FORMULA: Amok Time + Redemption Part II + Mine Field
WHY WE LIKE IT: Shran. Shran. Shran!
WHY WE DON'T: Man, that Romulan isn't pretty, is he?
REVIEW: Archer must find the Romulan marauder to prevent it from attacking more ships in the area (which might lead to war) and to recover Malcolm and Reed, still trapped aboard. His plan is to enlist the help of all ships in the area to create a kind of sensor grid, but that requires collaboration from Vulcans, Tellarites and Andorians. Not easy when they're all at each other's throats. Things get worse when Talas develops of phaser infection and dies. Thanks to Talas, we see a whole other side to Shran, a sweet, romantic side (I dare not use the word vulnerable), but he is plunged into grief when she is taken away. And it's all the Tellarites' fault.
Jeffrey Combs gives a full performance in this episode, the key scene being his challenge to the Tellarite ambassador. Despite everyone being afraid of what he might do, it seems clear that he's trying to do his best for Archer. He's only there to talk. The tradition of bringing back a warrior's blood to the ice is very interesting, and his speech a fine eulogy to a character we might have liked to see more of. As it turns into a challenge for a duel to the death (the Ushaan), things get violent again. Archer's logic is flawless when he invokes the Rite of Substitution: He will have to face Shran in single combat because only a neutral party can afford to be killed if the makeshift alliance is to succeed. Hoshi and Travis (hey, at least he has something to do) look for a loophole to help Archer, and they find one that will allow the two protagonists to survive (albeit with Shran losing an antenna and his sense of balance). The fight itself is brutal, with a great twist having the opponents tied together, something Archer takes full advantage of.
Meanwhile, Trip and Malcolm find ways to survive, replenish their air supplies and reach the bridge. An interesting series of challenges that turn into a conflict when the Romulans start actively trying to counter their efforts from afar. Trip disables systems, but they use the remaining ones to trap him in a radioactive chamber, for example, or gun the engines to try to knock them out on a bulkhead. This culminates in Malcolm bombing the bridge and in the rather desperate maneuver of throwing themselves out an airlock as a ship battle rages around them, hoping to be picked up by transporter (don't worry, they are). The space battle is notable for the marauder's crazy spinning. Whoah! The final twist this time is that the remote pilot is... an albino Andorian? Bizarre!
In the middle of all this action, you also get some proper character moments. Aside from the previously mentioned moments, Shran has a cute bit regarding the many Enterprises on Archer's wall. And Trip and Malcolm's dilemma is spiced up by Malcolm disobeying an order to leave Trip to die. These two have a long history and it's nice to see it exploited still.
LESSON: You don't have to like your ally, just don't kill him.
REWATCHABILITY - High: Even better than the first part of the arc. Exciting and even a little moving.