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Whenever Enterprise comes up I get annoyed, and the thought of "Judgement" just boils me over. The season two episode represents what Enterprise could have been had it continued along this path. Instead, low ratings sent executives in search of action/adventure to save the series and doomed the possibilities. How sad.
Nonetheless, our TOS introduction to Klingons left little wiggle room for consideration. They were soulless warmongers who preyed on the weak and looked for any excuse to provoke the Federation.
“I don’t trust Klingons and I never will,” Kirk signaled the call for us. Peace came nonetheless, and Chancellor Gorkon does give a hint that throwing down arms wasn't just a necessity.
The Heart of the Klingon Empire
Of course, we already had a healthy dose of Worf, and his devotion to duty, honor and bravery had certainly softened us. But how was the rest of his warrior race doing?
Not so well, according to the succession struggle that Worf found himself entangled in. Political intrigue, deception, and assassination make the Klingon race seem as though they needed a lesson from the human raised Worf.
But who says honor can’t be overtaken at the top echelons of any society?Thus, Worf’s decision to accept dis-commendation showed the foundation that the Klingon race rests on had not been abandoned by the base.
The core belief is reenforced by K’MPEC, who cannot deny the honorable sacrifice Worf has made. “Your heart truly is Klingon,” he showers awe.
A Day in the Life
We are moved too, but a more everyday look is revealed in a Matter of Honor. Riker taking his place in a cultural exchange mission, he is immediately challenged.
Second officer Klag doubts Riker’s loyalty. So the new first officer introduces the underlings head to the bridge console, and the rearranged hierarchy can proceed.
Pretty intriguing, and if we viewed the drama through Captain Kirk’s lens, we wouldn’t approve. But the structure of the Klingon rank and file is all about honor.
It’s easier to see when comparing human power struggles. The backstabbing and behind the scenes jockeying could simmer a crew to an ugly boil.
In contrast, Klingon issues are out front and the festering never occurs. The transparency is exemplified as Klag accepts his momentary dishonor, and everyone moves one
At the same time, we know Riker has mastered the Klingon way when he gives Captain Kargan a way out after his command folly. This has Riker deliberately taking one the chin and gaining a friend. “You understand Klingons better than I thought,” Klag praises.
On the other hand, you could see how the nuance could get away from the empire. So enter Enterprise to explain the digression, and how the empire got back on track.
Descent of the Klingon Empire
With Archer on trial for defending helpless refugees of the empire, we get a sense of the decay in the courtroom. Archer is given zero forum before a tribunal to make his case, and his once idealistic lawyer is a complacent complicator.
He does remember, though. “The courts were once more willing to listen,” Kolos asserts.
Unfortunately, Kolos has forgotten that honor doesn’t have an expiration date. “I'm an old man. Too old to challenge the rules,” he laments.
No doubt, Archer sees the crack, issues the challenge, and Kolos gets Archer a real day in court. Small steps, Archer’s testimony actually causes the jury to deliberate, and Kolos get the opportunity to consider the bigger picture.
“My father was a teacher. My mother, a biologist at the university. They encouraged me to take up the law. Now all young people want to do is take up weapons as soon as they can hold them. They're told there's honor in victory, any victory. What honor is there in a victory over a weaker opponent? Had Duras destroyed that ship he would have been lauded as a hero of the Empire for murdering helpless refugees. We were a great society not so long ago, when honor was earned through integrity and acts of true courage, not senseless bloodshed,” he digresses.
The Way Back and We Lose Our Way
No wonder Jim Kirk had his hands full, and while Archer escapes the death penalty, Kolos knows that justice hasn’t been done. He questions the tribunal’s honor and secures a place for himself at Rura Pente.
Of course, you hope Kolos has touched enough of a nerve that change immediately begins, and is saved from the gulag. But canon calls for a generation of war.
So the best we can do is plant the seed and Klingon's honor breaks the soil. “I spent the last twenty years holding my tongue, while honorable men were being sent to places like this without the benefit of a defense. And then I was assigned your case. You told me that on your world a few courageous people made a difference. I'm not sure I have the courage, but I know I'll never be able to restore honor to my people living as a fugitive,” Kolos implores.
Now that’s Star Trek, and I thought Enterprise was on its way. Instead we got insect aliens, the lobster head as a Nazi and yet another 9/11 allegory that slogged the NX-01 to an untimely death.
But what might have been.
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