Star Trek 699: Damage

699. Damage

FORMULA: (Dead Stop x Year of Hell) + Impulse + -1(Anomaly) + In the Pale Moonlight

WHY WE LIKE IT: This ain't no Voyager.

WHY WE DON'T: Cheats itself out of that cliffhanger.

REVIEW: It's unfortunate that the previous episode's cliffhanger is washed over so easily. Oh the ship is still incredibly damaged, more than any ship we've ever seen outside of those actually destroyed, but when we last saw it, it was still under attack. Degra's called the dogs off somehow, and that's fine, but we also lose the last episode's momentum. Worse is how Archer is sent back to his ship via a marine Xindi transport rather than face the council at this point. It seems like cheating, delaying that obvious next step.

Otherwise, we've got a good episode here. The ship is damaged almost beyond repair, unable to go to warp, when Degra sends secret rendezvous coordinates in order to inspect Archer's evidence. The mission is doomed unless the ship can get there in time. Archer's choice is to turn to piracy, as was foreshadowed in Anomaly. A friendly ship is attacked, ITS only means of going to warp stolen, and though Enterprise leaves them supplies and trellium-D to face the anomalies, it's still an important betrayal of the crew's core beliefs. And yet, it's not one of those "Janeway goes crazy" deals. The issue is sufficiently discussed and the situation desperate (in fact, unlike Voyager, Enterprise will carry its wounds through the end of the season). I do think the ensuing phaser fight goes on a bit long though.

Meanwhile, as if things weren't bad enough, T'Pol is hitting the crack pipe! Yep, her over-emotionality since Impulse can be laid at the feet of an addiction to emotion developped there. Damage reveals that she's been injecting herself with trellium-D, purposely destroying her neural pathways to gain access to emotions (an interest demonstrated since Fusion). Is she trying to get closer to Trip? Just "experimenting"? An irrational mood-junkie? That's up to the viewer, but it's a pretty extreme development, which nonetheless explains some things.

For the first time, we meet the Sphere Builder directly in charge of manipulating the Xindi. They're ugly aliens, but their costumes are pretty nice. They also seem to be out of phase with out dimension, so Harbinger's alien wasn't some kind of anomaly.

LESSON: Friends don't let friends drive starships stoned.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium-High: This is darker than Deep Space 9! And that's a compliment.


Unknown said...

I found portraying T'Pol as a junkie to be a bit of a cheat. She's only attracted to Trip because she's been shooting up? Ultimately, though, this episode seems to deconstruct the Vulcans as we've come to know them. Spock and Sarek (and Tuvok, to a lesser extent) had strong emotions that they controlled through sheer iron will. T'Pol has to stop meditating and take drugs to experience them.

Siskoid said...

I agree that it's a "twist" that almost smells of retcon.

However, I think she was ALREADY attracted to Trip, but used trellium to enhance her emotional awareness and better interact with Trip and the crew.

Possibly, the trellium had a balancing effect to not meditating, which was always shown to have a destabilizing effect. Trellium might have brought a predictability to the emotions. When she was cut off from the drug, she reverted to "un-meditated" T'Pol, unpredictable and explosive.

De said...

Keep in mind that we've already seen T'Pol as somewhat unbalanced in Season 2's "The Seventh". Her previous exposure to trellium in the Expanse probbaly didn't help either.


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