The Great Star Trek Enterprise Rewatch: Harbinger

When Enterprise rescues an alien from a large spatial anomaly, the race is on for Phlox to find a way to save his life. Meanwhile, Reed clashes with Hayes over security on the ship, and T’Pol has a surprisingly emotional reaction when Trip becomes involved with a MACO.

Harbinger is perhaps the most homoerotic episode of Star Trek that I’ve encountered to date in this rewatch. We have an entire subplot devoted to Reed’s unresolved tension with Major Hayes, culminating in them rolling around together in a corridor. It’s not hard to imagine that the next step is them rolling around together in bed.

In fact, it’s thanks to this episode that I now believe that Reed surely must be a closeted gay. Note how he simply tries too hard with the whole leering at women thing – maybe even his claimed dalliance with Ruby in San Francisco is a lie. He’s also very reticent about his personal life, even keeping his distance from his own family. Clearly he’s worried about a homophobic reaction should they ever find out. His constant aura of tension and isolation hints at his secret, as well as a lack of opportunities for him to fulfil his sexual desires. Poor Malcolm.

In a different universe, the other subplot would see some T’Pol and Cole action, but instead we have the more heteronormative T’Pol and Trip coupling. If T’Pol’s behaviour seems unexpected for a Vulcan, then pay heed – it’s the first hint of a storyline that will be revisited soon. But I’ll save discussion of that for a later date.

With all this tension in the air, what of the main story? To be honest, I don’t much care for it. The mysterious alien spends most of the episode being vague and enigmatic, only to suddenly turn evil, spout some vague warning, and then die. Why should I care? Based on this episode alone, it’s certainly hard to rustle up any enthusiasm for this series of events.

Summary – Harbinger: T’Pol gets it on with Trip.

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