Erin Rewatches: Star Trek: Enterprise (season 1) March 22, 2017Posted by Erin Ptah in Erin Watches.
Tags: Star Trek: Enterprise, T'Pol, T'Pol/Archer
I’m rewatching Enterprise for the first time since its original run. Have some liveblogged reactions.
T’Pol was my first One True Character — followed very shortly by Integra Hellsing, who I discovered about a year later — and T’Pol/Archer may have been the first ship I had serious Feelings about. (There are other pairings, like Dorothy/Ozma or anything in Sailor Moon, where I was already familiar with the characters by then, but didn’t start actively shipping them until later.) So this is a pretty big milestone in Personal Fandom History.
(Content note: talks about the canon mindrape, and other sexual skeeviness.)
- At ~15, I thought the Trip/T’Pol relationship was ridiculous and came out of nowhere. At 29, I suddenly understand. They were setting it up as early as the pilot — but with tropes that only straight male writers think are romantic.
- He’s self-righteous and condescending and takes every chance he gets to be smarmy at her! CLEARLY prize boyfriend material. Any woman would see that eventually.
- For comparison, Archer is a little smarmy, but he’s better at self-restraint. And you can already see the hints of the great working relationship they’ll develop — the growing trust (on both sides), the way they can come up with solid plans by improvising off of each other, lovely moments of unspoken communication.
- And in fairness, T’Pol is probably being hella condescending toward the humans, by Vulcan standards of emotional expression. But she’s full of useful information and she’s been righter than they have 90% of the time, so at least she has an excuse.
Props to Enterprise: I’m at the episode with the ship of emotion-Vulcans, where one of them keeps encouraging T’Pol to relax and step out of her comfort zone and experiment with Feelings.Normally the show is all “humans are great because of emotions! Vulcans could stand to unrepress and learn a few things from us!” But it also recognizes that, if a guy is repeatedly pressuring you to cross boundaries and ignore your own discomfort, he’s probably a manipulative creeper. So the narrative comes comes down squarely on T’Pol’s side.
Also, when the creep goes into full “she wanted it! She just got scared, it was for her own good!” mode, Archer points a phaser at him and tells him he’s no longer welcome on the ship. Actual Quality Person Jonathan Archer FTW.
And the last scene is him coming in to check on her, asking if she’s okay, and saying he understands her better and has a newfound respect for her comfort zone. And she in turn admits a new admiration for human-style Feelings…from a safe distance. They’re so good together.
This show is reeeeally, persistently straight. It’s not just that all the romances are m/f, it’s that you get people saying things like “ooh, are you writing to a woman?” to a man, to mean “ooh, are you writing to someone special?” With the bonus implications that a guy can’t possibly have a professional, non-romantically-charged exchange with a female colleague.
I don’t have anything against heterosexuality, I just don’t need it shoved in my face all the time.
Most recently, two male Enterprise officers got swindled by a couple of hot alien babes, who turned out to be shapeshifters that lured them into a dark alley to rob them. Afterward they yell at each other about whose fault it was: “They were hot…” “They were men!!”
First of all, dudes, they’re an alien race you’ve never met before. Just because their non-shapeshifted forms have deep voices and no breasts, that doesn’t mean they’re not still females of the species. You don’t know!
And second, they were a couple of con artists who beat you up and took your stuff. Their presumptive gender is not the offensive thing about this interaction, here.
- At least Hoshi finally got some action. The male leads have been having flings with cute aliens left and right, but there are only two women in the regular cast, and a big part of T’Pol’s character is that she’s aggressively not interested in casual encounters. Someone’s gotta balance this out, here.
- Enterprise also gets points for giving one of the guys (Trip) an accidental-pregnancy storyline. Mixing it up a little.
- But loses points for the way T’Pol gets sexually menaced at least every four episodes. I don’t even mind the forced-mind-meld-metaphorical-rape storyline — it’s well-written for all the characters, it gives us some Vulcan-culture worldbuilding, and it did a good job showing realistic Manipulative Creeper behavior. So few series capture how that actually looks. We just don’t need a perfunctory somebody-creeps-on-T’Pol scene every time we meet a new batch of villains. It gets old.
- OTP update: s01e23: T’Pol comes to Archer’s quarters for emotional support (not that she would admit that’s what it is). He’s in bed in his pajamas. He’s helpful anyway.
- s01e25: a mission went bad, Archer is a mess, T’Pol goes to sickbay and tells the doctor to keep an eye on his psychological state, then ends up in his quarters again to offer *him* emotional support. She’s 100% ready to defend him in front of the Vulcan High Council. It’s great.
- Archer, heart-to-heart mode on: “I traveled through time. And I need you to believe me.”
T’Pol, flat logic: “Why?”
Because you’re the person he trusts most in the world, and your support and validation will reassure him even in the face of high logical improbabilities! Also, because the fear that you think badly of him is making him feel personally sad, in ways he has yet to look at too closely.
- s02e01 concludes with Archer showing up in T’Pol’s quarters, to thank her for defending them to the Vulcan High Command. They’re BOTH in pajamas. Not even in a sexual-tension way, just a “we have such a level of mutual comfort and respect that we can have a chat in our jammies without any self-consicousness about our professional relationship” way.