Mark Watches ‘Enterprise’: S04E17 – Bound

In the seventeenth episode of the fourth season of Enterprise, this episode turns into exactly what I thought it would. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek

Trigger Warning: For extensive talk of sexual assault, rape, consent, and homphobia, slavery, misogyny.

Yeah, the more thought I give to “Bound,” the more certain I am that this is one of the most actively offensive episodes in Star Trek’s entire run. I say that because at every turn, this script is imbued with the worst opinions of men, women, human sexuality, consent, and common sense. Where the fuck do I even start?

  • It is absolutely clear to me that the Trek universe gives not a single fuck for non-straight people. At all. This isn’t even a case of erasure or oversight, and I say that because I think that lets Manny Coto off. This is fucking horrific, because “Bound” implies that all cis men have a biological imperative to find women attractive. All this episode had to do was have one dude who wasn’t affected by the Orion women, just one other person aside from Tucker, and that’s it! It could have even been a throwaway character that we never see again! And yet, this show couldn’t even do that. There are also no women attracted to women here, and it’s not that I wanted to see that sort of thing in this specific context, but STILL. Instead, men are wired to find women attractive. What a gross, gross thing to write. AWFUL, TERRIBLE, 100% UNFORGIVABLE.
  • This episode highly suggests that the mere presence of traditionally attractive women on a starship is distracting and reduces productivity. Like… fuck you. That’s so awful, and it doesn’t matter if the Orion women have “pheromones” affecting men, THIS IS EXACTLY THE SORT OF MESSAGE THIS EPISODE SENDS. If the show was going to try to make this about mind control and pheromones, make them control the women, too! Ah, but we can’t have that, because even in the context of this consent-free nightmare, we cannot even have two women looking at one another.
  • Look, there’s a huge problem with this anyway in terms of worldbuilding: Coto expects us to believe this pheromone makes men delusional, violent, and incoherent. All the women get… headaches? And feel listless? That’s it? Well, if that’s the case, then once Phlox figured this out, they should have had all the men confined to their rooms, locked up the Orion girls in the Brig, and then had all the women staff all necessary positions. Could you have imagined how much cooler this would have been if it was about all the women taking back the Enterprise and defeating the Orion Syndicate?
  • Instead, Coto’s idea of gender parity is making the real slaveowners the Orion women. That’s it. That’s the whole twist. They’re just pretending to be slaves, but they’re actually in charge of Orion society. You… you cannot be serious. BUT THAT’S IT. THAT IS THE MIND-BENDING TWIST THIS SHOW CAME UP WITH!!! Making women sexual-assault-loving slaveowners IS NOT PROGRESS AT ALL.
  • This episode invokes slavery a whole lot, and I don’t think anyone writing this knows what slavery is or what it looks like. People don’t cosplay slaves as secret leaders of their world. That’s not a thing that happens. Ever. Knock it off.
  • EVERYONE MAKES BAD DECISIONS HERE. EVEN TUCKER, WHO ISN’T UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF THE PHEROMONES. SHOOT THEM, TUCKER. WHY THE FUCK WAS HE OKAY STUNNING ALL THE MEN ON THE BRIDGE BUT HE RESISTED SHOOTING THE ORION WOMEN?
  • WHY DIDN’T PHLOX ORDER THEM ALL SEDATED?
  • WHY DID ARCHER LEAVE MEN TO WATCH THE ORION WOMEN IMMEDIATELY AFTER HE PERSONALLY DISCOVERED THAT THEY COULD STILL AFFECT PEOPLE THROUGH THE GLASS OF THE BRIG????
  • But look, I’m saving the worst for last, mostly because it makes me so angry and because this isn’t the first time y’all have heard this. Star Trek has been guilty of this a lot, but it’s so blatant here that I’m aghast at how casually this episode deals with sexual assault. NONE OF THESE MEN CONSENTED TO SEX WITH THE ORION WOMEN. None! Not a one of them! And look, if this show was gonna go down this route, make “Bound” A HORROR EPISODE. They certainly captured the creepiness of these women, but commit to that. There is nothing more offensive to the audience and especially to sexual assault victims than to portray people being violated and then resolving that conflict with whimsical music and jokes.
  • EVERY single man in this episode just experienced trauma. All of them. Except Coto wrote this episode as if them being raped was just a wacky adventure!
  • I’ll spell it out: One of my rapists was a woman. So no, all men don’t feel lucky to not consent to sex with a woman.
  • God, this episode was awful. I can barely care that Tucker is coming back and that he and T’Pol have begun to repair their relationship because everything around it is pure garbage. BASURA. Fuck it all.

The video for “Bound” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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