ByTom Bacon, writer at
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Tom Bacon

The first two episodes of Star Trek: Discovery were breathtaking science-fiction, daring to boldly go where the franchise has never gone before. The series has given us a fascinating glimpse of Klingon culture, portraying the Klingons as the warrior race we know and love. What's more, it did so in true Star Trek fashion, presenting a Klingon resurgence with eerie modern-day parallels. Let's take a spoiler-filled look at the villains of Star Trek: Discovery.

"Remain Klingon!"

That's the slogan of the Klingon Empire, and it's a fascinating one, containing three different strands of thought:

  • The rejection of change: Fundamentally, this is a demand to venerate the warrior traditions of the past, to claim them as the Klingon reality of today. It's also intriguingly subtle; it doesn't claim that the Klingons have lost their way, precisely, but rather that they're in danger of doing so.
  • Isolationism: As the first two episodes make abundantly clear, the Klingon Empire has been struggling to deal with a new reality. No longer can the Klingons claim to be the preeminent galactic power. They've been forced to forge a treaty with the Vulcans, and now Starfleet is coming close to Klingon space. Starfleet in particular is an outright challenge to isolationism, pointing the way to a pluralist society in which different races work together freely for a common purpose.
  • Pride and self-confidence: In dismissing the ways of other races, this is a call for the Klingon race to be proudly independent. It insists that the future of the Klingon race can only be embraced if the Klingons are true to themselves.

Co-executive producer Aaron Haberts told Rolling Stone magazine that this phrase was deliberately designed to be reminiscent of American politics in 2016. It carries a similar meaning to Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again," although of course, it's recast against a far different culture. No doubt this decision will be controversial in some circles, but Star Trek has always embraced a degree of social commentary. In this case, it's not done too overtly, and is fairly well-handled.

The Irony Of T'Kuvma The Unforgettable

As we saw, T'Kuvma's call for Klingon unity was mostly successful. The leaders of the 24 Klingon Houses waged war against the Federation, just as he wished. While T'Kuvma paid for his ideology with his life, the reality is that he'd view the sacrifice as worth it. After all, for his role in uniting the Klingons he was lauded as T'Kuvma the Unforgettable.

There's a beautiful irony to this title. The reality is that from an in-universe perspective, this is the first time we've ever heard the name T'Kuvma. The Klingons may have entered into a sort of galactic Cold War with the Federation in the aftermath of T'Kuvma's death, but the man himself was ultimately forgotten. In fact, as Star Trek fans know, the Klingon race would ultimately abandon everything T'Kuvma stood for, and would ally with the Federation.

Again, there's an element of social commentary to this; a subtle reminder that this kind of nationalistic, isolationist pride has no place in the utopian world envisioned by Gene Roddenberry. By referring to T'Kuvma as "the Unforgettable," the series lampshades the fact that the character will be forgotten in the grand sweep of history. In the same way, it suggests that the future belongs to those who reject this kind of philosophy.

Like all the best science-fiction, Star Trek: Discovery uses a fictional reality to hold up a mirror to our own world. But it does so subtly, in such a way that you could so easily miss it. As a result of this, the message of the show holds even more power. Star Trek has always indulged in social commentary, and it's a delight to see that Discovery has restored that edge.


Do you think Star Trek should be politically aware?

[Source: Rolling Stone]


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