Star Trek: Enterprise


2.5 stars

Air date: 2/27/2002
Teleplay by Mike Sussman & Phyllis Strong
Story by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga
Directed by Rob Hedden

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

Trip: "Do Vulcans dance?"
Kov: "Only when it's part of some tedious ceremony."

In brief: Intriguing isolated moments that float lost without the context of a coherent story. Perhaps that's the point?

Hmmm. I just don't know about "Fusion." There are some moments that are well directed and even have currents of convincing psychology buried in the writing and images. These are moments without the benefit of coherence. This episode is fragmented and lost. It intrigued me. It did not satisfy me. Maybe that's the point. Or maybe the writers were out to lunch. I can't say.

The Vulcans are complicated folks. That's a good thing. This episode muddles them beyond an ability to reach a satisfactory conclusion. That isn't a good thing. In Star Trek, the Vulcans have always been creatures of logic who attempt to suppress their emotions. "Fusion," however, takes the concept of emotional control to a level that apparently requires a psychology degree in order to grasp. I was left with a strange sense that the Vulcans, somewhere along the line, have either been made too complicated or too bound by the writers' increasing library of weird rules.

In "Fusion," emotions are like the forbidden fruit. The notion arises when the Enterprise comes in contact with a ship of unconventional Vulcans who do not fully suppress their emotions but instead try to integrate them into their lives, searching for the right balance. This is frowned upon by mainstream Vulcan society. T'Pol considers such outcasts' philosophies as too dangerous, with too high a failure rate. Vulcans suppress all their emotions as a matter of necessary discipline; the episode sees it as an all-or-nothing situation where those Vulcans who would try to find a middle ground are destined to become ticking time bombs who could completely lose control.

One of the Vulcans, Tolaris (Enrique Murciano), takes an interest in T'Pol and tries to convince her to experiment with their methodology. She initially resists but finds herself intrigued. Eventually she decides to trust him and opens herself to new experiences.

The concept is interesting, but the results are puzzling. For T'Pol, it seems she was profoundly moved by an experience back on Earth when she left the Vulcan consulate to explore San Francisco while disguised, eventually ending up at a jazz club. The music she heard intrigued and now haunts her. As she experiments with Tolaris' methods, freeing herself from her daily meditation routine, she finds her dreams taking her back to that night on Earth. I liked Rob Hedden's direction over T'Pol's dream sequence, which is confused and chaotic and atmospheric; cinema always provides a good medium for conveying dreams and nightmares. And as I said at the beginning, there seems to be a nervous psychology beneath these images that feels convincing.

But the episode can't make sense of them. T'Pol's encounter with jazz music in San Francisco was apparently a profound emotional experience, but we never find out how or why; the thread is more concept than content. This is reinforced by the mind-meld scene between T'Pol and Tolaris later in the episode, which takes us back to that moment in San Francisco and leaves us stranded there with no answers. Perhaps we, like T'Pol, have no answers to find. Perhaps she herself was stranded there, and is too disturbed to go back. Perhaps that's psychobabble giving the writers too much credit for sketchy ideas. (Why would music — even unfamiliar music — move her so profoundly? It's not like music is a foreign concept to Vulcans.)

About the mind-meld scene. T'Pol is not familiar with mind-melds, because the writers have decided they don't exist in mainstream Vulcan society at this point in time. Tolaris says they have been "abandoned." What does this mean, and why will it return within the next century? I have no idea. The historical record of the mind-meld is only superficially explored here.

As a matter of technique, the mind-meld scene works. It comes across as intensely emotional and intimate — and also potentially invasive and dangerous. The acting sells the scene. Indeed, Jolene Blalock's performance in "Fusion" might be her best to date. T'Pol ventures into dark areas where her mind would rather not go, where her disciplines generally forbid her to go. The episode's message, I think, if there is one, is that T'Pol faces a daily struggle of rigid discipline to keep her emotions in check. It's as if every Vulcan has inner demons that run so deep they must be contained and never uncorked. I'm not so sure this tracks with what we already know.

The main plot plays in contrast with a B-story where Trip is paired with another of the Vulcans, Kov (John Harrington Bland). Kov seems more stable, more human, without the inner demons Tolaris (or, for that matter, T'Pol) seems to have. Trip and Kov have an amicable experience over the course of the Vulcans' visit, including humorous moments where Trip corrects some Vulcan misconceptions about human behavior ("They're not trying to kill the quarterback"). Is Kov the exception, or is Tolaris?

There are flashes of insight here, and yet … it's all so strangely unsatisfying. The question of whether Tolaris is a dangerous man who took the mind-meld too far is a good one. Archer confronts Tolaris in a scene that doesn't make good sense: I don't understand why Archer would intentionally confront and provoke Tolaris the way he does (getting thrown across the room in the process). Does Archer really need to see first-hand how a Vulcan can lose control? This is dramatic fireworks for the sake of fireworks. It doesn't exist in the real world. And after Tolaris' violent outburst, there are apparently no repercussions or conclusions to be drawn. The whole idea just sort of goes away.

"Fusion" is not successful. It's too messy and inconclusive, its psychology too bizarre and inexplicable. But it has moments of success. It generates some interest. The question comes down to this: (A) Is the story half-baked, or (B) do its unanswered questions make it more interesting rather than less?

I'm going to have to go with (A).

Previous episode: Shuttlepod One
Next episode: Rogue Planet

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40 comments on this post

Fri, May 29, 2009, 3:02pm (UTC -6)
I have to disagree; I think it's (B) more than (A).
Sun, Apr 11, 2010, 10:47am (UTC -6)
While I also found the episode unsatisfying and the bizarre Archer vs. Tolaris scene was, well, bizarre, I really liked the idea that T'Pol was moved or inspired by human music. The kind of music we've heard from the Vulcans has really been sonorous chanting--with only bare-bones rhythm and no harmony--about as far from New Orleans jazz as you can get. Music often has the ability to provoke strong emotions in humans, so why not Vulcans? Perhaps what T'Pol experienced was that exhilarating, foot-tapping urge to sing and dance along, an urge that seems thoroughly foreign to Vulcan ideas of control.
JaKE TaYLoR #7
Sun, Jun 27, 2010, 2:12am (UTC -6)
I liked that the Vulcans did not reject logic, yet embraced emotions as well. It makes them more well rounded.....or so i thought. Turns out the story was just about T'Pol not being able to meditate so she has a bad dream....then her freind "assults" her. Then Archer says nothing about it to the Vulcans its over. Huh? I didnt enjoy this episode very much. And whys Archer give a damn if the fat Vulcan talks to his dad or not?
Wed, Aug 18, 2010, 11:19pm (UTC -6)
What just happened? That was the most awkward, uncomfortable Star Trek experience ever! Mind meld rape? I agree with Katie, it was all just so bizarre.

I'm watching this series for the first time, and I just can't help but wonder when they will finally make use of the prequel concept and get something right for a change. So far, this show has been setting a new standard in disapointment. They should have called this Star Trek: Missed Opportunity.

The only character I'm really 100% behind right now is Trip. I generally like T'Pol and Phlox too, only because they seem to have their heads together so much better than Archer. I'm also happy to see Jeffrey Combs guest starring from time to time. Jeffrey Combs can take any kind of turd and polish it into shining a diamond, and that kind of skill is certainly needed on this mess of a show. I only wish he had been in this episode. Maybe he could have at least given the bizarre plot a sense of humor or wit.

Does anyone else outright hate Captain Archer? I admit, this was one of his better episodes. Sure, he pulled a phaser on some random Vulcan and pretty much acted the fool as per usual. But, since he reserved his shenanigans for a mind meld rapist in this one, I'll give him a pass. He didn't infuriate me this time around, at the very least. But usually? For the first five or six episodes, I kept hoping someone would punch him in the face. It doesn't bode well for a show like this when I want to shove the male lead out an air lock.

Finally, what this episode truly lacked was the only real break out star in this series... Porthos. I think he should have attacked the mind meld rapist. It probably would have been more believable than Archer rolling around the floor with a phase pistol. Porthos would have handeled the situation more smoothly. In fact, Porthos could handle almost any situation more smoothly than Archer. A bull in a china shop could handle things more smoothly than Archer though, so that's not saying all that much I suppose.
Wed, Aug 18, 2010, 11:22pm (UTC -6)
*polish it into a shining diamond.

Sorry, that's what I get for posting from my phone.
Marco P.
Thu, Sep 16, 2010, 4:46am (UTC -6)
While I agree, certain parts of the story are left unresolved (T'Pol's strong feelings towards music) or are unsatisfying (the Kov/Tucker dying father story, which showed good promise but then sort of ended on a "meh"), this episode stands well above the series's general exercise in mediocrity.

Indeed, I especially liked the idea to break the convention of Vulcan portrayal, which so far (with the exception of T'Pol) has generally consisted in arrogant/spying/almost-villainous anti-heroes the Enterprise crew has to face. In this episode we finally see some duality, some Vulcans who are trying to break from tradition, and we also see an interesting "first use" (so-to-speak, as far as the series's chronology is concerned) of the mind-meld.

Too bad the opportunity for better dialogue was missed (e.g. the climax of the T'Pol-Tolaris/mind-rapist scene, and the Archer/Tolaris confrontation... unnecessarily leading to gratuitous violence in which Archer, once again, gets a beat-down). I would have wished Archer said something along the lines of "You were trying to teach T'Pol to embrace her feelings, but it looks like you still have a lot to learn about them yourself! Get this man off my ship" (yeah... security anyone?)
Sun, May 1, 2011, 3:40pm (UTC -6)
Not perfect, but I echo the above comments that it's better than the usual mediocrity of this series (or Voyager before it).

I'm not sure why many people have such a hard time believing that Vulcans have extremely strong repressed emotions... it's been drummed into us countless times in past Trek shows and I thought it was well enough explored here.

It's also piqued my curiosity about this group of renegade Vulcans. Obviously fairly soon the mainstream Vulcans will accept some of what they have to say (the power of the mind meld) which I'd like to see as it'd take something astounding to move those stubborn lot. And did I get the sense that they are early Romulans? I'm not sure how far back Romulans go... maybe at least they were formed in much the same way.

There was an theory that Lynch alluded to in his review (not that he liked it either): that to Vulcans, unchecked emotions could be like an addiction. I like this idea actually.. for one thing it has parallels with things like alcohol: in moderation it can make people interesting and be worth exploring, in excess it can cause terrible damage and if someone has a bad experience with it or its addiction (or have been told from birth that they would) they can end up avoiding it altogether and just one drop could trigger a relapse.

I don't know, it just got me thinking about things rather than questioning everything. To each his own.
Thu, Nov 10, 2011, 10:34am (UTC -6)

What a boring and uninspiring episode. Let's take a bunch of aliens and devote 45 minutes to exploring how they deal with human characteristics. Order of the day: Vulcans and emotions.

Fast-forward to the end.

Captain Jim
Tue, Jul 10, 2012, 10:18pm (UTC -6)
Cloudane said, "And did I get the sense that they are early Romulans? I'm not sure how far back Romulans go... maybe at least they were formed in much the same way."

More the latter, I think. I believe the Vulcans and Romulans split centuries before. (I checked Wikipedia and it says 400 AD.)
Sun, Nov 4, 2012, 6:58pm (UTC -6)
Vulcans may have abandoned the mind meld, but we know they haven't abandoned the neck pinch because T'Pol uses it on the entomologist in the episode with the hallucinogenic pollen. Why didn't dude use it on Archer instead of throwing him across the room?

I have to continue my "Archer is a boor" rant. You'd think the guy they send to seek out new civilizations would have been briefed in diplomacy or at least basic manners. Hosting a dinner for three Vulcans, the chef has prepared Vulcan food, and Archer has a separate chicken dinner for himself.

I thought the idea of some Vulcans breaking away and rediscovering their emotions was interesting, but the ending was a copout. It would have been more powerful if the emotion/logic balance was successful.
Wed, Nov 7, 2012, 12:10am (UTC -6)
I thought that Vulcans comfortably living with their emotions was the most interesting idea I'd heard. Then suddenly the show became a rape allegory and interesting Vulcans were forgotten in favor of bad-acting Vulcans. SO bad.

I began to grin at the end of this episode when Archer says he's beginning to understand why Vulcan's purge their emotions. This strutting peacock is always learning, so nice. Anyway, he said that and I thought, FINALLY maybe he'll stop trying to turn her into a human but then T'Pol basically says, No that's alright Captain. keep working on me. Gah. Grinned wiped off! And yes, @Carbetarian, I also hate Cpt. Archer, always squinting like he's trying to make sense of the one syllable word you just sent his way.

And I hope that chubby Vulcan kid held his emotions in check when he called daddy. Yeah, that's what his dad wants to see, his son, crying and flubbering, an utter mess of emotions and a disgrace to the family name!
Thu, Feb 7, 2013, 4:47pm (UTC -6)
This first season is a lot about misconceptions and I believe many of the viewers had heard that Enterprise had killed vulcans and was utter crap (good way to start to watch a series with prejudice).

Well, I'm not saying Enterprise was stellar, but it had its moments. At this point, we shouldn't forget it's a prequel and if this episode establishes something, it's obviously that 22nd century vulcans will evolve (we'll see how later in the show) and better themselves. So, viewers who say Enterprise killed a myth are wrong. If we accept that humans can better themselves through time, then we can also accept that vulcans have done the same, can't we ?

We have 22nd century vulcans who use (sometimes) twisted logic to justify their goals, they're depicted as overly arrogant and racist (note that Spock responded to "you're more human than you think" by "don't insult me", which is not very nice either). On the other hand, we have vulcans who seek their origin: vulcans are born with emotions - strong ones - and have a different interpretation of the teaching of Surak. The mind-meld not being common in vulcan's culture is a serious hint that something will change in the future.

Of course, I'm disappointed by the end of the episode and I have to agree that Archer isn't very likable. Jammer is right, we can't be sure who is the exception here: Tolaris or Vok ? What I don't understand is the captain punishing the whole crew for the act of one man (vulcan). He's depicted as everything has to be black or white: in the beginning, he believes T'Pol should be more like these emotional vulcans. At the end, he dismisses them as if they were all bad, thus repressing emotions must be the only good solution. I'd liked a more subtle approach...
Chris NI
Sun, Apr 7, 2013, 5:00pm (UTC -6)
The opening of this episode under-scored a theme which I've enjoyed in Enterprise's first season - the enthusiasm of the crew towards exploring space. In the TOS and TNG eras, a nebula was run-of-the-mill stuff. I liked how Archer was genuinely excited about seeing a nebula that he'd read about in a book.
Sun, Jun 16, 2013, 5:18pm (UTC -6)

I must respectfully disagree. Around 5,000 years have passed since the time of Surak and only 90 years or so between Enterprise and Kirk. The average lifespan of a Vulcan is around 200 years. Achieving the dispassionate logic we see in TOS and TNG from the base we are given is not something I'd expect in a mere 90 years - not even a full Vulcan generation. Consider less the years and more the generations. 25 generations since Surak. I say this because you speak of 22nd century Vulcans from a Human viewpoint. For a Vulcan, 100 years is barely half his life.

I would expect Vulcans, as depicted on this show to be within a generation or 2 of Surak. Shaky in their logic, still twisting it for personal gain, arrogant holdouts from before the Time of Awakening believing in their superiority to non-logical species. But a mere half-generation (for Vulcans) before Kirk and Spock? I can't swallow that pill. I reject it and reject it furiously. Why? Because it DOES destroy the myth, by dragging Vulcans down to a Human level and holding them to a Human standard so that they'll be more understandable to a Human audience instead of an ideal to be striven for.

Though maybe that last bit ( be striven for...) is just me - I see too much emotion-driven things in the world around me and would much rather sit back and dispassionately analyze a situation than leap in with both feet.

As an aside, Kirk delivered that "insult" fondly and took Spock's reply fondly. Frankly, I think our Vulcan friend made a joke. There was never any meanness in their relationship.

Just as I fondly disagree and intend no meanness towards you. I save that for the writers :)

p.s. You could argue that Spock was just an EXCEPTIONAL Vulcan who because of his hybrid nature was driven to be more Vulcan than Vulcans and if such is the case has skewed the mythos surrounding them!
Tue, Jan 21, 2014, 3:34am (UTC -6)

We all had a tendency to slam Enterprise for "what it did to the Vulcans". If only we'd had the patience!

It is kind of explained later on when they get Surak's chakra thing and find his original teachings - at that point the way is paved for the Vulcans we know in TOS onwards. These are indeed quite different and less enlightened Vulcans and it's well explained at that point.

In fact it suddenly makes it rather interesting - I'm not the slightest bit religious myself, but imagine if someone genuinely ended up with the spirit of Jesus (or worse, the God from the Old Testament) in his head and he showed proof that all our crazy interpretations over the years were all wrong and once again here's those commandments you're supposed to be following. Gulp!

Admittedly though, it probably would've been better writing to allude to the story earlier, rather than saving it all for later, making it look like they just screwed up with the Vulcans and had to get a Trek expert in to write them out of the hole later on.

Mon, Mar 31, 2014, 7:56am (UTC -6)
Seriously, when Archer was surprised/a little disappointed that his childhood book's measurement of the nebula was incorrect, it was the most adorable thing ever.
Fri, Oct 17, 2014, 2:57am (UTC -6)
Great acting by Jolene Blalock in an absorbing episode. The episode contains fascinating, well constructed moments of amiguity. Also, there are a number of well acted scenes with Scott Bakula, who makes a marvelous captain. Further, I thought the Trip side story was a success. The ending was tough to swallow, but thought provoking. The writers did a very commendable job of portraying an important conflict within Vulcan society and culture.

This show is yet another example why I'm a big fan of this series.
Tue, Oct 28, 2014, 10:25pm (UTC -6)
Finally, a real Star Trek episode. I echo the sentiments about it becoming a mind meld rape story, but that didn't detract from some very interesting Vulcan theory about their history, and the actors portraying the rogue Vulcans were very good. I'm not a Jolene fan, but here, at least, her character had some interesting moments. Her experience with the chaotic nature of jazz is much the same as I saw in Europe in the 60s, where members of repressed/oppressed societies were attracted to the unstructured nature of the music, rather than its melodies or lack thereof.
Tue, Jan 20, 2015, 7:39pm (UTC -6)
If you omit those terrible dream sequences, this episode is actually quite great.
Wed, Feb 11, 2015, 7:46pm (UTC -6)
I think you were too kind on this one Jammer - I thought this was deeply unsatisfying, underwhelming even. Promised much but went almost nowhere in a totally predicatble and lumbering direction.
John G
Thu, Jul 23, 2015, 2:10pm (UTC -6)
Regarding the "Vulcan Myth", I think it was largely destroyed or debunked in DS9. We saw a Vulcan Machis terrorist, who perhaps even more troublingly, seemed attracted to Quark, a prideful, arrogant and somewhat racist Vulcan starship captain and a Vulcan serial killer.

Besides that, I don't think the Vulcan Myth was that well supported in TOS. For the most part we only saw Spock, who was half human and his father who had married a human. We also saw their primitive and brutal mating rituals.

I never saw any evidence that the idea of Vulcan perfection was anything more than propaganda and wishful thinking. The Vulcans were overall shown a noble species, but we never really saw the idealized Vulcans in action, with the exception of Spock.
Diamond Dave
Fri, Apr 1, 2016, 8:19am (UTC -6)
I thought this was an interesting spin on the Vulcan story - throw a bunch of unconventional Vulcans into the mix, play with our expectations around things like mind melds and see what happens.

OK, it's not all successful - the dream sequences in particular were a bit off, and whoever first decided to use jazz as a metaphor for chaotic thinking should have been shot for inventing a monster - but on the whole it's intriguing enough and it's a good T'Pol story.

I also liked the Kov storyline, and the "Oh, you mean sex!" line and the looks it gets from the crew in the mess hall provided a proper laugh. 3 stars.
Wed, Jul 20, 2016, 10:07am (UTC -6)
Quite enjoyable "date rape" episode.

I'm a little surprised the link to that hadn't been made.

Loved the discussion between Kov & Trip throughout this episode. Seems this one is quite capable of keeping his emotions under control without suppressing them completely.

I also thought the dream stuff made this one difficult to watch, but I understand why they (T'Pol) chose jazz. Jazz is all about feelings.

T'Pol's experience with Tavin was the equivalent of date rape. She initially agree and when it was going to far she expressed herself and he didn't stop.

Archer simply wanted to see Tavin lose his temper (control)... and he succeeded.

I really enjoyed John Harrington Bland as Kov.

I'll give this one 3 stars.
Wed, Sep 28, 2016, 1:10am (UTC -6)
Star Trek needs to stick to scifi and leave psyfy alone (0)
Mike Satirano
Thu, Dec 15, 2016, 10:01am (UTC -6)
I thought this was a very good Episode. I think it's pretty clear that Tolaris was just a creep. Every Society has them, and This group of heterodox Vulcans might be prone to attract a few. To someone like Tolaris, T'Pol would be quite vulnerable. He probes her and makes calculated risks throughout the episode, getting past her defenses. In fact, we know he's a creep because the episode tells us.

Archer: "Hey Trip, what's up with that Vulcan dude that T'Pol is all of the sudden spending so much time with?"

Trip: "I dunno, he's quiet, sullen, kinda weird. You Jealous, bro?"

We see that Kov and the Vulcaptain are quite balanced, and Kov is just a likeable guy(to contrast the creep) Archer tries to persuade him to call his Dad BECAUSE HE WAS ASKED TO by his boss. Trip does the same because He was asked to by HIS boss, and Trip is a caring guy.

Finally, the scene with Tolaris near the end. I think you guys are reading to much into his comment "You planned this." Archer was doing his job, that is, confronting the "Son of a *****" that assaulted his science officer. He wanted to know what happened and why...quite understandable, and realistic. After a few questions Archer realizes Tolaris is dangerous man and warns him to stay away from T'Pol. Tolaris, unstable as he is, can't handle this, and loses his temper.

The episode ends on a happy note with Kov calling his pops, and a nice closing scene with Archer and T'Pol coming to a greater understanding of each other.
Sat, Nov 11, 2017, 5:11pm (UTC -6)
Regarding Vulcans, I found the mind-meld scene disturbing but it reminded me that Spock forces a mind-meld on Valeris in The Undiscovered Country. I was quite young when I first watched UC and always found Spock's actions made the tone of the film much darker. As Leonard Nimoy played it, Spock himself was very shaken by what he had done, although he acted out of need to save Kirk and McCoy, not out of anger like Tolaris. It makes me wonder if Vulcans ever had laws about mind-melds.
Thu, Mar 22, 2018, 2:00pm (UTC -6)
Option B, in my opinion, but who knows for sure.

About Archer's reaction, it does make sense. We long know that the mind meld has always been described as a dangerous and invasive procedure. Of course, Archer is angry and puzzled, because he feels T'pol's was violeted somehow, but can't figure it out, it seems to me.
Peter Swinkels
Fri, Jun 22, 2018, 8:47am (UTC -6)
Hmmm, some of the episode was indeed bizarre and uncomfortable and it doesn’t always provide clear-cut answers. I suppose that if you watch Enterprise with preset expectations based on earlier Trek you would indeed be disappointed. However unexpected, uncomfortable, and not so clear cut situations can either frustrate you or perhaps challenge you. With regard to “Archer is stupid” remarks: Indeed Archer aint no Picard that is for sure! But, has anyone here considered the fact that Star Fleet training and any procedures regarding who is and is not fit to become captain still have a long way to go? This after all set well over a century before TOS. Methinks the captain would’ve been even more likely to be made out an incompetent moron had the writers decided that the Vulcans did not hold humanity back for 90 years and Enterprise was set immediately after Cochrane. Yes, Trek is merely fiction but try imagining it were real aaand you’re the captain! Would you do better?
Peter Swinkels
Fri, Jun 22, 2018, 9:16am (UTC -6)
A few more thoughts:
Perhaps Archer wasn’t so foolish, to him provoking that Vulcan probably seemed like a risky albeit good way to determine whether he was dealing with a manipulating mind rapist or some one who made a serious mistake but willing to admit it when put under pressure. You can either flip out and stick to your guns or give in. Perhaps he was a rapist or perhaps T’Pol wasn’t brave enough and became ill with terror. I don’t know. Also I while don’t like the character I somewhat agreed with Trip’s remark about regret being one of the saddest and most powerful emotions. A bit overblown (to me) but I have noticed that putting situations that ended up being disappointing or unpleasant in part to your decisions out of your mind and to really get over it is easier said than done. On a lighter note: that Vulcan he spoke with wasn’t entirely misinformed, some people do spend half the day in bed and eat more frequently than usual but I would think those would be exceptions. Also given how fanatical some can get over a game you might really start believing they intend to kill each other. :-p
Fri, Oct 5, 2018, 6:44pm (UTC -6)
Somewhat unsatisfying and hit-and-miss but it had some strong moments with the mind-meld rape and even the B-story with Trip/Kov (never seen a chubby Vulcan before) was nice. I think it's interesting that there could be a group of Vulcans who see Surak's teaching differently, but that it proves to be dangerous, which is consistent with what the general population's understanding is.

Blalock's performance is terrific from start to finish -- she is skeptical and then curious and plays the part of the trusting but ultimately violated female well. The actor for Tolaris was also good and gave that distinctly creepy vibe. It is a bit confusing what the dream with the jazz club means and how that leads to her dreaming of being in bed with Tolaris etc. Is the jazz music a trigger for hidden/sexual emotions? Ultimately T'Pol is envious of Archer for his ability to dream, but again, not sure how to interpret that.

The history of the mind-meld is also a bit confusing -- T'Pol consents to it but I thought it was supposed to be frowned upon / illegal at this stage of the canon. Of course, it's cool by the time of TOS. The scene with Archer confronting Tolaris was weird -- he starts out rather cordially but really he wants figure out what Tolaris did to T'Pol. Then Tolaris gets confrontational and throws the captain across the room. Poorly handled by Archer -- should've just kicked his Vulcan ass off the ship or found some way to get him to the Vulcan authorities. T'Pol was essentially raped and Tolaris gets off scot free.

The Trip/Kov part provided some levity and the usual reciprocal learning about cultures -- it was a welcomed part of this episode. Liked Trip's story about regret in not asking some girl to dance and that gets Kov to call his ailing dad. Also Kov's chubby appearance works for being an unconventional Vulcan!

2.5 stars for "Fusion" -- could have been a much stronger episode if it wanted to be a proper treatment/analogy of rape. Also adds another dimension to the Vulcan society, although it's inconsequential. A really good episode for T'Pol's character although not a good one for Archer, who encouraged T'Pol to keep an open mind about something she already has a good sense of how to handle.
Sat, Oct 6, 2018, 2:14pm (UTC -6)
Agree with Rahul. For me, Fusion was the best episode of ENT S1, and the Fusion/Stigma unofficial two-parter is my highlight of S1-2. Blalock raises her game a lot in these two episodes, you can tell she's really engaged with the subject matter.
Mon, Oct 22, 2018, 5:55pm (UTC -6)
I'm late to this site, so don't even know if it's still accepting comments. But have to agree with the person above who completely dislikes Archer. More specifically, Scott Bacula. I think this series would have been much better with someone else playing the captain.
Thu, Feb 7, 2019, 9:14pm (UTC -6)
Interesting concept, but the execution does seem a little forced. Joelene seems to be improving as the series goes along.
Cesar Gonzalez
Sun, Jul 28, 2019, 12:34pm (UTC -6)
Tolaris is ANNOYING. He just keeps prodding and prodding. Damn. Leave her alone. Sheesh.

Archer's insiststince for Kov to speak with hid father was annoying as well.
Kov already made it clear he doesn't want to talk to his dad. Leave it alone.
Grace Clyde
Mon, Jul 20, 2020, 1:39pm (UTC -6)
The hypocrisy displayed in this episode was amazing. Archer, quite rightly, condemned Tolaris for psychic rape and for trying to force T'Pol to embrace her emotions against her will. Yet, he had no problems with attempting to interfere in the personal life of Kov, a person he barely knew, all because he had a wonderful relationship with his father and believed others should. Worse, he used Trip to enforce his will upon the young Vulcan. Tolaris' actions are condemned by the transcript and Archer's actions are not. What hypocrisy!
Sean J Hagins
Tue, Nov 24, 2020, 12:37am (UTC -6)
@Grace: Archer did not hypocritically try to get in Kov's personal life-he was following orders. You can tell he didn't want to so the Admiral had to even tell him, "The Vulcans let you keep your science offer-we should return the favour". And he used persuasion under a mental force that Tolaris tried to do with T'Pol

I actually really liked this episode.

I still don't understand why everyone is bashing Archer. It seems from the reviews that Kirk and Picard are the gold standard of captain, and Sisko, Janeway and Archer are losers. I don't understand that!

Especially in Archer's case as he is literally paving entirely new ground (space?) here! And he IS learning every episode. I mean he's REALLY unbent already when you compare this episode (still in season 1) to the premiere! The only one I have the most issues with is Trip as he has spurts of insubordination. But either way, they are all learning and improving

And no one mentioned it, but there's the chief from Chips! YAY! **He's also the new Kirk's dad to link him via Star Trek** Just a shame Worf wasn't in this episode (Michael Dorn got his start on Chips too)

If anything about this episode, it reminds me of the Next Gen episode with the telepath who basically did the same thing to Troi. As much as that is, I personally thought all of the Vulcans would show some kind of quirk to verify that the purging of emotion is the right path for them. But the chief (I don't know the character name), and the engineer Vulcan seemed stable (despite the fact that they enjoy a smile whilst chomping on chicken), so this kind of leaves it open to the possibility that Vulcans don't have to be totally emotionless and still function

Another thing that kind of bothered me is that the Vulcan ship needed help. I mean, yes, it could break down of course, but I thought their technology was so far above humans that asking them for help would be like a modern 21st century auto mechanic asking a 19th century steam locomotive builder for help using the car's computer diagnostics. I'm surprised Trip could even comprehend the gear the Vulcans used. Although come to think of it, I guess maybe that analogy is incorrect because when the Federation is formed, I don't think there was a major leap of understand once Vulcan joined up
Fri, Jul 15, 2022, 10:29am (UTC -6)
Both Fusion and Stigma are terrible episodes, imo. For one thing, both suffer from the inclusion of totally inappropriate light comedy B stories. If Berman and Braga had produced Tom Hanks' Philadelphia half of the movie would consist of spliced in scenes of Bosom Buddies.

Another problem with Fusion is that Tolaris doesn't get his just desserts. It reminds me of the limp ending of Plato's Stepchildren in that regard.

Remember that scene in This Side of Paradise where Kirk summons Spock back up to the ship and there's that shot of Kirk tapping that lead pipe in his hand as he wits in the transporter room? That's how the Archer/Tolaris confrontation should have went down.
Fri, Jul 15, 2022, 11:01am (UTC -6)
Oh, and here's a gif of T'Pol blowing out her meditation candle:
Sun, Nov 6, 2022, 6:58am (UTC -6)
I've been rewatching parts of the series (not sure why) and find myself more intrigued and appalled by it every time. This could have been done so much differently, which should have been mostly about T'Pol's self-struggle to decide how much she wanted to explore and question Vulcan philosophy and practices – with her deciding to pull back in the end, save herself, etc. Instead, it's another episode about a woman and an outsider being a victim, assaulted to show humans (men) as the instigators of harm as well as the not-all-bad, come-to-the-rescue heroes.

This time watching I am even more disturbed by how much the male crew seems to be pushing T'Pol to be with these Vulcans. Hoshi and Cutler are, of course, absent. Yes, the episode is showing T'Pol's gradual interest in understanding humans and never directly confronting Vulcan rage, given that – throughout the first season – the show seems to be playing up Vulcans with an uncontrolled temper from the beginning. These are hardly the Vulcans we thought that appeared on Earth, but it's so over-the-top macho madness it's cringe-inducing for the human characters as well, many of them with short fuses and unveiled disdain, ego, and rage. It's hard to tell if it's parody, or some effort to show the "evolution" of Vulcans and humans (presumptively less evolved than those of the Kirk era) or just what the writers think is what male fans want to see. But it's quite clear that many of the Vulcans in Season 1 are unable to see the temper in their own egoes - suppressed emotions undermining their claims of the values of meditation. The crew calls out the more traditional Vulcans on this when they interfere with human treks through space, but with no caution here.

For all the hate thrown at Jolene Blalock, she gives T'Pol a different characterization that would have been so much more interesting for Vulcans of that era – deeply suppressed, emotionally challenged, and very awkward and uncomfortable outside of their comfort zones, rather than arrogant assholes. She is the one Vulcan character on the show who seems to be able to stay calm, make her points, and try to speak with reason with the crew. And the series does eventually show her as not being afraid to explore differences of her own culture's philosophy.

Here, she is in that phase of questioning, and she is vulnerable – not just because she is a woman – but because she is an outsider, constantly made the target of pushback on Vulcan ideology when she is most often not the instigator. And she is under constant pressure by many members of the crew to stop being so "Vulcan" and to try new experiences, when she actually might feel rather alone on the ship with little escape for months and months and genuinely trying to be more open so that she will feel less isolated and lonely.

It would have been great to have a scene where any crew member - NOT just a female crew member – could say, if you find this disturbing, don't feel pressured to be with them just because other people tell you to do it. Even Phlox is encouraging it, though of course he comes from a very different sexual culture than she does. It would have been especially more interesting to see Phlox, as the other non-human on board, take her aside and give more balance to his advice – which is basically just saying sure go hang out with Vulcans who make you feel uncomfortable. Here was an opportunity to say, "Trust your instincts" or "I've seen you become more open to trying to learn about the crew, but you have more experience than they do, with Vulcans and other species. The crew's enthusiasm is not surprising, but you have the experience to form your own judgment." Then if she went anyway, it would be much more interesting. But Phlox is mansplaining, even in the 22nd century. He's adding to the pressure, rather than seeing she might be feeling pushed.

It's a disturbing but interesting development in this series, because of the assault leaves her not only degraded in the moment but left very affected for some time, and she somehow finds a way to get past it This show has done a lot of weird things that are head scratching - including things like having the 22nd century crew only watching films before 1960 (because that's pre-ST:TOS, wink wink). But even ST:TNG had Will go through the "rape" that was inflicted on Beverly and Deanna. Not here, I suppose because we're expected to write this off as a less-evolved era. So we have another case of an assault on a woman where men not only try to present themselves as the caretakers and heroes, but women easily seduced.

If they wanted to go this route, they should have gone full on. Make it about a crew pushing an isolated crewmember – a minority on that ship – to go against better judgment and to be open with strangers and suffer prolonged consequences as a result. Some of that manifests anyway after this episode, but not enough.
Thu, Oct 5, 2023, 3:04pm (UTC -6)
If they’re going to break all backstory why bother with the show. Mindmelds are too much a part of vulcan society to make it suddenly something that only fringe vulcans do. (It’s part of most ceremonies). Again vulcans are turned into thugs.

I suspect vulcans are only around in this show to make humans feel superior because we can handle emotions. Phlox thinks it special that humans will befriend lower lifeforms. I know that’s typical star trek but it’s like how they give all the kids prizes in school now. “Pat the human on the head, she didn’t kick the dog today”

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