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Firstborn (episode)

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"Firstborn"
TNG, Episode 7x21
Production number: 40277-273
First aired: 25 April 1994
172nd of 176 produced in TNG
172nd of 176 released in TNG
  {{{nNthReleasedInSeries_Remastered}}}th of 176 released in TNG Remastered  
319th of 728 released in all
Alexander at the kot'baval festival
Teleplay By
René Echevarria

Story By
Mark Kalbfeld

Directed By
Jonathan West
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A mysterious family friend and advisor encourages Worf's son Alexander to become a warrior.

Summary Edit

Worf hit by fullerene

"Sorry. I didn't mean to hit you!"

Worf rehearses, a little nervously, how he will explain to his son Alexander what it means to be a Klingon warrior. Alexander dashes in, pursued by his friend Eric with a fullerene water balloon. He misses Alexander and hits Worf, who is not amused. However, he continues with his explanation.

He tells Alexander that there are actually two Rite of Ascension ceremonies; Alexander won't be required to pass through the second rite (the one with painsticks) until he is older, but is old enough for the first rite now. His fighting skills and his knowledge of the teachings of Kahless will be tested, and Worf promises to help him. The first step is lighting a kor'tova candle and declaring one's intention to be a Klingon warrior.

Alexander doesn't want to do it, reminding Worf that his mother K'Ehleyr told him he didn't have to do any "Klingon stuff" he didn't want to. Worf agrees that it must be Alexander's choice, and Alexander runs out of the room, declaring that he has no intention of becoming a warrior.

The USS Enterprise-D is supposed to rendezvous with another ship, the USS Kearsarge, but it won't arrive for another four days, so Captain Picard proposes that they visit the Hatarian system where there's an archaeological dig, and stellar dynamics can have access to the sensor array to look at the Vodrey Nebula. Picard notices that Worf looks distracted during the briefing, and Worf explains afterwards about Alexander. Picard suggests that the Enterprise detour to the Klingon outpost on Maranga IV where they'll be celebrating Kot'baval and Alexander can immerse in Klingon culture and folklore; this will also give Stellar Dynamics a chance to see the entire nebula, as the outpost lies on the other side of it.

On Maranga, the festival is in full swing; there is almost a county fair atmosphere, what with the vendors and the banners and the colorful re-enactments of Klingon history. Worf and Alexander watch one such drama, in which the story of how Kahless defeated the traitor Molor is shown. The actor playing Molor issues repeated challenges to bat'leth duels, and audience members are invited to participate. Alexander is caught up in the excitement and accepts a challenge. The actor takes a fall to let Alexander win.

After spending a full day at the festival and even making some friends among the Klingon children at the outpost, Alexander and Worf are about to return to the Enterprise when three husky Klingon warriors appear from the shadows and issue a real challenge. Worf stands up to them, with Alexander at his side, but an older Klingon man comes out of an alley and fires a disruptor at one of the assailants. Worf takes on the other two, shouting to Alexander to run. The older Klingon helps to defeat them and Worf recognizes him as K'mtar, gin'tak or adviser to the House of Mogh.

Back on the Enterprise, K'mtar shows the dagger dropped by one of the assailants. It bears the insignia of the rival House of Duras, indicating that Lursa and B'Etor are behind the attack. They are after the seat on the Klingon High Council now held by Worf's brother Kurn, who has sent K'mtar to protect Worf and his child and put a stop to the sisters' treachery. Commander Riker says the next step will be to track down the sisters.

K'mtar inquires how Alexander is doing as far as his Klingon warrior skills, and Worf says he is not as good as he should be, because he doesn't take time to practice. K'mtar says Kurn is worried about Alexander, too. Kurn's children are all daughters, so Alexander may have to lead the House of Mogh someday. Kurn believes in Worf's ability to teach the boy Klingon ways, but it can't be easy being the only two Klingons on a starship full of Earth people. K'mtar promises to help. Very gently (for a Klingon), he approaches Alexander's bedside and speaks in warm, understanding tones, telling him that learning warrior's skills will help Alexander to feel that not only he, but his father, are safe from harm.

Quark, Enterprise-D viewscreen

"So long, Quark."

Meanwhile, Riker bribes information out of Quark on Deep Space 9 as to what the Duras sisters are doing and where they are. Quark explains that they were going to buy some mining equipment and dig up magnesite (which actually belongs to the Pakleds) in the Kalla system. When the Enterprise goes there and beams down an away team, they find a lone Dopterian, Gorta, who in exchange for passage off planet tells them that the sisters have already left, taking everything of value with them. The plan had been to sell the ore to a Yridian trader in the Ufandi system.

True to his word, K'mtar comes up with a holodeck simulation different from what Alexander is used to. Instead of just going through the exercises, he proposes a re-enactment of what happened on Marenga. As Alexander goes up against one of the attackers, K'mtar freezes the program at various points to illustrate how Alexander can take advantage of his opponent. Alexander knocks the attacker to the ground but won't kill him. When K'mtar angrily insists, Alexander gets disgusted and runs away.

K'mtar suggests that Alexander be sent to a Klingon school on Ogat. Worf dislikes the idea because Alexander is at home on the Enterprise, but K'mtar says it is almost impossible to learn true Klingon ways under these conditions and that he might have to invoke the ya'nora kor law which can remove a child from unfit parental custody. Outraged, Worf consults Deanna Troi, who says she thinks Worf has done well to expose Alexander to both sides of his heritage. But K'mtar is growing increasingly angry and frustrated with Alexander, who questions traditional Klingon stories and disagrees that it is so vitally important that he become a warrior.

Meanwhile, Riker has tracked down the ore taken by the sisters to the Yridian trader Yog, and buys it from him for half a gram of Anjoran bio-mimetic gel. Riker blows up the ore in space, and discovers a cloaked Bird-of-Prey ship nearby. He has found the sisters, and soon brings them aboard. Telling them he knows the ore was stolen, he confronts them with the assassination attempt and the dagger. They claim to know nothing about it, and Riker asks K'mtar about his other evidence which he claims to be on the homeworld. Riker prepares to set a course and K'mtar leaves to contact Kurn. However, after he leaves B'Etor notices something on the dagger which clearly shocks her and Lursa, upon seeing it, claims that what's she's seeing is impossible. Riker asks what's going on, and B'Etor tells him the crest on the dagger has symbols representing the various members of the family... including Lursa's son. Lursa says she doesn't have a son, but she is expecting a child and only found out a few days previously and told no-one but B'Etor who furiously demands to know where the dagger came from. Based of their reactions and the evidence, it's now clear that the sisters weren't responsible for the assassination attempt, and the officers are left astounded by this mysterious turn of events. Worf decides to go and speak with K'mtar about the origin of the dagger.

Worf immediately goes to ask K'mtar about this and discovers him apparently preparing to kill Alexander. After a brief struggle he throws K'mtar to the ground and prepares to strangle him. But K'mtar cries out that he is Alexander.

Worf demands proof, asks him what his mother's last words were. K'mtar tells him of how he witnessed the death of K'Ehleyr, and that all she said was his name, and she put his hand in Worf's. "And then you howled in rage, and said 'Look at her. Look upon death, and always remember.' And I always have."

Alexander explains that he has come back as K'mtar from forty years in the future, with the assistance of a man that he met in the Cambra system. Time travel is possible, but risky. Alexander did not want to end his own life, but to change things, to influence his younger self to follow a different path. He explains that he never became a Klingon Warrior, but a diplomat and peacemaker, who sought to put an end to the centuries of struggle between the Great Houses, and declared that the House of Mogh would no longer engage in vengeance or blood feuds. Worf warned him that this was a show of weakness, but Alexander insisted this was the way of the future. Almost immediately thereafter, Alexander witnessed the murder of Worf in the great hall of the Klingon High Council. He thinks that if he had become a warrior, he'd have been able to stand with his father and defeat the assassins. So he came back to persuade his younger self to follow that ancient path, first by staging the assassination attempt on Maranga, then by trying to awaken young Alexander's interest in being just like all the other Klingons, as well as in protecting his father.

Worf says that Alexander has already changed history by coming back in time. Things may not at all happen the way Alexander fears, and when he returns to his own time he may well find Worf alive. Worf explains that he must die with honor, and he cannot do that unless his son is true to himself and his beliefs. This means that Alexander must return to the future and continue to work for peace. Even a Klingon can see that peace is a worthy cause, and Worf believes Alexander has a noble future. K'mtar says that he has failed, because the boy he was remains the same. Worf says that Alexander is the same, but Worf has changed, and now he understands that Alexander will have a noble future even if he is not a warrior. K'mtar hugs him and says, "I love you, father." Worf replies, "And I you, Alexander."

Later, young Alexander is waiting for Worf and K'mtar in the holodeck to begin weapons practice. Worf explains that K'mtar had to leave suddenly, but asked him to say goodbye, and that he will always respect Alexander no matter what he decides to do. Worf, too, has come to respect Alexander, and suggests that they simply spend time together as father and son.

Memorable Quotes Edit

"Sorry. I didn't mean to hit you!"

- Eric Burton after throwing a fullerene full of water at Worf


"As time passes, a boy inevitably becomes a man but what is not inevitable is that a man becomes a sword."
"What?"
"No, I meant... warrior."

- Worf misplaces his words while preparing Alexander for the First Rite of Ascension


"The path of a warrior begins with the first rite of ascension..."
"Is that when they hit you with pain sticks?"
"No, that is the second rite."
"Oh."

- Worf to Alexander


"Is, um... that what this is about? You're on your way and you're calling to reserve a holosuite program?"

- Quark on the reason why Riker contacted him on Deep Space 9


"What are you doing on this planet?"
"I... crashed here."
"Then you are denying involvement in illegal mining activities?"
"Mining? So that's what all this equipment is here for."

- Worf, Gorta and Data on Kalla III


"We know you're dealing in stolen ore but I want to talk about the assassination attempt on Lieutenant Worf."
"What assassination attempt? This is the first I've heard of it."
"Too bad it didn't succeed!"
"Ha!"

- Riker speaking to B'Etor and Lursa


"Yes, Lursa and B'Etor... big talk, small tips."

- Quark


"I love you, father."
"And I you, Alexander."

- Future Alexander and Worf

Background information Edit

Story and script Edit

Cast and characters Edit

Dennis Madalone and Brian Bonsall

Brian Bonsall and Stunt Coordinator Dennis Madalone training for the episode.

Production Edit

  • Originally, the two actors playing in the Kot'baval Festival grunted their lines on stage. After filming, it was decided to make the Klingon opera more lyrical. Composer Dennis McCarthy provided the new melody, and both actors were good enough singers to reloop their lines to accompany it. Producer Wendy Neuss recalled, "It was one of our biggest jobs all year – figuring out what the on-camera instruments would sound like, breaking down all the syllables, figuring where the offstage line would be." (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion 2nd ed., p. 293)
  • First UK airdate: 29 May 1996

Sets and props Edit

Worf's chair

The futuristic chair, designed by Peter Opsvik

Reception Edit

  • Writer Ronald D. Moore, who is well-known for his Klingon episodes, praised Echevarria's different take on the major race. He remarked, "The stuff he did sixth season in "Birthright" and then what he did with them here is very interesting. Worf and Alexander celebrate at a Klingon outpost and they have this sort of mock opera singing, heroic fights and re-enactments of things in the streets and banners and this was a whole different cultural flavor to these guys that I hadn't thought of. My take on the Klingons was sort of more Shakespearean with the House of Mogh and that kind of stuff, and the rise and fall of political players. René brings in a much different element which I think serves them well." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 303)
  • On the events of this episode, Michael Dorn opined, "We don't really know what happens now. Just that the future is uncertain. It's just like real life, but Worf is still a terrible father. He hasn't got a clue." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 303)
  • Michael Piller commented, "I fell in love with the idea of 'Firstborn' in which we address the psychological implications of a man who feels a failure, who comes back to his own youth to destroy himself at a young age, in order to avoid the pain that he had caused and suffered. There is a tremendous science-fiction premise in that. And if you have been in on any of my therapy, you know that I've dealt with this on a number of different levels." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 303)

Apocrypha Edit

  • In the novel A Time for War, A Time for Peace, when Worf recommends Alexander to replace him as Federation Ambassador to the Klingon Empire, Worf tells Alexander that when he was young, Worf received a vision of Alexander's future and that it showed him to be an ambassador and excelling as such. Worf does not tell Alexander the source of his vision, but it is stated in the novel that Worf is clearly thinking of the visit from the future Alexander he is referring to as seen in this episode.

Awards Edit

  • This episode was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Hairstyling for a Series.

Video and DVD releases Edit

Links and references Edit

Starring Edit

Also starring Edit

Guest stars Edit

And

Co-stars Edit

Uncredited co-stars Edit

Stunt doubles Edit

Stand-ins Edit

References Edit

Age of Ascension; Anjoran bio-mimetic gel; Bar'el; bilitrium; Cambra system; Corvallen; d'k tahg; dabo; darsek; Deep Space 9; Dopterian; Federation; gin'tak; Hatarian system; Hitora colony; holoprogram; House of Duras; K'Nor; Kahless the Unforgettable; Kalla system; Kalla III; Kearsarge, USS; Klingon; Klingon Civil War; Klingon Empire; Klingon military academy; ko'tal; Kot'baval Festival; kor'tova candle; Kurn; latinum; magnesite; Maranga IV; Maranga system; mining; Molor; Morath; Ogat; Pakled; Qo'noS; Quark's; Rom; Stellar Dynamics; Ufandi III; Vodrey Nebula; Ya'nora kor; Yridian; Yridian starship


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Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 7
Next episode:
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