Star Trek: Enterprise: United   Rewatch 
April 5, 2020 7:57 AM - Season 4, Episode 13 - Subscribe

While Archer learns ice-miner diplomacy, Tucker and Reed fly the unfriendly skies.

One wiki can summon the future:

- This is the last episode of Star Trek to be directed by David Livingston, the most prolific director in the franchise (62 episodes).

- This episode establishes the first cooperative endeavor between Humans, Vulcans, Andorians, and Tellarites, the four species that eventually formed the United Federation of Planets in 2161. It also suggests for the first time why Earth – a relative newcomer to the galactic stage – became the de facto capital of the Federation: humanity was the only species on relative friendly terms with the other three.

- This episode was the third to be written by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, having previously written "The Forge" and "Observer Effect", although this time, they shared their writers' credit with Manny Coto.

- The ushaan originates from Among the Clans, a 1999 tabletop RPG sourcebook by Last Unicorn Games. This was picked up by author Manny Coto for the episode. Along with the published information seen in FASA's Star Trek: The Role Playing Game, Among the Clans also helped put forth the idea of an ice-covered Andoria.

- Following their appearance in Star Trek Nemesis, "United" featured the second appearance of the Remans in Star Trek.

- This episode was the first to air following the announcement by UPN that Star Trek: Enterprise was due to be canceled after its fourth season.

- The Tellarite cruiser is actually a reuse of the Arkonian military vessel from Season 2, which in turn were used in Season 3 as Xindi-Arboreal starship.

- The sensor grid which Archer devises is reminiscent of the tachyon detection grid used by Captain Picard and a fleet of Starfleet ships in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Redemption II". In that episode, like Captain Archer in "United", Picard used the grid to locate Romulan vessels.

"I'd rather cohabit with Klingon targs than join forces with Tellarites!"
"Your personal mating preference is no concern of mine!"

- Shran and Gral

"Why don't the two of you try behaving like Humans for a change?"
"And you said you wouldn't be insulting!"

- Archer and Gral

"Vulcans have a saying: 'One man can summon the future.' What happens if that man throws away his life before his time?"

- T'Pol, to Archer

Poster's Log:
Toooootally forgot there were Remans in this show. Hhhhuh.

Cool to see new sides to Shran, and atypical pathos from Combs, in the sickbay scenes.

We've of course seen the "fight to the death that ends with no death b/c loophole" far too often—I just saw it last night again when I…*deep sigh*…watched TNG: "Code of Honor", all the way through, somehow—but here it has some weight thanks mainly to the well-developed Archer-Shran relationship. I leave it to the community to determine whether or not our foreknowledge that the Federation's formation hangs in the balance helps or hinders the obligatory fight scene.

On the topic of prequel-audience-foreknowledge, I might be reading too much into it, but T'Pol said something in Archer's ready room that might have been the writers trying to suggest that all the time travel earlier in this show means that things might not turn out the way we expect them to. If so, well, that was kinda cute.

Nice for Travis to get a big scene for once, but it's too bad it was shot in Michael Bay Spinny-Cam-Vision. It may be old-fashioned to say so, but y'know, when characters are researching or discussing or otherwise doing something inert, it's okay for the camera to be motionless.

I suspect Archer's closing gesture was a deliberate evocation of this famous Clinton pose.

Possibly my favorite thing about this episode is the fact that a Last Unicorn RPG book was instrumental in the script. It's always so fun when something from a franchise's "expanded universe" is made canonical after the fact.

Poster's Log, Supplemental:
Among the Clans is a very good book, by the way, though I enjoy flipping through The Way of Kolinahr a bit more.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil (4 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Hey, now that was a fun twist at the end. Makes me wish they hadn't done the same trick in the previous episode.

ARCHER: There's one thing humans seem to do better than any species we've met. When we're faced with a common threat, we put our differences aside and try to co-operate. [citation needed]

Well, I'll be, I also totally forgot Remans were in this show.

Man, Jeffrey Combs is such the highlight of this series. His monologue was just-this-close to overacting, but it works.

This was a fun outing, but now, some nits. The way out of the duel was remarkably cheap, even for this franchise. Someone must die! Well, unless one of you ends up defenseless. What.

In terms of Trip and his trip to space Chernobyl, if the dose of radiation had made him that ill, he probably would have died. But, even if he didn't, radiation dose is life-long, so he would definitely not have been allowed to be an engineer anymore, and probably would have had to retire entirely. I also find it hilarious they measured the dose in roentgens, which is already now way out of date.
posted by General Malaise at 12:26 PM on April 5, 2020 [3 favorites]

Sure, we've seen the ritual-alien-combat-to-the-death-that-doesn't-actually-kill-someone, just as we've seen someone get out of a tight spot by basically rule lawyering (although this not only gives Sato and Mayweather something to do besides translating and piloting, but the RPG player in me digs seeing someone help in a situation by making a successful skill check), but Archer really was at risk there--last episode showed that Andorians are certainly no slouches at hand-to-hand combat--and proved that not only was it better to work together to solve problems like this, but that humans were willing to put themselves at risk to make that work. So that's cool.

As for Trip and Malcolm, yeah, the radiation thing was kind of dumb--maybe it's, I dunno, tau radiation or something that can be made all better just by turning it off. I liked their little space walk; one thing that ENT does more often than its predecessors is remind us that they're in space, between this, the couple of episodes where they're out on the hull, and Archer's escape from Cold Station 12 earlier this season.

I had a couple of other thoughts but I'm too tired from a 50-mile bike ride I did earlier (social isolation doesn't mean not going outside). One thing is that this reminded me of going to Andoria in Star Trek Online. An event earlier this year had players hunting Omega particles for Q for whatever reason; it was basically a treasure hunt in different space and planet locations, and one of the planets was Andoria, which was depicted as basically one big glacier with people standing in circles going "Ushaan! Ushaan!" like that's all they did.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:58 PM on April 5, 2020 [4 favorites]

Yeah spinny cam was pretty awful, I guess being the most prolific director of Star Trek episodes doesn't necessarily give on a subtle touch.

Delicious quantities of Shran. What a great guy, such best buds with Archer, but also he would totally have killed Archer; he was perfectly ready to do that. Also loved him asking Archer if he's been a captain in all those Enterprises.

They did pretty good competency porn scenes in this one, though I think to help Mayweather out they just gave him T'Pol's bits. Hoshi probably is the best rules lawyer and dominates the onboard game of Nomic. I liked the resolution of Reed and Trip's drone adventure, getting to hear the voice of the Romulan behind the curtain. "They only way for you to survive [my deathtrap] is to follow my commands," is a great cheesy villain line and perfect for that actor. It evokes a whole image of Romulan society, or at least the segment that goes in to foreign policy lol. Reed's line, "You're good at fixing things and I'm good at blowing them up," is another instance of them getting a handle on their characters way too late.

I thought it was funny that T'Pol and Archer didn't bring up the temporal cold war stuff in their "one man can summon the future" conversation. Don't even mention Daniels name. (Did they erase memories or something? If so they got me too.) I think it demonstrates what a bad idea it was, how it sucked a lot of life out of the drama when they actually would do the thing that was destined. T'Pol being like, "We should be careful," and Archer is like, "I was the pivotal figure in a time war AND I've been Vulcan Jesus, gimme a break it's just Shran he's my bro it'll be okay."

I didn't pay attention to most of the search grid of ships stuff, but it's fine. An obvious task that would be easy if everyone helped highlights how dumb it is for them not to unite to do it. I appreciated the detail that the Vulcan High Command has just straight up been dissolved and religious fundamentalist T'Pau is in charge of everything. Yeah they probably wouldn't have their shit together. A lot of Vulcans googling retirement properties, "how to convert to Syrranism" and "mind melding death risk".
posted by fleacircus at 7:21 AM on April 6, 2020 [4 favorites]

His monologue was just-this-close to overacting, but it works.

Well, isn't that kind of Combs' whole deal? He always chews the scenery, but he chews it well.

I haven't seen this in forever so I may well be missing something, but don't they have radiation treatments in Star Trek? I thought that was an established thing.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:22 PM on April 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

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