Star Trek: Enterprise: Impulse   Rewatch 
August 26, 2019 2:04 PM - Season 3, Episode 5 - Subscribe

A Vulcan ship was lost in the Expanse. Fortunately, the Enterprise encounters it at least 28 days later.

Memory Alpha has some interesting stuff for us this time:

Background information
Production history
> Filmed: 8 August 2003 – 19 August 2003
> Premiere airdate: 8 October 2003

> The original teaser pitch for this episode include scenes showing the normal duty aboard the Seleya before the Vulcans were exposed to the trellium. David A. Goodman wrote this first pitch. (ENT Season 3 Blu-ray, "Impulse", audio commentary)
> Rick Berman offered this episode to director David Livingston who was excited to do a horror movie instead of the normally very Star Trek themed episodes. (ENT Season 3 Blu-ray, "Impulse" audio commentary)
> The Seleya was designed by John Eaves and rendered as a computer-generated image. It partially descended from Matt Jefferies "ring ship" design seen on the rec deck display in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. The Seleya corridor set was built on platforms, elevated eight feet above the stage floor. (ENT Season 3 Blu-ray, "Impulse" text commentary)
> Director of Photography Marvin Rush used a camera trick for this episode, known as "narrow-angle shutter". The result were that the objects in motion had an unnatural, almost strobe-like sharpness when filmed with this technique. This technique is heavily featured in filming commercials and sports films. The special lighting from below also supported this "zombie episode", according to Livingston. (ENT Season 3 Blu-ray, "Impulse" text commentary and audio commentary)
> The Seleya sickbay set was a separate set built on Paramount Stage 18, next to Enterprise NX-01 launch bay set. The auxiliary control room set was built on Paramount Stage 8, right next to the Xindi council chambers sets. (ENT Season 3 Blu-ray, "Impulse" text commentary)
> Though not named on screen, the Vulcan crewmembers of the Seleya were named "Vulcan zombies" behind the scenes by the production staff and performers. This description wasn't featured in the script but was on the costume tags. [1] [2] It was also referenced in the text commentary and audio commentary of the episode.
> Originally, the sickbay scene with T'Pol and Archer was scripted to be the final scene of the episode. After David Livingston and Robert Lederman worked on a rough cut of the episode shortly after principal filming wrapped they found the episode a few minutes too short. Several days after principal filming, the second unit team filmed the "nightmare sequence" which became the final end of the episode. In the mess hall scene during movie night, the film watched by the crew was later added during post-production. The actors were working with a green screen. An original scripted ending, Archer kissing T'Pol, was rejected by Brannon Braga. (ENT Season 3 Blu-ray, "Impulse" text commentary; information from 2nd AD Michael DeMeritt; ENT Season 3 Blu-ray, "Impulse" audio commentary)

Sets and props
> In the back of the transporter console, a TNG style circuit board can be found, a leftover from the previous use in Star Trek: Voyager. (ENT Season 3 Blu-ray, "Impulse" text commentary)
Shortly after this episode, a joystick was added to the main control of the shuttlepod interior set. (ENT Season 3 Blu-ray, "Impulse" text commentary)
> The display of the rotating Vulcan skull seen in sickbay aboard Enterprise was purchased from an outside company. (ENT Season 3 Blu-ray, "Impulse" text commentary)
> Production Designer Herman Zimmerman used several set pieces from the Seleya interior for the creation of the Andorian battle cruiser bridge in the episode "Proving Ground". (Star Trek: Communicator issue 151, pp. 57 & 58) Furthermore were several walls from the rooms between the crawlways used for the Romulan drone ship in the episodes "Babel One" and "United". (ENT Season 3 Blu-ray, "Impulse" text commentary)
> The small crawlway tube used by Archer and Reed was originally built for the USS Enterprise-E set in Star Trek: First Contact. (ENT Season 3 Blu-ray, "Impulse" text commentary)
A Vulcan console table seen in the auxiliary control room aboard the Seleya was also seen in the episode "Carbon Creek".
> The platform-like table in the auxiliary control room was previously used as science worktable in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Klingon table in "Broken Bow", and Vulcan console table in "Fusion". (ENT Season 3 Blu-ray, "Impulse" text commentary)
> The wall panels seen in the corridors aboard the Seleya were later reused as set dressings for Commander Dolim's starship in the episode "The Council" and were also featured for a variety of alien ships.
> The corridor archways of the Seleya were previously used for several other alien sets most notably for the Suliban vessel interiors. (ENT Season 3, "Impulse" text commentary)
> Three Vulcan medical charts in sickbay appearing aboard the Seleya were previously featured in the episode "Stigma" and designed by Timothy Earls.
> The isolation pod prop seen in the sickbay aboard the Seleya was purchased from an unsuccessful science fiction television pilot for another studio. It was later also used in the episodes "Harbinger" and "The Council". (ENT Season 3 Blu-ray, "Impulse" text commentary)
> The greenish Vulcan circuits held by T'Pol and Reed were made from old CD storage racks. (ENT Season 3 Blu-ray, "Impulse" text commentary)

Cast and characters
> Sean McGowan reprises his role of F. Hawkins from the episode "Anomaly". He will make further appearances later this season in the episodes "Hatchery" and "The Council".
> Veteran stuntman Tom Morga can be seen as the first "Vulcan zombie" in this episode and director David Livingston described it as a cameo role of Morga. (ENT Season 3 Blu-ray, "Impulse" audio commentary)
> Due to the similar makeup and the flickering lighting of the episode, a team of seven stunt performers under supervision of Vince Deadrick, Jr. and a group of background performers were used to portray the Seleya crew. (ENT Season 3 Blu-ray, "Impulse" text commentary) According to David Livingston they had a special training with him to make sure they move like zombies. (ENT Season 3 Blu-ray, "Impulse" audio commentary)

> The Seleya was named for Mount Seleya on Vulcan. (ENT Season 3 Blu-ray, "Impulse" text commentary)
> This episode finally reveals why the crew of the Vaankara acted in the way they did, in the video seen in "The Expanse". The crew of the Vaankara had been en route to assist the Seleya.
T'Pol's irrational suspicion that Humans are against her is a reversal of a similar scenario depicted in "Strange New World", in which Commander Tucker and other Humans suspect T'Pol of working against them. In "Strange New World", the paranoid members of the crew are affected by hallucinogenic pollen while here, T'Pol is affected by trellium-D.
> The events of this episode are later covered in "Home" when Archer is sitting before a hearing which includes Vulcan Ambassador Soval.
This episode began the subplot of T'Pol's addiction to trellium-D, which lasted for three months, ending in "Damage".
> In the episode "Damage", when Captain Archer faces the difficult decision to board the Illyrian ship and steal their warp coil, T'Pol will accusingly remind him what he states in this episode: "I can't try to save Humanity without holding on to what makes me Human".
> The outline of this episode is similar to that of DS9: "Empok Nor". In this episode, the crew can't tell if anyone is on the Seleya, as O'Brien and team have the same luck with Empok Nor. Garak becomes affected with a psychotropic drug, just as T'Pol became addicted to trellium exposure.

> According to the text commentary on the DVD collection and the audio commentary by David Livingston, this episode contains the shortest teaser in Star Trek history, clocking in at just over eighteen seconds.
> Director David Livingston names this episode as his favorite episode of the ones he directed. He would have preferred to stay aboard the Seleya for the whole episode as he was not a fan of the B-story. (ENT Season 3 Blu-ray, "Impulse" audio commentary)
> Livingston praised the performance by Jolene Blalock. "Her performance is heart and soul, ...she nailed it and is a true gift to the episode." (ENT Season 3 Blu-ray, "Impulse", audio commentary)
> Livingston also mentioned the special "Brannon touch" of the episode, the nightmare sequence and its ending which reminded him of the 1981 John Landis movie An American Werewolf in London. Braga previously had a similar scene in the opening sequence of Star Trek: First Contact. (ENT Season 3 Blu-ray, "Impulse" audio commentary)

> The DVD release features a text commentary by Mike and Denise Okuda.
> The Blu-ray release features the text commentary and an audio commentary by David Livingston and David A. Goodman.

Memorable quotes
"There'll be plenty of time for movies after we've dealt with the Xindi."
- Archer, when Tucker suggests bringing back movie night to improve morale

"No damage, though we may need a fresh coat of paint!"
- Reed as Shuttlepod 1 maneuvers through the anomaly filled asteroid field

"I hope you won't write that landing up in your log."
"Are you kidding? I'm gonna recommend they give you a medal."
- Mayweather and Tucker, on Mayweather's bumpy landing

"I can't try to save Humanity without holding on to what makes me Human."
- Archer, to T'Pol

"Part of the fun of a mystery is trying to solve it before it ends... using logic. You of all people should appreciate that."
"Then use logic more quietly..."
- Tucker and T'Pol, while watching a movie

This Week In:
* Pointless STO Comparisons: Melee combat in Star Trek Online features frequent knockdowns, as seen here.
* Vulcans Are Superior: Averted. Vulcans are poisoned by the Trellium needed to survive in the Expanse.
* Non-Catastrophic Equipment Failures: A couple, see below.
* Aliens Outclass Enterprise: Nothing this time.

Poster’s Log:
First one I've legitimately enjoyed in awhile, personally.

* The setup actually makes sense.
The Vulcans are by a Trellium rich asteroid field, which is completely reasonable. Enterprise gets into trouble trying to mine Trellium while investigating, and this leads to both the backup shuttle and transporters being inoperable in completely reasonable ways.

Even the idea of 'Vulcans are kill crazy' has some precedent, both from the footage we saw as the season opened, and because of what we know about unchecked Vulcan behavior dating back to Spock.

* I liked all the performances.
Blalock always does a good job. I liked everybody else too, including the MACO. (I loved the touch where he apologized to T'Pol for asking to set the weapons to kill.)

* Effects were good.
As ever, ENT is visually quite impressive. The nightmare at the end was pretty great.

* I actually liked the exchange between T'Pol and Archer.
A lot of times, Archer has done something dumb and I have felt it was poorly justified. This time, his insistence on leaving the ship unshielded felt real to me.

So... yeah. Good times for once. (Late because I am very busy RL. I'll try to stay on top of this next week.)
posted by mordax (8 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My reactions to it were a bit more mixed, and that may be due in part to having higher expectations for this season than past ones. They're gradually building up the story--having the Xindi gathering information on the NX-01's crew, the ongoing quest for Trellium-D, resolving the previous plot point of the Vaankara , etc.--but (and this may just be an artifact of not having the season break that the show had) it seems like we just had a T'Pol Flips Out episode in "Bounty" (which was actually an S2 episode). Also, I would have preferred the Vulcans to be less zombie-like; more aggro Vulcans are plenty scary without the makeup or losing their speech--I'm reminded of TOS' "This Side of Paradise" and Kirk needing to provoke Spock into a rage in order to drive out the space pollen. Kirk knows ahead of time that Spock will be very dangerous, and even though his rage only lasts for seconds, he very nearly kills Kirk anyway. (See also "Amok Time.") Also, the zombie-Vulcan makeup was distractingly similar to Frank Langella's version of Skeletor from the Masters of the Universe live-action movie; I kept imagining them running around in purple capes, going "Myah! Myah!" Anyone else? Anyone? OK, just me then.

But, aside from the unpleasant reminder of the B-plot from "Bounty", it was good enough. I liked the Vulcan ship a lot and it was decently actiony. The upcoming Trellium-D subplot was something that I'd completely forgotten about; we'll see how it plays out.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:17 PM on August 26, 2019 [3 favorites]

I really don't like plots where the story is basically "make Vulcans less dignified" and the addiction subplot this will lead to is just the freaking pits BUT *this* episode is well done, and it's not this episode's fault that later T'pol episodes will resemble a "very special episode" of a sitcom from the 80's. It's the first ENT episode in a while that's just good television and for that, here's my first wine recommendation that's actually a good one.
Puerta de Plata reserva 2013, a Tempranillo/Grenache blend from Spain that is surprisingly affordable, and absolutely delicious. Drink up, we all deserve it, and hoo boy are some of the following episodes not worthy of such a wine.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 8:31 PM on August 26, 2019 [2 favorites]

This is the rare case where I don't mind the fact that an episode is pretty heavily derivative (of a horror genre AND of "Empok Nor"). You might not think that Star Trek and zombies would mix all that well, but this is indeed a very solid hour of space action/horror.

The fact that the show has by now committed to serialization adds some suspense—e.g., we realize that shuttlepod two being out of commission could have consequences beyond this episode, and stuff like that is why this franchise should've been doing multi-part episodes or season-long arcs since the beginning IMO—but nevertheless, one problem with doing horror well on a TV series is the metaknowledge that all or nearly all of these characters will be returning.

For me, what helped this episode overcome this baked-in limitation was Blalock's performance. She brings it here; she makes that slow drain of her restraint real, believable, and honestly almost scary. I say "almost" because the one missing ingredient was getting to see her really let loose her physical might a la Jack's examples from TOS.

It probably also helped that they waited until late in the hour for Phlox's reveal that the trellium caused it, since we'd immediately assume that a cure will be found.

I really don't like plots where the story is basically "make Vulcans less dignified"

I mean, I agree, but maybe mainly because it's usually a vector for anti-intellectualism. Here, it's just that somebody had the idea that Vulcans would make good zombies.

That said, one plausibility quibble: Phlox said that trellium impacts Vulcan emotional regulation—not their cheekbones, circulation, steadiness, verbosity… 9_9

I skipped a couple episodes prior to rewatching this one, partly due to Life getting crazy busy and, well, let's just say that I'm starting to wonder if we need above-the-fold content warnings for "T'Pol rape" episodes. Speaking of:

An original scripted ending, Archer kissing T'Pol,

um wut

was rejected by Brannon Braga.

posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 8:02 AM on August 30, 2019 [3 favorites]

I kept imagining them running around in purple capes, going "Myah! Myah!" Anyone else? Anyone? OK, just me then.

... well, it *was* just you. Curses! Haha.

It's the first ENT episode in a while that's just good television

I think this was a lot of my generally positive outlook here. It's a relief to not feel like second-guessing or being skeeved out by stuff for a change.

I skipped a couple episodes prior to rewatching this one, partly due to Life getting crazy busy and, well, let's just say that I'm starting to wonder if we need above-the-fold content warnings for "T'Pol rape" episodes.

Yeah. :(

I've struggled with the issue of content warnings here, and am certainly open to adding them for any of these. (This is definitely my last continuous/full viewing of ENT, and events surrounding a recent thread nearly had me button in disgust.)
posted by mordax at 4:11 PM on August 30, 2019

I've struggled with the issue of content warnings here, and am certainly open to adding them for any of these.

I was going to say that I was half joking, but… maybe more like a quarter joking?

I don't remember just HOW often this show pulls this crap, particularly going forward—somehow I remember less of season 3 than any other. Maybe we'll get lucky and they've got it out of their system by now?

Not to mention the fact that CWs are all about warning, and perhaps anyone liable to click on one of these threads is already aware of this franchise's Seven/T'Pol Era?

IIRC we've used actual CWs rarely for these threads. That might be for the best: reserving them for when the episode really obviously warrants it, as opposed to those (sadly numerous) instances where the objectionable shit is disguised with a thin layer of sci-fi-plausible-deniability, as in "Rajiin." Just my two cents. And I don't intend to inspire a massive derail! :)
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 6:39 AM on August 31, 2019 [2 favorites]

Both The Expanse AND 28 Days Later referenced in the same post. Coincidence? I think not!
posted by evilDoug at 6:54 AM on September 1, 2019

Both The Expanse AND 28 Days Later referenced in the same post. Coincidence? I think not!

This is funny because I just finally posted in the previous episode, having watched this and the last one in succession tonight, and I referenced two other genre {Alex Trebeck "shennnerrr"] shows in my comment.

(I love these threads [despite some of my past comments] and this rewatch just because it's honestly fulfilling to read comments about the episode I just watched by myself. Sorry I'm "weeks" behind.)

This was fine. I wouldn't call it great television, or even one of the best episodes. It's not gross, which is helpful after the last episode that I just watched. It was entertaining, and the kicker landed in a way that most of this show's kickers don't.

Did I need a zombie movie while waiting for more serial plot to develop? Probably not. Was it entertaining? Yes. Plus, I guess it was good to get some closure the to the stories we heard earlier about how the joint makes Romulans go completely emotional.
posted by General Malaise at 6:26 PM on September 13, 2019

Jarring tone difference between like Space Hulk Scenario in the A plot, vs. Goofy Mining Mishaps in the B plot.
posted by fleacircus at 7:35 AM on November 6, 2019

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