That time of the month is here again, time for a guest post. I’m just here to rant about Star Trek Enterprise yet again, and it looks like I will be for a while if I keep going at this pace. Here’s a link to part 1, should you need a refresher or want to check it out. Enjoy the ride.
Character Spotlight: Charles ‘Trip’ Tucker III
Tucker is a damn good chief engineer, plain and simple. You got something broken, he’ll fix it with a can-do attitude. Never having visited an alien world, he is somewhat naive when it comes down to shared values between species. He hails from Florida and is top 5 most American characters in all of Star Trek, foiled only by former U.S. President Lincoln and the like.
When Enterprise finally started its mission to explore space after a rocky start with the Klingons, Tucker had to change his expectations for space quite a bit when they encountered a friendly, more advanced species called the Xyrillians. Being almost freaked out by the extremely alien ship (as opposed to something like Vulcans), he then decided to stick his hands into a bowl with marbles along with a Xyrillian, after which he got pregnant. Although this last element kinda ruins the episode for me (especially since they play it for laughs, it’s just throwing me off), the portrayal on the ship itself helps with his character a lot, since he really is hands deep in alien tech now – and it creeps him out.
As the seasons go on, he keeps proving his worth and expertise and even gets command experience during a conflict with the Vulcans and Andorians. Point being: you can count on Tucker.
His character undergoes a massive shift in the third season, as the Xindi weapon hit the U.S., but Florida in particular. Not too long after he hears that he lost his sister Elizabethin that attack. While she wasn’t seen or mentioned in any episodes before this, it changes Tucker to the hard-working smiling engineer to a bitter man with a lot of grief and anger who just wanted revenge. While not every first contact may be peaceful, outright hate towards another species from the humans hadn’t been portrayed like this before (you could make a point for the Borg, but they are hated by everyone or the Cardassians, but relations had been smoothed somewhat since that war concluded).
On their way to the Xindi, Tucker is so emotionally wound up that he cannot sleep anymore – so he’s forced into ‘Vulcan neuro-pressure’ with T’Pol by Doctor Phlox. These scenes usually felt quite hollow to me, a blatant attempt to put more sex appeal in Star Trek, but I suppose it is a way to get those two closer together with some glimpses of romance.
So when we finally enter season four, we still have this extremely handy engineer, but way more seasoned. He decides to travel to Vulcan together with T’Pol, only for him to get cucked and suddenly attends her wedding with Koss. What a bummer! Then more stuff happens and he blows up in the finale. What a bummer!
This season is the season of three-parters. We kick things off with (more) remnants of the Eugenics Wars as a small group of rag-tag adolescents take over a Klingon Bird of Prey. Now, where did those Augments come from? Let’s ask the guy that stole a couple about 20 years back, Arik Soong. Oh, and also the Klingons are threatening with war if the Augments aren’t found. Soong promises to bring the Enterprise crew to the Augments but instead leads them in a wild goose chase in which multiple members of the crew get captured by Orion slavers.
After failing to escape and with the rescue of the sold-off crew members, he sits in the brig again, moping. Thankfully his Augment children tracked down Enterprise and bust him out and they are preparing to save the rest of the Augment embryos, or as he calls them, his children.
He arrives at Cold Station 12, where all of the Augment embryos are kept, and threatens to kill the scientists there if they don’t hand them over. We are introduced to Phlox’ long time friend Jeremy Lucas from the Interspecies Medical Exchange. Enterprise arrives, but cannot do much since the Augments are sitting on a bazillion deadly pathogens and are keen on using them. After killing one doctor, Phlox is exposed to a pathogen and Lucas gives in and gives them access to the embryos to save his friend. Soong and the Augments escape again, but not just with the embryos, but with a melange of deadly pathogens as well.
Soong wants to hide and stay away from Enterprise, but one of the Augments, Malik, is more interested in finding the mysterious ship of Augments, the Botany Bay, but he gets overruled.
On their way to their hiding spot, the Briar Patch (the same one as in Star Trek: Insurrection) Soong starts editing the embryos again, to remove aggression and violent behaviour in the Augments. Malik is furious and comes up with another plan: loading up all the pathogens they collected, load them all up in a torpedo and fire at Klingon colonies! As the Klingons already know humans (Augments) stole one of their ships, they would declare war for sure. Soong is taken aback because that’s pretty much mass murder. Shortly after he’s locked in his quarters as he’s more trouble than he’s worth for Malik.
Soong escapes with the help of another Augment and rides an escape pod to safety – Enterprise, which is still following the Augment ship. As he’s being thrown in the brig yet again, he tells Archer about the plans of mass murder. In a truly dramatic finish, the Enterprise manages to arrive at the colony just in time to shoot the torpedo, and saving the Klingon colony. Malik refuses to surrender, and his ship explodes not much later, killing all the remaining Augments.
..or so you’d think, because when Soong is escorted to the brig (again), he drops from the ceiling of the corridor, and tries to kill him, having beamed aboard at the last second. In the end, Archer is forced to kill him.
The episode ends with Soong having lost confidence in genetics and the Augments, and decides to start work on an android of some type, which might be able to be created in a few generations..
This arc gives the audience a lot more information regarding Augments and some of the Eugenics Wars, such as being manipulated in the embryo stage, and not when a baby is born. We still see the ruthlessness of Augments, even in a younger state and the superiority complex regarding ‘lesser’ beings. Soong argues in the beginning that the source of Augment problems wasn’t the lack of high-grade technology, but the inability of humanity to put them to good use. Throughout the episode, he is steadfast in that he wants nobody to be killed, and that he just wants to live with his ‘children’ in peace. After the Augments defied his wishes, he became disillusioned and tried to fix the remaining embryos and thus admitting their flaws. After the close mass murder and the destruction of all the embryos he stopped work on it altogether.
Strangely enough, my personal favourite part about this episode was Jeremy Lucas, whom we’ve only heard about in letters from Phlox or in conversation. Phlox is often underwritten and underutilized, so the fact we actually see this friend from which he has learned so much about Earth (and vice versa) is a nice development for Phlox. It’s a shame it’s just this once, and he gets brutally tortured, but I’ll take it.
The Augments in this story are very young, and all fathered by Soong on a remote planet. Having taught them everything it’s no wonder he’s seen as their father, but he got arrested at some point and couldn’t return anymore. So the first time we see the Augments taking over the Klingon ship, they’re all wearing torn, stretched rags, remnants from their childhood clothing. With Enterprise’s focus on sex appeal, they couldn’t just leave that be and had to introduce a faux-romance plot within the Augment group as well, which did serve as to give them more character, but it felt a little shallow and just an excuse to show a lady in nothing but panties and a tank top.
Using Brent Spiner as Arik Song, and the android reference at the end was a nice nod, but in the end, this arc feels like a mildly enjoyable but unnecessary adventure. This arc was already in production before the Soong angle, as it previously featured Colonel Green, the infamous dictator after WW3. But because Spiner had expressed interest to appear again on Star Trek, this arc was rewritten to feature this Soong ancestor. It’s not surprising then that Spiner got a lot of screentime, and in my opinion, too much screentime. Sure, we get some nice moments, a small moral debate with Archer about his dad’s illness that could’ve (or might’ve) been cured with eugenics, but most of the main cast isn’t very personally involved in this event, as opposed to the upcoming arcs that have higher involvement for the cast.
In the next post, we take a look at the Syrranites arc, along with a look at T’Pol. Maybe more, I don’t know. It’s just more and more clear that I’ve bitten off way more than I can chew.