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The Emissary

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Title :
The Emissary
Series :
Rating :
Overall Ep :
First Aired :
29 Jun 1989
Stardate :
Director :
Year :
Writers :
Season Ep :
2 x 20
Main Cast :
Guest Cast :
In "Yesterday's Enterprise", Captain Garret indicated that 22 years had led to such advances that the Enterprise-D's weapons were quite capable of handling four Romulan warbirds of her era. Here the T'Ong is 75 years out of date, yet it's still supposed to represent a big threat to the area? True, the E-D Garret was talking about was a battleship version from an alternate universe, but it's still hard to believe that this relic would be a serious threat to anybody.

So what was all that secrecy about at the start of the episode? Admiral Gromek says that when the Emissary tells them about the mission, they will understand. Well, the mission was to intercept a 75 year old Klingon ship. So... I can see that they wouldn't want to start a panic amongst the colonies in the area, but wouldn't a secure coded transmission to the Enterprise be sufficient to avoid the civilians finding out what was happening? Or are Starfleet codes so awful that using them is akin to just broadcasting in the clear?
Great Moment :
K'Ehleyr's warp 9 trip in the torpedo casing - what a wonderfully horrifying way to travel!
Body Count :
Factoid :
This episode is where Worf's son Alexander is conceived.

Suzie Plakson also played Dr. Selar, and will one day play the female Q on Voyager.

TNG writer Tracy Tormé had planned to do a romance between Worf and Dr. Selar, but was overruled. She later said that she thought a romance with K'Ehleyr was "obvious" and a match with a Vulcan would have been much more interesting.


The episode opens with the senior officers playing poker. Data is critical of Worf's playing style, although as the others point out, Worf is actually winning so far. The game is interrupted by a call from Starfleet command. The ship has been directed to a rendezvous with a warp capable probe. The ship must match warp speeds with the tiny probe and latch on with a tractor beam, a manouvre demanding a good deal of precision. They beam it aboard and find a Federation Emmisary crammed inside - a Klingon woman named K'Ehleyr. Pulaski is puzzled by the woman's lifesigns and K'Ehleyr points out that she is actually half human, although her Klingon side dominates. It quickly becomes clear that she is a former romantic interest of Worf.

K'Ehleyr explains that Starfleet recently received a transmission from the Klingon battle cruiser T'Ong stating that it was shortly to awaken its crew from stasis. A check of Klingon records shows that the ship was launched from the Klingon home world seventy years earlier with a crew in stasis for a very long range attack mission during the hostilities with the Federation that existed at that time. Now it seems that when the crew awakens Starfleet will face a heavily armed ship full of Klingons who still believe their people are at war with the Federation. Several undefended colonies are in the area where the T'Ong is expected, making an attack likely. Further, the hostile Klingons are very unlikely to believe that their people have made peace and even become allies of the Federation, no matter what anybody tells them. K'Ehleyr is more than willing to try and talk to them, but she plainly states that she will fail and Picard's only choice will be to destroy the ship. he flatly refuses to do this, demanding that K'Ehleyr and Worf work on providing another option in the few days they have.

It becomes clear that two have unresolved feelings, and their animosity quickly gets in the way of their working relationship. K'Ehleyr especially struggles to control her "Klingon temper", despite Worf's more reasoned approach. They try to blow off some steam with Worf's combat training program, defeating various holographic monsters. The adrenaline rush drives them into one another's arms, and they have sex. Afterwards Worf announced that K'Ehleyr is now married to him, in line with Klingon tradition, but much to his amazement and disgust she regards this as "nonsense".

The Enterprise finds the T'Ong and is fired upon immediately. K'Ehleyr still has no suggestions, but at the last moment Worf comes up with another option. Picard and Riker leave the bridge and Worf and K'Ehleyr dress in full Klingon regalia and hail the T'Ong. Worf declares that the Klingons won the war with the Federation and he is in command of the Enterprise, and threatens the T'Ong captain, K'Temoc, with death for firing on a Klingon ship. K'Temoc is hesitant, but hastily complies when Worf orders the Enterprise to fire on his ship. K'Ehleyr says she will beam over to help the Klingons begin their adjustment to 24th century life. Before she leaves she and Worf have a final talk, but leave their feelings still unresolved.


A good solid episode, this. The idea of sending a Klingon on a decades long attack mission is a bit shaky, to be frank - how could you possibly conduct a war over those kind of travel times? It's just not feasible. We've seen the "lost ship found decades later" many times in Trek - a couple of episodes ago in Manhunt, for instance - but this excuse doesn't really pull it off. Still, it's a pretty minor flaw.

Worf and K'Ehleyr are the real story here, and it's a good one. This is the first time Worf begins to get real development as a character who does more than talk about honour and blow things up. On the one hand, Worf desperately wants to be the "super Klingon". We start to realize here that because he grew up amongst Humans he yearned for the Klingon culture that he never had, and that as a result he's actually far more committed to the idealized way that Klingons are supposed to behave than most Klingons are themselves. The Klingons sell the line that they are all about honour and duty, but in fact if you look at individual Klingons it rapidly becomes clear that that is just what it is - a line. The truth is that the average Klingon is perfectly willing to behave dishonourably if it is the pragmatic thing to do. Worf, on the other hand, has listened to the line all his life, but never experienced the day to day reality. He's like a Russian who has read books about America all his life and so is utterly devoted to "truth, justice and the American way, mom and apple pie", but doesn't have any real understanding of the day to day realities of actually living in the country. K'Ehleyr, on the other hand, looks at "Klingon culture" as an absurdity and takes the more pragmatic human view of things. She's the absolute worst person for Worf to fall for, because she's not what he thinks he needs - the perfect Klingon Lady, just as committed to the Klingon way as he is.

And yet, neither one of them can turn away because in the end the heart wants who and what it wants, no matter what you think you should want. Worf knows that K'Ehleyr is unsuitable... and deep down, knows that he wants her anyway. She equally knows that he isn't somebody that she could live with... but knows that he is who she wants. It's a situation that generates highs of emotion and frustration, and that makes it genuinely interesting to watch.

The T'Ong story does what subplots do best. It's different to the main plot, but it's a reflection of it. Like Worf and K'Ehleyr, the situation here is of Klingons committed to the old ways, the party line if you will, and unable or unwilling to accept Humanity. The solution Worf provides is a clever one, though you have to say the Klingons were a little blind to reality for it to work. They're clearly up against a Federation-designed ship, there is writing on the hull in English - none of these things would be expected if the Klingons were victorious. Actually it makes me wonder... did K'Temoc rumble the plot, and decide to play along with it anyway? After all it must have been obvious that his ship was massively over matched by the Enterprise. If he was really smart, the simple presence of the ship tells him that his people lost the war, or at least didn't win it. Yet Worf and K'Ehleyr's presence also tells him that Klingons are neither extinct or any kind of slave species. If he's really smart he might suspect an alliance of sorts... and if he really does care about his crew, might he have decided to embrace that future rather than sacrifice them for nothing? I doubt the episode has this in mind, but it's an interesting speculation, is it not?
© Graham & Ian Kennedy Page views : 57,547 Last updated : 29 Mar 2017