(written from a Production point of view)
|TNG, Episode 7x21|
Production number: 40277-273
First aired: 25 April 1994
|←||172nd of 176 produced in TNG||→|
|←||172nd of 176 released in TNG||→|
|←||319th of 728 released in all||→|
| Teleplay By|
A mysterious family friend and advisor encourages Worf's son Alexander to become a warrior.
Worf rehearses, a little nervously, how he will explain to his son Alexander what it means to be a Klingon warrior. Alexander dashes in, pursued by a friend with a fullerene water balloon. He misses Alexander and hits Worf, who is not amused. However, he continues with his explanation.
He tells Alexander that there are actually two Rite of Ascension ceremonies; Alexander won't be required to pass through the second rite (the one with painstiks) until he is older, but is old enough for the first rite now. His fighting skills and his knowledge of the teachings of Kahless will be tested, and Worf promises to help him. The first step is lighting a kor'tova candle and declaring one's intention to be a Klingon warrior.
Alexander doesn't want to do it, reminding Worf that his mother K'Ehleyr told him he didn't have to do any "Klingon stuff" he didn't want to. Worf agrees that it must be Alexander's choice, and Alexander runs out of the room, declaring that he has no intention of becoming a warrior.
The USS Enterprise-D is supposed to rendezvous with another ship, the USS Kearsarge, but it won't arrive for another four days, so Captain Picard proposes that they visit the Hatarian system where there's an archaeological dig, and stellar dynamics can have access to the sensor array to look at the Vodrey Nebula. Picard notices that Worf looks distracted during the briefing, and Worf explains afterwards about Alexander. Picard suggests that the Enterprise detour to the Klingon outpost on Maranga IV where they'll be celebrating Kot'baval and Alexander can immerse in Klingon culture and folklore; this will also give Stellar Dynamics a chance to see the entire nebula, as the outpost lies on the other side of it.
On Maranga, the festival is in full swing; there is almost a county fair atmosphere, what with the vendors and the banners and the colorful re-enactments of Klingon history. Worf and Alexander watch one such drama, in which the story of how Kahless defeated the traitor Molor is shown. The actor playing Molor issues repeated challenges to bat'leth duels, and audience members are invited to participate. Alexander is caught up in the excitement and accepts a challenge. The actor takes a fall to let Alexander win.
After spending a full day at the festival and even making some friends among the Klingon children at the outpost, Alexander and Worf are about to return to the Enterprise when three husky Klingon warriors appear from the shadows and issue a real challenge. Worf stands up to them, with Alexander at his side, but an older Klingon man comes out of an alley and fires a disruptor at one of the assailants. Worf takes on the other two, shouting to Alexander to run. The older Klingon helps to defeat them and Worf recognizes him as K'mtar, gin'tak or adviser to the House of Mogh.
Back on the Enterprise, K'mtar shows the dagger dropped by one of the assailants. It bears the insignia of the rival House of Duras, indicating that Lursa and B'Etor are behind the attack. They are after the seat on the Klingon High Council now held by Worf's brother Kurn, who has sent K'mtar to protect Worf and his child and put a stop to the sisters' treachery. Commander Riker says the next step will be to track down the sisters.
K'mtar inquires how Alexander is doing as far as his Klingon warrior skills, and Worf says he is not as good as he should be, because he doesn't take time to practice. K'mtar says Kurn is worried about Alexander, too. Kurn's children are all daughters, so Alexander may have to lead the House of Mogh someday. Kurn believes in Worf's ability to teach the boy Klingon ways, but it can't be easy being the only two Klingons on a starship full of Earth people. K'mtar promises to help. Very gently (for a Klingon), he approaches Alexander's bedside and speaks in warm, understanding tones, telling him that learning warrior's skills will help Alexander to feel that not only he, but his father, are safe from harm.
Meanwhile, Riker bribes information out of Quark on Deep Space 9 as to what the Duras sisters are doing and where they are. Quark explains that they were going to buy some mining equipment and dig up magnesite (which actually belongs to the Pakleds) in the Kalla system. When the Enterprise goes there and beams down an away team, they find a lone Dopterian, Gorta, who in exchange for passage off planet tells them that the sisters have already left, taking everything of value with them. The plan had been to sell the ore to a Yridian trader in the Ufandi system.
True to his word, K'mtar comes up with a holodeck simulation different from what Alexander is used to. Instead of just going through the exercises, he proposes a re-enactment of what happened on Marenga. As Alexander goes up against one of the attackers, K'mtar freezes the program at various points to illustrate how Alexander can take advantage of his opponent. Alexander knocks the attacker to the ground but won't kill him. When K'mtar angrily insists, Alexander gets disgusted and runs away.
K'mtar suggests that Alexander be sent to a Klingon school on Ogat. Worf dislikes the idea because Alexander is at home on the Enterprise, but K'mtar says it is almost impossible to learn true Klingon ways under these conditions and that he might have to invoke the ya'nora kor law which can remove a child from unfit parental custody. Outraged, Worf consults Deanna Troi, who says she thinks Worf has done well to expose Alexander to both sides of his heritage. But K'mtar is growing increasingly angry and frustrated with Alexander, who questions traditional Klingon stories and disagrees that it is so vitally important that he become a warrior.
Meanwhile, Riker has tracked down the ore taken by the sisters to the Yridian trader Yog, and buys it from him for half a gram of Anjoran bio-mimetic gel. Riker blows up the ore in space, and discovers a cloaked Bird-of-Prey ship nearby. He has found the sisters, and soon brings them aboard. Telling them he knows the ore was stolen, he confronts them with the assassination attempt and the dagger. They claim to know nothing about it, and Riker asks K'mtar about his other evidence which he claims to be on the homeworld. Riker prepares to set a course and K'mtar leaves to contact Kurn. However, after he leaves B'Etor notices something on the dagger which clearly shocks her and Lursa, upon seeing it, claims that what's she's seeing is impossible. Riker asks what's going on, and B'Etor tells him the crest on the dagger has symbols representing the various members of the family... including Lursa's son. Lursa says she doesn't have a son, but she is expecting a child and only found out a few days previously and told no-one but B'Etor who furiously demands to know where the dagger came from. Based of their reactions and the evidence, it's now clear that the sisters weren't responsible for the assassination attempt, and the officers are left astounded by this mysterious turn of events. Worf decides to go and speak with K'mtar about the origin of the dagger.
Worf immediately goes to ask K'mtar about this and discovers him apparently preparing to kill Alexander. After a brief struggle he throws K'mtar to the ground and prepares to strangle him. But K'mtar cries out that he is Alexander.
Worf demands proof, and K'mtar tells him of how he witnessed the death of K'Ehleyr. "And then you howled in rage, and said 'Look at her. Look upon death, and always remember.' And I always have."
Alexander explains that he has come back as K'mtar from forty years in the future, with the assistance of a man that he met in the Cambra system. Time travel is possible, but risky. Alexander did not want to end his own life, but to change things, to influence his younger self to follow a different path. He explains that he never became a Klingon Warrior, but a diplomat and peacemaker, who sought to put an end to the centuries of struggle between the Great Houses, and declared that the House of Mogh would no longer engage in vengeance or blood feuds. Worf warned him that this was a show of weakness, but Alexander insisted this was the way of the future. Almost immediately thereafter, Alexander witnessed the murder of Worf in the great hall of the Klingon High Council. He thinks that if he had become a warrior, he'd have been able to stand with his father and defeat the assassins. So he came back to persuade his younger self to follow that ancient path, first by staging the assassination attempt on Maranga, then by trying to awaken young Alexander's interest in being just like all the other Klingons, as well as in protecting his father.
Worf says that Alexander has already changed history by coming back in time. Things may not at all happen the way Alexander fears, and when he returns to his own time he may well find Worf alive. Worf explains that he must die with honor, and he cannot do that unless his son is true to himself and his beliefs. This means that Alexander must return to the future and continue to work for peace. Even a Klingon can see that peace is a worthy cause, and Worf believes Alexander has a noble future.
Later, young Alexander is waiting for Worf and K'mtar in the holodeck to begin weapons practice. Worf explains that K'mtar had to leave suddenly, but asked him to say goodbye, and that he will always respect Alexander no matter what he decides to do. Worf, too, has come to respect Alexander, and suggests that they simply spend time together as father and son.
"I love you, father."
"And I you, Alexander."
- - Future Alexander and Worf
"Lursa and B'Etor... big talk, small tips."
- - Quark
"The path of a warrior begins with the first rite of ascension..."
"Is that when they hit you with pain sticks?"
"No, that is the second rite."
- - Worf to Alexander
Story and script
- Mark Kalbfeld's original premise did not involve Alexander at all. Rather, it dealt with a Romulan ship with Federation markings from a future where the Federation and Romulan Star Empire were supposedly at peace. However, both the ship and the future version of Riker on board it would turn out to be hoaxes, part of a plot by the Romulans. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion 2nd ed., p. 292)
- Jeri Taylor recalled, "We had bought that story and he wrote it, but it just seemed a little ordinary so we started messing around with it during one of our brainstorming sessions and then we hit on the idea that Alexander comes back from the future to kill his young self. That seemed wonderful but for a long time that's all we had. We didn't know why he did this." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 303)
- The notion of using Alexander in a time travel plot had originated with an unused premise created by Joe Menosky earlier in the season. Menosky had proposed a story where Alexander accidentally fell into a time portal and permanently aged into a bitter twenty-five year-old. Michael Piller hated the idea, commenting that "I think it's a hideous thing to steal somebody's youth from them." (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion 2nd ed., p. 292; Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 303) Although not used here, that plot would eventually be recycled into DS9: "Time's Orphan". (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, pp. 577-579)
- The Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 292) notes the finished episode's plot is similar to both TAS: "Yesteryear" and the science fiction film Back to the Future.
- Originally, René Echevarria wanted to include K'Ehleyr as Alexander's rescuer at the end of the story. While Suzie Plakson was interested in reprising her character, she declined due to other acting commitments. Echevarria noted, "The truth is, it was a blessing. There was enough exposition to explain at the end of the show as it is!" (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion 2nd ed., p. 292) Piller noted, "I know Rick breathed a sigh of relief because he did not like the idea in the first place. But for better or worse, that might have helped the episode." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 303)
Cast and characters
- Armin Shimerman makes his first appearance as Quark on another Star Trek series. He later appeared in the Star Trek: Voyager pilot "Caretaker" and in a scene cut from Star Trek: Insurrection.
- This episode marks the final appearances of Alexander Rozhenko (Brian Bonsall), Lursa (Barbara March) and B'Etor (Gwynyth Walsh) on the series. The Duras sisters were previously seen in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Past Prologue". They later appeared in Star Trek Generations. Alexander is later seen in Deep Space Nine's sixth season, although he is played by Marc Worden.
- Joel Swetow had previously appeared in Deep Space Nine's pilot episode "Emissary" as Gul Jasad.
- Prior to this episode, James Sloyan appeared as Alidar Jarok in "The Defector" and in Deep Space Nine as Mora Pol in "The Alternate", a role he would reprise in "The Begotten". He also played Doctor Ma'Bor Jetrel in VOY: "Jetrel".
- Rick Berman and Michael Piller were hesitant to cast Sloyan as K'Mtar, coming as it did so soon after his first appearance as Doctor Mora Pol in DS9: "The Alternate". However, Jeri Taylor convinced them that the Klingon makeup would hide this fact. She recalled, "I finally went to Michael and said, 'Look – we can take a lesser actor in this part or we can cast the actor who should be cast.'" (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion 2nd ed., p. 292)
- Originally, the two actors playing in the Kot'baval Festival grunted their lines on stage. After filming, it was decided to make the Klingon opera more lyrical. Composer Dennis McCarthy provided the new melody, and both actors were good enough singers to reloop their lines to accompany it. Producer Wendy Neuss recalled, "It was one of our biggest jobs all year – figuring out what the on-camera instruments would sound like, breaking down all the syllables, figuring where the offstage line would be." (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion 2nd ed., p. 293)
- First UK airdate: 29 May 1996
Sets and props
- The chair in Worf's quarters was also seen in the episodes "Peak Performance", "Family", "Reunion", "Redemption", "New Ground", "Cost of Living", "A Fistful of Datas", "Birthright, Part I", "Parallels", and "Genesis" and was used as the command chair aboard the Tarellian starship in the first season episode "Haven". It was designed by Peter Opsvik. 
- Worf's quarters also feature the Kahless and Morath statue, previously seen in the episodes "Peak Performance", "Reunion", "New Ground", "Cost of Living", and "Genesis" and the Kahless shrine from the episode "Rightful Heir".
- Writer Ronald D. Moore, who is well-known for his Klingon episodes, praised Echevarria's different take on the major race. He remarked, "The stuff he did sixth season in "Birthright" and then what he did with them here is very interesting. Worf and Alexander celebrate at a Klingon outpost and they have this sort of mock opera singing, heroic fights and re-enactments of things in the streets and banners and this was a whole different cultural flavor to these guys that I hadn't thought of. My take on the Klingons was sort of more Shakespearean with the House of Mogh and that kind of stuff, and the rise and fall of political players. René brings in a much different element which I think serves them well." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 303)
- On the events of this episode, Michael Dorn opined, "We don't really know what happens now. Just that the future is uncertain. It's just like real life, but Worf is still a terrible father. He hasn't got a clue." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 303)
- Michael Piller commented, "I fell in love with the idea of 'Firstborn' in which we address the psychological implications of a man who feels a failure, who comes back to his own youth to destroy himself at a young age, in order to avoid the pain that he had caused and suffered. There is a tremendous science-fiction premise in that. And if you have been in on any of my therapy, you know that I've dealt with this on a number of different levels." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 303)
- In the novel A Time for War, A Time for Peace, when Worf recommends Alexander to replace him as Federation Ambassador to the Klingon Empire, Worf tells Alexander that when he was young, Worf received a vision of Alexander's future and that it showed him to be an ambassador and excelling as such. Worf does not tell Alexander the source of his vision, but it is stated in the novel that Worf is clearly thinking of the visit from the future Alexander he is referring to as seen in this episode.
- This episode was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Hairstyling for a Series.
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 87, 5 September 1994.
- As part of the TNG Season 7 DVD collection.
Links and references
- LeVar Burton as Lt. Cmdr. Geordi La Forge
- Michael Dorn as Lieutenant Worf
- Gates McFadden as Dr. Beverly Crusher
- Marina Sirtis as Counselor Deanna Troi
- Brent Spiner as Lt. Commander Data
- James Sloyan as K'mtar
- Brian Bonsall as Alexander Rozhenko
- Gwynyth Walsh as B'Etor
- Barbara March as Lursa
- Joel Swetow as Yog
- Colin Mitchell as Gorta
- David Keith Anderson as Armstrong
- Steve Blalock as Klingon assassin
- Chuck Borden as Klingon assassin
- Carl David Burks as Russell
- Cullen Chambers as command division officer
- Tracee Lee Cocco as Jae
- Debra Dilley as command division ensign
- Gunnel Eriksson as science division officer
- Jasmine Gagnier as Deep Space 9 operations division officer
- Keith Gearhart as operations division ensign
- Thomas Griep as Klingon musician
- Dennis Madalone as holographic Klingon warrior
- Lorine Mendell as Diana Giddings
- Michael Moorehead as science division ensign
- Tom Morga as Klingon assassin
- Pauline Olsen as operations division ensign
- Suzie Plakson as K'Ehleyr (still picture)
- Keith Rayve as civilian
- Joyce Robinson as Gates
- Unknown performers as
- David Keith Anderson - stand-in for LeVar Burton
- Carl David Burks - stand-in for Brent Spiner
- Michael Echols - stand-in for Michael Dorn
- Nora Leonhardt - stand-in for Marina Sirtis
- Lorine Mendell - stand-in for Gates McFadden
- Christopher Ogden - photo double for Brian Bonsall
- Richard Sarstedt - stand-in for Jonathan Frakes
- Dennis Tracy - stand-in for Patrick Stewart
Age of Ascension; Anjoran bio-mimetic gel; Bar'el; bilitrium; Cambra system; Corvallen; d'k tahg; dabo; darsek; Deep Space 9; Dopterian; Federation; gin'tak; Hatarian system; Hitora colony; holoprogram; House of Duras; K'Nor; Kahless the Unforgettable; Kalla system; Kalla III; Kearsarge, USS; Klingon; Klingon Civil War; Klingon Empire; Klingon military academy; ko'tal; Kot'baval Festival; kor'tova candle; Kurn; latinum; magnesite; Maranga IV; Maranga system; mining; Molor; Morath; Ogat; Pakled; Qo'noS; Quark's; Rom; Stellar Dynamics; Ufandi III; Vodrey Nebula; Ya'nora kor; Yridian; Yridian starship
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