the story: The end of the Klingon civil war sees scrambling on all sides to effect their best possible result.
similar to: "The Best of Both Worlds, Part 2" (Next Generation), "The Search" (Deep Space Nine), "Kir'Shara" (Enterprise)
my thoughts: A true Next Generation classic concludes, perhaps the defining story of the series, as various strands come together, some touched on in the preceding entry, others newly introduced.
The operatic nature of Klingon politics kind of speaks for itself at this point. More compelling are the matters of Sela and Data in command of a starship. In Sela is a peculiar legacy of the series, the re-introduction of Denise Crosby into series lore after her departure in the first season and subsequent return in the landmark "Yesterday's Enterprise," the events of which are herein recounted to notable skepticism until Guinan steps in to try and make sense of them. The results are almost more compelling for the character of Guinan than Sela. Sela returns in "Unification," while Guinan's past is finally explored in "Time's Arrow," both within this season, so clearly "Redemption" necessarily set up as well as concluded storylines for the series, another mark of its crucial nature.
And yet, the big confrontation between Picard and Sela is almost academic. Less so is Data's arc in the episode, in which he requests field command in the task force assigned to curb the fighting. It's a direct reflection of how Starfleet is still coming back from the devastation of the Borg crisis in "Best of Both Worlds," and a unique further examination of how Starfleet as a whole views Data. Those unfamiliar with him, it seems, still underestimate him. His rebellious first officer believes Data, an android, to view everything in cold terms, neglecting the human element, the sacrifices that may result from his strategies. Never mind that in other episodes we're reminded that this is precisely makes command material. In Data it's seen as a flaw. So he must once again demonstrate his brilliance in order to be accepted. Although one aspect of the episode, it's worth remembering in its impact on Data as a whole.
Of course, there's also the matter of how Worf finally resolves his relationships with the Klingons and Starfleet. That's the essence of "Redemption," how it all reflects around this character. Both Data and Sela only serve to reflect what happens to Worf, after all. And the end of the episode is a direct answer to "Sins of the Father," in which he made a difficult decision that led to "Redemption" in the first place.
It's one of the most significant moments in the series, and in the franchise, and largely defines what makes Star Trek what it is, more interested in the personal moments than in the greater ramifications, the ability to turn away from the drama rather than be defined by it. If this had been Star Wars, Worf would never have even considered rejoining Starfleet, much less letting slip his opportunity for revenge. If you ever wanted to explain the differences between the two franchises to someone, "Redemption" is exactly the story to use as your example. Star Trek features space exploration, but it's about the exploration of self first and foremost. Even if the self is an alien from a warrior culture who ended up joining a different family entirely.
And yet, of course, the Klingon saga in Star Trek only grew larger. That's the beauty of "Redemption."
criteria analysis: franchise - series - character -essential (all criteria meta)
Denise Crosby (Sela)
Whoopi Goldberg (Guinan)
Tony Todd (Kurn)
Robert O'Reilly (Gowron)
Barbara March (Lursa)
Gwynyth Walsh (B'Etor)
Colm Meaney (O'Brien)