Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Enterprise

"Fallen Hero"

***

Air date: 5/8/2002
Teleplay by Alan Cross
Story by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga and Chris Black
Directed by Patrick Norris

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

T'Pol: "It's my understanding that [human] mating ritual is effective in easing tension."
Trip: "That hasn't always been my experience."

In brief: Further issues of human/Vulcan trust prove reasonable, and I thought the chase plot was pretty well executed.

There's nothing particularly groundbreaking about the storyline in "Fallen Hero," but it does a good job of using its characters, creating some conflict, and ultimately finding its way in an extended, well-directed chase plot.

The dialog and character interaction is good enough and nicely acted, but it's not the real selling point of this episode, in my opinion. Where "Fallen Hero" proves best is on the level of its understated action and its chase, where the Enterprise is tested on the basis of its engines and its crew's tactical ingenuity.

The mission: Escort a Vulcan ambassador from the planet Mazar and deliver her to a Vulcan ship with which the Enterprise will rendezvous. The catch: It turns out the ambassador, V'Lar (Fionnula Flanagan), has been expelled from the planet for committing an unspecified act of misconduct, something about which she's not at all forthcoming in disclosing. The Vulcans weren't even willing to explain why they needed V'Lar picked up when they asked the Enterprise go on this mission in the first place.

Archer certainly isn't happy about being left in the dark by the Vulcans yet again, but things get more complicated when a Mazarite ship comes after the Enterprise and requests — no, demands — they turn the ambassador back over to them to answer for unfinished business. When the Mazarite ship opens fire, Archer flees the scene, but V'Lar still won't reveal why she was forced from Mazar. Archer subsequently turns the ship around with the intention of handing V'Lar back over to the Mazarites. After all, why should he risk his crew's lives for a mission whose details he's not even granted access to?

One nice moment is Archer's discussion with Admiral Forrest (Vaughn Armstrong), who understands Archer's situation and his decision to abandon the assignment. Forrest's acknowledgment, "I'm not out there; you are. It's your call," seems quite reasonable given the reality of Enterprise's situation — alone, and solely facing the immediate consequences of what goes on out here.

If there's an aspect of the episode I didn't quite find convincing, it's V'Lar's refusal — given Archer's new decision to turn her over — to share the truth with him, especially given that it's not particularly sensitive information from where the Enterprise stands. It doesn't seem logical so much as simply distrusting — perhaps too much so — of humans.

What we have here is a continuation of one of this season's themes, which is the issue of the strained relationship and mutual distrust between humans and Vulcans — a situation that slowly is getting better. The theme is revisited in a mostly believable matter that proves consistently watchable, if not entirely absorbing. Also here is a personal complication for T'Pol, who regards V'Lar as one of her heroes of youth (although she wouldn't admit it in so many words). The topic of V'Lar having possibly committed a crime on Mazar is something that is unsettling for T'Pol.

V'Lar explains that the Mazarites have corrupt politicians in their midst that are responsible for her current predicament, and after a personal request from T'Pol — an action worth noting — Archer reluctantly agrees to protect V'Lar so she can eventually testify against the corrupters on behalf of the legitimate Mazarite people. This is all fine and good, though the issues of Vulcan/human trust are not explored in especially deep or subtle ways.

What's more exciting is the story's execution over the Enterprise being chased by the corrupt Mazarites, who have a ship that isn't much faster than the Enterprise, but is just fast enough to maintain a slow and steady gain. The pressure of the situation builds slowly and quietly, until we realize that a fairly standard action concept has been supplied enough momentum to be genuinely entertaining. We've seen the Pushing the Engines to the Limits [TM] routine before, but it comes across effectively here because of how untested the Enterprise is. (Archer: "They call it a warp 5 engine." Trip: "On paper.")

The final act — as the tempo increases and the game goes down to the wire — features some top-notch directing/editing/cinematography. Patrick Norris, a director I haven't seen in Trek before, keeps the camera on the bridge moving around with a semi-chaotic fluidity (an oxymoron, I know, but that's the best description that comes to mind). It has the effect of upping the pace without calling too much attention to itself — very well done.

Also enjoyable are the various exchanges between Archer and the Mazarite captain (John Rubinstein), including the way Bakula answers terms of surrender with, "I have a better idea: Why don't you slow down before your engines explode." Archer's stalling efforts once the Enterprise is trapped also prove fun, probably because they are simultaneously desperate, amusing, and convincing. (The Mazarite captain isn't always fooled, which is also appreciated.)

As Vulcans go, V'Lar is a pleasant departure, showing that Vulcans need not always be portrayed in the same emotionless monotone and with unilateral disinterest in human traits. Indeed, V'Lar is the most individual-seeming Vulcan in some time, and still comes across as a Vulcan. The qualm I've sometimes had with T'Pol is that she doesn't come across as an individual so much as an iteration on an archetype: the perpetually cool and calm character speaking in monotone. It might be a good idea to somewhat head away from that since we've seen enough of it over the years. Heck, Voyager had two of them.

Next: Archer and Trip take a desert vacation they weren't intending.

Previous episode: Vox Sola
Next episode: Desert Crossing

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9 comments on this review

Carbetarian - Sat, Nov 6, 2010 - 12:25am (USA Central)
This episode was threatening to be a risa episode for the first few seconds... I'm so glad they made that torture wait for a couple more weeks.

All in all, I enjoyed this episode. This was a nice change from their usual "Vulcans are all unemotional a**holes" shtick.

However, the true breakout star of this show remains the one and only... PORTHOS! They should just have him be the new first officer. He has more personality that Reed, Mayweather and T'Pol combined!

Seriously, how come the only humanoid character with a real personality on this show is Trip? Honestly, Trip and Porthos are pretty much carrying this thing by themselves right now. Here's my breakdown of this cast so far:

Archer - Whiney, irritable, irrational and childish; he often leads his crew into questionable situations based off of nothing more than his whim to go see "that brown dwarf nebula" or some random ass planet that just happened to pop up on the sensors. I know they're supposed to be exploring. But, I always get the impression that Archer is more lost than persuing any kind of mission. And his diplomatic skills? Damn, most six year olds have better diplomacy skills than this guy. I want to like Scott Bakula, because he has a likable sort of aura about him. But, the writers have managed to totally kill all of his natural charisma and turn him into the worst captain ever.

T'Pol - What I like about T'Pol is that she is the only crew member with any amount of common sense. She frequently seems to share my frustration with Archer's idiocy, and I appreciate that. What I don't like about T'Pol is that she's always right. I'm all for having a woman be the hands down smartest person on the show. But, it gets tiring thinking "damn it, why isn't anyone listening to her???" week after week. Basically, because she's never wrong, she's kind of boring. Plus, I seriously question why she needs to wear that cat suit as a uniform. Don't get me wrong, she looks great in it! But, I don't see any other vulcans dressed like that. So, it feels cheap. She looks like 7 of 9 on laundry day to me.

Reed - He's British and he likes to blow things up. He also seems horny a lot. Ok, done. That's his whole character.

Mayweather - Is that guy still here? Seriously, who is he? The writers took an interesting premise with the whole "boomer" thing, and then we're just like "screw it. Let's just have him be the guy who says something when we need some filler dialogue."

Hoshi - This girl really needs to take some Xanax. Every episode she's featured in seems to have some sort of anxiety related meltdown. "OMG! I can't learn an entire language in ten seconds! I don't belong on this ship! T'Pol's a bitch! I'm space sick! Something about syntax! I can't get the com system to work... Again! But, wait... Let me randomly show off by speaking in Vulcan. Can you speak Vulcan? No? I remain your superior." I will give Hoshi this though. I think she might be the cutest girl on the ship. Although T'pol could give her a serious run for her money if she didn't always have her bitch face on. All I'm saying is get the girl on zoloft or something, and she might be a more likable character.

Trip - Besides Porthos, this guy is my favorite. As a chick, I can tell you that I have a bit of a trek crush on Trip. The accent, the fact that he's pretty much the only crew member given any real character exposition, his boyish charm... Swoon... I feely admit that Trip is the main reason I'm still suffering through this show.

Phlox - Phlox is yet another example of how much smarter all the aliens on this show are than captain Archer. I like Phlox, and I enjoy his cheerful bedside manner. My only real complaint with him is that he looks a little too much like Neelix from Voyager. Even though I grew to like (ok, tolerate) Neelix on Voyager, I don't want to be reminded of the long journey it took for me not to want to shove him out an airlock midway through every episode for the first few seasons.

Porthos - I want this dog on the bridge at all times. I'm pretty sure that would improve the show ten fold. More Porthos, less everyone else!

In short, this show fails to live up to the expectations set up by Voyager in a big way. But, then again, Voyager totally failed to live up to the expectations brought forth by DS9, in my opinion. So, maybe we should all be glad they didn't try for one more series after this one.

Considering the given character exposition in Enterprise, they probably would've just used cardboard cut outs and puppets to renact old TOS plots with amazing CGI phaser fights randomly going on in the background for the next series. They could have called it Star Trek: Valium. But, anyway, I digress.
Cloudane - Sun, Jun 5, 2011 - 5:38pm (USA Central)
Not been watching these much recently, I've been too busy with My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Don't knock it until you've seen it; it comes to something when a show originally aimed at 10 year old girls turns out to be orders of magnitude better (in terms of story, wit, charm and interesting characters) than big shows like Voyager or Enterprise.

So anyway, same old really. I've not seen many episodes of Enterprise that have much in the way of personality and whilst not as strongly loathing of them I agree with the above about the characters, they're not exactly the most interesting bunch in the history of Trek.

And Risa, really? Thank goodness it didn't actually appear, but goodness, give this place a break. Are there not any other vacation destinations in the Alpha quadrant? Heck is vacationing in the space travel age all about using - let's be honest - prostitutes.. or do they ever just go and sit in the sun somewhere?

That aside it was a good enough hour, and I share Jammer's appreciation of this very unique Vulcan. It's like she's definitely matured... to the point where she knows when it's okay let in subtle hints of emotion and charm whilst still being Vulcan enough to be accepted. Basically she's a Vulcan with a personality, which is nice.
Captain Jim - Fri, Jul 20, 2012 - 10:31pm (USA Central)
Cloudane said, "Heck is vacationing in the space travel age all about using - let's be honest - prostitutes.. or do they ever just go and sit in the sun somewhere?"

To be honest, they're *not* prostitutes. Prostitutes do sex for money. As I recall, there's no money involved here; the residents simply enjoying bringing pleasure to others. And yes, sometimes they *do* just sit on the beach.
Sintek - Sun, Jun 2, 2013 - 8:39am (USA Central)
Oh Cloudane, I used to enjoy your comments, but learning that you are a broney has tainted that. Tainted I say. I only hope you have learned a little and grown a little in the two years since you admitted being a ped- I mean furr- I mean broney.
Stephen - Sat, Jun 29, 2013 - 4:03am (USA Central)
The crew is suffering from sexual tension. So nobody on the ship actually masturbates to deal with such problems ....
Markus - Sun, Jul 14, 2013 - 2:11pm (USA Central)
At least a bit of continuity here and in the next one: they want to go to Risa, but are always distracted.

What I did not get is: Why is the ambassador a fallen hero?! In the end she is the "hero" and I don't get why she was so reluctant to tell in the first place what was going on. Again this mistrust against humans... alrhigt.
Mad - Wed, Jul 17, 2013 - 8:50am (USA Central)
Please Sintek, don't even joke about that. FIM is superior show to Enterprise in every possible way.
T'Paul - Wed, Aug 14, 2013 - 11:14am (USA Central)
The best enterprise episode so far. An interesting Vulcan (an oxymoron if ever there was one) some background on T'Pol, a chase scene that had relevance to the story, Vulcan's appearing to help. A shame there weren't more like this one.
Cloudane - Wed, Jan 22, 2014 - 5:52am (USA Central)
@Jim - hah, fair enough, well I can see why everyone enjoys it.

@Sintek - lol. Complete with the libe- er I mean near libellous comments. Good effort 10/10, good to see Trekkies aren't immune to casting aspersions about other people's choice of TV shows - I'll admit, I was curious about that. (I wouldn't bother compiling the inevitable list of why you find it evil and creepy, it's water off a duck's back in much the same way as the old comments about being a Trekkie were)

@Mad - to be fair, that's not exactly a stretch :)


FWIW I finished Enterprise and it was overall poor, but had some good moments in the final season.

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