Warp Speed to Nonsense

Warp Speed to Nonsense

Monday, May 18, 2020

ST:TNG Season Five, Episode Two "Darmok"

ST:TNG Season Five, Episode Two "Darmok"
Production Order: 2
Air Order: 2
Stardate: 45047.2
Original Air Date: September 30, 1991


Picard's Log 45047.2: "Going to the uninhabited El-Adrel system to meet up with these people who call themselves The Children of Tama."

Picard has gathered the senior officers in the Obs Lounge to talk about the Tamarians. Apparently, they arrived at El-Adrel IV several weeks earlier and have been broadcasting a mathematical progression at Federation space ever since. The progression doesn't mean anything, but it's more like those gold records that Carl Sagan launched into space in the 1970's - math is universal.
"So they're saying "we're here, come see us?" asks Riker.
"Probably?" shrugs Picard.
Data explains what the senior officers and audience need to know about this situation: that the Federation and the Tamarians have come into contact a handful of times over the last century, and even though no fights were started, no communication was established. Other captains that encountered them labeled them as "incomprehensible."
Worf, ever cautious, says that they may have been threatening the Federation.
"Nah," says Troi. "The other accounts say they were peaceful."
Picard says he appreciates Worf's caution, but agrees with Troi. "Starfleet wants us to try to communicate. I think we can do it."
Remember that optimism, Jean-Luc.



In the next scene, the E has arrived at El-Adrel IV, and the Tamarians are up on the viewsccreen.
The captain smiles. "Rai and Jiri at Lungha. Rai at Lowani. Lowani under two moons. Jiri of Ubaya. Ubaya of crossed roads at Lungha. Lungha. Her sky grey."*

"What."
"WHUT?"




Picard does a tight-lipped white people smile (you know the one), but it's obvious to everyone that he's not getting it.
Hilariously, the Tamarian captain does that thing where you're trying to be understood by someone else, so you repeat what you just said slower and louder. Apparently, some things are universal.
Troi tells a confused Picard that she senses nothing but good intentions.
Picard stands. (He's wearing some kind of new Casual Friday captain's uniform that consists of a grey shirt with a black knitted turtleneck, under a cranberry suede jacket with a black leather yoke. So, no Picard maneuvers.)
"Okay, so you guys seem friendly. Would you be interested in signing some peace treaties and stuff with us?"
There's a pause on the Tamarian ship. 
Then the Xo bursts out laughing. "Kadir beneath Mo Moteh." It's real clear from his tone that he means, "This is dumb. I told you it was pointless. They don't understand us."
The Tamarian captain holds up a hand to him and in a threatening voice barks, "The river Temarc. In winter."
Properly chastised, the XO hangs his head.
The captain thinks. "Darmok," he suggests to the XO.
The XO is flabbergasted. "Darmok? Rai and Jiri at Lungha," he insists.
The captain shakes his head. "Shaka. When the walls fell."
"Zima at Anzo. Zima and Bakor," the XO argues.
"Darmok at Tanagra," the captain says.
The argument gets heated.
"Mirab, his sails unfurled," yells the XO.
The captain just keeps saying, "Darmok" calmly. He's made up his mind.
The XO hates this plan. They were supposed to execute the plan of Rai and Jiri at Lungha, but the captain has decided that it won't work.



He silences the XO, who bows his head obediently, then the captain takes the ceremonial-looking knife from the front of the XO's uniform. The captain takes out his own knife and holds them up.
"Darmok and Jalad at Tenagra." He transports away.
A moment later, so does Picard.

Damn, look at the side-eye on that XO.


"The fuck?" yells Riker. "Shields up!"
"Can't do it, " says Worf, "too late!"
"Crap, where did he go?" demands Riker.
"Both captains are on the surface of the planet," reports Data. "And we can't beam them out because the Tamarians have put up a scattering field in the ionosphere."



Down on the planet, Picard looks around. He steps from behind a bush to see the Tamarian captain. The captain holds the knives aloft.

Dramatic music! Opening credits!



On the E, Riker goes into overdrive: how can he fix this? And what exactly is he fixing?
Data reports that, because of the scattering field, there is no way to communicate with the surface, from either ship. But the Tamarians have left things open for sensors, so they can tell if their captain is in good health still.
Worf surmises that it might be a contest between champions, Picard vs the Tamarian.
Ugh, is this fucking "Arena" again?
"Theirs was armed," says Riker ominously.

On the surface, the Tamrian captain repeats "Darmok and Jalad," while holding up the knives.
"You want to fight me?" asks Picard. He sounds a bit aggressive, but he's pretty sure he was just kidnapped by an alien whose language is beyond his reach, and who is armed.
"Darmok and Jalad at Tenagra," says the captain. He tosses a knife at Picard, underhand, so that it lands at his feet.
"Noop," says Picard. He tosses the knife back. "Not fighting you."
The Tamarian sighs and puts the knife back in its sheath on the front of his uniform. "Shaka. When the walls fell."
This is not going well. Annoyed, he walks away.



Data tells Riker that both captains are in good health, and some 60 feet away from one another.
Riker asks Worf to hail the Tamarian ship.
"You kidnapped our captain, we want him back," he snaps at the Tamarian XO.
"Kiteo. His eyes closed," says the XO. "Chenza at court. The court of silence." When Riker does not respond to his words, the XO gets angry. "Chenza!"
"Crap, I can't communicate," says a frustrated Riker.
"We'd have to look into it further," says Data.
Riker decides to have Worf assemble some Gold Shirts and take a shuttle down to get Picard.
"They stopped us from stopping their transporter," Data points out. "They can stop a shuttle."
"Yeah," says Riker, "but I'm hoping they won't."



It's nighttime on the surface, and the Tamarian has started a small fire and set up camp for himself. A bit away, Picard is a good little Boy Scout, rubbing a stick in some dry grass to make his own little flame. It goes out, and he tosses the stick away in frustration.
"What now?" he asks the Tamarian. "Am I going to freeze to death before you can kill me?"
The Tamarian chuckles. "Shaka. When the walls fell."
"Yeah, yeah. Shaka," Picard agrees in irritation.
The Tamarian gets up. "Darmok at Kanza. Jalad at the Kiteo?"
Picard is at a loss. "Picard of the Federation? Of the starship Enterprise? Of the planet Earth?"
They're both really trying here, but it's obvious they're not getting through to one another.
The Tamarian turns away and mutters, "Kadir beneath Mo Moteh."
He takes off the pins he was wearing, and does a little ritualistic movement over them before setting them out around his encampment, probably for protection. Picard watches with interest.
The Tamarian settles down to sleep, but he can hear Picard pacing to keep warm. Maybe a different kind of diplomacy? He gets up and grabs a stick from his fire, then tosses it in Picard's direction.
"Temba," he says, gesturing at the stick.
Picard pauses. "Does Temba mean fire?"
"Temba," says the Tamarian again. "His arms wide."
"Temba's a person?" says Picard in surprise. "His arms wide? In like... generosity? In giving? In taking!"
He picks up the flaming stick. "Thank you!"
The Tamarian grins.
Fuck yeah, communication. And they'll do some more in the morning.

Hopeful music! Commercial break!



Riker's Log, supplemental: "Sending down a shuttle to get Picard."

Riker puts Worf and another Gold in a shuttle and sends them down. Everything is going well, and they know they will lose communication once they get inside the ionosphere. But the Tamarians shoot phasers at the shuttle.
"We're hit," says Worf. "The starboard nacelle is not working. We can land, but not take off again."
"The hell?" asks Riker. "That's it? Okay, limp it back home."
"They adjusted the phasers so that they'd cripple the shuttle, but not harm the people inside," says Data.



The senior officers meet in the Obs Lounge.
"I think I can boost up the transporter to punch through that field, but it'll take like a day to do it," says La Forge.
"He could be dead by then," objects Troi.
Girl, you've sensed these people. You really sure they're going to kill him?
"I don't think so," says Worf. "He's a hella good warrior."
Riker and Worf get into it: Worf wants to attack the Tamarian ship, Riker doesn't want to start an interstellar war. It ends when Riker says he'll consider firing on the Tamarians as a last resort. Worf makes an "okay, I guess" gesture.
Riker finally assigns Troi and Data to research the Tamarians and try to come up with something by morning.



Downstairs, Picard wakes up. It is morning, and his campfire has gone out. The Tamarian captain is gone. He makes his way over to the Tamarian's encampment, and offers an apology for intruding. He checks out the pins, but they have no meaning for him. Then he notices a journal of some kind, and sits down to look at it.



Upstairs, Troi and Data are going over the footage of the conversation between the Tamarians. Troi points out that Darmok seems to be the focus of an argument between the captain and XO. Troi asks Majel for Darmok entries in this sector, and Majel begins her list. It's 47 entries long.
Troi sighs. For all of their fancy translation tech, and their experience of meeting other cultures in space, they can't seem to communicate with this one species. And that's the thing: the universal translator is working fine, giving them the names of places and people, utilizing pronouns and other articles of language, but the context is missing. And one wrong word in the wrong place could lead to bad times.
Data asks Majel to Google Tanagra: a ruling class on planet A, a drink on planet B, an island on Shantil III.
"Hold the fucking combadge," says Troi. "Cross-reference with Darmok?"
"Darmok is a mythohistorical hunter on Shantil III," says Majel.
"Fuck yeah," smiles Troi.



On the planet's surface, Picard has discovered that the journal is a captain's log. The Tamarian comes running up.
"I'm so sorry, I didn't mean -" Picard begins.
"Shaka." The Tamarian knocks the log from Picard's hand: they have better things to do right now. He tries to push the other knife into Picard's hand. "Temba!"
"No, we're not fighting -"
But there's a roar nearby, seemingly coming from all around.
"Darmok and Jalad at Tenagra."

Dramatic music! Commercial break!



The roaring continues, and some rocks fall from the top of a nearby hill.
"Temba, his arms wide." The Tamarian gestures at Picard with the knife again.
"Sounds good." Picard takes the knife.

Upstairs, Worf tells Riker that there's an electro-magnetic force heading for Picard's position.
"Like a life-form. It's appearing and disappearing, but getting closer to the captain."
"Attacking him?"
Worf nods.
Riker calls La Forge. "How long on that boosted transporter?"
"Two, maybe three hours?"
"I need it now."
"Crap. Okay, give me like, two minutes? It... will probably not work, though."
Riker and Worf discuss the fact that they'll tip off the Tamarians as to what they're doing if they try this, but both agree that they need to try.
Riker gives the go-ahead, and tells O'Brien to stand by.



Picard and the Tamarian are holding their ground with daggers out, and some kind of... blurry thing appears behind them briefly.
"Mirab, with sails unfurled?" asks the Tamarian.
Picard gestures for the other captain to come closer to him.
"Shaka, when the walls fell."
The blurry thing appears on their other side, the disappears again.
"Y'all, you said that before. Does "Shaka, when the walls fell" mean failure?"
"Darmok," says the Tamarian, "and Jalad..."
"At Tenagra, yeah," says Picard. The Tamarian seems to celebrate, but Picard is frustrated. "I know the words but I have no context!"



Upstairs, La Forge and Lefler have almost got the transporter hack running, and they have O'Brien at the ready.

Downstairs, Picard and the Tamarian are almost surrounded by the beast thing, which keeps phasing in and out of their space.
The Tamarian pushes Picard away from him. "Uzani! His army at Lashmir."
"Was it like this at Lashmir?" asks a breathless Picard, still trying to figure out what the Tamarian is saying.
The beast appears again, then disappears.



With a pause in the action, the Tamarian gestures. "Uzani, his fist open."
Picard starts making guesses. "To lure an enemy?"
The Tamarian gestures again. "Uzani, with fist closed."
"To attack?" Picard ponders. "You communicate by examples and metaphors." He takes several steps away. "Uzani, with fist open."
The Tamarian whoops. "Sokath! His eyes uncovered!"



"Fuck yeah!" yells Picard.
The beast comes back, and they both begin attacking it with the daggers. Picard gets in a few stabs, but the beast knocks him back, shredding his shirt. (A very TNG throwback to "Arena": somehow, anytime Kirk's shirt rips across the front, we're stuck looking at his nipple. Picard's shirt is ripped across the abdomen. He is not a pin-up. Picard is sexy in other ways.)
The Tamarian gets in a few good stabs, and hell, he even head-butts the fucking thing. But when it knocks the Tamarian down, it keeps coming. Picard jumps up to run to his defense, but the E has shit timing, and tries to transport him away.



It isn't working. They've only got part of his pattern, and both La Forge and O'Brien report that they can't get any more. They're just kind of holding him in limbo while he watches that beast thing beat the everloving fuck out of the Tamarian captain. On the bridge, Worf reports that the life signs of the Tamarian are fading.
"WTF?" demands Riker. "They can see what's happening, are they just going to let him die?" 
He has Worf open the channel.
"What are you doing? Your captain is hurt!"
"Kailash!" yells the XO. "When it rises."



"Damn, they hung up on us," says Worf.
O'Brien reports that he can't hold Picard any more, and they drop the transport.
As soon as Picard reappears, the beast finishes what it is doing, and takes off. 
"Fuck fuck fuck fuck," says Picard, rushing to the Tamarian's side.
The Tamarian is bleeding. "Shaka..."
"...when the walls fell," Picard finishes quietly.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!



Riker's Log 45048.8: "Our transport hack didn't work, and I'm getting impatient with these people."

Riker calls a senior officer meeting in the Obs Lounge.
The skinny: the transporter thing failed, and tipped their hand to the Tamarians, who deepened the scattering field. Picard's life signs are fine, but the Tamarian captain is hurt, possibly dying. The beast has moved off, but if the Tamarian dies, Picard could be going up against the beast by himself.
"We need to attack their ship to get the scattering field turned off," says Worf again.
Riker doesn't want to cause an incident. "Can we knock out their equipment to shut it off without causing them harm?" he asks La Forge.
"It'd be like surgery, but I can adjust the phasers to do it. Worf and I could do it in a couple of hours."
He tells them to get on it, then turns to Troi and Data. "Can we resolve this without firing on them?"
Data and Troi explain that the Tamarians don't really have any sense of self-identity, and that they think and speak in examples from their own mythohistorical accounts.
"It's like saying Juliet on her balcony," Troi offers.
"You're referring to romance, but if you don't know who Juliet is or why she's on the balcony, then you won't get that it's about romance," says Crusher.
"Yep," says Troi. "We don't have context because we don't know their stories. We figured out that Darmok was a hunter, and Tanagra an island, but without the Tamarians to fill in the story, we'll never know what Darmok was doing there, or why it was important."
"And we're not in any position to ask them for storytime," sighs Riker.



It's nighttime planetside again, and the Tamarian is not doing well. He mentions Darmok and Jalad again, and Picard says he understands that they have something in common with the pair, but he now needs to know more to fully get it. He starts to ask in his own language for more, then realizes that that won't work.
"You said "Temba, his arms wide" when you gave me the fire and the dagger. Temba, his arms wide. Darmok." Picard makes a give me gesture.
And it works.
"Darmok on the ocean," says the Tamarian.
Picard grabs a rock, declares it to be Darmok, then places it on the ground and draws a circle in the dirt around it. "That's the ocean. Darmok on the ocean. Is that... being alone? Isolated?"
The Tamarian doubles over in pain, and Picard jumps up, but he is waved away.
"Kiazi's children, their faces wet."
When things have settled, he asks for more about Darmok.
"Darmok on the ocean, Tanagra on the ocean. Darmok at Tenagra."
"A country?" Picard guesses. "Oh, an island! Temba!"
"Jalad on the ocean. Jalad at Tenagra."
"He... went to same island as Darmok?"
Now shit's getting serious. The Tamarian sits up. "The beast at Tenagra."
Picard is surprised. This is new. "Beast?" He lets this sink in. "They arrived separately. They fought the beast together. Darmok and Jalad at Tenagra."
The Tamarian finishes grandly. "Darmok and Jalad on the ocean."
Picard smiles. "They left together."



Sometimes I think going over these episodes with a fine-toothed comb will ruin the magic, but it never fails: I get chills when the Tamarian says "Darmok and Jalad on the ocean," and Picard realizes that they left as friends. It is so good, y'all. This episode is amazing.

The Tamarian is wracked with pain again, and doubles over. "Zinda! His face black, his eyes red!"
Picard jumps up again, but the Tamarian waves him away. "Callimas at Bahai."
There is a pause, and Picard surmises that the Tamarian knew this would happen. That there was a beast-thing here, and that when two people face a danger, it can bring them together.
"Kira at Bashi." The Tamarian points to his ear. "Temba, his arms wide."
Picard tries to decline the invitation to tell a story, but when the Tamarian looks disappointed, he thinks, "meh, why not?"


This scene is lovely. Picard becomes animated in his storytelling, and the Tamarian is fully engaged. The camera makes a big, slow swing in towards them and the campsite, then around the space, with close-ups on both Picard and the Tamarian. That's some damn good composition and camera work.

He tells the story of Gilgamesh, a king who annoyed his subjects. They asked the gods for a friend for their king so he would leave them alone. Enkidu, a wildman, came to the city, and he and Gilgamesh fought. They became friends. They went out adventuring. They decided to take on the Great Bull of Heaven, who was killing people. They fought the bull, but Enkidu was struck down by the gods, and Gilgamesh wept.
The Tamarian, who was enjoying the story immensely, takes his last breath as Picard finishes the 
tale.

Dramatic music, commercial break.



Riker's Log, supplemental: "I'm out of options. I have to fire on the Tamarians and risk war."

The phaser hack is done, and they're preparing to fire.
"So the Tamarian died," Data reports.
"The Tamarians know that, too," says Riker. "They'd have to." He confirms with La Forge that they're ready with the phasers.
"Kayso, the electro-magnetic beast thing is heading for the captain," says Data.

On the surface, Picard has laid out the Tamarian, placed his dagger on his chest, and his hands on the dagger. There's a growl nearby.
"Fuck." If he dies, then no one will know the sacrifice that Tamarian captain made.
The beast starts appearing around him.
Shit starts happening in quick succession: 
Data reports that the beast is closing in on Picard.
La Forge says that the phasers are ready.
Riker orders Worf to fire.
The phasers cut across the Tamarian ship.



The field is down.
The beast approaches.
Picard raises his dagger.
And O'Brien scoops him off the face of the planet just as the beast lunges.



Picard hops off the transporter pad.
On the bridge, the shields go up, but not before the Tamarians get a few shots in.
"Let's gtfo!" yells Riker.
"They took out our starboard nacelle," calls Data. "No warp available."
Fire is exchanged on either side, and the shields on the E fail. They can't take another hit.
The lift opens, and there's Picard. "Open the fucking channel."
When the channel is open, the Tamarian XO is pissed. "Zinda!"
"Temarc!" barks Picard. "The river Temarc. In winter."
This gives the XO pause. "Darmok..."
"And Jalad," Picard confirms. "At Tenagra."
"Sokath! His eyes open!" yells the XO joyously.



And Picard tells him the story. "The beast at Tenagra? Uzani. His army. Shaka, when the walls fell."
The Tamarians stop and make a ritualistic move with their daggers to mourn their fallen captain.
Picard holds up the captain's log, which he must have slipped into his jacket before laying out the Tamarian captain. "Temba, his arms wide."
The XO appears grateful, and signals to someone behind him. The journal materializes in the XO's hand. "Picard and Dathon at El-Adrel," he says somberly. "Mirab, with sails unfurled," he calls over his shoulder to his crew.
Picard holds up his dagger. "Temba, his arms wide."



"Thank you," says Picard quietly.
The power comes back on. The Tamarians prepare to leave and close the channel.
Picard and Riker take their seats.
"New friends?" asks Riker.
"Not sure," says Picard. "But at least they're not new enemies."



Picard is reading in his ready room when Riker comes in to give him a damage report. Picard sets down his book and Riker notices that he's reading the Homeric hymns.
"Practice for when we see the Tamarians again?" smiles Riker.
"I was just thinking about the fact that so much of that helped shape our own culture. It might be helpful in understanding them better." He pauses. "You  know, Dathon was willing to risk all of our lives just to communicate. And his sacrifice means that we may have made a new ally. That was more important to him than his own life."
Riker leaves, and Picard picks up the dagger on his desk. He goes to the window, and performs the ritual that he saw the Tamarian crewmembers do, to honor his friend Dathon.





*If you haven't seen this episode before, or if you have and don't quite understand Tamarian, I've quoted them word for word in this blog entry, and you can pick up on what they're saying based on tone and repeat of words and phrases. A few of these I never quite picked up on, despite many viewings, and was surprised when I found the translation list.

Shaka, when the walls fell = failure, a screwing of the pooch
Rai and Jiri = some kind of peace talk, a meeting of cultures
Kadir beneath Mo Moteh = they/ you/ I don't understand
The river Temarc in winter = frozen, stop, stfu
Chenza at court, the court of silence = not listening
Mirab, with sails unfurled = leaving
Uzani, his army at Lashmir = a tactical spreading out of soldiers
Uzani, his fist open = to lure an enemy
Uzani, his fist closed = to attack an enemy
Temba, his arms wide/open = to give
Sokath, his eyes open = to see, to understand
Zima at Anzo, Zima and Bakor = bad shit arises from bad communication
Kailash, when it rises = a sacrifice
Kiteo, his eyes closed = refusing to understand
Darmok on the ocean = being alone or isolated
Kiazi's children, their faces wet = crying for no reason, nothing to worry about, nothing you can do
Zinda, his face black, his eyes red = anger, pain, knowing that life will not continue
Callimas at Bahi = I'm fine, the pain is gone
Temba at rest = no, thank you; keep it


Y'all, I love this episode so much. So fucking, fucking much. I'd say this is my favorite episode, but it's tied for first with "Inner Light," which bookends this season. So many awesome episodes this season!
Just in case you're thinking, "those are both Picard-centric episodes," you're right. I love Picard episodes. And this one is just great Star Trek all around: mysterious new alien species; creative ways around communication; some hand-to-hand combat that doesn't get tiring (long-time readers will recall that I hated TOS' H2H combat scenes that went on forever); space battles that show off model work; special effects. And it's well-balanced. We get all of those things, but they don't seem to drag to the episode down by giving us too much of each. It's just plain good storytelling, done well.

If you've ever looked up "Darmok" online, you'll know that people love to write about how this episode predicted meme culture. It's kind of the only thing that people talk about when talking about this episode, which is a shame. They're also pretty short, and say the same thing, which is "we talk like Tamarians when we use memes!"... and then don't follow through with anything else. In fact, when I went looking for more thoughts on the ideas presented in this episode, the only article I found that actually delved into it further was this one from 2018. While a darling of linguists, "Darmok" presents a weird problem: that you can't really build an entire language by citing example. You'd need another way to communicate more specific ideas. (Could you modify it to be more specific? "Shaka, when one brick slipped off the wall" for when you fail just a little?) While Memory Alpha apocrypha anthology "The Sky's the Limit" gives the answer for the Tamarians learning these stories through plays, it's never explained here in the show how they came to learn them. We're not given any follow-up on the Tamarians.
To be honest, it doesn't really other me. Would I be interested in following it up with more reading on the subject? Absolutely. Have I actually thought about running a seminar where participants have a conversation in a shared mythology context, say in Harry Potter examples at LeakyCon, the Harry Potter convention? Maybe. Do I think it could be done in quite a few fandom groups, given that the world used for the context of the examples is expansive enough? I do. Do I think that shit would be fun? Fuck yeah.

Shockingly accurate
 Because I'm all about the aesthetics, let's talk about the costume department for this episode. I'm really into Dathon's uniform. From far away, it appears to have a few little details, but none of them jump out at you or look cluttered. His shirt appears to be some kind of faux leather in hunter green and grey, with silhouettes of some pattern on the sleeves. Then he has a kind of wrap-around vest, a belt, and a holster for his dagger.



In close-up shots you can see his vest decoration. The part that lays underneath is covered with what I thought were colorful dots embroidered on, but what turned out to be colored grommets. The part of the vest that layers on top is decorated with colored stripes. The attention to detail here is nice, and I imagine that to the Tamarians, quite a bit of it was probably imbued with deeper meaning.


I have mixed feelings about Picard's new captain's uniform, introduced in this episode. Do I hate it? No, I think I just like the regular uniform better. I've noticed that when they want to try a new uniform style, they'll put it on Patrick Stewart first, and switch the other actors over after. (In some cases, you can see season one uniforms on background actors through season four.) In this case, the change was suggested by Stewart himself, who had trouble with the one-piece uniforms, and producer David Livingston remarked that the jacket combo was reminiscent of submarine and aircraft commanders, who sometimes have special jackets. (If we're comparing TOS and TNG Casual Friday Captain Shirts, then Picard wins hands down. I really did not love that green shirt on Kirk.)
The coat over shirt approach is quite a bit more casual than the solid uniform jacket that zips up the back rather than front, and the fabrics are different, with a suede comprising the bulk, and a black leather quilted shoulder.



The shirt underneath is grey and, although looser than the standard uniform, is styled the same, with the solid color on the bottom, and the black yoke at the shoulder and collar. Only here, the yoke and collar are textured. It's either a sweater material, or corduroy. I can't tell, honestly.
The whole ensemble is not terrible, but I feel like the double layer of textured yokes would get bulky and the whole thing seems hot.
This combo will be seen in four episodes, then disappear without a trace.







Fun Facts:

- This episode is one of the longest to come to fruition from script to filming. They toyed with the script for two years before reaching a finished product that they liked. It was based on writer Philip  LaZebnik's premise of the inability to communicate between two peoples. Rick Berman hated the premise, but Michael Piller thought it was interesting, and gave it to Joe Menosky to work out. Menosky created the monkeywrench that the Tamarians spoke in allusion and metaphor drawn only from their own mythology. Rick Berman would eventually admit that he loved the finished episode.
- Menosky drew inspiration from three sources for his allegory theory:
       - the work of psychologist James Hillman
       - the quote "every word is a poem"
       - Chinese poetry and philosophical works.
- Michael Piller called Darmok "the prototype of what Star Trek should be." It had a monster, a space battle, top-notch performances from great actors, and a message of communication between peoples.
- The story of Gilgamesh comes from the ancient Babylonian poem "The Epic of Gilgamesh," and the tale of Gilgamesh and Enkido mirrors that of Darmok and Jilad, as well as Picard and Dathon; two enemies come together to fight a foe and become friends before one is killed and mourned by the other.
- Paul Winfield (Dathon) previously played Capt Terrell on Wrath of Khan. (Remember him? He and Chekov had ceti eels in their ears which brainwashed them. He later died via self-inflicted phaser wound.)


- Patrick Stewart felt this episode was award-worthy. Have to agree.
- Robin Lefler is played Ashley Judd. She'll feature heavily in the upcoming episode "The Game."
- This is the first episode to feature the alternate captain's uniform of a grey shirt under an open cranberry jacket. The jacket here is a suede material and the black shoulder parts are some kind of leather-looking material. In future episodes, the leather material will be replaced by black suede.
- First appearance of the Type 6 shuttlecraft. It looks like a bulbasaur, just sayin.'


Art by Yossi Levi

- This is the first appearance of Data's redesigned quarters. The previous ones were taken to be used in Star Trek 6, and then destroyed. (Given how often they reuse and redress Star Trek sets between series and films, it seems strange to me that they would destroy them. The only reason I can think of for doing so would be lack of a place to store them.)
- Director Winrich Kolbe had mixed feelings about this episode. He thought the story was great, but struggled to film an episode where the actors essentially speak a different language. He likened it to directing a film in Russian without actually being able to speak and understand Russian.
- This episode is often used by linguistics teachers to teach the differences in understanding language.
- Doctor Who writer Russell T Davies was so intrigued with the billing blurb for this episode that he deliberately did not watch the episode, choosing instead to think about the idea on his own:

"I've seen lots of Star Trek: The Next Generation, I think it's a lovely show – but there's one episode, the billing for which is so fascinating I've actively avoided ever seeing it," Davies explained. "I love the idea so much, I'd rather think about it. Forever. The episode is called 'Darmok', and the synopsis simply says that Captain Picard is trapped on a planet with an alien who can only talk in metaphors. Wow. That sounds brilliant. How does that work? What happens? How does it end? I've got no idea – not seen it! But it keeps resonating with me. I've just looked up its TX date, and it's almost 20 years old. I've been thinking about that story and its potential for almost 20 years! Would it have sustained itself for that long in my head if I'd seen it on BBC2, long ago in 1991? I think the mystery keeps the concept alive. Here I am, still wondering, right now! And I can see the idea bleeding into my own work. In 2008, I wrote a Doctor Who episode called 'Midnight'. Is it like 'Darmok'? I don't know. But stripped down to its essentials, it's a story about a hero, an alien, and words. That's practically the same billing. Maybe the two shows are profoundly different, but I know for a fact that all those years of wondering about 'Darmok' led me to that script." (SFX, issue #200, p. 140)


As both a Trek fan and a Whovian, I can say that I've watched both, but never realized that they shared a root concept. However, I love that two works based off of the same concept came out so differently. It's something that I've always been fond of, and liked particularly in art school when the class was given the same assignment, and all turned in things that were loosely related, but totally individual.
Also, Russell: you should watch Darmok.

Red deaths: 0
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Awwww, yeah! Mona and Micelli are getting a home!

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

ST:TNG Season Five, Episode One "Redemption II"

ST:TNG Season Five, Episode One "Redemption II"
Production Order: 1
Air Order: 1
Stardate: 45021.3
Original Air Date: September 23, 1991

Sorry for the last post this week.


                               


So a recap, because season four ended on a cliffhanger:
Gowron is going to be made the Chancellor for the Klingon Empire (as per Picard's choice as arbiter for the Rite of Succession in the episode Reunion). However, the family of Duras objects, because they say that Duras had a secret son, Toral, who now claims the Chancellorship. Picard doesn't want to become involved again, but he looks at the laws anyway, and is like, "hell no, you're not Chancellor. You can't just claim leadership because your father wanted to do so. Shit doesn't work like that. Also, you're like 12? What honorable deeds have you done for the Empire? None, that's how many. GTFO of here with your claim."
So Toral's gang is headed up by his aunts, Duras' sisters, Lursa and B'Etor. They're pretty fucking fabulous, but also sketchy as Duras. Clearly, this crap runs in the family. Also in Toral's gang? Romulans. Including the Shadowy Commander from "The Mind's Eye."
Worf asks Gowron to restore his honor, now that he is going to be Chancellor. Gowron was unaware that Duras and his shit were behind the whole discommendation thing, and he's disgusted that it's gone down that way, but he can't do the thing: lots of people on the council still support the Duras family, and he needs their support.
Annoyed at not being able to establish a fucking 12-year-old as the head of the Empire, the Duras sisters, with backup from other petaQs who lack honor, attack Gowron's ship to take the Chancellorship by force.
Worf to Gowron: "My brother Kurn has a bunch of ships who could kick the ass of the Duras gang. My price is restoring my family's name."
Picard to Worf: "I know you were on leave to try to get your name restored, but you gotta come back to the E so we can leave. We can't get caught in a Klingon civil war."
Worf to Picard: "Guess I gotta resign my commission, bro. Gowron has a place for me on his ship."
Kurn and his gang show up. There's a small skirmish,  and the Duras family backs off.
Gowron is made Chancellor. He restores honor to the House of Mogh.
The Shadowy Commander is revealed.


Dramatic music! Let's get back into it!



Some time has passed, and now Worf has been assigned to Kurn's ship. We open in a battle that is going poorly for Kurn. Worf recommends retreating, but Kurn yells at him for not knowing his place. Instead, Kurn has the helm set to fly into the nearest sun.
Everybody on board: "WTF?"
Worf is yelling out computer specs: "Shields failing. Outer hull temperature exceeding design specifications!" Which is... unintentionally funny. 
Kurn has them fly hella close to the surface of the sun, close enough to kick up some solar flares, and because those two ships were riding their asses, they fly right into those solar flares, and die (dis)honorably in battle.
(If you die during a Klingon civil war, is your death considered honorable? Is it up to the victors to write your history, or is it still considered (somewhat) honorable because you died in battle? Do you go to Sto'vo'kor, with occasional visits from Fek'lhr? Do you join the Barge of the Dead to Gre'thor, but you get to sit in business class? Is there a Klingon Medium Place?)



Picard's Log 45020.4: "Went to a starbase to convince Admiral Shanthi to let us get involved with this Klingon thing."

See, this is where I'm #TeamPicard. He spent the last episode telling Gowron and Worf that he couldn't get involved, even though he knew he should, because he knew that just straight-up getting involved would not bode well. Here, he has a good plan, which he explains to Admiral Shanthi: that they go to the Klingon-Romulan border and form a blockade to cut off the supplies from the Romulans to the Duras family. Involved, but also not.
"But the Roms have cloaking devices," Shanthi argues.
"Yeah, but my chief engineer has a theory - each ship sends out a tachyon beam to the others, so we form this kind of net. If the Roms attempt to fly through it, they'll light up like a fucking Christmas tree."
Shanthi is hesitant to jump in (the Klingons are allies, but this is clearly an internal matter), but Picard convinces her that the Duras family, long thought allied with the Romulans, would destroy the peace treaty between the Klingons and the Federation.
She finally agrees to talk to the other admirals, and gives him permission to assemble a fleet.

Dramatic music! Opening credits break!



Picard's Log 45021.3: "Okay, so convincing Starfleet to do the thing wasn't too hard, but now getting ships is sucking hard."

Riker, La Forge and Data are in the ready room with Picard, helping him form his fleet.
"Kayso, there are only like 12 ships in this quadrant within a day's travel," says Riker.
La Forge adds that any others are in dry dock or in for repairs, and a lot of them don't have full crews assigned to them.
"Craaaap," says Picard. "Okay, we'll pull some of these ships listed for repair. Will, you're gonna command the Excalibur, and La Forge, you're gonna be his XO. Data, will you put together a list of experienced Enterprise crewmen that we could put on those other ships to round out those crews? I want a fleet ready by tomorrow, and it looks like we only get 20 ships or so."
They all agree, and Riker and La Forge leave.
"So hey," says Data. "You've said that there's a severe shortage of senior officers to command ships in this fleet, but you didn't assign me to lead a ship. Technically, my 26 years of service would mean that I am qualified."
"Oh. Um. I thought your services would be best suited here."
But Data cuts to the heart of the matter, "If you don't think that Starfleet is ready for an android captain, I can work on getting my shit up to snuff -"
"Um, actually the Sutherland needs a captain. I think you'll be awesome in that position."
"Cool."
Data leaves to compile his list, and Picard is left looking a bit sheepish.



Down on Qo'nos, Worf has entered some kind of social gathering (looks like a bar, but there is no physical bar? I think there are tables?). Everyone is drinking and arm wrestling and being rowdy, normal Klingons. Kurn introduces Worf to his drinking partner, Captain Larg.
"Larg flies for the Duras family, he tried to kill us yesterday!"
Kurn and Larg seem plenty cheerful, as well as kind of drunk.
"Annnnd, you're drinking with him?" asks Worf.
"Yeah, capital city is neutral ground, so here, we're not #TeamGowron or #TeamDuras, we're all #TeamWarrior!"
Larg leaves and Worf updates Kurn on how the repairs to their ship is going.
"Psht, that's duty shit," Kurn admonishes. "Have a drink and relax! Why are you so hung up on duty? I don't give a shit how repairs are going!"
Worf eventually agrees to have a drink.
Across the room, Lursa and B'Etor watch them and remark on how different the sons of Mogh are. They have designs on Worf.




Kurn and Larg are like Klingon Catskills comedians.
Trade a barb, laugh like hell. Repeat.


Data reports to the Sutherland and tells the XO, Lt Commander Christopher Hobson, that he'll be taking command, and to note it in the ship's log.
"Um, I'd like to transfer," says Hobson.
"How come?"
"I... don't think I'd be a good first officer for you."
That's... honest?
"Okay, why?" asks Data. "Your service records are good, seems like you'd be a good fit."
After dancing around the issue, Hobson finally comes out with it: he's automatonophobic.
Remember that word? I had to go looking for it to describe Lt Maddox in "The Measure of a Man," and it translates to "fear of robots." It basically means "people that treat androids like toasters." Toasters that they beat with baseball bats for fun, because why not? They're toasters.
"I understand your concerns," says Data in an almost soothing tone. But then because he's a cold motherfucker: "Request denied."

Lt Commander Meatbag Privilege


The fleet gets underway.
This is a pretty sweet shot.

"What class ships does the script call for?"
"Just pull out any Federation model that isn't broken."


Back on Qo'nos, the Duras sisters are concerned that their Romulan supplies aren't showing up quickly enough.
"It's fine," says Sela. "It'll be fine."
They get word that Picard has left starbase 234 with a small fleet of ships that are heading for Klingon space.
Toral jumps in, ever the eager beaver. "Are they entering the war? Can we attack them?"
"OMG, shut him up, or get him out of here," Sela barks.
Are you paying attention, Toral? All of these people are using you. If you live to adulthood, you should fuck them up.
Sela asks her assistant, General Movar, to go back to Romulus and rouse a bunch of ships, then to go to a set of coordinates she gives him.
Lursa is looking at the padd with the info. "Picard only has 20 ships? We should be fine."
"Don't discount Picard yet," says Sela.

I love the composition of this shot: Sela and Movar, calling the real shots;
Lursa and B'Etor, making secret plans without them;
and Toral, excluded in the corner, trying to see what's going on.


Worf and Kurn report to Gowron on how things are going. Gowron is unhappy that Duras seems to be getting additional help from somewhere.
"Maybe they just have better leadership!" yells a voice from the back. It's Kulge, some asshole that wants Gowron to know that he's a shitty leader.
Gowron is psyched - a chance to cut a bitch? Yaaasss!
"Y'all, really?" yells Worf. "Come on, we have a war to win. Fighting amongst ourselves isn't doing any good."
"Gowron has to face this challenge," Kurn hisses at him.
Gowron hops off the dais and they both produce knives, like this is Klingon West Side Story or something.
But this is not how Worf is used to doing things. He's used to being the too violent, too impatient, too suspicious Klingon among talky humans. Now he's the too cautious, too patient, too talky Klingon-raised-by-humans.
Gowron and Kulge go at one another.
"Seriously?" demands Worf.
He tries to get between them to break up the fight, but it only results in Gowron getting the chance to jam his d'k tahg between Kulge's ribs. He then gives Worf a kind of thank-you grin.



The fleet arrives at their spot on the Klingon-Romulan border and begins taking their positions.
On the Sutherland, a small problem has occurred: radiation is leaking onto decks 10-12 because the power couplings are overloading.
"Why are they overloading?" asks Data. "How come the back-ups didn't kick on?"
"We left the repair yard before we could test everything fully," Hobson replies.
 He immediately starts issuing orders to crewmembers to take care of the situation, which includes taking phasers and photon torpedoes offline.
"Uh, no," says Data. "You don't issue commands. You run that shit by me first."
And then Hobson pulls some straight BS, which is to then sarcastically say that he was trying to save some human lives by issuing those commands, in a tone that is clearly meant to be heard as "You weren't interested in the humans on this ship, and someone had to be."


STFU, Hobson. Like, are you actually automatonophobic, or are you mad that you didn't get to be captain? Both? Suck it up and quit playing games like you're some butthurt tween. Cuz you're acting like Toral, and at least that kid has the excuse that people are treating him like shit. Go sit in your quarters and write bad poetry if you're gonna be like that.
Hobson backtracks what he was doing, then goes to stand next to the crew. "You're right. What should we do, SIR?"
Data repeats the orders that Hobson gave, because those were in fact the correct course of action.
"Very good, sir," says Hobson snottily before they all scatter to do their jobs.
I wonder whose side the crew is on.
Probably Hobson's, since they all know him. Maybe he's less of a knob normally.



The tachyon field goes up. It's impressive-looking, but I'm wondering how large it actually is. Because, like The Tholian Web, it isn't connected to anything, so you'd have to make it big enough that going around is a huge inconvenience. Or over. Or under. We're working in three dimensions, here. The Romulans can travel on the Z-axis, yo.



The Roms see it immediately, and Movar asks Sela what they should do: the Federation will find them right away, regardless of cloaks.
"Let's start working on a way to break down the field," she says. "But until then, let's convince Picard to go away."
On the E, O'Brien (who has taken Worf's spot at tactical) tells Picard that a warbird is decloaking, and that they're being hailed.
So then Picard and all of those TNG Year Ones on the bridge make Surprised Pikachu Face, because Is That Tasha Yar?
"I'm Commander Sela," she says.



Dramatic music! Commercial break!

"Get the fuck off our border within in the next 20 hours, or we're taking you down," Sela growls at Picard.
She cuts off communication, and Picard meets with Crusher and Troi in the Obs Lounge.
"She's not lying," says Troi. "She totes believes she's the daughter of Tasha Yar."
"But that doesn't make sense," says Crusher. "I checked Yar's medical records. She was never pregnant. She was also too young to have a kid. She'd be like, five years older than Sela."
"Maybe she's a clone," says Troi.
"Or surgically altered," offers Crusher.
"Eh," says Picard. "This is weird, but I'm not gonna change my strategy. Ball's in their court."
Crusher and Troi leave, and then surprise of surprises, Guinan comes in.
"So I heard the daughter of Tasha Yar is on the Romulan ship?"
"Yeah," Picard smiles. "I think it's a weird ploy to distract us."
"Cool, cool," says Guinan. "Hey, what do you know about the Enterprise-C?"
"Oh!" He was not expecting that question. "It was lost defending the Klingon colony on Nerendra III from the Romulans."
"Uh-huh, what about survivors?"
"There were rumors about prisoners taken back to Romulus, but probably not."
"Yeah, no," says Guinan seriously. "There were survivors. Tasha Yar was one. She wasn't a kid at the time, and I'm pretty sure you sent her there."
"That's... not possible. That was 23 years ago. And Tasha Yar died just a few years ago, before you came on board. You never met her." He's pretty angry now. "Is this some kind of intuition?"
"Yeah, and if it's true, then you're responsible for this situation."
Picard considers this. "Craaaap. I'm gonna need to meet this woman in person."



Worf and Kurn go back to the socialization place/probably a bar, and they get into a nasty argument about Gowron and Kulge. Worf thinks that Gowron should set aside any and all challenges to his leadership until the war is over. Kurn is pissed off that Worf isn't getting the whole Klingon thing, and is extra pissed off that he joined up with Gowron against his own wishes, and now Worf is bitching about it.
Kurn yells at him that maybe he should not have joined the war effort, and takes off. The second Kurn disappears, two other Klingons rush in and jump Worf, beating the absolute shit out of him. Once he is unconscious, they drag him off.



Sela stalks into the Obs Lounge, demanding to know what "very urgent" thing Picard wants to talk about. He invites her politely to sit. He seems mildly concerned, not the hard-ass he sometimes becomes when dealing with hostile people. Because what if he caused this? That would suck.
"We're not here to be aggressive," he tells her.
Sassy Sela Moment: "Uh-huh. And I should tell my superiors that there are 23 Federation ships on our border for what? Humanitarian reasons?"
"We're just here to keep outsiders from interfering in internal Klingon affairs," he replies.
"We're not doing any of that," she replies silkily. "But if we wanted to get into Klingon space, how would you stop us? You can't see us."
He smiles. "Then why don't you just do it?"
And a smile from her. "Let's cut the crap. I'm here because you want to know how Tasha Yar could be my mother."
And he does cut the crap: "Okay. I've heard that she was on the Enterprise-C when it was destroyed 24 years ago, that she survived, was taken back to Romulus, and had a child with a Romulan."
"But it can't be true, right? Because she would have been a child 24 years ago? But she wasn't. She was on that ship, sent there from the future by you."
She tells Tasha Yar's story:
Yar survived the destruction of the Enterprise-C, and the few survivors were brought before a Romulan general, who was going to execute them. But he was taken with Tasha, and they made a deal - he would spare the survivors if she became his consort. She gave birth to Sela a year later.
Picard asks if he can meet Yar, and she grows quiet.
"When I was four, she wrapped me up one night and tried to sneak me out of the compound. I realized that she was taking me away from my father and my home, so I screamed. My father gave her a home and a child, and she betrayed him. She was executed." Sela gets up angrily and goes to the window. "Everything that was in me that was human died then. I'm nothing but Romulan now."
"I don't really have any reason to believe you," he replies. "But either way, I'm not letting it affect our next encounter."
"You have 14 hours to GTFO," she barks before leaving.



B'Etor gets all up in Worf's business, doing the Klingon growl-purr-mating noise. Worf wakes up, fully ready to get it on with whatever dream girl may have popped out of his unconscious, but then he realizes that it's B'Etor, and his tiny warrior is no longer raring to go.
"Ugh, what do you want?" he demands.
Lursa is there, and she gets a Sassy Moment: "Same thing as you - personal honor, glory for the empire."
"Yeah, fuck you guys," sighs Worf. "Seriously. But not literally, gross."
"Our brother was dumb for making you an enemy," purrs B'Etor, who is still all over Worf. "We want to be friends."
"Then stop opposing Gowron," he answers simply.
Lursa gets down next to Worf. "Toral will be the leader of the council, everybody knows that. But he's still young, and he needs a father figure, someone with a strong hand to guide him. Which could be you, if you were mated to B'Etor."
"Ew, that's nasty." He pushes B'Etor off and stands up. "The kind of Klingon Empire you would have us rule is one where there is no honor, and all the shots are called from Romulus."
A little screen opens. Sela has obviously been doing a Zoom call to this room. "That's enough, he doesn't want in. Hand him over to the guard for now, we have more important shit to take care of. B'Etor can play with him later."
A Romulan guard hauls Worf away.



Picard calls Gowron. "If you attack now, Lursa and B'Etor will call for supplies, and the Romulans will try to run the blockade, exposing them."
"Support for their side will fall away once it's realized that they're working with the Romulans," nods Gowron. "Cool. Okay. Oh, also - Worf has been captured by the Duras. I hope he dies well."
"Yaaaay," says Picard.
Riker returns to the ready room on the Enterprise to talk strategy with Picard.
"So the Excalibur is gonna feign some engine trouble," Picard tells him, "and you're gonna fall back to these coordinates with these two other ships. It's gonna look like there's a hole in our tachyon net. But there won't be, because the E and another ship are gonna swing around and close the gap, trapping them."
"Sweet," grins Riker.



Movar goes to Sela with the news that #TeamDuras is being attacked in three sectors and they're failing hardcore.
"Fuck me," gripes Sela. "You mean "they were caught off-guard and are crying for help," right?"
"Pretty much," shrugs Movar.
"You figure out how to get around the blockade?" she asks.
"We think so. When we get close enough, we send out a tachyon pulse that should disrupt a big enough hole in the net for us to slip through."
They're looking at a live screen, and Movar notices that a ship is limping away, its warp drive failing.
"Picard is redeploying the fleet! He doesn't have enough ships to maintain the net. We can sneak through!"
Sela pauses. "No. That's what Picard wants. He tossed out some bait, and expects us to take it. Instead, let's use that tachyon pulse to disable the net where it's weakest... the ship with the android captain."

Dramatic music! Commercial break!



When we return, Picard and O'Brien have figured out that the tachyon net is down around the Sutherland and its surrounding ships. Picard checks in with Data, who is aware that his part of the net is down.
"Crap," says Picard. "Okay, tell the fleet to break it down, and regroup at Gamma Eridon. We're gonna set up the net there."
The call goes out, and Data acknowledges the change, telling his helm to set coordinates for Gamma Eridon. He pauses, then goes to the science station and does a long-range scan.
Hobson gets curious and sits beside him. "What are you doing?"
"I think when the Roms sent that tachyon disruptor signal out, they may have created residual halos of tachyon particles around themselves."
"But we have no way of detecting those?"
Up until now, Hobson was curious. But when Data calls for an all-stop, he gets a bit combative.
"We were ordered to go with the fleet to Gamma Eridon."
"Yeah," says Data, "but disintegrating particles don't last long, and by the time we get ready to move the fleet, there won't be evidence of the Romulans anymore. Bring the phasers back online."
"WTF?" demands Hobson. "That will flood three decks with radiation again!"
"And we'll do radiation protocol as soon as possible. Bring the phasers online."
"You don't care about the people working on those decks!" yells Hobson. "We're not machines!"
And Data feigns some emotion here, having noticed that a sharp tone will often get the CO what they need when there is resistance. "Bitch, did I stutter? PHASERS. NOW."
Hobson scoots to his station with his tail between his legs.



O'Brien reports that the Sutherland has stopped, instead of heading to Gamma Eridon. Picard asks O'Brien to hail Data.
"The Enterprise wants to know why we've stopped," Hobson tells Data.
Data simply asks Hobson for a sensor schematic on the viewscreen, and to overlay what kinds of tachyon emissions might be out there.
"Are you going to answer?" Hobson asks. He's following Data's orders, putting up the schematics as requested, but he's getting argumentative about it.
Data seems to have located four Romulan ships, and tells Hobson to reconfigure the photon torpedoes in a specific way.
"Those emissions could be anything -" Hobson starts.
"DO IT!" yells Data.
Picard finally breaks in. "Data, you were supposed to rendezvous with us at Gamma Eridon. Acknowledge."
"Fire the torpedoes," Data tells Hobson.
"Didn't you hear Picard?"
"I said FUCKING FIRE, you piece of shit!"




Hobson fires the torpedoes. And surprise, three Romulan ships light up like the Hindu festival of Duwali.



"Fuck," says Sela. "Reverse course back to Romulus, the whole fleet."
"But the Duras need these supplies," Moval argues. "What should I tell them?"
"They're on their own," says Sela. "We've been caught."



"Um, they're heading back for Romulan space," Hobson reports quietly.
"Cool," says Data. "Send a report to the flagship, take the torpedoes offline, and begin cleanup of decks 10-12."
"Yes, sir... captain."



Sooo... some shit's going down on Qo'nos.



Lursa and B'Etor burst into their quarters and tell Toral that they've been defeated, that their Rom friends failed to show up with supplies.
The Romulan guard hauls Worf in, and Lursa commands him to kill Worf.
"Fuck that shit," says Worf, promptly punching the guard.
They get into it while the Duras family watches, then Lursa hits a button on some little box, and she and B'Etor are beamed away. Without Toral. Who notices that he's been straight-up abandoned. Worf finally takes down the guard, just as Kurn and his guys walk in.
"Toral," taunts Kurn. "The next leader of the Empire. Gowron would like to see you again."

Swear to god she's smiling at Toral, making Lursa the galaxy's shittiest aunt.


Picard's Log 45025.4: "Sent the fleet back to Federation space, and we're now back at Qo'nos, where I'm gonna give the High Council a report on the Romulans."


Picard is in his ready room when Data comes in and says he is here for his punishment. He did not follow orders, and should be sanctioned.
"Yeah," says Picard evenly. "But here's the thing: Starfleet isn't necessarily looking for people to blindly follow orders. You analyzed the situation, and made some choices. Those choices did not follow orders, but you did a good job, and I've noted it in your record."



On Qo'nos, Picard gives the report to Gowron, who tells him that there is one last bit of business before he can go. A side door opens, and Worf and Kurn enter.
Then Gowron calls, "bring him," and two guards enter with Toral.
Gowron formally accuses Toral of treason.
"The Duras family will one day rule the Empire!" Toral calls out.
Kid, stop. Listen, for once.
Sassy Gowron Moment: "Perhaps, but not today."
"Worf," says Gowron, "this kid's family wrongly took your name and honor. I give you his life."
He hands Worf a d'k tahg. Suddenly, Toral has nothing to say. He's doing that "trying real hard to be a brave boy" face.
Worf approaches Toral slowly... then drops the knife at his feet.
Kurn comes up behind Worf. "What are you doing? Kill him!"
"No," says Worf.
"It's the Klingon way!"
"Yeah, but it's not my way."
Worf turns back to Gowron. "This kid hasn't actually done anything to me, and I'm not going to kill him for crimes committed by his family."
"Okay, Kurn can kill him," shrugs Gowron.
"Fuck yeah!" Kurn scoops the knife off the ground, and Toral looks twice as alarmed.
"No," Worf interrupts. "You gave me his life, and I have spared him."
Gowron: "As you wish."
He looks pissed. Kurn looks pissed.
"Request permission to return to duty, sir," Worf says to Picard.
"Granted," says Picard.
And they leave the hall like boss bitches.
YEAH, BOY.



I keep going back and forth on this episode.
First, I was slightly disappointed by it, mostly because I assumed that the second half picked up where the first half ended, and I thought, "Two skirmishes are not a civil war. Could I get an arc here, or something?" But then I read in Memory Alpha that some time had passed between parts one and two, and I thought maybe they had intended for the missing middle to have played out in real time, over the summer break. They evidenced this by noting that Worf was assigned to Gowron's ship initially, but had been reassigned to work with Kurn in part two. The idea of the war lasting several months worked better, with unseen battles taking place over that period of time. But when I ran the actual stardates, it came up with a total of ten days from the start of episode one to the end of episode two. Which is... less disappointing that the 3-4 days I originally thought it was, but more disappointing than the three months or so that was my second guess? When I think of civil wars, the length seems to speak of a longer struggle than ten days. I actually looked up the average length of human civil wars, and the answer came back at 7-12 years. (Trivia nobody wants: the shortest was the Anglo-Zanzibar War in 1895, clocking in at 45 minutes. The longest is ongoing: 72 years and counting, in Myanmar.) So I got ten days, and that's less than the arc I wanted, but I'll suck it up.

I have mixed feelings about Toral, more than I originally did in previous viewings. Sure, he's a cocky little shit, but he's being used by both his aunts and the entire fucking Romulan empire, and that has to suck. Then he's almost murdered by the House of Mogh, with approval by the Chancellor. That's a lot to take in for a kid.
Small, weird story: years ago, I went to an adult prom with my friend Teacup. We got all dressed up, and at the last minute, I found out she had invited her on-again off-again boyfriend. I anticipated being the third wheel that evening, but instead the boyfriend and I bored Teacup by talking Klingon politics. Namely, we debated whether or not it was considered honorable to kill Toral. It seems like, had he been just some kid, it would have been a wash. Toral had, at that point, done no honorable deeds, engaged in no battles. Has he even passed the Age of Ascension?  (He looks 12. The actor playing him was 15 at the time, but Hollywood frequently hires child actors that look younger, so they can work longer.) Being that his father had wronged the House of Mogh, and Gowron had captured and given him to Worf to kill, it may have been considered honorable to kill him. Worf did not think so. Gowron and Kurn certainly did.

Some things I liked: Klingon politics. Always a sucker for that. I hate human IRL politics, but give me some of that good Klingon shit any day. I liked Data being forced to confront more android discrimination, because frankly, he's going to get that his entire career, and they shouldn't shy away from it. He's different, he's going to be treated badly because humans are not always on the same page, and that journey should be shown.

I like the introduction of Sela. She's interesting, she has a great backstory, and she's here to fuck up your shit. She's also a bit of a mirror to Worf: living between worlds, but she chooses one world defiantly over the other. Worf has picked up more human traits than he realizes. Sela purposefully pushes away her humanity.

Sela leads to my favorite part of this episode, which is that the ongoing storyline of Romulans-meddle-in-Klingon-affairs ripples outward, across several seasons of this show, and into others. We'll see Sela, Gowron, the Duras sisters, Toral and Kurn again in different episodes, and in films.
All in all, a good installment.



Fun Facts:

- Denise Crosby came up with the idea for Sela. She enjoyed doing "Yesterday's Enterprise" so much that she began thinking of other ways she could return to the series. In her original idea, she toyed with he idea of Yar getting together with Castillo, and ending getting pregnant before being captured. The fully-human baby would end up being raised by the Romulans. The writers liked the idea, but when they got back to her about it, they told her it made more sense for Sela to be half-Romulan.
- Like "Best of Both Worlds," the second half was not written until summer break, and the writers had no idea how the story would end.
- Ronald D Moore noted that they had a hard time incorporating Sela into the story, but that he needed some kind of Romulan connection. They kept hinting at the Romulans having done terrible things, but it hadn't been shown much at all. This way, Romulans-acting-badly could been seen in real time.
- The effects on the surface of the sun were created by vibrating oatmeal on a light table, shooting it in negative, and tinting it orange.
- Christopher Hobson was named or a long-time friend of Ronald D Moore. Crewmembers of the Sutherland Keith and Terry were named for Moore's brothers.
- This arc and the upcoming "Unification" arc are the only two-parters to not include the word "part" in their names. ("Redemption II," rather than "Redemption, Part II").
- Footage of the Excalibur is reused from "Yesterday's Enterprise."
- Footage of the Birds of Prey were reused from The One With the Whales.
- O'Brien serves as tactical officer here, which makes sense, as he had served as tactical officer on the Rutledge.
- Uncredited credit: Cliffton Jones played the helmsman on the Bortas in the first episode, and Keith on the Sutherland in the second.



- Michael Dorn liked the episode, but felt like they tried to pack too much into the story. He felt as though Data's experience on the Sutherland deserved its own episode.
- Fans asked Brent Spiner about being emotional on the Sutherland when Hobson opposes Data, but Spiner assured them that Data was not exhibiting emotion, but copying the tone of voice he had seen other commanding officers employing when in similar situations.

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Why does Pie have Human Face here?