May 29 2012 6:00pm

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “Redemption, Part II”

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “Redemption, Part II”

“Redemption II”
Written by Ronald D. Moore
Directed by David Carson
Season 5, Episode 1
Production episode 40275-201
Original air date: September 23, 1991
Stardate: 45020.4

Captain’s Log: We get a summary of Part 1, then dive into the Hegh’ta, Kurn’s ship, in battle getting its butt kicked. In the time since the end of Part 1, Worf has transferred from the Bortas to serve under his brother. We get to see how awesome Kurn is, as he pulls a nice trick of luring a couple of ships into the corona of the sun and artificially creating solar flares to wipe out his enemies. There’s some tension between brothers as Worf questions Kurn’s decisions, and the captain snarls at him to keep his place. (Worf’s the older brother, but Kurn’s the captain.)

Picard meanwhile meets with Admiral Shanthi and another admiral, trying to convince them that, yes, the Klingon civil war is an internal matter, but what if the Duras family is being aided by the Romulans? It would explain how the Duras family continues to have the upper hand (though Shanthi points out that they may just have better leadership). Using pretty much the exact same words that Worf used on Picard in Part 1, Picard argues that the Romulans aiding one side in a Klingon civil war will tilt the balance of power against the Federation. Picard proposes no active aid to either side, but to form a blockade on the Klingon-Romulan border. La Forge has designed a tachyon net that will reveal any cloaked ships that pass through it. That will keep the internal struggle internal.

Unfortunately, Starfleet is still stretched thin—many ships are still under repair or construction following the Borg incident a year earlier. Picard yanks three ships from the yard whether they’re ready or not, and assigns Riker to command the Excalibur, with La Forge as his first officer, as her crew was reassigned, and—after a pointed conversation with Data in which the android expresses confusion as to why he hasn’t been assigned a command in the fleet—Picard gives Data the Sutherland to command.

On the Klingon homeworld, we find ourselves in a tavern. Klingons are headbutting each other, punching each other, and arm-wrestling over d’k tahgs. The capital city is neutral ground, so Kurn is drinking with Larg, the commander of the squadron they fought in the teaser. Worf brings Kurn a damage report, after complaining about his drinking with the enemy (against the Klingon code, as mentioned way back in “Hide & Q”), but Kurn could give a rip about port stabilizers. Tomorrow they go into battle that others can only dream of—tonight, they’re warriors who are celebrating glory. Worf gives in and parties hearty, but in the background, Lursa and B’Etor notice how unsure of himself he is.

Data reports on board the Sutherland, and meets his first officer, Lt. Commander Christopher Hobson—who immediately requests a transfer. He’s not at all comfortable with Data commanding the ship and thinks that, as an android, he would make a lousy captain. (By comparison, he says that a Klingon would also make a lousy ship’s counselor, and a Barellian, whatever that is, would make a lousy engineer.) Data says that he understands Hobson’s concerns—and then denies the request.

The fleet gets underway, led by the Enterprise. O’Brien—who ran tactical on the Rutledge—is at Worf’s old station as Picard leads the fleet to start the blockade.

Lursa and B’Etor meet with Sela and Movar, complaining that their supply ships are late. They’re also concerned about what Picard’s fleet might be doing. Sela sends Movar back to Romulus to organize the supply runs.

In Council Chambers, Gowron is furious that the Duras family continues to hold the Mempa sector, even though they destroyed the supply lines to that system. Another Klingon echoes Shanthi’s earlier words that maybe the Duras family has better leadership, and he challenges Gowron. Worf grumbles that they don’t have time for this crap, and tries to stop the fight, which only allows Gowron to win it.

The fleet starts deploying. On the Sutherland, there’s a radiation leak due to a power coupling malfunction, and the backup systems aren’t online as there wasn’t time to test them before leaving the yard. Hobson barrels ahead and takes action without consulting Data, which the android calls him on. He then tells everyone to stop what they’re doing and he consults Data on what to do next—Data, of course, tells him to do exactly what he was doing, but the breach in protocol and the insult is severe. (Of course, it also has no obvious effect on Data, either, who simply goes on with his duties.)

The Romulan fleet that’s en route—with Sela and Movar on board—detects the grid quite easily. If they go through, they’ll be detected. Sela then decides to decloak and hail the Enterprise, since the idea of going around the net never occurs to her. Picard, Troi, and O’Brien go wide-eyed at what appears to be Tasha Yar in a Romulan haircut and uniform. Is it a clone? Is it an evil twin? Did they save Tasha’s brain?

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “Redemption, Part II”

Nope—inexplicably, the woman claims to be Yar’s daughter, which is a neat trick given that Sela appears to be the same age Yar was when she died, plus Crusher confirms that Yar was never pregnant. Then Guinan shows up in the observation lounge, asking what Picard knows about the previous ship called Enterprise. He says the ship was lost at Narendra III defending a Klingon outpost from Romulans, and that there were rumors of some of their crew being taken prisoner, but it was never confirmed. Guinan also knows—somehow—that Yar was one of the survivors of the Enterprise-C and that she was on that ship because Picard sent her there. Even though that seems impossible on the face of it, especially since the events of “Yesterday’s Enterprise,” in essence, didn’t happen. Exactly.

Picard requests that Sela beam on board, and she inexplicably acquiesces all by herself. Sela explains to Picard that Yar was on board the Enterprise-C, and taken prisoner at Narendra III. A Romulan general took an interest in her, and Yar had a daughter by him. When Sela was four, Yar tried to take Sela away, but they were caught, and Yar was executed. Sela makes it clear that whatever part of her was human died that day. (Well, except for her blond hair...) Picard makes it equally clear that her lineage will have no impact on how he responds to Sela or her fleet.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “Redemption, Part II”

Back on the Klingon homeworld, Worf and Kurn argue over whether or not Gowron should have accepted the challenge. It’s a time of war and their commander must be obeyed, but Kurn does not believe matters of honor can ever be postponed. Kurn storms out—and then two of Lursa and B’Etor’s agents take Worf down and bring him to them. They try to get Worf on their side, but he wants none of it—the only future he sees with them is one where the empire is ruled from Romulus. Sela interrupts saying she needs Worf to tell them Starfleet’s strengths. (Worf, curiously, makes no reaction to a Romulan commander with blond hair who looks just like his dead comrade.) A Romulan guard takes Worf away, and Lursa gets an expression of true annoyance on her face—this alliance is obviously one of convenience for her, and it’s becoming less convenient by the moment.

Picard contacts Gowron and suggests a full-scale attack on a Duras stronghold. They will call for supplies, and Sela will have to run the blockade. Once the Romulan connection is exposed publicly, support will fall away from Lursa and B’Etor (and, though nobody mentions it, it might get the Federation to let Starfleet aid Gowron). After Gowron’s attack, Riker will take the Excalibur and two other ships out with “engine trouble,” exposing a hole in the net. The Romulans will move toward that, and then the Enterprise and two other ships in the main net will swoop in and expose them.

Movar reports to Sela—Gowron has attacked in three sectors, and Lursa and B’Etor are nearing defeat. Sela’s science staff has come up with a tachyon burst that will overload the net. When the Excalibur falls back, Sela doesn’t take the bait, instead ordering Movar to use the tachyon burst on the Sutherland and then move in there instead of at the gap. (She refers to the Sutherland as the ship with the android captain, which makes one wonder how she knows that, exactly....)

The Enterprise and the Sutherland see what they’re doing, and there’s nothing to be done—Sela will be able to sneak through this blind spot the Romulans have created. Picard orders the fleet to fall back and redeploy the net at Gamma Eridon.

Data, however, has an idea. The Romulans may have left a residual tachyon signature on their ships by using that burst. But it will only be there for a few minutes, so they have to act fast. He orders all-stop and the weapons back online, even though that will flood three decks with radiation. Hobson bitches and complains, until Data snaps at him in a manner very similar to that of Picard, and only then does he obey orders. Data sets the photon torpedoes to a low-yield energy burst and fires it on the tachyon emissions that have subspace intertial displacement (whatever that is). The torpedoes reveal Romulan warbird-shaped thingies.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “Redemption, Part II”

Sela, realizing that they’re blown, as it were, orders a retreat. Lursa and B’Etor are on their own.

That, it seems, is not a good thing for Duras’s sisters, as Gowron’s forces rout the Duras family’s forces. A Romulan guard brings Worf in, who has obviously been tortured. Lursa orders the guard to kill Worf, who resists. Lursa and B’Etor beam away—without Toral, much to the boy’s shock and dismay. Kurn arrives to capture Toral and rescue Worf.

With Gowron victorious, Picard brings the Enterprise to Qo’noS and makes a full report. Then Gowron brings Worf, Kurn, and Toral in, the latter in custody. Gowron gives Toral’s life to Worf to take in revenge for his family conspiring to strip him of his family name.

Worf takes the dagger—and spares Toral. Kurn insists that it is the Klingon way, and Worf replies that it is not his. The boy has done Worf no harm, and he will not condemn him for the crimes of his father (or his aunts). He then asks Picard permission to return to duty, which Picard happily grants.

Can’t we just reverse the polarity?: A bunch of ships throwing tachyons at each other can detect a cloaked ship as it passes through this “net.” At no point is it ever made clear why a two-dimensional net of limited circumference is in any way effective in three-dimensional space.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “Redemption, Part II”

Thank you, Counselor Obvious: Troi confirms that Sela completely believes that she is Yar’s daughter, which isn’t enough to convince Picard that she is.

There is no honor in being pummeled: Worf is obviously tortured by Sela’s Romulan thugs, but despite that, he is able to singlehandedly defeat the guard that is on him. Because he’s just that awesome.

If I only had a brain...: Data gets his first command, and has to overcome the prejudice and insubordination of his first officer, mostly by imitating what Picard and Riker do when a subordinate is recalcitrant.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “Redemption, Part II”

Syntheholics anonymous: In “Yesterday’s Enterprise,” Guinan had a plot-conveniently vague recollection of the mainline timeline, and she has an equally vague recollection of the alternate timeline created in that episode, which is enough to convince Picard to talk to Sela.

No sex, please, we’re Starfleet: B’Etor slinks all over Worf, and Lursa proposes that Worf and B’Etor mate. Despite her impressive Klingon Kleavage, Worf refuses.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “Redemption, Part II”

I believe I said that: “You always did have fools working for you, Larg! Now you don’t have as many!”

Kurn taking the piss out of Larg.

Welcome aboard: Quite a lengthy list of guest stars in this one. Back for more after Part 1 are Robert O’Reilly as Gowron (who will next be seen in “Rightful Heir”), Tony Todd as Kurn (next in Deep Space Nine’s “Sons of Mogh”), Barbara March and Gwynyth Walsh as Lursa and B’Etor (next in DS9’s “Past Prologue”), Denise Crosby as Sela (next in “Unification”), J.D. Cullum as Toral (the character will next be seen on DS9’s “The Sword of Kahless” played by Rick Pasqualone), and Nicholas Kepros as Movar. We also get an entertaining turn by Michael G. Hagerty as Larg (he’ll be back in “Thine Own Self” as Skoran), a tiresome cliché-ridden turn by Timothy Carhart as Hobson, and an unremarkable turn by Fran Bennett as Admiral Shanthi.

Trivial matters: This obviously continues the story in Part 1, and continues the Klingon political arc that will next be seen in “Rightful Heir,” and which will continue through both TNG and DS9. Gowron will next be mentioned in “Unification,” and seen in “Rightful Heir”; Kurn will be mentioned in the latter episode, as well.

It also picks up on “Yesterday’s Enterprise,” revealing the fate of Enterprise-C after it went back through the rift to finish the battle at Narendra III. The details of the aftermath of Narendra III, including Yar’s capture, was dramatized in the novel Vulcan’s Heart by Josepha Sherman & Susan Shwartz.

Worf’s own exploration of and confusion regarding his heritage will next be seen in “Birthright.”

Reportedly, Denise Crosby herself came up with the idea of coming back as Yar’s daughter. Her original conception was that the character that became Sela was the daughter of Yar and Castillo.

Admiral Shanthi will not be seen again, but she’ll be mentioned in “The Pegasus” and also appear in the novels Hollow Men by Una McCormack and your humble rewatcher’s Articles of the Federation. She was intended to appear in “Unification Part 1,” but she was instead replaced by Karen Hensel as a different admiral.

Data’s methods of dealing with Hobson will be revisited during an inspection tour of the Enterprise-E in your humble rewatcher’s A Time for War, a Time for Peace.

This is one of two times Gowron is challenged during a time of war; while Worf interfered this time, the next time, in DS9’s “Tacking Into the Wind,” it’ll be Worf himself issuing the challenge.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “Redemption, Part II”

The Excalibur will later be the main ship in the Star Trek: New Frontier novel series by Peter David, and which will feature TNG guest characters Shelby (“The Best of Both Worlds”), Selar (“The Schizoid Man”), and Lefler (forthcoming in “Darmok” and “The Game”). Because this episode reused footage of the Enterprise-D and Enterprise-C from “Yesterday’s Enterprise” to show the Enterprise and Excalibur, the latter ship remained an Ambassador-class ship in New Frontier (until it was destroyed in Dark Allies and replaced with a new Excalibur that was Galaxy-class). Riker will once again command the Excalibur briefly in the Double Helix novel Double or Nothing.

As for the other ships in Picard’s armada: The Sutherland is named after the main ship in C.S. Forester’s Horatio Hornblower novels, one of Gene Roddenberry’s prime inspirations in the creation of Star Trek. The Hood was seen in “Encounter at Farpoint” and “Tin Man.” The Tian An Men was named after the location where several people lost their lives in a government protest in 1989. The Aries was almost Riker’s first command in “The Icarus Factor.” The Akagi and the Hornet were named after carriers in World War II that fought on opposite sides, the former for Japan, the latter for the United States; Ronald D. Moore thought it appropriate to have those two ships fighting side by side in Star Trek’s future.

Make it so: “Doubts? I’m full of them.” What an ungodly mess. There are three different stories being told here, and two of them suffer from not having nearly enough storytelling space, in part due to the third taking up way more time than is necessary or wanted.

First we have the strongest portion of the episode, which is the actual Klingon civil war. The opening battle scene on the Hegh’ta is excellent, a good showcase for Tony Todd, and a reminder that Kurn didn’t become a captain by accident. That’s followed by a truly brilliant scene in the tavern in the capital city, which all by itself elevates the episode’s warp factor rating a bit.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “Redemption, Part II”

The ending doesn’t work as well as it should. The climax of “Reunion” worked because Worf didn’t follow human convention. Here he does, and it weakens him a bit—but also strengthens him, in an odd way. It was established way back in “Heart of Glory” that he’s spent almost no time among Klingons. Now he has, and it isn’t working because Worf is the ideal Klingon, not a real Klingon, and being among real Klingons reveals tremendous conflict between the ideal and reality—which only makes sense.

On the one hand, he’s probably right to spare Toral, because Toral’s just a pawn and has done nothing except be a twit. And Gowron did give Worf his life, which implies that he can spare it if he may. (This will bite Worf on the ass in “The Sword of Kahless” on DS9.)

Then we have the blockade plot, which has one strong element—Data on his first command—and one overwhelmingly stupid one—the blockade.

Okay, let’s do the second part first: there is no way, none, that Picard’s blockade could possibly be effective, because space, as Douglas Adams reminded us, is big—really big. The Klingon Empire and Romulan Empire are two gigunda empires spanning many solar systems. It’s impossible to credit that there’s only one possible route between them. Interstellar space doesn’t have narrows or rivers or eddies or anything like that, it’s just really big. So why doesn’t Sela just go around the blockade?

Having said that, it’s fun watching Data learn how to be a ship commander. I would have preferred it if his first officer wasn’t such a blatant straw man (as an added bonus, he’s played by Timothy Carhart, who’s never played a non-slimy character in his career), but it’s a nice step in the character’s evolution.

Unfortunately, the whole episode is done in by the character of Sela, who makes no sense on any level. First of all, Romulans are a very long-lived people. Sela is only 24 years old—we’re supposed to believe that she managed to rise to the rank of commander and be put in charge of so important an operation as this one in so short a time? Especially when she’s not bright enough to go around a blockade?

Plus, on top of that, her backstory is so convoluted, and rooted in events that the characters never really experienced that the story grinds to an absolute halt so that first Guinan (in a scene that is a weak echo of a similar scene in “Yesterday’s Enterprise”—the previous one was tense, this was leaden) and then Sela herself can provide lengthy bits of exposition. That a Romulan commander would even agree to beam over to an enemy vessel unescorted and then provide intimate details of her family simply cuts off the oxygen supply to my disbelief.

At the end of that scene, Picard tells Sela that her parentage will have no effect on his strategy—and he’s right, because he doesn’t even believe her story, despite indications from both Guinan and Troi that she’s telling the truth. And why should he? The only reasons those scenes exist is to explain to the viewer who Sela is—which is utterly meaningless to the plot, which makes it a complete waste of time in an episode that simply cannot afford it. Worse, Picard comes out and says that it’s meaningless, which just makes the offense worse.

If this was all for a beloved actor or a beloved character or, y’know, someone other than Denise Crosby, I could see it. But all Crosby did was take the most interesting character in the series bible and make her mediocre, and then leave before TNG had a chance to settle into the good show it would become. The last time she came back, she was the weak link in an otherwise brilliant episode, and this is more of the same, except that “Redemption II” isn’t anywhere near as good as “Yesterday’s Enterprise.”

Though it might have been without her.


Warp factor rating: 4

Keith R.A. DeCandido will be the Klingon Guest of Honor at DucKon 21 this weekend in St. Charles, Illinois, just ouside Chicago. Come on by and wish him Qapla’!

James Goetsch
1. Jedikalos
You single out Denise Crosby unfairly, I think. The part she played was written by writers, directed by directors, produced by producers, and so forth. To lay it all on her is a bit much.
Christopher L. Bennett
2. Christopher L. Bennett
I agree with the review -- the Sela stuff made no sense and served no purpose in this story. The whole time-travel/alternate-reality backstory never had any relevance to the character in any of her subsequent appearances, the crew never subsequently showed any curiosity about resolving the mystery of her origin, and the attempt here to use it as her motivation for being anti-Federation is kind of pointless when most Romulan characters are anti-Federation anyway. The Sela character could've been divorced from the Yar backstory and played by a different actress and been no different at all. So it was all a complete waste, and it cheapens "Yesterday's Enterprise" to give it this pointless followup.
Christopher L. Bennett
3. Christopher L. Bennett
Oh, and about the detection grid -- since it used tachyons (i.e. faster-than-light particles), I've always assumed it was meant to be dozens of light-years across and spanning the entire Klingon-Romulan border -- so that either it would be prohibitively time-consuming to go around or going around would entail passing through Federation space and thus being vulnerable to detection by Neutral Zone outposts. The initial dialogue did indicate it was meant to span the whole border, but the way it was executed in terms of display graphics and timing made it seem much smaller. SFTV and film always do a crummy job conveying the sheer scale of space, though that's largely because it would be difficult for the viewers to comprehend, so the tendency is to shrink things down to a more familiar scale.
Christopher L. Bennett
4. RobinM
Denise Crosby nor Sela drive me crazy the way it seems to KRAD, but she only contributes to the story in that she gives Data an enemy to bounce off ,and lo she is related to Yar. The thing my friends and I talked about the most was Data gets Angry. He may not have emotions but he does a pretty good imitation with Carhart.
Chin Bawambi
5. bawambi
ill admit i like this pair of klingon episodes far more than i should but the acting by crosby kills me here. she doesnt improve the lousy character one bit and she is even worse when we come to reunification. strawman commander is pointless as well. a few lines of plot could have explained away the need to fight here but not the only ship not ready is datas??? it could have made episode so much better if strawman was disobeying starfleets orders and data had to support that decision.
Christopher L. Bennett
7. MvComedy
Even when I was quite young and saw this episode for the first time, I remember thinking there was too much going on. Funny, I never noticed the fact that Worf does not react upon seeing Sela for the first time. A missed opportunity to be sure.
Christopher L. Bennett
8. Bytowner
Wondering if the ships travelling with Enterprise-D were simply the closest ones to the part of the border they were nearest to. Other Starfleet task forces of similar size perhaps handling other border sectors?
Christopher L. Bennett
9. strongDreams
You know, we never really get the feeling in Star Trek that the Federation is big. It seems to have thousands of star systems, and should probably have hundreds of capital ships. (At a time when the US Navy was 600 ships, there were only 5 top of the line nuclear aircraft carriers; the Federation had 12 Galaxy class starships alone.) Partly this is a lack of imagination on the part of the writers and producers, partly a limitation of special effects. And yet, since the only depiction of the blockade was on an Okudagram, they could have easily shown us a hundred ships instead of 10.

@CLB, the only problem with your theory of the blockade covering hundreds of light years is Data's ship being close enough to hit the blockade runners with torpedos.
Christopher L. Bennett
10. JoeNotCharles
I dunno, you gave it a low score at the end, but the summary was riveting!
Margot Virzana
11. LuvURphleb
Sela's story makes sense in the timeline scenario. The Enterprise C was from the past so when it missed its date with romulan fire it altered the current future (oh i crack myself up with these time jokes) Yar went back with Enterprise C thus changing the past back to what we know. However, because Yar went back she would still remember because nothing was altered around her.
What would have made more sense is if Yar's entire existence in Star fleet had been wiped out.
The future was changed, causing Worf to grow up Klingon and Yar to return. But when the future reverted back to normal Yar should have been removed from everyone's memories because how can she exist twice in one time line?
I guess what could have happened is that one confluence partially collapsed/ merged with the normal timeline giving Picard et al TWO Yars in two different places.
For a complete answer you would have to ask T'Viss- the temporal Vulcan at Department of Temporal Investigations.

That would mean that both Sela and Picard are correct. She is a Tasha's daughter but not Picard's dead crewmate's daughter.
Gary Singer
12. AhoyMatey
@krad: "Worf grumbles that they don’t have time for this crap, and..." Lol... I don't really comment on the rewatch, but I read every post and it's always entertaining. Thanks!
Christopher L. Bennett
13. Mike Kelm
One of the things that I think frustrates us all is that it seems like there was never a meeting where the writers and the tech guys sat down and figured out the basic "rules" (for lack of a better term) of the 24th Century era Federation. Nobody ever said- this is how big the Federation/Klingon/Romulan/Ferengi/Cardassian/etc empire is, this is how many ships everyone has, this is how Starfleet is organized, this is how ranks work, this is how ships fight... and as a result we all get frustrated with the blatant problems. We get a fleet that is too small, ranks that make no sense, Colm Meaney as Chief O'Brien as everybody on the ship who isn't the main cast, and as Spock put it in Star Trek II, very 2-dimensional starfleet operations.

This is also a case where the lack of story arcs really, really hurts the series. There is enough going on in this episode that with a little imagination, could have spanned an entire season's worth of episodes. In the span of 42 minutes we do time travel conspiracy, fight an entire civil war, have a showdown between two empires, and reconcile. One storyline that could have been pursued is Sela's- Sela is a romulan who looks human- maybe young to be a commander, but she'd make a great spy/saboteur who has to resolve issues between her two lineages. The Tal Shiar gets her into Starfleet Academy, she works her way up in the ranks, is an engineer on the Sutherland and causes the damage onboard, but she also has doubts that the Federation is the boogeyman the way she's been told. Denise Crosby isn't a stellar actress, which makes her poor to be the "big bad", but as part of a larger arc she could be serviceable. Because we're rushing past all of these stories, we miss so much... we see Sela and Picard interact, but what about Riker and Data and Worf, who appears completely unfazed to find a doppleganger of his former boss holding him captive. An impassioned exchange where Worf saying that Sela completely misunderstood her own mother would be a very compelling scene, but like all non bad guy races in TNG, we don't get nuance- we just get "bad guy=evil" and move on. I also agree with CLB in #2... there seems to be no follow up concerns about Sela, her origins, etc.

I sometimes wonder what a reboot of TNG would be like if it was helmed by someone like Ronald Moore or Joss Whedon. Long story arcs, character development, consistency between episodes- I think this is the series we all *want* to see...
Jack Jack
14. JackJack
13. Mike Kelm

When "The Wounded" came along, we had an antagonist that was neither Romulan nor Klingon. It was at this point that DS9 should have been established and the Romulans should have been backstoried. We know that Spock has a special relationship to the Romulans, and that should never be discounted, but the Romulans are still backorder species, and they really never even count. And that's terrible.

There should have never been a mention of loss of contact between the Empire and the Federation. The loss of the E-C created a whole peace overture that would have not existed without the Romulans. They are an example of the worst reasons Canon is a Problem. You had an entire civilisation wating to destroy either the Klingon Empire or the UFP, and they turn into everyday jerks. The Ferengi were fine as a Jerk of the Quadrant, but the Romulans deserved to be more.

The connection of destined purposes in DS9 gave me a thrill. A real thrill. But it could have been more if the Romulans were still the Meanie Imperial scary guys of the Quadrant.

Hence, why I still hate the very idea of the Borg... from ONLY a storytelling perspective (eh... they're very cool as a bad people).

Without coffee, "Imperials the Quadrant" makes no sense.
Christopher L. Bennett
15. Electone
Are we expected to accept that a captured Yar would eventually fall in love with a Romulan and give birth to his child?
Chris Hawks
16. SaltManZ
@15: I'm not sure that that's what was implied...
Christopher L. Bennett
17. BenMech
Great recap, Keith.
Christopher L. Bennett
18. Kallie
@13 - Yes, I would love to see that too. The only thing is, I would want the actors we had with the storylines a Joss Whedon or Ron Moore would have given them. (Wouldn't it have been nicer to have good, ongoing storylines for, say, Gates McFadden to work with?) I was a big fan of the way the 2009 movie reimagined the TOS characters and thought those actors did a great job of being the original characters without doing slavish imitations. Even so, I can't imagine anyone else being Picard other than Patrick Stewart. Right?
Christopher L. Bennett
19. Tesh
@18 @13
Please, no more reboots. Abramstrek is bad enough. If you want some arc-heavy 'Trek, make a new series already. Maybe pick up the Calhoun storyline, or better, the Challenger storyline from the "Wagon to the Stars" novel series. Make a Klingon series. Make a series in the 29th Century. There is a LOT more that can be done with Trek than pillage the past.
Christopher L. Bennett
20. Kallie
@19 - It's more of a wishful thought on what could have been (if these characters had existed in a TV world where longer story arcs were incorporated) than any actual desire for a reboot. Like I said, with these characters I can't imagine anyone else playing them.
Alan Courchene
21. Majicou
This has little to do with the episode, but I'm quite struck by the woman standing next to Deanna in the reaction-shot image. Memory Alpha says she's a background player named Karen Baxter, and that this was her last appearance. Glad she got a good shot.

About the episode itself, though: After Sela beams aboard the Enterprise, why go through all the rigmarole of the tachyon net and the torpedoes? What about "Hey, Admiral, we have footage of the Romulan convoy commander coming aboard our ship and explaining what she's about. No, it's NOT A FAAAAAAAAAAKE!"
Keith DeCandido
22. krad
Majicou: good point, although one ship decloaking to ask what the fleet's doing on the border can be explained away as being there for a legit purpose. A fleet moving toward Klingon space is a different matter.

But agreed that it doesn't quite track....

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Christopher L. Bennett
23. Alan Balthrop
KRAD and I discussed this privately, but my biggest problem with episode was the final scene.

You had to resgin from Starfleet and be piped of the Enterprise, but you can walk away from the Klingon Defense Force?
Christopher L. Bennett
24. Philippe13
@13. Mike Kelm: TNG reboot?! What a great idea!!!!
But wait, @19. Twesh, even better: a Klingon series!!!!
(Head swimming with possibilities).
Will there ever be another ST series? Will Lucas decide to make a live-action SW series?
Will Firefly return one day?
Will Riker? Wil Wheaton?
(Ok I'm done with that).

@ 23. Alan Balthrop: Indeed! Why not have Worf stay in the KDF for a while...maybe the rest of the season even? I guess this harks back to the story arc wish. Although, I'm don’t know how common story arcs were very common in the 90s and if that had anything to do with it or if there was direction from Paramount to keep the episodes relatively contained. Now series with arcs like Fringe help newcomers by flashing key points before the beginning of the episode, which I think is a great idea even for regular viewers as it serves as a reminder of key plots points that may have occurred a while ago and really enhance the story.
Back to the topic at hand, my biggest problem with this episode now and when I first say it, and I was 11 when it aired, is that the whole time I was thinking what Keith R. (Richard?) A. (Allan) DeCandido wrote: "Sela then decides to decloak and hail the Enterprise, since the idea of going around the net never occurs to her."
I remember asking that same question and thinking "Really? This is what you came up with after having the entire summer to write it?"
Well, at least TNG is better on a rewatch than McGyver...yerch that series sucked! lol
Joseph Newton
25. crzydroid
We were just watching the special features and I guess the idea behind the bottle shows was because it was first run syndication. In syndication, they want that flexibility (which I interpreted as flexibility to air the episodes in different orders according to special schedules).

I don't know how common story arcs were back then, and I don't know how cliché cliché strawmen were back then. But even with all the things that are criticized about it now, I do wonder if TNG helped pave the way for other tv shows that have features we now like about them. How many good shows would we be missing if there hadn't been TNG, even in bottle show form?
Christopher L. Bennett
26. Mike Kelm
Reboot might not be quite the right word. Change that to apply current TV writing practices to late 80's early 90's television. TNG was very much a series of bottle shows, where there wasn't very much carry over from one show to a next (if there was it was more of a "feel" than any actual plot transfer. There isn't anything wrong with that- the Law and Order Franchise was incredibly successful doing just that, it's a tried and true practice in sitcoms as well. It's nice because it doesn't create barriers for new viewers to drop in and become fans rather than shows with complicated plots which can be hard to overcome for people who haven't watched from the beginning. However, several successful drama/sci-fi shows in the last decade have done away with being pure bottle shows and had series long story arcs, and I gave Joss Whedon and Ronald Moore credit for possibly being the most successful with the Buffyverse and BSG series.

That being said, I think what I and Kallie were going for is we would like to see today's writing styles applied, so we see more character development, more suspense, and longer storylines rather than recasting Picard and the rest and going back to Farpoint
Alyssa Tuma
27. AlyssaT
@19 - I LOVE the idea of a new Trek series where the lens was something different from the usual/Starfleet. Klingon would be perfect. I think they straddle a nice, complex, good guy/bad guy divide that would be fascinating to explore. I never thought of myself as a Klingon-slanted Trek fan, but I always have so much fun when we go into their world. And I think it's clever that in past series we are initially meant to think that Klingons are pretty one-dimensional (warriors, honor, etc.), while at the same time we are slowly shown more and more different examples of what it means "to be Klingon."

And since we've all complained about the lack of fleshing out the Romulans get, how bout a Romulan-centered show? Write them more complex, give them those motivations and depth. Help us understand why they are all seemingly a-holes. The uniforms and bowls cuts? Now there's something that I don't think many of us would mind being rebooted :)
alastair chadwin
28. a-j
To those who are wondering: iirc, the '90s were when story arcs were first appearing and they threw many people. The first, that I am aware of, was Babylon 5 followed by Steven Bochco's Murder One, then American Gothic and finally ST:DS9 as a late arrival to the game.

While story arcs can be deeply satisfying to serious fans of a series, they can also destroy it by heavily alienating and excluding casual viewers. The same point applies to the issue of world or universe building. If you are not careful, that can become a prison and drain on originality and you end up with Enterprise.
Christopher L. Bennett
29. rowanblaze
Just picking a nit here, but the conversation has turned onto so-called "bottle episodes," when what is meant is a "stand-alone episode" as opposed to a story arc. The term "bottle episode," which was coined by the Star Trek cast and crew, though the idea didn't start with them, applies to a relatively low budget episode that occurs entirely on the existing set, with little or no special effects work necessary. It was actually a selection of TNG bottle episodes that convinced Paramount execs that DS9 (an arc heavy show) would be a viable concept.

I had the same feeling KRAD and others had regarding the blockade: the initial concept may have been for the whole border to be blockaded; but as presented in the episode, it should have been easy bypass.
Joseph Newton
30. crzydroid
@29: Thanks for the clarification. That is very helpful.
Christopher L. Bennett
31. JasonD
I don't really have an issue with the idea of the blockade for a couple reasons. True, the Klingon and Romulan Empires are probably extremely vast, but we son't know how they are shaped. Since space is 3-dimensional (in a limited way, which I'll explain) each political holding could simply be considered a Sphere of Influence. States and countries on Earth usually have their borders defined by rivers, mountains, or lines of latitude or longitude. In space, there would be know naturally occurring borders, unless two governemtns agreed on a nebula or something. The point I'm trying to make is, if we go with the Sphere of Influence idea, regardless of their sizes, two spheres can only intersect at a single point, like pool balls touching. So the blockade would be placed at the only logical position on the border where the spheres intersected.

Also, while space itself is 3-dimensional, it is established that Star Trek is limited to our Milky Way galaxy, which is a flat spiral. The average thickness of the galaxy is about 1,000 light years, and Earth is closer to the outer edge than the middle. It could even be argued that the large majority of stars and planets are on a flat plane. So, in terms of interstellar travel, exhibiting "2-dimensional thinking" is probably not a failing. But that's just me trying to plug real science into Trek.

And honestly, I loved the Abrams reboot, and think it would do very well as an episodic show. I just wish the bridge didn't look like it was built by Apple.
Keith DeCandido
32. krad
A few things....

1) R.A. does not stand for Richard Allan. *laughs*

2) Hill Street Blues was doing story arcs in the early 1980s when Babylon 5 was just a twinkle in J. Michael Straczynski's eye.

3) If you want to see life on a Klingon ship, I recommend my novels Diplomatic Implausibility, The Brave and the Bold Book 2, the three I.K.S. Gorkon novels (A Good Day to Die, Honor Bound, Enemy Territory), and Klingon Empire: A Burning House, which all portray life on a Klingon ship, the aforementioned I.K.S. Gorkon in the year following the end of the Dominion War, under the command of Klag (from "A Matter of Honor"). We also get a look at Klag and the gang a few years later in A Singular Destiny.

4) There will be no rewatch today as I'm in Chicago for DucKon 21 (as the Klingon Guest of Honor), and totally forgot to pack disc 1 of season 5 from my TNG DVD set. Oops. Look for "Darmok" on Tuesday.

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Christopher L. Bennett
33. Philippe13
Sorry about messing up your name krad, just wanted to see if I could make you laugh.
(Robert Andreassi)

BTW, are you able to make a guest appearance on BBT? It would be great to see them all actually at a Comi-Con and maybe bump into you!
Christopher L. Bennett
34. Sean O'Hara
Story arcs go back to the earliest days of television -- I Love Lucy spent a whole season on the Ricardos and Mertzs going to Hollywood, and another on their European tour, not to mention a good chunk of time devoted to Lucy's pregnancy. It wasn't like Babylon 5 where you miss an episode and you're screwed, but there's a definite order to the episodes with a narrative through-line.
Keith DeCandido
35. krad
I don't know what BBT is.....

---Keith R.A. DeCandido, feeling ignorant
alastair chadwin
36. a-j

Of course, I'd totally forgotten Hill Street Blues. Although I might argue that it, and soap operas since TV began, had character arcs, what the '90s brought in were major story arcs so that you got what was essentially a serial with a couple of stand alone episodes scattered within.

The two arcs are not exclusive by any means, but I would maintain that it is easier to dip into a series where someone is mourning a death rather than a series where every few episodes a total plotshifter about the murder comes along.

For the record I like story arcs and think they give great depth to a series but I worry that they can put off viewers or even result in people waiting for the series to end before starting in case it gets cancelled (as is being discussed on another thread and the whole George RR Martin brouhaha that's been going on)
alastair chadwin
37. a-j
Oh, and I hope you had a great time. I bet you made a brilliant Klingon guest of honour!
Christopher L. Bennett
38. Idran
@35 krad: Big Bang Theory, the CBS sitcom
Keith DeCandido
39. krad
Oh, THAT BBT! Duh!

---Keith R.A. DeCandido, dumb
Christopher L. Bennett
40. don3comp
I remember enjoying the episode. I liked the exchanges between Sela and Picard, including the "Doubts? I'm full of them...it will not affect my judgement!" line. It was also nice seeing Data thrive in command, especially when he was expected not to.

One thing bugs me though. If you are in the Federation, and in Starfleet, shouldn't you be used to ALL life forms having similar capabilities to you (humans)? How did someone with Hobson's attitude ever make it this far? In "Balance of Terror" Kirk told an officer who spoke against Vulcans to "leave your bigotry in your quarters, because there's no room for it on the bridge." Eighty years later, how was Hobson never told that?
Keith DeCandido
41. krad
don3comp: That's easy -- Hobson's bigotry is against androids. This was his first time dealing with one face to face, so it's the first time it came up in the context of duty.

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Joseph Newton
42. crzydroid
RE: 40 & 41: To be fair, Hobson wasn't totally anti-android like the guy in Balance of Terror was (with Vulcans/Romulans). He even told Data at the beginning that he respected him as a fellow officer. His problem was that he didn't think an android could be suited for command, just like a Klingon wouldn't make a good counselor. In his mind, it was a matter of logic, not feeling. He probably felt that androids were incapable of making snap qualitative judgments. It is definitely a predjudice, but a prejudice of a different sort.
Christopher L. Bennett
43. Christopher L. Bennett
@Keith: I'd say that what Hill Street Blues (and soap operas) did was open-ended serial storytelling, but what was different and new about Babylon 5 was the seasonal arc -- the treatment of a season (or the whole series) as a distinct entity with a unifying arc tying it together and coming to a resolution in the finale. That's the thing that B5 pioneered and that many shows later emulated. HSB did have big season finales, but I don't think it had a single overall unifying storyline tying each season together.
Christopher L. Bennett
44. leandar
Keith, I gotta tell ya that what really got me was something else. I had heard earlier that year (1991 obviously lol) and I don't remember where exactly, if I had read it, or saw it on TV, maybe on one of those old QVC Trek memorabilia shows or wherever it was, the guy said that he heard that Denise Crosby had figured out how to bring Tasha Yar back. Not an alternate universe counterpart, not said counterpart's daughter, but Tasha Yar. I was a teenager then, so forgive me if you think this hokey, but I was hoping that when Sela stepped out of the shadows in ''Redemption I'' that Part II would reveal that to really be Tasha, and that a retcon explaining that Beverly actually did save her in ''Skin of Evil,'' but under secret orders from Picard, she had to fake Tasha's death because Starfleet was sending her undercover to the Romulan Empire and now she was coming out much in the way that ''Ambassador T'Pel'' had come out of Federation space in "Data's Day.'' So you can imagine I was disappointed when that didn't happen and then they make her the bad guy and then they make her a lame bad guy who didn't last past two appearances and how she managed to avoid execution after ''Unification II'' would be something that surprises me for sure!

Another thing: Wasn't the whole point of ''Yesterday's Enterprise'' giving Tasha Yar a ''better death'' than what she got in ''Skin of Evil?" If so, then that pretty much gets shot to hell in a handbasket by this episode. She goes back in time with Enterprise-C to restore the timeline to it's proper shape, hoping to die a heroic death, only to live several years in captivity on Romulus, only to eventually die by firing squad after a failed escape attempt. Whaaaat???!? Well, so much for that ''better and more gallant death,'' huh?

Personally, I think there could have been a lot more dramatic impact if they'd left her alive and had her meet Picard. Perhaps even have her instead of Sela, maybe she eventually gave up hope of rescue and joined with the Romulans now because of anger that they didn't care enough to follow up on the stories of prisoners taken back to Romulus so they just left her and Castillo and the others to rot. Or perhaps Sela brings her and they do have that long debate/conversation. It wouldn't have been that hard to age Denise Crosby about twenty years or so with some makeup.
Christopher L. Bennett
45. Rob B.
I was really surprised at the Crosby hate. I don't see how anybody can criticize her for leaving the show when--as you've pointed out many times before, Keith--the first season of the show mostly sucked. I mean seriously, how many of the actors do you think had second thoughts about being involved with it after seeing the finished product? Even Gates McFadden needed to be persuaded to come back for the third season, rather than jumping at the chance. As for how members of the original series' cast felt about the show in those early days, George Takei publicly blasted "The Naked Now" as being a horrible ripoff of a good TOS episode, and IIRC James Doohan wanted absolutely nothing to do with the series until he was shown some episodes that were actually good, which I'm positive didn't include any from the first season.

I wouldn't have blamed Crosby if she'd wanted to throw in the towel because of "Code Of Honor" alone.
46. jlpsquared

I completely agree with you, Star Trek has always done a piss ppor job of showing how huge Star fleet is. It is not like they ahve to SHOW the whole fleet, just make a graphic with hundreds of points that represent ships and show 2 or 3 of em. Battlestar Galactica mentioned at 1 point that they had 60 battlestars...during peacetime, implying during war there were way more. And they only had 12 star systems. The federation is 1000s. But even into ds9 there is always an implication that the ENTIRE fleet is around 50-60 ships??????

But, I kind of liked this episode.. Crosby never bothered, maybe because I had a big crush on her when I was 10. But there was way too much going on, and i HATED that worf didn't kill that pimple at the end. I think this was the point worf really started becoming a weak character.

And hey Crosby WAS a bad actress. Sure there are directors and writers, but at the end of the day, a good actor/ress can overcome. Look at Stewart in season 1.
F Shelley
47. FSS
I just saw this one on bbca. Yeah, denise crosby is just crap. Just really really awful...
Arsene Lupin
48. Arsene-Lupin
It’s impossible to credit that there’s only one possible route between them. Interstellar space doesn’t have narrows or rivers or eddies or anything like that, it’s just really big. So why doesn’t Sela just go around the blockade?

My understanding is that subspace does. So, basically, subsace is less uniform than normal space, so certain areas allow for faster, more efficient travel. It's explained a bit in Chrisotpher Bennett's books, but I'm sure Memory Alpha/Beta has an adequate explanation.

As for the 'blockade' itself, I think it's just an(other) example of anachronistic terminology. I imagine each ship in the Blockade was arrayed three-dimensionally across the R/K border (being displayed as 2D necessary due to technological limitations of the show) with each ship several, or several dozen light years away from the others. It was less of a "blockade" and more of a detection net--each ship would be able to detect cloacked vessels, or otherwise approximate their location, and there would always be at least 1 ship close enough to warp there quickly.

Or, alternatively, supposing greater limitations of Federation technology, the detection net could have been mobile, sweeping across the border like a rake--thus allowing a relatively small fleet to cover a wide swath of territory.

And keep in mind that while space is BIG, and that the Klingon and Romulan Empires are also BIG (though likely much, much, much smaller area-wise than most estimates, due to the fact that current estimates for the size of our galaxy are much larger now than they were a decade ago), space IS three-dimensional, and the Klingon/Romulan border may only consist of a few dozen (or less) star systems in close proximity to one another.

tl;dr the blockade only seems stupid if you accept it at face value, and don't try to think about how it could make sense. This is Trek! You're supposed to think about things!
Christopher L. Bennett
49. Risingson
I'm not very convinced by the disctintion between season story arcs and Hill Street Blues story arcs. Indeed, wikipedia sends to this annoucement from Straczinsky http://www.jmsnews.com/msg.aspx?id=1-7689 that says "It would have to take an adult approach to SF, and attempt to do for television SF what HILL STREET BLUES did for cop shows", no less. The only reason for giving less credit to the cop show is forgetting it, because it is still wonderful and the overlapping story arcs work in a very subtle way (joined with the Altman-esque storytelling the show approached sometimes).

Nothing to add to the rewatch. TNG feels like a victim to its bottle episodes, and you all already explained it very well why.
Christopher L. Bennett
50. Scott M
I generally agree with the assessment and the comments, but many are judging this based on 20+ years of TV evolution. In the era of TNG, the idea of such grand story arcs was extremely rare outside of soap operas. In fact, I'd say we were somewhat lucky we got them to the extent that we did on TNG.
Christopher L. Bennett
51. Jeffrey M
Well, I might be the only one, but I have to disagree with a lot of the comments on this thread. I actually think what made Star Trek TNG great was the lack of story arcs. Story arcs work great for many shows, but listen to the opening sequence..."To boldly go where no one has gone before". Sounds exciting, right? But wait, ever other episode will be about the same story for an entire season. Not so exciting after all. Thankfully that isn't how it went. With TNG you never knew what to expect in the next episode and, for me, that's what made it great. Honestly, these two part episodes were always the worst in my opinion...except for the one where they went to 19th century San Fransisco. That one was good.
Christopher L. Bennett
52. RudiMentry
I noticed Picard gave Data command of the Sutherland, after Data quoted his 26 years in Starfleet, of which, of course, 5 have been on the Enterprise. Given he was pretty much a social retard in season 1, he must have been intolerably obnoxious, 20 years earlier.

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