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By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at October 23, 2004 - 2:38 AM GMT

See Also: 'Home' Episode Guide

Plot Summary: At a homecoming celebration for the NX-01 crew in San Francisco, Archer pays tribute to the 27 crewmembers who didn't make it back and says it's good to be home. Later, at a bar, he encounters Erika Hernandez, recently made the captain of the NX-02, who invites him on a tour of her ship. But at a briefing the next day, Ambassador Soval asks Archer difficult questions about why he did not do more to save the crew of the Seleya in the Expanse, causing Archer to lose his temper. When Admiral Forrest calls off the briefing and orders Archer to take a vacation, Hernandez invites herself to go climbing with him.

Meanwhile, T'Pol invites Tucker to accompany her on a visit to Vulcan, introducing him somewhat awkwardly to her mother T'Les, who raises an eyebrow that T'Pol has brought a colleague home. T'Les is no longer teaching at the Vulcan Science Academy and gives her daughter a note from her fiance Koss, saying that she disapproves of the human custom in which children put their own desires before the needs of their families. Tucker, who tries to be helpful repairing their food synthesizers, admits to T'Les that he and T'Pol are romantically involved, but T'Les tells T'Pol that a human and a Vulcan can have no future together. Then Koss arrives, telling T'Pol that he wants to go through with the traditional ceremony and promising that he will help her mother regain her position.

Reed, Mayweather and Phlox visit a bar on Earth together where a xenophobic man picks a fight with them, threatening Phlox until he has an instinctive Denobulan defensive reaction and puffs up his face. This frightens off the men attacking the Enterprise crewmembers, but Phlox is troubled and later refuses to visit a restaurant with Sato, telling her that it may be some time before all humans believe that not all aliens want to blow up the planet. She promises to bring him takeout.

After Archer has a nightmare about being attacked by Xindi, Hernandez gets him to admit that he's troubled by the choices he made in the Expanse and wonders whether he's deliberately taking risks to avoid thinking about them. She assures him that he only did what any good captain would have done and kisses him when he says she reminds him too much of the enthusiastic explorer he used to be. They agree that since he is no longer her superior officer and they're alone on the mountain with no Starfleet presence, there's no reason they can't be intimate. When they return to the briefing, Soval admits that Archer's actions might have been morally questionable but they were necessary. Because the Enterprise crew saved Vulcan as well as Earth, Soval thanks Archer.

T'Les admits to T'Pol that she lost her job because she was accused of spying, helping T'Pol and Starfleet sabotage the sanctuary at P'Jem. T'Pol tells Tucker that she must go through with the wedding to Koss, which upsets him so much that T'Les asks him as he dresses for the ceremony whether he has told her daughter that he is in love with her; though she does not approve of their relationship, T'Les believes that T'Pol should have all the facts before going through with the wedding. Tucker, however, feels that she has been put under enough pressure and doesn't want to complicate matters further, so he remains silent, standing by her at the wedding and watching as T'Pol and Koss kneel before a priest who recites, "What thee are about to witness..."


Analysis: I know I often long for B plots to break up the A plots on Enterprise, but in this case, one very compelling storyline is nearly buried in the mudslide between two painfully cliched homecoming incidents. The Vulcan plot and the development of Tucker and T'Pol's complicated relationship are handled beautifully, but we don't get to see nearly enough of the characters or the intriguing Vulcan sets. Instead we're subjected to soul-searching with excruciatingly bad dialogue and a contrived romance, plus an entirely predictable barfight to remind us that Prejudice Based On Appearances Is Wrong, in case, you know, we were inclined to go around punching people with different color skin in the wake of 9/11, because so many Trekkies are - nearly as many as frequent noisy bars on Friday nights instead of watching Enterprise, I'd imagine.

I have to get the bad out of the way because it left an icky taste, so I can get to the good. I know that this episode has been hailed as the Coming Of Manny Coto and The Return To Original Series Values, but honestly, that bar scene felt like it was ripped off not from Star Trek but Star Wars: "We don't serve their kind in here. My friend doesn't like you. I don't like you either!" And in the cantina on Tattooine, at least, this was a throwaway, not the meat of the scene. Now we learn that Denobulans can blow their faces up like pufferfish when they feel threatened, which I suppose is useful, but how did Phlox manage not to unleash this ability when he had deranged patients grabbing at his neck during the previous three seasons? It's silly and hackneyed and doesn't contribute a damn thing. The prejudices on Earth should have been mentioned that one time on the ship, then not been a part of this episode at all, so we could spend more time on Vulcan.

The Archer Gets Laid storyline is only a marginal improvement. I'm delighted that the captain of the NX-02 is a woman, that she's apparently no-nonsense and competent, and that she can see what Archer needs when no one at Starfleet can figure out what to do with him other than order him to go away for a few days. On the other hand it's annoying that she has to play mother/lover/psychiatrist to him - don't they have trained professionals to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder, which every single member of this crew must be suffering in some form or another? There's some wonderful scenery in the mountains and the climbing itself is fun to watch, so I am willing to forgive the dreadful dialogue about death wishes and "I look at you and see myself." But I'm still rather bothered by the whole thing, particularly the notion that a couple of conversations and a couple of sexual encounters have cured Archer of nightmares that could drive a man to jump off a cliff.

The meat of this episode, however, is our first trip to Vulcan in longer than I can remember - since Tuvok's flashbacks on Voyager maybe - and T'Pol's conflict between the society which raised her and the culture she has adopted among humans. It's an emotionally charged storyline that benefits from the restraint with which it must be played out; no one is allowed to throw a tantrum or whimper to a friend as in the other storylines. We see an orderly home, neat lines and uncluttered surfaces, giving an impression even before we meet T'Les that this is not a woman who will be inclined to be sympathetic to her daughter's messy situation. Considering that she lectures T'Pol on the need to be altruistic, to do things for her family and for other Vulcans, T'Les seems strikingly self-centered; she barely asks about the mission from which her daughter has just returned, which might easily have gotten her killed, nor does she seem to appreciate (as does Soval) that in saving Earth, Enterprise has also saved Vulcan.

Tucker is outraged that T'Pol would consider marrying someone she doesn't even love, but "love" truly seems irrelevant here, as does desire. It was possible to understand T'Pring's behavior in the original series' "Amok Time" because it was rather human: she wanted Stonn, not Spock, and she wanted to spare the man she had chosen from possible death in the Kal-if-fee. Koss, however, does not particularly want T'Pol, only the pride of fulfilling tradition - though the price for that will be a highly unconventional marriage with his wife traveling the quadrant - and T'Les hardly seems to feel a connection to her daughter beyond the same desire for the traditional family structure to continue. Presumably T'Les knows nothing of T'Pol's drug addiction, nor the disease T'Pol contracted by mind-melding with an infected Vulcan nearly two years ago, and Koss asks few questions beyond promising her excellent medical care. If the marital bond involves telepathy, can he contract Pa'nar Syndrome from her - wouldn't it have been worth mentioning? She seems so strangely passive, so unwilling to fight the destiny her mother and fiance and his family have selected for her.

I'm sure there is going to be a lot of debate about whether Tucker should have declared his love before the wedding, with perhaps the assumption that hearing it would make her acknowledge that she feels the same way. But I'm not certain that she does. I get the impression that T'Pol is still profoundly confused about who she wants to be, how she wants to live, whether it is possible to reconcile the logic and tradition she has learned over a lifetime with the spontaneity and open-mindedness she has learned from humans in general and Trip in particular. It still feels like a big step just to hear her call him "Trip" - she may not wish to marry Koss but I'm not sure she's ready to admit her love for anyone else either, even if it would make a convenient excuse to duck out of the wedding. And I have to say I agree with her logic in not calling for the Kal-if-fee; if Kirk couldn't fight in that atmosphere, Tucker couldn't either.

All of this conflict is played out in a very few minutes of screen time, by the two actors who consistently steal the show when they're given the slightest opportunity: Blalock and Trinneer are at their best here. The Vulcan atmosphere is eerily nostalgic - the gongs, the words of the wedding ceremony recited by the priest echoing the words of T'Pau in "Amok Time" - T'Les herself reminds me of T'Pau, with her mouth curling at the presence of offworlders. We could have seen so much more of who Tucker and T'Pol are now with the minutes wasted on the other plots, exploring the volcano, commenting on what it's like not to be on the ship, discussing Tucker's sense that he no longer has a home, even standard chitchat about the broken replicator and the tools and why Vulcan homes are furnished as they are. I feel like they got the short shrift, which is a shame for them and a shame for the episode.


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