STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION – REDEMPTION
MOVIE: ***1/2 (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5)
Michael Dorn as WORF
Patrick Stewart as JEAN-LUC PICARD
Jonathan Frakes as WILLIAM RIKER
LeVar Burton as GEORDI LA FORGE
Gates McFadden as BEVERLY CRUSHER
Marina Sirtis as DEANNA TROI
Brent Spiner as DATA
Created by: Gene Roddenberry
BY KEVIN CARR
Along with the release of season four of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” on Blu-ray, Paramount has offered a stand-alone movie of the cliffhanger season finale and its resolution. “Redemption” wraps up the story of Worf (Michael Dorn) as he tries to clear his family’s name in the face of traitors trying to take control of Klingon leadership.
What is groundbreaking about this episode, and it’s not even clear until you watch the supplemental features on the disc, is that this season finale was hinged on what was, up until then, a secondary character. While Worf got his own moments in the sun over the course of the series, this was the first time that the entire show rested on his shoulders.
Over the four years of the series to that point, Worf had gone from being the token Klingon on the bridge to becoming a favorite among fans. Not only was he Klingon (which was, in and of itself, a huge interest to fans), but he was a great source of comic relief. Through the third and fourth season, Worf’s character had developed to one of the stronger ones in the series. Looking back, it seems entirely logical that he could take on full story arcs comparable to Data and Picard. However, back when these were being made, it was a bit of a risk.
The risk paid off. Not only does any episode featuring Worf allow the fans greater access to the Klingon home world, but it gives a welcome change from what got to be standard (and sometimes boring) aliens featured on the show. Never has a race in the “Star Trek” universe attracted as much attention as the Klingons. (Well, perhaps the Borg, but they already got their cliffhanger last season.)
“Redemption” served several purposes. First, it offered greater backstory and character develop for Worf. Second, it allowed the production to not fiercely rely on just a Picard or Data storyline. Finally (and most interesting), it introduces the fans to Sela (Denise Crosby) and her relation to Tasha Yar.
Although a stretch from a scientific and genetic perspective (and let’s be honest, what “Star Trek” storyline isn’t like this to some degree), bringing back Denise Crosby a second time was a fantastic thing to do. I remember watching these episodes as they aired while I was in college in the early 1990s. Second to the “Spock” episode in season five, the return of not-quite Tasha Yar was a big deal.
Like any series that puts its main-stable characters in peril, the viewer knew this whole drama would be sorted out by the end of the season premiere episode. However, like any good cliffhanger two-parter, the key was not in the “what” but in the “how.” “Redemption” offers a unique journey for Worf as it ushered in one of the most successful syndicated television runs in history.
The Blu-ray comes with a few decent special features, including a commentary by Ronald D. Moore along with Trek historians Mike and Denise Okuda. There’s also episodic promos for both parts of the episode, along with a behind-the-scene featurette “Survive and Succeed: An Empire at War.”