7/23/11

Star Trek: Asterisk "Fallen Hero"

Vital Information
Series: Enterprise
Episode: S01E23
Air Date: May 8, 2002
Written by: Alan Cross
Directed by: Patrick Noris

Premise
Vulcan ambassador V'Lar rips Enterprise out of her shore leave plans by insisting on a ride back to Vulcan because apparently she's broken some sort of law on the planet she was visiting.

Review
It starts as a conversation around the dinner table with T'Pol, Archer and Trip. T'Pol has asked whether any of the humans have had sex in a while and Archer and Trip nearly cough up their food. And so shore leave is planned. Incidentally, during this little back-and-forth Trip has to be reminded that Vulcans only mate once every seven years. C'mon, writers, pay attention! He already asked about that during the Vulcan Hippies episode! I doubt very much that it's something he's likely to forget.

After dinner, on the bridge, in the middle of making plans to visit Risa, they get a message from Starfleet saying they're the only ship in the area available to pick up a Vulcan ambassador and bring her to a rendezvous point. I guess I really shouldn't be bothered. Being the only ship in the area is pretty much exactly what they set themselves up for when they created this series. They are, after all, they only Starfleet ship in space. And the Vulcans don't really like exploring, so they don't know that many friends. It's just... ugh! Can we get a better reason to rip these guys away from shore leave??

Anyway, once V'Lar gets there, she exhibits very un-Vulcan behavior. She shakes hands, tells jokes, asks to thank Hoshi for giving up her room... it's as if... the ambassador actually knows how to get along with other cultures! Regardless of how good she is at her job, T'Pol is disappointed, and she expresses as much when she takes V'Lar to her temporary quarters. She explains to Archer later that V'Lar is the person who inspired her to go down the road that led her to Enterprise when she first met her, but she doesn't seem to remember that first meeting. And now V'Lar is being disciplined for misconduct. One would think that T'Pol's hero has fallen, but, as she assures Archer, Vulcans don't have heroes.
Yup. None at all.
Well, then the aliens from the planet V'Lar had been on returned to pick her up and bring her back for some unexplained reason. Archer says he has to confirm with Starfleet, and so the aliens open fire on them. With a bad situation now turned worse, Archer believes V'Lar knows more than she said. And then it turns into another Vulcan trust episode.  The Vulcans have been treating Humans like babies this entire time, and it's time they realized that we're big boys now - we can handle it.

If V'Lar won't talk to Archer, though, she'll definitely talk to T'Pol. T'Pol finds V'Lar in the mess hall and they have a little chat in which V'Lar reveals that she remembers when they first met. She appreciates how T'Pol always speaks her mind. Even now, T'Pol, who has a greater understanding of Archer's feelings toward the Vulcans, is defending him against the mistrust of a powerful Vulcan. Well, that's when V'Lar confides in T'Pol.

But it's not enough. T'Pol reports back to Archer, but couldn't go into acceptable detail, so Archer is forced to return to the alien planet with V'Lar. But Archer is nothing if not a softy, right? So when T'Pol pleads saying she's never asked for anything but this, he reluctantly agrees. And turns back around.

And the aliens give chase! Now it's a race to see who has the faster warp engine! We all know Enterprise has a snazzy brand-spankin-new Warp 5 engine, so let's see what it can do!  During the chase, the aliens just keep ong gaining. Seeing a dire situation turn worse, V'Lar finally confides in Archer and tells him that her real mission was to expose corruption in the alien's government and return safely with that information. She tries to get Archer to hand her over, but Archer refuses. It may not be the logical course of action, but it's the right one. Well, turns out Trip can give her warp 5, but not without making her shake, rattle and blow out.
Scotty he is not.
Archer attempts to stall the aliens, but they warn him to prepare to be boarded. When they get to the Enterprise, Archer tells them that V'Lar was wounded by their weapons and is in the medical bay. When they go to the medical bay, Phlox does an excellent job pretending that V'Lar is actually there, inside of an imaging chamber. So, what's the logical course of action? Fire on the imaging chamber obviously! All the acting awards to go Phlox who shouts out with concern for the person who definitely isn't in the imaging chamber! And then the Vulcans arrive!

One of the more powerful Vulcan battleships received the message that V'Lar transmitted over a special diplomatic channel that wasn't being blocked and raced over to help. The alien ship being no match for this Vulcan vessel, they are now beaten and indignant. What's more, when they leave the medical bay, they find V'Lar outside the door waiting for them. That little incident was all she needed to prove the corruption that had been going on. Her mission is complete. And she's still alive.

So then it's time for V'Lar to leave. But before she gets onto the Vulcan ship, she comments on the bond of friendship that T'Pol and Archer share. She says it bodes well for the relationship between the Vulcans and the Humans. Ya know, I was becoming tired of the Vulcan trust episodes, but this points towards a neat wrap-up. Humans and Vulcans can be friends. And this episode is the proof.

Overall Thoughts
People give this series crap, but this episode was one of the best character-building stories I've seen in a while. We get to know a lot not only about T'Pol, but also about the Vulcan character and background. Not to mention, this episode pushes along the ever-evolving relations between Earth and Vulcan. And it even had some pretty awesome tension-building moments. I approve!