Star Trek Enterprise: The Andorian Incident

T'Pol: "Our mission is to make contact with those who humans consider new life and new civilizations."
Phlox: "In other words, to seek infinite diversity."
T'Pol: "I suppose so."
Phlox: "Well then, it seems to me that a cultural exchange between your Vulcan brethren and your human crew is simply a furtherance of that mission."

By nature I love brevity: All hail Jeffrey Combs. Oh hear his name, ye actors, and tremble. A slight over-exaggeration, of course, but what really makes this one work is Combs. The rest of the episode works with varying degrees of success, but this offering comes out slightly ahead of the mediocre.

So, to start out, what's good about 'The Andorian Incident'? A fair amount, actually. Other than the great Jeffrey Combs, we got a good and much-needed exploration of T'Pol's perspective aboard Enterprise. We got to see some hints of an ongoing plot line (and a coherent one, no less) in the form of the Andorian-Vulcan disputes. Trip and Reed were at their best, and we got the clearest vision of who Archer is yet. There's a lot to recommend.

So let's unpack it. Firstly, T'Pol's perspective. This is done through a key scene between her and Phlox. The two of them have such unique and wholly different worldviews that their scenes together are always interesting to watch. I continue to love the openness and urge to explore that Phlox continually exhibits. Every conversation he has illustrates that refreshingly optimistic viewpoint. Contrast this with T'Pol's difficulties living among people that she considers to be essentially savages. Vulcans in general, and T'Pol in particular, are prone to this skewed perspective of humanity. Their society, ready to destroy itself from within, united itself through Surak's principles of logic. While this is all well and good, it has been put up on a pedestal by the species, and they have come to associate it with maturity. This results in the disdain we detect regularly from Enterprise's Vulcans.

I'm not a huge fan of the direction they're taking these Vulcans, but I have an open mind. Maybe the Vulcan culture develops a lot in the hundred years between this time and TOS. But it would take a pretty big cultural revolution for that to happen, and I'm not sure Enterprise is up to the task of tackling that. Certainly, Enterprise's Vulcans are not the Vulcans we've encountered before. They're not entirely able to keep their emotions in check (see disdain earlier), and they can't accept or admit that fact. But more than that, their doctrine of IDIC is, frankly, hypocritical right now. They constantly judge the Infinite Diversity they encounter, and they refuse to acknowledge the maturity of any species that has not embraced logic as they have.

The Andorians I'm completely on board with. We've seen pretty much nothing of Andorian culture up until this point in Trek, so the showrunners have a lot of leeway with the species. Their near-xenophobia is very interesting, especially since it turned out to be well-founded. I'm looking forward to seeing how the Andorian plot line goes from here, especially if it means more Jeffrey Combs as Shran. Or as anyone. I'm a fan of Jeffrey Combs, in case you couldn't tell.

One highlight scene is really key here. It's the one where Archer and co. execute their plan. The plan involves Archer going out and getting beat up, so they can confirm their theory about the face in the wall. While there are the obvious problems with this (they could've just gone from the other end and looked through the holes), I kind of like it because it gives us a view of Archer that's very clear. Getting beat up to confirm a theory, especially if he doesn't quite have to, is a very Archer thing to do. It give the writers a chance to write him some snarky torture dialogue, which they clearly enjoy a lot. It also fits with Archer's 'Leap into it and do what feels right' personality, which we've seen very present so far in the series.

We got some good moments from Trip and Reed here, too. Reed's impatience and dedication both come across very clearly in the few scenes he has. He's really starting to show as a character, but I really wish he could have an episode to himself so we can get to know him. Trip is a character I've liked from the beginning, but he has had an episode to himself and it was terrible. At least he got to do some more itching to explore and fixing stuff here.

Strange New Worlds:

We went to P'Jem, the site of an ancient Vulcan monastery.

New Life and New Civilizations:

We saw the Andorians for the first time in this series. They're a founding member of the Federation, so it'll be interesting to see them develop over the course of the series. Here's hoping.

Pensees:

-A few nods to classic Vulcan terminology: Surak and IDIC.

-Have I mentioned lately how much I love Phlox's enthusiasm? Give me more of this, please.

-My goodness, that freaking creepy Andorian guy. He gave me the chills. Also, between him and the scene with T'Pol, Archer, and the blanket, I thought this episode was just a tad bit too heavy-handed about T'Pol. We get it, you want us to find her attractive. You don't have to go to these lengths, and who are you to determine who we find attractive, anyway?

-Roxann Dawson directed this episode, which makes me suspect that the blanket scene was a lot worse in the script or under any other director. She did well, though; I particularly liked that the face in the wall was interesting enough and in the frame enough that we noticed it, but not enough that we suspected something was up with it.

-There is no way that little figure Archer dropped into the mouth of the face went that far into the tunnel.

-Those security guys were pretty scared of the transporter. I like that it's only for emergencies, but to that end I think the show needs to cut back on its use.

-Travis watch: he got one good line, and basically nothing else.

Quotes:

Archer: "Too bad we didn't bring a camera, huh, Commander?"
Elder: "Please. You must leave now."
Trip: "You ever been to the San Francisco Zoo? Now there's something you should see."

Elder: "How long have you lived on the Earth ship?"
T'Pol: "Nine weeks and four days."
Elder: "The smell must be intolerable."
T'Pol: "You get used to it. And I was given a nasal numbing agent."

Travis, to Reed: "Sir. You're wearing a hole in the deck plating."

Archer: "Here's something I think you'll find interesting. There was a man in Canton, Ohio who once rolled a ball of string over six meters in diameter."
Creepy Andorian guy: "He's wasting our time. Take him back!"
Archer: "There was a famous astronomer on Earth, Tycho Brahe. He lost his nose in a duel over a math equation!"
Shran: "You must enjoy pain."
You got that right, buddy.

Reed: "Violence in a sanctuary, Captain?"
Archer: "Very disrespectful. But boy, did it feel good."

Shran: "We are in your debt."

3.5 out of 6 faces in the wall.

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CoramDeo can live with it. He CAN live with it. But he won't be deleting this entire review.

3 comments:

Denes House said...

And thus begins the grand and noble Enterprise theme of, “Archer behind bars,” which will have many, many subtle variations throughout the series...

Billie Doux said...

I share your admiration for Jeffrey Combs. He did some amazing work, and of course, not just as an Andorian. I also liked your little acknowledgement of Quantum Leap.

CoramDeo said...

You know what? I completely had not realized the Quantum Leap thing; I've never seen it. But you're totally right, it fits perfectly.