Star Trek: Enterprise: The Forge   Rewatch 
February 23, 2020 5:45 PM - Season 4, Episode 7 - Subscribe

While investigating the bombing of an Earth embassy, Archer learns that he's got a little Vulcan in him.

MemoryAlphaisthecementofourcivilization,withwhichweascendfromchaosusingreasonasourguide! Correct!:

- T'Pau, mentioned here, is the same character from TOS: "Amok Time".

- This episode confirms that there is a United Earth Government. Its Great Seal has already appeared in "Home".

- Robert Foxworth previously played Admiral Leyton in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episodes "Homefront" [FF link —ed.] and "Paradise Lost". Interestingly enough, "Homefront" also opened with the bombing of a diplomatic conference.

- The script and production report at establish that the Earth embassy was in Shi'Kahr.

- The questions that Arev (aka Syrran) asks Archer in the desert ("Who said 'Logic is the cement of our civilization, with which we ascend from chaos using reason as our guide'?" and "What is Kiri-kin-tha's First Law of Metaphysics?") are from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, when the computer in the Vulcan temple asks them of Spock. The answers are "T'Plana-Hath, Matron of Vulcan Philosophy" and "Nothing unreal exists", respectively.

- The sehlat is a Vulcan creature mentioned in TOS: "Journey to Babel" and only previously seen in TAS: "Yesteryear." It was described by Spock's mother Amanda as a "fat teddy bear," and that Spock himself was quite fond of this pet. Responsive to Dr. McCoy's teasing, Spock added that the "teddy bears" were alive and had six-inch fangs.

- After the Season 1 episode "Shuttlepod One" and Season 3's "Carpenter Street", this is the third and final episode in which no scene takes place on Enterprise's bridge.

- The uniform type Archer wears in the desert has its rank pips on the collar, similar to TNG-, DS9-, and VOY-style uniforms.

- This is the only episode in the Vulcan Reformation trilogy that was shot on location, as scenes in the Forge were shot at an industrial site in Simi Valley, in Ventura County, northwest of Los Angeles. On the road leading there from the main street, the production staff were amused to see a coincidental sign for "Vulcan Materials Company".

- Both Executive Producer Manny Coto and Judith Reeves-Stevens, who co-wrote "The Forge" (along with her husband, Garfield Reeves-Stevens), were thrilled with Michael Nouri's performance in the role of Syrran. Coto remarked, "When I saw him in the dailies I was sorry that we had killed him off." Commented Judith Reeves-Stevens, "The nice thing about Michael's interpretation of Syrran, that was something we specifically put in the script, that this was a Vulcan unlike any we had seen in the series, that he was a Kolinahr master and we should feel that difference."

"We don't know what to do about Humans. Of all the species we've made contact with, yours is the only one we can't define. You have the arrogance of Andorians, the stubborn pride of Tellarites. One moment you're as driven by your emotions as Klingons, and the next you confound us by suddenly embracing logic!"
"I'm sure those qualities are found in every species."
"Not in such confusing abundance."

- Soval and Maxwell Forrest, in the halls of Earth's embassy on Vulcan

"This is a most enjoyable sport – reminiscent of Octran fertility contests… except we're fully clothed, which is probably for the best!"

- Phlox, to Captain Archer, after winning another game

"You have Porthos."
"Porthos doesn't try and eat me when I'm late with his dinner."
"Vulcan children are never late with their sehlat's dinner."

- T'Pol and Archer

"Vulcans do not lie."
"I've dealt with the High Command. Vulcans can lie and cheat with the best of them."

- Arev and Archer

Poster's Log:
This easily could have been a slog, given that it's talky setup for a 3-episode arc, but I think credit goes to the directing here: all the performances are on point, and we see some camerawork that's fresh for ENT—I noticed more close-ups than usual, which helped add some urgency.

Naturally, also, all this good and canonically-consistent delving into Vulcan stuff is pure Trek nerd crack cocaine.

I also really liked Arev actor Michael Nouri, who is one of those guys whose name and voice I dimly recognize, but in looking over his filmography, I have no clue what else I've seen him in. Maybe a Law & Order.

Too bad about Admiral Forrest—kill off one of the only likable Admirals in the franchise, why don't you! And speaking of Admirals, Foxworth's performance here may come off as awfully emotional, but as we will see, there's a reason for that. (If you don't care to be spoiled, his character's MA page goes into it.)
posted by CheesesOfBrazil (5 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Brief note: among many other things, Nouri was in The Hidden, a little SF gem of a movie that co-starred Kyle MacLachlan, and which also involved a human (actually, a bunch of them) acquiring an alien consciousness, albeit in a more, ah, visceral manner. Also, I happened to be rewatching the DS9 episode "Change of Heart"; in the runabout on the way to the mission, the Forge is one of the places that Worf proposes that he and Jadzia go for their honeymoon, which Jadzia rejects, as she wants a place that has room service instead of physical suffering.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:06 PM on February 23, 2020 [3 favorites]

I generally enjoy this arc and episode. I agree it's well directed and acted. The cut between the embassy explosion and the space basketball game with Reed yelling out "Captain!" just as the cut begins I always find a nice edit visually and aurally.

The heavy fantasy elements of this arc I find almost annoying as the heavy fantasy tropes we're seeing in Star Trek Picard with Romulan Taro cards, ancient "mysterious" mythology, visions, and the like but of course Trek and much of science fiction is laced with these elements. It's just one's mood at the time I suppose as to how little or how much one is annoyed (or not if you're not) and seeing it in modern sci-fi is annoying me more these days.

Also can't stand the reduction in T'Pol's intellect and perception in this arc but again, in Star Trek, making characters less intelligent for the plot is a tradition.
posted by juiceCake at 8:07 PM on February 23, 2020

Oh good another Terrorism.

I'm mostly kidding, but man this series can feel like a relic of the 2000s era.

RIP Admiral Forrest. Not sure why Archer was worth breaking the laws of time to save, but Forrest wasn't, but I guess it will eventually come together in the end without him so free shrugs.

- T'Pau, mentioned here, is the same character from TOS: "Amok Time". Huh, I had not caught that before. That's neat.

One nit: So T'Les sends T'Pol a device that's supposed to show where they're all hiding out, but it turns out it was basically unnecessary/insufficient, because it turns out the katra/mind meld really showed the hideout location. I guess the map didn't have the "walk into a wall here."

Overall, a good one, with a ton of Vulcan lore, which is fun for the nerds out there. Maybe too much exposition for the non-nerds out there.
posted by General Malaise at 7:02 AM on February 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

The big thing about this episode--really, this trilogy of episodes--is that it does something that's been hanging over the series from the very beginning, which is to answer the question, "Why are the Vulcans such assholes, and how do they ever get to the point where they're willing to form a real alliance with Earth, let alone become the wise and mellow space elves that they've always been in Trek?" I sort of understand why B&B made them the way that they have been, because it would have been hard to evoke that The Right Stuff In Interstellar SPAAAAACE feeling that they've been striving for if the Vulcans had simply handed over the keys to the proverbial Warp 5 car and told them not to stay out too late; it also provided grist for some stories about their conflicts with the Andorians, whom the showrunners were free to make sort of scrappy because there was so little known about them in canon. But it's been over three years now, and it's high time that someone did something about that gap between what we know the Vulcans will be and the way they are in the mid-22nd century.

And I can't think of better people to do that than the Reeves-Stevenses, who are known in Trek novel circles not only for an exhaustive knowledge of canon and continuity, but also for being able to stitch together disparate and even seemingly contradictory bits of canon so that it makes sense. (An example: people may remember that it was revealed in Star Trek: Insurrection that the Federation had invisibility suits, something never shown before or since. The Reeves-Stevenses, in their DS9 novel trilogy Millennium, said that Section 31 had reverse-engineered that tech from the captured Romulan cloak from the TOS episode "The Enterprise Incident.") They're doing a good job of it here, not only putting in bits from previous shows and movies--having the suspect for the bombing be T'Pau, of all people (in "Amok Time", she was described by Kirk as "All of Vulcan in one package"), was inspired--but also working the jerk Vulcans of this show into something that makes sense. If you have a culture that is devoted to a rigid version of Surak's teachings, and standoffish and arrogant toward other cultures and ways of thinking, then it makes sense that they'd consider mind-melding to be taboo, since that would let you know what someone's really thinking. They'd be hard-set against some of the more mystical aspects of Vulcan history and culture, as well. One of the things that's occasionally been speculated about in the fandom is why Romulans never seem to have any psychic abilities, and this version of Vulcan society seems pretty Romulanesque in their attitudes--it could be that Romulans are able to mind-meld, but their culture emphasizing secrecy and power tends to mitigate against anyone trying to develop the discipline. (This will make a lot more sense at the end of the third episode in this trilogy; it's also hinted at when Arev mentions how the people who split off from Vulcan and Surak's original teachings were under the symbol of the "raptor". We know that the Vulcans don't know that the Romulans are their former cousins, at least not until "Balance of Terror", when everyone finds out; I'm guessing that the Romulans must have adopted an entirely different language when the schism occurred.) Another neat bit was how the Vulcan High Command was originally their version of NASA or Starfleet; it provides another parallel to DS9's "Homefront"/"Paradise Lost", in that that two-parter was about a rogue element of Starfleet attempting a takeover of Earth.

Good performances all around here; I especially liked Gary Graham's initial distaste for performing the mind-meld, and his and Vaughn Armstrong's blunt conversation about Earth-Vulcan differences. Robert Foxworth was also good, although I thought that casting him in such a similar role to Admiral Leyton was tipping the plot's hand a bit. And Nouri was quite good, of course.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:51 AM on February 24, 2020 [3 favorites]

Trip piping up about telomerase made me want to throw something at the writers. OTOH, when Trip was looking over Soval's shoulder trying to watch the mind meld that was one of the funniest moments on the show.

Also I guess the anti-tech fields on Vulcan don't prevent giant ass holograms.
posted by fleacircus at 11:09 PM on March 4, 2020

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