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Ancient History

Archive of previous updates on the site, April 2-June 30, 2004


April 7, 2004: I hope you enjoyed our little detour into silliness this past week. TripSuckered will live on the Extras page, so you can go back and visit if you didn't get the chance to explore everything.

This week we have another DVD commentary, for "Singularity." Let me know what you think! I also spent some time in March proofing all the links in the site, so all the jokes should still work.

April 14, 2004: With all the damage our intrepid crew took during "Azati Prime," wouldn't it be a good idea to make sure everyone updated their wills?

April 19, 2004: If you'd like to browse the blogs of fellow Trip Tucker fans, Admiral Corinthos invites you to visit her Trip Tucker fanlisting.

All that scuffin' and Ah still don't get an episode worth recappin'.

Trip: You broke the damn starboard nacelle again.
T'Pol: If the event occurred in an alternate timeline, you cannot refer to it as having happened "again."
Trip: Semantics. The main thing is, who the hell let you drive?
T'Pol: The coil is repairable. I remind you that Counselor Troi's record is much worse.
Trip: Counselor Troi's bubble bath ended a lot better than your shower did.

April 21, 2004: YES!! Action and lots of plot movement and a moral dilemma and the continuation of the Xindi conspiracies and counter-conspiracies and the sex was a mere dream and damn doesn't this show kick ass! :D Oh, let me rave; after six weeks we're all starving. Phyllis Strong all the way! She does do fantastic dialogue. Despite the sudden surfacing of T'Pol's little problem (more on that later), this was a great show. The acting was superb across the board. The lighting in the one scene with Phlox and Archer was outstanding. I could have done without the few slo-mo shots, but oh well. I loved how the various threads are being braided together. I really enjoyed how "She" showed up and scolded the Council -- and we didn't get the cabbagehead explanation. We got to figure it out through the dialogue.

Moogie points out that Archer preying on the Illyrians was very much like what Ransom was doing to the subspace death dolphins in VOY's "Equinox." Mind you, Ransom chose to turn the dolphins into fuel repeatedly, and it's unlikely that Enterprise will have to steal a new warp coil every week, but T'Pol is right that Archer is sliding down that nasty slope. One of those delicious problems Trek is known for. Don't play it safe, guys. (Yes, Rick Berman, I am talking to you.) Taking risks and wading through messy complex problems is Star Trek's signature. Witness DS9's "In the Pale Moonlight." I bet Sisko would have understood what Archer had to do (and not liked it any more). But why didn't Archer play up the "needs of the many" argument? An entire species versus a ship of less than a hundred? Not that it isn't a hard row to hoe, but is there that much to debate?

Nice of T'Pol to throw Archer's words back in his face about saving humanity. And I liked that Trip was allowing himself to be mostly blind to what they did to the aliens, because his focus is on the weapon. They are too close. They have to get to this thing, this Death Star which he's seen in person now, and prevent it from being deployed. If the ship weren't in shreds I bet he'd he be practically vibrating with the intensity of his need to stop the Xindi. Mal was clearly unhappy about Archer's plan but saw the long-range necessity of it.

Trav reports that they have no warp, impulse, or thrusters. I was expecting someone to tell him "Then get out and push!" Speaking of Trav, he and Hoshi even got some decent screen time. See what happens when a real writer gets to play in a well-built universe?

Funny how every piece of technology everywhere in the universe works with every other piece, and every tool, with minimal adjustment. Obviously Macintoshes have dominated the galaxy by this time -- plug and play! :)

Okay, WHY didn't we know anything about this "addiction" to Thrillerium-D (and isn't that appropriate now!) in previous months? A furtive trip into the Cargo Bay, putting away unexplained machinery, T'Pol scanning herself, anything? This could have been a really compelling D-plot, even if it does echo Willow's magic-as-heroin from Buffy. And knowing that she's addicted to a substance which deliberately allows her to experience emotions, which she's not capable of controlling under the drug's influence, lets us watch her falling apart without wanting to slap her. I'm sure if I go back and rewatch all the scenes I was screaming about the last four months with this new information in mind, I'll be able to connect the dots, but jeez, why couldn't we have seen this beforehand? Why risk pissing off the audience so much? (It's not just me; I know other people feel the same way.) At least we finally have an explanation for "Harbinger," anyway -- she was playing with emotions she doesn't know how to handle. See, I can accept that. People do make mistakes. But we didn't know why she was behaving that way, or why she made that particular mistake. Everyone just looked stupid and immature. Now we can move beyond the groping and flailing and get back to science-fiction. Ahem.

I thought we were going to hear about Liz Cutler...

Food Chain intact. Recycled Trek Actor Checklist: Yes, the head alien was none other than Casey Biggs, DS9's Damar.

Mal and T'Pol staring in shock

Malcolm: I never thought it would happen.
T'Pol: It is difficult to believe.
Malcolm: Hoshi and Travis having several lines in the same scene. I'm afraid the universe is coming to an end.
T'Pol: We won't know that until May 20th.

April 24, 2004: Further thoughts on "Damage," most of which are not as complimentary as earlier (now that the new-episode euphoria has worn off, I can see the plot holes):

Malcolm yells "We can't take much more of this!" I guess that line always has to go to someone with a U.K.-based accent? :) And not for anything, but his accent was very thick in the first ten minutes or so. I wonder if Keating is doing that deliberately -- allowing his natural accent to come out a little heavier under "stress," but being more clear and formal as the situation calms down? It's a nice touch if he is. Actually, Malcolm wound up with a lot to do in this episode; he was essentially the first officer for both T'Pol and Archer. Not that I object!

While it's obviously better for the Terrans, SnakeEyes Xindi is correct: an enemy vessel orbiting a military installation should be captured or destroyed. The Xindi are, fortunately for us, lousy tacticians.

"I really don't know what's holding us together," Malcolm comments. It's Band-Aid glue. The pyramids are held together with Band-Aid glue.

Isn't this scenario -- starboard warp coil is gone and has to be rebuilt from scratch, and they can't do it with no parts -- exactly what happened when T'Pol drove in "Twilight"? She's obviously a madwoman who must be kept out of the Big Chair at all costs.

So, what happened to Archer? Did the Xindi Whales get information from him? Was he interrogated and the experience wiped from his memory? Why didn't we see that? We only see him being knocked out (which was very funny. "You talk too much, monkey boy." zzzzzt).

There was some nice camera work this week. T'Pol having a zombie moment in the corridor echoed "Impulse," and the lighting in the scene in Archer's Ready Room was wonderful. I liked the string of sketches of past Enterprises hanging askew symbolically, sort of like Picard's display case of "little ships" in First Contact.

General note: Any time a major Trek character says something to the effect of "I think we're ready to fire this up," you know it's going to short-circuit and explode in a lovely shower of sparks and puff of smoke.

Ave Astris Scientia

If we could have a moment of silence for the death of all the storytelling possibilities lost in this arc... {T'Pol starts sobbing}

On to the larger stuff. Let's talk about this Thrillerium "addiction."

First of all, there was no arc. There should have been. T'Pol's dissolving competence, idiotic behavior, and emotional outbursts have just looked stupid over the last several months. I can barely stand to watch the character. We have had no clue that she's had a chemical problem. Bad writing. This came so out of left field that I actually read spoilers in February just to reassure myself that it wasn't something worse which was going to be revealed. Normally I don't even watch episode previews.

Secondly, while I could buy that T'Pol of all Vulcans would pursue this kind of thrill, doing so during this mission makes her extraordinarily selfish and immature. Patently she's a renegade of her culture -- she was willing to skip meditation to dream, to meld with Tolaris until it became violent, to serve on a ship of Terrans and later to give up her Vulcan rank to stay with them on a dangerous mission -- but she can't handle the extremes of emotions she keeps seeking. Remember "The Seventh"? (do the writers?) The monks had to set up an Azrael block because she couldn't cope with her shame and regret at committing murder in the line of duty. What makes her think the emotions she courts are less explosive than the emotions thrust upon her? She should know better. Period. And playing this kind of purely self-serving game so she can get off on forbidden feelings while her colleagues are trying to save their race from annihilation is so ego-centric it's almost infantile. It is literally, if you'll pardon the phrase, mental masturbation, and it's not an indulgence that anyone has time for right now.

Thirdly, an intelligent scientist would not deliberately seek out a substance which she knows to be so physically destructive. She would not think "in small amounts...it would be safe." Not unless the very first exposure wreaked such havoc with her critical thinking processes that she was incapable of judging objectively how much damage the chemical was doing, and in that case, Phlox should have immediately declared her unfit for duty and informed the captain, warp crisis or no.

Finally, if she wanted to access these emotions that badly, why not research how the excitable Vulcans have done it, and try that way? Why did she need to resort to drugs? It's not like she can't experience emotions; she chooses to suppress them. She could learn to choose not to suppress them, rather than getting high to lose her inhibitions. It's irresponsible, personally and professionally.

In short, this woman has proved she has no business serving on Enterprise, let alone commanding it while Archer is away -- or when they thought Archer was dead. The writers have hatcheted the show's Vulcan into a hysterical, pathetic, unwatchable mess, and I'm very sorry for it.

Blalock did a fine job with the script they handed her (except for the hunched-shoulders doe-eyes look -- she did it in "Doctor's Orders" too, and it makes her look like Cosette expecting a beating) but the show simply should never have come to this point this way. If it was necessary to have this kind of addiction, it could have been done through accidental exposure to the material as it was lining the ship -- the guy who works with pack-a-day smokers but doesn't smoke himself can't understand why he's cranky and irritable all weekend -- making it twice as tragic that she's so messed up and has violated her culture's taboos, but not making her look like a damn fool teenager. (And did distilling the Thrillerium have to look so much like cooking and shooting heroin?)

[cue Psycho violins]

Trip: T'Pol, why are you pouring chocolate sauce down the drain? -- and put down that knife!
T'Pol: It's not you. I'm doing this for Mother.

Let's also take a moment to talk about T'Pol's dream. (And we have to presume that she is in fact not meditating if she is dreaming, per "Fusion.") What do you do when you have a dream? You analyze the symbols for the deeper meaning. Okay, so she's naked (vulnerable) with naked Trip (he's vulnerable). They kiss (reflection of what actually happened -- the sleeping mind uses images from recent or powerful events for dream symbols -- plus it's a sharing of intimacy, physical and emotional). She gets violent in her passion (what happens to Vulcans in pon farr, when they are out of control during sex; also a larger echo of what we saw in "Harbinger"). She starts to hurt him and he pushes her away (she's afraid of hurting him with her experiments in emotion, and afraid he'll reject her as a person/friend/colleague for using him for her own selfish ends). She turns into a zombie (what the Thrillerium does to Vulcans, what she's permitted it to do to her in her quest for emotional highs) and tries to kill him (fear that her addiction to a dangerous substance will harm Trip in particular if she freaks out or her colleagues in general if she can't hold it together). T'Pol knows what she's done in playing with this fire. She knows what it could cost her. She doesn't want to admit it, but she knows.

Separately, from a viewing standpoint, that was the coldest shower I've ever seen on Trek. She looked like she was trying to rip the skin off his face with her teeth -- and that's before she turns into a Thrillerium zombie -- and he looks drugged. It's not hot, it's not sexy, it's nauseating. It was worse than the face-sucking with Princess Fishstick.

Yet again, Archer ignores Porthos. The captain is in physical and emotional shock. He's upset, he's facing a big moral choice, and the last time he saw his dog his buddy his pal he thought it was going to be the last time ever. So WHY, when Phlox brings Porthos to Archer, doesn't Archer turn around and immediately scoop Porthos up and cuddle him? Or pet him? Or acknowledge him? Or make a feeble cheese joke? Not that I haven't learned to love the dog, but really -- leave him home next season if you can't appreciate him or care for him properly.

Why do the Xindi believe what Tesseracta tells them about Terrans destroying their world in the future, but then Degra says she gave them no proof? If someone showed up on the White House lawn claiming to be from a Luna outpost of 2904 and told Colin Powell that 400 years from now, Brazil would blow up the United States, would Powell recommend that we turn Brazil into a slab of glass today? Wouldn't it make more sense to, I dunno, find out why Brazil tried to destroy us, and work to prevent that from happening? Or demand some concrete proof (like a trip to 2402 to see the deterioration of relations in progress)? The Reptilians seem very happy to blow things up and not very happy about having to think. Why do the other species insist on allying with them? Why did Tesseracta make a special point of saying that she preserved their unity? Why is Xindi Unity an important thing? Are they desperate to cling together for some reason? Is it related to the extinction of the XindiBirds? Is it so important that even the Reptilians are willing to concede their fight to preserve Unity? Tesseracta bluntly admits that she assisted the Reptilians in developing a bioweapon in the past, against the wishes of the Council, creating disunity, but they seem swayable. If the Xindi are foolish, frightened, easy to manipulate, why haven't we seen this developing before now? Why did we waste time on "Extinction" and "North Star" and the really boring "Carpenter Street" when we could have seen Tesseracta whispering in various ears, or the Xindi part of "Carpenter Street" played out as a D-arc?

Trinneer splayed his legs again when he fell after being zapped by the force field. I love little consistencies.

Trip's last scene with Archer -- where he tells Cap'n "You did the right thing" in an almost pleading voice -- shows the character's flaws: his devotion to Archer regardless of whether Archer really is right or wrong, his willingness to overlook everything in the pursuit and destruction of the weapon, his ability to fool himself into thinking that "Those people'll be okay" and really believe it because he needs to believe it. I prefer that our heroes have flaws.

Upcoming episode is supposed to be Trip-heavy, although I'll believe it when I see it.

Jacob's Ladders shooting off the warp core

Trip: Dammit, Mike! What did Ah tell you about openin' up email attachments from people you don't know!
Rostov: But it said it was a photo of Halle Berry!
Trip: Yeah, it's called the Storm Virus. Now the whole damn ship's ionized.

April 28, 2004: Wow. Wow. Nice job. Chris Black ("Singularity") and David A. Goodman, two excellent writers, truly get to show off their chops. I had certainly "forgotten" about all the Reptilian corpses and TECH from the past, because they were snagged during "Carpenter Street" and I was in a tryptophan coma. We're skeptical that Archer actually has enough evidence to convince the Council, but Degra is really hungry to call the whole thing off, so he'll go with it. Definitely more of the "classic" Trek flavor, with Archer trying to convince the enemy to work together for their common good. And Degra destroying the Reptilian ship (he says "I had no choice," and Captain de Sade goes "yup, yup, I hear ya") and throwing his lot in with the Terrans as a last desperate act to save his species is very DS9. Great stuff. Speaking of DS9, the last six episodes seem to be one long arc, which is okay with me. I liked the last ten episodes of DS9 as an extended finale.

Can I just say that the moment in the corridor when T'Pol gently puts her hand on Trip's shoulder to comfort him and he puts his hand over hers was a hundred times more meaningful and moving than all the moronpressure and groping and flailing and showering all season? That was a beautiful exchange between friends and colleagues. (Would I have preferred to see it with Malcolm or Archer? Yes. But it was okay with T'Pol.) It is what their relationship should be, not the boobs-in-face garbage.

Trinneer was wonderful. Dialed back farther than I expected, but powerful and organic. The scene where he starts shooting sarcastic questions at Degra was perfect. Exactly what I would have said, and how. He was marvelous all the way through. I'll have more to say in the next few days.

Why did Archer want Trip to write the letter for Taylor? Was he trying to provoke Trip into dealing with his grief, or was there something else going on?

That plasma leak should have been either trailing in the wake of the ship's momentum as a wave or spewing outward as a wave, not shooting up like a torch. There's no gravity in space!

Poor Malcolm -- every time he goes out on the hull, something really awful happens to him. Although he was back on the Bridge looking remarkably cool and healthy shortly thereafter.... I did love how he leapt at the chance to do something dangerous to repair the ship, and how Trip didn't even blink at having him at his side. Those two are a great team.

Didn't anyone have time to wash their faces in two days? It wasn't until the end of the episode that everyone looked cleaned up. And still no mention of Liz Cutler.

Yes, this will get a full if short recap, the first one in almost a year after "The Breach." Look for it Saturday, I think.

Food Chain intact, more solidly than last week. Recycled Trek Actor Checklist: Bob Morrisey (Reptilian Captain) was Dr. Strom in "Stigma." While he isn't recycled, believe it or not, that was Seth MacFarlane -- yeah, "Family Guy," "Johnny Bravo," "Cow and Chicken," "Aqua Teen Hunger Force," pretty much half the Cartoon Network's Adult Swim lineup -- as the engineer Trip is yelling at about the busted valve.

Mal considering

The first time I was out on the hull I was speared. This season I was merely baked. Perhaps by next year, I'll have worked my way down to a bad case of heebie-jeebies.

May 1, 2004: Recap of "The Forgotten" and photos are up. Not particularly funny, since this was a serious episode (and, I confess, after almost a year I'm out of practice), but a recap nonetheless. And allow me to apologize in advance if my commentary lately has been more rhetorical questions than analysis or snide remarks; there are just a lot of dangling threads to address.

Okay, can someone explain what is up with the one-minute, two-commercial ad breaks?

If Travis and Hoshi are bridge officers, why aren't they standing on the walkway with the other four during the captain's pep talk? Jenni Bull reminds me that we at least have Lt. Hess, so the bridge officers are not the only senior officers on the ship. What gives?

Do the 18 who were lost include previous deaths, like Crewman Fuller of the Armoury?

I'm guessing that as people dealt with the recent tragedies, they washed off, so dirt was a clue to the audience that the character had a ways to go yet. But T'Pol changes her catsuit mid-episode from Electric Powder Blue Kool-Aid to Vulcan Vermilion and doesn't clean her face?

I'm told that the CO in charge of particular crew members would be the appropriate senior officer to write a condolence letter. Which is fine; I have no problem with the idea or the chain of command. But why did Archer phrase it as though it was a new idea? It sounded to me like he's been writing all the letters and just wanted Trip to write this one specifically. Why not say "Taylor was one of yours....When you finish the letter to her parents, I'll add a few words of my own" or something? Make it assumed that as Chief of Engineering, Trip would be writing it? Then Trip could still plead that he was too busy, but it wouldn't be so obvious a ploy.

Boy, the Thrillerium "addiction" really wore off quickly, didn't it? I know people who've had more difficulty giving up chocolate for Lent. I buy the line -- actually, I was glad to hear the line -- that after three months there was significant neural damage, which isn't going away by magic. I'm not excited about a permanently flaky Vulcan, but at least the consequences are realistic.

I hope that in "The Council," two weeks from now, we'll see some of the Xindi side of this argument, or Tesseracta's "proof." Archer gave up a lot without the audience seeing any discussion between Degra and Beard Boy about how it was contradicting what they'd already seen or been shown. On the other hand, why didn't Archer pull out Daniels's Future Viewer? It seemed to work well enough last season. Did the proto-Section 31 types nick it while Enterprise was home over the season break?

Really enjoyed Billingsley's performance when Phlox marched Trip off to sleep. Threats, intimidation, bargaining -- McCoy would have been proud. Trinneer added lots of subtle touches as well. Little shifts in expression, eyerolls, eyebrow twitches, words slurring -- a wonderful range, and very real.

"You're not real," Trip tells Taylor in his nightmare, "...you don't have to call me sir." A sweet line, revealing how rank doesn't mean very much to him compared to people. (Mal would be dreaming not only with ranks, but dress uniforms.)

I'm continuing to like Degra. He's an honest man, if not terribly far-sighted. Self-defense is one thing, but the annihilation of innocents clearly bothers him. And he shows it, and he's showing it to his "enemies" (who are of course becoming allies). I'm impressed that he seems to have mostly forgiven Archer for the mindwipe from "Stratagem;" I guess the weight of saving a species weighs heavily enough on Degra that he understands what it's done to Archer. Now, is putting a man with a conscience in charge of a planet-killing weapons program more tactical stupidity on the part of the Xindi, or is it supposed to be an echo of what 'Fleet has done by putting Archer (who claims that his compassion guides his judgment) in charge of the mission to save Terra? Is this a subtle (and for B&B, that's really subtle) method of showing how "we have met the enemy, and they are us," in an inverse sense?

At what point does Degra change allegiances? By the time Archer shows him the telemetry on the inside of a sphere (and how long have the spheres been in Xindi space that they've never gotten inside one? I find that hard to believe), he's already saying "if we're successful" in stopping the weapon. After seeing the scans of the dead Tesseract? After Trip's outbursts? During his squabble with Beard Boy? And he changes sides firmly enough to consider the Reptilians to be the enemy, enough that he takes out their ship rather than have the meeting with Enterprise revealed. He'll have a few sleepless nights over it, I think, but like Archer, he's finding he has to do terrible things in the service of a greater good. ("You're asking me to attack my own people!" he says, anguished. Archer just stares quietly. Yes, that's exactly what I'm asking, and you know why. I'm so relieved that Bakula reopened his Quantum Leap book and is remembering how to act again. For the record, Malcolm is wearing the same look: "We must indeed all hang together, or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.")

And speaking of the spheres and the Tesseracts, when all this is over, are Archer and the Xindi just going to leave them there? Do they have to allow the Tesseracts to increase the Expanse until the Battle of Procyon V? Is that why TNG etc. never went into that area of the galaxy? (Well, we know "why," but what will the canonical reason be?)

Not for anything, but the XindiSnakes have a really cool ship. (Before Degra FOOMs it, I mean.)

Hey, what happened to the little swoopy lights at the bottom of the main viewscreen? I thought ENT had those!

I wasn't happy that Trip said "Goodbye, Elizabeth." I know it was meant to show that he had finally faced his grief, but I've lost people dear to me, and that line did not ring true. First, if he referred to her as "Lizzie" when talking to Malcolm, why call her "Elizabeth" if he was essentially speaking to her? Isn't that an intimate nickname that he would use when addressing her? And second, why "goodbye"? Maybe this is individual to my experience; I would have expected "I love you" or "I miss you" or even something euphemistic like "sleep well." But a blunt "goodbye" implies to me that he's even letting go of her memory, which doesn't make sense. Three people in my immediate family have died, and I have not ever bid them farewell. Again, grieving is unique to each person, and it could be that this works for him. To my ears it sounded a little contrived.

Tip of the hat to LeVar Burton for some nice camera work, especially with Trip. The long slow closeup on the final scene, the peekaboo through the fused relays -- I find Trek actors really do well with Trek directing.

May 5, 2004: Karmic payback is a bitch, ain't it, Cap'n? At least we know Archer taught his crew's descendants well: Bluff big, cajole, compromise, and when all else fails, claim you've run out of options and steal.

I enjoyed this (mostly) although I still think it was essentially a ripoff of DS9's"Children of Time," and for the life of me I can't imagine why TPTB thought it was important enough to interrupt the momentum of the Xindi arc. What did it show us? That Archer is desperate but still clawing his way back to humanity and trying to work together with others when possible? We didn't get enough of the alternate universe to care about it, and it didn't add anything to our understanding of the current universe. We cared more about the bio-mimetic duplicates of the Voyager crew from "Course: Oblivion." So Lorian feels the weight of seven million souls -- we get barely a taste of it. If his emotions really wracked him about the probe, he should have broken down in the teaser or something. This would have been better much earlier in the season. We could easily have ditched "Extinction" (please!) or "North Star," since neither of them contributed anything to the Xindi arc, and aired this months ago with some other anomaly.

Nice job matching Lorian to Trip -- Trek casting is good at that; they did it with Linnis and Kes in "Before and After" too -- although the latex on his forehead (to create those little frown lines) and on his nose (to match Trinneer's) made him oddly stiff in the face. This worked for the Vulcan half of the character, though, so I won't complain.

Poor Mal! See, his problem was that they didn't go back far enough. If they'd made it to 2004, I guarantee the women would be lining up to get cozy with the English Muffin.

I suppose with the ship in such a terrible condition, it's not surprising that everyone continues to get filthy. Plus it adds to the realism of the episodes taking place in a few straight days.

All I'll say about Trip and T'Pol is this: if there isn't a Magical Trek Reset Button™ at the end of the season, and they do make it to Season 4, my commentaries are going to get a lot shorter.

Blalock's "old T'Pol" performance was okay; I wasn't all that impressed. Not all geezers speak that slowly. All my relatives above 80 (and I have several) are just as loud and fast as the 30-year-olds.

Director Roxann Dawson did a lot of really neat stuff with camera work. The peekaboo around Bridge pieces, the jerky-echoey flashbacks, the beautiful split-screen with the two T'Pols -- all wonderful. (Okay, the eyes didn't quite line up, but that's really hard. Mulgrew took 20 hours to film handing coffee off from Captain Janeway to Admiral Janeway in "Endgame"; wonder how many the PADD handoff took?)

Kickass ship scenes! E2 hiding under Enterprise ARR ARR ARR I love shots like that. Actually, all the dual-ship shots were really neat. I loved the two ships docked together.

The NX-02 is the Columbia...very appropriate. Nice tip of the hat, folks.

Food Chain intact; no Recycled Trek Actors. More comments Friday or Saturday.

That smile!

Ah love episodes which end in Reset Buttons. 'Cause Ah usually come down with a premature case of dead in these alternate timelines. Ah don't know what the writers have against me.

May 6, 2004: Serious plot problems with this episode (with thanks to Tripper for pointing several of them out):

E2 is in the Expanse for over a century. They know when Cochrane's flight is. They know when the NX-01 is launched. They know about the Tesseracts. They know when the probe is going to be launched. And ALL they do is skulk around, reproduce, and wait for Archer?

Yes, they had to wait until the Vulcans made first contact. But that was 27 years into a 117-year period. They had 80 more years to approach Terra. Or, fates forbid, Vulcan! T'Pol could have contacted herself, or the High Command, and told them what was going on. If all Archer needed was DNA confirmation for him to believe their story, E2 had it to show Terra or the Vulcans. They could have warned Terra that the probe was coming. Yes, that causes timeline problems, but that was what they were trying to do.

Think about it: Lorian's entire life is devoted to a suicide/homicide mission. His logic/emotion in not going kamikaze on the probe is flawed. Destroying the probe, or the weapon, only delays the inevitable. The motive is still there (more on that below). (Tellingly, this is also, still, Archer's mistake. It's becoming obvious who the father figure was in the pointy-eared tyke's life.) If E2's goal is to help Archer through the vortex safely, then the NX-01 will never get thrown back in time, and E2 will never exist, so to speak. So suiciding by helping Archer or suiciding by colliding with the probe accomplish the same immediate end.

What Lorian should have realized was that destroying the probe wouldn't have helped the larger mission -- the Xindi wouldn't have been stopped. He had 100 years or so to meet with the Xindi and try to sway them. That's the opportunity Lorian blew, to allow the situation to re-become volatile. Why not make friends with the Xindi before the Tesseracts get to them? Tesseracta couldn't have been subverting the Council for that long -- a few years at best. Then when she shows up, Degra and friends would look at her and say "Whachoo talkin' 'bout, lady?" and toss her out on her transdimensional tuchus. Yes, they've been building and operating the Spheres for a thousand years, but the Tesseracts didn't need to interfere with Xindi-Terran relations until they looked into the future and found that the Federation would defeat them, and needed to come up with a way to strangle the Federation in its cradle.

For even a half-Vulcan, actually, Lorian's logic really sucks. Lorian is going to fire on and possibly kill people on the NX-01. Hello, GRANDFATHER PARADOX! Shouldn't he have surrendered everything on his ship, including himself and his mother, to make sure that the NX-01 gets through the vortex safely? Remember, his entire life, the lives of all his crew and their families, are based on a suicidal goal: to get Archer through safely, thus eliminating themselves.

And that was a bit of character development we missed. What is it like for these people to know that while they may be focused on "saving Earth from the Xindi," in doing so they are by definition erasing themselves? They are literally living for self-sacrifice. This is the second and third generation after the NX-01 fell back through time -- wouldn't 100 years of this kind of masochistic attitude really warp people's minds? What a bizarre culture must have evolved on the E2, to be so deeply concerned with bringing about something which will wipe out them, their children, their grandchildren, and any evidence they ever existed or any technological advance or friendships they ever made. The only way they can live, exist, survive, is if they allow the NX-01 to fall back through time to 2037, thus sacrificing the original seven million and all of Terra.

And what must the friendly species on that side of the nebula think, especially the ones with relatives on E2? Why didn't Lorian share that information with Archer, to allow him to use the allies Lorian has cultivated? He's a spectacularly short-sighted commander -- although if he's Archer's foster kid, that isn't surprising, actually.

I mentioned that this episode is a ripoff of "Children of Time." It isn't even a good ripoff. We have one person who's very long-lived and meets with the younger counterpart, and confesses affection for someone in the present. We have all the children and grandchildren and greats of the present crewmembers, with hugely obvious species markers of the representative members. We have someone who dies young. What we don't have in "E2" is any connection to these A/U people. In "Children of Time," we really got to know the people of Gaia, and we mourned when they were never born. But Lorian's crew are just stereotypes and symbols, pointing where TPTB want the series to go whether we like it or not. We don't feel for the Denobulan children playing ball in the corridors. We don't even get to know their names. When they vanish, it's just a blip on the way to the meeting with Degra, not a real loss of hundreds of people. The Gaians didn't need to sacrifice themselves; they assumed their ancestors would do as they had done and go back to found the colony. They were innocents. The E2 crew actually knew what was coming and what had to be done -- but we got no hint of what they thought of that.

This season is so badly paced: chopping up the Xindi arc for this story, but not giving this story the room it needs to breathe in its 40-minute hour. Lopping two episodes off the whole season and running crap like "Extinction." Using outright filler scenes to create tension where it isn't needed (T'Pol nearly getting killed searching for her crack, Malcolm getting lobstered over shutting off the plasma leak) but being utterly unable to devote four minutes an episode to real relationships and character development. I hope the rumors about Berman are true -- either that he's being removed or that he's focusing on some other show next season, and so will be messing with the show less. With half the Killer Bs gone, the show might stand a chance.

May 7, 2004: Remaining photos up, and final commentary.

I liked the various touches showing that E2 had been lived in for a long time. You decorate your home; you only spruce up a cubicle. The set dressers did a nice job.

It's highly improbable that the writers or the Killer Bs have actually been reading a site like mine, but it's quite refreshing to see that Archer is starting to listen to his senior staff's recommendations and follow them without argument. Malcolm suggests that they enter the nebula at a particular point for such-and-such reason -- Archer nods. The T'Pols give him data regarding Lorian's upgrades -- he accepts it. Whatever the XindiWhales gave him, they should sell Phlox a few tanks so he can gas the captain when he starts to wig out again.

Degra insists that readings of other human ships in the Expanse were never confirmed, and we later figure out that they were tiny glimpses of E2. But if Lorian's ship vanishes, does that mean this part of the argument never happened? That the Reptilians no longer think there were other Terran ships in their territory?

Double your damage, double your hit points

Enterprise tries a desperate move to avoid the UPN axe, figuring that two targets will be harder to hit.

Another round of applause for the SFX folks. The three alien ships peeling off were reminiscent of the Koolvord Starburst, and the vortex was a re-render of the DS9 wormhole. The Enterprises' dogfight was way cool.

I am even less impressed with Blalock's performance the second time around. I guess we're supposed to chalk it up to the Thrillerium brain damage and Pa'nar (not that anyone else seems to remember she has it), but for the most part I was just irritated with her. I don't enjoy watching flaky young Vulcans or flaky old Vulcans.

According to the T'Pols, Lorian's modifications to the plasma injectors have a 22% chance of failing. Archer proclaims this is too great a risk. How much is too much? As it stands, they risk getting slung back 117 years, or not making the rendezvous. Is one chance in five too high? Haven't they taken more dangerous risks before? This is typically conservative for T'Pol, but surprising for Archer.

Given the nature of Lorian's mission which I discussed earlier, we can sort of see where his megalomaniacal insistence on completing the mission himself might come from. Being half-Vulcan and thereby fairly long-lived, he's only first-generation E2, unlike most of the crew. He knew the NX-01's crew and their mission. And since Archer contributed a lot to rearing him (we imagine), he has much of that obsessive, stop-the-Xindi-at-all-costs drive. He made Archer a promise to do so, in fact. Since I'm positing that E2 would had to have had suicidal underpinnings to their society, maybe this is also Lorian's backlash to that. Nobody really wants to die; certainly nobody wants to spend their entire lives planning and preparing to die. So perhaps in this crucial hour Lorian sees a way out -- a way to salvage the mission Archer screwed up, a way to make Archer proud of him, a way to survive. They've lasted 120 years against impossible odds; what's one more risk? (And note that for Lorian, the 22% isn't high enough to make him back out.) My only question is whether Lorian was totally deluded when he told Archer he'd follow them through the vortex or whether he was telling a fat white lie so Archer wouldn't worry and turn around for them.

I think using the transporter to yank out random parts of E2 was very clever. :) Looks like Archer learned a few things from the pirates in "Anomaly." I'm not sure why he sends T'Pol and not an engineer, but whatever.

All kudos to Travis and Karyn for a spectacular piece of precision flying. Pairing up two starships that perfectly is the kind of thing which would make Tom Paris wet himself.

Switching between the two Bridges in the final scramble for the vortex was fantastic. Considering these had to be shot separately, Dawson did an amazing job of editing the two sets of film together until it looks like they're overlapping -- a jerking reaction shot off Lorian cuts to T'Pol. Beautifully done.

Should have thought of this earlier: apparently T'Pol no longer has any objections to the idea of time travel. Her report to the Vulcan Science Directorate is going to be a doozy.

May 12, 2004: Brief thoughts about "The Council," with more to follow tomorrow:

Mostly satisfying. We did call Degra's death before it happened. It's a shame, as I really like the actor and he did a great job with the character, but it does serve to ratchet the tension up a notch. I appreciated getting more information about the Tesseracts, and learing that the Xindi revere them as "The Guardians." Now their trust makes more sense -- the Tesseracts have been cultivating them for over 100 years. The bit with the different Tesseracts (all women, too...wonder what that's about) talking in the Prophet-like white space was neat.

Poor redshirt got vaporized! While I was glad from a character standpoint to see Mal's reaction, I would have liked to have seen it earlier in the season -- this is way too late for that kind of anguish.

The Reptilians steal Hoshi. Does Archer notice only because he was looking directly at her, or because his clicking translations weren't immediately forthcoming? Or did he expect it because she overran her dialogue quota and only Travis gets to be unconscious? (Does it count as dialogue if she's doing a Tawny Madison and just repeating what the computer says?)

How does Degra know about the Klingons? I didn't think they had that big of a reputation...

Loved the tapeworm joke! Billingsley has lost about thirty-odd pounds over the year, and it was nice to see it acknowledged in that little throwaway character scene. Writer Manny Coto is asymptotically climbing out of his hole.

A few odd camera movements and flashback editing choices. I thought the flashbacks were unnecessary; it felt like an extension of the "Previously" reel. And why the hell is T'Pol doing that VO now?

Food Chain intact. No Recycled Trek Actors. More tomorrow, with the larger followup Sunday.

Did you know that Limerick Day
Happens each year on the 12th of May?
So take a short time
To write up a rhyme
And then you can go out and play.

Or failing that, check out these great ENT limericks and Trip/Malcolm limericks written by the Tuckerites. (The "Future Tense" one is mine.)

Mal looking upset

Malcolm: We got inside the sphere. We had great big guns. We seized the bloody memory core. The thing nipped off Hawkins like a schoolboy eating chips in vinegar. And you still have the brass to insist I can't blow the thing up! Subcommander, what is wrong with you?
T'Pol: I have a strong feeling of identification with large round objects.

May 16, 2004: Okay, watching the teaser, there are definitely two Tesseracts, both female: Tesseracta, whom we've seen previously, and another female Tesseract. wombat61 surmises these are different iterations of the same people along a temporal continuum, which is as good as explanation as any.

The question which now occurs to me is this: if the Tesseracts built the spheres to -- is "dimension-form" a word? -- a chunk of the Alpha Quadrant to suit their species, why didn't they pick a timeline where they could have started a few thousand years ago in Terra's neck of the woods? Then the Terrans worship The Guardians, The Guardians tell them never to form the Federation (those nasty Vulcans! they'd keep you down while we assist you!), the Tesseracts colonize the AQ, Terra not only doesn't need to be destroyed but the Terrans become their willing subjects/ slaves/ roadkill. See, this is the recurring (heh) problem with unlimited access to the timeline: there's always a better place to choose to enter it and start mucking around. (Kirk made the same mistake in Generations. Why go back to the planet just before Soran blows up the sun? Why not go back three days earlier and bash him over the head with a rock? Why not go back three years earlier and notify authorities that the whole mechanism was being built?) If there's some reason why the Tesseracts had to pick this part of space or this species (the timelines are the most favorable, causes the least disruption to something else -- Annorax's lessons), then I wish we could have heard it earlier.

Trip's apparently forgotten the words of Moshe Dayan: "If you want to make peace, you don't talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies." (Although Archer's been reading his Abraham Lincoln: "Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?") But it's right in keeping with Trip's journey out of grief and rage back to mourning and equilibrium, so I have no complaint. I do think the dialogue in the scene where he talks about leaving the anger behind like an old friend was horribly clunky -- a good idea badly executed.

The Sickbay readout on the far monitor which shows a Terran male must be a screensaver. There's no reason for the bed to be activated and scanning Trip through his finer assets unless it has a crush on him.

Apparently T'Pol looked up Star Wars to figure out how to get to the sphere's center. Which sort of makes sense -- the Xindi wouldn't have seen that film, so in all their explorations they wouldn't have known how to get in. ;)

I was a little surprised that Hayes wasn't involved in Malcolm's decision to ask Hawkins to join the away team, but I guess if they've come to an understanding, and it was clearly a request and not an order, then Mal could have checked with Hayes off-screen and it wouldn't have been an issue. (Hawkins asks "Are we expecting a firefight?" Firefight...guns...things going BOOM... Malcolm reflexively smirks.)

Loved Tesseracta's Temptations, appealing to Degra's focus on posterity -- i.e., the future he's creating for the children he loves so much -- and the XindiSnakes' need to dominate the other species. The Tesseracts and the Xindi are like the Founders and the Vorta, in a way. The more sophisticated species raised up the simpler one to assist in forcibly ruling dang near everything. The Dominion and the Tesseracts have that same smug confidence in their own superiority, that same absolute conviction that they alone are worthy of existence and that their elevated form of life is to other humanoid species as primates are to ants. They find a "lesser" humanoid species and make them their right hands to do the dirty work, using flattery and manipulation and seduction, and pouting over their assistants' "lack of gratitude for all we've done for you" when someone balks. It's a problem when you make a deal with an entire species of devils.

I wonder if the Tesseracts inflamed the original Xindi conflict which caused the destruction of their homeworld just to set the five or six species up to be exploited on this level? When you're dealing with work of this depth and breadth, such seed-sowing is entirely plausible.

"Kiaphet Amman'sor" is the name of the XindiWhale Degra mentions. I just think it's a nice name, and since he garbled it, it's worth spelling out. :)

Is Archer going to mention at any point that he saved the nest of baby XindiBugs? I wonder if it would help or hurt.

Nice tanning salon SnakeEyes was dozing in...it makes sense that a reptile would want heat to sleep, if they're cold-blooded as Terran reptiles are.

If the XindiBirds built the Council chambers 4,000 years ago, then the Xindi must have had space flight of some kind (technological or biological) for a long time. They had to have founded some colonies. The homeworld could not have contained the entire Xindi population. It was psychologically devastating, but it couldn't have wiped out all five or six species.

For some reason it really touched me when Degra mentions the Xindi archaeologists. It was a throwaway line, but it suddenly opened up enormous dimensions to their culture. Here are a people who have known peace and scholarship long enough to become interested in the past, and have organized study of it. They're rounded. They're not cardboard, despite the XindiSnakes' knee-jerk hostility. Again, great stuff but way way too late in the season.

Degra warns Archer during the quickie briefing "Don't raise your voice, because the XindiBugs consider it hostile." So what's the first thing Archer does when he gets into the chamber? HE STARTS YELLING!

How many languages is Hoshi up to now? She was at 38 or so on Risa. And does she count each dialect separately, or just as a subset? Does she count "knowing" a language as being able to speak it, read and write it, or just work with the UT? I mean, she was punching buttons during the meeting; it wasn't like she was listening to XindiWhalesong and translating on the fly. And separately, is it for an ensign to decide what she should and should not translate for the captain? Maybe it was a ritual insult to which Archer had to respond with particular words in order to preserve his honor, or something.

There was absolutely no reason, tactical or logical, for T'Pol not to tell the other three in the pod about the holographic wall through which they were about to fly. There was plenty of time. They weren't being monitored or overheard. It wasn't classified. It wasn't an issue of belief over imposed reality (like TOS's "Spectre of the Gun"). She was just jerking them around. It's immature and irresponsible. And if the plan is to portray Mood-Swinging Recovering-Crackhead T'Pol as playing mind games because she gets off on the emotions she engenders in herself and others, then a nasty smirk was called for. The writers are just determined to ruin this character. If TPTB really need to create tension to fill out airtime, can't they do it in a way which works organically with the conflicts they've devised, and not make everyone take turns looking like idiots? (On an entirely different note, the SFX people flubbed a bit: the random shapes on the sphere's surface in the long shot don't match up with the puzzle piece through which they finally fly.)

So the Tesseracts have this "visual record" of the Terrans destroying the new Xindi homeworld. What does Daniels have to say about that?

One might think the Council chamber would be shielded against transporters, considering that explosives could be beamed in...

Okay, so the Melting Molecules Alien in the pod (the first Tesseract they found) proves that the Guardians built the spheres. Then what? Why is that a problem for the Xindi? The other half of the equation is that the spheres create the anomalies which are dimension-forming the Expanse. Has Archer proven that part yet?

While the moment was rushed, it's obvious that Trip is supposed to be swallowing his pride and choking down his anger and asking for Degra's help with an engineering problem. Trinneer does his damnedest; it's not his fault the script lurches so badly. This was a scene which should have had real impact -- it's Trip's whole character arc coming full circle! Trip looks like he's got two other people under his face trying to get out. But the director hustled it along, and cut short the Degra-Archer moment, so the whole thing fell flat to me.

Antennae of Doom

Quick! Degra! Call the Orkin Man!

Loved the shadow of the li'l Antennae of Doom on Degra's face! And of course the worst thing SnakeEyes could have said is that he would go after Degra's family. (Not that it will happen, but it was the perfect threat to leave echoing in his ears as his last thought.)

So SnakeEyes and Cobra Commander walk out of the Council. Wouldn't the Council just elect or nominate two other XindiSnakes to represent their species? Why is it a cause for fracture if these particular two leave? Can't anyone else represent that species?

Archer says to Trip, "A lot can happen in a day." Foreshadowing: A valid literary technique.

I wonder if they built the Death Star as a sphere, mimicking the Tesseracts' spheres, on purpose? Or if the Tesseracts influenced their choice of design?

May 19, 2004: Poor Hoshi! She can't even suffer well. I wish they'd either give Linda Park something to do or kill Hoshi off. She struggled valiantly, I'll give her that, but with no more personality than any of the MACOs, for example. But I was very proud that she spit in SnakeEyes's face. They smothered her storyline -- she could have spent the whole hour in back-and-forth, encoding and decoding, spacing out, coming back to herself, being injected, hallucinating, et cetera. If we'd had the extra two eps this season, that could have stretched the tension out for a reason, and allowed the XindiWhales a whole B-plot to make up their minds (showing us how they don't like to be hasty hoom).

On the other hand -- Hayes! They killed Hayes! ("And just when he and Malcolm were getting ready to head to Massachusetts," Moogie jokes.) A mostly realistic death scene, not too drawn-out or clichéd. I was surprised that Hayes did get injured while transporting, from a Trek-drama standpoint -- as in, usually on Trek, if the person gets shot in transport, s/he doesn't get injured. André Bormanis was co-writing, though, and so they hewed closer to the laws of physics. I don't think Phlox tried too hard to revive Hayes, not for anything. Maybe the Major is of more use as parts for potions.

Sssssmokin'!

Tucker to Chef. Ah found your problem. Porthos was tryin' to make Cajun Broiled Brie again.

The Cap'n's table scene was reminiscent of the lull before the final battle in Buffy's series finale, when the original four stood around and BSed about going shoe shopping after the apocalypse. I liked it in and of itself, but I'll have to rewatch before I decide whether it worked with the flow of the story.

The scene where Trip finally tells to T'Pol to get her Vulcan act together -- and then she quaveringly asks for his help in hauling her emotions in line -- is, one assumes, the setup for next season. Taken out of context of Season 3, and paired with the dinner exchange about the 602 Club, it's sturdy and believable. This is how these two SHOULD have gotten closer. But I cannot and will not forget the moronpressure and rampant pointless stripping and gratuitous immature sex. I cringe every time she comes on screen, waiting for her to sob or yell, and I find myself reaching for something to read when she and Trip share a scene, because I absolutely can't stand watching this forced pairing try to be built backwards. And from now on I will attempt to make no further comment on the subject.

There were a few clunky dialogue moments, and Archer is showing large flashes of Season 2 Mindless Optimist, but for the most part it worked. I'm not sure if I liked seeing Malcolm near tears over Hawkins's death in front of Hayes. That sort of reaction would have made more sense with Trip, I think.

SnakeEyes was right on the money in demanding help from the Tesseracts! About time one of the enemy showed a brain. (Even if it is the size of a walnut.)

TuckerXindi (the humanoid played by Tucker Smallwood; his character doesn't have a name) assures Archer that at least he (and maybe the Sloths) will work towards a peaceful future with the Terrans, and not rebuild the Death Star. Ooookay... what about the Snakes and the Bugs and the Whales? The Snakes and Bugs are the ones who really want Terra destroyed. What's going to stop them?

Can we skip the recaps and make the teasers longer? I guess after the finale it won't be an issue, because season 4 might not be arc-driven.

No damage. Food Chain intact. No new Recycled Trek Actors. More Friday.

Trip's finer assets

Director Robbie McNeill knows that we can always spare a moment to admire truly fine assets, even in a crisis.

May 21, 2004: More commentary on "Countdown," along with champagne for the renewal:

Definitely a Bormanis and Black script; there are very few holes in the science and almost all the characters get something to do!

I'm guessing the "vortex" which the Xindi use is just something which allows them to travel at Warp 7 or so, considering it's supposed to take them 10 hours to travel the distance which took Enterprise two months plus the as-the-crow-flies from the barrier to the Council chamber planet.

The XindiWhales have incredibly cool ships. Just thought I'd praise the SFX folks.(And hiding Enterprise inside for the passage through the vortex? Clever! Also gives an idea of just how honkin' big those ships are.) And the dogfight around the Death Star was fantastic. Not that I'd want one every week, but they're great to watch.

Either the Xindi are absolute idiots or Hoshi is the galaxy's best codebreaker. Five Xindi species and the Tesseracts built this over at least a year, and she can crack it in a few hours while being doped to the gills? And very brave of her to attempt to suicide rather than continue to slave under the Snakes.

Did anyone else start to sing the Emperor's theme from Star Wars when SnakeEyes's and Commander Cobra's CGI figures were marching along the catwalk?...

The Death Star is wonderfully designed -- like a buzzsaw, as wombat61 noted. Parts spin and whiz and slide past each other at high speed; we instinctively don't want to touch it or be near it. It's disturbing even to look at. And the set designers and director Robbie McNeill even added echoes of the larger look in little spinning parts inside the weapon. Brrrr!

If Hoshi cracked the launch codes, they were done with her. Why didn't they kill her right there? Just more tactical stupidity on the Snakes' part.

I guess the point of Mal coming so close to tears over Hawkins, as Trip did a few weeks ago over Lizzie, is that this is the end point of all their work, their sacrifice, their fear and hopes and suffering. Everyone's strung pretty tautly. (Except for Archer, who seems to be slipping back into happy-go-goofy mode again...I don't know what that's about.) I liked hearing that the MACOs had had problems fitting in; I would have liked to see it.

Mal growling

Come on, you pansies! You yellow Xindi bastards! Come here and take what's coming to you. I'll bite your legs off!

Keating kept his voice at a low growl for almost the entire episode, which I loved. Never hysterical, never in an unthinking rage, just cold calculated fury. This is the man who would become Captain Tucker's first officer.

If T'Pol does join 'Fleet, can someone please measure Blalock for a uniform so it fits her properly? Having said that, I wonder (I certainly don't dare hope) if putting T'Pol in a standard uniform will do for her what it did for Troi: transform her from Babe to Officer. Troi was much more sensible and easy to respect after "Chain of Command" -- the producers literally looked at her in a sciences uniform and said "Damn, why didn't we do this earlier? She looks professional and still looks beautiful!" So who knows, maybe getting her out of the catsuits and into a jumpsuit will add a few IQ points. And maybe she'll stay in the jumpsuit. Ahem.

If the XindiWhales take so long to decide to do everything, do they have teenagers crewing the weapons? Without being a little impatient, they'd never react and fire in a fight.

I'm glad Carter (not MacKenzie; thanks, Sandy), the female MACO with the ponytail (not that she should have one, but different issue), has showed up just as often as the various boys on the Away Missions. I'm equally glad no one makes a point of it. She's a soldier, she's as tough as they are, it's her job.

Speaking of the MACOs, they finally did everything right! They took out the XindiSnakes quickly and efficiently. They hit almost everything they were firing at. They didn't take exorbitant casualties. They rescued Hoshi. At least they came through in the crunch. After Hayes dies, Malcolm speaks to the MACOs as he would his own staff, with the same pride and trust in their abilities, as equals. They've come a long way since the premiere -- Mal and the MACOs both.

A number of people have complained that not only did Phloxenstein not try very hard to save poor Major Hayes, he didn't even give the guy a bandage! He might have had more of a chance if you'd made some kind of effort to stop the bleeding, Doc....

Why only three MACOs and Malcolm for the insertion team? Not that Megajoules Reed isn't worth three MACOs all by himself, but c'mon....

May 24, 2004: Inger donated a great photo for Those SHIRTS! And the Drinking Game entries have been slightly tweaked, with logicgurl adding some new ones as well. Print it out and play along for the finale!

May 25, 2004: I have the best readers in Trekdom. Two crazy shirt photos in one week! Sanni generously sent a shot of Connor's newest fanblinder from Fedcon XII in Germany over the weekend.

May 26, 2004: WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT??

Okay, that's about the most unexpected ending I could have imagined. I mean, it's a real relief now that there will be a Season 4, because ending the series on that visual would have made every Trekkie on the planet scream loud enough to create a sonic boom.

Backing up...there were lots of screaming moments, actually. Shran showing up to save Archer's pink ass. Malcolm kicking the XindiSnake in the head. (Okay, Mal's painfully obvious stunt double.) The XindiSnake killing the MACO by jamming his hand into the poor sod's ribs. The spheres MOOFing into themselves. (That would be FOOMing, but backwards.)

The UFP flag has three bright stars, which were (until now) supposed to represent Terra, Vulcan, and Tellar, the three founding members. Now that Andor has been added -- to which I have no objection -- they'll have to come up with some other explanation for the design.

I feel towards Daniels the way SnakeEyes did towards Tesseracta: If you can mess with time so easily, why don't you help us the hell out instead of pontificating and giving orders?

Mal reluctantly letting Archer blow up the Death Star

Archer: Give me the charges and the detonator. I'm going to blow this thing up myself.
Malcolm: But sir! This is the biggest bloody thing we've blown up the whole season! Why can't I be the one to do it?
Archer: This is not open for debate!
Malcolm: Glory hog. Must you be such a Nazi about being the one who saves the day all the time?
Archer: Funny you should put it that way...

Speaking of the Tesseracts, I guess we couldn't have expected them to come, physically, to the defense of the spheres. Chucking around -- what were they, blorp balls? anominis? -- as weapons was a cool idea. However, maybe now we're starting to see where the Xindi got their tactical lessons from. Having just two or three Tesseracts dip their hands into crucial systems was hardly enough. They could have made some really vicious blorp which took out the whole deflector, or destabilized the warp core so it breached, or killed the whole Bridge crew....

Too many borrowed Star Wars visuals inside the Death Star, and one unfortunate GalaxyQuest moment as Archer is running for his life. But the moment where Archer sticks the last charge on SnakeEyes's shoulder is from Wanted: Dead or Alive, where Rutger Hauer's bounty hunter jams the grenade into the mouth of bad guy Gene Simmons and growls "F--- the bonus." Heh heh heh.

The weapon's destruction was actually a bit anti-climactic for me, knowing that there was no way Archer was going to die (and that we had ten minutes left in the show). Not to mention -- isn't anyone worried about debris falling on the planet like Skylab? At least the SFX people learned from Praxis and the Death Star exploded in all directions.

Will we find out in September, I hope, what happened to that far future which Daniels showed Archer? I wouldn't keep picking this nit if they'd just address it.

I would have been more impressed with T'Pol's speech to Trip about "two hours, like it or shove it, because now Vulcan is threatened" if she hadn't been on the verge of shaking and tears the whole time. See, when a Vulcan loses her cool once in a while, it's impressive. On a daily basis, she becomes a whiner. We don't care about pointy-eared whiners. Why did B&B have to ruin this character?

The red lighting on the Bridge when they first entered the megablorp was really cool. Nice job.

Recycled Trek Actor Checklist: J. Paul Boehmer is back! He must be Trek's go-to Nazi. He was Mestral in "Carbon Creek," "One" in VOY's "Drone," and B'Elanna's Nazi boyfriend in VOY's "The Killing Game."

Food Chain intact. Minor damage. More Friday or Saturday.

May 27, 2004: 5MV's Zeke has paid me the lovely compliment of referencing my intro text (and thereby my site) in his "Countdown" fiver. (I didn't expect the explanatory link in the fine print in TrekToday version, which I think knocked out our server!) Don't worry, Z, I have two Extras in progress with cross-links already in place. :D

Trip in shock

What the -- you call that an ending? What if we hadn't been renewed? Were you gonna keep us all hangin' and wrap it up in a novel some time?

May 28, 2004: Even Greg Dean of the web comic "Real Life" agrees about the ending. Thanks to rainwoman for alerting me!

More entries for the Drinking Game from The CURSOR. It looks like UPN is repeating the season from scratch, double-headers, starting next week, so you can play along (and catch up).

rainwoman also notes that as Terran reptiles and avians have a common evolutionary ancestor, it's not a stretch to think the same thing might have occurred on Xindis, so the XindiSnakes might well feel a particular kinship with the lost XindiBirds.

As I recall from "Doctor's Orders," Phlox put everyone into comas to dampen the activity in their neocortices so they wouldn't be fried by the blorps. He suggests whipping up a "neuroleptic compound" to combat the dense blorps around Sphere 41. Google defines neuroleptic as an anti-psychotic sedative. So if he's sedating everyone, shouldn't they be sluggish, slow to respond, dopey, or outright unconscious? And if they stay too long, shouldn't people be getting the screaming DTs? Sorry, but when the mediTECH gets down to the level where an English major like me can grasp it, I'm going to nitpick to make sure it's right.

I actually enjoyed Hoshi's scenes with Archer. It's as much depth as Hoshi has ever had on the show, and Archer credibly ranges from compassionate to firm to gentle to desperate. And Section 31 had better hire her at a 400% raise and two-rank promotion immediately, since she apparently is the best codebreaker in the galaxy. Unless the Xindi thought letter-after code or backwards-alphabet counted as "encryption."

Okay, whoever did the music this week really ripped off Star Wars. Every Death Star scene was wavering right on the edge of the Imperial March.

Watch very carefully in the Sickbay scene where T'Pol interrupts Phlox dictating his will. When Travis pages her, she has to go to a comm panel to answer. The comm is right next to the door. She starts to reach for the door button but very swiftly changes course and hits the comm button instead. It's really fast, but you can see Blalock realize she's going for the wrong prop and veer for the correct one.

SnakeEyes's lackey says there are seven humans on Degra's ship. We know of Archer, Hoshi, and Malcolm, and Mal asked for three volunteers. One MACO dies, and Archer tells Mal and Hoshi that the "four of you" (Malcolm, Hoshi, two MACOs) need to go back to Degra's vessel while he plays hero. Did someone else sneak on board? Daniels?

Shran in shock

You call that an ending? Evil Gargoyle Alien Nazis? Did you just print out the episodes from all four prior series and throw darts? This is outrageous! We've got a Federation to found! Vulcans to insult! Pinkskins to obligate! The Andorian Imperial Guard will not tolerate this. And the Ferengi Commerce Authority is threatening to file a lawsuit.

Gotta love Shran for saving Archer's pink butt just so Archer can owe him now. Purely Andorian, perfectly Shran. We need more of this guy next season. Wrap up the Nazi crap quickly and get back to the proper century!

Notice that in all the fighting, the MACO actors never once struck the XindiSnakes' armor? It's cheap plastic tubing; they'd wreck it with one good punch! ;)

"What have you done?" SnakeEyes growls when he catches Archer crossing the streams. I was expecting Archer to say something like "Making turtle hash."

I know I've complained about Bakula's acting in other eps, but when SnakeEyes realizes he's wearing a grenade, and Archer hits the remote and just slides behind the pillar with that cold contempt on his face, I cheered. Nice job.

A nit noted on the TrekBBS: In "Countdown," Archer's log is February 13, 2154. T'Pol's voice-over log (i.e., dubbed afterward, and we don't see her speaking the words) in "Zero Hour," after the Death Star is destroyed, is February 14, 2152. Dubbing error, or the first sign that something was wrong with the timeline? The official site lists the episode as 2154, if that counts for anything. There was a similar error in VOY's "Warhead," when Tom Paris's mouth says "thirty-four" but the overdub was "thirty-two," since the script called for thirty-two objects. [Update: Manny Coto later stated in a chat that the overdub was a mistake.]

That ending...okay, how did we get there? Where was the timeline disrupted, and who is in 1944? Archer and Enterprise are in the same time frame, at least. What about the XindiWhales' ship which dropped them off? What about the Andorians? Did the shift occur when the Whale ship was in the vortex between the Expanse and Terra? Was it when the sphere network imploded? Did the spheres have a temporal component which was unleashed with their destruction? Was it when the Death Star blew up, meaning that Terra was not wiped out?

Gargoyle Alien Nazi

Evil Gargoyle Alien Nazi: Ve haff vays of making you tock, Herr Archer.
Archer: Talk? Sure, I can talk. You know, when I was in my early twenties on a trip to East Africa I saw a gazelle giving birth. It was truly amazing...
Evil Gargoyle Alien Nazi: Ve haff vays of making you shut up, too.

There were no other 'Fleet vessels -- no other human vessels at all, in fact -- waiting outside the purple cloud barrier when the Death Star arrived. Wouldn't there be a constant patrol, waiting for it or Enterprise to show up? At the very least wouldn't someone have been keeping an eye on the Andorians keeping an eye on the Expanse? Does the absence of 'Fleet vessels mean that the temporal shift happened even earlier -- that is, that Terran history has changed to the point where they either don't have a unified planetary government or they don't have warp drive? If that happened, why is Enterprise and the shuttlepod still around? (This was the paradox presented in TOS's "The City on the Edge of Forever." When McCoy changed Terra's past so that the Nazis won, there was no Starfleet and no Enterprise, and therefore Kirk and Spock standing on Gateway next to the Guardian suddenly discovered they were utterly stranded. Conversely, in DS9's "Past Tense," Sisko changed the past, but the Defiant did not poof.)

Is it possible that Daniels yanked Archer out of the Death Star at the last second before it exploded? That still doesn't explain the alien in the Nazi uniform; that's obviously some other faction meddling with the timeline. (Moogie thought he looked like Clem from Buffy; I think he looks more like an übervamp or a gargoyle.) Did the Tesseracts figure that if destroying Terra to destroy the Federation didn't work, they would just focus on Archer, and chucked him back in the past? Are the Gargoyle Aliens allied with the Tesseracts, the Suliban/Future Guy, or someone else altogether?

Moogie griped that the P51s should not have been able to detect the shuttlepod, as fast and as small as it is, and that their guns literally didn't fire fast enough to hit the pod. It's possible that this will be resolved next season once we find out how this mess was created.

"Get Me Rewrite!" for next week. I have at least two DVD commentaries in the works, plus another new kind of Extra which is about two-thirds done. Even though the season's over, we'll continue to have new material almost every week here through September. So keep coming back! :)

June 1, 2004: Conny very kindly donated another photo for Those SHIRTS! from FedconXII. And according to rumors from FedCon and London, Connor was married this past weekend in France, to his fiancée Ariana. Tante auguri, cent'anni, and much happiness to both!

Trip and Trav, speechless

Trip: An' you do this all the time, huh?
Travis: Coupla months without any dialogue? I can do that standing on my head.
Trip: If you stood on your head at the helm, you might get more dialogue.
Travis: I've considered it, but my agent said I can't afford the stunt insurance.
Trip: You shoulda seen my premiums the first two seasons. After "Dawn" they almost cancelled my policy.

June 2, 2004: As promised, this edition of "Get Me Rewrite!" stars a crewmember -- our favorite, in fact. Standard disclaimers about naughtiness apply. Best captions will be added to The Rewrite Doctors throughout the week.

June 9, 2004: Another Get Me Rewrite! with one of our favorite guest stars, Shran. Standard disclaimers apply.

June 16, 2004: Okay, rest your caption generators. My turn to do the heavy lifting this week.

For your enjoyment, this week's Extra holds over a dozen different stories. How? It's Choose Your Own ENTventure! Remember the classic kids' books called "Choose Your Own Adventure"? Each page ended in two options, each leading you to a different page. You picked one and turned to the appropriate page, where the next event happened, and presented you with two more choices. Here's the ENT version, with 18 different endings! With great and profound thanks to wombat61 and Susan, who have been working with me on this for the last two months or so without complaint. Orchids to you both.

June 23, 2004: Back to Get Me Rewrite! for a week. Standard disclaimer: PG-13 site, crude or obscene captions will not be posted. Be creative.

June 26, 2004: Nice job with the captions so far, by the way; there have been very few which have been too adult to post.

June 30, 2004: I think that's the most captions we've ever had for one photo -- including a handful which just slipped in under the wire -- and they're really good. Well done!

This week's Extra is the return of ENT Libs, the Star Trek version of Mad Libs, adding some steady secondary and tertiary characters to the mix.

By the way, Hallmark's 2004 ornaments are out, and Trip is one of them! He's wearing the EV suit, though, and it's a very bad likeness. Hallmark is not great about getting features right.

You must go see the new Trek list Julia Houston has written at Sci-Fi.About.com: Star Trek Hot Sauce Brands. I just about fell out of my chair giggling.

As July 4 is the site's second birthday, that will be the debut of the minor internal rearrangement to accommodate Season 4. (yay!) Small tweaks, mostly to organization, to reflect the reality that since there was very little real Trip focus in Season 3, TripHammered of necessity expanded to be more of an overall ENT site. I hope the new navigation structure will make sense. My goal, with Moogie's unstinting help as always, is to make it easy to find what you're looking for. Stop by between burgers to check it out.

Site updates, January 2 through June 26, 2006

Site updates, October 3 through December 26, 2005

Site updates, July 4 through September 26, 2005

Site updates, April 1 through July 1, 2005

Site updates, January 4 through March 25, 2005

Site updates, October 1 through December 31, 2004

Site updates, July 4 through September 24, 2004

Site updates, January 1 through March 31, 2004

Site updates, October 1 through December 31, 2003

Site updates, July 4 through September 30, 2003

Site upates, April 2 through July 2, 2003

Site upates, January 1 through March 28, 2003

Site updates, July 4 through December 31, 2002


Close to Home (There's no such thing as a Vulcan Death Grip)
Photos: StarTrek.com