01/11/2003. Contributed by Evan Braun
This ep's premise appeared to be that the Enterprise was to take on a beautiful woman, who would use erotic and hypnotic powers to entice the crew. Evan thought we were in for another variation on "Precious Cargo," but he was pleasantly surprised.
One of my favourite things in life is being surprised. I refer, of course, to pleasant surprises. There's no feeling quite like expecting the worst, and then receiving the best.
That's precisely how I feel about the latest Enterprise instalment, "Rajiin."
The premise appeared to be that the ship was to take on a beautiful woman, who would use erotic and hypnotic powers to entice the crew. I thought we were in for another variation on "Precious Cargo." The possibility that I would be treated to the most fulfilling arc story of the season was far from my mind. That is, however, precisely what we got.
The show opens with a scene inside the Xindi Council, in which a debate ensues over plans to build a weapon to destroy Earth. The fact that Enterprise has been encroaching on their territory is discussed, as well as the recent incident at the Trellium mine ("The Xindi"). In fact, Trellium D will turn out to have a significant role in the episode. But more on that in a bit.
First we have another scene between Trip and T'Pol. Trip wishes to discontinue their sessions because "people are talking." It seems that rumours are spreading, and that many are starting to think that there is more going on in T'Pol's quarters than neuropressure. T'Pol ends up pointing out that they are both members of the senior crew, and if they wish to engage in a romantic relationship, it would be their business alone and no one else's.
Trip accepts her logic and decides to continue their activities. I'm feeling very uneasy about where this relationship is going, but the interaction the two characters have throughout this episode does show me that there might be more promise here than I initially anticipated. Regardless of that fact, it seems as though the powers that be on this series are absolutely determined to force these two characters together, no matter what.
We join Archer in his quarters, where the good captain is experiencing a disturbing dream. Also, he has a number of itchy sores over his face and body. When he goes to sickbay, Phlox points out that the irritations will only trouble him longer if he persists in scratching them. It's not entirely clear what these irritations are caused by, but it seems likely that they are a residual effect of his transformation into an alien species. This theory would appear to be supported by the conversation that follows.
Archer explains that his dreams are a result of him seeing himself back in the alien city we saw last week. Phlox, in turn, makes a rather wise observation: "Don't expect to recover overnight." Indeed, that is exactly what I thought was going to happen. I'm pleased to no end that the writers took a few moments to address the consequences of the transformation.
The ship is travelling to a nearby planet where Archer has scheduled a rendezvous with B'Rat Ud, a chemist who is willing to share with them the secret of synthesizing Trellium D, a substance needed to insulate the ship from the dangerous distortions we last saw in "Anomaly." B'Rat explains that Trellium A is very common, but D is very rare, and difficult to process. Additionally, it can only be synthesized in its liquid state, but that is also when it is the most unstable.
B'Rat questions Archer's interest in the Xindi, and tells the captain that a Xindi ship was at the planet two days earlier. Archer and the lest of the landing party go in search of the merchant they had contact with, who turns out to be a slave trader, specializing in beautiful young women. The merchant insists that Archer buy one of the women to get information about the Xindi, but he refuses.
Just as Archer is leaving, one of the women, who we will eventually come to know as Rajiin, runs toward him and begs to be rescued. The merchant wants payment, but Archer instead beats him into unconsciousness and takes Rajiin back to Enterprise. This is yet another rather startling incident to remind us that Archer is a different sort of captain this season. Archer then promises Rajiin that he will return her to her homeworld, but the young woman claims to have no memory of the place.
Trip completes the transaction with B'Rat, securing the formula for Trellium D. What does he sell B'Rat? A collection of common Earth spices, like black pepper, mustard seed, and cayenne. Trip tells B'Rat that wars were once fought over these substances. B'Rat accepts the deal.
Rajiin comes to Archer's quarters and make some very forward-seeming advances. We soon realize that her seductive nature is more than a talent, it's a gifting of some kind. After putting him into a hypnotic spell, Rajiin performs a kind of biological scan on the captain. Afterward, Archer is left to wonder if the experience was real, or just another confused dream.
In the meantime, T'Pol and Trip's first attempt to synthesize Trellium D goes dangerously awry, resulting in an explosive trashing of the science lab. Though the experiment is a total failure, further hints regarding the future of Trip and T'Pol's relationship are unsubtly dropped in our laps. Trip is again resistant to the idea of further neuropressure, but T'Pol insists, stating that she needs Trip to be rested for their next attempt at the synthesis. I think, perhaps, it's T'Pol who has another sort of "synthesis" in mind. Why? Oh God, why?
Rajiin is discovered by Hoshi in the transporter room, and it's at this point that I started to realize that the Rajiin storyline went a lot deeper than was initially apparent. Rajiin then makes her moves on Hoshi and T'Pol, resulting in some seriously edgy, homoerotic television moments. Riveting stuff, particularly when Rajiin runs her hands over T'Pol's breasts.
After taking her "bioscan" of the Vulcan, T'Pol goes into a coma-like state, and is discovered by Trip just in time to be taken to sickbay for treatment. Whatever Rajiin did to her, it caused some serious damage that probably would have killed a human or a Denobulan. Fortunately, according to Phlox, Vulcans are more resilient.
Rajiin is then contacted by a Reptilian Xindi vessel, and is on the verge of making her escape via transporter, when she's stopped by Archer. In the brig, Archer interrogates her. If this scene is chilling, it's because we remember the last time Archer interrogated a prisoner here for information about the Xindi, and it was not a pretty sight.
Eventually Rajiin caves in and tells the captain what she knows: her mission was to collect information about humans for the Xindi, to be used in the building of a biological weapon. Horrified, Archer realizes that Rajiin must not be returned to the Xindi.
Before long, however, the ship is attacked by two Reptilian Xindi ships. Despite their efforts, the crew is unable to keep the Xindi from boarding and before long the corridors are crawling with various Reptilian Xindi, and at least one insectoid. We learn that phasers can be ineffective against these new foes, and after a lengthy (and particularly well-executed) firefight, the Xindi complete their mission, regain Rajiin, and return to their ship.
Archer attempts a pursuit, but the two vessels disappear into "some sort of vortex." One Reptilian Xindi was left behind, but he killed himself through the use of a suicide implant rather than be captured. Perhaps useful, however, is the dead enemy's weapon. It will be Reed's job to analyze the weapon, and T'Pol's to study the scans of the Xindi ship so that they won't be caught by surprise again in the future.
And on that particularly harrowing note, our last scene brings us back to the Xindi Council, where the Reptilian Xindi reveal Rajiin, and the information she has collected, to the group. Plans to proceed with the bioweapon begin, though some in the council believe that the Reptilians' "act of insubordination" will leave them more vulnerable than ever.
Here are a few quotes I noticed this week:
Archer to Rajiin, regarding their mission to stop the Xindi, "We were hoping to resolve a disagreement." Now there's an understatement if I ever heard one.
Hoshi to Rajiin, during her seduction, "I'd love to hear your language." Just what kind of language do you suppose she was referring to?
Rajiin, to the Xindi Council, regarding the information she provides them, "There's more to these humans than can be learned by a set of biometric scans." It seems to be me that this is a fairly obvious reminder that the writers haven't forgotten the founding humanist ideals on which Star Trek is based. That said, the statement didn't go unappreciated.
A noteworthy item: Phlox tells us that Crewman Cutler almost broke her arm in the exobiology lab, a result of one of the strange disturbances so common to the region. Cutler was one of my favourite characters back in the first season (she made three appearances: "Strange New World," "Dear Doctor," and "Two Days and Two Nights"). I was quite devastated when she went absent in Season Two, though I hear that the actress has gone on to bigger and better things. Nonetheless, I still hope one day to see her face again, since I liked what was started back in "Dear Doctor." At least this line acknowledges that she is still aboard, and alive and well.
9. There is very, very little about this episode that I didn't like. I still have a few qualms about where the Trip/T'Pol relationship is headed . . . and wherever that is, the writers seem to be in a hurry to get there. At least we're starting to at least get a semblance of justification for it. The season's arc continues to be rigorously pursued to a new and exciting conclusion. I'm left with the impression that this show has made at least as much progress in the last four or five episodes than the entire two seasons preceding it.
My biggest concern at this point is that this story is getting so big (and it will inevitably get a lot bigger), that it's more than stretching credibility that we didn't hear about these events in the other Trek shows. My problem, if anything, is that this season's ongoing plot is a storyline that could just as easily have been pursued in a show that took place in the timeline after Voyager, and doesn't work as easily in a show that's meant to serve as a prequel.
Again, I'm more than a little impressed at what's being attempted.
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