The Great Star Trek Enterprise Rewatch: Hatchery

When Enterprise encounters a crashed Xindi insectoid ship, they discover that the ship’s “hatchery” is still intact, and filled with unborn insectoids. Despite the urgency of their mission to stop the Xindi weapon, Archer insists that they mustn’t leave until the hatchery is fully repaired.

As a long-time Dungeon Keeper fan, whenever I see the word “Hatchery”, I imagine the room where chicks are hatched to feed your dungeon monsters. This puts me in a far better frame of mind than this episode really merits.

On the plus side, the premise of this episode does at least feel a lot more fresh and original than the average Enterprise episode. The insectoids and their hatchery are sufficiently different from the average “human with a bit of make-up” aliens that we see on Star Trek to rejuvenate my waning interest in the show – even though they look incredibly fake by today’s standards.

Even if we put aside the fact that the episode degenerates into an “increasingly paranoid captain” story, there’s one other thing that really puts me off this episode. Saving the lives of these almost-born babies (and that’s what they are, given that insectoids are sentient) is morally the right thing to do. But this episode presents it as the ludicrous option, and that Archer is only doing it because he was infected with a mind-altering substance.

I know that Enterprise is on an urgent mission to save billions of people, and that, from the Vulcan perspective, the needs of the many outweighs the needs of the few. I’m also aware that the Xindi are enemies, and that on a visceral level it’s easy to be revolted by insectoids because they don’t look like us. But this is Star Trek, a franchise which is supposed to show us a future where we embrace our differences instead of holding onto prejudices – a world where life is wondrous in all its myriad forms. So for the Enterprise crew to say they’d rather take a torch to the hatchery than even attempt to save the infants is very jarring to me. Would they say the same if the crashed ship had an NICU filled with primate Xindi babies? Somehow, I don’t think so.

Points of Note

  • Apparently Reed’s father likes to collect insects. It’s nice to know someone in the family has a hobby.
  • Given that Enterprise destroys an insectoid ship in this episode, they must have destroyed the hatchery aboard that ship, thus killing more infants than they save.

Summary – Hatchery: It takes a special chemical to make Archer not want to kill baby insectoids. Ah, humanity.

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