Star Trek and Epic Heroes.
“Sokath, his eyes uncovered!” When Captain Jean-Luc Picard finally cracked the Tamarian language, he countered “Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra” with an ancient myth of his own: the Epic of Gilgamesh. One of the earliest known works of literature, this deeply strange but profoundly beautiful Mesopotamian poem, predating the Old Testament by more than a thousand years, offers an unlikely bridge between two very different spacefaring cultures.
In this episode of Primitive Culture, host Duncan Barrett is joined by Clara Cook to discuss Star Trek’s engagement with epic narratives, focusing on the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Old English poem Beowulf, as played out in TNG’s “Darmok” and Voyager’s “Heroes and Demons.” Do Starfleet’s brave and brilliant officers share a common heritage with the epic heroes of yore? And to what extent can a twenty-fourth-century reader understand a poem written in a culture so alien from their own?
Epic of Gilgamesh and “Darmok” (00:03:31)
Beowulf and “Heroes and Demons” (00:31:46)
Heroic Qualities and Epic Tropes (00:43:16)
Monsters and Realism (01:07:02)
High and Low Culture (01:24:34)
Final Thoughts (01:36:59)
Justin Oser (Editor) C Bryan Jones (Executive Producer) Matthew Rushing (Executive Producer) Ken Tripp (Executive Producer) Norman C. Lao (Associate Producer) Amy Nelson (Associate Producer) Richard Marquez (Production Manager) Brandon-Shea Mutala (Patreon Manager)
Cinematic Influences on Star Trek: First Contact. We discuss the influence of Ridley Scott, Steven Spielberg, and James Cameron on Jonathan Frakes and how their films inspired his big-screen directorial debut.
Gay Representation in Star Trek. We look at the franchise's fraught engagement with LGBT issues, from The Next Generation to Discovery.
Star Trek's Impossible Choices. We consider the influence of Sophie's Choice on Star Trek's storytelling and the dilemmas Starfleet captains are forced to face that the rest of us might consider impossible.
Voyager, History, and Nostalgia. We explore the show’s obsession with the past, debates around historical truth, the pleasures of nostalgia, and whether the homeward mission was inherently retrogressive.
A Christmas Carol and Tapestry. In this special holiday episode, we look at the influence of Dickens’s classic story on of the most popular episodes of TNG and the role Christmas plays in the secular societies we see in Star Trek.
Star Trek and Human Rights. To mark International Human Rights Day, we consider how Star Trek has engaged with real-world debates about human and animal rights, the impact of war on our most dearly held principles, and the Federation’s role in policing the future.
Director’s Cuts and Star Trek. At this live roundtable recorded at Prince Charles Cinema in London, we discuss how a director’s cut impacts the fan relationship with a film before we watch the UK premiere of the director’s extended edition of The Wrath of Khan.
Time Loops in Star Trek. We consider the role of time loops, both within the Star Trek universe and beyond, and explore the darker issues at play when the loops begin to unravel.
The X-Files and Star Trek. In a Halloween special, we explore connections between these two long-running sci-fi franchises.
The Federation’s Field of Dreams. We discuss baseball in Star Trek and why it’s such a good fit for storytelling in Gene Roddenberry’s universe.