Star Trek: Enterprise: Detained
December 24, 2018 10:39 AM - Season 1, Episode 21 - Subscribe

Captain Archer and Mayweather meet some other victims of the Temporal Cold War.

Memory Alpha has some details, but not as many as I might have expected:

Background information
> This episode's story is an allegory to the events surrounding the forced relocation of Japanese-American citizens (including a young George Takei) during World War II, in that Suliban are being detained in an internment camp despite being innocent. This was said to be for "their own protection." For more information, see the entry on Manzanar, which also was referenced in this episode.
> Mike Sussman found that the experience of writing this episode confirmed his opinion of "message shows," which was already a negative one.
> The final draft script of this episode was issued on 1 February 2002.
> Mayweather actor Anthony Montgomery particularly enjoyed this installment and his character's role in it. He stated about "Detained", "I was really excited about that one. It had nothing to do with Travis being a boomer at all; he got to learn a lot about Human compassion. I didn't want it to sound preachy, because it's really easy to fall into that trap, but everything just comes across as being passionate. I love the fact that they had Travis be the one to have the debate about prejudice, considering that African Americans are prejudged more often than not. That was a really special episode for me, and not just because they gave me work to do." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 3, Issue 3, p. 16)
> Both Dennis Christopher and Christopher Shea played Vorta in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Christopher appeared as Borath in "The Search, Part II" and Shea appeared as Keevan in "Rocks and Shoals" and "The Magnificent Ferengi".
> Scott Bakula and Dean Stockwell worked together for five seasons on the sci-fi series Quantum Leap. They played Dr. Samuel "Sam" Beckett, the Leaper who traveled through time, and Rear Admiral Albert "Al" Calavicci, his holographic Observer, respectively. Regarding the pair of actors, Enterprise co-creator and Executive Producer Rick Berman remembered, "We always thought it would be fun to get the two of them together, and I spoke to Scott, and he thought it would be a great idea […] [Stockwell] was delighted to do it [too]. It was a lot of fun." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 138, p. 20) In fact, the making of the episode was likewise enjoyable for the actors. One week after the episode's production, Bakula commented, "We had a ball." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 138, p. 85)
> During two scenes in this episode, Grat is shown operating a PADD similar to a handheld computer known as a handlink; which Stockwell's character, Al, used in Quantum Leap to communicate with the show's artificial intelligence, Ziggy.
> Grat refers to the events of "Cold Front", and states that the incident occurred "approximately three months ago." Although no exact date is given for the events of this episode, this would seem to indicate an approximate date for "Detained" of December 2151.
> On the first broadcast of this installment, the episode achieved a Nielsen rating of 3.0 and was watched by a total of 4.88 million viewers. This was the lowest Nielsen rating in Enterprise's first season, though this episode's total number of viewers was higher than those for "Fusion" and "Desert Crossing", the only other installments of the season to have as low a Nielsen rating as 3.0. [2]
> Star Trek Magazine's "Ultimate Guide" rated this episode 3 out of 5 arrowhead insignias. (Star Trek Magazine issue 164, p. 79)
> The unofficial reference book Beyond the Final Frontier (p. 367) comments about this episode, "Hints that the Suliban situation is more complicated than we've realised up until now and a fine confrontation between Bakula and Stockwell (without any cute Quantum Leap jokes) makes this a great episode."
> Act Four curiously leaves the fates of the two main Suliban characters unknown. Danik is last seen in a firefight with Tandaran guards, while Sajen is last seen going back for him. The episode never confirms, on screen or in dialogue, that they are among the escapees in the impounded ships.

Memorable quotes
"Why are we here?"
"Why are any of us here?"
- Archer and a Suliban woman, while imprisoned by the Tandarans

"We were simply curious."
"Your curiosity almost got you killed."
- Archer and Grat

"They call this a proper meal? I should save it for Commander Tucker. It'd make a good valve sealant."
- Mayweather on Tandaran prison food

"If you want to explore alien cultures you'll need to learn to respect their laws. If Captain Archer were here, I'm sure he'd agree. If you'd like, I'll contact the Vulcan High Command. They might be willing to send an arbitrator."
"A Vulcan lawyer? They'd be better off getting the electric chair."
- T'Pol and Trip

"I'm willing to compromise, Captain. Just tell me what you know about Silik."
"Well, he's about this tall, a little on the scrawny side, bad teeth."
- Grat and Archer

"You had no right to interfere!"
"This isn't about my rights, it's about theirs."
"They have no rights, they lost them the minute the Cabal began attacking us. Do you know how many people the Cabal have murdered, how many ships they've destroyed, colonies? You just gave them eighty nine new soldiers!"
"What makes you think these people will join the Cabal?"
- Grat and Archer

"Captain … think they'll make it?"
"Do I think they'll get out of Tandaran space safely? Yes. Do I think they'll be alright…"
- Travis and Archer

This Week In:
* Pointless STO Comparisons: Suliban are still in bad shape politically in the era of Star Trek Online, continuing to lack a homeworld.
* Vulcans Are Superior: Vulcans have interstellar lawyers.
* Non-Catastrophic Equipment Failures: Offscreen, they failed to properly translate the Tandaran warning beacon, and so they were shot down.
* Aliens Outclass Enterprise: Averted. Enterprise’s transporter technology returns, and gives them an edge in the altercation. Also, the NX-01 outclasses two Tandaran patrol ships.

Poster’s Log:
This was a pleasant surprise, although I have some notes. In no particular order:

* It was fun to see familiar faces.
Dean Stockwell is always fun. I also recognized Christopher Shea from DS9, but I missed Christopher Dennis, (he doesn't really talk like Borath here).

* There’s the return of the transporter.
The transporter has been inexplicably missing from any number of plots this season, only to return without comment here. This is a good thing, because Detained is yet another scenario where people got into trouble taking a shuttle. I feel like I dropped the ball by not counting up how many times a shuttle has proven to be a bad idea on this show, because it’s an even bigger deal here than VOY. (I may go back and rectify that, but probably not the next week or two. I almost pushed this one due to holiday stuff as it was.)

As a fanwank/fanon thing, I’m starting to wonder if the shuttle/transporter divide in Federation culture here isn’t like cars vs. air travel historically: cars are actually way more dangerous, but many people like them more because you’re in control of them and they ‘feel’ safer.

* Earth’s efforts at space exploration are still drawn in crayon here.
One thing that really got me here was actually T’Pol and Tucker’s exchange about getting them a Vulcan lawyer, because Earth should now be working on space lawyers and diplomats to talk to all the people that Archer and company have met so far to work out stuff like extradition and trade and whatnot. This isn’t like TOS, where the Enterprise is moving at or past the fringes of known space - the Tandarans and other races seen thus far are literally just Earth’s neighbors, and there’s a need for ongoing peaceful conflict resolution.

* There’s a return to Trek values here.
I’ve talked about this plenty of times in the past, but for me, the thing that makes Trek different from military SF is the focus on progressive values and diplomacy. TOS often dealt in social criticism (very) thinly veiled through the lens of science fiction, and I expect that from its spinoffs.

ENT has felt pretty detached from that thus far, but an explicit reference to Japanese internment camps followed by Archer helping those in need when he could easily abandon them counts as a good step toward that to me. I particularly liked the way his dilemma was set up: he doesn’t owe Silik anything and could’ve tried to offer that information when asked, but didn’t because he recognized what was going on here and knew it was wrong.

I also... hm. I felt that the way he and Mayweather approached their preconceptions about the Suliban was written in a pretty realistic way, which is good, but it made one scene rub me the wrong way:
"Still think we're working with the Tandarans? You know, we could have left this place a long time ago if we hadn't decided to help you."
"I never asked for your help."
"Why? Because we're not Suliban? Because we look a little too much like Tandarans? I'll admit, when I first came here it wasn't easy to see past my preconceptions about the Suliban, but I did. Why can't you?"
- Travis and Sajen
This is a pretty accurate ‘but I’m an ally, you have to trust me even though I’m in the same subgroup as your oppressors’ exchange, which did raise my hackles. All the same, I think that is extremely believable under the circumstances, and belonged here. (I also liked that Sajen didn't trust them, rather than having them be accepted immediately by everybody.)

I liked Grat insisting that after being oppressed, their livelihood gone, the Suliban in the camp would inevitably side with the Cabal for similar reasons.

I was unhappy that they didn’t render a little further aid to the Suliban at the end - nothing as fancy as an escort, just maybe an offer of food and medical supplies. Unfortunately, them just warping off at the end of the hour is also very Trek, rather than a uniquely ENT problem.

Finally, I’m disappointed in Mike Sussman here, with the comment about disliking ‘message’ shows, because if I had to sum up ENT S1, I would call it aimless. Leaving aside my specific preference for Trek content, it’d be nice if the show had something - anything - to say more often, not less.

So... yeah. Despite my criticism, I appreciated the effort here, and could do with more episodes like this, and fewer of what we’ve been having so far.
posted by mordax (9 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I can sort of appreciate why someone might be a bit wary of message episodes, because of the occasional tendency of Trek message episodes to be anvilicious [TVTropes] or just plain bad. We've seen examples before in various rewatches, certainly. But I agree that this one is done surprisingly well (especially in the often-dreary context of S1), and is even a bit surprising, given the show's obvious trade in The Right Stuff-era nostalgia, that they directly mention Manzanar. One of the problems with Trek generally, especially with Roddenberry's insistence that mankind had solved all its major problems and that they occurred only in other species, was not just with humans admitting that they had those problems, but that they'd ever had those problems. (DS9 was the main exception, particularly with those episodes that Avery Brooks personally insisted on.) It had been some time since I'd seen this, and didn't remember that Dean Stockwell was in it (although I remembered that he'd been in at least one episode), so as the episode progressed, I started to get worried that his sudden detailed knowledge of the Cabal's activities, and insistence that Archer tell him everything that he knew, might signify that he was a Suliban in disguise, and thus mean that the Tandarans were right (at least to some extent) to be paranoid; but, no, not only was he not an infiltrator, but he really did think that he was doing the Suliban a favor, or at least protecting them from the real racists.

It was also pretty neat to see two actors who played Vorta being on the good side. Christopher Shea was more recognizable, because of the eyes, but I could also pick out Dennis Christopher, who I saw way back in Breaking Away . (After he showed up as Borath the Vorta, I thought it was a shame that they couldn't put him together with Paul Dooley's Enabran Tain.) And, like mordax, I appreciated Travis' conversation with Sajen; that conversation did tread a fine line, but it was also pretty clear that Travis was arguing more from desperation than from entitlement.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:07 AM on December 24, 2018 [3 favorites]


Finally! An episode that feels like Star Trek! Its... a little clunky to be sure, but it's much truer to expected form than... any episode we've had so far so I'll fucking take it! The next episode is also a good piece of Trek- though not so much a "message episode"- also what was Sussman doing working for a Trek show if he doesn't like... ah never mind, it's just gonna get my blood pressure up.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 1:23 PM on December 24, 2018 [2 favorites]


The other thing I liked about this one was that it gave Travis something to do. You could almost argue it even developed his character a little bit.

I liked Grat insisting that after being oppressed, their livelihood gone, the Suliban in the camp would inevitably side with the Cabal for similar reasons.

Yeah, this felt so real as to actually be impressive, given the dominant geopolitical attitudes in the U.S. in 2002.

Finally, I’m disappointed in Mike Sussman here, with the comment about disliking ‘message’ shows, because if I had to sum up ENT S1, I would call it aimless. Leaving aside my specific preference for Trek content, it’d be nice if the show had something - anything - to say more often, not less.

Thought the same thing when I read that. Sussman's the real deal when it comes to Trek nerdery, but w/r/t his Trek values? … well, a quick MA check shows that he did write "Author, Author," one of the better VOYs in this regard. So maybe he CAN pull off "message shows," but it's just not his preference.

also what was Sussman doing working for a Trek show if he doesn't like...

Waiting it out until he got made producer, probably!

Christopher Shea was more recognizable, because of the eyes, but I could also pick out Dennis Christopher, who I saw way back in Breaking Away . (After he showed up as Borath the Vorta, I thought it was a shame that they couldn't put him together with Paul Dooley's Enabran Tain.)

I very recently watched Breaking Away on MeFi's recommendation and thought something similar. Odd little movie, in that '70s way, but good performances all around. Mrs. CoB almost didn't believe that that was Tain.

Kinda off-topic, but look at this ridiculous gift I got myself! (And the components have never been used!)
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 4:29 AM on December 25, 2018 [4 favorites]


Trek-themed Mastodon instance, you say?
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:59 AM on December 25, 2018 [2 favorites]


Kinda off-topic, but look at this ridiculous gift I got myself! (And the components have never been used!)

Is that the one where Gowron’s actor plays another Klingon and just grows and makes eyes at the camera for the entire thing? Cause I’ve seem clips of that and it is WILD
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 4:56 PM on December 25, 2018 [3 favorites]


It is and it is! Being subject to an hour of Robert O'Reilly's sneers, taunts, corny lines, and howls of frustration at you is something I never knew I needed in my life.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 3:18 AM on December 26, 2018 [4 favorites]


Do I lose geek cred if I admit it took until about half way through the episode before I remembered that Bakula and Stockwell had been on QL together? I mean, I recognized Stockwell right away, but it took a long time for that particular penny to drop.

Finally, I’m disappointed in Mike Sussman here, with the comment about disliking ‘message’ shows, because if I had to sum up ENT S1, I would call it aimless. Leaving aside my specific preference for Trek content, it’d be nice if the show had something - anything - to say more often, not less.

Yeah, I think I get where Sussman is coming from because sometimes the Trek message shows come across like anvils, and those are the ones I dislike; I think it's possible to do a message show and have it be done well, but there have been some that are pretty heavy handed over the years. This one was fine, though, and I liked how it touched on a lot of subtle things around allyship, and prejudice, and so on. It was, for once, the crew of Enterprise realizing that they (a) might not know everything about a situation, (b) displaying some humility as a result, and (c) taking a stand on some principles based on a good understanding of what has happened in similar situations in human history.

So yeah, even if I think is episode merely rose to the level of "ok", by Enterprise standards it's a big step up in terms of being about something, along with actually deepening everyone's understanding of the Suliban.
posted by nubs at 1:20 PM on December 26, 2018 [4 favorites]


It is and it is! Being subject to an hour of Robert O'Reilly's sneers, taunts, corny lines, and howls of frustration at you is something I never knew I needed in my life.

I used to own that! Unfortunately, my VCR eventually ate the tape. How cool to see all of the video on YouTube! Thanks!

I also had the PC game Star Trek: Borg, which was a lot of fun to play. I'm pretty sure all of the cast were also been in some other incarnation of Trek. Or would be in the future.
posted by zarq at 1:04 PM on December 27, 2018 [3 favorites]


>Being subject to an hour of Robert O'Reilly's sneers, taunts, corny lines, and howls of frustration at you is something I never knew I needed in my life.

I used to own that! Unfortunately, my VCR eventually ate the tape. How cool to see all of the video on YouTube! Thanks!


I lost my copy in a move a few years back, and so also: thanks! O'Reilly elevates what is otherwise a mostly-okay game into an excellent time, and it's a real New Year's Eve Eve (as I write this) to re-experience the better bits.

...

> I’m disappointed in Mike Sussman here, with the comment about disliking ‘message’ shows, because if I had to sum up ENT S1, I would call it aimless. Leaving aside my specific preference for Trek content, it’d be nice if the show had something - anything - to say more often, not less.

Yeah, I think I get where Sussman is coming from because sometimes the Trek message shows come across like anvils, and those are the ones I dislike;


I think Memory Alpha does Sussman a disservice in excerpting that as the main takeaway from an interview with him -- to give it some of it's context,
"I'm just not a big fan of allegory episodes...people get on their soapboxes and talk about the original series and how it was always about something - they always bring up 'Let That Be Your Last Battlefield' and 'Plato's Stepchildren' and the Vietnam one, 'A Private Little War.' They were just a little too obvious for me...[the show was at its best] if it has plenty of great interaction, if it's intelligent, interesting, surprising -- it doens't need some hit-you-over-the-head message: 'This is what the show wants to teach you this week.'
In that context, I imagine that Sussman probably had some issues with how the episode makes its allegorical parallels explicit rather than implicit, viz:
ARCHER: On Earth during the Second World War. Japanese-American citizens were imprisoned there even though they didn't do anything wrong. The same thing's happening here.
I winced a bit at that line -- so I might be projecting here. But it's nothing if not loudly obvious; it's basically Archer getting up and saying 'this episode is an allegory, this is what the allegory is, these people are in the wrong and we are in the right, here are the victims and here's who in power.' At that point, there's basically no way for there to be any twist about the overall plot structure and that pulls some of the drama out of the room; now, I can also see the writers not wanting to make the viewer even spent more than an unneeded instant suspecting that the Suliban were actually secretly terrorists. It might have been the right call, in 2002. But it's not, I think, a parallel that needs to be made explicit for the episode to work. Rather, I think the episode is probably stronger if you cut it and replace it with something else to show the viewer how there's an injustice rather than telling them that there is an injustice because the events parallel past events.

I would suggest that a better summary is probably less 'Sussman dislikes message episodes' and more 'Sussman dislikes overtly allegorical episodes.' Not every message episode is an allegory; this one is both.

It's weird in that there's actually a lot of good work in the here -- as you all have already noted -- about allyship and prejudice and being willing to take a stand. But I can see where someone involved in production, for whom in 2002 this was almost certainly meant as an allegory for what not to do in the still-new War on Terror, might fixate on allegory to present and past events as the central message of the episode -- and where they might find fault with that.

Still, from here in 2018, this is one of the better episodes of the back half of the season, because they are finally saying something.
posted by cjelli at 9:09 PM on December 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


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