Episode no. 120
Season 1
Entertainment rating: C+
Tergiversation meter: -5


FEATURING: Michael Dorn, with Vaughn Armstrong and Charles H. Hyman as the Klingon rebels. DIRECTOR: Rob Bowman. WRITERS: Maurice Hurely (teleplay), Herbert Wright, D. C. Fontana (story) STARDATE: 41503.7. EARTH DATE: 3-21-88.

OVERALL RATING: C+. WRITING: D+. Competently written in the service of a wretched idea. ACTING: Michael Dorn's first chance to give his Klingon character Lt. Worf some background and some depth. He does fine, B+.

SPECIAL NOTE: Lt. Worf gets to utter a Klingon death howl towards the end.

THE SHOW: In "Heart of Glory," we are given our first full view of Klingon Kulture--one of the most anti-humanistic and anti-progressive themes in the Star Trek lexicon. That is not to say that Klingon Kulture isn't entertaining--it sometimes is. But it is not science fiction. It is a combination of plagiarisms from the "Swords and Sorcery" genre, and from Medieval lore ("Beowulf," for instance), with little bits of Viking Kulture tossed in, along with anthropological studies of the societies of wolves and dogs, all grafted onto a high-tech, s-f series that purports to be taking place in the 24th Century. How Klingons manage the manual dexterity and intellectual subtley required for a high-tech life aboard space ships is a real mystery. One cannot imagine Worf or his compatriots sitting in front of a computer screen for twenty years, studying warp physics and higher mathematics. They seem to spend all their time quarreling like a pack of wolves and/or "training" in the bloodier martial arts. They are, indeed, a mocking, snobbish, cruel portrait of humanity at one of its earlier, "primitive" stages--say, 8th Century A.D. Their sexual mating rituals provide some rather low humor. (See "Hide & Q," for what a Klingon woman-in-heat looks like; and "Emissary," for the only refined and believable rendition of the species.) They are noted for their rough child-rearing techniques and for rough sex (they draw blood). Despite all this, Klingon stories can sometimes be quite fun--perhaps because the writers don't have to think too much. They can rely on past models of story-telling, of which there are many involving "honor" among people who wear animal skins and engage in battles-to-the-death. This first TNG Klingon story involves "honor." The three Klingons who are rescued from a stolen Talarian freighter, just before it blows up, are tired of the Federation-Klingon treaty. They don't want peace. They want war. How can you be warriors without conflict and bloodshed?

They falsely tell Picard that they were attacked by a Ferengi vessel. In reality, the opposite is true--they attacked the Ferengi vessel for no reason. (So much for Klingon honor.) These Klingons also hate the Federation and are still fighting the Klingon-Federation war, long since resolved. They try to convince Worf to abandon his post on the Enterprise and join them in creating mayhem--for the sake of the "glory." What they plan to do is unclear--just sort of generalized Klingon mayhem somewhere, against someone.

Soon they have a focus for their bloody desires--a Klingon ship arrives and informs Picard that these Klingons are rebels who had hijacked the Talarian freighter and who had destroyed another Klingon ship.

The Klingons are placed under arrest. They escape--with Worf very torn about whether or not to assist them. (His Klingon blood is up.) They threaten to blow up the Enterprise. Worf ultimately has to shoot it out with them, and has to make a firm choice to put his Klingon heritage aside and remain loyal to Federation laws.

The best moment in the episode comes when one of these benighted warriors dies and Worf utters the ritual Klingon death-howl. This howl will later be used again, to good effect. Picard and crew stare at Worf in surprise and awe, as the animal-like noise comes out of his throat. Worf's kinship with the wolves is never clearer. (Note the word-play: Woof, wolf, worf.)

TERGIVERSATION METER READING: -5. Klingon Kulture features an extremely touchy sense of "honor" born of a long history of bloodshed and blood revenge. Because Michael Dorn is a black actor, and because his character Worf, here and in future episodes, respects and reveres this violent Kulture, Star Trek thereby recommends tribalism, bloodshed, and a primitive "death before dishonor" ethos to the black children and other children watching this series--children living in the hopeless jungles of our U.S. cities, and perhaps children in Yugoslavia, or Africa, or other parts of the world that are being torn to shreds by blood-feud tribalism. Star Trek's producers can thus take credit for contributing to the ever-increasing pile of mangled bodies of children of the warring tribes of earth.

Tergiversate (tur-ji-ver-sat): 1. To use evasions or ambiguities; equivocate. 2. To change sides; to defect; apostatize. The Tergiversation Meter scale runs from -5 (very defective) through +5 (unambiguous, true blue philosophical humanism with no negative subliminal messages).

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