The end of Kurn (brainwashing)

Discussion in 'Star Trek: Deep Space Nine' started by NewHeavensNewEarth, Jun 22, 2019.

  1. NewHeavensNewEarth

    NewHeavensNewEarth Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    After rewatching "Sons of Mogh" recently, I was taken aback by the solution implemented by Bashir, Worf and everyone to handle Kurn's depression and desperation after losing his honor.

    Without Kurn's consent, they took away virtually his entire memory, leaving him absolutely clueless and dependent on the deceptions of others regarding who he was/is. How is it that a Starfleet doctor knowingly performed this operation, and with the approval of Sisko? Was it completely off-the-books?

    To me, it was a sorry end for a great character that we first got to know in TNG. In the TNG episode "Ethics," Worf was similarly despairing over his life, and wanted his life to end. Instead, with full knowledge of his situation, he found a reason to live and move forward - as Worf. In contrast, Kurn walked away from his operation a mere shell of his former self, with no chance of making the same progress as Kurn.

    As demonstrated in "Ethics," the answer to depression & despair is not to rob a person of their identity, but rather to help them through it. After Kurn's operation, Worf basically washed his hands of the matter and cut his brother out of his life forever. This was a solution that was over-the-top and without the patient's consent. And there's no reason to think that Kurn wouldn't become depressed again AS A RESULT of having no memory of his past. It would be incredibly unsettling to wake up with no knowledge of who you are, and there's no predicting where things would go from there.

    Would anyone want to be left clueless and dependent on the deceptions of others when we faced a severe crisis, or would we want people to stick by us through it all? I dealt with severe depression myself years ago, and I'm grateful for the people who stuck by me, and the opportunity to continue growing through adversity. That said, I would welcome other perspectives on this episode, because depression is a widespread and relevant issue, along with identity.
     
  2. Armus

    Armus Commodore Commodore

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    Your points are well taken. My takeaway from this episode was that Worf was willing to lose his brother in order to prevent him from suicide or a life of dishonor. In the TNG/DS9 Klingon era I don't know if Kurn had many choices. In the Klingon world of values Bashir's procedure may have been the best option. It's a powerful moment when Worf tells Kurn that he has no family. It must have broke his heart.
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2019
  3. Discofan

    Discofan Vice Admiral Commodore

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    The way I see it, Kurn had been put in such a predicament that the only way out was death. Maybe he could have died while doing some heroic thing and thus express his happiness to Worf that he was dying with his honor restored?
    As for the deception, I don't see how it could work. People of his new "family" couldn't possibly tell him a coherent web of lies, sooner or later they'll contradict themselves leading Kurn (who's intelligent) to realize that something is amiss.
     
  4. NewHeavensNewEarth

    NewHeavensNewEarth Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Yes, but by that logic, they should've done the exact same thing to Worf when he was despairing and felt he had no future as a Klingon in the "Ethics" episode. Kurn's situation wasn't even as "permanent" as Worf's appeared to be at first. The fortunes of the house of Mogh changed so frequently, there was no reason to think that the momentary troubles were permanent. Even though they were outcasts at that moment, they had already battled back from being outcasts before, and could do it again.

    One of the fundamental feelings of depression is the sense that "There's no hope, and there never will be. It will always be like this," but Worf's own story proved there was hope beyond the trials of the moment, both in terms of his injury and his honor.

    DS9 didn't hesitate to embrace outcasts as they were - Worf, Odo, Garak, among others, plus plenty of people who rebelled against their culture even at great personal cost. Kurn & Worf could've been a powerful pair for mutual support, but instead it just seemed like such a cop-out where the person was erased by others rather than overcoming the trials themselves. They shouldn't have erased Kurn any more than they should've erased any other individual who was going through a desperate time. Even taking on the issue of suicidal tendencies, is the solution to erase their identity, slap a new name on them, move them out of sight and lie to them forever? I think we'd agree on that being a no.
     
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  5. Tuskin38

    Tuskin38 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    He got his memory back in STO, though they never really explain how nor is it really a focus at anything, it's just mentioned in passing and suddenly he's Kurn again.
     
  6. kkt

    kkt Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I agree, the memory wipe solution should present enormous ethical problems for Bashir and Sisko and doesn't even seem very in character for Klingon culture. Why is a young able-bodied Klingon like Kurn not in the Klingon Defense Forces? Why doesn't he volunteer, and raise his hand for every suicide mission if he wants death with honor?

    Another way to go would have been for Kurn and Worf to travel into some little-visited moon in Klingon space and perform the ritual killing there. Would have provoked some conflict with Sisko but I'm not sure he could have done anything under Federation law.
     
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  7. Discofan

    Discofan Vice Admiral Commodore

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    Is that a book?
     
  8. Tuskin38

    Tuskin38 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    No the online game.
     
  9. Discofan

    Discofan Vice Admiral Commodore

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    I thought games were timeless..
     
  10. Markonian

    Markonian Commodore Commodore

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    Kurn has his identity restored in both the novel continuity, and in Star Trek Online.
    In the books (Star Trek: Klingon Empire: A Burning House), after increasingly frequent dreams of his old identity, it is restored and Lieutenant Rodek realises he is really Captain Kurn. He’s confused at first and holds his captain, Klag, responsible comes to terms after a duel with Klag.

    In STO, General Rodek leads the mission to recover the illegally imprisoned Martok from the Briar Patch. Following the rescue, Martok tells Rodek everything, and General Kurn is restored. (STO, Season 14: Emergence, “Brushfire”)


    Sorry if it’s a silly question, what do you mean you thought games were timeless?
     
  11. Discofan

    Discofan Vice Admiral Commodore

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    These two stories are contradictory though.

    Just that, IE they don't take place at a particular time.
     
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  12. Markonian

    Markonian Commodore Commodore

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    Yeah, books and STO follow separate continuities. Kurn’s restore is in 2376 in the novels. STO takes place mainly 2409-2410.
     
  13. Discofan

    Discofan Vice Admiral Commodore

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    That explains the difference in ranks.
     
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  14. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    The trouble started when Worf refused to support the Klingon invasion of Cardassia. Thus Kurn lost his seat on the High Council and all of the House of Mogh's ships were seized.

    So Kurn couldn't have returned to the KDF even if he wanted to. That's why he was serving in the Bajoran Militia - they're the only ones who would take him.
     
  15. Discofan

    Discofan Vice Admiral Commodore

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    Unlike Worf, Kurn was allergic to the idea of being anything else than a Klingon warrior. They should have addressed that instead of wiping out his memory. Maybe a hypnotic treatment that would convince him that being any kind of warrior is pretty much the same as being a Klingon warrior. Which is true Btw, you risk being killed in pretty much all fighting armies. Or maybe he could enlist as a mercenary in a really nasty war.
     
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  16. Prax

    Prax Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Their solution is pretty appalling...but lool at the difference between Picard and Sisko:

    Picard-

    Picard practically encourages Riker to go through with helping Word kill himself, and says "Think about it from Worf's perspective. His life is over. We must respect their beliefs."


    Sisko-
    "I don't give a damn about Klingon beliefs. Next time you'll go to prison. Get Out!"
    And it was Sisko who put Worf in this position

    But then he is okay with wiping his memory. They still killed Kurn!

    Side Note: Later on, Sisko orders Worf to "Do something about Gow'Ron." Worf takes this to mean kill him, which Sisko did, and Worf does...


    This is madness!

    Conclusion: If Riker had taken Picard's advice, Kurn would not have had to attempt suicide, wear brown spandex, or have his brain wiped.
     
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  17. NewHeavensNewEarth

    NewHeavensNewEarth Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Definitely. And when O'Brien had a phaser pointed at his own head to kill himself, Bashir definitely didn't put him under and wipe out his memory or identity. He stuck by O'Brien, and they worked through it.

    Regarding other posts about STO, it's not my thing and not part of my head canon, but I'm glad Kurn wasn't forgotten completely. Y'all are a wealth of great information.
     
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  18. Discofan

    Discofan Vice Admiral Commodore

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    Assuming Kurn retrieved his memories. I wonder if Worf and he ever spoke to each other after that.
     
  19. Prax

    Prax Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Probably. Kurn could never stay mad at Worf.
     
  20. arch101

    arch101 Commodore Commodore

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    I understand why Worf chose the option that he did, since Kurn had no other options in Klingon society. However, I would have preferred that Kurn eventually rehabilitate himself through some great act of bravery during the war. Perhaps even sacrificing himself. THAT would have been glorious.