The Great Star Trek Enterprise Rewatch: Shadows of P’Jem

The Vulcan High Command isn’t happy that Enterprise caused the loss of the P’Jem monastery and secret listening post – and they blame T’Pol for what happened. T’Pol is to be recalled in disgrace, but before she leaves, Archer decides that they should go on one last away mission – to the planet of Coridan. But matters take an unfortunate turn when they are captured by dissident rebels.

Unlike Sleeping Dogs, Shadows of P’Jem starts out by doing a pretty good job of keeping my attention. Yes, it’s the old kidnapping storyline, but the first half of the episode manages to establish just the right amount of tension, with Archer and T’Pol trapped on Coridan whilst Trip has to deal with yet another supercilious Vulcan captain.

Unfortunately, it just can’t keep up the pace. The end of the episode degenerates into a bit of a mess, with the Andorians conveniently showing up and deciding that it makes narrative sense to help resolve the situation before the end of the episode. How many times are TV audiences supposed to swallow the old “antagonist does hero a favour to pay back a perceived debt” trope? And did any of us really think for a moment that T’Pol was really going to have to leave the ship? Nope, didn’t think so.

Prequel Nods

A new section that I should have really had from the start, pointing to Enterprise’s nods to things featured in the other Star Trek series.

  • Coridan is of course the location of the Babel Conference that took place surely after TOS’ Journey to Babel. The planet has joined the Federation by the time of TNG’s Sarek.

Points of Note

  • Why did T’Pol bother with the whole ‘Archer’s just a steward’ ruse? It would have made sense if she thought Archer was in danger of being hurt or tortured, but fake captain T’Pol isn’t treated any differently to fake steward Archer.
  • If the Andorians are working with the rebels, couldn’t they extract Archer and T’Pol with less bloodshed? They’ve now ruined what might have been an important strategic relationship, just to rescue a couple of enemies.
  • When Archer is arguing for T’Pol not to be taken off Enterprise, he doesn’t even mention the fact that none of what happened is T’Pol’s fault. I guess he didn’t want to inflame the situation whilst he was trying to manipulate the outcome, but the whole situation does feel a bit “let’s blame the woman”.
  • T’Pol is not the first Vulcan to serve with humans, but at six months and counting aboard Enterprise, she has lasted longer than any of her predecessors.

Summary – Shadows of P’Jem: And in those shadows, an Andorian is sure to be lurking.

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