Enterprise, Season One, Part 2--The Vulcan Are Dicks
- Terra Nova
- The Andorian Incident
- Breaking the Ice
Anyone with even a passing knowledge of Star Trek knows about Spock, the Vulcan (OK, to be pedantic, the half-Vulcan). Spock, like all Vulcans, is all about logic, making him a little dense to certain kinds of normal human interactions. Still, Spock is definitely a good guy and a relateable character.
Enterprise, at least so far, has really tried to deconstruct that idea, and explore the notion that a species based completely on logic would be kind of obnoxious, even dickish. The best example of this so far is the episode "The Andorian Incident." In the episode, Archer decides to pay a visit to a Vulcan monastery, in the hopes of doing some cultural diplomacy. When he gets there, he, T'Pol, and Trip are taken prisoner by the Andorians, who have occupied the monastery. If you're curious, the Andorians look like this:
The Andorian commander is convinced the Vulcans are using the monastery to spy on them, in violation of a treaty between the two species, and by God he is going to get his proof. He roughs up Archer and Trip, and his soldiers come across as thugs. The Vulcan monks dismiss the idea that there is a spy base in the monastery, and they disdain the humans for suggesting the use of force to resolve the situation.
Eventually, Malcolm (the Brit security officer) goes full Seal Team Six and leads an assault on the monastery, and the humans and Andorians have a running gun battle through the catacombs of the monastery. In the course of this battle both sides discover...that the Vulcans are absolutely using the monastery as a base to spy on the Andorians, in violation of the treaty. With proof in hand, the Andorian commander takes off, with a new respect for the humans.
A couple of thoughts.
First, I'm not saying she is going to win an Academy Award, but the actress playing T'Pol (Jolene Blalock) does a great job of portraying her reaction to the discovery of the Vulcan listening post. She looks utter stunned by this revelation, as if the possibility that the Andorians were telling the truth literally never crossed her mind. She's so stunned that she offers no resistance when Archer tells her to give the evidence of the listening post to the Andorians. I suspect that this is the beginning of the collapse of T'Pol's wall of certainty about the Vulcans being superior and always right. It's a little early in the story for that, but it is done very effectively in this episode.
Second, reliance on logic is no guarantee of any sort of ethical behavior. If "logic" equals "self-interest," then everything the Vulcans are doing is completely "logical." It also makes them "dicks," and I suspect that is a point that Archer et al. will be returning to this point with regularity. Logic can mean many different things, and so I like this riff on the idea of the Vulcans as "logical."
Third, for whatever reason, I think the Andorians are cool. I hope we see more of these guys. A little research on the internet reveals that they are one of the founding races of the Federation, so I suspect we might.
Fourth, a bit off topic, but one of the running themes is that the famous transporter (i.e. "beam me up, Scotty") is a new, experimental technology. Moreover, everyone is terrified to use it, which makes complete sense. "So, this thing is going to disintegrate me, beam the information across space, and reconstitute me in a different spot?" In one of the previous episodes, they got one of the crewman's matter mixed up with some leaves and debris, and so he was rematerialized with sticks and leaves in his skin. I get the idea that people would get used to it, but being the guinea pig for something like that would be a hard, hard sell.
Anyway, "The Andorian Incident" was excellent. The other episodes were OK. "Unexpected" had Trip unknowing having some weird alien-sex and ending up the carrier of an alien baby. Hilarity ensues. "Terra Nova" was about a lost colony that had to learn to trust these scary visitors from the stars. "Breaking the Ice" was about finding a comet, and was a bit of a dud.
- Fortunate Sun
- Cold Front
- Silent Enemy