The Great Star Trek Enterprise Rewatch: Damage

Enterprise has suffered crippling damage at the hands of the Xindi reptilians. Desperate to get the ship fixed in time to stop the launch of the weapon, Archer considers setting aside his morality and taking what he needs by force. Meanwhile, T’Pol is struggling with her emotional control.

Damage is the culmination of the questionable moral decisions that we’ve had to put up with throughout season three. Even when he was starting out on becoming more of an arsehole, Archer voiced his desire not to lose his humanity during this mission. T’Pol reminds him of that here, but to no avail – he goes ahead and strands a ship full of benign aliens because he needs their warp coil. This is exactly the kind of behaviour I don’t want to see on Star Trek. I don’t mind if my heroes aren’t perfect, but I want to see them doing their best and holding onto their principles no matter what. I want to enjoy a positivity that, no matter what’s going on in the world today, humanity will make it through and things will be all right.

Remember in Prime Factors when Tuvok stole the Sikarian fold device? It was ultimately out of character for him, but it’s important that he did it because he didn’t want Janeway to have to compromise her morality. For me, that works better than having the captain be at the head of the moral compromise, and for only a Vulcan – usually more pragmatic and logical than the average human – to question it.

The B-plot brings T’Pol’s mystery affliction out into the open, as we learn that she has been experimenting with injecting Trellium-D in order to experience emotions. This certainly explains her behaviour over recent episodes, and somewhat ties into Fusion, where T’Pol seemed fascinated with the emotional Vulcans.

I feel like this should be an interesting storyline, but somehow it’s never quite gelled with me. The first time around, I found the concept of T’Pol injecting bits of rock to be just too weird to swallow. But in both cases, I just don’t feel a connection to this storyline. It’s dumped on us at this stage; yes, we knew that something was going on, but we don’t get to properly take that journey with T’Pol, from experimentation to addiction.

How Do Vulcans Feel About Humans?

Yesterday, I was talking about Star Trek with a colleague, and he mentioned that Discovery has made him consciously realise something about the Vulcans. His realisation was essentially that they can be arseholes, something that he had not picked up on before because he hasn’t seen much of Enterprise.

We discussed how humans represent everything that Vulcans have tried to get away from – we’re like their emotional, violent, pre-Surakian selves. Of course they’re going to look down on us, considering our society to be less evolved. We might think the same if a caveman showed up in modern times, without any grasp of the nuances or behaviours of our society.

But I wonder if there’s also some jealousy going on there – even if no Vulcan would never admit it. Vulcans are trained from an early age to suppress all their emotions – to push them down into a tiny little ball and never act on them. So, to see humans freely acting on their emotions is not solely distasteful to them – on some level, they feel envious of that freedom. Maybe displays of emotion are to Vulcans as hardcore porn is to humans – frowned upon and denigrated in polite society, but rapaciously consumed for gratification behind closed doors.

Future Guy Theory II

When Archer is considering stealing the warp coil, he confides in Phlox. The good doctor, his face shrouded in darkness, agrees with Archer’s assessment that this may not be the last time the captain crosses the line. This aspect of Phlox got me thinking – what if the doctor is Future Guy?

Think about it. Right from the second episode, Phlox has been fascinated with observing humans under different conditions. At times his interest has taken a darker turn – remember when he wanted to lobotomise Travis, not to mention his actions in growing Sim and wiping Degra’s memories. Could it be that future Phlox decided to mess with the timeline to make Enterprise’s mission more interesting? That he’s manipulating events just for his own amusement? How many have died just so to keep Phlox entertained?

Summary – Damage: The ship is damaged, T’Pol is damaged, but most of all, Archer’s morality is shot to ribbons.

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