"Birthright, Part One"

Season Six, Episode 16
Written by Brannon Braga
Directed by Winrich Kolbe
Main Cast:
Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean-Luc Picard
Jonathan Frakes as Commander William Riker
LeVar Burton as Lt Geordi LaForge
Michael Dorn as Lt Worf
Gates McFadden as Dr Beverly Crusher
Marina Sirtis as Counsellor Deanna Troi
Brent Spiner as Lt Cmdr Data

Guest Cast:
Siddig El Fadil as Dr Julian Bashir
James Cromwell as Jaglom Shrek
Christine Rose as Gi'ral
Jennifer Gatti as Ba'el
Richard Herd as L'Kor

As the Enterprise docks at Deep Space Nine, Worf learns from a Yridian that his father, presumed killed at Khittomer, is actually still alive and living on a Romulan Prison Camp. Worf is horrified -- if captured a Klingon must either kill himself or face grave dishonour. He decides to set out and check whether this is true, securing transport to the camp.

Meanwhile, a power surge causes Data to experience his first dream and a vision of his "father", Dr Noonian Soong. The jolt evidently activated a dormant "dream program", a step along Data's path toward humanity. Data decides that every day he will "sleep" for a time in order to experience his dreams. Worf, meantime, arrives at the Prison Camp and although he discovers his father died some years ago, he is shocked to find Klingons and Romulans living together peacefully.


A few episodes ago, our last two-parter, Chain of Command broke that ol' "first episode is better than the second" rule of thumb. Birthright breaks another -- that generally TNG two-parters are Big Event episodes with lots going on and lots to recommend. Not so here, I'm afraid.

Maybe it's just me, but I didn't find the Worf plot remotely interesting or engaging. Admittedly I don't much care for the character, so therefore it's difficult for me to care all that much at the prospect of his father still being alive. But given that his father has only been mentioned a couple of times in passing over the years, I'm not quite sure there's much grounds for drama here. I was also less than enamoured by Worf's attitude upon learning that Daddy dearest could still be alive. Instead of being overjoyed at the prospect he's furious, because if Mogh has allowed himself to be taken prisoner, it will dishonour the family name.

Worf, buddy, you're a jerk -- a complete jerk. It's not the first time, but Worf apparently cares more about himself and his prissy "honour" than he does anyone or anything else. Probably the only reason he went to check out the prison camp was so that if Mogh was alive, he could kill him -- or persuade him to kill himself -- to satisfy all that Klingon claptrap. In itself, the whole plot was executed very routinely and capped off with a cliff-hanger that didn't exact leave me holding my breath and deeply eager to find out what happens next. Frankly, I wasn't all that bothered what happened next.

Luckily, the sub-plot involving Data's first dream was a lot more enjoyable than the main story. It was great to see a nice Deep Space Nine crossover and a welcome guest appearance by then-Siddig El Fadil as Bashir (although the part was originally written for Dax). If anything, it would have been nice had we seen more of the DS9 and TNG characters interacting. Anyway, an accident in Engineering causes Data to lose consciousness and experience his first dream, in which he sees his "father", Doctor Noonian Soong. Whilst the plot didn't actually lead anywhere, it was fun to watch Data explore this new facet of his nature and take a step closer to humanity -- and I loved his paintings, by the way! On the whole, the directing was rather routine throughout the episode, with the very notably exception of the dream sequences, which were just stunning. Winrich Kolbe made them appropriately surreal and dream-like and even the shot of Data walking through a corridor was somewhat eerie. The high point of the episode was easily the shot of Data (from his point of view) flying through the corridors of the ship like a bird and then out into space. A wonderful, beautiful, invigorating few moments. We could have done with more of them. 

Rating: 6

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