa, B'Etor, Kurn, and Toral.
  • Worf talked about how Gowron is preferable to Toral as the latter becoming Chancellor would mean the end of the Federation-Klingon Alliance. Ironically though, Gowron was the one who ended the Alliance in "The Way of the Warrior", after the Federation condemned the Invasion of Cardassia.
  • Guinan makes a rather prescient statement regarding Alexander when she says "at some point he's going to want to know what it's like to really be a Klingon", something which would be explored later in "Sons and Daughters".
Reception
  • Director Cliff Bole, who didn't direct its fifth season conclusion, comments, "I just wish I knew how it ends. It was the last show of the season, which is probably one of the most difficult show to do. It's like taking 12 kids to camp in a bus, stopping for a pit stop, and then trying to get them all on board the bus. They've just been working their asses off for the better part of eight or nine months, and everybody wants to go home. People think it's all fun-and-games, but it's not. They really bust their asses. By the time you get to the season's end, you're looking for a little rest and to get out. The first show's also a little difficult, just to get everybody back in gear, but it's not as tough. The last one is just trying to keep them together. Everybody likes to work and loves their job, but they want a vacation, and I just have to keep reminding them that it's still two or three days away." ("Cliff Bole – Of Redemption & Unification", The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine issue 17, p. 34–35)
Poster's Log:

During first airings, I never really liked the characterization of Gowron. This rewatch is bringing out some depth that 20-something me missed, especially in watching him balance the information about Khitomer with the current situation.

Carve another notch into the "Guinan's mysterious past" story.

Poor Kurn. He finally gets to proclaim himself Kurn, son of Mogh, after hiding for years as the son of Lorgh but, in just a few years, he'll go back into hiding as Rodek, son of Noggra.

The Birds-of-Prey in this episode seem to move rather ponderously, more like heavy cruisers than the light craft they're portrayed as elsewhere.

Did Doctors Crusher or Pulaski get a send-off like Worf did? How does a lieutenant resigning from the Fleet warrant a significant percentage of the ship's complement (and all its senior officers!) watching him beam away? And, while I know that we shouldn't be comparing fictional military procedures to how we do things now, can any former military folks chime in with what "resigning your commission" looks like in today's military?
posted by hanov3r (21 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Cards of the episode in the Star Trek CCG:
It may not be a surprise that this is a foundational episode for the Klingon affiliation. In Premiere, they got the mainstays Gowron, Kurn, Lursa, and B'Etor, providing support for both Honor and Treachery decks for the red affiliation. There's also K'Tal, Kromm, and Toral. Of course, you need a way for your crew to get around, so there's Gowron's Bortas and Kurn's Hegh'ta to take zipping from mission to mission.

If that's not enough, Toral's half leadership can be complimented by his photoshopped-up ancestor, Ja'Rod. Romulan players can also get in on the action with the dual-personnel Sisters of Duras, providing a big old block of stats for one card play.

Second Edition got a pretty handy dilemma in Temptation, and a bit of Romulan interference support.

It also introduced many of the same characters to 2E: B'Etor, Gowron, K'Tal, Kurn, Lursa, and Toral. They could still use the Hegh'ta from day 1 but the Bortas came a bit later in the 10th Anniversary Collection, which consisted entirely of ship and commander pairs. Oh yeah, Sela's here too.
posted by StarkRoads at 11:47 AM on March 15 [1 favorite]


StarkRoads, I don't think I've said this out loud - thank you for the time and attention you've been taking to link the CCG to the show posts. I never got into the game (burned out on M:tG before the big wave of other CCGs hit), but I'm really interested in how the game designers represented the characters, situations, and ships in the game paradigm, and you do a great job of highlighting that every time.
posted by hanov3r at 11:57 AM on March 15 [8 favorites]


Yeah, during the first time through TNG all the Klingon Honor and Duty stuff was just _exhausting_ and _boring_ and UGH let's go back to Riker horndogging and weird aliens with transparent foreheads and Riker horndogging the weird aliens with transparent foreheads, all right?

But knowing where a lot of those long running threads ended up in DS9? Mmmph. Sometimes I wonder how much of my warm fuzzy feelings about DS9 leans on the stuff that TNG set up. Worf has one of the better written character arcs, from Starfleet's Token Klingon Orphan to the Klingon High Chancellor (if briefly) (spoilers?).

I mean, Space Aunt Mame too, right? That whole story with Odo and Lwaxana retroactively softens her craziness in TNG.
posted by Kyol at 12:44 PM on March 15 [4 favorites]


I need to watch this one to refresh myself, but I want to hit on this while I'm thinking of it:

The Birds-of-Prey in this episode seem to move rather ponderously, more like heavy cruisers than the light craft they're portrayed as elsewhere.

In most every appearance of the Bird of Prey in TNG, they are to my eyes similar in size to ships like the Klingon battle cruiser and the Enterprise itself. I always wondered about this and if it was just due to scaling of the ships not being accurate on TV or if was some kind of continuity error. There had to be some kind of explanation for how a little Bird of Prey with a crew of twelve that was outgunned by the original Enterprise could be even close to a match for the Enterprise-D.

I've read at MA something along the lines that the basic Bird of Prey was in universe scaled up over time so that while it looked the same to its smaller predecessors, the later classes were indeed bigger and more capable. No idea if this kind of explanation was intentional or just a way to explain away earlier slip ups.
posted by Fukiyama at 12:44 PM on March 15


StarkRoads, I don't think I've said this out loud - thank you for the time and attention you've been taking to link the CCG to the show posts.

Thanks very much! I take a lot of inspiration from the work you(and CheesesOfBrazil, and everyone) put into the primary posts and content of these threads. My approach is always evolving, and any feedback is always a boost.
posted by StarkRoads at 1:03 PM on March 15


In most every appearance of the Bird of Prey in TNG, they are to my eyes similar in size to ships like the Klingon battle cruiser and the Enterprise itself.

Yeah, there's a pretty extensive article at Ex Astris Scientia about the scale problems with the Bird of Prey.

I've just recently watched DS9: The Way of the Warrior, and the Birds of Prey in that are about half the size of a D7 and seem much more nimble than seen here.

In conclusion, Klingon starship design is a land of contrasts.
posted by hanov3r at 1:14 PM on March 15 [1 favorite]


After being introduced to several actors dressed in full Klingon warrior garb, Reagan was asked what he thought of the Klingons. "I like them," he said. "They remind me of Congress."

You know, the current Democratic leadership in Congress doesn’t bulge their eyes nearly enough!
posted by Huffy Puffy at 2:41 PM on March 15 [1 favorite]


The great thing about Gowron in this two-parter is that he's clearly a politician, which is a relative rarity among Klingon leaders--there are plenty who care about their reputation, and more than a few schemers (e.g. the Duras family), but few if any who are quite as attuned to public opinion as Gowron; this will actually come up in "Unification", the S5 two-parter that features the return of one of Trek's most popular characters, and of course (per Kyol) be a big factor in DS9 from S4 on. But it's not just about Gowron, of course; it's also about the Duras family, especially poor, hapless Toral barely even pretending to be anything but a figurehead for his ambitious aunts, who in turn are being manipulated by the Romulans, and, of course, Sela, whose own peculiar family history will be revealed next ep. And, of course, Worf cashing in his big brother points. "The Best of Both Worlds" will probably always be the ultimate season-ender cliffhanger episode, but this one really sets a precedent for pulling together long-running plotlines into one big event, again something that DS9 would really shift into a higher gear.

The Birds-of-Prey in this episode seem to move rather ponderously, more like heavy cruisers than the light craft they're portrayed as elsewhere.

This is another excuse for me to push the Bird-of-Prey Haynes Manual, which gives a "standard" version of the BoP while allowing for some wiggle room (mentioning the scaling thing, also the variations in internal layout). I've always favored the smaller ones as fitting a role between fighters and capital ships, maybe more like a frigate or even a corvette. My take on DS9's Defiant was that it was probably the closest that Starfleet would ever come to a BoP.

Did Doctors Crusher or Pulaski get a send-off like Worf did? How does a lieutenant resigning from the Fleet warrant a significant percentage of the ship's complement (and all its senior officers!) watching him beam away?

Aside from the real-world issue (McFadden's one-season firing and the show's general sexism problem, which, given Denise Crosby's reappearances, I assume even the staff had problems with), there's the possibility that, if Worf hadn't come back, they'd want to leave a very good impression with someone who might end up pretty high on the Gowron Administration's hierarchy.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:51 PM on March 15 [3 favorites]


Also, Worf is not just any lieutenant. As the only Klingon in Starfleet, he carries some symbolism of which UFP-types would be proud. I'd guess any time he goes back to Earth, he has to fight off interview requests from Federation News Service reporters.

The fact that basically the entire council immediately sides with Whiny Li'l Toral and his Obviously Malicious Puppetmistresses seems like one of the strongest bits of support for Dax's later assertion (in DS9 season 7) that the Klingon Empire is FUBAR.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 2:59 PM on March 15 [5 favorites]


"You do not lightly ask a Klingon 'who he is wearing'."
posted by traveler_ at 6:03 PM on March 15 [1 favorite]


In retrospect, Kurn was right. Might have had some difficulty following through on the whole sweeping away the old order thing once Lursa and Betor (and Sela and friends) were entrenched, though.

But hey, Worf and Kurn got undiscommendated! I’m sure this is the beginning of a long and beautiful friendship with chancellor Gowron.
posted by rodlymight at 6:47 PM on March 15 [2 favorites]


A brilliantly performed episode in which characters representing different political factions debate their very believable motivations throughout.

But enough about "Half a Life"...
posted by StarkRoads at 8:36 PM on March 15


And, while I know that we shouldn't be comparing fictional military procedures to how we do things now, can any former military folks chime in with what "resigning your commission" looks like in today's military?

The military does like to put a lot of pomp and circumstance into leaving, though most often it's reserved for folks retiring after a long career. I participated in a few retirement ceremonies, but all the ones I was a part of were done off base. It might be different for servicemembers who work somewhere where civilians are welcome. Changing captains on a ship is always a big ceremony, but that doesn't usually follow for anyone below the captain. Sometimes folks got a shout out at all-hands, but I can't recall any situations where someone more junior was leaving the boat for the last time and got this sort of response, they usually go around and say bye to folks before they leave and maybe everyone goes out for beers after hours. Obviously not an option for Worf.

As for why such a big showing for a lieutenant, he IS the only Klingon in Starfleet, and the security chief, so there's probably a lot of people on board who respect him, and he definitely turned down any going away party ideas so this was probably the best way to show that respect.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 9:15 PM on March 15 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile in the writer's room:

A: Okay, so Worf leaving is a whole thing, right? A member of the core cast going off to war, yadda yadda. So we should have a big scene where he says some emotional goodbyes to... to...
A: ... his... his friend?
B: Right, his friend!... his friend, uh...
[uncomfortable silence]
B: Maybe something formal.
posted by phooky at 5:04 AM on March 16 [4 favorites]


I'm still coming to terms with the idea that this is the closest we're probably ever going to get to Worf telling Picard to blow it out his ass. Years and years of being shut down by this blowhard and he's still lecturing him on the way out the door.
--
I enjoyed the half-assed efforts to avoid a civil war when clearly the entire Klingon empire was basically throwing the horns and shouting YES YESSSS CIVIL WAAAAAARRRRRR
posted by phooky at 5:16 AM on March 16 [5 favorites]


The best moment of Picard being told to blow it out his ass has gotta be when Sisko does it in the DS9 series premiere.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 1:56 PM on March 16 [4 favorites]


The best moment of Picard being told to blow it out his ass has gotta be when Sisko does it in the DS9 series premiere.

I think Raffi with her shotgun in PIC: "Maps and Legends" is also waaaay up there.
posted by hanov3r at 2:34 PM on March 16 [3 favorites]


I'm still coming to terms with the idea that this is the closest we're probably ever going to get to Worf telling Picard to blow it out his ass. Years and years of being shut down by this blowhard and he's still lecturing him on the way out the door.

Picard has a weirdly plot functional role in this, he kind of takes on the shape of whatever cup the episode needs for that particular scene

"Worf why are you being all complacent and like being good at your job on the Enterprise, don't you want to go RECLAIM YOUR HONOR and shit idk'

'Worf, you have a conflict of interest, actually I have a conflict of interest lol'

'Well I guess we have to let Worf get blown up to prevent an intergalactic incident, RIP'

'Worf are you sure you don't wanna be complacent and be like all good at your job on the enterprise and stuff instead of RECLAIMING YOUR HONOR and shit idk'

Patrick Stewart is marvelous throughout, of course, but
posted by StarkRoads at 4:34 PM on March 16 [3 favorites]


"Patience a human virtue, one I'm glad you've taken to heart." Oh, gee, take me out of the episode just a few moments after it gets going.

StarkRoads, good work. Now I am totally focused on Picard's inconsistent attitude in this episode. Suggesting to work now's the time to restore his family honor, but bawling him out for using Federation resources to do it. Yeah, Captain, keep talking.
posted by Fukiyama at 2:51 PM on March 17


Oh, gee, take me out of the episode just a few moments after it gets going.

Heh, sorry - usually I'm one of the last ones to watch!
I think a redemptive reading of Picard's inconsistency is possible. Maybe he's truly struggling with his conscience, trying to balance is duty to the Federation and his desire help Worf in...some way. Perhaps his posture changes when he realizes there's a very real chance that he'll be drawing the Federation into a war. Uneasy lies the head and all that.

There's also perhaps a notion that Patrick Stewart was well on his way to being a true star at this point and giving him a juicy part in the season finale was seen as a must, particularly after "Best of Both Worlds". I would not be surprised if there was an earlier draft of the script where other characters got some bits, rather than having 3 of the main cast reduced to walk-ons.
posted by StarkRoads at 5:51 PM on March 17


I made a few comments after January 6th that the Duras supporters claiming their chosen candidate should be the ruler of the Klingon Empire, despite having absolutely no plausible claim to leadership, seemed like more of a plot hole when I first watched this than it does now. Anyway, sure was worth it for Worf to accept discommendation in order to prevent the Klingon Empire from descending into civil war, wasn't it?

I was a little surprised (and mildly disappointed) that Guinan had a standard-issue Starfleet phaser for the target practice with Worf, instead of some oddball weapon she had picked up on her travels.
posted by ckape at 10:14 PM on March 22


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