"Birthright, Part Two"

Season Six, Episode 17
Written by Rene Echevarria
Directed by Dan Curry
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:
Richard Herd as L'Kor
Christine Rose as Gi'ral
James Cromwell as Jaglom Shrek
Alan Scarfe as Tokath
Jennifer Gatti as Ba'el
Sterling Macer, Jr as Toq

Worf is held captive at the Romulan Prison Camp, where the Klingons and Romulans have learned to live in peace. Worf is appalled that the young Klingons know nothing of their heritage and so takes it upon himself to educate them in the Klingon ways. However, his presence threatens to tear apart the peaceful colony and some of the youths already wish to leave and join the Empire. It is agreed that Worf must leave and anyone that wishes to go with him may. He pledges not to reveal the truth about the colony and thus taint the honour of their famillies.


Will you excuse me a sec while I look out the thesaurus? I wonder how many different words there are for "crap". Let's see, there's crap...crap...and crap. I remember the first time I watched this episode, several years back, it was a real struggle to get through it. Second time around, it was almost impossible to resist the urge to hit the "off button" -- I really had to force myself to stick with it for the purpose of writing this review. Now it's payback time <evil grin>.

Let's see, why did I hate this episode so much? Is it because it's an interminably boring, tedious and miserably executed waste of an hour? Well, that certainly didn't help but there's more to it than that. The main problem lies at the very core of the story -- ie, Worf. I've never particularly liked Worf that much, although I've never HATED him quite so much as I did here. Worf finds a colony where Romulans and Klingons have learned to live in peace and put behind them the bad blood of their people. Good on them, huh? Oohhh but no, what does Worf think about this? Why he's absolutely disgusted! And you know why? Because he's a facist, racist bigot.

Racism is sadly a very real issue which affects our society, so I'm always pleased when the writers have the guts to tackle it head-on. But here they basically condone and glorify it. The overlying message is that people of different races will never -- and should never be allowed to -- live together in peace. The thing that really bothers me about Worf is not that he has racist views, it's that he's allowed to keep these views and he's accepted for it. "What's up with him?" "Oh, that's just Worf for you." Excuse me, but racism is never EVER acceptable. By all means explore a character's resentment and less rosy beliefs, but you must make them question and reevaluate those beliefs. By allowing Worf to act like this and to get away with it unchallenged is in no uncertain terms justifying racial prejudice and saying "hey, it's OK to be racist!" I'm still shocked and appalled at this.

I'm not quite sure what message the writers' were trying to convey and I can only assume they were unaware what they actually were saying. Perhaps what they meant to say is that we musn't forget our heritage and that we can't let ourselves dissolve into "the melting pot". The way I see it is that people are people, regardless of sex, race or religion. This is something that society has been struggling to internalise for decades as we have strived to overcome racism, sexism, homophobia and religious intolerance. By the same note, there is nothing good ever comes from "racial pride" or religious pride or whatever. Believe it or not, pride is very often a dangerous thing. It can easily lead to discrimination and the egotistical misbelief that we are "better" than others when in fact all that we are is different. Look at Yugoslavia. Frankly, I don't see much difference to Worf's attitude here and that of Slobodan Miloscevic with regards to Kosovo. I don't think I've ever seen anything more hideously misguided, disturbing and offensive on Trek. To me, it completely flies in the face of everything that Trek is meant to stand for.

So, I pretty much hated the episode and I hated Worf for what he did. By the end I was actually cheering when Tokath announced that he was to be put to death (truly, I was!). That was surely not the intention. Worf spends the whole episode a monotonous, boring, facist fart and forgive me if I find his attempts to break up the peaceful colony considerably less than heroic. Michael Dorn played the part with all the charisma of a bunyon and lest we not forget the Worf/Ba'el relationship which was among the most horribly contrived and ineffective "romances" in Trek history (boasting a very poor performance from Jennifer Gatti as Ba'el). At one point, in his attempts to get through to the young Klingons, Worf snatches one of their tools and yells "do you know what this sphere is FOR?!!" I won't tell you where to stick your friggin' sphere, bud. As for the hunting scene -- I refuse to comment. Needless to say, as someone who deplores blood sports I was not impressed.

I've already said more than enough about Birthright, Part Two. I'm sorry that not a word of it was good but I honestly can't think of anything positive to say about this utterly wretched episode. Suffice to say, it  doesn't get much worse than this. 

Rating: 1

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