Plot Synopsis: The Enterprise crew has to deal with a Klingon sleeper ship whose occupants don’t know the Federation and Klingon Empire are at peace. On-board to help them is an emissary, who is one of Worf’s former love interests.
Plot A and B Analysis: The teaser here features the second poker game of TNG. Ahh, love the poker games! Worf wins, and Worf fans should enjoy it, this is the best he will ever do. The Enterprise then receives enigmatic orders to proceed to specific coordinates in space, reason unknown. Plot A involves the emissary and Worf dynamic, plot B is the one with the Klingon ship. They are to meet up with an envoy to brief them on their mission, sent rather mysteriously in a probe that the Enterprise has to catch. Inside is K’Ehleyr, a half-Human/half-Klingon that gives them the scoop: there’s a Klingon warship whose crew has been in cryogenic sleep for 75 years, and they’re about to wake up in Federation space. She’s convinced they can’t be reasoned with and will have to be destroyed but Picard wants other options and assigns Worf to work with her to find them. The only problem is Worf and the lady have some history! The real story of this episode isn’t the Klingons but rather the Worf/K’Ehleyr dynamic, and it’s quite an interesting one. The climax though, with the Klingon warship is really a shining moment for Worf and is excellent.
Favorite Scenes: The poker game scenes are always nice. The whole holodeck sequence is pretty cool: it changes from a workout session to fighting together to just being a couple of Klingon horn dogs! They start reminiscing about a passionate night in their past and Worf decides he wants to marry her. K’Ehleyr insists the night meant nothing, and it’s all very dramatic. The best scene of the episode though takes place at the end, watching Captain Worf do his thing.
Use of Cast/Characters: Wil Wheaton had this episode off. Picard has some things to do but he’s more in the background than usual, and the only telling moments are when he refuses to do the easy thing, destroying the Klingons. The way he handles Worf’s initial reluctance to work with K’Ehleyr is subtle yet pointed at the same time. Riker has very little to do in this episode outside of the poker game, and it’s about the same for Geordi and Pulaski too. Data has a couple of scenes but almost no lines outside of the poker game and the only thing Troi does is have a couple of scenes with K’Ehleyr which point her toward the holodeck. At least she does something useful. This is a really nice episode for Worf, as he gets some much-needed development. Every time Michael Dorn is called on to shine he does. He brings such depth to Worf, such presence, it’s really no wonder he goes from being a part-time character to an integral part of the cast. We learn more about Worf’s past, his values, his cunning as a warrior, and he doesn’t get his butt kicked in this episode! And by the way he resolves the plot, providing Picard with his “other option.” Even Riker gets a pointed remark directed at him, which will raise your eyebrows. It’s all wins! Suzie Plakson as K’Ehleyr wins us over. We like her by the end of the episode for bringing enough acting chops to challenge Dorn’s presence, the two have real chemistry, and she carves out a niche that resonates when we see her later on.
Blu Ray Version: Super clear video this episode, which is nice. Some of the effects have been punched up, such as the skull monster being cut in half in the 25th minute.
Nitpicks: The lighting in the poker game is terrible again. Why isn’t the admiral we meet in the 5th minute wearing a communicator? Also, why isn’t Troi on the bridge when they first encounter the Klingons? Get Marina’s butt on the set, the writers could have her do something! Ugh, Geordi is transferring engineering to the bridge again, which is never cool. The overall hook for this episode seems a bit thin. In the age of warp speed, when has anyone ever been put into a cryo-freeze sleep for an extended period of time? I can’t think of any ‘mission’ that would require it, and certainly not for 75 years.
Overall Impression: The point here seems to be to show how the Next Gen folks would deal with Klingons from the age of Kirk. This episode is one of the better ones from season two. In fact it doesn’t even really feel like a season two episode, it could go in season three without much of a problem. It’s well-paced and 45 minutes slide by before you know it. It’s also a Worf-centered episode and proves to be another success for him, and the Worf/K’Ehleyr thing overshadows the ostensible plot, as I’ve mentioned. I’m not sure what to say about it except that it once again proves how much Klingons rock. I rate this episode 3 out of 5 stars. Enjoy it, as this is the last good episode of the season.
Behind the Scenes/Trivia: This isn’t Suzie Plakson’s first appearance on the show. If you’ll recall she played a Vulcan back in another episode this season. In fact she was invited back because the producers liked her so well back then. Tracy Tormé actually wanted there to be a romance between her Vulcan character, Selar, and Worf but it was overruled when this episode was being written. I’ll let you make up your minds about which was the better choice. The footage of the Klingon battle cruiser is actually from Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Believe it or not the room Worf and K’Ehleyr are seen working together in was supposed to be his office. I don’t think we ever see it again which is good, it was way too cluttered and cramped.
This is also the second and final episode that Anne Ramsay is in; she goes on to star in Mad About You not long after I believe. Here’s an Easter egg: see if you recognize the actor playing the tactical crewman on the bridge in the middle of the episode. He’s Diedrich Bader. According to IMDB it was only the third acting job he’d ever had, but he’ll go on to play Oswald on the popular Drew Carey Show, Lawrence in the movie Office Space, Rex the karate instructor in Napoleon Dynamite as well as several others. One final bit of info: Worf’s son Alexander was born on 43205 (as we learn in New Ground), which is only three months or so after this episode take place. This means not only did they definitely have sex in this episode, but the Klingon gestation period is pretty freaking brief!
Missable/Unmissable? This is an important episode in Worf’s development as a character, and has implications for him for a significant part of the rest of the series as you’ll see. I recommend watching it. The next one not so much.