It's probably the single most popular topic of conversation among Star Trek fans: Why do Klingons look different during Captain Kirk's day than all the times after and before? What happened to their forehead ridges during that period? (We all know the real reason — the original show didn't have the budget for prosthetic makeup ... and starting with the movies they did. But that explanation is no fun!) In fact, at conventions fans consistently ask if that discrepancy would ever be explained on the show, thus becoming "canon." Well, Trekkies and Trekkers, it's finally happening. The 15th episode of Season 4 of Star Trek: Enterprise will begin to address that issue, and it's called "Affliction."
"Affliction" is the first of a two-parter, written by Mike Sussman (we've got a bio for him now!) from a story by Manny Coto. The second part is called "Divergence," written by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, and those episodes will air in February. (During sweeps ... clever, huh?)
The Klingon forehead issue is a complicated one, because it has to take into account a number of factors if one is to stay true to the Star Trek universe as previously established (related feature). The simplest theories (e.g. "southern" vs. "northern" breeds) have to be thrown out because Star Trek: Deep Space Nine reprised three Klingon characters from the Original Series — Kor, Koloth and Kang — and gave them forehead ridges in "Blood Oath." Then there was "Trials and Tribble-ations," where the crew went back in time to Station K-7, looked around and said, "Those are Klingons??" They turned to bumpy-headed Worf for an explanation, and he would only say it's a long story and "We do not discuss it with outsiders."
Well, rest assured the writers have taken all that into account and have come up with a scenario consistent with all those elements. We won't give it away here, of course, but we will say that it ties very neatly into other aspects of Trek history.
To briefly synopsize the story, Enterprise heads back to Earth for the official launch of the Columbia NX-02, commanded by Erika Hernandez. After visiting his favorite Chinese restaurant in San Francisco, Phlox is abducted by aliens (Rigelians, actually). He finds himself in the presence of Klingons who tell him the Empire is facing its gravest threat in centuries. Along the way, as Archer and company investigate and pursue, it's revealed that one of our main characters has a secret past which comes into play.
There's some exciting casting in this show, including some familiar Klingon faces. Remember the Klingon Ambassador who railed against Kirk in "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home" and "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country"? That was John Schuck, and he's back in the bumpy cranium but as a more cerebral Klingon, a scientist named "Antaak." Schuck was also a Cardassian in DS9's "The Maquis, Part II," and a member of the "Chorus" in Star Trek: Voyager's "Muse."
Worf's son Alexander was played by four different people (counting the future one in "Firstborn"). The final actor in that role for the DS9 episodes "Sons and Daughters" and "You Are Cordially Invited..." was Marc Worden. Here, Worden plays a "Klingon Prisoner" who, shall we say, undergoes some nasty business related to those head ridges.
Ada Maris, introduced in "Home" as Archer's old flame, returns as the Columbia's captain. Another face back in uniform is that of avid Trek fan Seth MacFarlane, creator of the animated comedy Family Guy (which currently is being made into a movie). The 31-year-old MacFarlane had a brief cameo last season as an Engineer in "The Forgotten" (related story). He's still an Engineer but now he's got a Columbia patch on his uniform, and he's got a name: "Ensign Rivers." He's also got more scenes this time.
Two more alumni in the guest cast are Eric Pierpoint as "Harris" (a mysterious person involved in a certain character's past), and Brad Greenquist as one of the Rigelians who kidnap Phlox. Pierpoint has appeared once in each of the latter-day Trek series — in TNG's "Liaisons," DS9's "For the Uniform," Voyager's "Barge of the Dead," and Enterprise's "Rogue Planet." Greenquist was in "Dawn," and also Voyager's "Warlord" and DS9's "Who Mourns for Morn?"
Production on this installment took place from Friday, December 3, through Monday of this week. Certain standing sets were redressed a bit to serve as the equivalent sections of Columbia, namely Engineering, the Bridge, and the Captain's Mess. On the latter set there was a greenscreen in the window where a view of the drydock will be inserted later.
There were some exterior scenes for the sequence where Phlox is walking with Hoshi and they get jumped by the Rigelians, and subsequently the area becomes a crime scene. This was shot at Paramount, but rather than use the New York Streets backlot yet again (as in "Storm Front"), the company did these scenes between the studio's Administration Building (home of all the top executives) and another building which may be recognizable as the high school in Happy Days. There's an altercation, so Linda Park was stunt-doubled by Diana Inosanto (John Billingsley did his own, less intense moves), and the other two Rigelians besides Greenquist were played by stuntmen Brian Williams and Tom Dupont.
About a day and a half was spent in a Klingon Laboratory designed as a dark, dank chamber filled with rusty equipment (the script reads, "If Doctor Frankenstein lived in the 22nd century, he might work in a place like this"). There were some rattling animal cages on the set, but much of the atmosphere of these scenes will be created through post-production sound and visual effects. There will be Targs running around and snarling, digitally.
Will we actually see the Kirk-era Klingon visage in this episode? Why yes! In fact, we'll see four of them (referred to in the production notes either as "Klingons, Type Two" or "Semi-Klingons"), the principal one named "Marab." And yes, they have that swarthy complexion and that Fu Manchu facial hair. They do, however, have a very slight remnant of the forehead ridge. Their outfits are leathery brown like we've seen on Klingons before, but a lot less bulky.
The second and final part of this Klingon arc is currently in production, but the company goes on hiatus after this Friday, the 17th, for two weeks. They will resume January 3, with three days left on "Divergence." After that, there will only be six more episodes to shoot in the season, finishing up principal photography in March.
"Affliction" was directed by Michael Grossman, who joined Enterprise last season with "Hatchery." Earlier this season he helmed the first part of the Vulcan arc, "The Forge." This is the fifth writing credit of the season for Sussman, on top of "Home," "The Augments," "Kir'Shara" and "Babel One."
"Affliction" is tentatively scheduled to air February 18, with "Divergence" the week after. Updates will appear in Episode Detail.
The upcoming airdate schedule from UPN as we currently have it is as follows (subject, as always, to change):
12/17 Repeat of "Cold Station 12"
01/07 Repeat of "The Augments"
01/21 "Observer Effect"
01/28 "Babel One"
02/11 "The Aenar"
03/04 Repeat TBD
03/11 Repeat TBD
03/18 Repeat TBD
*Two episodes from Season 3, "Countdown" and "Zero Hour," will be available to UPN affiliates the weekends of 12/24 and 12/31, respectively, to air at a time of their choice. Check your local listings.