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The Varying Strength of Trek Aliens

April 9, 2013

If there’s one thing you can count on in Trek, it’s the yo-yo concept of alien strength.


Example:
Vulcans are supposed to be 2-3 times stronger than humans.
I can bench around 100kg.
The Rock can probably bench twice that, so he is twice as strong as me.
I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t last 2 seconds in a fight with The Rock [unless he showboated for the first 2 seconds]
Vulcans don’t have to look like The Rock to have the same strength as him.
Most Trek humans don’t look like The Rock either.
So…
How the hell did Archer beat up those Vulcans in the desert?

Let’s look at other aliens:
Klingons?
I’m not sure exactly how much stronger they are than humans, but in the DS9 episode ‘Take me out to the holosuite’ Sisko says that Worf is their strongest player. We can deduce from this that he is roughly as strong as a Vulcan.
That means:
Klingons are twice as strong as humans.
Remember when the Klingons attacked the station in ‘Way of the Warrior’? The ones who beamed onto the bridge were slapped around by Sisko, Kira and Dax without anyone breaking a sweat [except O Brien, who was useless].
These are trained Klingon warriors. They’ve probably spent their whole lives taking punches. In fact, they spend their spare time taking hits too. You know, that game where they headbutt each other?
The idea that humans could beat them so easily makes no sense.
Counterpoint: The Klingons are bulky and slow.
True, most of them seem that way. And they’re usually hungover too…but they’re fighting Sisko, not Bruce Lee.
Bruce Lee could’ve dodged them easily enough, but would he have been able to inflict any damage on them?
I doubt it.

Inconsistency

The reason why Sisko and co can beat up Klingons is obvious enough. They’re the heroes, they need to be able to handle themselves. And they’re trained how to fight to a certain level. That’s not the problem.
The problem is: Trek has moments where the true strength of the aliens is shown, but discards it when the heroes need to show their…heroism.

Examples of true alien strength [off the top of my head]:

The Search [Part 2] – A Jem H’adar soldier throws Chief O Brien around Quarks like a [slightly chubby] rag doll. Bashir tries to stop him, but is easily overpowered.
Take me out to the holosuite – Sisko tells the story of when he challenged Captain Fuckhead [Sovar] to a wrestling match. He lost badly due to the Vulcan being twice as strong as him [obviously].
Afterimage – Worf pins Bashir against a wall in sickbay. Bashir tries to pull Worf’s arm away, but is too feeble to do it [actually this seems to be a trend with Bashir…maybe he’s not the best example of human strength]

And here are the reverse examples of these aliens being reduced to the strength of a…Doctor Bashir.
To the Death, The Siege of R2-D2 etc. – The Jem H’adar are slapped around by Sisko and co, despite them being trained for war every second of their lives.
Enterprise Season 4 – I forget the episode name, but the one I mentioned above with Archer in the desert.
Apocalypse Rising, Sins of the Father, Way of the Warrior – humans beating Klingons, Klingons forgetting how to fight. Even Picard kills a trained Klingon assassin.


Is it really that much of a problem?
Not really. I can let it go, suspend disbelief, forgive convenient writing etc., but Trek should be careful not to veer too far from the established canon of alien strength.
Otherwise we’ll end up with an episode of Neelix kicking the shit out of a Borg.
Also…changing the strength and abilities of key characters can dissolve all the tension from an episode. Way of the Warrior was good, but how much better would it have been if the Klingons that beamed onto the bridge were more of a threat?
The same goes for the Jem H’adar. These guys were supposedly genetically engineered, yet they get beaten up by Dax and Sisko. Bit of an oversight by the Changelings there.
Imagine how tense it would’ve been if the Jem H’adar really were a lot stronger, and the only way to beat them was with cunning and double-teaming [not in a sexy way].

Counterpoint: Too much strength would’ve made them impossible to beat. It would have made it even more ludicrous for the Federation to win.
True, a balance must be sought. Or a lot of episodes focused on the Jem H’adar would’ve had to be re-conceptualised.
It’s hard to say if that would’ve been better.
Conclusion: Trek needs to be more consistent with alien strength. Or hire wrestlers to play the human characters.


Introducing: Chief botanist Brock Lesnar

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