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Worf has a date! Bet that ends well
We’re back at the poker table, only O'Brien’s not invited this time, and instead Worf is cleaning up. Suddenly, the Enterprise is called to action from a random Starfleet Admiral (how many Admirals do Starfleet have...?). A dignitary arrives by class 8 probe, which everyone thinks is odd, and it takes the sting out of the reveal that our visitor is a Klingon. Double reveal - she's only half Klingon (what is it with Trek and inter-species marriages…?). Anyway, meet special emissary K’Ehleyr. It seems that there’s a Klingon cruiser, the T’Ong, which has been away for seventy five years - back when the Federation and the Klingons were at war. They’ve now woken up and are ready for battle. K’Ehleyr insists they’ll have to destroy them, but Picard wants options and assigns Worf to work with her.
It seems the one-and-a-half Klingons have a history together... K’Ehleyr even messes about with Worf’s save game on the holodeck. They fight together and win (Worf always does better against holographic aliens than the real thing), then in wild disregard for the fact that the holodeck is a pubic space, they get it on without even bothering to change the program. Worf then insists they’re married, while K’Ehleyr storms out insisting it was just a one night stand. Klingons, eh.
Off to confront the defrosted Klingons. They’re ready for battle and fire on the Enterprise before cloaking and playing cat and mouse. K’Ehleyr still favours blowing them out of the galaxy, but Worf has a ruse - he and the special emissary pretend to be in command of the Enterprise and order the T’Ong to stand down. All that experience at the poker table pays off at last! Finally, K’Ehleyr admits she does have feelings for Worf, and Worf declares that he “will not be complete” without her. What a softie.
“Talk or play. Not both.”
The screenplay for this episode is rather odd, since instead of the more usual ‘Written by’ credit it says:
Participating Writers: Thomas H. Calder Richard Manning & Hans Beimler
Participating writers?! Did no-one want to take credit for this story? On screen, Manning and Beimler get a ‘Television Story and Teleplay by’ credit, while Calder is credited as ‘Based on an Unpublished Story by’. So what's going on here? Was this a book that the show scooped up as an episode? A comic? Nobody seems to know!
A lot of the charming details of Worf and K’Ehleyr’s romance were added during shooting. Director Cliff Bole stated:
I came up with that thing where she digs into his hand and there’s all that blood. I did that on the set. I was wondering what these people do, and I had the image of bones breaking and felt that’s what they do when they get it on.
I’m impressed with the way this story doesn’t devolve into unnecessary word play, and has both a solid plot and a satisfying character arc for Worf and K’Ehleyr. There’s also reasonable space for the supporting cast to buttress the story. All in all, this is a great screenplay mixing drama, comedy and romance and providing a solid foundation for a very enjoyable episode.
Suzie Plakson returns, having previously appeared as the Vulcan Doctor Selar in “The Schizoid Man”. Tracy Tormé, who wrote that episode, had been pushing for a romance between Worf and Selar, and although the idea obviously got some traction, the rest of the production staff preferred switching Plakson over to playing a (half-)Klingon. Tormé was unhappy, feeling it was too obvious.
Plakson is electric as K’Ehleyr, although she overplays the role a little - Bole was worried immediately after shooting wrapped that he'd given her too much rope. Nonetheless, it works because Michael Dorn’s Worf is the ultimate straight man and he benefits from being paired with someone who is going to be more effusive with their performance. It helps that Plakson is having an absolute blast with her role:
There was a line – ‘Sorry, I had to make myself beautiful’ – and I thought this was riotous, because I had this big old wrinkly forehead on. Anyway, it’s not like I played it for huge laughs, but I’ve done a lot of parlor comedies and that was the kind of attitude I gave it. The people who were listening to me didn’t bat an eyelash, but after I got the role, someone came up to me and said, ‘Suzie, there is no winking in the twenty-fourth century.’
O’Brien gets to beam aboard a sardine can - they sure are keeping him busy this season!
And did you notice who plays the captain of the Klingon popsicles…?
It’s none other than Lance LeGault, who played Colonel Decker in The A-Team, the military officer charged with bringing our heroes in by any means necessary.
He was also in just about every 80s action show you can remember - he was the narrator on Airwolf, and had roles on Buck Rogers, Knight Rider, Automan, T.J. Hooker, Sledge Hammer! - even Automan, not to mention Dynasty. It’s almost a shame they didn’t give him a juicier role, to be honest, but he acquits himself well with his bit part all the same.
All this and no Wesley? How wonderful!
Models, Make-up, and Mattes
Worf’s calisthenics program is back and this time our skull faced monster and unconvincing insectoid are joined by a feathered freak.
It’s not as good as skully-boy, but it’s a big step up from the insect suit, which still feels like it escaped from the set of Power Rangers.
And of course we get the footage of the Klingon cruiser from Star Trek: The Motion Picture again - they even have it open fire and cloak this time, which is more than you expect from stock footage.
Finally, I tip my hat to Durinda Rice Wood, who served as costume designer for the whole of the second season and does a magnificent job.
I honestly don’t think the wardrobe department was ever better in Trek than it was for this one fabulous year. Soon after, the beige invades and never goes away, but for this moment in Trek history, the future has style. Bravo!
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