The Enterprise arrives at Deep Space Nine to assist in the reconstruction of Bajoran aqueducts which were damaged during the Cardassian occupation. On the Promenade, Picard and Crusher discuss Quark's holosuites; Crusher is interested in a relaxation program, but Picard won't have the time to stop by, having to meet with Bajoran bureaucrats. Elsewhere, at the Replimat, Geordi and Worf are having Pasta al fiorella but Geordi doesn't like it whereas Worf is gobbling his plate up. When Geordi leaves to get another dish, a Yridian is shown watching Worf in the distance.
Back on the Enterprise, Data detects a power drain in the starboard EPS conduits, suggesting someone is accessing the computer's bio-imaging systems in sickbay. He goes to sickbay and finds DS9's chief medical officer, Dr. Julian Bashir, who's studying a strange device found in the Gamma Quadrant; he thinks it's a medical scanner, but DS9's computers aren't up to the task of determining what it is yet. Data suggests taking it to Engineering, where Geordi could assist him.
On DS9, the Yridian finally approaches Worf, introducing himself as Jaglom Shrek, a broker of information. He tells him that his father, Mogh, didn't die at Khitomer, but is alive in a Romulan prison camp. Worf refuses to believe it, calling him a liar, and storms off. But apparently, he can't get it off his mind, as in private, he smashes a table in his quarters. Troi comes in, asking what's bothering him. Worf explains what he'd heard, saying he doesn't believe it because if he were alive, it would dishonor his family line for three generations, affecting even Alexander.
In Engineering, Bashir becomes intrigued by Data, asking about the miscellaneous features that make him seem more human, such as his hair and the appearance of breathing. Powering up the device, Bashir detects an overload inside, and Data is struck by an energy discharge. Data finds himself walking down a corridor, hearing a loud clanging sound. He sees a blacksmith hammering a piece of metal. He turns around and reveals himself to be Dr. Noonien Soong, but as a younger man. Data awakens, unable to understand the "vision" he experienced.
Later, in Ten Forward, Data struggles to find meaning in his vision, asking Worf, who had had a similar experience as a boy, for advice. Worf tells him that nothing is more important than receiving a vision of his father, and that no matter what he has done, he must find him. Through talking to Data, Worf realizes what he must do.
Worf returns to DS9, finding Shrek and "convincing" him to take him to the colony. Meanwhile, Data talks to Picard about his vision, noting how he's examined some of the symbolism as interpreted in various cultures, but Picard urges him to stop and look at it from his personal perspective, seeing what it means to Data himself. Data returns to his quarters, starting to paint images from his vision.
Meanwhile, Worf is dropped off on the planet, given a homing device by Shrek, which will tell him where and when he'll be back. Walking through the jungle, he encounters a young Klingon female bathing in a small pool. She's startled by him, but Worf urges her to tell no one of his arrival. On the Enterprise, Data's paintings are as incomprehensible as the vision, but certain paintings those of a bird, and a bird's wing were not present in the vision. Unable to understand how he could be painting something he has never seen, Data decides to replicate the experiment with the Gamma Quadrant device. Monitored by La Forge and Bashir, Data is again struck by an energy beam and experiences another vision.
He encounters Soong once again, this time on the bridge, hammering a bird's wing on his anvil. Soong tells him that he has developed the capacity to dream; no man should understand his dreams, hence why they are incomprehensible. He then tells Data that he is the bird; Data "flies" through the corridors and out of the ship, before waking up in Engineering. Finally understanding, he tells Bashir that he intends to deactivate himself every night and dream more. Bashir wishes him "sweet dreams."
On the planet, Worf finally reaches the camp. He sees a group of Klingons sitting around a fire, the eldest of whom is singing a Klingon song. As he leaves, Worf pulls him aside, demanding to know who he is. He introduces himself as L'Kor, a family friend. He confirms that Worf's father Mogh did indeed die at Khitomer. Worf quickly learns that these Klingons are not treated as prisoners, but rather are living there together as a community and now that he knows of the camp's existence, he cannot be permitted to leave...
End of Part I
When Worf is captured, he is told he will have to stay here. He learns the story of the Klingons who were captured from L'Kor. They were knocked unconscious, and when they awoke in the prison camp, they failed to starve themselves. After being interrogated, the Romulans tried to trade them for territory. The Klingon Empire refused to believe in their existence. When Tokath, the Romulan officer who captured them, offered to let them go, they did not wish to return and dishonor their families. He took pity on them, and built this prison camp. Their own honor gone, they had nothing to lose by staying prisoners.
Worf speaks with some of the Klingon children, many of whom are unaware of their Klingon heritage. For instance, a young Klingon, Toq, is seen tilling soil using a gin'tak spear. Toq answers that there's no need for weapons around here, since war is far away, which is why their parents are here. When Worf hears this from Ba'el, the Klingon woman he encountered in the jungle, he suggests she tell her father she wants to visit the homeworld, and see what he says. He tries to reassure her that the war is over, but before he gets very far, her mother, Gi'ral, calls her home. It is clear that she does not want her daughter to speak with Worf.
Worf's homing device goes off shortly thereafter and he manages to escape over the wall. However, one of the Romulans sees him and pursues him. When Worf thinks he has outwitted them, and arrives at the ship, Toq tackles him. When Worf is about to injure him, he is surprised to see it is Toq and, during this pause, the Romulans catch up with him.
On the Enterprise, Picard becomes worried about Worf's whereabouts, since he's now overdue. At the prison camp, Worf is implanted with a tracking device. Toq is instructed to guard Worf, making sure he causes no harm.
In the main area, Worf starts doing the Mok'bara, prompting other Klingon youth to join in. When Ba'el asks, he explains it to her. She soon wishes to try and he begins to teach her. When Toq objects and places his hands on Worf's shoulder, Worf carefully but forcefully flips him to the ground. "These forms are the basis for Klingon combat", he explains. Toq leaves to tell L'Kor about this.
While Gi'ral is out, Ba'el brings Worf some old Klingon objects, asking if he's able to identify them. These include a D'k tahg (the dagger introduced in Star Trek III), a Klingon uniform, and a jinaq, a ceremonial necklace given to Klingon females of age. They're all worn out.
That night, Worf tells all of the children the ancient stories. Toq claims that these stories were impossible, that Worf is making it up. Worf explains these are Klingon legends, and they tell us who they are; it is not made up. L'Kor tells them it is time to sleep and the group disbands.
Afterwards, Ba'el asks Worf if the stories are true. He says he finds new truths in them every day. She then asks if Kahless ever took a mate, obviously asking a different question. When Worf moves to kiss her, he brushes back her hair to find a point on her ears. He reacts instantly, backing off in surprise, shocked that Ba'el is a Romulan. Worf is indignant; the Romulans are without honor, he growls. She defends her father, saying he is kind, generous, and settled here to escape the wars like her mother did. Worf should not begrudge the fact they love each other. He tries to ask her mother about it but she angrily walks away.
Back on the Enterprise, Geordi examines Shrek's flightplan. He identifies two systems close to Romulan space so Captain Picard tells him to head for the closest one.
The next morning, Worf tries to make amends with Ba'el. He apologizes, saying he was surprised, but it is clear he still holds her father in contempt. She demands that he accept her for who she is and leave the hate behind. He isn't sure if he can do that.
When he leaves, he sees the other children, including Toq, playing a game. A line of short spears are set up, a row of spears, Qa'vaks, resting on top of several pairs and a large hoop is rolled between them. The object appears to be to knock off all the spears resting on the others. Worf, however, when the hoop is rolled, throws one of the spears through the middle of the hoop as it is rolling.
Worf explains the real purpose of the Qa'vaks: these spears are used in the Hunt, a ritual which tells Klingons where they came from. He sighs, and says perhaps Toq is too young to master the skill. Toq cannot resist this challenge. His first throw is strong, but inaccurate. Worf suggests Toq aim along his arm, and that works. Worf suggests they go on the ritual hunt, and Toq agrees, but protests that Worf is not allowed to leave the compound.
Worf speaks to Tokath, who finds the idea ludicrous, worrying that Worf would try to escape again. Worf insists upon doing it, promising he won't escape this time. L'Kor assures him as a fellow Klingon how he's kept his own word about staying. Tokath reluctantly agrees, but tells Toq if Worf tries to escape again, he should kill him.
Toq is amazed by the ritual hunt, able to smell the prey, and feels more alive than he has ever before. He was never taught this, he said. Worf tells him it is the first of many things he was never taught.
Later that evening, as the Klingon and Romulans are having dinner, Toq returns, holding a slain animal from the hunt. Tokath orders Toq to take it away. Toq then triumphantly explains that the Klingons here have forgotten themselves, and sings a song of victory, the same song L'Kor was singing earlier. All of the Klingons, including L'Kor and Ba'el, slowly join in, as the feeling builds in the room. Tokath stares at Worf, and knows he has to deal with him.
After dinner, Tokath later takes Worf aside and tells him that he has given up his career to create something wonderful and unique a place where Romulans and Klingons live together in peace and Worf is about to destroy all that. Worf argues that they live in harmony, but only because they have never learned what it is to be powerful. Otherwise, they would leave. Tokath considers the argument futile and instead offers Worf an ultimatum: live here and don't cause any more trouble, or be put to death. Worf chooses death. That death, he says will show the young people the last thing he wants them to see: what it is to die as a Klingon.
Ba'el cannot stand the idea. She wants Worf to escape. She believes her father was wrong, that Worf doesn't deserve to die. Worf refuses. "They will kill me", he says, "but they will not defeat me." She wants to know if he loves her, despite everything. He says he does, and he didn't think it possible. If he could leave with her, he would, but he can't.
The next day, when Worf stands against the wall, staring at the firing squad, Tokath gives a short speech about how he has agonized over this decision but has concluded that this is absolutely necessary. He cannot allow Worf to destroy what everyone else has built. Worf, with his final words, explains the truth: he has brought something "dangerous" to the children, knowledge of their origins and the reasons they are here.
As Tokath tells two Romulan guards to take aim, Toq enters in a full suit of warrior's armor with a gin'tak spear. If they kill Worf, he says, then they will have to kill him. He, too, would rather die than accept this way of life. There are many others, who Tokath will have to kill to keep the community here. When Toq refuses to move, L'Kor stands with them. Soon, all the Klingons band together, including Ba'el. Gi'ral has him call it off. The hope was to avoid dishonoring their children back on the homeworld, she says, but they have lost sight of the children they have raised on this planet. They should be set free if they wish to go.
Worf tells the young Klingons about the sacrifices their parents had made before and are making again. The children must honor their parents by never revealing this camp to anyone outside.
In his Captain's Log, Picard mentions receiving a cryptic message by Worf requesting the Enterprise to rendezvous with a Romulan Warbird along the border of the Neutral Zone, adding that they'll be taking passengers.
When Picard asks Worf if he found what he was looking for, Worf answers no, there was no prison camp. The young people, he says, are survivors from a vessel that crashed several years ago. With a knowing look, the captain says he understands.
Tropes featured in "Birthright":
- The 47 Society: The initial shock knocks Data out for 47 seconds.
- Aborted Arc: Many fans were upset that Data's dreams weren't explored any further in part 2. The writers would make up for this in season 7's "Phantasms".
- Author Tract / Straw Affiliation: Worf's motivations for "helping" people who don't seem to want his help appear quite racist, but the narrative supports them as truth. The children have genetic Klingon heritage, and therefore they all intrinsically want to act like stereotypical Klingons and are suffering from being denied that? Imagine a stranger suddenly showing up and teaching your children that they are genetically destined to be cavemen, or cowboys, or drug dealers.
- Geordi mentions O'Brien, who transferred off the Enterprise and is now Chief of Operations for DS9. The bad pasta is also a sign of the many problems the station is having, especially with the replicators.
- Worf eagerly eats food that humans find inedible, just as he did back in "Time Squared".
- Crossover: The Enterprise makes a stop at Deep Space 9, and Data helps Dr. Bashir with a device that the station crew had found in the Gamma Quadrant.
- Dream Episode: Data (an android) starts having dreams because he's uncovered a program in his brain.
- Dreams of Flying: In part I, Data dreams of a raven flying around the Enterprise. Later on towards the end of the part, he becomes the raven and flies through the Enterprise and into space before waking up.
- Eye Take: Bashir when he realises he's talking to the famous Data.
- Fantastic Racism: Worf is unable to accept the idea that Romulans and Klingons can ever live in peace together. At one point, he begins putting the moves on one of the Klingon girls, and immediately stops when he sees that she has Romulan ears.
- I Can't Believe I'm Saying This: Worf when he admits his attraction toward Ba'el even after discovering her half-Romulan heritage.Work: I never thought I'd fall in love with a Romulan. (smiles)
- Even this remark feels like a case of in-universe Unfortunate Implications for Ba'el, because no matter how genuine Worf's love her might be, it won't change the fact that he will always hold her Romulan heritage against her.
- Living Is More Than Surviving: Worf's rationale to teaching the Klingon youth their heritage.Worf: I saw what happened to him when he caught the scent of his prey on the wind. For the first time in his life, he felt powerful, and that is what he has been denied living here. And that is what you have tried to take away from him. Now you may be content to sit here in the jungle and wither to old age, but Toq and the others have tasted what it is to feel truly alive, and they will not give that up now.
- Maligned Mixed Marriage: The thought of Tokath and Gi'ral as mates with a child almost makes Worf sick.
- Mandatory Line: Dr. Crusher only has a single line at the beginning of Part I and another at the end of Part II.
- Percussive Therapy: Worf is doing his mok'bara exercises when he angrily smashes a table. Naturally, Deanna can't resist snarking about it."Did the table do something wrong?"
- Villain Has a Point / Well-Intentioned Extremist: Tokath had done something no diplomats from the Klingon or Romulan empires, or Federation has achieved: a manageable peace between Klingons and Romulansnote . And he is willing to kill Worf to stop him from disrupting that peace.
- The Watson: Ba'el and Toq serve this role, asking about Klingon culture. Ba'el, in particular, serves to lampshade the Unfortunate Implications in Worf's beliefs, when the writers started to see them.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: While the Yridian does miss the rendezvous with the Enterprise, we never see what actually happened to him. In the script, he was killed by the Romulan guards.
- Geordi, Data, and Julian never did figure out what that device they were studying was supposed to be.
- You Can't Go Home Again: The Klingons captured from Khitomer stayed in the camp, instead of returning and having dishonor for themselves and their families.
- You Cannot Kill An Idea: When Tokath threatens to kill Worf, Worf tells him that he is content to Face Death with Dignity for this reason.Worf: I am being executed because I brought something dangerous to your young people. Knowledge. Knowledge of their origins. Knowledge of the real reasons you are here in this camp. The truth is a threat to you.