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The Trek Nation - Divergence

Divergence

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at February 26, 2005 - 4:15 AM GMT

See Also: 'Divergence' Episode Guide

Plot Summary: Archer visits Reed in the brig to tell him that Tucker believes he can reinitialize Enterprise's warp field, but they must retrieve him from Columbia while traveling at warp speed and Reed is the only crewmember with experience doing such a thing. Captain Hernandez matches Enterprise's speed and velocity, flying within 50 meters upside down so that Reed can use a tether to pull Tucker aboard from a Columbia airlock. Once he is safely on the ship, Tucker announces a plan to cold-start the engines, which will reset all subroutines, including the ones the Klingons sabotaged; he is puzzled as to why Reed is being taken back to the brig. Hernandez keeps Enterprise within Columbia's warp field long enough for Tucker to shut down and power up the antimatter stream, purging the Klingon subroutines. When Hernandez asks for her chief engineer back, Archer asks her to accompany him to the Klingon lab to retrieve Phlox. Privately he tells Reed that T'Pol reconstructed his erased logs and discovered the existence of secret agent Harris; he orders Reed to send a message to Harris, because the alternative is for Archer to tell Starfleet Command everything he knows about whatever secrets they're trying to hide.

At the colony, Antaak tells Phlox that he believes he can stop the genetic virus at stage one, which will allow cosmetic alterations but no enhanced strength, speed or other Augment-type advancements. Phlox says General K'Vagh will kill them if he learns that they are not working on the Augments project but Antaak insists that it would be an honorable death if it saves millions of lives. A group of Augment Klingons report to K'Vagh that they destroyed Enterprise and that K'Vagh's son died during the mission, but in reality the son is fine, still in the brig with Reed, complaining about the food. The Klingon Augments are slowly weakening, and Phlox learns that Fleet Admiral Krell has orders to destroy the entire colony if a cure is not found quickly, but he needs a week to check the proper strain to neutralize the virus. K'Vagh, who has promised the dying Augments that he will never turn his back on them, orders Phlox to test his strains on himself, Antaak and two guards, sacrificing three lives to save millions.

Reed admits to Archer that he knows Starfleet Intelligence believes the Klingons have a genetic research facility, which is likely where Phlox is being held. Archer demands that K'Vagh's son give them the coordinates of the facility before all his people die. At the colony, the two guards become ill, then Antaak, so Phlox knows that the general is carrying the safe strain of the virus. Harris contacts the Klingons to tell them that their Augments failed to stop Enterprise, only to learn that the Klingons never intended to work with Harris in the first place, only to use him. Beaming down with K'Vagh's son, Archer demands his doctor back, but Phlox insists that he needs time to cure the plague, reluctantly agreeing to use Archer as a host to replicate antibodies to hasten the process. In the meantime Krell's fleet arrives and engages both Enterprise and Columbia in orbit above the colony, which Krell has orders to eradicate before the plague can spread any further.

Phlox gets the necessary antibodies from Archer but still needs to do something to prevent the fleet from wiping out the colony. In desperation he sends a canister of the deadly virus to Krell's ship, where it infects everyone aboard; Phlox then offers to save everyone, so long as the colony is not destroyed. Krell convinces the Klingon Council to end its plans to sterilize the colony, promising to distribute the cure throughout the Empire, though many of the survivors are distressed about their altered appearances and Antaak tells Phlox that he may develop a new specialty: cranial reconstruction. Hernandez agrees to let Tucker remain on Enterprise to oversee repairs, and Reed tells Harris that he will never work for him or his organization again.


Analysis: There are probably holes in that plot summary, some of which may be my fault, but most of which stem from holes in the plot itself. In the sequel to one of the greatest hours of Star Trek ever, Tucker reboots Windows NX01, Reed discovers (several hundred years before Bashir) that Section 31 is run by absolute morons, and Archer goes down all by himself to a Klingon medical facility where once again he becomes Mr. Expendable, except of course he's fine, other than the occasional gagh craving. Plus a reunited Tucker and T'Pol act like middle schoolers afraid to ask one another to the winter dance. I feel like I might be better off not trying to analyze this episode, but sticking to commenting on the lovely hair and costuming and makeup on the Klingons in various stages of disrepair. Guys, I hate to say it, but this episode really didn't make me want to donate $36 million to save this show...in fact it didn't make me want to donate $36. If I want bad science, absurd plot devices and Klingon posturing, I can always go watch the original series!

I was one of those who didn't really need a logical explanation for how the Klingons lost their ridges in the era of the original series...as Michael Marek said at The Great Link in his review of "Affliction", this falls into the same category as "How come Saavik looked different in The Wrath of Khan and The Search For Spock?" in terms of importance. Last week, a brilliant, clever episode made me glad that someone on Enterprise's writing staff had asked the question, but this week I'm back to being sorry that they bothered. Almost from the start, my disbelief was stretched thinner than that ridiculous tether Tucker used to climb aboard Enterprise from Columbia (and when they started having problems, why didn't Reed just have someone cut it on Columbia's end and yank Tucker aboard, or why couldn't they just stick a big magnet on his spacesuit and tug him aboard?) I won't even touch the question of why, outside the ships' inertial dampers, Tucker wasn't reduced to atoms traveling at warp; let's assume that shared warp field protected him somehow without exposing him to deadly radiation. Then there's Enterprise going from zero to warp five in ten seconds without any hull strain...and since when do Klingons destroy ships with deadly subroutines rather than, you know, BOMBS? I suppose the writers were going for a parallel between the deadly virus to the people and the deadly virus to the ship, a "we're all in this together" sort of thing because the Klingon Augment virus might spread to other species or something which might sort of explain why Harris was working with the Klingons rather than...okay, never mind, none of this makes any sense no matter how I look at it.

So let me see if I have this straight with Harris. Krell contacted him, for some reason, not wanting to go to Starfleet and admit that the Klingons had nearly destroyed themselves with this virus they inadvertently created along with their Augments. Or maybe Harris found out about it when they tried to kidnap Soong, I don't think that was ever explained. Anyway, Harris decided not to tell Starfleet because Krell didn't want him to, that's what he told Reed...fine, let's assume he was lying to Reed because again this makes no sense. So somehow, Harris and Krell made a deal in which Krell would let Rigellians working for Klingons kidnap Phlox from outside a Chinese restaurant in front of his crewmates, then made another deal for the Klingons to disable Enterprise when Harris' plan to have Reed slow them down didn't work...and Harris thought that Krell wouldn't, like, blow Enterprise up or anything, because, um, he said so? Yeah. Okay, those Section 31 guys are obviously too smart for me, because none of this makes any sense whatosever. If Harris wanted Phlox to help save the Klingons, couldn't he have asked Phlox to please help with a plague on some remote colony, borrowed him legitimately from Starfleet in such a way that the crews of two starships would not have become suspicious? Or is that too unsophisticated for Secret Agent Man? And Reed was stupid enough to take orders from this guy? Sorry, Malcolm, you may have Jonathan's respect back but you've lost mine.

Section 31 can't be all that great anyway because although they will eventually have the augmented Dr. Bashir working for them, Phlox is evidently smarter than Bashir centuries before him. Bashir couldn't singlehandedly cure the Founders, but it takes Phlox and Antaak merely days to isolate and cure a mutagenic virus that is also threatening to exterminate an entire race. Not only that, Phlox is able to use his own captain as a breeding ground for antibodies without any consequences other than pain, temporary forehead wrinkles and a craving for gagh. Clone this Denobulan and replace Dr. Zimmerman's holograms with Phlox! John Billingsley had many of the finest acting moments in the episode, from Phlox's reluctant agreement to help Antaak after being tortured by the Klingons to his wry explanation of Denobulan marital complexity to declaring, "I lied" to a Klingon who already wants to kill him...he's smart, he's tough, he rolls with the punches. This will go down if nothing else as a great Phlox episode. And Mayweather had a great episode too! He got to have trouble holding position. (I'm sure he must have had at least one more line in there, too, but I can't recall what it was.)

Beyond that...well, it's hard to talk about Tucker's genius as an engineer since it consisted entirely of technobabble and singlehanded heroics while T'Pol sat around expressing skepticism. Where was the rest of the engineering crew: did he dismiss them so he could have an unobstructed run between the antimatter injectors and the reactor core? Shouldn't Kelby have been watching closely in case he needed to know how to do this later on? All right, taking Tucker's genius as a given, we get to witness his and T'Pol's maturity at its finest. "Sleeping well?" "Yep. You?" "Yes." "You sure?" They could take lessons from Archer and Hernandez, whom one would never have guessed from this episode were on-again, off-again lovers rather than friends and colleagues who flirt occasionally and then go back to working together. I know people are trying to save Star Trek: Enterprise but may I take one moment to express my interest in Star Trek: Columbia? I didn't realize how much I missed having a female captain since Janeway went to pieces in Voyager's "Night", and Hernandez, unlike Janeway, doesn't seem to have any problem being friendly with her officers and taking the lead from the first officer of another ship.

My favorite characters in "Divergence" are Klingon: Antaak and K'Vagh, respectively. The former understands that honor does not have to be defined by being a great warrior, even if one comes from a warrior family and is disowned for becoming a healer; he also accepts that it would be more honorable to be executed in disgrace for failing to follow orders, choosing to cure a disease rather than perfect an Augment, than it would to try to be obedient and risk millions of lives. K'Vagh at first seems like a single-minded foil - this is the guy whose "euthanasia" consists of blasting someone - but he is as willing to risk his own life as that of his subordinates in his duty, and his sorrow over the presumed death of his child becomes a commitment to the unit with which his son fought. I loved their different explanations and understanding of what makes someone a Klingon, which obviously has to do with more than forehead ridges to these men, even if Antaak cops out and becomes a plastic surgeon in the end (and I still want to know why heroes like Kang, Koloth and Kor went and had their foreheads wrinkled after what must have been nearly a lifetime with smooth skulls). Antaak and K'Vagh are so much more heroic than Fleet Admiral Krell, who double-deals with Harris and is ready to "euthanase" millions until he falls victim to the plague he's been sent to eradicate; then the coward calls the High Command and gets them to change the game plan.

I should say something about Archer, but all that comes to mind is, "You putz! Who beams into a secure Klingon facility with a phase pistol but not a single MACO or red-shirted ensign at least to guard the Klingon who's been a prisoner on your ship?" Scott Bakula's performance was fine, particularly in his scenes berating Reed and Harris, and it's become predictable at this point that Archer will put on his tough-guy face and submit to whatever's required of him - blowing up Xindi weapons, carrying Surak's katra, catching a lethal disease, incubating antibodies - but I can't say I feel any great admiration for him as he's writhing and growing forehead ridges. There's bravery and then there's recklessness. Does he still have the death wish he hinted at to Hernandez back in "Home"?

I'm feeling deflated after this episode. Instead of feeling like a great conclusion to a fabulous storyline, it feels like a lot of filler - Tucker stargazing in the middle of a critical mission, Klingon Augments lying around suffering gratuitously - and character development that's forced rather than integral and clever. C'mon, writing staff, lots of fans are pulling for you...give us the good stuff, not illogical sci-fi and hackneyed cloak and dagger stuff.


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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.