That’s not the voice of god, that’s just a ring modulator

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L.I. Underhill is a media critic and historian specializing in pop culture, with a focus on science fiction (especially Star Trek) and video games. Their projects include a critical history of Star Trek told through the narrative of a war in time, a “heretical” history of The Legend of Zelda series and a literary postmodern reading of Jim Davis' Garfield.


  1. Blueshift
    November 13, 2015 @ 1:10 am

    You know, on my recent TNG rewatch I actually found this episode to be one of the most problematic. It falls into the trap that culture is important and vital for its own sake no matter what it actually IS and stands for. Klingon culture is incredibly toxic, racist, sexist and violent. Worf 'heroically' lands on this planet where everyone is happy and at peace and decides the youth NEED to embrace their heritage. Specifically their heritage of racism and violence. "Hate the Romulans, don't befriend them! Learn violence!" (and the whole 'you should be ashamed of yourself for not being racist towards Romulans like true Klingons is really strong here).

    He radicalises them. And the episode sees this as A Good Thing because connecting with your culture is always good.


  2. K. Jones
    November 13, 2015 @ 11:46 am

    It's gonna be a long while before anyone starts calling out the Klingon culture. Of course those someones tend to be called Dax, though Quark will get his digs in there, too.

    Even in fantasy terms it's something inevitable that I can't believe didn't happen sooner. If the Klingons are nordic-esque dwarven analogs, well, the sire of fantasy, The Hobbit, was a scathing critique of dwarf-culture, and it's entire ending hinged on Bilbo's calling out of Thorin.

    And Worf is totally Thorin, and in this episode Tokath gets to be a sort of elvenking figure, but not a Thranduil, more of an Elrond really, mixing cultures in a remote refuge hidden in the forest. But obviously to Worf, all Romulans are Thranduils, dark-hearted and cruel.

    Seriously though, Worf is Thorin. Exiled prince of a high house and all that. Mystery surrounding father's death in legendary battle. Well, Thorin with redemption rather than death, anyway. Thorin young enough when the orphaning happened that he could be raised in an idyllic setting and while he's still bitter, he can't be eternally bitter.


  3. elvwood
    November 14, 2015 @ 2:23 am

    Because of the DS9 crossover I made time to rewatch this two-parter, and while I really enjoyed the first half (though almost entirely for the Data storyline, which is great) I too found it hard not to see Worf's actions as almost entirely destructive. You have helped to crystallise why. Worf as a radicalising dwarf – certainly not something I would have come up with on my own!

    As for that Michael Piller quote: just ouch.


  4. Daru
    December 20, 2015 @ 10:43 pm

    "For me, basically nothing could have effectively followed up on the symbolic power I saw in “Part I”"

    Yes that was true for me too, and sadly I recall being a bit disappointed with part 2. I suppose I have a limited interest in the Klingons or Worf's angst. I would find Worf a whole lot more interesting if he, as you suggest above, was depicted as embracing his own utopian identity and be a full expression of what you call 'liminal identities' – great phrase.


  5. Daru
    December 20, 2015 @ 10:44 pm

    And horrible stuff from Piller.


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