Friday, November 23, 2012

4-15. Sons of Mogh.

Kurn (Tony Todd) asks Worf to kill him.


Kurn (Tony Todd), Worf's brother, comes to Deep Space 9 with a request for Worf. His honor was stripped from Kurn when their House was disbanded as punishment for Worf's stand against Gowron. The ritual of Mauk-to'Var will restore Kurn's personal honor, but at a steep price. It requires his death at Worf's hands!

Meanwhile, Kira and O'Brien are on a runabout when they detect explosions not far from Bajoran space. They scan the area, only to discover a Klingon bird of prey. They are given a weak cover story about "military exercises" and warned to leave the area or be destroyed. They heed the warning, but it is very clear that these are no simple war games...


Capt. Sisko: "There is a limit to how far I'll go to accommodate cultural diversity among my officers, and you just reached it!" One of the great pleasures of this episode is watching Sisko absolutely blow his top. To him, Worf's attempt to kill his brother is cold-blooded murder, and he will not stand for it. "In case you haven't noticed, this is not a Klingon station and those are not Klingon uniforms you're wearing!" Despite his anger, he does not seem to seriously consider making good on his threat to put Worf off the station, though he is clearly getting very tired of all things Klingon.

Major Kira: Kira has grown a bit wiser and more cautious than when we first met her. In the previous episode, she counseled Gul Dukat to avoid antagonizing the Klingons in a ship that was clearly no match for them. In this episode, confronted by a Klingon ship while she is herself in a mere runabout, she follows her own advice. She leaves... which means that she survives, and is able to report to Sisko and come back at the helm of the Defiant, a ship the Klingons can't threaten quite so easily.

Worf: Has spent his life trying to tread the line between the human world and the Klingon world. He tells Dax that he had convinced himself that he would be able to live in either society. Now he feels that his Klingon instincts are failing him, that he is no longer a "real" Klingon. He can never go home again, not to his Klingon home at least. Nonetheless, he remains loyal to the Empire in his own way. He is able to persuade his brother to help him retrieve information from a damaged Klingon vessel, eloquently reminding his brother that Gowron's actions will lead to a war that will destroy the Empire. Acting to prevent such a war may save the Klingons from Gowron's poor choices.

Dax: Has a regular date with Worf, training with Klingon weapons in the holosuites. It's clear from their banter in the teaser that they are progressing toward a relationship, and Michael Dorn and Terry Farrell do show promising chemistry. Her familiarity with Klingon culture allows her to recognize why Worf would need a particular Klingon incense, which saves Kurn's life. Her familiarity with Sisko probably saves Worf's career, as she recognizes that Sisko is not in the mood for anything resembling an argument and gets Worf out of the captain's office as quickly as humanly possible.

Kurn: The Kurn who comes to Deep Space 9 is a bitter, drunken shell of his former self. Kurn was on the Klingon homeworld when Worf sided against Gowron, and watched first hand as their house was stripped of its lands, title, and honor. He blames Worf - not so much for his actions as for having escaped the direct humiliation thanks to his "comfortable Federation life." Tony Todd is always a welcome presence, and he plays this emotionally destroyed version of Kurn with his usual skill.


After being relegated to the background for half a season, the Klingon storyline is finally showing some movement. Return to Grace showed the Klingons making incursions into Cardassian space. This episode builds on that, showing them threatening Bajor and Deep Space 9. Their tactics are hardly what would be expected of Klingons, their behavior striking Worf as that of "Romulan cowards." It's fair to say that any respect Worf may have once had for Gowron's rule is completely gone now.

Sons of Mogh is a Ronald D. Moore script, always good news and doubly so with a Klingon-centered episode. Moore has a feel for the Klingons that other writers don't, and his script treats them with complexity. The Klingon who attempts to kill Worf, for example, isn't some cardboard villain. As Kurn observes, he is a soldier doing his duty for the Empire, in a situation in which Worf is actually an infiltrator on his ship.

The Kurn/Worf dynamic is at the heart of the episode. Kurn's manipulation of Worf is well-played, as he continually emphasizes that his Klingon life is over now and that what becomes of him is entirely up to his older brother now. His self-hatred seems to grow throughout, particularly after the killing of the Klingon soldier. At one point, he openly contemplates suicide. All the while, he piles guilt on Worf, reminding him that Kurn is suffering the consequences of Worf's actions; that Kurn was on Kronos when their House was stripped of lands and honor, that he suffered directly while Worf had a comfortable refuge on Deep Space 9.

Though Worf's final decision may divide viewers, I think he really is boxed in by the situation. His brother cannot be convinced that there is more to life than the official honor taken away by a dishonorable government. Worf is too much part of the human world to simply kill him, and left to his own devices Kurn will eventually kill himself. Worf takes the only option he sees that will be palatable for all. It's not ideal, but it is one he can live with.

The final scene is wonderfully played by Michael Dorn. He delivers his final line of the episode as flatly and matter-of-factly as ever. But he has a physical reaction to his own words, and seems to retreat from them and their implications as he leaves the room, walking alone through the crowded station, and the episode fades to its production credits.

Overall Rating: 7/10

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