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  • How did Sulu know where the Peace Conference was happening? And for that matter, how did Kirk know that Sulu would know?
    • He didn't. Spock was the one who said to contact Sulu. Earlier in the film, Sulu contactd the Enterprise and said "we stand ready to assist you." So it was a safe bet that Sulu would be ready with the info they needed. Presumably Sulu his security clearance as captain to find out where the conference was going to be. The peace conference wasn't a secret. It was publicly announced at Kirk and McCoy's trial. So I don't imagine it was that hard for Sulu to get.
    • The first conference wasn't a secret. The second was. Still, Sulu's a respectable captain. He could have gotten that info.
  • Praxis explodes and strips the ozone layer from Qo'noS meaning that the planet has only fifty years of oxygen left. Just how does the loss of one planet, even if it is the capital world, doom the entire Klingon Empire? The Klingon Empire is supposed to be a major interstellar power that's the equal of the Federation, they don't have a load of colony worlds they can get help from or evacuate to? It's rather like saying New York City is destroyed in a freak yachting accident and this means that the rest of the United States of America collapses. Also the whole giving the Klingons sanctuary in Federation space thing is never, to my knowledge, mentioned again. Throughout the next decade of Trek we regularly see the Klingons swanning around Qo'noS shouting their heads off about honour and blood wine.
    • True. But what if, instead of New York City, the city being destroyed is Washington DC? (Forgive the Yankee-centric conversation, by the way!) It wouldn't spell instant death for the nation, but it would be a hell of a knock nevertheless, one that would take years if not decades to recover from. The same principle applies here. As for your second issue: Presumably even in-universe, Science Marches On. They probably found a way to either fix the problem or do without.
      • Actually I considered using Washington but I figured the USA would recover faster than if New York was hit. DC is smaller and more focused on a single industry, Government, than New York and presumably the US government has contingency plans for losing the capital left over from the Cold War
      • An example of either city doesn't really work since the city would be destroyed instantly, while the Klingons had half a century to evacuate Qo'noS.
    • And by the time of The Next Generation, the Klingon homeworld is still Qo'noS. So either the damage wasn't as bad as they thought, or they got some ozone-creating technology working right quick after the disaster.
      • Or they named the new Homeworld after the old one. And chose it further away from the Federation than a four day flight at Warp 5.
        • In the initial briefing to the crew, it's mentioned that the loss of their homeworld will lead to the dissolution of the empire at least in part due to their overabundance of military spending, the colonies couldn't turn their economies to reconstruction in time to help. I believe there is background material somewhere which states that peace treaty with the Federation allowed the Klingons to use Federation technology to repair the damage to Qo'nos.
    • Think colonially. All the apparatus of state is on Qo'noS, everything goes through there and it is the heart of the Klingon Empire. Now, instead of trying to compare it to 20th/21stC USA, think of it as the 18th or 19thC and imagine Qo'noS is the UK. If the island of Britain was rendered uninhabitable in the 19thC how long do you think it would take for the British Empire to fall apart? Even if it took a few years to take effect it would still rip the heart and identity out of the Empire. That's a better analogy.
      • Far out! You just precisely described the backstory to S.M. Stirling's novel, The Peshawar Lancers. Comet fragments impact across North America and Asia in the late 19th century, and while Britain is spared direct devastation, the resulting 3-year-long winter reduces the island to a cannibalistic wasteland. The Empire is able to survive by relocating its ruling class and technological capacity to India. Of course, the Klingons would have to do this while simultaneously fending off encroachment by potentially hostile foreign enemies. The Federation isn't overly likely to take advantage, but the Romulans, the Cardassians, etc?
      • Also The Empire, being an Empire, probably has a lot tighter leash on its member worlds than The Federation. Qo'nos in trouble is a potential trigger for all sorts of uprisings, rebellions, separatist movements, etc to flare up on subjugated worlds.
    • It's not just Qo'nos that's the problem, Praxis was their key energy production facility. That's a very nasty one-two punch for the Klingons. And by way of comparison, the Xindi, Dominion, Borg, Romulans and Remans all viewed an attack on Earth as the key to defeating the entire Federation. Why shouldn't it be different for the Klingon Empire?
  • Chang has a Bird of Prey that can fire while cloaked, and it presents Enterprise and Excelsior with a huge tactical disadvantage. Why did the Klingons only make one prototype like this and forget about it by Picard's time?
    • See No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup. Not a justification, just that it's a very common trope.
    • Kirk demonstrates how to defeat this version of the cloaking device by the end of the movie, so the Klingons didn't bother to build any more.
      • I've always assumed that Starfleet also developed tactics to deal with such a vessel. In Star Trek: Nemesis, while fighting a starship that has the same ability to fire under cloak, Captain Picard employs a battle plan very quickly, and he even seems distracted while he's doing it. Later, Riker orders "defensive pattern Kirk epsilon." Considering that Kirk was the first Starfleet captain to battle a warship with this capability, he probably developed plans of action for this kind of situation, and Starfleet named these tactics after him.
    • But they do make loads more regular Birds-of-Prey, so either the Klingons solved the gas emission problem or Kirk and Crew were so mad about being retired they never told Starfleet how to find a cloaked BofP.
      • The gas problem was something only the modified Bird-of-Prey had. Its cloak couldn't completely mask the emissions because of the power needed for the weapons, which allowed the Enterprise to track it with the gas sensor. Regular cloaked ships put nearly all the power to the cloaking device to ensure everything is hidden.
        • Now that makes sense and explains why the Klingons never made anymore of the modified BofPs and why Starfleet never used the same method to find regular BofPs.
        • Not to muddy the waters, but wouldn't it be a simple matter to equip future birds-of-prey with countermeasure "flares" that throw off ionized gas to confuse torpedos? Today's military aircraft are often equipped with infrared flares that confuse IR-seeking missiles, and when the movie was written, that technology was already decades old.
          • Then you'd see flares popping out of nowhere, which would instantly betray the cloaked ship's location even more than the gas emissions. Think of it more like a submarine running silent rather than a stealth aircraft: stealth doesn't work if you make too much noise, and if they've found you then making more noise by launching countermeasures is only going to draw more attention to yourself. If Chang wanted to survive he should have dropped his cloak, raised shields and withdrawn, but that wouldn't be the Klingon way.
            • That's how countermeasures WORK. Sneak up on your enemy as much as you can, sure, but once you're spotted-and ONLY once you're spotted and you know your enemy is taking a shot at you- full tilt boogie on the engines, evasive maneuvers, and launch decoys. (if you've done stealth right, you'll never have to do this. But failing that...) Stealth is already completely lost, now you're trying for "dazzle". You're hoping that whatever targeting method the enemy's weapons work on, they'll prefer to lock onto your decoys instead of the real you-and you do this by having the decoys be even more obvious than the real you.
            • Actually, depending on how that torpedo was tracking the ship it might not be like a heat-seeking missile so much as a self-guiding missile. Rather than homing in on a particular signature, it's actually following the gas emissions back to its source. You could no more develop a countermeasure to that than you could suddenly create new boat wakes or decoy footprints in the snow.
    • Chang probably had the ship built in secret and may have had the scientist(s) who built it murdererd, or maybe just put aboard with him. He was a rogue general plotting to use it to assassinate his Chancellor and start an intergalactic war in alliance with some of his empires deadliest enemies. Thats probably not the kind of thing you advertise. Even if the thing was built before the whole Praxis incident, it is still conceivable that he kept it from the rest of the Klingon High Command- they certainly don't appear to know that such a ship exists.
  • "Don't wait for the translation!" - If Kirk and McCoy don't wait for the translation of your question General Chang how will they know what you asked them?
    • It's a Shout-Out to something said to the Russian ambassador by the American ambassador during the Cuban Missile Crisis. It made as little sense in Real Life as it did in Star Trek.
      • Actually, it made a kind of sense if you read the subtext as, "Don't use waiting for the translation as a way to stall for thinking time that you shouldn't need to answer a question that you should know the answer to. . . only if I say all that (and all this) I'll have given you exactly what you wanted, a stall for time, so I'll just tell you not to wait for the translation and then shut up so you can be on the spot in front of everyone."
        • Except neither Kirk nor McCoy speak Klingon, and what we're hearing is Translation Convention. Why couldn't they use universal translators? They wouldn't even know he said "Don't wait for the translation" until they heard it in English. Same with the Russian ambassador. It was just a political trick to make it seem as if the other person is stalling.
    • The Translation Convention is ambiguous enough that Chang could have been questioning Kirk (and McCoy) in English while addressing the court in Klingon. The dinner on Enterprise indicates Chang speaks English and questioning the accused assassins in their native tongue may have been legally apropos.
    • Kirk and McCoy may indeed speak enough Klingon, or at least know enough of the language, to understand what was being said.
  • Spock forcing his way into Valeris mind was... dodgy, to say the least.
    • The needs of the many...
      • Nimoy's acting specifically addresses this point, he did what he had to do and it's obvious it hurt Spock to do it.
        • But did he have to do it right there, on the bridge, in front of everyone? I mean, I realize time is an issue, but still, seeing him do that in front of an audience was... greatly uncomfortable.
          • They didn't have time to move her anywhere.
  • This movie features a Klingon Bird of Prey prototype that can fire while cloaked. Yet in Trek series set 70-80 years after this movie, we never hear anything more about this ability. Being able to attack while invisible grants an enormous tactical advantage, so the Klingons wouldn't have just abandoned this.
    • Didn't you just ask that right above here?
    • Though given what happens in the movie, the prototype was a failure. Expanded Universe information indicates that firing while cloaked took enormous power and the ship couldn't sustain it for long; of course it wasn't intended to need to, but once Starfleet worked out how to easily detect such a ship by its engine emissions it lost its tactical advantage. Later series would make cloaking device/detection technology more of an explicit arms race - any development on one side gives only a brief advantage before the other side catches up, and no cloak is perfect.
      • On Deep Space 9, the power of the Defiant's engines keep running under cloak from being a viable option. Once a weapon is fired, it marks something off and other things once hidden will come to light. Probably another reason the UFP ditched cloak-tech--you spend way too much time beating the next upgrade in detection tech.
        • They did that because their deal with the Romulans specifically prohibited the Federation from developing and using cloaks. Remember the TNG episode with the phasing cloak?
      • By the time Deep Space Nine rolls around, it's pretty clear that detecting cloaked ships is straightforward enough that they have a standard procedure for it, so cloaks are only useful if the enemy hasn't thought to actively look for you yet. In that case, a device like Chang's would have almost no real value.
    • Note that we never again see the engine-emission-homing photon torpedo that Scotty jury-rigged to counter this new cloak, either. Another case of Reed Richards Is Useless.
      • Actually, Scotty didn't modify the torpedo, which was something that always bugged me. Spock, the ship's science officer asks Dr. McCoy Enterprise's chief surgeon to help him modify a torpedo. Why does Spock need a physician to attach scientific mapping equipment to a weapon system, and more to the point, why would he want the good doctor's help?
        • All McCoy did during that scene was hold stuff/hand it to Spock. Why take up the time of an Engineer fighting to keep the ship from imploding when McCoy is just standing around snarking and all you need is someone to hand you the parts in the right order?
        • That's actually a good point, but it raises another question: Why the hell was Dr. McCoy just standing around on the bridge in such a one-sided combat situation? Shouldn't he have been in sickbay treating casualties?
      • In-universe Science Marches On. Build a better cloaking device and someone will build better sensors. In the dozen years following this Starfleet starting making sensors that could detect and extrapolate from exhaust vapours, and someone in (or under contract to) the Klingon and Romulan empires was racing to try and find a way to mask this. As soon as they found that way all those sensor modifications Starfleet came up with were obsolete.
    • It's also been stated that the cloak was adjusted to allow for weapons fire but not shields. One torpedo shot was all it took to take the cloak down. The Scimitar in Nemesis may very well have been built expressly to handle such power requirements for cloak, weapons and shields, but it seemed to be a custom-built ship from the ground up (not using a prior starship model) that was in no way viable for mass or semi-mass production. Even today most stealth ships are meant for recon or nuclear payloads, the F-22 had to sacrifice some stealth capability in order to be combat efficient. If you're going to do recon or first-strike stuff, regular cloaks work just as well.
  • When that prison guard shot the shapeshifter and said "No witnesses," how did he know he was shooting the shapeshifter? Or did he not care who he was shooting at and only realized he killed the shapeshifter after it died and just said that to sound badass?
  • Couldn't they pinpoint the origin of the Bird of Prey's torpedoes and have a phaser bank or a torpedo standing by to fire at that location? Hell, tie the firing controls to the computer for faster reaction.
    • Except that would require the Bird of Prey to fire from the same position twice, something which they appeared to be avoiding. Phasers could theoretically be used to return fire, but they have been shown to be inaccurate without a solid lock in the past (recall The Wrath of Khan, where the Enterprise, getting the jump on the Reliant, failed to hit her with phasers from about a hundred meters away when they were in the nebula).
      • Small problem with the inaccuracy explanation. As shown in TWoK (the very example above references), TOS, and in the EU, starship-grade phasers do not need to hit the target to do damage. In Wrath of Kahn, Reliant was shown reeling from near misses by Enterprise's phasers. TOS shows this in the episode Balance of Terror, where Enterprise's phasers act like today's depth charges against the cloaked/submerged Romulan Bird of Prey.
      • The nebula is also outright said to screw up targeting sensors, making it damn hard to get a clean lock without a lot of prep time. Reliant, despite knowing exactly where Enterprise fired from, missed horribly when it shot back. In normal conditions, phasers are aimed by computer and are very precise.
    • As noted above, Picard employs these exact tactics, named after Kirk himself no less, in battle against a similar ship. This is the first instance of such a ship in Federation history. After the fact, either Kirk or some Starfleet tacticians probably went over the battle and thought "how can we beat such an enemy without a magic torpedo?"
  • Why, when compared to other Klingons, does Chang look so (for lack of a better word) human? Did Christoper Plummer just not feel like spending a few extra hours in make-up?
    • From what I heard, yes.
    • Maybe his mother was one of those smooth-headed Klingons? Presumably after the third or tenth fellow warrior got killed for making Your Mom jokes about it, they felt he was Badass enough not to bring it up again.
      • Of course, having an eyepatch bolted to your skull immediately grants you badass status, no matter what your forehead looks like.
  • In a scene deleted from the theatrical release but included on some home video releases, the Klingon Ambassador's conference with the Federation President is immediately followed by Colonel West and Admiral Cartwright presenting a plan to rescue Kirk and McCoy by force. Not only do they carry this classified material into the President's office just as the Klingon Ambassador is leaving, but the Romulan Ambassador is still there, listening to the whole presentation.
  • Why doesn't McCoy know about Klingon anatomy? It seems like something you'd want to know if you're constantly bumping into them and vitally important if you're going to beam over to a Klingon ship to perform emergency surgery. If you don't know the anatomy of the species you're operating on, wouldn't it be dangerous to try treating them? I'm imagining a Zoidberg-esque scene with McCoy in sickbay, "Chang, it's been years since medical school, so remind me. Disemboweling in your species, fatal or non-fatal?" And while the Klingons do seem very secretive about revealing information about their biology (as seen by Bashir being unaware of the smooth forehead Klingons of the 23rd century) wouldn't the Bird of Prey Kirk captured in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock have had a medical library that the Federation would have downloaded?
    • Yes, but they weren't on it for very long. And McCoy doesn't read Klingon.
      • They were on Vulcan with it for three months after they left Genesis. It's another 8 years from ST:III to ST:VI, more than enough time for the Federation's top minds to translate the contents of the computer.
    • I find this weird, too, but for a slightly different reason. There's no on-screen evidence that McCoy examined the captured Klingon in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, but he did examine one in The Trouble With Tribbles. He uses a man's heart rate and body temperature to determine that the man was a Klingon spy; showing that he has at least some knowledge of Klingon physiology. He may not have an intimate understanding of Klingon anatomy, but he should know where Gorkon's heart is located.
      • Wonderful stuff, Romulan Ale...
    • They even failed basic diplomatic precautions. If you're rendezvousing with a ship carrying the most important foreign dignitaries ever, and you're bringing them over for dinner and drinks, it's just plain common sense that you would have someone IN YOUR OWN CREW[1] with the medical training to deal with an emergency. Like, say, from one of them choking on a pretzel, to someone tripping and landing gut-first on a steak knife, to someone suffering food poisoning[2]. Basically, if your function is to act as diplomatic hosts and military escorts, their well-being is entirely your responsibility, and whether or not they have their own doctors, you shouldn't trust them to account for medical emergencies. Otherwise you end up with scenarios like what happened in the movie.

Notes

  1. because even if the other ship has its own medics, they'd still lose precious time communicating, gathering their med kits, beaming over, and getting to the patient
  2. although it's clear enough that they know at least SOMETHING about Klingon physiology that they can serve food edible to them
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