Star Trek Guide

Star Trek Brings Back The Real Klingons Discovery Ignored

Warning: SPOILERS for Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 1, Episode 2 - "Envoys"

Star Trek: Lower Decks has finally brought the Klingons that Trekkers love back to the franchise. Created by Mike McMahan (Rick & Morty), Star Trek: Lower Decks is the first half-hour animated comedy set in the Star Trek universe. Crucially, Lower Decks is set in the 24th-century era of Star Trek: The Next Generation. And, for the first time since Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager went off the air, Star Trek: Lower Decks introduced the 24th-century Klingons the way fans like them best.

As both enemies and allies of the United Federation of Planets, the Klingons are arguably Star Trek's most popular alien race, but their evolving look has continually been a subject of controversy. The warrior race looked completely different in Star Trek: The Original Series and they were retconned in 1979's Star Trek: The Motion Picture to their familiar ridge-browed, wild-haired, armored look. Thanks to Worf (Michael Dorn) and the work of producer Ronald D. Moore (who was labeled "the Klingon Guy" in the writers' room), TNG fully explored the Klingons and their culture, which continued when Worf (and Moore) jumped to DS9. Star Trek: Enterprise attempted to explain why the Klingons looked different in TOS, but their solution, an Augment Virus that mutated members of their race, was met with a mixed reception.

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However, after the 24th-century era of Star Trek was shelved in the early 2000s, the franchise kept inexplicably changing the Klingons. J.J. Abrams' Star Trek Into Darkness altered the Klingons design but those films took place in an alternate timeline, so it was easier to shrug off. But it was Star Trek: Discovery's revamp of the Klingons that ignited Trekkers' ire since that series was a prequel set a decade before Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) commanded the Starship Enterprise; Discovery's very different Klingons broke Star Trek canon and made the warrior race's history contradictory and confusing.

Happily, Star Trek: Lower Decks is set a year after Star Trek: Nemesis and it showcases the Klingons just as they appeared in TNG and DS9. In Star Trek: Lower Decks episode 2, "Envoys", Ensigns Beckett Mariner (Tawney Newsome) and Brad Boimler (Jack Quaid) are ordered to escort Klingon General K'orin to a meeting at a Federation outpost on Tulgana 4. K'orin is a classic TNG era Klingon; he's a huge, loud, brute who drinks too much blood wine, swings a mean bat'leth, and boasts about his sexual conquests. With his studded eyepatch, K'orin somewhat resembles General Chang (Christopher Plummer) and also, General Martok (J.G. Hertzler), who ended DS9 as Klingon High Chancellor and likely remains the warrior race's leader in Lower Decks' timeframe.

K'orin proves himself to be both an ally and a liability; Boimler is shocked that the Klingon and Mariner are old buddies who drink and brawl together inside their shuttlecraft. Their ribald interaction is a fun reminder of the rapport between Worf and Jadzia Dax (Terry Farrell) on DS9, only without the romantic undertones that led to their brief, tragic marriage. After they land on the planet, the inebriated K'orin steals the shuttle and vanishes, leaving Mariner and Boimler to chase him through the Klingon district. They meet other Klingons (who also look TNG-era perfect); Boimler recoils at gagh, the Klingon delicacy of live, wriggly worms, and Mariner mentions raktajino, the Klingon coffee that was heartily consumed on DS9. Finally, the Lower Deckers find K'orin and their shuttle crashed outside the Federation embassy and all is well.

With its manic pace and rapid-fire in-jokes, Star Trek: Lower Decks appears to be irreverent but the animated comedy has already proven how respectful it is to TNG canon in its two episodes to date. Lower Decks' restoration of the TNG era-appropriate Klingons after almost 20 years of the warrior race being constantly changed (and not for the better) is especially appreciated. Finally, the real Klingons are back, and Star Trek: Lower Decksdeserves a toast of blood wine.