Mark Watches ‘Enterprise’: S04E09 – Kir’Shara

In the ninth episode of the fourth season of Enterprise, Shran makes a terrible decision, Archer is way too good, and war is averted… for now. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.

Trigger Warning: For talk of torture

Oh, I tried to like this one. There are a few bright spots in this, but it’s frankly a mess of a script. It’s trying to do so much, so the story felt rushed and shallow in some respects. LET’S TALK.

Thwarting a War

Of all the plots here, Tucker’s decision to take Ambassador Soval to Andorian space was probably my favorite. It had a lot of potential! Shran was friendly-ish with humanity, but there was still a huge challenge set before Enterprise and Soval. How could they get Shran to believe that the Vulcans were going to invade if that tip came from Soval?

Initially, I was interested in this, and given the storied history of Shran and Soval, stretching back to the first season, I wanted to see how they would interact if they were forced to work for the same team. I expected pushback, sure, but I did not expect Shran to spend hours torturing Soval. It is, once again, practically impossible to see this show outside the lens of a post-9/11 world. I think I’ve said this before, but if not: there was a lot of torture on television after 9/11. It felt like those five years after the attacks, our nation worked out our response to it through fiction. Which is obviously a very understandable thing. LOOK WHAT I HAVE DONE WITH ALL MY PERSONAL ISSUES. But time and time again, fictional narratives wrestled with torture and instead of examining its insidious nature, the evidence that it is not effective, or the cruelty present in such an act, the worst thing we seemed to get was how sad it made the torturer. And for the most part, we are shown how horrible and wrong this act of torture was in the moment. Both Jeffrey Combs and Gary Graham give fine performances, so my issue is more with the script. Shran did something monstrous here, and once the torture is over and he chooses to believe Soval, the show forgets to say, “HEY, TORTURE IS BAD, WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU DO, SOVAL WAS ALWAYS TELLING THE TRUTH.” Soval isn’t upset at ALL that he was tortured so badly that he nearly suffered permanent neural damage. The characters barely criticize Shran, and he’s still viewed as a “positive” character by the time “Kir’Shara” is over.

Yeah, I call bullshit. This whole plot felt like a gross use of the end justifying the means, when IT LITERALLY DID NOT. SOVAL WAS TELLING THE TRUTH. SHRAN DIDN’T EVEN APOLOGIZE!!!

Saving a Culture

If the whole white savior thing I commented on in the previous Enterprise review wasn’t clear enough, then let this episode stand as a stunning example of how terrible this trope is. Archer has virtually no real personality in this episode because he’s written to be the perfect savior of all of Vulcan. So he always knows what to do, and that includes him LECTURING VULCANS AND SPECIFICALLY T’POL ABOUT VULCAN HISTORY. Like????? No one thought that was a bad look??? It’s downright aggravating and insulting, and I’m surprised that T’Pol didn’t haul off and knock Archer into the Vulcan atmosphere. He literally told her to give the Syrannite religion a chance, like he has any fucking knowledge or experience with this subculture. The katra subplot was just a lazy way to get Archer to be the Chosen One and to be the person to save all of Vulcan from corruption.

And don’t get me started on the Kir’Shara. It 100% disappears in some scenes. There’s that fight sequence where Archer just flat out does not have it. Other times, it is not a solid, heavy artifact but something light and fluffy that definitely fits within a backpack with ease. It’s a clumsy Macguffin that doesn’t actually do anything in the end. Yes, there was that holographic display of words but WHAT DOES IT MEAN. WHY DOES IT MATTER. Like, I get that this is meant to usher in the age of Vulcan that we’ll see later in the show, but it’s so messy. Archer is responsible for that? One human white dude helped to save Vulcan??? I’m supposed to believe that? And then he just gives up the katra to some random Vulcan WHICH HE COULD HAVE DONE EARLIER, RIGHT??? Also, was T’Pol magically healed? WHO FUCKING KNOWS, THIS SCRIPT BARELY TELLS ME ANYTHING I ACTUALLY NEED TO KNOW?

At least I got to yell at a lot of it.

The video for “Kir’Shara” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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