Faith, heritage, history and belief are all explored in the episode that originally aired on May 17, 1993. This is Rightful Heir.
Stardate 46852.2 Rightful Heir
Worf, having a crisis of faith, visits a Klingon monastery and meets the living version of Kahless, the Unforgettable.
Worf is late for his assigned duty and Riker fears the worst. Rushing to Worf’s quarters, RIker finds the Klingon deep in prayer. After discussing the matter with Picard, The Captain learns that, after Worf’s encounter with the Klingon Youths in the carraya system, Worf has found himself in a crisis of faith. Picard agrees to allow his security officer some shore leave to explore his faith more fully. Soon Worf leaves for Boreth, a place where worshipers go to prepare for the return of Kahless.
After ten days, and no visions or self discovery, Worf is ready to give up. After discussing the matter with the high priest Koroth, Worf returns to the shrine, alone, and encounters none other than Kahless himself! Kahless makes his claim that he has returned and regales them with the story of how the first Bat’leth was forged. This proves his claim to the High Priest as it is a legend that has not been shared among the people. Kahless claims that he is there to lead his people again as the Klingon people have lost their way.
Worf isn’t convinced and Kahless allows him to use a tricorder to determine if Kahless is real. Kahless encourages Worf to believe but acknowledges that it is Worf’s journey alone. After a few days, Worf still has doubt so he challenges Kahless to a duel. Halfway through the fight, Kahless rallies the Klingons in the monastery to sing out about their heritage.
The Enterprise returns and the crew have difficulty believing that the man claiming to be Kahless is legitimate. Despite this, the crew has been ordered to transport Kahless to the Klingon Homeworld and will be given respect while on board. Soon Gowron arrives to challenge Kahless’ validity. Gowron does not believe this man is who he claims and fears that Kahless is a threat to the Empire. Gowron has brought with him a blade that has Kahless’ blood on it. This blood should be a match with the man who claims to be Kahless returned. After testing the blood, they discover that this man is indeed, the returned God of the Klingons. Not long after, Worf shares a drink with Kahless and learns that Kahless wishes Worf to stand at his side. Kahless plans to form a new Empire.
Despite the evidence to the contrary, Gowron is still not convinced, he sees this as an attempt by Koroth to take over the Empire using Kahless as a puppet. Worf tries to convince Gowron of Kahless’ claim. Gowron agrees to meet with Kahless and, in doing so, continues to deny him. Gowron and Kahless fight only for Gowron to defeat the greatest warrior in single combat, proving that this man is not Kahless at all. Worf soon learns that this man is indeed Kahless but not Kahless returned. He is a clone of the original Kahless and was created by Koroth and the monks to return and take back the Empire. Worf now faces a choice, to expose Kahless and destroy the faith of the Klingons, or allow the falsehood to continue.
After talking with Data, Worf realizes that he needs to make a leap of faith. He will not keep Kahless’ secret and tells Gowron the truth. He then explains to Gowron that, despite the fact that this is only a clone of Kahless, they need to place this Kahless on the throne as Emperor to be a figurehead of faith for the Klingon People. Gowron reluctantly agrees.
As Kahless leaves, Worf still has a crisis of faith. Kahless explains to him that, even if the real Kahless does not return, his words and teachings are all that really matter. Worf should hold true to what he believes no matter what.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
This is a very deep episode that takes on religion and the cycle of faith. Worf is used as an avatar to our own faiths and in that it speaks on multiple levels.
Faith itself is a tenuous thing. Whether it be faith in a person, a belief, a system, or otherwise, many of us have a crisis of faith for innumerable reasons. Maybe it is the death of a loved one, or maybe just rough times, but it happens to everyone. What if your faith faced the ultimate test, what if you came face to face with the very person who started your belief system only to discover that they may not be who they claimed to be? This would be enough to shatter most people as many people do not believe in the teachings of the people they follow in so much the idea of that person.
This is what Worf finds himself going through in this episode, after having experienced a crisis of self for many years, he comes to realize that he has never truly had the joyous experience of being dedicated to the person all Klingons look up to, Kahless. He wants to believe so badly but there is something in him that keeps him back. When he finally comes face to face with Kahless himself, he finds himself doubting the mans veracity, he has a complete crisis of faith. In this case, his crisis was founded and this man is proven to not actually be Kahless but in the process, Worf learns that it is the words of the real Kahless that matter. Kahless taught the Klingons to be an honorable and strong people and, even should he never return, those words have never left.
This is a lesson that not only can be taken in a religious means but also a personal one. Many times people have found themselves in a situation where a person they admired let them down. This person may have been a teacher, a parent, a politician, anyone really. When the person you look up to most shows you a side that is contrary to who you believed them to be, it is a devastating experience. For many it makes them doubt everything that person has ever said and done, no matter how right or just it was. The main thing to take away is in Kahless’ final words of the episode.
‘If his words hold wisdom and his philosophy is honorable, what does it matter if he returns? What is important is that we follow his teachings. Perhaps the words are more important than the man.’
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
We hear more of Kahless II’s exploits on Deep Space Nine.
This is the last time we see Gowron until Deep Space Nine as well.
We get a chance to really explore Klingon doctrine in this one and the episode really gets a chance to see just how deep the Klingon culture relies on it’s cultural history. They are a proud people, desperate for guidance and validation but they are also too proud sometimes to admit it.
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Late To The Game 7/19/2020 (Originally published 12/10/2018)
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