Friday, July 11, 2014

6-3. Sons and Daughters.

Worf gets a surprise reunion with his estranged son.


The IKS Rotarran, captained by Martok (J. G. Hertzler) with Worf as first officer, rescues Sisko and his crew from Dominion territory and returns them to Starbase 375. At the same time, the Klingon ship takes on replacement crew members - one of whom is Alexander (Marc Worden), Worf's son. Worf is shocked to see the young man, who had previously rejected the life of a Klingon warrior, enlisting to serve the Empire. He is also displeased to see how poorly-suited Alexander is to a warrior life, unable to even hold his own in a simple brawl. The young man is finding his place; unfortunately, that place, as Worf observes, is "as the ship's fool."

Meanwhile, Kira finds herself dealing with a dilemma of her own. Ziyal (Melanie Smith), Gul Dukat's half-Cardassian, half-Bajoran daughter, has returned to the station to try to have a relationship with her father. Dukat is thrilled to have her back in his life - but that doesn't mean he's above using her to manipulate Kira, who is the closest thing she has had to a mother. With Ziyal genuinely wanting relationships with both of them, Kira finds herself pulled back into the personal orbit of the man she most despises...


Capt. Sisko: Only briefly glimpsed, but it is clear that he and Martok share a strong mutual respect - one warrior to another. I look forward to seeing which of them wins Sisko's bet regarding who will first set foot on Deep Space 9.

Worf: Claims that he accepted Alexander's choice not to become a warrior, and has probably convinced himself that this is true. But we learn in this episode that, shortly after the events of TNG's Firstborn, Worf sent the boy back to his human parents.  He has basically not even seen him in the intervening years - a tidy explanation for why Alexander has barely been mentioned during Worf's DS9 tenure. He has difficulty standing back and allowing his son to fail, or even to take a beating, which actually makes things harder for Alexander in fitting in with the crew. In the end, he is able to make a reconciliation with his son, but to the episode's credit it feels like a fragile one.

Martok: The last episode to focus on Martok as ship's captain was Soldiers of the Empire, in which his time as a prisoner of the Dominion left him a shadow of his former self. He only regained his strength when challenged from within. This episode marks a direct contrast, with the Klingon back at his zenith. He is a strong captain, a man who sees and recognizes the dynamics of his crew. He tries at first to get Worf to accept the situation, pointing out that Alexander is finding his own place. When it becomes clear that Worf's effectiveness as first officer is compromised, though, Martok acts decisively, telling the boy that he will be transferred off the ship. "I need (Worf)," he says flatly, "I do not need you."

Major Kira: Though the Klingon material is entertaining enough, the "B" plot is far more engrossing. Nana Visitor's splendid performance is part of the reason why, as Kira finds herself torn between her genuine caring for Ziyal and her loathing for Dukat. It's a problem made worse by how easy it is for her to be briefly comfortable around Dukat, who is very calculated in showing his most charming face when they are in front of Ziyal. There's a particularly fine moment when he sends her a dress. For just a second, Kira is overjoyed at the lovely garment and how beautiful she will look in it. Then her face sinks as she realizes that she is allowing herself to be claimed - bought, and not even at any great cost. Almost as good is the follow-up, as she confronts Dukat. She accurately labels him as "opportunistic" and "power-hungry." In the first two seasons, she would have been spitting the words at him. Here, she just states them as fact, with no rancor or even emotion - Which is likely why he doesn't try any counter-move; games are no fun when the other person has lost interest in playing.

Gul Dukat: I believe his pride in Ziyal is genuine. The one genuinely selfless moment we've ever seen from Dukat was when he sacrificed his position to save her (though admittedly, only after intending to kill her). He wants her to do well, and he wants a positive relationship. But he wants that on his own terms, terms that include being seen by her as some sort of heroic white knight. Being Dukat, it's easier and truer to himself to manipulate reality rather than actually live up to such an image. A telling moment comes right after Kira returns the dress, denounces him, and leaves. Ziyal enters a moment later, asking who was there. Dukat's smile never wavers as he announces that it was "a delivery... Do you like it?" His pleasure is in no way diminished by her adoration of both gift and him being based on a lie.


Sons and Daughters is the weakest Dominion War episode thus far... Which, given how good much of it is, speaks more to the quality of this run of episodes than to any great weakness in this particular script. The Kira/Dukat material is wonderful, with both Nana Visitor and Marc Alaimo in fine form. The Klingon material isn't as strong, but neither is it bad. The episode rolls along at a solid pace, with plenty of good scenes and no particularly bad scenes. It's a solid piece of Trek, that really suffers only in comparison to the four episodes preceding it.

Readers of my TNG reviews are doubtless aware of how little I enjoyed the character of Alexander on that show. His return to the franchise is not a welcome one. Marc Worden is easier to take as an (arguably too much) older Alexander than Brian Bonsall was, but the character remains irritatingly whiny and unsympathetic. He brings out the worst traits of Worf's character, showcasing how inflexible and self-defeatingly stubborn he can be in his dealings with his son. This leaves Martok as the only truly likable character in the Klingon plot, though J. G. Hertzler is thankfully up to the task, stealing every scene in which he's present.

The script cleverly bookends the Klingon drama with a minor drama of Worf's. Dax tells him that she intends to refuse to join Martok's House - something Worf fears would be a grave dishonor. She lets him rant for a moment before revealing that she's just teasing him and fully intends to join the Klingon House. Alexander, Worf's son, has no House and insists on being referred to as "Rozhenko." By episode's end, when Worf has reached a reconciliation with him, Alexander joins Martok's House as Worf had done previously.

A problem with the Klingon plot is that it doesn't really reach much of a climax. There's a minor space battle, but however urgently the actors may speak, it doesn't feel particularly significant. The convoy escort doesn't so much close in triumph as simply run out after a single, fairly uninspired action scene. This, coupled with the "A" plot being far less interesting than the "B" plot, keep the episode feeling a bit small, as if things are being padded out before the next important episode.

In short: Entertaining and probably about as good as an Alexander episode can be. But a fair step below the excellent shows that preceded it.

Overall Rating: 6/10.

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