The Great Star Trek Enterprise Rewatch: Judgment

Captain Archer is on trial. The Klingons believe that he aided a group of rebels, and they are determined to mete out a suitable punishment. Can Archer get his side of the story heard?

I guess every series needs its courtroom drama episode, and Enterprise has chosen to do it Klingon style. Star Trek courtroom dramas have varied greatly in quality over the years, from the excellent Measure of a Man to the dull Rules of Engagement, and even the budget-saving The Menagerie. Judgment is on the weaker end of the spectrum – mostly it feels as if someone watched Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country and decided to make an entire episode out of Kirk and McCoy’s trial. The result is overly filled with tropes, and requires a rushed ending to get everything back to the status quo ready for next time.

Tropes

  • JG Hertzler plays yet another grizzled old Klingon.
  • Kolos is jaded and cynical until his resolve is renewed by his encounter with Archer’s human determination.
  • The whole trial is clearly set up to favour the prosecution and not really care about the innocent hero.
  • The hero’s past deeds and strong oratorial skills are enough to earn him the respect of his enemies.
  • No matter what, there’s always someone who can be bribed to help the main character escape.

Franchise nods

  • Archer and Kolos are sentenced to hard labour on Rura Penthe, just as Kirk and McCoy were in Star Trek VI. Many elements of the courtroom and the trial are also much the same, including the spherical ‘gavel’.
  • The commander of the Bortas is a man named Duras, who is meant to be an ancestor of the Duras family seen in TNG.
  • Archer gets to taste some well known Klingon delicacies, such as targ meat and blood wine.
  • Archer is subdued by the application of painstiks. Kinky.
  • Phlox pretends that Archer is suffering from polycythemia. In For The World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky, Bones was genuinely suffering from this condition.

Other points

  • I can’t remember what happens next with the Klingons, but aren’t they going to be generally pissed off that Archer escaped Rura Penthe? Relations with the Klingons are strained enough as it is.
  • This episode refers to a ‘warrior caste’ – this idea of a caste system is not seen in later centuries (although it could of course be a mistranslation from the Universal Translator). It is the first time, however, that the specific point is made that not all Klingons are warriors – there are lawyers, teachers and scientists, for example.
  • As always, isn’t it self-defeating for Klingons to generally kill their officers for making a single mistake? Those officers might otherwise be generally competent, and a lot of time and effort has been invested in training them.

Summary – Judgment: The Klingon courtroom drama.

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