9/26/11

Star Trek: Asterisk "Bounty"

Vital Information
Series: Enterprise
Episode: S02E25
Air Date: May 14, 2003
Written by: Hans Tobeason and Mike Sussman & Phyllis Strong
Directed by: Roxann Dawson

Premise
Archer misses out on T'Pol going through induced pon farr because he's captured by a bounty hunter.

Review
This episode has two completely unrelated and non-converging plot lines running through the story. The only thing that makes one plot the A plot is the fact that it's part of an arc: Archer's trial by the Klingons. That's what gives the episode its title, but if you ask me, the "B plot" is much more interesting.

After coming back from a little R&R with Trip, Archer receives word that an alien has contacted them. At first the alien seems a bit rude, but he quickly changes his tone. He offers to act as a tour guide of the uninhabited planet Archer and Trip were just exploring. So Trip and Archer happily jaunt off to the air lock to welcome their new friend and... the new friend stuns Trip and kidnaps Archer in an attempt to collect a Klingon bounty.
He also appears to be interested in saving you money on car insurance.
After the alien gets away by disabling Enterprise's warp nacelle temporarily, Trip orders everyone who was on the planet surface to come back up. This includes T'Pol and Phlox who seem to have picked up some kind of contagion. Phlox orders T'Pol into the Sexy, Sexy Decon Chamber where they both have to stay for a while and rub all sorts of medical creams on themselves until the contagion is gone. Well, it doesn't take long before T'Pol starts showing symptoms of pon farr, the Vulcan mating ritual that is supposed to take place every seven years. The symptoms include inability to control emotions and a hyper-strong libido. Well, now we just have to figure out which story line is more interesting.
Let me just sit here and think for a second...
Haven't decided yet? Well, let's flesh out some of the details.

This alien that kidnapped Archer; his name is Skalaar and he used to be the captain of a mining ship. His ship, however, was impounded when he was caught in Klingon territory hauling some fire salt. Ever since then he had been working as a bounty hunter in order to pay them off and get his ship back. He's a very experienced captain and is clever in throwing the Enterprise off his scent, but as much as he befriends the captain he has in custody, there is no way he can go back on the deal he made with the Klingons. If he let Archer go, the Klingons will kill them.
Meanwhile, this is happening...
Still not convinced that the pon farr story line is superior? Well, there actually is something pretty interesting going on there... pon farr is supposed to happen once every seven years, but T'Pol has not reached that cycle yet. It seems the contagion they picked up on the planet is artificially inducing pon farr. Luckily, she's stuck in the Sexy, Sexy Decon Chamber with the best physician in the galaxy (at this time). Now Phlox has to come up with a cure before either A) T'Pol dies from the chemical overdose that pon farr induces or B) he's forced to overcome his Denubulan inhibitions and GIVE IN TO THE LUST.
Oh, to be Phlox in this episode.
Ok, to be fair, since pon farr was artificially induced, it's not clear weather the "standard treatment" would actually do anything, but, c'mon... it wouldn't hurt to try...

Meanwhile, Skalaar is attacked by another bounty hunter who's looking to steal Archer for his own gain. The conflict leaves his ship in need of a part that his brother can supply, so, before meeting the Klingons, he goes to see is brother, Gaavrin. Gaavrin, who is reluctant to give up the part to a man who never repays his debts, tells him that the ship he once had was cannibalized for the glory of the Empire. Now that Skalaar's dreams are shot, there's only one thing keeping him from letting Archer go: He values his life.
Meanwhile, this is happening...
Eventually, T'Pol finds a way to escape, but is quickly stunned by Reed and his security team and brought back to the Sexy, Sexy Decon Chamber to use the serum that Phlox has come up with to cure her.

Back on Skalaar's ship, Skalaar finally meets up with the Klingons and hands over Archer. It was the only way he could get out of the situation with his life. But there's a catch. He gave Archer the keys to his own handcuffs. As soon as Archer is nicely put away in the Klingon ship, he escapes and kicks some Klingon butt on his way to an escape pod. Skalaar sent the Klingons' coordinates to the Enterprise who promptly came to retrieve the escape pod and run away with their intrepid captain.

Meanwhile, T'Pol has been cured by Phlox's serum. The microbe is gone and the pon farr has subsided. No more fun there.

Before Archer leaves the area, Skalaar comes back to thank him and say a proper good-bye. The bounty on Archer, he says, will surely have doubled, now that he's escaped twice.

Overall Thoughts
It may not be the very best episode in the bucket, but it's got a cracky awesomeness value to it. If you want to see T'Pol undergo pon farr, this is the episode for you. And if you wanna see a bounty hunter make good, here's your episode. It's entertaining and Skalaar has a pretty great character arc going on. Thumbs up on this one.