01/12/2001. Contributed by Bozo the Proctologist
I was in fact very much looking forward to this episode; I've always liked the Andorians from their rare TOS appearances.
While I understand the limitations of making alien-looking aliens when the majority of SAG members are human, the Andorians managed to convey a real sense of unearthliness, a feeling that there are really strange new beings Out There for us to contact. Of course, they might view contact with aliens in a rather "alien" light.....
Copyright Paramout Pictures 2001
We open with Archer and Trip looking at some Vulcan star charts- Trip feels as if using them is "cheating" somehow, while Archer wisely wants as much advance info on the areas he's taking his ship into. He notices an ancient Vulcan monastery on one world near their course, and decides to go down and play tourist.
Upon reaching P'zhem, Archer, Trip and T'Pol take a shuttle down.
The one Vulcan who greets them seems agitated- by Vulcan standards - and we soon learn why as the Away Team is captured by Andorians (blue skin, antennae, could teach PMS to Klingons).
They're taken and held prisoner with the Vulcans, who explain the Andorians are very suspicious of Vulcans. The Andorians have somehow gotten it into their head that the Vulcans are spying on them. They periodically show up to search the monastery, but never find anything.
This was complicated by the arrival of the Enterprise, which the Andorians are convinced came to resupply the Vulcan mission spying on the Andorians. In fact the Andorians take Archer to beat up, interrogate, beat up, threaten to kill him to keep the Enterprise from mounting a rescue, beat up, smash the Away Teams' communicators, beat up ..... you get the picture.
Fortunately there are Ancient Sacred Catacombs under the monastery, where Trip finds an Ancient Sacred Radio to contact the Medium E and have Reed beam down with an assault team.
The resulting battle leads down to the Ancient Sacred Reliquary, where in the course of exchanging fire Archer accidentally stumbled into the Vulcans hidden Ancient Sacred Sensor Center. He lets the Andorians have scans of the center, which prompts the Andorian to leave- seemingly with a new-found respect for Humans.
My Sooper Sekret Underground Cave Installation detected these nits and plot points out in deep space:
T'Pol seemed strangely reluctant to come right out and say that the Vulcans kept their monastery off the beaten path because they weren't into entertaining guests.
She seemed to want to give Archer the impression that an Away Team would be tolerated; though as it turned out "toleration" was a bit strong to use to describe the Vulcans' attitudes towards Archer and Trip.
When Archer pointed out the protostar they'd passed that wasn't on the Vulcan star charts, given the attitude between them my first thought was that there was some reason the Vulcans didn't want the Humans to know about the protostar, but Archer and Trip seemed to be too busy gloating about picking up something the mighty Vulcans had missed.
A good scene with Phlox and T'Pol eating together; with Phlox reminding her of Vulcan's Infinite Beauty In Infinite Combinations philosophy. I expect he will be the one to bring T'Pol around on Humans.
So how did robes become the universal indicator of a religious caste?
The Vulcans have been star traveling long enough that it became viable to set up monastery's on other worlds three millennia ago - how far into the galaxy have they gone? And while Vulcan lifespans are much longer than Human, it would still be logical to work to develop faster warp tech over the millennia.
After T'Pol's warning about observing the proper protocols, her mission briefing was rather brief. Do Kolinahr adepts eschew involved rituals- and if so, how does that logically square with their maintaining more mystical concepts like "blasphemy," or the insistence that only Vulcans enter the reliquary?
"A" planet a few light-years off Enterprise's course- and T'Pol is familiar with "it." How/why are the Vulcans so keen on hiding their history from us?
Stupid Starfleet Trick: Not even scanning the area you land the shuttle? Much better would have been for Reed to order a detailed scan after Archer didn't report in: "Mr. Reed, sensors are showing a ship less than a kilometer from our shuttle- it had a stealth system that hid it from our standard scan!" This would at least show that the crew gives a damn about survival.
Stupid Starfleet Trick runner-up: Having the Away Team check in with the Medium E *isn't* standard procedure? Why do they even carry communicators - for Andorian officers to vent their frustrations against?
At least the Andorian redesign wasn't nearly as extensive as the Klingons- there were signs of forehead ridging, but that's to be expected from B & B. They certainly stayed true to the one canon fact we know from TOS "Journey To Babel," when the Andorian Ambassador says "My people are a violent race."
In fact, they're *so* violent that until the firefight started, I was wondering if they even knew they could fire energy beams from their "clubs."
The Andorians are seemingly alone in the galaxy in considering the Medium E a "heavily-armed" vessel. Mayhaps the Andorians military manner and bluster hide a significant inferiority complex?
That one Andorian seemed to be rather eager for some Vulcan lovin'. An alien perv- I like it!!!
-T'Pol seems almost offended when Archer asks if he can depend on her in the crunch. It does seem she didn't know what the Vulcans were hiding in the Catacombs or she would have been more forceful in dissuading Archer from going there.
The monks mention the Andorians have raided the place before- T'Pol didn't seem to know anything about that either. Maybe its being kept secret from the general Vulcan population, who would then wonder about the logic of maintaining a monastery so close to a starfaring but violent culture?
That Ancient Sacred Sensor Center was huge. It must be run by a bald Vulcan who has two close minions: a girl with big tits and a minimalist fashion sense and a big strong dumb guy.
As big as it was, either the Vulcans have some seriously impressive cloaking tech or else the Enterprise and the Andorians may as well throw away their sensors and use some X-Ray Specs, like they used to advertise in the backs of comic books.
That cloaking tech must work both ways; I saw what looked like people walking around in the distance, but their Intruder Alert signal must be too dignified and subtle to be noticed ...
When Archer decided to turn over the scans of the Center to the Andorians- was he that concerned about the Vulcans violating the treaty, or was he concerned about what the Vulcans might do if knowledge of it were confined to his own crew?
Why did T'Pol contact Enterprise and tell them not to bother the departing Andorian ship, when Archer was standing right there?
Aside from a couple of slips, this was a good episode: solid, not riddled with plot holes and some material for debate on just "What are the Vulcans up to, anyway?" Jeffrey Coombs was good as expected, and maybe the show is starting to hit that oft-rumored "stride ..."
(c) Bozo the Proctologist 2001
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