11/13/11

Star Trek: Asterisk "Damage"

Vital Information
Series: Enterprise
Episode: S03E19
Air Date: April 21, 2004
Written by: Phyllis Strong
Directed by: James L. Conway

Premise
Archer leads the Enterprise on a mission to steal a warp coil while T'Pol experiences withdrawal symptoms. (Wait, I thought the Detroit episode was a few episodes back...)

Review
Have you ever seen a baby foal fresh from the mother's womb try to take its first steps? It stumbles a little, to be sure, but eventually gains footing and trots along happily. But then it tries to run. Running is by far the most dangerous thing the foal has experienced in its life thus far. It got walking down, but the harder it runs, the harder it falls. When the Enterprise NX-01 entered the Delphic Expanse, it was space-faring Earth's newborn foal. It had run the entire distance, tripping along the way, and in this episode it takes its most grievous tumble.

In the last episode, a Xindi strike force had left the Enterprise dead in the water. They were as good as dead until this episode opens and the force simply... stops. Back on Azati Prime, we learn that Degra called off the force pending investigation of Archer's claims that the Xindi are being manipulated by the sphere builders. As a matter of fact, Degra is angry at the reptilian for sending out the strike force in the first place. The plan now is to send Archer back to the Enterprise in a Xindi Aquatic ship. Yes. Fish have space ships.
Honestly, I was almost expecting a gigantic black cylinder.
When Archer gets back, the damage report is grim. Most notably, there is a warp coil damaged beyond repair. Which is unfortunate because when Hoshi examines the aquatic escape pod Archer arrived on, she finds coordinates and a date from Degra intending for them to meet somewhere in three days, but without a warp coil they'll never make it that quickly. Instead of sticking around, however, they run away with their tail between their legs as pathetically fast as they can.

On their way, they come across a random alien ship in distress. They're explorers in the Delphic Expanse and have experienced spacial anomalies that have damaged their ship. Archer believes they may be able to help each other, but when he asks them for a warp coil, they refuse. Without a warp coil it would take three years for these aliens to return home. Archer, on the other hand, doesn't have the luxury of time. If he doesn't meet with Degra in three days, Earth could very well fall under Xindi attack. So that's when he decides to board the alien ship and steal a warp core.

Meanwhile, T'Pol is acting very emotional. In fact, she had been for quite some time. She even gets in a shouting match with Archer over his plan to steal from an innocent ship. And now we know why. Experiencing withdrawal symptoms, she puts on a space suit and goes into a damaged part of the ship to retrieve some Trellium-D. She melts it down into a liquid and injects it into herself. Yes, she's using Trellium-D, the thing that turns Vulcans into zombies, as a drug.

Back at the Xindi council, one of the sphere builders is broadcasting a holographic signal to the Xindi or whatever. The reptilians and insectoids are not represented on the council because Degra wants to ask the sphere builder if they helped the reptilians go to Detroit. This is the first real glimpse the viewer has at a scene suggesting the Xindi are not working on their own, but rather following orders. The sphere builder deflects all of Degra's questions and says that she's working for the good of the Xindi. She leaves in a huff. This only bolsters Degra's growing suspicions about her.

Well, T'Pol finds that she's gotten out of control so she sees Phlox about her drug addiction. She explains that ever since they found the zombie Vulcans she's been using Trellium-D as basically a science experiment to access certain emotions. Most notably, the emotions she has toward Trip. That's right! Too bad for you, Trip! It was all a drug-induced lie!
Wh-... What?? :'(
Well, the rest of the episode basically deals with Archer successfully stealing a warp coil, leaving some food and Trellium-D as "payment" and going on his way to meet with Degra. All the while, Phlox helps T'Pol deal with her addiction to Trellium-D. Humans have become the bad guys and the Vulcan has lost control. This is definitely uncharted waters for Star Trek.

Overall Thoughts
I just don't know what to say about this episode. On the one hand I can see how it would put off those fans who had been following Star Trek for decades, on the other hand, as a fan of sci-fi in general, this entire season has explored some deeper and darker themes that have so much success in other series. I love the story. It's not classic Star Trek, but I love it. I suppose all I can say is that if a series doesn't change, it remains stagnant and dies. Granted, Enterprise never really revitalized Star Trek the way it should have, but I see where it was going and... I think I actually approve. The only concern I have is in the way they handle Trip's relationship with T'Pol now that her emotions were all because of the Trellium-D. If that doesn't have a profound impact on Trip, I will be disappointed.