Star Trek: Enterprise: E²   Rewatch 
December 15, 2019 6:44 AM - Season 3, Episode 21 - Subscribe

The crew of Enterprise gets yet more news from the future. And although it comes from an unexpected source, it is, as usual, bad—particularly for T'Pol.

Background from Memory Alpha:

- The squared representation in the episode's name (²) can be visually considered as half a character, making "E²" visually shorter than "Q2" by only half a character and the shortest episode title in Star Trek. [ 9_9 –ed.]

- The original story pitched by writer/producer Mike Sussman was somewhat different from the aired episode. In Sussman's pitch, the starship Columbia NX-02 would have used Xindi subspace vortex technology to travel from Earth to the Delphic Expanse in order to aid Enterprise in its mission. But because of an incompatibility in respective technologies, Columbia would have arrived in the Expanse more than a century in the past and been marooned there. Archer and his crew would've thus encountered a one-hundred year old Columbia, operated by the descendants of its original crew. Sussman was asked to revise the story, making Enterprise travel into the past and thus having the crew meet themselves and their own descendants, much as the Defiant crew had done in DS9: "Children of Time". Sussman, a long-time Trekkie himself, pointed out the similarity in the stories to the show's executive producers but was overruled. Those in charge felt that the story for "E²" was sufficiently different, and that enough years had passed between the airing of the two shows to explore this theme again. (This information was provided by Mike Sussman)

- According to episode writer Mike Sussman, the name "Lorian" was an homage to the Elvish forest Lórien found in J.R.R. Tolkien's novel Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.

- The final draft of this episode's script was issued on 2 February 2004.

- The vest worn by Lorian in this episode is a reuse of the same vest often worn by Jake Sisko in the final seasons of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

- T'Pol and Tucker, who were married, albeit in an alternate timeline, have the first Human-Vulcan hybrid, Lorian. His ultimate fate remains unknown, be it dead, alive or erased from history. His conception was made possible after Doctor Phlox found a way of combining the Vulcan and Human genomes. This foreshadows the events in "Terra Prime", where the DNA from our T'Pol and Tucker is used to create the "first" Human-Vulcan hybrid, Elizabeth.

"There's no alternative. You'll be thrown into the past if you try to use the corridor."
"I've got two T'Pol's who disagree with you."

- Lorian and Archer

"Only in the Expanse could I have a son who's nearly three times my age."

- Tucker, to young T'Pol

"You'll never fully recover. The emotions you've accessed will be with you the rest of your life."

- T'Pol, to her younger self

"If Enterprise hadn't been stranded in the past, it's possible I never would have married Trip. But I can't imagine what my life would have been like without him."

- T'Pol, to her younger self

Poster's Log:
Boy, once you open that piracy genie bottle, it pollutes your whole lineage, huh? "I learned it by watching YOU!"

Kudos to the writers here for integrating a somewhat out-there story pretty effectively into the season's arc—and to the performers, notably Blalock and Bakula, for maintaining the general emotional states that their characters had in the last couple of episodes. Good way to end the episode, too, even though the loss of En2erprise was eminently predictable once they both entered the corridor-thing.

Interesting that the bizarre frame-droppy flashback visuals didn't apply to the flashback's space shots.

This is two consecutive episodes where we get a pretty good close-up shot of their PADDs, and it sure looks like they've got headphone jacks. I guess one of the unforeseen bonuses of World War Three was that it somehow allowed humans to keep their headphone jacks.

Kovaalans should not be confused with the Corvallens whose freighters were mentioned a few times in the 24th century.

Is the T'Pol/Tucker pairing portmanteau "T'Pucker"? If not, I think I'm going to use "T'Pucker" anyway.

We might remember David Andrews as Claire Danes' dad from Terminator 3, or as somebody on JAG apparently, if we are watchers of JAG.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil (12 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Have we ever learned if something was needed for Sarek and Amanda to successfully conceive Spock? Or does this episode address there being a difference with Vulcan mothers and human fathers?
posted by Fukiyama at 9:13 AM on December 15, 2019

Well, MA tells us the following:
Because of the common genetic ancestry of most of the species of the Milky Way Galaxy by way of the ancient humanoids, many species were able to interbreed with or without the help of genetic technology. (TNG: "The Chase") According to Doctor Phlox, Humans and Vulcans were quite similar. (ENT: "Demons")
Now, that first sentence is actually a fan extrapolating (albeit reasonably) from the events of "The Chase," which IIRC (and I think I do) never actually discusses the topic of interbreeding.

Not to mention the Human-Vulcan hybridization topic in "Terra Prime," which might constitute spoilers if discussed in more detail than the background notes above.

My hunch is that Phlox developing a method to facilitate Human-Vulcan offspring was this show's writers way of trying to insert Phlox, indirectly and by implication, into Spock's canonical backstory. I don't recall this show getting terribly specific about it, but OTOH, there's a lot about this show that it seems I don't recall. In any case, if there were some technological intervention explicitly stated as being necessary, it likely would have been listed on this MA page.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 12:48 PM on December 15, 2019

"I've got two T'Pol's who disagree with you" was best line.

I refuse to believe T'Pol would not sweep the rubble out of her stateroom.

Also yeah OF COURSE the Archer-lead descendants fuck up their mission. I kept wanting Lorian to say something like, "I heard you were a pompous hothead but the stories didn't do you justice." I also like to think the E2prise was surprised by the transporter because they also had forgot they had a transporter for 110 years.

The reveal for Reed of, "No kids?? You must have died alone and sad, awkwarrrrd!!!" was not good. I might imagine Mayweather being like that since he's a Boomer and in my head Boomers are space Amish freaks. But it's clear the show basically agrees. Some hint of "bio kids ≠ parenting ≠ fulfillment" would have been nice, like four crew who say he taught them so much and call him uncle or something.

It sounds like you guys have already had to deal with basically the disappearance of any kind of progressivism from the show in DS9 and VOY? I mean in TNG they were trying... they weren't perfect, but they tried. In ENT they aren't even trying, they are just letting the regressivism walk around in its underwear.

Still, even in character terms, I hope they do something with Reed, I dunno if "sad prickly loner" is really a character you want to have. OTOH all these characters are mirror universe bad crew.

When T'Pol asked Phlox who her husband was/will be, I imagine Archer making a silent anger-fist when he hears it's not him.

Momentum suddenly being a thing was strange. But all in all I thought there were some cute tactics, it did feel like they were making plans and trying to do things right and not just blundering around, which is good. I think I missed a part where they knew about a Nebula and some enemy ships. One thing about watching this weekly is that my attention and retention go down I think.

I CAN'T BELIEVE Archer didn't answer Degra's final line of the episode, "You're early," with something like, "Not too early, I hope," or, "That's one way of looking at it," or, "Yes. But we waited," etc.
posted by fleacircus at 6:03 PM on December 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

There's a non-canon explanation on a spoken-word record that Gene Roddenberry did back in the seventies; in this section, he has Mark Lenard play Sarek and go into the details.

This was another entry in yet another venerable Trek trope, getting a sneak peek at what the crew or their descendants will do in the future. ENT already had one in this general category this season, in "Twilight", but the Trek episode that it most resembles IMO is DS9's "Children of Time", with the crew meeting their own descendants and one surviving original crew member (in that one, Odo, plus the Dax symbiont). When I rewatched that ep, I had a big problem with the current-day crew forgetting that they were in the middle of a freakin' war when they were deciding whether or not to recreate the accident that would send them back in time; here, there's really not that problem, but rather the one of who's going to do what in the current crisis.

I will also admit that I raised an eyebrow at least as high as Spock at E²-Archer's insistence that they couldn't start Starfleet a century or so earlier, given the huge stakes for Earth, because it might "contaminate the timeline"; after all, the E²prise then went on to strike up trade relationships (and the plain ol' bumping-uglies kind) with all sorts of Expanse races. I think that it really comes down to Archer just hating the idea of time travel about as much as the Vulcans do, and that's not necessarily a completely irrational response to temporal shenanigans, given the amount of grief that the Temporal Cold War has already caused. Anyway, I liked David Andrews' work, ditto Jolene Blalock as T'POld, although she seemed a bit more, ah, decrepit than other Vulcans her age that we've seen before.

It sounds like you guys have already had to deal with basically the disappearance of any kind of progressivism from the show in DS9 and VOY? I mean in TNG they were trying... they weren't perfect, but they tried. In ENT they aren't even trying, they are just letting the regressivism walk around in its underwear.

Especially during those decon gel scenes, eh? Eh? Sorry. Anyway, yeah, the series definitely tried to imitate the general tone of The Right Stuff when men were men and Vulcan women couldn't just toss them around like rag dolls, which doesn't make a lick of sense, but anyway. There have been a bunch of episodes and scenes which were definitely more painful on the rewatch; that was also true of VOY and DS9, of course, but seemingly a lot fewer. Some of this may be that I remember the early aughts as having a general air in pop culture that sexism was suddenly cool, and this being reflected in the proliferation of lad mags like Maxim and also in comics, which became pretty risible for a bit there. (Think of the sudden popularity of Greg Land, who literally included lightly-Photoshopped scenes from hardcore porn in his "art.") That was the general zeitgeist that this series was produced in. That's no real excuse, but I have little doubt that TPTB had it in mind when certain creative decisions were made. Also, of course, there is no Prime Directive, and they go back and forth on that.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:30 PM on December 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

she seemed a bit more, ah, decrepit than other Vulcans her age that we've seen before.

Must be the emotions. I'd guess we all feel like that some days.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 3:02 AM on December 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

Look what I just got
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 5:42 AM on December 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

Aah, the bibles of Trek inside baseball! Some of it is stuff that's already come out on fan sites (i.e. the feud between Kate Mulgrew and Jeri Ryan), but there's still a lot of meat there. I was just looking at the section on ENT, and while there's not enough about UPN there for me, they mention that when CBS took over the TV franchise, they were pretty clueless about the show and apparently about science fiction in general; one episode had a scene that took place on the ship's hull, and a CBS suit asked what a hull was.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:42 AM on December 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

Enterprise had its questionable elements, but I don't think DS9 was any less progressive than TNG, Voyager or TOS. I mean, you've seen the time travel episodes about the homeless city, right? And "Far Beyond the Stars", for goodness' sakes? Those are some wonderfully preachy, self-righteous affairs!
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:08 PM on December 17, 2019

I've seen almost zero DS9 or VOY episodes.
posted by fleacircus at 12:20 PM on December 18, 2019

I've seen almost zero DS9 or VOY episodes.

So the thing to do is watch TNG: "Best of Both Worlds", "The Wounded", "Ensign Ro", "Chain of Command", "Lower Decks", "Preemptive Strike"—prefatory material for DS9's pilot, in essence—and then watch DS9 from start to finish.

Of course, you only just caught up with this ENT rewatch, and watching ENT concurrently with any of that…will not do ENT any favors.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 2:57 AM on December 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

So this was definitely my least favorite episodes of the season, and is a contender for the entire series.

I could say, forget the pointless and contradictory time-travel stuff, but that's all there was! Sure, they go ahead and shrug it all off at the end, but, um, yeah? And where were the Time Cops? I figure the Big Federation Ship dropping >100 years in time would elicit some notice. Or, you know, the poisoning of the timeline and, you know, the Saviors of Mankind Lifekind meeting their future?

The T'Pol and Trip stuff. Ugh.

And we moved the plot, what, one sentence? "And then Enterprise went through the corridor and went 11 million light years."

I like this series more than most, and am impressively generous about it, but this one was awful.
posted by General Malaise at 9:10 AM on December 20, 2019

Because of the common genetic ancestry of most of the species of the Milky Way Galaxy by way of the ancient humanoids, many species were able to interbreed with or without the help of genetic technology. (TNG: "The Chase") According to Doctor Phlox, Humans and Vulcans were quite similar. (ENT: "Demons")

You know, I was inspired to become a scientist by TOS, and I've never stopped watching the various ST shows, but only now am I actually thinking about the "common genetic ancestry" thing. How the hell does that work? Panspermia posits that some primitive life got spread (on comets or dust) from planet-to-planet, and so we might all possibly derive from the same RNA/DNA replication scheme. Following the introduction of that "seed", eukaryotic multicellular life would evolve independently on each seeded world. If Panspermia occurred, we and some random alien species might be able to digest each other or get diseases from each other, but we could never interbreed.

If ancient humanoids spread through the galaxy, they would have had to destroy every trace of the original biota on a colonizable planet and terra-form the entire thing with a wide array of organisms they brought with them. That's plausible on TOS, where you saw California-looking shrubs on most of the planets they visited, but that's really quite unethical. I feel like Gene Roddenberry would have made those humanoids have a directive not to inhabit a planet that already had life on it, and so those humanoids must have had awesome internet solitaire games to keep them occupied while the uninhabited planet cooled down and grew a decent lawn.

Here on Earth, the phylogenetic "tree of life" looks plausible for life starting here and evolving here. Could a Terra-formed planet show a genetic tree as plausible as ours? I think you'd see something weirder, something that would show evidence of the terraforming: like all plants being evolved from wheat and apples, or all animals evolved from cows and cats. So instead of species being contacted when they developed warp drives, you'd have to contact them when they noticed their phylogenetic trees were really bogus.

Anyway, thanks as always for you guys making this wonderful to discuss.
posted by acrasis at 5:06 PM on June 13, 2023

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