Mark Watches ‘Enterprise’: S01E02 – Broken Bow, Part II

In the second episode of the first season of Enterprise, Archer and T’Pol begin to work together instead of against one another, and A PARTNERSHIP IS BORN. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek. 

Well, that was fun! Enterprise has got so much to deal with that I’m okay – for the time being, I mean – that this pilot focuses almost entirely on Archer and T’Pol, and it’s clear that the show intends to pivot most of the show around them. It’s a difficult relationship to convey because the writers have to contend with an existing dynamic. Namely, we’ve sort of seen this before. There was Spock and Kirk, and there was Janeway and Tuvok. The Star Trek universe has paired humans with Vulcans for dramatic and emotional tension plenty of times before. So how do you make that feel new and exciting?

Well, you start at the beginning (or as close to it as you can get). There is an undeniable tension between the two (one that feels decidedly less forced than the awkward sequence between Trip and T’Pol while they rubbed one another down with glitter gel???) that is based more on the fact that they’re cultures are different than how new their alliance is. Thus, there’s an urgency here that you don’t get from Spock/Kirk or Tuvok/Janeway. Instead, you get this incredible sense that they’re both on an individual journey, one that will be uniquely challenging. That’s felt through the conclusion of “Broken Bow,” which forces T’Pol into a command position.

It’s a shocker, for sure, especially since I did not expect the captain to get injured on his very first away mission. (I really want more of this sort of stuff, for the record, because it felt surprising. There’s a huge chance for Enterprise to upend a lot of the “rules” of Star Trek, much like Deep Space Nine did.) I also didn’t think that Sarin, the one responsible for the message that Klaang was carrying, would die LITERAL MINUTES AFTER HER INTRODUCTION. I’m still a bit bitter about that. Yet I also can’t deny that the chain of events leads to T’Pol making decisions that no one expected. Not me, not the rest of the crew, and certainly not Archer. Her decision to continue on this “foolish” mission was a big deal! I appreciate that I can discern that from this story already, you know? It’s a sign of good writing and acting.

But what does that mean for the show as a whole? Well, as I mentioned before, the rest of the cast doesn’t get a time to shine yet. Trip’s loyalty to Archer plays a part in the dynamic of the script, especially when he opposes T’Pol. Reed, Hoshi, Mayweather, and Dr. Phlox are just background pieces for the most part, contributing bits to the main plot and pushing it along, but I never got a sense for who they are. There’s a whole season for that, of course, and I’m eager to get more of their stories. However, the most surprising element of “Broken Bow” was the decision to include a serialized plot of sorts, akin to the mysteries I loved so dearly on The X-Files. I don’t think the “Temporal Cold War” thing will take up a majority of this season at all, but it’s so fascinating to me that the writers chose to introduce something like this in the pilot. I am not complaining at all, friends, because I LOVE A GOOD MYSTERY. In “Broken Bow,” we discover that the Suliban Cabal, a group of Sulibans who have “advanced” themselves through extreme genetic modifications, are taking orders from some weird, blurry dude who might exist out of time??? Maybe??? And whomever this is was very interested in disrupting order within the Klingon Empire, so much so that they’d asked the Suliban to hide within Klingon society to sow chaos. That’s a lot of work just to mess around with the Klingons. Plus, the invocation of the term “cold war” has me intrigued, yet nervous. Why that word? Who is this war between? Seriously, what have Archer and the others gotten themselves into?

I don’t know yet. But the success of Enterprise‘s first mission earned them a second one, and the immensity of that was INCREDIBLE to me. As far as I can tell, this is the first time Starfleet has asked a ship to just… explore. It’s a core element of the Star Trek mythos, and we’re getting to see it unfold as it FIRST HAPPENS. Plus, they’re doing so without… what? All the rules? Any protocol? They are ignorantly flying out into the galaxy JUST BECAUSE THEY CAN. Oh, they’re going to mess up so much, y’all. I can’t wait to see it.

The video for “Broken Bow, Part II” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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