Star Trek: Enterprise: Civilization
October 1, 2018 12:00 AM - Season 1, Episode 9 - Subscribe

Captain Archer's simple desire to annoy a pre-warp civilization is unexpectedly helpful.

Memory Alpha has some notes of particular interest here about backstage and production stuff:

Background information
Story and script
> Mike Sussman saw the incorporation of the Malurians here as an amusing in-joke, they having originally been mentioned in TOS: "The Changeling", as a species wiped out by Nomad. Sussman later recollected, "It was like, 'Wouldn't it be great to see these guys?' So we made them the bad guys in 'Civilization,' the green lizard guys – they get their comeuppance a hundred years from now!" [1]
> The final draft script of this episode was issued on 7 September 2001.

Production
> This episode originally included more fisticuffs, involving Archer actor Scott Bakula, than are ultimately in the outing. "We had this fight between him and some alien, and Archer beats the crap out of him," explained Stunt Coordinator Vince Deadrick, Jr.. "For the finale, I had him do a bevy of punches, saying, 'because you're pissed off.' And he didn't really want me to be the one to tell him that he was pissed off. He said, 'I think I would eliminate one of these punches,' because he was getting into that Archer frame of mind. Archer was still pissed off, but Scott had a different take about it. So we met there, and that's the communication [between actor and stunt coordinator]. Which is good." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 138, p. 43)
> This episode was in production on the Tuesday when the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 occurred in New York City, as well as at The Pentagon in Virginia and production was shut down for the day. In 2013, Mike Sussman stated that he still could not watch this episode as he could see in the footage the enthusiasm and light go from all the actors' eyes because of the events of 9/11. (ENT Season 4 Blu-ray "In Conversation - Writing Star Trek: Enterprise" special feature)
> According to the unauthorized reference book Beyond the Final Frontier (p. 362), the set for the antiques shop in this episode included items, seen on-screen, which were actually "a variety of old props from the Star Trek storeroom."

Continuity
> T'Pol makes reference to a protocol which states that it is wise "to wait until a society develops warp drive before initiating first contact." She goes on to say that it would be wise for Starfleet to adopt these "Vulcan protocols." Starfleet later adopts them as part of the essential Prime Directive, serving as a benchmark for measuring development of a civilization and admission to the Federation.
> This episode shows the first time chronologically when a chief medical officer performs a cosmetic procedure to make someone look like another species.
> This episode contains the first reference to Tellarites in Enterprise, who would make multiple appearances in the rest of the series, and other Star Trek productions.
> Just as Spock did many times, T'Pol has to hide her Vulcan ears from the indigenous people, which she accomplishes by wearing long hair to cover them.

Reception and aftermath
> This episode achieved a Nielsen rating of 4.6 and was watched by an average of 7.14 million viewers. [2]
> Star Trek Magazine's "Ultimate Guide" rated this episode 2 out of 5 arrowhead insignia. (Star Trek Magazine issue 164, p. 78)
> The book Beyond the Final Frontier (p. 362) comments about this installment, "It feels like a Riker episode of The Next Generation, and the story doesn't amount to much, but there's something cathartic about seeing a Starfleet officer who isn't restrained by the Prime Directive starting a gunfight in an alien street."
> Some shots of Enterprise flying over the Akaali planet were reused for Earth in the fourth season outing "Terra Prime".

Memorable quotes
"Starfleet could've sent a probe out here to make maps and take pictures, but they didn't. They sent us so that we could explore with our own senses."
- Archer

"A farm?"
"It's remote and sparsely populated. If you're exposed, there's a reduced risk of cultural contamination."
"This must be why aliens are always landing in corn fields."
- Archer and T'Pol, when selecting a landing site

"78 light years to get here… our first act is breaking and entering."
"Maybe you don't have to mention this part in your log."
- Archer and Tucker

"Let's try not to shoot anyone else while we're here, okay?"
"I'll try."
- Archer and T'Pol, after she stuns Riaan

"What did you do to me?"
"Nothing. You just collapsed."
"That's the second lie you've told me. You're not very good at it."
- Riaan talking to Archer after waking up from being stunned by a phase-pistol

"Someone was walking this way but he turned and went around the corner. I thought if we pretended to be…"
"I understand."
- Archer, as he tries to explain to Riaan why he suddenly kissed her while he was secretly fixing his translator

"Have you ever seen anything like that?"
"Actually, I have…" (a gun blast hits a tree before he can elaborate)
- Riaan and Archer

"Even if we get the reactor, how are gonna keep them from getting it back?"
"If they want it so badly, perhaps we should give it to them."
- Hoshi and T'Pol

"The oil lamp… there should be least a liter of residic oil in the container below it. Residic oil ignites at 398 degrees – you wouldn't happen to have anything that gets that hot?"
- Riaan

Poster’s Log:
So much to talk about tonight. Some of it’s good though, I promise.

* The kiss. :(

This is an old trope, and one in full swing during the era (warning: TVTropes link where this episode is specifically called out). However, in this year of 2018, man did it bother me to see Captain Archer kiss a woman without asking and then obviously lie about why.

* No rulebook again.

The idea that the crew of Enterprise are just sort of making everything up as they go along is a recurring S1 theme, (probably worth a header, if I’m being snarky). The idea they’d encounter a pre-warp civilization at some point basically had to occur to someone when the mission was being planned, and the idea that they have no guidelines for it at all is ridiculous.

* Prime Directive stuff again.

The Prime Directive came up a lot during the VOY rewatch because it was either enforced or broken from week to week both without much consistency and without the rule ever being enumerated in its entirety. Here we see the initial glimmers of it in Vulcan policy: just don’t interfere with pre-warp civilizations. At all.

In principle, I could make an argument for something like that in many cases. It would be easy for a more technologically advanced society to exploit a less powerful one without even meaning to, and using warp drive as the dividing line makes sense because once a civilization has warp drive, they’re going to meet other societies. Probably fast. At that point, the genie is out of the bottle.

The thing is, Civilization undercuts this argument pretty hard, because the rule only works if everybody follows it. Sure, the Vulcans wouldn’t have landed… but humans were happy to land with weak prosthetics, a flying ship and a really lame cover story. Worse, the Akaali live in a galaxy where plenty of people won’t even bother with that: the Malurians don’t have a problem extracting their mineral resources. The only plausible thing keeping the Klingons at bay is that the Akaali don’t have anything worth stealing yet.

Not offering them a choice - to interact with other powers on their terms rather than being kept in the dark - seems less cut and dried to me than the episode suggests. It also smacks of the weird notion Trek has about how races ‘skipping ahead’ has to be bad.

* Sloppiness in execution.

The crew of Enterprise are slowly getting better, but in this episode we had T’Pol leaving the ship with pointy ears and not noticing, the crew holding out glowing tricorders at night without taking any precautions, leaving the running lights on on the shuttle when coming down and Archer preventing Phlox from touching up Hoshi’s prosthetics.

They also announced themselves again, complete with planet of origin, to a potentially hostile species before knowing what was going on or how dangerous the aliens were.

Also, they avoided using the transporter over a shuttlepod - again - even though this was a really good time to just beam up and down. (Probably not near the reactor, but there had to be good spots.)

* Good stuff backstage.

Scott Bakula prevented the terrible, no good episode Strange New World from being even worse by pointing out that they didn’t have time to do a fatality justice. In this episode, we have him wrangling less violence from Captain Archer in a fight scene. I appreciated reading that. (As before: I don’t really like Captain Archer much, but I do really like Scott Bakula.)

* Women! Doing stuff!

Before things got complicated, they just assumed Hoshi would be the star of the show. T’Pol was the one who found the reactor and figured out how to beat a superior enemy ship.

Additionally, Riaan was all-around awesome: I liked that rather than simply shilling her as smart, the writers took the time to demonstrate her being methodical and thoughtful repeatedly. She conducted her own investigation, she figured out the Malurian panel and she knew Archer should shoot the lamp.

* It’s That Guy!

Garos is played by an extremely prolific character actor whose credits include an appearance on VOY.

In closing: the kiss was pretty upsetting due to current events in 2018. Apart from that, I felt like this was a step in the right direction for the show. I’m encouraged by the in-gag with the Malurians because I generally want the writers of a show to know more about its ins and outs than I do. I appreciate Bakula continuing to tone stuff down here and there. I was encouraged by the use of women in the story.

Mostly, I think things are moving in a good direction here.

This Week In:
* Pointless STO Comparisons: Quartermasters are an important part of any well-rounded starship crew. My personal favorite is Holographic William Shakespeare (or his Klingon equivalent).
* Vulcans Are Superior: Vulcans have a first contact policy of any kind.
* Non-Catastrophic Equipment Failures: Didn’t notice any, although I will again note the crew’s continued reluctance to risk the transporter for living creatures.
* Aliens Outclass Enterprise: The Malurian ship handily outclasses Enterprise, and is only crippled by their own reactor.
posted by mordax (8 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
The idea they’d encounter a pre-warp civilization at some point basically had to occur to someone when the mission was being planned, and the idea that they have no guidelines for it at all is ridiculous.

We're talking about the same people who sent the Friendship One probe out into the galaxy stocked up with all kinds of Prime Directive-violating information. Earth/Starfleet is not thinking about this kind of stuff and has a terrible track record for doing so at this point in history.
posted by Servo5678 at 5:18 AM on October 1 [3 favorites]


Mike Sussman stated that he still could not watch this episode as he could see in the footage the enthusiasm and light go from all the actors' eyes because of the events of 9/11.

Holy shit, I think I know what he's talking about, and I didn't know about the 9/11 connection before this rewatch. There are scenes where everybody just seems tired.

"It feels like a Riker episode of The Next Generation, and the story doesn't amount to much, but there's something cathartic about seeing a Starfleet officer who isn't restrained by the Prime Directive starting a gunfight in an alien street."

Yes and yes. But one of the above-average Riker TNG episodes. (I really thought of that Data episode where he loses some radioactive stuff and his memory.)

The idea they’d encounter a pre-warp civilization at some point basically had to occur to someone when the mission was being planned, and the idea that they have no guidelines for it at all is ridiculous.

Well, strains plausibility, maybe. More implausible still is the suggestion that the Vulcans, who HAVE such a policy and must therefore recognize its importance, didn't strongly encourage Starfleet to adopt it or something similar. Archer et al.'s behavior suggests instead that Vulcans never got around to The First Contact Talk with Earth, which, yeah, strikes me as ridiculous.

Additionally, Riaan was all-around awesome: I liked that rather than simply shilling her as smart, the writers took the time to demonstrate her being methodical and thoughtful repeatedly.

I noticed this too. Good on the writers. Ya know, whatever else you can say about ENT Season 1, so far the writers do seem to be making a real effort. I wasn't sure I would be able to really say that on this rewatch, considering how closely the premiere of ENT followed the end of VOY. I suppose they must've got just enough new blood. Or vacation time.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 6:13 AM on October 1 [5 favorites]


I kind of rolled my eyes at how obvious it was at setting up a "Riker episode", aka the crew's designated Mr. Romancepants getting a romance. ("Unexpected" made it seem like Trip might be VOY's Mr. Romancepants, but last week's episode planted the seeds for something between Trip and T'Pol, so maybe not.) My main disappointment in the episode was that it seemed to be setting up as a Hoshi episode at first, which makes a lot of sense, given her amazing language powers, but then turned into the-captain-gets-to-be-an-action-hero thing (not to mention Mr. Romancepants). Hoshi actually kind of disappeared after the first act, it seemed. And, yeah, Fake Out Make Out is kind of dumb.

But we still got Riaan, Action Apothecary, who was really cool. Part of my admiration of Riaan is that she reminds me of the investigator class in the Pathfinder RPG system; they're a hybrid of alchemist and rogue, and get to do CSI-type stuff with a little bit of action. (Riaan's folding hand crossbow is very RPG-ish.) Her map of the "outbreak" reminded me of John Snow's cholera map, and I'm sad that we never got a follow-up from her, to see how a quasi-medieval woman of science's career might be affected by knowledge and experience of aliens with advanced technology operating practically in her back yard. And, speaking of smart women doing cool detective-type stuff, check out T'Pol covertly gathering samples in Riaan's lab.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:01 AM on October 1 [3 favorites]


I was really excited for this to be a Hoshi episode, as it doesn't seem like she's really had one yet (except for the space slug business, I guess)...but yeah, she just kind of disappears shortly into the episode, so that Archer can fight and romance and T'Pol can save the day, ship wise. Riaan (played by Diane DiLasco, who I remembered from an episode of Babylon 5). The episode turns out ok, I guess...it felt off somehow, though that might be due to the 9/11 connection that we're now aware of.

At this point, I really feel like the Vulcans were trying to set humanity up for failure - they didn't share information about first contact protocols, there seems to be lots of information about other space faring species they haven't shared, and so on - it's beyond just paternalistic at this point, it's like they wanted to see Enterprise go out and fail spectacularly in some way, in order to...teach the Earth folks something? I don't know. It's weird, and I think beyond the idea of the Prime Directive, what this episode is pointing to is a lack of any sense of how to handle First Contact; the Vulcans don't seem to have done a great job with how they've handled Earth, as an example.

Anyways, I'm starting to hope for an episode where Archer and the crew are just debriefed about everything they've done and what they've learned - not only about space, but about processes and procedures that should be implemented for doing this kind of work. Because the Vulcan approach seems to be: Don't Touch Anything! and the Human is: Recklessly Touch Everything! and there needs to be a middle ground found, because both approaches are kind of grating right now.
posted by nubs at 9:25 AM on October 1 [3 favorites]


Ya know, whatever else you can say about ENT Season 1, so far the writers do seem to be making a real effort.

Yeah. I'm cutting them some extra slack over and above VOY because I feel like they actually *like* Star Trek and want to be there.

My main disappointment in the episode was that it seemed to be setting up as a Hoshi episode at first, which makes a lot of sense, given her amazing language powers, but then turned into the-captain-gets-to-be-an-action-hero thing

Agreed. I didn't remember this episode on rewatch, and I was disappointed when Hoshi was no longer center stage. (I would've liked to see a Hoshi/Riaan teamup minus the dire romance attempt.)

I think beyond the idea of the Prime Directive, what this episode is pointing to is a lack of any sense of how to handle First Contact; the Vulcans don't seem to have done a great job with how they've handled Earth, as an example.

Agreed. I almost went into this, then realized how much I was talking. I think that - like a lot of the military stuff - it's down to authorial limitations. Nobody backstage seems to understand much about public or foreign policy, and so we get some really weird conclusions. I am personally reminded of a discussion we had way back when over VOY's episode Initiations, where the writers wanted the Kazon to come across as 'LA street gangs,' even though that makes less than no sense in the context of the Delta Quadrant at large. Linking the Prime Directive to some notion of 'evolution' instead of colonialism/imperialism is... well, bizarre.

At this point, I really feel like the Vulcans were trying to set humanity up for failure - they didn't share information about first contact protocols, there seems to be lots of information about other space faring species they haven't shared, and so on - it's beyond just paternalistic at this point, it's like they wanted to see Enterprise go out and fail spectacularly in some way, in order to...teach the Earth folks something?

My personal take is that Earth reads as another Andor to them: a less advanced but warlike species in their backyard, poised to cause trouble for them. Except that Andorians are advanced enough to bring the fight to Vulcan, while they encountered Earth on the heels of the Eugenics Wars.

At this point in the show's run, I personally feel like the Vulcan presence on Earth is absolutely about containing humanity. (With a side of seeing if humans can learn to be more Vulcan-y. IIRC, in Vulcan's backstory the Surakian/Romulan split occurred after something not unlike the Eugenics Wars. Maybe they're hoping it could be a wakeup call for humanity.)
posted by mordax at 10:38 AM on October 1 [4 favorites]


Anyways, I'm starting to hope for an episode where Archer and the crew are just debriefed about everything they've done and what they've learned - not only about space, but about processes and procedures that should be implemented for doing this kind of work.

This was always something Stargate SG-1 did really well, episodes where SGC had to justify itself and its procedures for exploring the network of SGs while protecting Earth from unwanted attention.
posted by Fukiyama at 11:25 AM on October 1 [3 favorites]


(I would've liked to see a Hoshi/Riaan teamup minus the dire romance attempt.)

I don't know, a Hoshi/Riaan teamup with a romance could have been great.
posted by nubs at 11:27 AM on October 1 [2 favorites]


Because the Vulcan approach seems to be: Don't Touch Anything! and the Human is: Recklessly Touch Everything! and there needs to be a middle ground found, because both approaches are kind of grating right now.

Without giving away spoilers, there will indeed be episodes (and an entire story arc) that address the "Recklessly Touch Everything! method of space exploration. There's also a gem of an episode that directly addresses the practice of using makeup and prostheses to masquerade as another race on another planet, just as the crew did here.

Archer and his crew are already slowly learning that there are races who will not appreciate humanity's overeager puppydog naivety, poking its nose into everything. (And in the case of P'Jem, proverbially pooping on the linoleum.)
posted by zarq at 9:07 AM on October 2 [2 favorites]


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