Following the events of "Reunion," it is now time for the next Chancellor of the High Council, Gowron, to take his place as the new Klingon head of state. The Enterprise is en route to Qo'noS, where Picard will oversee the ceremonies as his last act as Arbiter of Succession.
But he has another responsibility as well: to Worf, who for over a year now has borne the shame of dishonor to protect the Empire from the Corrupt Politicians who rightfully deserve it. Picard urges Worf to take this opportunity to clear his family's name now that the true traitor, Duras, is dead.
Before they reach Qo'noS, they are intercepted by Gowron's ship. He brings a warning of schism in the Empire. It seems that even without their patriarch, the House of Duras remains a threat and still holds favor in the Klingon council. Gowron is convinced that the Duras Sisters, Lursa and B'Etor, are plotting a coup. When Worf reveals the fact that his discommendation was a plot by the Council to protect Duras, Gowron refuses to correct the injustice because he needs the support of the council.
Worf pays a visit to his brother, Kurn, and is surprised to learn whose side he plans to take: his own. He believes Gowron is too weak to defeat the House of Duras and instead plans to replace the entire Council with the help of the four squadron commanders he has in his pocket. Worf insists that it is their duty to support the legal ruler of the Empire, but they will withhold their support until they can use it as leverage to clear their family name.
During the Rite of Succession, a young Klingon named Toral, claiming to be the son of Duras, challenges Gowron's claim to leadership as the illegitimate son of Duras. His house and its allies back him. As Arbiter of Succession, Picard must decide who succeeds. The Duras Sisters make clear that they will switch the Klingons' alliance from the Federation to the Romulans should Picard side against them. Picard finds himself in an ethical dilemma, weighing his legal, diplomatic and ethical responsibilities. Worf is in a similar position as he tries to use Starfleet resources to support his position. Picard forbids him on the grounds of Federation non-interference, so Worf takes a leave of absence.
Picard rules in favor of Gowron, so Toral predictably accuses him of bias and all but announces a civil war. Worf brings his offer of support to Gowron, and his price. Gowron refuses his terms, pressing Worf to bring the Federation into the war. But he changes his tune when Kurn shows up to rescue his ship from a near-fatal ambush. Gowron formally rescinds Worf's discommendation, but there's still a war to win if it's going to stick. Picard, with no evidence of outside involvement, cannot legally support Gowron. The only way Worf can stay to see it through is to resign from Starfleet as the Enterprise departs.
The mystery woman is quite correct. Part 2 opens with Kurn and his loyalists badly outmatched by the Duras family, to the point that Picard is able to make a case to Starfleet Command that the Romulans must be surreptitiously supporting the rebels. If so, Starfleet will have all the justification it needs to bring the hammer down. They agree to give Picard a handful of semi-mothballed ships to set up a blockade on the KlingonRomulan border. It's not a very impressive fleet, but all they need to do is throw up a tachyon web that will detect any cloaked Romulan supply ships that try to come across.
Manpower is tight, so the Enterprise loans out its crew to some of the borrowed ships. This includes Data, who takes his first command aboard the Sutherland. His XO, Lieutenant Commander Christopher Hobson, expresses reservations about serving under an android, but with no one to replace him, he has no choice.
When the fleet shows up at her doorstep, the Romulan mystery woman makes herself known with an ultimatum for Starfleet to withdraw within 20 hours. She also addresses the elephant in the room: she is not Tasha Yar, but instead Sela, her daughter. Which, of course, only raises more questions.
Guinan, with her El-Aurian senses, remembers things the others do not about what happened during "Yesterday's Enterprise." The Yar from an alternate future was sent back in time aboard the Enterprise-C when it was captured by Romulans. Sela meets Picard in person to verify the story. Yar received a Scarpia Ultimatum from her overseer, becoming his consort to spare her life. Sela, their child, says Yar was later executed for trying to take her and escape. In Romulan fashion, Sela despises her mother's perceived treachery and has completely disowned her own human heritage. She coldly reminds Picard of the deadline and leaves.
Back on Qo'noS, the Duras Sisters capture Worf and give him the ol' seduction attempt, offering him B'Etor and a share of the power for his support, but Worf is nowhere near that desperate. An exasperated Sela takes him away for a more "conventional" interrogation.
Not wanting to wait to see if the Romulans will start shooting, Picard proposes that Gowron go on the offensive to force the Romulans to bail the Duras out. At the same time, one of the blockade ships will feign technical problems to bait the Romulan ships into their web.
However, Sela sees through their trap. Instead, the Romulans jam the grid with a flood of tachyon particles, so the fleet falls back at Picard's order. All except for Data, who has an idea to catch the Romulans in the act. After a nonstop stream of bigoted whining from his XO, Data slaps Hobson down hard enough to get him to fire a few modified torpedoes that reveal several subspace anomalies as the cloaked ships they are. Sela decides the game is up and withdraws with her Mook Lieutenant General Movar, leaving the Duras at the mercy of Gowron's victorious forces. Lursa and B'Etor ditch Toral and escape as Kurn comes to Worf's rescue.
Although Data saved the day, he nevertheless submits himself for punishment for disobeying the withdrawal order. Picard instead states that the Federation has no need for officers who blindly follow orders. He congratulates Data for his quick thinking and initiative.
The diminutive Toral stands before the Council as a traitor. Gowron gives his life—and a knife—to Worf as payment for the wrongs Duras's family has done to his own. With Picard looking on, Worf is caught between the conflicting moralities of the Klingon Empire and the Federation. He decides that he cannot simply murder a child and pawn. When Kurn objects, stating that this is not the Klingon way, Worf replies, "I know, but it is not my way."
With the war over, Worf requests that he return to duty, which Picard graciously grants. The two Starfleet officers depart while the High Council surrounds Toral, ready to discommendate him.
This episode provides examples of:
- Action Prologue: Part II starts with Worf and Kurn under attack by Duras's forces.
- Alien Non-Interference Clause: Discussed. Due to this being an internal matter of the Klingon Empire, Starfleet cannot get directly involved. However, with the Romulans likely supplying the Duras family, Picard works to ensure that they stay out too.
- Artistic License Gun Safety: Guinan points her phaser right at Worf while talking to him at the phaser range.
- Awesomeness by Analysis: Displayed by Data, of course, when he successfully determines how to find the cloaked Romulan ships after their radiation burst disables the tachyon net.
- Big Bad Wannabe: Lursa and B'Etor. Despite Picard "praising" their manipulative prowess, it's evident that without the Romulans' secret support, they're nothing as their supporters immediately turn against them once the Romulans' supply convoy gets exposed and cut off.
- Big Damn Heroes: Kurn shows up to save the Bortas from an enemy attack.
- Big "NO!": Toral's reaction when his aunts abandon him as their forces get crushed.
- Bookends: "Sins of the Father" ended with the Klingon High Council standing in a circle around Worf and turning their backs on him to demonstrate his family's discommendation. Part II of this episode ends with the High Council standing in a circle around Toral, this time looking inward towards him, with Worf's family honor restored.
- Cerebus Retcon: "Yesterday's Enterprise" gave Tasha the opportunity to die for a cause rather than the senseless death she was saddled with in the first season. This episode retcons it, saddling the former dodger of rape gangs with becoming the sex slave of a Romulan and getting betrayed by her own daughter, dying for nothing yet again.
- Characterization Marches On: In the second part of this story, Worf attempts to stop a challenger from trying to take on Gowron in ritual combat, calling it a waste of time when compared to the larger threat of the House of Duras. In future episodes of this series, and especially Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Worf would likely have been more adamant than anyone else that the challenge to Gowron's honor should continue unimpeded.
- Commander Contrarian: Hobson, because of his Fantastic Racism against Data.
- Continuity Snarl:
- Gowron says that women are forbidden from serving in the Klingon council. However, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country showed Chancellor Gorkon's daughter, Azetbur, inheriting his position after his assassination. Star Trek: Discovery also had L'Rell ascending to the Chancellorship (albeit under threat of planetary destruction). Even if the law had changed since then, Gowron offered K'Ehleyr a seat on the High Council as a bribe in "Reunion."
- Guinan mentions a bet she made with Picard that she could make Worf laugh. Didn't she already win that bet? (She does mention she's seen him laugh and that she likes it, so it is entirely possible that the bet was made between then and this episode. Or that Guinan wasn't serious about it and using it as a veiled segue to discuss how Worf, raised among humans, isn't like other Klingons.)
- Custom Uniform of Sexy: The Duras Sisters' warrior's armor have cleavage windows, something even other women warriors don't have.
- Deadpan SnarkerToral: The Duras family will one day rule the Empire!
Gowron: Perhaps. [evil grin] But not today.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: Worf has to come to terms through the course of the two episodes that his values do not align with the Klingon Empire. He eventually realizes that he is not at home in the Empire and returns to his commission on the Enterprise.Kurn: Kill him! It's our way. It's the Klingon way!
Worf: I know. But it is not my way.
- Dispense with the Pleasantries: After some initial sparring, Sela cuts to the chase. The only reason Picard wanted to talk is to ascertain if she really is Tasha's daughter.
- Double Meaning: At Picard's meeting with Lursa and B'Etor, before walking out on their offer Picard says, "You have manipulated the circumstances with the skill... of a Romulan." The Duras sisters are left wondering how much Picard knows.
- Dropped a Bridge on Her: Curiously, after the writing team admitted that one thing they wanted to do in the season three episode "Yesterday's Enterprise" was to give Tasha Yar a more noble death/self sacrifice after her original more "senseless" death had proved somewhat controversial among the fanbase, here we see a reversal of those intentions when alternate Tasha's fate is revealed to be... not that much better. She was made a sex slave to a Romulan Commander and, eventually, executed during an botched escape attempt. Given Tasha Yar's Dark and Troubled Past, which had included among other things trying to avoid roaming rape gangs on her home planet, this seems like an even worse fate than her original senseless death ever was (although at least she was able to save the lives of her fellow prisoners by submitting to the Romulan commander's Scarpia Ultimatum, which gave it at least some meaning).
- Dumbass Has a Point: Toral's suggestion of killing Captain Picard is overruled, but Sela recognizes that eventually, Picard and the Federation will surely be involved in the Klingon conflict.
- Emerging from the Shadows: Sela's official debut.
- Face Death with Dignity: A double subversion. After getting captured and brought forth to be executed, Toral defiantly claims that one day his house will rule the Empire. Not a human form of dignity, but as a Klingon, going out like that is him being dignified.
- Fantastic Racism:
- Hobson is reluctant to obey Data's orders because Data is an android, saying that some races just aren't suitable for some jobs, like a Klingon for a counselor. He also accuses Data of not caring about the lives of his crew.
- Sela thinks she can exploit the ship manned by an android as well.
- Friendship Moment: The crew lining the corridor to the transporter pad as Worf leaves the Enterprise.
- Graceful Loser: When the Romulan aid to the House of Duras is exposed, Sela stoically bows out.
- Half-Human Hybrid: Sela is the product of a Romulan commander and the alternate Tasha Yar.
- Happy Ending Override: Even worse, a Bittersweet Ending Override. As it turned out, poor alternate!Tasha didn't even get the meaningful death she wanted.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: After firing a beam at the Sutherland to disrupt the detection net, the Romulans also caused a tachyon signature to form around their own ships which Data exploits by firing some low yield photon torpedoes at the Romulan ships to visibly reveal them flying into Klingon territory.
- Identical Grandson: Tasha Yar's half-Romulan daughter Sela looks exactly like her, apart from pointed ears and a different haircut, as both of them were played by Denise Crosby.
- Internal Reveal: Gowron learns that Kurn is Worf's brother.
- I Resemble That Remark!:Sela: Humans have a way of showing up when you least expect them.
- Just Following Orders: Discussed. Data turns himself in to Picard for disobeying orders, only for Picard to let him know that his disobedience was justified given the circumstances.Data: Captain, I wish to submit myself for disciplinary action. I have disobeyed a direct order from a superior officer. Although the result of my actions proved positive, the ends cannot justify the means.
Picard: No, they can't. However, the claim "I was only following orders" has been used to justify too many tragedies in our history. Starfleet doesn't want officers who will blindly follow orders without analysing the situation. Your actions were appropriate for the circumstances, and I have noted that in your record.
- Know When to Fold 'Em: Once their supply fleet is exposed, Commander Sela orders the Romulans to return home.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Sela's entrance has her say the line "humans have a way of showing up when you least expect them". Certainly nobody in the audience was expecting Denise Crosby to appear, in any form, at that point.
- Macho Masochism: Plenty in the Klingon Truce Zone, including arm wrestling played on a table with daggers set in place to stab the loser in the back of the hand.
- Mook Lieutenant: Sela has General Movar.
- Morton's Fork: Picard recognizes that he's been given one when the Duras sisters try to make nice with him. If he sides with their claim, then they'll surely take leadership of the High Council and Gowron will quickly be found dead. If he does not, then he'll be accused of backing Federation interests and it will serve as a rallying cry for war.
- Oh, Crap!: Picard after answering the hail and seeing a Romulan with Tasha's face.
- OOC Is Serious Business: Data is moved to uncharacteristic approximations of emotion by the behavior of Hobson, his XO. After Hobson tries to make him look bad, Data gives him his orders and then cocks his eyebrows in frustration as the man turns his back. Later, he actually shouts at Hobson.
- Orbital Bombardment: The Duras compound is subjected to this at the end.
- Out of Focus: Geordi only appears in Worf's farewell scene across both episodes. Troi and Crusher have only one scene with any dialogue across both episodes, and it's scant.
- Palm Bloodletting: When Gowron nullifies Worf's discommendation, Worf must grasp Gowron's dagger and cut his own palm.
- Puppet King: Gowron says that women may not serve on the High Council. Once Toral presents his claim to the Chancellorship, it's quite clear that the Duras sisters intend to rule through him.
- Revenge by Proxy: Defied by Worf. Gowron gives him the opportunity to execute Toral himself since his family dishonored Worf's, but he refuses because Toral has been the pawn of his aunts.
- Ripple Effect-Proof Memory: Guinan's trans-dimensional senses appear again to explain Sela's origin, since it started in another timeline that no one else remembers. Downplayed, as it was in "Yesterday's Enterprise", as Guinan, despite her iron certainty, lacks much of the context surrounding the events.
- Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: A 23-ship blockade versus the entire KlingonRomulan border, and it only works if the cloaked ships pass directly between them? They could just go around.
- Screw the War, We're Partying!: Klingons from both sides of the war drink and party together in the capital city, wishing each other well in their next battle. Worf is aghast that his brother would drink with his enemies.
- Shout-Out: Data is given the command of a Sutherland, which was the name of a ship in the Horatio Hornblower books. For bonus points, both Sutherlands are assigned to blockade duty.
- Silence, You Fool!: Toral cops a lot of this from his co-conspirators, since he's just a kid whose only value to them is his claim to the throne.Sela: Silence the child or send him away!
- Sins of Our Fathers: Defied by Worf, who refuses to kill Toral against everyone's expectations. It would have been more justified than usual for this trope, as Toral did conspire with his house to overthrow the Klingon government... but he's also a kid who was clearly being used by his Evil Aunts.
- Son of a Whore: Gowron suggests that Toral is one.Gowron: Duras had no mate. Where did you find him, Lursa? In a harlot's bedchamber?Toral: I will personally cut your tongue out, yintagh!Gowron: Impudent wretch.
- Spot of Tea: The Duras sisters attempt to flatter Picard by offering him Earl Grey. He doesn't like their scheming, but he does like the tea
- Standing Between the Enemies: Worf tries to break up a fight between Gowron and a challenger. Gowron uses the opportunity to stab his opponent while he's distracted.
- Stealth Insult: Picard compliments the Duras sisters for their cunning, saying that it's worthy of the Romulans. This not only attacks the sisters' racial pride, but it taunts them with his suspicions that they're nothing but Romulan puppets.
- Stock Footage:
- In Part One, footage of the Klingon Bird-of-Prey firing torpedoes and flying towards the viewscreen is reused from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. In addition, the attack on the Bortas uses footage from "Yesterday's Enterprise".
- In Part Two, a shot of the Bird-of-Prey flying towards the Sun is again taken from Star Trek IV, with disruptor fire hitting the vessel added to it.
- Stranger in a Familiar Land: Worf assumes that Klingons never laugh because he doesn't. Guinan shoots that down.Worf: Klingons do not laugh.
Guinan: Oh, yes they do! Absolutely they do! You don't, but I've heard Klingon belly laughs that'd curl your hair!
- Suddenly SHOUTING!: Data, when he finally puts his foot down to his XO.Data: Mr. Hobson! You will carry out my orders or I will relieve you of duty!
- Take a Third Option:
- Kurn initially wants to do this, not being happy with Gowron or the Duras sisters. With four squadrons under his command, he intends to let the two main sides kill each other, then destroy the weakened winner and set up a new High Council. However, Worf is able to convince him that it would be more honorable to back Gowron.
- Picard can't let Duras's family defeat Gowron, as it would cause the Klingons to form an alliance with the Romulans against the Federation. He also can't assist Gowron directly, since it is an internal political struggle and not an direct external attack by the Romulans. Instead he chooses to expose the Romulan ties to the Duras family and prevent their assistance, and let the political fallout of the revelation take care of the problem.
- 10-Minute Retirement: Part 1 ends with Worf resigning his commission from Starfleet so he can fight in the Klingon civil war without a conflict of interest. Part 2 ends with Worf requesting permission to return to duty, and Picard simply granting it. You'd think reinstating his commission would be a little more complicated than that, but apparently not.
- That's an Order!:
- This Cannot Be!: Picard assumes Sela's claim to be Tasha's daughter is a bizarre Romulan trick, as she's the wrong age and there's no proof that Tasha was ever pregnant. Guinan's explanation does not clarify matters.
- Truce Zone: The Klingon capital city is considered neutral ground for both sides of the war, allowing the warriors to party with whomever they wish. The Duras Sisters send a couple thugs to kidnap Worf while he's there, for those keeping count of their perfidies.
- Turn in Your Badge: Worf resigns from Starfleet when Picard refuses to take sides in the Civil War, symbolically leaving his commbadge on the conference room table.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Shortly after Worf wakes up to find himself in the Duras sisters' custody, Sela contacts them, and Worf sees her face on the screen. Strangely, despite having had no prior occasion to have learned of her existence, he has no reaction whatsoever to seeing a Romulan with the face of an old friend and comrade, something which came as an understandable shock to Picard not long before.
- The Voiceless: Troi, Crusher, and Geordi all appear at the end of Part 1, but don't have any lines. They have bigger parts in Part II.
- We Can Rule Together:
- Kurn, who no longer trusts anyone on the Council, asks Worf to help him get rid of them and take control of the Empire. Worf makes it clear that they will support Gowron, but only in exchange for restoring the House of Mogh.
- Lursa and B'Etor attempt to persuade Worf to ally with them. Worf promptly refuses.
- Wham Line: Two.
Worf: Then I resign my commission as a Starfleet officer.
- First, when Picard refuses to count himself in the Klingon Civil War.
Picard: Tasha.Sela: No, Captain, my name is Commander Sela. The woman you knew as Tasha Yar was my mother.
- Second, when Sela reveals herself.
- Wham Shot: The mysterious Romulan conspirator steps out of the shadows—and she's the spitting image of Tasha Yar.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Although Sela and Movar escape, we never learn the fate of the third Romulan, last seen being knocked unconscious.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Data isn't considered for a captain's position despite his experience because he's an android. To Picard's credit, when Data points out his omission, Picard makes Data the captain of the Sutherland. The Sutherland's Number Two tries to ignore Data, then question his orders, so The Captain has to put him in his place.
- What the Hell, Hero?:
- Picard has to face the fact that a decision he doesn't even remember making (because the timeline in which he made that decision no longer exists) is responsible for Sela being there.
- Kurn reminds Worf that he didn't want to support Gowron, so there's no point complaining about him now.
- While You Were in Diapers: Guinan proves to be a better shot than Worf, but mostly because she's been at it since before he was born.
- The Worf Effect: Not a usual example, but Kurn showing his commanding skills by beating his enemies in a situation, where Worf saw no way out but to retreat, is essentially this.
- Would Not Hurt A Child: Worf refuses to kill Toral for what his family did. He might end up regretting that...
- Wronski Feint: Kurn shows his badass credentials by diving towards the surface of a sun, then breaking off and jumping to warp just above the surface, pulling a plume of fire up into his pursuers.
- Your Tradition Is Not Mine: Worf refusing to execute Toral for his family's crimes.Kurn: But it is our way! It is the Klingon way!
Worf: I know, but it is not my way.