Star Trek: The Next Generation/Recap/S3/E17 Sins of the Father

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"DO YOU WISH TO SPEAK!! Acting Ensign Wesley Crusher?"
—Commander Kurn

This is the first episode in the Worf-Duras story arc and shows how true Worf is to Klingon ideals - truer than other Klingons, in fact.

Captains Log Stardate 43865.2: The USS Enterprise rendezvous with a Klingon cruiser to take on a Klingon commander, Kurn, who has been temporarily assigned to the Enterprise as acting first officer as part of the Federation-Klingon Officer Exchange Program. (Earlier, on Stardate 42506.5, Commander and Enterprise First Officer William Riker served in a similar capacity aboard the IKS Pagh.) Kurn immediately tries to impose "Klingon-style" discipline aboard the Starfleet vessel, with Captain Jean-Luc Picard's full approval. The surprised crew find Kurn's methods excessively harsh and draconian.

When La Forge and Wesley complain privately to Riker about this, he reminds them that Kurn has a different style of command and that Klingons believe in obedience and strict adherence to regulations. However, it is notable that the only person Kurn has not been giving a hard time is "the one person who wouldn't really mind it": Worf.

Kurn has been giving Worf easy assignments, exaggeratedly praising his efficiency during a minor course correction. Worf slowly begins to overheat at this babying treatment.

Riker offers to assist Kurn with suggestions in working with the crew. Kurn respectfully declines the offer, reminding Riker that on a Klingon ship he would be killed for such a "suggestion".

A special dinner is prepared at the captain's mess in honor of Kurn, who understands the honor and is prepared to sample some of the food, even though some of it is cooked -- but he doesn't like it, and bluntly explains that it is too bland. La Forge observes that it seems to agree with Worf, earning Worf a contemptuous look from Kurn.

After dinner, filled with rage, Worf goes to Kurn's quarters to demand an explanation. When the other expresses doubt of Worf's Klingon instincts to which Worf responds Klingon style. Kurn is pleased and says he's been testing Worf to see just how Klingon he was, revealing that he is really Worf's younger brother.

Kurn then explains some of his Backstory, that when Mogh's family went to Khitomer, he had been left behind with their father's friend Lorgh and so escaped the massacre. Worf explains to Kurn that the Starfleet officer that rescued him was told by the Klingon High Command that he had no living relatives, believing that Kurn was with the family and therefore killed at Khitomer. After the massacre, Lorgh adopted Kurn as his son and kept him in his family. When Kurn reached the age of ascension he was told the truth about his bloodline.

Kurn has sought Worf out because their father, Mogh, is accused of treason by the Klingon High Council. Supposedly, he had lowered the shields of the Khitomer outpost just before the Romulan attack. Kurn had lived all these years hiding his identity by masquerading as the son of Lorgh, but when he learned of the Council's action he came to Worf, asking him to challenge the judgment as Mogh's elder son.

Worf explains this to the captain and asks for shore leave to resolve the matter. Picard says that since Worf is accused of a capital crime it would be better if he were standing at Worf's side as he made his challenge, and commands Kurn to set course for the Klingon homeworld. Kurn is surprised; he hadn't expected the Enterprise itself to change course. Now he respects Worf more deeply than ever.

In Ten Forward, Kurn asks Worf if he can be his Cha'DIch, or ritual second; while Worf is accused, he will not be allowed to participate in any duels or fights. Worf accepts, although he tells Kurn that he must not reveal his true bloodline, and reminds him that while on the Enterprise it's proper for Worf to obey Kurn, as the higher-ranking officer; but in Council, Kurn must defer to his older brother.

Once they arrive at Qo'noS, Worf and Kurn beam down with Picard and Riker accompanying them. Worf pronounces his challenge before the Council and faces the accusations of Duras, the son of Mogh's greatest rival. Worf acknowledges that he is prepared to face the consequences with his very life if his challenge fails.

Duras accuses Worf of forsaking his heritage for the Federation, but Picard tells the council that Worf has served under his command with distinction, earning Picard's admiration and respect. Appealing to the council's better natures, Picard says he trusts their wisdom will guide them to clear Worf's family name and return him to duty. Chancellor K'mpec notes the trust of a commanding officer is admirable and notes it for the record.

Duras testifies that a transmission of access codes went out from the outpost to the Romulan vessels which allowed them to dismantle the outposts' shields. Thousands died on Khitomer, including Duras' father. Duras calls Mogh a traitor and because Worf has brought this challenge, Duras calls him a traitor as well, backhanding Worf in the traditions of their people. Duras then rips Worf's baldric off of him, telling Worf he is unworthy to wear the emblems of their people. Worf replies:


"It is a good day to die Duras, but the day is not yet over."


During a recess of the council, K'mpec meets with Worf and tries to persuade him into abandoning his challenge. Worf reacts with shock and dismay at this seemingly un-Klingon request, even though he understands that K'mpec's personal affection for Mogh may be influencing the request.

Kurn has received a note to meet someone in an isolated corridor; it is Duras. Duras reveals that he knows Kurn's true bloodline and tries to blackmail him into turning against Worf. Kurn refuses, and Duras' assassins attack and seriously wound him.

Although Beverly Crusher reassures Worf that Kurn's wounds are not life-threatening, Worf tells her she should have let him die because he'll be executed anyway. Worf asks Picard to be his new Cha'DIch. Picard demurs, but Worf insists that there is no one better qualified. Picard accepts and recites the traditional Klingon words which mean "I accept with honor. May your enemies tremble before you."

The Enterprise crew, on Picard's orders, are investigating the Khitomer massacre on their own. The USS Intrepid was the first ship on the scene of the disaster; Data contacts Starfleet for copies of the logs. Meanwhile, La Forge and Data have gotten into the Klingon central information net and discovered that the Klingons recently captured a Romulan ship with information about Khitomer in the ship's logs and that's how they found out about the treachery.

Upon comparing the information in the Klingon archives with the Intrepid logs, La Forge and Data discover that there is a discrepancy in the transmissions. The evidence which supported Mogh's guilt was faked. Another survivor of the Khitomer Massacre, a woman named Kahlest, is found. Picard is told about this during the second Council session and asks Worf, who says that Kahlest was his nurse and that he thought she had died.

Picard journeys into the Old City and finds Kahlest's home. Kahlest says she considers her life over after Khitomer and she is waiting to die. Picard tries to persuade Kahlest to accompany him back to the High Council chamber, telling her that the family that she once served proudly needs her again. She refuses, and Picard starts to leave. Just outside Kahlest's door, he is ambushed by Duras' assassins. He manages to overcome one, Kahlest emerges from her home, and throws a knife, killing the other. Kahlest now agrees to accompany Picard back to the High Council for the purpose of testifying for Worf. She also reveals that K'mpec was once romantically interested in her, but she wasn't attracted to him; he was too fat.

Just as K'mpec is about to pronounce judgment on Worf, Picard enters with Kahlest. In a private session, Picard demands that she be allowed to testify in open council in accordance with Klingon law. Duras is almost hysterically against it. K'mpec silences him by asking him if he would really kill an old woman to cover his dishonor. K'mpec's statement makes it clear that the dishonor rests not on Worf but on Duras; Kahlest is free to go. K'mpec makes another small play for Kahlest; "It is good to see you again." She responds, "You are still fat, K'mpec."

K'mpec privately explains the truth. When Klingons captured the Romulan ship with the records, they learned of the treachery behind the Khitomer Massacre; this soon became common knowledge, and someone had to answer for that treachery. Fortunately, only the Council knew who transmitted his code: not Mogh, but Ja'rod: Duras' father. K'mpec says the Duras family was too powerful and to expose him would likely split the Empire and cause a civil war. In order to avoid that, they decided to use Mogh as a scapegoat, believing that Worf, since he was in Starfleet, would not challenge the judgment. None of them realized that Kurn was Mogh's second child. Picard observes that Worf's challenge was successful, and refuses to hand Worf and Kurn over for execution. When K'mpec threatens to end the alliance with the Federation because of Picard's defiance, Picard reminds him that their alliance is not based on lies. If they must protect their secrets, then so be it, but Picard will not allow the needless sacrifice of these two men.

Worf speaks up and says he'll volunteer to die for the sake of the Klingon Empire. Picard objects, but Worf tells his Cha'DIch to be silent. Worf asks for Kurn's life to be spared. Duras rejects this, as Kurn's honor would then demand revenge. Worf then offers to accept discommendation if Kurn will be allowed to live. K'mpec tells Worf that doing so would be the same as admitting his father's guilt. Worf simply says "So be it." K'mpec states that Worf's heart is truly Klingon, and commands that this will never be spoken of again to anyone. Before they proceed, Worf calls Duras the son of a traitor and backhands him as tradition demands.

Kurn is heartbroken by Worf's decision, telling Picard that he was ready to die for Worf. Picard tells Kurn that he must live in order to restore the honor of Mogh's family. Picard tells Kurn that there will be another day. "Do not forget what he does here today. Do not let your children forget."

Picard and Kurn join Worf in the middle of the council chambers and the council members gather in a circle around Worf. Worf says the ritual words, "tlhIH ghIj jIHyoj" ("I fear your judgment"); K'mpec replies, "biHnuch!" ("Coward!"), and one by one, the Council members cross their arms and turn their backs on him in ritual ostracism. Worf softly tells Kurn that he must do the same. Almost on the verge of tears, Kurn very reluctantly complies. The whole assembly having turned their backs, Worf and Picard leave the Council Chamber and return to the Enterprise.

Tropes used in Sins of the Father include:
  • Badass : Picard and Worf practically ooze this trope here and win even K'mpec's respect.
    • In fact, Picard is so badass in this episode that it would affect the entire following history of his character. He gains the respect of the entire Klingon high council, becoming the Empire's go-to Federation representative because he's one of the few they come close to admiring.
  • Batman Gambit : It was Duras' father who aided the Romulans.
  • Berserk Button : Kurn pushes Worf's to get a properly Klingon response.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Picard orders Kurn to set course for the "Klingon Imperial Empire".
  • A Father to His Men : Picard is not going to simply stand by when his officer is facing a charge of Treason.
  • Take That, Scrappy! : Delivered by Kurn:

"DO YOU WISH TO SPEAK Acting Ensign Wesley Crusher?"

    • Arguably even more awesome than the famous "SHUT UP, WESLEY!" from "Datalore".