**** (4 stars out of 5)
Worf's missed his shift and gone cross-eyed from chanting and burning the midnight incense. Since failing to find his father, he's tried to fill the emptiness with faith. What does Worf worship, you ask?
Like Jesus, King Arthur, and Sir Charles of Sheen, Kahless the Unforgettable laid down the law and said he would return. Ever since Kahless died in 822 A.D., his people have tried to follow his path of honour. Klingon faithful await him on planet Boreth, orbiting a star he may once have pointed at.
Well, he's back now. In the gnarly flesh. He hopes to unite Klingons who have lost their way and get them to stop fighting among themselves. Great theory. Of course, one wonders who they'd fight if they ever did...
Worf is skeptical of this fully mortal Kahless, and Chancellor Gowron is downright pissed. Dr. Crusher confirms Kahless' blood matches that on a sacred artifact called the knife of Kirom. (They keep it in the Vault of L. Ron Hubbard next to the Shroud of Turin and the Majestic Q-Tips of Ferenginar.)
Somehow, Gowron thinks Worf still has influence in the Empire. Wasn't Worf kicked out again for refusing to kill the Duras kid? Kicked out BY Gowron, no less!
Whatever the case, Gowron questions Kahless's expounding on scriptural stories but inability to recall details. Then, far more damning, the Chancellor easily bests Kahless in combat. That's like a random monk outdoing the Buddha at koans and overeating!
Koroth the Cleric admits to Worf that their saviour was cloned and his memories were implanted.
But it turns out your average Klingon is o.k. with that. Clone Kahless becomes the first Emperor in 300 years, and a spiritual figurehead, but hella popular.
Still empty, Worf wonders if Sto-Vo-Kor (the afterlife) exists, and if Kahless is really there. The Emperor suggests that the teachings may be more important than the man.
"Rightful Heir" looks different to me now. Once blasphemous, now not secular enough. Changed impressions on subsequent viewings- doubtless the mark of a good story. Speaking of looking different, when we last saw Kahless in 'The Savage Curtain', he was a manifestation based on young Captain Kirk's take: the equivalent of Lincoln or Surak only deadlier and with a talent for voice impressions. It's fair to say Kirk had never seen a painting of Kahless, what with the lack of ridges and all.