Alan K. Henderson's Weblog


Old comments migrated to Disqus, currently working outtechnical issues

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Enterprise Season Four - The Vulcan Reformation

(Update: Season Four episode list here)

In my season premiere post, I stated my impression (based on hints from Star that the Enterprise crew would be facing two sets of terrorists early in the season - the Augments and whatever is afoot on Vulcan. As it would turn out, the bombing of the Earth embassy on Vulcan would be the work of something else entirely. The attack leaves 43 dead, including Admiral Forrest, who dies pushing Soval out of the path of the explosion. Archer is called to lead the investigation.

Found on bits of shrapnel are fingerprints of T'Pau, leader of a dissident group known as the Syrannites. Upon this revelation, the High Command's Administrator V'Las takes over the investigation. Phlox discovers the DNA evidence was forged, and Soval - reluctantly - performs a mind meld (the practice was then taboo among Vulcans) on a comatose survivor, and learns that the bomb was planted by High Command security chief Stel.

Meanwhile, Archer and T'Pol are seeking out the Syrannites in a region known as "The Forge," whose unique features interfere with communications and sensors. Earlier in the show, T'Pol had learned from her husband Koss that her mother T'Les is a Syrannite, and was given a pendant that contains a holographic map of the Forge. She and Archer find a Vulcan named Arev, who is wary of the two - until he recognizes the pendant. His true name is Syrran, the sect's founder, and he carries the katra of the great Vulcan philosopher Surak. Their travel is interrupted by a sandfire, a weather phenomenon that crosses desert sandstorms with ball lightning. They take refuge in a cave, but an explosion near the entrance mortally wounds Arev, who instigates a mind meld with Archer before his death - transferring the katra to the unwitting captain.

They find the Syrannite encampment, where they are greeted with an unfriendly welcome, but the tone changes when they learn of Syrran's death. Where's the katra of the founder of our philosophy? The human? Nooooooooooooooooo! (Good thing the Vulcans have all that emotional training, otherwise Archer would be witnessing the mother of all conniption fits.) Their new leader is a young woman named T'Pau, who will later gain a British accent and officiate over Spock's wedding in the TOS episode "Amok Time".

V'Las has decided to bombard the Forge, ignoring Soval's evidence (and is quite disgusted by his means). Enterprise is ordered to leave orbit so that its crew will not witness the atrocity. Tucker, in command, refuses. Vulcan ships drive back an attempted shuttlepod rescue. On the surface, Surak's katra guides Archer to locate a mysterious artifact known as the Kir'Shara. The Syrannites, including T'Les, are wiped out in the attack, but Archer, T'Pol, and T'Pau escape on foot.

The truth finally comes out. The High Command plans a preemptive strike against Andoria, based on intelligence that the Andorians are building a WMD based on Xindi technical data. The Syrannites are pacifists, and would have obstructed such plans. V'Les staged the embassy bombing to provide a legal excuse for liquidating the sect. Soval informs Enterprise. The ship leaves for Andoria with the ambassador aboard.

Tucker arranges a meeting with Shran, who is leery of Soval's claims. Shran clandestinely beams Soval aboard his ship, and has him strapped to a torture device that inflicts no physical pain but short-circuits a part of the
Vulcan brain that regulates emotion. On a sufficiently high setting, this can be lethal. (Recall a TOS episode - "Plato's Stepchildren", I think - where McCoy warns that forcing emotions on Spock could kill him.) The interchange between these two patriots is one of the great moments in Trek. Shran is convinced of Soval's honesty, and the Andorian fleet readies for the invading Vulcan fleet.

V'Las sends out men to track down Archer and company, They capture T'Pol and bring her to the High Command. Archer and T'Pau arrive there just in time for the start of the fleet battle, with Enterprise fighting on the side of the Andorians. Slow down our warp program, huh? Keep us from exploring the galaxy, huh? Eat hot photons, you pointy-eared weasels! With prodding from Surak's katra, Archer activates the Kir'Shara, and it displays a holographic record of Surak's original writings. These originals had been lost, and were eventually distorted over time. The High Command are informed of V'Las' duplicity. V'Las is stripped of office, and the attack is called off. In a final scene, viewers learn that the deposed leader is working secretly with the Romulans toward reunification.

Regarding the title of this post, there are two significant differences between these events and Earth's Reformation. First, there is no parallel to the Kir'Shara - the Protestants didn't produce a lost Scripture but disagreed on the interpretation of that already in existence. (And they rejected the canonicity of a few apocryphal books.) Second, the persecution on Vulcan is one-sided, whereas on Earth it came from both Catholics and Protestants.

We are given no hint as to how Surak differed from the watered-down version of his teachings as instituted by the Vulcan High Command, except that modern society had rejected mind-melding whereas Surak did not. There is brief mention of the Vulcan government cracking down on dissidents other than the Syrannites; it does seem illogical that a pacifist philosophy would support the government use of force to regulate culture. On Earth, the Enlightenment (or certain parts of it) would serve as the driving force eroding government regulation of religion and micromanagement of general culture. The Vulcan counterpart will be left to our imaginations.

Update: I forgot to mention that at the end Koss salvages some of his honor by telling T'Pol that he will annul the marriage. T'Pol didn't want it; and she went through with it only for the sake of her mother, whose death makes her reasons for agreeing to the marriage moot.

Site Meter