Tony Todd, always a welcome presence on any Star Trek, returns here for his fourth and final appearance as Worf’s brother Kurn. That is reason enough to be pleased by what’s about to go down, even if this time Todd is playing the sort of character I would expect of him, unlike the last time I saw him on Deep Space Nine.
Kurn’s appearances, rare though they are in comparison to other guest stars, always prompt me to think that Worf, proud Klingon that he is, is something of an idealist. He was largely raised outside of the Klingon Empire, so what he knows of Klingon culture comes, for the most part, secondhand. He feels a lot of justifiable pride in his heritage, but his interactions with other Klingons often shows he is largely ignorant of their ways, to say nothing of how often they ultimately disappoint him. It isn’t even that far off to say many Worf-centered plots have to do with whether or not he has his honor in the eyes of other Klingons.
That said, there is something a little bit different about Worf’s current status in the Klingon Empire. Yes, he’s is dishonored for defying Gowron and siding with the Federation over war with the Cardassians, but when Worf accepted loss of honor to save the Empire on The Next Generation, he had only just met Kurn, and Kurn’s status as Worf’s brother was a secret to almost everyone involved. This time around, Worf is doing it out of principal that Gowron was wrong, and Kurn’s status as Worf’s brother is a well-known fact, to the point Kurn has a seat on the Klingon High Council. Or, he did, and here’s where this episode goes the way it goes.
Kurn arrives on the station, and in his personal state of dishonor, he demands Worf perform some ceremony or other that will fix it. Worf, as the older brother, is responsible for the family and the cause of Kurn’s dishonor, so Worf will gladly do it. Granted, it’s a form of murder, and Dax’s realization of that is the only thing that keeps Kurn alive. Sisko is, naturally, furious over this, and while Sisko is accommodating for a lot of cultural differences, he won’t sanction murder for any reason, not even with Dax and (almost) O’Brien taking Worf’s side.
Then again, Kira and O’Brien found the Klingons up to something near Bajor. Sure, they say it’s all above board, but there are a lot of suspicious Klingon cloaked ships over there from the looks of things.
Much of this episode focuses on Worf trying to find a new purpose for Kurn. He almost gets it right by getting Kurn a job with Odo’s security forces, a job that requires a bit of negotiation and a promise of a favor for Odo later. This being Deep Space Nine, I would be very interested in seeing what sort of favor Odo calls in later if he does so at all. Kurn doesn’t last long on the job as he is shot in the line of duty by a nervous smuggler, something that shouldn’t have happened given Kurn’s level of experience as a Klingon warrior. Odo can’t keep a suicidal officer, and Worf does eventually get Kurn to help find out what the Klingons are up to. Kurn disagreed with Gowron’s actions, so looking into what the Klingons are doing, especially if it involves cloaked mines to draw the Federation into war later, would be something Kurn can do without compromising his own sense of honor, and Kurn seems more than happy to be back in a Klingon uniform.
But much of this episode was set to show just how different the two brothers are. Worf’s quarters on the station are no doubt rather spartan compared to everyone else, but Kurn finds it too soft. He frequently berates Worf for his lack of honor due to Worf’s devotion to duty for the Federation. And Kurn, not Worf, manages to take out a Klingon officer because Kurn is the one that recognizes the officer was reaching for a weapon when he found the two brothers searching a computer for information. Kurn is eaten up over killing a Klingon, but Worf realizes he doesn’t fit in as a Klingon. He’s got too many human attitudes on many things, and, as he confesses to Dax, he doesn’t really fit into the Federation either. Worf won’t perform the ceremony again, but Dax does offer a suggestion to help Kurn and Worf at the same time.
By the by, Dax and Worf are a bit flirty in the opening moments here, so…yeah, good for them.
Dax’s solution, with help from Bashir, involves wiping Kurn’s personal memories, doing some DNA alterations, and Worf’s getting a friend of the family from a minor house to adopt Kurn as a son. Kurn would believe he was really one Rodek, and Worf’s honor problems would never affect Kurn again, largely because Kurn no longer exists. Yes, he’ll need to be retaught quite a bit, but he’ll be happier.
The final lines of the episode, where Kurn/Rodek asks Worf if they know each other and what family Worf has famously has Worf declare he has no family. Personally, I wondered why Worf always forgets Alexander, but it was an effective and very Klingon way to end the brothers’ story together. Kurn will be better off. Worf will be lonelier, but that always happens to the poor guy. And Dax, well, she sure is supportive of her new crewmate…