In the seventh episode of the first season of Enterprise, THIS IS SO FUCKED UP, HELP ME. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.
I WAS NOT READY FOR THIS EPISODE, Y’ALL. I had this entire review that I was plotting out in my head about narratives and the stories we tell ourselves about others and how destructive that can be and JESUS CHRIST, THE ANDORIANS WERE RIGHT. I NEVER ONCE CONSIDERED THAT THEY WERE RIGHT. And that narrative constructed for us is that they can’t be right. They are violent and paranoid; they broke into this monastery, convinced that the Vulcans were spying on them. This is all contrasted with the Vulcans, who are picture perfect opposites of the Andorians.
Thus, a narrative builds: the Vulcans are calm. Logical. Trying to meditate in peace in order to perform kohlinar. They have a history with the aggressive paranoia with the Andorians, who are always certain that the Vulcans are preparing an invasion. Every moment of this episode builds that dichotomy, showing us how rational and reasonable the Vulcans are, while placing the Andorians at the other end of the spectrum. I don’t remember a whole lot of the Andorians from the Original Series aside from them being sort-of-antagonists? This script doesn’t require any knowledge, however, and it works even better if you just assume the worst of them.
So I did it, and lord, it was easy. They are brutal with Captain Archer throughout this episode, who takes these beatings in stride, desperate to find a way to prove to the Andorians that they have the wrong idea about the Vulcans. But that desperation leads him to an interesting place: he wants to use violence in return to defend himself, his crew, and to ultimately get the Andorians out of that monastery. Unsurprisingly, the Vulcans find this option unethical. Barbaric. Illogical. To respond with violence is out of the question… which is an ironic thing to say given the ending of this episode.
I assumed, then, that “The Andorian Incident” was trying to make some big statement about pacifism, to make the case that the Vulcans’ commitment to non-violence had a very obvious flaw in this case. It’s not a bad theme to explore, though it’s complicated by human experience with violence. I tend more towards pacifism on a personal level, but that’s more because I prefer other forms of confrontation. Even then, there are times when violence is an answer, and this “incident” seemed to be a good example of that. The Andorians would never stop tormenting the Vulcans if the Vulcans didn’t stand up for themselves, and sometimes, that might require violence.
Leave it to Archer and his crew to bring the violence. I thought the Reliquary was a really cool idea and I wanted to spend more time there; I also wanted to see more of T’Pol interacting both with the monks and the physical space, since she hadn’t been around Vulcans in over two months. As we were approaching the final scene, I had enjoyed the episode but felt it a tad lacking because it never seemed to commit to any one thing. Was it truly about pacifism? Violence? Vulcan illogic? Archer’s ability to act as a diplomat? “The Andorian Incident” touched on all of these things at some point, so it was dense in that regard.
And then the curtain was pulled back.
It is truly difficult to analyze any of this episode without considering the ending. It changes everything. It changes what the Vulcans say, it changes the reasons why the Andorians broke into that monastery, and it changes T’Pol’s relationship to these holy men. (Seriously, bless Jolene Blalock for being able to convey, within T’Pol’s range, heartbreak. That look on her face was incredible.) In that moment, staring at the massive communications array hidden underneath the monastery, Captain Archer made a decision: the Vulcans were wrong. They violated a treaty. They lied repeatedly: to the Andorians, to T’Pol, to himself. How can Archer possibly support the Vulcans? How can he live with himself knowing that they manipulated him into believing that the Andorians were irrationally interpreting reality?
This is one of the boldest episodes to a Star Trek episode, and I’m gonna be fucked up by it FOREVER. I don’t know if we’ll see fallout from it, but even if we don’t: OH MY GOD THIS EPISODE. Bravo, Enterprise: you’ve already impressed me.
The video for “The Andorian Incident” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
Mark Links Stuff
– Please visit my new site for all announcements. If you’d rather not have to rely on checking a website regularly, sign up for my newsletter instead! This will cover all news for Mark Reads, Mark Watches, and my fiction releases.