Monday, June 28, 2010

Star Trek: The Next Generation - "Heart of Glory"

Back when TNG was new, I was frustrated that the Klingon episodes were always about renegade bad-guy Klingons. It seemed that they just couldn't figure out how to write the Klingons as good guys. (And amusingly enough, fourteen years later in Star Trek: Enterprise, they couldn't remember how to write the Klingons as bad guys anymore.)

But rewatching this episode for the first time after having seen all the episodes that would come after it, it doesn't bother me at all. In fact, it works really well. After having seen Klingons like Martok and Gowron, seeing Klingons here who chafe under the alliance with the Federation actually feels like a different take on them.

It also makes them feel somewhat tragic; had they waited another ten years or so, they would have had all the battles they wanted.

I also found it interesting that the alliance between the Federation and the Klingons is treated as if the Klingons were practically members of the Federation. (Note, for example, how they display both the UFP seal and the Klingon Empire symbol, with the UFP symbol coming first!)

The episode also gets bonus points for the music: Ron Jones evokes the style and the first line of Jerry Goldsmith's Klingon theme without actually using the whole piece.

It's also cool to see how much of what was set up in the episode stuck, such as the Klingon death howl and Worf's half-brother on Gault. And of course, starting to set up the Klingons as honorable warriors. This episode actually makes for a good bookend episode to the ENT episode "Judgement." In that episode, Archer's Klingon attorney laments to him that the upcoming generation of Klingons cares more for glory than honor. And from there, the Klingons start to be more of bad guys, and become the Klingons we know in classic Trek. And here, Worf points out to Korris (the lead renegade Klingon) that for all his talk of reclaiming glory, he hasn't mentioned honor. It shows the pendulum swinging back, and the Klingons of the TOS era dying out to be replaced by the ones we know of in the TNG era.

Unintentional, I'm sure, but in watching Star Trek as a whole, it really works.

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