Half a Look at a Powerful Woman (S02:20)

I’m examining the impact Star Trek: The Next Generation had on my formation. The introduction to this series can be seen here.

The Emissary
When a Klingon crew that’s been in suspended animation threatens to awaken and restart a war, an old friend of Worf’s arrives to handle the situation.

This episode introduces a well-loved though little seen character: K’Ehleyr, the mother of Worf’s son. I thought her awesome then, and I still do now.


K’Ehleyr arrives via space travel in a Class 8 probe — a tube about 2 meters long. She is charming and confident, fierce and capable, quickly and easily holding her own with other crew members. We learn she is half human and half Klingon, and felt she grew up trapped between cultures. She gets awesome costumes to wear. When she pretends to a high rank on board the ship (in a bit of deception designed to solve their dilemma), her demeanor fits perfectly in a command chair. I loved her as a child, and while she may strike me as a bit melodramatic now, I still fall hard for the character.

It’s clear she and Worf share a past, though it’s never clearly explained. What we *are* privy to is their next step: arguing that leads to a passionate time on the holodeck. The scene is hot, with physical affection that is coded as foreign/different and is compelling: smelling each other’s wrists, forearms, and palms, along with holding each other’s hands closed and other hints at rough/painful sex. While I had shut down a great deal of my own sex drive out of fear when I was a teenager, this was most certainly an image that my brain kept in a “special drawer”: a powerful and independent woman enjoying rough sex.

The writers here actually manage to allow K’Ehleyr to be sexual without being sexualized; as one example, Riker doesn’t hit on her, and instead treats her as a colleague. Even Worf’s attempts to equate the sex act with marriage are rebuffed by her, as she determines for herself what it meant to her. She rejects Klingon ideals of honor and insists that it was just fun. In a brief period of time, K’Ehleyr manages an impressive level of depth as a character. We’ll see her once more in a later episode.

Published in: on June 6, 2013 at 2:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

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