Lion of the Blogosphere

Star Trek: TOS, S02E11 “Friday’s Child”

This is the second episode in which Klingons appeared. Unlike Errand of Mercy, “Friday’s Child” is mostly mediocre and forgettable. There isn’t much of a deeper philosophy underlying the episode as there is in the better TOS episodes.

In this episode, the Enterprise is ordered to “Capella,” a planet occupied by primitive tribesmen, where Kirk is to obtain a mining treaty with the natives for the rare mineral “topaline.”

(Once again, this brings up the question of how a primitive tribe can be authorized to sign a treaty for an entire huge planet. Surely there must be thousands of small tribes of the kind that Kirk deals with in this episode. Any “treaty” obtained under these circumstances is reminiscent of the Dutch buying Manhattan for a bunch of worthless trinkets. It has never been certain that the Dutch gave the trinkets to the correct Indian tribes—in other words the tribes with the best claim to “own” Manhattan despite the natives being too primitive to have deeds and land ownership.)

* * *

In a pre-mission briefing, it is revealed that Doctor McCoy previously spent time on this planet. We assume this was in the Federation version of the Peace Corps. McCoy explains:

They’re quite large. Seven feet tall is not unusual. They’re extremely fast and strong. Lieutenant?
(Uhura turns on a monitor) Make no mistake. They can be highly dangerous. The Capellans’ basic weapon, the kligat. At any distance up to a hundred yards, they can make it almost as effective against a man as a phaser.
(On the monitor, we see McCoy being given a demonstration in which a small sapling is cut in half by one of these hand-thrown objects.)

By the way, whatever happened to the Prime Directive? I thought the Federation is only allowed to secretly observe alien cultures, and never to interfere with them by revealing themselves as aliens from outer space?

* * *

Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and a security guard in a red uniform beam down to the planet. Shortly after meeting up with the Capellans, we see a Klingon hanging out with them! The security guard in the red uniform shouts “A Klingon!” and he draws his phaser. Then, to protect their Klingon guest, a Capellan throws his kligat at the security guard, and he dies.

This death is unintentionally funny. The original intent was to demonstrate the dangerous nature of the situation that Kirk is in and make the episode feel more suspenseful. Unfortunately, the writers of the original series used this plot device over and over and over again, always killing off a security guard in a red uniform. Star Trek fans caught onto the pattern, and it became a running joke among trekkies. As reported in the Star Trek wiki, “The icon of the doomed redshirted crewman has to an extent nestled itself in the awareness of the general public and has been translated into a number of other pop culture and literary media and parodies.”

* * *

Kirk and the Klingon are both explaining their positions to the Capellans.

The Klingon says: “What do Earth men offer you? What have you obtained from them in the past? Powders and liquids for the sick? We Klingons believe as you do. The sick should die. Only the strong should live. Earthmen have promised to teach the youth of your tribes many things. What? What things? Cleverness against enemies? The use of weapons?”

Kirk responds: “The Earth Federation offers one other thing, Akaar. Our laws. And the highest of all our laws states that your world is yours and will always remain yours. This differs us from the Klingons. Their empire is made up of conquered worlds. They take what they want by arms and force.”

This exchange demonstrates an advantage that Klingons have in dealing with alien species compared to the Federation. The Klingons accept the aliens the way they are. If the aliens think the sick should die and they only care about warfare and not science or medicine, the Klingons are happy to oblige them. The Federation, on the other hand, wants to impose their values onto the aliens (the very opposite of the supposed Prime Directive which preaches non-interference with pre-warp-technology alien cultures).

Kirk gives the Capellans the same spiel he gave to the Organians in “Errand of Mercy.” The Klingons are the bad guys! Don’t you understand?

It didn’t work on the Organians, and it doesn’t work on the Capellans either. If not for a series of unlikely circumstances and lucky breaks as the plot of this episode unwinds, the Klingon would have secured the mining treaty and Kirk would have left empty-handed. Why does Starfleet keep sending Kirk on these diplomatic missions when he’s such a bad diplomat?

This exchange has a lesson for the current-day world situation. The Chinese are going to eventually have more influence among the Third World nations than the United States, because the Chinese are less preachy and don’t care about imposing Western values onto Third World governments which don’t want them.

* * *

Up in space, Scotty is in charge of the Enterprise. When I was a kid, I always thought it was cool when Scotty was left in charge. I liked his no-nonsense attitude towards command, bolstered by actor James Doohan’s overdone fake Scottish accent. And you know what? It’s still cool to see Scotty in charge of the Enterprise.

The Enterprise is lured away from the planet because the Klingons broadcast a fake distress call from a Federation freighter. Apparently, the Enterprise lacks the technology to tell the difference between a genuine Federation distress call and one faked by the Klingons. Even though the distress signal was made to sound fake to the people viewing at home.

It’s a standard plot device in Star Trek episodes to concoct some reason for why the Enterprise has to leave the landing party stranded down on the planet.

When the Klingons then try to trick Scotty with a second fake distress signal, Scott explains his decision to ignore it to the bridge crew:

There’s an old, old saying on Earth, Mister Sulu. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

That’s the one line from this episode which I’ve always remembered. And it’s a great life lesson.

* * *

The previous “teer” (leader of the tribe) is killed in an insurrection led by Maab, the Capellan who is friends with the Klingon.

Eleen, the tall blonde wife of the previous teer, who is pregnant with the baby of the previous teer, is to be killed according to Capellan custom.

The Klingon, of course, is fine with this. But Kirk, who despite being alpha, is a pathological white knight, gets into a fight with the Capellans to prevent her death. After Kirk, Spock and McCoy lose the fight, Eleen, instead of feeling any gratitude towards Kirk, demands that Kirk be killed for touching her in the process of saving her life and thus violating their customs. No good deed by a white knight goes unpunished!

But don’t worry. Instead of being killed right away, Kirk and crew and Eleen are put into a poorly guarded hut from which they are easily able to escape.

* * *

Eleen refuses to let McCoy treat her pregnancy because no man is allowed to touch the wife of a former teer. Every time McCoy touches her, Eleen slaps him in the face. McCoy finally responds by giving her a good hard slap to the face in return. After that, Eleen’s whole attitude towards McCoy changes. She now sees McCoy as her protector, and even offers to give her baby to him. As Roissy would put it, McCoy passed her shit test and asserted his male dominance over her.

There’s a lesson that you would never see on modern TV, that sometimes you need to strike a woman in order to get her to behave.

Later in the episode, Kirk asks McCoy how he got her to allow him to touch her. McCoy explains that he gave her a “right cross.” Instead of court-martialing him for assaulting a pregnant woman, Kirk good naturedly comments, “Never seen that in a medical book.”

* * *

The reason I chose this episode to re-watch is because I wanted to explore how Klingons were depicted in the original series.

Unlike Kor in “Errand of Mercy,” who was an interesting enemy played by John Colicos, a character actor who excelled at playing sci-fi villains, the Klingon in this episode is nothing but a one-dimensional foil for Kirk. As the episode progresses, the Klingon is shown to be a beta-male bitch whom we disdain in comparison to the more noble and alpha Kirk. When Kirk challenges him to a fight, Maab, the new Capellan teer, “sees the fear in the Klingon’s eyes.” After a long march, the Klingon is shown to be out of breath while the Capellans are physically unfazed (this was done subtly, a nice touch). Eventually, the Klingon fears for his safety as he realizes that he has lost all esteem in the eyes of the Capellans, and in a cowardly manner he steals his phaser from them and uses it against them.

This episode is another example of the discontinuity between the Klingons of the original series and the Klingons of DS9. The latter Klingons are courageous to the point of foolishness, desiring death in battle rather than being afraid of it. It would also be out of character for the DS9 Klingons to “dishonor” themselves by bringing a phaser to a knife fight. They were also very physically fit.

Also, using fake distress signals seems like a deception that the DS9 Klingons would frown upon.

The Klingons of the original series are more believable as a technologically advanced military dictatorship. I am sure that in the army of the Soviet Union, there were a few officers who were afraid to die and weren’t in good enough shape to handle a long march without getting out of breath.

* * *

Using the Dungeons and Dragons alignment system, I would say that the Capellans are Lawful Neutral (they adhere to a strict code of behavior), the Klingon is Neutral Evil, and Kirk is Chaotic Good (without wisdom or restraint, he immediately acts to save the life of the pregnant woman).

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

February 7, 2017 at 2:09 pm

Posted in Television

19 Responses

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  1. They weren’t “worthless trinkets” – they were useful things like axes and muskets. You can get a replica of the contract at the federal building downtown.

    Dave Pinsen

    February 7, 2017 at 4:14 pm

  2. “Surely there must be thousands of small tribes of the kind that Kirk deals with in this episode.”

    It’s not necessary to get unanimous consent from all of them. Only a workable treaty with some representative. And this was probably the dominant tribe in the region.
    *
    We assume this was in the Federation version of the Peace Corps.

    Liberals just love the Peace Corps. It gives them a chance to travel to exotic places while virtue signalling. What could be better than that? I’ve known missionaries who were almost as bad.
    *
    I thought the Federation is only allowed to secretly observe alien cultures, and never to interfere with them by revealing themselves as aliens from outer space?

    They’d already been exposed to aliens and advanced technology.
    *
    The Federation, on the other hand, wants to impose their values onto the aliens

    Liberals.
    *
    The Klingons are the bad guys! Don’t you understand?

    Yep. Liberals.
    *
    This exchange has a lesson for the current-day world situation. The Chinese are going to eventually have more influence among the Third World nations than the United States, because the Chinese are less preachy and don’t care about imposing Western values onto Third World governments which don’t want them.

    That had crossed my mind.
    *
    “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” That’s the one line from this episode which I’ve always remembered. And it’s a great life lesson.

    I saw this episode as a kid. and that line made an impression on me as well.
    *
    But Kirk, who despite being alpha, is a pathological white knight, gets into a fight with the Capellans to prevent her death. After the Kirk, Spock and McCoy lose the fight, Eleen, instead of feeling any gratitude towards Kirk, demands that Kirk be killed for touching her in the process of saving her life and thus violating their customs. No good deed by a white knight goes unpunished!

    I remember thinking the same things while watching this episode as a kid. I learned a lot from Star Trek — though rarely the lessons they intended!
    *
    As Roissy would put it, McCoy passed her shit test and asserted his male dominance over her.There’s a lesson that you would never see on modern TV, that sometimes you need to strike a woman in order to get her to behave.

    Yes. But that’s not advisable in today’s social, political and legal climate. Today a man needs to be stoic enough not to be baited and have enough self-respect not to put up with it.
    *
    This episode is another example of the discontinuity between the Klingons of the original series and the Klingons of DS9.

    They mentioned that in one of the later ST franchises. Worf said something to the affect of “We don’t talk about that.”

    destructure

    February 7, 2017 at 4:18 pm

    • @destructure,

      The good hard slap across the face was a Hollywood staple for years. Men slapped each other, women slapped men, men slapped women, in that order.

      I don’t remember ever seeing an adult slap a child though.

      In GWTW, bitchy Scarlett slaps everyone except Mammy. That is an interesting thing, in the bad old “racist” days if Scarlett had slapped Mammy she would have lost all sympathy. As it was, she was a very unsympathetic character even by the standards of her day.

      Anyway the slap was OK when the general public had some self-control. It was meant as a symbol of “I’m going to slap some sense into you,” and not as a loss of control.

      Not a good idea to do this in real life, because most of the time it means a loss of control, and a man can really hurt a woman. And no adult should ever do this to a child. A sharp slap on the fatty part of the butt is enough to get their attention. Never allow a kid to make you lose control.

      gothamette

      February 8, 2017 at 1:17 pm

  3. By the way, whatever happened to the Prime Directive?

    Dude, haven’t you ever seen the list of “100 Reasons Kirk is Better Than Picard”?

    “Kirk says, ‘Prime Directive? What Prime Directive?'”

    ^total alpha male attitude

    SJ, Esquire (formerly Samson J)

    February 7, 2017 at 4:36 pm

  4. Oh come on Lion. They don’t use money remember? They get the friendship and protection of the Federation. They’ll build a Starbase, and import foreign workers. They’ll replace indigenous economies with much more efficient fabricators to save the people from having to work in industries and concentrate on mining resources for the Federation. Like Dilithium Crystals and old growth forests. And of course the indigenous population will have the opportunity to take advantage of the vast array of Federation Planets looking for bartenders and alien slave girls. Yep, you don’t want Klingons here Boyo.

    Joshua Sinistar

    February 7, 2017 at 5:24 pm

  5. “By the way, whatever happened to the Prime Directive? I thought the Federation is only allowed to secretly observe alien cultures, and never to interfere with them by revealing themselves as aliens from outer space?”

    According to Memory Alpha, the Star Trek Wiki, this planet’s inhabitants are descendants of an Earth vessel crash, so it’s unlikely they would be covered by the Prime Directive. They lost their technology but didn’t lose their knowledge of space ships.

    Mike Street Station

    February 7, 2017 at 5:32 pm

  6. With David Frum’s article rightsplaining to the Left how to properly protest Trump, I think it is important to distinguish the 2 different types of partisan protests: protests to convince and protests to fight.

    In Israel, before the 2005 expulsion from Gush Katif, the Israeli Right engaged in massive and repeated David Frum style protests. The protestors eschewed violence and effectively policed their own extremists. The result: public opinion didn’t move and Gush Katif was destroyed in less than a week with token resistance.

    In early 2006, however, the young guard took over the protesting of the settlement movement and led the ultra violent resistance to the government destruction of Amona. Instead of talking about “brotherhood” and “democracy”. young settlers were unapologetically attacking police and soldiers, calling the IDF “nazis”, burning Israeli flags and calling for the destruction of the State of Israel. The result: the end of operations to dismantle settlements.

    The moral here is that NeoGaf is correct in that violent protesting can work and sometimes it is the only thing that works. But the Left is still wrong to use violence to resist Trump, because their situation is almost the opposite of the 2005-2006 Israeli settlers.

    The Israeli settlers attempts to use protest to persuade the Israeli public never had a chance because the public wanted the settlements dismantled. They had already badly lost the war for public opinion. And when the settlers turned to violence it worked because: 1. Israel really couldn’t afford a civil war 2. As Anwar Sadat said, Israelis are essentially cowards and 3. The settlers weren’t fighting to take over the government, they were fighting to be left alone.

    The left in America is in a totally different situation. They have not lost the war for public opinion yet and winning over the public is their only chance to get what they want. Unlike the settlers, who merely wanted to be left alone, the Left wants to rule, and you can’t rule a public that you are attacking. And unlike Israel, the US can afford a civil war and in fact the American Right would welcome it.

    The American Left are a bunch of lunatics.

    Otis the Sweaty

    February 7, 2017 at 6:11 pm

    • “As Anwar Sadat said, Israelis are essentially cowards”

      Cowards who have won three wars against the Egyptians. There won’t be another one, but if there were, it would take less than 6 days.

      Otis, you mistake being an adult, and having a consensus, for cowardice. Israelis have this obsession with “consensus,” and in a way it’s a very impressive thing. It’s a middle ground that most people agree on. We used to have that, in the 50s.

      OK, onto other things.

      I watched NBC and ABC News tonight, Lion, so you don’t have to, and it was simply the worst thing I’ve ever seen, and I remember Reagan. There is NO comparison between how the media are treating Trump, and how the media treated Reagan. We thought that Reagan was disrespected by the MSM, but looking back, at least compared to this, the treatment was quite respectful.

      They out and out hate him, have total contempt for him, and are zeroing in on every little mistake. Useless to point out that Obama made mistakes to, “57 states,” the Americans liberated Auschwitz, and so on. They are sowing utter disrespect for the presidency itself.

      NBC is the worst of the lot, because every time they report on Trump, they managed to slip in a promo for the latest SNL skit, in the middle of a news report. This is lower than dirt – since when does a comedy show skit rate inclusion in a news report? It was total f*cking propaganda. Boycott NBC. At least you won’t see bits of SNL skits on ABC or CBS. I’ll report on them in due course, but I’m never watching NBC again, for anything.

      gothamette

      February 7, 2017 at 8:12 pm

      • “This is lower than dirt – since when does a comedy show skit rate inclusion in a news report? ”

        That’s been happening for years. They would used to show some Jon Stewart bit “totally destroying” Bush or the Republicans almost every day. It’s a great way to sneak propaganda into news and then have plausible deniability because hey, they just showed a clip from another show and since all of us smart people thought it was funny, if you don’t you’re an idiot.

        Mike Street Station

        February 8, 2017 at 6:26 am

  7. Whatever the validity of various Indian treaties, “by conquest” has always been a valid legal basis for property. If any Indian tribes believed that the Dutch claim to Manhattan was illegal, they lost it when they allowed the Dutch to occupy it permanently. They separately lost it when first Great Britain and then the United States established their right to Manhattan through conquest followed by a treaty.

    Lot

    February 7, 2017 at 6:46 pm

  8. Star Trek III is where we get the the design overhaul of the Klingons that set them on the path towards the Klingons of the TNG era. The appearance of the Klingons of the TNG era was established then.

    Behaviorally they were redesigned – they were made savage and courageous warriors, but not yet with the code of honor that became a staple by TNG.

    Star Trek VI tried to blend the TOS and TNG Klingons. They were still warriors, but the Chancellor and his inner circle actually looked like competent leaders of state, unlike the medieval behavior of Gowron and his crew in TNG and DS9.

    JayMan

    February 7, 2017 at 8:26 pm

  9. sounds like the Muslim ban case went pretty well. It’s the 9th so you know the TRO will be upheld but we should win at the SC no problem. And in the case that the SC does rule against us, the law is so indisputably on our side that it will cause a Constitutional Crisis.

    Otis the Sweaty

    February 7, 2017 at 8:40 pm

    • I don’t think the law or the constitution matters or the order wouldn’t have been suspended in the first place. We’re governed by the feelz constitution now.

      Mike Street Station

      February 8, 2017 at 6:28 am

  10. This was a phenomenal synopsis. Bravo.

    martinslag

    February 7, 2017 at 10:04 pm

  11. Post on NeoGaf about the Muslim ban:

    For the record, I am a libertarian and I hate this executive overreach. (Unlike most of you, I also hated it when Obama did it.)

    I am also a lawyer.

    Trump is going to end up winning on this. I’ve read both sides, its not even close. Maybe some weirdness in the 9th Circus today could delay it, the are known for being out of kilter with the other federal circuits….but if this made it to the Supremes, it would be unanimous in Trump’s favor. The precedents are overwhelming.

    Again, to keep from getting called names and dogpiled, I disagree with the order.

    The following are quotes from federal law and previous decisions that are still standing. They present a pretty overwhelming case:

    “The exclusion of aliens is a fundamental act of sovereignty,” the Supreme Court held in the 1950 Knauff case, “inherent in the executive power to control the foreign affairs of the nation.”

    “It is not within the province of any court,” the court noted in that decision, “unless expressly authorized by law, to review the determination of the political branch of the Government to exclude a given alien.”

    “Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.”

    When the president has such authorization from Congress, the Supreme Court held in the Youngstown Steel case in 1952, his “authority is at its maximum, for it includes all that he possesses in his own right plus all that Congress can delegate.”

    The Supreme Court held in the 1982 Landon case, “an alien seeking initial admission to the United States requests a privilege and has no constitutional rights regarding his application, for the power to admit or exclude aliens is a sovereign prerogative.”

    Otis the Sweaty

    February 7, 2017 at 10:18 pm

  12. Fighting to access the valuable resources of a region where the men treat their women as second class citizens…sounds familiar.

    Light Roast

    February 8, 2017 at 8:45 am

  13. I am sure that in the army of the Soviet Union, there were a few officers who were afraid to die and weren’t in good enough shape to handle a long march without getting out of breath.

    Of course. And by the late Brezhnev era that was probably the majority of them.

    SciFi shows usually have to stereotype “other races” in ways that are far more reductive than even an avowed Stormfronter would find realistic if we were talking about Jews or blacks. It would actually be interesting if the Klingon empire really did include a spectrum of races and cultures that included Whorf, Kor and the rest. Just as Earth includes an even wider spectrum of races and cultures than that. That approach seems plausible on paper, but somehow Star Trek has never made it seem convincing.

    Peter Akuleyev

    February 8, 2017 at 11:23 am

  14. Another observation: in the TNG/DS9 era, the Cardassians fulfill the role the Klingons did in TOS.

    JayMan

    February 10, 2017 at 10:12 pm


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