10

In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country at about the 21-minute mark, two Starfleet Security officers are guarding the transporter room door when the Klingons transport over to talk with Spock and crew about the assassination of the Klingon High Chancellor Gorkon and arrest of Captain Kirk. You can hear one of them say, "You know, only top of the line models can even talk." What does this mean? Is it a misunderstanding by the legendary stories that surround the Klingons (i.e. just misinformation because they don't interact much with each other at this point in canon), or is it alluding that Klingons used clones for soldiers at some point?

  • 1
    On a tangent, when I first heard the line in the theater in 1991, it reminded me of the original Battlestar Galactica from a decade earlier, where the lowest-level Centurions could barely speak and only the IL-series models could carry on a conversation. – jeffronicus Jun 28 at 15:20
18

The two crewmen are just sharing some nasty rumor that they have heard about the Klingons. The exact details of the rumor are unclear. We do not know whether the men have actually heard that the Klingons are manufactured (or cloned)—thus there being "top of the line models," in contrast to cheaper and more primitive ones. Or they might not mean "top of the line models" literally, but they have heard that only the leadership class of Klingons is intelligent enough to speak or is allowed to speak. These kinds of racist stereotypes about Klingons play on the way Klingon warriors are often shown to be taciturn and often silent.

The narrative purpose of this scene is not to reveal something about the Klingons—or even, really, anything specific about whatever rumors humans might have heard about Klingons. Instead, it is foreshadowing that those two characters are quite virulently prejudiced against Klingons. The brief conversation between the two men actually occurs when the Klingon leaders initially beam over the Enterprise to dine with Kirk's crew—well before the assassination. The scene is foreshadowing that these two crewmen are actually the assassins!

Lt. Valeris breaks up Burke and Samno's conversation and tells them to get busy:

CREWMAN #1: They all look alike.
CREWMAN #2: What about that smell? You know only the top of the line models can even talk and....
VALERIS: You men have work?
CREWMAN #1/#2: Yes, ma'am.
VALERIS: Then snap to it.

It is very unlikely to be caught on a first viewing (and I certainly did not pick up on it until I knew that Valeris was one of the conspirators), but Valeris is instructing the pair to prepare for their upcoming assassination job.

  • 2
    So "top of the line models" have forehead ridges, but "cheaper and more primitive ones" (i.e. - TOS style Klingons) ones don't? – LincolnMan Jun 28 at 5:47
  • 4
    @LincolnMan I think you and OP are reading too much into what is a throw away expression. "Top of the line models" just meant the most educated, sophisticated ones. It's a degroatory statement implying that the Klingons are, as a race, slow and stupid. I will leave it to your imagination to see the allegory with real-life situations of racism in our own society. – Darren Jun 28 at 8:33
  • 3
    I think this answer while correct could probably be improved with a tldr type opening of "No, this is simple racism". Nothing elsewhere in the film or canon implies Klingon cloning, using Occam's Razor then neither does this single scene. – Jontia Jun 28 at 8:42
  • @jontia hasn't there been a storyline in ENT about ridges and Klingon eugenics (including cloning) gone wrong? – Philip Klöcking Jun 28 at 10:14
  • @PhilipKlöcking the ENT storyline was about adding Augment genetics to Klingons, and there was the Khaless clone storyline in TNG. ENT is long after ST IV and the whole thing was "shameful secret that is not talked about". The TNG episodes were at least a couple of years afterwards as well. But the cloning there was a one off Coup attempt and a scandal. It's really reaching for there even to be rumours that cloning was any standard part of Klingon society. – Jontia Jun 28 at 10:31

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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