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July 19 2024


An archive of Star Trek News

Fallen Hero

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at May 9, 2002 - 8:26 AM GMT

See Also: 'Fallen Hero' Episode Guide

Plot Summary: Admiral Forrest orders Enterprise to go to the planet Mazar to retrieve a Vulcan ambassador. Sato volunteers her quarters for the guest and T'Pol writes up protocols for the crew on how to treat a venerated Vulcan. Yet when Ambassador V'Lar arrives, she proves very accommodating, even friendly. The crew is shocked to learn that she was expelled for criminal misconduct and abuse of her position. T'Pol in particular seems disturbed when V'Lar says she plans no defense, for a person in her position must carry trust, and the Mazarites believe that she betrayed that trust. Privately T'Pol admits to Archer that V'Lar inspired her to follow the career path she chose.

Mazarite ships pursue Enterprise, hailing with the news that the magistrate on Mazar feels he let V'Lar go too quickly; he wants her returned for questioning. When Archer says he must consult his superiors, the ships open fire. V'Lar says she cannot explain who these pursuers might be, but she insists they are not from the government on Mazar, adding that diplomatic matters make it impossible for her to reveal anything further. Furious that she is putting his crew at risk, Archer orders Enterprise to return to Mazar. T'Pol tells V'Lar that Archer can be trusted and suggests that the elder Vulcan share her knowledge.

After speaking with the ambassador, T'Pol explains to Archer that the charges against V'Lar were fabricated to get her off Mazar and divert attention from her real mission, which she cannot reveal. Though Archer says it's not enough to go on, T'Pol pleads with him not to return her compatriot to Mazar. Reluctantly Archer agrees, but his ship is quickly pursued by three Mazarite vessels that can best Enterprise's top speed.

V'Lar explains that she helped the people of Mazar to expose criminals in their own government, and those powerful officials now want to stop her from revealing her evidence. She is willing to surrender to protect Enterprise's crew. With her help, Archer is able to send a message to the Vulcan ship with which they are scheduled to rendezvous. Then he has V'Lar feign injury and stalls for time by allowing the Mazari to believe they have killed the Vulcan in an isolation chamber in sickbay. When the Vulcan ship arrives, it disables the Mazari ships and safely retrieves V'Lar.

Analysis: It's hard to review two episodes airing the same night, especially the weaker one. On the one hand, it's nice that the stronger story aired later, to keep viewers awake; on the other hand, one wonders how many viewers tuned out after the first hour. The bottle show 'Fallen Hero' gives T'Pol some character development, deepens the relationship between Archer and his science officer, complicates the captain's distrust of Vulcan authority figures and introduces a potential new villain, yet despite lots of space battles and some verbal fireworks, it plods.

Here again we see Enterprise's breed of Vulcan -- the sort who actually smile when greeting humans, who chat about pon farr as if Vulcans share such things all the time with offworlders, whose voices shake when they beg their captains for help with their personal agendas. Though T'Pol tells V'Lar that she has not developed emotions from living among humans, she's the most emotional Vulcan we've ever seen, besides those folk who embrace their feelings and are condemned as betrayers of Surak. In this case her emotionalism seems highly over the top, partly because she's supposed to be more like Spock than Sybok, but mostly because we're just not invested in the situation as viewers.

T'Pol denies that Vulcans have heroes, but they do have mentors, and finding the clay feet of either can be devastating to one's values and intellectual interests as well as one's emotions. Yet we don't learn nearly enough about how V'Lar had an impact on T'Pol's life -- only that the ambassador negotiated some critical treaties and followed an unconventional path among aliens. Though V'Lar claims she learned from T'Pol, the younger woman isn't even sure the ambassador remembers her. At the time of T'Pol's plea to Archer for V'Lar's life, we're given no logical reason to explain T'Pol's investment; I for one expected a major revelation about V'Lar's heroics, something other than hero worship to explain why T'Pol would risk all her crewmates' lives for a woman who didn't trust them. The vague political mess on Mazar didn't seem like a very satisfying reason.

Perhaps I was already prejudiced against T'Pol because of the tacky, juvenile opening in which she suggests that Archer and Tucker need to get laid and she has found an ideal spot, the planet Risa; I would not have thought that playing pimp fell under the purview of ship's science officers, particularly not Vulcans, and her assumption that Archer and Tucker would consider quickie affairs as the preferred method of "easing tension" suggests that Vulcans have made assumptions about human sexuality and relationships that aren't true for a great many humans. If she's concerned that restrictions on sexual activity may be adversely affecting the crew, why not suggest that the shipboard protocols be reconsidered, rather than encouraging inter-species fraternization that could lead to the sort of involvement she feels humans need to avoid?

The politics of 'Fallen Hero' seem to contradict the politics of 'Desert Crossing,' and since we see the episodes back to back, it's hard to avoid comparisons. V'Lar has infiltrated the Mazarite government under her own government's orders, which is consistent with the sort of role they've played vis a vis the Andorians, but not at all consistent with T'Pol's ongoing warnings to Archer to stay out of other planets' business. And even if her cause is entirely just and her involvement entirely justified by the Mazarite people having asked for help, she's now involved the humans in the struggle -- a struggle about which the Vulcans have been only too happy to keep them in the dark about, like the conflict with the Andorians. Are we supposed to think it's a good thing or a bad thing that the Vulcans are now sharing their meddlesome schemes with humans? No wonder Captain Kirk rarely followed the Prime Directive, if these were his role models. Where is the logic?

Fionnula Flanagan gives a memorable performance as V'Lar and John Rubinstein is delightfully menacing as the Mazarite captain, which gives 'Fallen Hero' some entertaining moments. But Mayweather is reduced to Sulu's role, droning, 'Warp 4.8! Warp 4.9!' while Hoshi (as Archer always calls her) gets to play cruise director in between stints of helplessly trying to break through jamming signals. Plus Reed gets to look unprepared. And despite V'Lar's lip service to the apparent friendship between Archer and T'Pol, it seems very strained in this episode. There's little of the chemistry usually present between them when they spar, and no punch to the dialogue when T'Pol convinces Archer to save V'Lar's life. Perhaps it will look better in reruns, without 'Desert Crossing' available for direct comparison.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.

Michelle Erica Green reviews Enterprise episodes and Star Trek books for the Trek Nation, as well as Andromeda episodes for SlipstreamWeb. She has written for magazines and sites such as SFX, Cinescape and Another Universe. An archive of her work can be found at The Little Review.

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