The Great Star Trek Enterprise Rewatch: Detained

When Archer and Travis accidentally enter Tandaran military territory, they find themselves detained at an internment camp filled with Suliban. As they wait for the Tandarans to release them into Enterprise’s custody, Archer and Travis learn that these Suliban are innocent civilians who have nothing to do with the Cabal, genetic enhancements, or the Temporal Cold War.

One thing that has always set Star Trek apart from its peer is its willingness to tackle moral issues. It’s a quality I largely admire in the franchise, but I think we can all agree that there are times when Star Trek feels the need to beat us over the head with a particular message. Detained certainly feels like one such episode.

The point of this episode is a classic “not all Suliban” story, designed to point out to Archer, Travis and the viewer that the Suliban we’ve encountered so far are in an evil minority. Most Suliban are honest, hard-working folk, who are being wrongly interned by the Tandarans ostensibly “for their own protection”, but mostly because of the colour of their skin. Travis, a perfectly generic character who adds nothing of his own to this episode, is an ideal every man to represent anyone anywhere who ever discovered that not all representatives of a race or culture are necessarily amoral villains.

The other attraction of this episode is Dean Stockwell, playing opposite his old Quantum Leap co-star Scott Bakula. Back in the day, I remember being really excited about this and generally finding it awesome; with the passage of time, it just isn’t all that great.

Summary – Detained: Talk about ramming a moral message down our throats.

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