New life, new civilizations and of course, new problems. Originally broadcast on November 14, 2001 this is Civilization.
Captain’s Log date 7/31/2151
Enterprise discovers a planet where the pre-industrial population is getting ill from an unknown contaminate. Upon closer inspection they find that an alien crew has begun mining operations on the ship contaminating the water supply. After facing Garos and his Malurian crew, Archer is captured along with his Akaali love interest, Riaan, and must take down the generator so that the miners have no option but to leave. In the end, he succeeds in his mission leaving behind Riaan with fond memories of their brief flirtation as well as a way to save her people from the contaminates.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
Before going into this episode, you have to remember that this is WAY before the Prime Directive has been established for Starfleet. While the Vulcans have a similar SOP, humans have yet to adopt this policy. So, from the start this is truly a unique situation where Archer and his crew visit a pre-warp society initially so that Hoshi can learn some of the dialect but later so that they can discover how an anti-mater reactor is present in this non-technological culture. What they find, of course, is another alien species taking advantage of the innocent Akaali so they get involved as Captains in Starfleet tend to do.
What follows is a pretty typical Human’s visit aliens and help them story that we have seen time and again. In a way I have to wonder if the writers of this series didn’t just go through all of the past Star Trek series and pick out the most common themes, from mild distrust of other crewmembers to the crew becoming the saviors of a species. Maybe it’s just because Ive watched pretty much every single Star Trek episode ever made or just because it’s become a pretty common theme in all of scifi, but this episode, while well produced and well acted, just felt like treading the same ground we have tread time and again on a Star Trek series. Heck, they even borrow from another series, V, with the ‘its a reptilian underneath the skin’ trope. Is nothing sacred?
Not only that but there is still this pervasive distrust between T’pol and the crew. This time it comes across when it is believed that Archer has been killed and T’pol orders the ship to ‘prepare’ to leave orbit. Trip gets upset essentially threatening to mutiny which makes absolutely no sense considering in th every last episode he felt guilty for assuming T’Pol was up to something causing him to read some very personal mail. Of all the people who should trust T’Pol, you would think it would be Trip at this point, but no, he goes off half cocked like he tends to showing that this crew has yet to really learn anything from one another, least of all from their travels thus far.
Overall, Civilization is a good reminder of why the Prime Directive was so important to the Federation and Starfleet, showing us how dangerous it was for innocent civilizations without an armada of ships flying around protecting them. I mean, it’s not like this kind of thing didnt happen time and again even with the Prime Directive in place but still, it’s a lesson for humanity and Starfleet itself.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- This episode marks the first time, chronologically, that a human is made up to look like an alien.
- This species is completely and totally compromised by Archer and the Malurians with their fire fight in the streets as well as Riaan’s exposure to Archer’s technology. In fact, Enterprise providing her with the means to heal her people sets her up to be a significantly important person on her planet forever shifting the balance of power on this planet. Sadly, we never hear from the Akaani but the Malurians will be mentioned again…in a later (earlier?) series.
Thanks for reading the Retro TV Review, I look forward to discussing the rest of the series with you, one episode at a time every Monday, Wednesday and Friday! Next Review: Fortunate Son
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Late To The Game 5/12/2021
Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available. Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.
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