Sunday, February 8, 2015

Character Insight No. 131: Alexander Rozhenko

This is the latest installment in a series of "Character Insight" articles regarding the rich history of characters in the Star Trek universe.  An audio version will appear on the This Week in Trek podcast, available for direct download here.
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Welcome back to Character Insight! This week, we review one of the most hated characters of Star Trek, Alexander Rozhenko of TNG and Deep Space 9.
 
 
Alexander Rozhenko, 2370.jpg

 ("Children on Star Trek, aren't they so much fun!?!?!") 

Alexander is the son of Worf, who was conceived when ambassador K'Ehleyr had a brief encounter with Worf during a mission on the Enterprise to defuse a potential crisis with the Klingons. Although Worf did not intend to recognize him as a son when he finds out about him a couple of years later, K'Ehleyr ends up being killed and he is forced to recognize and raise the son, at least when his own human parents cannot take full care of Alexander. 

That brings yet another child character into the world of the Enterprise, one which challenges the viewer nearly as much as Worf himself. Anyone who is or has been a parent can relate to some of these struggles:

From Reunion
Alexander Rozhenko: Where are the other Klingons?
Lieutenant Worf: There are no others on board.
Alexander Rozhenko: Why?
Lieutenant Worf: The Federation and the Klingon Empire were enemies for many years. No other Klingons have asked to serve in Starfleet.
Alexander Rozhenko: Why?
Lieutenant Worf: A warrior does not ask so many questions!

Indeed, Alexander struggles with theft and lying after coming aboard, but with the help of Worf and a friendship with Deanna Troi, he eventually stops being a miscreant. Perhaps most ironically, he becomes even closer friends with Deanna's mother Lwaxana, which makes for perhaps the most annoying duo in Star Trek history. Even Worf doesn't like that development.

Perhaps one of the biggest problems with Alexander's character is that a lot of his character development happens on the holodeck, the place where he builds his friendship with Lwaxana. He also regularly runs a Deadwood sheriff and deputy program with his father Worf, although of course this leads to a silly holodeck malfunction episode. Almost as much fun as tecnhobabble!

When it wasn't the holodeck, it was time travel, as a future version of Alexander travels back 40 years in time to try and convince Worf to train his son as a warrior to thereby avoid the fate caused by Alexander becoming a diplomat. But this time travel changes the timeline anyway, according to Star Trek writer mumbo jumbo, so Alexander can follow in his father's eventual ambassador footsteps without dooming Worf to death. Apparently. 

During Deep Space Nine, Alexander has lost his close relationship with his father. So he joins a Klingon crew for the Empire and slowly learns how to be a respected warrior, which causes Worf to reconcile his relationship with Alexander. Happy endings for everyone.

There's little doubt Star Trek writers, for whatever reason, seriously struggle to write good stories around children characters.  As a result, Alexander was an interesting concept for story and character development that turned into an annoyance rather than a crowning achievement of writing.

Various actors played Alexander. James Sloyan had the most notable history, appearing in the movie Xanadu before Star Trek, but this role was also the last notable one for child actor Brian Bonsall who was in Family Ties before his appearances in TNG.

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Feedback can be sent to me with future segment suggestions on Twitter @BuckeyeFitzy. Until next time, live long and prosper...

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