Picking up strangers along the way tends to cause issues…because of course it does. Originally broadcast on February 11, 2004 this is Harbinger.
Captain’s Starlog Date December 27, 2153
On their way to Azati Prime, Enterprise detours to investigate a star that appears to be moving only to encounter a starship trapped in one of the spatial anomolies. Bringing him onboard, Archer breaks with his ethics (again) and forces Phlox to revive the alien. It seems the alien is in fact slowly disintegrating and there is nothing Phlox can do to prevent it. Soon, however the alien discovers it can walk through walls and, when it finds the warp core it becomes a threat to the ship. Reversing the core polarity it is repelled and is taken back to sickbay where, as it begins to disintegrate, it reveals that its people are involved with the plan to destroy Earth…in fact they might be the one’s responsible.
Also, Reed and the MACO leader Hayes, have a pissing match and end up in a fight for which the Captain is not pleased. Meanwhile T’Pol and Trip finally have sex after they realize they like each other (when another woman shows interest in Trip) and, even though it creates a slightly awkward situation for them both, they decide to keep seeing one another for the neuro-pressure therapy they have been involved in.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
This episode is basically a catch-up episode giving the show a chance to expand on some of the loose threads and character development that has been sorta pushed off to the side for a while. This tends to be one of the biggest issues with this season as the writers seem to not be very interested in exploring any development instead focusing on core story. The issue is, this leaves many of the story driven episodes fairly empty and void of substance with the ‘development’ episodes a little lighter on story. Thankfully, this particular entry is an exception to the latter with three decently paced storylines that all interconnect fairly well despite the fact that a lot happens but nothing really gets anywhere.
The main ‘A’ story, of course, is the disintegrating alien who may or may not actually be from a species responsible for the spheres and their anomalies, not to mention is indeed one of the beings involved in the attempt to destroy Earth. Now, sadly this story is the weakest of the three as it sets up the idea that Enterprise basically stopped a sentient butterfly from going through the pupal stage of it’s evolution by ‘saving’ him from the anomaly. This alone would have made for a great ‘hey we thought we were doing good but messed up’ story but instead it is merely a ‘this alien we thought we saved nearly killed us all’ story. The only thing it managed to do was set up yet another enemy that we didn’t know about before, which honestly, we really didn’t need. The biggest problem with this segment, however, isnt the fact that the writers missed such a tremendous opportunity, but used this story to show just how far Archer has fallen from his moral high ground. In fact, there is a moment where Phlox warns Archer that the Captain’s actions are not only unethical but dangerous where Archer informs Phlox that ethics will have to be placed on hold. THIS, is simply not an acceptable response from any Starfleet Captain and is more of an echo of Captain Ransom on the USS Equinox on Voyager. Janeway made it a point time and again to keep her morals intact, although she failed time and again, where Ransom had no qualms in killing to survive. From what it appears, Archer is only a few steps away from where Ransom was and he isn’t nearly as far from home either.
The other two are far better B stories that unfortunately really do feel like rushed concepts that the writers should have been building over time but decided that they needed to play catchup. These are, of course, the antagonism between Reed and the MACO commander, Hayes, and the obviously growing sexual tension between Trip and T’Pol. Starting with the antagonistic situation between Reed and Hayes, this was only suggested at earlier in the season and nothing ever really established. It is certainly interesting that this suddenly became a situation even though we haven’t seen any real issues between the two which really is a shame. Had they been building this antagonistic situation between the two from the start of the season this would not have been so out of the blue as it feels in this episode. All that aside, it’s really no surprise that the chief of security would find himself at odds with a military commander in charge of the military ground team. Reed is a proud man who truly feels threatened by the MACO team and the fact that Hayes is clearly a better soldier than Reed, even though that is to be expected considering everything. Reed is a tremendous security chief but sometimes, maybe, he can be a bit full of himself.
The most satisfying storyline is that of the Trip and T’Pol romance. This romance is one that has had the most development with it even being hinted at earlier in the series. Sure, it takes ‘another woman’ for T’Pol to recognize that she actually has feelings for Trip Tucker, and that in and of itself is a might tropey, but still, it was wonderful to see them finally realize their feelings for one another. If this episode does anything worth while, it’s bringing these two together finally and, thankfully, this is not a storyline that is dropped and continues on well past this episode.
Overall, This is a mixed bag of an episode but is ultimately a satisfying pitstop that finally resolves some moments that really needed to be wrapped up, or at least acknowledged. While it continues to show Archer slipping into the role of a really terrible person, at least we get a chance to see some payoff with two of our favorite characters as well as a loose truce between Reed and Hayes, even though I wasn’t even aware they were fighting to start with.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- T’Pol finally tells Tripp that Sim informed her of his feelings for her causing her to realize that it was Tripp who was in fact in love with her.
- We got to see some pretty rad MACO training.
- This is the first time we meet one of the ‘Sphere builders’ adding to the already overly complicated ‘lets get vengeance’ Xindi storyline.
- There is a nude ‘butt’ scene in this episode that apparently caused some network issues when it first broadcast. Honestly, I don’t think it was really needed and felt like it was just the producers excuse to show Jolene Blayocks backside, not that it is a bad one but…seriously…that wasn’t really necessary to get the point across.
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: Doctor’s Orders
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Late To The Game 9/24/2021
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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