Star Trek: Enterprise

"Breaking the Ice"

3 stars

Air date: 11/7/2001
Written by Maria Jacquemetton & Andre Jacquemetton
Directed by Terry Windell

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Your inexperience and your arrogance are your enemies, not us." — Vanik

In brief: The plot is slight at best, but there's value to be found in the characterization and human/Vulcan interaction.

I will say that without a doubt the plots so far for Enterprise have been uninspired. That's perhaps an understatement. After seeing "Breaking the Ice" I've developed a new theory that says any show where space explorers build a snowman on the surface of a comet is not exactly trying to make us feel awed about the wonders of space travel.

And yet the snowman idea fits the tone of this show perfectly, which is laid-back and irreverent, more about characters and relationships than about strange new worlds or seeking out new life and new civilizations.

The subject of exploration here: a comet. Correction: a comet containing a unique mineral. My brain unconsciously forwards the message to my typing hands: "Whoop-de-do." But I've long maintained that good things can be done with pedestrian premises, just as is the case the other way around.

"Breaking the Ice" is a character-driven story of trust and friction between ideals — and, for that matter, personality types. I frankly don't care about the comet. What I do care about is the way a Vulcan ship shows up just as Archer is about to get a survey mission of this comet under way. The Vulcan captain, Vanik (William Utay), expresses his desire to "observe" the proceedings. This is not the first time the Vulcans have wanted to observe. To the Enterprise crew, the Vulcans are increasingly bearing resemblance to babysitters, trying to hold their hands as they try to cross the street. "Stay as long as you want," Archer tells Vanik — a line perfectly delivered by Bakula as Archer tries to mask his annoyance behind neutrality.

Should the Vulcans be out here, watching over every little thing this experimental human crew does? It's a good question, still unanswered; Archer has neither been proven capable nor incapable of interacting with the interstellar social universe. The Vulcans, meanwhile, are stodgy to the point of being control freaks. Would they have preferred to wait forever until humanity was truly "ready" to venture out? And now that we're out here, are they going to look over our shoulders for petty things like studying comets?

The episode finds the right notes for events that aren't groundbreaking, but are telling nonetheless. Consider, for example, the whole issue of the encrypted message that the Vulcan ship sends to T'Pol's quarters. The transmission is detected and raises Archer's suspicions, who reacts with a sort of saddened disappointment. Is T'Pol secretly communicating with the Vulcans? Briefing them on how the Enterprise operates? I like the fact that Archer wants to trust T'Pol, but is still unable to.

Trip has the message decrypted. He reads it, only to find that it has nothing to do with the Vulcans talking behind Archer's back, but instead that it's simply a personal letter. Very personal. In this case, distrust only leads to embarrassment. Trip decides to come clean with T'Pol so he can clear his conscience. T'Pol is clearly unhappy about her personal situation being discovered by someone else, and I liked her Vulcan response — giving a cold shoulder but without being overly emotional or holding a grudge.

Jolene Blalock turns in her best performance to date in another role that demands her never to get excited or step outside the boundaries of complete control that have typified her thus far. I'd read reports that T'Pol would be envisioned as a more "sensual" Vulcan, but that certainly has not been the case so far. T'Pol is calm, composed, distant, and incredibly introverted. "Sensual" is about the last word I'd use to describe her.

Her personal situation here is tantamount to a fork in the road of her life. She has an arranged marriage awaiting her on Vulcan — and if she's going to go through with it, she must make the decision now. She has little emotional stake in her would-be spouse; she's only met him a handful of times since the arrangement was made when they were children. Should she adhere to Vulcan traditional values or continue her mission aboard the Enterprise? We of course know the answer, but the way the issue is filtered through dialog and characters is effective.

She confides in Trip on this matter because, naturally, he's the only one who knows about her situation and she'd rather not share it with any more people. Their discussion plays the obvious notes of human individuality versus Vulcan traditionalism, but it's nice to see these two characters have a genuine personal discussion. Based on this episode, it would seem the seeds are planted for T'Pol allowing herself to learn from and adjust to the human mindset around her. It's also likely that these are the seeds of a personal relationship between Trip and T'Pol — perhaps an actual friendship, if T'Pol allows herself to have friends. Like various characters in all Trek series before her, she has the outside perspective on human values, and she's peering in. Here's hoping that the learning process will be a two-way street.

There's also a scene of exposition that is brilliant in its way (and simultaneously silly), where the bridge crew records answers to questions sent from Earth. These particular questions are from fourth-graders. The idea allows the scene to explain a few unanswered technical questions to the audience while having a reason to do so. You know, the important stuff — questions involving the universal translator, dating on the ship, the food supply, and using the toilet. (Trip: "A poop question, sir?" Archer: "It's a perfectly valid question.") It's a bit obvious and overly cute, but I think the story manages to get away with it. It would makes sense that there's a lot of interest in Enterprise's mission back on the home front. I only hope we get to see more contact with Earth in better depth, used in a less condescending way.

Perhaps my favorite sequence is Archer's attempt to host dinner for Vanik. Sure, Vanik accepts Archer's invitation, but as a guest he's about as useless as he can be. All of Archer's attempts to start a conversation are utterly futile, because one can't have a conversation with someone who refuses to bring anything to the table. Vanik responds to each of Archer's comments with as few words as possible ("No," or "I only drink water"). This is a mildly funny sequence, played for some low-key laughs. It works because the humor is based on a truthful premise that most of the audience will be able to identify with. (William Utay nails down a performance that masks Vanik's superior indignation behind an artifice of laconic indifference.) When you have an uncomfortable social situation, the only thing you want is for it to end. Archer ends it by having an officer escort Vanik to the launch bay. The lesson to be learned here is that at some point being a gracious host simply outlives what you get out of it.

It might've been nice to tie the tensions with the Vulcans back into the issue from last week's "Andorian Incident"; given how cold Vanik is here, some sort of reference would've been a prudent way to hint at continuing problems of trust. Continuity between episodes is so far not of much importance on this series.

Reed and Mayweather become the lucky ones who get to go down to the comet surface and drill for the rare mineral. Mayweather has never seen snow firsthand, so this proves to be its own reward. There's something corny and yet completely in line with the tone of the episode when the two of them build that snowman. I should, however, point out that the lack of any sort of edge in Mayweather is really beginning to show — and rankle a bit. For someone who has spent his whole life in space, he strikes me more as the latest take on Mr. Green. He's the youthful, wide-eyed kid with the perpetual Pepsodent smile. I thought Enterprise was supposed to have "edge," but this guy is so far the hollowest shell of a character. Yes, these characters are going to take awhile to develop, but Mayweather so far is beyond bland, having nearly nothing in terms of opinions or personality. Here's hoping this changes soon.

The story's turning point comes when our away team falls into unexpected jeopardy. The comet rotates toward the sun, the ice melts and cracks, Mayweather is injured, and the shuttle falls into a chasm of ice. Suddenly the survey mission becomes a rescue operation where the Enterprise crew must retrieve the shuttle with grappling hooks. This turns out to be difficult, at which point the Vanik — still silently monitoring the situation — offers to help with his ship's tractor beam.

This is a moment where Archer must make a choice: Handle the crisis on his own, or swallow his pride and accept the Vulcans' offer of help. I was glad to see him swallow his pride. Ensuring your people's safety is far more important than preserving your dignity. And as T'Pol points out, Archer would be playing into Vanik's hands by ignoring the offer and proving right the stereotype of humans being arrogant and hard-headed. To the Vulcans, human independence is not a trait that impresses.

This storyline makes for a good microcosm of the tensions between humans and Vulcans. It's nice to see Archer's mindset being challenged. The Vulcans may be righteous and arrogant in their own ways, but they've also been out in space much longer than humans have, so they certainly have points worth learning from. All this, despite the fact one almost gets the feeling the Vulcans were hanging around for something to happen so that they could say, without saying, "I told you so."

Humans will have their own way of dealing with situations in space, but we don't know everything, and I'm glad to see this episode acknowledge that. And just as the Vulcans can help humanity, maybe our human characters can help our Vulcan character think outside her own box.

"Breaking the Ice" uses some routine story elements to bring these relevant issues to the surface where character development can begin to emerge.

Next week: Perhaps a lesson for why we need the Prime Directive?

Previous episode: The Andorian Incident
Next episode: Civilization

Like this site? Support it by buying Jammer a coffee.

◄ Season Index

40 comments on this post

Alexey Bogatiryov
Fri, Mar 27, 2009, 12:48am (UTC -6)
I felt that theme of building up Vulcans as interstellar "babysitter" was a nice and slow brewing storyline for the first season. I was very intrigued and found it very plausible!
Marco P.
Tue, Sep 7, 2010, 3:17am (UTC -6)
For once, an episode which does a few things wrong and many things *right*. The trend in the series so far, needless to say, has been quite the opposite. This is also the first episode since the pilot NOT written by Berman and Braga... coincidence?

I guess I'll start with the nitpicking, and get it out of the way.
• The Q/A session with the 4th-graders (in itself a good idea) could have been handled/filmed much better. It was long, some of the questions overly silly, and the scene could have benefited greatly by being montage'd with the comet drilling. Instead we get something mildly endearing, not particularly informative (we already knew about the universal translator), and frankly for the most part, boring.
• Archer's dinner with captain Vanik serves two purposes: underline the human distrust of Vulcans, as well as the Vulcan belief of superiority over humans. Alas, to my mind BOTH captains lose the verbal jousting: Vanik for his lack of edge and Archer for his lack of intelligence. I'm still on the fence whether these are intentional character traits, or further evidence of the script's flaws (probably the latter).
• Sci-fi facts: explosions in space make no noise (noise is the vibration of air, there is no air in vacuum), a comet would probably have very low gravity thus making Travis's and then subsequently the shuttle's fall very unlikely at that speed.

Other than that, I agree with Jammer. I didn't care about the mineral in the comet either, but rather how we got from point A (arrival) to point B (retrieval) through character interaction. The Vulcans were made a little bit one-dimensional, but I thought the T'Pol sublot was quite interesting (albeit the biggest of classics... who has never heard of an arranged marriage?). Of particular interest was the confidence she showed with Tucker, and I too am curious to see where this will lead in future episodes.
Sun, Apr 17, 2011, 5:48pm (UTC -6)
"maybe our human characters can help our Vulcan character think outside her own box."

*snickers at the double entendre in the context of her decision not to get married*

So far still nothing massively inspiring (had the episodes mixed up, haven't watched Andorian yet). It's a long way from the easy 4 stars some episodes of TNG and DS9 had. But it continues to be worth watching, at least as a Trek fan.

The Q&A was a good idea - answers some of those long standing questions people have in a way that makes sense. And next time anyone says their boots are s**t I guess they're right!

The tensions between the Humans and Vulcans, whilst sometimes a bit overdone (he was so rude at the dinner table) seem very believable. Compare it with a teenager or young adult trying to gain independence while the parents still want to keep an eye on them and sometimes seem to go out of their way to prove that the offspring isn't ready for it yet. They're far from enemies... it's just a bit of tough love.

Agreeable rating.
Tue, Oct 25, 2011, 11:08am (UTC -6)
I find it difficult to believe that an intellectually advanced race like the Vulcans would retain backward norms such as patriarchy, tribalism, cultural conformance. People have spent centuries trying to overthrow the shackles of physical and mental tyranny, and continue to do so worldwide, and yet, we are supposed to defer to arranged (a.k.a. forced) marriages of the Vulcans. I may be speaking from my Western perspective--how politically-incorrect of me--but personal freedom exercised responsibly vis-a-vis the enveloping society is, currently at any rate, the apex of communal achievement. I find it extremely difficult to accept that Vulcans would still cleave to such notions.

Then again, Star Trek has Klingons--who are routinely portrayed as too imbecilic, impulsive and obdurate to operate a tricycle--kicking ass across the quadrants, so I resign to accepting T'Pol's situation. And I'm sure her "situation" will give rise to many a merry moment of Dr. Phil-esque introspection in episodes to come.

Here endeth my lesson.
Paul York
Sat, May 12, 2012, 9:55pm (UTC -6)
Why are the two pioneers of Earth's space history -- Chocrane and later Archer - portrayed as uneducated, highly emotional, and impulsive? Archer's conversation with the Vulcan commander is embarrassing. Why not someone of learning and class, like Picard, who can talk the Vulcans on their own terms? OF course this portrayal makes it seem more realistic -- but humans must seem to be idiots to the Vulcans. On the old wooden boats it was customary for officers to be educated; apparently not in the 22nd century.
Paul York
Sat, May 12, 2012, 10:18pm (UTC -6)
My last comment was too harsh; I rescind it. Archer demonstrated that he can learn, that he is not arrogant. So did T'Pol (symbolized by the pecan pie at the end, representing her freedom to choose for herself, to opt out of an arranged marriage). I think the point of the episode is that the two cultures are learning from one another, that it is not a one-way exchange of knowledge from Vulcan to human. The humans are gaining their "space-feet" (to use a phrase from Scotty).
Wed, Aug 29, 2012, 6:11pm (UTC -6)
A comet with a diameter of 80 kilometers? Get out of the shuttle and jump to the surface. Don't jump too hard, you might drift away into space. No need to call in the Vulcans.

Why weren't Break-a-leg Mayweather and Reed secured to the ground to prevent them from drifting away in the first place? Is this comet a neutron-comet with Earth gravity on a 80 km ball of super dense ice? Not even science fiction, but unscientific bunkum.

Fro the rest: stupid Vulcans, stupid humans. This does not bode well for the future.
Tue, Feb 5, 2013, 12:57am (UTC -6)
Well, obviously, the plot is very forgettable, but the characters interactions are great. The first season is based on a commentary about prejudice, distrust, grudges and misconceptions. Here, we have a perfect example.

Some say Archer isn't intelligent and should be more of a diplomat. I agree to some degree. But I'd like to point out that vulcans (before finding their true philosophy) aren't the epitome of diplomacy, as depicted here by Vanik. He's, by humans standards, very rude and so is Archer by vulcan standards.

At this point, I agree with Jammer about Mayweather and I'm liking Trip a little more every episode: he's flawed and impulsive but honest with a great heart. On top of that, he's easily the best actor of the regular cast.
Sat, Mar 9, 2013, 8:28pm (UTC -6)
Doesn't this show have a technical advisor? Reed and Mayweather are walking around on this comet like it has earth-normal gravity. Then the shuttlepod tumbles into a crevice despite having thrusters that were running at the time. This is just too ridiculous. That little comet would have to have the same mass as Earth to have gravity that strong.

As for the plot itself it's rather thin. I understand the need to do a lot of character-driven stories early on but to do it against a backdrop of such bad science is in excusable.
Thu, Sep 26, 2013, 3:51pm (UTC -6)
I liked this one. Thin story, but as Jammer remarked, good character development.

I'm watching ENT with a Star Trek virgin and I always feel like defending the Vulcans. The way they are portrayed, makes me sad on Spock's behalf (I know, stupid, right?!). I also often feel compelled to utter things like "This NEVER would have happened under Kirk's command" or "Picard NEVER would act like that". But yeah... it's still Star Trek... and while the whole crew was pretty color- and lifeless initially, they are growing in their roles, especially Trip who's becoming my favorite character. This was also a good one for T'Pol.

As usual, suspension of disbelief required. I don't have much of a mind for science but even I wondered about gravity on the comet. Oh well. I write stories as a hobby and I know how hard it is to create thrilling or exciting stories and scenarios while keeping things "realistic". I mean, it's not like you can *really* travel through time in a slingshot around the sun, either, and that has happened a few times in Star Trek.

My problem with ENT is that I watch TOS and TNG at the same time (as a newbie, I'm currently doing a ST marathon) and a lot of times, it looks really bad in comparison. The only thing that might be better, may be the special effects. The stories, the acting, the chemistry among the characters - all so much better in TOS and TNG.
Sat, Nov 23, 2013, 11:28am (UTC -6)
I find the concept of pre-arranged marriages among Vulcans every bit as disqualifying to Federation membership as the Bajoran djarras that were flirted with would have been. Both strip away a person's free will to decide a fundamental aspect of their lives.

It certainly makes little sense that such a long standing tradition would suddenly be abandoned by the Vulcans after the Federation came into existence just because of that reason, but then it's safe to assume that Sarek's marriage to Amanda, a human, wasn't arranged in their childhood.
Fri, Dec 13, 2013, 3:41am (UTC -6)
I hated this episode when I first saw it. I found so many episodes of Enterprise S1 to be so underwhelming that I literally couldn't believe this was coming from the people who made Voyager, a show which I loved and which has attracted way more than its share of silly criticism (of course, some of the critique was indeed valid).

On my second and subsequent viewings, I found that this episode is a lot better than I first thought. I began to appreciate that this is a relaxed episode where we get to see the crew engaging in unprofessional behaviour - in other words, existing outside their job - and the snowman scene is very funny, especially Reed's immature chuckle when he sees it and his addition of large Vulcan ears.

The dinner scene is one of the best scenes in Trek IMO for its comedy value, even though I was as horrified as anyone else at this show's portrayal of arrogant, excessively formal (always a Vulcan problem), cold, aloof Vulcans. In retrospect, Manny Coto explained this by having the Vulcan command being effectively run by a Romulan or Romulan sympathiser - brilliant! Pity we didn't get this conclusion sooner, but at least the Vulcans were fixed.

Anyway, the dinner scene was funny, awkward and highly embarrassing, and Archer's mounting frustration was probably Bakula's best acting this season. (Not that his acting in S1 and S2 was anywhere approaching good - he seemed stilted, amateurish, with the charisma of a block of wood.) I love it when he snaps and says, "I'll trouble you with one last question. How long do you plan on spying on us?" which causes Tucker's amusing reaction.

The idea of putting crew members in peril was simply tacked on, and Archer's plea to the arrogant Vulcan captain for help seems to have had no lasting impact on anyone, but I really like this episode.
Mon, Oct 20, 2014, 2:02pm (UTC -6)
This episode showcases Enterprise's strengths. These strengths include dialogue, character interactions, subtle comic moments, cultural misunderstandings that are addressed without being perfectly resolved, an endearing open mindedness to scientific discovery, and a respectful awe of outer space. I'm a big fan of this series.

I see some commentators have criticized Archer's etiquette, or even his intelligence. I think it's interesting that everyone perceives intelligence differently. However, I have never thought of Archer as being unintelligent. On the contrary, I find him to be an exceedingly thoughtful and reasonable man. I also find his curiosity, his sincerity and his personal directness to be positive traits. Bakula does an excellent job in the role as well. I think he has good intentions in the dinner conversation with Captain Vanik. He made one comment at the very end out of exhaustion. This reaction was not prudent; however, he was frustrated that his every attempt to be polite had failed. Vanik was much more rude in his response. Yet, in the context of the show the dinner scene is enlightening rather than simply frustrating. I agree with those who think the scene is successful.

Lastly, the scene where we finally learn T'Pol's personal dilemma and we hear Tucker and T'Pol exchange cultural viewpoints is well done. The final scene with T'Pol and the pie is a nice touch as well.
Mon, Nov 3, 2014, 7:29am (UTC -6)
I disagree with most of the posters. I love Mayweather and the way he embodies the sense of wonder in exploration and discovery. he's my favorite character.

I was, however, very disappointed in the complete disregard shown for science. I mean, isn't this Star Trek?
Mon, May 18, 2015, 10:22am (UTC -6)
I'm watching Enterprise beginning to end again. When it was first on TV, I really did not like it. But I think Trek was kinda "tired" then and I probably didn't give it a fair shake.

As I watch Season 1 for the first time in years (on Blu Ray), I'd say the show is better than I remember it. It's not "great" Trek, certainly not in TNG / TOS levels of greatness, but it's OK. I think it's as good as Voyager and not totally out of DS9 qualities in some ways. I appreciate on second viewing that the show is more slow-paced, with more emphasis on character development. I also like that the crew - outside of the tension with T'Pol - gets along, which is one the most important, unique features of Star Trek. The rush to make "darker" Trek with more and more conflict - DS9 and to some extent Voyager - is way overdone IMO as Trek begins to lose its unique appeal to become just another action-TV series.

One thing I can definitely do without is the BLATANT gratuitous sexuality thrown into this series. The decontamination scenes are just totally out of place and nonsensical (as if you'd use a gel instead of just spraying something on or using something EM...not to mention the idea of privacy). I'm also tired of seeing Archer in various forms of undress (there's one scene where he's in skin-tight underwear where you can literally see the shape of his no thanks).

But overall, I think I can look through the failings to see a pretty decent, enjoyable show.
Diamond Dave
Tue, Mar 29, 2016, 8:23am (UTC -6)
Enterprise does Armageddon (of a sort). The comet stuff is again about as formulaic as it gets. But this does a little better in its coverage of relations with all things Vulcan. The T'Pol story is well handled, and the Vanik story perhaps even better. The dinner scene is indeed something of a minor classic as Archer's exasperation begins to scale upward.

Definitely one where characterisation trumps the action. 2.5 stars.
Thu, Jul 14, 2016, 9:09am (UTC -6)
I always enjoy this one.

Loved the snowman! .... and the metaphorical act of blowing it up.

Couple nit-pic's from me here:

#1. The gravity on the comet... come one man, can't we just about jump off the moon right? Huge miss here.... unless that substance was metallic and their boots were magnetic... but they never stated anything.

#2. I thought Trip took the "guilt thing" too far. Sure, it doesn't feel good, but it was T'Pol's fault. They had every right to be suspicious. Now I suppose another way to deal with it would be to show the encrypted unopened file to T'Pol....

I was watching this last night with my 13 year old and after hearing a bunch of Vanik's comments during dinner, he says "what's up with this guy" ... lol

I love T'Pol's conversation with Trip about the letter... " I have more letters in my quarters. Would you like to read those as well?" :-)

Great exchange in her quarters as well.

I also thought she was impressive with her recommendation to Archer when the grappler didn't work and the Ti-'Mur offered assistance.

"T'POL: Vanik expects you to refuse his offer. He sees humans as arrogant, prideful. Why not prove him wrong? You can save them, or you can let your pride stand in the way. You're human. You're free to choose."

I thought this whole episode intermingled well.

3.5 stars from me.

Hey, for a shitty series, it's starting off pretty well. Really only one maybe 2 below average efforts in the first 7 episodes? Not bad.
Sun, Jan 21, 2018, 7:37pm (UTC -6)
Since this is my first comment I will keep it short...More than any Star Trek
show I have watched so far, this one - I mean, this series - encourages me to
focus more on the wonders of space travel, and less on universal morality
themes. Sure, I think humanity needs to be careful of where it is going, but
but sloppy, emotional, impatient humanity is also what got us thinking about
the mysteries of the universe. The wonder of the Enterprise crew as they
encountered the comet was priceless: yes, what is out THERE is truly
amazing. Let's never forget that.

Fri, Apr 27, 2018, 7:06pm (UTC -6)
Appropriate title for an episode all about characters and their intriguing/amusing interactions -- the comet exploration just catalyzes the Vulcan/human dynamic at this stage and I really liked how Vanik was portrayed for its effect on Archer. Loved Vanik's line at the end: "Is there anything else we can help you with?" The dinner scene was hilarious. I must say I'm somewhat surprised Enterprise doesn't have tractor beams and uses a grappler. If it has a transporter and warp 5 capability, shouldn't a tractor beam have been easier to come up with?

Thought this was a pretty well written, intelligent show that made it clear that the actors/characters could come up with something worthwhile even with a minimal plot.

Good episode for T'Pol I'd say -- although by the end of it I had enough of her stares. But one of the good character interactions was when she requests Trip to come to her room and they contrast the human individuality with Vulcan traditionalism. It becomes clear that Trip/T'Pol will have some kind of ongoing kinship.

Having lived under the Vulcan handholding for decades, I guess Archer understands why the Vulcans are observing his activities and can't exactly tell them to eff off.

I can't see why the Vulcans would bother with this observing business, however, as they're not interested in comets. What exactly were the Vulcans hoping to learn about the Enterprise??

Have to say the scene with answering letters from the kids on Earth dragged a bit for me -- but it didn't feel totally out of place in this episode. It's the 8th episode and maybe there are some details that the show wants to provide and the scene was in keeping with this mildly comical episode which is mainly about characters and their personalities. And that's fine.

Reed and Mayweather screwing around on the comet was another way of showcasing the difference in the 2 characters. Mayweather has that youthful eagerness and Reed is all business.

Nearly good enough for 3 stars but I'd rate this a high 2.5 stars. Thought it was an interesting episode although not a standout by any means -- just intriguing/awkward situations that give context to people's situations. Too bad ENT didn't have more episodes like this instead of mindless action-oriented ones.
Peter Swinkels
Thu, Jun 14, 2018, 4:12pm (UTC -6)
1. The snowman especially it having Vulcan ears was childish, but on the other hand it was funny, fitting and two people (one of which has rarely seen snow) having fun. And Archer did sort of berate them for it.
2. To any one complaining about the questions in the Q&A: none of the questions was irrelevant or overly silly. They came from children, the questions are of the same level as the drawings during the episode’s opening. And laugh all you like but dealing wih humsn waste is a relevant issue. At the moment this is something being researched (ISS) if I am not mistaken.
3. If the Vulcans seem overly backwards in this series compared to Spock, don’t forget that is 100 years before TOS. Also Spock was half human. Oh and if I am not mistaken there was a lot of complaining about Tuvok (VOY, 200 years later) Perhaps Spock was an unusual Vulcan?
Peter Swinkels
Thu, Jun 14, 2018, 4:13pm (UTC -6)
Sun, Aug 26, 2018, 11:43am (UTC -6)
Regarding the criticism of Bakula’s portrayal of Archer. I don’t particularly have a problem with it. I have no idea if the fact that Archer comes across as overly informal, slightly petulant and pretty unprofessional in S1 (mostly from memory - I’m rewatching for the first time in years and am only up to this episode) is by design or due to writing inconsistency or poor acting choices. Either way I’m fine with it because it makes perfect sense that the first Starfleet captain in space doesn’t have the polish of Picard, force of will of Janeway or streetwise nous of Kirk and is by comparison, a little bit incompetent. He is also of course hampered by his racism (this clearly is an intentionally written aspect of the character) which nearly gets Reed and Mayweather killed here.

Having said that, I’ve only ever seen Bakula in this and Quantum Leap, which I absolutely loved as a kid (and as an aside, the last episode of that show remains an out and out classic of the TV sci-fi genre). It strikes me that Scott Bakula is basically good at playing Scott Bakula - Archer basically comes across as Sam Beckett minus some of the bumbling and this may have hurt the portrayal of the character slightly.
JJ Not Abrams 8-)
Wed, Oct 3, 2018, 10:08pm (UTC -6)
Surprisingly, no one else mentions that Vannik and company are NOT there to observe the earthlings
... instead they have been sent to pick up T'Pol and ferry her to her wedding.

My evidence:

The secret message

Vulcans never lie (Vannik says they are not spying)

Vannik is annoyed at being a Limo driver after 75 years of service and 15 years as Captain of a starship
Sun, Nov 25, 2018, 3:59pm (UTC -6)
JJ Not Abrams,

I think you're right, but note your "Vulcans never lie" thing is very obsolete - they have done so repeatedly in this series and Voyager... yes, with justifications, but such that nobody in their right mind would trust a Vulcan purely on this myth.

"We don't lie... unless it's important for security, or espionage, or... for all you know, other reasons". In other words, they lie, TNG statements to the contrary having been killed like so much other continuity by B&B.

Fifteen years after the series, and five years after NoPoet made his spoiling comment, but I still would ask people not to drop spoilers without some sort of forewarning... I'm watching Enterprise for the first time, and appreciate Jammer's reviews for being scrupulously spoiler-free. Most of the comments have always been, too. Even just a hint that you're going into future episodes would help innocents like myself skip or stop reading!
Mon, Jul 20, 2020, 6:41am (UTC -6)
First comment on an episode of ENT. So far I've found this show more enjoyable than Voyager - which is the Trek series I've bounced off hardest. In general, I feel ENT benefits from having a different feel and focus to the three 90s series, while sharing some of their major weaknesses, ie. stiff action scenes and a tendency toward rushed, anticlimactic endings.

The frosty relationship between humans and vulcans is rather overplayed, but it does result in some interesting scenes. What struck me in this episode was Trip's remark that humans are free to make their own decisions. I think that line hits on a major theme that runs through much of Star Trek, which is the tension between the individual and their duty, between - effectively - freedom and society.

One poster remarked above how it seemed wrong that Vulcans should have arranged marriages and other 'backward' social norms because they're 'intellectually advanced'. But the Vulcans have always been portrayed as a rigid society - the adherence to their particular idea of 'logic' is far more constraining than most of the rituals and conventions portrayed in this show. If individual members valued practicality over social convention, they would learn to project a certain degree of emotion in order to be better diplomats. The fact that they don't has always seemed to me more of a marker of a kind of religious fealty than is displayed by, say, the Bajorans. 'Logic' is intoned exactly as one intones the name of a deity - the word starts to lose its normal meaning because of the sense of reverence around it.

(As a sidenote, it irritates me that no one every points out to the Vulcans that logic cannot exist except as a method of reaching a goal, and the goal has to be decided by some sort of impulse, even if it's simply the intinct to stay alive. Maybe that conversation is had in TOS, which I haven't seen a lot of).

But then, most races in Star Trek are fairly rigid, because of the shows' need to introduce and summarise them briefly at the start of individual episodes. Even humans - who are usually shows in contrast to the conformism of other races - are portrayed mostly through the prism of Starfleet, a strict elitist organisation. Much of the conflict then ensues from individuals acting out of line with the protocols of their civilisations.

ENT puts an interesting spin on this dynamic by trying to show Starfleet itself, in its younger incarnation and as represented by Archer, as individualistic and impulsive. It's inevitable that that comes across as antisocial - a 'free society' is really a paradox. To the extent we are individuals, we are antisocial, and to the extent we are socially conforming, we are anti-individual.
Jason R.
Mon, Jul 20, 2020, 8:46am (UTC -6)
"One poster remarked above how it seemed wrong that Vulcans should have arranged marriages and other 'backward' social norms because they're 'intellectually advanced'."

I never understood this particular objection myself. The main reason one would insist on choosing one's own mate rather than having it arranged by your elders is due to chemistry, love, compatibility and other emotional vagaries that have very little sway in a rigidly emotionless, logical society.

If love doesn't enter into it, why wouldn't a young person defer to his wiser more experienced elders? Arranged marriage sounds perfectly logical to me given what we know about Vulcan society.

Of course I'm not sure how that works into the whole Pon'Far thing (I guess you fight over whatever candidates your family deems acceptable?) but no one ever said Trek was always consistent.
Peter G.
Mon, Jul 20, 2020, 10:19am (UTC -6)
@ Jason R,

Heck, we can go even further than that. If attraction is based on things like pheromones, DNA markers, biochemistry, and other such things (as data seems to suggest) then it makes complete sense that Vulcans would 'have it down to a science'. With enough data it might be completely doable to predict based on behavioral and biochemical data which person is a good match for you. And if experts can do that better that you can, you'd be most pleased for the harsh difficulties of the dating game to be taken away. So forget Vulcans, I bet you the vast majority of *humans* would opt in for matchmaking if the result was a better matched partner than they could find themselves. For a logical people it would be a no-brainer.
Sean J Hagins
Sat, Nov 21, 2020, 6:45am (UTC -6)
I don't have a problem with the arranged marriages either. Especially since they are not forced to abide by them (as T'Pol WAS able to get out of hers)

I also do not understand why everyone is bashing on Archer. I actually think his personality is a natural progression (regression). I mean Kirk is 100 years or so before Picard, and he is a lot more implusive and "immature", and Archer is even 100 years before that! The lack of protocols and the overall feeling of "winging it" makes a lot more sense as well since there is no Federation, and humans seem to just be at the cusp of interstellar exploration (an admiral in the opener said they were just ankle deep in the ocean of space)-this very much seems that way

The Vulcans ARE arrogant-they have dealt with other emotional species already (like the Andorians, and Tellerites), so they should know the reaction that would ensue from "peeking over the shoulder" of the Enterprise, but they just don't seem to care.

Yes, I know the gravity on the comet is wrong, as is the sound of the explosion and the ice breaking, but it's science FICTION! I take it all with a grain of salt! It is so odd to me that some nitpick this, but have no problem with the concept of Vulcans/Romulans/Klingons, and whatever alien you insert! It's all fantasy and just a simple enjoyment

I love the visual of the comet! It's so cool to see the beauty of God's creations-even something as "simple" as a floating ice ball!

I also think that as the series goes on, we will see Archer (and the rest of the crew) mature and grow, and also see T'Pol realise that humans are all right after all!
Frake's Nightmare
Fri, Jan 22, 2021, 1:36pm (UTC -6)
It just doesn't get any better does it ? The humans are stupid and full of themselves; the vulcans are arrogant and hostile. How the hell did they get from this to the relationship in the future ? They currently seem more likely to form a federation with the Klingons. Stupid and infuriating, just like the 'characters', plots, dialogue and any other aspect you can mention.
Every time I watch this I can see why DS9 is so revered!
Mon, Jan 25, 2021, 4:15pm (UTC -6)
Frake's Nightmare said: "It just doesn't get any better does it ? The humans are stupid and full of themselves; the vulcans are arrogant and hostile. How the hell did they get from this to the relationship in the future ?"

I think that's the whole point of the episode, right? The Vulcans are supercilious but they do have legitimate reasons to doubt that humanity is ready to jump into the deep end of the pool. The humans resent the Vulcan's smug attitudes to the point that they almost let their pride endanger their own crew.

T'Pol know her people and she's beginning to understand humans. She points out that Archer is letting his pride overcome his reason. He put's his pride aside, saves his crewmen, and proves the Vulcan's wrong. Both sides learn something about the other.

The ice is beginning to break, so to speak.
Frake's Nightmare
Sun, Apr 4, 2021, 4:54pm (UTC -6)
I think that really it's just poor writing that we as viewers attempt to integrate into something coherent that makes sense. I have now watched into series 3 and essentially it stays the same. If you just mindwipe any memories of star trek verse then you'll be okay.
SS Elim
Mon, Apr 12, 2021, 11:20pm (UTC -6)
A poop question, sir?
Mon, Apr 19, 2021, 6:53pm (UTC -6)
This episode highlights the inadequacy of early Archer. When his crewmen were in peril, he hesitated to call the Vulcans for help, and it needed T'Pol to convince him.

Archer actually considered risking the lives of his crewmen rather than swallowing his pride. At this point, he is clearly not fit for command.

If the best mankind has for commanding their best ship is someone as irresponsible as this, well then even ENT's obstacle Vulcans were right.
Tue, Mar 22, 2022, 12:00am (UTC -6)
I do think the title is clever. On the surface it's about the comet, but truthfully "Breaking the Ice" refers to the breaking of the ice between T'Pol and the crew/humans and Vulcans. I also really liked the Q&A scene toward the beginning, that was my favorite part of the episode. I generally disagree with the hatred for Archer as a captain, but in this episode I have to agree. From his childish behavior at the dinner, to him initially refusing the help in the moment of crisis...its hard not to understand the criticism he gets.

Overall though I was bored during this episode, I just don't see what most others seemed to enjoy about it. A 1 star in my book.
Mon, May 9, 2022, 8:00pm (UTC -6)
Shanshot Tulara Komosh... Vanik's departing shot to T'Pol.

Very interesting to read the comments as people react to the blog post and each other's POV. For myself, re-watching the STE these past few weeks has been both a joy and a chore. These opening 8 episodes are both compelling and baffling. After 'Broken Bow' one could question every episode from a bunch of angles- placement, plot, character development, resolution, consequences. So many poor decisions were made when B&B put the series together that it's actually all the more fascinating watching it again. What were they thinking?
I loved Scott Bakula in Quantum Leap. He combined affability and charm with empathy and compassion. Just immensely likable. Maybe it's because I am older and more clear-eyed, but on STE I find him immature and arrogant; impetuous and above all careless. This is the 3rd episode - 3, 4 and this one his decisions put the ship and/or its' crew in danger. P00
Tue, Jul 12, 2022, 10:21pm (UTC -6)
First time watching Enterprise. Had to do so despite the fact that it appears to be so widely loathed. Call me a glutton for punishment. has undeniably been a choppy ride. The first episodes emitted a dose of hokey machismo so extreme that I was just embarrassed. The cultural sensitivity vibe was something like: 'see that baby gerbil on the floor...On Earth my mammy taught me to just stomp it with my boot." Compare the early Luke Skywalker and his approach to womprats.

I'll admits that the show has gotten progressively more ok. I will say that having seen the Andorians, to use Kirk-speak "beat the tar out of" Archer in the last episode, I began to have more hope of sentience descending into his brain tissue eventually. Now, though, he is at best uneven. Nonethless, I did like the character-building scene where he did the Q & A with the kids on Earth...not exciting but it had humor.

However, often he strikes me as just nuts. Why isn't there a 'cosmological phenomena prime directive' or something to keep this guy from screwing around with that poor comet? Test it? Sure, fine, but what does he do? He allows a charge to be set off on the thing that changes its entire course! This not only endangers his own men, but will also clearly have implications over time since the heavenly body will now intersect completely different star groups over the next few millennia. Even the oh so superior Vulcans do nothing to stop him. First I thought they might step in, but no such luck.

"See that ancient comet over there? On Earth my mammy taught me to just stomp it with my boot."
Wed, Jul 13, 2022, 9:03am (UTC -6)
Oh, no - not MACHISMO!

If it makes you feel any better that comet was probably racist. Everything else is.
Wed, Jul 13, 2022, 9:42am (UTC -6)
The womprats clearly were.
Thu, Jul 21, 2022, 4:10am (UTC -6)
Rewatching this, I actually felt considerably different about Vanik, at least in the first half of that dinner. The guy is not a diplomat, he didn't ask to come over and talk over food, he doesn't even want to be shadowing them in the first place, and he does at least attempt to play ball a little and volunteer personal information as soon as T'Pol clarifies for him that what is clearly an incredibly offensive ask (judging by the face, lol) is in fact normal for (some) humans.

He's certainly not making much more effort than that to be gracious, but I remember thinking he was awful when I first watched this and I'm not really seeing it now.

Please, don't.
Thu, Jul 21, 2022, 12:37pm (UTC -6)
GFY, buddy.

Submit a comment

I agree to the terms of use

◄ Season Index

▲Top of Page | Menu | Copyright © 1994-2023 Jamahl Epsicokhan. All rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication or distribution of any content is prohibited. This site is an independent publication and is not affiliated with or authorized by any entity or company referenced herein. Terms of use.