Monday, October 3, 2011

The Next Generation, Season 5: Redemption, Part 2

The Next Generation, Season 5
"Redemption, Part 2"
Airdate: September 23, 1991
100 of 176 produced
100of 176 aired


The Klingon Civil War is in full swing, and the Duras seem to be winning. In the Empire, Worf is dealing with the consequences of his decisions, and finds living among fellow Klingons not as easy as he thought it would be. On the Enterprise, Captain Picard can't help but suspect that the Duras' Romulan connections are affecting the outcome of the war. If that is so, then the Federation not only can, but must, intervene. He convinces Starfleet to let him try to expose the Romulan involvement, but his investigation will reveal another secret no one on the Enterprise is prepared for.

If looks could kill.... those shoulder pads would be outlawed!


Kevin: I think this is the stronger of the two parts of the episode. Probably because they've already established a lot of background, we can spend this episode just doing lots of things. The political thriller is still fun. It has the same energy and twists. There are a few small nitpicks which I'll get to, but overall, it never goes off the rails. It's definitely more whiz-bang that hard science fiction, but it's good, intelligent whiz-bang.

Matthew: I definitely agree. Though I did enjoy the first part, I think this installment is more fun to watch. What I appreciate is the addition of some light sci-fi elements to the story. We get the Sela storyline, which has alternate universe implications, and the Data subplot, which has artificial intelligence in command of reluctant human beings. Both of these elements add to the story, regardless of how well developed they are (the Sela storyline doesn't amount to much by the end).

Kevin: While the action is quite good in the Klingon Civil War stuff, I have some questions about politics in the Empire. How is it treason for Toral and the Duras sisters, but not for the dude who challenges Gowron to a fight? Why doesn't Toral just fight him anyway? From the matte paintings, it looks like the sisters are on Qo'nos. Why not just bomb their compound from orbit? When Kurn says the Capital City is neutral ground, I really hope he meant the bar they were in. Cause it seems pretty silly that the seat of power is off limits in a civil war. Still, these problem don't derail the episode, but they are there. It is balanced for me by some great scenes for Worf. He has so idolized and idealized what it must be to be Klingon that he never really fits in with them. That was a nice touch, and I'm glad the writers thought of it.

Matthew: Yeah it sure seemed to me like the same matte-painting representing the capital city was, by the end of the episode, depicted as burning from orbital bombardment. It was very interesting, though, how the Klingon culture is depicted as being perhaps a bit corrupt and ineffectual because of its obsession with battle and honor, not in spite of it. Arm-wrestling with knives on each side? Madness!

Kevin: I liked the Sela plot. I enjoy that it incorporates the entirely awesome story of Yesterday's Enterprise, and gives what seemed like a closed loop some lasting consequence. It also provides for some great scenes with the crew. I wish she got to have a scene with Worf. It doesn't quite make sense that a 22 year old woman commands a fleet, but what the hey? It still ranks pretty high in terms of reveals.

Matthew: I think she is supposed to be 23. The writers vacillate on this point, since Picard describes the Enterprise C's demise as 23 years ago in one scene, and then in the very next scene he and Sela both call it "24 years ago." This reveal was exciting, but lacked a bit of artifice in my opinion. I can imagine much better ways that she could be integrated into this tale. Sela is too young, first and foremost. It might have been better if she were an upstart, a loose cannon, or an up and coming member of the Tal-Shiar. Having her be in command of a major government-sanctioned offensive is a bit much. Then, a lot is made in dialogue about whether or not her presence affects Picard's thought process - which it doesn't, so it doesn't really amount to much story-wise.

Kevin: I also really liked the detection net plot. The scenes of Picard assembling the fleet were neat, and it's a credit to Picard that he found a way to get involved without strictly violating the prime directive. It was also nice to see O'Brien at tactical, since we established in "The Wounded" he had done that before. I do question why the Romulans couldn't just go around the 23 ships. Some dialogue establishing the border with the Romulans is a nebula or something, and this is the only safe way through or something would have helped.

Matthew: Yeah, 3D space logic questions do not really dampen the fact that blockades and blockade runners are a lot of fun. It's got lots of nice Cold War echoes, and underscores how serious these ideas are, even if the show can't afford to show giant space battles quite yet.

Kevin: Data got a nice understated outing. It's a good growth episode for him in an episode that is not really about him. Hobson is tad too racist, and not just against androids. He basically calls an entire species too dumb to be engineers. Beyond that, I really liked the scenes. Data's solution was credible and well developed and while dependent on his android skills, still did not feel like deus ex machina, literally in this case.

Matthew: Data's scenes in a vacuum are nice. In the context of the story they made me question things, though.  Why is Geordi Riker's first officer, and not, say, the Chief Engineer in charge of the detection grid? Why isn't this Hobson guy, wearing a command division uniform, just the CO of the Sutherland, since he is equal in rank to Data? Maybe it's not because he's just a tad too racist, more that he is an out and out bigot who spouts off his racial theories in front of other officers? How does Sela know that the Sutherland has an android captain, other than the writers told her so?


Kevin: This was definitely a great turn for everyone. I don't really have a lot of specific comments for the main cast. Everyone brought their A-game and it shows. I will say I liked how Denice Crosby played Sela as aware that the Duras were not the best allies, but they were what she had to work with. I like it when villains aren't pathologically stupid.

Matthew: Yeah, I bet Denise Crosby was kicking herself after her last 4 episodes back (Yesterday's Enterprise, The Mind's Eye, and this two parter). The roles are juicy, and she does a fine job living up to them. I imagine seeing how much more interesting and complex the roles of all the main cast became had her regretting her decision to embark on a fabulous cinematic career (peak moment: Pet Sematary). Speaking of nuanced performances, Michael Dorn did a great job. His portrayal as a man out of place in his own culture was really effective. His "love scene" with B'Etor was really funny, too.

Kevin: Hobson did almost too good a job of being a dick, cause I kind of think he's a dick.Tony Todd did his usual awesome job as Kurn. Robert O'Reilly was great, too. "Now the war...can continue." He's really not a purely good or evil character. He's opportunistic and crafty, i.e. the perfect politician, but I like that he's not more noble than he really should be.

Matthew: Definitely a nice Machiavellian turn by O'Reilly. March and Walsh again steal their scenes as Lursa and B'Etor. This episode is really well-cast from top to bottom. If there is any fault to a show like this, it's that some of the main cast get short shrift for want to screen time. But it's not a major complaint.

Production Values

Kevin: The opening scene of the battle near the star was great. The layout of the scene was good and the camera work really helped turn the serial images into a narrative. The photosphere looked nifty as well. I liked all the Okudagrams on both the Romulan and Federation ships showing the fleet.

Matthew: The Okudagrams stuck out for me as well - they had a lot of weight to carry, since we never saw the blockade fleet, of course. The sun flare effect was not superb, but it definitely did the job.

Kevin: The new sets were pretty good. The Klingon bar was appropriately dark, bar-like, and it was chock full of extras which was awesome. The bridge of the Sutherland felt a little off to me. The design didn't seem designed, I guess. The locations of chairs and consoles made it look like they converted a storage room. Not everything needs the palatial staging of the Enterprise, but this didn't even have a viewscreen.


Kevin: I am going with another 4. The episode overall remains extremely entertaining, and the scenes of Data and Sela add some character and science fiction depth that the first episode may have lacked a little. It's still a more action oriented episode, but the touches were well done. There are some flaws as we discussed, but overall, I always am excited to watch this one, and this is definitely a fine start to season 5.

Matthew: Yeah, even though I enjoyed this one a bit more than the first part, I agree that it's a 4. The minor story logic issues accrete into enough of a detraction to keep this from a 5. That brings our total to an enjoyable 8.


  1. I am glad you guys brought up the Sutherland's bridge. This has always bothered me since I found out how big the nebula class starships are. They seem be comparable to the Galaxy class ships in their saucer section size and yet it seemed like the bridge was 1/8 the size. And you're right no view screen. I always almost felt that it seemed like Data was working from engineering and not the bridge. I agree with you about Hobson. He does not seem nearly political enough to have risen in rank to captain or even a chief of any department for that matter.
    As for Sela's age I wondered about that too and yet look at young Crusher!

  2. I also found it really strange that there seemed to be giant banks of isolinear chips all over the bridge. Given the number of explosions a Starfleet bridge suffers, that seems like a bad spot for them. And if they were going to be covered by a future console, tat would cut down the space even further.

    Non-Enterprise bridges have kind of become an issue, either by being left out entirely or by looking bad. They really should have redressed the battle bridge they way they used to in the first few seasons. The Stargazer looked better than any of the ships we've seen since.

  3. The lighting is what got me. Who the hell could work in that perpetual twilight?