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Ancient History

Archive of previous updates on the site, January 4-March 25, 2005.

Special cameo appearance by Malcolm Reed

Listen! Do you smell something?

January 4, 2005: Happy new year! Okay, I had way too much fun with this Get Me Rewrite. But really, look at those guys. Can ya blame me? :D

January 14, 2005: I suppose it says something about the current state of Trek that my main thought about "Daedalus" was What a waste -- as in, what a waste of air time the last season and some of Season 2 was, when they could have been airing episodes like this.

Erickson was great -- Bill Cosby's morally vague older brother. Not evil, just fanatically driven to create and design -- the best ones are always a little nuts anyway -- and haunted by the limbo in which he left his son. I would have done the same in the end; even if it's just bringing home a body to bury, better an end one way or another rather than the neither/nor where Quinn was left. Although it seems that even several hundred years later neither the Talaxians nor Starfleet have any better ideas about reconstituting the scattered, so Erickson shouldn't feel so bad about that. (He should, Moogie notes, be going to prison for the fraud he perpetrated on Starfleet, however.)

I am again struck by how stiff ENT's cast can be, in contrast to Erickson's big gestures and fluid movements and loud laughter or Soong's merry arrogance. Archer greeting the Ericksons was perfect -- the friendly hugs and kiss of dear old friends -- but then he wound himself up again. I suppose it's the character(s), but the difference was startling.

I love the idea that we have this generation of mad geniuses all working together coming up with the discoveries and inventions which will get us out into space, and by necessity their families are thrown together (and ignored by the geniuses) and their kids become friends, and then the kids become a generation of explorers.

Did they change Blalock's wig or makeup or something over the break? She looked different, and not in a good way. Was it supposed to reflect the time she'd spent out in the desert, or that she was grieving for her mother since it looked like she'd been crying for hours?

Nice to see a teasing moment between Trip and Archer, where we can believe for a moment that they're still friends, but then it's bookended by the slapdown in the hallway, so there goes that idea. Does Archer take out the Expanse Kommandant just on special occasions and then stuff him back in the footlocker when he's done, like Mr. Hyde?

Interesting parallel paths going on: Trip's (apparently completed) journey of grief over Lizzie, Erickson's 15 years of holding his breath over Quinn, T'Pol's either private or complete denial of her mourning for her mother. Trip is the healthy example. He misses Lizzie, he expressed and worked through his anger and loss and grief, but he's accepted it and moved on. Erickson has held out, hoping against hope, for almost two decades that he can undo his terrible mistake. T'Pol could be mourning during her meditation, which would at least be an explanation for why she looked like she was ready to burst into tears at any second throughout the episode, or she could be deciding that she has to shut down her emotions entirely in order to be a "real" Vulcan, and is suppressing whatever she feels.

"Ah wouldn't've picked up on any of it if you hadn't asked me to take a closer look." grrrrrrrr WHY does Archer constantly have to be the brains of the entire ship? Why does he have to do everyone's job? Rather, why do the other characters have to announce that Archer did the thinking for them offscreen? Trip is only the Chief Engineer, and he comes to Archer with his suspicions -- not the other way around -- that Erickson is blowing smoke. (and the line is overdubbed, too -- it's slightly louder and "closer" than the dialogue actually spoken by the actors. It was added in post!) So Trip wouldn't think to keep a closer eye on what Erickson was doing with his beloved engines, especially after being insulted and blown off? Malcolm did this too, in "Proving Ground," as though as the Tactical and Weapons Officer he wouldn't have thought to watch Talas for sabotage. This Archer ex Machina crap is really tiresome. It only makes everyone else look bad.

Moogie notes that (even though the same error was made in VOY's "Night") just because you hit a patch of space with no stars in it doesn't mean the light from the stars around it won't reach you. A star which is 100 light-years away will still be putting out light, and there's nothing in the vacuum of space to interfere with that light.

Moogie wondered if there's a pattern: when two people beam on board, male and female, it usually means big nasty trouble for the ship. Gary Mitchell and Elizabeth Dehner in TOS's "Where No Man Has Gone Before." Paul and Jenice Manheim from TNG's "We'll Always Have Paris." The brother-and-sister scientists who wanted to keep the Federation from going faster than Warp 5 in TNG's "Force of Nature." (Of course, considering how episodic TV is structured, pretty much when any guest star beams on board there's going to be trouble.)

I should have known David Straiton was the director, from the strange angles to the bizarre jump-zooms. He's not a great cinematographer; why do they keep inviting him back?

"I had no choice!" -- drink! Malcolm had one scene, Montgomery just propped Trav's clone up at the helm, Hoshi was on screen for exactly one second (good catch, Nikki), and the three of them went off to work on their golf game....

Food Chain intact. No new Recycled Trek Actors.

Pipstick on your collar told a tale on you

"Show pips"? Cap'n, Ah'm a gentleman!

January 16, 2005: In discussing the episode "Daedalus," we should probably be familiar with the Greek legend. (Get comfy.) Daedalus was a famous inventor who lived in Athens. He murdered his nephew, who was his apprentice, when he thought that the boy would become more skilled than he was. He was tried and convicted but escaped Athens with his son Icarus and went to the island nation of Crete, where he took employment with the king and queen. King Minos asked the sea god Poseidon for a sign that he was the island's true ruler, so Poseidon sent a great white bull. Minos then insulted Poseidon by refusing to sacrifice the bull to the god. In revenge, Poseidon bewitched Minos's wife, Queen Pasiphae, to want to have sex with the bull. She had Daedalus build her a wooden cow to hide in for the bull to mount. The result of this stud service was the Minotaur, the half-man half-bull. Daedalus built the Labyrinth (a maze) to cage the beast, but eventually the hero Theseus came and killed it and ran off with Minos's and Pasiphae's daughter Ariadne. Minos locked Daedalus and Icarus up in the Labyrinth as punishment. Daedalus built huge wings, held together with wax, for himself and his son, and they used the wings to fly away from Crete. Daedalus warned his son not to fly too high (or the wax would melt from the heat of the sun) nor too low (or the feathers would become soaked with sea spray and not carry him). Daedalus took the middle way and soon fell asleep with exhaustion, letting the wings do the work. Icarus, being young and stupid, ignored his father's advice and flew close to the sun, whereupon the wax of his wings melted and he fell into the ocean and drowned.

Now, in legend, Icarus's death is his own fault, because he didn't obey instructions and took unnecessary risks. But in this episode, the fault is the father's, I think, because he doesn't say at any point something like "I thought that the theory would work if I just kept beating at it long enough." He simply admits that it's flawed, and he always knew it was flawed, and that he knowingly sent his son to test a flawed and dangerous mechanism. Quinn did not know the risks when he was transported -- not to that extent. It was manslaughter bordering on murder. The reference to the myth is a good one regardless, reflecting the father's brilliance, hubris, and loss -- in the myth, fitting punishment for his pride in killing his nephew; in the episode, fitting punishment for putting his reputation above his own child. He had to have been "thinking about the consequences," but he assumed they wouldn't apply to him.

That moment when Trip jokes "You got a mean streak in you, ya know that?" was one of the freshest and most spontaneous things I've seen out of him in a year. Delightful. Actually, the entire conversation between Trip and Archer to that moment was really nice. We need more of this. I want to see more teasing, more relaxed conversations between people who are friends and who act like friends. Classic Trek was built on not just the Away Missions of the Big Three, but their clear devotion to one another built over many years of service together. That's what holds Trek together. That's what greases the wheels between action scenes -- Trip and Malcolm bantering, Archer teasing Hoshi, Phlox and T'Pol having lunch.

Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark

Motel NX-01...We'll leave the lights on for ya. Even if there's no one out here to leave the lights on for.

I disagree with the idea that long-range transporters would eliminate the need for starships. If you want to set up a transporter on a planet which sensors can't reach, you need to get there to check it out. Some medicines can't survive being transported. You may need to send something beyond a forty-thousand-kilometer range. Then there are questions of defense -- what are they going to do, beam torpedoes at the enemy? -- and sheer exploration. A long-range transporter is useful, but won't replace starships any more than jets have "replaced" cargo ships or trains.

At dinner at the Cap'n's table, Erickson brings up the philosophical questions associated with the transporter, like whether the person who materializes is the same person who dematerialized. I was really happy to hear that, given that it's something hubby and I have spent many hours chewing on over the years. (Is it a clone? Is it murder? Does your soul transport? Are you more than the sum of your electrons?) It's a real-world question, so to speak, and it was nice to see that the people who "really" populate the Trek universe would have discussed it also. It grounds the episode and the characters and links them to us.

"Mankind is better off," Erickson says. Don't other species use transporters? The Orions certainly do!

They turned off the Spotlight Probe™! Good attention to detail. Bad detail to have written in, but at least they were consistent with it.

Poor Trip looked so disappointed that his heretofore-idol didn't want to play with him. This man was the reason he became an engineer, and repeatedly blew him off and misdirected him. Trinneer did a wonderful job showing the struggles between politeness and territoriality and intrusion.

There was an attempt at a cool piece of camera work which didn't quite come out: when Dani is in Archer's quarters reflecting on her brother, you can see Archer in the mirror to her left. It looks neat, but you can hear Archer actually off to her right -- and then she turns to talk to him, and the camera stays in position so he seems to be on her left while she's talking in the other direction.

wombat61 and I were both wondering why it was Trip and not Erickson's daughter who puts a comforting hand on his shoulder just before they try to transport Quinn. Even if they needed to show that Trip had reconciled himself with what Erickson had done, why wasn't Dani comforting him anyway? Or was she too angry?

Isn't it just a leeeeetle too convenient that suddenly all over Vulcan people with Pa'nar are willing to out themselves and be cured? Is the implication supposed to be that V'Las had stigmatized melders and Pa'nar singlehandedly, and the new broom of Surak has not merely swept the government clean of corruption but scoured the planet's surface of prejudice? That's some Reset Button™.

If nobody remembers Travis speaking, did he actually have any lines?

Malcolm: I'm quite looking forward to the Mirror Universe episodes. I've been promised an eyepatch and a goatee, and I may have a whip. What about you?
Travis: Well, they told me to look up this guy who used to hang out at Quark's bar -- said he'd be able to give me some pointers on my role. I think his name was Morn.
Malcolm: Oh, so you'll be vomiting latinum on cue, then? Quite interesting.
Travis: Vomiting? Nobody said anything about vomiting! I'd better go call my agent.

January 21, 2005: Good episode, solid throughout with only Super Archer Saves The Universe (I should make that an acronym: SASTU) being the weak spot in the fourth act. Kirk would have made the same speech without risking himself. There was no reason for Archer to have been the second person assisting Phlox. He's the captain. He has no special medical training of which we're aware. He's not particularly strong or fast or anything which qualifies him for a heavy-lifting job. It was just necessary to put him in danger. The Reeves-Stevenses are usually better than that.

That having been said, I was surprised by the passion Bakula displayed in that Sickbay scene. I don't think I've ever seen that much emotion out of him in the entire series -- real emotion, not a temper tantrum. Is this why everyone praised his work in Quantum Leap?

Trinneer was marvelous as always. He was so adorable collapsing headfirst onto the decon couch! He added a lot of spontaneous-feeling touches into his performances -- ums and yeahs and eyerolls. Vejar got great work out of almost everyone this week. The first chitchat scene in Decon with Hoshi was such a delight. I'm not surprised that Trinneer brings out Park's best the way he does with nearly everyone else. And speaking of that scene, we doubled our knowledge of Hoshi in five minutes! That's both good and ridiculous -- it shouldn't have taken this long, but at least we got something.

The RSs may make a few plot errors, but their characterizations just sing. Trip and Hoshi telling each other stories was warm and genuine. The glue of friendship is what holds Trek together. It's what we watch and rewatch for. This is the first episode this season I've felt was worthy of keeping and seeing again, because of these scenes.

When Trav had more than three lines in a row, that should have alerted everyone on board that there was a problem. "Who are you and what have you done with Travis?!"

I liked how each pair kept the mannerisms of the two Organians -- the first one more of an Eager Beaver, the other formal and Curmudgeonly -- and how each pair of characters echoed those characteristics normally. Hoshi, Malcolm, and T'Pol are the quiet ones; Trip, Travis, Archer, and Phlox are the outspoken crew. Montgomery was better in the odd intense questioning here than he's been in practically anything else he's done on the show, including "Horizon."

How cool that this is how Organians study for First Contact! A bit of fore-echo of the TNG episode by the same name and a touch of the coldblooded aliens in VOY's "Scientific Method." I wonder if these are supposed to be two of the group which meets up with Kirk and Co. in TOS's "Errand of Mercy" or just two random observers.

The teaser was really well done. At first I was amused by the Fastest Chess Game Ever, then annoyed that they were implying that the Tactical Officer had never played chess, then the dialogue sounded weird, then the realization dawned that these were not in fact Trav and Mal at all.

I do find it a little difficult to believe that after eight-hundred-odd years, the Observers haven't come up with a more subtle way of getting information from the people whom they're observing. You'd think the direct, nosey, nearly inappropriate questioning would alert the subject and wind up interfering with the events as they unfolded.

What a piece of work is man

{Pac-Man sounds} Game over. Insert 25 credits to continue.

Nice Season 1 promo photos on the monitor readouts of Trip's and Hoshi's conditions.... (That's still better than on X-Files, where they used a glamorous over-the-shoulder shot of Scully on her ID card in the opening credits for a few years. Or VOY's "Endgame" where Tuvok had a Season 5 cast photo in a frame on his desk.)

So according to this episode, only Terrans (and maybe Denobulans and Vulcans) of all species have compassion and empathy? Cardassians are always cost-efficient? Klingons always choose to die rather than struggle for a cure? That's very TOS, and in the dated, 1960s, cowboy diplomacy kind of way. I know that the various species are supposed to be generalized to be foils for us, but we're more sophisticated as an audience now. I guess it's difficult, having seen the Klingons go from enemy to ally, to watch them regress to enemy (and therefore easily stereotyped) again.

I wonder if Keating deliberately echoed his Wissssp performance when he walked into Sickbay as the Curmudgeon -- the tilt of his head, leading with his chin. Not that the strange intrusive questioning led us to think Mal was at home, but the little nonverbal cues were nice also.

Okay, so the virus is silicon-based. Moogie asks: what does a virus do? It replicates itself. Sometimes it injects its own DNA into the cells of the host. But the virus is silicon and the hosts are carbon. How did it infect the carbonites? Wouldn't they just have effectively exhaled microscopic sand? And if the carbon and silicon can't interact (which we know because the carbon immune systems can't conquer the silicon virus), where is the virus getting more silicon with which to reproduce itself? (Then we started getting into rude jokes about Blalock's implants and I had to stop the discussion.)

Okay, so apparently Hoshi is in fact really good at math, and codebreaking, despite whining to T'Pol in "Vox Sola" that she had trouble with it. I guess we're just supposed to hold our noses and ignore that? And she doesn't hesitate to tell her two-night stand on Risa that she speaks 38 languages, so why fudge with Trip and make noise about "recognizing patterns"?

The Beav makes good if slightly clunky points about responsibility (which comes with great power, etc. etc.). Curmudgeon seems perfectly content to watch the ants scurry about, but the Beav really feels for the lab chimps. It's a quandary which Trek has raised a few times with species which are presented as vastly superior to Terrans -- the Organians, Sargon and Thalassa, the Q Continuum, the wissssps. Are we bugs in a jar or potential allies? Even if they are as Aristotle sitting on a tree branch talking to the bird who will never understand him, is Aristotle still obliged not to shoot the bird just to see if it bleeds red?

A little problem with the quarantine being broken: even if the NX-01 has completely sealable decks like the Big D, which is iffy, is it standard procedure to evacuate the whole deck if anyone is in quarantine in Decon? That would get kind of inconvenient and tiresome, wouldn't it?

Anyone else get Pulp Fiction flashbacks from that big ol' needle Archer had to use on Hoshi's heart?

I was starting to wonder in the last Bridge scene if T'Pol had been taken over again, because she was so utterly immobile. Now, before you start yelling about hypocrisy, I'm NOT saying I would have preferred that she weep or whimper or yell or bug her eyes out. But she was hardly breathing. A Vulcan can be concerned without gushing all over the place. Coupled with a return of that ghastly skinniness from the Brent's Kids arc, she looked like a zombie.

I was very pleased to see the plea for tsunami aid by Bakula. I imagine UPN had a star from each show do custom PSAs -- Bakula never says his name or show, and UPN isn't Trek-supportive enough to have that PSA shown throughout all their other programs. (Not that I'd know, as I don't watch anything else on UPN. In fact, the only other thing we're watching these days is the new Battlestar Galactica, which I highly recommend with a clear conscience since it's not on at the same time as ENT.)

Food Chain intact. Bottle show with no guest actors. The recap is written, so once I get the ep digitally it won't take too long to get the screencaps in and the recap posted.

January 23, 2005: Full recap of "Observer Effect" is up! And a proper one too, with jokes abounding.

This is Mal's pistol, this is Mal's gun...

Malcolm: Could you not adjust that, please?
Shran: Stop complaining, pinkskin. I know how to operate a ship's phase canon.
Malcolm: Yes, but that's not the ship's phase canon you've got there.

January 28, 2005: A drone ship! I did not see that coming. Third party faking out the other two sides, holographic projection, falsified weapons signatures -- all predictable. But that the Roms weren't even on board! Nice twist. Extremely suspenseful as our boys get closer and closer to the heart of the ship, and we assume they're going to burst in on the Romulans, and then -- pullaway! (I know Rick Kolbe did the same thing in VOY's "The Chute," but it's still a great visual.) I really like these three-episode arcs, since they give the story enough room to breathe properly. Only a dash of SASTU, and Malcolm was off the ship at the time. Hoshi got a small but meaty scene. Trav had a bunch of lines. Trip and Malcolm got to do their jobs, and we get to see the return of the Disaster Twins!

Mike Sussman provides crackling great dialogue and André Bormanis gives good TECH as always. One thing which bothered me: did anyone else see weird camera work or visuals or lighting or something which made certain scenes look jerky or rough? Was it filmed on a hand-held? Something do with digital vs. film? It happened often enough that it threw me out of the story. I did enjoy the odd but cool spin-pan-from-beneath in Engineering when Trip reports that repairs are done. There's no significance to the scene, but the camera swirling around was all woo!

Shran lost 80% of his crew -- ouch! This is where Archer would be in a decade, knowing everyone and having served with them through fog and fire. It's where Janeway was in "Year of Hell," where "asking you to stay would be asking you to die." The marvelous Jeff Combs definitely makes us feel the loss of that crew we didn't know existed until now. I could take another two paragraphs and rave on about Shran as a character and Combs as an actor, but I've done that several times before. :)

The teasers are getting much better! At first I thought Curmudgeon Organian might've given Hoshi a spine implant, but after the first line or two I realized what was going on. Linda Park put some nice spark into that scene. At least they're dealing with real Tellarites. That bounty hunter was a total geek. The ambassador started out kinda cool -- he chuckled at Archer's insults, as if to say he liked the human's bravado. I hope we get to see more of that as the arc moves forward. If they're going to form an alliance with Shran, we should have some liking for the guy.

I like Archer's teasing Trip with the insults. (Wow, moments of friendship weeks in a row! Be still my Trekkie heart!) Bakula totally had me going until the little smirk afterwards. Nice job. And his gack after the slug of Andorian ale was worth a good laugh.

Why did T'Pol have her arms crossed so often? Was she feeling overly defensive, or was Blalock cold on the set because she has less than half a percent body fat? (And that overpuffy wig is doing her no favors either -- makes her look like a Three Stooges lollipop.)

In a pig's eye, or mouth, as the case may be

Our group had 32% fewer cavities!

Much as I love Shran, I note that it's the Andorians who have been squabbling with two other races now. One wonders who started which conflict. I wonder if Shran ever heard himself bitching about the Tellarites and heard the echoes of his complaints about the Vulcans? (And now that Enterprise saved the Andorian life pods, does Archer only owe Shran one?)

The pseudo-Andorians are shooting at Enterprise. Archer snarls at Shran for help. Shran growls back "I need to access your targeting array." Because, since everything in the universe is based on the MacOS, all intelligent species have the same interface design for their computers and Shran can just log in and chmod the parameters no sweat...

Okay, let's talk about the Romulans, specifically the TECH in the control room. Who or what was that under the MechWarrior helmet? A flunky? Neo? Barclay? Tam Elbrun? Is that why the ship could move so fast? Were the holographics and weapons also under Dark Helmet's control? It's typical of the Roms that they would want to sow dissension but not actually get their hands dirty -- they just wrapped up that whole business with V'Las and the VHC, after all. A drone ship which can look like almost anyone's is a great way to go about it. Moogie wonders if the prototype is an early exploration of variants on the cloaking device.The pointy-faced ship was very cool-looking. It was vaguely shell-shaped, like a shrimp or a hermit crab.

So they beam onto the Romulan ship, and Trip says, "I can't read anything through these bulkheads." Yet communication to Enterprise works fine, and he can uplink his scanner back to the ship?

Malcolm's an engineer, Trip's an engineer. Why not take a MACO each and look around instead of leaving the two senior officers at the mercy of whatever's on the ship? The MACOs can still be beamed out first, leaving our boys as sacrificial ping-pong balls.

What is it about Romulan ships which always leaves Mal breathless?....

I'm so accustomed to looking at my ENT action figures in the EV suits that the ones on the show look painfully fake! The toys are too dang realistic! (Although I note Trip's suit has the label C. TUCKER III on it. Each person has his or her own fitted EV suit?)

It's so nice to see Trip and Malcolm working together again, smoothly and effortlessly. When was the last time these two had an away mission together? Trip lets Malcolm take point, as he should being the security officer, and there's no power struggles or pecking order squabbles or awkward tension. Just two competent friends doing their jobs.

The MACO on whom Talas pounces gives a good accounting of himself. He didn't give in to her flirtations, he heard Shran behind him and struck, and even got in a few good punches before she took him out. And now we know -- the Andorian Imperial Guard issues tighty-fuschias.

A little problem with the refill: humans don't breathe 100% oxygen. We breathe an oxygen-nitrogen mix. We don't need the nitrogen per se -- wombat61 points out that it's inert, and a mix of oxygen and carbon dioxide would be fine -- and it won't kill the boys to breathe the pure stuff for a few hours, but it's not good in the long run.

They used my mag-lock boots! I love it when fiction imitates parody. Of course, they didn't walk around in them properly, but we'll take what we can get.

Food Chain intact. Recycled Trek Actor Checklist: Three Trek Latex Masochists this week. Lee Arenberg (Gral, the lead Tellarite) played two TNG Ferengi DaiMons, Bok in "Bloodlines" and Prak in "Force of Nature." On DS9 he was, oddly, also a character named Gral in "The Nagus," and on VOY he was Pelk in "Juggernaut." Brian Thompson (the lead Romulan) is better known to X-Philes as the Mighty Morphin' Power Assassin, but he's played several Trek roles, including Klag in TNG's "A Matter of Honor," Inglatu in DS9's "Rules of Acquisition" and Toman'torax (that'll be the name of our next cat) in DS9's "To the Death," and was an unnamed Klingon helmsman in Generations. J. Michael Flynn (Nijil, whichever one he was) was Zayner in TNG's "The Hunted" and one of the Mazarite goons in "Fallen Hero."

February 2, 2005:

So long, and thanks for all the fish.

Yes, the sad news is true: Moonves cancelled ENT this afternoon (or more properly, didn't renew it for S5). The early notice gives the writers time to craft a proper series finale, and allows the actors to get in on the fall pilot season. I can't say I'm shocked; I've sort of been expecting it since the summer. The S4 renewal was more about cutting licensing fees than fan clamor. Ratings have continued to slip incrementally (although the Nielsens are only slightly more accurate than a Ouija board). Moonves doesn't like sci-fi and hates Trek, and all the show's allies were fired or promoted out of their Paramount jobs. At the moment I'm mostly numb, and disappointed. But it does hurt, because the series was getting so good, and had really found its voice and its purpose. Credit whom you will, but Season 4 was what ENT should have been all along. Groups like SaveEnterprise are continuing their efforts, hoping to have the show relocated by SCIFI or continued as a miniseries like Farscape.

What does it mean for TripHammered? Well, without new episodes, original content either has to come from me or from you the readers. I'll be cutting back to updating every two weeks rather than every week once the finale airs. There will be plenty of Get Me Rewrites, I have some parody ideas which have been sitting on a back burner, I did start another DVD commentary, there are several seasons of ENT Libs to write -- there's life in the ol' girl yet.

In the meantime, my thanks to everyone who has written and called TPTB and the sponsors and generally supported the show. Trekkies are the best fans.

You're going to experience some loss in reception until it grows back

The late lamented Shrantenna. Cut painfully short, much like our beloved show.

February 4, 2005: EEEEEEEEEE He cut off Shran's antenna! I don't even have one of those things which hang and I got the screaming meemies! Hooo!

Another brilliant episode all around. Shran was great as always, believable in grief, proud but not unyielding, always thinking, sometimes letting his heart lead, willing to take risks, calling Archer his friend. I found that moment surprisingly moving. It broke my heart to watch Talas die. We liked her! :`( No SASTU, but a calculated risk which only Archer -- not just the human captain of Enterprise, but Archer -- could take, and get away with. Everyone doing their jobs. Hoshi and Trav got so many lines even Moogie was like "what the hell?" T'Pol -- let's say the content of her dialogue was quite good, and if I didn't know better I'd say they were trying to set up the Archer/T'Pol romance again, but Blalock just can't act her way out of a paper bag. And I don't care. Moving on. A little too convenient that the TECH details were being guessed and confirmed on each other's heels, but that's Trek for you. Stupendous dialogue from the RSs and great story by Manny. David Livingston only had one weird zoom but many spin-arounds, which are mostly effective (Shran in Sickbay) and only occasionally distracting (Hoshi and Trav brainstorming in the Mess Hall).

Trip and Malcolm were so friggin marvelous to watch that the two of them should get their own series as Captain Tucker and Commander Reed running Jupiter Station with Phlox as the wacky next-door neighbor and Archer and Shran and Soval dropping by for adventures. These two have chemistry. The actors are best friends offscreen and it truly shows. These are two people who love what they're doing and love each other's company. No strain, no tension, no misunderstanding, no juvenile horsehockey -- two dear devoted friends who are comfortable together, from teasing to support to putting one's life on the line for the other. This is everything which T'Pol can't conceivably muster up in her stilted denials and out-of-character emotion. I will never understand for the life of me what any PTB ever saw in those two that they had to make the pairing canon. (Okay, fair warning for the remainder of the season: since the series is apparently finished, I'm taking some of my Nice filters offline. Deal.)

Obviously there was no way to know at the time, but a few lines of dialogue and some scenes were actually reflective of the turmoil in Trekdom following this week's non-renewal announcement. "One man can summon the future," "The future isn't fixed," the idea that a mutual threat gets warring camps to work together -- well, the best Trek is a mirror of life...

Trav is half of the team which saves the day not once but twice! Poor AT's brain must have been on overload with all the lines he had to learn in this month of filming. And how far has the Vulcan XO slipped that even she's referring to the helmsman as "Travis" and not "Mister Mayweather"? Is this supposed to be another "current Vulcans are jerks" cultural trait which will be eliminated by Spock's time, or evidence of T'Pol's permanently eroded neurons?

I loved Shran's tender moment with Talas. Joking about being jealous of Phlox was priceless. Two toughened warriors, no punches pulled, but not without affection. And the absolute devastation on his face when he later hears she's dead -- he bent over her body and his antennae crumpled. Extremely good coordination between actor and the folks working the puppetronics.

Um. Remans? Puh-lease. Next.

Fatal Error. Abort, Retry, Ritual Suicide? (Y/N)

The Romulans obviously use Windows, or they wouldn't be getting this Bluescreen of Death.

I think the Rogue Lobster ship is the Mighty Morphin' Power Centurion's idea, and Senator Jerknose agreed to sponsor it. As far as the Romulan Senate goes, success has many fathers but failure is has only one poor SOB who's going to take the fall, thus the posturing and raised hackles between Jerknose and the MMPC. "Taking the fall" usually means the responsible party comes down with a bad case of dead.

The Rogue Lobster can self-repair? Did the Romulans come across the Stephen King repair station before Starfleet did? Or maybe they found a stray Borg drone?

I liked the stray line about Minister T'Pau, and Archer casually griping that she picked a bad time to purge the ranks. Beautiful little continuity touch.

How delightful to see the Chief Engineer working engineering miracles ("Maestro!" Malcolm jokes) and the Weapons Officer doing something creative with a weapon. ("You did all this with one phase pistol?" "You're good at building things. I'm good at blowing them up.") Mal is an engineer too, let's not forget, and it's a pleasure to watch him work too.

I've often griped about the writers being unable to find Archer's unique voice, or trying to shove him into Kirk's mold. Here he seems more comfortable than he's been in a long time, politely but firmly insisting that the two aliens start making the compromises he's had to make until now. "Why don't the two of you try behaving like humans for a change?" And it looks like that is his unique strength: holding on to what makes him human. Compassion, cooperation, curiosity. Not being a swaggering ass-kicking jerk, not always being right, but being a gentleman. Who knew? (Now, this is not the same as complaining that T'Pol has been reduced to a human teenager. Making an adult compromise for diplomatic reasons without losing one's essential personality and culture is light-years apart from completely unraveling someone's established characteristics because they're inconveniently in the way of a cheap-and-easy plot gimmick.)

So okay, the Disaster Twins are in a hostile environment, the ship is computer-controlled, and they've only just established atmosphere. Why didn't Trip take his helmet with him into the next room? Jeez, I take my purse with me when I go to the corner store and I put on a seat belt when I move the car for street cleaning!

The EV suits make everyone look like their heads are on stalks. It's not very flattering.

The MMPC didn't really get creepy or threatening until he started calling Malcolm by name. Of course, if he's listening in on their comm frequency, Mal only says "Commander" and Trip only says "Malcolm," so that's all he has to go by. It was still chilling to hear.

Shran makes a good point, in Andorian culture: if he doesn't avenge his losses, what soldier would follow him? It's somewhat Klingon in reasoning, but valid in context. Shran can't back down from the damage and insults he's been dealt. He has to show that he's personally strong, not just a good tactician or a good starship commander. He has to have strength of character and fortitude, and courage and hand-to-hand skills. In a society not quite as warrior-mad as the Klingons but more open and less devious than the Romulans or Cardassians, both brains and brawn are valued -- but both have to be demonstrated. Passion does count.

It was quite a bit astonishing to see Trav and Hoshi busily searching through the Blues' Clues to find a loophole for the Cap'n. Previously, that would have been given to T'Pol or Trip or Malcolm. And there's no reason why these two can't do this task; in fact, it's perfect for the two non-critical senior officers to work on something painstaking but mind-numbing like this.

C'mon, drinks at the 602 on me!Peace in our time

Oh yeah, like that wasn't deliberate.

So do the Andorians use antennae for balance? Combs was playing it that way, which is a nice touch. It was a masterful idea on the part of the writers -- serious but still amusing. The fighter is "rendered defenseless" -- the Andorian equivalent of a knee to the family jewels. And they grow back! That was a cool afterthought.

Watching the Rogue Lobster whip around practically faster than thought was extremely cool. Practically speaking, after one or two of those frappé spins the Disaster Twins would have been smears of chunky salsa inside the hull, but we'll let it go.

"I can't imagine how things could get much worse!" Oh, Malcolm, why don't you just ask the universe to kick you in the arse? Separately, in the vacuum of space, there's no friction, so the Disaster Twins should have kept going and not floated to a standstill in the middle of the battlefield (unless their suits have thrusters we don't know about).

The last scene between them is I think my favorite 60 seconds of the entire series. I just laughed until the tears came to my eyes. I giggled the entire way through the second viewing. Real and relaxed and ordinary and just perfect. I will miss these two most of all.

So the Romulans' scheming backfired on them, causing the very alliance which they'd hoped to destroy in the first place. And it's quite believable -- one of the fastest ways to get disparate groups to work together is a common threat. Not much else would get four races to cooperate when any two of them hate each other, and as Archer points out, no one's ever even tried to get them in the same sandbox. There were many alliances, many people united throughout the episode: Archer and Shran, T'Pol and Archer, Hoshi and Trav, Trip and Malcolm, Shran and Talas, Shran and T'Pol and Gral and Archer with their respective races. Cooperation and teamwork are hallmarks of the franchise, some of the things I've loved best about Trek in all its incarnations. Group efforts are more satisfying than solo flights, generally speaking. It's that joining of individuals to become something larger than the sum of them which is so hope-filled, which gives Trek such promise, which makes the future something to look forward to and not fear.

The poor Andorian at the end! All the blue was sucked out of him! (Rebel without a blue?)

Food Chain intact. No Recycled Trek Actors.

Screensaver face

Ah can't wait until the next Guild Wars beta weekend. Finally, somethin' Ah can kick Mal's ass at.

February 11, 2005: Well, that was disappointing. But I suppose it's to be expected when you contrast an unforced and joyous friendship (Trip and Malcolm, or hell, even Archer and Shran) with a contrived and and out-of-character arranged pairing (Trip and T'Pol). Yes, the TnT folks can skip down a few paragraphs. There was nothing alive in the scenes between Trip and T'Pol. He had more goin' on with the Big Chair back in "Singularity." Blalock has utterly no interest in the work she's doing. The actors have no chemistry, no spark, no fire, not even a friendship. And we're supposed to believe that Trip is so distracted over his widdle broken heart that he needs to transfer off Enterprise?

Trinneer is certainly doing his damndest. He's carrying all these scenes by himself, because she's entirely phoning it in. His muffled despair in Archer's quarters, calling Phlox on his pimping, trying to coax her into admitting that she had a thought about him beyond a crack fantasy -- he should get a commendation for not merely slogging through this arc, but giving it 120% so the TnT fans have something to hang their dreams on. If I were just coming in this year, I'd be laughing at the idea that these two were ever together, or were supposed to be together at any point. I'd be wondering if Malcolm wasn't going to get jealous that his partner was mooning over the Maxim girl. It was a mistake last season, it's senseless for them to continue this now, and I fear it's only going to get worse as we wind down. What a miserable taint on a wonderful character and a great actor.

Moving on. At the end of last week's ep, I was actually a bit surprised to see the "To Be Continued," because it felt wrapped up. Yeah, the Rogue Lobster was still out there, but what was the urgency? What emotional plot thread was left dangling? What need did we have to see what happened this week? That kind of carried over into the tone of the entire episode. Shran was subdued, although still good. He's a rather sensitive soul for a Commander in the Imperial Guard! A little SASTU in going down to find the Aenar just with Shran, but the briefing beforehand with the appropriate senior officers made up for it. Malcolm and Trip each doing their jobs. Trav and Hoshi back to silence again -- I don't think Park had a single line, actually.

Forza Azzurri!

Stick with me, baby. With my Trek record, it's only a matter of time before they offer me another role in different makeup, and you can be my lieutenant.

Before we get into the episode, let's talk about Andoria. Let's talk about a world which is -90ºF on the surface in the summer. Pure ice, all the time, for its recorded history. You wanna tell me the two dominant forms of life both look like primates and not giant tribbles? They should be short, squat, and covered in fur, like Bigfoot had an Inuit love-child. Vulcans developed pinnae on their ears because they needed to hear sounds across a flat open desert. Thin, delicate, sensitive antennae would be the first things to freeze off in that kind of cold. This is a blunder up there with assuming five entirely different phyla developed sentient species at the same time on Xindis. I don't buy it.

And while we're on not buying premises, how is it that the Aenar (which I keep reading as Ay-nar, not Eee-nar) are technologically developed enough to have automatic doors, but the Andorians only found them fifty years ago? And if they're blind, why do they need lights in their homes? Why are the doors and walls different colors with decorative swooshes? Why are the chairs all translucent and matching? Why do their clothes have trim of a different shade of white, consistent from person to person? Why are there windows in the infirmary room?

So I was right: the Rogue Lobsters are the Mighty Morphin' Power Centurion's idea, and Senator Jerknose is sponsoring him (which will now be a serious liability). I'm surprised that they let the MMPC work on this drone idea, given that he was ejected from the Senate for dissent -- or is this a punishment detail which the MMPC has taken to heart to try and earn his honor back?

Moogie wonders, even if the Roms took out Enterprise, Columbia is in the batter's cage. It's not like they're wiping out the human race. Do they know that much about the individuals involved that they're gambling that the deaths of Archer, Shran, and Gral would destroy the alliance?

Check it out -- Trip got Malcolm to start drinking espresso! He's got a demitasse at the Briefing Table. (And I bet he threw a slug of anisette in there after Archer insisted on going down to a strange planet, with only Shran, completely out of communicator or transporter range.)

Blue Moon

Star Trekking across the universe, always going forward 'cause we can't find reverse...okay, I just thought this was a beautiful image and I wanted an excuse to post the photo.

Tip of the hat to the SFX folks this week for the lovely planet shots. The rings of Andoria are gorgeous, and adding them in the sky of the moon (I guess that's where they were, because the moon didn't have rings, so that has to be Andoria over the horizon) was a nice touch.

Okay, not only would both Archer and Shran have lost most of their faces to frostbite in that kind of cold without proper protection, Shran should have collapsed because he's not wearing a hat. And André Bormanis wrote the script, so he should know better!

I was amused that Shran is still arrogant enough to refuse to allow Archer to help him stand when he stumbles. Very much in character for a proud man and a species which isn't fully committed to this friendship yet. Besides, Archer was the one who detennaed him, so it would be another dollop of humiliation that he would be the one to get Shran back on his feet. Of course, once he does get up, he promptly does a Flying Wallenda down the stairs and impales himself on a convenient icicle. (What is it about Romulans and leg-spikes?) Makes me want to start toting up his damage points. ShranHandled?

I liked Jhamel, and the actress. She did a fairly good job of playing blind most of the time -- she didn't remind me of Mary from Little House on the Prairie, anyway -- and was nicely fleshed-out rather than being so ethereal and wifty we didn't care what happened to her. It made her brother's few lines much fuller as well; he felt real, and we missed him when he provoked the MMPC into killing him.

Let's contrast again the albatross of an arc which the writers are hanging on Trip's neck with the guest star's dilemma. She stands up to her society and her leader to rescue her brother, leaving not merely her home but her planet, and its entire environment. She gets hooked up to a completely alien device which sends her into seizures, but risks brain damage and throws herself into the fray to reach her brother. Trip is allegedly having trouble concentrating because Carboard Barbie is, heaven forfend, actually acting emotionally unavailable like a proper Vulcan, and he runs away from his dearest friends and the ship he loves because the angst! the heartache! the misery! is too much! to handle! So the woman we'll never see again is brave and courageous and defiant, and the most popular character on the show is reduced to a spineless soap opera stereotype. If a woman left a ship because a one-night stand didn't want to call her the next day, the audience would be screaming bloody murder about misogyny and chauvinism and how the writers were making her look weak and ruled by her emotions instead of being able to be objective and sensible and professional. (And you know, this is part of why shipboard relationships are frowned on. This is one of the risks which the two of them didn't discuss like adults before they flailed.) I've complained before that the writers tried to make Archer look good by making the rest of his staff into idiots. They already had to strip T'Pol of her Vulcanness (and clothing) because they couldn't figure out any other way that she could shag a human. Now they have to break Trip? Is he going to come slinking back on his belly, whimpering about how he'd rather live with her aloof disdain than live without her at all? This is a shameful way to treat a character who's done nothing to deserve such abuse.

So the "Tellarite freighter" shows up, and there's this big moment of indecision about whether to shoot the thing. When the "Andorian" appears, T'Pol immediately identifies the power signature is wrong. What stopped her from doing that with the first one? If they were too far off, why didn't someone say so? They had plenty of time for a line or two which would have cleared that up.

Boy, the Aenar have really gotta have some astonishing brain power to handle two of the Rogue Lobsters at once. Ducking, weaving, evading, firing, coming around -- just whipping one around was challenging to watch.

The only thing which got me about the final scene: Archer pulled out a bottle of something and two glasses, clearly intending to get Trip to open up. And Trip quietly leaves, and the camera shifts so we see the two empty glasses, untouched. A nice shot.

Food Chain intact. No Recycled Trek Actors.

February 18, 2005: Klingon that was a nice touch.

It was the only big nice touch, though. This left me feeling disappointed, maybe because the various plots weren't working well together. And I'm starting to wonder who these pod people are who are slowly replacing our crew. Meek ineffective Hoshi suddenly knows aikido. Not only does T'Pol have the ability to meld (and we still don't know if every Vulcan can do it or only some), but human Archer "walks her through it." Sunny Trip abandons everything for a Thillerium-goggled fling which didn't work out. Malcolm is a double agent, and a lousy one. If Travis goes to Phlox in the Orion Slave Girl episode and declares that he's always wanted to be a woman, I'm going to give up. So not much to say this week.

Look into my eyes, luv, and ignore the lipstick

Malcolm attempts to use the Force to convince SCI-FI and Paramount to come to a agreement about Season 5.

Okay, Malcolm. What the hell is up with Malcolm? What happened to the reserved Brit? Who's this teary-eyed trembling putz who can't cover his tracks or lie with any effectiveness? If he was part of this covert ops organization (which I'm assuming is Section 31, or its predecessor), he should be the toughest SOB walking. Since we know he's a sensitive man at heart, with a strong sense of honor and duty and loyalty, howinhell did he get involved with these spooks? The way this was played makes no sense. Someone who's gentle enough to mist up at having to lie or at disappointing his father is not the type to be recruited by black-budget agencies. To misquote Tom Hanks, there's no crying in intelligence work. I'm not saying Keating didn't play Malcolm's deep conflicts well, but this is not in character.

And that bothered me, so much so that the entire episode felt disjointed. Phlox becoming intrigued with the viral puzzle despite his initial balking was typical of him, and amusing. Watching Malcolm acting so strangely and without reason was painful. Trip on Columbia is just weird -- there's this huge hole on Enterprise without him, and since they haven't gone to the least effort to address that hole, you know he's coming back, so there's no point in wondering how the crew is going to adapt to his absence. The emotional push of the script was all over the place. I was fascinated by the unfolding Klingon dilemma, I was irritated at Malcolm's descent, I was bored by Trip (and isn't that a damn shame, when the best character and best actor on the show is rendered boring). This isn't a deliberate act by the writers to play the audience, it's just distracting.

I guess we didn't get to see Trip's goodbye party because he's going to be back? We're not allowed to see Trip being wished well or even interacting with any of his friends from the last three years? Maybe that's why Malcolm totally fell apart -- Trip left and didn't even rearrange the rocks from The Swamp to spell out a farewell.

Good setup in the beginning: the Starfleet investigator says she's looking into the abduction, and Archer pretty much ignores her conclusion and goes with Malcolm's suggestion, showing that he trusts Mal -- which makes it hurt more when he winds up double-checking Mal's work later to find it falsified. (Of course, this scene would have slightly more resonance if Archer had shown any of this trust or reliance on anyone on his senior staff in the last three years....)

So the Columbia insignia is...a shot of the ship's butt as it flies off? I'm not sure how mooning everyone is supposed to inspire exploration, but okay...

I note that Trip carefully says "Captain" and not "Cap'n." That was a nickname for Archer, and not his accent. Good touch on Trinneer's part.

Ah'm gonna run every engine in the fleet! All from the same set!

Trip: Ya know, Seth, the occasional breath-taking raunchiness of "Family Guy" is usually offset by the clever pop-culture references and tightly-packed humor. But "American Dad"? Mostly lame. The jokes aren't nearly good enough to compsenate for the uncomfortable subject matter.
Seth MacFarlane: Blast!

So how did Cap'n Columbia expect Trip to act? He's been out in deep space for several years and has real experience under his belt. These people are all theorists. Columbia is six months behind schedule, and it's now his responsibility to get her out of Spacedock. He's gone from an efficient, well-oiled, well-trained crew who know his personal quirks and have served through fire with him to a bunch of newbies. Of course he's going to be hard on them -- clearly, being nice didn't get anyone anywhere. And if she didn't think he was going to take the transfer, why did she offer it to him?

With all the closeups on Keating, I was repeatedly struck by his lovely eyes and long lashes. Maybe he's born with it -- maybe it's Maybelline -- but they're really compelling.

Totally believable that the Klingons would overreact to the theft of a Bird of Prey by Brent's Kids by trying to match the Terrans gene for gene, so to speak. Having augmented enemies is an inequality, an imbalance of power, a threat which the Empire could not overlook or underplay. It removes the pretense of honor from a physical fight. So the High Council orders what scientists and doctors they have ("Summon the Band Geeks!") to come up with a solution, yesterday, or they'll just slaughter the infected to keep the problem from spreading. They did a really good makeup job on the altered Klingons. We were delighted to see how closely they resembled Classic Trek Klingons, especially Kor from "The Trouble with Tribbles." I'm also happy to see that neither Worf's comment from DS9 ("We do not discuss it with outsiders.") nor Sev Trek's were contradicted.

What happened to Lieutenant Hess? I thought she was second-in-command in Engineering. Did she stay behind on Terra? and who's this Commander Kelby guy?

Why is there this vertical ladder display thing mounted practically in the middle of Columbia's Bridge? That's going to make it impossible to pace. Oh, and having the warp-sync lights on the walls? That would have to go in half a second. No way could I concentrate with that strobe going on all the time; I'd have migraines and then seizures.

And since TripHammered is a site about aired episodes of ENT, and not filmed fan fiction, there will be no discussion of those particular minutes of teenage wish-fulfillment which were slipped in between the scenes of the real program.

Food Chain intact. Recycled Trek Actor Checklist: We have several Latex Masochists this week. John Schuck (Antaak) played two Klingon Ambassadors (or maybe the same guy), one in Trek IV and one in Trek VI, he was one of the boys in the Chorus in VOY's "Muse," and he played Cardassian Legate Parn in "The Maquis part 2." Eric Pierpoint (Harris), better known to genre fans as George Francisco from the TV series "Alien Nation," was Shiraht in "Rogue Planet, Kortar in VOY's "Barge of the Dead," Captain Sanders in DS9's "For the Uniform," and Ambassador Voval in TNG's "Liaisons." Brad Greenquist (one of the alien extras) was one of Jerry's Kids in "Dawn," Demmas in VOY's "Warlord, and Krit in DS9's "Who Mourns for Morn?" Marc Worden (the Klingon prisoner) has done this shtick twice before as adolescent Alexander, in DS9's "You are Cordially Invited" and "Sons and Daughters." Finally, Seth MacFarlane of Adult Swim fame, previously an unnamed engineer in "The Forgotten," must've transferred to Columbia with Trip and got a pip and a name (Rivers), although I don't think we got it in dialogue.

My's full of stars

Trip: This is Commander Tucker to Ground Control. Ah'm stepping through the door, and Ah'm floating in a most peculiar way. And the stars look very different today...
Malcolm: Hello, Commander Tucker. Are you receiving? Turn the thrusters on. We're standing by.

With apologies to David Bowie and Peter Schilling

February 25, 2005: Well, that was more like it! A well-packed episode, with lots of interesting stuff going without the distraction of out-of-character confusion. No tears, just a conflict of loyalties. The camera work was damned amazing in the starship scenes -- I yelled and rewound the TiVo twice that was so cool. Trip eeling along a tether between two very fast starships -- Cap'n Columbia doesn't want to let him go! Trip immediately leaping to Mal's defense, as I predicted. Phlox getting pferocious with K'General over the plague cure. Bakula having some fun chewing a bit of chair scenery. Archer had to go down without any security or MACOs so that he'd be the only human available for Phloxenstein to work with, but he didn't come off as SuperArcher too much. SOEP kicked under the rug. But why was T'Pol all over Engineering? She's a scientist at best. Kelby -- you know, Enterprise's current Chief Engineer? -- and Hess should have been helping Trip out.

"We have 47 minutes until the reactor breaches." The mighty 47 lives on!

Swishing through Columbia's skin, through two consoles and some walls, to zoom in on Hernandez's face was just gorgeous. A brilliant piece of visual work for a totally throwaway moment. (On the other hand -- oh my god those strobing Bridge lights kill me now!)

Now, we saw Columbia's insignia last week (and again this week more than once), and it is not in the same shape as Enterprise's. It's a three-quarters profile, from behind. Which means that Trip brought his EV suit with him, and he still hasn't gotten to the quartermaster to get his uniform updated. (And not for anything, but if he stays on Enterprise to "help out," it means Kelby isn't learning anything, which defeats the purpose of Trip moving on and putting Kelby in charge.)

I'm guessing "reset the algorithms and purge the subroutines" is TECHnobabble for "shut down, count to twenty, and restart"? That works when the office laser printer gets a fatal error.... I mean really, for all the running and yelling and sparks and buttons and PCI cards and pistons, that's essentially what Trip did. Not that I object to having Trip around, but Kelby couldn't have done that? And without waiting the ten very dangerous minutes for Trip to Mission: Impossible from one ship to the other? I like exciting as much as the next person, and it's great that Trip gets to save the day doing his job, but on second viewing the plot contrivances don't really hold water. It's a real stretch to get Trip "back on the ship" without having him transfer again.

I like that Phlox is repeatedly lured in by the puzzle of the virus, and then ultimately swayed by the millions of lives to be saved. It's consistent with how he's been written over the years -- finding a solution to a medical problem fascinates him, even if the solution then gets him into hot water. Once he's presented with a quandary, he can't let go of it, no matter where it takes him. And the ultimate outcome of the viral cure is a brilliant tip of the hat to TOS Klingons; even their eyebrows were perfect. Kudos to the RSs and to the makeup department.

Why were the MACOs manhandling Malcolm on the way to the Ready Room? It's clear he was cooperating and going quietly and had done so before. Did Hayes train his kids to be jerks?

Keating did a much better job showing anguish without breaking down in this ep. He ducks his head when he can't bring himself to confront the other person, he draws his lips back tightly from his teeth, he looks away and back again. You can see the teenage boy Malcolm was, being shouted at by a bullying and unreasoning father whom he desperately wanted to please. Keating's been great at keeping this in his performance since back in "Desert Crossing."

Something I did wonder, though: why is Malcolm loyal to Archer? No, really, why? Archer has ignored him, overruled him, dismissed his suggestions, done his job for him, outshot him, and guilt-tripped him. What has he done to earn Malcolm's loyalty? Why would Malcolm choose Archer personally -- not Phlox, not Enterprise, not his friend Trip, not rule of Starfleet law -- over Section 31? There's never been any particular closeness between them. When Archer said "I thought I knew you," I practically snarfed my dinner laughing. And in Malcolm's closing speech, when he snarls that he's only loyal to Jonathan Archer, it clunks like a mud bell. Where did this come from? The same place as Hoshi's poker game and aikido skills? Are we going to find out next that Porthos is hiding all the ship's lost socks under his bed?

Ruffles have that extra something...

Phlox: I'm afraid I have some bad news, Captain. Your mother was apparently correct. You made that face too long, and it is going to stick that way.

Considering some of the things Dr. Phloxenstein has done before, injecting healthy Klingons and the captain with live virus to help find a cure should hardly have made him blink. It's not like he was murdering his adopted son or condemning an entire species to a senseless death by omission. And it's clear that Phlox is one of the 47 (heh) physicians who make up Holodoc's database on VOY, because infecting someone (or a whole bunch of someones) to get them to allow a cure to be dispensed always seemed a bit heartless for our favorite hologram.

So Malcolm volunteered to join Black Ops? And figured that once he was on Enterprise he was out, and would never be called on to do anything against his current CO? That's naïve. If you're in, you're in, and no amount of foot-stamping or head-tossing or steely-eyed pronouncements is going to get you out. And it makes his weepiness from last week just look pathetic. (Moogie and I then had a really intense ten-minute high-volume discussion about whether Harris had given Malcolm permission to discuss the operation before he gives Archer the name of the colony, and whether he had to answer for anything he'd done either to Section 31 or to Archer these last two eps.)

I love how Harris gets totally dissed by K'General. "And you...believed me." Live by the bad out, die by the bad out, as Snoopy always says.

Good space battles at the end. Hernandez's dig was unnecessary, though. I was expecting her to compliment Archer on surviving out in the wilds for so long without help, rather than sneering that he obviously needed her.

Recycled Trek Actor Checklist: The only addition this week from last week's cast is Wayne Grace (Krell), who was Governor Torak in TNG's "Aquiel," an unnamed Cardassian Legate in DS9's "Wrongs Darker than Death or Night," and did the voice of Poktari in the Klingon Academy video game.

For the repeats block, which (as of the moment) is running for six weeks, we'll have a few Get Me Rewrites, plus a new fun Extra I've been working on with one of the TripHammered Half-Dozen. Don't be a stranger! New stuff every Friday.

March 4, 2005: And back to everyone's favorite Extra, Get Me Rewrite! Usual disclaimers: anything overly lewd or crude will not be posted.

March 11, 2005: Another Get Me Rewrite! with Malcolm in it at Tripper's request. Tripper helped me write next week's Extra, so she deserves a bonus and a *wave* from the stage. :) The form is a little cranky for some reason, so if it doesn't work, you can always email me your caption.

They've started another ENT Drinking Game thread on the TrekBBS. Feel free to read over the TripHammered version and send suggestions as we head into the final stretch of the season.

mmmm sfingiMarch 18, 2005: Something a little different this week: Bumperstickers of the NX-01 and friends, along the lines of the New Year's Resolutions and Last Wills and Testaments. (Yeah, I know, run out of ideas, make a list. When I start doing Top 10s, then you know I've hit the bottom of the barrel.) Co-writing credit goes to Tripper, who was instrumental in helping me get this one going. If you have any suggestions, feel free to email them to me and I'll post the ones I like. While TripHammered is as always PG-13, I did make up a list of R-rated bumperstickers as well (since most of the funny ones were dirty), but if you want to see it you'll have to email me for it. ;)

Happy birthday early to Connor Trinneer! And Happy St. Joseph's Day early as well to everyone who's celebrating it. Pass the sfingi!

March 19, 2005: Official disclaimer: My comment about Top 10 lists being the "bottom of the barrel" has nothing to do with Five-Minute Voyager or Zeke whatsoever. I mean it. Really. I wasn't thinking about 5MV when I wrote that. I happen to love 5MV's Top 10s -- did I not write a Top 13 rebuttal? -- but the point I was trying to make, testa di cipuda, is that when I do an Extra for TripHammered, it's meant to be content for an entire week, and a substitute for several thousand words of analysis plus two to four photos with a caption and a funny text alt each. IMHO, a single Top 10 list is not substantive enough for that replacement. And I was thinking aloud, so to speak, in anticipating that in two years or so, coming up with several thousand words of content every fortnight about a show that's no longer airing will start to become a strain. Now, 5MV updates four to seven times a week, with links, commentary, lists, original "events," and sometimes fivers. It covers what, a dozen TV shows? plus video games and the entire works of Shakespeare. There are several staff members and people lined up begging to provide content. A Top 10 is perfectly sufficient as one day's content on a site of that depth, breadth, and frequency. TripHammered is all me, baby, just this little overtaxed brain churning out the goods on a steady basis, with occasional assistance gratefully received from three or four friends. The comment was a knock at me, not at you, Zeke. All cleared up now? Great. Pass me a damn sfingi already and go put on another pot of coffee.

March 25, 2005: And we're back to Get Me Rewrite! I am trying to have something else for April before the new episodes recommence with "Bound," so bear with me. Actually, if you have suggestions or requests, send 'em along and I'll see what I can do.

For the next three episodes, UPN will be running the "Viewers' Choices" for which people voted in their online poll (picking from UPN's pre-narrowed choices, of course). Tonight's is "Similitude," and while it's from Season 3, since we're in Season 4, I've put it at the top of the Season 4 Recap page for easy access, since that's where I move the current episode.

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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

Sheldon (Glorious K'Nerds)
Photos:,, Villabate Bakery by Michael Nagle for The New York Times