Mark Watches ‘The Next Generation’: S04E26 – Redemption, Part I

In the twenty-sixth and final episode of the fourth season of The Next Generation, I don’t know how any of you expect me to talk about anything other than that thing. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.

How? How?

Conflict of Interest

Until that thing, this was a fantastic story about the Prime Directive, loyalty, and the complicated allegiances that various characters had with the Klingon empire. I was honestly ready to write a review about how this season’s big last minute twist was Worf, but no. No. This episode clearly had different plans in mind.

But I do want to discuss the layered and frustrating story at the heart of “Redemption, Part I.” In hindsight, I can see how this was all designed so that Worf never had an easy choice before him. He truly was trapped between these two worlds, as if a civil war was breaking out within him as it was in the Klingon empire. It was tempting for him to return home and seek out redemption of his family name, but at what cost? Worf assumed that Gowron would readily grant him the opportunity, given what Worf did for the Klingon empire.

Yet as I said, this was never going to be easy. Gowron’s position isn’t powerful enough, so there’s no need for him to help out Worf. Gowron’s lack of stature when compared to the House of Duras – who fucked everything up REPEATEDLY in the past – meant that his ascendence would be quickly challenged. And it was! BY A SECRET SON! Most of this episode is political intrigue as far as I’m concerned, which is not a criticism. Worf has to navigate the complicated political climate to try and secure his own honor while aiming to make sure that the House of Duras does not gain control of the Council.

Is it complicated enough? Then let’s add in Worf’s own conflict of interest with the Federation. At one point, he’s scolded by Picard for accessing files on the Enterprise to help clear his father’s name. It never even occurred to Worf that the act would be in violation of any sort of interference clause, but it technically is. Worf is using official Federation records to intervene in a conflict on another world. I love that this is all contrasted with Picard’s own experience with a conflict of interest, too. It helps show us that both these characters are struggling to determine where the line in the sand is. Is there even one? Picard’s the Arbiter of Succession, so he has a vested interest (somewhat) in what occurs in the Klingon empire. How does he detach himself enough to still respect the ceremony and his official duties?

Well, we soon learn what both men are capable of. I don’t question Worf’s decision to help his Klingon brethren over his job with Starfleet because Worf’s been slowly moving towards that anyway. He’s always been stuck between both of these worlds, but he willingly chose to come home last season to clear his father’s name. After the experiences he’s had this season, it made perfect sense to me that he’d want to fully give himself over to his Klingon side. He’s ready. It’s time. What shocked me, though, was Picard. When it got right down to it, he chose to protect the Federation’s neutrality by LITERALLY LEAVING WORF BEHIND IN THE MIDDLE OF A PERILOUS BATTLE. It’s such a surprising moment because this entire episode demonstrated to us how close Worf and Picard are. Wouldn’t he want to save his friend? But Picard can’t view these events in that manner. He has to consider what this act would mean in a greater political sense. If he offered military support to Gowron, then everyone would interpret this as some grand political gesture. The Federation would be involved in a Klingon civil war.

So he left them all behind.

It’s not surprising, then, that Worf eventually chooses to do the same. It’s no easy feat for him. Leaving the Enterprise and Starfleet is clearly upsetting to him. But he feels like he has to in order to protect both the empire and the Federation. If he stays with the Federation, he may not be able to do what he thinks is right. I respect that! I respect what a huge decision that is for him to make, and I think “Redemption, Part I” does a fantastic job of showing us why he’d do something so shocking. Well, initially shocking, that is. And look, I was prepared for that to be the big moment at the end of this season. Admittedly, it’s huge. It FELT huge, you know? Now, I have no idea if this means that Michael Dorn is leaving the show; I’m still unspoiled. It seems like the show is giving him a way out, and that’s kind of upsetting because I REALLY LIKE WORF.

That’s what I was prepared to write. I was not prepared for the shadowy Romulan to be revealed as TASHA YAR. WHICH IS FUCKING IMPOSSIBLE. I DON’T GET IT. I DON’T GET IT!!!! Is she a clone? Did the Romulans steal part of Yar’s DNA??? Did Tasha have a child a long time ago and she just never told anyone? HOW WOULD THAT EVEN BE POSSIBLE?

This is even more shocking than last season’s finale. HOW????

The video for “Redemption, Part I” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– The Mark Does Stuff Tour 2015 is now live and includes dates across the U.S. this summer and fall Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often. My next Double Features for Mark Watches will be the remainder of The Legend of Korra, series 8 of Doctor Who, and Kings. On Mark Reads, Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series will replace the Emelan books.
- Mark Does Stuff is on Facebook! I’ve got a community page up that I’m running. Guaranteed shenanigans!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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