Season Seven, Episode 21
Teleplay by Rene Echevarria
Story by Mark Kalbfeld
Directed by Jonathan West
Main Cast:
Patrick Stewart as Capt Jean-Luc Picard
Jonathan Frakes as Cmdr William Riker
LeVar Burton as Lt Cmdr 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:
James Sloyan as K'Mtar
Brian Bonsall as Alexander
Gwynyth Walsh as B'Etor
Barbara March as Lursa
Armin Shimerman as Quark
Joel Swetow as Yog
Colin Mitchell as Gorta
Michael Danek as "Kahless" singer
John Kenton Shull as "Molor" singer
Rickey D'Shon Collins as Eric

Worf prepares for Alexander's Age of Ascension, the time in which a Klingon child declares his intent to become a warrior. But Alexander has no interest in becoming a warrior, so Worf takes him to a Klingon outpost to celebrate the Kot'Baval Festival, in which Klingons celebrate the triumph of Kahless over Molor. But Worf and Alexander are attacked by Klingon assassins, only to be rescued by K'Mtar, a trusted family friend who has been sent by Kurn to save them.

K'Mtar takes an interest in Alexander, pledging to help Worf get him interested in Klingon culture. But he soon loses his patience, berating Alexander's lack of fighting ability and challenging Worf's fitness as a father. Meanwhile, the blade used by Worf's assassin bears the crest of the House of Duras -- suggesting Lursa and B'Etor were behind the plot. The Enterprise mounts a search to find them and get to the bottom of things. However, the Duras sisters are baffled by the blade retrieved from the attackers -- it belongs to Lursa's child. Lursa only learned that she was pregrant days ago.

Worf confronts K'Mtar with the evidence, only to find him about to kill the sleeping Alexander. After Worf restrains him, K'Mtar reveals the truth -- he is a future version of Alexander. He has travelled back in time to his own childhood to try and change his upbringing and thus avert a catastrophe in which Worf will be killed before his own eyes. Both decide that the best course of action will be for young Alexander to choose his own path in life and honour himself.


Although Firstborn is TNG's last delve into Klingon culture, as far as I'm concerned that particular well has become about as dry as the Sahara desert. Although the series has gotten some good mileage out of Worf and his tumultuous relationship with his own people, I've long since grown sick of all of this monotonous, vacuous Klingon claptrap. The last straw was the sixth season's lamentable Birthright, Part Two which was probably the most appallingly fascist episode of Star Trek ever filmed. So you'll forgive me if I'm less than enamoured by Worf and his preoccupation with all things ritualistic. If only he put more effort into being a half-way decent father than with trying to force Alexander to embrace a culture that clearly isn't his own. Nope, nope, nope -- I found this latest dollop of dour Klingon angst quite unpalatable.

But the real gist of the story is the interesting notion of a middle-aged Alexander travelling back to his childhood to influence his upbringing and therefore prevent a future catastrophe in which he is responsible for his father's death. Trek veteran James Sloyan is on typically excellent form as "K'Mtar", the older Alexander, delivering a powerful, textured and ultimately moving performance. Sadly, the material itself isn't quite worthy of Sloyan's talent. In theory, there's something undeniably poignant about going back in time to correct a mistake, but in execution things don't quite pan out. For a start, it's damn near impossible to reconcile K'Mtar and Alexander as one and the same person. But supposing we were convinced of this -- how come no one else put two and two together? No matter how much a person might age in appearance, surely they retain recognisable characteristics and traits? If K'Mtar were an older version of Alexander, I simply can't accept that it would slip by everyone.

The problems stem deeper than that, however. There's an uninvolving and quite superfluous sub-plot involving a search for the Duras sisters, seemingly only incorporated to provide a brief reintroduction to Lursa and B'Etor in lieu of the upcoming movie, Generations. Too much time spent on this filler, while the climax, which provides the gist of the episode, is resolved far too quickly and clumsily. Despite Sloyan's strong performance and a reference to season four's powerful Reunion which lends some emotional resonance, the episode fails to sell the concept convincingly, while writer Rene Echevarria is seemingly oblivious to the underlying message that violence pays over diplomacy. Let's just say, The Visitor this isn't.

Rating: 5

(Incidentally, the original outline for this episode featured an accident which transformed young Alexander into an older man, thus robbing him of his childhood. Although Michael Piller nixed this idea, it later formed the basis of the sixth season DS9 episode Time's Orphan)

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