Erin Watches: Star Trek Enterprise, season 2 April 2, 2017Posted by Erin Ptah in Erin Watches.
Tags: Star Trek: Enterprise, T'Pol, T'Pol/Archer
Second verse, same as the first! Which means lots of good episodes, some fun aliens and wibbly space things, a running theme of the writers being extremely straight dudes, T’Pol being consistently amazing, and the T’Pol-Archer friendship getting ever stronger via the magic of good writing and character development.
The first episode 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.
- s02e05 opens with another gratuitous sexy decon scene. Hoshi massaging “decontamination gel” into T’Pol’s skin while T’Pol does the same for Archer. Now we’ve officially had f>f, f>m, and m>f rubdowns. With only 2 female main characters. And yet, even with 5 male leads, we’ve never seen two of them going through decon at the same time. Hmmmm.
- Haven’t mentioned him yet, but I have a deep appreciation for Phlox. “We have the Denobulan lemur? It’s not a dog, but you could say it’s dog-like. It has a tail…fur…most have only one head.”
- OTP update: this is the episode where Phlox interrogates Archer about why T’Pol’s opinion is especially important to him, and also whether he’s repressing sexual frustration. Then Archer has a series of sexual dreams about T’Pol, and makes two waking Freudian slips. Finally he apologizes for the awkwardness, and she comes out with this:
- “It’s good that you’re my superior officer. That we are not in a position to allow ourselves to become attracted to one another. Hypothetically.”
- It’s so mutual. They’re just both too professional to DO anything about it.
- Two episodes ago, Archer had a whole extended thing with Malcom about how he doesn’t believe in strict military protocol on a mission like this, where they’re isolated from the rest of humanity for years at a time and have to be each other’s social lives and family as well as co-workers. In a just world, that episode combined with this one would have been foreshadowing.
- s02e07 is one of my favorites of the whole series. Unsurprising: it’s T’Pol-centric (with a heavy side of T’Pol-Archer trust and reliance). Also unsurprising: it’s about trauma, memory loss, and the struggle of finding a healthy way to process it.
- Memo to the Vulcans: if you’ve put one of your agents through a mindwipe because it was the only way to stabilize her after a traumatizing mission, and you don’t want to trigger those memories into resurfacing, maybe don’t send her on a follow-up to the same mission. Just a thought.
- Even before the memories have resurfaced, T’Pol asks Archer to come with her on this otherwise highly-secret mission. On some level she knows she’s going to need him. And his trust in her, backed up by a mix of logic and instinct, is the rock she uses to steady herself when all her normal coping mechanisms are upended.
- Episode 9 is comedy gold. Most of the crew’s brains are affected by a Wibbly-Wobbly Space Thing (that’s a technical term) that makes them latch onto a minor thing and turn it into a fixation. For Reed, it’s designing the perfect comprehensive security protocol, tentatively named the Reed Alert.
- Phlox is out to discover the source of Mayweather’s headache, even if that means sedating him and dissecting his brain. T’Pol is the only one unaffected, so she drops him with a Vulcan nerve pinch. Then bodily hauls Archer into a cold shower until he’s lucid enough to help her fly the ship out of the wibbly-wobbly zone. Stone-cold BAMF.
- Skipped most of episode 10 because I remembered the “it was all a dream” reveal at the end. Had mostly forgotten episode 11 — it involves Trip and a beautiful alien woman getting stranded together, spending most of the time arguing and condescending to each other, and then they make out. Should’ve skipped that too.
- Although it does have a scene with T’Pol and Archer flawlessly working together to bluff an opponent (they stage a “tribunal” and do a whole good judge/bad judge routine). That’s worth watching.
- Another Enterprise episode where Trip gets stranded on an inhospitable planet with an alien — although this time it’s a lizard-faced dude rather than a hot humanoid woman, so they don’t end up making out. Color me shocked. (They don’t have a universal translator on hand, so they spend most of the time repeating the same words to each other, but louder.)
- s02e14 is the one where they reveal that T’Pol has Telepathic HIV. It’s transmitted by undesirables, so the Vulcans aren’t doing a whole lot of research into a cure. T’Pol contracted it in a socially-acceptable way, but she doesn’t want to reinforce the stigma by saying “don’t be mad at me, I’m one of the Good Ones.”
- Archer struggles to keep up with all the layers and motives of this, because all her cares about, obviously, is T’Pol being okay.
- The one glaring flaw with the metaphor!HIV episode is that, for all the inclusion and defense of metaphor!gay people, it’s still so aggressively heterosexual.
- There’s a whole B-plot about Denobulan polyamory — Phlox has three wives (we meet one of them), the wives each have three husbands, and so on. Why not mention a same-sex couple in this extended web of never-seen-on-screen characters? Give us one line to estabilsh that future-humans are unfazed by the existence of bi people. It’s literally the least you could do.
- s02e18: yet another tick on the list of Alien Species That Have Sexually Menaced T’Pol. Is this necessary? We get it, she’s hot, they’re evil. Can’t you guys think of any other way to establish that?
- Also: these aliens are noncorporeal. They’re startled by archaic concepts like “food” and “gender.” And yet, when they get to the point of taking over the bodies of crewmembers and creeping on other crewmembers, it’s 100% heterosexual creeping. What are the odds?
- …I wouldn’t have wanted this to be the first episode when the writers *realized* it made no sense for everyone to be straight, but it’s one of many where it makes no sense.
- Trip summarizes Mary Shelley to aliens as “the wife of a famous poet.”
- It’s not like he’s talking to people who’ve already heard of Percy Shelley and would find the relationship a useful reference point. And it’s a conversation about Frankenstein! Why wouldn’t you say it was “written by Mary Shelley, famous novelist” instead of “written by Mary Shelley, some dude’s spouse”?
- T’Pol wants a dramatic reading of the book. I approve. Archer coaxes her to see the movie by telling her they can make it a date. He’ll take her to dinner first and everything.
- s02e22: Trip bonds with a third-gender alien!…which he persistently refers to as “she.” (Their translators render the correct pronoun as “it”, although it’s unclear how much is about gender and how much is about their depersonalized social status.) So close, and yet so far.
- OTP update: s02e24: a colleague of Archer’s dies, so he decides to take a shuttlepod and fly around alone for a while. T’Pol lets herself onto the pod and is all “Starfleet regulations say you can’t run off by yourself, so here I am, nothing to be done, that’s just the rules. Now, we’ve got some downtime and normally I would meditate, but perhaps you would like to engage in the human practice known as ‘conversation.'”
- She’s learned so much about humans! And she’s prepared to apply the grief-management best practices of Archer’s people, instead of judging him for not adhering to hers! It’s a little stilted, clearly doesn’t come naturally, but she’s getting it right.
- Episode ends with them watching a nebula light up together. He suggests they name it the T’Pol-Archer Nebula. (She suggests naming it after the dead colleague.) #DateGoals
- OTP update: s02e25: Archer gets kidnapped. T’Pol is in quarantine with an infection. She’s a little bit feverish, a whole lot agitated, and gets to the point of threatening Phlox with a court-martial if he doesn’t let her out — while (a) contagious and (b) wearing only Quarantine Underwear — to help with the rescue.
- OH RIGHT. This is the pon farr episode. (Which means T’Pol gets to sexually menace other people, for a change.) No wonder the writers got Archer off the ship — and no wonder she was so desperate to get him back — he’s the only character she could’ve slept with and been content about it afterward. Which would’ve wrapped up the subplot almost before it got started.
Final thoughts on Enterprise s2: A lot of really strong episodes. I feel like there were more episodes that were explicit callbacks/foreshadowing to other seasons (the Borg episode, the pon farr episode, etc), but it doesn’t feel like they’ve lost steam compared to s1.
There’s almost no reference to the ongoing Big Bad from s1, and even there it was less of a presence than I remembered. This season finale is when they take a hard swerve in the other direction, introducing a more-active Big Bad and setting up a Mission for s3. Time to see how that plays out when binge-watching instead of going week-by-week.
Final OTP update: the Vulcans consider the Mission unconscionably dangerous, so T’Pol’s boss tries to recall her, grumbling about “your emotional attachment to Archer.” T’Pol announces she’s staying, because they’ll need a science officer. Archer protests they can get someone else. T’Pol’s exact words: “You need me.” Yessss.