In the twelfth episode of the third season of Enterprise, the ship is taken over by religious terrorists. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.
Trigger Warning: For talk of terrorism, religious extremism.
It’s hard watching something like “Chosen Realm” because I grew up knowing far too many people who viewed their religious faith like D’Jamat does. It’s even more disturbing to know that this kind of extremism seems to be having another resurgence in the world. For a moment there, it felt like we were finally starting to move beyond it, but NOPE.
In my case, though, I experienced D’Jamat’s mentality in my mother and in the people in the Church that I came to know before I fell out of religion. Indeed, it’s one of the major reasons that I came to be so disaffected by religion. I couldn’t deal with the absolutes, the all-or-nothing mentality, the extreme views toward all people who were not like them. I’m curious if any of you can relate to this, but I literally heard my mother speak of others as “the enemy” before. To her and the more fundamentalist Christians I knew, there really was a culture war unfolding, and they were on the front lines. It was some “constant vigilance” bullshit, y’all, and anytime someone deviated from their puritanical nonsense, they were the new target. I watched family members get ostracized. I watched total strangers on the receiving end of very public verbal lashings. Hell, it’s a major factor in why I was kicked out of my home: I wasn’t good enough.
So D’Jamat, more than anything else, just made me angry. I realize there’s another obvious lens through which I could view his characterization – this episode aired a couple years after 9/11 – but it felt deeply personal to me. There was no room for error in D’Jamat’s eyes, and he manipulated his way through the world by exploiting that absolutism. God, it’s so eerie to examine just how manipulative he is, y’all. He uses people’s fears against them, like he does with Yarrick. He “empowers” people by making them feel as if they’re part of something larger. And when he is faced with information that directly contradicts who he is and what he teaches, he destroys it. He demonizes it. Often, that’s a person, and he did that with the Enterprise crew, who helped the Triannon people without asking for anything in return. Yet they’re still heretics and enemies, and he doesn’t flinch after killing one of them. His shitty consolation? He “had” to kill one of his own. GOD, HE HAD SO MANY SHITTY CONSOLATIONS THROUGHOUT THIS EPISODE. I hate people like that! Oh, he had to take over the ship. It’s all so hard for him! Look at all the sacrifices he’s making!
SHUT UP. SHUT UP.
There’s a mostly-unexplored subplot with Indava and Yarrick, who are both tiring of D’Jamat’s extremism, but the script focuses on Yarrick more so than Indava, who I feel had way more potential to be interesting. She was considering getting an abortion because she didn’t want to bring a child into D’Jamat’s war! THERE IS A STORY. Except it’s hinted at in one scene, discussed in another, and then dropped for the remainder of the episode. What if she’d asked for asylum? What if she had been the one to defect first to help Archer? UGH, SO MUCH POTENTIAL. None of it used!
The ending to “Chosen Realm” is haunting, but it’s also jarring because we’re given no closure whatsoever. What happens to these characters? Does Archer leave them on the surface of their gutted, bombed-out planet? Does D’Jamat give up his holy war? Remember, D’Jamat had his ship blown up, so it’s not like they have any means of going anywhere. I get the point of that final image, and it’s certainly powerful, but what happens after that? Why is it not important to show even the tiniest bit of it?
Anyway, this was a decent episode with a few setbacks. I HATE D’JAMAT.
The video for “Chosen Realm” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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