‘Birthright’ (TNG) (TV)



Please feel free to comment on my review.

As I write this review, I’ve just come from attending my first full-on ‘Star Trek’ convention in Birmingham, October 2018. I had such an exciting time seeing my favourite ‘Star Trek’ stars there and having photos with them. Some of the stars that feature in this two-part story I’ve now met at conventions.

‘Birthright’ is a two-part story in ‘TNG’ that could easily have been two standalone stories. But since the writing team couldn’t stretch out one storyline from another in two episodes, it was decided to merge the two together. I’ll explain more about this when it comes to talking about the two storylines.

Incidentally, I saw ‘Part I’ of this two-parter before going away to ‘Destination Star Trek Birmingham’ in October 2018. I re-watched ‘Part I’ to refresh my memory before seeing ‘Part II’ when I came back from my weekend convention. This is an intriguing two-parter that focuses upon two ‘TNG’ characters.

Anyway, the first episode begins with the Enterprise docked at space station Deep Space Nine. Yes, that’s right. This is the first time in the ‘TNG’ series to feature a crossover between two ‘Star Trek’ TV shows. ‘DS9’ had just premiered on US television in early January 1993 and ‘TNG’ is clearly promoting it.

The first episode also features a special guest appearance of Siddig El Fadil (later Alexander Siddig) as Dr. Julian Bashir, chief medical officer of DS9. It was nice to see Dr. Bashir in this ‘TNG’ episode. At this point in watching ‘TNG’ in 2005, I hadn’t seen ‘DS9’ yet. It was 2007 that I would watch the ‘DS9’ series.

I’ve recently met Alexander Siddig at the ‘Destination Star Trek Birmingham’ convention in October 2018. It was great to meet and have a nice chat with him. I enjoyed sharing how much I like ‘DS9’ as a series and also enjoyed talking to him about his appearances in the ‘Doctor Who’ audios by Big Finish.

Anyway in this first episode, Bashir comes aboard the Enterprise trying to make a new medical device work acquired from the Gamma Quadrant on DS9. Data catches Bashir in the Enterprise sick bay where he has unauthorised access, before he and Geordi assist him in making the device work in engineering.

Meanwhile, on the promenade of DS9, Worf is approached by an Yridian information broker. This happens to be James Cromwell as Jaglom Shrek. Wait a minute! Shrek?! This is ‘Star Trek’s version of Shrek?! Oh my goodness, I had no idea that ogres featured in the 24th century ‘Star Trek’ universe. 😀

Actually this isn’t James Cromwell’s first association with ‘Star Trek’. He first appeared as a completely different character in the ‘TNG’ Season 3 episode, ‘The Hunted’. He would later go on to play Zefram Cochrane in ‘Star Trek: First Contact’. Here in this two-parter, James is encased in prosthetic make-up.

Anyway back to the episode. Shrek tries to sell information to Worf that his father is still alive and not killed at Khitomer as previously claimed. It seems Worf’s father may have survived as a prisoner in a Romulan prison camp. Worf does not believe Shrek of course, believing it would dishonour his family.

It upsets him of course as Worf lets out his temper whilst on the bridge of the Enterprise. He eventually talks to Deanna about it in his quarters and she advises him not to dismiss Shrek’s claims so quickly. There are lot of themes of how Klingon honour gets addressed in this two-parter which is so intriguing.

Meanwhile with Data; Geordi and Bashir, an accident happens in engineering with the new medical device. An electrical discharge gets sent into Data where he blacks out. Inside Data’s head, he has a dream-like experience where he sees his creator, Dr. Soong. Brent Spiner gets to play two parts in this.

When Data is reawakened by Geordi and Bashir, he has no explanation for the dream-like experience. He eventually meets Worf in Ten Forward and asks for help on how he should handle his experience. Based upon Klingon traditions, Worf tells Data how important it is to learn about the truth of his father.

This prompts Worf to learn the truth about what happened to his father Mogh, as he makes Jaglom Shrek take him to where the planet of the Romulan prison camp is. Shrek has his own ship to take Worf there. Worf eventually reaches the planet as he makes his way to find this Romulan prison camp.

Meanwhile, Data continues to pursue the meaning of his dream. This involves him getting inspiration from painting the images he’s seen in his dream as well as asking other people’s opinions on it, including Captain Picard. Eventually, Data with Geordi and Dr. Bashir’s help, recreate their experiment.

Once shut down again, Data has the same dream-like experience again only for it to be different. This time, he has a conversation with his father, Dr. Soong, who tells him that his dream-like state is part of his programming. It seems Data was given this ability to dream by his creator and make him human.

I like that final farewell scene between Data and Bashir when the good doctor leaves the Enterprise to return to DS9. And yes, I saw the white shoes Alexander Siddig was wearing in that scene according to a ‘DS9’ DVD interview. And that Data storyline where he gets to dream finishes in that first episode.

Again, I wonder why that Data storyline wasn’t stretched out into a single episode instead of mixing it in with the Worf storyline that was going on as well. It’s an unusual way to tell a two-part story in ‘TNG’, but I suppose it is okay. Who knows where the Data dreaming storyline will go to next here? 😀

Back with Worf, he makes the final leg of the journey alone on foot to reach the Romulan prison camp. He finds that the Klingons are roaming freely with the Romulans about and discovers from one of the Klingons that his father did die in battle at Khitomer. Worf also finds the Klingons are refusing to leave.

They want to stay on the planet with the Romulans and they refuse to let Worf leave too. This concludes ‘Part I’ of the story where Worf is prevented upon leaving by two armed Romulans. In ‘Part II’, Worf learns more about the Klingons and Romulans on this planet since they live in peace together.

Incidentally, the second episode of this two-part story is directed by Dan Curry, the visual effects supervisor on ‘Star Trek: TNG’. From watching one of the documentaries about Dan Curry on the Season 6 DVD extras, he’s clearly into the Klingon traditions and weaponry which get addressed here.

Throughout the second episode of the two-part story, Worf is curious and puzzled about the Klingons not wanting to leave and how they’ve forgotten their traditions. It gets explained that the Klingon elders have chosen to stay as it would dishonour their families should they return to their home world.

The Klingon elders want their families to believe that they were killed in battle. Worf appreciates this to a certain extent as the Klingons want to keep this compound they have with the Romulans a secret. But he is disgusted with the Romulans that they’ve denied the Klingon elders the right to die in battle.

He’s also shocked and horrified when he discovers that some Romulans and Klingon have intermarried with each other and had hybrid children. This is especially when Worf falls in love with one of the Klingon women, Jennifer Gatti as Ba’el, who happens to be a Romulan. Can this romance be rescued?!

The episode also features Richard Herd (who would later play Tom Paris’ father in ‘Voyager’) as L’Kor, one of the Klingon elders on the planet. There’s also Cristine Rose as Gi’ral, a Klingon woman and Alan Scarfe as Tokath, a Romulan man, who happen to be the parents of the Klingon-Romulan hybrid, Ba’el.

There’s also Sterling Macer, Jr. as Toq, one of the young Klingon males who Worf inspires to know of the Klingon traditions his elders seem to have forgotten when living with the Romulans. It’s interesting how Worf teaches the young Klingons of this compound who know nothing about their own heritage.

This causes a stir among the Klingon-Romulan community, when Worf teaches the young Klingons about their myths; martial arts; hunting and other aspects of their culture. The head Romulan, Tokath, offers the choice to Worf to live among the community or to be executed for not following their rules.

Worf chooses death, as he believes it to be honourable to defy this community’s ways. When Worf is about to executed, the young Klingons led by Toq decide to stand and die with him. This soon allows Worf to be let free and to take the young Klingon with him whilst also keeping the compound a secret.

‘Birthright’ is a pretty unusual two-parter in ‘TNG’ featuring two storylines that could easily have been in their own individual episodes. But it was fun to see and I did enjoy the crossover to ‘DS9’ with Dr. Bashir as well as enjoying the intriguing character journeys of Data and Worf in this unique two-parter.

‘Birthright’ (TNG) rating – 7/10

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