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Here's the deal.In the episode First Contact Picard tells the alien chancellor that first contact with the Klingons was disastrous becuase cultural misunderstandings led to war.
Yet in Enterprise,which documents the Klingon first contact,this is most decidedly not the case.
Do they like us?Ummm,no.Not even a little bit.But unless I miss my guess there is something a little mixed up about Broken Bow.If my understanding of Klingon behavior is correct,Klang should feel extremely shamed at having been brought home alive rather than dying in battle.That is the goal every Klingon aspires to after all!
And yet is it not true that the most important thing is victory?If he were NOT rescued and brought back by the Enterprise the Suliban plot would have worked!The Klingon High Council knows this.And yet even though it is through the humans that the real threat is revealed the Klingon chancellor STILL has dirty words to say to Archer!
I'm not sure I understand this hostility but hey,I'm human.To a Klingon it probably makes perfect sense.One nice touch in this episode(one that I wish they had continued on Enterprise)is that we have only Hoshi's imperfect sense of what the Klingons are saying to inform us as to their dialogue,We have to rely on their tone,actions,body language,etc. to tell us what they are thinking and feeling,an approach that puts the audience on an equal footing with the characters on the show!However,after this appearance either the UT masters Klingonese or the Klingons all learned how to speak English because we never really se this approach again.Pity.I liked it.
But the point is although this hostility continued to pervade the Klingons' appearances on Enterprise open warfare with Earth never really happens unless it occurs during that gap between the final 2 episodes where we jump forward several years to the signing of the Federation Charter.
So when episodes like TNG's First Contact or The Emissary refer to a past war between the Federation and the Klingons to what are they referring?
I would tend to think that the reference is TOS's DAY OF THE DOVE (I think that's the right episode) wherein Klingon hostilities were all the rav. The problem that you're recounting has often times been dismissed by Berman & Braga with an almost halfwitted side-swipe at the fans: (paraphrasing) "Well, we hadn't written the first Klingon encounter at the time of THAT episode, so in order for us to maintain some creative license we need to be free to write something completely non-canonical when and if we deem it necessary." (end paraphrasing) Braga always went nuts about fan concerns like this (at least, from everything I read). I think he had even gone so far at one point as to imply that the only way they (the writers) could get it right was to remake all of the TOS episodes so that it would fit within HIS newly established continuity, which was one of the big reasons that VOY was pushed into another quadrant of the galaxy (he and the resident writers wanted to be free from canon). Also, that was one of the key arguments for going back in time before TOS ... that way, they wouldn't be restricted to issues of canon.
Now, say what you want about that position (I could see its merits, but I can also see its disadvantages), but the way it was generally handled by Braga and Berman (to a lesser extent) was usually pretty disrespectful to fans. Braga always impressed me as someone who could craft a reasonably interesting story SO LONG AS he wasn't prohibited from drawing outside the lines if he felt it were necessary. Again, that's not a bad thing, but if all of a sudden Captain Picard showed up as a lady in one episode and fans were expected to see that as canon, there would be serious problems.
As to the points you raise about Enterprise, I seriously couldn't say. I only stomached the first two seasons, but it was clear that they wanted to go in a slightly different direction with the Klingons than previous canon had established.
I'm sure others with more expertise in this area will sound off. I could be wrong on a few points of Trek history as I'm just plucking from the top of my head and not doublechecking.
I don't think it's ever been established exactly when first contact with the Klingons took place. The events of "Broken Bow" came about as a consequence of the Temporal Cold War, manipulated by unknowns from the future, so we still haven't seen exactly how first contact happened in the "original" timeline...the events that occurred prior to any temporal intervention.
I like to believe that events unfolded a certain way on their own first, then were changed at a later date. I'm in the line of thought that someone must first be born before they can go back in time, so events would have to occur without them at least once before they could possibly go back to alter them. (This probably doesn't make much sense, but I'm trying!) For example, in the true original timeline, Zephram Cochrane and Lily Sloane made the first warp flight, drawing the attention of the Vulcans. No Borg, no Enterprise. By that reasoning, the moment Star Trek Enterprise brought in the Borg and mentions of visitors from the future, it was confirmed that Enterprise takes place in a timeline altered by First Contact and not the original series of events. That would explain the appearance of a never-before-mentioned Enterprise because Cochrane was no doubt inspired by the visit from the future in choosing the name. Archer and his crew could very well have done most of what they did (at least the events not part of the Temporal Cold War) but the ship they were in originally had a different designation.
By what little that has been hinted at, it seems to me that first contact with the Klingons didn't happen until long after the Romulan War and after the founding of the Federation, but we've never been presented with a true prequel to explore the details of that meeting or what possible war they could have fought. Twice now we've seen prequel attempts, but both were altered realities so we still don't know exactly how Star Trek came about! The closest I've found to a real prequel would be the novel Starfleet: Year One, which had to include a disclaimer separating it from Enterprise because everything the novel was trying to do was so radically destroyed by what now would be considered "canon."
Of course, take all this with a grain of salt; it's just how I explain the existence of Enterprise in my own mind, so feel free to make your own conclusions. ;-)
You bring up an excellent point,Mark!
We have no definitive evidence as to how the timeline unfolded BEFORE the Temporal Cold War went back and changed things.The Klingon first contact was never pinned down before Enterprise so the scenario you spin is very possible.If you look at Shockwave the Federation collapses if you remove Archer from the equation but not necessarily the Enterprise itself!
But here's where the real headache kicks in for me(Beam me up,Excedrin!)we have no way of knowing if the temporal incursions were always 'there' or kicked in later.
Confused?Me too.But I'll try to illustrate what I mean.Let's use as an example TNG's Captain's Holiday.The Vorgons show up because they read about Picard finding the Tox Uthat.Well,he would never have been LOOKING for it if they hadn't showed up and told him about it so their visit to the 24th century must have already been 'there'.
Data's head in Time's Arrow is always 'there' sitting in the cavern because his visit to the past has already happened.It doesn't magically apoear in the cavern that particular week.
This is where Enterprise is confusing.We have no knowledge of what was changed from the original timeline nor do we know if those changes are all retroactively 'there'.Does that make any sense?