Star Trek Canon Database

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Database started: 1999-07-27
Page generated: 2017-12-12

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TNG Season 2, Ep# 34: "A Matter of Honor"

(Riker is eating some nasty-looking Klingon food)

PICARD: I understand the theory of the feast before the transfer. I've done the same thing dozens of times. However, I usually made more civil choices.

RIKER: These are the most civil choices.

PICARD: I see... Well, their food may be somewhat backward but the Klingons are efficient, loyal to their beliefs, and are regulated by a strict code of ethics.

PULASKI: True enough. They tend to lean towards a Samurai civilization that is thousands of years old.

PICARD: But they are pure in that tradition.

Culture: Klingon food may not be very appetizing to us, but why call it "backward?" And can a society realistically stretch across numerous planets without having any significant variations in culture? Look at the cultural differences between (for example) Los Angeles and Tehran and then ask how intelligent it is to assume that a civilization spanning dozens of planets has one uniform culture.

The Klingons, the Romulans, the Ferengi, the Cardassians ... all alien species which are portrayed as homogeneous monocultures, by people who incessantly describe themselves as having "evolved" beyond racism.

TNG Season 2, Ep# 34: "A Matter of Honor"

DATA: The substance appears to be a rare form of subatomic "bacteria," capable of doubling every fifteen minutes. It seems to be reacting with two of the compounds present in the Enterprise structure.

Realism: Subatomic bacteria? Tee hee ...

TNG Season 2, Ep# 34: "A Matter of Honor"

KLINGON TACTICAL OFFICER: My logs indicate that the Enterprise directed an intense scanning beam at this specific area for a duration of two minutes.

Sensors: they use a focused sensor beam in order to perform more thorough examinations, and it took two minutes at close range with one of these focused beams in order to analyze the hole in the Pagh's hull.

TNG Season 2, Ep# 34: "A Matter of Honor"

DATA: Slow to impulse speed. Continue on course.

WESLEY: Aye sir, impulse speed.

...

RIKER: I recommend you do not fire until you are within forty thousand kilometers.

KLAG: Why?

RIKER: It will reduce their response time.

Naval Weapons: Riker's dialogue appears to establish a weapon range of many tens of thousands of kilometres, although later events conflict with this figure.

Ted Collins notes the possibility that the units of "kilometres" have become the equivalent of modern "metres" in the 24th century, since onscreen combat tends to occur at ranges of 40 km or less, rather than thousands of kilometres. Moreover, while transporters can be used at ranges of thousands of kilometres when transporting to and from a planet, we saw in "Coming of Age" that transport range is much shorter for ship to ship transport (indeed, they could not transport to a shuttle which was between them and the planet, even though they could easily transport to the planet!). Starships close to just a few kilometres before initiating transport to other ships, which would be fully consistent with the units of kilometres and metres being altered in the future. It sounds goofy, but then again, the English language is a very pliable thing. After all, four centuries ago, the word "nerves" meant sinews and muscles (hence the holdover phrase "straining every nerve". Who's to say what might change in the next four centuries?

TNG Season 2, Ep# 34: "A Matter of Honor"

WORF: We are getting an emergency signal from a command transponder. Location nine-three-five mark six-one-three... Frequency and code designate it as Commander Riker.

PICARD: Chief O'Brien, align with emergency transponder signal.

CHIEF O'BRIEN: Yes Captain. We are not yet in safe range for a transfer and defensive shields are still in place.

PICARD: We may have to stretch it a little. On my command.

WORF: Forty-eight thousand.

DATA: Lieutenant Worf to the Transporter Room. Doctor Pulaski will accompany you. Mendon take over the count.

MENDON: Yes sir. Forty-five thousand and still closing.

MENDON: Forty-four thousand.

PICARD: Transporter Room, ready. You will control defensive shields...

CHIEF O'BRIEN: Ready sir.

MENDON: Forty thousand...

KLAG: Forty thousand.

KARGAN: Prepare to drop cloaking shields and fire. Steady...

PICARD: Transporter Room, energize.

(Kargan is transported off the Pagh's bridge, having been tricked by Riker into confiscating and then activating his transponder)

Transporters: the Enterprise and the Pagh are closing at a rate of a few hundred km/s (based on the rate at which the ranges were called out), and at forty thousand kilometres range, they suddenly drop their shields and beam Kargan aboard. This means that transporter range is roughly 40,000 km.

TNG Season 2, Ep# 34: "A Matter of Honor"

WORF: We are getting an emergency signal from a command transponder. Location nine-three-five mark six-one-three... Frequency and code designate it as Commander Riker.

PICARD: Chief O'Brien, align with emergency transponder signal.

CHIEF O'BRIEN: Yes Captain. We are not yet in safe range for a transfer and defensive shields are still in place.

PICARD: We may have to stretch it a little. On my command.

WORF: Forty-eight thousand.

DATA: Lieutenant Worf to the Transporter Room. Doctor Pulaski will accompany you. Mendon take over the count.

MENDON: Yes sir. Forty-five thousand and still closing.

MENDON: Forty-four thousand.

PICARD: Transporter Room, ready. You will control defensive shields...

CHIEF O'BRIEN: Ready sir.

MENDON: Forty thousand...

KLAG: Forty thousand.

KARGAN: Prepare to drop cloaking shields and fire. Steady...

PICARD: Transporter Room, energize.

(Kargan is transported off the Pagh's bridge, having been tricked by Riker into confiscating and then activating his transponder)

Naval Weapons: this scene seems to confirm weapon and targeting ranges of many tens of thousands of kilometres. That in itself is not shocking; any starship capable of bombarding a planetary target from geosynchronous orbit must be capable of such ranges, and this capability is common in sci-fi. However, it directly contradicts external visuals in which the ships are seen to be very close to one another (a few kilometres) and subsequent battles such as "A Call to Arms", in which ships are explicitly stated to be out of weapons range even though they're already within a few dozen kilometres of the target.

I see two possible explanations for this conundrum:

  1. The most straightforward explanation is that since direct observations are far more valuable than dialogue, the dialogue must simply be wrong.
  2. A more complex explanation may be that effective range is dictated by sensor jamming rather than physical weapon constraints. Ships would have to get close enough to "burn through" the jamming and acquire targeting locks, and we might surmise that the crews are so inexperienced with manual targeting that they generally don't even attempt to fire until they get target locks. This would explain why they can hit faraway celestial bodies (asteroids don't have jammers) or lone targets (jamming isn't very effective for a lone ship, because all of the jamming emissions actually make the ship more visible; it is most useful in group engagements), but they can't hit the side of a barn in fleet battles.

TNG Season 2, Ep# 34: "A Matter of Honor"

PICARD: This is a great opportunity, Number One. We really know so little about them. We have so much to learn ... (beat, smile) ... I think I envy you, Will Riker.

Culture: WRobert525 points out that they've had contact with the Klingons for nearly two centuries now, that they had extensive knowledge in Kirk's era, and that Worf was able to study all of the details of Klingon culture while growing up inside the Federation, yet Captain Picard claims that they "know so little about them".

Clearly, their ignorance is due to apathy and/or racism rather than a lack of available information. In ST4, the level of Federation racism directed toward the Klingons was very clear; Admiral Cartwright warned that the Klingons would become the "alien trash of the galaxy". Two crewmen were making snide remarks about their "smell", and about a common racist belief that only the smartest Klingons can even talk. Perhaps that cultural bias coloured Federation behaviour toward the Klingons from that point on, producing a kind of cultural isolationism, ie- "we're interested in alien cultures only if they're Federation members".

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