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We stared into the untempered schism and all we saw was this dodgy CSO effect

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L.I. Underhill is a media critic and historian specializing in pop culture, with a focus on science fiction (especially Star Trek) and video games. Their projects include a critical history of Star Trek told through the narrative of a war in time, a “heretical” history of The Legend of Zelda series and a literary postmodern reading of Jim Davis' Garfield.

6 Comments

  1. them0vieblog.com
    October 19, 2014 @ 10:17 pm

    Nice piece.

    I suspect your "Korris and company are relics from the TOS era" may have been down to remembering The Emissary, the late second season episode which uses that as the background plot for the reunion between Worf and K'Ehleyr.

    Cheers,
    Darren

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  2. Dustin
    October 20, 2014 @ 2:06 am

    That wonderful scene with the VISOR interlink has stayed with me for I-don't-know-how-many years, and might be the oldest bit of Trek I can remember. Which had to have been on a repeat; I wasn't old enough to watch it on first transmission.

    As TNG's first Klingon episode, it resides in that fascinating overlap between the last of the original cast's films and the new series' explorations of Klingon culture. Gaps in Klingon history had yet to be filled by Star Trek VI, and the name "Khitomer" didn't yet resonate as a site of concord. It was a great choice for the film to take the site of Worf's tragedy and position it as the beginning of a rapprochement that laid the original series' shallow depictions of Klingons to rest.

    Do "Redemption" and the Klingon Civil War arc owe anything to "Kitumba"? I'm aware of Phase II but have no familiarity with any of its scripts.

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  3. Froborr
    October 20, 2014 @ 5:21 am

    Worf's concept of honor is, of course, the Muslim jihad, as you noted in your article on the episode of the same name.

    I've always felt that the disconnect between Worf's conception of what it means to be Klingon and your average DS9-era Klingon's conception comes down to most Klingons learning to be Klingon by emulating their parents, while Worf mostly learned to be Klingon by reading the great works of Klingon philosophy. Then compound that with his having to learn to be quiet and restrained because all the kids he grew up around were weaker and more fragile… it just makes sense to me that he's far more serious and contemplative, while characters like Martok and Gowron are more energetic and boisterous.

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  4. Josh Marsfelder
    October 20, 2014 @ 2:01 pm

    "Do 'Redemption' and the Klingon Civil War arc owe anything to 'Kitumba'? I'm aware of Phase II but have no familiarity with any of its scripts."

    Perhaps a little, though I'll be able to tell you better once I reach Season 5. IIRC one big difference is that "Redemption" (and most of Moore's Klingon stuff) has far more realpolitiking than "Kitumba", which was in its original form more about the differences between Klingon society and Kirk's Federation. Which is why it wouldn't have worked so well on The Next Generation, where an understanding and acceptance of other cultures is kinda supposed to exist by default.

    I wrote about "Kitumba" here as the culmination to my book on Star Trek Phase II: http://vakarangi.blogspot.com/2014/04/i-dont-botherto-live-my-life-as-if-im.html

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  5. K. Jones
    October 21, 2014 @ 10:04 am

    I'm fond of this episode, and do have a weird memory of it being more rough around the edges than it actually probably is. I'll admit, the reason I prefer Matter of Honor is precisely because it's about Riker (it's probably the first ever 5-Star Riker episode).

    It was important for them to explore Worf, and subvert expectations of a Klingon in Starfleet. And certainly this episode is one of the launching points for a ton of Worf's later developments, whether continuing themes from this one or kind of walking them back a little.

    Later, when we get to 'The Neutral Zone' I intend to delve fully into my massive problems with how the cultural and adversarial roles of the TNG Klingons and Romulans were flip-flopped. This episode, the fact that it does feel a bit like a TOS era bit of Klingonery, doesn't suffer from the comparison as much.

    But really, narratively, making the Klingons the "honorable parallel culture" and the Romulans the mustache twirling deceptive archnemeses is entirely antithetical to their original conceptions. And a huge disservice to all the work Fontana and others did with Nimoy's Spock and Lenard's Commander and the other Romulans we met and rather liked, as opposed to the more blatantly evil Klingons.

    We can't even really blame the films for this change – all the films did was enhance the Klingon face makeup to be properly alien and give them fancy uniforms – it didn't actually add the whole "warrior poet society" thing. Commander Kruge was entirely akin to Kor and Kang and Koloth. But as we'll see next season, and in Star Trek 6, things are about to be changed.

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  6. Josh Marsfelder
    October 21, 2014 @ 12:12 pm

    While I of course agree that the TNG-era Romulans are a massive disservice and a terrible missed opportunity (…most of the time) and have my own piece I want to say about that, don't you think some of the warrior poetry stuff as it pertains to the Klingons can be attributed to episodes like "Day of the Dove" and "Kitumba"? Both of those stories had very strong motifs about the meaning of honour and the warrior archetype.

    Worth saving for "The Neutral Zone" probably, but when I think of Romulans now I think more of things like duty, aesthetics and sensuality, not so much the warrior archetype.

    (Really, really enjoy all your comments and musings, BTW. I know I don't respond or dialog with them all that often, but that's mostly because I can't think of anything to add.)

    Reply

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