Star Trek: Enterprise


3 stars

Air date: 4/24/2002
Teleplay by Mike Sussman & Phyllis Strong
Story by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga
Directed by David Livingston

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"The last thing we wanted to do was build these detention centers, but we had no choice. When the Cabal began their activities there was a great deal of fear among the Tandarans. There were instances of violence. Fourteen innocent Suliban were killed in one day alone. We had to find a way to keep them out of danger." — Grat, undoubtedly revealing only part of the story

In brief: Reasonable and relevant — albeit not at all groundbreaking — social commentary.

You decide: "Detained" is either (1) a reasonable social commentary that sells out to superficial action by the end, or (2) an average action show elevated by an underlying foundation of social commentary. Is there a difference? Perhaps. It seems wrong to take relevant allegorical themes and wrap it all up with a safe and simplistic action conclusion — whereas it seems almost admirable to create an action show that actually tries to insert relevant social points. It's all in how you look at it.

I'm kind of torn. "Detained" goes to great lengths to make fairly obvious points and yet I don't feel it should be faulted for that. For the even remotely informed it will come as old news, revisited lessons. Of those people, how many will it make a real impression upon?

Consider: Mere weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, The West Wing aired a reactionary drama, much of which played like an hour in Talking Down to the Audience. Among the messages: generalizing of people and cultures is bad, not being familiar with how the world works is a potentially dangerous form of ignorance, and in difficult times we might be tempted away from better judgment in favor of quick, comforting would-be fixes. Well, intelligent people already presumably know these things and ignorant people are not likely to be educated by the likes of Aaron Sorkin, so who exactly is the benefactor?

Perhaps the point is simply to reinforce ideas that we should be thinking about in times when emotions are allowed to run rampant. I see no problem with such reinforcement. I also want to stress that "Detained" does little to break the mold. But it has Good Intentions and for the most part good execution, so that's probably all you need to know.

That said, the writers have done a fairly interesting thing by tying this all back into the Suliban, who aren't all simply "bad guys" but are a nomadic people with a subset of Cabal operatives waging the temporal cold war.

The never-veiled allegory is, of course, the current-day need to draw the distinction between Arabs and the much tinier subset of Arab terrorism. The issue of internment camps, of course, hearkens back to Japanese Americans being rounded up and held in the U.S. during World War II (a decidedly better choice for metaphor than the current-day situation of detainees in Camp X-Ray/Delta at Guatanamo Bay, Cuba — a situation far too new and uncertain for me to comfortably draw conclusions about).

Archer and Mayweather wake up in a holding cell in a detainee camp where Suliban prisoners are being held indefinitely by the Tandarans, with no charges pending. Right from the beginning the episode makes a point about assumptions when Archer makes an assumption and finds out he's quite wrong: These Suliban are not genetically engineered members of the Cabal and are not prisoners because they committed any crime. Their crime is that they happen to be Suliban.

In charge of the detainee facility is Tandaran Colonel Grat (Dean Stockwell), who explains to Archer why he and Mayweather are here — their shuttle wandered into Tandaran space and was captured as potentially hostile. Tandarans are not too forgiving toward trespassers, it would seem. Considering they are apparently on one of the fronts in the temporal cold war, perhaps their apprehension is justifiable.

Grat is not a bad or unreasonable man; he's simply a product of his situation. That itself may serve as a warning statement, since he has come to accept that the Suliban may never again have rights in any real sense, and that they may live the rest of their lives as innocent prisoners. The line of thought going on here is that they're Suliban and that's unfortunate for them, but nonetheless necessary for Tandaran society to lock them away in the interests of safety.

Interesting how Grat cites not just the safety of Tandarans but the safety of the Suliban. The Suliban no longer have a habitable homeworld (at least, not if one isn't genetically engineered to survive there), so they mostly live among other cultures. The Suliban who lived among the Tandarans were a part of their society until the temporal war broke out and they became automatic Cabal suspects. Tandaran citizens were quick to accuse the Suliban among them, leading to violence against the Suliban. The internment camps were seen as a temporary solution to curb this problem. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Or in this case, self-serving intentions have their own convenient built-in justifications.

We see the Suliban point of view through a character named Sajen (Christopher Shea) a man with a daughter who is also in this facility and a wife who is in another facility far away, and whom he hasn't seen in years. Shea brings just the right balance of bitterness and personal defeat to the character, creating a believable and sympathetic figure who speaks in raspy whispers that nonetheless reveal a great amount of textured emotion.

Grat, meanwhile, turns more sinister and self-serving every time Archer defies him, eventually believing Archer to be a resource as much as a troublemaker stirring up prison intrigue. Grat's intelligence reports reveal Archer's previous encounters with the Suliban. It's interesting and perhaps all too true how the question "What do you know?" becomes as much a grounds for being held as "What have you have done?" Especially frustrating and disturbing is the prospect of being held because you're a potential witness, not because you're suspected of having done anything wrong.

As a matter of plot, I enjoyed the continuity references ("Have you ever been to Oklahoma?" Grat asks Archer suspiciously) to the Enterprise's previous Suliban run-ins in "Broken Bow" and "Cold Front" (strange and also kind of fun, seeing Bakula and Stockwell exhibit increasing tension here after their easy rapport in their years on Quantum Leap).

What perhaps seems too simplistic for this story, then, is turning it into a jailbreak concept where Archer, with the help of the orbiting Enterprise, decides he's going to help some of the innocent Suliban escape. This seems a little on the cavalier and short-sighted side, especially considering the lesson Archer learned in "Dear Doctor" concerning non-interference. Yes, there is an injustice here. Yes, the episode addresses Archer's previous decision in favor of non-interference and calls this case an "exception." But such exceptions are exactly the sort of thing likely to get Archer and Starfleet burned, and the exception made here gets generous assistance from tunnel vision.

This leads to the typical action payoff, i.e., the phaser shootouts, a crew member in disguise (Reed as a Suliban), and even the episode resorting to use of the transporter, something that has been generally and thankfully avoided for most of the season save the first few episodes. The action seems to substitute for an ending that could've come to some sort of revelation or dramatic insight, but doesn't find it. It bothers me a bit. Fortunately, the episode seems to realize that it doesn't solve these Suliban individuals' problems so much as create further uncertainty for them, and for that I'm glad.

But still — this is the sort of ending that makes you mull the unconsidered consequences, like the kind of grilling Sajen's wife is likely going to be in for in the wake of her husband's escape from another detainee facility. What does she know? I can almost hear the Tandaran interrogators asking.

I cannot cheer for the story's oversimplified solution to a complicated situation so much larger than Archer, this one prison, or this one society. Archer presumes to know everything he needs to know to interfere in an alien society. Does he know enough? Would it have been better to do nothing instead of something? I'm not sure. But it might've been nice for the episode to point out the possible consequences of all this action. Imagine how the U.S. government would respond if a foreign country managed a prison break at Camp Delta.

Next week: First contact with a giant fungus?

Previous episode: Oasis
Next episode: Vox Sola

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52 comments on this post

Mon, Jun 29, 2009, 2:22am (UTC -6)
Stop looking for "groundbreaking" in every episode, or you will be disappointed in every television series you watch. I don't need that when I visit the Trek universe- I just want to spend some time in an interesting place with interesting people. With 500-some previous Trek stories, it's even more of a challenge for Enterprise to be "groundbreaking" when the ground is so well-trod. If I get one or two '"groundbreaking" shows a season, and mostly good stories (even if they are variations on a familiar theme) I'm satisfied.
Tue, Dec 15, 2009, 1:30pm (UTC -6)
@David. Agree 100%
Marco P.
Fri, Oct 22, 2010, 1:55pm (UTC -6)
I disagree David. I for one am not looking for "groundbreaking" in every episode, but settling for mediocrity isn't my M.O. either.

Like you said, the Star Trek ground is well-trod with quality material. So it isn't unreasonable for a Trek find to expect quality in what they are watching. Unfortunately everything Trek from TOS to Voyager has raised the level to a standard ST Enterprise seems unable to live up to.

"Detained" is another good example, because as Jammer pointed out the good intentions of providing social commentary and background info on the Suliban situation, is simply negatively counterbalanced with poor execution and selling out the phaser action sequence (TM).

On a sidenote, I have been a Quantum Leap fan for many years. Alas even the reunion between Scott Bakula and Dean Stockwell (which the producers undoubtedly though would create some buzz around this episode) is botched, a poor script making their interaction somewhat uninteresting.
Fri, Mar 18, 2011, 6:05am (UTC -6)
This is such a different Star Trek than with TNG. Here we have a captain who believes the prisoners on their story, does not tell the Tandarans simple and possibly helpful information on his experiences with the Suliban, let his ship attack military ships and an a detention camp, indirectly kills at least three guards and destroying parts of the facility ánd set free near to a hundred prisoners that steal impounded ships and then run like hell.
If this would not be considered an act of war, I would be surprised.

There was barely anything on whether those prisoners were really so innocent or whether they might actually join the Kobal. Nor did it show anything on the bigger picture such as the other camps or the issue of officially setting them all free.

Not every show has to be super intelligent and thought out, but this was just about a captain who, after only one day, disagreed with the internal affairs of an unknown society and therefore decided to blow them to hell and fly off afterwards.
Sat, Dec 10, 2011, 8:29am (UTC -6)
More politically-correct propaganda. In times of war of course that potential fifth columnists are kept under close surveillance and sometimes even interned or deported. Given what we know about the Suliban and their masquerading skills, I'd say internment in what seemed like quite comfortable accommodations was in no way disproportionate or uncalled for. Yes, it's unfair, but if I was a Tandaran, I wouldn't take my chances letting members of my enemy species roam around unchecked.

Jammer: This is not comparable to Gitmo. The Suliban are not prisoners but mere detainees. Their situation is more comparable to the various Jewish ghettos in Eastern Europe in days of yore, with the proviso that the Jews forced into them were not actually at war with their host nations or any kind of threat to them, whereas the Suliban are.

Of course, the writers simply HAD to portray the Tandarans as increasingly malevolent and violent, leaving the average viewer with little choice but to side with the Suliban. After all, a big bad Tandaran manhandles a little Suliban girl. A pathetic, cynical attempt to play at our heart-strings. And, of course, idiot Archer walks right slap-bang in the middle of the dispute and starts dishing out his wisdom and getting all self-righteously indignant.

Ironically, the more the show cast the Tandarans is a negative light, the more I supported them. It was just blatant, and issues are very rarely black and white.

I'm halfway through the episode and now Archer is agitating for an escape bid. This beggars belief: He spends two days in an obviously relatively comfortable detention facility, speaks to a couple of inmates, sees someone sent to solitary confinement for a night, and he's already so certain about the rights and wrongs of the situation that he is planning to spring the detainees out of the facility. What a bunch of bullshit.

In short: Simplistic to the point of offensive, hypocritical, unrealistic, emotive. Crap.

1* I'm outta here.
Captain Jim
Tue, Jul 17, 2012, 9:38pm (UTC -6)
"Quite comfortable accommodations"? Are you serious? Then maybe you wouldn't mind having someone imprison you for nothing other than your race? Sheesh, this guy is unbelievable.

Three cheers for Archer, who did the right thing. Of course it didn't solve the larger problem, but at least it gave this group a chance for a new life. I don't even see this as a "noninterference" issue, since Enterprise wasn't interfering in Tandaran culture as much as they were stopping the Tandarans from interfering in Suliban culture.

I'm also with David and others in not needing something "groundbreaking" each episode.
Wed, Nov 7, 2012, 4:03pm (UTC -6)
So heavy-handed. I feel like a gauntlet just took me full in the jaw. When that Suliban fellow said, "They said when the Cabal was destroyed we could go home. Well it's 8 years later and we're still here!" all I could think was, well, the Cabal is still around. Sit tight.

I also agree with Michael, in that the more the episode tried to demonize the Tandarans, the more I began to side with them. I also pictured the Suliban as Jews in the Middle Ages.

The "chance for a new life" for the Suliban probably lasted all of 20 minutes. Tandarans have to assume that those Suliban are Cabal soldiers and I bet they won't bother with diplomacy when they catch up with all those little shuttles.

And Mayweather... he's just nothing. Nothing that looks like it is going to cry. All the time.
Sat, May 25, 2013, 6:36am (UTC -6)
I had no idea so many conservatives and libertardians watch Star Trek. Tell you what, I'll give you a million bitcoins to move to an underwater utopia and die.
Sun, Jun 16, 2013, 4:39pm (UTC -6)

While your political ideology goes unstated, I believe I can safely assume you are a liberal/progressive. I thought Liberalism/Progressivism are/were supposed to be about the free exchange of ideas with no respect or disrespect to the expresser of those ideas based on their age/color/gender/ideology? You know, one earth, one sky, one people. Where is honest debate in telling those who merely disagree with you to die? Is it a cold disregard for a segment of humanity that disagrees with you that drives your statement? Or is it just hate?

You now have some idea of who those people watching Star Trek around the globe with you are. For some this might lead them to re-think their pre-disposed notions and perhaps consider that almost all men have a brighter vision for the future. You could even engage those with opposing ideologies directly referencing Star Trek as a basis for debate and discussion leading to a free exchange of ideas towards how we can achieve such a bright future.

Or perhaps in wishing death on all who have opposing viewpoints you really are trying to shape the future into Star Trek. After all, warp-drive was created by capitalistic greed amidst the ashes of a war that devastated the world. I think I'd rather live to see that future though.
Wed, Sep 25, 2013, 10:09am (UTC -6)
Me and my dad watched this episode recently, and for the most part, it was a good episode.

But the ending. Christ, the ending. It sucked!

What happened? Did the prisoners escape to the stars? Where did they go? Did they get destroyed? We don't know!
Fri, Sep 27, 2013, 3:34am (UTC -6)
And remember, Grat spelled backwards is targ.
Wed, Nov 5, 2014, 6:17am (UTC -6)
This episode is boring. There is very little tension or drama here. Everyone is relatively well treated, there is little urgency and the reunion of the Al and Dr Beckett is a letdown because it doesn't go anywhere and doesn't have any drama. How did aliens attack and abduct Enterprise's captain without Enterprise knowing what's going on? It seems like an indictment of American prisoner of war camps holding potential terrorists, except in this case the view is that the suspects are all innocent and the camp itself is the real criminal.
Sat, Feb 28, 2015, 6:27pm (UTC -6)
I thought you were a bit kind on this one Jammer - after watching it, I thought of a 3rd option:

either or (3) a derivative heavy handed social commentary that sells out to superficial action by the end

The social commentary was very clunky indeed, and from the moment when Archer basically say "screw it - lets interfere despite our lessons apparently not learned in Dear Doctor." the show lost me. The resolution was also cliched, superficial and stock material that has been done a million times before by just about everyone including various Trek episodes.
W Smith
Sun, Mar 22, 2015, 1:45pm (UTC -6)
Too heavy-handed in the social commentary to warrant a 3-star rating, and additionally brought down by a by-the-books action-packed ending. I get the idea of making some Suliban not a part of the Cabal and being under suspicion by other species for potentially being subversives. But the story could have been written with a lighter touch and more nuance, and hence, more interesting.
45 RPM
Thu, Apr 9, 2015, 8:07am (UTC -6)
Couldn't stop grinning with the scenes between Dr. Beckett and Admiral Calavicci. All I kept thinking was "Goodbye, Dean. Goodbye, Scott!" Awesomeness.
Tue, Nov 10, 2015, 11:48pm (UTC -6)
It was made clear that the only thing the prisoners were guilty of was possibly being recruited into the cabal. Minority Report decided the issue of whether people should be arrested and punished before committing a crime, at least for me, and the answer is no. In the season's 2nd episode Fight or Flight, in which the Enterprise flies away leaving a dead crew hanging from the ceiling, Archer turns the ship back saying that there are human values he needs to stay true to, in this case contacting the dead crew's home world to advise them of the situation. In the case of Detained, all Archer did is give the prisoners the choice to try to escape. He stayed true to one of the highest human values, personal autonomy.
Wed, Nov 11, 2015, 1:35am (UTC -6)
So, nobody may ever be deprived of his/her liberty unless and until they commit a crime?

Good luck with the schizophrenic, lunatics, terrorists, and other such "innocents" freely roaming the streets in the world you live in.
Thu, Dec 17, 2015, 9:46am (UTC -6)
This episode was definitely heavy-handed and direct but that's OK. The most extreme and un-supported part was Archer's certainty that the Suliban wouldn't join the Cabal but the episode almost admits that that's a gut response, really a judgment about Japanese American internment, rather than a reasoned judgment about the present conditions. It's a true and important message that you shouldn't impose extreme measures even during an armed conflict when they will only or primarily affect minorities or when the conflict is thought to be temporary but actually will be perpetual.
The episode was also probably about as generous toward the Tandarans as it could have been, claiming that most in the general society were decent and even the guards felt they were (and may have been partially) really justified but they had been corrupted by having such authority over the prisoners.
Diamond Dave
Sat, Apr 2, 2016, 6:40am (UTC -6)
It seemed briefly like this was going to turn into something quite interesting when Grat started referring to the Temporal Cold War, but sadly we subsided back into what turned out to be a fairly standard prison/jailbreak episode. The lessons were indeed fairly heavy-handed, but all fairly well played and kudos for the Quantum Leap reunion.

And the non-interventionist policy didn't last long for Archer, did it? "I'm making an exception" indeed. 2.5 stars.
Wed, Jul 20, 2016, 11:53am (UTC -6)
Yeah, Archer shouldn't have done anything..... that's so "trek".

Good lord folks.... an episode that brings in both sides of the Japanese Interment Camp discussion into play and that's somehow not trekkie enough?

Good trek makes you think. This one does that, because both sides have compelling and real world points.

WTF was Archer supposed to do?

I mean really.... shed a fucking tear with the dad that has the kid and is separated from his wife, tell Grat what he wanted to know and leave, give some sort of speech preaching the morals of one side or the other looking out his window on Enterprise?

There is no Federation for him to take an issue like this to, like Picard has in TNG.

He acted... unlike 'Dear Doctor' where he learned nothing. The Suliban said they knew somewhere to go and were willing to take the risk.

I'll credit him here.

I thought Travis having to work at identifying Reed was pretty funny, even funnier when Archer did it in a second :-)

To even mention GTMO in discussion of this episode this is just plain naïve.

3.5 stars here. Not a 4.0 classic, but outstanding trek here.
Fri, Jul 22, 2016, 12:10am (UTC -6)
This episode among others brings up something I see a lot of us overlook, even forget. Take for example the discussion above on Archer's "non-intervention" policy. Please remember... 1. Federation hasn't been founded yet. 2. The Prime Directive, therefore, doesn't yet exist. You can't compare apples to oranges that literally. There aren't any hard rules on intervention yet....

Otherwise, I expected more out of Stockwell. He worked splendidly with Bakula in QL. What happened here? The potential in Stockwell to be a villainesque sort is clear. WIthin the next couple of years, he'd do a killer job as Cavil on BSG.
Wed, Sep 28, 2016, 5:32am (UTC -6)
Alien holocaust. (***)
Fri, Oct 28, 2016, 3:06am (UTC -6)
I'm sorry but with episodes like this its really difficult to take the characters or the show seriously.

The warden guy Grat was reasonable from the start - he was in a difficult position but was accommodating to Archer and Mayweather and was prepared to release him as quickly as possible. When he was asking Archer for intel and Archer clammed up I could not have been any more confused: this is an enemy which is very dangerous, threatened the Enterprise and its crew, and is working with some shifty guy from the future. Why not give them any information about the Cabal? Why was it necessary to antagonize them?

I could only think that, if Picard had been in this situation, he would have waited out his time, then made an appeal to the government of this planet and went through the proper political channels to solve this, without violence.

How many of the guards at that facility were murdered? Was it worth making an enemy of this entire civilization to save 90 prisoners from one interment camp? Any Earth vessels in the future which are attacked on sight by this civilization will have no one else but Captain Archer to blame; their blood is on Archer's hands.
Fri, Oct 28, 2016, 9:49am (UTC -6)
Fri, Oct 28, 2016, 3:06am (UTC -5)

That would have been very selfish and uncaring of Archer. See my post above.
Thu, Jun 8, 2017, 8:35pm (UTC -6)
Dennis Christopher played Danik, the man with the daughter. Christopher Shea did play Sajen, his suspicious friend. Surprised no one else pointed this out.
Thu, Dec 7, 2017, 5:35pm (UTC -6)
Stupid and self-righteous Archer makes up his mind about a complex situation in 2 seconds and decides to endanger the lives of all Suliban in all detention camps with a stupid escape attempt, while basically declaring war on a species they just met, instead of answering some simple questions to help the Tandarans fight their common enemies in the temporal cold war.

Also, when T’Pol and her fake-ass lips are in charge of the bridge and talking to the planet, why does everyone think they can shout from their chairs at the screen?
Jian Zhang
Fri, Feb 16, 2018, 9:47am (UTC -6)
This story worths at most 2 stars, no more. It mentioned Internment of Japanese Americans, and also questioned the captain's actions in the end, that's why it worths 2 stars. All others are just junks.

First of all, who gives authorities for the Enterprise to break into other country's territory and even fire at their ships? Just because Enterprise is strong? Well, in that case, Klingon empire can send 100 bird-of-pray to earth and do anything they want. Earth has no power to defend, thus it is right. I know a phrase for that: might is right.

Second, why the Enterprise crews always think legislations in other countries are unjustice, uneven, and cruel? Because it gives them excuses to interfere with other legislations. So that they can do anything they want and go freely without being punished. It happens in Star Trek series many times.

Third, what the captain did really helping? I highly doubt that. He "freed" 89 persons, that's right. Then, where would they go? Moreover, there were thousands of persons in other concentrate camps, what kinds of "treatments" would they receive after this?

Stupid writers, stupid story.
John Harmon
Sun, May 13, 2018, 2:03am (UTC -6)
The most interesting thing about this episode is that both of the main Suliban guys previously played Vorta in DS9
Fri, May 18, 2018, 9:59pm (UTC -6)
For a typical prison break action adventure, this one was a bit better than the traditional ENT fare in that it gave some color to the Suliban, and played off prior episodes relating to the Cabal. Thought the plan to break out was well done and reasonably believable by Trek standards. And you got the racial stereotype bits with how the Suliban are regarded by the Tandarans but also how they have subtle prejudices against humans (as we look similar to Tandarans). So there's more meaning backing the action.

Interesting that the Suliban are nomads and perhaps they get wiped out by the Tandarans subsequent to this episode (aside from the Cabal) and so we never hear from them on TOS/TNG/DS9. So the non-Cabal Suliban are personable just like humans -- and not vile enemies or whatever. At least this emphasizes the danger the Cabal bring (genetic enhancements, TCW).

Enjoyed watching Archer deal with Grat's questions about past ENT episodes as this one went on. Grat would have let Archer go had he not been such a key person in the fight against the Cabal so I liked how this aspect got integrated into making the situation progressively worse for Archer/Travis -- it wasn't just arbitrary bad guy stuff.

That Archer risks his life for saving the non-Cabal Suliban is the right thing to do morally, although who knows how successful they'll be in evading the Tandarans and if they'll join the Cabal. But that's no longer Archer's problem. Yes he's interfering in somebody else's conflict but I don't think it's a decisive blow or turning the tables drastically.

3 stars for "Detained" -- nothing exceptional and well-worn territory but gets back a bit to the main arc of the series and gives it an added dimension with background on the Suliban (the main new species contribution by ENT). Of course, "Detained" is analogous to a real world problems (detentions, stereotypes etc.) which never hurts. Thought the detention scenes and prison routine were well done and Dean Stockwell did a decent job as Grat.
Mon, May 28, 2018, 6:50pm (UTC -6)
I agree that this episode was hugely preachy and self-righteous. I'll also add that the prison break should've failed. Why is every prison warden incompetent when Archer the Superman decides he wants to break out in a couple of days?
Fri, Jul 20, 2018, 1:54am (UTC -6)
At around 21:30 Bakula and Stockwell are stood talking, with Stockwell holding some kind of handheld device. I was almost expecting Grat to start hitting the device and telling Archer what percent chance Ziggy gives of him freeing the Suliban.
Wed, Sep 5, 2018, 3:50pm (UTC -6)
So Michael and Rosario think the Jewish ghettos were alright as well and a good thing to strive for in the future? And Michael thinks schizophrenic people and lunatic people should all be locked up? And then you wonder why you receive hostility in response? Get out of here. Please do.

For the episode. 2 or 2.5 stars. It's okay, but Maywearher's acting is so poor and it's all just so predictable. You can see the whole story coming from miles away.
Mon, Sep 10, 2018, 2:56am (UTC -6)
3 stars. A very entertaining hour

The Suliban characters were enjoyable
Grat was good
The VFX were outstanding
The story had some relevance
The Suliban makeup always impressed me
Interesting to see more of the Suliban this time the innocent civilians

A few weaknesses :
Tpol’s acting when she was giving hoshi time to overload the Tandaran sensors

We really didn’t learn anything new or interesting about the temporal Cold War or the Tandarans. Mainly just namedropping earlier events

And the ending was abrupt. Never saw what happened to the two Suliban characters
Mon, Sep 10, 2018, 1:49pm (UTC -6)
Given what the creators originally said about the Suliban (supposedly a nod to current events involving the Taliban) - is this the last episode which features Cabal factions?

My friend and I cane up with a better idea for the Suliban. Their species is facing certain extinction and they lack the technology to fix whatever was wrong. Future Guy is trying to stop the Federation being formed as they would affect Romulans in future (come on, we all know from those shoulders that he was Romulan). FG offered a deal the Suliban couldn't refuse: work with us as our tools and assets, and we will enhance your bodies; you will never go extinct with our support, and no-one else in your timeline can save you. The decline of their species is being suppressed by the Cabal, hence why non-Cabal Suliban are resisting: they don't want their species to get involved in wars and stuff.

Well, it's certainly better than "creepy, unheard-of alien race allies with random future guy for reasons unknown, only to vanish after season 2".
Cesar Gonzalez
Thu, Aug 1, 2019, 10:04am (UTC -6)
So a few episodes ago Archer let an ENTIRE race of beings die because he couldn't interfere.
Now, however, he has no problem interfering with a society to save 89 people.
Mon, Oct 28, 2019, 7:51pm (UTC -6)
I think you’re way too kind to this one, Jammer. This episode REALLY bothers me; it’s so cavalier and uninterested in thinking through the consequences of Archer’s actions that to me it actually becomes unethical.

So Archer doesn’t share his info on the Cabal because, “I don’t like being strong-armed. And I don’t like what they’re doing to these people.” WTF? Of course we’re supposed to feel sorry for the Suliban being herded into internment camps. But did anyone stop to consider that befriending the Tandarans might be a better way of helping the Suliban than, oh say, riding in like cowboys to bust loose 90 people out of potentially millions? That sharing info on the Cabal, *a mutual enemy,* might hasten the demise of the Cabal and end the need for internment in the first place?

There’s an even better real-world analogy today than in 2002 when Jammer wrote this review: China’s internment of the Uighur Muslims. If a team of American Marines parachuted into China and just liberated a single camp, it would be an outrageous, blatant act of war. And it would accomplish nothing for the Uighur Muslims as a whole. The entire world agrees that internment is wrong, but because this is the real world and the great powers all have nuclear weapons, we outside of China can’t do much about it except apply sanctions and diplomatic pressure.

What does Archer think will happen to the rest of the Suliban being held elsewhere? Does he really think the Tandarans won’t crack down on them harder, perhaps hide them away more carefully so other races won’t see what’s going on? Is he that stupid to make a new enemy when the sum total of humanity’s interstellar might is the starship Enterprise? The Suliban he liberated are either going to 1) get shot down immediately, 2) get captured again and probably subjected to much harsher treatment, 3) escape and be used by the Tandarans as symbols that the Suliban can’t be trusted. Assuming the sympathetic Suliban guy doesn’t make a run on the camp holding his wife and make things worse.

But the episode doesn’t care about any of that. We’re supposed to blindly root for the good guys. Hey look, they freed some people. Great job! They might have just ignited a full-blown genocide. Good Star Trek is about sitting down to think, reasoning through the possibilities, thinking through the consequences of your actions. This episode fails on that most basic level. ** from me, hovering on the edge of *1/2.
Mon, Jun 8, 2020, 8:35pm (UTC -6)
@Mon, Jun 29, 2009 David
@Fri, Oct 22, 2010 Marco P

I gotta agree with Marco P on this one. Why would anyone want to settle for mediocrity on anything? If a TV epsiode can do better, can be more significant, can reach much deeper, then why shouldn't the viewer want more? If you're frustrated about the things Jammer looks for in a story, than don't read his reviews.
Sat, Jun 20, 2020, 7:51pm (UTC -6)
I am giving ENT a second run, mostly because I am curious to experience again this show after watching Discovery, the JJ Abrams movies and Picard.
This episode is an example of what I am feeling towards ENT in general right now. More trek than the new stuff, that is for sure (with the exception of a couple of Picard episodes), but too lazy and linear writing. And characters that are either not relatable, flat or simply out of place.

In this specific example, the social commentary is nice, but too linear, and there are too many things that are left out, which bother me to the point of finding the whole thing meh, despite the good intentions. As others have mentioned, what about the Suliban's wife? The guy just leave like that? Really? What about the fate of the prisoners fleeing? What about the other camps, in which most probably there will be reprisals?

The whole thing seems just coming out of another of Archer's mercurial caprices. The "bad" guys of the moment are at war with the cabal, and given that it seems that they have a common enemy, they ask him Intel. But he does not like "being asked things by force" by people never met before, so let's blow up the whole camp. Who is this, Clint Eastwood?
Risks for the enterprise, supposedly in an exploration/peaceful mission? Who cares. Diplomatic repercussions? Who cares. Superiors' opinion? Who cares. True identity of 90 sulibans interned there? Who cares. He just follows his instincts. Which would be even okeyish as a personality trait, if in "Dear doctor" we did not get an entirely different picture.

But even if we had seen a more consistent Archer in "Dear doctor" and the mercurial behavior of the captain was not even a thing, I would have still liked to see the episode dealing more with the above mentioned questions. Even if the ultimate answer would have still been blowing up the camp. At least we could get the whole picture, and relate/debate more about dos and donts. But the writing seems to be just too lazy and linear for that, here and in many other episodes.

Other characters are just flat or out of place, and again it feels just lazy writing. Tucker acts like a cowboy, which, being me European, I find just hilariously stereotypical and flat. His attitude in this episode confirms me that. The episode is really not the ideal place for having Travis in such a central role. I liked him in "fortunate son" but also other space-based or wilderness-based episodes, being him a pilot born in open space. I really wonder what is his role here. Malcolm, with his militarist views, would have been a way better fit. Why not, there could have been even room for heated exchanges with Archer, given that Malcolm would have probably been more keen to side with the "security" reasons of the bad guys. That would have been an example of good writing, similar to the centrality of both worf and Picard in the drumhead. It would have highlighted more the drama and the nuances of the situation, with conflicted characters and opinions.

But the more I go through ENT, the more i see examples in which writers just do not seem interested to do that. With some very pleasant exceptions, e.g. Vulcan/human/andorian dynamics.
Paul C
Thu, Sep 10, 2020, 4:24pm (UTC -6)
No-one seems to mention it but the Japanese internment idea is a reference to Sulu/Takei who was interred as a child.
Sean J Hagins
Tue, Nov 24, 2020, 10:51pm (UTC -6)
This is completely off the topic of the episode review, but I have a question that maybe someone can answer:

I wonder how they have child aliens. I mean I know that the rules of child actors are that they can only work limited hours and must have a tutor on site. I was wondering about this, because the alien actors on Star Trek usually have 2 hours each for makeup application and removal. I would think that by the time the child actors go thru that, there would be very little time left for actual acting! I asked that in a review for the Voyager episodes with the Borg kids too-anyone know the answer?
Sean J Hagins
Wed, Nov 25, 2020, 12:58am (UTC -6)
Ok, now my review of the episode:

There are many different things this episode can be associated with from real life events. It is a shame, but as Ecclesiastes 8:9 says, "Man has dominated man to his harm" I know a lot of people here do not believe this, but I look to God's Kingdom to correct the problems in the world as it soon will. This includes this kind of treatment after the wicked are destroyed and the earth is a paradise.

The episode itself gave a touching example of how these things happen. Racism, fear and prejudice run rampant today, whether it is internment camps, or peoples personal ideas (eg: Someone from Race "A" did something bad to me, so all people from Race "A" are bad) What helps me to fight this prevalent attitude is remembering that "God is not partial, but in every nation the man who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.”​—Acts 10:34, 35.
Mon, Feb 8, 2021, 6:41am (UTC -6)
Not a fan of Archer having to interfere in every affair he comes across just because he doesn't agree. You barely know the whole story and still what gives you the right? Also here goes Trip ready to immediately go guns blazing on a rescue mission like what is wrong with these guys? This is my second watch and these two are more annoying than I noticed at first. Archer is too self righteous and Trip is half cocked and it's bad because they'd swear they're doing the right thing.
Chris Nash
Tue, Mar 9, 2021, 7:43am (UTC -6)
If I were the Tandarans, I'd be fuming. And I'd probably have a small fleet halfway to Earth, all set to demand Archer's head on a pike. But that's true of the half a dozen planets that Enterprise has pissed off over the course of its mission, I guess. The Vulcans must have a scary enough interstellar reputation that everyone thinks twice about attacking one of their allies.

By-the-numbers prison break episode. Fun enough, neat action sequences, but too many loose ends. I did enjoy T'Pol's call to Grat's office, offering him dinner and distracting him with a massive data transfer - as soon as the signal breaks up, her face goes from "earnest and pleasant" to an expression of total disgust (controlled, of course) at having to act so much like a human!
Tue, Nov 9, 2021, 1:26pm (UTC -6)
RIP Dean Stockwell, one of the best guest actors on ENT.
Tue, Apr 5, 2022, 11:12pm (UTC -6)
Love the Quantum leap reunion.
Fri, Aug 5, 2022, 11:40pm (UTC -6)
OK up to the point that Archer decides to get stubborn and not share intel on a common enemy. If I were Grat, I'd probably toss him in solitary as well. And getting caught with a communicator is not likely to end well.
And we don't know *anything* about the background -- maybe there was open terrorist acts from most of the Suilban. Why does Archer assume *any* of the Suliban are innocent? The Tandarans *might* reasonably be trying to make the best of a bad situation. Grat seemed pretty reasonable until Archer turned against him.
And, is a jailbreak really the best solution? It seems that ENT is either the strongest ship in the galaxy, or the weakest, depending on the requirements of the plot. And (as so many have pointed out), what happens next?

Antoine H
Tue, Nov 1, 2022, 1:09am (UTC -6)
I see mentions of Gitmo, but, to me, I saw more apt parallels with the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War 2. While there is certainly some kind of satisfaction at seeing Archer help wrongfully imprisoned people escape from a prison, I can't help but look at the plot points of this episode and come to the conclusion that what he did was incredibly stupid. Of course, this show takes place long before the establishment of the principles that end up defining Starfleet. However, Archer's.....intervention, to put it kindly, almost certainly made things worse for the tens or even hundreds of thousands of innocent Suliban who live on other Tandaran worlds. What he and Enterprise did was also almost certainly an act of war. To me, at least, orchestrating a prison escape just seems like an incredibly short-sighted act that was motivated by emotional recklessness rather than calm and rational thinking.

The episode was pretty good, but I think it could have been way better if it had veered towards dialogue and debate rather than an action-filled finale. Even if Archer ended up failing to successfully convince the Tandaran government to set the imprisoned Suliban free.
Antoine H
Tue, Nov 1, 2022, 1:16am (UTC -6)
One other thing, there was a brief moment where Mayweather yells at the Suliban sidekick. I forget his name. Anyway, Mayweather yells at the guy who's lived in an internment camp for years for not immediately trusting him because he and Archer just suddenly appeared and were trying to orchestrate a prison escape. Mayweather accuses him of being, essentially, a racist. I can't, man. This is some next-level audacity on Mayweather's part.
Antoine H
Tue, Nov 1, 2022, 1:20am (UTC -6)
Okay, one last comment. Two things on T'pol:

1. I found it highly uncharacteristic for her to okay a violation of Tandaran space. It kind of contradicts all of the advice she's given to Archer throughout this season. Perhaps she HAS spent too much time with humans.

2. It was delightfully unsettling to watch her video call with Grat. A Vulcan playing nice is not a Vulcan I'd want to mess with. Great acting by Jolene.
Wed, Apr 26, 2023, 1:18pm (UTC -6)
I have to wonder when this episode was written and recorded. They invoke Japanese internment camps, but the rhetoric around Cabal and the perils of persecuting an entire reli-- I mean species in the name of safety for the radical actions of the few would have been a very timely discussion in April of 2002.

Also, imagine how miserable it must have been to work on one of these Suliban episodes. That's a lot of make-up!
Justin V
Thu, May 11, 2023, 4:15pm (UTC -6)
This show is not anywhere as bad as people make it out to be. Yes, it's far worse than TNG, Voyager and DS9, but I'm really enjoying the first season so far. This is the first truly terrible episode that was so bad I decided to comment. Reusing the other Trek's material in episodes that don't fit this time period (Ferengi, Holodeck, other things Jammer and others mentioned) was pathetic, but a Quantum Leap reunion, wow, vomit. Watch Quantum Leap again. It's far worse than you remember.

A massive reason was the chemistry between Bakula and Stockwell. They are both just quality porn actors and they play off each other terribly despite working together so long. Ziggy was the best actor on QL. It's a joke, but I'm damn near serious. The Suliban story is fantastic and this would be in my top five Enterprise episodes if it wasn't for Bakula and Stockwell's scenes. The acting is absolute trash, especially when you combine it with Bakula's goody two shoes against Stockwell's Nazi who thinks he isn't the baddie cliche. Every other scene is near perfect. It's a well executed concentration camp story.

0.5 just because of those two. The main reason this whole show is poor is Bakula. Trip and the godawful writing for Travis (reminds me of Uhura, it's a bit racist, he has nothing to do and says almost nothing) along with the main three speaking characters being white upsets me. T'Pol says a bit, but Malcolm seems more of a main character than her.

Again, I really do love this show, but I only like the supporting cast. Archer and Trip bother me in several ways. The next episode's spiderweb of sperm is embarrassingly laughable as well.
Thu, Oct 5, 2023, 7:51pm (UTC -6)
It’s interesting watching this post covid the nimber of times archer forces people to shake his hand. Not even all human cultures shake hands but he pretty much man-handles all visiting guests into touching him. Hopefully by the time we are meeting actual aliens we’ll be a little more respectful

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