TNG Rewatch: 5x02: "Darmok"

Discussion in 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' started by Trekker4747, Jul 30, 2014.

  1. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

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    Working on other projects today, didn't have a chance to watch through the episode to write the next review/thread on.

    Hopefully will get it up tomorrow, if not early Thursday.
     
  2. 2takesfrakes

    2takesfrakes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Even the energy monster, which barely makes an appearance ended up looking very cool ... was that modified/based off of another monster suit from somewhere else, or was that unique for this show? It seems like it was expensive.
     
  3. velour

    velour Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    "Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra", "Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra"...,

    "Shaka when the walls fell,

    "Temba. his arms wide".

    This was the most annoying episode ever. I couldn't get that stupid dialogue out of my head for what seemed like days after I saw this ep.

    It annoyed the heck out of me whenever I heard those lines uttered. When Darmok was speaking, it was like listening to a caveman.

    Who speaks like that anyway.

    The episode was like a train wreck. You couldn't help but watch. It was painful to watch yet amusing at the same time.

    The story was also illogical. It made no sense that a species that communicates in metaphor could ever become a spacefaring people let alone a technologically capable one.

    You need precision and exact meaning to create anything as well as to navigate through space. You can't do that by speaking in metaphors.

    There are so many other flaws besides that. In order for one person to understand another's metaphor, both person would have to know the meaning of the reference of the metaphor. They would have to know the same history. Both would have to know what Tanagra, Semba, Temba etc. meant. If you were never taught the same history, you wouldn't know what the heck the other guy is referring to.

    Besides that, how would you even be able to effectively teach history, if you throw out more metaphor after another. It would just mean piling confusion after more confusion.

    I didn't know if I should have laughed or cried after I watched this ep.
     
  4. Memory Alpha

    Memory Alpha Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I absolutely love this episode - Paul Winfield as Dathon was superb, one of the very best guest star performances in the series. Even the Tamarian first officer played his part well, and there was great physical contrast between the two. I always thought it was too bad that this race never came back. These people were interesting. What's even more, if you read about how this episode came about, it was one of those that was rewritten a bunch of times, scrapped, and finally shoved in someone's lap, who really, really pulled a rabbit out of his hat with this script.

    I did often wonder about how the Children of Tama learned their myths before they started talking about them and citing them to communicate. It could be that if they are absolutely ingrained in the culture, Tamarian children might learn about them by hearing them cited. I guess that's possible. It would certainly be odd, especially if there's no apparent way to say, "I could use something to drink" or whatever.
     
  5. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I really don't see what's so exotic about this. Every human language consists of unfathomable metaphor piled upon unfathomable metaphor (just consider this sentence!) - and that's how we get abstraction, which is the real ingredient in dreaming up things like semiconductors and spaceflight. Mere concretisms would get us nowhere: counting rocks and saying "we want things to make us strong", which is the exact opposite of what humans and Tamarians are doing, is also the exact opposite of using language as a tool for progress.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  6. Mojochi

    Mojochi Commodore Commodore

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    Riker making bad command decisions, as per the norm, whenever Picard was out of order, & Picard demonstrating absurdly less skill at abstract communicating than you'd expect from someone who'd been contacting new life forms as a job, for over a quarter century.

    The guy tosses you a knife. You jump to conclusions & assume he wants you to fight him with it? He had a damn starship. The bigger balls battle would probably measure up better there than with a handful of luncheon utensils, if that were the case. Picard does very little in the way of TRYING to communicate, as opposed to just trying to figure out what the other guy is saying. That's not the Picard I know

    Don't get me wrong though. It's otherwise a very entertaining hour of drama, with wonderful performances from a couple powerhouse actors. I do enjoy this episode, warts and all
     
  7. LMFAOschwarz

    LMFAOschwarz Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I've noticed over the years that people, when speaking to a non-native speaker, will frequently use metaphors and such, and they don't always translate well. If you were talking to such a person about a traffic incident, and referred to some "clown driving the other car", it's not impossible that they will visualize a literal clown driving that car. I remember one instance when I had mentioned to a German native that I loved a particular song. She was puzzled, because according to her language dictates, you love a person, not, say, a song.

    One always wonders when any television show will reach a creative saturation point. This episode felt reassuring at the time, because it seemed like they were still able to pull creative rabbits out of their hats, in this case tackling a simple language problem.
     
  8. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    I thought the episode presented an interesting concept. The only real weakness I see is Picard has to verbalize everything to explain what is happening for the audience.
     
  9. Forbin

    Forbin Admiral Admiral

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    Oh lord, how would you order at a restaurant?!

    "Balthus, after the hunt, his fire hot, his deer well done!"
    "Oh, and, Shaka, at the oasis, his thirst great!"

    "Temba, at the drivethrough, asking if you want fries with that?"
     
  10. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Concepts like "side order" and "main course" let alone "well done" and "drivethrough" are complex and context-driven abstractions deriving from obscure historical roots, just like Tamarianese. It's just that the transliteration of Tamarianese to English results in clumsy phrases instead of mere word pairs - but that's by the translator's choice (or due to his lack of skill), and happens with many other languages as well.

    Say, there isn't a word for the Finnish "ahkera" or German "fleissig" in English, and the concept has to be described by lengthy phrases or then left incompletely translated. "Hard-working" is a compound expression not unlike the phrases of the Tamarians, and still remains utterly incomplete and insufficient (a slave could be hard-working or even industrious but wouldn't be fleissig); "Eager to work hard without external prompting because this is the societal-religious expectation" is the more proper translation, and puts Tamarians to shame for their brevity!

    Were England more protestant in spirit, the concept of fleissig might have been introduced to the language, perhaps even by borrowing the German word as such or slightly altered. Instead of "busy" people, working hard out of fear of their bosses or in order to look good, there could be "flessy" people doing it out of sheer cultural stubbornness. English does a lot of this sort of borrowing; why wouldn't Tamarianese? You just have to recognize when not to over-translate...

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  11. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

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    Yeah, it's my assumption there's a *lot* more to the the Tamarian language and could even be more to how they communicate (perhaps in a non-verbal manner) it's just that in the episode the ship's Universal Translator couldn't parse the language and make it come out making any kind of sense.

    As I said, the translator was working perfectly, the translations just weren't making any sense because the translator was making literal translations and in that translation a lot was probably lost.
     
  12. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    ...Which is IMHO just as annoying and unexpected as Picard's failure to be a more effective intercultural liaison. This should not be a rare challenge for the UT or for Picard, but a common one!

    But I certainly prefer them doing this episode to them realistically portraying these problems in each and every one of the other episodes and dragging down their plotlines.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  13. Louigi Verona

    Louigi Verona Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    I am not particularly fond of the episode. Picard, as was pointed out earlier, does not try to communicate and seems to having made up his mind about the intentions of the alien. His interpretation of the knife is bewildering.

    Also, I am not impressed by the metaphor language. Such types of languages actually exist on our planet, but not in such a literal way.

    But it is not bad storytelling.
     
  14. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Spock's Brain jumps the shark. The death slot, few eyes upon it.

    That's Tamarian for you.

    ^^^Fixed.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2014
  15. Forbin

    Forbin Admiral Admiral

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    Shaka, when spell-checker failed.

    ;)
     
  16. LMFAOschwarz

    LMFAOschwarz Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Hmm...interesting thought, that: to continue the conversation in Tamarian, to see how well we understand each other! :)
     
  17. LMFAOschwarz

    LMFAOschwarz Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    It just occurred to me that this was at least the second episode to feature a communication problem for the crew, the first being The Big Goodbye. In that one, though, it was more a case of pronunciation. I remember Picard and Troi having an interesting conversation about language, with variations on her beverage being dark, liquid, hot, etc.

    Wait...there was also that second season episode (the title escapes me) where Data was tasked to remove some colonists from a planet. The race in question in that episode had a very strict, 'legalistic' bent to their speech, which gave the crew some difficulty.

    Neither of those, however, had their 'Shaka, when the walls fell' moment of notoriety!
     
  18. Mojochi

    Mojochi Commodore Commodore

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    Why after making 1st contact, & then several failed attempts to develop relations, wouldn't Starfleet send a ship loaded up with some varying types of telepaths, Vulcans, Betazoids, Deltans, etc...? Surely somebody could manage to get through to them better than the touchy feely chick inexplicably on Picard's bridge
     
  19. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    This time around, though, the Tamarians were broadcasting that they wanted contact - something that apparently had not happened before. Starfleet might have decided they had done the hard work at breaking the language barrier already, in which case it would be prudent to send the nearest/fastest ship rather than a specialist team.

    But yeah, if Starfleet had thought of contact specialists at all, those should have been a permanent part of the Federation Flagship crew. Unless they put too much faith in young Troi (or didn't have the balls to suggest they did not have that faith when the older Troi came asking).

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  20. suarezguy

    suarezguy Commodore Commodore

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    The episode was creative but a bit too repetitive; I didn't like that by the end we were still unsure about what a lot of the phrases meant and it seemed a bit unbelievable and cruel for the Tamarians to take Picard and expose him to danger, albeit exposing one of their own as well, to communicate a few messages.