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The Trek Nation - The Seventh

The Seventh

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at November 7, 2002 - 9:29 AM GMT

See Also: 'The Seventh' Episode Guide

Plot Summary: Archer receives orders from Admiral Forrest to alter course and assist T'Pol in carrying out a mission for the Vulcan High Command that she cannot discuss with the rest of the crew. Though he orders Mayweather to pilot her shuttlepod, T'Pol requests that Archer accompany her as well because she needs to be with someone she can trust. In her previous career in covert operations, she was trained in reconnaissance retrieval, and now she must capture an agent altered and sent undercover who failed to return to Vulcan after his mission had ended. Archer agrees to go on the mission and refuses to give Tucker any details about it, which annoys the engineer.

T'Pol explains that Menos was assigned to infiltrate a group of smugglers, but became attached to the job and began to deal in biotoxins used to make weapons. The Enterprise crewmembers track Menos to a tavern on an icy planet and manage to apprehend him, but they cannot depart immediately because the landing bay has been treated with acid. While they wait to depart, T'Pol has unpleasant flashbacks of her attempts to arrest Menos on Risa. The emotional ex-Vulcan warns her that if she arrests him, he will be brutalized and executed for a crime he didn't commit. Menos claims that he only wants to remain with his family for the short time he has left, for his body has been badly damaged by his post-surveillance career hauling used warp injector casings.

T'Pol reacts very emotionally to Menos, calling him a liar before she walks out onto the acid-covered ice to search his ship. She finds only the injector casings. In another flashback to Risa, she sees a man named Jossen fleeing along with Menos. When she asks Menos who he was, Menos claims that Jossen was another innocent Vulcan who did not want to return home after a surveillance mission. A horrified T'Pol remembers shooting him, then undergoing rehabilitation to repress the memories. Menos asks her whether she's willing to commit the same crime against him and undergo the same suffering.

When T'Pol takes Archer outside to tell him of her returning memories, Menos tries to escape. The Enterprise crewmembers race to his ship but he is nowhere to be found, until Mayweather discovers a secret forcefield -- and a hidden stash of the biotoxins Menos claimed not to possess. T'Pol has trouble shooting at his fleeing back, but Archer reminds her that she was ordered to apprehend him, not to judge him. She fires, and the group takes Menos back to Enterprise to hand over to a Vulcan ship that has arrived to transport him back to Vulcan. Archer tells T'Pol that she may have to deal with her emotions the way humans do: if she can't repress them, all she can do is deal with them and move on. He won't forget the trust she placed in him.


Analysis: I loved this episode. I say "loved" as opposed to "thought it was brilliant," because once it ended, my brain kicked in with many of the usual nits and some fairly large complaints, but none of those really registered while I was watching "The Seventh." Jolene Blalock gives a superb performance; this is not my favorite T'Pol, the one from "Fusion" who's a deeply emotional, repressed being rather than an unemotional Vulcan who occasionally feels things strongly, but she's believable and sympathetic. Bruce Davison, too, gives an excellent performance as Menos, though it's difficult to see the ex-Vulcan under the new forehead. There's no suggestion of a man who must have struggled against a lifetime of being taught to be emotionless before he decided never to return.

Iíd like to see both the character and the concept come back. How far do the Vulcans go to infiltrate other cultures, how much will they alter themselves, and what does that do to their self-definition? It's obvious that much changed between T'Pol's era and Sarek's -- either that or we're seeing very atypical Vulcans in one century or the other. Sarek was always somewhat suspect because he married a human woman, and T'Pol is as well because she lives so comfortably among humans. Even Archer mentions to her the effect that so much long-term exposure must be having on her. It's nice to get backstory on her that makes sense of her desire to live at some remove from the High Command.

There's a piece of me that wishes T'Pol would choose someone other than Archer to be her confidant -- partly because I'm still smarting from the romantic menace of 'A Night In Sickbay,' but also because it would be interesting if her best friend on the ship were not the captain. We know that she trusts Archer for the most part, but what would she do if forced to rely on Reed or Sato? Maybe he's the only one with whom she believes it's safe to show weakness, since she has few superiors in Starfleet and serves on a ship full of presumably suspicious humans.

The Vulcans themselves continue to behave in a manner so illogical that I'm afraid even to use that word. T'Pol says she's being sent to apprehend Menos as a matter of honor, but surely someone at High Command would have considered the fact that her reprogrammed memories would begin to fail once she saw Menos in the flesh. As it happens, she begins to doubt herself from the mention of his name, and to experience disorienting flashbacks that might have prevented her from carrying out her mission at all had she obeyed Vulcan orders and not taken Archer with her. It almost seems as if they're trying to bring down T'Pol, not Menos; I was waiting for that twist, which is probably why I was less suspicious of Menos himself. The non-twist twist ending thus worked very well for me, since I believed he would be proven innocent. He sounded utterly convinced that he was being mistreated by the Vulcans. In fact, even knowing that he's a smuggler and a liar, he remains more sympathetic than the High Command.

Archer has one of his better away missions -- he has obviously done some studying at the Han Solo School of how to behave in a crowded alien cantina where the large aliens don't speak your language, and he catches on pretty fast to Menos' manipulation of his science officer. Yet he doesn't search the suspect when they first apprehend him -- they didnít notice the holo in his pocket? What if it had been a phase grenade? -- and he walks out of the building with T'Pol when he really should be double-checking the guard on their prisoner. Moreover, Tucker has a good point when he tells Archer that the captain really should give him some idea about where and why he's leaving the ship. If the Vulcan High Command was up to no good with this mission (which given their track record is more likely than not), Tucker wouldn't have a clue where to start searching for the missing crewmembers.

Instead Tucker tries to enjoy the perks of command, eating in the captain's private dining room, but discovers that he doesn't really like making major decisions about taking power offline or ordering crew vaccinations (yay for the kiddies, we got another bathroom joke!) He pretends to be Archer when he believes he needs to accept an important Vulcan message to cover up the captain's secret mission, but the message turns out to be water polo scores. It's a cute plot for comic relief, but I'd like to see a more serious story about Tucker in command. Given the hazards of this mission, the likelihood of him ending up having to take over for the senior officers at some point is very high.

We never really get an answer to the pivotal question of the episode: Who was Jossen? Was he an innocent who wanted to escape from Vulcan, as Menos claimed, or was he a corrupt colleague? There's a lot riding on that issue, since the answer would suggest whether the Vulcan High Command is playing on the level or trying to cover up a much bigger conspiracy. Again I keep wondering why they sent T'Pol to the remote outpost -- surely, if they knew Menos was there, other ships could have arrived just as quickly, and without the complications of T'Pol's history with the refugee. Maybe it's just weak plotting, but it smells wrong, and it would be nice to see it followed up in a later episode.

The cinematography in "The Seventh" is a treat -- a spaceport in a snow-covered city, a seedy bar full of Klingons, Tellarites and various other aliens, flashbacks of the jungle in Risa shot in light and with distortion filters (or maybe they add the distortion in post-production). The varied locations contribute to the pace of the episode, which doesn't have a slow section. Violence is mostly suggested rather than shown, which I always find far more effective, and in the bar scene in particular it's neat to be seeing all these familiar alien races rushing around to avoid phase pistols.

I held my breath in terror of a tÍte-ŗ-tÍte in the decon chamber after Archer went out of his way twice to point out that T'Pol was going to need a good long session in there. But instead we get a tasteful, moving ending that reminds me a lot of other Trek series -- Picard with Data, Janeway with Tuvok. Even with its flaws, "The Seventh" is what Enterprise should be striving to be.


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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Michelle Erica Green reviews Enterprise episodes for the Trek Nation, as well as Andromeda episodes for SlipstreamWeb. She is also a staff writer at Green Man Review. An archive of her work can be found at The Little Review.