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Ancient History

Archive of previous updates on the site, October 1-December 31, 2003.

Trip and Mal with their Spice Rack

Trip: Aw, man, tell me evay did not do what Ah think she did.
Malcolm: I'm afraid so. Three tablespoons of hot curry powder instead of three teaspoons of regular curry powder.
That's gotta be 90-alarm Chicken Vindaloo!
Malcolm: Got milk?

October 1, 2003: Yeah, yeah, Trip and T'Pol, non-existent sexual tension, wrong spots for acupressure, whatever. Bored now. Next subplot.

At least the girls got some equal opportunity groping. It does make sense in context, though -- Faster Pussycat needed to scan one Terran male and one Terran female, and managed to get the only Vulcan.

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but the MACOs were brought along for one purpose, and one purpose only: to kick Xindi butt. And the very first time the Xindi show up, what happens? The MACOs get shot and let over fifteen invaders board the ship! What the hell good are they?

I guess Archer "stealing" the prostitute is supposed to be the pre-Classic Trek reflection of moral attitudes: Kirk would have freed the slave girl, and all the other slave girls for that matter, and done it in style; Janeway would have incited a revolt; and Picard would have assisted the existing underground in helping them escape. In 24th century Trek, you don't break the law, you work around it. In 23rd century Trek, you do what Terrans think is right and the hell with the backwards societies we encounter.

I loved the chemist. Great actor.The bit where he squealed over the spices was awesome. To us, now, they're of small value, but Trip was right when he said wars have been fought over them -- and let's not forget, Roman soldiers were paid in salt.

Moogie says: were those shrunken heads in the beginning of the bazaar scene? And the denouement in the Xindi council chamber would have been a perfect moment for Captain Proton and Buster Kincaid to swoop in and announce "Unhand that woman, you fiend!"

I like the Xindi political bickering. If we can accept that five sentient species formed on one planet, especially when at least two of them aren't mammalian, it's really cool to see the individuals crossing species lines to lean one way or another.

Several instances of the Reed Walk™, although that's difficult to do with a protoBetsy Boomstick. Food Chain intact. I'll add more advertiser addresses as I get them.

Recycled Trek Actor Checklist: Only one; Dell Yount (B'Rat Ud) was Tilikia in DS9's "The Sons of Mogh."

October 2, 2003: More commentary on "Rajiin":

Can I just say I loved the shade of blue they picked for the planet? And that I could have done without the slo-mo emphasis on Faster Pussycat running through the market or falling from the upper level of Engineering?

I liked the followup from last week's episode. The itching and weird patches on Archer's skin aren't from the heartbreak of psoriasis -- the Trek DNA Restoration Reset Button™ doesn't work quite as fast in this century. So Hoshi and Malcolm should be having the same problem as well. Does this mean that the bioscans which Faster Pussycat took of Archer and Hoshi are inaccurate? If Archer still has a little Captain Caveman in him, and the bioweapon is tailored for that profile, what effect will that have?

So the fraternization rules are only about unequal ranks? T'Pol twice notes that 'Fleeters can't have relationships with subordinates ("Fallen Hero") or superiors ("ANIS"). But "Subcommander" is semantically equivalent to "Commander," so it would be okay? And separately, as the Armory Officer and a bridge officer, isn't Malcolm considered a "senior" officer? Or is she saying that because he's not their superior, his opinion doesn't mean anything? Can't we jettison this whole stupid subplot out the airlock? If they were using the Vulcan insomnia-curing-technique as a bridge to cultural comparisons, or each learning about the other's society, it could be interesting enough to offset the blatantly wrong science and the gratuitous shirtlessness. But it's all eye candy and "Moonlighting," and I'm tired of it. Actually, maybe the "insomnia cure" is really working -- it's sure putting me to sleep!

Bazaar of the Bizarre

Shrunken heads? Ah haven't seen those since Ah was readin' the ads in the back of comic books.

I'm beginning to understand why Sarek had two human wives: Vulcan women are turning out to be mental weaklings. Spock -- who was only half-Vulcan -- went through full Vulcan Valeris's shields like a hot bat'telh through butter. Sakonna, a Maquis operative, was unable to crack Gul Dukat. T'Pol's been the forced recipient of a mind-meld ("Fusion"), brainwashed because she couldn't cope with having killed someone in the line of duty ("The Seventh"), and now she's had her synapses scrambled by Sil's cousin. This is getting embarrassing. They didn't even try to write it off as Pa'nar Syndrome. The Expanse is going to throw her across the room like a rag doll.

I suppose the idea is that Archer is getting crankier and more obsessed with the Xindi each week, and his thinking and behavior are starting to slip. So he gives Faster Pussycat almost complete run of the ship and doesn't think to assign her an escort or guard, and then when he's interrogating her in the brig he indirectly threatens to kill her. If he's really turning into Darth Ahab, he should have growled to Malcolm "I find your lack of security disturbing" and then tossed Faster Pussycat into the airlock like he did with Yossarian two weeks ago. I was actually expecting her to end up dead somehow, either sacrificing herself or Archer blowing up the Xindi ship. I did not think she/they were going to get away.

Although speaking of Archer being a few sandwiches short of a buffet, does he normally answer the door to his quarters when he's just sitting around in his underwear? And why was he wearing loose white boxers when the other boys get Starfleet blue boxer-briefs?

The slave seller gestures to the girls and says "How can you walk away from such beauty?" Moogie says, "Malcolm doesn't have a problem with that."

Phlox says of Faster Pussycat "I am not familiar with her species -- " She's human with a little latex and some body paint, doc, I can see that from here! " -- but she seems to be in perfect health." Compared to what? The last latex alien you examined?

Sandy wonders, if Faster Pussycat escaped from the slavemaster with only the string on her back, where did she get all the lovely outfits she was later running around in? Even if someone on board took pity on the poor Latexian and lent her clothing, who would bring Frederick's of Orion gowns for a mission into the Delphic Expanse?

Trip didn't want to leave the lab until it was clear that the experiment was about to go FOOM. Engineering dedication, moderate obsession, or diminished lack of self-preservation due to depression?

Hooray, we heard about Cutler! Maybe Kellie Waymire can come back after all.

Watch the first scene with the MACOs again. They're waiting for the boarders, the Xindi FOOM the door, they exchange some fire. What do the MACOs do?Order a retreat! They weren't falling back to a more defensible position or going for reinforcements. They weren't outgunned. They weren't even leading the Xindi into an ambush.They just ran. The Xindi were bottlenecked at the door. When you have the enemy at a pass, you don't get out of the way. You pile dead bodies in front of them if need be to keep them from getting through. They could have sealed that part of the deck, or the whole damn deck, and vented them to space. The MACOs had a chance to stop the Xindi, which is their only goal, and failed. Granted, we find out later that the Xindi have really vicious munitions, but we don't know that in this part of the scene.

The Xindi hand weapons were cool and frightening, frankly. If all those poor sods are dead, the redshirt count is up to about six now.

Ex Astris ExcellentiaOctober 4, 2003: That creaking sound you hear is my jaw swinging in the wind. I won the October Ex Astris Excellentia award! :D Big thank you to Bernd for the great honor, and for considering TripHammered again after being voted down previously.

October 8, 2003: Okay, whose bright idea was it to air the Halloween episode three weeks early? ;)

That was awesome! I was hooked from beginning to end (although Moogie, genius that he is, had the trellium mcguffin figured out 20 minutes in). The lighting was difficult but appropriate, and the slightly-speeded-up camera annoying and unnerving and perfect. David Livingston (who has directed so many Trek episodes you can just read the listing yourself) is great. And the writers, Jonathan Fernandez and Terry Matalas, deserve a big thumbs-up as well. Nice job! And what a teaser.

I will say that was Jolene Blalock's best performance on ENT to date. She dissolved slowly (like she should have in "The Seventh"), pulled back, lost it again, tried to concentrate, allowed ordinary fears and frustrations to escalate, still trusted Archer just a little, finally wigged out, freaked out totally after the nightmare with eyes bugging out of her head -- it was gorgeous. She does scream as shrilly as an Ocampa, though. And no word (again) on her Pa'nar Syndrome, or how that interacted with the trellium toxin.

A little borrowing from the "Naked" episodes, but not enough to count. This was a new angle, truly unique to ENT -- and it puts them in a helluva bind, doesn't it? The one element which they know of so far which will keep the humans sane and the ship in one undisrupted piece is the same element which reduces Vulcans to extras in the "Thriller" video. (C'mon, don't lie, you were singing it too when the Vulcans were lurching down the corridors.) Much weirdness yet to come, then.

The episode does throw a bit of a wrench into the Obsessed Archer and Vengeance-Seeking Trip arcs. Archer reiterates his stance from the end of "Extinction," that he can't honestly try to save humanity if he doesn't stick to the moral principles which make him "human." I guess he'd have to be two-thirds of the season gone to consider T'Pol's request to ditch her for the crew's sake seriously. I don't rule it out. On the other hand, Trip really seems to have recovered. I mean, really recovered. Not that I object to seeing gentle, laid-back, friendly, concerned-for-his-crewmates Trip, but I thought he was supposed to be falling apart from grief and anger in his zeal to wipe out the Xindi? Well, people aren't always the same from day to day in their reactions, so I'll withhold judgment for now.

Trip objecting to being dissed

Trip:...Heeyyyy, that wasn't very nice!
Phlox: I told you, Commander, that the "invisible hand" joke would not be appreciated.
Trip: Remind me to bust Travis down to Crewman for that stupid suggestion.

Malcolm didn't miss a shot. Broad sides of barns everywhere are trembling. ;) He was wonderful. Nailed every target, never lost his cool, only got attacked himself once or twice, managed to lead most of the time (when he could yank Captain Courageous out of the way), and walked across that beam backwards and shooting and didn't fall. The MACO...sigh. Managed to use the stun-chuk twice. He did make most of his shots, I'll give him that.

I liked that they left the big bloody gashes on Archer's face at the end. T'Pol's "getting sicker" makeup palette was subtle and effective. The lighting was low enough that for most of the ep, Mal was able to go without lipstick too.

Loved the design of the Vulcan ship. The species may have no dignity left by the time ENT wraps up, but they're quickly building a legacy of really sexy vessels.

That brief shot of Enterprise approaching the asteroid field was so cool, if for no other reason than it looked almost exactly like Kirk's ship.

Note that Shuttlepod Two takes a few hours to repair (but the team gets a commendation for remembering to add varnish before launching!), while Invulnerable Shuttlepod One just peels off from the docking port and zips away.

Was it me, or were the asteroids actually veering away from the Seleya, as though magnetically repulsed? And why where the asteroids' courses erratic? Does trellium in quantity emit something resembling a magnetic field which makes the chunks behave oddly when close? Did the one asteroid skitter away from the spot on the ship which was coated with the trellium-D?

Hoshi and Trav were just babbling brooks! It's really becoming a proper ensemble show. Yay! Now bring back Cutler and we'll be all set.

Food Chain tenuously preserved. No new Recycled Trek Actors this week. New pomegranate-colored catsuit for T'Pol, if she didn't just dream it up.

Mal and Betsy Boomstick

If any of those pointy-eared zombies try to eat my brains, Miss Betsy and I are going to kick their bloody arses.

October 9, 2003: More thoughts on "Impulse," although I think I got most of it last night:

Hardly talked about Trip at all! While I liked the conversation between Trip and Archer, as I noted before, it goes against the character arcs of anger and revenge which I thought were planned for these two. Trip says "No one hates the Xindi more'n Ah do" in almost a casual tone, not with the venom and outrage I would anticipate. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't looking forward to a permanently nasty Trip, but I thought the journey back was going to be a little longer and more dramatic. It could still happen. I am glad that he cares about the crew's morale again, that he's resumed his role as unofficial ship's counselor, I just thought it wasn't going to be until later on this season or beginning of next.

I wouldn't read too much into Trip's invitation T'Pol to Movie Night. Consider: it's very late (and I liked that for once, stuff wasn't happening in the middle of Alpha Shift, but that Malcolm had to be awakened) and T'Pol was wondering why Trip was analyzing data when she presumed that to be her job. Archer explains Trip's presence by jokingly calling him "our resident insomniac." Trip's and T'Pol's expressions suggest that Trip's not sleeping because he hasn't been getting his Vulcan treatments (good followup to last week -- he's still concerned, even if she isn't). So, Trip has just gotten permission to relaunch Movie Night. Who's the first person in the room who doesn't know about it? T'Pol. Who might be feeling nettled, again, even though she won't admit it, that he's blowing off what she's presenting as medical therapy which is supposed to be good for him? T'Pol. So asking her to Movie Night is both opportunistic and a gesture to her so that she doesn't think he's rejecting her personally. It's a gentlemanly, friendly move. Also, watch his face just as Archer takes the call from Hoshi. He's clearly teasing her because he knows she isn't into Movie Night at all.

I liked the background music again; usually I don't even notice that it's there. Added to the suspense in all the right spots.

As they carom through the asteroid field -- and how cool that we got to see the sparks from the outside too this time! -- Mal notes, "No damage, although we may need a fresh coat of paint." It's Invulnerable Shuttlepod One; that thing is impervious to antimatter explosions!

Vulcans call their ships "it" while Terrans tend to say "she." (And Klingons say "he," go figure.) How, um. logical.

Watching the chunk of trellium spatter around the transporter chamber makes Trip's decision to beam down in "Extinction" much braver in retrospect. And puts McCoy's constant grumbling in perspective.

We probably could have skipped the subplot with Trip and Trav on the asteroid. It was a little distracting from the main plot, where the tension and claustrophobia was supposed to be increasingly intense.

All due respect to Archer: he got across that very narrow beam with an unconscious T'Pol slung over his shoulder and the ship shaking like Jell-o. Those ballet lessons finally paid off.

October 15, 2003: Added a few more entries to the Drinking Game to keep up with Season 3 trends.

I know this was a Hoshi episode, but we didn't see Trip for half an hour! I was beginning to wonder if this was "Judgment" déjà vu except Trip didn't get the stuffing knocked out of him last week.

Um, not too bad. Hoshi was a little strident in her insistence to be taken seriously, but we can live with that. As we open in Hoshi's bathroom, I was wondering if she ever gets flashbacks to her transporter nightmare and mobile birthmark. Her cutesy-poo outfits while staying at Count Stalkula's were both unnecessary and tactically unsound, especially after he makes it clear that he wants her to extend her stay indefinitely. Why wear a skimpy pink baby-doll onesie and no shoes if you know your telepathic host has a jones for you? Why not wear the uniform, so she doesn't look so inviting, and she has protection against the elements if she goes out again (or at least a pocket to hide a weapon)? She may have done well in the Amazon, but that girl needs a few weeks in New York. No street smarts. (I'm sure one of my California readers is going to write in to protest "Whaddya mean? That was practically a nun's habit by L.A. standards!") On the other hand, there was no girly victim vibe. At all. Which is positively refreshing.

Is Hoshi telepathic herself? Is that the unspoken explanation for her linguistic gifts? How could she use the telepathic egg otherwise? I'll go through that scene tomorrow and try to nail down all the images she saw, but I believe the last one was one of the Xindi realizing that Hoshi had touched his mind.

Does Phlox have some kind of slight prejudice against Hoshi that he treats her with just a touch of contempt, or sees her as a juvenile? I know in "Vanishing Point" that was Hoshi's vision, but that was based on her perceptions. Here he sort of shrugs and says "Yep, you're just imagining things." Maybe it's a generational issue; I just rewatched "Stigma" and he chides Travis in the same way over his rib injury. I'll have to file this one for further consideration.

I fell over howling when Invulnerable Shuttlepod One came thundering back down to the sphere and started bouncing wildly towards the boys. Get out of the way, you lunkheads!

Okay, Trip says he needs "to open the circuit housings on the undercarriage" of the pod to fix the sensor relays. But later he's working on the side of the pod, and if it landed on its belly, how is he supposed to get under it anyway? If the sphere has gravity -- which it has to if Wing-Clipped Pod came plummeting down when the thruster stopped firing -- then it's not like Trip can tip the thing over like a sleeping cow. Did he use the landing gear as jacks and hoist it up?

Kick-butt CGI. The warp blorps rippling through the ship, twisting the ladder, blowing out the bridge, and popping the weak hull plating like a duranium zit were just awesome.

I like the idea of the dissonance of the music of the spheres, although I'm leery of the science of it. (I'll let my brother rant about that if he wants; he's much better at that than I am.) Two bucks says they're all connected somehow on the inside, and they're the nexus points of a mass transit system.

What happened to Roxann Dawson's great over-the-head crane shots? She used to do those all the time, and she hasn't in the last three episodes she's directed ("Exile," "Dawn," and "Bounty").

The telepathic stalker sort of looked like Sarris crossed with a stag beetle, with just a little of the real Marayna from VOY's "Alter Ego." Unfortunately the mask was so restrictive that the actor constantly sounded muffled.

The pomegranate catsuit makes its official, non-dream debut this week. T'Pol looks so much better in solid colors than in the industrial carpeting uniform of the Science Directorate. (Although she looks best in the ornate burnt-orange formal robes. hint hint.) And I like that Archer acknowledged T'Pol's Thrillerium-D problem without making a huge deal of it.

Malcolm tries to reassure Hoshi that constantly seeing or hearing the enemy on the edge of your senses is not uncommon. Well, for paranoid munitions-obsessed security geeks, it isn't! ;)

No Recycled Trek Actors this week. Food chain intact. No damage. Next week is a repeat but I do have an Extra in the wings.

Trip and Archer in Invulnerable Shuttlepod One

Trip: ...Malcolm, could you repeat that?
Malcolm {over comm}: I said, the captain got into my quarters and used my lipstick. Again. Without my permission. Again.
Trip: Well, that's just downright rude. Not to mention unsanitary.
Archer: We don't have the luxury of keeping our cosmetics to ourselves any more, Lieutenant. Everyone's going to have to share.

October 16, 2003: Not ENT-related, but Trek-related: Paramount is finally planning to release Classic Trek DVD box sets, one set per season. Those I'll buy. I mean, ENT too, but definitely Classic Trek.

ENT is in HDTV! Now, if only my TV were high-definition...

Notice that Hoshi goes for tall-dark-and-forehead types? Count Stalkula created his "human" projection based on what he thought she would like, and -- I've forgotten his name now, Vlad the smooth talker from "Two Days and Two Nights" -- had that same look. If she falls for Archer I'm going to be ill.

I liked the Max Headroom effect in the Command Center. Creepy but sophisticated, and something we 21st-century technobabies can identify with. And Dawson did a cool job with moving the "camera" Hoshi was looking into, so we kept having to shift our perspective of what was "looking" where.

Maybe Dominic Keating had family over when he was filming this episode or something, but his accent is overemphasized -- not that I object, actually; it sounds adorable.

Hoshi does come off as strong and assured this week. I like it. I like that she was confident enough not to fear for her safety (I happen not to agree, but that's a different issue). She never gave the impression that she thought she was in danger of being hurt; she carried herself like she could handle whatever came her way. And she put the general mission above her personal convenience, or her individual welfare -- "We don't have the luxury of dealing with one problem at a time any more." Which is how a Starfleet officer should act.

Archer grumbles of Count Stalkula, "He's hiding something." The shout goes up across Trekdom "Thank you, Counselor Troi!"

I wonder if one blorp (look, it's easier to spell than "anomaly," and it sounds funnier) might undo the effects of another. For example, the ladder in Engineering got twisted off one post and whipped around. Could the next blorp whip it back and straighten it out? What if there was a blorp running through the ship which changed everyone's eyes to blue, or straightened people's hair? Or phased the decks so people dropped through midway? Or changed people's gender? Or gave people Mel Tillis Syndrome so everyone had to sing to communicate? Or imploded one of the MACOs?

Does Trip pad his repair estimates like Scotty, I wonder, or is he closer to the mark like B'Elanna?

On the surface of the Treasure Planet sphere, when Shuttlepod One tries to go AWOL, Trip clearly says "Captain!" Not "Cap'n!" Emotional distance? Trinneer dubbed badly? And speaking of Watch Out For Falling Shuttlepods, our favorite Pod lands hard and bounces several times, but doesn't have a scratch on the hull. Maybe we should ask Timex to sponsor.

T'Pol was pacing on the bridge waiting for the Pod to get back from Treasure Planet. Vulcans do not pace.

Rain over Montana

Either it's a croissant, a sonogram, or rain over Montana.

When Hoshi is the Eggman, here's what she sees: Blue swirly mist. Terra from the opening credits without the name of the show. A bridge over a lake in the mountains with people on the shore. An impact crater, maybe, on what looks like a lunar surface. Jupiter with another planet in the background. A building at dusk; might be the Tandaran prison. Either a graveyard or a battle camp with fires, in the mountains beyond a city at night. A sun in swirling pink and blue fog. One of the aliens from "Silent Enemy." The mouth of the whale ship from "The Crossing." A pointy ship which looks familiar but I can't place. Either Malcolm or T'Pol firing at the targ on the Klingon vessel in "Sleeping Dogs." Qo'noS. Bright light in blue swirly clouds (maybe these are from when she was a wissssp?). Misty patterns which kind of look like she's underwater. Terra, I think over Florida and the Zero Trench. A croissant in the middle of blue cirrus clouds. Three ships; might be Klingon. One of the Treasure Planets. Malcolm taking a little off the top of an outcropping on the asteroid from "Silent Enemy." Swirly purple clouds which I think are supposed to be the edge of the Expanse. The planet where Trip and Jerry were stranded in "Dawn," from Trip's POV just before the rescue ship arrived. Lunar surface with bootprints. The planet from "Dawn" before dawn. Another planet, too red to be Terra but too blue for Mars or Jupiter. A widget with green light spilling out of it. The Nausicaans and the Horizon fighting. Another planet, sort of khaki. An oval shuttle approaching the weirdest probe I've ever seen -- looks like a clown house. The continuing FOOM of Malcolm's exuberant shot on the asteroid. A slender shuttle approaching a mothership, all tinted in Borg green but not Borg. A flattened version of Shinzon's ship from Nemesis. An overhead shot of the asteroid FOOM. The khaki planet. Pointy shuttle with Borg green lights, from the underside. The whale ship exploding, from the inside. Swirly pink clouds. A ship; could be the transport which was assimilated in "Regeneration." Atmosphere and planet curve. Whale ship. Khaki planet. Exterior of what could be a Buddhist temple. The Croissant in the Sky. Small green splash of light against a star field. Our good buddy the khaki planet. What looks like the silhouette of a schooner, done in blue sparkly lights, over a planet atmosphere, with the fuselage of a departing ship just at the left edge of the frame. Luna, tie-dyed. Gray planet. Terra from the credits. Xindi with antennae in the Council Chamber, eyes closed, but turning to the camera; the hint is that he felt her looking at him. Now you can impress all your friends.

October 17, 2003: Sandy and the Trippin' for Trinneer Yahoo! group sent along more Drinking Game entries. You folks are wonderful.

October 22, 2003: Once you're done watching the repeat of "The Xindi," you can enjoy two new Extras.

First, we have a new photo collection (although it's mostly photos you've seen before), called Those SHIRTS! I know TripHammered is about Trip Tucker and not Connor Trinneer, but it's impossible not to have a good laugh at the deliberately wild tops Trinneer wears to public events. Submissions welcome if you have your own con shots to share.

Second, we have a new edition of Get Me Rewrite! To recap the directions: I provide the photo, you provide the dialogue between the characters, dialogue between the actors, dialogue from someone offscreen, or a general caption about the photo. I'll collect and post the responses I like best. Note: This is a PG-13 site, and as such, overly lewd, crude, or otherwise obscene material will not be posted. Click the button for a dialogue box to submit your caption, then head over to Extras to see what's been posted so far.

October 29, 2003: Added a link to The Lighter Side of Sci-Fi, cartoons by Tye. If you've been to a con in the last five years (or picked up this month's Cracked), you've seen his funny work.

Okay, that episode had so much potential and just blew it, like the BOOMstick Which Didn't. Something happened over a commercial break, or some crucial dialogue was edited, between the moment when Archer is about to make Chunky Sloth Salsa and the next scene where they're sharing their souls over shiraz. For the first time in a while Bakula really had the bit in his teeth -- I totally believed the guest star was going to end up a pile of smoking fur. But no.

Yes, this is the great Trek ideal of peace over violence, and that's a good thing. But Happy Diplomatic Archer is such a wuss -- he made the closing moment, when Xindi Rogers reminds him that not all his people are our enemy, into pure corn syrup -- and Angry Savage Archer is...I don't want to say more likeable, but certainly more watchable. And no fireworks at the end! I could have sworn something was going to blow up. Xindi Rogers destabilized the kerocite so it would explode and they couldn't track the ship, Archer decides to blow up the plant on the way out, the Reptilians discover the sabotage and they return to blow up the plant -- something! Where's the "kaboom"? There was supposed to be an earth-shattering "kaboom"!

I did like the "Last week on Enterprise" recap. Moogie notes, "Gee, they finally realized that people watch Star Trek for more than one week in a row?" I still want to hear Majel's voice saying that line, though.

Noticeably bad cinematography. I saw fisheye lens, super-speed panning, and that completely ridiculous watch-Trip's-feet-as-he-runs sequence. Look, if I want a close-up of Trip exerting himself, that's not the body part I'm going to focus on, 'kay?

At least the tracking drones were stolen from a different franchise. But apparently Archer's been spending a lot of time at target practice (he took out the drone this week and AWOL Shuttlepod One last episode) and Mal hasn't. That thing nearly gave our favorite tactical officer a mechanical wedgie, and he couldn't hit it!

T'Pol needs some Vulcan Valium. The girl was hopping all over the bridge like an ant on a hot brick. She couldn't even use the same comm button twice in a row.

Trip and Phlox: Trip caaarefully plucks the Duraslug out of the Xindi Boomstick, and asks the doctor "Is it alive?" Phlox cheerfully sticks his hand out for the li'l feller and then sniffs him! Funniest moment of the whole episode. Trip running through the hallways and mowing down an NPC was not funny. I did have one cringe moment when Trip is trying to leave Sickbay and Phlox adds, "Oh, Commander..." (No! No more about the Vulcan groping! Please!) But then we cut to the bucket of enthusiastic radioactive Duraslugs, and we've escaped the C Plot of Terminal Boredom once again.

Very good discussion among Trip, Phlox, and T'Pol about how to proceed with testing the weapon. It was nice to see three competent professionals have an intelligent, non-ego-affected exchange and then choose an option based on merit.

I liked the setup of the shot where Enterprise is hiding behind the moon. It was a stock CGI creation, but it was really nice.

Food Chain intact. Recycled Trek Actor Checklist: John Cothran Jr. (Gralik, or Xindi Rogers) was Captain Nu'Daq in TNG's "The Chase" and Telok in DS9's "Crossover."

Phlox and Trip checking out the Duraslug

Trip: So, you can smell that thing and figure out if it's a good pet?
Phlox: The Denobulan olfactory center is quite acute.
Trip: Think you could drop by the Cap'n's quarters and sniff out why he's been a split personality lately?
Phlox: I don't need to smell that, Commander; it's obvious.
Trip: Enlighten me.
Phlox: Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't.
Trip: Has that slug battery grown back yet? 'Cause if this gun's rearmed, Ah'm gonna shoot you for that.

October 30, 2003: More thoughts on "The Shipment":

So, according to Xindi Rogers, Terrans didn't blow up their planet, or they won't 400 years in the future, because two of the Xindi species accidentally FOOMed it themselves already about a hundred years ago. So for what crime are Terrans being targeted? Blowing up the new homeworld? Going back in time to supply the morons with tectonic explosives? Charlton Heston?

Archer finds the mysterious energy signatures on the planet, and Doubting T'Pol immediately points out "They could also be electrical storms, deposits of diamagnetic ore, or the quantum echo from the gathering vacuum between my pointy ears." Sometimes this trust-nothing attitude is sensible, and sometimes it's just T'Pol being a pain in the neck. Does she still somehow not grasp Enterprise's mission? Was there some part of "stop them at all costs" which she didn't understand? As an alleged scientist, she should be willing to examine pretty much any possible data. Once again, we are left wondering if she's the weirdo or if all Vulcans of this era are this hidebound.

And speaking of T'Pol, if her general fidgeting is supposed to be a reflection of the Expanse messing with her nervous system, or her deteriorating condition from Pa'nar, it would be nice to get a snippet of dialogue indicating that (rather than leaving us to guess why she's doing a St. Vitus Dance on the bridge).

Saw just a little of the Reed Walk early on in the first forest scene. Note that in Trip's first scene, he distinctly says "Captain" (rather than "Cap'n") and not once but twice. Trinneer is just too good for that not to be deliberate. Drifting apart? Getting formal? What does it mean, what does it mean?

Avians! A sixth species? Anyone else starting to wonder if any of the five or six are actually "native" Xindi, or if they were planted? Or engineered? I mean, we have six species and five different phyla -- birds, insects, reptiles, fish, and mammals. That's stretching credibility a bit, isn't it?

When Degra notes to SnakeEyes "You could learn something" from the sloths, I was expecting him to say something like "Hanging from branches by your toes." I did notice that the word "sloth" was never said out loud, either among the Xindi or to the Terrans. Does Archer know what Xindi Rogers is?

I will say it was nice that the credits weren't superimposed over a serious chunk of action and dialogue, as they so frequently are. I got to enjoy the episode without trying to see people through a thicket of letters.

Silent Trav and Underemployed Hoshi return! I kinda thought the helmsman had too many lines this season.

Did Hayes remember to take the blast suppressors with him when they decided not to blow up the facility? At least he and Mal were definitely on the same page this week -- no jostling for supremacy, just two pros doing their job. And watching that interaction, and the scene I mentioned before with Trip, Phlox, and T'Pol over the weapon, makes me annoyed that such smoothness isn't de rigueur. Yes, yes, prequel series and first fumbling steps into space and more like 21st-century people and capable of making mistakes and blah blah blah, these people are supposed to be the cream of the species, not lottery winners. They can be technically brilliant but personally flawed. Seems like only Trip and Malcolm take each other's opinions seriously.

An awful lot of transporting, especially considering the mess which the trellium ore made a few weeks ago. Those repair teams must be Scottish.

"Those Xindi took out half of our security force." Took out permanently, or just on the DL? Redshirt beancounters want to know. If they're pining for the fjords, were they buried in space, or do the MACOs put their dead in stasis and bring them home for burial?

Trip tries to use the Xindi Boomstick. "It won't fire...Ah don't understand," he grumbles. Malcolm takes care of alien weapons, you take care of alien engines, that's why!

Happy and safe Halloween to all!

November 5, 2003: Best. Enterprise. Episode. EVER.

I can't even think of a polite expletive to begin my rave! We were too late, we didn't stop the Xindi! Oh my god, they're totally going for broke and killing off the entire main cast! Hot damn, Malcolm has a beard! (But it needs to be much more closely trimmed, and more of a goatee.) Writer Mike Sussman is a god. Director Robbie McNeill hit every note perfectly. T'Pol slammed Enterprise into one Xindi ship to rip off the other one! Travis doesn't even get a line in death! About six thousand Terrans left?

Oh my god! You killed Earth! You bastards!

Oh my god! You killed Earth! You bastards!

Oh, the varied scenarios just touched on here. A Vulcan captain leading a Terran crew, by logic, against emotion, with a Terran first officer. Then Trip as captain and Malcolm as first officer YES! I've only been asking for that for a year! ;) Losing to the Xindi. "General" Shran -- the Andorians in general -- helping Terrans by giving us or working with us to create shielding. Finally, a Vulcan admitting that they hobbled the Terrans' warp program, and if they'd done the opposite, things might have been different. Soval still being an insensitive jerk. (Well, some things never change.) For the first time, I could believe T'Pol's restrained Vulcan affection for Archer; the gentle respect and less-held-back mannerisms made sense after living with Terrans for 12 years. Trip getting his nasty back and suggesting that Mal space the excess Xindi prisoners, and then threatening the Yridian. T'Pol wordlessly acknowledging that she's out of her depth being captain. The astonishing vindictiveness of the Xindi, wiping out the last survivors of our race in ones and twos.

This was so wonderfully dense. I want more episodes like this! Be daring, be bold, show character development, do not show sex, show science fiction. This is what Star Trek is about. These are the unknown possibilities of existence which we should be exploring most weeks. ( I know it's hard to hit a home run every time, but this proves they're capable of it!)

Why is Archer always the best when he's not himself? Bakula has bags of experience being just a little off kilter, and he plays Archernesia as broken but compelling. Other than all the deaths, I could be totally happy with the show continuing in that future universe. Well, all right, I suppose that's throwing series continuity utterly out the airlock, but they could have waited until the end of the season to kill off the temporal parasites, right?

Ceti Alpha V is where Khan was left. Ironic. Just a little echo of "Timeless," and Archernesia's last moments were channeled from Lon Suder's in "Basics II," but I can deal. Stupid MACOs aren't any good in the future either. Loved the space battles -- the maneuvers were amazing. CGI of poor Earth going FOOM was astounding. (There's the "earth-shattering KABOOM" we missed last week.)

Food Chain intact. Photos likely Friday or Saturday. No Recycled Trek actors. I'll definitely have more commentary later.

Captain Tucker, te morituri salutaum.

Today is a good day to die. Kinda makes me wish Ah was havin' a bad day.

November 7, 2003: More on "Twilight:" That alternate universe is fascinating. I could have stayed there half the season and not gotten bored. And what a teaser! Sussman is awesome.

Vulcans are stronger than humans; T'Pol should have been able to pick up that piece of ceiling which landed on her ankle. Or ripped the boot off the uniform and slid her leg out. And not for anything, but she was being really wimpy and whiny about the whole incident. What happened to Vulcan stoicism? Tuvok didn't scream until he was being tortured. Maybe it's just more of the female-Vulcans-are-weak crap that B&B seem determined to embed in canon.

The temporal parasite MediTECH actually works. The parasites are out of synch with our universe, our space-time continuum. They are stuck at the moment they intersected with this universe. So Archer's brain can't form new memories (or "engrams," as they say in the Trekiverse), can't move forward in time, because it's infected with the parasites which are anchored to that past moment.

When Archernesia gives Trip the injector specs the second time, why couldn't Trip just say "Great! I'll try these right away!" and make the poor guy feel better? Did Archernesia have to know that he just embarrassed himself? It's not like he's going to remember tomorrow that he gave Trip the specs twice -- lie a little and make him happy. Probably Trip (and everyone else) wound up doing this later on, as Archernesia got left farther and farther behind.

T'Pol says to Archernesia in the opening scene, "You're up early." But her next statement is "Breakfast is almost ready." If she wasn't expecting him to be awake, why did she have breakfast prepared for him? Or was she hinting that she usually has to go get him, rather than Archernesia waking up on his own? (And when he looked in the mirror and did a double-take at his gray hair, was everyone thinking "Boy, he finally got to use that Quantum Leap skill again!"?)

Rewatching that breakfast conversation, it's really clear that T'Pol has done this an infinite number of times. Nice performance by Blalock. Actually, she was great in all her civilian scenes. Maybe she's just not cut out to be Vulcan.

So the injectors in the starboard nacelle are fused because the blorp caused a power surge. Um, why not line the nacelles, which prove to be one of the most critical parts of the ship, with the Thrillerium-D, and just make sure T'Pol stays out of them? It's not a great compromise, but it might have prevented this.

I swear nobody can sit comfortably in the Big Chair except Trip. T'Pol and now Mal have to sit splay-legged.

This episode gives the first hint that there is some contact with Starfleet even in the Expanse, although since this is a reset timeline, it doesn't have to be canon. Convenient, that.

I thought T'Pol looked fairly good in the Starfleet blues, although that particular outfit was too big on her (deliberate, to evoke the idea that she can't fill the captain's shoes?) and the collar was left too open. The future civilian outfit was very nice: flattering and appropriate without making her look like a tart. Blalock really needs to eat more, though. Those collarbones are scary. You'd be afraid to hug her because she might poke your eye out.

Archer stabbed the Xindi with the statue of Cochrane, which was cool and ironic. Then someone had it cleaned and remounted, which is a gross kind of trophy, I suppose.

First Officer Reed and Captain Tucker

Malcolm: Here they come. Shields are up. Phase cannons are ready.
Trip: You take out the one with the scissors. Ah'll make sure the other one never puts lipstick on any of us again.
Malcolm: Maybe this will demonstrate to Makeup that we intend for our memoranda to be taken seriously.
Trip: Too bad it'll only apply to this universe.
Malcolm: Half a loaf, my friend.

Trip suggests blowing the "excess" Xindi prisoners out the airlock without batting an eyelash. Chilling, practical, and entirely understandable -- this was the Vengeance-Seeking Trip I thought we were supposed to get in the "normal" timeline. Can't decide whether I want to see more of this or not. Note again that Really Pissed Trip loses his accent almost completely. I love it when actors (and directors -- did Roxann Dawson and Robbie McNeill trade notes? They're good friends) pay attention to details like that over the course of a series.

The only person on ENT who's a bigger jerk than Archer is Soval. But Soval has no reason to be heroic other than his race, and every race has its creeps and villains. Gary Graham is doing a fine job being such a pragmatic priss.

An awful lot of gray hair for guys in their mid-forties (and in Archernesia's case, late fifties), but I suppose stress will do that.

Did I mention I love the goatee on Mal? And how it completely obviates the need for him to wear lipstick? :D Needs just a little trim so it looks more like Mirror Spock's, and it'd be perfect. I'm Sicilian; I'm genetically programmed to prefer hirsute men.

"Our relationship has...evolved." Well, actually, it hasn't. T'Pol's feelings about Archer may have evolved, but he's the same dork who forcibly invited her to see Rosemary's Baby. And he was REALLY bordering on "jerk" at the end in Sickbay. Why why why why are they doing this to the Captain? Whose decision is it to make him such a twit? I know it was a setup for the "you'd make a good nurse" line, but really, did he have to be such an insufferable teenager?

I wonder what T'Pol eventually sees in him as the future plays out. Is he easier to deal with as a "victim"? When he gets the shock anew each morning, is he subdued enough each day to be easier to live with?

Does T'Pol stay with him, telling him this story every day, as her penance for screwing up the mission? It's more than payback for saving her life (or for not dumping her on the first M-class planet and lining the ship with Thrillerium, which would have prevented the Stuck in the Groove Blorp from hitting Archer in the first place). Because she didn't succeed as captain, because the Xindi weren't stopped and the Terran race was essentially wiped out, she owes them something. Like Sisyphus, eternally pushing the rock up the same hill, knowing it will never reach the top, she tells Archernesia the sad news every day for nine years, knowing she's going to have to tell him again and watch his heart break again tomorrow. That's her punishment -- reliving the consequences of her mistakes. (And that makes Archernesia into a version of Tantalus, with the fruits of his labor just within his grasp but never actually reachable. Or Prometheus, who was chained to a rock with an eagle eating out his liver every day only to have it grow back each night so the eagle could start over in the morning. Greek myths are great for this kind of stuff. )

Archernesia asks Captain Tucker "How long has it been since you took command?" Trip thinks a second and says "Nine years." And I've damned you and missed you every day of it, for leaving us in this mess and getting our race killed and abandoning me up here in charge without your help or your camaraderie.

Note the low lighting to save fuel, as Voyager did more than once ("Year of Hell," "Night"). Was McNeill cribbing a bit from VOY scripts?

Loved the bad cop-bad cop interrogation scene. See, this is the menace which Archer lacks. Captain Tucker doesn't raise his voice until the end, but his hissed order -- "Go back to the Launch Bay. Use a plasma torch." Mal smirks savagely. "And slice that ship into neat little pieces. Keep at it until you find some evidence...that supports...his story." -- packed more ferocity than anything Angry Anger has shouted in a half-dozen episodes so far. This man has already spaced some excess prisoners, and not lost a moment's sleep over it.

Phlox and T'Pol tell Captain Tucker that removing the temporal parasites could reset the entire timeline and possibly resurrect Terra. (And that moment could have used another five seconds, lingering on Trip's face, a heavier snarl, another sentence of rebuttal, something.) Why did he choose to put them off, when it could have meant the restoration of everything? Well, first of all, I don't think he particularly believed them. But more importantly, Captain Tucker's life has devolved to fighting off Xindi. He's lost EVERYONE: his family, any other friends, his home, his planet, his species, his civilization. He has no more foundation. He has no history. He's got the people on Enterprise (and how much more precious they must be to him now), and the refugee colonists. Everything else, any other joy or concern, has melted away, leaving just these six thousand people to protect. If there are Xindi coming (and we see how utterly ruthless they are), Captain Tucker has no energy to spare to think about Phlox's and T'Pol's theory. He doesn't discount it, he simply says it has to wait (the four-pip version of "Ah'll get back to ya.").

Who's running Starfleet to promote Malcolm? Did one bureaucrat survive, or do the remaining captains just get together and vote? Are the only 'Fleeters left the ones on the ships?

Separately, did the planetary government warn the Terran populace about the potential Xindi attack? Did they evacuate anyone? Were there more people on starships, on colonies, on the moon, on cargo ships? What about Trav's family and other boomers? (Although since Trav died so early, do we care? Why are they doing this to poor Anthony Montgomery? His only flyby was as a corpse.) Shades of the Borg taking out the El-Aurians.

If they'd survived the Xindi attack, would Malcolm have had to inherit the Intrepid in pieces? Would Ramirez have overseen repairs, or would that have fallen to Malcolm as the new captain? That would be a lousy first tour of duty in what's already a miserable life.

November 9, 2003: I should point out that while I was interviewed for Five-MInute Voyager's newspaper "This Just In," my quote was taken slightly out of context. It should have read, in full, "My only real complaint with the season so far is that Tucker hasn't been severely injured yet, or deposed the captain for being such a complete ninny and taken over Enterprise himself since he and Reed are obviously better at command. Not to mention much hotter. Especially with the goatee." I guess they had to trim it for demands of space.

Saw...Matrix...head...hurts.... Okay, no spoilers other than to suggest that if you or someone you love might react to strobe lights with seizures or other brain disruptions, you may want to skip or rent this one.

Shoot the hostage! And disarm the bad guy!

Armoury Officer's Personal Log, supplemental: By my calculations, if I wait ten more minutes, the captain will have managed to get himself captured one of these cardboard villains, and I'll have another chance to use the "stun the hostage" excuse. We need more Away Missions like this.

November 12, 2003: Malcolm shot T'Pol AAAHAHAHA HAHAHAHA Okay sorry I shouldn't laugh about that but it was so frelling funny. Isn't that what the noble victim-to-be-but-never-is always screams? "Shoot the hostage"? So he did! And smirked! And then nailed the bad guy anyway! :D Actually Mal was great in the whole shootout. Lots of the Reed Walk. Lots of properly hit targets. MACOs still have lousy aim without the MechWarrior zoom feature.

Well, we needed something light after last week. Although I'm beginning to think that This Reporter at "This Just In" was right -- I haven't had an episode to recap fully yet this season. I thought this was going to be an excruciating 41 minutes of fish-out-of-water story, which I despise, but fortunately we got over that by the end of the first act.

The villains were straight out of Central Stereotype Casting (Moogie note: we really should start up a website for them), but it was good for a laugh. Note that writer David Goodman made very little effort to explain or set up the whole idea; we were just tossed in and had to accept that hey, Enterprise found this settlement on this planet. On one hand, sometimes it's nice to skip the cabbagehead narration; on the other, sometimes I really miss those five or seven minutes less of an episode from TNG to ENT.

Not only did Archer not violate the Prime Directive, he was actually upholding it by Kirk's standards: these humans are entitled to the birthright of their species. Their development was arrested by their forced resettlement. They deserve the benefit of the advancements other Terrans have made. (Moogie note: ah, let 'em bake; 300 years and they haven't figured out how to make a harmonica?)

Trip was very cute strutting around in the leather and chaps. I had really thought he would have had more of a presence, but nooooo, it's the Archer Show again. Oh well. He was great in that one scene -- you can tell how much fun Trinneer was having. At least Trip didn't make a fool of himself. We have established, however, that he approaches pretty much any unknown mode of transport with "How hard can it be?" (Suliban cellship: "Up, down, right, left, how hard can it be?" Horse: "Ah've seen every John Ford western made, how hard could it be?" Let's see him try that attitude on a unicycle.)

I suppose I should complain that once again T'Pol plays Victim Vulcan, and Hoshi and Trav get like two lines each, but those are fast becoming ENT traditions, so why rock the boat? I will still whine that Archer is always so much better when he's not being Archer. Bakula put on just the slightest touch of drawl for the pretense, and he was kinda cool as the cowboy. I wish I knew what was going on with this guy.

A little of "The 37s," a little "A Piece of the Action," a little "The Return of the Archons," a little "Spectre of the Gun." And we'll mention "A Fistful of Datas" just for the sake of completeness. Didn't The Great Bird pitch TOS as "Wagon Train to the stars"? A good bottle episode other than the single mention of the Xindi and the inability to collect the whole settlement.

Recycled Trek Actor Checklist: Glenn Morshower (Sheriff MacReady) was Ensign Burke in TNG's "Peak Performance" and Orton in "Starship Mine." James Parks (Deputy Bennings) was Vel in VOY's "The Chute."

No damage. Lots of drinking for the Food Chain. Photos Friday or Saturday.

Little ENT on the Prairie

Trip: Ah dunno about this.
T'Pol: The classic recipe for Five-Way Cincinnati Chili requires very little actual cooking. The meat does not need to be browned beforehand. The only task is to keep the materials from burning for two hours as they simmer.
Trip: We're talkin' about evay. She burned water last month.
T'Pol: Perhaps you are correct. I should alert Doctor Phlox, to be safe.

November 15, 2003: Cat #2 really enjoyed this episode, making herself comfy on the couch and watching the whole time, but Cat #1 was more interested in Mamma and Dad's fish dinner {::smack:: "Get down!" outraged meow of protest} and Cat #3 was busy cleaning off the grill rack we left for her.

Anyone else think the teaser was just a little intense for 8 p.m.? Took me a few minutes to get back to dinner.

The boys both move very comfortably in the western gear, but only Trip sounds like he belongs there. Archer wears the pre-Matrix outlaw long jacket (and so many bandannas I thought I was having a flashback to junior high school in the '80s) while Trip has the gentleman's waistcoat. Was that supposed to reflect anything about their character status or their personae? Or was Wardrobe just excited about breaking out new costumes? I was amused to note that the schoolteacher had excellent hair, teeth, skin, and makeup for someone whose culture was from the 1850s or so.

Were the strange dissolves supposed to be homages to the camera work in actual westerns? I've seen so few I wouldn't know. And if anyone's seen enough John Ford films, tell me if Trip actually patterns his movements after the actor -- that would be extremely funny, and clever on Trinneer's part.

Okay, so Archer doesn't want to frighten or unnerve the townsfolk at first by revealing who they are. Then out of a ship of 83, why send down one of the only two non-humans on the crew? Why not Hoshi? Why not a security goon or a MACO? Must the Big Three or Big Four be in everything?

When the horse seller asks Trip "What happened to yours?" (your horse), watch Trip. He holds himself absolutely still for a second, almost tharn, as he tries to figure out where the hell to go next. It's like he doesn't even want to commit to a reaction with body language. For some reason I find this hilarious. Trinneer has done this before too, when Trip is confronted with someone who's trying to control a situation. It's a nice touch. (And was Trip bribed or threatened into using his harmonica as a trade item?)

So where did they get the outfits and the gun which the horse seller decides is authentic? Stole them off someone's clothesline?

Why was the episode called "North Star," as the name of the town was never mentioned? (Besides bad editing, hush.) In American history, that's the star which escaping slaves used as a guide to head north -- out of the states which practiced slavery, to Pennsylvania and northward, or even Canada. (Of course, they also felt for the moss growing on the north side of trees, but "Moss Growing on Trees" doesn't have the same oomph for an episode title. Besides, that would have been more appropriate for "The Shipment.") And since this episode was at least in part trying to preach about slavery, that was the link. Archer and company all said they came from "northern" towns, and the Skagaran settlement was north of the town where they were. But what, I ask, was the metaphorical Star? Terra? Enterprise? Captain Courageous? Trip's blinding smile? (Bad editing.)

I have to wonder if Captain Courageous gets his I Can Do Anything Better Than You abilities from a pill or a shot or a hormone blast or something which wears off after a while. He can get knocked unconscious with one punch sometimes, but then he turns around and gets a gaping hole blown in his shoulder and still wins a knock-down-drag-out-leaping-slicing-dicing battle with the bad guy! And speaking of the hole in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza, I still think it's highly unlikely that he would have fought or won that battle with that kind of injury, but that's happily in keeping with Trek tradition, so we'll let it go.The wound effect was a little gross (if realistic), and Bakula did remember to keep that arm mostly immobile through the remainder of the fight.

Sandy, one of my navy sources, is also a horse source, and I refuse to make the Mr. Ed joke. Her take on the Giddyap! moment:

Okay, I was asked to critique Connor's riding skills. Well, he didn't have any. Trip looks good on a horse. Sorry, but your posture sucked. And you DO NOT HOLD Western reins that way. Any reins that way. Owning five [horses] and riding them makes me a tiny bit qualified to comment. But, since they established that he knew squat by his comment of "I've seen every John Ford western, how hard could it be," it is acceptable in that he didn't know what to do. Ditto for how Trip pulled T'Pol up into the saddle. Wrong way. An aside: try to mount my mare like he did, and you'll be on your ass. May will not tolerate a sloppy mount with you using her withers for stability. That's what a saddle horn is for when you mount up.

That boy had "hard hands." A death grip on those reins. Reins should be held loose enough to be able to give neck rein or soft bit commands, but held so that they don't slip out of your grip. Hard hands means you are not relaxed enough to give proper cues to your mount and will end up sending confusing signals to her or making her "bit shy" (hating the bit because she is being hurt by it). This is true whether riding Western or English.

After T'Pol was on and he gathered the reins, watch the horse's head. He actually pulled the right rein back a bit. That is putting pressure on the bit in the horse's mouth (her tongue actually) and is telling the horse to stop and possibly turn right. If he had done it any harder, the horse would have moved and turned her body to the right, to relieve the bit pressure on her tongue. Trip then tried to give the command to move forward. Ha! Still yanking back on that right rein. Horse still thinks she needs to stay still. She only moved because of her handler's signal. The intricacies of pressure from bits and reins is how a horse is trained.

He also had both hands on the reins. :~( My personal Western preferences aside, but really not needed when reins are held together. If you are at a fast trot or gallop, or working cattle, yes, but not at a walk or slow trot. Just my preference.

Got to love trained stunt animals. Her handler was out of camera range and tried to make the boy look good. He succeeded.

I might add that I thought Trinneer was given the direction by the trainer to pull down just a bit on the reins, so that the horse would not move until given the command. While I have no way to confirm it yet, I bet the horses and trainer came from the same place which trained Porthos. Aside from that, Trip's frustrated little "wouldja move already?" expression was priceless. I do that all the time while commuting.

Moogie thought the sheriff's question "Isn't it a little hot for coffee?" was an elegantly subtle way of urging Archer to leave. I didn't catch that -- I thought the sheriff was trying to call the captain's bluff. See, I gripe about bad writing, but I compliment the good lines too.

Every time one of our crew said something about being from another town in the north, I expected the clown cavalcade from "The Thaw" to roll in and announce "There aren't any other towns!"

So if there is a fourth-season follow-up to this, is it going to be like the unfortunate "Fair Haven/Spirit Folk" from VOY, or more like "A Piece of the Action" or TNG's "The Royale," where outside influences have completely reshaped these people? What seeds have we sown, we wonder?

When the phase pistol fire hits the water trough, shouldn't all that concentrated energy dissipate as steam or something?

Someone tell director David Straiton (who also directed "The Shipment") that a shot of someone's feet running -- Archer's or Trip's -- is not exciting. In fact, it's weird and distracting. Are we supposed to be studying his boots? Waiting for him to stumble and fall? Memorizing the pattern on the linoleum?

A question for my non-American readers: How you do feel about watching episodes like this, based on a specific and stereotyped chunk of American history? Are you familiar enough with it to know all the nonverbal cues, or is it mostly mysterious and a little confusing? Does it feel elitist? (Why couldn't it have been 1300s Scotland and William Wallace?) Is it boring or frustrating, or just another genre?

November 16, 2003: A few people have written to explain that John Ford was known as a director of westerns, not as an actor, so it's like Trip saying he's seen every Hitchcock film or every Stanley Kubrick movie. To which I respond, "Yes, but I've seen 90% of all the Trek franchise, and I still can't land a shuttlecraft, fly a starship, program a holodeck, or operate a tricorder!"

Out, out, brief candle: Kellie Waymire, who played Crewman Elizabeth Cutler, died suddenly on Thursday. :( Our condolences to her loved ones. We only saw Liz a few times, but she was one of the familiar faces which helped fill Enterprise's halls and made the ship feel real. She'll be missed. Now I'm really glad I did a Quiz for her.

November 18, 2003: I will confess there's one thing I really enjoy about this time of year (the pre-holiday gift review): almost every magazine you pick up has an article like "20 Things We Want For Christmas" or "Toy Suggestions For The Geek On Your List," and almost every one features some futuristic-looking widget with a Trek reference in the description. Just this week we have Newsweek (11/24/03, "Your Office on the Road") with "New technology lets you carry the computing power of the Starship Enterprise in your briefcase" and This Old House (December 2003, "Best in Home Tech: 20 of the Year's Coolest Tools, Gizmos and Gadgets") with "Trim It Up, Scotty: Don't let the Starship Enterprise styling fool you: The [tool name] is one very down-to-earth corded trimmer."

November 19, 2003: Okay, two things are now official:

1) Jolene Blalock and Connor Trinneer might have had some kind of spark early in Season 1, but it is way gone now. That kiss had all the explosive force of a Tupperware burp. I'm starting to wonder if it's her; the infamous ANIS decon scene was spectacularly flat as well.

2) Archer is the most insensitive SOB ever to sport four pips for Starfleet.

I have also lost a huge amount of respect for Phlox. Ya know why? The very last scene in Sickbay. Sim says he remembers his own childhood and tells Phlox "You were a damn fine father." Phlox, allegedly choked up, says Sim was "a damn fine son." Sim makes his sad, stiff little speech and tries to be noble about something he'd be forced to do anyway, he lies down on the biobed, and he looks up at Phlox in fear. Archer is standing right next to them, but off to the side, out of Sim's line of sight. Phlox gives Sim the anesthetic. And Phlox walks away, and Archer stands there, as Sim goes under, knowing he's never going to wake up again. Would one of you heartless jerks hold the man's hand in the last seconds of his life? They created him for this purpose, and they later knew he was going to die shortly, and Phlox just named him son. And neither of them can offer him the slightest comfort? I could not believe how colossally cold these two were. Even if you want to chalk it up to Archer not wanting to feel close to someone he essentially ordered to commit suicide, or being whacked about the mission, there was no excuse for Phlox to turn his back on Sim. None.

Archer also completely mishandled telling Sim about his origins. IMHO, he (and Phlox) should have drilled it into Sim from the moment he was aware that "you're special, you were created for a very important purpose, you're the only one who can give Trip this precious gift, only you can save him." Granted, that would have made for much less drama at the end, but why not frame it as something Sim should be proud and happy to do? When they then find out that it will kill him, Sim would then have much less doubt about considering his actions a noble sacrifice.

The whole genetic memory bit annoyed the daylights out of me, frankly. Sim shouldn't have Trip's memories, or accent. He certainly should not be remembering more things as he ages as though the memories were popping up like email alerts. ("You've got high school!") The cells which Phlox used to create the symbiont were blood or muscle cells, to begin with (not brain cells), and Phlox grew a genetic copy of Trip. It wasn't like the mimetic fluid from "Demon/Course: Oblivion," which duplicated an entire adult being (including memory engrams). This was a brand-new person, starting over from scratch. He had his own life, his own experiences, his own memories. Otherwise, everyone alive would be remembering their ancestors' lives back to the Bronze Age.

Why would T'Pol miss Sim? In fact, why would she permit herself any kind of attachment to him? I'm not being rhetorical here. She objected to his creation. She respects the real Trip as a colleague. T'Pol and Sim didn't spend all that much time together on screen. What gives? Seven kissing Holodoc on the cheek at the end of "Tinker Tenor Doctor Spy" ("That was a platonic gesture. Do not expect me to pose for you." "Noted.") was way more heartfelt, and sincere, than this faked liplock. I will give her credit for at least making the effort, however much she did or didn't mean it, to give Sim some kind of gift, some kind of affection, before he allowed himself to die. A fine state of affairs this is when the Vulcan can show more kindness than the Terran captain or the ship's doctor.

And speaking of VOY, and having more depth thereupon, didn't this feel a bit like "Tuvix"? And didn't that have more emotional oomph? Ultimately "Twilight" was a better episode. Is that part of why Sim's death, and arguing about his death, didn't pack as much power? Because we saw Trip actually die (sort of) two weeks ago?

Trinneer was good, but not outstanding. The moment when Sim (Moogie announced early on that he should be called "Pirt the Three Percent," as he's the anti-Trip) confessed his affections for T'Pol was lovely and bittersweet. You could really feel Sim's fear and desire to live when he confronted Archer in Trip's quarters. The turning point in the launch bay was very organic and believable. The Old Yeller speech in Sickbay came out oddly wooden, but the last second when he looks up at Phlox, the man who gave him life and is about to take it away, was a sock to the gut. And the look on Trip's face as Sim is eulogized -- there's a personal log I'd love to hear. Dear Lord, what has been done in my name?

Moogie and I were hugely impressed by the child actors! I wonder if Trinneer worked with the boys so they would pick up his accent and mannerisms. Adam Taylor Gordon (Sim at age 8) was particularly dead-on.

While I object to how they treated Sim, his creation was the right thing to do, for all the reasons Archer mentioned. If they can save their Chief Engineer, they should. And we saw in "Twilight" what could happen if Enterprise is missing a vital crew member. It was deeply unfortunate that Sim had to die half his life early, but the greater good was served, I think. (And Trip was certainly up and about quickly after brain surgery, wasn't he?)

How did Malcolm feel about this replicant of his friend? He seemed courteous and polite in the Mess Hall, but carefully distant. (Then Sim jokes that being stuck in Shuttlepod One with Malcolm, both of them having to pee in a bottle, would be a terrible old age. An obvious sign that this isn't Trip.)

Well, the Trip/T'Pol folks got their moment in the sun. Let's all move on. Very amusing that the, um, insomnia treatment has progressed to the point where Trip is cheerily burbling away about business while she's pressing and squeezing and draping herself such that she nearly gives the show an M rating. Again -- no sparks.

What consequences might there be, legally, from what Phlox and Archer have done? Phlox wouldn't be allowed to practice medicine in the Lysarian community again. But anything else? As Archer noted to T'Pol, neither Starfleet nor Terra is beholden to this species's government. Would it fall under laws which might have been passed after the Eugenics Wars, like those which prohibit the kind of enhancements which were done to Dr. Bashir?

LeVar Burton used to be a great director -- his work on DS9 and VOY and even TNG was great. He did "First Flight" and "Cogenitor." But this one and "Extinction" were really not up to snuff. Moogie noted that there were only two close-ups in the whole show, one of Trip at Sim's funeral, and the other of the snogging. Bring back David Livingston! There's a man who knows how to frame a shot.

Recycled Trek Actor Checklist: Gordon is now ENT's go-to Young Trip; he played Trip as a child in his nightmare in "The Xindi."

Food Chain intact. More comments and photos Saturday. Since most of the trauma was Sim's and not Trip's, I haven't decided if this will get a full recap or not.

You owe me

The whole week before "Similitude" aired, I was waiting to use a Weird Al joke, and now it's kinda tasteless. I hate that.

November 20, 2003: Too much rumination going on to wait for Saturday, although I will have more commentary then. I suppose I should have said this first last night: This was not a bad episode. It make me think, and made me feel, and therefore succeeded as an hour of television. All the moral ambiguity is great to fight over amongst ourselves. So it's not like ANIS or "Rogue Planet." I'm just very unhappy with how some of our people behaved. I'll have to see, when I go back to watch it a second time, if I'm any more impressed with anyone's performance (especially Trinneer's), or if I can make more sense out of the characters.

Let's be generous to Archer and try to figure out some motive for his behavior. Was he trying to convince himself that Sim is an it, and not a he? Sim was conceived, literally, as a walking bag of spare parts which unfortunately has Trip's face. Does Archer think that if he shows the least kindness to this creature, treats him as a person, that he will somehow be betraying Trip? Or that he won't be able to let Phlox go through with the procedure? Does he feel like he's actually murdering Trip? Does he think that by objectifying Sim, by making him an enemy, a tool, a thing, that he won't feel like he's killing Trip? Is Archer clinging to his Captain de Sade persona (blow Yossarian out the airlock, threaten Xindi Rogers) in the hope that he will feel less like a heel? (That would at least be consistent.)

If they had handled this the way I suggested -- rearing Sim to understand that this was the greatest, most precious gift he could give, and that only he could give it -- it would have helped get around this emotional thicket. And it still would have played into Sim's eventual reasoning: "If you save Trip, you save Enterprise. If you save Enterprise, you save Earth." Archer wouldn't have had to change his argument to T'Pol, or get off his quest for the great white Xindi. He just didn't think to try to win Sim to their side, as an individual. Phlox did commit to Sim as an individual, named him, reared him, taught him. That makes his betrayal -- not the surgery, but turning away from Sim -- even more cruel. Not a word of "I'm proud of you for doing this, you're a good man, your sacrifice will save the planet," nothing.

Most of us are kinder about putting a pet to sleep than Archer and Phlox were about Sim's death. Archer has ranted about how "my compassion guides my judgment" and "I can't save humanity if I forget what makes me human" but he consented to give this being life and sentience, allowed him to be human, and then denied him human comfort in his greatest extremity. Archer's not showing compassion or humanity. He could have given Sim the basic courtesies of human interaction without surrendering his goal. Is all this supposed to be a deliberate part of the Xindi arc? If it is, how are we supposed to like the captain at the end of it? Really -- the heart of the series is supposed to be the person in the Big Chair. If we come so far that we can't stand Archer any more, what then? Knock him off and make Trip captain?

What about the famous Denobulan medical ethics? What if Sim didn't consent to the surgery, and Archer did have to drag him down to Sickbay with a gun to his head? Would Phlox operate without Sim's permission? Would he operate if Sim was clearly being coerced by the aforementioned gun to the head? Does he see Sim as a person or an extension of the slug in the jar? How could he see Sim as the slug if Phlox called him "son"? How could he call Sim his son if he was going to have to make hasenpfeffer of him a few minutes later?

I guess here's what I'm getting at: Either Sim is a person, or he's an object. If he's a person, treat him like a person. Be kind, be affectionate, don't think of him as Trip-lite but as an individual in his own right. But stress to him that his purpose is to save Trip. If he's a thing, then treat him as a drone. Parts is parts, not people. Don't teach it to read, let it develop relationships, relive memories, allow it dreams. Archer wouldn't have had acida over a thing; Phlox would not have called a thing "son." Conversely, they could have stood by a friend who was willingly giving himself up to save Trip and thereby keep the mission going. Archer and Phlox were trying to have it both ways. Or rather, they started seeing him as an object, realized he was a person, and then retreated to treating him as an object again. And then when he's dead and it's too late, they award him the accolades of person again.

And maybe this is why I didn't love this episode as everyone else seems to. I couldn't engage with Sim. I couldn't commit to caring about him because I couldn't decide if I was supposed to see him as a person or as parts. Tuvix was categorically a person; we genuinely lost him because we got to see him as someone other than Neelix and/or Tuvok. Even the occasional stray Borg drone (Hugh/Three of Five from TNG, One from VOY) has been given more individuality. This slippery slope between It and He is fine on a storytelling level. It's a real mess Archer and Phlox have created, no argument. But if you're going to allow for both interpretations by the audience, you have to accommodate those emotions. T'Pol is the wrong choice to embody the Sim-as-Person contingent (she's not supposed to display any emotions, let alone mercy and pity and white lies); that should have gone to Phlox. So if I'm of the audience segment who sees Sim as a sad sacrificial lamb, the script doesn't give me anywhere to go with that. Archer and Phlox aren't framed as making the wrong choice in standing there callously while Sim dies. It's not even an option. I'm just left raging that they treated him so badly.

Dammit, we have another Trip-and-Cogenitor link! Sim has Trip's memories. And Sim/Trip is -- once again -- faced with a person (himself or someone else) being treated as parts, without consent or choice. How many times does this one soul have to go through this?

I keep replaying the kiss before dying in my head, trying to figure out what T'Pol is thinking. Mercy kiss? Real affection? Pity for the condemned man? Trying to make up for her own fault in not stopping Archer from creating him in the first place? Blalock played it and Burton directed it as bordering on sensual, but there's no sexual tension there. It just doesn't make sense. B'Elanna's and Tom's fiery back-and-forth courtship on VOY was a slowly growing relationship, and it was logical (if you'll pardon the term) for passion to be there between a Terran and a Klingon/Terran hybrid. But Vulcans simply don't wear their hearts on their catsuits like that. The affection T'Pol had for Archer in "Twilight" was believable: restrained, quiet, but palpable. This was arbitrary. And speaking of two weeks ago, if she loved Archer in that episode (even in an alternate timeline), her sudden or suddenly revealed desire for Trip or Sim is even more jarring. The whole scene just felt exploitative. It's like B&B are trying to have it all ways -- T'Pol as a lust object for everyone and anyone. It hurts her reputation (Trip was right, to be honest) and doesn't expand on the character. It just makes her look cheap. It wasn't any better when they did it to Seven of Nine and Commander Pinocchio.

This is now three? four? eps in a row where Trinneer has said "Captain," not "Cap'n." But Young Sim (if you accept that he has the accent) does say "Cap'n." Is the idea that something happened in Trip's head to distance him from Archer, and he won't use the nickname anymore? I like this little D-plot, if that's what it is.

Other things I liked: whatever ambiguities there were, the episode did not go for the easy solutions. Sim didn't get fatally injured in the shuttlepod towing Enterprise out of the magnetic cloud so Phlox could extract the neural tissue without Sim having to choose to die. Trip didn't wake up as Sim was 17 and not need his neural tissue. Sim did look and sound like Trip, and did remember everything Trip knew. There was no mediTECH which saved Sim and Trip, or even prolonged Sim's life.

November 22, 2003: "Similitude" will not get a full recap, because the episode was about Sim. But Trip and Sim each get their own entry in Nicks and Scratches.

Hey, what happened to Trip's chest hair? He was going organic for a while and now he's waxed again. I like a judicious amount of chest hair.

So, Trip's got flooded intake manifolds, a primary injector flare, fluctuating warp fields, and a system-wide overload. He scrambles on top of the warp core, opens a hatch, and does some kind of TECH move. But before he rushes off to finish shutting down the core and avoiding a breach, he makes sure to take a moment to put the hatch cover back on. Was Mamma Tucker really obsessive about her kids cleaning up after themselves?

Why does Archer put T'Pol in charge of overseeing extensive repairs? What engineering experience does she have? Why not Hess (Trip's supposed second-in-command), or even Malcolm?

When Phlox grabbed the Lysarian larva (not larvi, unless that's meant to be some other word) and injected it with Trip's blood sample, it looked like the prop department had gone down to Lioni's and bought a really big fresh mozzarella. C'mon, it even had the tub of water and the saran wrap!

Sim: te morituri salutaum.

"It's not that Ah'm scared of dyin'. It's just that...Ah can't imagine not bein' here tomorrow."

I suppose on second viewing I'm seeing Archer more as trying very hard to hold onto the idea that Sim is a bag of parts and failing repeatedly, but it would have been much more dramatically palatable if we could have seen that Archer realized that. A conversation with Phlox or T'Pol, a personal log, something to indicate that Archer himself understood that he was torn. I don't know if it would have helped with Phlox because he still committed that unforgivable last-second flip-flop from father to sawbones.

Is Archer angry at Sim because he feels like Sim is trying to supplant Trip? Archer started out thinking of Sim as parts, against his will he began seeing Sim as a person, but then Sim crosses the line and tries to be -- to replace -- a person who already exists?

Regardless, I maintain my opinion that both of them handled the whole thing badly, and it could have been avoided if they'd agreed, beforehand, that Sim was a person who was born to make a sacrifice, and acted accordingly. Then Archer could have shared Porthos and his flying ship model and everything else without reservation. This was poor planning on Archer's part. He didn't think the whole thing through. Whether or not they could have known that Sim would have Trip's memories, we're still talking about a sentient being. It astonishes me that the captain of the first Starfleet vessel could be so dense. Again I ask: Why why why are the TPTB portraying Archer like this? What is cool about a guy who is making a career out of shooting off his own foot?

Whichever beagle played Porthos in Archer's quarters was great about hitting her marks. Ran right over to the pillow and sat. Bounced right back up and danced for dinner. Zipped over to the fallen model but didn't bite it (or baptize it) but then she does get up and walk around on it!

Adam Taylor Gordon does an amazing job as Sim at 10. Or really, acting as Trip might have at 10. He has the slightly-heavier accent, the eyebrows (the eyebrows!), the expressions, the gestures, the vocal tics -- serious kudos. Whether he sat down with Trinneer or did it on his own, that takes a lot for a child actor to recognize and mimic so well.

A little too convenient that 10-year-old Sim grasps who Trip is and what Sim himself is meant for, instantly, wasn't it? But then, if he hadn't, that would have been the perfect opportunity to teach Sim that he had this great gift he could give, and writer Manny Coto wasn't going there.

"Ah'm not talkin' about an adolescent crush, that was...well, that was two days ago." Snicker. I liked that line.

Why is Malcolm piloting the second shuttlepod? Don't they have other pilots? Does Trav store all the energy he would normally expend on speaking and having a personality and use it to be on duty 24 hours a day so they don't need relief at the helm?

If the phase cannons could shoot a chunk of the magnetic particulate off the hull, why couldn't they shoot more of it off? Wouldn't that buy them a little more time? Shave it down once a day rather than letting it build up unabated?

When they Phlox and Archer initially tell adult Sim that he won't survive the operation, he says, somewhat resigned, "Why not give up my life? Ah've only got...five, six days left anyway." Archer interjects, "That isn't how we see it." But that's exactly how they see it, and it's the conclusion they need Sim to come to later. Again, these two set themselves (and Sim) up for this trauma.

I will revise my opinion of Trinneer's performance upward -- I guess I was just too upset to appreciate it the first time around. I could see Sim's sense of personhood, individuality, his desire to live, blossoming and being crushed at the same moment on Trinneer's face in that same scene in Sickbay. He looked like he wanted to throw up. (Of course, I felt like I wanted to throw up, so the scene succeeded.) And at the end of the confrontation in Trip's quarters, Sim really realizes that he's not Trip, that he can't be Trip, even though he feels like he's Trip. That horror and heartbreak is all in his eyes. Archer has just balled him up and thrown him away. For Sim, he's lost a man who's part friend and part parent. No wonder he goes to work near T'Pol; at least she consistently regards him as a person. (So does Mal, in the little which we saw, but Coto isn't going there either.)

Why does Trip have a toy rat on his bookshelf next to the photo of him and Lizzie? (It was taken during the filming of "The Xindi" since he's wearing that shirt and you can see the umbrellas in the background.) Maybe it's an armadillo?

It's so hard, in the scene in Trip's quarters, to figure out where my loyalties lie. Do I side with Sim, as a sentient being who deserves to live? Do I side with Sim because he's almost Trip, and regard him as I would if Trip were fighting to live? Do I side with Trip who's dying in Sickbay? This is good conflict, actually -- this is the kind of Trek which makes you think. And squirm.

Why do we always hafta clean up after His Pipness?

Ah better change the oil on the airlock hinges; we're comin' up on three thousand prisoners spaced.

November 27, 2003: Okay, "Carpenter Street" was so boring, even my screencap hardware quit in protest and didn't record. So I might not have photos until Monday.

Fortunately, we were watching with friends, so we had a really good time laughing and making awful jokes and MST3King the whole episode. (T'Pol to bad guy: "Shut up." evay: "Or I will kick the crap out of you for the fun of it.") My friends couldn't stay too late after the episode, though, since one of said friends is a puppeteer and had an emergency call to fill in as Rosita on the Sesame Street float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade! woo hoo!

Ah, and I've just checked the credits, and does it surprise anyone that the "Killer Bs" are responsible for writing this turkey? I imagine not.

This is finally proof -- not that it was really needed -- that ENT is not about Archer. Puppeteer was venting about "Similitude" ("Why didn't Archer shave for two weeks? Was it because his head was so far up his butt that even a futuristic razor couldn't work? Can't we just make Trip the captain?") and noted that while all the Trek series have had a triumvirate of core characters, this is the first series in which the captain isn't one of them. Kirk-Spock-McCoy, Picard-Data-Worf, Sisko-Kira-Odo (although DS9 was always the most ensemble show so you could argue Odo), Janeway-Doc-Seven, and now Trip-T'Pol-Malcolm or Phlox. Archer may show up the most, but he isn't the most interesting. Which leads to my next point...

"Carpenter Street," despite being a large and scary link in the Xindi puzzle, was boring, because Archer and T'Pol are not interesting enough to carry the entire episode themselves. In "Future's End" and maybe "11:59" (VOY), "Past Prologue" and "Little Green Men" (DS9), "Time's Arrow" and First Contact (TNG), "The City on the Edge of Forever," "Assignment: Earth," "All Our Yesterdays" (if you count Sarpedion in this argument), and Trek IV: The Voyage the Hell Home (TOS), our crews ended up on pre-Trek Terra, sometimes with the Trek ship in orbit and sometimes not. But the Trek characters themselves were always interesting enough that the adventure was fun. This wasn't. It was like the "X-Files" episode "Colony" (where Scully finds the big glowing green fishtank-vats where they're growing clones) except without the fishtanks, Mighty Morphin' Power Assassin, or cool suits. T'Pol was vaguely funny when contrasted with Dejerken, but the drive-through scene was excruciating. We just don't care enough about these two for the story to work. There was very little suspense, no fish-out-of-water moments showcasing how the characters can think on their feet (I hate those, but at least T'Pol and Trip were funny about it in "North Star"), no sense that the future might be changed or erased or fixed based on what they did. And if there's no mention of the Xindi in the future (B&B have to address the problem that they can't rewrite episodes which have already aired in those other series, since they don't have George Lucas's money), does that mean this entire season, the whole arc, is going to be one colossal Magical Trek Reset Button™? Good for Lizzie Tucker and the seven million dead, I suppose.

The bad guy came on screen and I immediately recognized him as Recycled Trek Actor Leland Orser (most memorable as Dejaren in VOY's "Revulsion," but he also played Gai in DS9's "Sanctuary" and Colonel Lovok in DS9's "The Die is Cast"). I never did catch his character's name, so I was just calling him Dejerken. I couldn't even get all that revolted by him and what he was doing to the innocents on behalf of the Xindi, because the whole story was so "24" or "CSI" or "NYPD Blue" or some other non-Trek police show I don't watch because it's not Star Trek. Maybe on second viewing I'll be more outraged.

What was with that bizarro camera work in the interrogation scene? Did Mike Vejar suddenly channel "Cops"? His kid borrowed the camera for five minutes? We all lost the thread of the conversation as the image swooped and dipped for no apparent reason.

I give Archer credit for not punching a man who's tied up. And T'Pol obediently diving for the ropes was very amusing.

We saw Trip only because Trinneer has a clause in his contract mandating that he appear in every episode (for which we're grateful). Actually, the moment when Trip turns back to see they've returned and blinks in surprise was the highlight of the hour.

That was NOT Detroit, but Sunset Boulevard. And what a model of great behavior to show the captain of the Enterprise stealing a car and robbing from an ATM, calmly and without regret or embarrassment. All Kirk and Spock did was nick some clothing, and Tom and Tuvok would have returned the truck if Starling's thugs hadn't vaporized it.

Now Hoshi and Travis know: in order to get promoted, you have to die first. Daniels was a crewman (Archer's called him that several times) when Silik FOOMed him, but he has two visible pips in this episode, making him a lieutenant.

Archer tells T'Pol that her doubts about time travel are about to be put to rest. Nice lack of follow-up. She looks around, makes a single skeptical remark, and that's it. No comments afterward, no log, no argument, nothin'.

Food Chain intact. Obviously no damage. (Although we didn't see Trip's assignment -- could have been long division and writing in cursive, for all we know.) I'll have a photo or two at some point. I will have a new Extra every week through Repeats Month and a Half, so keep dropping by!

Peach and caramel pie...mmmm

{sniff sniff} somethin' burnin'? Ah thought evay promised she was goin' to stay out of the kitchen for Thanksgiving.

November 28, 2003: My readers are the best. Less than 12 hours after commenting that the episode didn't record, Lee from sends me gorgeous clear photos to use! Orchids to you. And everyone else go check out the site -- clean, simple listing and photos of all the munitions used in Trek so far. Good reference. Plus Lee also won an Ex Astris Excellentia award (April 2002).

I have to confess that every time I see the episode name "Carpenter Street," I keep thinking of Elton John's song "On Dark Street" from The One. It's just the title; there's no contextual connection. Especially since this episode might as well have been called "Wooden Street" or "Sawing Logs Street."

Sweeps has really been a bad case of whiplash, hasn't it? "Twilight" to "North Star," "Similitude" to "Carpenter Street." Just a note to TPTB: "range" doesn't mean "show us your best and your worst in the same month."

Was this ep an excuse to send the bulk of the cast and crew home early for vacation? Did everyone have limited-run theatre engagements? And the director didn't even bother to dress the set where they set up the Xindi blood centrifuge; they just cleared out the matte paintings and wallboards and left the lights. I mean, there are cheap effects, and then there are cheap effects, you know?

Moogie was annoyed for most of the episode because Dejerken refused to throw even a sheet over the prostitute he picked up at the beginning of Act One. If Starcher and T'Hutch had to wear jackets, it was probably cold enough that the poor tramp's bare midriff was freezing in the unheated warehouse.

ENT MST3K, already in progress:
{Dejerken drives up to the warehouse for the first time and buzzes to be let in.}
Puppeteer: "Hey, we've got the camera for the whole night -- let's just keep shooting!"
evay: "Yeah, and my brother said we can borrow his old car!"
Puppeteer: "Just drive it out behind the soundstage. Plenty of room."

Daniels tells Archer "History doesn't mention anything about a conflict between humans and Xindi." Why is Archer the only one who doesn't leap to the conclusion that Hey, maybe we succeeded!? (Then Archer asks Daniels "Why are you here?" Well, they're standing in the galley -- Daniels was Chef's intern, wasn't he?)

The look on T'Pol's face as Porthos rushes into her room and sits on Trip's yoga mat is priceless. Dammit, I just got all the Terran sweat out of that, and now I have to send it back to the cleaners to clean the dog hair off! I was waiting for Archer to make a cheese (or cheesy) remark, but maybe that got edited out.

"[Daniels] told me I could bring one person, no more" to the early 21st century to find out what the weapon-researching and weapon-building Xindi are doing. So Archer of the two non-Terrans. Not the ship's weapons and security expert, not someone who could pull apart an alien machine or disable it if necessary, but the Vulcan science officer. And then they don't bother to make the rice picker joke! (Or even the convention joke.)

Anyone expecting "Magic Carpet Ride" when the stereo came on in the boosted truck? Or "Who Let the Dogs Out"?

Archer is such a 40.8kg weakling. Malcolm would have booted in that apartment door with a single kick. (Moogie notes, "And Trip would have just shot off the door handle and barged in.")

Why isn't anyone wearing seatbelts? That just makes me mad.

T'Pol's lipstick looked unnaturally pink in the drive-through scene. Is she rummaging through Mal's makeup bag now?

December 2, 2003: Okay, now I'm starting to get embarrassed: I won another award! Jupiter Station (a Belgian site, not to be confused with the Janeway/Paris archive of the same name) gave TripHammered their Gold Award for December 2003. The Belgian Jupiter Station is a big, easy-to-navigate database covering all the series, with an emphasis on photos and encyclopedia information. Some features like episode guides are still being filled in, but there's plenty to enjoy.

December 3, 2003: Our first Extra of Repeats Month and a Half is a new Get Me Rewrite! Trip's not in it, but the image is so priceless I couldn't resist using it.

For want of a horse, momentum was lost

T'Pol: I fail to understand your discomfiture with your gift, Commander. Did you not request a pony?
Trip: Well, yeah...back when Ah was six.
T'Pol: Perhaps your message was delayed in transmission.
Trip: The North Pole ain't that far from Florida.

December 4, 2003: Ah, cross-cultural dilemmas: do I leave unedited the clearly British caption which starts with "Cor blimey" even though Archer's not British, or do I tweak it?...nah, funnier as it is. :) Y'all are coming up with some great lines.

December 10, 2003: Our next set of Extras debuts tonight, to last through January: ENT Libs!

Remember the classic kids' game "Mad Libs"? They were stories which came in a pad, with blanks labeled with parts of speech (noun, verb, adjective). One person read off whatever the blank required, and the rest of the group shouted out answers, the more random the better. Then the person with the pad read back the resulting lunacy. Here's the "Enterprise" version. We kick off with Trip and Malcolm, then continue in the same order as the quizzes.

December 17, 2003: This week we have Archer and T'Pol's ENT Libs, which are starting to drift slightly left of normal. Hey, does anybody like these things? Somebody email me yea or nay.

December 24, 2003: Just in time to compete with all the Christmas music, we have ENT Libs: The Theme Song. There are a lot of blanks to fill out but trust me, the weirder the better.

Happy and safe holidays to all.

December 31, 2003: And to round out the year, we have ENT Libs for Phlox and Travis, which are pretty strange even with ordinary entries.

Happy and safe New Year's to all. Don't drink and drive. Only two more weeks to new episodes!

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