Thursday, January 21, 2010

Mintakans, Klingons and Gods

I have never seen the Rightful Heir episode of TNG in its entirety, but it seems to me to be almost a refutation of Picard’s actions in Who Watches the Watchers, according to Chptr. 2 of Star Trek & Sacred Ground. It is suggested to Picard that he, in some sense, accept his role as the Overseer by the Mintakans and give them guidelines by which to live as though he were a god. This would seem to be the equivalent of Bones’s suggestion in Bread & Circuses in TOS—beaming down to a planet and pretending to be the angel Gabriel in all his glory. Picard does what I presume to be the honorable thing, though, and convinces the Mintakans of his mortality (and that of his crew) instead.

By contrast, though, in Rightful Heir, Worf loses his faith in Kahless, the ancestral hero of his people, yet suggests that the clone of Kahless be sent back to the Klingons to restore order. According to him, Klingons “need something to believe in, just as I did, something larger than themselves, something that will give their lives meaning” (23). Worf is endorsing the continuation of a lie among his people. No matter Kahless’s identity, Worf does not believe in him, and so from his own perspective he is lying. On the other hand, this brings up an interesting side inquiry about clones. Kahless is not professed to be divine, it seems, since he has DNA by which Worf confirms his identity. Kahless is simply the Romulus of Klingon civilization. However, Worf loses his faith in him as a spiritual figure because he is a clone and not the original.

Granted, Picard’s motivation for not interfering in the Mintakans’ society is due to the Prime Directive and Worf, by contrast is a member of Klingon society and therefore can participate in its traditions, but there still seems to be contradiction here. I suppose, ultimately, what Worf discovers is that the hope that Kahless inspires in his people is more important than who Kahless actually is. But does Worf’s behavior not go back on Gene Roddenberry’s humanist outlook?

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