The Star Trek franchise features several iconic female villains—the Borg Queen, Kai Winn Adami, The Founder—but one who stole an early spotlight in her brief appearance was the Klingon operative Valkris, the graceful and mysterious lover of Commander Kruge from Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Played by Cathie Shirriff (Old Dracula, Shaping Up), Valkris is the first female Klingon to appear in the new Klingon design films.
In the film, Valkris undertakes a mission to obtain information on the Federation technology, the Genesis Device, which initiates the process of rapid terraforming, meaning uninhabited and unlivable planets could be colonized. The Search for Spock doesn’t provide details on how Valkris accomplished her mission, but at some point, she successfully retrieves the report filed by Admiral James T. Kirk on the device after hiring a merchant vessel to facilitate her task. Unfortunately for Valkris, she reviews the information, making her a liability to Kruge. After contacting Kruge and transferring the data to him, he destroys the merchant vessel to persevere the secrecy of Genesis, killing her instantly.
Valkris accepts her fate as only a true Klingon would, with bravery and honor. She bids farewell to Kruge and watches as her lord and lover powers his ship’s weapons before being blasted into oblivion. The novelization of the Search for Spock offers more details about the character’s backstory and her motivations. According to the novel, Valkris became one of the first females to lead a Klingon Great House and undertook the mission to retrieve the data on the Genesis Device, knowing that Kruge would kill her. The beautiful Klingon woman’s honor was tarnished following her ascension as head of her family’s House, enraging her older brother Kiosan who fell into dishonor. His misdeeds brought immense shame to the family, and Valkris was forced to disown him; however, the damage was done, and her family’s reputation was shattered.
Around this time, she became romantically linked to Kruge, and she believed he would help restore what was lost because of her brother’s actions. Kruge admired Valkris’s strength and beauty, viewing her as a fierce warrior. He somewhat regretted killing her, but she carried out her task with honor and bravely met her death.
Considering how seriously the Klingons take family honor, it’s no surprise Valkris took it upon herself to restore her family name—even if it meant death. Valkris only appeared in the first couple of minutes of The Search for Spock, but her brief role and costume were memorable. She’s first female Klingon character depicted showing cleavage, a feature that would later be exemplified by the Duras sisters, Lursa and B’tor.
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