As this week celebrates the 31st anniversary of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, I thought I would take a closer look at the Captain tasked with killing Admiral Kirk, Captain Clark Terrell of the USS Reliant, and Captain Dathon, from the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Darmok”
Captain’s Terrell and Dathon was played by actor Paul Winfield.
Clark Terrell was a Starfleet captain in the 23rd century, and during 2285 he commanded the Federation Starship Reliant, a Miranda-class vessel. Terrell and the crew of the Reliant, assisted by Commander Chekov was assigned to support the Genesis Project, led by Dr. Carol Marcus and her son David. Terrell was in charge of looking for a suitable planet to test the Genesis Device.
During a surface survey of what they believed to be Ceti Alpha VI, Terrell and Chekov were captured by Khan Noonien Singh and his followers, who had been exiled there some 15 years previously. Terrell and Chekov discovered that they were in fact on Ceti Alpha V, and that Ceti Alpha VI had actually exploded only six months after Khan was marooned.
In order to force Terrell to reveal their purpose on the surface, Khan infested him and Chekov with parasitic Ceti eels, which affected the cerebral cortex and allowed Khan to control them by suggestion. Using Terrell, Khan took control of theReliant, stranded the Starfleet crew on the surface, and attacked spacelab Regula I, the location of the research for the Genesis Project. When Khan failed to find Genesis, he abandoned Terrell and Chekov on the station as a trap for Admiral Kirk.
The pair were rescued a short time later by a boarding party from the USS Enterprise, and subsequently discovered where the Genesis materials had been hidden – underground on Regula I itself. With the Genesis materials uncovered, Terrell contacted Khan with the coordinates, allowing Khan to steal the powerful Genesis torpedo.
Believing Kirk ‘killed everyone they left behind’ and had ordered Terrell to take possession of Genesis, David rushed Kirk in a fit of anger.Terrell fired his phaser, with Saavik tackling David. The blast instead hit Jedda, who was vaporized. Khan then ordered Terrell to kill Admiral Kirk. However, Terrell resisted this last deadly order. Under immense pain from the Ceti eel, Terrell turned his phaser on himself, choosing to commit suicide rather than murder another Starfleet officer.
In the shooting script for Star Trek II, it is revealed that Terrell and Dr. McCoy were old friends, but the dialogue that established this was cut from the final film.
Dathon was a Tamarian who held the position of captain on a Tamarian deep space cruiser during the late-24th century.
In 2368, Dathon became the first of his race to successfully establish communications with United Federation of Planets when his ship rendezvoused with the USS Enterprise-D at El-Adrel IV.
Because the Tamarian language was based upon a series of metaphors, prior attempts to communicate verbally had failed. Knowing this, Dathon beamed himself and Starfleet Captain Jean-Luc Picard down to the planet, where he hoped that some time together would better help them understand each other’s languages. At first, Captain Picard believed Dathon had kidnapped him and when the Tamarian offered him his dagger, Picard assumed he wished to engage in combat and thus refused. In reality, Dathon was offering Picard a weapon to defend himself against an electromagnetic lifeform that resided on the planet.
After a short time on the surface, the lifeform attacked the two men, wounding Dathon. Picard was able to fend off the creature and tend to Dathon’s injuries. It was during this time that Dathon was able to “teach” Picard how his language worked – using metaphors; proper names and places Dathon cited were references to situations in his history. Armed with this new found understanding, the two were successfully able to communicate on a basic level, which assisted in defeating the creature a second time.
However, this victory came with a price as Dathon was mortally wounded. But his sacrifice was not in vain, as when Picard returned to the Enterprise, he was able to successfully communicate with Dathon’s ship and explain how their captain was killed, thereby opening a new era in relations with the Tamarian people.