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SEASON ONE AND SEASON TWO
EPISODE TWENTY-ONE: VOX SOLA
AIR DATE: Wednesday, MAY 1, 2002
ST consistently manages by virtue of the writers' sophistication to make the apparently mundane sophisticated. Using the "blob that ate New York," scenario, VOX SOLA sends a powerful message of tolerance and the need to respect "alien" cultures by communicating with clarity and accuracy.
The Kreetassan's only appear hostile. Because Ensign Hoshi cannot immediately find grammatical and syntactical equivalents for Kreetassan, they crew fails to understand how offensive their behavior is to their visitors. Since their word for eating and mating is virtually the same, the Kreetassan's never eat publicly just as we would not "mate" openly. Once rectified another malevolent perception changes. The "creature" that entombs several crew only appears to be sent by the Kreetassans as punishment. In reality, as effective first contact with them finally establishes, the "blob" is an intelligent life form that uses the crew to communicate its intention to get home quickly and safely. Aided by Hoshi and T'Pol, it finally does.
Dr. Phlox's refusal to allow Reed to experiment indiscriminately on the life form to free the crew without regard for its sentience reminds us of aliens in ST from Spock onward who comment on how quickly and pragmatically we humans sometimes forget the ideals to which we theoretically subscribe.
EPISODE TWENTY-TWO: FALLEN HERO
AIR DATE: Wednesday, MAY 8, 2002
This new series seems via flashback to dramatize events that made interstellar coexistence possible, and Fallen Hero addresses trust. Vulcans and humans have not had an empathetic history. Initially after first contact, the Vulcan high command viewed humanity as quasi-barbaric certainly not ready to manage morally the technology making warp drive possible, while humans angrily demanded that Vulcans shared their "secrets." T'Pol argued that first contact made so shortly after a catastrophic war that nearly destroyed earth was evidence enough that humanity lacked the wisdom of restraint, while Archer insisted that in the ensuing 100 years, humanity had proven its worth and could be trusted.
Such are the premises of this episode. Ambassador V'Lar obviously knows more than she wants to reveal, while Archer demands to know why a Vulcan would be expelled from a planet for criminal misconduct, and then recalled for further questioning. Not until T'Pol, herself innately distrustful of humans, convinces V'Lar to trust Archer do we know the truth. Likewise, she must trust Archer to accept her veracity regarding the ambassador. Both negotiate, and the episode has a successful resolution with V'Lar noting that the captain and science officer have a special bond.
In some respects those from Mazar are like us today. Quick to use force to cover their own criminal misconduct, they embody the passion that craves the moral context that Archer provides, while lacking the Vulcan discipline that makes that context possible. Such as synthesis requires courage, an idea Plato well understood in The Republic.
Parenthetically, Spock would never have been able to call Kirk his friend had the events in this episode not occurred.
EPISODE TWENTY-THREE: DESERT CROSSING
AIR DATE: Wednesday, MAY 8, 2002
Telecast on the same evening as FALLEN HERO, DESERT CROSSING addresses terrorism, not of course surprising in the aftermath of 9-11. The theme is not new to ST--everyone remembers the Dominion war of DS-9 during which Major Kira and the Cardassians seemed at different times to espouse the same tactics. So what is a terrorist?
Zobral and his company appear benign enough, anxious to have Archer and Trip recreate in camp, but in reality he wants Archer's expertise as fighter, since they believe he freed the 89 Suliban prisoners portrayed in DETAINED. To Chancellor Trellit of the Torothans, however, Zobral's men are terrorists. As with today, the issues is blurred. Are suicide bombers in the Middle East freedom fighters for Palestinian liberation, or terrorists killing innocent Israeli citizens? Archer of course disclaims any unique fighting skills, making Zobral wonder why he solicited his aid in the first place.
The Vulcans once again have the last word. Year later, Spock would argue that "diplomacy is the art of prolonging a crisis," while in this episode, T'Pol remarks that humanity will have to develop rules for multi-cultural contact; such is best not left to Starship captains (or generals?). Secretary of State Powell's recent trip to the Middle East suggests that humanity is still learning the process.
EPISODE TWENTY-FOUR: TWO DAYS AND TWO NIGHTS
AIR DATE: Wednesday, MAY 15, 2002
Did not Q, quoting Hartley, tell Commander Riker that humanity may best be judged by the games it plays? On Risa (never mentioned in Kirk's day) this premise is tested as the series moves toward next week's season finale.
The crew divided and undergoes all sorts of diverting and not always so pleasing adventures. Hoshi and Travis develop a linguistic attraction which rapidly leads to another kind, while Malcolm and Reed's seduction by two beautiful tourists demonstrates that reality and appearance surely are not the same: they are hijacked and robbed. We even see a bit of cognitive and emotional transformation as Phlox, awakened from hibernation, tries to treat Travis who injured himself in "Paradise." Archer, of course, has the most intriguing time as his liaison with Keyla hints at event to come perhaps in the finale. Is she an agent of Colonel Gratt's, looking for the Suliban? Why does he pass out when scratched by her? What does Kayla really want?
Are the Suliban (Taliban?) Terrorists or victims fighting oppression? Apparently, the series will develop this theme, and in a time when Americans are wondering, "what the President knew and when did he know it?" prior to 9-11, many intriguing possibilities may wait.
EPISODE TWENTY-FIVE: SHOCK WAVE-PART ONE
AIR DATE: Wednesday, MAY 22, 2002
Appropriately, the season finale probes a rather fundamental issue--the moral consequences of choice focusing initially on whether man should be in space? Following the Challenger disaster this question was asked. Do we have the wisdom to manage morally the technology we create? We know from the franchises and Roddenbury's HUMANIST interview (linked to this web site from the Table of Contents page) that Star Trek posits the affirmative.
After some 3,600 Paraagan's are killed, the Vulcan's worst suspicions seem initially to sustain Archer's guilt: man has (to recall Shelley) allowed technology to outstrip his ability to manage it. Star Fleet responds in kind, ordering the Enterprise home, despite T'Pol's 'faith' in Archer's command ability. She apparently has converted, willing even to confront Ambassador Soval.
Suddenly we find the enigma in COLD FRONT (presented by Crewman Daniels) emerging again. We recall from that episode the mutual suspicions between Silik and Daniels: "Each demands fidelity to their belief that the other is malevolent; yet there appears to be evidence that Daniels saved the ship. Does Daniels really represent a sort of Temporal United Nations mandating that time travel be used for research and observation only? Or is Silik correct in warning that Daniels' technology may damn humanity."
SHOCK WAVE continues the dilemma in this cliffhanger episode. Believing Daniels (who is not 'dead'), Archer learns that the Suliban, apparently not wanting man in space, clandestinely sabotaged the Enterprise making it appear they caused the catastrophe. Obviously the Suliban have a differing perspective, demanding that Archer beam aboard their ship or face annihilation.
Part one ends with much uncertainty. Archer does transport, but not to the Suliban ship. He is in the 31st century amidst ruins of a city that have existed for some time, apparently trapped. CITY ON THE EDGE OF FOREVER posits that one person's actions at the right time can change history and Robert Frost's "Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening" discusses the consequences of choice philosophically. As Archer sorts all of this out, perhaps he will contemplate that whom he chooses to believe and the subsequent decisions he makes will determine whether man should be in space or anywhere for that matter. What "road" will he take?
END OF SEASON ONE:
SEASON TWO EPISODES
EPISODE TWENTY-SIX : SHOCK WAVE-PART TWO
AIR DATE: Wednesday, SEPTEMBER 18, 2002
...The road Archer takes in Part II would seem to persuade even T'Pol that Star Fleet deserves a chance to explore space even at the risk of error, for often the "road not taken" is replete with danger. Such dangers rarely are what the seem: the Suliban (Taliban), once victims, seem more than willing to employ terrorism to achieve their goals including torture. Merged with Star Trek staple, such posits a universe in which the Federation itself may not exist such as would have been the case if the Borg had stopped man's warp drive experiments (FIRST CONTACT).
Alternative time lines allow for the imaginative exploration of space. What would happen if the Suliban perspective prevailed? ...the Vulcan? ...the human? Such questions prelude the philosophical dialectic at the episode's conclusion. Of course Archer gets home (somehow) from the future, as we know will occur, but the dialectic explores the consequences.
When Ambassador Suval reminds Star Fleet of humanities' errors including helping the Suliban escape in the first place, and the destruction of a Vulcan sacred shrine, T'Pol reminds her colleague that even Vulcan's had to stumble before walking and eventually exploring; after all the Vulcans were using the shrine to observe clandestinely the Andorians.
Thus the Enterprise will not be recalled; the greatest adventure (as Q reminded Picard) will continue--the exploration of the mind, of man's potential to achieve, with the endorsement of T'Pol.
THE FOLLOWING STUDENT REVIEW OF SHOCKWAVE II WAS SUBMITTED BY
In this episode, Captain Archer finds himself trapped in the future with Daniels, while the crew is trapped by the Suliban. The Suliban prove to be a deceiving race, as they were in peril last time they encountered the Enterprise. It correlates to the troubles of Mujahedin when the Soviet Red Army marched into Afghanistan in 1979. The CIA gladly helped the Mujahedin and trained them to combat the Soviets. The Mujahedin broke apart, and some of its former members created the Taliban, a horrendous form of government than openly supported terrorism, and provided Osama Bin Laden and his Al-Khaida network with housing. Just as the Mujahedin, the Suliban proved that they can easily betray and attack their one time allies.
The crew of the Enterprise unites and works to free themselves just as we united after the tragedy of September 11. Captain Archer mysteriously returns at the right time to help his comrades. When The Vulcan high command attempts to decommission the Enterprise, TPol resists arguing that humans do indeed make mistakes, but ultimately learn from them. She reminds that even the Vulcans erred such as during the Andorian incident in which religion was depicted as a symbol of reaction contrasted with the progressive openness of science.
EPISODE TWENTY-SEVEN : CARBON CREEK
AIR DATE: Wednesday, SEPTEMBER 25, 2002
ST by Roddenberry's definition mandated cultural pluralism as a moral necessity. He accurately foresaw (as in the celebrated PLATO'S STEPCHILDREN episode) that the moral future of man may well depend on how well we manage to get along. CARBON CREEK traces, in the pre-Kirk era, the human-Vulcan history which had not always been harmonious as Dr.McCoy and Spock might confirm.
Stranded near a small Pennsylvania coal mining town circa. 1957, a Vulcan crew from a crashed ship attempts to live among humans unnoticed. In this pre-prime directive time, the Vulcans, although more than skeptical about human progress, nonetheless foster it as when T'Pol sold a rather "important" bit of Vulcan technology to help a human boy go to college, and Mistral develops a love interest and uses Vulcan resources to free trapped miners.
Of course the crew is rescued at the end, and we are back in the frame narrative with Archer wondering whether the story as narrated by T'Pol was "fact" or "beyond belief." Perhaps our future depends on a balance of human passion and Vulcan logic as Alexander Pope observed in EPISTLE of ESSAY ON MAN.
EPISODE TWENTY- EIGHT : MINEFIELD
AIR DATE: Wednesday, OCTOBER 3, 2002
MINEFIELD does a number of ST things well: a new race is introduced, a character's history continues to unfold, and a bit of command philosophy develops--did Kirk ever talk like Archer?
Malcolm Reed (armory officer) always has had self-esteem issues, but manages in this episode to behave with dignity and courage, overcoming his fear (with Archer providing needed direction). His great uncle's heroism in the Royal Navy becomes the model for his own as he attempts to diffuse a mine which has attached to the hull of Enterprise after another had badly damaged the ship. Willing to sacrifice his life to save the crew, he wishes to be ejected into space with the mine and deck plate, until Archer says no. He listens, obeys and all is well.
We meet the Romulans, who as we learn later from Spock, have the same common ancestry as Vulcans, but are not as yet in their data base. They are aggressive and hostile, claiming planets and planting the mine fields. Only warp drive saves the Enterprise from destruction. Note for the future: in TNG, Roddenberry noted that he did not want races portrayed as fully malignant--hence Worf. Will the same premise apply here, or is it still too early in the ST universe?
Command philosophy has been debated before, to the degree that T'Pol doubted human suitability for exploration, a premise she dialectically revises. Reed too must rethink his belief that Captains are Captains, and orders must be obeyed regardless. Archer (and Picard) believe in a less formal style of command--true orders must be followed but presumably no one could rise to the rank of star ship captain without appreciating the necessity for a competent bridge crew to advise...
A couple of tech. notes: would a wound as serious as Reed's really allow him to continue to function, and were those shields Archer and Reed used really sufficient to protect from a blast that destroyed some of the hull?
EPISODE TWENTY- NINE : DEAD STOP
AIR DATE: Wednesday, OCTOBER 9, 2002
DEAD STOP virtually sequels MINEFIELD. ( I had originally typed MINDFIELD, and I wonder if the latter isn't a bad analogy?). In need of repair from the Romulan assault, the damaged Enterprise finds an automated spacestation which, in return for some warp drive plasma, repairs the ship, and heals Malcolm whose leg had been impaled by the mine he was disabling.
Relief, however, becomes horror when Travis "dies." Desperately seeking answers, Archer, T'Pol and Trip search the station, locating what appears to be a morgue filled with aliens of different races including the not quite expired Travis. . Of course, Archer and crew rescue Travis before he expires, destroy the station and escape. The doctor explains that the "crew" of the station had implanted an interface which allowed station computers to convert impulses from Travis' cerebral cortex to data used to run the repair facility.
...But, as the last scene fades, the station is seen repairing itself. I wonder what race is thus introduced?
EPISODE THIRTY: A NIGHT IN SICK BAY
AIR DATE: Wednesday, OCTOBER 17, 2002
I wasn't sure whether I was watching A NIGHT IN SICK BAY, or A NIGHT AT THE OPERA. STAR TREK of course enjoys "breaking the rules" as did Shakespeare when he blended comedy and tragedy; a synthesis classical authorities denied. In TNG many Data episodes such as A FIST FULL OF DATAS occasioned a laugh or two, as did his attempts to be human (such as when Dr. Crusher tried to teach the android how to dance).
Our current episode finds Archer, badly in need of a plasma injector, having to plead, beg and undergo various humiliations at the mercy of the Kreetassans for offenses as mundane as eating in front of then or not setting ship's time to theirs. More seriously, I suppose, the Captain's anxiety heightens when his dog Porthos falls ill for apparently committing the gravest of offenses, using a sacred tree of the Kreetassans as a bathroom. All is well, though: Porthos is healed, and the crew gets two plasma injectors.
Romantically, Archer's sleepless night of worry is less angst-driven by sexually fantasizing about T'Pol, a 'vision' that may have reality based implications.
The episode features the good Dr. Phlox whose idiosyncrasies include trying to catch a bat, and toenail clipping. We also learn he holds multiple degrees in psychiatry and veterinary medicine as well as being an MD. I am glad to see him getting more air time.
If ST manages to weave morality tales with drama (the pragmatic theory of Sidney), some lessons may emerge. Allowing viewers to see the 'human" side of the characters engages our sympathy. Perhaps as well, seeing Archer in a deferential mode reminds us that even starship captains must occasionally "bend their knee." Kirk learned that in dealing with Tribbles.
We do not know much about the Kreetassans except that their cultural norms brook no exception. Ignorance is no excuse, and "when in Rome..." All in all, the episode works and advances our knowledge of what pre-Kirk Star Fleet must face if it wishes to "boldly go...."
EPISODE THIRTY-ONE: MARAUDERS
AIR DATE: Wednesday, OCTOBER 30, 2002
Marauders dramatizes the essence of Star Trek from a romantic perspective: Rousseau argued that, "man is born free, but exits everywhere in chains," which according to Napoleon began the French revolution. Perhaps a small mining colony isn't the Bastille, or is it? Archer and company, in a pre-prime directive mode, aid the miners in defeating Klingon thugs bent on taking deutereum or whatever else they want by intimidation and force. Using Odysseus-like tactics, the construct a "Trojan-horse" that entraps and defeats the Klingons without really harming anything but their warrior pride.
The episode works well in explicating a paradox indigenous to utopian philosophy. In Kirk's Let This be Your Last Battlefield, we are reminded that the need for violence had long since disappeared since "way back in the twentieth century. " Yet, here it exists, perhaps as a necessary but not sufficient condition for social progress: hence the French revolution and our own civil rights movement. Kirk after all did say that , "We are the only policemen out here." Finding the correct balance perhaps is Archer's first duty.
EPISODE THIRTY-TWO THE SEVENTH
AIR DATE: Wednesday, November 6, 2002
The Seventh seeks to tighten the bond between Archer and TPol by exploring the emotional consequences of repressing guilt, and does so almost perfectly. Assigned by the Vulcan high command to arrest a covert agent who years before had infiltrated Agaron, TPols secrecy about her mission torturously gives way to guilt and fear. Initially little is revealed save that Menos, the 5th of the 6th secret agents T'Pol must arrest, had refused relocation after Aragon had joined the Vulcan alliance. Menos had apparently stayed behind out of choice, and now is living by smuggling weapons' grade biotoxins. Mysteriously, though, we find T'Pol at first only requesting Archer accompany her on the mission, saying she needs someone who can be trusted.
Through a series of stream-of-consciousness flashbacks, however, we discover that a seventh agent, Jossen, had refused repatriation perhaps escaping with Menos to Risa. The emerging horror hints that TPol in pursuit killed Jossen who may have been resisting arrest. Guilt-ridden, TPols mind was purged of the event, and its emotional consequences in the Fullara ritual, but the current assignment awakened the repressed memories.
As Menos preys on her guilt, he almost convinces her that his mission had nothing to do with biological weapons, and that he should be released before another Jossen incident occurs. Hence, Archers assistance becomes vital. In a rapid series of capture and escape and capture scenarios, the Captain convinces TPol to detain Menos (after she wounds him) so that the judicial system may take its fair course. TPol does precisely that, and in the denouement, reminds Archer that she hopes he would always turn to her if needed.
The episode has much to recommend, especially in furthering the intimacy between TPol and Archer, a rapport echoed in each series from Kirk, Spock and McCoy to Janeway and Chakotay. Earlier, I said the episode almost succeeded. The error was providing definitive proof that Menos (recall Minos from a TNG episode, Arsenal of Freedom) had toxic weapons. Had that been withheld, the moral / emotional ambiguity facing TPol would have been enhanced, rather than clarified. It was a deus ex machina that lessened the angst TPol endured.
EPISODE THIRTY-THREE THE COMMUNICATOR
AIR DATE: Wednesday, November 13, 2002
Not without irony, The Communicator explores a favorite ST theme--the moral vs. the pragmatic management of technology from (the Federation) perspective. Under arrest on an alien planet for "spying," Reed, suffering again from self-image problems because he left a communicator behind that had to be retrieved, and Archer face execution. This pre-prime directive episode dramatizes how that policy must have evolved: will exposing a culture not yet ready to sophisticated technology result in cultural contamination?
T'Pol believes restraint is needed, but Enterprise crew does not. Without hesitation, they are willing themselves to use sophisticated Suliban technology in the form of a cloaking device to rescue the Archer and Reed which does occur.
The philosophical issue is important especially in Voyager. Not possessing the technology to get home and at times being refused it by cultures more advanced, Janeway and company felt the sting of being on the other side, but the issue is not that simple. Suppling cultures what they cannot manage can lead to extinction as Kirk and McCoy once debated, but nonetheless does the Federation have a corresponding moral obligation to assist those in need or facing grave danger from other worlds, especially when the survival of their Captain is the issue: witness what happened in Viet Nam, and in Picard's Who Watches the Watchers?
Just prior to rescue Archer takes care to remove all traces of Federation technology, but T'Pol 'reasonably' notes that the alien culture had been changed nonetheless as they now believe their enemies in the Alliance have weapons capable of destroying them, weapons created by genetically enhanced soldiers. Will this now force their scientists to do the same, and would such have occured without Federation "contamination"?
Machiavelli, a name synonymous with the pragmatics of power politics, argued that how we live is so different from how we ought to live that any government which pursues the latter at the expense of the former, would surely face extinction Does survival mandate pragmatics? Had the crew failed to use advanced Suliban technology, then Archer and Reed would surely have been hanged as spies. What is the "golden mean" between the extremes of no first contact and blatant interference?
EPISODE THIRTY-FOUR SINGULARITIES
AIR DATE: Wednesday, November 20, 2002
So what do the following have in common: Food that will never be edible? A captains chair that lacks comfort? An alert - warning chime that consistently needs honing? A simple headache that requires major surgery?
Singularities explores the consequences of the seemingly inconsequential: until they become obsessions that endanger the crews safety and by implication the ship. TPol (the voice of reason and Vulcan immunity ) finally escorts the ship from the area of space causing the sickness, and all is well including a Captains chair that was just lowered a bit.
I suppose not ever episode requires analytical complexities: we could take this one at face value, but since these pages on occasion try to drink deep, one might be reminded, as Macbeth learned, that obsessive narrow mindedness can be fatal. Harold Bloom is quite correct in noting Macbeth most reminds us of ourselves; not that we all mass murder of course, but whether it be our response to a tailgating driver or someone who cuts in line at the bank, we imagine violently crushing those who, however insignificantly, slight us. Most of us, however, eventually dismiss the images, knowing that bloody instructions being taught return to plague the inventor, but some do actualize: Macbeth kills King Duncan since he is not appointed heir to throne, and road rage leads to homicide. Thus we are Macbeths potentially, and kingdoms or star ships cannot be managed by those who would lack restraint. That TPol can teach Star Fleet.
EPISODE THIRTY-FIVE VANISHING POINT
AIR DATE: Wednesday, November 27, 2002
Everyone remembers 'transporter psychosis' and one Ensign Barkley, who after much assistance from Picard, LaForge and Troi, overcame his angst. Vanishing Point both explores the genesis of the psychosis and showcases Hoshi whose fear of the new transportation technology seems sustained when molecular decompositions begins after reluctantly using the new device. Worse yet, while out of phase, she discovers an alien threat to Enterprise, but remains until the last moments of her illness unable to communicate the threat to Archer.
What makes ST a success, though is the writers' ability to transcend from the nominalistic to the realistic as we learn the episode was a mental projection, which according to Phlox lasted less than 8 seconds while 're materializing' in the transporter. Archer commented upon hearing the details that Hoshi, although terrified of the technology, overcame her fear --in her mind--long enough to use the aliens' transporter to thwart their efforts at sabotage.
Plato should not be read as otherworldly per se. He knew ideas had to matter in physical reality, and so apparently do the writers here. What emerges is not so much that the incident never 'really' occurred from the sense perception perspective, but that in her own mind, Hoshi found the (idea of) courage needed to act.
EPISODE THIRTY-SIX PRECIOUS CARGO
AIR DATE: Wednesday, December 11th, 2002
Anyone who remembers Captain Kirk trying to give courtesy lessons to Elaan Dolman, Princess of Elas, might find a familiar scene here as Trip must deal with the arrogance of the First Monarch, who although kidnapped, finds Trip's attempts at rescue demeaning. Fighting, though, turns into kissing, and the episode ends with the kidnappers punished, and Kaitaama promising that Trip might be in the future given attention he would prefer to a whack on the head.
The episode's place in the canon might vary, ranging from another lesson in first contact to be developed later, to a possible future romantic interest for a major regular character as happened to almost every male from Kirk (obviously) to Sisko.
EPISODE THIRTY-SEVEN THE CATWALK
AIR DATE: Wednesday, December 18th, 2002
The Catwalk dramatizes two ST themes--first contact with aliens and the moral dilemma associated with ascertaining credibility. Due to a storm, the crew and the aliens are forced to live in a catwalk secure from radiation poisoning. Despite the inevitable conflicts that occur from living in close confinement (which I suppose more accurately reflects the current realities of space travel), first contact appears to be successful until Trip discovers other aliens on board. These officials wish to detain the those in the Catwalk for terrorism, but naturally the pursued see themselves as renegade militia, no longer willing to fight for a totalitarian regime.
The storm perhaps is metaphoric--the Enterprise survives, and the militia escapes to whatever fate awaits them. Perhaps one rational for the prime directive is the inability of man to know the completeness of any moral dilemma--whom to trust? Plato knew this when positing the cave allegory, and episodes such as The Catwalk always must be measured by the degree to which the conversation.
EPISODE THIRTY-EIGHT: DAWN
AIR DATE: Wednesday, JANUARY 8, 2003
"Dawn" of course is metaphoric and echoes a familiar ST theme--the of ten dramatized Shakespearean theme that "fair is foul and foul is fair;" from a violent first contact eventually may come understanding and respect. DARMOK and THE ARENA come to mind.
Here, Trip must reach an accommodation with Zho'Kaan, a Arkonian, who ironically becomes trapped on a moon with Trip after shooting down his shuttle pod. The process, slow and painful, is exaccerbated by linguistic barriers (there is no translator), mutual distrust, and physical violence.
As "dawn" approaches, the he moon's rising temperature forces an accommodation; which is the final scenes has extended to the Enterprise and the hostile Arkonian ship. Although its captain warns the Enterprise to leave, he nonetheless suggests that Zho'Kaan could be punished if he disabled Trip's ship without provocation.
I suppose given the North Korea's nuclear capability and the looming war in the Middle East, "Dawn" is not with mimetic value; we can hope on earth that the 'dawn' will bring peace, a peace that will not be easily won.
EPISODE THIRTY - NINE: STIGMA
AIR DATE: Wednesday, FEBRUARY 5, 2003
ST. excels when dramatizing contemporary social and moral issues in its futuristic setting, and Stigma indeed merits special praise for its empathetic and sensitive treatment of AIDS. Stricken with a disease (Planar) from 'molders,' a sub-culture that the Volcanos find disturbing because of its awakening latent emotions, T'Pol (involuntarily infected) is ostracized by the medical directorate to the degree that she may not receive medical treatment and potentially might be recalled from star fleet service. The moral grotesqueness of such a decision from a race that deems itself enlightened is horrendous. Ironically (as Swift knew in A Modest Proposal), intellect devoid of the very emotions the Volcanos most need can perpetuate atrocities.
Dr. Heiress, a member of the medical tribunal, however provides T'Pol with the cure she needs over the objections of Dr. Orate ("Why bother to help people you do not approve of?"), And in an impassioned plea by T'Pol and an outraged Archer, the tribunal at the end of the episode rescinds the order to recall T'Pol, and the audience is left with a sense that perhaps one day mind-melders will be accepted in Vulcan society, which given what Spock will do, seems to be the case. Interestingly, art directly contacted 'real life' immediately after the show as the first commercial was an ad to call a toll-free hot line for information regarding AIDS.
The sub-plot which in ST often is mimetic of the main story line provides an illuminating commentary. It seems Phlox's third wife, Feezal, is sexually attracted to Trip to the point that he reluctantly warns the doctor that his human morality finds such infidelity disquieting. Amused, Phlox questions such a restraint, arguing that Trip had denied himself a wonderful experience. "Humans," he notes in humorously patronizing tone. Do the writers suggest that marital fidelity is as discriminatory a practice as punishing those with AIDS?
EPISODE FORTY: CEASE FIRE
AIR DATE: Wednesday, FEBRUARY 13, 2003
Obviously continuing its mimetic episodes, this week's Cease Fire dramatizes a world fraught with the perils of negotiation and trust wherein the middle east becomes a planet claimed by both Andorians and Vulcans. In dispute for 100 years, the planet (named differently by each side), becomes "sacred ground" that neither side wishes to relinquish.
Interestingly Archer is asked by the Andorians to negotiate a truce, which by the end of the episode is barely in place, but not before a renegade Andorian shoots down a shuttle bringing Archer and Vulcan Ambassador Soval to a conference. Her action is condemned by Shran, who had requested Archer's help. I suppose the 'lesson' is that someone must 'uncast' the first stone if peace is to work, even the uneasy symbolic peace of "drinking with thy enemy" to paraphrase (without the negative of course) Q in an TNG espisode.
Unfortunately television can do what the real world sometimes cannot--hope for a happy ending. Milton knew a lot when his Satan in Paradise Lost spoke of the permanent estrangement between himself and God as "deadly hate." "Evil be thou my good," he definitely asserts. But the question becomes, who is Satan without God?
In the universe of Gene Roddenberry wherein God has been replaced by scientific progress, (See this ST web site), one must wonder whether what this episode and the nightly news dramatizes is but a consequence of that premise?
EPISODE FORTY-ONE: FUTURE TENSE
AIR DATE: Wednesday, FEBRUARY 20, 2003
Do we have the wisdom to play God? What would knowledge of the future permit? Would it be moral, as a recent Twilight Zone hypothesized, to go back in time with knowledge of the future to assassinate an INFANT Adolf Hitler to prevent him from executing genocide as an adult? As Captains Sisko and Janeway often noted, temporal paradoxes present frustrating anomalies, as Archer discovers in this episode when the Suliban (Taliban) and the Tholians both claim a space craft compete with time travel technology and a corpse whose DNA suggests both human and Vulcan DNA.
Although speculation regarding the corpse's identity suggests "Z.C.", the focus centers on what will be (has been?) regarding a well-known Vulcan of human and Vulcan DNA, an event the logically motivated T'Pol suggests can never happen. If T'Pol were correct, then Captain Kirk will not have the wisdom of his first officer.
Philosophically, the episode really dramatizes (through time-loop anomalies) that time really will tell. We do not yet know who in the episode has the technology to manipulate time--to go back and study or change history, but what of the temporal prime directive? Interestingly in City On the Edge of Forever, one person's demise can change history. In that episode, the pacifist Edith Keeler had to die to prevent Hitler from winning WW II, even though Kirk could have saved her. Do we have the wisdom to manipulate time if we could? The Prime Directive suggests we have yet to acquire that wisdom; often making a botch of working just in the present while trying to plan for the future.
EPISODE FORTY-TWO: CANAMAR
AIR DATE: Wednesday, FEBRUARY 26, 2003
A TV GUIDE's feature article asked if ST can be saved? We have seen this before, but when TOS was canceled after only three years, few could dream what would follow. Roddenberry's legacy does live and prosper, but TV GUIDE is correct in suggesting ENTERPRISE needs a fresh perspective.
CANAMAR does what ST does well, but audiences have come to expect more. TV GUIDE's admonishment of predictability is here sustained. Borrowing from TNG's TAPESTRY, an excellent episode in which "Q." (clearly not a villain) allows Picard to relive what by comparison would have been a bland existence, CANAMAR finds Archer and Trip dealing with Nausicans and charged with smuggling. Arrested without trial and imprisoned on a penal ship, they manage to aid rebels who seize the vessel, while at the same time preventing them from destroying other POW's.
Naturally all of this succeeds, with Archer predictably saving the day and admonishing the Enolian government that many more innocent prisoners may be on board their ships or in camps. The problem with the episode is not that it is bad; it could be less predictable and recycled.