Star Trek 643: Shadows of P'Jem

643. Shadows of P'Jem

FORMULA: The High Ground + The Andorian Incident + A Private Little War

WHY WE LIKE IT: Coridan. Andorians.

WHY WE DON'T: How about some dignity for our heroes?

REVIEW: Shadows of P'Jem promises to deal with The Andorian Incident's backlash, but sadly strays off course. Earth is on the outs with the Vulcans after Archer's blown their secret sensor array at P'Jem, and since they can't really punish Earth (why not?), they'll blame T'Pol and repatriate her. Seems like only a week since we discussed a "T'Pol almost leaves" episode. Oh wait, Breaking the Ice WAS featured exactly a week ago.

The setting for the episode is Coridan, the famous, but never visited planet that was applying for Federation membership in Journey to Babel, the original Andorian story. We still don't see much of it, but most intriguingly, it seems like it's run by the Vulcans' puppet government. These guys are getting shadier by the minute. The Andorians, of course, back the rebels, and the whole situation is of course driven by oil... I mean, dilithium. The Vulcans are merely insuring their access to fuel.

But while the political situation is interesting, the episode chooses to focus on the capture, foiled escape and inevitable rescue of Archer and T'Pol, snagged by rebels at the onset. Though there are good bits here and there, especially the homage to Picard as Mr. Mot the Barber when T'Pol makes Archer into a steward (though nothing comes of it), the initial escape attempt goes on too long. Since it doesn't work, it's no more than padding. The characters do have a long, involved conversation, but the compromising sexual positions they put themselves in to contort out of their bondage, distract entirely from it. By the time Archer gets a faceful of silicone, you're ready to change the channel.

The Andorians' appearance does help matters however, Shran has become an insomniac because of the debt he owes Archer (a fun personal or cultural quirk) and he comes blazing with his commandos. Thick fog gives the action scenes a great look too, despite probably being on the cave set. I'm not sure how T'Pol gets wounded at the end, the cheesy slow motion sequence doing nothing to make the action clearer on that point (quite the contrary), but Archer and Phlox's exaggeration of that wound is well used to manipulate the Vulcan captain into saving T'Pol's carreer. So much for that backlash, eh?

LESSON: How to make sure it takes a hundred years before you can join the Federation. Just add rebels.

REWATCHABILITY - Low Medium: I appreciate the Near Space politics, but this "sexy T'Pol" business as really, really, REALLY, got to stop.


hiikeeba said...

Regarding the whole "sexy T'Pol" thing, could the writers stop throwing her at Archer?

Pat Powers said...

Oh, yeah. Terrible. Dreadful. Sexiness in a Star Trek episode. Awful, how could they?

C'mon, get real. The reason for Enterprise's death was there wasn't ENOUGH sexiness in it, and the interminable, boring plotlines. Kirk was ALWAYS up for nailing a sexy alien. Intergalactic horndogs are INTERESTING. Archer was not.

Siskoid said...

The problem isn't the sex(iness), it's how it was DONE.


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