In the twenty-third episode of the first season of Enterprise, T’Pol struggles with disappointment when she meets someone she once idolized. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.
UGH I JUST LOVE LOTS OF THINGS IN THIS EPISODE. Granted, I was biased from the start because Fionnula Flanagan is my everything. But holy shit, T’Pol had an idol? There was someone she looked up to??? SHE SAYS VULCANS DON’T HAVE HEROES BUT SHE’S LYING BECAUSE oh my god. Can you imagine a spunky young T’Pol openly questioning HIGHLY RESPECTED DIPLOMAT V’Lar at some super important event? Because I need fanart. And fanfiction. And I want a spin-off movie about teenage T’Pol pissing off everyone around her because she swears she knows better than all her superiors, and this episode has given me a gift, friends. A GIFT.
Idol worship is a hard thing to deal with, though, and I imagine that’s the case for most of us who latched on to someone in our lives. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t; I had a whole lot of heroes growing up. Lots of authors, even more musicians, and some folks I saw on television and in the movies. I also had to go through the inevitable heartbreak when I found out that some of these people were not really worth of my love and respect. I’ve written about this before, particularly in regards to people like H.P. Lovecraft and Orson Scott Card, whose works were incredibly important to me at one time. I don’t even know if I could recall how many truly awful people were in bands I loved, either, because spoiler alert: the music industry is full of some monsters.
So how do you cope with that? Do you abandon all influences? Do you stop trusting people? “Fallen Hero” doesn’t initially suggest an answer for us, instead dropping us into the bewildering experience of T’Pol’s disappointment. It’s so bad that she literally cannot fathom the idea that V’Lar broke the law. Yet every piece of evidence suggests that this is true! She doesn’t fight the charges at all, which any logical Vulcan would have done. Then there are all the tiny behavioral oddities. She prefers to practice her English; she willingly sticks out her hand to shake with the Starfleet officers; she develops a taste for iced tea. She is nothing like the image that T’Pol constructed in her head of this woman.
Ultimately, I think that’s the point, and “Fallen Hero” is one huge tale of a parasocial relationship that changes into something more personal. T’Pol imagines how V’Lar acts and what she’ll need. But the information she has on this woman is flawed, and it’s barely a portrait of the real person. And I relate to this a whole lot! We’re living in an age in which countless of us share our lives with strangers on the Internet, and these strangers frequently (and understandably) think they know us. Granted, T’Pol had a much more detached version of this reality. She had a singular experience while younger, and it changed the course of her life. That doesn’t mean she knew V’Lar or what she was supposed to be like. Our lives are so much more infinitely complicated than the vast majority of people will ever know. That’s certainly the case with V’Lar, who had stumbled into a political nightmare and invented a disgraceful end for herself so that she could escape. (Which is such a bold move, y’all.)
The scenes of the Mazarites chasing the Enterprise are certainly tense, and I don’t want to discount how important they are to the overall tone of the episode. (Plus: Warp 5!!!! They did it!) Watching Archer and company stand up to the Mazarites was a real treat, and I do enjoy when they decide that their ethics are more important than their well-being. But it’s the evolving relationship between T’Pol and V’Lar that hit me the hardest, especially when that spilled over into the growing friendship between Archer and T’Pol. Y’all, IT LOOKED LIKE SHE MIGHT HAVE STARTED TO CRY TO ARCHER IF HE HADN’T DECIDED TO TRUST V’LAR AT T’POL’S REQUEST. I just… that scene was so intense? And perhaps the most emotionally vulnerable T’Pol has ever been??? I might ship T’Pol/Hoshi until the sun dissipates forever, but I also want to state that I really do adore how Archer and T’Pol are coming to understand one another. Of course, there’s another layer of meaning to all of this once you consider that the Vulcans and humanity are still working out their differences. These two characters becoming friends does hold meaning outside of what it signifies for them. AND I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE MORE OF IT.
The video for “Fallen Hero” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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