902: Darmok and Jalad

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Darmok and Jalad
I wonder how often Patrick Stewart has Darmok flashbacks when talking to Star Trek fans.
Title text: I wonder how often Patrick Stewart has Darmok flashbacks when talking to Star Trek fans.


This comic is a parody of the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Darmok" in which Captain Picard and the Enterprise crew meet with a Tamarian ship. They can translate the individual words of Tamarian with perfect accuracy, but the Tamarians communicate using metaphors based on their own history and culture—without these cultural references, the Enterprise crew are unable to understand what the Tamarians are actually saying. The Tamarian captain deliberately strands himself and Picard on a planet, repeating the phrase "Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra". Ultimately, Picard realizes that the line refers to a story of two warriors marooned on an island (Tanagra) who work together to defeat a common foe. The alien's intention is that he and Picard work together to defeat a predator as a way to cement ties between the Tamarians and the Federation.

In the comic, instead of suggesting a dramatic gesture to achieve a diplomatic breakthrough, the alien seems to be suggesting a one-night stand, hence the wink in the final panel. It is not clear if he is chatting up Deanna Troi (who has the long curly hair) or Picard. However, given that in the original episode Darmok and Jalad (the two warriors) were metaphorically identified with Dathon and Picard, it seems likely that he is flirting with Picard.

The title text suggests that the actor Patrick Stewart, who played Captain Picard, might find Star Trek fans indecipherable, in the same way that Captain Picard found the Tamarians indecipherable. This is a joke about how Star Trek fans stereotypically make constant references to the franchise which are so dense and obscure that even the program's actors might find them impossible to understand. This tendency is parodied in the film Galaxy Quest, a whole-work expy of the Star Trek phenomenon, in which the original actors need to consult their more dedicated fans how extremely faithful real-life alien reconstructions of the original fictional sets and equipment actually operate.


[Captain Dathon is seen on a communications screen.]
Alien: Darmok and Jalad at Kalenda's!
[Jean-Luc Picard and Deanna Troi stand next to each other, looking off to the right.]
Picard: Their language must be based on folklore and metaphor! Computer! Search cultural archives for Darmok-Jalad-Kalenda!
[Picard and Troi listen to the response.]
Computer (off-panel): In Tamarian legend, Darmok and Jalad got totally wasted and hooked up at a party at Kalenda's.
[Dathon is seen on the communications screen again, winking.]

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I've always been kind of lukewarm about this comic. I get it, but it doesn't hit any point incredibly well like some of the other comics do. Davidy²²[talk] 01:58, 17 April 2013 (UTC)

As someone who doesn't know much about Star Trek, why the "wiiiiiink" from Dathon? --Someone Else 37 (talk) 00:47, 29 May 2014 (UTC)

Not sure what might be unclear that is not explained pretty well in the explanation above (?) - a wink is fairly universal in "western" culture as being stress placed on a suggestion -- Brettpeirce (talk) 14:13, 1 December 2014 (UTC)

Explain xkcd. It's 'cause you haven't watched a particular episode of Star Trek could be a more fitting tagline for this wiki. And by that I'm suggesting that Munroe might have narrowed down his intended audience a bit too much in this case. Mumiemonstret (talk) 09:17, 10 December 2014 (UTC) Having viewed one star trek, or parts thereof, haven't you seen them all, or sum of parts therefore?

Have to disagree. Seems to me that many xkcd's are quite narrow in the audience who immediately understand. Take [1] If you're in Toastmasters and have been around a while, the joke is immediately clear; most others, however, have probably never encountered somebody so pedantic as to care whether you called it a "podium" or a "lectern." 05:02, 27 January 2017 (UTC)

I used Google News BEFORE it was clickbait (talk) 20:13, 23 January 2015 (UTC)

Speaking as a Star Trek fan who has watched the episodes several times, this comic was great and immediately understood. Darmok is one of the finer episodes of Season 5 in the The Next Generation series, and the fact that he even added the ridges to the alien captain's head was a nice touch for stick figures. Yes, it lowered the "immediately get it" audience, but if it encourages people to pull up this episode on the video streaming service of their choice to help understand the comic, they'll be better off for it. It's very much one of the more "thinking" episodes in the series and worth watching, even if you don't usually watch Star Trek media. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Literally "tili-tili-testo" 07:07, 10 June 2024 (UTC)