T'Pol orders all power to the armour when she puts the NX-01 in between the D-5 and the planet. A few moments later she orders the ship to keep firing on the cruiser. How can it do that if all power is being routed to the armour?
How was Phlox able to beam his cannister of virus up to the cruiser? Surely the shields on both the colony and the cruiser would be up during a battle?
So, how does this do on explaining away the five points I listed for "Affliction"? About as expected, actually. Points 1 and 2 are answered satisfactorily; yes the Klingons always had ridges, and the transition to smooth foreheads is now explained. Point 4 is not answered but is obvious enough - at some point the plague is apparently wiped out and the cosmetic damage it did is repaired, either as a natural effect of the final cure or via some sort of cosmetic surgery. Point 5 is answered; since the effect was created by a virus, it affects individuals. Some millions were affected, not the whole Klingon species. So although we do not see them during TOS the ridged Klingons were indeed out there somewhere.
Only point 3 remains unanswered. What of the identical ridges seen in The Motion Picture? This arc does nothing to answer this aspect of the problem, but now we know the details we can at least begin to outline some possibilities. One option is that the Klingons seen in TMP were simply some subgroup of Klingons who happened to have identical ridges. Although all the Klingons seen from ST III onwards have varied ridges, there's nothing in canon to say that this must be the case. Possibly some particular groups may have identical ridges because they are particularly closely related or something. Or it could be that the identical ridges are some halfway stage in the cure, perhaps early cosmetic surgery only allowed a simple restoration which was identical for each Klingon.
Overall, this arc has done about as well as could be expected in explaining the KFP. It's mildly irritating that the TMP issue is still unexplained, but this is something you can't really blame these episodes for since that part of the problem won't happen until well over a century in the future.
More of an issue is the infamous puzzlement of O'Brien and Bashir in "Trials and Tribble-ations". We can perhaps expect the average person to be a little hazy about history from more than two hundred years before - what I know about the 1780s could be written on the back of a postage stamp. We might even expect O'Brien to know nothing about this issue. But Bashir... Bashir is a Starfleet graduate and a doctor to boot. We know from TNG's "Haven" that the academy teaches the medical history of such species as the Tarellians. Surely it must cover an event as important as the Forehead Plague! It greatly strains credibility that Bashir, second in his graduating class at the academy, would not know of this. About the only answer I can think of is that Bashir did in fact know the answer, knew that Worf would be horribly embarrassed about it, and decided to have a bit of fun at his expense by playing dumb.
It's interesting to speculate on the cultural changes which are going to take place in the Empire over the next century This episode indicates that the altered Klingons are going to be outcasts, snubbed throughout the Empire. Yet a century from now the smooth fore headed Klingons are going to be serving in command positions on warships. Do the smooth forehead Klingons achieve dominance, or are the ridged Klingons using them as disposable cannon fodder against the Humans? We know by DS9 some of the re-ridged Klingons are treated as honoured elders, with their TOS exploits talked of in hushed awe rather than forgotten as a shameful period of the past... much fun speculation could be had.
The Section 31 aspect didn't play too strongly in this episode, which was nice. I'm really not going to rant this time, suffice to say that the relative lack of the organisation in this episode was appreciated.
Well, Phlox certainly bends his ethics a bit here, doesn't he? The man who wouldn't dissect a severed tentacle in "Vox Sola" is now deliberately infecting experimental test subjects in full knowledge that several of them will die. He then engages in biological warfare with the Klingon attack force to stop the attack on the colony! It's intriguing to see how he copes with a bad situation by being so flexible in his morality. You wonder what McCoy or Crusher would have done in such circumstances.
Nice to see Columbia dragged into the action straight away, and nice to see that the writers resisted the urge to blow her up! And I still like Hernandez. I wonder if we will get to hear anything about the NX-03 before the series ends?
Overall, not a bad pair of episodes. Nothing spectacular, but at the very least it is nice to finally see and answer to the KFP and to know that Columbia is finally out there making a difference. Three out of five.
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