In the twentieth episode of the third season of Enterprise, everything continues to be a mess. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of addiction, grief, and death.
You know, it took Enterprise a while to settle into something that felt more unique. It must have been hard to live in the shadow of so many series when writing Enterprise, but the Xindi arc is where this show has been hitting its stride. While there are elements here that remind me of Voyager (being “stranded” somewhere very far from Earth) and Deep Space Nine (the more subversive elements of this show that break with Trek tradition), this is now its own thing.
Let’s talk about it!
I do love how so many plotlines and details from this season are brought out to Degra and the Primate Captain (I still can’t remember his name or if it’s even been said at this point) as “proof” that Archer’s story is true. He’s up against something just as insidious as doubt here because it’s incredibly hard to change someone’s mind. But on top of that, he’s got to prove that his theory about the sphere builders is what’s actually happening. Throughout “The Forgotten,” Degra is much more amenable to Archer’s theory. (So I didn’t think it was unrealistic for the Xindi primate to point out that Degra might be influenced by his guilt over building the weapon. TOO REAL). Yet the writers don’t make this an easy thing for Archer, and I appreciate that. Rick Worthy’s character has a lot of questions. He won’t accept anything at face value. And while the evidence Archer has suggest a story, none of this confirms it, at least not as much as the primate wants. Plus, Archer will soon have to convince a whole council, not just two people! His evidence needs to be airtight!
So is it enough? It’s compelling, at least to the point that Degra and the primate are willing to destroy a reptilian ship to prevent them from telling the council about their rendezvous with Archer. That’s a significant step forward, isn’t it? It felt like a sign of their confidence in Archer, BUT I’M STILL WORRIED.
My concern with T’Pol’s plotline is that she’d go through her withdrawal off-screen and then we’d only get vague references to it in future episodes. So yes, I’m quite pleased that the show appears to be willing to openly talk about what all of this means for her character. Addiction doesn’t just magically go away, so there’s a chance she could relapse. But even if she never does, her usage of Trellium-D damaged her neural pathways to the point that she can’t suppress all of her emotions. Just in terms of originality, this felt refreshing. It’s not a temporary affliction, which we have seen for Vulcan characters in the past. This might be something that is addressed for the remainder of the show! So… please? IT’S REALLY INTERESTING AND I LOVE GETTING TO SEE JOLENE BLALOCK PORTRAY T’POL IN SO MANY NEW WAYS.
HA HA I’M FINE just kidding i am not
Look, y’all should know by now that I’m super into explorations of grief and loss. I AM A SAD GAY, IT IS BUILT INTO MY DNA. I’m so pleased with what this episode did with Tucker, especially since it all hinged on the death of a member of the crew who we had never met before this. Given the nature of this show, it’s expected that people show up once and never again. (Like Seth McFarlane??? What the hell.) Yet the writers found a way to introduce Ensign Taylor, kill her off off-screen, and then tie Tucker’s grief into his unresolved sense of grief over his sister. WHICH IS A FEAT!
But it’s the way that this episode ties its theme to this notion of the “forgotten” that felt most interesting to me. Tucker was far, far away when his sister died, and since she was vaporized by the Xindi weapon, he’s denied the sense of closure that might come from a body. At the same time, she was one death of over seven million, and it’s difficult to conceptualize that amount. Inevitably, people will become forgotten unless there’s someone to remember who they are. That doesn’t necessarily apply to Tucker, of course, since his sister’s death has been a huge influence on his arc in season 3. Yet so much has happened in the months since Elizabeth’s death, and I got the sense that Tucker felt guilty about that. Had he forgotten about her? Had her death become just a factor in motivating him each day and nothing more? Was he respecting her memory, or had she just slipped into the background?
So when Ensign Taylor dies, it’s easy for Tucker’s mind to make that association. She was someone who lost her life and left potential behind. That’s the greatest tragedy of all. Like Elizabeth, she didn’t get to have a “full” life. She didn’t get to do everything she wanted. Taylor could have played a bigger part in Engineering. Which isn’t to suggest that she didn’t do anything prior to this. I would consider anyone aboard the Enterprise to be accomplished just by default. But Tucker’s unresolved issues around his sister are only exacerbated by the tragedy of Taylor, so he lashes out. AND IT’S SO HEARTBREAKING. Connor Trinneer is so good in this episode, y’all!
Anyway, this end-of-the-season arc continues to fuck me up. Bring it on.
The video for “The Forgotten” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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