Discover more from WAMTNG
Heart of Glory
Worf finally gets an episode! And it has Klingons in it!
Terribly dramatic music accompanies our excursion into the Neutral Zone. Is it Romulans... please let it be Romulans... you keep namechecking Romulans but we never find any Romulans! But no, it's not Romulans. Although at least we said the word ‘Romulans’ a lot. Anyway, it's not Romulans Romulans Romulans but Klingons Klingons Klingons! Three of them! Oh wait, one just died. Two of them. But a replacement Klingon is whooshing over on a Klingon Cruiser. Worf gets to play as cultural liaison, and gets teased by the other Klingons, which is only fair given his abominable haircut.
It turns out that these Klingons are renegades who won a decisive but embarrassing victory against the Klingon Empire and so have to be dealt with. But they aren't having any of it, and escape the Enterprise's brig by fashioning a disrupter from pieces of their shoes. It all leads up to a showdown between Worf and the Klingon Captain in the Enterprise Engine Room, and Worf finally gets to win a battle (Worf 1, Aliens 3)! Of course, it's against another Klingon, which for some reason is the only species Worf is allowed to beat in combat. At least he does so spectacularly, blasting him in the chest with a phaser so he smashes down through multiple glass floors.
Admit it Worf, that's how you want to go when the time comes!
'Klingons!' This episode single-handedly creates the foundations for the Klingon culture that is going to be absolutely crucial to TNG and post-TNG DS9. I can completely understand why the dedicated classic Trek fans had difficulty with this new interpretation of Klingon culture, which is not very much like those that appear in the 1960s, but I personally find more continuity here than might be assumed. The Klingons take their look from those in the Trek movies and they fit rather well with the Search for Spock Klingons, who are the obvious missing link between the old and new versions of this species.
This script is a handover between old and new in other ways as well. This story is credited to the new script editing team of Maurice Hurley and Herbert Wright, along with the outgoing script editor D.C. Fontana. It’s a behind-the-scenes passing of the torch. I'll be frank, though, it is Ronald D. Moore who truly crafts the Klingon Empire into its TNG/DS9 incarnation, and he doesn't join the writing team until season three. Nonetheless, Moore and other TNG writers take this episode as foundational for what is to come, which gives this screenplay an especial significance.
But it’s 'Klingon Death Ritual' that are the star words here, and both appearances of this within the episode are striking and memorable. It's a simple thing, but it adds a great deal to the Klingon culture, and its longevity to the franchise is the gift this episode grants to the continuity.
And you might think that this is the first appearance of the food replicator in the show, but not according to the script, which only mentions a 'food station'. The screenplay has Konmet ordering "O'MAT - GRI - T'M -PFFIOTS -", which rather feels like somebody bashed their head on the keyboard rather than coming up with something sensible.
Likewise, if you think that's a Klingon disrupter, the script will disappoint you. It's just a 'Klingon weapon'. But these are niggles next to the use of 'Kling' in this script. Fanonically we could explain this as something other than the name of the Klingon homeworld, but that was clearly the intended meaning. Perhaps we can chalk this up to a faulty universal translator.
My favourite shot of the episode: the exact point that Worf realises that his hairdresser did not in fact have any clue what Klingons do with their hair.
Michael Dorn is wonderful throughout, and if some fans consider The Last Temptation of Worf within the story implausible this is mainly because they are back-projecting later-Worf into this episode. Can anyone even imagine what it would be like to belong to a species and culture you had only learned about from reading and to then find yourself face-to-face with others of your kind...? And how much more would the peer pressure be for people as swayed by honour as the Klingons...?
Nonetheless, Dorn was not happy with the episode. In an interview for the Star Trek fan club magazine in 1990 he remarked of "Heart of Glory":
Even that one I must admit was just information. It was an informational show. They were explaining where he came from, why he was there, and whether he was loyal. And that was it. You really didn't see the complexity of Worf.
Personally, I think he underestimates his role in this episode because he tends to be overshadowed by Vaughn Armstrong's Captain Korris.
This is Armstrong's sole appearance in TNG, although he appears twice in DS9 and in nine roles in the lesser Trek shows, but he definitely steals the show for me this time around. I have to say, dressing the Klingons in the outfits designed for Star Trek: The Motion Picture and reused in Search for Spock and The Voyage Home really makes a difference here. I still very much enjoy Armstrong's performance and he dies most spectacularly!
Models, Make-up, and Mattes
The LaForge-eye-view shots have a lot of character and help give some context to LeVar Burton's role, even if they feel rather out of place in the arc of the story.
I mean, this is an episode that's about the Worf, the whole Worf, and nothing but the Worf... why we get a bit of LaForge exposition in Act I is something of a mystery, but at least Wesley does not appear in a single frame. Also missing is Troi, but don't worry because I think it's a safe bet that had she been in this story she would have told us that the Klingons were hiding something.
Let's welcome the Talarian freighter studio miniature! This one is going to do a lot of work, appearing in five TNGs, six DS9s, and four times in the lesser Trek shows, with numerous modifications.
As with so many of the models in TNG, it combines elements from different sources. Firstly and most strikingly, the Visitor shuttle from the 80s show V, which is where it gets its cargo pods. Secondly, and more obscurely, it inherits pieces from the Triton Corsair from the obscure Disney show Earth Star Voyager (no relation). That show was cancelled in 1988 shortly before this episode, and Jörg Hillebrand and Bernd Schneider plausibly conclude that the common link was Bruce MacRae, who built the Triton Corsair and worked for Greg Jein's model workshop, where several TNG models came from. The Talarians will be back in season four, but this model will be back in just two weeks.
But of course, the Talarian frieghter is completely upstaged by the Klingon Cruiser in Act III, even if the angle they shoot it from is so very disappointing.
Actually, this is stock footage taken from the opening sequence of Star Trek: The Motion Picture... there are so many better shots in that film that could have been used, but none would have made sense in the context of the vessel approaching the Enterprise, alas. Still, I take great pleasure in seeing this ship (the supra-fanonical K't'inga-class battle cruiser) return in this episode - and its not the last time we’ll see this studio miniature in TNG either, I’m very pleased to say.
WAM TNG is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.