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WARNING: There is no honor in exposing innocents to unprotected spoilers for DS9's "Sons of Mogh".

In brief: Little went wrong, but much of it was Just Another Klingon Story [tm], though a well executed one. The ending was quite good.

Brief summary: Worf's brother Kurn, his fortunes changed immeasurably by Worf's dishonor within the Klingon Empire, arrives at the station looking for Worf to redeem Kurn's honor -- by killing him.

"Sons of Mogh"'s very existence as an episode is a slightly frustrating combination. On the one hand, it's absolutely necessary -- given Worf's actions in "The Way of the Warrior", they certainly should have affected Kurn, and we as viewers have some interest in finding out how. In that vein, "Sons of Mogh" did a good job of giving the Kurn "arc" some closure; while Worf now need not feel guilty for Kurn's changes of circumstance, he is stuck feeling more alone than ever.

On the other hand, "Sons of Mogh" also points up how easily overlooked this situation has been. Worf's been worried about Kurn and trying to contact him for months? Could've fooled me; even a single mention of it sometime earlier might have been nice. Similarly, given how much time is spent on the disgrace of Worf's family and his claim at the end that he has no family, one really wonders what's become of Alexander. If I remember rightly, he's back on Earth now with the Rozhenkos -- but shouldn't someone be expressing some
concern somewhere about how he's faring given Worf's recent decisions? The focus of the episode as such worked within the context of the episode; it just felt decidedly limited.

In any case, the "what's going to happen to Kurn?" story had its moments, mainly at the start and at the finish. Starting at the beginning, Kurn's desire for an honorable death made sense given Klingon outlooks on life; what came as more of a surprise was the fact that Worf actually managed to pull off the ceremony, and that Kurn
very nearly got his wish. After that, however, some of "Sons of Mogh" turned into a somewhat typical fish-out-of-water story. It certainly wasn't surprising that Kurn would still have a death wish after Bashir patched him up, or that his stint with Bajoran security wouldn't pan out. Kurn's growing distress and growing reluctance to discuss anything with Worf was entirely acceptable given the character and his circumstances; but dramatically, it gave the episode a pretty "standard" feel.

Along the way, however, some of the character interplay worked pretty well. Kurn's disgruntled observations about Worf's "comfortable" life and his shock at Worf's "regret" both rang fairly true, and his justification of his wish for death ("I'm already dead to our people -- and so are you, but you don't care") felt grim but necessary. The subsequent abortive ritual felt right -- and justified or not, Sisko's absolute take-no-prisoners rage at Worf's actions was great to watch as well. Sisko's not usually in the habit of cutting his officers off and ordering them to get out -- the fact that he did the former several times and the latter once injected a little extra energy into the show. (I wonder if his reference to how much slack he'd already cut Worf and/or Dax about Klingon beliefs is an allusion back to "Blood Oath" from season two. Dax certainly faced no consequences whatsoever for her actions then, and they were probably at least as reprehensible from the standard Federation viewpoint as Worf's were here.)

Some of the other exchanges worked less well, the Worf/Odo interactions being a case in point. While the two of them certainly have some different approaches to life and to security concerns, this episode came awfully close to implying actual bad blood between the two of them, what with Odo's references to how difficult this must be for Worf to get help from Odo in particular. I don't think we've seen enough evidence for such bad relations to exist; in fact, the last time we saw the pair of them together, in "Crossfire", things ended up fine, even if there were some bumps along the way. By contrast, the later scene, with Odo abruptly cutting Kurn's career short after his death wish was exposed, made perfect sense and felt extremely Odo-like.

The issue of the Klingons' attempt to mine Bajor's borders, on the other hand, felt pretty workable. Cloaked mines felt like a nasty but appropriate bit of technology, the act of mining felt about as underhanded as Gowron's been lately, the story provided a temporary outlet for Kurn's depression (without giving the story the
convenience of an easy death for Kurn, which is what I was half expecting), and we got to see Kira in command, which happens all too rarely. Besides, I have to admit that the final images of mines blowing in formation with silhouetted Klingon warships running like hell looked fantastic. :-)

That left part of the closing act to resolve the Worf/Kurn problem -- and this part happened to be among the best of the show. Worf's concern about having lost his edge seemed justified to me (though given how easily he'd been caught flatfooted on the Enterprise by everything from humans to androids to Ferengi, it's arguable that he never had an edge to lose ;-) ), and his final acceptance that he's more or less Klingon in physique only now made for a powerful scene. It will only remain such, though, if Worf's acceptance is for the long-term; if the next Klingon-related episode has him musing about going back to the Empire yet again, 'twill be unpleasant.

Lastly, Worf's "solution" for Kurn's plight stung. (The scene between him and Kurn beforehand was not so great.) As Dax suggested, it was essentially a way for Worf to kill Kurn without actually having to kill him -- and the utter lack of angst in Kurn's face after his re-awakening clearly affected Worf. Despite my complaints
earlier that any other member of Worf's family was ignored throughout "Sons of Mogh", Worf's declaration that "I have no family" made for a striking last line of the episode. Although Worf's mindset could be changed by a single bad decision at Paramount, the fact that he no longer has Kurn as a brother is far more difficult to change -- and it's something that shouldn't change at all.

There's not much else to say about "Sons of Mogh" -- it was Another Klingon Story, and while far from the best one, it was reasonable. So, a few shorter takes:

-- While Kurn's claims that Worf doesn't understand what Kurn went through made sense for him to say, Worf probably should have rebutted at some point that he publicly went through discommendation for Kurn several years back. After all, even Picard told Kurn "Do not forget what has happened here; do not let your children forget"; it's unfortunate for Kurn that he didn't listen.

-- I was hearing major shades of Holst's "Mars, the Bringer of War" in the music during the initial infiltration of the Klingon cruiser. Given the circumstances, that seemed fairly appropriate.

-- Speaking of said infiltration, I liked the false security databases Kurn mentioned; they felt appropriately devious.

-- Given the last time we saw Tony Todd ("The Visitor"), it's no wonder Sisko was so ticked off at Worf -- Worf had just nearly murdered Sisko's son. :-)

-- I'm somewhat neutral on the "my outfit?" exchange during the first Worf/Dax scene. On the one hand, I really liked Dax's "talk about overconfidence..." rejoinder to Worf's claim that she was wearing it as a distraction. On the other hand ... was Dax just playing with Worf's mind at the end, or are we supposed to read in a bit more?

That should cover it. So, to close:

Writing: Klingon stories are starting to wear a little around the edges -- or at least this one did. On the whole, though, this was just worn, not full of holes or character problems.
Directing: The actual Mauk-to'Vor ritual came off extremely well, as did the final confrontation with the Klingons.
Acting: Dorn and Todd were both good. Everyone else was fine.

OVERALL: 7, I think; certainly positive, but not much there to go back for until the ending.

NEXT WEEK:

Rom becomes Hoffa?

Tim Lynch (Harvard-Westlake School, Science Dept.)
tly...@alumni.caltech.edu
"I don't get seven hours sleep at the station!"
"Must be the company."
-- Kira and O'Brien

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