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The Trek Nation - Demons

Demons

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at May 7, 2005 - 3:40 AM GMT

See Also: 'Demons' Episode Guide

Note: With the end of Star Trek: Enterprise approaching, this will be one of the final Enterprise reviews by Michelle Erica Green. However, that doesn't mean you'll no longer be able to read Trek reviews here at the Trek Nation, as Michelle will soon embark on a series of Retro Reviews of the original Star Trek series! Check back the week after the airing of the Enterprise finale for an introductory article to her TOS reviews, and then each week from late May onwards for a new review of the adventures of Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and the rest of the crew of the NCC-1701!

Plot Summmary: At the Orpheus lunar colony, a doctor tells John Frederick Paxton that the Vulcan-Human hybrid baby girl is fighting off her fever. Paxton says that she looks so innocent he could almost forget what she represents. Meanwhile, on Earth, delegates have gathered for talks to create a united coalition of planets, including the Enterprise crew. Tucker is annoyed that Archer is not getting the respect he deserves for negotiations with the Tellarites and Andorians, but Archer congratulates politician Nathan Samuels, who thanks Sato for her development of the universal translator. Mayweather is greeted by a former girlfriend, reporter Gannett Brooks. A haggard-looking woman approaches T'Pol, says "They're going to kill her!" and collapses. As Phlox examines the woman's phase pistol wound, T'Pol looks at the hair in the vial pressed into her hand.

On Enterprise, Phlox reports that the hair comes from a half-Vulcan, half-Human baby...the offspring of T'Pol and Tucker, though T'Pol has never been pregnant. Tucker says that he believes her but he is confused when she says that she believes that there is a child and it is theirs. Samuels is terrified that news of a hybrid child could exacerbate lingering xenophobia from after the Xindi attack and Archer at first agrees to let Starfleet conduct the investigation, though privately he asks Reed to contact Harris to see if the secret organization knows anything. From Reed, Archer learns that the isolationist movement Terra Prime has something to do with the existence of the child - the murdered woman, Susan Khouri, had worked for them - and moreover that Samuels has been trying to hide his own youthful connection to the xenophobic group. In exchange for Archer's silence, Samuels promises to turn over all information on the investigation about the baby, which reveals that Susan Khouri had been living in a low-gravity environment. T'Pol suspects a lunar mining colony, which Mayweather can help her and Tucker infiltrate.

Mayweather is also getting reacquainted with Brooks, with whom he becomes intimate in a shuttlepod when she comes aboard the ship ostensibly to write a news story on the crew; he is shocked when Archer and Reed interrupt a tryst to question her, having learned that she was recently on Orpheus and moreover that she has been using the universal translator to spy on delegates at the conference. When she refuses to answer questions, Archer has her placed in the brig and tells Reed to get her a lawyer. Meanwhile Tucker and T'Pol believe they have successfully infiltrated Orpheus - where Paxton has had the doctor working on the infant killed and is injecting himself with some sort of chemical - until one of the Terra Prime leaders, Josiah, identifies Tucker by name while Paxton's crony Greaves is hunting down T'Pol. Once he has the Starfleet officers in custody, Paxton tells them that their child is safe but they cannot see her because he is busy returning Earth to its rightful owners: humans.

Launching Orpheus from the surface of the moon, Greaves uses a short burst at warp to bring the colony to Mars, where his crew takes over the verteron array built to destroy dangerous meteors and capable of destroying spaceships. Archer pursues Orpheus, and the crew hears the message Paxton is broadcasting on all subspace frequencies. He announces that he can fire on any ship or facility in the Sol system, and demonstrates by blasting a new crater on the moon. Then he says that he will not use the verteron array again so long as every non-human in the system leaves, promising a new era of human-centered consciousness.


Analysis: Finally an episode that feels like real Star Trek...not because it gets in a cameo for Colonel Green or because it shows Tellarite and Andorian faces, but because it's about the kind of things that Star Trek was about at its best, on the original series and The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine and Voyager. "Demons" is a riveting hour of television, well-acted, with a good balance of character work and story development; there's almost no onscreen violence, with two pivotal murders committed offscreen, and an interesting, unique action sequence that does not involve any weapons save for one plot-relevant demonstration of the Martian array's firepower. As with all multi-parters, it's hard to get a sense whether this one will be able to resolve all its issues in the next hour, but there's certainly enough material to work through that it shouldn't suffer from feeling dragged out as the Mirror episodes did.

Peter Weller gives a wonderful performance as Paxton, a self-righteous racist whose confidence at present seems unassailable. He's apparently been plotting for years, and he isn't going to lose his temper or become distracted; he can cite Romeo and Juliet, ponder the innocence of an infant and speak in perfectly rational terms to T'Pol even though he believes she represents a threat to humanity. It's interesting how many of his associates, particularly the more vocally xenophobic ones, are people of color; apparently what we call racism will become a moot issue once there are different species on the planet, though one wonders how "species" is defined when Phlox explains that a Human and Vulcan should have little trouble creating a healthy embryo together, which is more than can be said for most Terran equine species. Paxton's hero Colonel Green's genocide, we learn, was not targeted against a particular ethnic or geographical group, but against people exposed to radiation which Green believed would alter the human genome for centuries. He was obsessed with the idea of impurity and decay in a manner not altogether different from 19th century racist warnings about the inevitable results of the mongrelization of the races, and Paxton takes this a step further, linking dubious genetics with residual terror from the Xindi attack and resentment of Vulcan meddling with Earth's space programs.

It wasn't so long ago that Archer was using the same us-them equation in speaking of Earth vs. Vulcan, humans vs. Suliban and Starfleet vs. Xindi. And it's frighteningly plausible, after the racism we saw directed at Phlox in "Home", that a group like Terra Prime would have success in recruiting members after something like the Xindi attack, though I was surprised to learn that they had been around when Samuels was a teenager and still existed in the same form; it would be nice to learn something about Paxton's personal stake in the group, why he was willing to convert the mining facility he inherited into the headquarters for such an organization when he has concerns that he, like Colonel Green, will probably be misunderstood by history teachers. He has no ethical qualms with killing off humans who get in his way, not only those who would betray him like Susan Khouri, but even those he suspects of becoming soft like the doctor caring for T'Pol and Tucker's offspring. Yet he seems to prefer to keep his own hands clean, letting Josiah rouse the masses in the mines and having Greaves attend to the details of running the facility. Is Paxton injecting himself with some naughty substance or with the same stuff in Khouri's system to compensate for living in low gravity? Are we going to watch him disintegrate into a panicked nutcase like Mirror Universe Archer or will he coldly and ruthlessly carry out his scheme?

I'd love to know more about Samuels, who was in essence a Hitler Youth member before becoming Pope; he says that he was young and foolish, but just as there was a specific incident that made him fear Denobulans, there must have been specific incidents that changed his mind. Then there's Gannett Brooks, who dated a man who grew up on an interstellar freighter and asked him not to accept a posting on Enterprise because she believed space exploration was the last vestige of a colonial impulse. That doesn't sound like someone I'd expect to join an Earth-first terrorist organization, and maybe there's more going on than Archer and Reed can guess...she could be working for Section 31, for all we know, or be telling the truth when she says that all she wants is dibs on the scoop. I didn't buy how quickly she claimed to fall back in love with Mayweather, which is sort of sad and may just reflect how boring Mayweather's been over the course of the series; sure, he's hot, but she's ambitious and if he actually settles down, he won't be providing any big scoops for her. I also didn't buy how quickly he fell back in love with her, one of those standard television "if they argue, it's supposed to stand in for UST" relationships.

It's much more interesting to watch Tucker and T'Pol, who seem to have taken two steps back after the two steps forward from the end of "Bound." She's calling him Trip, but they have giant trust issues and haven't worked out how to deal with the emotional overlap he blames on the Vulcan mating bond; she's right to be disturbed that he discusses his concerns with Phlox and not with her. (I so, so want to know more about this embryo transplantation procedure Phlox mentions, which could render the abortion debate moot and at the same time open a much bigger, scarier can of worms about whether individuals or the government own genetic material and who gets to decide when an embryo is just too damaged for gestation or when there are simply too many embroys that could be gestated for the planet to feed - that and the technology that was apparently used to create the baby were the most interesting aspects of the episode for me, though I expect them to be a technobabble footnote rather than a focus of the sequel.) I thought Tucker and T'Pol were pretty stupid to believe they could infiltrate Terra Prime without being recognized - T'Pol in particular, a Vulcan, and what was Archer thinking when he agreed to let her go - but emotionally it's easy to sympathize with their reasons even though it's a foolish and dangerous decision.

It's less easy to forgive Starfleet for leaving the verteron array completely unguarded while the Sol system is full of ships from across the quadrant. They're ostensibly there for a peace conference, but if Paxton could use the array to hold Earth hostage, so could the Tellarites, the Andorians, those neat-looking folk from Coridan or anyone else with a warp-capable ship and a grappling arm. It's a good thing the aliens have more integrity than Terra Prime! I doubt Paxton will see it that way, however. These are the kinds of questions that original Star Trek dealt with regularly, with the Enterprise captain professing idealism and the villain an evident representative of a move in the wrong direction. I just hope the trend continues in part two.


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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.