Category Archives: Andorian

“Babel One”/ “United”/ “The Aenar”

I'd like to speak about the menu. "Pork chops" hits a little too close to home Captain.
“I’d like to speak about the menu. ‘Pork chops’ hits a little too close to home, Captain.”

Babel One: Enterprise is escorting some Tellarites through Andorian space to a conference where Earth will mediate a dispute between the two races on the planet Babel. Along the way, the ship comes upon escape pods from Shran’s vessel, which apparently was attacked by a Tellarite ship and was destroyed, resulting in the death of most of Shran’s crew. Shran’s out for revenge, but Archer is skeptical that the Tellarites would attack on the eve of the Babel meeting. It’s then learned that the power signature of the ship that attacked Shran’s wasn’t Tellarite and most closely resembles readings Enterprise encountered in the Romulan minefield two years earlier. Enterprise is then attacked by a vessel that looks Andorian, but has the same Romulan power signature. Apparently, the Romulans have developed a ship that can project the image of others and is trying to destabilize the region. That ship has mechanical issues, and Tucker and Reed are able to board it to find some answers. Meanwhile, Shran and Talas, (seen in “Proving Ground”) attack the Tellarite delegation, and Talas is seriously wounded. The episode ends as the Romulan ship warps away — with Tucker and Reed still aboard — and the reveal that the Romulans controlling the ship are doing so remotely, from their homeworld.

United: Tucker and Reed are still stuck on the Romulan ship and eventually figure out it’s run by remote. Meanwhile, Archer is trying to build a coalition of Vulcan, Andorian and Tellarite ships to build a detection grid to find the marauder, with Enterprise — representing the only race on good terms with the others — as the command ship. Shran agrees to participate, but after Talas dies, he demands the right of vengeance (in hand-to-hand combat) against the Tellarite who killed her. In a very TOS moment, Archer takes the Tellarite’s place — knowing it’s the only way to maintain the alliance — and finds a very clever (too much so, really) loophole that allows him to incapacitate Shran without killing him. Archer’s armada eventually finds the marauder and get Tucker and Reed off of it, while the other ships pursue the marauder. The Romulan ship gets away, but not before the feuding groups unite against a common enemy. Then, Shran, Archer and the Tellarites begin talking on their way to the summit on Babel. The episode ends with the Romulans who have been running the remote ship revealing its pilot — an odd, white-skinned Andorian.

The Aenar: Turns out that white-skinned Andorian was a member of the Aenar, a sub-species of the Andorians, who are blind telepaths. Enterprise (with Shran along) heads to Andoria to find out why an Aenar would cooperate with the Romulans, and learn that one of them went missing months earlier (presumably, kidnapped by Romulans). Back on the ship, Tucker builds an interface similar to the one on the marauder to try to interfere with the Aenar pilot. After T’Pol uses it and is hurt — Tucker messed up because he was worried about T’Pol’s safety — the job falls to Jhamel (Alexandra Lydon) an Aenar female — and brother of the Romulans’ pilot — who came back with Archer and Shran. Eventually, there’s a battle, where Enterprise must take on two drone ships. Jhamel gets her brother to stop the attack and the drone ships are destroyed (with the Romulans killing Jhamel’s brother). The threat ended, Enterprise heads back to Earth — and Tucker asks Archer for a transfer to the Enterprise’s new sister ship, as it’s become too much for him to be around T’Pol.

They can do a lot with this "simple impulse" power source they've got on board.
“They can do a lot with this ‘simple impulse’ power source they’ve got on board.”

Why it’s important

This three-parter might be the most consequential of Enterprise’s final season. A quick summary of what happens:

— We see how humans, Vulcans, Andorians and Tellarites start forming their alliance. Turns out Romulan efforts to destabilize the region caused the four species to unify against the threat, a unification that ultimately leads to the Federation. Plus, we see how and why humanity takes on a leading role, even if it’s the least advanced of the races.

— We see Andoria and learn more about the Andorians, including their sub-species, the Aenar. We also see the continuing bond forming between Archer and Shran.

— We learn more about the Tellarites, though not much. Basically, they’re argumentative.

— We learn that the Vulcans have started becoming the mystics we see in TOS and beyond as a result of the previous three-parter. It’s interesting that with the dissolution of the Vulcan High Command, many Vulcans apparently left their positions on Vulcan combat ships. That makes a great deal of sense going forward, as we see Vulcans on Starfleet ships, but only sparingly. In other words, the Vulcans are still players in galactic affairs but are generally more inward-facing.

— While we didn’t get into much of the interaction on Romulus in the above recap, we do see a lot of it. None of it is particularly groundbreaking, as we all know the Romulans are sneaky and duplicitous and that they’re related to the Vulcans. My guess is the main Romulan here, Admiral Valdore (Brian Thompson) was being set up to be a recurring character. But, of course, Enterprise didn’t last much longer.

Shran?! Thee has chosen the kal-if-fee?!!!
“Shran?! Thee has chosen the kal-if-fee?!!!”

What doesn’t hold up

Part three is the weakest of the episodes, which was a problem in the mini-arcs of season four. Lots of build up, weaker payoff.

I’ve also always been slightly put off by the idea that only humans could have the patience/adaptability to deal with the other species and to get them to unite together. This is a major thread of the fourth season, and Archer actually tells Shran and the Tellarites that they should start acting more like humans. It’s pretty freaking arrogant, frankly. Granted, the other species seem pretty headstrong, but the generalizations about them — Andorians are arrogant, Tellarites are combative — are just that, generalizations.

It makes humanity’s role seem really important, but only if you accept the conceit that the aliens we’ve encountered are one-dimensional — or, at least, the ones that would be part of the Federation. This might be a big reason why I prefer the third season to the fourth. The Xindi end up being so much more layered and interesting than the Andorians or Tellarites. It’s also why the Vulcan three-parter is the strongest of the arcs, as the Vulcans (thankfully) get good and compelling texture.

Lastly, I don’t quite buy that Archer could end the struggle with Shran by incapacitating him. The idea is that Shran is so impressed that Archer respected his culture that he would put aside his anger against the Tellarites. Sorry, but that’s goofy. It would have made more sense to cut out the “fight to the death!” and have Shran come to his senses because of the Romulan threat.

I want off the ship Captain. It's not likely to have another seaso... uh voyage... yeah another voyage after this one. At not in this timeline/universe.
“I want off the ship, Captain. It’s not likely to have another seaso… uh, voyage… yeah another voyage, after this one. And not in this timeline/universe.”

Final thoughts

I haven’t really gotten into the Tucker-T’Pol stuff that started in the third season and continued into the fourth. There are parts of it I really liked, but the will-they/won’t-they gets extremely repetitive (especially, knowing what we know of the series finale). The best part about it was that it opened up the T’Pol character, making her more interesting than she was in the first two seasons. Of course, it’s too bad that the main female character on the show had to have a love interest to become more interesting. Sigh.

We’ll talk more about the Tucker transfer in subsequent episodes, as I’m not crazy about the way the characters handled it (particularly the writing and acting for Archer). But more on that to come.

Coming later this week …

Fan service at its greatest (and most absurd) heights. We’re getting canceled? Better explain why Klingons didn’t have forehead ridges in TOS!



“The Forge”/ “Awakening”/ “Kir’Shara”

Live long and prosper? How?! More like, find some shade and chill out, eh T'Pol?
“Live long and prosper? How?! More like, find some shade and chill out, eh, T’Pol?”

The Forge: A bombing occurs at Earth’s new embassy on Vulcan, killing (among others) Admiral Forest (Vaughn Armstrong), Enterprise’s friend and handler back home for the first three seasons. Vulcan’s big boss, Administrator V’Las (Robert Foxworth) tells Archer the bombing was the work of a group of extremists called the Syrannites, who follow a supposedly perverted form of the teachings of Surak (the Vulcan messiah, seen in “The Savage Curtain” and referenced elsewhere). T’Pol learns that her mother (whom we met in “Home”) is among the Syrannites, who live in isolation. Archer and T’Pol go on a dangerous desert journey to find them, and encounter a Vulcan wanderer, who is quickly killed in a sandstorm but seems to mind meld with Archer before he does. Back on Enterprise, Phlox, with the help of a VERY cooperative Ambassador Soval (from the pilot and many other episodes), determines that the evidence pointing to the Syrannites was planted by one of V’Las’ men, but the crew has no way of informing Archer, who, along with T’Pol, have been taken prisoner (because Archer) by the Syrannites.

Awakening: Soval is stripped of his title by for subverting the High Command and using a mind meld to gather information on the bombing. V’Las has also eliminated any linkage between himself and the bomber, and Soval decides to help Tucker in his investigation. Meanwhile, Archer and T’Pol meet up with Syrannite leader T’Pau (Kara Zediker, reprising a character seen way back in “Amok Time”) and T’Pol’s mother T’Les (Joanna Cassidy). Archer begins to see visions, apparently of Surak, thanks to the mind meld in the previous episode. Granted permission to look around some ancient ruins by the Syrannites, Archer finds the Kir’Shara, an artifact that will show that the Syrannites interpretation of Surak’s teaching is correct. But T’Les is killed as V’Las begins bombing the Syrannite compound. The episode ends as Tucker sets course for Andoria — after Soval has informed him that V’Las is planning a major offensive against the Andorians.

Kir’Shara: Archer, T’Pol and T’Pau have escaped with the Kir’Shara and must try to get it to the Vulcan capitol. Tucker and Soval make contact with the Andorians, specifically Commander Shran, who is part of a small fleet hiding in a nebula between Vulcan and Andoria, anticipating an attack. Shran doesn’t initially believe Soval but buys the story after Soval won’t break under torture. Back on Vulcan, T’Pol has been captured, but Archer and T’Pau make their way to the capitol, eventually getting to V’Las’ chambers and showing the Vulcan leaders the Kir’Shara, preventing the Vulcan fleet from a full out attack against the Andorians (Tucker has delayed the battle). Surak’s katra is taken from Archer, there’s some indication the High Command will be disbanded and V’Las is discredited. But the episode ends with V’Las meeting with a shadowy character, apparently a Romulan, discussing how their plan failed.

Would thee likest to joinest my Shakespeare company?
“Would thee likest to joinest my Shakespeare company?”

Why it’s important

One of the key gripes about early Enterprise was that it painted Vulcans as officious at best and almost villainous at worst. Archer and Co. were often at odds with Soval and other Vulcans, making it a major thread of the first two seasons and beyond. Particularly concerning was the duplicitous nature of the Vulcans when interacting with the Andorians.

This three-parter sort of set things right. The “true” teachings of Surak would apparently go on to have a profound impact on Vulcans to make them more in line with what we saw in TOS and beyond (i.e. logical AND honorable). That T’Pau goes on to become leader of the Vulcans — and even shows up more than a century later in TOS — is more proof that the Syrannites’ way was embraced by the entire Vulcan society. Put another way: All Vulcans we see in other series and movies are Syrannites.

This is also another moment where humanity (through Enterprise) became more tied to other species, eventually leading to the Federation. It’s interesting here that Tucker takes point on that with the Andorians and Soval while Archer and T’Pol follow a parallel track on Vulcan. Archer’s place in history, if it wasn’t already, gets further cemented here.

What doesn’t hold up

V’Las’ timing has never made a lot of sense. Apparently, he decided to take out what he views as an extremist faction (the Syrannites) and mount an offensive against Andoria all around the time Earth’s embassy was set to open. As the bombing was orchestrated by V’Las to implicate the Syrannites, why not wait a few weeks or months before attacking Andoria? At the very least, Starfleet wouldn’t have been around to intervene. It’s not as if the Syrannite threat gave V’Las more power to attack the Andorians.

There’s also the matter of what Archer ends up knowing while he possesses Surak’s katra. In part three, he has very specific knowledge of V’Las’ plans, even though Surak had been dead for centuries. The implication is that Surak is ethereal, allowing him to know things from beyond the grave — or that Syran (the Vulcan who passed Surak’s katra on to Archer) knew about V’Las’ plan. Neither scenario makes much sense, especially when you consider that Archer didn’t need more motivation to bring the Kir’Shara to the Vulcan leaders (and that the audience didn’t need the exposition). He could have been trying to get the Kir’Shara to the capitol to supplant V’Las and to start the Vulcan awakening.

Then there’s Soval. Granted, there were some slight indications that he was starting to respect Archer and humans generally. But he goes to friend territory FAR too quickly here. I can buy that he would disagree with V’Las, but not that he’d go rogue and work with Tucker. I think the idea is that his friendship with and death of Forest played a role. But Soval basically acts as impulsively as he accused Archer of doing for three seasons. Hmmm.

Finally, it was cool of the creators to bring back T’Pau, as this episode explains why she was so revered when Kirk and McCoy met her in TOS. But T’Pau the first time we see her speaks like she’s from a Shakespeare revival festival, and doesn’t here. I suppose having her speak as she did in TOS would have been odd/hard to explain, but I still need to note it.

Let's continue this nefarious Romulan plan in Season 5...
“Let’s continue this nefarious Romulan plan in Season 5… Oh wait.”

Final thoughts

While the season’s first three-parter is classic Trek mythology, this three-parter is more significant in that it shows how the Federation is beginning to take shape and how Earth will be involved. It’s also executed better and doesn’t have the (ahem) logical problems of the Augments trilogy, even accounting for the weirdness with Soval.

The events here show that the Vulcan will become less active players in interstellar events, opening the door for the more neutral humans to build a coalition with the Vulcans, Andorians and (later) the Tellarites. That’s important, as Vulcans had sort of been the big players previously.

The Romulan appearance at the end of the episode is interesting, too, as it shows how the Romulans were working to undermine stability in our corner of the galaxy. That shows up later this season, but we never see the Romulan-Vulcan angle again on Enterprise, which is too bad. I’m guessing it would have happened had their been a fifth season.

Coming next week …

So, you say you want a coalition … well, y’know …

“The Council”/ “Countdown”/ “Zero Hour”

Hey, while I've got you here... What does a god need with a starship?
“Hey, while I’ve got you here … What does a god need with a starship?”

The Council: Degra takes Archer to the Xindi council, first seen way back in “The Xindi”. With Degra’s help, Archer’s task is to convince the council that humanity is not a threat and that the trans-dimensional aliens — whom we learn the Xindi revere as religious figures, called the Guardians — are lying about humanity and manipulating the Xindi. The Xindi humanoids and arboreals are with Degra, but the insectoids and reptilians aren’t and the aquatics are undecided. Then, the reptilians — led by Commander Dolim (Scott MacDonald), the reptilian we’ve seen for months — surprisingly agree to delay the weapon’s launch. Archer and Co. begin to breath a sigh of relief, but then Dolim kills Degra — the reptilians’ earlier vote was a ruse and Dolim knows about Degra’s role in the destruction of a reptilian vessel — and steals the weapon (along with the insectoids) and kidnaps Sato. They then flee, presumably for Earth.

Countdown: The Xindi council has fractured, and Dolim and the insectoids are trying to get the weapon’s activation codes using a tortured Sato’s linguistic skills. To stop the reptilians, Archer convinces the aquatics to help by telling them that Enterprise can destroy the spheres and prevent the expanse from turning into a trans-dimensional wasteland. A short battle ensues, but Dolim is able to jump into a subspace vortex with the weapon and head for Earth (after Enterprise recovers Sato). With few options left, Archer, Reed, Sato and some MACOs take Degra’s ship (it’s fast) into the vortex to pursue the weapon while T’Pol and Trip lead Enterprise in its efforts to destroy the spheres.

Zero Hour: Archer and Co. catch up with the weapon in orbit of Earth and are assisted by Shran and his ship in taking out the escort Xindi vessels. Meanwhile, T’Pol and Trip finalize their plan to destroy the spheres and head toward sphere 41, a key to knocking out the network. But the sphere builders have taken notice, and can interfere with the ship’s efforts while it’s in the area around the sphere. After being told by Daniels not to lead the mission, Archer boards the sphere with Reed, Sato and some MACOs and start its self-destruct process. But Archer must go one-on-one with Dolim to complete the task, and is apparently lost in the process as the weapon explodes over Earth. Reed and Sato escape and return to Enterprise  — where T’Pol and Trip have successfully destroyed the spheres and ending the Guardian threat — and inform the crew that the mission succeeded, but that Archer is dead. The ship returns to Earth, but is disturbed to find they’ve been thrown back in time to the 1940s (!) in the middle of World War II. The episode ends with a badly wounded Archer in a Nazi hospital that contains an odd-looking alien with red, glowing eyes.

Are you sure you didn't mean to kidnap Archer. He's really good at getting captured. Let me go get him for you...
“Are you sure you didn’t mean to kidnap Archer? He’s really good at getting captured. Let me go get him for you…”

Why it’s important

Archer’s efforts to find a peaceful solution are pure Star Trek, and it’s clear that his efforts here — even though they’re undermined by Dolim and the insectoids — are important in setting the peace-first approach that we see throughout the rest of the franchise.

And, of course, the success of the mission to stop the Xindi from destroying Earth is hugely, hugely important (duh) but Enterprise’s parallel efforts to stop the Guardians is important, too. If those efforts hadn’t been successful, more conflicts with would have happened, apparently, for hundreds of years (at least, according to Daniels).

We’ll explore how and why Enterprise ended up in the 1940s in our next review. But the events about that in “Zero Hour” end up being significant.

Prepare to wipe this "Pale Blue Dot" out of existence!
“Prepare to wipe this ‘Pale Blue Dot’ out of existence!”

What doesn’t hold up

One of the key premises of the end of the Xindi arc is that the weapon can only be activated with codes from three of the five Xindi species. This is why Dolim kidnaps Sato — because he needs her to crack at least one code not belonging to the reptilians and insectoids. But, why wouldn’t the weapon require all five codes? If the idea is to unify the Xindi people …

That said “The Council” and “Countdown” are pretty solid episodes — and “Zero Hour” mostly works, though there are a few problems.

My biggest gripe is that we see no Earth vessels when the weapon pops up in the Terran system. Shouldn’t there be a fleet of Earth ships ready to defend the planet, on guard after the first Xindi incident? Remember that a year earlier, Earth vessels helped defend Enterprise against a Klingon attack upon Archer’s return to Earth. Keep in mind that the Xindi destroy a science station (identified by Archer) in orbit of the planet, and that Shran shows up — meaning that the battle in Earth’s orbit didn’t take place in the 1940s. This is a constant problem in Trek, with all apologies to the Mars defense perimeter. And why didn’t Archer try to contact Starfleet after Degra’s ship reached Earth — or why didn’t Reed reach out after the weapon was destroyed?

Then, there’s the time travel at the end. Aside from the WTF moment with the alien right before the credits, do we know when Enterprise traveled back in time? Did the Xindi ship that brought Enterprise back to Earth ALSO travel back in time? And doesn’t the ability to bring the entire ship back 200 years seriously increase what we know of Daniels’ abilities?

And at Captain, Number 7, Jonathan Archerrrrrrr!
And at Captain, Number 7, Jonathan Archerrrrrrr!

Final thoughts

Putting aside the final developments of “Zero Hour” until our next review, I’m a big fan of the last 10 episodes of this season, and I give the creators credit for tying in the disparate elements from earlier episodes fairly well. It would have been nice for the creators to address why the Xindi conducted their first attack on Earth — which in the long-term, didn’t accomplish anything that the final attack wouldn’t have and merely alerted humanity to the threat. There are ways it could have been justified. Perhaps the reptilians had gone rogue or a subset of Xindi who opposed the bigger attack thought it was the best way to alert humanity?

It’s also too bad that what we see here is essentially the last we see of the Xindi. We know from Daniels that the Xindi and humanity will some day work together, and the unnamed humanoid Xindi who takes over as Archer’s main contact after Degra is killed alludes to forging a relationship. But we don’t see the Xindi again (other than in a dream sequence) after “Zero Hour”. Formalizing relations with them would have been an interesting topic for Enterprise’s final season — or a fifth season that never came to be.

Of course, it’s been speculated — by Connor Trinnear, among others — that the creators ended the episode as they did to make fans angrier at UPN had the show been canceled after the third season (which was a possibility). That’s interesting, but can you imagine if the very last thing we saw in second-generation Trek was an unknown alien with red glowing eyes in a NAZI uniform?

Coming next week …

Space Nazis!

Enterprise made Space Nazis cool long before Iron Sky.
Enterprise made Space Nazis cool long before Iron Sky.

“Proving Ground”/ “Stratagem”/ “Harbinger”

Archer: That's no moon, that's a space station! T'Pol: That hasn't been funny the 33 other times we've scanned a moon... sir.
Archer: That’s no moon, that’s a space station! T’Pol: That hasn’t been funny the 33 other times we’ve scanned a moon… sir.

Proving Ground: Our old buddy Shran (seen in “The Andorian Incident” and “Cease Fire”) shows up, purportedly to help Enterprise with its mission. Shran says all the right things and his crew helps repair Enterprise after a nasty encounter with some anomalies. Then, Archer and Shran work together to steal a prototype of the Xindi weapon at a test site run by Degra (from “The Shipment”) but it turns out Shran’s orders are to steal the weapon so his people can use it against the Vulcans. Archer stops him and the prototype is destroyed, but Shran secretly shares some scans he was able to make — showing that despite his orders, he wants to help humanity, thanks to his growing friendship with Archer.

Stratagem: Archer and Degra, looking disheveled and older, are on a shuttle, running for their lives. After evading their pursuers, Archer says Degra’s memory is failing him but that the two escaped from a Xindi insectoid prison — three years after Earth’s destruction and the insectoid takeover of the Xindi. But it’s all a ruse Archer cooked up to try to learn where the weapon is being constructed after discovering Degra and his crew unconscious on their vessel. Degra figures it out eventually but Archer still tricks him into revealing the coordinates of the ominous Azati Prime. Degra and his crew are then put back on their vessel, with memories wiped by Phlox.

Harbinger: Amid a couple meh subplots involving Trip and T’Pol getting busy (which is consequential) and Reed and Hayes getting fighty, Enterprise finds a trans-dimensional alien in a pod near a sphere. The alien can’t really exist in normal space, but the crew figures out that the alien and his people are trying to make our favorite galaxy habitable for their way of life — perhaps explaining the spheres, the anomalies and the Delphic Expanse itself. With the situation in the Expanse further complicated, the alien vanishes with an ominous warning for Archer.

"Mine says 'Degra 4ever' and yours says 'Archer 4ever'"
“Mine says ‘Degra 4ever’ and yours says ‘Archer 4ever'”

Why it’s important

The first two episodes continue to develop Degra, a key character in season three of Enterprise. “Proving Ground” is important as it also furthers the relationship with Shran and the Andorians (which is important later) while it clearly delays the weapon’s development. It also ties in with “The Shipment” in that the kemocite in the weapon apparently was sabotaged by Gralik (the Xindi Archer made friends with in that episode). We also meet Talas (Molly Brink), a key Andorian in season four.

“Stratagem” is important because it gives Archer the time to get to know Degra, which is important as he tries to argue against the Xindi’s plan to destroy humanity later in the season. Further, Enterprise gets the location of Azati Prime, which is a huge development.

“Harbinger” isn’t as strong because of the subplots, but the introductions of the trans-dimensional aliens is extremely important. These three episodes, as we’ll discuss, are really the turning point in the Xindi arc, taking it from a rather “meh” overall showing to something that actually works quite well.

I've taken the liberty of upgrading the galley's beer fridge.
“I’ve taken the liberty of upgrading the galley’s beer fridge.”

What doesn’t hold up

“Proving Ground” is pretty solid, though it’s hard to believe that the Andorians would go to such lengths to build up their defenses against the Vulcans.

“Stratagem” suffers from something we see a lot in Star Trek, in what I call “Blaze of Glory” syndrome. For those who aren’t familiar, that’s a strong DS9 episode that is undercut by implausibility of the plan of a key character. In “Stratagem”, the problem is that Archer and Co. likely could have found a much simpler — but far less dramatic — way of getting Azati Prime’s location out of Degra. But, then, it would have been less entertaining. I suppose it is good that Archer doesn’t resort to his torturing ways from “Anomaly”.

And while the key developments in “Harbinger” are good and important, the Reed/Hayes plot is pretty boring and trite, and the Trip/T’Pol romance feels far too trivial, even if it works out later. Also, Amanda Cole (Noa Tishby) the MACO whom Trip is starting to mess around with until T’Pol jumps in, shouldn’t have just disappeared after this episode. This Enterprise has a crew of just 80-some people, after all. It would have been interesting if Cole was one of the crew members who died in upcoming episodes.

Worst. Star Trek-Fantastic Four crossover. Ever.
Worst. Star Trek-Fantastic Four crossover. Ever.

Final thoughts

“Proving Ground” is the strongest of the three episodes, but they’re all good showings, if not great. As noted above, this is where Enterprise and season three started to hit their strides.

The three-episode review structure is something our dear readers will likely see a lot more of as we draw to a close with Enterprise.

Coming later this week …

Enterprise’s best and most visceral three episodes. Also, arguably its most controversial.

“Cease Fire”

"I'll tell you what the high command wants. What they really, really want."
“I’ll tell you what the high command wants. What they really, really want.”

Archer is asked to mediate a dispute between the Vulcans and Andorians over a small planet both species claim. The request comes from Shran (our buddy from “The Andorian Incident”) and is opposed by Vulcan ambassador Soval (whom we first saw in the pilot as a thorn in Archer’s side). Despite some firefights on the planet, some infighting among the Andorians and a tense standoff in orbit, Archer is ultimately successful at getting the two sides talking, paving the way for a greater role for him — and humanity — in interstellar events.

Why it’s important

Although this episode has a lot of forgettable action sequences, it’s probably one of Enterprise’s most important pivot points. Archer, in a scene with Phlox, discusses how Starfleet’s mission might be about more than just “charting comets.” He begins to realize that his ship’s time in space might be about being part of a bigger community. This, of course, is a huge focus in season four, when the Federation begins taking shape, led by Archer’s efforts. And Earth’s neutrality between the Vulcans and Andorians (and later, the Tellarites) is extremely important.

Also, this episode furthers Shran as the main point of contact among the Andorians and shows Soval’s (very slowly) growing respect for Archer. It’s also interesting to watch T’Pol here, as she’s clearly rooting for and trying to help Archer and growing further apart from Soval and the Vulcans generally.

Andorian sexual dimorphism?
Andorian sexual dimorphism?

What doesn’t hold up

Well, the action sequences (as noted) were fairly routine. But the biggest annoyance is the way this episode (like a lot of early Enterprise) paints the Vulcans. Their disdain for humanity is actually quite emotional. Granted, the creators clearly realized they needed a way to explain why 22nd-century Vulcans were such jerks so different than 23rd- and 24th-century Vulcans and did so in the fourth season, as we’ll discuss. But, the condescension is really over the top in a lot of Enterprise, particularly here.

The last quibble pops up in a lot of Trek — when aliens use Earth time increments. Often, this is for the smooth flow of an episode. But here, when an agreement between Vulcan and Andoria is called “the treaty of 2097” by Soval, it really stands out as being awkward and unnecessary. Enterprise wasn’t the only series in which aliens used Earth time measurements, (DS9 was probably the worst, with references to Klingon blood wine of vintages measured in Earth years) but this was a particularly egregious example. There was just no reason a time/date needed to be mentioned in the treaty.

I demand that this treaty be dated August 15th, 20XX. Because the Earth calendar makes absolutely no sense to either of us!
“I demand that this treaty be dated August 15th, 2152. Because the Earth calendar makes absolutely no sense to either of us!”

Final thoughts

This is about as B+ of an episode as Trek can produce. It’s not bad and it’s entertaining at points, but there’s a definite feeling of “been there, done that,” even if it was a key moment of foundation for Trek and for the series. I can imagine there were times in Enterprise’s second season when the creators wondered why episodes like this didn’t resonate the way they would have 10 years earlier. Realizing that TV was changing and that fans were going through some Trek fatigue likely led to the drastic change in tone that we’ll address in our next review.

Archer’s line about comets is also interesting, in that Enterprise really doesn’t do much exploring for the rest of its run. There is even some meta-ish dialogue in the third and fourth seasons about this — but I think it came down to the creators realizing that they couldn’t make exploration (on its own) that interesting, either because TV had changed or this particular series did better with action-oriented stories. Instead, Enterprise’s best showings usually focused on conflicts with aliens, coalition building or both.

Coming later this week …

It’s the second-season finale and some major, major stuff happens. Hold onto your butts.