In the fifteenth episode of the second season of Enterprise, Archer is requested as a mediator in a tense negotiation. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.
Wow, y’all. This batch of episodes this week is excellent! I still want Enterprise to garner its own voice and vision because it still feels like it’s treading familiar ground with the rest of the Star Trek canon. Still… damn, I really liked this episode. A lot. It’s not like it’s the first episode in the Star Trek world where one of the Starfleet/human characters helps negotiate something complicated between two different species. There are examples of this in all four previous incarnations of the series!
If anything, though, this one does feel distinctly like it belongs to Enterprise, so I gotta give the writers and the crew credit for that. This episode could not have been transplanted to any other series under the Star Trek banner. It builds off two previous Andorian episodes, but it’s also rooted in the “new” perspective we have on the Vulcans. It’s new to us, even though this is a prequel show. “Cease Fire” only makes sense at this specific stage of Vulcan-human relations, you know?
Dr. Phlox’s warning to Archer at the opening of this episode – that negotiations amidst war are often unpredictable – sets the tone for this chaotic and frustrating episode, though that frustration mostly comes from the two characters with immutable viewpoints. Both Tarah and Soval are practically insufferable throughout this episode, though “Cease Fire” is grounded in a challenging reality for the audience. See, we still don’t know the full context of this conflict. Did the Andorians really construct a military base on Weytahn, and did the Vulcans really put the Andorians in internment camps after forcibly removing them from a moon they were on first??? Because one of those things is A BILLION TIMES WORSE THAN THE OTHER ONE.
Yet instead of trying to determine who was right and who was wrong (the track record really hasn’t shown Vulcan in a good light, I must admit), this episode instead pushes Archer into someone else’s problem and forces him to come up with a way to get Soval and Shran in the same room. THIS IS REMARKABLY HARDER DONE RATHER THAN SAID. Why? Well, because Soval refuses it, believing it “legitimizes” the Andorian position, which is an enraging position to have. It’s so condescending and dismissive, and SURPRISE, THAT IS SOMETHING THE VULCANS DO ALL THE TIME. Who was shocked by this? Certainly not me! As for Tarah… well, I found her a little more sympathetic. From her point of view, I understood why she had little reason to trust the Vulcans. Plus, if they really did steal Weytahn from them, I get the anger and resentment! I don’t think it’s that irrational.
Her decision to sabotage the negotiations, though, just lacks foresight. What if Shran’s negotiations got the result she wanted through violence? Would it not be worth it? Was this struggle only satisfying if she got to kill the Vulcans? She barely gives Shran a chance to do anything before she sets off to ruin everything he set up! WHAT ARE YOU DOING, CAN YOU LET FIVE SECONDS GO BY WITHOUT PLOTTING TO UNDERMINE YOUR SUPERIOR OFFICER?
And then we’ve got Archer, who not only has to deal with a conflict he barely has a stake in, but must cope with three disparate individuals who all hate one another and can’t agree on a single thing. THREE. It’s not even two well-defined sides! He’s placed here as the most “rational” of the four people involved because he has no personal investment. However, he’s not entirely uninvolved. I have to go back to that scene he has early on with Dr. Phlox, the one that warned all of us how unexpected this was going to be. In that same conversation, Archer explains why this interests him as much as it does: maybe it was time for humanity to join the rest of the galaxy as a serious force. And that means that sometimes, they’ll have to become a part of the struggles and disagreements of other people!
Archer does this without ever really invoking Starfleet’s interests in these matters. Instead, he just tries to be the most trustworthy dude imaginable. That’s literally his technique here: get everyone to trust him. Which means he GUIDES SOVAL THROUGH A WAR ZONE IN ORDER TO KEEP HIS WORD TO SHRAN!!! And Soval gets shot! And then Archer takes out TWO PEOPLE, even after he gets DROPPED THROUGH A FLOOR. Oh, Archer, you nearly got your ass kicked AND YOU STILL ACCOMPLISHED YOUR MISSION.
Anyway, the more I think about this episode, the more I liked it. It’s a lot of fun!
The video for “Cease Fire” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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