Star Trek 673: Judgment

673. Judgment

FORMULA: The Undiscovered Country + Tribunal + A Matter of Perspective

WHY WE LIKE IT: Nostalgia for ST VI.

WHY WE DON'T: The escape.

REVIEW: Archer's being put on trial by the Klingons, and it's like a flashback(forward) to Star Trek VI. As much as I like that film and think it's cool to see the courtroom again, Judgment borrows perhaps a bit too much from it. It's not just the set, there's the whole idea of a kangaroo court and the commuted death sentence sending a Starfleet captain to Rura Penthe. Been there, done that, enjoyed it so don't mind visiting again, but it's never like it was the first time, was it?

We find out in flashbacks just what happened to get Archer there. Basically, while he was taking on refugees, he had to defend them from a Klingon attack (by Duras Son of Toral, how cute) and in so doing, defied the claim the Empire had on the refugees' colony. The way Duras tells it, they were dangerous rebels and Archer was an arrogant warmonger. Of course, putting a Duras in the role telegraphs the fact he's lying. That family will have a long history of deceit. Archer's own recollection sets things right, but doesn't give us much new information. I mean, we could tell where Duras was distorting the truth in the first place, and we simply get to see the action from the Enterprise's bridge instead of a third person POV. It's redundant, and also has some clumsy editing as we come back from commercial directly into the flashback.

The more interesting bits have to do with Archer's advocate, Kolos, played by J.G. Hertzler of Martok fame. Bit hard not to see Martok's ancestor there. I find such casting a bit distracting, personally. But he's as good as ever. Archer reminds him of his duty, appeals to his adversarial Klingon side, and allows him to regain his honor in a system that has become corrupt. Kolos has an interesting arc and his final solution, to call Archer a meddler by showing how he actually helped the Empire in the past, is a good one. How to save both Archer's life and the Empire's honor. But their relationship is also a way to contrast human and Klingon cultures. How can the latter ever respect the former if compassion is not valued in its society?

Of course, Archer is still sent to Rura Penthe, as is Kolos for contempt of court. The prison isn't as expansive as in ST VI, but the frozen caves look right (surely they haven't been dug out as much), and the matte shot is very cool. Unfortunately, escape from "the aliens' graveyard" is rather easy and unglamorous. Bribing a minor official? Sure, why not. Still, Archer and Reed just walk out as the guards take no notice.

LESSON: Every first contact with the Klingons is a bad first contact.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium: It looks good, and Hertzler certainly brings something to Kolos, but it borrows way too much from The Undiscovered Country to feel in any way fresh.


snell said...

I think the episode puts way too much pressure on the prequel conceit.

We suspend our disbelief readily enough for almost anything else Enterprise wants to show us--sure, the Fernegi never actually said they were Ferengi, that's good enough for me!

But surely this HAD to be an interstellar incident of the highest order! The captain of Earth's first starship is captured and condemned to a Klingon prison colony...that's like Christopher Columbus getting life in Guantanamo, and yet we've never heard a glimmer of it??

Plus, where's the follow up? The Klingon never notice prominent, politically sensitive prisoners are missing?!? They didn't notice when Earth government stopped haranguing for their release? Future Earth/Klingon relations aren't tainted by "where the hell is Archer?" arguments???

There are times when Enterprise wasn't any better than Voyager at actually following up on their ideas, on having any real kind of continuity. This episode was one of them.

Jayunderscorezero said...

I may have mentioned this before, but this episode is featured right alongside fellow ST:VI-influenced episode "Flashback" in a certain ST DVD collection, which really emphasises even further how much of a lift from ST:VI this is. And yes, that "escape" is the most amazing last-second cop-out.

Siskoid said...

While I agree with you about the lack of galactic consequences, Snell, the escape did have a follow-up. In fact, the two last episodes of the season have the Klingons running after Archer.

De said...

I had hoped that Reed might have beamed down to get a lock on Archer and the two of them beam out of there. It would explain the anti-transporter shield nearly 150 years later.


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