I sometimes suspect the most popular title for a quick story in all of genre fiction may be “Sins of the Father”. It just feels like a title I have seen many times in comic books, TV shows, and the like. Well, Star Trek the Next Generation did an episode by that name…and it’s considered one of the best episodes of the entire series. Jimmy and Tom discuss it below.
“Sins of the Father”
Worf learns some unexpected news from a visiting Klingon officer.
jimmy: So Worf has a brother? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Having a horrible memory has it’s disadvantages, but it’s great for rewatching old shows!
tomk: You mean especially for an episode that often makes top ten lists?
jimmy: For sure. I had zero recollection of this one.
tomk: It does suggest something different for this show: an ongoing plot.
And it goes to series MVP Worf.
jimmy: MVP! MVP! MVP!
This was another episode that had an audio commentary. They mentioned how Rick Berman was originally against the continuing storyline aspect. “We don’t do that.”
tomk: And yet, Worf’s honor and how he is often a better Klingon than Klingons who grew up in the Empire is an essential core to the character.
jimmy: It was discussed as well that this episode really laid the groundwork for the Klingons as a people. TOS really did nothing with that, makes sense as they were really just an “enemy of the week” at the time. The movies were more about the physical redesign of the wardrobe and make up. There were bits and pieces exposed in earlier TNG episodes but not a lot. This was really the most in depth view of the Klingons, including a first look at their home world. Ron Moore said that he had to write up a 2 page synopsis of what the Klingons were all about for Michael Pillar, and that a lot of it he just made up.
tomk: Ron Moore? Writing up an alien culture in a nuanced way and not just making them generic bad guys? That seems unlikely.
jimmy: I couldn’t believe it either, but there you go.
tomk: Joking aside, most Trek alien races get, like, one personality trait like logic or greed to define their whole culture and personality. The Klingons, though largely obsessed with honor and war, are the one noteworthy exception. Much of that comes from writers like Ron Moore and the performance and acting choices of Michael Dorn.
jimmy: Worf’s actually being on the bridge crew certainly helps.
tomk: But not the same way it did with Spock. Leonard Nimoy was often brilliant in the role, but I don’t think we got that good a glimpse at Vulcan society.
jimmy: Different times I imagine. “You can’t have a show about the Vulcans. Who is Kirk going to punch or sleep with?”
tomk: Lady Vulcans?
jimmy: He doesn’t have time to wait around for that.
tomk: What? Vulcans breed like rabbits every seven years.
jimmy: Will just have to make sure the Enterprise arrives at just the right time then.
tomk: Or keep some onboard.
jimmy: It was only a five year mission.
tomk: Shatner tended to hog the spotlight.
And sometimes that happened
jimmy: Vulcan love.
tomk: Rule of thumb for original Trek: if Spock is smiling, bad things are happening.
jimmy: Sounds like a Batman rule.
tomk: It usually means Spock is possessed or drugged or something.
jimmy: Or possessed by drugs!
tomk: Addiction is a hell of a thing.
jimmy: Apparently this was two scripts that Ron Moore and his writing partner merged into one. The first was about a Klingon officer coming on board the Enterprise as part of the exchange program, and his turning out to be Worf’s brother. (I think the action-y part was a battle with the Romulans). The second was all the trial and stuff surrounding Worf’s father being accused of being a traitor.
tomk: I think it speaks well of the series that much of this is as much news to us as it is to Worf. His backstory really does have him in a position where he knows very little about his own family and people. Sure, it could be argued Worf could also have been adopted like Kurn by another Klingon family, but for the sake of drama, it really works that Worf learns as we do and STILL has more Klingon honor in him than the entire ruling council.
jimmy: There’s probably something there that scholars would be better to discuss about someone studying and inheriting a culture from afar as opposed to being raised in it.
tomk: It could be simply that Worf, knowing about Klingon culture only secondhand for most of his life, has adapted as best he can.
It does make him, as we have noted before, a lot more idealistic than most other Klingons we meet.
jimmy: And it shows the Klingons as susceptible to corruption and favoritism like other species, even with all their codes of honor. Perhaps making them, don’t tell them I said this, seem more human.
tomk: Oh, it could also be a sign humans are more Klingon. Don’t be a speciesist.
jimmy: I’m not a speciesist, I hate all alien races equally.
tomk: So…really, you’re a human supremacist?
jimmy: All. Races.
The entire universe are jerks.
Except the ones that aren’t.
tomk: I see. You’re really just a good ol’ fashioned misanthrope.
jimmy: If that means sexy Hugh Jackman lookalike, then yes. Yes I am.
tomk: Well, this is taking a weird turn. What did you think of Kurn?
jimmy: I liked him. Tony Todd is always awesome.
tomk: You want a good Klingon? Hire the Candyman.
jimmy: The candyman can.
tomk: He may be the Klingon with bees in his mouth, and when he shouts orders to his crew, bees come out.
jimmy: Better than a robotic Klingon Richard Simmons.
tomk: He tends to explode.
jimmy: So when Riker went to the Klingon ship he had to behave like a Klingon. But Kurn comes to the Enterprise and behaves…like a Klingon.
tomk: Not so. He didn’t murder anybody.
jimmy: And Riker was asking for it.
tomk: And Worf wanted it.
jimmy: Worf always thinks it’s a good day to die.
tomk: Or at least to be held to the same standard as Special Wesley.
jimmy: Wesley wasn’t happy about Kurn being there, but he wasn’t alone.
tomk: Well, Wesley is a notorious Space Racist.
tomk: And Geordi probably hates to work.
jimmy: He has a short attention span if not working with a holographic representation of a female engineer.
tomk: Or sometimes a female subordinate.
jimmy: That’s our Geordi!
tomk: See also, Riker, William T.
But on the subject of stand-up guys, Picard sure is one since he will stand up for Worf.
jimmy: Would you have suspected any different?
tomk: No, but it takes a special man to impress Klingons.
jimmy: Kurn was impressed by Picard’s turkey carving skills.
tomk: Less so by Picard’s choice of caviar.
jimmy: Funny that the smell of caviar is not appealing given what Klingons eat generally.
tomk: It’s no GAGH!
jimmy: I’ve never had either, but I think I’d try caviar first.
tomk: Fish eggs for Jimmy. Got it.
jimmy: Can I just get some of that turkey?
tomk: Have a live turkey. His name is Harold.
jimmy: Great, now I can’t eat him. He has a name.
Speaking of, have we ever seen the crew assemble for a meal like that before? I know the spread seemed to be in Kurn’s honor, but I got the impression this was something routine.
tomk: I don’t think we have. Does the ship have a cafeteria outside of Ten Forward?
jimmy: Given the size, you would think so.
tomk: Still, nice spread for the command crew.
jimmy: I don’t think every meal is like that, like I said, for Kurn’s benefit. But still seemed like they did get together for meals.
tomk: They get together for poker.
jimmy: Except Picard.
tomk: He thinks he’s better than them.
jimmy: Maybe he’s just not good at poker.
tomk: Neither is Data.
tomk: Poker is about feelings and intuition.
jimmy: That sounds just like Data. Oh, wait…
tomk: You want feelings? Go to Kronos. Klingons have plenty.
jimmy: For a species with so much honor…there sure was a lot of subterfuge and deceit from the highest position on down.
tomk: That just goes back to their Original Series roots.
jimmy: So, do as I say not as I do?
tomk: No, just Klingons can be kinda shifty in the name of military tactics and battlefield glory.
tomk: They gotta survive in a universe that includes Romulans, Cardassians, and, let’s say, Moe.
jimmy: He does have that bigger board with a bigger nail in it.
tomk: Kronos is a dangerous place. You can even get shanked by old Klingon ladies. You need a board with a nail in it.
jimmy: She had a hell of an arm for a dead woman.
tomk: She was a ghost?
jimmy: A ghost that isn’t attracted to fat guys.
tomk: A fat shaming ghost? How sad.
jimmy: We’re really learning a lot about the so called honor of these Klingons.
tomk: Well, warriors need to stay in shape.
jimmy: You’d think. And we all put on a few pounds with age, but you’d think a younger overweight Klingon would be the exception to the norm.
tomk: Too much GAGH! The stuff does taste like chocolate pudding.
jimmy: And with as much sugar apparently.
tomk: Only the artificial stuff imported from the Ferengi.
jimmy: They need to keep the real stuff on hand for special occasions like Picard and his caviar.
tomk: Or Geordi and his secret drinking problem.
tomk: It’s a real problem.
jimmy: At least Worf’s father being accused of treason got Kurn off Wesley and Geordi’s back.
tomk: Well, maybe. Who knows what he was doing during commercial breaks?
jimmy: Perhaps. We just didn’t see them complain after that and then Kurn was off ship mostly after that.
tomk: They were having a party. All of them. Chief O’Brien was passed out on the couch.
jimmy: He was passed out on the couch before Kurn showed up by the looks of it.
tomk: Is that some crack about Irish drinking?
jimmy: No, it’s a crack about his not manning the transporter at the beginning.
tomk: Oh. Doesn’t that man deserve a day off?
jimmy: You and your demands for vacation time and fair wages for transporter chiefs.
tomk: They need health care too.
jimmy: Tom, the Starfleet union rep.
tomk: Admiral Burns tried to take away their dental plan, right about the time that Wesley needed braces.
jimmy: Dental plan? Wesley needs braces? Dental plan? Wesley needs braces?
tomk: Klingons, they don’t need braces because they don’t care.
jimmy: They REALLY don’t care.
tomk: When Klingons save face, they oddly enough don’t care so much about their teeth.
jimmy: Today IS a good day to die…but not a good day to go to the dentist.
tomk: They also tend to sit in the dark. Probably lucky Picard didn’t break a toe tripping over something.
jimmy: Picard is too stealthy for that. I mean, look how easily he blended in on the Klingon homeworld by wearing a cloak.
tomk: Cloaks are good for concealment. You probably didn’t notice Jenny in that cloak standing right behind you, giving the Moose a muffin basket.
jimmy: I was wondering where he got that! He didn’t share BTW.
tomk: He’s a growing boy.
jimmy: It was a bit surprising that the Klingons would have a rule that allowed the defendant to chose to give up his Klingon-iness over death. Maybe they figured no one would ever chose that option.
tomk: That would be my guess. Perhaps it would be seen as the act of a coward, or it was an option to allow many Klingons to keep their honor while one takes the blame for everything.
jimmy: I’m sure most Klingons would chose death.
tomk: It’s a wonder any of them reach old age. Particularly since it looks like they can live to be about 150.
jimmy: Agreed. I think we might have touched on this briefly in the episode where Riker was on the Klingon ship and his rival’s father was sitting at home waiting to die a dishonorable death.
tomk: Riker taught that Klingon about the power of friendship.
jimmy: And they taught Riker a Klingon woman would break him.
tomk: He’d probably enjoy that.
tomk: Well, Worf lost his honor so the Klingons as a whole can still have it, Picard trusts his officers, and Durn was kinda awesome just because he was Tony Todd and we don’t need another reason. Anything else to add here?
jimmy: Great episode that I had no recollection of so I was happy that it was “new” to me.
tomk: That’s always nice when the episode is good.
jimmy: And when the episode is not so good?
tomk: It probably has a clean-shaven Riker.
jimmy: Ugh. Let’s never speak of that again.
tomk: How about something else? Like…an imposter on the ship?
jimmy: An imposter? That’s never good.
tomk: Want to find out how bad it can get?
jimmy: I do!
tomk: Then let’s go!