In "Darmok," the Tamarian captain and Picard battle the electromagnetic lifeform on El-Adrel IV.

All that Dathan uses is a knife, and offers one also to Picard. Why not use phasers? I'm pretty sure knives wouldn't have much of an effect (if any) on an EM-based creature.

I assume that "EM lifeform" means that the creature is energy-based.

I realize that the ultimate purpose of the fight was to try and establish communication between the Tamarians and Enterprise, but engaging in a futile battle with the entity seems a silly way to achieve that goal.

  • I always had a nitpick about this, one of my favourite episodes. Dathan refers to the hero of his story as 'Jelaard' several times before Picard says 'I don't know who Jelad is!' Why did Picard say it that way?..because the name is spelt Jelad in the script! This wasn't mentioned in the highly entertaining book called 'They Nitpicker's Guide to Star Trek TNG
    – user69283
    Commented Jul 27, 2016 at 12:58
  • 1
    @RupertBear - It's likely down to his pronunciation and accent.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jul 27, 2016 at 22:43

1 Answer 1


The purpose of the modern-day Darmok ritual doesn't seem to be for the participants to kill the beast, but rather to replicate, as closely as possible the original source story wherein two individuals named Darmok and Jalad (who were unable to communicate due to coming from different places, Kanza and Kituay respectively) found common cause and mutual respect by fighting against a common enemy.

Given that the story is presumably ancient in origin, it would seem likely that phasers weren't an option when the original event took place. The Tamarian captain feels that it's appropriate to fight with what the script describes as "ceremonial daggers".

[Captain Dathon reaches out and takes the First Officer's ceremonial DAGGER.]

[Picard watches as the alien captain turns to him -- now armed with two daggers.}

DATHON: Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra.

[A beat. Suddenly both Picard and the Tamarian Captain DEMATERIALIZE in a transporter beam.]

Giving either party a phaser would dramatically alter the power-dynamic between the protagonists and the beast, turning it from hunter into prey. On top of that it's certainly possible that the unwilling party would use a ranged weapon to kill their opponent rather than tackling the beast.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.