Star Trek: Enterprise: Judgment   Rewatch 
June 3, 2019 11:24 AM - Season 2, Episode 19 - Subscribe

In a shocking twist, Archer is arrested and accused of a crime, but this time he did do it. Sort of.

Memory Alpha has a lot of details, including that this was reportedly Scott Bakula’s favorite episode of ENT:

Background information
Story and script
> The alien species was revealed in a production report to be called the Arin'Sen.
> While writing this episode, David A. Goodman tried to include as many Star Trek: The Next Generation-era Klingon-related continuity references in this installment as he possibly could. He was very pleased that most of these remained in the episode, instead of being edited out. Having an enjoyment of linking Star Trek: Enterprise with the other Star Trek series, Goodman liked writing this episode in general.
> This episode's final draft script was submitted on 16 January 2003.
> Dominic Keating said of the episode, "It was quite fun sneaking up on Scott Bakula, and wearing a fur pelt was quite a lark."

Cast and characters
> J.G. Hertzler (Kolos) and John Vickery (Orak) previously appeared in DS9: "The Changing Face of Evil", "When It Rains..." and "Tacking Into the Wind" together. They played Martok and Rusot, respectively. Daniel Riordan (Duras) previously played a Bajoran guard in DS9: "Progress".
> Scott Bakula and J.G. Hertzler (as John Hertzler) appear together in the Quantum Leap episode "Sea Bride".

> This episode features several obviously intentional parallels to Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country: the captain of the Enterprise being tried in a Klingon court for crimes against the Empire, the appearance of the courtroom, the judge's talon-like glove and sphere-shaped gavel, a ruthless prosecutor (though Orak, at least, wasn't prosecuting someone else for his own crime, unlike Chang), an honorable defense advocate, (played by an actor better known for playing another Klingon from a later century), and the captain being convicted but having his death sentence commuted to life imprisonment on Rura Penthe (and ultimately escaping with the help of his crew). There are also many parallels to DS9's "Tribunal", with Kolos taking the place of both Conservator Kovat and Odo, the magistrate and Prosecutor Orak taking the place of Chief Archon Makbar, and Archer taking the place of Miles O'Brien.
> The disease mentioned by Dr. Phlox, Xenopolycythemia, is what later afflicted Leonard McCoy in TOS: "For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky".
> Duras, son of Toral, is an ancestor of 24th century Klingons Ja'rod, Duras, Lursa, B'Etor, and Toral, all of whom were considered traitors to the Empire. The 22nd century Duras' pattern of forehead ridges are identical to those of his 24th century namesakes.
> Ty'Gokor, from DS9: "Apocalypse Rising", is mentioned. J.G. Hertzler also appeared in that episode, playing a Changeling posing as Martok, and James L. Conway directed both that episode and this one.
> Kolos mentions Archer's good deeds towards the Klingon Empire, as seen in the first season episodes "Broken Bow" and "Sleeping Dogs".
> This is the first time in the Star Trek chronology that painstiks and bloodwine are seen.
> Of all the episode's references to past Star Trek productions, the script notes only that the set of the Klingon tribunal chamber of this episode is "similar to the one in Star Trek VI".
Duras' ship, the IKS Bortas, would, like Duras himself, have a 24th century namesake. The 22nd century Duras commanding a ship of that name is something of an irony, since the 24th century Bortas would serve as flagship of the forces fighting against the House of Duras during the Klingon Civil War.
> Though never stated in dialogue, the script states that the trial took place on Narendra III. This, too, is something of an irony, as 192 years later, another ship named Enterprise would be lost, defending the Klingon outpost (possibly, the one depicted in this episode) on the planet from an attack by the Romulan Star Empire, an act of courage which greatly improved relations between the Klingon Empire and the United Federation of Planets.
> The term "warrior caste", used in this episode, has never been used to describe Klingons before, nor has any other caste-based system been previously attributed to them. It was used later in both "Affliction" and "Divergence", by Dr. Antaak, to describe his family. It's unclear if the term would persist into later centuries. The term was more commonly used as one section of the Minbari race on the series Babylon 5. John Vickery, who plays Orak in this episode, appeared in several episodes of that series as Neroon, a prominent member of the Minbari warrior caste.
> Kolos expresses concerns that the warrior caste is neglecting Kahless' teachings and manufacturing bloody "victories" for the sake of personal glory. In DIS: "The Vulcan Hello", T'Kuvma believes that these are among the reasons the Klingon Empire has stagnated by 2256.

> David A. Goodman stated, "A lot of people had problems with that episode, but in general I'm very proud of it."
> Scott Bakula cited the episode as his favorite, particularly appreciating Archer's line to Kolos that, after three World Wars, a few Humans realized they could make a difference.

Memorable quotes
"I wasn't sure if I'd find you alive."
"They promised me a trial before the execution."
- Phlox visits Archer in his cell on Narendra III

"I hope they're not the jury."
"There is no jury."
- Archer to Kolos on the Klingons chanting in the courtroom

"Who's that?"
"Prosecutor Orak. His success is well known."
"What about you? What's your success rate?"
"I've performed my duty."
- Archer and Kolos

"What is it?"
"Blood wine. It should help make the wait more pleasant."
Archer considers the flask, drinks from it, then tries to control his negative reaction.
"What's it the blood of?"
Kolos chuckles.
"Don't feel badly if you can't stomach it."
"I didn't say that!"
- Archer and his Klingon advocate, Kolos, awaiting the return of the verdict

"You didn't believe all Klingons were soldiers?"
"I guess I did."
"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 to take up weapons as soon as they can hold them. They're told there is 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."
"For thousands of years, my people had similar problems. We fought three world wars that almost destroyed us. Whole generations were nearly wiped out."
"What changed?"
"A few courageous people began to realize… they could make a difference."
- Kolos and Archer

"Perhaps I spent too much time in the law library and not enough in the battlefield."
- Kolos

"Our ships run on dilithium, not talk!"
- Rura Penthe guard, insisting that Kolos and Archer get back to work

This Week In:
* Pointless STO Comparisons: Rura Penthe is still in operation in the MMO’s time period, roughly 30 years after VOY ended. (Sadly, I find nothing implausible about this.)
* Vulcans Are Superior: T’Pol has connections in the Klingon government.
* Non-Catastrophic Equipment Failures: None.
* Aliens Outclass Enterprise: The Klingons in ENT are much more dangerous than Starfleet, although their sensors are apparently just as bad.

Poster’s Log:
The last time we saw work by David A. Goodman, it was the execrable Precious Cargo. I suppose he actually did learn stuff by this point: Judgment is pretty watchable. We have some pretty good rousing speeches. We have that kickass Klingon gavel, which I absolutely need if I ever return to running TTRPGs. We have J.G. Hertzler, who elevates pretty much any scene he’s ever in, and he and Bakula are a pretty good dramatic pairing.

This is very competently executed. The main problem with that is simply that we've seen it so many times before: the parts of this that work are, as mentioned at MA, basically just lifted from ST:VI. Beyond that, 'Archer is arrested' has become a massive ENT cliche. The only real twist here is that Archer is at least technically guilty in this instance.

Something else I have mixed feelings about, rather than negative ones is that because ENT is a prequel, Judgment comes across as pretty hopeless at the end: Kolos may or may not survive prison, but we know he will not make a difference. The Klingons remain corrupt and authoritarian for the duration of content shown in the franchise. We know the Federation and the Klingons will go to war repeatedly. Maybe worst of all, we know the Duras family will go on to become a major power later. So this wants to be hopeful, it wants to be about people making a difference, but it actually ends up being pretty dour. To me, the lesson of the story is that one clueless, hopeful white guy making a speech about things he doesn't understand won’t change the world.

I... actually agree with that message, but it being the exact opposite of what they appeared to be trying to say feels like maybe peak ENT.

Apologies for being late posting as well. No burnout, just a busy week wherein I didn't complete this ahead of Sunday. (These are normally written a few days in advance in case I think of anything else to complain about after I've mulled them over.) We’re almost to at least one episode I was legitimately looking forward to.
posted by mordax (13 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
So this wants to be hopeful, it wants to be about people making a difference, but it actually ends up being pretty dour. To me, the lesson of the story is that one clueless, hopeful white guy making a speech about things he doesn't understand won’t change the world.

Yes. This had all it needed to be a really good episode - good script, good story, good acting, etc., except that it leaned so heavily on referencing later Trek that it undermines itself. We know what the Duras family becomes. We know that Kirk and McCoy will stand in the same spot and have a similar mock trial in later years, and that they will be spirited off Rura Pente. We know that the Klingon Empire remains corrupt, placing limited value on the truth, well into the future.

So, yeah. We know nothing is going to change for a few centuries here, so why try to give us the hopeful speech about change and possibility? Maybe just note that the Klingon Empire is a really problematic place that has lost its way and leave us with the knowledge that sometimes change is very slow, if it comes at all.
posted by nubs at 1:33 PM on June 3, 2019 [2 favorites]

why try to give us the hopeful speech about change and possibility?

I've been thinking about this a bit, and I think that beyond the bro-ness of the B&B era, there's something else going on: the franchise is increasingly Flanderized over time.

TOS is pretty morally murky: it's been awhile, but it's my recollection that Kirk frequently questions the effects his own actions have. He's a reasonably thoughtful person making tough calls far from backup. (I liked Kirk as a thinker as a boy, not a Gorn-puncher or space opera ladies' man.)

By TNG, we have this whole 'no, no, everything's perfect' vibe being pushed. In the background, we see that it's not true in stories like The Measure Of A Man, Drumhead and I, Borg, offering us some subtlety, but it's easy for a less discerning viewer to miss the nuance and questions in favor of what is simply being bluntly told to us.

DS9 dodges this by dodging the suits, but in VOY/ENT, we have people aping earlier stories while generally missing what made those stories great. Goodman can copy ST:VI, but he didn't know why I liked that one, but am iffy on the remake - the larger context clearly went over his head. (If nothing else, in ST:VI, things do change. It does matter. That's why Chang and Valeris and so on are fighting it so hard.)

So by this point in the bigger picture of the franchise, the whole 'humans are #1' has hit the point where Archer is in space so everyone can learn from us instead of it being about mutual understanding even though this is set in an era where that should absolutely not be true within canon, even leaving aside 'we know how the Klingons turn out.'
posted by mordax at 1:50 PM on June 3, 2019 [2 favorites]

I'll give this episode credit both for pushing against the Planet of Hats trope WRT the Klingons (in the bit that you quote above with Kolos talking about his parents being non-warriors), and in Archer at least hinting that humans didn't become angels overnight. But, as noted, going this way just means that the Klingons have shitty governance at least up to the time of Martok. It would have been something else if the show had decided to flip the Bad Vulcans thing that they have going on and given us Good (or at least Honorable) Klingons. They could also have paid a bit closer attention to Archer's account of "a few courageous people" and maybe filled in some more blanks between Earth's First Contact and the time of ENT. (I'd like to think that one of the motivating factors in what we could call the Human Renaissance was something like shame at the first (official) meeting with another sentient species coming shortly after we'd tried to destroy each other, again. Kind of like your new next door neighbors meeting you when they stop by your apartment the night after you've trashed the place.)

Another way that they could have gone is to have Kolos be the one to establish a Klingon colony outside the Empire. The official line may be that subjects of the Empire don't have the choice to leave, but, on the other hand, they also have discommendation for citizens, which implies that Klingons themselves can leave. (We saw in VOY's "Prophecy" that they can even take Klingon starships with them.) I'd like to believe that Kolos got out and did so.

One other note: good to see John Vickery; I enjoyed him as Gul Rusot (well, I enjoyed seeing Rusot get what was coming to him) on DS9.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:40 PM on June 3, 2019 [2 favorites]

Another way that they could have gone is to have Kolos be the one to establish a Klingon colony outside the Empire.

That also could've been interesting, since it doesn't go against established canon. I feel like if we have to have prequels, finding unexplored spaces to do interesting things is one way to keep the whole thing fresh.

One other note: good to see John Vickery

Yeah. :)

He was a fine choice to be pitted against Hertzler for oration - it gave the court scene more tension than if they'd had a lesser scenery-chewer in opposition. (And yeah, Rusot was a good villain. So was Neroon, back when, hehe.)
posted by mordax at 2:44 PM on June 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

I love this episode! Not so much for the episode itself (which is fine), but for what it begins to establish about the Klingons. I am sure this is debatable, but I think it completely upends how we should think about their history.

There's nothing I love more than civilian Klingons. Klingon lawyers are tossed at us every so often, Enterprise will give us a Klingon doctor in season 4, and of course, everyone loves the Klingon chef on DS9. Civilian Klingons are fun because they're so unexpected. Even though they're rarely seen, they obviously have to exist in great number. Only a small part of the Empire can be made up of soldiers. There are only so many Birds of Prey. And Klingons are a warp-capable civilization, after all; someone had to invent that stuff. (Sometimes people claim that Klingons stole their warp technology from an invading species called the Hur'q. That's stated in the manual to the video game Klingon Academy from 2000 but nowhere else.)

Civilian Klingons raise so many questions! How exactly does a Klingon carpenter expect to get into Sto-Vo-Kor? Do Klingon chefs feel like failures for not fighting on the front lines? Where are all the Klingon nerds?

This episode is the first real look we get into the mind of a civilian Klingon (the Klingon doctor in season 4 provides another look). I love that Kolos chides Archer and the viewer for thinking of the Klingons as a one-note race. And then what he reveals is super exciting to me. He tells us that nearly everything we know about the Klingons is a modern phenomenon. Honor and combat have always been important parts of the Empire, but it's only very recently that the warrior caste has managed a wholesale political and cultural takeover, placing combat at the center of Klingon life. There used to be many ways to be a Klingon and to live and die with honor, but Gowron-type fascists changed all that. Now, Kolos complains, you can't find honor in being a lawyer: you can only find honor by doing battle.

Kolos is complaining about a shift in Klingon values and self-image. I don't think we've ever seen Klingons without that self-image. In all the other series, we see Klingons only when the warrior caste takeover has been completed. When Worf crowns Martok at the end of DS9, I don't think that the future they look forward to is substantially different from the one that Kolos dreads. It's still steeped in a warrior-first image. There is something really resonant in seeing Kolos despair over having lost the nerds vs. jocks culture war and knowing that that loss will shape the whole civilization for centuries.

I like that Enterprise suggests that the alien cultures we know can change over the centuries. Their take on the Vulcans is a mixed bag, but I consider this take a pretty big success. I love that the show hints at an earlier Klingon civilization that is more peaceful and less single-minded, where being a chef is as honorable as being a warrior.

This goes a little further than what's in the episode, but I like to think that the Klingon cultural rot started to take place once the Empire hit a post-scarcity level. At that point, there was nothing that needed to be done, so the culture needed a goal to give them purpose; the warrior caste won and Klingons settled on fighting as their purpose. Other professions, no longer necessary, became disreputable. Once no one needs to be a carpenter, who cares whether Klingon carpenters get into Sto-Vo-Kor? (I really like the idea that the reason that there are so many one-note alien races in Star Trek is that that's what naturally happens to post-scarcity civilizations. With survival no longer in question, cultures have to invent new goals and they then converge on a single arbitrary goal. Admittedly, this would be more compelling if the Planet of the Hats trope were true of only post-scarcity civilizations and not of every planet the Enterprise lands on.)
posted by painquale at 3:28 AM on June 4, 2019 [7 favorites]

> Kolos expresses concerns that the warrior caste is neglecting Kahless' teachings and manufacturing bloody "victories" for the sake of personal glory. In DIS: "The Vulcan Hello", T'Kuvma believes that these are among the reasons the Klingon Empire has stagnated by 2256.

I wonder if that was meant to parallel the speech the Cardassian gave Ensign Sito in TNG's "Lower Decks" about his motivation for passing secrets to the Federation.

Good points all around there. With Worf, there is definitely a sense over the course of TNG that he moved away from the mentality that only through victory in battle can one find honor. By the end, he had definitely moved on to a "honor is found by fighting the struggle within." Do you think that kind of realization came from his time with humans?
posted by Fukiyama at 8:08 AM on June 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

This episode is the first real look we get into the mind of a civilian Klingon

So there are a lot of good points in what you had to say - civilian Klingons are indeed an interesting proposition - but this is still a place where ENT isn't innovating. IIRC, the first Klingon civilian who ever got a spotlight was in DS9's Rules of Engagement, where Worf was tried for the alleged destruction of a civilian transport. His adversary is a Klingon lawyer who talks about all this years before ENT was ever a thing.

Gotta stick with my initial take: Judgment is very watchable, (seriously!), but it's all lifted from earlier properties rather than breaking new ground here, and that's a shame.
posted by mordax at 9:04 AM on June 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

(Also, my bad for not linking that in the post. I feel I dropped the ball missing the comparison until your comment got me thinking. Last week really was pretty slammed.)
posted by mordax at 9:06 AM on June 4, 2019

the first Klingon civilian who ever got a spotlight was in DS9's Rules of Engagement

Yeah, and played by Ron Canada too! Being a civilian Klingon is a particularly Canadian way of being a Klingon.

I might be misremembering, but I recall that guy being pretty martial. He wanted to vanquish Sisko and was still pretty committed to the warrior ethos. He's a product of the jocks having won the culture war centuries earlier. (Was he self-hating because he wasn't a warrior? I don't remember.)

I think the shows give us lots of lawyer Klingons because court is a metaphorical battlefield and it's pretty easy to import the combat-focused values that Trek has already established. It's harder to imagine that disposition being imported to all other professions. (Does the Klingon chef think of himself as vanquishing those gag'h worms? As conquering flavor?) I don't think DS9 really dug into the civilian Klingon problem too deeply, and not as much as this episode does. And it definitely never suggested that Klingon culture used to be vastly different.

By the end, [Worf] had definitely moved on to a "honor is found by fighting the struggle within." Do you think that kind of realization came from his time with humans?

Totally! He's still a warrior to the end though.

I wish DS9 showed a little more of Worf's growth along these dimensions. That show dropped the ball with him, IMO. In season 4, he was a buffoon who didn't understand how the station worked. Then his plotlines revolved around his love connections with Jadzia and Ezri, and he often played the traditional Klingon in order to act as a counterpart to his free-spirited wife. He could have been put to such better use! When Garak and Quark were grousing about the Federation, his viewpoint would have been super interesting to hear. And can you imagine Kira going off at him over whether there's any glory to be found in combat? It could have been great!
posted by painquale at 10:50 AM on June 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

And it definitely never suggested that Klingon culture used to be vastly different.

Mm. Okay, that's fair.

That show dropped the ball with him, IMO.

I do agree there as well. Worf was actually my favorite character on TNG for a long time, (Picard surpassed him at Starship Mine because 'Die Hard Picard' was amazing), but it had to do with him being a pretty effective portrayal of a deracinated adoptee attempting to reconnect with a culture he'd only read about. Worf is naive in a way that I recognize. Not from my own perspective so much, (being biracial and raised mostly among white people, I identify with B'Ellana the most out of any character in the franchise - like me, she seems to regard every tradition as up for critique), but there were a lot of beats there I've seen in others that Michael Dorn did a great job with.

And DS9 did sorta waste that in the ways you laid out, and it really is a shame.
posted by mordax at 11:56 AM on June 4, 2019 [2 favorites]

I tend to think that Worf's somewhat lowered profile on DS9 was due more to their being more storylines involving recurring characters, as well as that he'd already had seven seasons on TNG to develop his character--remember that he's the character that had the most appearances, by far, in the entire franchise. Not bad for a guy who was originally intended only as a recurring character and who's listed in the original TNG bible as a "Klingon Marine.") And, for all the time he spends as a foil for Jadzia, moping about Jadzia's death, and wondering what Ezri means to him, he also ends up helping to change the Klingon government, again (after TNG's Klingon civil war).
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:56 AM on June 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

Maybe DS9 didn't develop Worf much in terms of his sociopolitical thinking (though it did a bit), but I'd defend their handling of the character inasmuch as they gave him more wit, more layers to his personality, than TNG generally permitted him to have. But in a way, that's part of the fun of Worf-era DS9: we know him as always so serious and dour, and a change in scenery for him could quite plausibly bring out his lighter side—ya know, taking off that "flagship" pressure.

I still say there needs to be a Worf sequel of some kind. Or Worf is Admiral Picard's galaxy-traipsing buddy on the new show, backing him up while he solves mysteries or whatever.

Back to this one (I deliberately skipped the last one):

I feel like Kolos should've said, "What's a jury?"

I wouldn't have been half as irritated by all the borrowing in here—TUC, "Tribunal," and don't forget Rashomon because no TV writer ever has—if they'd just decided to consign Archer to anyplace in the friggin' empire other than Rura Penthe.

That being said, I did smile at one subtle but pleasing callback: the POV shot on Enterprise's viewscreen of the torpedo being fired by the Klingon ship was framed just like the old TOS shot of a D7 firing a torpedo.

And Hertzler deserves Kudos for Kolos' impassioned "the whole Klingon system is outta order!" speech. That was some acting there. Too often, this show comes off as over-rehearsed, stiff, and consequently under-emotional.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 2:54 PM on June 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

Dominic Keating said of the episode, "It was quite fun sneaking up on Scott Bakula, and wearing a fur pelt was quite a lark."

Keating's quotes are so hilariously actor quotes, where he just clearly loves loves loves to act. It's like he could have a role standing motionless in the rain for an hour and he'd just love it and be having a blast.
posted by fleacircus at 7:11 AM on October 31, 2019

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