(written from a Production point of view)
Captain Picard is selected to arbitrate the selection of a new Chancellor for the Klingon Empire and, in doing so, find out who dishonorably murdered the old Chancellor. Also involved is Ambassador K'Ehleyr, who has a surprise for Worf: their son.
While investigating a radiation anomaly in the Gamma Arigulon system, the USS Enterprise-D is approached by a Klingon starship of the Vor'cha-class. When Picard hails the ship, he is answered by Ambassador K'Ehleyr. Worf acknowledges her when she greets him. She asks to come aboard to talk about an "urgent matter". Picard assigns Worf to greet her, who does so even though he is reluctant due to his discommendation with the Klingon Empire. In the transporter room, Worf is surprised to learn from transporter chief Hubbell that two will be beamed aboard. He is further surprised when he sees the second person beaming on board with K'Ehleyr: a child. Worf immediately realizes that the young boy must be his son.
K'Ehleyr leaves her son, Alexander, in the ship's school to play with other children. She is nervous because he has not had much contact yet with other children. She knows about Worf's discommendation, and is somewhat disheartened by his attitude. Worf doesn't know what to say to Alexander yet, and shies away from K'Ehleyr at this point.
K'Ehleyr reveals that the Klingon Empire is indeed near civil war. Chancellor K'mpec is near death, and two factions are challenging for leadership. If it is not handled correctly, the resultant civil war will eventually drag in the Federation. Picard agrees to meet with K'mpec on board his battle cruiser.
Aboard the cruiser, the aging chancellor reveals to Picard that he has been poisoned with small doses of Veridium Six for some months now, and there is no cure. Picard is thunderstruck when K'mpec also informs him that he has appointed Picard his Arbiter of Succession, to mediate the power struggle following K'mpec's death, without Picard's consent. Picard protests that a Federation officer has no business presiding over a Klingon power struggle. K'mpec says that the Arbiter's traditional role is to designate the two strongest claimants to the leadership, who will fight each other for the succession - but in this case, there are only two challengers already. K'mpec says he wants Picard to investigate and discover which of them is responsible for murdering him, a job he cannot entrust to anyone within the Empire. On hearing the names of the two candidates - Gowron and Duras - as K'mpec predicted, Picard's interest is piqued: Duras had stripped Worf of his honor to protect his own family's name, and attempted to have Picard assassinated.
K'mpec urges Picard that a Klingon who kills dishonorably with poison must not lead the Empire; such a man might be capable of anything, even initiating war with the Federation. Picard accepts the commission, and K'mpec raises his glass of (presumably poisoned) wine to him and takes one final drink.
- "Captain's Log, supplemental: K'mpec, who ruled the Klingon Empire longer than anyone in history, is dead. We await the arrival of Duras and Gowron, rivals for leadership of the High Council."
Worf finally meets with Alexander, and is troubled that the two-year-old child shows no interest in becoming a warrior – likely the influence of his non-traditional mother. He speaks about this to K'Ehleyr in her quarters. She explains that she didn't reveal Alexander's existence because she knew Worf would have insisted that he take the oath of marriage with her.
Worf has always wanted to marry K'Ehleyr, but cannot acknowledge that Alexander is his son, as to do so would confer the dishonor Worf bears upon his discommendation onto Alexander and his children, should he have any. K'Ehleyr expresses disbelief that Worf would agree to his dishonor so easily after challenging the accusations.
Duras and Gowron arrive in their Birds-of-Prey, the Vorn and the Buruk. Duras contacts the Enterprise and scorns K'mpec's choice of Picard as Arbiter. Picard, who knows full well what Duras is capable of, is in no mood to be polite. He brusquely announces that the Sonchi ceremony, to formally mark K'mpec's passing, will take place in one hour. Duras bristles at the appearance of Worf on the bridge and warns Picard to keep Worf far from the proceedings.
Privately in his ready room, Picard sympathizes with Worf in his discomfort with Duras. Worf says that Duras should not lead the Council, as he is a traitor for what his father, Ja'rod, did at Khitomer. Picard has a Human sensibility about this, however, as he says he cannot blame the child for what the father has done. Duras' true crime was laying the blame for the betrayal at Worf's father's feet. Worf did choose to accept the consequences, however. Picard reveals to Worf that K'mpec asked Picard to investigate who killed him. Worf knows little of Gowron, a relative neophyte in political affairs, but knows Duras well, and "his heart is not Klingon."
At the Sonchi ceremony aboard K'mpec's ship, Gowron and Duras arrive with their aides. Picard, followed by each of the challengers, stands before K'mpec's body, says "Qab jIH ngil," ("Face me if you dare") and jabs the corpse with a painstik. While Picard does so with veiled detestation and Gowron simply does so as a matter of due process, Duras seems to relish his turn. Finally K'Ehleyr steps in front of the corpse and says, "Sonchi" ("He is dead").
Duras urges Picard to complete the Rite of Succession, since there are only two challengers, but Picard insists he will proceed according to Klingon law, which Gowron questions his qualifications to interpret. As they argue about it, a bomb explodes.
K'Ehleyr reports to Worf on the explosion and realizes Worf is genuinely concerned about her safety. Worf claims it is his duty, but K'Ehleyr remembers Worf saying he'll never be complete without her. She realizes now that the feeling is mutual. Taking her face in his hand, Worf mutters "jIH dok!" ("My blood!") K'Ehleyr replies with the same gesture, and says "Maj dok..." ("Our blood"). This is the beginning of the marriage oath; however, Worf stops, saying he does not wish either K'Ehleyr or Alexander to suffer his humiliation. K'Ehleyr tries to persuade him that his humiliation will not harm either of them, but Worf is insistent. K'Ehleyr suggests that Worf be Alexander's friend, if not his father. Worf smiles and nods.
Dr. Crusher is still studying the remains of the men who were killed; Picard needs a way to stretch out the proceedings in order that Dr. Crusher might complete her work. K'Ehleyr suggests the ja'chuq, a an old ceremonial recitation of honors and accomplishments which takes hours, if not days, to perform correctly. K'Ehleyr asks Picard about Worf's discommendation out of personal interest; Picard says he cannot discuss it. K'Ehleyr prepares to do some digging of her own.
In the observation lounge, Duras is impatient to set a new Council leader (preferably himself) so he can kill Gowron, while Gowron, in more typical Klingon fashion, relishes the prospect of killing his adversary; the two bicker (rather childishly) and almost come to blows until Picard silences them with a sharp "mev yap!" ("Enough!"). He announces that they will begin the ja'chuq - a move which surprises Gowron and angers Duras. However, over their protests, he reminds them that it is his prerogative as Arbiter to choose any style he likes for the Rite of Succession, and he wants to observe ancient tradition. Meanwhile, Alexander is visiting Worf, who introduces him to the proper way to hold a traditional bat'leth.
K'Ehleyr is approached by Gowron and asked if she can speed up the ja'chuq. He offers her a seat on the Council, and mentions opportunities that may show themselves... only, K'Ehleyr notes, if Gowron is elected. She sneeringly compares Gowron's posturing to that of a Ferengi. Gowron makes a seemingly veiled threat, mentioning K'mpec, but K'Ehleyr says "K'mpec was old and weak – I am not!" Gowron smiles and leaves the room.
In the conference lounge, K'Ehleyr and Worf suggest that the bomb could only be planted with the help of one of the Klingons. At this point, both challengers are suspect; K'Ehleyr mentions Gowron's suspicious conversation with her earlier, but Worf continues to insist that Duras is their man. Surprised, K'Ehleyr asks for an explanation, but Worf and Picard insist they cannot reveal details, much to her annoyance. At Picard's request, Worf reluctantly will be at the next meeting with the two candidates; Picard hopes they might slip up and reveal a sensitive item of interest.
Meanwhile, K'Ehleyr begins her independent research into the Enterprise's last mission to Qo'noS, which saw Worf's discommendation.
Gowron announces the conclusion of his part of the ja'chuq with a hearty "jIH DOQ... batlh!" ("I claim the honor!") and bows to Picard. Picard calls a recess while the petitions of both are reviewed; Gowron accepts this and stands up, perhaps to return to his ship, but Picard wants to discuss the findings of the bomb investigation. He calls in Worf to reveal the Enterprise's results. As expected his presence rattles both Duras and Gowron; with great relish at his effect on them, Worf reads out the results as reported by La Forge and Data. Gowron replies politely to Worf's inquiries, but Duras attempts to dismiss the investigation prematurely. At the mention of the molecular-decay detonator - a signature Romulan device - Duras jumps up and claims he needs to verify that, and Gowron says he will do the same, with a glare of absolute death at Duras.
K'Ehleyr's investigations proceed into ever more dangerous territory as she hacks into the Klingon Imperial information network, using her own information to login and requesting High Council access. When she hits a block on her search about the Khitomer Massacre, she goes to Duras' records to try to find a clue.
One of Duras' aides shows Duras a message from Qo'noS about K'Ehleyr's attempts to get more information about him and his connection to Khitomer. Duras slips off to K'Ehleyr's quarters. A brief, heated discussion follows; K'Ehleyr has discovered that Duras framed Worf's father, Mogh, as the traitor at Khitomer, when it was really Duras's father, Ja'rod. (TNG: "Sins of the Father") For K'Ehleyr, that is also enough to finger Duras as the latest Klingon selling out his people to the Romulans.
Meanwhile, Dr. Crusher reports her findings in her office to Riker: only two Klingons were killed in the bomb blast, one was one of Duras's aides, the other Gowron's. Crusher was confounded by the location of the bomb, until she examined one of the dead Klingon's injuries more closely and realized that the bomb was implanted in the man's forearm. The suicide bomber, she concludes, was Duras' aide.
Worf, having shown Alexander a bit more about Klingon fighting techniques, brings him back to K'Ehleyr's quarters only to find blood everywhere and K'Ehleyr herself sprawled on an ottoman. Worf signals a medical emergency and cradles K'Ehleyr; He says "Gowron?", but she shakes her head; he says "Duras", she nods and whispers "Alexander!" She reaches for the child's hand, puts it over Worf's, covers it with her own and dies. Worf howls as part of the death ritual; Alexander runs away. "You have never seen death," Worf says; Alexander shakes his head, and Worf points to K'Ehleyr's body and says "Then look... and always remember." Dr. Crusher and Martinez come in and scan K'Ehleyr's body; Dr. Crusher begins to ask when Worf found K'Ehleyr, but he is already out the door, having instructed Alexander to stay with Crusher.
In his quarters, Worf removes his sash, as well as his combadge and takes his bat'leth down from the wall; he's on a mission. In K'Ehleyr's quarters, Picard and Riker watch grimly as her lifeless body is wheeled out, and Riker tries paging Worf, but the computer reveals that Worf has beamed onto the Vorn.
Worf, with cold fury in his gait and eyes, stalks through the light onto the council room of the Vorn, led by one of Duras's aides. Duras demands to know what "that" is doing on his ship, and the aide states, "He has claimed the right of vengeance!" Duras makes the ceremonial gesture of ostracism, but Worf coldly and deliberately states "K'Ehleyr... was my mate!" Startled, Duras commands one of his lieutenants to hand him his sword. Meanwhile, Riker and Data are on their way to the transporter room, discussing what measures may be necessary to bring Worf back.
A vicious fight takes place. When they lock blades, Duras reminds Worf that if Duras dies, the truth will die with him and Worf will be branded a traitor forever. Worf shoots back, "Then that is how it shall be!" Seeing he has no way to survive except to win in combat, Duras knocks Worf back with a kick to his midsection, then lunges. But Worf parries the thrust and knocks Duras onto his back with the flat edge of his bat'leth. Just as Riker and Data burst in and Riker yells for Worf to stop, Worf plunges an end of his bat'leth into Duras' chest for the fatal blow.
The Klingon ships depart, their business with the Enterprise, for the moment, concluded. Worf is held to account in Picard's ready room. Worf says that he has acted properly and legally under Klingon law, but Picard tells Worf that while the Klingons do indeed consider the matter closed, he cannot. He reminds Worf that when people join Starfleet, they agree to abide by the laws of the Federation, including the one against murder, and if their culture and beliefs prevent them from doing so, they should resign.
Picard asks Worf if he wishes to resign. After a tense pause, Worf says he does not. Picard, softening his tone somewhat, sympathizes with Worf's loss, and notes that Worf has been an exemplary officer to this point, and Picard is extremely disappointed in him. Picard informs him that a formal reprimand will appear on Worf's service record.
As Worf is dismissed, Picard asks him if it is time to speak the truth about what really happened at Khitomer; with Duras dead, he asks, what is the point of keeping his family's secret? Worf says that it is not time yet, as the High Council is not ready to acknowledge its own shameful behavior in assisting Duras's cover-up. But the day will come when he and his brother will confront them and let the truth be known.
Worf tells Alexander the Enterprise will be going to Starbase 73 where Alexander will be sent to live with Worf's adoptive Human parents, Sergey and Helena Rozhenko, on Earth, where he will receive the family life Worf feels he cannot provide for him on the ship. He says "I miss her, too." Alexander asks, "Are you my father?" Worf says, "Yes. I am your father." The two hug, and the Enterprise moves on.
"Lieutenant, you are a member of this crew and you will not go into hiding whenever a Klingon vessel uncloaks."
"I withdraw my request, sir."
- - Picard, when Worf asks him to not be the officer welcoming K'Ehleyr on board due to his discommendation
"Not even a bite on the cheek for old time's sake?"
- - K'Ehleyr to Worf
"I want you to discover which one of them has killed me: Gowron or Duras. Yes. Duras. I thought you would find that interesting."
"Interesting. You could say that since he tried to have me killed and conspired to strip Worf of his good name."
"And I approved, all for the glory of the Empire. That should be my epitaph. Find the assassin. The Klingon who kills without showing his face has no honor. He must not lead the Empire. Such a man would be capable of anything … (laughs) even war with the Federation."
"Very well. I accept."
- - K'mpec and Jean-Luc Picard
"A warrior does not ask so many questions."
"I don't want to be a warrior."
- - Worf and Alexander
"Is he under arrest?"
- - K'Ehleyr, regarding Worf pulling Alexander out of school
"Keep that petaQ away from the ceremony, Picard! He has no place on a Klingon ship."
- - Duras, referring to Worf
"You will die, slowly, (smiles) Duras."
"You have already proved you haven't the courage to face me. Perhaps you should plant another bomb."
- - Gowron and Duras
"I have been informed of your attempts to access restricted Council records!"
"I've been investigating what happened at Khitomer. Not at all an easy task, considering that most of the records are sealed."
"Worf's father was a traitor!"
"No. The evidence was altered to make it appear that way. I found it interesting to read that your father was also at Khitomer, and you are the one who sealed the records."
"You dare insult my father's name?!"
"Don't play the wounded Klingon for me, Duras. You don't do it very well. What happened in that council chamber? How did you get Worf to take the blame for you?"
"Do not pursue this matter further!"
"The son betrays his people to the Romulans just as his father did, Duras."
- - Duras and K'Ehleyr
"You have never seen death? Then look... and always remember."
- - Worf to Alexander
"I'm the only one, Worf! The only one who can prove your innocence! Kill me and you're a traitor forever!"
"Then that is how it shall be!!"
- - Duras and Worf
"Mr. Worf, your service aboard the Enterprise has been exemplary... until now."
- - Picard, after Worf executes Duras
"I miss her, too."
"Are you my father?"
"....Yes. I am your father."
- - Worf and Alexander following the death of K'Ehleyr
"Mr. Worf, the Enterprise crew currently includes representatives from thirteen planets. They each have their individual beliefs and values and I respect them all. But they have all chosen to serve Starfleet. If anyone cannot perform his or her duty because of the demands of their society, they should resign. Do you wish to resign?"
- - Picard reprimanding Worf
Story and production Edit
- This is the first episode of Star Trek written by Brannon Braga, and the first writing collaboration between Braga and Ronald D. Moore. Braga referred to writing the episode as an "illuminating, exhilarating" experience. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)
- Michael Piller commented, "I killed K'Ehleyr. The original idea was about Worf's kid and bringing K'Ehleyr back, who was having a relationship with Duras. But when we started talking about how to make the story work, I'm the one who said she should die... You wanted to get to a place where Worf was going to take Duras apart, and there's no real good reason for him to do it unless she dies... he had it coming." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
- Ron Moore added, "We love Suzie and that character, but it worked because you cared about her and we made an effort not to do it capriciously and for no reason, just to get her off the show so Worf wouldn't have to deal with her. I have pals on the show and they were upset. It took Worf's character in a different direction, which is sort of what we did with "Sins." Anybody who watches that episode is moved and outraged by the killing of K'Ehleyr. You're mad and you have that same need for vengeance that Worf does. If we've tapped into those feelings so when Worf goes back to his quarters and grabs that sword and the audience is screaming for Duras' head, then you've done it. You really had to do that scene where Picard calls Worf onto the carpet for what he did and puts it to him." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
- Visual effects supervisor and martial arts expert Dan Curry designed Worf's bat'leth for this episode and worked with Michael Dorn to develop the movements used in wielding the weapon. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)
- First UK airdate: 18 May 1994.
Cast and characters Edit
- This episode marks the first appearances of Gowron (Robert O'Reilly), Alexander Rozhenko (Jon Steuer), and Jae (Tracee Cocco) on the series and the deaths of K'Ehleyr (Suzie Plakson), Duras (Patrick Massett), and Chancellor K'mpec (Charles Cooper).
- This is the only episode in which Alexander Rozhenko is played by Jon Steuer. In all subsequent episodes of TNG, the young Alexander was played by Brian Bonsall. James Sloyan played a future version of him in "Firstborn", and Marc Worden played him in DS9: "Sons and Daughters" and "You Are Cordially Invited". Jonathan Frakes mentioned that Steuer "was too shy, not a warrior. Probably the reason why he was recast". ("Departmental Briefing Year Four - Production", TNG Season 4 DVD special feature)
- This episode also marks the first appearance of the Vor'cha-class attack cruiser, the first Klingon vessel designed for any of the spin-off series. Due to budget constraints, earlier episodes reused footage or used models of the K't'inga-class battle cruiser or the Klingon Bird-of-Prey built for the movies. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)
- As of this episode, there are representatives from thirteen planets among the crew of the Enterprise-D.
- In this episode, K'Ehleyr is offered a seat on the High Council; yet in TNG: "Redemption" and subsequent episodes, it is said that women may not serve on the Council. Concerning the place of women, Ronald D. Moore commented:
- "I co-wrote both "Reunion" (in which K'Ehleyr was offered the Council seat) and DS9: "The House of Quark" (in which Grilka was told she could not serve on the Council because she's a woman). The reason for the change was: a) to service a plot element in "House of Quark"; and b) to differentiate the Klingons from the UFP and the Romulans. The idea was that the Klingons were a traditionally patriarchal society and that while many elements of that have disappeared over the years, the Council itself was still the province of male warriors. This is not an endorsement of that idea, but rather an attempt to make them *different* than us. For example, their government is not a democracy, but rather an oligarchy ruled by powerful Houses, with an Emperor as head of state and we certainly aren't promoting that either! It's an alien society with alien values and we shouldn't be able to identify with all aspects of their culture. That said, I've always tried to treat Klingon men and women with a great deal of respect and have never tried to show the female warriors of the Empire as any less worthy or respected than their male counterparts. No male Klingon would ever question for even a moment the notion of serving under a woman on a ship, or fighting with them at his side". (AOL chat, 1997)
- The chair in Worf's quarters was also seen in the episodes "Peak Performance", "Family", "Redemption", "New Ground", "Cost of Living", "A Fistful of Datas", "Birthright, Part I", "Parallels", "Genesis", and "Firstborn" 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 a Ligonian glavin from the episode "Code of Honor" and the statue of Kahless and Morath which can also be seen in "Peak Performance", "New Ground", "Cost of Living", "Genesis", and "Firstborn".
- It bears noting that both candidates for Klingon Chancellor in this episode are ultimately killed in combat, by Worf. Duras in this episode and Gowron in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Tacking Into the Wind".
- When K'mtar revealed himself to be Alexander in "Firstborn", from what would eventually become an alternate future, Worf asked him to relate the events of K'Ehleyr's death as proof, as Alexander was the only witness.
- Patrick Massett accidentally flubs the Klingon word Ha'DIbaH (animal). He transposes two syllables and says "ha'bidah" instead. (Michael Dorn made the same error in "Sins of the Father".)
- Director Jonathan Frakes remarked, "Rick's been throwing me nice episodes. Three people got killed, there was murder and revenge. I've been lucky. Suzie was great. A lot of people are sorry she's dead. It's a character that people really loved or hated because she was so big and shameless in her performance. I loved it." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
- On fan reaction to the episode, Ron Moore recalled, "All the comments were I loved the show, but why did you have to kill off K'Ehleyr? That's usually the only comment I get. I loved it and I think it works just fine and if that wasn't there you'd be missing a big part of the story where Worf has to embrace his son in the end and finally getting to go after Duras." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
- A mission report for this episode by Will Murray was published in The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine Vol. 15, pp. 42-45.
Video and DVD releasesEdit
- Original UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 41, 9 March 1992
- UK re-release (three-episode tapes, Paramount Home Entertainment): Volume 4.3, 4 June 2001
- As part of the TNG Season 4 DVD collection
Links and references Edit
Also starring Edit
- 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
- Wil Wheaton as Ensign Wesley Crusher
Guest stars Edit
- Suzie Plakson as K'Ehleyr
- Robert O'Reilly as Gowron
- Patrick Massett as Duras
- Charles Cooper as K'mpec
- Jon Steuer as Alexander
- Michael Rider as Security Guard
- April Grace as Transporter Technician
- Basil Wallace as Klingon Guard #1
- Mirron E. Willis as Klingon Guard #2
Uncredited co-stars Edit
- Rachen Assapiomonwait as Nelson
- Majel Barrett as USS Enterprise-D computer voice
- Michael Braveheart as Martinez
- Tracee Lee Cocco as Jae
- B.J. Davis as Klingon guard
- Eben Ham as operations division ensign
- Tim McCormack as Bennett
- Lorine Mendell as Diana Giddings
- Lincoln Simonds as security officer
- Natalie Wood as Bailey
- Unknown performers as
Stunt doubles Edit
- Christopher Doyle as stunt double for Patrick Massett
- Rusty McClennon as stunt double for Michael Dorn
- June Jordan - stand-in for Jon Steuer
- Nora Leonhardt - stand-in for Marina Sirtis
- Tim McCormack - stand-in for Brent Spiner
- Lorine Mendell - stand-in for Gates McFadden
- Richard Sarstedt - stand-in for Jonathan Frakes
- Dennis Tracy - stand-in for Patrick Stewart
- Guy Vardaman - stand-in for Wil Wheaton
- James Washington - stand-in for Michael Dorn
2292; 2367; Arbiter of Succession; assassin; bat'leth; bead maze; Buruk, IKS; class-1 probe; debris; epitaph; Federation; Ferengi; Ferengi Alliance; Gamma Arigulon system; House of Duras; ja'chuq; Klingon Bird-of-Prey; Klingon Empire; Klingon Imperial information net; laceration; LaSalle, USS; mediator; Mogh; molecular decay detonator; Pah doQ cha; painstik; politics; reprimand; Rite of Succession; Romulan; Rozhenko, Helena; Rozhenko, Sergey; sonchi ceremony; Starbase 73; stasis unit; Supreme Commander; Tholians; Tholian Assembly; Treaty of Alliance; triceron; turbolift; unnamed Vor'cha-class attack cruiser; Veridium Six; Vor'cha-class; Vorn, IKS
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