RSS iconTwitter iconFacebook icon

TrekToday title image

The Trek Nation - Hatchery

Hatchery

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at February 26, 2004 - 3:30 AM GMT

See Also: 'Hatchery' Episode Guide

Plot Summary: Enterprise orbits a planet where a Xindi ship has crashed. Archer summons an away team to a shuttlepod, which lands and discovers an intact hatchery though all the adult insectoids have died. While examining the egg sacs, Archer is sprayed in the face and receives a mild injury, which Phlox says was probably the result of having triggered a defense mechanism. Archer orders autopsies on the corpses and attempts to determine whether it might be possible to save the 31 eggs in the armory, which would send the Xindi a message that humans are not the ruthless murderers they're reputed to be.

Phlox discovers that the insectoids are genderless, reproduce asexually, and only live about 12 earth years. He expects that the eggs will mature in a week, but Tucker warns that their ship's remaining power supply will fail far sooner than that. Tucker tries to repair their generator but discovers that the power grid can't handle Enterprise's converters and concludes that they'd have to use Enterprise's antimatter reserves to power the Xindi ship. Archer orders him to do so, which concerns both Tucker and T'Pol, who believe Enterprise should be saving the antimatter for the trip to Azati Prime to destroy the Xindi weapon.

T'Pol visits Archer, who is working frantically to save the hatchery, warning him that billions of lives on Earth are at risk if their mission fails. Still, Archer insists that they have an obligation to save innocent lives and, when T'Pol refuses to deliver the antimatter to him, he relieves her of duty. Reed and Hayes discuss tactics to use against the Xindi and are getting along well when an insectoid ship arrives in the system and attacks before Archer can get to the bridge; Reed orders pursuit, destroys the ship using Hayes' new strategies, and finds himself relieved of duty as well by a furious Archer who insists that the Xindi on the attacking vessel might have been able to save the hatchery. Then Archer puts Hayes in command while he's off Enterprise, telling the major that he answers to the captain alone. He has MACOs stationed all over the ship.

Tucker and Phlox demand that Archer go to sickbay for a medical examination, but Archer refuses, and Phlox can find nothing wrong with him based on his surface scans. The captain has ordered Sato to send a distress call to summon the Xindi to save the eggs, but Tucker says that it will also give away their position, and finally agrees with T'Pol and Reed that the captain's irrational decisions are endangering the ship's mission to find the Xindi weapon. While Reed and T'Pol take over the armory and put weapons in the hands of sympathetic crewmembers, who help them seize the bridge from Hayes and a team of MACOs, Tucker beams down to the Xindi ship and finds Archer bonding with the hatchlings. The engineer must fire at the captain to get him back to the ship, where Phlox concludes that the toxin shot at Archer by the egg made him reverse-imprint on the baby insectoids and protect them like a parent.

When T'Pol orders Hayes to return to duty, he asks Reed why the lieutenant didn't come to him to explain the situation. Reed says that he feared Hayes would side with the captain, which Hayes admits that he probably would have done. Meanwhile Tucker visits Archer, who is recovering in his quarters and says he understands that Tucker was only protecting their mission when he fired at him. The captain wants to return to the bridge, but Tucker reminds him that the doctor is insistent that he should rest, and Archer reluctantly agrees, saying that he doesn't want another mutiny on his hands.


Analysis: Every Trek series seems to get a mutiny episode or two, often caused by the captain or someone else being under the influence or possessed. The original series had "Turnabout Intruder", Deep Space Nine had "Dramatis Personae", Voyager had "Bliss" and now Enterprise has "Hatchery", which, while scarcely original, combines excellent visuals and pacing with deft performances by the regulars for an entertaining if ultimately frustrating episode. There's superb continuity as well, both in terms of the Xindi arc and the character development thus far this season. One can see the conclusion coming from the moment Archer is sprayed by the egg, but Scott Bakula's edgy performance offers just enough of a suggestion that the captain isn't crazy to keep the audience guessing, though I must admit to snorting my tea during the speech about how human morality doesn't go out the window when things get rough. Does the word "airlock" mean anything to you, Captain A?

Because of this dynamic, one of Enterprise's chronic weaknesses actually becomes a strength in "Hatchery." T'Pol gives a frenzied speech to Tucker when she concludes that the ship's antimatter stores are at risk from Archer, trying to convince her impulsive lover of a few weeks ago that Archer is too emotional to remain in command. Archer does look pretty scary at that point - in addition to making ridiculous command decisions, he's flushed and sweaty and his uniform's covered with grime - but since the theoretically rational Vulcan appears to be on the verge of hysteria, it's hard to decide whether Archer is really over the edge or just trying to atone for past sins by fighting to save a shipful of Xindi children.

I don't blame Blalock for T'Pol's emotionalism; her performance, as usual, is engaging and nuanced. But the half-human Spock was far more stoic than she is. We even see her weeping in the previews for next week's episode. Maybe at this point we should be taking for granted that she has emotions and shows them freely because she is living among humans, but I still keep expecting her to be more Vulcan in the Spock-Tuvok mold. Instead she reminds me of Sarek in the Next Generation episodes when he'd lost control of his emotions, and unless this is building into a storyline like the disease she contracted from the mind-melding Vulcan rebels, it simply doesn't make a lot of sense.

In "Hatchery" the most interesting emotional growth occurs between Reed and Hayes, who are still sniping at each other in an early scene in a shuttlepod but have come to respect each other by the end despite having faced one another down over phase pistols. This is lovely material, particularly the snappish wit during the initial argument when Hayes insists that the senior officers need more target practice time and Reed gripes that they should get Mondays off for movie night rather than playing holographic games with the MACOs. He levels the charge of computer gaming against Hayes again later, when the major shows him a simulation he's concocted of how to blow up a Xindi ship (and it sounds suspiciously like fire down the refuse shaft, use the Force). But once Malcolm realizes that the guy is on to something , he apologizes and tells Hayes to keep at it.

Then, just when things seem to be getting friendly, Archer chooses Hayes as his personal enforcer and has Reed tossed into his quarters. I was afraid for a moment that we'd get a pat resolution to the Reed-Hayes problem in which Hayes returned Reed's vote of confidence by trusting him over Archer and participating in the uprising, but Reed never seriously considers discussing the situation with Hayes. Instead he and T'Pol take the bridge by force while Archer's away, which has to be pretty humiliating for the MACO on a number of levels. But in the end, instead of showing the kind of petty resentment Malcolm displayed against him a couple of weeks ago, Hayes agrees that he didn't get any preparation for this sort of scenario at West Point and concedes that he probably would have obeyed the chain of command no matter what, thus leaving their mission at risk. He and Reed have both grown up a bit and there hasn't been any phony sweetness; ironically, this is more believable than the Starfleet-Maquis tension ever was on Voyager.

Tucker, too, has a bit of a dilemma about what to do with his captain and friend; he spends the most time wavering about it and appears to be in the greatest anguish when he finally makes the decision to go ahead with the insurrection. He also doesn't appear to derive any satisfaction from being proved right in the end, when he finds Archer crawling with baby Xindi. I don't understand why he and Phlox simply back down when Archer snaps his fingers for MACO goon backup instead of using their authority to order Archer to sickbay - either there are a lot more MACOs on the ship than I had previously realized, or a lot of passive crewmembers who'd sit around and do nothing while their captain locked up his four senior-most officers.

Speaking of which, while Mayweather and Sato had eight lines apiece this week instead of their usual requisite four, they were still very peripheral to the story and given no chance to display emotion like the other regulars. They took the expected side in the uprising and Mayweather got to show off his muscles, but couldn't we have had ten seconds of their opinions on Archer's state of mind...particularly Hoshi's, since she was studying the Xindi records and might have had access to information about the species that we haven't yet heard?

And while things ended as they should have - Enterprise back on course for Azati Prime and the salvation of Earth, the hatchlings alive and awaiting rescue by the Xindi, the crew getting along again - it's hard to draw any trademark Trek message from this episode. Archer has some very poignant lines about protecting the innocent, describing a situation his great-grandfather faced during the Eugenics Wars when he and an enemy leader agreed to a ceasefire to evacuate a school filled with children, but he said all those things while under the influence of a mind-controlling substance; he is still, after all, the man who has said he has no regrets about using an airlock to torture an alien. T'Pol, Tucker and Hayes also make some good points about the conflict between duty to a mission and the chain of command, but in the end the decision to mutiny is justified. It's more complicated than any of the previous crew rebellions we've seen on Trek, even the one in Voyager's "Equinox."

Thus, while I enjoyed the episode and it had many thrilling moments, like T'Pol knocking out a MACO with a nerve pinch and the eggs in the hatchery thrumming ominously with life, it's hard to see any real point to it. We get a glimpse of the differences between insectoids and humanoids, we get a few more twists in the relationships on Enterprise, but there aren't big leaps forward in the Xindi arc and there's no catharsis, neither the emotional appeal of an episode like TNG's "The Best of Both Worlds" nor the thought-provoking power of Voyager's "Living Witness." It's good, but it's not quite striving for greatness.


Discuss this reviews at Trek BBS!
XML Add TrekToday RSS feed to your news reader or My Yahoo!
Also a Desperate Housewives fan? Then visit GetDesperate.com!

Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Michelle Erica Green reviews 'Enterprise' episodes for the Trek Nation, for which she is also a news writer. An archive of her work can be found at The Little Review.