Captain Picard questions the other two about what happened, and the leader, a fierce-looking fellow called Korris, tells him that they were attacked by a Ferengi vessel. Worf insists that the weapons used on the transport ship were not Ferengi, and Korris says that the vessel was Ferengi but the weapons were Klingon. They ask to be excused from further questions as they are tired and hungry, and Picard tells Worf to escort them to their quarters. At their quarters, Korris and his Number Two Komnel test Worf to see if he has grown soft among humans, when they receive word that their comrade is dying. They arrive at sickbay and perform the Klingon death ritual, which involves staring into the dying warrior's eyes, watching the life leave them, and then roaring at the ceiling. The crew is surprised when Worf also takes part.
Later, Korris asks Worf how he came to serve on a Human Starfleet ship and Worf tells him of his backstory: he was rescued from the Klingon Khitomer colony by Starfleet after it was attacked by Romulans, and a Starfleet officer raised him as a son. They admire him for his ability to control his instincts to fight and attack, and complain that this peace is a living death to them. Korris reveals that they indeed stole the freighter, to look for a place where they could live by their instincts, and were pursued by a Klingon battle cruiser, which they destroyed. Worf is not happy to hear this, but agrees to show them around the ship.
On the bridge, Data detects a Klingon cruiser approaching. They are hailed and the captain of the cruiser, K'Nera, tells them that Korris and the others are fugitives who had destroyed a Klingon cruiser. He even offers to send a team down to collect them, but Picard says that Tasha can handle it. When the security team arrives, Korris appeals to Worf for help. Before Worf can reply, a child stumbles through a door between them and Korris picks her up. Tasha prepares for a hostage situation, but Korris merely hands the child to Worf and allows himself and Komnel to be led away. Tasha expresses her relief, and Worf explains that Klingons don't take hostages because it is a cowardly act. Worf then tries to intercede for Korris's and Komnel's lives with Commander K'Nera, asking him to allow them to die with honor on a remote planet and not bound and helpless. K'Nera says he feels the same way, but he must follow his orders to bring them for a trial.
In the brig, Korris and Komnel assemble a disruptor from bits of their uniforms, along with a device which deactivates the security field. Komnel dies trying to escape, but Korris manages to fight his way to the warp core, which he threatens to destroy (taking the entire Enterprise with it) unless he can speak to Worf. Worf and Picard get their butts down to engineering. Korris again tries to recruit Worf, saying that together they can force Picard to grant them access to the battle bridge and allow them to take the Enterprise's stardrive section for a warmongering joyride. Worf refuses and again tries to reason with Korris, who can't believe a Klingon would side with humans over him. Worf zaps Korris with his phaser after Korris tells him that he is no Klingon.
As Korris lies mortally wounded, Worf stares into his eyes and performs the death ritual for him. On the bridge, Picard informs K'Nera of Korris and Komnel's deaths. Worf adds that they "died well," and K'Nera tells Worf that once his tenure on board the Enterprise is over, he must consider joining them, as they can learn from each other.
This episode contains examples of:
- Absentee Actor: Wesley and Troi do not appear.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: Korris and Konmel get their wish to die in combat... however, the latter's being killed in a shoot-out with a Red Shirt and the former dying during a failed attempt to hijack the stardrive section of the Enterprise probably isn't quite the glorious death that they hoped for. The only one of the trio that does experience the kind of death they were looking for was Kunivas, who at least died in a seemingly hopeless battle against a vastly superior opponent.
- Blood Knight: Peace does not sit well with Korris and his pals, though Worf does tell him that the challenge is to learn to live in peace and the greatest enemy to be conquered is the fears within.
- A Day in the Limelight: The first major story centered around Worf.
- Death Wail: This episode introduces the Klingon Death Roar, where upon the death of a Klingon, his/her comrades hold their eyes open while screaming loudly to the sky to warn those in Sto-Vo-Kor that a great warrior is on his/her way to join them.
- Due to the Dead: Averted; once a Klingon dies and his companions give the Death Wail, the body is just an Empty Shell to be disposed of.
- Early Installment Weirdness:
- This is the first episode where TNG Klingons (apart from Worf himself) appear. The writers haven't quite got it right yet.
- The brig where Korris and Konmel are kept is easily accessible in a corridor, very different from the brig introduced in season 3's "The Hunted".
- This episode makes it seem like the Federation/Klingon alliance is a recent development. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country would establish that the alliance started 70 years before TNG, though to their credit, they did show that it was strained at different points in-between.
- It's later established that the result of Star Trek VI was a peace treaty, a formal end of hostilities between them. The actual alliance is only about 20 years old, according to later episodes and DS9
- Korris speaks of traitors of 'Kling,' presumably meaning the Klingon homeworld, later established as Qo'nos (pronounced "Kronos"). Using 'Kling' for the name of the homeworld probably made sense right up until people heard Korris speak it out loud. (Unless it's some kind of archaic or poetic name for the homeworld that's only occasionally used by modern Klingons.)
- The Klingons have a lot more religious fanaticism to them, even calling non-Klingons "infidels."
- Korris claims that the Batris was attacked by a Ferengi vessel armed with Klingon weapons, something which seems like an absurd lie given what we know about the Ferengi. This is in fact a remnant of one of the original ideas for the Ferengi, namely that they'd acquired much of their technology by purchasing or stealing it (something later re-used for the Pakleds in the following season). Then again... DaiMon Lurin pulled something similar with the TNG episode 'Rascals."
- The Klingons are very understated and affable, if somewhat mean to Worf, but they're a far cry from the Large Ham Proud Warrior Race Guys we'd come to know and love later.
- Human Shield: Averted—Tasha's security team confronts Worf and the Klingons just as a small child exits into the corridor. Tasha tenses for a hostage situation, but Korris hands the child to Worf and surrenders. Afterwards, Worf tells Tasha that "Cowards take hostages, Klingons do not!" As he gets more desparate, though, Korris takes the entire Enterprise hostage.
- I Surrender, Suckers: How Korris defeated the Klingon ship that attacked his hijacked freighter—at least, that's how he tells it to Picard. Since the part about merely being passengers on that freighter turns out to be a lie, that raises the question of what else he lied about.
- Just Following Orders: K'Nera agrees that Korris and Konmel should die on their feet like Klingons, but he has his orders to bring them back for trial and execution.
- The Main Characters Do Everything: Lieutenant Yar asks to leave the tactical station in order to lead the security team apprehending the Klingons. This shows the flaws of having one officer serving as both Chief Tactical Officer and Chief of Security.
- No Place for a Warrior: Korris can't stand the peace treaty with The Federation. He also can't understand why Worf chooses to serve aboard the Enterprise with humans.
- Patrick Stewart Speech: Delivered by Worf to Korris. Korris dismisses it out of hand.Worf: Brother, it is you who does not see. You look for battles in the wrong place. The true test of a warrior is not without. It is within! [pounds his chest] Here! Here is where we meet the challenge! It is the weaknesses in here a warrior must overcome!
- Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Given by Worf. "Perhaps not." ZAP
- Reality Ensues: The three renegade Klingons soon discovered that stealing a small, lightly armed freighter to go on their little warrior's quest wasn't the wisest move, when the Klingons sent a fully-armed cruiser after them. Played with in that the renegades actually did destroy the cruiser with some clever tactics, but Kunivas was mortally injured and the freighter was left severely damaged and on the verge of a warp core breach, with only the timely arrival of the Enterprise saving Korris and Konmel.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Korris to Worf:
- Red Shirt: Two are killed during Korris' escape.
- Scaramanga Special: Korris and Konmel's disruptor is assembled from their belt buckles and other bits and pieces of their uniforms. Korris uses it to kill one of the guards and takes the dead man's phaser.
- Seeing Through Another's Eyes: Geordi wears a special attachment to his VISOR, allowing Picard and the rest of the bridge to "see" like he does. When Picard asks how he filters out the Sensory Overload, Geordi compares it to how you listen for one voice in a crowded room. Geordi is surprised to hear that regular vision doesn't produce a halo around Data, despite briefly having it in "Hide and Q."
- Skyward Scream: Both Klingon Death Wails are shot from above—the second time, combined with a Staggered Zoom away from Worf.
- The Worf Effect: One of the few episodes where it does not affect Worf.