The Great Star Trek TNG Rewatch: Rightful Heir

When Worf starts questioning his dedication to traditional Klingon principles, Picard urges him to take some leave and go on a spiritual retreat. Whilst there, he witnesses the supposed return of Kahless the Unforgettable, the first Klingon Emperor. But how can the person claiming to be Kahless possibly be the real thing?

It’s about time for another epic Klingon episode, with all the manly posturing therein. This episode is a rollercoaster ride of Worf’s faith in The Klingon Way, from doubt, to blind acceptance of Kahless, to disbelief and questions.

The odd thing is that there is a lot to this episode, from the nature of what it might mean for a messiah-type character to return (does it count if we have the technology to make a clone), old power versus new, and a rare Star Trek look at faith – something that would become more prominent in Roddenberry-free DS9. The trouble is, it just doesn’t feel presented very well. It’s fun to see Klingons doing their thing, of course, but Gowron is just plain annoying, and Worf’s hurried solution to tie everything up into a nice little package at the end is of course rushed.

The Klingon Way

  • We last saw Kahless in The Savage Curtain, where he was very different in both appearance and personality. The official Star Trek explanation for this is that Kahless in The Savage Curtain was constructed from Kirk’s perceptions of him.
  • The monks of Boreth are able to transform written and spoken lore into memories that Kahless can recall. Kahless feels like he was there, but when quizzed on additional details, he can’t provide them. Presumably he has no visual memory of these events and doesn’t picture them, but does have a distinct feeling that he experienced them firsthand.
  • How did Kahless-clone know that Worf saw him in a vision as a child? Had Worf confided this to one of the monks during his stay?
  • Kahless is basically relegated to a powerless figurehead who plays very little role in the future of the Klingon Empire from now on.
  • Even though many Klingons are obsessed with returning to ‘the old ways’, is this really the best thing for their society? Cultures evolve, and perhaps the Klingons should too – at the very least, to allow for diversity. Let some people stay true to the old, ascetic lifestyle, but let others adopt soft beds and cable TV if they like.

Summary – Rightful Heir: I wish I could get more excited about this episode, but it just doesn’t move me.

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