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Star Trek Enterprise: Unexpected

Klingon Captain: "I can see my house from here!"

By nature I love brevity: Um. When I said in my review of 'Strange New World' that I was hoping for more creative and fresh stories... this is NOT what I meant. Sigh. Fair warning: this review contains discussions of the, er, uncomfortable situations this episode presents. It will also discuss how stupid they are.

So. You're probably here because you've watched 'Unexpected'. I'm so sorry for the loss of brain cells you have experienced. By the time the Klingon captain said 'I can see my house from here,' this episode had long since gone off the rails. Why yes, those are the exact words that actually came out of the mouth of the Klingon Captain. Was that an actual scripted line that went through each version of the script? Or did Christopher Darga ad lib it on the first take and then royally mess up all the other ones afterwards, forcing the editors to use the line?

The only truly decent part of this episode was the attempt to show contact with aliens that was truly alien. Mike Vejar's direction does all it can to get this across, and it works as well as it can on its own. The makeup department, however, dropped the ball. After that sequence in the decompression chamber, I was pretty disappointed to find that the aliens were just more of the 'humanoid with light prosthetic detail' sort. The Xyrillians were named well, their ship looked unfamiliar enough, and again, the direction was quite skillful. But if they hadn't looked like people with light prosthetic makeup, it would have worked a lot better.

The big premise of 'Unexpected' is as follows - Trip gets pregnant. The name is accurate; there can't possibly be a single viewer who predicted that development at the beginning of the episode. But lest you think that its unpredictability is a strength, when a plot development is so out of left field that it's impossible to predict, it's usually because it's dumb or doesn't make any sense. And having Trip get pregnant is absolutely a development that is dumb and doesn't make any sense.

I have to say something here about Connor Trinneer. None of the blame for this episode lies on him. He did the very best he could possibly have done with what he was given, but what he was given was horrendous. Julianne Christie's Ah'Len was fine, neither excellent nor awful. Her performance was exactly what was required of the role, and not a bit more. Christopher Darga was not terrible as the Klingon captain, unless he did ad-lib that dreadful line, that is.

Everything surrounding the actual pregnancy (also known as 'the episode') was ridiculous. Example: Trip grows a nipple on his wrist. What the heck? Even granted that his body was adjusting its makeup to nurture the child, why didn't it just alter, um... what he already had, rather than making a new one? Did the writers really forget that men have nipples? Honestly, considering the dumb decisions that were made otherwise, I wouldn't be surprised. And I've just suddenly become self-conscious regarding what I'm talking about. The reason for this is that it's just an uncomfortable situation to discuss.

Let me ask this question: the episode implies that the males of the species are the ones that get pregnant, right? Maybe an actual scientist can correct me, but isn't the definition of male and female that the female gets pregnant? Wouldn't the ones that get pregnant be classified as the females, and the ones that don't be classified as the males?*

The big question, I suppose, that makes or breaks the episode, is this: Is it funny? Yes, it is lightly amusing, mostly due to the performance of Connor Trinneer. But it's funny at the expense of the character that many consider Enterprise's best. The whole episode is just Trip going through the normal pregnancy cliches, and everyone laughing at him. Everything else is just the trappings.

And, of course, the holodeck. Oh, the holodeck. Darn you, Rick Berman, you just couldn't resist it, could you? Did we really need to have a holodeck in Enterprise? The answer to that is no, we did not. I guess they did it in the only way they could possibly do it without wrecking the canonical history of holo-technology (*cough cough* Discovery *cough cough*). But we didn't really need to see it, and I would have preferred that they avoided it. Ah well.

Strange New Worlds:

We saw the Xyrillian homeworld and Qo'nos in the holodeck, although we didn't actually visit either of them.

New Life and New Civilizations:

The aliens were the Xyrillians, who apparently reproduce using a bowl of Orbeez. Oh, dear.


-Sadly, this is not the worst episode of Enterprise. It's not even the worst Trip-centric episode of Enterprise. Oh, how I wish it was.

-Travis watch: He still goes nowhere and does nothing. Tune in next time to hear him say: "Aye, Captain. Warp 2.5," or something unimportant like that.

-Ah'Len said they couldn't come very close to making water. She then takes him to the holodeck,  where they sit in a boat on the water. Hmm...

-If you're looking for a good episode featuring a truly different alien species, try TNG's beloved 'Darmok' or the wonderful DS9 episode 'Captive Pursuit'.

1 out of 6 reproductive bowls of Orbeez, which is a phrase I never thought I would write.

*Several helpful commenters inform me that this is an incorrect assumption. That's why I love comments; other people who are better informed on certain subjects can help me out where I lack expertise. Thanks, guys!

CoramDeo can see his house from here. Partly because he's sitting in it right now.


  1. Ooh, I found my old Enterprise notes! And now I have somewhere to post them! For this one, I wrote:

    While one of my least favorite plot devices is a pregnant man, I really do like Trip a *lot*, and he was the best part of this episode. The aliens were stranger than Trek aliens usually are, and I liked that Trip had serious trouble adjusting to their environment. I liked his constant bitching and complaining at the beginning, and the way it changed to his total, and rather endearing, enthusiasm for the whole alien experience. I liked the open, friendly way he interacted with Ah'Len, the alien engineer. I even liked the way he handled his pregnancy in the last half of the episode -- with wry acceptance, and even humor.

    And my favorite line was, "Perhaps the next step would have been to meet her holographic parents."

  2. "but isn't the definition of male and female that the female gets pregnant?"

    Nope, male searhorses get pregnant so that can't be the definition. Not sure what the definition is mind you!


  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. You beat me to it Trousers_of_time, lol.

    I think that beyond the genetic component, the social constructs of a society and the dimorphism that each sex present, the basic characteristics that define male or female at there biological level, are the gamete they produce, that is sperm or ovum. Yet nature in our planet is so wonderful and diverse that you will find exceptions to almost everything, included sex. I mean there are hermaphrodite species, and asexual ones as well and even some species that are mono sexual, that is they only have females members because the males have gone extinct. (for example the lizards of the Cnemidophorus genus) There are even some species were their members can change sex depending on environmental factors. And then there are Anglerfishes in wich the male are nothing more that sperm sacks that can swim, they even lack a digestive system so there only hope is to find quickly a female companion (that are almost ten time bigger) and attach itself to her skin in a kind of parasitic behavior. And this is only in our own planet, imagine the wonders of alien worlds!

    But I have to agreed with you on this one, this episode is a mess. I remember now why a left Enterprise on my first watch.

  5. Thank you, Juan and Trousers_of_time. I wasn't certain I was right about that, and I'm not a scientist. I'll update the review accordingly.

  6. I remember this episode!

    I'm not a Trek fan and Enterprise's first season was the only Trek I ever watched. I liked the characters, but the show never really grabbed me, so I didn't return for season two.

    I've been enjoying your reviews a lot, because it's been a trip down memory lane, and I've been waiting for this particular review to post a comment, because, well, this episode is iconic. Kind of Buffy's "Beer Bad" type of iconic, but maybe not so bad (or is it?).

    I remember thinking that Trip getting pregnant was amusing, although the execution wasn't great. In the end, the episode itself isn't that interesting. I wonder if the comedic pregnancy of a male human is enough to build a strong plot around. I mean, it seemed that that plot couldn't generate a worthy climax by itself, so they inserted a random Klingon ship to create some danger.

    A side note, T'Pol was my favorite character. I loved her extreme stoicism and pragmatism. It was amusing. Maybe not knowing how a Vulcan was supposed to act helped me liking her.

  7. No, there is no single scientific definition of "female" around the ability to get pregnant. It's a definition but not strictly scientific. For a start there are people who are accepted as being female but can never have children. Then there's menopause, someone who is female and has gone through menopause doesn't cease being female. One counter argument here is that the person is still female because they are of the 'type' of person who can normally have children, but that's not a scientific definition. The grouping of "female" inherently includes people who can't have children, therefore ability to give birth is not required. There must be other criteria which "female" and "male" are defined. Often it's gametes, but then those aren't required either to be female or male. So then we've got chromosomes, but then most people don't know what their chromosomes are, it's assumed through other characteristics. Really people are usually called "male" or "female" initially based on type of external genitals. Then throughout life it's assumed through perceived secondary sex characteristics (since most of us don't live in a society where we walk about naked). But then secondary sex characteristics can vary a lot, and can change.

    Then we're into this being a space fantasy thing where the language around 'science' would be different anyway. An alien species could perfectly legitimately and scientifically define sex classes in a totally different way to humans.


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