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Old July 31 2012, 08:50 PM   #1
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O?Reilly: Gowron The Klingon

Robert O’Reilly, best-known to Star Trek fans as the Klingon Chancellor Gowron, explains the Klingon character from how Gowron was conceived by O’Reilly to how Gowron developed. When O’Reilly first took on the role of Gowron, he had just finished Shakespeare‘s King Lear and Gowron’s character was based on one of the characters from the [...]

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Old July 31 2012, 09:05 PM   #2
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Re: O?Reilly: Gowron The Klingon

Good read. Gowron was always one of my favorite Klingons. Sure he's over the top at times, enhanced by the crazy eyes, but yeah Gowron has a very dry sense of humor which he'll use to proverbially twist the knife, quite intelligent and even manipulative at times, thusly defeating the snarling Klingon brute stereotype.

"You will die slowly.... Dur-asssssssss." That always makes me laugh for some reason. :P
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Old August 1 2012, 06:12 PM   #3
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Re: O?Reilly: Gowron The Klingon

I, for one, would pay good money to hear a rock-and-roll garage band featuring Robert O'Reilly and JG Hertzler. Jus' sayin'.
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Old August 1 2012, 07:13 PM   #4
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Re: O?Reilly: Gowron The Klingon

I actually enjoyed Gowron's DS9 developments but I can instantly see how O'Reilly might feel otherwise.
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Old August 1 2012, 07:21 PM   #5
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Re: O?Reilly: Gowron The Klingon

I loved Gowron and Martok on DS9. I felt that the characters were well conceived and acted. It kept the Klingons from being just a noisy herd.
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Old August 1 2012, 09:43 PM   #6
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Re: O?Reilly: Gowron The Klingon

...after reading that article, for reasons unclear even to me, I have an inordinate desire to watch a Klingon version of 'Blackadder'.

Be there such a beast?
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Old August 2 2012, 12:41 AM   #7
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Re: O?Reilly: Gowron The Klingon

To me, it was not necessary to "turn" Gowron into a heel. That part of the war arc did not add much to DS9. So I agree with O'Reilly.

I would like to have seen a mini-series of the Klingon-Cardassian War and the Dominion War from the Klingon perspective similar to BSG's "The Plan" -- of course Ronald D. Moore would have been the one to do it.

O'Reilly, Dorn, Hertzler and Colicos would have had time to shine with more screen time. Also, possibly Marc Worden as Alexander and Shannon Cochran as Sirella could have fleshed out those characters a bit.
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Old August 2 2012, 01:12 AM   #8
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Re: O?Reilly: Gowron The Klingon

agreed with O'Reilly about the unfortunate way Gowron developee. DS9 sometimes did that, turning layered, complex characters into more overt villains.(Gul Dukat or Kai Winn for example)


didn't know the eyeball thing was a deliberate trick. Awesome.
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Old August 2 2012, 01:14 AM   #9
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Re: O?Reilly: Gowron The Klingon

His eyes. His eyes.

Talk about crazy eyes!
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Old August 7 2012, 10:04 AM   #10
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Re: O?Reilly: Gowron The Klingon

That's interesting that he felt that Gowron was always honorable from the beginning. I have to say, I never really got that feeling when he was introduced in "Reunion." Sure, he wasn't as slimy as Duras, but honestly that's a pretty low bar. He always seemed political and ambitious. Certainly a good warrior and a fairly respected commander to rise as high as he did, but I don't think honorable ever really entered into my thoughts. Eventually he restored the house of Mogh, but only after extracting pretty serious commitments from them. He didn't restore them because it was honorable thing to do (although it was), he did it because it was politically expedient.

It reminds me a lot of how Marc Alaimo always felt that Dukat was a hero. I liked that because it was obvious that Dukat also thought that he was the hero of that story. Even after he clearly demonstrated himself to be a ruthless egomaniac; he wanted the people he was overseeing the genocide of to love him, he was prepared to kill his own daughter to protect his career and he switched sides from the military he served all his life to the civilian government because he saw an opportunity for advancement (and to save his own neck, probably). Never mind the whole deal with the devil he made with the Dominion. Even in his most noble moment in "Return to Grace" when he decides to fight the Klingons, his speech to Kira when he pleads her to join him isn't so much about the rightness of his cause but the joy of warfare.

I think in some ways Gowron is a pretty similar figure. A skilled ambitious man who also carries within him the flaws that will eventually lead to his downfall. And as a viewer it's sometimes easy to forget when Dukat or Gowron are helping the Federation, they do so not out of a sense of honor or respect, but because it is expedient at the time. I don't think I would ever characterize Gowron as a "bad guy." He's too complex for that. But he does make several bad decisions later that lead to his downfall.

Ironically I think it's his strong instinct of self preservation that allows him to succeed as he rises to power in the Empire that eventually also destroys him. There are three really fundamental challenges to his authority before Martok. Duras, the son of Duras, and the reborn Emperor. Duras dies without him having to lift a finger, but I don't see him having any trouble putting an end to Duras if he saw a way to do it without it tainting his own ambition.

With the son of Duras his instincts lead the Empire into civil war. Certainly the House of Duras would have been disastrous, we know this because we're omniscient in this story. But Gowron really doesn't know that for sure. More importantly, does anyone really believe that Gowron would have stepped down if Duras had been honorable and not tied to the Romulans in order to avoid Civil War? Personally I don't think he would; I think he would have put his pursuit of glory over the good of the Empire (unlike Worf, who suffered silently dishonor so that the Empire would remain at peace for a few years). Ultimately it's a war he wins partly by relying on people he considers enemies; Worf, Kurn and the Federation. But that only buys Worf and Kurn what was really rightfully theirs in the first place, and he has no loyalty beyond that. It buys the Federation a few years of peace.

His final challenge is the reborn Emperor, who he first humiliates and then finally creates a deal that shoves him aside; making him a spiritual leader and removing him from politics.

What he does to the Emperor is actually a very similar tactic to the one he applies to Martok as he becomes increasingly threatened. He tries to humiliate Martok and push him out of the way; discredit him and remove him from any position where he can politically challenge him. Gowron isn't doing that because he's a bad guy. He's doing that because he places his own success above the good of the Empire (much as he did when he attacked Cardassia in the first place).

Which is a long way of saying that Gowron was a fundamentally flawed character who eventually led to his own downfall much like Dukat. Gowron pushed too many people aside because it was politically convenient, attacked at shadows of enemies that were not there, and eventually he pushed too hard and one of the shadows bit back.
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Old August 8 2012, 12:16 AM   #11
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Re: O?Reilly: Gowron The Klingon

Excellent analysis of the character lovemoney. I have to agree with most of that. Gowron wasn't a "good guy" or "bad guy" so to say, but a complex character with both virtues and flaws that define him. He so often works with the good guys not because he has any loyalty to the Federation, but because it's in his personal interest to do so. This is also why Dukat was almost a "good guy" in seasons 4 and 5.

While he wasn't afraid to make back room deals and discredit people, he wasn't a coward by any means of the word. He strolled into that Klingon temple bold as day and challenged the reborn Emperor, who is supposed to be the greatest warrior ever, to a solo fight. Even when Worf escaped and tried to assassinate him, he called off his guards so they could fight solo. He's an honorable man, but that honor doesn't dictate his every action and if he can destroy an enemy with a backroom deal, he won't hesitate to do so.

It was a shame that he had to be killed in DS9, and I liked that even Worf mourned him once he was killed. It was a rather transparent scheme to put Martok in control of the Empire and have more direct control of the plot since apparenty JG Hertzler was easier to get for episodes than Rober O'Reily.

Really if you wanted to get Martok out of the war, all you'd have to do is give him a suicide mission like the Breen attack on Earth or something. Martok dies a hero and he can appoint someone more loyal without having to inflict heavy casuatlies and possibly lose the war all over his pride. Sure in this scenario Martok would be a hero, but dead heroes seldom challenge you for power.
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Old August 8 2012, 10:48 AM   #12
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Re: O?Reilly: Gowron The Klingon

Yeah, that's interesting. I actually didn't think of the assassination attempt in Apocalypse Rising. I think its a revealing point in the character of Gowron. Because when Gowron and Worf face off and Gowron stops any of the nearby Klingons from interfering, his motives are no doubt mixed. Of course from a storytelling point of view that's how Odo figures out that Gowron isn't a changeling. But digging a little deeper, I think the question is what are Gowron's motives in fighting Worf and not letting one of the many other warriors there do it for him? Are they simply based on a desire for honor? Are they political in some way? Or is it just Gowron's dislike for Worf, or anyone who defies him really?

I think again, the answer is a little bit of all of the above. Politically there are reasons to want to fight Worf and defeat him in combat. Klingons value strength and the purity of combat, and so having Worf simply killed gives him nothing, but killing himself as he tries to assassinate him will increase his political clout. And Gowron obviously isn't afraid of a fight. Indeed I think it would be impossible for him to be in the position he is in and maintain it without some serious chops when it comes to personal combat. And we do see a lot of evidence of that.

In addition, its very possible that doing what Gowron did in the wake of the Cardassian Invasion, simply stripping those houses that disagreed with him of their lands, wealth and honor, wouldn't be looked on too favorably by the other houses. Its kind of an underhanded move, a political maneuver to quiet dissent. The other Houses may have looked at that and quietly wondered if a similar fate awaited them. That might seem desirable, until you realize how volatile Klingon Politics is. Taking down a House (or possibly Houses) that defied you through political means may be seen as a sign of weakness, a sign that Gowron is frightened of dissent and not strong enough to stand up to the House of Mogh like a Klingon. Fighting and killing a symbol of that move might go to healing that wound.

Secondly, I think there is a part of Gowron that really wants to just fight Worf and beat him because he's defied him. Gowron takes Worf's refusal to side with him in the Cardassian war perhaps too personally. But I think being in his position, and having that strong sense of self preservation, Gowron may err toward the paranoid. After all, neither Worf nor Martok were really all that interested in challenging him politically in the end, but he certainly felt they were. So once Gowron sniffs any sort of disloyalty he begins to look at that person as a potential enemy. In what could be considered a very tragic flaw, his paranoia actually creates the enemies he's paranoid of. That, psychologically, could be a result of him being an outsider. He had to fight for everything he got, nothing was handed to him because of his name, in contrast to people like Duras. He has a chip on his shoulder and he never forgets it, even when he's destroyed his enemies and sits at the top of the Empire.

And because of that, I think Gowron really wants to take Worf out. He wants the purity of one on one combat and the ability to stand above one more dead enemy to prove that he deserves the power he's fought so hard to achieve.

My real question I guess is how much does a culturally ingrained sense of Honor have to do with that as well? I don't know. I'm sure it's a factor. When I think about Gowron, my mind instantly goes to Worf to draw comparisons. Both are somewhat outsiders. Gowron an outsider to the higher levels of Klingon society, Worf an outsider to Klingon culture altogether. And because of that they both seem to overcompensate, but in entirely different ways.
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Old August 9 2012, 11:56 PM   #13
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Re: O?Reilly: Gowron The Klingon

Gowron is an atypical klingon. I bet he started studying economics right after the House of Quark. He is like Mandalore the Ultimate in the Kotor comics, a machiavellian schemer in charge of an honor based society.
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Old August 10 2012, 07:09 AM   #14
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Re: O?Reilly: Gowron The Klingon

funkylovemonkey wrote: View Post
That's interesting that he felt that Gowron was always honorable from the beginning. I have to say, I never really got that feeling when he was introduced in "Reunion." Sure, he wasn't as slimy as Duras, but honestly that's a pretty low bar. He always seemed political and ambitious. Certainly a good warrior and a fairly respected commander to rise as high as he did, but I don't think honorable ever really entered into my thoughts. Eventually he restored the house of Mogh, but only after extracting pretty serious commitments from them. He didn't restore them because it was honorable thing to do (although it was), he did it because it was politically expedient.

<snip>
Wow, overall, this post was a very good read, and I agree with most of the points you made here.

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Old August 11 2012, 07:54 PM   #15
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Re: O?Reilly: Gowron The Klingon

Funny, very often you see actors who played Klingons or other alien races out of the make-up and you go 'Hmmm, he looks nothing like his Star Trek character, I'd never have recognised him.'

But, even though he's older, balder, doesn't have a ridged forehead or facial hair - I totally recognised O'Reilly as Gowron!!!!

Shame he's retired from acting.
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