Thoughts on the Romulan Empire

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by Praetor, Jun 27, 2009.

  1. Anwar

    Anwar Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Romulans are physically identical, but it's been stated there are some differences. My guess is from alterations they made to themselves to live better on Romulus' environment compared to Desert Vulcan or from breeding with the Remans.

    And there is possible evidence that the ridges existed in TOS, since a lot of Romulans we saw wore helmets that seemed designed to conceal their foreheads. Perhaps the non-ridged ones back then were considered a higher "class" of Romulan until the breedings in between TOS and TNG made the ridged ones more dominant.
     
  2. iaintnoname

    iaintnoname Cadet Newbie

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    they have a considerable amount of freedom and it's possible that their "Senate" represents a truly representative democracy. The fact that they are aggressive and xenophobic towards outsiders doesn't indicate anything about their internal politics.

    DVD
     
  3. Anwar

    Anwar Vice Admiral Admiral

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    That's what I was going for in my re-conceptualization of the Romulans: They're xenophobic and hostile to alien races but they treat their own people very well. They just have this "Manifest Destiny" thing.
     
  4. Too Much Fun

    Too Much Fun Commodore Commodore

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    See, you mentioned "Unification" as a counterpoint to my argument that the Romulans were squandered in TNG, but I see it as proving my point. I understand where you're coming from about "The Neutral Zone". I don't deny that it's not very impressive as a major Romulan episode, it's really more about that silly time travelers plot...my point is that those last "five fucking minutes" :rommie: did a great job of setting them up as a potential major threat in future episodes/seasons, and I don't believe the show ever delivered on that promise.

    There were a scant few episodes in which they did make excellent villains, but I think in general they were shunted to the side as the Borg became the more prominent recurring foe, and the Enterprise was more frequently threatened in more significant fashion by one-shot antagonists. I personally think "Unification" did a bit of a disservice to Romulans as a respectable adversary. Sela was made to look incompetant and easily outsmarted, which in turn reflected badly on those Romulans under her command.

    I see it less as an episode that re-establishes the Romulans as a powerful enemy and more as one that weakens them by being an episode that exists less to flesh them out than to squeeze guest spots by Leonard Nimoy and Denise Crosby into the show. I also think the most dramatic scenes and the most effective plotline in the whole two-parter didn't involve Romulans at all, but rather Data and the 'android prejudice' he faced in his first ship-running assignment.

    I think a better example of an episode that did justice to the Romulans as a worthy adversary is the one where they kidnapped Geordi, but such episodes were a rarity on TNG. And yes, the Romulans did have a significant behind-the-scenes role in "Redemption" and "The Undiscovered Country", but in both cases, they were playing second fiddle to the Klingons, who were the more immediate danger to the Federation, and the culture that was more highlighted and explored. After "Balance of Terror", I just don't recall a lot of episodes that put the focus squarely on the Romulans to establish them both as a fascinating culture and a major player as villains.
     
  5. EmperorTiberius

    EmperorTiberius Captain Captain

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    You're mixing several episodes at once there. Unification had nothing to do with Android prejudice.

    Romulans were somewhat misused, and disappointing, they could have been much better, more threatening and more powerful. More episodes like the one where Diana is a member of TalShiar should have been made so we see the internal working of the empire.
     
  6. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    The problem with that idea is that it's flatly contradicted by "Face of the Enemy" and, later, numerous DS9 episodes, which firmly establish that the Romulan people live of terror of the Tal Shiar -- they have plenty of horror stories about people being dragged out of their homes in the middle off the night and then being "disappeared" by the Tal Shiar.

    The Romulan Star Empire may not be a totalitarian dictatorship a la Nazi Germany, but neither is it a state that indulges in liberal democracy and popular rights.
     
  7. Anwar

    Anwar Vice Admiral Admiral

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    That's why I said "re-conceptualization".
     
  8. Too Much Fun

    Too Much Fun Commodore Commodore

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    You're right, it's because when I think of Sela, the only thing I can remember happening that was really compelling in any of her episodes was that Data subplot, which was actually in Redemption, Part II.
     
  9. Praetor

    Praetor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    You know, I've been contemplating how the Romulans might characterize or justify their form of government and the term "post-democracy" keeps popping in my head. I'm not entirely sure what I mean, but I think the Romulans might have reached a mindset where they still see the need for individual freedoms, but "understand" that sometimes for the greater good of their people their individual freedoms must give way for the good of the state, hence the justification for the Tal Shiar and the heavy military influence. Sort of "light fascism," I suppose.
     
  10. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I don't know that Romulans live in terror of the Tal Shiar - maybe they consider it a necessary adjunct to a powerful government that can protect all Romulans. A few traitors being "disappeared" may be considered acceptable losses. They're not humans and we don't have any real understanding of their mindset, other than that we can assume they won't react like humans do to everything.

    We really don't know much about individual Romulans or how they live at all. That's part of the problem - we need to know more. But when they're drawn out in more detail, I certainly hope they are distinct from human attitudes and preconceptions in many key areas, and one of those areas could be that while humans would react badly to having their own Tal Shiar running things, the same isn't necessarily true of Romulans. And their definition of an acceptable democracy isn't going to be the same as humans'.

    Yeah that's my suspicion too. But they didn't necessarily "evolve" to that point. That just may be natural for them, based on their culture and the way they think. It would synch up well with the question of "what do they use to create a functional society if they don't use logic?" Instead, they have xenophobia, aggression turned outwards. But that implies that, turned inwards, the inverse happens - the community eclipses individuality, so that Romulans have no expectation of individual rights the way humans do. And that's not because they're oppressed - it's because that's the way they are.
     
  11. Praetor

    Praetor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Brilliantly said! The Temis is wise in all things. ;)
     
  12. Deranged Nasat

    Deranged Nasat Vice Admiral Admiral

    It just clicked for me why she snacks on poison apples- she's a Vorta, so immune to most poisons!
     
  13. Praetor

    Praetor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    "My, that is quite toxic, isnt it?" :rommie:
     
  14. Anwar

    Anwar Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Jeremy Combs is such a ham that a single performance could be a family's Christmas dinner AND desert (since he's also a delight!).
     
  15. Myasishchev

    Myasishchev Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I still say the ridges are a result of the lack of ultraviolet exposure due to an Earthlike ozone layer on Romulus, possibly emerging unexpectedly in the mid-2300s due to pollution or through a non-anthropocentric (vulcanocentric, whatever) climate change favorable to ozone-producing plant life. In other words, the ridges are analogous to the human vitamin D deficiency, rickets. Vulcans no doubt are capable of absorbing large amounts of UV radiation, and probably need it for proper biological function. Extreme examples of Vulcan rickets, resulting from complete isolation from UV, can be found beneath the frozen side of Remus. They're so messed up their cartilage doesn't form correctly, overgrowing in the ears and not growing enough in the nose, and their nictitating membranes don't even work anymore.

    This begs the question why the Romulans wouldn't take the obvious measures to avoid the deficiency, namely artificial UV light sources in the home. Political statement? Who knows.

    At the end of the day, it's a stupid explanation for a stupid inconsistency. Hopefully, all Romulans in the future will simply be shown with smooth foreheads, like in Trek 11. It does make some sense out of the Remans, though.
     
  16. Bertie

    Bertie Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    While of course fanfic can ultimately be whatever it wants, it seems to me that a lot of this thread is pushing interpretation to the breaking point. "Unification" and "Face of the Enemy" clearly depict fear of the regime and opposition to it. And those are well-known episodes, not something that readers would have easily forgotten.

    (Oh, for what it matters, Romulans have ridges in ENT.)
     
  17. Praetor

    Praetor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    There are people in every country in the world who "fear and oppose" the "regime" that governs them.
     
  18. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    But fewer high-ranking commanding officers in said regimes that will admit that their government's secret police has a habit of "disappearing" people for political reasons, as the Romulan captain in "Face of the Enemy" did.

    The Romulan Star Empire may not be a totalitarian regime, but I rather doubt they're as relatively benevolent as many here are postulating. I'd equate them with 17th Century England or modern-day Russia in terms of civil rights and liberties and adherence to the principles of liberal democracy, myself.
     
  19. Anwar

    Anwar Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I'd say more like Red China.
     
  20. Bertie

    Bertie Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    While in some sense I share the desire both on this thread and the Cardassian one that there had been a more philosophically coherent opposition to "Federation values" among the main aliens (compare the BSG Cylons, who were allowed to be "right" about many things by that franchise's in-universe standards), the (perhaps unfortunate) reality is that the great majority of canon Trek was just not written that way. Probably that's part of the Roddenberry-ish "message": Cold War Americans and Russians really aren't any "different"; they've just by the whims of history ended up with different and opposed forms of government, and if you take that away and put them in a situation where they have to get to know one another they find that they have a ton of things in common.

    Perhaps this message is unrealistic by real-world standards, and certainly many other SF/F systems bake in more deep-seated differences than did Trek, especially post 9-11 SF/F (although I suspect that particular fad might have run its course). And canon of course is not a straightjacket that strictly binds all subsequent fiction for all eternity. But I for one am not quite willing to just rewrite things (at least in the Prime continuity) that were consistently and clearly portrayed over many episodes and films — as was the depiction of Romulans fearful of their government and willing to oppose it and defect from it — just because it happens to be more in line with 2009 storytelling).

    (But hey, that's why we got a reboot timeline, right?)
     

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