TripHammered
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Ancient History

Archive of previous updates on the site, April 2-July 2, 2003.


Whale ship

Ah'm just a free ego, and ev'rywhere Ah go
People know the part Trip's playin'
"Where's our Chief Engineer?"
"Out and about, don't fear" -- oooh, Cap'n's frayin'
There will come a day when ENT will pass away
What will they say about me?
When the wissssp comes Ah know, Ah was just a free ego
Life goes on without me
'Cause
Ahhhhhhhhhh ain't got no body
Nobody can see me
No body, nobody can see me
Ahhhhhhhhhh'm vaporous, floaty
Vaporous floaty, vaporous floaty
Won't that cruel alien quit possessin' poor me?
'Cause Ah'd be so glad
You know baby
Ah'm so hungry all of the time
All Ah do is eat, only only wanna eat
Bop bozdee bozdee bop didy bop

April 2, 2003: I hope everybody had some good laughs yesterday. StarTrek.com had a string of very funny news stories, a Tribble interview, a "chat" with Captain Pike, and this ENT promo, featuring Trip. I did deliberately turn my splash graphics upside down. (Plus I added a new one. Right-side up.)

e:earth has moved. Link updated. StarTrek.com is also adding extra episode photos -- again! -- as far back as "Unexpected." I'm keeping a list now, so I can cross-check.

Quick thoughts on "The Crossing:" oooooooooooh creepy! Great great acting for almost everyone. Archer was fine. Blalock so needs an acting coach. Billingsley is funny. I love how he's developed Phlox's mannerisms and vocal tics. (I officially forgive you for "Dear Doctor," John.) Malcolm was deliciously chilling, Hoshi cool and dangerous (until she started girly-kicking Phlox), and Trip -- man, that was fun to watch. I didn't know Trinneer could channel Brad Dourif so well. ("wisssssp.... wissssssp... wisssssssp..." brrr!) And Silent Trav got a whole bunch of lines! And got knocked down even!

Wow, a B&B episode which doesn't totally suck! Okay, the ending was way too abrupt, and needed some kind of moral resolution (or at least an acknowledgment that Archer just slaughtered a new species, even if it was in self-defense), but the rest was very cool. (Just to clarify: while I think Archer did the right thing in FOOMing the wissssps, he should have just commented afterwards "Wow, we barely got away from them, but I wish I could have resolved that without torpedoes!" or followed up on his previous log with "Well, we met a noncorporeal life-form for the first time... and it could be the last, because I had to destroy them to save my crew.")

Good camera work. Interesting new angles. Perhaps too much lighting in the hallways. (Moogie is watching T'Pol stalk around looking for a wissssp in corridors blazing with lightbulbs every nine inches and quips "This episode brought to you by GE... we bring good things to life.")

Nitpicks: Why didn't they even consider offering to fix the wissssp ship? Or why didn't the wissssps ask to borrow the crew's bodies to make repairs, and then both ships could be on their merry ways?

If the soul? katra? essence? personality? of our crew members was exiting the body in yellow, and the alien entering in blue, how is it that the alien knew what to do? How could the wissssp mimic Trip's accent or know how to work Engineering if Elvis had left the building, so to speak? And were our people hallucinating, being fed memories, actually wandering another realm? (I don't mind not knowing that so much -- a little "Emanations" there.)

Crib notes: I thought this was going to be "Power Play" or "Dramatis Personae" plus "Bliss" but it wasn't. Slight shades of Sybok's cult-like influence from The Final Frontier and "The Game," but not enough to count.

Food Chain intact. Screencaps likely Friday. Probably its own page, although a short one.

The boys rerobing

Trip: Are you sure you don't wanna get possessed? Even just for a couple of minutes? You don't have to chew scenery or anything.
Archer:
No, no, I'd better not. I'm afraid that whatever leaps in might not want to leap out again.

April 4, 2003: Summary and photos for "The Crossing" are up. I went to town with the puns. Fair warning. :) More "Crossing" thoughts:

Much as Trek V was not the best of the movies, it did provide us with the first key to the wissssps' motives: "What does a noncorporeal life form need with a starship?"

We got a nice red herring reference to "The Nth Degree," making it seem like these were just curious but stationary aliens, and the soul swap was their way of getting to know us. That led to a discussion about whether they really were more "evolved" -- were they so high above us that we were essentially fireflies in a jar to them, or should they have recognized our sentience and therefore not done the ego-di-so without permission?

Trinneer had a lot of fun this week. He rolled his eyes back into his head between wissssps. I liked his little touch of leaning forward as one of the wissssps was leaving him -- you could almost imagine the sucking pop it made as it got out. His startled, almost horrified expression made you realize the crossing itself was not a pleasant experience. The vacant, slightly upbeat look as Hungry Wissssp hit just the right off-note; his equally blank but more threatening Terminator Wissssp on the catwalk was scary.

Malcolm! Obviously trying out MaxFactor's new 12-hour Lipfinity, but that shade is too dark on you, honey. Loved the firefighter's slide down the ladder to the weapons rack; there's our paranoid boy! (And no complaints about not being able to hit the broad side of a barn this week. You can't shoot something noncorporeal.) But why was the Armoury deserted?

Dominic Keating was wonderful. Mal got the Horndog Wissssp, apparently. ("You are female..." he purrs. "I am a male." Can someone tell me, however, why when there's a possessed male crewmember in a turbolift -- Data, Holodoc -- he has to glower menacingly over a female crewmember? Whether or not she gets away?) Moogie and I howled when Horndog Wissssp asked T'Pol to remove her clothing. Jeez, she's most of the way there! Don't Vulcans feel wedgies? And the heat's gotta be hugely cranked up in her quarters for a person from a desert planet to be running around in those skimpy little PJs. Although I can see the logic in airing out her midriff after a long day in that catsuit.

Speaking of quarters, Archer's idea of containment is to lock everyone into theirs. Hello, Malcolm is the head of Security. If the wissssps can access enough memories to function, as Trip's did, shouldn't they be able to figure out how to override the lock? (This was just sloppy writing in defining the wissssps. Either they do have access to the memories of the hosts or not. If Hungry Wissssp was acting as Trip, speaking with his accent, manipulating Engineering -- to any degree -- it means that Trip didn't take his memories with him when he was walking the moonpaths. Therefore, Horndog Wissssp had the capacity to break out of Mal's quarters.) Archer's really gonna need to build a brig soon.

So they just left all the auxiliary Bridge controls in the catwalk of starboard nacelle? That's convenient. Is this the precursor to the Battle Bridge?

Trav (not Silent this week) was rushing up the ladder and slamming doors behind him, and all I could think was "Oh no, I don't got no lines and now I won't have no brains!" Poor Trav. Maybe this is the start of more ensemble shows (I hope). Actually, Anthony Montgomery did fine.

Wissssp Trip really laid into Trav and Phlox, and Wissssp Hoshi was girly-kicking Phlox pretty determinedly. Is Phlox a total 40.8kg weakling, or do the wissssps confer super-strength on their hosts?

The wissssps' ship (I knew I'd find a tongue-twister eventually) was really gorgeous. I wish we'd seen more of it from the top before Archer had to FOOM it, though. (And Mal must have been so disappointed that he didn't get to play.) Great effects of the ship shearing apart in chunks. Separately, the wissssps were mugging people for their brain stems, T'Pol says, because their ship is disintegrating. Then howinhell was it traveling at Warp 6?

Moogie wanted to know why the pod's engines worked when Enterprise's didn't? My guess is that it was Invulnerable Shuttlepod One.

How did each person know when to return to his or her body? Trip was talking about being able to see himself, Archer, and Mal, so it's possible each person could see him- or herself to get back. But it wasn't like each possessed crewmember had a yellow shadow hanging around like a naked hermit crab waiting to crawl back into its shell. And if the blue meanies left the host bodies because they were dying from lack of oxygen, how could our folks' souls return to those same dying bodies without problems? (And wouldn't that be a cool sequel -- a pair of crewmembers ended up in the wrong body!)

Great camera work throughout. Everyone tracked the added-in-post FX really well. Unusual visual angles and camera placement, many of which really improved the moment: Mal's slide down the ladder, Possessed Trip barreling down the catwalk, Possessed Trip eavesdropping through the grating. David Livingston gets the orchid this week.

April 6, 2003: Everybody in the applicable time zones set their clocks ahead? Everybody check their smoke detector batteries?

Worth noting: a cool link from the Trek5.com "Crossing" review about the origin of the phrase "will o'the wisp." (I'm going to try to type that with four Ss for months now.) Actually relates to the episode, amusingly enough.

April 9, 2003: Two very brief thoughts on "Judgment:"

I love J.G. Hertzler. He's the consummate Klingon. {grunt growl}

It's veering dangerously close to scientific fact that the less Trip shows up in an episode, the lousier it is. What did he have, six frelling lines? Travis had more screen time! In fact, Moogie is half-convinced that Trinneer was greenscreened in for his ninety seconds on the bridge -- his line of sight doesn't meet T'Pol's eyes, and the lighting on each of them is very different. Maybe Trinneer had a death in the family that week? Or was feeling generous and gave his lines to Montgomery?

Screencap tomorrow. And other commentary.

Connor Trinneer getting his contractually required appearance in the episode

Wait... why do Ah only have four lines in a single one-minute scene this week?

April 10, 2003: More thoughts on "Judgment." I didn't like this ep very much, so if you enjoyed it, you might want to skip my complaints. I think even the cats objected to this one; I've been finding little piles of barf all over the house.

Since Archer was chewing leftover Trek VI scenery for most of the hour, the rest of the Big Four were really off their game. T'Pol looked horrible. Washed-out, tired, bags under her eyes -- bad day for Blalock or a resurgence of Paa'nar? Even her rack seemed deflated in profile. Keating was seriously mumbling (I had to rewind a few times to make out what he said) and the weird head-twitches weren't helping.

The more I study the sixty seconds Trip was in this one, the more I'm agreeing with Moogie: I'm not sure CT was actually there on the set with everyone else for his four lines of dialogue. Watch how the camera doesn't include him in the frame other than the two establishing shots and until the last second when he's speaking. T'Pol is crisp and in focus, while Trip is just slightly softer. They're almost looking past each other. The lighting is differently colored. He doesn't move from where he's planted on the bridge. Very strange. (One of the TripHammered Half-Dozen wrote me to posit that CT's right eye looked red or swollen. It didn't seem that way on my screen; anyone else see it?)

Just a note for directors: Scott Bakula has a fairly prominent brow. Lighting him from above makes him look like a Neanderthal. When he's upset and lit from above he looks like a Neanderthal with an ulcer. Try and avoid it.

Does "rehash" count as "continuity"? I liked that we touched on "Broken Bow" and "Sleeping Dogs." I did not like that we could predict the whole episode before we fast-forwarded the theme song. This was a seriously recycled plot, Bakula turned in a seriously recycled Shatner performance -- don't get me wrong, I love Shatner, but not Bakula's interpretation thereof -- and we didn't even GET the recycled "prisoner freezing to death in seconds" from the movie! Hell, we didn't even get an exciting shoot-'em-up escape scene! Bribing Klingon diplomats? They managed to make Klingons boring? (I did love the gavel gauntlet, though. I'm gonna get me one of those at the next con and use it to scare the crap out of my kids.)

I could see that Klingon society might have gone from "teacher and biologist have lawyer son" to "everyone's a soldier" between ENT and TNG. But without a few lines of dialogue explaining why everyone is mad for the military in a generation, it's hard to accept that it happened in K'Lawyer's lifetime. Actually, that would at least have given us a little insight into Klingon history. Have the Suliban been dickering with Klingon politics for a while? Was there an attempted invasion, a disaster, an uprising, the beginnings of civil war? It would have really helped us understand why the Klingons are bloodthirsty and battle-happy. Romulans also have a strict code of honor and feel strongly about "face" and reputation, but they don't try to slaughter their way to glory. What happened on Qo'noS to create the Klingons we know today?

I was wondering if the "refugees" were actually TOS Klingons (the ones with the less-prominent forehead ridges) carrying some kind of disfiguring plague which then sweeps across the Empire and leaves several generations of Klingons ridge-lite. "Imperial Pox," I think the novels call it. Which could potentially have been the real reason the I.K.S. Boring was going after the "rebels" -- they were actually plague carriers who needed to be isolated, but the Council thought that covering up the plague and would keep panic from spreading.

Wouldn't it suck if the whole hundred-odd years of Terran/Klingon conflict turned out to be Archer's fault?

Regarding Archer's prison rations: to paraphrase Yakov Smirnov, in Russia we don't eat this part of the targ. (Don't blame me, blame the Props department. That's exactly what it looked like, both times.)

Why do Klingon lawyers, as a character class, suck? That started Moogie and me giggling about "Klingon AV crew" and "Klingon band geeks."

The actor who played Duras (mild groan, okay continuity, we'll let it slide) also did the voice for several Transformers for the TV series. Moogie was very excited about that.

April 16, 2003: Trip-lite this week, but at least we got to see our boy a whole buncha times. The photos for Mama Mayweather were a nice touch -- sweet and in character. Annoying the kalto out of T'Pol was not. It was just annoying. I know lots of folks will be swooning to watch Trip try to drag T'Pol to Movie Night, but it just came off as juvenile. Perhaps that was the point -- another instance of naïve humanity learning about our pointy-eared friends. You cannot appeal to a Vulcan's sense of fun, enjoyment, or humor. They won't admit to having any. You have to end-run around the emotions. The lit-crit aspect was exactly the tack to take, and they blew it. T'Pol was wise enough to find the one thing she could get out of the experience, however. I'm not even gonna touch the Cap'n's date thing, except to say that the "perfect gentleman" line has officially worn out its welcome.

The "let's define TNG before it happens" lunch was a groaner, but actually made sense in context. Poor Mal; could you imagine the Reeds puttering around the ship giving him grief? He'd either explode with an ulcer or Trip would have to kill Mal's parents for him.

You know, when I do my one-line gag preview "summaries" of the episodes (I don't do spoilers so I'm pretty much wingin' it), I don't expect them to be accurate. So I was vaguely disturbed that my "Event Horizon" joke sort of played out onscreen: "Archer and Mayweather investigate a series which disappeared into a black hole and came back without a plot."

It's a running joke that we don't know anything about Travis. So they gave us "Horizon." The reason this episode didn't work, unfortunately, is because... we don't know anything about Travis. "Journey to Babel" was set about the middle of the second season of TOS, and revealed actually a little less about Spock and his parents than "Horizon" did about the Mayweathers and their collective. But the very anguished scene where Amanda begs Spock to give command of the ship to Scotty so he can donate blood for Sarek's operation and Spock tries to explain why he cannot was powerful, poignant, moving -- because we knew Spock. We already had a good idea of his personality, his motives, his dual nature, his upbringing. We know practically nothing about Travis. The feud with his father was only hinted at, I think in the pilot. And... that's it. Archer's letter from Trav's father should have been a meaningful, touching moment, a reconciliation from beyond the grave, but it felt rushed and artificial. The family dynamics were predictable and without tension. And nearly without reason -- Paul sure changed his mind about those weapon upgrades damn quick, didn't he? And how fortunate that (a) Trav had actually finished them when Paul ordered him to stop (b) Paul decided not to have them removed after all!

There was potential in the push-and-pull between Travis The Starfleet Boy and Paul Who Has To Live On Horizon. Another moment when the idea of "actions have consequences" could have been punched up. Paul was right about Trav's upgrades: even though they may have been beneficial, if they needed 'Fleet expertise to keep them running, Trav shouldn't have installed them, and he sure as sugar shouldn't have done anything like that without asking the ship's captain or chief engineer. Was he in the habit of making unauthorized repairs when he was growing up? You don't do that on a Starfleet ship, which is where he's been so happy to spend the last 18 months. He should know better. But still, Trav has seen these upgrades work, and he's obviously eager to help out his family's ship. He's proud of the work his crewmates have done. It would have been interesting to see Trav continue to talk about "Lieutenant Reed" this and "Commander Tucker" that and mention Hoshi friggin' once, and have Paul get more and more pissed at the comparison.

More stuff about Boomer life we could have seen: how do the other families feel about one family running/owning the ship? Was there anyone else ever considered for captain besides the Heir? Where's the great-aunts and grampas we heard about? Are there other large families on the ship? Children?

Screencap tomorrow or Friday. Lots of food for the Chain, which is appropriate for an episode focusing on family.

Trip looking over his shoulder

Are you sure you don't wanna come to the MST3K marathon? It'll be a lotta fun...

April 17, 2003: Screencap added to "History." Found another Star Trek Personality Test. I wound up as a Lieutenant in Security/Tactical, which makes me either Malcolm, Worf, or Tuvok. (Boy, there's a Multiple Personality Disorder waiting to happen.)

Everyone's looking much healthier this week. T'Pol's back to her normal coloring, and even Mal found a more complimentary shade of lipstick. Still slightly too pink, but much better than the mauve/maroon he had on in "The Crossing." Trip seems to have shaken off his paralysis, or perhaps he's finally recovered from wissssp-induced muscle strain.

Does Enterprise swoop to change course in the beginning because the whole ep is about showing off what a great pilot Trav is? And not for anything, but scenes of the Horizon's crew module zipping around were really nice. You actually had the feeling the helmsman was accomplishing something! (Not as cool as Tom "Helm Boy" Paris and the Delta Flyer, but still well done.)

Why does Trip need to get Chef's permission (as opposed to the captain's) to have extra Movie Nights? And if they're adding "Abbott and Costello," they'd better damn well add Mel Brooks's "Young Frankenstein."

Zephram Cochrane was rumored to have signed the inside of each reactor casing on the Horizon's engine -- is that like the original Apple crew having their signatures burned into the inside of the old all-in-one Mac cases? (Why yes, in fact, I am a geek.)

Trip offers to help T'Pol calibrate the TECH. He putters a bit, they fuss about the movie, and he leaves the Bridge. I hope it's because he had to continue calibrations in Engineering, not because he was leaving in a huff over T'Pol's continued resistance to Movie Night attendance.

I wonder if Trip was getting flashbacks about sitting next to Clem when Phlox started chattering on about the Vesarian reanimation technique. Although my first thought was "oh, that must have been the race which the Borg assimilated which had the TECH which Seven used to resurrect Neelix."

Several sets scantily redressed: the Horizon's cargo bay and mess hall were really obviously reused. I actually thought I was going to see Seven's alcove over off to the left as we panned across.

T'Pol's bit about "to quote Dr. Frankenstein" was just painful. I know what they were trying to do, but really, it was overkill. You can even see Trip sort of rolling his eyes in the background, like he can't believe she just said that.

April 18, 2003: One of my dedicated fans wrote me to explain just why Trip has to ask Chef about extra Movie Nights:

On a military base, or Naval ship, the one in charge of the mess hall is the person who has to approve of ANYTHING that goes on in the mess. That would 9 times out of 10 be a Master Sergeant or Master Chief. Since Star Trek uses Naval rankings, Chef is most likely a Master Chief. The Captain or base commander will ask if the Master Sergeant or Master Chief has given his/her okay. Because of the RW massive amounts of crew feedings (though Enterprise has 83 crewmembers), if one is going to shut down the mess for a certain amount of time, the Master Sergeant or chief in charge of running it would have to do all the rescheduling, get the area reshuffled, etc. The Captain or Base Commander will 99.99999% of the time NOT overrule their Master-whomever in most matters because of the fact that it is the Master's area of expertise and they are running it. They are the department heads. Master-whomever is the highest non-com officer position, it is the hardest to get and means you were career enlisted military and will have the ear and respect of the Commander/Captain, even over his/her officers, with the exception of the senior officers on staff.

See? I learn something from you folks all the time. You're the best.

April 23, 2003: Wow, if I ever have any more Navy questions, I'll know who to ask! wombat61 adds to my previous correspondent's thought:

From my limited experience working for the Navy, the Chiefs and Senior Chiefs actually run ships and boats from the point of view of the crew. The officers deeply respect the Chiefs, who are far more likely to have been attached to the same posting for a longer period of time than the commissioned officers. In general, the Captain or Exec would never countermand a Chief. It's one of the joys of the chain of command; you can trust it both up and down.

Trip making a funge over Trav's poop comment

Aw, man, another poop joke? Does anyone else have that line in their contracts?

"The Breach:" thumbs way up! Fascinating exploration of Denobulan culture and ethics. Crackling good scenes with Archer and Phlox. Less crackling scenes with just Archer, but he was mostly on the mark. Billingsley was wonderful.

Poor Trip, sliding down half of Carlsbad Caverns on his butt! Mal's going to be kicking himself for days for slipping on the edge and dragging them down. And Silent Trav gets the shaft again, relegated to Injured Crewmember Left Behind. Of course, the last time we saw rock-climbing on Trek, someone fell and broke his leg too, so this shouldn't have been much of a surprise. Trip yelling at the geologists was hilarious -- "If you don't start moving in the next five seconds, Ah'm going take my phase pistol and shoot you in the ass! One!... Two!..."

Chris Black ("Singularity," "Cease Fire") and John Shiban ("Dawn," "Minefield," "Canamar") were the writers on this one, and Robbie McNeill was the director -- and man, did it ever show. Great dialogue. Interesting camera work. Good premise, natural flow, nothing felt forced. Newcomer Daniel McCarthy had the story idea. See how great and refreshing and interesting and fun Trek can be when certain people keep their grubby hands off it? Okay, okay, claws in.

Phlox fed a tribble to one of his critters!! BAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAAA that was awesome!

Not sure if this will get its own page; I'll figure it out as I'm doing screencaps. Oh, and it's Episode 47. Which only has any meaning for the truly hardcore geeks. :D

MalTreatment and TripHammered.

MalTreatment and TripHammered.

April 26, 2003: Short recap and photos for "The Breach" are up. I apologize in advance for indulging myself on the internal links, but the running joke kinda slid down the cliff and got away from me. I'm also going to apologize if the photos are dark or hard to see, but believe it or not, the lighting was actually appropriate to the cave, and therefore dim!

Okay, we had shades of "Jetrel" and "Nothing Human," but that's all right; these are powerful issues which can stand a few revisits. The Antaran's capitulation was sort of formulaic, and Archer was really clunky when he was speeching. However, Phlox was really impressive throughout -- making an effort, standing by his culture's medical protocols (and blinking like he was having a seizure, showing how upset he was), losing his temper, re-examining his own life, choking up at dinner, feeding the tribble to the critter. (I'm sorry, I just laughed so hard at that.) It might be typical of Trek, but it wasn't bad. About the only left turn which could have been taken was if the Antaran had agreed to the procedure but died anyway, and a different person had to bring back Phlox's message. That would have necessitated the excision of the B plot, though.

I admire Phlox for sticking by his ethics. The whole scene in the hallway was magnificent -- some of Trek at its best. We were wondering, though, if Phlox was serving on a Terran ship, shouldn't he have had to agree to follow Terran medical ethics? And why wasn't Archer aware of any Denobulan history or culture, past or present? Phlox has been part of their crew for close to two years. He's had plenty of time to do homework.

I suppose I could complain about a Boomer, born and reared on a spaceship, having spelunking skills, but it's stereotypical to assume that he never left the ship or had any hobbies. Although having said that, one would think he would know how to pronounce "PIE-tons." And issue everyone helmets. Moogie was satisfied with the realism of the climbing and rappelling, having done some himself, but was surprised to find Trip and Mal were hauling themselves up by main force at the end. That is hard work to climb that way (but boy, are they gonna be primed for the next tighty-bluesies episode).

Trip's "snack bar" line sounded so natural I wonder if it was ad-libbed in looping?

I swear, Trip looked like he was on a roller coaster when he was sliding down the passageway -- screaming, hands flailing everywhere.

If anyone thought Trip's command presence from "Cease Fire" was a fluke, the scene where they meet up with the geologists should dispel that notion. He's firm, clearly in charge, willing to be courteous or curt to get the job done. And Malcolm stands just behind him, backing him up without equivocation while still watching his back. (He actually checks over his shoulder at one moment as Trip is talking, to make sure the cave behind them is secure -- a little paranoid touch which is exactly what a security officer should be doing. Good detail.)

You'll notice none of the three rocksliders had rips in the seats of their desert gear? Starfleet makes those desert outfits outta some tough fabric. I imagine the rock rash underneath has got to look like hamburger, though.

Why did it take them two days to get in to find the three rockhounds but only a day to get out? (I realize they could have backtracked and gotten lost looking, and the path back would have been more direct, but they still were in the cave system quite a ways, plus they had to drag Trav up two cliffs.) Another one of those instances where a line or two of dialogue would have smoothed things out.

I did like that they blew the deadline by two hours rather than get out in the nick of time. Nice touch of realism.

Robbie McNeill does such interesting camera work. He loves movement. He was all over the place in the briefing room scene, in the caves he was sliding right down along with them, panning back and forth between the Denobulans and the Disaster Twins, slowly circling Phlox and T'Pol, churning around Archer as he argued with Phlox. However, compare it to the camera on Phlox in the hallway argument scene -- it's absolutely stationary. It's a subtle visual clue contrasting the agitation of the captain with the resolve of the doctor. Nice touch. In the argument between Phlox and the Antaran, the Antaran is shown through a gauze curtain. He's at one remove from civilized behavior? He's just anonymous enough to be a faceless enemy and not an individual? So many things from such a small cue. He also enjoys the increasing closeup; it's a technique he used the first time in "Unity," and it's almost a signature.

McNeill and former castmate Roxann Dawson are also both great with lighting. She really understood how a dark moon would look in "Dawn," and Robbie does similar work here in the long vertical tunnels and chasms and crawlspaces. It's a great change from VOY's sometimes over-bright lighting.

April 28, 2003: Two different people have written me to speculate that Trip's absence from and unnatural stiffness in "Judgment" stemmed from injuries Trinneer suffered while filming "The Crossing." John Billingsley apparently confirmed during a convention in Denver this past weekend that during the fight scene with Wissssp Trip and EV Suit Phlox, Trinneer took at least a cut to the face, and in fact needed a visit to the hospital to get patched up. While I can't find any news reports which confirm or deny this, it certainly makes sense. If anyone can supply actual evidence (I'll even take a con transcript), I'll be happy to post it here.

April 29, 2003: You folks are just the best. Another confirmation of the Billingsley convention story:

I can confirm the injury spoken of by John Billingsley. When I was at the Portland Convention on April 5th I was talking to another Tripper, when a woman in the row in front of us introduced herself as a friend of Connor's mom. She asked us if we wanted to know some hot skinny, and said that Connor really was injured by a head butt from "Phlox," and ended up being rushed to "the No. 1 hospital in L.A." to receive several stitches. None of us could recall the name at the time, but I suspect it might have been Cedar Sinai.

April 30, 2003: Ho. Ly. COW!

I have not seen a Trek like that since "In the Pale Moonlight." We knew no matter what, that was not going to end well. But even if we saw it coming, what a punch in the gut. I was just about nauseous with anxiety. Oh, Trip, you well-meaning fool, don't do this. And who the hell knew B&B could write something that powerful? Great Caesar's Ghost, where has all that been hiding? This almost makes up for ANIS, it was that good.

We fans of 24th-century Trek know all about the Prime Directive. We know not to meddle too much. In Kirk's era, well, it's Captain Kirk; he's not going to screw up. These poor SOBs? No shields, no directives, no clue. No way to stop that train wreck.

Trip only wanted to help. All the way back in "Broken Bow" we saw this, when he tried to interfere with the Lorillian woman weaning her son from breathing methyloxide. But T'Pol was absolutely right -- we cannot talk about "human" rights when applying them to other cultures, much as we want to. Kirk can break up the dependency of the Morgs and Eymorgs on the Controller, Picard can stop the drug trade between Brekkans and Onarans, Odo can try to adopt a Jem'Hadar child, Torres can rebuild android warriors, but none of these races are Us, and our laws and morals don't necessarily apply. There are enormous consequences when we interact with other cultures. We can't predict what will happen after we leave, so we must tread carefully. Kirk was terribly reckless in this regard. I could probably name a third of the Classic Trek episodes where they swashbuckled in, Kirk upended the status quo, and the Enterprise sauntered off. Today, though, we recognize this as the danger it is. Trip and Archer and (Terran) company have to learn this the very hard way.

Trip saw the cogenitor as One of Us and not One of Them. It's a good thing for him to see people this way -- this is the Terran openness and tolerance which he and Archer boast about to T'Pol -- but that acceptance has to be tempered and paired with reality. Just because someone is your equal does not make them the same as you. Because he saw the cogenitor as "the same," he thought s/he had the same rights -- and the same options, and the same strengths. S/he had none of these. The Vissians seem to learn and process quickly. In this case, s/he learned to read quickly, play games quickly, aspire quickly -- and when s/he saw that hir situation was not going to change, s/he fell to despair quickly. The fall was so fast from so far that it was not, in the end, an utter surprise that s/he chose suicide when s/he realized s/he could not live in this brave new world Trip had opened to hir.

Trip smiling

A smile like that could sell ice cubes to the Inuit.

And you could see the joy on Trip's face when he was watching the cogenitor learn and grow. What an accomplishment! He'd helped to lift someone out of the darkness of ignorance, helped someone start to explore, appreciate existence. It started so innocently -- what do you mean, "it"? What do you mean, it has no name? It can't read? It has the same neural abilities as the men and women. With very little prodding, it becomes s/he, and s/he has the same emotions, the same desires as the shes and hes. The slope turned slippery almost before they realized it. But the cogenitor was not Terran, and the couple s/he lived with was not Terran, and there was nowhere for hir to go with this knowledge.

I was really expecting Trip to get knocked down a rank, threatened with dismissal from 'Fleet, or at the absolute least have some onscreen punishment -- confined to quarters, black mark on his record, something. He wasn't on the bridge for the close, where he was in the teaser, but at the very end, when Charles Cogenitor has committed suicide because Trip gave her dreams with no wings to reach them -- nothing?

Archer is one to talk about the consequences of his actions! Hello, remember the Paragaans? While only Trip has the sweet enthusiasm and naïveté necessary to make this plot work, this should have been the captain's kick in the face. (To clarify: yes, I do mean the Paragaans from "Shockwave" and not the race from "The Communicator" or the Suliban from "Detained." While in the latter two eps Archer did meddle, nobody died. In "Shockwave," Archer was innocently paying the colony a visit, and because the Suliban dragged us into the Temporal Cold War, 3600 people were slaughtered. That happened without Archer actively interfering. And yet Archer still has no hesitancy about ever plunging into a situation. He realizes afterwards, or in the middle, like in "The Communicator," but Trip is very much following Archer's lead in rushing in where angels fear to tread.)

I have to say I don't know if this is going to have a page, because all the pain Trip endures comes in the last 15 minutes of the show. We'll see.

I liked that certain things happened off screen. I liked that we did not get the "you need a name" speech. I liked that we did not see Trip and the cogenitor getting caught. We cut to what was important to the plot.

Bakula did a nice job with Archer -- goofily eager to start, deeply upset with Trip, gentle but not yielding with the cogenitor. Trinneer was subtle this week; the script was not about chewing scenery but just about being Trip heading the wrong way. I'm pretty sure I saw tears on his cheek in the final scene.

Consider this fair warning, Keckler: If you have the coglioni to say you didn't like this episode, I'm coming up to Boston to kick your butt. Tell the cats to hide.

Scattered thoughts: Maybe the next thing on the reading list for the Trip should be Pandora's Box....The C-plot with Mal was absolutely stupid. He finally gets to meet a tactical officer from a friendly race and she gets all Feezal on him. Grow up, guys....Glad to see Andreas Katsulas is getting work. Great Trek character actor....Boy, Trip's quarters really are small! You practically couldn't turn that bed 90 degrees and have it fit. T'Pol's room is cavernous in comparison....Phlox was very funny in his few minutes. "I have pictures!" he says gleefully, like Holodoc on "Breakfast with Neelix"....Go back and watch the previews after watching the episode. Now you know why I don't ever watch them any more. Was there even the vaguest clue about the real plot?....The stratapod set was very much a "set." It looked really fake. I guess the blew the whole budget on the pretty solar effects....Archer and T'Pol were like two mannequins in the teaser. Suddenly Trinneer comes on and it's like "Oh! So that's how you act."

Archer disappointed in Trip

Archer: Dismissed.
Trip: ...Cap'n?...

May 1, 2003: More thoughts on "Cogenitor." Screencaps Friday. Grab a cuppa and get comfy.

I'm reminded of the book Flowers for Algernon, expanded from the short story Charly. A retarded man is given experimental surgery which makes him brilliant, but then the effect wears off slowly and he returns to retardation, knowing it's happening as he starts to slide. I never finished the book; I saw his mind was starting to go and I couldn't bear to watch. Not too much of a stretch to "Cogenitor" -- as I mentioned, the Vissians are very fast, and the cogenitor was seeing hir new life collapsing at hyperspeed. S/he knew what was going to happen. S/he didn't want to be around for the end either.

There are just so many repercussions Trip didn't think of when trying to elevate Charly. What if the cogenitors are psychopaths or severely violent who are only calm when steeped in the hormones of pregnancy? If the liberated cogenitor had gone back to Vissia and started a revolution, is what Trip did an act of war? If the cogenitors rose up and en masse decided not to reproduce for the other two genders any more, is Trip party to genocide?

Trip really is following Archer's example. It's just a lousy one. Archer realized that, and (in character) noted "even I don't know what I would have done!" Archer is right; he's been a crappy role model to his impulsive friend. Regardless, Trip got himself into this mess all on his well-meaning own. No, nobody wanted to see Charly suffer. But we just don't know enough to know if educating hir is the right thing to do! You simply can't operate out of context!

I sympathized with every single thing Trip did -- he was thinking with his heart, engaging the mouth before putting the brain in gear. "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission." Once it's done, it's done, Trip figures; Charly can't unlearn, so the society will have to adapt to hir. He does not figure on Charly's suicide. Kel from the Trippin' for Trinneer Yahoo! Group summed up Charly's decision thus: "I now have a choice: Live free or die." In "Latent Image," Janeway asked of the Holodoc, "We gave him a soul, B'Elanna. Do we have the right to take it away from him?" In this episode, the Vissians saw Trip giving a soul to something which had no right to one. And they felt they did have the right to take it away from hir. Charly clearly could not live with that.

Phlox encourages Trip to "keep an open mind." Trip might be old-fashioned at times, but he is not closed-minded -- if anything, the Vissians are. Trip desperately wants to help. He wound up hurting. He saw an intelligent being kept as slightly less than a pet -- "like one of Phlox's leeches" -- and did what he felt was right. But he never stopped to try and see the whole picture, and that was where he went wrong despite his good heart. This could and should echo for a long time. I'd like to see him gun-shy about the next few away missions.

Archer bears some blame for Charly's death also; he did have the option to offer hir asylum. But it could have been even more politically disastrous than Charly's suicide. Picard makes this choice several hundred years later, giving Mirasta a ride off Malcoria in "First Contact," but the stakes are very different, and the Malcorians are not 800 years ahead of the Federation in technology. Again, what's right and what's best and what's moral don't match up. This what makes for great Trek.

T'Pol was in character to dismiss Trip's concern for "human" rights, but I bet if it had been Archer, she would have at least heard him out. She didn't even bother listening to Trip's explanation.

About the Vissian culture: Are the cogenitors like Artificial Persons from the Robert Heinlein novel Friday, reared in groups by instructors? Are they raised like veal cattle? How long can they breed? Do they have an equivalent of menopause, and what happens to them afterward? What would a pair of Vissians do if the child they're longing for turns out to be a cogenitor? Do they hand it over and get to try again? Do gay Vissians get the chance to have children?

The poor helmsman is back to being Silent Trav again. Did he get any lines this episode? It was his leg which was broken last week, not his jaw....

It was funny that Trip got to tweak T'Pol about her age again. This time we knew he was teasing and not expecting an answer. It's a nice running joke.

"Tell Chef we're going to have some visitors." Yes, and tell Chef what they can and can't eat while you're at it! And speaking of food, Trip didn't even get to eat the cherry off his sundae, let alone any of the ice cream... but he gave it to Mal, so I suppose that's okay. The changing expressions on his face when he was struggling with the Vissian food were wonderful.

May 2, 2003: Screencap for "Cogenitor" up, plus the extras in History.

Here's a thought: Was Trip sympathizing with the cogenitor because of his experience from "Unexpected"?

Think about it: He was made pregnant and had to carry the child without his knowledge or permission. He was used. His wishes were not taken into consideration. Being a decent person, he accepted the possibility that he was going to have to rear the child, and then it was taken from him completely. Trip literally was a cogenitor for Ah'len. That had to resonate when he saw Charly sitting at the table, mindless and trapped. And we know how Trip loves to explore, and experience new things. To see hir so oppressed, so hemmed in -- for Trip it would be like seeing a kitten with a broken leg and leaving it on the side of the road to die. "Ah didn't have much of a choice," he tries to tell Archer. Against his own conscience, he really didn't.

May 7, 2003: ooooooh my cubiclemate got the new 30GB iPod I'm so envious! Drool, gnash teeth, sigh wistfully. Okay, I love my 5GB iPod that my beloved got me, and I sure as sugar don't need 30GB of space for MP3s. But I'm such a Mac geek....

Um, all right, I'm now 75% convinced that ENT is taking place in an alternate timeline created when the Borg went back to stop Cochrane and Picard then stopped the Borg in First Contact. There is just no other way to explain these flagrant continuity oversights.

But beyond that monstrous gaping nebula of a plot hole, "Regeneration" was pretty decent. Trip-lite, as well it should have been. Mal got lots of good screen time. Archer was tougher without getting out of character -- wanting to rescue the researchers up until the last moment when he finally started to get an inkling of what they were up against. (Although I seriously could have done without the "24th-century" sledgehammer.)

Oh, for the good old days, when the Borg were a terrifying implacable enemy whom no one could defeat. Does this make Sisko and Kirk the only captains who haven't beaten the Borg into so much cybernetic hamburger? Jeez, Malcolm's phase pistols walloped the drones half a dozen times before they adapted -- Picard's and Janeway's phasers would get off one, maybe two shots at best.

My main question about the Minimatrix is this: if they're too far away to have actual contact with the Borg Queen or Collective, why did they regroup into a hive mind and start assimilating everyone on sight? How, without a vinculum? Shouldn't they have reverted to some degree of individuality like Hugh and Two, Three, Four, and Seven of Nine? Or does that link have to be actively severed? Can a drone get cut off with simply enough distance?

Gee, it's a shame that the omicron radiation therapy was conveniently forgotten, or doesn't ever work on any other species besides Denobulans....

The female researcher was played by Bonita Friedericy, who is John Billingsley's wife. And how cool was it that another one of the security goons also had a British accent? About damn time we got a non-American in the lower decks. I liked the Phlox-Hoshi scene -- unexpected and very nice.

Trip was fairly subdued in his only scene on the bridge, with no teasing and only one smartass remark. The rest of the time he's focused on work. Good if subtle followup to last week. I would've liked to have seen more but I'll take it.

When Malcolm and Trip are working on pulling the Borg circus out of the plasma regulator conduit, Mal gets some bright idea about weaponry and zips off to the armory to test it. Archer told him to help Trip. First of all, why wasn't Hess or someone from Engineering working with Trip instead of the Tactical Officer? Secondly, doesn't Mal have to check with Archer before contradicting his orders, or is Trip a high enough rank to qualify to allow Mal to change his own assignment in a crisis? I realize the best interests of the ship were served by having Malcolm work on the weapons instead of the TECH, but it seemed a little jarring.

David Livingston did more nice camera work, especially in the scene with Malcolm and Trip working on the Borg TECH. Good Sussman & Strong script. Shiban and Black produced. Damn, we had all the stars out! Genuinely creepy moments even though we all knew more or less where it was headed. The NX-01 has a really cheesy transporter effect, though.

I think I'm going to say no damage for Trip on this one; the sparks flying around hardly count. Screencap Thursday, I think -- depends on whether we go see X-Men or the Buffy we missed on Tuesday.

Borg and Borg! What is Borg?

Borg and Borg! What is Borg?

May 9, 2003: Okay, in case I haven't mentioned it lately, Julia Houston is just awesome. :)

Added a reciprocal link to Star Trek Minutiae.

Screencap for "Regeneration" is up. Since I've discussed the Borg continuity issue down to its components with family, friends, fans, and fellow commuters, all I'm going to add to the issue is that there are arguments to be made on either side. Either it does violate continuity or it doesn't. Either ENT is an alternate timeline or it isn't. You're free to decide whatever you want. IDIC.

A few tidbits I forgot to comment on... Good ensemble episode. Even Silent Trav got some lines.

Phlox's mention of the Bynars was a groaner, but we'll let it pass. His slow struggle against assimilation was wonderful.

The access junctions (to be known as Jeffries tubes) are friggin' huge on this ship! You can almost walk upright! Why are they so cavernous on a ship so small? Picard and Janeway both had to crawl on hands and knees to get around.

I loved Malcolm's completely horizontal leaping head butt into the Borg drone. Go Go Gadget Reed! And wasn't his accent more pronounced when he was looking over the Borg arm schematics with Phlox? I wonder if he was so getting into his job that he actually got a little sloppy in his speech. Another chink in the armor, so to speak.

Sandy, my Navy source, confirms that Trip is high enough rank to let Mal go play with guns rather than continue in the assignment Archer gave him if both of them (the ship's second in command and the head of Tactical) felt that the ship's interests would be better served thusly.

Speaking of Archer, note that he only actually looks at Trip is when Trip is speaking -- and contributing something appropriate to the discussion. Trip was fidgety and crossing his arms and wasn't sure where to put himself. He leans over to look at the pictures when the others have left, and Archer stands very stiffly, as if not wanting to engage Trip at all. Granted that it was a tense briefing, but there was definitely friction there. Kudos to Bakula and Trinneer for the little cues in their performance which followed up from last week.

And X-Men 2 rocked. Go see it. In fact, go see it twice.

May 11, 2003: Happy Mother's Day to everyone to whom it applies... :)

Continuing the discussion about episode length, the Trippin' for Trinneer Yahoo! Group kindly gave me permission to post another convention comment from John Billingsley:

Another tidbit from John was something that made everyone mad and he seemed pretty mad about it too. He thinks part of the problem with the ratings is that they don't have enough time to tell a decent story. The reason for this is that UPN will not allow the show to be any longer than 39 minutes. (Most are closer to 44 to 45 minutes.) That means 21 minutes of commercials! I was outraged and it seemed that John was too. He said something along the lines that it was a shame that TV shows were just a forum for advertising instead of showing the creative art that it should be!

Now, recall that TNG was 44 minutes per episode. VOY started at 43, and there was a huge hullabaloo when UPN began unilaterally editing them down to 41 in the middle of Season 5. That's why are there are two versions of almost everything between "The Fight" and "Warhead" (and maybe as far back as "Dark Frontier").

Regardless, if the show could claim back those two to six minutes of time, perhaps it might have the breathing room to improve -- Roxann Dawson always overshoots and has to edit -- and UPN could charge a little more for the "premium spots" on ENT. Not to mention that when your actual show is literally less than two-thirds of its airing time, what the hell product is drawing your audience to watch and thereby see the ads and bump up the ratings? Talk about killing the goose which lays the golden eggs!

May 12, 2003: The House of Tucker has added a fourth subsite: Trip*Malcolm. Stop by and say hello. Poke around on the other subsites while you're there.

T'Pol knows evay cooked that, right?

Trip: ...T'Pol knows evay cooked that, right?
Phlox: As I mentioned, the Subcommander is somewhat feverish and incoherent. At the moment, taste is probably irrelevant to her.
Trip: Yeah, but... are you sure? Ah mean, really sure? 'Cause Ah could run right up to the Mess Hall and fetch her a plate of leola root or something if she'd prefer it.

May 14, 2003: Hello to my visitors from AIG! Nice to have you aboard. Of course, everyone's enjoying TripHammered from home and not using company time or resources, right? Absolutely. :)

Quick thoughts: Two good eps. Minimal Trip damage. Screencaps Friday, possibly Saturday because of the double ep. And why UPN jammed two in one night instead of stretching out their last episodes throughout all of Sweeps Month is beyond me.

"First Flight:" Actually had me on the edge of my seat in the third act! One of the few episodes which has really made use of the "prequel" concept, and does so nicely. We finally get a little backstory of the beginning of the Archer/Trip friendship -- Trip defending Daddy's engines? Best friends forever -- and how Archer might have come to sit in the captain's chair. Consistent characterization all around; Trip still shoots his mouth off and Archer's still more mushy than ambitious. They didn't look much "younger," though -- combing their hair forward and knocking them down a pip doesn't count.

A slight echo of Columbia, but appropriate to the plot, and A.G. didn't die. Also reminiscent of Mission to Mars, albeit without the six-month trip.

So it's now been at least two or three weeks since "Cogenitor," and Trip is back to normal, and Trip and Archer are back to normal. Grumble. Let's hope there's a little more week-to-week emotional continuity next season.

Good writing by John Shiban and Chris Black. Wonderful FX. Dawson did another good job directing. I'm going to say no damage for Trip -- he was never threatened with a court-martial, and a little yelling is hardly going to ruffle his hair. Did we even see Silent Trav in this outing?

"Bounty:" Good followup to "Judgment." Completely wrong portrayal of the Tellarites. They are angry and argumentative and never sweet and sympathetic. Archer even says they consider arguing a sport! Tellar Fett was a sop!

Anyway. Obviously B&B wrote the ep if T'Pol's "in heat," but it wasn't nearly as bad as I'd feared. Billingsley rescues it. Only Phlox would be "immune" to her ferocious advances. What could have been awkward or a bad "Blood Fever" knockoff becomes genuinely funny. I'm sure I'll be castigated for these remarks, but I didn't see T'Pol being exploited. Look, it was pon farr, that's what happens. Blalock actually did a good job showing T'Pol's quickly decreasing control -- her little what the hell am I DOING? look when she realized she was fondling Phlox's lumbar flaps was very nice. In fact, the only time it got painfully "okay, enough of this, stun her already" was when she was crawling all over Malcolm in the hallway. And maybe that was the difference; the Denobulan's prim huffiness defused the tension and made the situation a tactical and medical puzzle rather than a siren seduction. Mal didn't look that impressed with her, either, just went for his phase pistol (after he got up from where she tossed him...) and calmly shot her.

Trip was mostly in command mode. He and Mal make a great team. ("The probe's scrambling our sensors." "Get rid of it!" {smirk} "With pleasure, sir!") It was cool to see Mal taking the Big Chair also.

What was with Mal's fluffy hair, though? He must have spent too much time under the dryer when having his manicure this week. And he still needs to go one shade lighter on the lipstick.

We're learning so much about the Denobulans it's a damn shame they apparently get wiped out at the end of ENT, because we'll never see them again! Denobulan males are more body-shy, their marriages are open, they have interesting markings but no body hair -- did we know this much about Vulcans at the end of TOS?

I do have one request: no Malcolm/T'Pol romance, please. They keep throwing these two together and nothing is sticking.

Something positive I've noticed: The background music is getting better every week. It's really working to enhance the scenes without overwhelming them. Kudos!

Save the beer! Save the beer!

Save the beer! Save the beer!

May 15, 2003: Screencaps up! More thoughts on our double-header. I'll continue to separate them as appropriate. One little ooops: LeVar Burton directed "First Flight," Roxann Dawson directed "Bounty." I mixed them up. We didn't see any of Dawson's signature way-the-hell-overhead shots; that must be why.

"First Flight:" Robinson and Archer start slugging each other, and what does Trip do? He grabs the bottles of beer so they don't get knocked over and broken! Priorities in order.

Note the arm patches with the Nike-like swoop for the NX program. In the closing flashback, Archer's has been upgraded to the Enterprise patch; I think Robinson's is still the swoosh. Nice tip of the hat to TOS, on which each ship had their own insignia and the dingbat in the center denoted department.

Ruby... not nearly the Celtic goddess I'd been envisioning. I figured she was someone who enjoyed running through the 'Fleet corps, promising everyone and delivering to no one because everyone understood it was a game. Instead she's just a friendly, pleasant-looking barhop (and not the best actress either) who's really up on 'Fleet gossip. Which makes me wonder: Is she really a low-level 'Fleeter who happens to work a second job? Did Trip completely misunderstand her flirting-as-business, was he fibbing to Malcolm in "Shuttlepod One," or did quite a bit more happen between these two after this point in time?

I liked Archer's and Robinson's bruise makeup. Very realistic.

I did not find Archer's final speech to Commodore Forrest convincing. And Archer dragging Daddy into the argument repeatedly was not helping his cause, IMHO.

Groaner lines: Robinson to Archer, about the first captain of Starfleet's Warp 5 vessel: "He won't be able to turn to the Vulcans... unless he decides to take one with him." uggggggggh. Archer: "If I have my own ship, I'll sign you up in a second." Trip: "Ah'm gonna hold you to that." uuuuuuuuuuuuuggggggggh! This is clumsy foreshadowing -- more like Phantom Menacing, really. One of the reasons I never got excited about the idea of a prequel series in the first place.

"First Flight" is a actually a nice bookend to "Carbon Creek," with Archer telling T'Pol about a story from Terran/Vulcan history which differs from the official records.

Trip and Archer in the desert gear

Ya know what? It doesn't matter whether Ah fall down, sweat like a pig, get filthy, or rip my shirt -- Ah still look better in this outfit than you do.

"Bounty:" Parental note: I'm going to be getting a little explicit in the following commentary, so consider yourselves duly warned.

The Archer plotline was fairly boring; nothing to write home about. Bakula was fine. I've already complained about the Tellarites. Robert O'Reilly (Gowron on DS9) brought his delicious menace to the very bit part of Kago-Darr.

Not only did Makeup overfluff Mal's hair and pick a lipstick two shades too dark, but the blue eyeshadow has got to go. He's an armory officer, not Dame Edna. I still like the tan suits -- I guess they're just Outdoors Mission Gear, not Desert Gear -- and T'Pol's white catsuit got some nicer tailoring touches.

Back to pon farr, which is of course going to be the main topic of discussion for this episode. Okay, yes, a Vulcan suffering through unrequited pon farr could have been handled much better. Tuvok's wasn't too bad. Vorik's/B'Elanna's became a jump-start for the Paris/Torres relationship, and the fine acting of McNeill and Dawson made it work for me.

I'm sure I'm going to get nasty emails from the Interplanetary Feminist Society demanding that I surrender my membership card, but I still think that playing it for laughs against Phlox made it less embarrassing for T'Pol. B'Elanna was clearly in agony. Vorik was blowing gaskets. T'Pol was Feezaling on overdrive. The absolute and utter lack of sexual interest from Phlox's side made this a very different situation than the ones on VOY. Phlox was operating strictly as a medical professional, with some cultural discomfort of his own. It didn't get awful for me until she started trying to play the Reed flute. Even that ended pretty briskly -- she tossed him along the corridor, he stood up and shot her.

This is our first onscreen evidence that female Vulcans endure the Time of Mating as well -- we know the males must go through it every seven years, but we've no idea what the female cycle is. It can't be the same, because T'Pol is probably between 75 and 100, and she claimed she'd never gone through it before. Is it linked to the male's cycle? Does his set off hers? Since she ended her engagement to what'shissehlat, I imagine she's no longer bonded, so if that's the source, then she wouldn't go through it. Or, separately, is this something which Vulcan females don't go through, and the bacterium activated a dormant response? Like making a male's nipples lactate?

However, we have a bit of a screwup. T'Pol says she needs to mate with "any male, Vulcan or otherwise." Now, Vulcans are touch-telepaths (until some future ENT episode rewrites that bit of canon as well). A mated couple telepathically bonds at some point -- either during an arranged engagement at age seven, or when they marry, or during their first joint pon farr. A Vulcan in the early stages of pon farr can bond with a non-telepathic mate to some degree, as Vorik started to do with B'Elanna. Tuvok was already bonded to his wife T'Pel, so the pon farr he got through with the hologram of his wife can kind of be fudged. Note that Vorik was not able to resolve his pon farr with the holographic Vulcan female with whom the Holodoc tried to pair him. This implies to me that a living mind is required. It's not just the sex, it's the mental connection. B'Elanna, Vorik, and Spock all resolved their pon farrs (pons farr?) through battle, which has a psychological component (violent rejection rather than passionate acceptance). And nothing in any pon farr episode ever indicates that conception has anything to do with the resolution. So my question is... why any male, Vulcan or otherwise? Why not anyone? I'm being neither rhetorical nor facetious here. If procreation isn't what resolves the hormonal imbalance, and it isn't anything about the Vulcan male mind which engages the bond, why couldn't T'Pol have chosen a female mate? The only part of intercourse which a male and female have which two females and a toy can't provide is semen. I can understand why that nugget of information might not be spelled out on screen, but it could be implied with a little dialogue between T'Pol and Phlox. A meaningfully unfinished sentence could let us draw our own conclusions.

When Archer returns to the bridge and asks where T'Pol is, Mal and Trip share a smirk and Malcolm demurs, "It's a long story." I don't think that's the snark it's played for. Think about it: all Phlox told Malcolm and his goons was that T'Pol was "irrational." She behaved towards Mal as though she were drunk. Phlox didn't mention a hormonal imbalance or mating cycle. For all Malcolm and Trip know, she was incoherent from fever. By not getting into the discussion on the bridge, the junior officers and NPCs don't have to hear any of the sordid details. Remember, only Malcolm saw her climbing all over him. The goons saw her standing wild-eyed in the corridor and then running at Mal shouting in Vulcan. She could have been shouting "Death to the Empire!" or "Go West Ham United!" for all they knew. So if Phlox BSes some story about the bacterium causing her to act out of character, proper restrained don't-ask-don't-pry Malcolm is not going to question him. The goons and the rest of the crew will only know that she had a fever and the bacterium was potentially infectious. T'Pol's privacy is actually preserved.

May 18, 2003: Season finale this Wednesday!

By the way, the summer break does not mean TripHammered will be quiescent. I plan on trying to update at least once a week. To that end, I'll be posting a questionnaire shortly, so you the visitor can tell me what you do and don't like about the site (so I know what to fix over the summer).

Ah know what it looks like... Ah don't need to see it again.

Ah know what it looks like... Ah don't need to see it again.

May 21, 2003: Well, that was... interesting.

I guess I was expecting more hysteria, more raw emotion, but it's hard to pack an allegorical year into a 39-minute hour. What little grief and anger we got to see was mostly through Trip (wonderfully played by Trinneer with raspy voice and burning eyes). With the possible exceptions of Travis and Archer, everyone on the crew has family on Terra; why wasn't anyone else upset? No quiet sobbing in the Mess Hall or behind closed doors? Trip is Enterprise's lone official Horseman?

I didn't really get a feel for the destruction, even though the death toll kept mounting, until Trip and Malcolm stood on the edge of the Zero Trench and Trip pointed out the ghosts of landmarks. Even then, it needed a Dawson bird's-eye pullaway giving us an expanding view of the devastation.

"The Expanse" felt almost like a second pilot -- lots of exposition, not a lot of forward movement, setting up the next however many episodes. It was dense and complex, which is good. I had a sense of waiting for the other shoe to drop, of a storm looming without actually breaking. The Klingons were distracting. I mean, the Klingon characters themselves were great, actually, but they were like k'gnats to the main plot. I hope they don't drag out the Archer-as-The-Fugitive arc for too long.

Good for Malcolm, that he's standing by Trip and trying to reach out to his friend in his anguish. How far he's come from the buttoned-down anal-retentive to the man who's trying to get Trip to admit to his emotions.

Nice performances for almost everyone. Blalock was right on the edge with emoting but managed not to go over the top. Gary Graham (Soval) was a little off, unfortunately. Silik's put on some weight, and he sounded like either he had a terrible head cold or his latex mask was on so tight that he couldn't move his mouth. Loooooved the Phlox scene!

Effects were amazing! The final battle with Enterprise barrel-rolling over the Bird of Prey was awesome! All the ship battles were great. And at last we get a sense of how big, how really damn big, outer space is. Moogie figured that the journey to the Expanse took the NX-01 around three months at Warp 5, but would have been about a day at Warp 7. We forget, since we're so used to TNG warp, that it takes a while to get from hither to yon.

Sandy wrote me to point out that Trip calls his sister "Lizzie." I went back to double-check and she's right. But it sure sounded like "Lucy" on first listen to these Yankee ears.

Screencaps Thursday or Friday as usual, and I hope to get my TripHammered survey up in the next week.

Mal watching and Trip ducking SFX

Malcolm, you fool! Don't look directly into the pyrotechnics! Your lipstick will melt!

May 22, 2003: Screencaps for "The Expanse" are up.

Here's something I don't think anyone else has caught so far: I think this episode establishes that Trip has two sisters. Just after the original briefing scene, Trip shows up in Archer's ready room, terribly worried, asking what section of Florida was hit. "She may have been away...architects take a lot of trips," he murmurs to himself. Archer thinks for a second, then asks him "Older or younger?" For Archer (who's known Trip about a decade) to phrase the question this way clearly sounds like he's asking "Which sister might have been away?" We know Trip has a brother (that could be the sibling in Ireland with the son whose class had the poop question), and the late lamented Lizzie was the baby. If he only has one sister, Archer might have asked "your mother or your sister?" or possibly "your sister or a cousin?" (or even "Who, Natalie?") I can't see another explanation for Archer's comment otherwise.

You can see Trip's control eroding in places, as his grief starts to bubble up with the rage. He throttles it back down and storms off, but there's an explosion coming. Trinneer really did a beautiful job with all the shades of anger and despair and grieving.

Good on Malcolm again, for going with Trip to the Zero Trench and standing with his friend, offering what comfort he could. And speaking of Malcolm, he really loves his job -- he's still doing that little smirk before he fires torpedoes or cannons or whatever. I also think it's funny that he barely dodges exploding electronics. He just keeps one eye on where the sparks land and continues working. Trip practically dives under the console.

Moogie and I must be the only ones who think Duras didn't die in that way-cool explosion where Enterprise rips through the debris... the Klingon bridge is intact! The other two Birds of Prey could nick into the Expanse without too much trauma to rescue him, or drag him back to face his dishonor.

Okay, what was the point of the Baby Death Star firing at least a third of its payload into the Caribbean? Trying to kill humpback whales? It was aiming for I-95 and missed? I did look at the Zero Trench again while getting caps, and it is pretty bad. I guess the SFX or VFX budget went to the actual Expanse scenes, and the fabulous battle, but the lack of a single powerful image undercuts the emotional weight of the carnage.

Anyone taking bets yet on whether Future Guy is Archer himself from another time?

What justification does T'Pol have, officially speaking, for remaining on Enterprise if she's resigning her Vulcan commission? Is she going to be an Observer, the way Paris started out? Is Archer going to give her a field commission, as Picard gave to Wesley Crusher? Or will 'Fleet give her an honorary commission as they did with Kira at the end of the Dominion War?

Just because the Vulcans flipped out from something in the Expanse doesn't necessarily mean Terrans will. As we just saw last week, Vulcans have their emotions bottled up under pressure. They only get to dump the boiler every seven years or so. Terrans might actually be better suited psychologically to handle the stress. Although I didn't know that Oliver Stone directed Vulcan bridge cameras...

Memo to Makeup: stop combing Bakula's hair over his forehead! It only makes him look more Neanderthal. He's not a bad-looking man; why must they present him this way?

May 28, 2003: My first summer Extra: The ENT Drinking Game! Suggestions welcome.

May 31, 2003: We are going to be completely potted if we play this with hard stuff. Many new rules added to The ENT Drinking Game.

June 9, 2003:>Thanks to everyone who's taken the survey so far! The Food Chain and "More photos of Trip in his underwear" seem to be the most popular.

June 10, 2003: A tip of the hat and a moment of yowling for Sir K, the little old man in the cat suit who lived with my friends Susan and Noel. Sir K shuffled off this mortal coil early this morning, after 18 years of sitting in the window enjoying the sun, herding his people to bed when he thought it was getting late, complaining loudly when he was on the wrong side of a door, watching TV, playing "my paw on top," lengthy philosophy discussions, and generally being a good guy. He left us in his sleep, knowing he was safe and much loved.

Trip in his tighty-bluesies unable to free the cap'n

Archer: Are these really the TripHammered survey results so far?
Trip: Ah can't believe it either. Everybody wants to see me in my Fruit of the Blues.

June 12, 2003: New Extras! Debuting this week are Personal Quizzes -- the ultimate edition of the famous "tell me all about yourself" email survey, answered by our intrepid crew. Co-writing credit goes to rainwoman, with a little help from the always-generous Archer4Trip. This week we'll start with Trip (duh), with the rest of the bridge crew added one per week. (Gotta do something to keep you folks coming back all summer.)

June 18, 2003: This week's Personal Quiz is Malcolm. Keep an eye peeled for ongoing jokes as they start to unfold.

We saw Matrix Rehashed -- sorry, Matrix Reloaded this weekend. SFX were breathtaking. Coulda been 45 minutes shorter, the fight scenes were a third too long, the music was straight out of a videogame, the acting was, ah, adequate. The philosophy which was carried over from the first movie was actually really interesting. I wish they'd spent more time on plot and less on Ted whacking the crap out of Lord Elrond. But yes, we'll go see the third one. And speaking of sequels, Harry Potter V arrives on Saturday. I've been lifting weights to prep for carrying that monster around to read on the train.

Is everybody getting an inordinate amount of spam lately or is it just me? I swear, between work and home, I get half a dozen offers to enlarge my penis and get meds without a prescription every single day. Fortunately, the Nigerians seem to have lost interest again.

June 25, 2003: Our Quiz series continues with Archer.

The TripHammered survey will be up at least another week or so, so there's still time to tell me off. We'll collate the answers when it's done and present them in some kind of pretty format. "Caption This Image" is the most popular request so far. A weekly contest, Sunday to Saturday, maybe? That could be amusing. And while I'm on the topic, a huge thank you to everyone who's left me such nice comments. It's very gratifying.

TrekToday hints that Season 3 will start in late September with "The Expanse, part 2."

July 2, 2003: T'Pol elected to follow the captain's lead and respond to the Quiz as well.

The Season 3 opener will be called "The Xindi." I'm guessing at least one tense or argumentative dinner at the Cap'n's table.

A happy and safe Fourth of July to my fellow Americans. And to everyone else as well. :)

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