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Deus: Klingon "Judgment" is One ENTERPRISE 'Event' That Lives Up to the Hype


Posted: 06:38:23 on April 10 2003
By: Steve Krutzler
Dept: ENTERPRISE Reviews
Reviews Ex Deus

Written by O. Deus, edited by Steve Krutzler


Summary: Archer experiences the unfairness of the Klingon justice system firsthand.

Great heroes need great antagonists to confront and oppose. The Original Series created two great antagonist races, the Romulans and the Klingons, which every STAR TREK series has continued to use and which, arguably, none have improved upon. But even though the Klingons were key antagonists for the original Enterprise crew, ENTERPRISE until now has been stuck with a TNG-era view of the pop culture foe: somewhat troublesome allies, not ruthless conquerors and slavemasters. This is probably because the show's producers date back only to TNG. The Klingon Empire in "Judgment," however, is shown as a true empire complete with the enslaved races that were there in the Original Series and seemed to have been forgotten about by the 24th century. "Judgement" does not entirely upstage the TNG view of the Klingons but it comes closer to the TOS view, which is a vital necessity if ENTER{RISE is to retool itself into a better TV series.

Where during ENT's previous Klingon encounters, the ridged-ones could mostly be talked around to the human view of things ("Unexpected," "Sleeping Dogs") or dismissed as rogue elements ("Marauders"), "Judgement" is the first Klingon-centered episode where they don't do the reasonable thing by the end of the episode and instead take a decidedly hostile course of action by sentencing Archer to life in an arctic Klingon gulag. Whether this will translate into a change in how the Klingons relate to humans in future episodes, when Archer has become a fugitive from Klingon justice, depends on whether or not the producers will choose to uphold series continuity or not. "Judgement" itself, though, is certainly full of STAR TREK continuity references, from 'Captain Duras' suggesting a relationship to Worf's antagonist to major elements of STAR TRE VI, including the tribunal set design and the dilithium mines of Rura Penthe complete with abusive guards and a variety of alien scum.

Captain Archer himself is also closer to Kirk in this episode than he's ever been thusfar. He displays courage and determination rather than the impulsiveness and obtuseness that have so often characterized Archer. Former Martok actor J.G. Hertzler also creates a better character in the form of 'Kolos', an aging and disaffected gruff Klingon lawyer out of place in the new order. Of course Kolos' speech about the warrior class having taken over Klingon society is rather dubious at best since the Klingons are not the Romulans or the Cardassians. The warrior class hasn't taken over their society; violent confrontation is the basis of their society, culture, and biology from the times of 'Kahless' to the 24th century.

Even Klingons who were part human or raised by humans like 'Worf', 'K'heylar' or 'B'Elanna' inherited it. That speech along with Archer's cliched homily about the human past smacks of an attempt to humanize Klingons into just another yet-to-be-civilized culture along human lines like the Cardassians or Ferengi.

These days UPN seems to bill just about every ENT episode as an ENT Event, but "Judgement" is one of the few episodes that's worthy of the name. Everything from the direction to the actors is just right with an episode that appears to cover a lot of ground and with each character, no matter how minor, making a distinct impression. The visual effects and production design departments have outdone themselves again. Money was clearly spent on this episode and it shows in the FX of the exteriors of the Tribunal and the Klingon ship and the Tribunal interior, which does its best to reproduce the original and unique Klingon set design of STAR TREK VI, from a courtroom that's narrow but sweeps high upwards to the Klingon judge's alien gavel.

Overall "Judgement" is the series's first solid Klingon episode. Where prior STAR TREK spin-offs produced filler Klingon episodes as an attempt to boost ratings with the appearance of a popular race, this episode has a decent grasp of continuity, a viewpoint and a message. It has its flaws. Archer's rescue is more originally accomplished and plausible than a standard starship rescue might have been, but its abruptness and lack of build-up with an offhand comment by T'Pol makes the conclusion seem rushed. Had "Judgement" seen Archer captured and put on trial for any of his prior negative Klingon encounters, it would have boosted continuity and freed up more time for a heartier conclusion to the episode which, like many TREK episodes, now suffers in the reduced running time (39 vs 44 minutes) that UPN has provided.

Next week: Another ENT Event: Mayweather's family yells at each other.

ENTERPRISE "Judgment" Poll
How do you rate the latest episode in comparison to the best and the worst of all previous STAR TREK episodes?
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9: Great 4: Below Average
8: Very Good 3: Mediocre
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Current Results
About the Author
O. Deus has been a TrekWeb visitor since the site's 1996 inception. Along with being an ardent poster, he is a freelance journalist based in New York City. Deus has written reviews and columns for TrekWeb for over two years.

Past Reviews
  • "Judgment"
  • "The Crossing"
  • "Canamar"
  • "Future Tense"
  • "Cease Fire"
  • "Stigma"
  • "Dawn"
  • "The Catwalk"
  • "Precious Cargo"
  • "Vanishing Point"
  • "Singularity"
  • "The Communicator"
  • "The Seventh"
  • "Marauders"
  • "A Night In Sickbay"
  • "Dead Stop"
  • "Minefield"
  • "Carbon Creek"
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    "Judgement" highlight's Enterprise's biggest flaw...
    By 1st Elder ( ) at 18:59:43 on April 15 2003
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    it's SLAVISH devotion to the time honored, 50's era, episodic televison drama format: you must completely wrap it and get everyone back to where you started by the end of the 45 min.

    The producer's unwillingness to deviate from this tired, cliched format, really hurt this episode, as it is really killing this show.

    How much more interesting it could have been to have a mini-arc of say, 3 or 4 episodes with Archer in jail, and the crew having to get by without him, while plotting a rescue -- but noooooooooo, it's gotta be wrapped up, so in 30 seconds of exposition, Archer is rescued, the "reset button" is pressed, and where back to square one. All drama is erased, any character development, reversed, and any interest in the show as telling an interesting, onging story, squashed.

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

    This is better
    By Noxmagic ( ) at 20:17:30 on April 13 2003
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    Well Deus, just like last week, you're right on again with your review. I agree that, as usual for Ent., Judgment was an outstanding looking episode. The acting was top notch, and unlike last week's dismal Crossing, there was actually some suspense. However, and this is a big however for me, no matter how strong Judgment was, it was never the less recycled Trek. I couldn't help but think while watching Judgment that it would have been so much better if the Klingons had of been replaced by an alien race we don't know nearly as much about, like, say, the Andorians. We would have been able to get a look into their justice system, and how they treat their prisoners. Even a well developed aliens of the week would have worked better than the Klingons, if only to try and avoid the appearance of recycling Trek.
    I also had a problem with the rushed resolution of Judgment. While I liked that Archer's advocate was likely to stay behind in the mines and die (I'd expected a typical Ent. happy ending) I did not like how quickly and easily T'Pol and company were able to save Archer. Perhaps this episode should have been a two parter, with the Ent. crew taking a huge risk to save Archer, and maybe even losing, for the first time, a crew member. Then, at the end of the second episode, Scott Bakula would have been given some real material to work with as far as dealing with his crew ignoring his orders to get Enterprise to saftey, and a crew member dying to save him. Oh well, like I said before, this was, after all, a good episode, so I guess I shouldn't complain.

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

    Somewhat improved
    By Admiral Brandon ( ) at 05:28:49 on April 13 2003
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    Deus makes some great points in his review although I think a few things went unmentioned.

    Firstly, I'm not sure how inaccurate the portrayal of Klingons as newly embracing the warrior mentality is. It seems that the Klingons are fluctuating, as do most societies, between the extremes of peaceful Klingons, which was probably the case prior to the events of "Judgement" and in the TNG periods, and warlike Klingons, which we have seen in TOS and which is implied at the end of DS9. I think what was more striking is to see the thinking Klingon. JG Hertzler did a fine job as Martok and its clear his talents were equally persuasive as the intellectual Klingon trapped in a culture that praises bloodthirst.

    Secondly, I do think the ending seemed a bit forced. It seems to me that the events occuring on Enterprise and seeming lack of involvement by Starfleet were a bit distressing considering all. Had the episode length been a bit longer, perhaps we might have seen a bit more on this. I think the writers seemed eager to show the prison life as quickly as possible to squeeze in as much screen time as possible to justify the expense in set design. The rescue attempt also seemed a bit conveinent considering the difficulty seen in ST:VI.

    Lastly, I think Deus accurately implies that the gratuitous use of the "Enterprise Event" description really isn't helping UPN attract new viewers. Perhaps better overall writing, longer episodes and more emphasis on character development versus flashy special effects and impressive sets would do the trick?

    Still this episode is at least an indication that Enterprise is getting on the right track. Both tellings of the refugee incident are interesting and take advantage of some very cool starship battling scenes. Also, the Klingon courtroom was quite impressive (I guess Archer didn't need one of those language boxes like Kirk and McCoy did???). Now will Travis derail the train with his familly's squabble or keep it going? We're 1 "Event" away from knowing.

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

    Super episode!!
    By Hbasm ( ) at 08:43:24 on April 12 2003
    URL: http://home3.inet.tele.dk/huas/st_enterprise/ENT-page1.htm | User Info
    Judgment was GREAT and I'm happy! I just finished watching it, and it's among the BEST Enterprise episodes ever. I even think, it lives up to the quality of DS9's finest seasons. The only problem so far, is that Enterprise isn't always like that. But I'm convinced that, if you don't like Judgment, there is no hope that you'll ever come to like Enterprise.

    Everything here made sense and was mature. It's not even going to be a stand-alone episode (it could be one) but it seems there will be consequences, based on the little information I've chosen to read about future episodes. This step is very welcome; to connect more episodes with each other. If people choose not to watch Enterprise, it will really be their loss.

    There was one thing, I noted during the end of the episode. Something I considered too easy: The rescue of Archer. I didn't think it would be possible just by paying a few important Klingons, but better this than a typical gunfight that would never succeed in real life.

    We didn't come to know, how Enterprise got the money to pay, and for the sake of an interesting arc, I think it wasn't necessary to save Archer so soon. But all the rest of this episode was magnificent, and I look forward to the followup episodes! :o)

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

    Average, bland episode
    By GreginWA ( gsaum@yahoo.com) at 17:55:03 on April 10 2003
    URL: http://gregsworld.8k.com/contents.html | User Info
    Well, this was the first episode of Enterprise that I have watched since early first season episodes. I stopped watching because I found the series unimaginative, undramatic, and flat out dull. For those reasons, I will not be watching next weeks episode.
    After all of the talk about this episode on this site (amongst others), I thought this might be a good breakout episode not just for Archer the character, but for the entire series. I thought it might make for great drama. I thought that with all of the winks and nods to the preceeding series that were made in this episode (Duras, Narendra III, Rura Penthe) that I would even get a tickle out of it. Instead, while watching this episode, I found that the drama was non-existant and there was NO excitment. Even the charm of making direct references to established events/locations in Trek mythos came off cheap and worthless. When Archer is standing trial, I just feel like Bakula is, as he was in the first season, going through the motions, without any sort of flare. Its like the guy is just there for a paycheck. The set of the Klingon courtroom looked exactly that... a set. In ST6, there is a sense that our heros are in REAL peril, surrounded by Klingons chanting "Kirk! Kirk!" and an un-seen judge. In this episode, I feel like this entire trial sequence is a piss-poor recreation of a great scene from ST6. And Rura Penthe... HOW CHEAP DID THAT LOOK? The entire set looked like it was made on a shoestring budget. And, storywise, it did NOTHING to make me feel like Archer was in ANY real danger. He just looked like he was going through the motions, waiting for the show to end. He leaves behind his newfound Klingon friend, and this comes off flat. I REALLY like J.G. Hertzler. I loved his work on DS9. However, instead of playing yet another honorable friend to the Federation, why didn't they take a different approach??? Why not make this guy a complete asshole, who is forced to defend Archer as best he can, in the name of honor. Why not let this guy blame Archer for his year long imprisonment, leaving Archer with an "I'll be back to get my revenge" sentiment that Archer won't soon forget? But instead, we're given a Klingon friend in a time when there aren't supposed to BE Klingon friends. My only quarrel with the show isn't because the writers chose to persue different avenues... that's their artistic perogative. However, the way this episode played out on screen, I felt COMPLETELY bored and, as stated earlier, I have no interest in tuning in next week. I guess I'm still gonna have to call my self "old school Trekkie"

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

    Klingon history
    By Cranston ( ) at 14:03:47 on April 10 2003
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    Sorry, Deus, but I have to disagree with your take on the "dubious" nature of Hertzler's character's comments about Klingon society.

    You reject the idea that the warrior class reached its ascendance just a few decades before the episode, citing the inheritance of "warrior" culture by all the other Klingons we've seen: Worf, K'ehleyr (sp?), and B'Elanna. But remember: all of these characters were born 200 years later, after the warrior class has become entrenched and has indeed insinuated itself into the rest of Klingon society.

    "Judgment" does not imply that the warrior class did not exist 30 years ago, only that it has recently taken over Klingon society and government. Thus, the constant references by later Klingon characters to a warrior culture dating back to Kahless does not have to be wrong - it's just that the history of one subset of Klingon society has been appropriated as the "common" history. Its ideology has spread throughout the population.

    New regimes often legitimize themselves by laying claim to a long and glorious history. Hitler used prehistoric German ("aryan") archaeology - including the swastika - to legitimize his claim to a great, historic culture, even if most Germans had never heard of it before the new leader told them it was their historic symbol. Another example, with very different overtones, is the spread of Christianity. Western European Christians hearken back to the days of the early Church, and consider both the New and Old Testaments to be part of their own past, even though their biological ancestors only became Christians hundreds of years later. So when we see Klingons in the TOS or TNG eras make broad statements about "the Klingon way" and the Warrior ideals, they are propagating the values of the now-dominant Warrior class, even if their ancestors may not have been part of that ideology 200 years earlier. This week's ep just shows us that the Warrior class hasn't *always* been the dominant one.

    Sorry to be so long-winded, but I liked that touch. No culture is static, and it's silly to think that the Klingons will culturally be the same over the period of 200 years.



    Never before have things been so much the way they are now.

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

    Ok...But not great...
    By Captain Winnie ( sfdesigner@mac.com) at 14:02:45 on April 10 2003
    URL: http://homepage.mac.com/sfdesigner | User Info
    I liked this episode -- but I agree with previous postings, that it was resolved WAY too easily.

    The parts that I didn't care for were the rehashes of material from Star Trek VI, and DS9's "Tribunal" -- Some of the material from both of these are used nearly word for word in "Judgement"

    What I did like was the portrayal of the Klingons in a Pre-TOS atmosphere. Kolos' description of the youth wanting to become warrirors shows how the Klingons exhibit an increasing sense of nationalism -- which in most instances leads to conflict and war.

    The special effects for this episode were top-notch as well...and for a brief second, I forgot I was watching a TV show. I am amazed at how detailed planet renderings have become, and the ships definately have a "capital ship" feel to them, which I felt was absent from previous effect shots from earlier episodes.

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

    By tazym ( ) at 11:54:38 on April 10 2003
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    I think they need to build more "recurring" type stories. Makes you want to turn each week to see what is going on. I don't think a "nice little compact everything is OK in the end" episode works anymore -- especially for this show. It worked well
    for DS9 (when they used it), it wil work well here.

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

    My "Judgement"
    By Hunter ( ) at 11:45:36 on April 10 2003
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    All in all, a strong episode that just might have benefitted by being a two-parter instead.

    The first half hour of judgement was mesmorizing, especially the special effects. I never liked how fake past Star Trek shows have shown exteriors. Not until Voyager's last couple seasons did these matte shots start to look respectable. Now, on Enterprise, they look of feature-film quality. The sets, also, were great, even if the courtroom chamber did look a tad like a cheap, smaller copy of the set in Star Trek VI. Of course, it was still an impressive set. Rura Penta's caves were reminiscent of those in Star Trek VI, but they still managed to look like every other cave set, just painted white. I must be getting spoiled because nothing looked bad at all in this episode....

    Except maybe some little things that really irked me. For instance, they made such great strides re-creating the look of Star Trek VI yet they did't make a universal translator for Archer to hold. Considering this is taking place so far ahead of Kirk and McCoy's trial, why would Klingons suddenly demonstrate such a command of the English language. All Archer had to do was hold some sort of prop to his ear and this would have been solved. Also, they give miners such sharp pics to use down there. Maybe Archer would have been better off nailing one of the Klingon guards with the sharp end of Starfleet resilience, if you know what I mean. Not that I advocate such an act, but even if he knocked the guard out with the blunt end.....okay, maybe then he'd cause himself a lot more trouble than he was already in. But what about all the other angry miners who "don't have much to live for"? They could start an uprising with the tools they had down there.

    Finally - and this really made me downgrade my opinion of the episode - the lightning fast resolution. Reed gets down there and they walk out because one guard agreed to look the other way? WHAT?? And how did Reed get there? A shuttle? How many Klingons were involved in this little rescue? Someone had to see something. I mean, no other prisoners saw them leave and either 1) tried to get Archer to take them too, or 2) ratted on them as they left? Come on, it took a Veridian patch, a crooked Shape Shifter, Uhura, Scotty, and a Klingon dictionary, and one very patient and calculating Spock to get Kirk and McCoy off that planet. Reed just waltzes in and waltzes out with Archer? I would have wanted to see that entire B-plot. I want to see T'Pal finagle her way through her contacts within the Klingon empire. I want to see Reed's journey to Rura Pentha. That would have made this episode deeper and probably would have warranted another hour. Instead we have a Voyager quick fix and a filler episode next week.

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

    Not bad
    By Michaelj ( ) at 11:18:00 on April 10 2003
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    While "Judgement" isn't going to make your forget "The Menagerie" or "The Inner Light" or even "Living Witness" any time soon, unlike most of the Enterprise episodes seen during this (mostly) disastrous season, if nothing else at least it was good, solid fun. Hertzler was great as always, the sets and effects were mostly top-notch, and while there were holes in the plot big enough to drive the Klingon fleet through, there were also snatches of reasonably good dialogue, voiced by actors good enough to pull it off.

    Of course, just about anything would have looked good after last week's "The Crossing."

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

    one of the best
    By Daniel ( ) at 10:43:11 on April 10 2003
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    I haven't been watching Enterprise at all this season, but I watched last night. Hertzler was GREAT. In fact, I liked all of the actors playing Klingons. I agree with the review and only have 2 problems with the episode. 1. Felt rushed... 2. Klingons do seem a bit too much TNG. But, perhaps that will slowly change. Those are really pretty minor complaints. I probably won't watch next week, Mayweathers character doesn't interest me too much. But, the rest of the season is sounding interesting.

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

    By NAFF ( NATHANGSHARP@HOTMAIL.COM) at 10:37:37 on April 10 2003
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    Sorry Deus, I have to slightly disagree.

    Okay, it was better than last week's episode, but that was not going to be too difficult.

    Yes, it started strongly and gripped me for a while. But just how was Archer taken by the Klingons?

    Yes, the courtroom was impressive. But come on, if we want to see Star Trek VI again, we'll put on the DVD. It is sad when the best thing about an episode is that it recreated a set well.

    Also, can someone give Bacula acting lessons on how to react to pain?

    Once again the conclusion was weak and not satisfying. In fact, it was almost laughable - where the heck were the guards during the goodbye/escape scene?

    And finally, T'Pol looks pissed-off for the second week in a row. Quite frankly, with this material I'm not surprised.

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

    Another great episode and review
    By Akita1999 ( ) at 09:18:38 on April 10 2003
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    Once again, I've got to go with Deus on Enterprise's latest episode, "Judgment." This episode was first rate for all of the reasons mentioned. From start to end, Judgment had a story to tell and never missed a beat.

    Each actor performed his role well. Hertzler's advocate was great and reminded me of why I considered him such an impressive actor on DS9. The tone and performance of the actor playing the prosecutor reminded me of Hamilton Burger, Perry Mason's greatest adversary. Bakula proved less is more and performed his role well. And Riordan's performance as Duras made me hope to see Duras again on Enterprise. He even looked and sounded as though he were related to the Duras of TNG fame.

    The sets, costumes, production values, and special effects were also first rate.

    All of this praise leads me to the following conclusion: Enterprise should take a page out of the cable networks' book. TV shows like The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, and The Shield have the same budgets and schedule of 24-episode network programs. But they only make 13 episodes per season. Each of these shows spends more time and money on the writing, acting, and production values of each episode. Their investment shows in the final product. If Enterprise spent the amount of time and effort on each episode as these other programs do, we would have 13-episode seasons of one quality episode after another like "Judgment." I'd much prefer that type of program than the hit and miss program that is currently Enterprise.

    Have a great day.

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

    Yeah, what's up with that?
    By giventofly462 ( ) at 07:50:05 on April 10 2003
    URL: www.joeburdette.com | User Info
    Although I'm looking foward to Horizon, I really don't think it merits an "EVENT" title. This has to be one of THE most obvious marketing ploys I've ever seen.

    Good review there. For once, I'm in agreement on everything you said. It did seem a little rushed at the end, but I think they portrayed everything nicely.


    "I'll see you on the dark side of the moon."

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

    Surprise, an epidode with depth!
    By falcongtho3 ( ) at 07:34:17 on April 10 2003
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    This was the first 'Ent.' episode that really made me WANT to watch not only it, but any follow up episodes. Archers mannerism on the bridge while (in Archers retelling of the 'incident') was textboook Kirk. The filling in of Klingon history, the one on one intensity that hasn't been seen since 'Duet' on DS9, and the timliness of the 'we appreciate what you've done, but you're butting in' give this episode a depth that has been lost since the demise of DS9.

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]