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."*


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 

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.

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Tea, Earl Grey: 0
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Awwww, yeah! Mona and Micelli are getting a home!