Friday, December 18, 2020

Star Trek: Sins of the Father

Episode: "Sins of the Father"
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 3, Episode 17
Original Air Date: March 19, 1990

Klingon Commander Kurn has been assigned to the Enterprise as part of the Federation-Klingon Officer Exchange Program.  Our own Commander Riker served aboard the Pagh in the same capacity in "A Matter of Honor."  After throwing his weight around and generally putting everyone on edge, Kurn reveals his true purpose: he requested the assignment so he could contact Worf, his long-lost older brother.  

Here the story takes an abrupt turn.  Worf and Kurn's father, Mogh, has been posthumously charged with treason.  Since Worf is the oldest son, Kurn urges him to challenge the accusation with Kurn standing as his Cha'DIch, or second.  If the challenge fails, both will face what would have been Mogh's sentence: death.

Without a doubt, Next Gen has been on an awfully strong run over the past three episodes.  "Sins of the Father" is yet another popular choice on best episode lists.  I assert that they are, in fact, the three best installments of the series to this point.  The story represents a transition on several fronts:
  1. Our first visit to the Klingon home world.  The sets and costumes are fantastic, earning an Emmy for Art Directors Richard D. James and Jim Mees.  
  2. Crucial development for Worf, arguably his most important episode.  In the end, he demonstrates he is willing to sacrifice his own honor for the sake of the common Klingon good.  Hereafter, both writers and actor approached the character differently.
  3. The dangling narrative threads at the end left little doubt that a return to this storyline was inevitable.  To this point, the producers had been resistant to the idea of continuing story arcs.  With "Sins of the Father," that door was kicked open.
As good as it is, the episode has an obvious narrative flaw: the story of the officer exchange is left unresolved.  Kurn's stunning revelation, while awesome, lets everyone off the hook far too easily.  It would have been interesting to see how the mounting tensions might eventually play out.

Once again, food is an essential window to culture as Kurn navigates dinner aboard the Enterprise.

Acting Notes

Charles Cooper plays the role of Klingon Chancellor K'mpec.  He was born August 11, 1926 in San Francisco.  He had a long, 50-year career.  Most of his credits were television guest appearances.  He did particularly well with western series, including Cimarron City, Lawman and The Rifleman.  Big screen credits include The Wrong Man, A Dog's Best Friend and Valet Girls.

This was the second of three Trek appearances for Cooper, always as a Klingon.  He played the part of General Korrd in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and would return as K'mpec in Season 4's "Reunion."  Cooper passed away November 29, 2013.


  1. The Klingon homeworld is visited in Discovery.

  2. It is indeed the dawn of serialized storytelling in the franchise, in a deliberate fashion. In my Star Trek blog I’ going to be writing about the major franchise arcs. When I get around to it.

  3. Like Yesterday's Enterprise, this episode is a masterpiece

    1. Worf stories are always satisfying and this might be the best one.

  4. Always so interesting. Sorry I didn't watch it the first time around.

    1. This one's definitely on the short list of must-watch episodes.