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The Trek Nation - Bound

Bound

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at April 16, 2005 - 4:24 AM GMT

See Also: 'Bound' Episode Guide

Plot Summary: While heading to an M-class planet reported to have flying lizards, Enterprise is approached by a ship with an Orion pilot, Harrad-Sar. Archer convinces him to deactivate his weapons and the Orion proposes a business meeting on his ship, which Archer accepts for the chance to smooth relations between Starfleet and the Orion syndicate though Reed has security concerns. On the vessel, Harrad-Sar makes a proposal for Starfleet to mine a planet rich in magnacite and gives Archer a gift of three beautiful slaves who dance for the men between dinner and the business discussion. Meanwhile, Tucker feuds with Kelby, who feels that the former chief engineer is stepping on his toes. He also lies to T'Pol when she asks him whether he has had any daydreams involving her.

Archer brings Navaar, D'Nesh and Maras aboard and they immediately cause disruption among the crew, as the men are distracted from work and the women get headaches. D'Nesh goes to engineering, receiving a very thorough tour from Kelby before Tucker puts a stop to it and orders Kelby confined to quarters when he refuses to stop explaining critical ship's systems to the Orion. Navaar apologizes to Archer for her behavior when he comes to explain that she is no longer anyone's property but to ask that ship's protocol be observed. She asks if it would violate protocol if she kissed him of her own free will, he says not necessarily, and T'Pol calls him to the bridge while he is still in her embrace. They have reached the planet with the magnacite, where a small, lightly-armed ship attacks them. Archer, furious, orders phase cannons to destroy the vessel. Reed refuses to lock weapons, and Archer is prepared to fire himself when the little ship moves off.

D'Nesh goes to Kelby, sharing his bed, then suggesting that he isn't a real man if he won't take what he want and fight Tucker for control of engineering. Kelby sneaks into engineering and sabotages the engines; Tucker finds him before he has finished the job, punching him out, but the ship's propulsion has been damaged. In sickbay Phlox warns Archer that the pheremones of the Orion women have all the men on the ship in a state of aggression that causes delusions, while the women are suffering from headaches; the only crewmembers seemingly unaffected are T'Pol and Tucker, for reasons he does not understand. Archer has the women placed in decontamination, discovers that they have been communicating with Harrad-Sar via a device in Navaar's quarters and demands to know when he plans to attack Enterprise. In engineering, T'Pol offers to help Tucker and offers a hypothesis for why he is immune to the women's pheremones: she believes that they share a psychic bond from having mated, which also explains the daydreams to which he finally admits, and her immunity is protecting him.

Harrad-Sar arrives and tells Archer that the Syndicate wants his head whether or not it's attached to his body. He outmaneuvers and tractors Enterprise, admitting after he has captured the ship that he is a slave to the women's wishes, not the other way around. T'Pol and Tucker come up with a plan to break away by electrifying the cable and overloading Harrad-Sar's ship's systems. The Orion women escape from decontamination and come to the bridge to try to stop this, but Tucker shoots Archer and Mayweather when the former orders T'Pol's arrest for resisting the women and the pulse successfully breaks Enterprise free. Later, after Phlox has treated the crew from their reaction to the pheremones, T'Pol admits to Tucker that she wants him to return to Enterprise, and he confesses that he asked Captain Hernandez to reverse his transfer three days earlier.


Analysis: Thank you so much, Manny Coto, for giving us an episode like this during Enterprise's final weeks. Thank you for giving me something to remember the show by. You see, I had been growing sad. I had been growing nostalgic. Now, however, I can think of Enterprise as the Star Trek that gave us the worst episode out of all five series. And I didn't think anything could top Spock's Brain! Clearly I underestimated you and your knowledge of the original series. Somehow you managed to distill the worst qualities of that episode, "And the Children Shall Lead", "The Man Trap" and "Turnabout Intruder" into a single installment! Bless you, Manny, for setting me free!

And I don't even have to rant about the misogyny - oh, did you think that declaring that the women weren't slaves would get you off that charge? I don't really have to talk about the heterosexism, either: the assumption that male and female characteristics are absolute and hardwired in the brain, the apparent lack of gay people not only on Archer's ship but anywhere in existence in his century...not to mention the reverse sexism of believing that the scent of a green woman can turn any human male into a violent, lust-crazed imbecile. No...this episode made the crew look so stupid based on plot and continuity issues that those issues fade.

Maybe we should pretend it's all fantasy-land, or an alternate universe like next week's episode. I mean, "Bound" does start out with dragons. Then, while Archer and Reed sit through a waking wet dream on Harrad-Sar's ship, T'Pol asks Tucker about his waking wet dreams...on duty. This sets the stage for an episode whose theme might best be described as "sex and duty don't mix", or as my son asked at one point, "Are they saying there shouldn't be women on the ship because they distract the men?" Why, yes, son, I fear that may be exactly what they're saying, but it's hard to apply this to any fleets in general, because most fleets are not staffed by such UTTER COMPLETE MORONS. Archer, thinking with the wrong head, follows Harrad-Sar's directions to right where Harrad-Sar wants him and no one, not even the unaffected T'Pol or Tucker, wonders whether it might be a trap. Archer says he'll assign some clothes to the women but doesn't actually manage to do so, and he continues to carry on all discussions with them, even when things start going very wrong, rather than 1) allowing T'Pol to do so or, if he's too incapacitated to know he's incapacitated, 2) being relieved of duty by T'Pol who would surely have Tucker and Phlox backing her up after that little incident with trying to blow up a science vessel that's shooting the equivalent of pellets at Enterprise.

You're clever, Mr. Coto, to remind us that other, later captains have been similarly stupid. You bring up the Deltans - Kirk had one on the bridge with him in that first movie that many of us try to forget - and, well, Kirk had Mudd's Women, and Kirk had the Dohlman of Elaas, and Kirk had Tyree's wife, and...fine, captains and pheremones shouldn't mix. But what's Tucker's excuse for idiocy? He's not affected; Doctor "Healthy Sexual Energy" Phlox even certifies him pure of thought. So when Trip finds Kelby sabotaging engineering, why does he run around trying to punch him instead of immediately calling security? Why does he have no sort of guard on Mr. Confined-To-Quarters' door, or some sort of alert that would notify someone if a crewman being disciplined had, say, an Orion woman to whom he'd already explained the ins and outs of the warp drive in his quarters provoking him to mutiny?

Okay, so even he isn't thinking too clearly, and the women on the ship have headaches. Must be whoppers of headaches, because one would think the smart thing to do would be to put women in charge of all the ship's major systems, since Phlox seems certain that there's not a one aroused rather than cranky from those Orion pheremones. At the very least, one would think it might have been clever for one of the women with some medical background, or even Phlox himself, to take a shuttlepod outside the ship and work on an antidote to the Orion pheremones before Archer got someone killed. Archer himself might have been too whacked out to think of such a thing, but what's Tucker's excuse? What's T'Pol's? Normally when the crew starts acting wonky, the first thing everyone wonders is why Phlox hasn't discovered a miracle cure!

T'Pol has another brilliant moment when she follows Archer out of his "interrogation" of the Orion women, leaving one single security officer smiling at them. I guess she didn't dare interrupt Archer's ridiculous attempts at questioning them, after that slapdown when Navaar suggested that T'Pol was Archer's mistress/dominatrix/chain-yanker, but why didn't she point out that one man guarding three incarcerated women was absolutely certain to lead to three no-longer-incarcerated women? Was she daydreaming about Trip at the moment? It's nice that she and Tucker manage to find the time for a chat about their mating bond ("No we didn't!" "Yes we did!" "But you said...all right, fine!") in the middle of a critical and rushed effort to get the ship's systems back online. Kind of makes you wonder whether True Love Itself is an antidote for raging pheremone-induced horniness, doesn't it?

Right on time, Harrad-Sar arrives and does just what Archer predicted he would do, which kind of kills the suspense (Gee, will this episode end with Archer getting towed back to Orion space and being executed, or will it end with Harrad-Sar and the women being humiliated? What do you think?) Reed reluctantly exposes his aft cannons, Archer can't get his thrusters up to speed, Harrad-Sar puts Enterprise in bondage - nice thematic touch, Manny! - and then, shock of shocks, the women turn up on the bridge, only to be put out of commission when Tucker shoots his own crewmembers to stop them from doing the women's bidding. This may be a stupid question, but why didn't he shoot the women? Maybe an unconscious Orion Slave Girl emits just as much sex ooze as a conscious one, but wouldn't it have been worth at least shutting them up? Oh wait, he might have looked less heroic in T'Pol's eyes if he did that, shooting a poor defenseless woman with an exposed midriff. What's the point of winning the battle if you don't win the girl?

But he does, he does! And then, to get Trip and T'Pol together, Manny Coto, you make what I consider to be your worst miscalculation of all. You steal not from bad original series episodes, but from George Lucas. You know I really like Jolene Blalock and Connor Trinneer; I think they have lovely chemistry and have made nearly every scene between their characters work, even dreadfully-written ones like the "this never happened" discussion from "Harbinger", which you were forced to reference in "Bound." But you assumed that your characters would compare favorably with Han Solo and Princess Leia, and as much as I love Tucker and T'Pol, they don't. They seem reduced by the direct comparison, like a juvenile romance rather than something that's been building over a great many episodes. Stealing from your own franchise is one thing, even when you do it badly - Trek's always had an element of self-parody, and in other circumstances I might have enjoyed the attempt in the tag to recreate the Kirk-Spock-McCoy-Scotty banter - but stealing from one of the Star Wars movies undercuts everything. "Come on! You want me to stay because of the way you feel about me." Trip, you're very cute but you're not a scoundrel.

Normally I try to think of something nice to say about every episode, even episodes I don't like very much, but I think I've been very restrained. I have not unleashed the tiniest fragment of the feminist fury I could have leveled against "Bound"; I have only made small gagging noises at the heterosexism, the assumption that all sexuality in the universe is similar to that of humans, the belief that all men everywhere want women with the types of bodies glorified by early 21st century Hollywood plastic surgeons, the flamboyant immaturity of it all. So I'll simply say, again, thank you, Manny. You've actually made me relieved rather than sorry that the first part of "In a Mirror, Darkly", with Sato and T'Pol's bared midriffs and Evil Archer strutting his stuff, has been pre-empted in DC by baseball next Friday night.


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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.