Star Trek: Enterprise: Fallen Hero
January 6, 2019 10:41 PM - Season 1, Episode 23 - Subscribe

A Vulcan diplomat needs Enterprise’s help.

Memory Alpha has the dossier for us:

Background information
> The story for this episode originated simply with the idea of a disgraced Vulcan ambassador to be ferried home. "And when we sat down and started kicking around the story," reflected Enterprise staff writer Chris Black, "I was the one who said, 'Well, what if we make it a woman and someone who had been an idol of T'Pol's?'" (Star Trek: Communicator issue 143, p. 30)
> The final draft script of this episode was issued on 25 February 2002.
> V'Lar actress Fionnula Flanagan previously appeared as Enina Tandro in DS9: "Dax" and Juliana Tainer in TNG: "Inheritance".
> Chris Black once pointed out two references which this episode makes to Star Trek: The Original Series. The first of these is when Trip becomes worried about pushing Enterprise's engine too hard, which was an homage to very similar anxieties which Scotty occasionally has in TOS. Also, the observations made by V'Lar in the episode's conclusion, about there existing "a great bond" between Archer and T'Pol, was a "glimmer of what is going to come when you get to the original series," noted Black. (Star Trek: Communicator issue 143, p. 30)
> This marks the first time Enterprise manages to reach warp 5.
> This is the first episode to state that ships cannot fire phase cannons while at warp, as Malcolm Reed tells Archer.
> Enterprise will finally reach Risa two episodes later, in "Two Days and Two Nights".
> This is the first use of the Vulcan salute, "Live long and prosper," in Star Trek: Enterprise, said by V'Lar to T'Pol near the end of the episode.
> "Fallen Hero" turned out to be one of Chris Black's favorite episodes from the first season of Enterprise. "There's great insight to T'Pol in that episode," he enthused. "Plus, I love the fact that we ran the ship up to Warp 5 for the first time – and it's not even good enough!" Black also opined that the homage to Montgomery Scott, with an exasperated Trip Tucker worrying about Enterprise's engines, is fun. He commented, too, that depicting a Vulcan character so noble, self-sacrificing and eventually truthful to the Humans as V'Lar is in this episode answered critics who had been disappointed with the way the Vulcans had been shown in Enterprise and helped restore balance to the series' portrayals of the species. (Star Trek: Communicator issue 143, p. 30)
> Star Trek Magazine's "Ultimate Guide" rated this episode 4 out of 5 arrowhead insignias. (Star Trek Magazine issue 164, p. 79)
> The unofficial reference book Beyond the Final Frontier (p. 368) comments about this installment, "This is a fine episode, and Fionnula Flanagan, once again, puts in a memorable guest appearance."
> V'Lar is one of only a handful of female Vulcans whose name does not begin with the letter T, the others being Saavik, Selar, Sakonna, and Valeris, though her name still includes the apostrophe common to female Vulcan names.
> During dinner, V'Lar comments that she and T'Pol are likely the oldest two people on the ship. V'Lar must be at least 89 to have been alive during Human-Vulcan first contact and T'Pol was 64 at the time.

Memorable quotes
"Excuse me?"
"I asked if you've…"
"We heard you. What makes you think we're suffering from a lack of sexual activity?"
- Tucker, T'Pol, and Archer

"It is my understanding that your mating ritual is effective in easing tension."
"That hasn't always been my experience!"
- T'Pol and Tucker

"If you're wearing that to impress the women on Risa, you may as well stay on board."
"'Rule No. 1 – you gotta be seen to get noticed… and I plan on gettin' noticed."
"Don't say she didn't warn you."
- T'Pol, a Hawaiian shirt-clad Tucker, and Archer

"Well, this may come as a shock to you Jon but the Vulcans aren't talking."
"Imagine that."
- Forrest and Archer

"I'm just a transport captain. I never try to make sense of what government bureaucrats are thinking."
"I'll have to contact my superiors."
"There's really no need."
"I'm just a starship captain. You don't think they'd trust me to make these kinds of decisions on my own?"
- The Mazarite captain and Archer

"Vulcans don't have heroes."
"No, I'm sure they don't."
- T'Pol and Archer

"The Vulcans are raising holy Hell about this, Jon!"
- Forrest

"This must be awkward for you, having a foot in two worlds… loyal to your captain, yet still a Vulcan."
- Ambassador V'Lar, to T'Pol

"We've kept many things from them, all for good reason."
"But situations like this only reinforce their resentment. If we expect to continue our relations with Humanity we have to earn their trust."
- V'Lar and T'Pol

"I can no longer put you and your crew in danger, captain. Please drop out of warp - I plan to surrender myself to them."
"It hasn't gotten to that yet."
"It's the most logical course of action."
"If you've learned anything about Humans you'd know – we don't always take the most logical course of action."
- V'Lar and Archer

"It's called a warp 5 engine."
"On paper!"
- Archer and Tucker

"4.97…"
"They're matching our speed."
"4.99… Warp five!"
- Mayweather and Reed, announcing their progress as Enterprise reaches warp five for the first time

"We did what we came to do – that's all that matters."
(The sickbay doors open, and the Mazarites realize just how wrong they were)
"I am sorry to disappoint you… (the Mazarites look back furiously at a smirking Archer) …I look forward to adding this incident to my testimony at your trial."
- The Mazarite captain and an alive-and-well V'Lar

"Someday, I'd like to walk into a room without it feeling like a state visit!"
- V'Lar, upon the arrival of the captain of the Sh'Raan

"Live long and prosper."
- V'Lar, to T'Pol

This Week In:
* Pointless STO Comparisons: Star Trek Online takes the position that Vulcans have emotions, but suppress them - the recurring Vulcan character Admiral T’nae is, for example, vocally prejudiced against Romulans.
* Vulcans Are Superior: When the Vulcans get there, the fight is over.
* Non-Catastrophic Equipment Failures: It’s a Warp 5 engine... on paper.
* Aliens Outclass Enterprise: Averted from our antagonists, though it still applies to the Vulcans. The Mazarites appear to have almost identical technological capabilities to Starfleet.

Poster’s Log:
I have a couple complaints here, (one serious), but overall, this is good Trek. I think it all comes back to the quote from Memory Alpha: ‘Well, what if we make it a woman and someone who had been an idol of T'Pol's?' I’m am legitimately grateful to hear that, and appreciate Chris Black’s contribution here.

* T’Pol suggesting everyone needed to go to Risa to get laid is a massive WTF.

This wasn’t really drawn out here, but I’m going to have to start a count of ‘times T’Pol is misused by the writers' as soon as I have a little extra time to throw at these reviews.

* Couple other smaller issues.

I question the whole ‘great bond’ thing between Archer and T’Pol at this juncture. I recall that will be the case down the line, but it doesn’t really feel earned right now.

Finally, I did notice the return of the whole ‘humans smell bad’ thing, which... nope, nope, nope.

These were really all the things that bothered me here.

* It’s That Lady!

I always enjoy seeing Fionnula Flanagan in stuff. Moreover, V’Lar is interesting: her being able to mingle better makes sense for a lifelong diplomat. We’ve seen human behavior rub off on Vulcans in the past, and it’s only logical for someone spending years trying to cooperate with and persuade people of other cultures to learn how to fit in. My only real issue with V’Lar is that she’s a one-off character, and it’s a shame she doesn’t come back at some point.

* I liked the overall plot.

Normally, characters not telling each other stuff in a drama is very frustrating to me. This story features a pretty good reason for keeping Captain Archer and his crew in the dark though. Even better, his frustration with the situation and choice to force the issue also felt appropriate: he played along until it led to actual firefights, then he insisted on more, then he helped voluntarily. This all felt pretty reasonable to me. Basically, it was nice to see the action driven by everybody involved making decisions that made any kind of sense in context.

* The action set pieces are pretty good.

I enjoyed the whole ‘push the engines’ routine, partly because technology is rarely exactly at spec in real life, and partly for the TOS nod.

In closing: this is a very solid episode despite some obvious missteps. It had some cool action, the plot is fine, the guest star is fun, the bad guys are menacing without being ridiculous and the TOS callbacks were thoughtful. Good job, ENT.
posted by mordax (8 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Also, the observations made by V'Lar in the episode's conclusion, about there existing "a great bond" between Archer and T'Pol, was a "glimmer of what is going to come when you get to the original series,"

OK, but - this hasn't been earned yet by Enterprise and this quote is basically acknowledging that; stop making nods to other series in the franchise and have something that makes sense in the context of the show you are doing. Something about how this incident is deepening a bond between Earth and Vulcan or something about maybe there should be more trust between them or whatever. This moment really clunked for me because it was so obviously a reference to two characters from another series, and not the two we have; use this for them and their relationship.

Enjoyed the overall plot, though I felt it was a little off in places - Archer's refusal to turn the ambassador over, then deciding to take her back, and then deciding to flee again, seemed a little awkward. Running back towards the group that attacked you and presumably has really ill intent towards your guest as a means of extorting the truth just...yeah. Not the greatest set of moves from my perspective, though I appreciate the need for him to be fully briefed on the situation - it's just that running back towards the danger as a means of extracting the information that might persuade you to keep with the original mission seems like a tactically poor decision.

The reveal of the secret was a little underwhelming for me. But great guest star, some excitement in terms of both the Enterprise pushing its limits and the action sequences, and it was really really nice to have the Vulcans show up as the good guys rather than the interfering annoyance they've largely been portrayed as so far this season. Nice also to see V'Lar take an interest in the humans - to display curiosity and some self-reflection, both traits I very much associate with the Vulcan approach to things, as well as her deep awareness of being cultural sensitive and appropriate towards her hosts - greeting them in a human fashion, accepting a more informal approach, being considerate of Hoshi, etc - what you would expect from an ambassador, who needs to be able to function in alien cultures.

T’Pol suggesting everyone needed to go to Risa to get laid is a massive WTF.

I was trying very hard to determine if the intent of that scene was T'Pol playing some kind of joke (and failing horribly because human humour and Vulcans don't always mix; Spock would become a master of yanking everyone's chain with his Vulcan deadpan, so was this another attempt at the show to acknowledge that relationship?) or if this was some attempt at portraying just how vast the cultural differences and understandings of how such topics are approached are...at any rate, yeah - a massive WTF that just felt off. I'm finding it weird to see mating practices discussed rather openly by any Vulcan; my impression was always that they were intensely private about such things but I also have to admit that Amok Time is one of my all time favourite episodes and it could be that things are different from how that was portrayed; I dropped out on Voyager very, very early in its run so maybe there's a deeper understanding of Vulcans as a result that I'm just missing.

Anyways, I'm kind of happy that it seems that S1 ends with a few decent episodes strung together!
posted by nubs at 8:10 AM on January 7 [2 favorites]


See my comment last week; a good Trek episode that's great for S1 ENT, although (as already noted) not 100% problem-free. At this point, someone's tendency to try to have T'Pol do or say something quote-endquote "sexy" every episode (and I would literally bet cash money that it was Brannon Braga, directly or indirectly) is so tiresome that I just sort of mentally edit it out. It's like cracks about Neelix's cooking or how talkative Morn is. That leaves a decent-enough episode with a perfectly likable guest character (who really should have been brought back at least once; at least in the S4 mini-arc with the Syrrannites) and an enemy alien race who, instead of having some weird way of being bad, are just really, really corrupt. My main problem with the episode is that they keep chatting up the Risa visit like it's some BFD; we'll see in a couple of episodes, but that's not how I remember it being.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:11 AM on January 7 [2 favorites]


>T’Pol suggesting everyone needed to go to Risa to get laid is a massive WTF.

I was trying very hard to determine if the intent of that scene was T'Pol playing some kind of joke


I don't think T'Pol is joking, except in one part (bolded below); it plays weirdly, I think, because it's framed as a joke on the audience where 'go to Risa' is the punchline':
ARCHER: We heard you. What makes you think we're suffering from a lack of sexual activity?
T'POL: Starfleet forbids officers from fraternising with subordinates. Unless you've been violating regulations.
TUCKER: Those regulations don't apply to you. Have you been suffering?
T'POL: On Vulcan, we mate only once every seven years.
TUCKER: That's a hell of a dry spell.
ARCHER: Why are you suddenly so curious about this?
T'POL: It's my understanding that your mating ritual is effective in easing tension.
[more conversation]
T'POL: Perhaps it's time the crew takes shore leave.
The 'joke' is that the framing presents this is being about T'Pol having sex, but she's not actually talking about that. That's the joke: that we think the show is sexualizing her, but it's not! Except it is, obviously.

That aside, I liked what they did with V'Lar -- having a Vulcan whose plot arc relates to T'Pol, and brings out elements of her character, rather than to Archer, is a nice change of pace, and Flanagan is great. V'Lar felt like a realistic-but-different take on what a diplomatic Vulcan would look like, and it's nice to see some diversity within the range of how Vulcans behave.

I did have one big quibble, which was substantially this:
Archer's refusal to turn the ambassador over, then deciding to take her back, and then deciding to flee again, seemed a little awkward. Running back towards the group that attacked you and presumably has really ill intent towards your guest as a means of extorting the truth just...yeah. Not the greatest set of moves from my perspective, though I appreciate the need for him to be fully briefed on the situation
I can completely see the Vulcan leadership from other episodes wanting to hold back information from Enterprise, so that's fine; but V'Lar deciding to do the same, even in the face of Archer turning the ship around, felt out of character and illogical. Archer turning around in the first place also felt, frankly, dumb: these other folks attacked the ship largely without provocation. If you want to turn over V'Lar to ensure the ship's safety, you could do that just as easily if they happen to catch up with you; and if you want to know the truth of what V'Lar is up to, is that really wort putting the ship at risk? It felt like it would have worked better if they hadn't been so threatening to begin with -- if it was more of an abstract point of honor or legality, I could see Archer making the decision to not automatically side with the Vulcans.

I also think that undermined the Warp 5 business insofar as, considering the close timing at the end of the ep, had Archer not turned around to begin with they might well not have ended up in combat at all; they need to hit Warp 5 because Archer made a bad choice, not because of emergent and external factors.

Separately, I don't think 'we need to discredit our witness in order to preserve our witnesses credibility wait oh no' was not a particularly logical course of action on the Vulcan's part, so that undermined the drama a bit for me, but the core of the episode is really the tension between T'Pol, V'Lar, Archer, and their respective governments, so it works as a character bit even if the narrative logic doesn't quite get there. Overall a pretty good episode, WTF-ness aside.

...

One question: does the Enterprise really only have one spare room? Or is Hoshi giving up her room more of a 'our spare rooms aren't fit for an ambassador' type deal? I could believe that after they reassigned Daniel's bunkmate at the end of Cold Front maybe they're out of extra space, but does that mean the people they picked up drifting in space in Dear Doctor had to stay in sickbay for their entire trip? Or did they bump someone else off-screen? There's at least one more episode coming up (Desert Crossing) where, presumably, someone is getting bumped for housing; none of this is a problem, at all, and addressing it on-screen would be deathly boring, but now I'm curious about the housing/rooming logistics of Enterprise.
posted by cjelli at 9:23 AM on January 7 [2 favorites]


I'm curious about the housing/rooming logistics of Enterprise.

Chef gets them sorted.
posted by nubs at 10:06 AM on January 7 [2 favorites]


I'm starting to think that "Chef" is really supposed to be "Chief", as CPOs are supposed to be the real power aboard navy vessels.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:26 AM on January 7 [1 favorite]


Isn't it nice to see interesting, not-completely-predictable Vulcans?
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 12:55 PM on January 7 [3 favorites]


Isn't it nice to see interesting, not-completely-predictable Vulcans?

My absolute favourite part of the episode was T'Pol sharing the list of all the things not to do only to have V'Lar completely break every item on her list in about 30 seconds.
posted by nubs at 1:10 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


A couple of OT franchise-related things:

- The fourth JJTrek movie may be axed, after its director left to work on the Game of Thrones prequel. No news that I know of on Tarantino's Trek movie.

- The upcoming Picard series is set in 2399, about 10 years before STO. Hmm.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:26 PM on January 10 [2 favorites]


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