6/17/11

Star Trek: Asterisk "The Andorian Incident"

Vital Information
Series: Enterprise
Episode: S01E07
Air Date: October 31, 2001
Written by: Fred Dekker
Directed by: Roxann Dawson

Premise
The Enterprise crew visits a Vulcan monastery only to find that it's been taken over by some weird hybrids between Na'vi and Atom Ant.

Review
Trekkies will recognize the blue-skinned alien race in this episode as one of the featured observers in the trial of Admiral James T. Kirk. As is the case with any continuous sci-fi property, as soon as something looks interesting, fans go about creating an entire back-story for it. The Andorians were the Vulcans neighbors for quite some time and, as such, were bound to have an opposite view of the world. They are emotional, suspicious and... apparently, sometimes horny. But they've never really been portrayed as the bad guy... until this opening scene.

Some poor, "innocent" Vulcan monks are busy praying to... logic, or, whatever... maybe they're just meditating... when an Andorian strike force barges in and takes hostages. The claim is that the Vulcans have some sort of surveillance equipment in this monastery that's spying on the Andorians. And they're not very happy about it.

Well, all this goes on without the Vulcans or Starfleet knowing about it. And Archer just happens to think that it would be a good idea to take in some Vulcan culture at that point. T'Pol is, of course, uncontrollably enthused. She hops up and down and cheers as she takes out some family photos and shares exuberantly.  Oh, wait, no... she hates the idea.
Yay.
When they arrive at the monastery, the one-man welcoming crew asks them to ignore all the signs of forced entry and respect the fact that there's some hard-core meditation going on at the moment and that they should come back later. As you can imagine, this doesn't go over too well with Archer. While he admires a hollow stone carving of the biggest Vulcan face you've ever seen, he gets the idea that they're being watched. With a cunning move of stealth and surgical strategy, Archer catches an Andorian in a reflection and instructs Trip to help him knock over a wall in order to catch the blue-skinned invader. Only to be promptly surrounded by the rest of the Andorian team and taken prisoner. This is why you never join the captain on an away mission!

Because when the bad guys have you in confinement, they torture you with exposition. One of the elder monks explains where the Andorians come from and basically everything I already told you. But he expands saying that the arrival of humans has heightened their suspicions and endangered everyone. And as if the human hate wasn't enough, the same monk asks T'Pol how she's gotten used to the stench on the Enterprise. To which she answers that she's been using a nasal numbing agent.

Then comes the saddest thing of all: while attempting to interrogate/torture Archer, the Androian, Shran, takes his communicators and smashes them underfoot! That was a perfectly good communicator!! Oh, and I guess he bloodies up the captain a little. /shrug Whatever.

Lots of stuff happens after that. They basically go back and forth between either letting the Andorians give up and go home or actually doing something about their situation. Either go Vulcan or go Human. Obviously. This series has seriously run the Human vs. Vulcan conflict to the ground by this point. Eventually the humans win out, like always, and Trip comes up with this genius idea to use that giant stone Vulcan head to their advantage. Ok, yes, I'm using "genius" here ironically. While they're going through catacombs, Trip finds a few holes that look exactly like the mouth. But could it be? I don't know! We'll have to find out somehow! For absolutely no reason, Captain Archer to get his face beaten to crap even more by asking to be interrogated so he can put something in the mouth of the stone carving.  Dude!! That's really not necessary! It's obviously the right idea! Maybe Shran is right. Maybe he does just like pain.

After they confirm the obvious, they use the stone carving to give them the element of surprise while they take down the Andorians. They're not entirely successful, as they still have to run to the safety of a reliquary. And guess what they find there.

Turns out the Vulcans weren't all that loyal to the treaty they made with the Andorians. Through the back door, Archer and the crew find exactly what the Androians were looking for: a huge sensor array. I honestly did not see that coming. Things are obviously far from over between the Andorians and the Vulcans, but for our intrepid crew, the story has come to an end.

Overall Thoughts
Meh - it was pretty good. I mean, it bugged me to death that they had to figure out what that huge stone face was all about when it was so painfully obvious. But, there was some good action and some good background on a relatively elusive Star Trek species. I recommend it for the obvious story of intrigue that's to come.