Star Trek: Enterprise: Kir'Shara   Rewatch 
March 8, 2020 7:02 AM - Season 4, Episode 9 - Subscribe

Archer and T'Pol fight their way to Vulcan High Command to deliver the mother of all PowerPoint presentations.

You may be witnessing the start of a new era, not only for Memory Alpha, but for Star Trek as well:

- The final scene in which V'Las meets clandestinely with a Romulan operative almost didn't make it into the finished episode for budgetary reasons. Originally, the Romulan was to have been a new, never-before-seen character, but there was no money left in the budget to pay for another speaking role. Writer Mike Sussman adjusted the scene so that the Romulan became the character Talok, a Vulcan role that had already been cast. The re-use of a Romulan uniform from Star Trek Nemesis allowed the scene to be included in the finished episode. Had the scene been cut, as it very nearly was, the Romulans' role in the Vulcan Civil War would have remained completely hidden, even from the audience.

- Tucker tells V'Las that by putting themselves in the middle of the fight between the Vulcans and the Andorians, Earth (via Enterprise) is returning the favor owed to the Andorians (specifically Shran) for helping them save their home planet. This is a reference to Shran's actions in "Zero Hour". The notion of being in each other's debt began in season one's "The Andorian Incident".

- T'Pol is cured from Pa'nar Syndrome in this episode; she had contracted the disease in "Fusion" and was diagnosed in "Stigma".

- In "The Andorian Incident", T'Pol stated that the Andorians did not have transporter technology. They do possess such technology in this episode.

- The book Star Trek 101, by Terry J. Erdmann and Paula M. Block, lists this episode as one of the "Ten Essential Episodes" from Star Trek: Enterprise.

- John Billingsley remarked that the story arc that culminated in this episode was "very strong."

- In PIC: "Maps and Legends", a model of the Kir'Shara sits on Commodore Oh's desk.

"How do you feel?"

- Shran to Soval when Shran turns the torture machine on


- Soval to Shran

"Your technique has improved."

- T'Pau, on Archer's use of the Vulcan nerve pinch

"You may be witnessing the start of a new era, not only for Vulcan, but for Earth as well."
"The Minister intends to pursue a less aggressive policy towards your people. The High Command will be dissolved."
"You'll no longer have us looking over your shoulder. It's time for Earth to stand on its own."
"We're ready."

- T'Pau and Archer

Poster's Log:
Despite some of the typical ENT continuity nitpicks here, such as a human not getting absolutely creamed when fighting Vulcan soldiers within the Vulcan atmosphere, it's nice to see another story arc that pretty much sticks the landing. The Vulcan-Andorian-Enterprise standoff may have been the most interesting space battle this show has had so far.

Shran torturing Soval was reminiscent (I'd guess intentionally) of Garak and Odo in "The Die Is Cast", though in Shran's case it discomfited me more. Could be because Soval is closer biologically to me than a changeling, could be the post-9/11 factor, but maybe the main reason is because we had no reason to expect Shran to behave as disreputably as Garak. All the same, I'd say it's not OUT of character, exactly. And it's very possible that the writers intended some indirect Bush-torture-program commentary in Shran's reaction to his own behavior—but OTOH, since when has this franchise been afraid of direct commentary? I mean, if Picard in "Chain of Command" can call out the practice directly…

Shran's stuff here, in fact, inspired me to pay a visit to Bernd over at Ex Astris Scientia, and while he didn't have a whole lot to say about Shran in his response to this episode, I found myself nodding in agreement at this:
the continued stride through the desert with occasional obstacles was a bit monotonous to watch. These two parts of the story could have easily been shortened. This would have allowed to take more time for the resolution. The way it was actually done, there was simply too much happening or too much declared in just a couple of minutes (V'Las on trial, Archer getting rid of Surak, humans no longer under surveillance, T'Pol's marriage divorced, Romulans on Vulcan). I would still call it a worthy ending but its hurriedness was somewhat disappointing.
Given how much stuff that is, I imagine it was always gonna feel somewhat hurried, but some minor edits here and there could certainly have lessened the hurriedness.

One could also raise an eyebrow about Archer being so instrumental in the history of Earth and now also Vulcan, but Trek is larger-than-life when it comes to its captains, and Kirk certainly established precedent there. For my money, I can look past this instance of Archer being historically-indispensable, particularly if I pretend that the final episode of this season never happened.

Poster's Log, Supplemental:
It seems it's Romulan Skullduggery Week on FanFare!

Lest it go unmentioned, because I think so far it has, T'Pau's name was borrowed by the 1980s UK band behind the song "Heart and Soul", one of their few hits, which apparently appeared in one of the GTA games and a Black Mirror episode.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil (5 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I tend to think of the torture scene as having been part of the show in S4 both trying to improve on some mistakes that they'd made in the past, and also to sort of sideways acknowledge those mistakes as part of continuity and to work them into some sort of arc moving forward. The thing about mind melds (and T'Pol's space AIDS) was another example. And finding out that the Romulans were behind things--at least to some degree, at least for a while--makes sense; a big part of TNG's "Unification" two-parter is that a lot of Romulans dream of being reunited with Vulcans, only some of them see that as happening by Vulcans joining the Star Empire, not with Romulans in the Federation. Just as Spock (well, at least until he went back in time to the Kelvin Universe) was part of an underground that was trying to win Romulans over to Surakian/Syrrannite philosophy, so was Talok, through V'Las, trying to make Vulcan more like their aggro cousins. Per the comments about Archer's oversize influence on alien politics, it's possible that the Vulcan view of their own history is of a conflict between rival philosophies that stretches over millenia, with a few embarrassing/humorous episodes such as that one time when Surak's katra was temporarily borne by a feisty human. (It also relates back to PIC, and wondering about Commodore Oh and her true role in things.)

Getting back to Shran, while this might seem like an extreme example of what he was willing to do for emperor and country (and, in the end, more extreme than he was really willing to get), he didn't exactly come off well in "The Andorian Incident", between beating Archer and letting Tholos creep over T'Pol. He's had more positive interactions with humans since, but, if the show had gone a full seven seasons, they'd have been nearly halfway through, and everyone still has a ways to go until they're Federation-ready. I think that this sort of scene maybe had to be done just to establish that he may not really be that guy any more, at least not completely. (We'll still see some aggro from Shran this season.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:36 PM on March 8, 2020 [2 favorites]

Yeah more time with Shran would have been nice. There wasn't even a cute antenna introduction to him either. Also Hoshi is so far back on that shelf. I expected T'Pol's curing of mind meld disease to have more oomph. I'm glad it happened, though it just seemed kind of perfunctory, there wasn't even an "it's done" scene.

So I definitely agree maybe a little less time wandering the desert to flesh out the other things would have been nice.

I was hoping that Shran's Vulcan-torturing chair would be more emotional, make Soval ugly-cry and wail and sob and heartache and snarl and various things, just go all over the map emotionally. But it seemed to mostly just be the same as physical torture, he mostly just screamed in agony a lot. No Vulcan mind deconstruction, alas.

It was nice to see some lirpas, heck yeah! I do vaguely remember them from TOS, but more than that in my D&D days I had the Palladium Book of Weapons and Armor and it was listed there with crazy good stats IIRC. I have D&D on the brain... during the long bit where Archer leads T'Pol and T'Pau through the tunnels with a torch, I kept wondering about the smoke from the torch, and thinking how little light T'Pao was getting back there to actually see where she was stepping, so probably a torch every third person was minimum...
posted by fleacircus at 6:16 AM on March 9, 2020 [2 favorites]

I was hoping that Shran's Vulcan-torturing chair would be more emotional, make Soval ugly-cry and wail and sob and heartache and snarl and various things, just go all over the map emotionally. But it seemed to mostly just be the same as physical torture, he mostly just screamed in agony a lot. No Vulcan mind deconstruction, alas.

Yeah, I thought the same thing…but perhaps it's better that they didn't saddle Gary Graham with the impossible task of topping Patrick Stewart's Vulcan thymorrhea in TNG: "Sarek." And, Graham pulled off the murderous anger quite well.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 6:40 AM on March 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

Ah, I forgot to mention the lirpas! There's an adventure in Star Trek Online that involves gladiatorial combat where you can pick a lirpa, bat'leth, or a "Tsunkatse" sword (I don't remember any such thing being in that episode, but anyway) and keep it when you escape from the arena.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:04 PM on March 9, 2020

Is this where I mention that Jeffrey Combs and Gary Graham were both in Robot Jox? Cause I'm gonna.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 1:39 AM on March 10, 2020 [3 favorites]

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