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Best characters of Trek: General Martok

May 5, 2014


Who? The only Klingon apart from Worf who wouldn’t stab you in the back

Which series? DS9, where recurring characters are treated like kings.

Episodes: I think his first appearance was in ‘The Way of the Warrior’…then he disappeared until the first episode of Season 5, where it turned out that he was a changeling. After that, he cropped up about 10 times a season, either as a main player or in a B plot cameo.

Is he better than Jeffrey Combs? Equally good.

What about the basketball playing Klingon from TNG? Smaller, but better.

What’s so good about him?

Martok is great for at least seven reasons, and as I have time to kill and can’t think of any new ideas for my ‘Psycho-Holosuite’ story, I’m gonna run through them all:

1] He’s a Klingon with honour stuck in an empire run by the Klingon equivalent of Rob Ford [Gowron].

Actually, that’s a little harsh on Gowron. I don’t think he ever let his crack smoking get in the way of his scheming. But the point stands. Martok is the first Klingon we meet on the series who isn’t either a barbarian or a backstabber.

In fact, let’s do a roll-call of all the Klingon motherfuckers in TNG and DS9 up to this point:

i] Heart of Glory Klingons – misguided and sneaky. They were traitors to the Empire, which to be fair, was also sneaky and corrupt. Okay, they weren’t that bad when you consider the context, but they clearly weren’t admirable either [they killed 2 nameless security guards on the Enterprise!]

ii] Worf in Heart of Glory – Negotiated with the final Klingon then sucker-shot him in the gut. I thought you wanted him to die with honour, Worf? Doesn’t that mean fighting him with a blade, and with fair warning? Seems not.

iii] The Captain in ‘A Matter of Honour’ – fat and paranoid, never a good combo. So war hungry that he was willing to attack the Enterprise just because they allegedly scuffed his ship’s hull a little [was actually alien microbes, but still looked like muck].

iv] First Officer in ‘A Matter of Honour’ – was actually quite a decent guy, but didn’t stick around long enough to be tested with other species. Also, Riker had to praise Klingon culture a lot before the guy mellowed.

v] Doras & family, the Council, the Chancellor – The Council members were background evil, the Doras sisters were tits-popping-out-in-Picard’s-face evil, the Chancellor sat down a lot and covered all the evil up, and Doras was basically mid 90’s Val Kilmer attitude in shitty make-up.

vi] Worf’s Brother – seemed okay, but was willing to kill a child at the start of TNG season 5. Also a very thinly-veiled racist. The kind of guy who might say, ‘some of my best friends are human, but…’

vii] Kor, Kang and the other guy – all villains in the Original series, all heroes in DS9. The truth lies somewhere in between.

I can’t think of anymore. There are a couple on that list who you could take to a house party and say, hey, this guy’s cool, he won’t shit on your bed or break anything, but there’s no one who’s quite on the same level of Martok.

E.g. none of them would let Nog order them away from the promenade balcony. Or talk about honouring the deaths of fallen warriors by not challenging Gowron, even when he’s being a complete dick. Or tolerate Doctor Bashir’s tone when he says ‘I’ll take a look at that arm now.’

Basically, Martok is almost Worf-like in his attitude towards honour and respecting others.

2] He didn’t kill Worf

…and then he let him join the house of Martok. Other Klingons would never have considered allowing a traitor to the Empire to join their house, even if they did like him as a friend. And definitely not if he’d just tried to stab them on their own bridge.

Martok is also decent because he listens to Worf. They don’t grunt at each other all the time, they actually have conversations about things. Topics like marriage, love, war strategy, what the fuck they’re gonna do back on Q’onos when the war’s over etc. I get the impression Martok could turn into a Robert Baratheon type ruler…


3] He lets Jadzia join the House of Martok too.

…and Alexander. And Ezri. Probably Morn too.

Man, he’s obviously a little too open with the membership process, stemming from over-sentimentality perhaps, but at least it means he’ll have lots of people to back him up if he ever picks a fight with another house. Granted, Alexander wouldn’t be the best wingman in the Empire, but he’d be a useful Klingon shield, giving Martok enough time to stab the guy who initially called him a wanker.

Actually, it’s quite touching when he lets Ezri join…I think he does it more for Worf than for her, but the sentiment is nice. Like Ezri said, ‘it’s sweet’, and that’s a good word to sum up Martok.

4] He’s friends with Sisko

Sisko is a hard man to dislike, but he’s also very intimidating, even to Worf. Most Klingons would butt heads with a guy like Sisko, but Martok favours common ground and mutual respect towards a guy who knows how to fight and how to fuc-…shout quietly.

I’m not sure when exactly it happened, but at some point in season 5 they started to open up to each other…could’ve happened off-screen, maybe after Martok came back from his first killing of the Jem H’adar…and by the time the station was won back from the Dominion in Season 6, they were propping up the bar at Quarks, drooling blood wine and shouting ‘I love you, man’ at each other until one of them passed out.

5] He lets Kor onto the ship

Okay, it’s not immediate acceptance, he does hate the guy…which is a nicely placed critique of the Klingon class system: Kor is high born, Martok is a hick, it’s just like Game of Thrones really…but the great thing about Martok is he never stays stubborn for long. There’s always a way to talk him down from any clocktower, something you could never say about Gowron, for example.

Also, at the end of the Kor episode, he sings Kor’s name as a sign of respect for the guy’s skill…or possibly a celebration of the man he’s hated most of his life finally being dead…

No, that can’t be it…because Kor died with honour…if Martok truly hated him he would’ve wished him to die on the toilet or fleeing from a Ferengi, not blowing up Jem H’adar.

6] He’s not racist…much.

A little xenophobic, yes, as seen in the episode where Worf is about to marry Jadzia of Dax…’we’re Klingons, Worf. We don’t welcome people into our culture, we conquer them.’ That’s not a hundred per cent accurate, but the last three words definitely are. So, in short: he’s proud of his heritage, like Spike Lee, but he’s also diplomatic enough to notice and respect the differences between species, and usually to pick the things they have in common and go with them. Example: the drinking of blood wine with Sisko.

Actually, it’s mostly Klingon culture he uses to bridge differences, but he does use American English a lot and follows the protocol of humans on DS9. Most of the time. Except when he executed one of his crew on the promenade.

Did that happen? I’m sure someone mentioned it off-hand…

Well, even with his faults, as long as he’s standing next to his wife, he comes across as the friendliest, most considerate Klingon you could ever meet.

7] He says he doesn’t want power.

…which automatically makes him a much better leader than anyone we’ve got at the moment. In this case, he’s like Nelson Mandela, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s who the writers were basing him on.

Think about it: both Mandela and Martok were imprisoned. Neither of them desired power. Both their names begin with M.

Obviously that comparison falls apart when you consider any other biographical detail, but that’s the beauty of comparisons. They’re rarely accurate, but as long as you shout loud enough and twist any counter-evidence, people think it’s true.

Actually, reading back, this piece seems to have a few parts where I’ve twisted things to suit my point…most glaringly, the part where I skim over Kor, Kang and the other guy as honourable Klingons…also the part where I say, yes, the first officer in the TNG episode was honourable, but only once so it doesn’t count, was a bit disingenuous.

Ah well, this is internet writing nowadays. If you’re writing fast, you can’t stop to really think about anything. Just pick an argument and argue it till your dying breath. Or until you log off. Or until you do something in real life that makes you forget you were arguing with people you don’t know on the internet.

The last Trek movie was a good example of this…it was dumb, but watchable, badly thought out but adequately written in terms of dialogue, action etc…so anyone writing about this had a pretty tough time picking out a through line argument…you can’t just say it’s okay, that won’t get enough hits…but it was okay, really.

And also very, very dumb.

What else?

8] Martok ends DS9 as Chancellor

A nice finish for the Klingon who feels, but problematic in the long term. I haven’t seen this mentioned anywhere else, but as soon as I watched the scene where Worf stabs Gowron and gives the cloak to Martok, I thought: looks like Martok sneaked his way to power.

Obviously, we know he didn’t, but other Klingons don’t know this. All they know is: Worf, Martok’s mate, killed Gowron and Martok walked out of the room as Chancellor.

It looks very suspect.

I don’t read the Trek novels, but I wouldn’t be surprised if one of them has dealt with this issue already. If not, a future Trek TV series should give it a shot.

Anything else?

Any scene with Martok in it automatically becomes 42% better. I love the guy. When I was feeling low a couple of years back and didn’t want to sleep at night, I used to play all the Martok scenes over and over. My two favourites were: The first episode of ‘Season 6’ where he hangs out with Sisko, and the ‘Worf gets married to Dax’ episode. I could probably recite both scenes even now…

Dark times…but it’s not that big a deal. Everyone does sad, pathetic things online when they’re feeling low, like googling ‘Diane Kruger’s tits’ or…

Is Martok ever a twat?

Yeah, a few times, but it’s firmly rooted within Klingon culture e.g. when he disciplines his crew on the station.

Could he take Worf in a fight?

Probably not, but he’s too lovable to kill so it would never happen.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Ellie Jaye McCants permalink
    February 8, 2016 12:23 pm

    When did Martok execute a crewman on the promenade? Perhaps you’re referring to the execution of the Klingon commander who backed down when ordered by Sisko to let Kasidy’s ship go. That “Martok” wasn’t Martok. It was a changling posing as Martok and instigating war between Klingons and the Federation. Martok was already in the Dominion prison.

    • February 11, 2016 12:49 pm

      I thought it was part of some exposition in season 5 after Martok had been assigned to the station. Sisko told Worf to tell Martok that executing his officers on the promenade was a red light. Not sure if Martok actually did it, or if he was just considering it. You should also know that my knowledge of Trek is not encyclopedic ha, so there’s a chance I’m wrong.

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