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By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at December 12, 2008 - 11:26 PM GMT

See Also: 'Reunion' Episode Guide

Plot Summary: Worf's onetime lover, the half-human, half-Kllingon ambassador K'Ehleyr, hails Picard with an urgent request and comes aboard the Enterprise with her young son Alexander. K'Ehleyr then drops two bombshells: that Worf is the child's father, and that dying Klingon leader K'mpec wants Picard to moderate the struggle to choose his successor. K'mpec is dying of a slow poison and hopes that Picard can discover which of the two candidates is responsible - the ambitious Gowron, or Duras, whose family dishonor led to Worf's discommendation from the Klingon High Council. Before Picard can complete the Rite of Succession, an explosion kills several guests at K'mpec's wake, including men from both Duras's and Gowron's delegations. To stall for time, K'Ehleyr suggests that Picard invoke the Ja'chuq, a lengthy listing of a candidate's battles and victories. When K'Ehleyr agrees to become Worf's mate, only to learn that he does not wish for her and her child to suffer his discommendation, she begins to investigate what happened the last time the Enterprise visited the Klingon homeworld. She is also offered a bribe by Gowron to help curry favor with Picard, but Worf remains adamant that no matter Gowron's flaws, the traitorous Duras must not lead the Empire. LaForge and Data discover that the bomb used a Romulan detonator, which makes Worf even more suspicious of Duras because of the deal his father secretly made with the Romulans at Khitomer. Once K'Ehleyr uncovers the conspiracy that led to Worf's discommendation, she confronts Duras and tells him her suspicions about his current deception. When Worf finds her bruised and bleeding, she tells him that Duras was her attacker before dying. Worf transports to Duras's ship and demands the right of vengeance, killing Duras even though Duras could clear Worf's father's name of crimes at Khitomer. When Worf returns to the Enterprise, he acknowledges Alexander as his son but tells the boy that he will be happier raised by Worf's adoptive human parents, the Rozhenkos. Picard sympathizes with Worf's continuing desire to clear his family's name but gives him a reprimand for leaving the ship to kill Duras against Starfleet regulations.

Analysis: I know that "Reunion" is a very popular episode, particularly among Klingon aficionados, and there's a lot to appreciate about it, from strong performances to a deeper look at Klingon culture, not to mention plenty of action - my own sons enjoyed it a lot. But I really dislike the way the most interesting Klingon woman we've ever seen is dispatched quickly and horribly off-camera, leaving the double implication that she underestimated her opponent and couldn't defend herself. It always aggravates me when a woman shows up in a series to provide a child for a major character, then is killed off, giving him instant parenthood and an excuse to storm around and be moody; Star Trek certainly isn't the only franchise to have done it, but it puts a really bad taste in my mouth, and Picard's easy dismissal of Worf's violation of Starfleet law on a personal vendetta isn't that easy to swallow either. Sure, we know Duras did it, just as we're pretty sure that the over-the-top villainous Duras is the traitor who killed K'mpec, but there's no trial here, with the implication that settling the matter by bat'leth is acceptable and logical just because the Klingons think so. What if the Klingons thought removing LaForge's head by bat'leth was an acceptable response to his revelation that one of them had used a Romulan detonator? Picard should have come down much harder on Worf.

Really, the core story of "Reunion" is a lot like the previous week's "Legacy": two alien factions involve the Enterprise in their impending civil war, with one Enterprise crewmember having a major emotional investment in the outcome, and one side engaging in a brutal betrayal that the audience can spot before the crew does. "Reunion" is a more interesting episode to watch because we get to learn a bit more about the Klingon code that's been hinted at since the original series, but in the end, both stories hinge on viewers' feelings for a dead woman and what we believe pays proper tribute to her memory. Personally, I prefer Ishara's betrayal to Worf's decision to unleash his inner warrior and use Klingon biology as an excuse to throw away his upbringing among humans. Sure, he's due an explosion - he accepted discommendation for Duras, he can't acknowledge his son or take the oath of marriage with K'Ehleyr because of Duras, and finally he is left with the understanding that Duras has killed the woman he loves. But Worf doesn't know (indeed, we are not explicitly told) whether Duras killed K'mpec, which is the ostensible reason for the Enterprise's involvement in the Klingon succession. Committing murder neither honors the memory of a woman trying to raise her son outside brutal Klingon laws of honor nor guarantees that the Klingon succession will be fair or in the interests of the Federation.

Where's the Worf who didn't even know Klingon mourning traditions from a few years ago? Is he basing his actions on what he guesses he can get away with from books? Does he think a woman like K'Ehleyr secretly wants a tough-guy brute even though she claims precisely the opposite? She considers tradition, duty and honor to be Klingon excuses for their behavior rather than long-cherished values; she wants Worf to acknowledge his son without trying to force a warrior code upon him. As K'Ehleyr tells Worf, she isn't just half-human, she's also consciously choosing to reject those aspects of Klingon society that she finds antiquated or backward...and considering that Klingon society this generation seems more patriarchal than Klingon society from Kang and Mara's era, my sympathies are with her. Should she have told Worf that he had a child? Probably, but she's absolutely right that he would have demanded to take the oath and have her raise his son as a Klingon. Ironically, he ends up choosing for his son the same upbringing that he had, by loving human parents - a path more likely to lead to Starfleet than a position of leadership among the Klingons, just as K'Ehleyr almost certainly would have preferred.

My favorite scene in "Reunion" is actually one that doesn't involve any of the regular cast, but a character who will take on an increasingly important role in this series and Deep Space Nine. I'd forgotten that our very first impression of Gowron was as someone almost as corrupt as Duras, trying to bribe K'Ehleyr, who's having none of it, not only because she's vowed neutrality but because the promise of a seat on the Klingon High Council doesn't impress her in the least. She says he talks like a Ferengi - my thought was that he talks like the current governor of Illinois on the surveillance tapes that got him arrested. Though Gowron seems sincerely shocked and repulsed when Data reveals that a Romulan detonator killed Klingons, we can't really know how far he might have gone to sieze power for himself had Duras not set in motion his own destruction. Too bad K'Ehleyr wasn't left alive to face down the Duras sisters and their bratty boy.

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Michelle Erica Green is a former news writer for TrekToday. An archive of her reviews can be found at The Little Review.

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