Star Trek: The Next Generation

Season 5 Episode 2

Darmok

6
Aired Unknown Sep 30, 1991 on CBS
8.5
out of 10
User Rating
237 votes
11

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

EDIT
Stardate: 45047.2 Picard must find a way to communicate with the Tamarians who, he learns, speak entirely in metaphors from mythology. In an effort to bring them closer, the Tamarian Captain beams himself and Picard onto a planet inhabited by a dangerous beast.

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Amazing episode

    9.0
    I fully enjoyed this episode. My only two questions are: why didn't Dathan give up and beam them back before nightfall and since Data and Troi seemingly found the planet and conceivably the narrative, why did Data not scan it and interpret? Other than that, this episode has it all. I thoroughly enjoyed it. One of the best I've ever seen.
  • Picardamesh

    9.0
    This Picard episode successfully pays off a challenging story idea (an homage to the myth of Gilgamesh) thanks to an intelligent script and two actors performing at the top of their game. Patrick Stewart as Captain Picard and guest star Paul Winfield as the alien Captain Dathon create magic together. "Darmok" is almost everything Star Trek should be, with the Enterprise crew actually seeking out new life and new civilizations, and a beautiful story that rewards the viewers for their patience.moreless
  • This episode is a mixed bag...

    7.5
    ...but after digging your hands in and immersing yourself in it for forty minutes, you do come away with more good than bad.



    Starting with the bad, since it is mostly in the opening acts that you will find it, you get an episode that starts off in quite a plodding and distancing way. The initial contact and verbal exchanges with the Tama representatives is non-sensical to such a degree that it generates more of a feeling of disdain or dismissal than interest in the viewer or a feeling of being in store for a genius introduction to a new species in the Star Trek universe. We as the viewer are given a bit of warning of what we will witness through the crews' musings on past Federation contact with the species, but nonetheless, this initial introduction to them still comes as a major surprise and leaves you shaking your head. This disdain in the viewer is only amplified by the limited vocabulary of terms the Tama possess and the fact that they are repeated seemingly countless times to both the viewing audience and the Enterprise crew, both of whom at this point have no idea of what they could possibly mean or be referring to. As was pointed out in the episode itself, some of the viewers, even in the beginning of the episode, might have been able to gleam that the Tama were communicating in metaphors, but since the terms they use are rooted in their own unique alien history, these metaphors are essentially unintelligable to us, cast and viewer, who are outsiders to the Tama culture. Being presented with a problem or riddle that one is essentially fated to never be able to solve, does not intrigue or challenge, but instead irritates. Finally on a more superficial level, we are introduced to Picard's new Captains uniform, ala, the seude and plastic shouldered overcoat. Something that will make or break the show...no...something that is nonetheless idiotic...yes.



    The good in this episode comes in the second half, when we as the viewer are finally given the pieces of information that can make us appreciate what this whole episode is about. It is true that by subjecting the audience to the same confusion as the crew, results in us getting that same head slapping`Well that is what they meant` òr `That is what they were saying` moment when some of the meaning behind the metaphors are revealed, but the main complaint is that this period of confusion was drawn out a little too long. By the halfway mark when the metaphors are still clouded, the viewer kind of resigns himself to the mindset that this exchange or meeting will not turn out to be something profound or meaningful since there is so much to resolve and clear up and so little time in which to do it. Unexpectedly (and to the major credit of the writers and the acting of Picard and the Tama Captain) we are treated to exactly the opposite and realize that the whole experience between the two Captains on the planet, their fate, their shared struggles and triumphs as well as shared confusions with one another, do infact make up the pieces in quite a touching, thought provoking and unique story. The second half of this episode grabs you as a viewer (and fellow seeker of new life and new civilizations) more intensely than the full 40 minutes of the majority of other episodes.



    One final flaw that could be pointed out (but one that is actually quite thought provoking to discuss) is how a civilization that thinks and communicates in such a general and story based way could have ever developed technologically and socially to such a level to enable them to master advanced space flight. A society that seems to avoid basing it`s ideas and thoughts on narrow, concrete and specific events seems like they would be unable to grasp the notions of science (atoms, vacuum, gravity, thrust etc etc) that are needed in order to master their natural world and develop advanced techhnology. Wouldn`t flight be described and visualized and communicated more along the lines of `Crow, who soared over the canyon` than `force that moves you in a speed to overcome the natural gravity of the planet` ...interesting.moreless
  • An example of TNG at its finest.

    9.0
    Every episode, Patrick Stewart's voiceover informed us that the Enterprise's mission included discovering "new life and new civilization". Unfortunately, the writers sometimes took this as a cue to use "weird" aliens as a substitute for thoughtful writing.



    But "Darmok" is different. Throughout the series we'd taken the "universal translator" for granted; here we find aliens for whom it doesn't work. It's an unusual concept, one that is thoughtfully developed. (Consider the side-plot where Data and Troi begin to explore the Tama's language, only to reach a dead end.)



    The key to this episode is the chemistry between Picard and his incomprehensible counterpart. The story is a wonderful one, but really comes together near the end - with Patrick Stewart's narration of the Epic of Gilgamesh. This is among the finest 7 minutes of the entire TNG run - up there with parts of "The Drumhead" and "The Inner the Light".



    On later viewings I expected the episode to peter out at the end, after Picard returns to the ship - but the epilogue is a worthy one.



    A lot of people say this episode is about the importance of communication - and maybe it is - but that fancy concept is not that important to me. Darmok and Jalad, Gilgamesh and Enkidu, Picard and Dathon - it's about true friendship in the face of adversity.moreless
  • Language barriers are hard to overcome but doesn't mean you shouldn't try.

    9.0
    When the Alien race the "Children of Tamar" try to establish communications with the Federation Picard and his crew find them incomprehensible. Frustated Captain Dathon beams Picard and himself down to the surface planets to see if they can bond. This is exactly why I watch the show. This episode was very groundbreaking in that it established a different type of first contact. I would recommend this episode to all first time viewers of Trek that haven't seen this episode. It was intelligently written and the plot moved very well. No boring moments or scenes. What this episode showed that establishing relations with one another is very important and no matter how it is you should never stop trying. Captain Dathon felt so strongly about this that he died for his beliefs. Well done Trek for one of the best episodes of the entire franchise.moreless
Patrick Stewart

Patrick Stewart

Captain Jean-Luc Picard

Jonathan Frakes

Jonathan Frakes

Cmdr. William T. Riker

Brent Spiner

Brent Spiner

Lt. Cmdr. Data

Gates McFadden

Gates McFadden

Dr. Beverly Crusher

Marina Sirtis

Marina Sirtis

Counsellor/Lt. Cmdr. Deanna Troi

LeVar Burton

LeVar Burton

Lt. Cmdr. Geordi LaForge

Richard James

Richard James

Tamarian First Officer

Guest Star

Ashley Judd

Ashley Judd

Ensign Lefler

Guest Star

Paul Winfield

Paul Winfield

Captain Dathon

Guest Star

Colm Meaney

Colm Meaney

Miles O'Brien

Recurring Role

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