Star Trek: Enterprise: Unexpected
September 3, 2018 3:32 AM - Season 1, Episode 5 - Subscribe

Trip falls for the oldest trick in the database.

Memory Alpha has a lot for us this time. Cherry picking:

Production
> Executive Producer Brannon Braga thought this episode's depiction of Tucker was effective and helped set Enterprise apart from the other Star Trek series. Braga believed what was especially refreshing was the way in which the character is at first very eager to go aboard the Xyrillian ship but soon becomes desperate to leave the vessel due to how strange he finds it. "That's the kind of stuff you would never see a Riker do, because they're just too seasoned," remarked Braga. "And Connor [Trinneer] just brought more to Trip than we could've imagined." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 139, p. 23)
> The Klingon battle cruiser that appeared in this episode was a very much "unexpected" reuse of the K't'inga-class model. For more information, see Vorok's battle cruiser.

Deleted scene 44
On the season one DVD release of Enterprise, there is one deleted scene which was removed from this episode. The number of the scene, 44, indicates the scene's original place in the episode before being cut.

The scene mostly takes place at the console in Enterprise's situation room and shows Tucker (who is not feeling very well), T'Pol, and Reed discussing whether or not they are actually tracking the stealth alien vessel. Tucker attempts to dismiss himself, only for T'Pol to recommend a meal, revealing she has been told that Rigelian sausage, which has recently been prepared by the ship's Chef, is notably "succulent." Tucker replies that he plans to lie down for a while but, as he waits for the turbolift door to open, Reed comes up with a faster way to detect the alien ship's plasma trail – by modifying Enterprise's UV sensors. He asks for the engineer's help to do so but Tucker, about to vomit, rushes to a door at the port side of the situation room, opens it and exits. A toilet is presumably on the other side of the door; Tucker can then be heard to vomit.

Continuity
> This episode features the first appearance of holodeck technology. It is unknown whether Federation holodeck technology was later developed from this basis, or developed independently.
> This episode shows both the first interspecies pregnancy involving a Human, and the first case of a Human male being pregnant.
> This is the first known hostile encounter between a Starfleet vessel and a Klingon ship.
> The "mind reading" sequence makes mention of how Archer saved Trip's life in the Omega training mission, established in the previous episode, "Strange New World".
> T'Pol later brings up Tucker's dalliance with the female Xyrillian engineer in "Oasis", which causes him to angrily reply that T'Pol will "never let that go."
> Captain Archer says he has known Trip for eight years. This matches up with the episode "First Flight" which takes place in 2143, eight years earlier.

Reception and aftermath
> In Star Trek Magazine's "Ultimate Guide", this episode was rated 1 out of 5 arrowhead insignia and was named the worst installment of Enterprise's first season. (Star Trek Magazine issue 164, p. 78)
> The unofficial reference book Beyond the Final Frontier (p. 360) comments about this episode, "A 'male pregnancy' story sounds terrible, but this pulls it off, with a blend of humour, genuine humanity and freakiness. An early sign that Connor Trinneer is going to be a useful member of the cast, this is a good episode."
> Connor Trinneer believes this episode helped make his portrayal of Tucker memorable for the Enterprise writing staff, making it easier to write his character into subsequent stories. "I think from that point forward," said Trinneer, "they were really able to hear my voice coming out of Trip. They were able to hear Trip's voice." ("To Boldly Go: Launching Enterprise, Part III: First Flight", ENT Season 1 Blu-ray special features)

Poster’s Log:

* I liked the first half, disliked the resolution.

I obviously haven’t liked ENT much up until this point, so when I say that Unexpected was a mixed bag, that’s actually progress. The setup here is pretty good. The scene with Archer in the shower was a visually impressive way to get things rolling, (and yet another reminder of how far SFX came between even just TNG and ENT).

After that, I liked that the Xyrillian ship was so legitimately alien: the atmosphere required decompression to survive in, (a huge rarity in Trek) and still gave Trip a weird altered state of consciousness when he got there. I liked the food just growing in the walls, the telepathic sex crystals, the fact that someone was creeping on him instead of the other way around.

I even liked how Ah’len’s shitty behavior here is in keeping with what little we know about Xyrillians from the opening: they conceal themselves from people reflexively to avoid being attacked, and persist even when they know their sneaky behavior causes difficulties to the people they’re leeching plasma off of. Her going ahead and having a sexual encounter with Trip without even telling him what was going on is obviously textbook Xyrillian behavior, and the writers managed to convey that with a one-off race. That’s good storytelling.

Plus, they really reminded me of Farscape this time. The Xyrellian ship is weird in a way that screamed Moya, and Trip’s trip reminded me of like every other scene with Ben Browder on that show. (Indeed, I was so nostalgic I tracked down some clips after I finished with this.)

Anyway, I actually agree with Brannon Braga about this setting ENT apart from the rest of Trek… but only in the setup.

The back half of this suffers from a couple of problems that reminded me instead of VOY. First of all, if the purpose of the story was to set ENT apart from the rest of Star Trek, including a holodeck scene was a terrible idea. That immediately encourages viewers to start thinking about and comparing this to every TNG-era show, especially because the Klingons now ended up with it centuries before the Federation. Of all the weird shit to retcon, the origin story of the holodeck is a genuine headscratcher.

I didn’t like Trip’s pregnancy basically devolving into a weird SF sitcom take on the subject either. The mood swings and whatnot felt... dunno. Just off. I’m also not sure what to make of their refusal to consider termination. (I was fine with Trip being against it on principle, just seemed odd not to bring up and then dismiss the possibility within the text.)

The whole search for the Xyrellian ship felt pretty weak, especially Archer behaving politely toward the Klingons instead of showing some spine. I feel like nobody’s doing their due diligence here: even if the Vulcans are deliberately not handing over a ton of files to Earth, Archer has T’Pol on board and could’ve requested like a ten minute briefing before hailing them. Even without his request, she should've volunteered some pointers.

* Some racist stuff with the Klingons.

So, way back in the VOY rewatch, I talked about the whole ‘brown people smell bad’ racist trope. ENT goes ahead and echoes it here, with Trip’s line:
TUCKER: The only thing worse than spending three hours in a decompression chamber with a bunch of Klingons is doing it twice in one day. I smelled things in there I hope I never smell again.
I really could’ve done without that shit.

* Another failure of the buddy system.

Just on the heels of Strange New World: I’m not surprised Enterprise rendered aid to the Xyrellians for free. I’m not surprised Trip went over there personally despite his rank. I am bothered that he went alone though.

This isn’t new to Trek, (TNG was terrible about it in particular), but it bugs me each and every time like the problem is fresh: he should’ve had at least one person along for backup, especially considering he would’ve been literally unable to take a transporter back given any problems. Narratively, I know why they didn’t: this episode was The Trip Show, but… yeah. Sloppy, and sloppy doesn’t make me relate to these people very well.

So… yeah. This is half a good episode, which felt very, very Brannon Braga. VOY featured a lot of great high concept ideas that were not resolved in very satisfying ways, and this was ENT’s turn to do that too.

Pointless STO Comparison: Like the NX-01, K’Tinga class cruisers are still available in the era of Star Trek Online, but unsuitable for endgame content. They’re more powerful than the NX-01 though: Tier 3 to NX-01’s Tier 1 status. This seems to accurately reflect the difference in their combat abilities in this episode.

This Week In:
* Vulcans Are Superior: T’Pol actually knows how to talk to Klingons, saving them a lot of trouble.
* Non-Catastrophic Equipment Failures: I’m actually going to give them a pass this week, because their problems were all caused by the Xyrellians this time. (All the same, props for the shower scene.)
* Aliens Outclass Enterprise: So, I'm renaming this counter this week because the Xyrellians caused Enterprise problems just by existing, even though they didn't actually incapacitate the ship. Moreover, I feel like it's worth noting that the Klingons would've flyswatted them if provoked. So... yeah. New count is just the number of times they're completely useless compared to alien ships present, and we're at 3.
posted by mordax (8 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm with you, for the most part, although I'd slot this into the "better than I remembered from the first viewing", which wasn't hard because I mostly remembered it as the arm nipple episode. I too liked the alienness of the Xyrellian vessel, and Trip's transition from being eager to go aboard to believing that it was all a horrible idea to coming around and really digging it, and, of course, to dealing with his unexpected pregnancy. You make a good point about the Xyrellians' shitty behavior; not every bad alien has to either haul off and start blasting our heroes' starship or try to kidnap them to worship Landru or solve their labor shortage or whatever. I even kind of dug Trip going through some kind of second puberty. (I'd been fascinated by the concept of supernumerary nipples as a child, having read about them in an OB/GYN nursing textbook. And what was I doing reading OB/GYN nursing textbooks as a child? Well, my aunt, who had been a nurse, told me not to read that book. Yeah, right, that'll work.)

The real problem was using the Klingons in an unbelievably sloppy way; really, they could have used some other one-off alien species (or, say, brought back the triglobulin harvesters from "Fight or Flight" if they didn't want to create an entire new ship; they could have saved money on an alien design by simply putting them in cloaks or something). The first problem that I had was their use of a K't'inga-class cruiser, which is just all wrong. The K't'inga was basically a refit of the D7, as seen in TOS, and it makes zero sense for it to show up before the D7. (It turns out that John Eaves, veteran Trek concept artist/designer, made a design for the D4 that they even did up as a CGI model, but B&B rejected it because, fuck me Agnes, it "didn't have enough windows." This is one of the reasons why we can't have nice Trek. Later in the series, we will see some actual 22nd-century Klingon ships.) It was nice to have T'Pol help out with the Klingons, but the actual way that she did so was the equivalent of someone getting out of a scrape by claiming to be friends with the President. And I agree that the whole thing about Klingons smelling bad is just stupid and obnoxious. (It worked in "Trials and Tribble-ations" because the person saying it, Arne Darvin, was himself a disguised Klingon.) And, too, giving Klingons holotech doesn't work for two reasons: they would never use it themselves on a ship because it would be seen as a luxury that would make them weak (although the "I can see my house from here" was funny), and they instead would have figured out a way to weaponize it.

But, aside from that (Mrs. Lincoln), it had its moments. There's even a sort of prototype of the "stuffing breadsticks in your purse" meme.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:54 AM on September 3, 2018 [4 favorites]


Something I'm noticing during this rewatch is that ENT really picked up the pace with its fade to commercial. TNG, DS9, and VOY all had a stylistic habit of holding a shot on the concerned face of a character who had just received some damning or devastating information for several seconds as the scene faded to black (can't forget the orchestra holding a minor chord of shock, too!). ENT speeds this way up and just cuts to black after a moment of concerned-face. It really does help keep the show moving.
posted by Servo5678 at 5:16 AM on September 4, 2018 [2 favorites]


ENT speeds this way up and just cuts to black after a moment of concerned-face. It really does help keep the show moving.

I've always inferred/assumed that this was simply an example of a general shift in the visual grammar of TV dramas of the time. Certainly, had ENT used VOY-style act breaks, it would have worked against their obvious intention of seeming new and fresh.

Anyway, I skipped this episode on rewatch, so I probably won't have a lot to say about it except that the reasons why I skipped it were both enumerated by mordax…

The back half of this suffers from a couple of problems that reminded me instead of VOY. First of all, if the purpose of the story was to set ENT apart from the rest of Star Trek, including a holodeck scene was a terrible idea. That immediately encourages viewers to start thinking about and comparing this to every TNG-era show, especially because the Klingons now ended up with it centuries before the Federation. Of all the weird shit to retcon, the origin story of the holodeck is a genuine headscratcher.

I didn’t like Trip’s pregnancy basically devolving into a weird SF sitcom take on the subject either. The mood swings and whatnot felt... dunno. Just off. I’m also not sure what to make of their refusal to consider termination. (I was fine with Trip being against it on principle, just seemed odd not to bring up and then dismiss the possibility within the text.)


…and it's the second one that bugs me more. Trek has a long tradition of at least attempting to grapple Big Real Issues and this could have done that, maybe something with the interplay of gender and reproductive rights. Should have, really, given that it's a Junior scenario. (Oh, what is Emma Thompson doing in that…)
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 9:53 AM on September 4, 2018 [3 favorites]


>I didn’t like Trip’s pregnancy basically devolving into a weird SF sitcom take on the subject either. The mood swings and whatnot felt... dunno. Just off. I’m also not sure what to make of their refusal to consider termination. (I was fine with Trip being against it on principle, just seemed odd not to bring up and then dismiss the possibility within the text.)

…and it's the second one that bugs me more. Trek has a long tradition of at least attempting to grapple Big Real Issues and this could have done that, maybe something with the interplay of gender and reproductive rights.


This bugged me a lot, too: it felt like exactly not an attempt to grapple with any of the issues or ideas they were raising -- Tucker having strong feelings and a default reaction of not even considering termination is something I could see as possibly-interesting character moment if it didn't seem as if everyone else also had exactly the same reaction and also didn't consider the issue in a way that I suspect is the writers wanting to, for whatever reason, not actually talk about all of the implications of the situation. I'm kind of at a loss for what message the show is trying to send beyond 'pregnancy is exactly the same decoupled from sex -- moody, amirite??' I hated this entire arc, basically: an interesting idea done badly and not explored isn't actually all that interesting.

As an aside: some of the small bits like Tucker's complaints about workplace safety felt fully justified, despite the show presenting them as...evidence of his moodiness?
'TUCKER: Look at this handrail. Put your hands here while this is going up or down, it'll take your fingers right off.
DILLARD: Why would someone put their hands there, sir?'
It's a handrail! at hand height! You shouldn't assume that people won't do dumb things!

All of that is especially disappointing because the first half of the episode is genuinely one of the better attempts on Trek at making aliens seem alien, and the wacky glitzy decor was grand. The Xyrellians came off as both kind of terrible people but also alienly terrible -- they'll freely five out all sorts of technology but have huge issues with informed consent (both with Tucker and with the whole warp-wake situation). That's not a well that Trek has drawn on often. 'A holodeck!' is a well that Enterprise didn't need to draw on, but. If this episode had just ended with Tucker's return to the ship (suitably lengthened), and dropped the entirety of the pregnancy/search plot, it would be one of the best episodes so far -- it's better than I remembered.
TUCKER: The only thing worse than spending three hours in a decompression chamber with a bunch of Klingons is doing it twice in one day. I smelled things in there I hope I never smell again.

I really could’ve done without that shit.
Beyond that -- which, ugh -- taking what would have made for a good visual no matter who was involved (it's a space barely big enough for two people, let alone three) and telling us about it rather than showing it to us (with the set already built!) felt like a missed chance. Before Tucker's line, I was actually wondering: they all go over -- together? Sequentially? How does that work? Do you do small talk, or...? The episode would beg the question if it wasn't addressed, but they really ought to have addressed it literally any other way.
posted by cjelli at 12:47 PM on September 4, 2018 [2 favorites]


If you're going to have the Klingons in there, and Trip spending time in a small space with them, and the point of the episode is about Trip having experiences with aliens that he couldn't have imagined before, the way to do it would have been for someone else to have set it up with, "Man, I can't imagine spending hours in a small space with Klingons!" And Trip is like, "Yeah, they just sit around talking about all the battles their family has been in! This one guy, he started talking about how his grandfather was stranded on a planet with a bunch of sentient insect people closing in...." and then dissolve to all the other crew sitting around with their mouths open and Trip is singing, "''e' pa' jaj law' moch jaj puS, jaj qeylIS molar mIgh HoHchu'qu'!' Or something like that. Hey, Captain, maybe we can try a test-run for trading with the Klingons by swapping some barrels of bourbon for blood wine, that's good stuff."
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:29 PM on September 4, 2018 [1 favorite]


Like others I also regard this episode as Jekyll and Hyde episode. Loved the first half. I was reminded of Fantastic Planet and thought that the producers may have been making a tribute to classic sci-fi ideas for the Xyrillians.

The holodeck was a reminder that the producers also insisted on including what was familiar to Star Trek fans, even though it's prequel. Again and again many of the best or most praised episodes in Star Trek are not action heavy but either issue heavy or explorer heavy. This episode, like the last one, was an opportunity to do either. They didn't take the opportunity, again. There isn't much action, thankfully, but the threat of mass murder (executions by Klingon thinking) is used as an excuse to get Trip back on the ship is a sad plot device.

That it then turns into a man is pregnant sitcom is disappointing. I have heard of this trope throughout my life but haven't bothered ever reading or seeing anything produced with this premise. I will admit to finding T'Pol's scolding of Trip to be somewhat amusing but the hormones run amuck and hungry for two jokes were beyond lame.

I didn't mind the flirtatious relationship of Trip and Ah'len as behind it was an exploratory fascination that I absolutely love. Loved the ease of acceptance between the two. I'd have probably even been ok with the pregnancy thing if Trip has remained on the Xyrillian ship but would have much rather had this be more of a first contact episode without any threat of violence or pregnancy. Would have loved to see Ah'len again. Julianne Christie has a great voice and she presented Ah'len as an accomplished, curious, and confident Xyrillian.
posted by juiceCake at 3:47 PM on September 4, 2018 [3 favorites]


Really puzzling episode, beyond the disappointment of how the pregnancy was dealt with in the second half of the show. The jokes were offputting, instead of them taking it as a chance to explore a social issue really well - how pregnancy affects people in terms of their careers, other's perceptions, etc.

Anyways - perhaps the most puzzling thing to me was the decision to have the Klingons at the end - what was that? A desire to tie off the events of the pilot quickly, and make sure the Klingons are available as antagonists? Bringing them in at the end just raised more questions instead of answering them. Even better, to me, have it be a Vulcan ship - the Enterprise crew gets to help the Vulcans solve a problem (good!) while Trip's situation is also a bit embarrassing (bad), so the challenging relationship with Vulcan gets developed further; that would seem to be the major tension the show wants to explore right now.

Now, I seem to recall reading somewhere that's there was a growing outrage at how the Vulcans were depicted in the first season or two of Enterprise, culminating in some kind of in-show reveal that something strange was going on with the Vulcans, hence their weird behaviour - the lying, the overall judgmental attitude, etc. T'Pol was very...non-Vulcany in this episode for me; she lied pretty easily to the Klingons, she was not curious about Trip's situation and logical in analyzing how it happened (in terms of trying to explore possibilities for how a pregnancy might happen across species without apparent intimate contact and providing a dispassionate lecture on good diplomatic conduct), she was just really into insulting him and his presumed behavior in sickbay. I have no problem with a little bit of Vulcan snark - though Spock will always be the master of that - but she was way beyond that in this episode for me. Is this an indication of the problem that the show will eventually "correct"?
posted by nubs at 9:03 AM on September 6, 2018 [2 favorites]


Wanted to reply to some stuff before finishing up the next post.

(It turns out that John Eaves, veteran Trek concept artist/designer, made a design for the D4 that they even did up as a CGI model, but B&B rejected it because, fuck me Agnes, it "didn't have enough windows." This is one of the reasons why we can't have nice Trek.

Hats off for the lesson on Klingon ship lore. Also, you almost owed me a new keyboard with that. Not enough windows? That's... certainly up there in the dumbest complaints department.

Anyway, I skipped this episode on rewatch

Heh. Can't say as I blame you. (I think these rewatches will be the last time I ever watch every single episode of any of these without exception. Too many duds.)

It's a handrail! at hand height! You shouldn't assume that people won't do dumb things!

I meant to touch on that and totally forgot in the general WTFery of the conclusion. Who *wouldn't* put their hand on that rail?

Anyways - perhaps the most puzzling thing to me was the decision to have the Klingons at the end - what was that?

OK, I admit that didn't occur to me at all, and it's a fair question since they add a layer of nonsense to the ending, and we don't learn anything new. (Klingons are rude and warlike? Never would've guessed.)

Is this an indication of the problem that the show will eventually "correct"?

Yes. I forget how successfully, and we are some time away, but it's at least addressed.
posted by mordax at 6:35 PM on September 7, 2018


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