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The Trek Nation - Awakening

Awakening

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at November 27, 2004 - 4:19 AM GMT

See Also: 'Awakening' Episode Guide

Plot Summary: The High Command convenes and Soval is asked to resign because of his illegal activities as one who performed mind melds. V'Las tells him that the embassy bomber was a Syrannite so plans to attack the group are proceeding. Soval warns Tucker that Archer and T'Pol may be in grave danger and works with him in a plan to sneak a shuttlepod past the Vulcan sensor grid for a rescue mission while V'Las attempts to persuade the other High Command members that exterminating the Syrannites in the desert is the only course of action open to them.

Archer and T'Pau introduce themselves and are immediately distrustful. When Archer reveals that Arev guided them to the compound and died during the journey, T'Pau reacts with shock and says that Arev's real name was Syran, the leader of their movement. Alone with T'Pol, Archer says that since Arev put his hand on his forehead, he has felt as if something is inside him that is not himself. T'Pol also speaks to her mother, telling T'Les that she does not understand how a scientist could join the Syrannites; she is unconvinced when her mother explains her that the High Command actions at P'Jem and more recently in suppressing dissent convinced her that the Vulcans have strayed from the teachings of Surak. T'Les had hoped that her daughter would follow her into the movement.

Archer has a vision of Surak at the time of the Awakening 1800 years ago. Surak tells him that Syran chose him to be the vessel because he is not a Vulcan and as an outsider he can help restore the people to their true path. When he tells T'Pau about the vision, she asks him to allow her to touch his mind, which he reluctantly permits. Though T'Pol is skeptical, claiming that scientists have never been able to prove the presence of the Katra even via mind meld, T'Pau discovers Surak's living spirit inside Archer's mind and tells T'Les that it must be removed, even if Archer is unwilling to take the risks the extraction might pose to a human brain.

Admitting to his fellow Vulcans that he wants no witnesses of the planned massacre of the Syrannites, V'Las hails Enterprise and orders Tucker to leave orbit, having a Starfleet admiral contact him as well. Tucker refuses to leave, and launches a shuttlepod with Mayweather and Reed aboard in an attempt to retrieve the crewmembers on the surface, but the Vulcans fire upon it until it is forced to turn back. After a battle with several Vulcan spaceships, Tucker accepts Soval's advice that he break orbit before Enterprise is destroyed. Meanwhile, T'Pau again touches Archer's mind, but Surak himself chooses to remain with Archer and instructs him to find the Kir'Shara - a legendary artifact for which T'Pau has been searching for years. Though the High Command begins its assault on the Syrannite compound as soon as Enterprise is out of scanning range, T'Pau elects to stay behind with Archer to hunt for the Kir'Shara within the caves, and T'Pol remains as well.

Deep within the sanctuary, Archer opens a door with a series of gestures and discovers the chamber where the Kir'Shara is hidden. He and the others flee with the object, only to come across T'Les dying in the wreckage of the compound. T'Pol's mother says that she went to the Syrannites to help T'Pol, who had always struggled with her emotions. She tells her daughter she is proud of her and dies as T'Pol weeps. She and Archer are stranded on Vulcan, for Enterprise has left the region at maximum warp after Tucker learns from Soval that the High Command plans to attack Andoria and launch an interstellar war, despite the peace treaty Archer negotiated.


Analysis: It's been apparent for much of Enterprise's run that something was not right on Vulcan, and now we discover that arrogant, secretive Soval is actually one of the biggest fans of Earth! What's most interesting about "Awakening" isn't the discovery that there's a megalomaniacal High Command leader using logic to justify mass murder, nor that Soval is willing to risk his personal safety and that of his planet for the sake of humans and Andorians. It's that Surak, the father of Vulcan logic, apparently trusts an offworlder more than he trusts any of his followers to retrieve an ancient artifact and bring back the true path before the Vulcans destroy themselves.

I can't recall at the moment whether Surak himself created the ideology of Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations, but he seems to believe in it with all his katra. He may deplore V'Las' ruthless and self-serving logic, but at the same time he apparently does not trust T'Pau enough to transfer his katra into her, despite her years as a follower of Syran. What looked last week like a random accident, with Archer receiving the mind-meld because Arev was dying and T'Pol wasn't nearby, now seems to be the design of the enlightened Vulcan master. In visions he seems to be suggesting to Archer that not even the Syrannites understand the true path, and need an outsider to bring them to it. Evidently he did not trust even Syran with the Kir'Shara, whatever it does, if he did not allow him or T'Pau to discover its whereabouts.

I can't decide whether this is a wonderfully progressive concept or just regressive Trek in which humans have all the answers - the sort where Kirk would land on a planet, make a speech and convert everyone to peace, democracy and the American Way in the course of a one-hour episode. It would do much to explain how humans rather than Vulcans became the dominant species in the Federation (well, that and the fact that the Vulcans apparently had trouble getting along with their allies). The political parallels between Vulcan and George Bush's America seem unsubtle: V'Las uses the probability that the Andorians are developing weapons of mass destruction as an excuse to attack them, while at home he's eradicating free speech protestors, a religious minority, proponents of peace. It's difficult to believe that the others in the High Command accept his justifications so easily, particularly Kuvak who repeatedly points out both the cruelty and the illogic of the commands. Surely he must suspect that V'Las himself arranged the embassy bombing and implicated T'Pau?

V'Las does not seem to be a terribly deep character, but what's fascinating are the ways in which he's paralleled with T'Pau. When she insists that she will force Archer to meld with her and give up Surak's katra whether it's what he wishes or not, she sounds more like V'Las than the radical peacenik V'Las himself believes her to be. She seems very young to be carrying so much responsibility - it isn't explained why everyone accepts her as Syran's second, nor how T'Les became so powerful so quickly in a group she apparently joined only recently, since her dismissal from the Vulcan Science Academy. T'Pau accepts T'Les' criticisms without complaint but never really considers her points; she is too certain of her path. She does not seem anywhere near to achieving the pure logic of kolinahr...then again, neither does T'Les, who has allowed her feelings for her daughter to lead her to this impulsive search for answers, and certainly not T'Pol who weeps over her mother's body.

Gary Graham gives another fine performance as Soval but I'm finding the change in him so thorough after the events of "Home" that I'm almost inclined to believe he's working for someone. So he can do mind melds, too - is he secretly a Syrannite, as the High Council claims of their terrorist? Or did Forrest transfer his katra into Soval just before...okay, obviously not, but it's really such a turnaround that I'm literally having trouble believing in it. On the other hand, I am really enjoying Tucker in command. He's much better at it than he was in previous seasons, and does a nice job of keeping a sense of humor and informality with the crew while at the same time being as tough as necessary. Few of the other crewmembers get much chance to shine - Reed does his whiz-bang shooting, Mayweather does his whiz-bang flying and Sato announces that hailing frequencies are open. I'm having Chekov-Sulu-Uhura flashbacks.

Visually I found this episode stronger than the last, though overall the dialogue wasn't quite up to par with "The Forge." The Surak visions, saturated with golden light though set in the midst of a violent war, are eerie and moving, and I liked the suggestion of caves leading off constructed corridors in the Syrannite compound (though I'd love to know how they managed things like food and fresh air, let alone generating power for those holographic disguises). Still, it's hard to evaluate the episode thematically without having the final piece in the puzzle to complete the trilogy. This one isn't much of a letdown, so the momentum is strong heading into the final piece of the arc. So far the Andorian episodes have nearly all been good ones.


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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Michelle Erica Green is a news writer for the Trek Nation. An archive of her work can be found at The Little Review.