631. Fight or Flight
WHY WE LIKE IT: Hoshi makes good.
WHY WE DON'T: Disposable enemies.
REVIEW: Typically, the second episode of a Star Trek series features a light plot and gives the extra room to characterization, trying to build a better picture of shipboard life. Fight or Flight does this very well. Everyone on board is getting antsy because they've been traveling a fairly empty part of space. Some are desperate for action, others are feeling more anxious. Only Phlox is truly enjoying himself, trying new foods, sniffing crew members, and wondering if he can watch humans mate. And I suppose Porthos the Space Dog reveals his love affair with cheese here, a running gag throughout the series.
The others don't fare so well in this exploratory drought. Archer is becoming obsessed with squeaking in his floor plates. Trip begs to be taken on an away mission. And Malcolm is working on his spatial torpedoes - all he really wants to do is blow stuff up. It's really Hoshi's episode though. She's not comfortable on this mission, is insecure about her abilities, and on the whole, pretty terrified of everything that comes her way. She identifies with the first new form of life encountered by the ship, a slug simply called Sluggo, who's also not thriving outside its native environment. The metaphor would be rather ham-fisted if it wasn't for Dr. Phlox's knowing remarks about it (he's great). Mayweather seems fine, maybe because he's used to long, empty journeys. T'Pol, for her part, remains a sticking point with me. I know it can't be easy to play an unemotional character, but where Spock and Tuvok cultivated an air or irritability, Blalock plays it T'Pol at best as bored, and at worst (the dinner scene) as robotic.
When the crew discovers a derelict ship and explores it, they find 15 dead bodies, strung upside down and being drained of their fluids. Hoshi is naturally freaked out, but it's Archer who's most disturbed by it. His passion and ethics don't let him abandon the site, and he shows just what humanity has to bring to the galactic landscape. We can't expect the show to always take this much time with languages, but it's really interesting to see the difficulties that would come with actual first contact. Hoshi gets a chance to shine, and once she lets go of the fear and dives into her element, she does. The evil space vampires come back and their ship is a frightening thing worthy of their modus operandi, but are sadly never seen again. They're just a mystery here, and might have warranted more development. As for the people Enterprise helps, they're the Axanar. They've never been seen before, but they WERE mentioned back in TOS. According to Court-Martial, Kirk participated in a peace mission at Axanar, which was also the site of a famous battle. I love these small connections to Trek history. If you don't get them, it's no bother. If you do, it's a lot of fun to see the Trek universe open up.
The show continues to look good, with some excellent spooky lighting aboard the alien ship, letting the EV suits' lights do all the work. These bronze suits look really good too, better than "later" models. We also see how a torpedo is loaded into its tube, so that's pretty cool. I mentioned them in the previous review, but Enterprise's are the only opening credits I watch every time instead of skipping to the next chapter. The images keep telling me a story, and I find myself singing along with the song. I do believe I used to do this when the show first aired as well. If you're not a fan of the song, they've changed the end credits for you. The pilot played an instrumental version of "Faith of the Heart", but now it's blaring trumpets, like a standard outer space score for the show would be. Just imagine it at the beginning if you like.
LESSON: It pays to be a nerd who's heard of things like the Battle of Axanar.
REWATCHABILITY - Medium-High: Enterprise is shaping up nicely, with a likable crew and obstacles only it could face among all the franchises. Maybe that's why it feels too fresh for a Formula entry to me.