SCORE: (3/5 stars)
After returning from a planet with rubber foreheads on their faces, Reed realizes he’s made a grave error and left his communicator on the planet. I haven’t seen someone in Starfleet pull a boner like that since A Piece Of The Action in TOS, but as memory serves they left it there. Pull up a chair as we find out why they may very well have decided to leave it alone, based on the experiences of the NX-01.
So Reed and Archer return to the planet, a pre-warp civilization comparable in both technology and geopolitics to 1930s Earth. It doesn’t take long for them to find it in a tavern they had visited before, but it’s too late; it’s already been found. They’re taken captive by military officers who demand to know what the fancy science device is, and confiscate all their other fancy tools… including the phase pistol. You starting to see why maybe just leaving the communicator down there might have been a better idea?
Accused of being enemy spies, they’re thrown into a military prison and interrogated. An intercepted hail from Enterprise tips the local militia off to a certain individual named Captain Archer. They’re tight-lipped as can be, which only encourages a series of punches to the face that loosens the rubber forehead applique. For some reason, the locals act surprised that rubber foreheads could come off so easily. They all wear them, you think this would be a normal occurrence for face-punching. Red blood on the other hand, that’s something they haven’t seen before. Basically… fuck.
While the local military test out the settings on the phase pistol, the local surgeon examines the two prisoners, and finds that their biology is completely alien. Their blood is iron-based, a toxic element to the local species. They have a second kidney. They’re missing a pair of ribs (apparently this species never ate apples) and have organs completely unidentifiable. Their shuttlepod was surveilled moving at extremely fast speeds. The military leader Gosis suspects (rightly) that Archer and Reed are aliens with a warp ship in orbit, and accuses them (wrongly) of working with the Alliance, an enemy faction. Archer figures it’s safer to confirm the lie, and says they’re not aliens, just genetically modified and technologically advanced members of the Alliance. They buy the story but decide the best course of action is to dissect them and study their organs, an event that will later have its video footage leaked to the local version of the Fox network.
Trip hatches a plan to modify the Suliban pod that they have in the cargo hold, activate the cloak, and stealth their way down to rescue the two. While poking around in the pod, Trip triggers an explosion of the cloaking device, which turns his arm invisible. He spends the rest of the episode covertly masturbating in public. It’s not noticeable, but that’s because his arm is invisible. Trust me on this one. They’re forced to fly down before the cloak is fully figured out because the scheduled execution is pushing their time table. The cloak, of course, fails as soon as they show up over the city, and a couple of spitfires start spitting fire at them before they get the cloak restored.
The pod arrives at the gallows just before Archer and Reed are hanged, and they start a huge shootout to rescue the crew and retrieve the stolen technology. So, congratulations Archer. In an attempt to prevent cultural contamination by leaving a communicator, you instead created cultural contamination by making them think the Alliance has cloaking devices, beam weapons, and genetically modified supersoldiers, most likely further creating hostilities between the nation-states. Meanwhile, Trip’s arm has restored itself to a mostly visible state except for a little hole in the middle. I know what you’re thinking of doing with that hole, Trip, and I’m telling you not to do it.
It’ll be a while before I get to the TOS episode that I referenced in the beginning, but it becomes pretty clear from this episode why they decide it’s not worth it to risk retrieving technology from primitive worlds when they can’t easily lock onto it with a transporter beam. This episode is a super-strong argument for the Prime Directive. Once that’s in place, by the 24th century they won’t even set foot on planets that are pre-warp, with rare exceptions for those on the brink.
- Oh for goodness sake, Archer, throw Trip a bone! He never gets to go on away missions. He’s also less likely to act in a way that would provoke the local populace than, say, a certain cowboy captain. Besides, if he does, then the ship’s out an engineer instead of, oh, the captain.
- Yeah, sure. While you’re in a military prison cell, start talking about all the devices they took from you, and certainly mention the shuttlepod. That can only end well.
- The Suliban pod setpiece is clearly embedded in a concrete floorpiece. There’s no seam between the base of the pod and the cargo bay floor. That’s just sloppy set construction.
- The aliens mention that Archer’s hemoglobin is iron-based. Really? I mean, that’s a surprise? That’s what hemoglobin is. Whatever agent your blood uses to transport oxygen (possibly hemocyanin), you’re not going to call it hemoglobin.
- Gosis: Our scientists tell me it’s unlikely that a craft of this size could have traveled from another star system. They suspect a larger ship must be somewhere nearby, perhaps orbiting our planet. Tell me your orders! Have you made contact with the alliance? Answer me!
Archer: Our intelligence reports underestimate you, General. (laughs) Alien creatures? You’re even more delusional than we thought. This isn’t a spaceship. It’s suborbital. A highly experimental aircraft. We’ve been observing your territory for months.
Gosis: How did you evade our surveillance towers?
Archer: It’s made from a composite alloy, invisible to any of your tracking systems.
Temec: And your biological anomalies?
Reed: We’ve been genetically enhanced.
- Mayweather: Any change?
Trip: Still missing in action.
Mayweather: Having a cloaked hand could have its advantages. Be useful in a poker match.
Trip: I could probably become a world-class magician.
Mayweather: It might be helpful on movie night, if you bring a date. (Trip shoots him a disapproving look.) In case you want to steal some popcorn!
- Archer: An upset stomach? Do you really think he’d fall for that?
Reed: Well it might be an old trick where we come from, but maybe they haven’t heard of it here!
- chronotrek posted this