Star Trek: Enterprise
Air date: 11/6/2002
Written by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga
Directed by David Livingston
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
"I'm not certain what this means, but the admiral asked me to inform you that, 'Cal beat Stanford 7 to 3.'"
"I'll be sure to tell him."
"Um, I'm afraid it's ... confidential."
— Conversation between perplexed Vulcan captain and Enterprise Acting Captain Trip Tucker
In brief: Some anomalies, but reasonably engrossing and well acted overall.
Deep in the recesses of T'Pol's mind lies a dormant, repressed memory of a disturbing and volatile nature. T'Pol doesn't know it's there, but it's there nonetheless, and in the course of "The Seventh," it will grab her, shake her, and leave her reeling.
Seventeen years ago, she was an operative for the Vulcan Ministry of Security. She was specifically trained for an assignment to track down and capture seven Vulcan fugitives — undercover agents who were accused of joining the corruption of a world government they were supposed to be investigating. (T'Pol remembers tracking only six of the seven fugitives, but therein lies the mysterious crux of the issue.) While on her mission, something happened, and the last of her targets, a surgically altered Vulcan named Menos (the always reliable Bruce Davison) escaped, never to be heard from again ... or rather, until 17 years later.
T'Pol receives a message from the Vulcan High Command telling her that Menos has been spotted on a remote world near Enterprise's current position, and that he's smuggling synthetic biotoxins that can be used for weapons. T'Pol is dispatched on a secret mission to finish the job she started 17 years ago. Only Archer and Mayweather, who accompany her in a shuttlepod, know the details of the mission. Trip is left in command of the Enterprise, which is idled in orbit of a planet elsewhere in the solar system.
"The Seventh" is clearly in the spirit of what on Voyager I called the "Borg psychological thriller." Those episodes — "The Raven," "One," "Infinite Regress," "The Voyager Conspiracy" — were about what happened as a result of a situation colliding head-on with the unique properties of Seven of Nine's Borgified brain. Those shows usually had Seven deeply troubled or going berserk over something that mainly existed in her mind. Now, with "The Seventh," we have a similar situation in T'Pol's head, a result of unique Vulcan mental disciplines inappropriately applied.
Jolene Blalock, whom I've criticized lately, turns in one of her best performances to date in "The Seventh." Blalock, I suspect, just doesn't have the "Vulcan thing" down to my satisfaction; something about it sometimes feels stilted and forced. I also suspect the writing for T'Pol often lacks a certain spark. But given an opportunity to show the cracks in her disciplined Vulcan control, Blalock — and the writing for her character — becomes much more engaging. You can put me in the camp that argues in favor of more emotional issues for T'Pol to deal with; I'm less interested in the monotone routine.
Coming off the heels of the puerile "Night in Sickbay" and boring test-pattern-like "Marauders," "The Seventh" is a pleasant relief that returns to the characters and tells a good, solid story. Menos, when we encounter him, is a character we respond to: We're not sure whether he's telling the truth or inventing self-serving lies, but we're involved either way. He says he's not a smuggler as the Vulcan government claims, but merely a target of a probe that wants all their former agents recalled at any cost. Bruce Davison is a perfect choice for this sort of role, because he's an actor who is equally believable as an innocent victim or a play-acting villain. He effectively wins our sympathy even as we're wondering how much of Menos' story is fabricated.
Going head-to-head with Menos is T'Pol, whose repressed memory is a ticking time bomb to an emotional meltdown. Without overreaching, Blalock is able to suggest a percolating emotional volatility beneath the surface that T'Pol is trying with all her might to suppress, with little success. She regards Menos with an icy glare of contempt that Blalock excels in selling, and as her repressed memory creeps its way into her conscious mind, T'Pol seems vulnerable and on the verge of a breakdown. The performance is right on the mark, and I believed it.
The repressed memory involves another of T'Pol's mission targets, Menos' partner Jossen, whom she killed when he drew a weapon on her. Unable to cope with having taken a life, T'Pol underwent an obsolete Vulcan mental ritual to repress the memory of the killing along with her emotions of it. Tracking Menos now has brought the repressed memory back to her consciousness. The episode uses briefly inserted flashback images — jarring and visually effective — to hint at and ultimately play out for the audience the 17-year-old incident involving Jossen's death.
Menos, observant and opportunistic, tries to use T'Pol's obviously emerging weakness to his advantage, playing upon her guilt. He paints Jossen as an innocent wrongly accused by the Vulcans and dead at T'Pol's hands because of it. Menos pleads his case by saying he doesn't want to be doomed to walk the same path. Some initial evidence suggests that perhaps Menos is even telling the truth, which sends T'Pol into a whirlpool of self-doubt involving her past and present actions. But as Archer notes, the Vulcans sent T'Pol on this mission to capture Menos, not determine his guilt or innocence.
I liked the dynamic between Archer and T'Pol; it's right where it should be — featuring a bond of growing trust, respect, and friendship between the captain and first officer. When T'Pol is thrown into chaos by the psychological turmoil, Archer is there to help guide her in the right direction. Indeed, it's a downright shame that "A Night in Sickbay" had to play moronic games involving "sexual tension" and hint at a romantic subtext, because I found myself waiting here for the other shoe to drop. Thankfully, it never does; such subtexts are nowhere to be seen. Sanity has apparently prevailed.
As a production, there's plenty to recommend in "The Seventh." The station where all this takes place — essentially a truck stop for starships — is set on a snowy alien world that provides some appealing visual flair. The station's tavern has a wooden motif that gives the episode a sort of Western-wilderness atmosphere that is refreshingly non-Trek. I also liked the fiery action sequence when Menos sets the tavern ablaze.
Of course, there are some details I found a little bit perplexing, like the whole need for all the Vulcan cloak-and-dagger secrecy. T'Pol brings Archer and Mayweather into this plot reluctantly, while the rest of the crew is left completely in the dark. This is presumably because the Vulcans don't want to broadcast their role in infiltrating off-world government corruption, but I didn't quite understand why Archer couldn't give Trip so much as a hint about this mission since, as Trip points out, details would be useful in the event of an emergency.
Also, showing Trip in command proves to be a bit of a mixed bag. It's played for some light, understated comedy that's fairly amiable, but from what we're shown, Trip is indecisive to a fault, forever telling people, "I'll get back to you." It doesn't speak well for his leadership abilities that he can't give anyone a straight answer so they can do their jobs. Considering he's in command of engineering and third-in-command on the ship, I find it a little hard to swallow that this is how he would actually approach command, whether the ship is in an idle situation or not.
And then, of course, I must again point out this series' tendency to treat Mayweather as a cipher, even when he's in the middle of the story's action. Archer orders him around with little in terms of respect (such lines as "Get back over there" and "Go back to the cockpit, Travis" are delivered surprisingly coldly). Also, many scenes are shot as if consciously trying to minimize Mayweather's presence in the frame, as if he's not worth the camera's attention. It's downright odd. What gives?
I also wonder about the notion of the trained Vulcan elite in the Ministry of Security who are yet somehow unable to cope with the prospect they may have to take a life in the course of their duty. (And if it's such a problem, why didn't T'Pol use the stun setting when firing on Jossen? After all, she uses the stun setting to capture Menos here.)
Despite these qualms, I liked the net result. As a show where T'Pol is going up against her own psychological terror as well as Menos' scheming, "The Seventh" gets the job done. A final scene suggests that T'Pol will be deeply affected by reacquiring the repressed memories; she looks as if she's just been whacked with a sledgehammer. Blalock shows that she may be more interesting to watch when playing a character facing internal conflict in regard to her emotions than one who has everything under precise, Vulcan-like control.
Given that, I certainly wouldn't mind seeing the troubled side of our resident Vulcan surfacing more often.
Next week: Our newest Trekkian cast does their rendition of "A Piece of the Action."
Previous episode: Marauders
Next episode: The Communicator
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45 comments on this post
Thu, Jan 24, 2008, 3:11pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Feb 21, 2008, 4:08pm (UTC -5)
I'm also not a fan of fictional characters being unwilling to shoot people. Archer asks "What are you doing" as Menos goes for the trap door on his ship... if you were a real cop, I would hope you'd have shot him BEFORE he pulled the lever that could just as well have been a weapon or trap. Especially if you have the benefit of a stun setting.
Wed, Nov 18, 2009, 3:32pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Sep 24, 2010, 4:24pm (UTC -5)
As for Mayweather, I think more and more the producers realized that the dude they hired to play him SUCKS. His acting is some of the worst in Trek. For example, the inane scene where he's talking to Phlox about his sports injury in "Stigma" is acting on par with my High School's production of The Music Man. So maybe they really just started trying to limit his screen time. They should have just left him to be a biological microchip in that automated space station.
Tue, Nov 9, 2010, 3:16am (UTC -5)
Guilt like her comes from executing innocent people in the heat or war, or gunning down children in Vietnam. And even then it's only some people who feel it. The reality is that most just move on. Most are just glad to be alive.
T'Pol would not feel guilt for firing on a man who was potentially drawing a weapon. For goodness sake, she was a trained elite security agent. Does the Vulcan CIA pick people who can't follow orders or are vulnerable to inner doubts?
But I guess they wanted to develop the Archer-T'Pol bond.
Tue, Mar 15, 2011, 8:54pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Oct 18, 2011, 12:29pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Aug 2, 2012, 2:05am (UTC -5)
Neither here nor there, this episode exemplified all that was wrong with Voyager and Enterprise...stagnation and the inability to take risks in storytelling (DS9 was very adept taking risks). I saw a lot that could have come from The Seventh but was unfortunately handed yet another slice of promising premise pizza with average fare topping.
Corny allusions aside, I would still rate this as three star. If only for the acting and the premise. But I still somehow feel disappointed.
Tue, Sep 11, 2012, 12:39pm (UTC -5)
Wouldn't it have been more meaningful if the guy she was chasing was telling the truth the whole time? It would have reinforced what they've been setting up with Vulcans being so imperfect and devious (remember the spy array hidden in a temple)? It would have made a much better story if her memories were repressed because she discovered the truth about the fugitives and killed an innocent man at the order of the Vulcan High Command. But no. The monkeys writing this show wouldn't know a plot twist, even a simple one like that, if it bit them in the rear.
Tue, Nov 13, 2012, 5:49pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Nov 15, 2012, 12:00pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Dec 11, 2012, 9:15am (UTC -5)
Berman/Braga trying to do Behr/Moore and failing miserably.
Wed, Feb 13, 2013, 8:39am (UTC -5)
And although I liked the actor who played Menos and i thought his performance was effective at keeping us guessing, there was nothing at all about him or his performance that said "Vulcan".
Thu, Nov 6, 2014, 7:59pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Nov 8, 2014, 3:28am (UTC -5)
To some posters above: I think it is understandable that someone in law enforcement might feel guilt for killing someone, even if it was justified. Anyway, T'Pol did not remain in law enforcement; maybe some Vulcans would not have been as bothered by the incident as T'Pol was, but she left enforcement anyway.
By the way, I think bar scenes with lots of aliens are inherently good.
The bar scenereminded me of Star wars. It's always fun to see sass the obby characcer.
Sat, Nov 8, 2014, 3:31am (UTC -5)
I wrote gibberish instead because I'm falling asleep. Ha!
Fri, Jan 9, 2015, 3:58pm (UTC -5)
So, it turns out that Davison's character really is the bad guy that the Vulcan High Command made him out to be! Whew...so it's OK we stunned him and hunted him down, despite his claims that he has a family. It really felt like the show had an opportunity to go for some shadings of gray and instead went for the "our characters are always right" thing. I can't help but wonder how this might have been more nuanced if it were done on DS9 where characters are allowed a bit more shading.
Wed, Feb 4, 2015, 5:36pm (UTC -5)
And Menos supposed to be Vulcan? He was more emotional than the humans on the show. Certainly moreso than Mayweather ever has been!
The episode was rather 'meh' to me.
Fri, Mar 13, 2015, 9:17pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Mar 28, 2015, 9:36pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Apr 10, 2015, 2:12am (UTC -5)
Tue, Apr 12, 2016, 12:59pm (UTC -5)
I did think it was a bit of a cop out to nail Menos as a bad guy at the end, as the ambiguity actually makes for a stronger story in my view, but as a character piece this was pretty well done.
In other news, Trip clearly isn't cut out for command and the light relief was amusing. 3 stars.
Thu, Jun 9, 2016, 6:05pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Jul 21, 2016, 9:48am (UTC -5)
Interesting, I never questioned why killing Jossen affected her so deeply. This newly-trained operative mistakenly had her phasor set to kill. That was her mistake. While they didn't, and probably should have, specifically told us, it's the only plausible explanation - why else would she feel guilty? I guess you can come up with all kinds of faults if you're set on degrading Enterprise.
People have an issue with how Archer spoke to Travis? Really? ... lol ... I guess he should have said "please". I do think they could have given him some more screen time. Travis plays the bad-ass pretty well. But the truth of it is, Anthony hasn't really excelled with the opportunities he's been given. I like him, but he's not the greatest actor in emotional situations.
I don't make such a big thing about the acid on the landing zone. T'Pol wrapped her feet and I take the 4-hours "stay off" time as the usual extreme safety over reaction.
Couple issues that caught my attention when watching this.
1) No fire extinguishers in a bar/restaurant containing fire pits?
2) Archer's line when T'Pol has Menos in her sights at the end.
"ARCHER: Why did you want me here?
T'POL: Because I trust you.
ARCHER: Then trust me. You were sent to apprehend him, not to judge him."
The Enterprise writers do this a lot during the series WRT Archer. He didn't need to ask her here, he just needed to remind her what her job was. Let the scene speak for itself, they don't need to paint it in crayon.
3) Trip's conduct on the Bridge as "acting Captain". Lord, he just did a great job during 'Cease Fire', just why does he regress here?
I like the ending scene in Archer's cabin as well. Archer learning about T'Pol's struggle with emotions and the growing trust between these two. As I've said before, I enjoy the Archer/T'Pol relationship.
3.5 stars from me.
Thu, Jul 21, 2016, 11:19am (UTC -5)
Chalk this one up to trying to be funny I guess.
Sun, Jan 1, 2017, 3:35pm (UTC -5)
My Jammer really must have taken this on board paragraph after paragraph of writing just a few sentences for TOS and TNG episodes.
Anyway I liked this episode first time around and even more the second.
If only all Enterprise was like this it would command respect and 7 seasons.
I like T'Pol able to face emotional upheaval with strength and resolution just like Spock & Tuvak did.
Unfortunately season 3 onwards she is reduced to a sort of insipid unsure weak women just like Berman & Braga feel comfortable with.
Tue, Jan 17, 2017, 7:38pm (UTC -5)
My chief complaint was the revelation at the end about Menos. I think it would have made for a stronger episode if he had been innocent -- or at least reformed. It felt like the writers were afraid to commit to the idea of Vulcan security being wrong, even though they wanted to go there. 3 stars from me on this one, overall.
Mon, May 1, 2017, 2:30pm (UTC -5)
I liked the trust bond between Archer and T'Pol and the captain's last line about apprehending Menos and not passing judgment. That and T'Pol's acting are the strong parts of this episode.
Menos' character was also well done - one had doubts about his innocence or guilt but he came across as nothing like a Vulcan.
I agree with @Heath about how the writers could have made the story much stronger.
For me, 2.5/4 stars.
Sun, May 28, 2017, 1:08pm (UTC -5)
Also baffling: that this type of incident would affect a highly trained Vulcan agent to the point of requiring brainwashing, or that Vulcan High Command would re-assign her to this mission years later. I appreciate Blalock's acting, but this plot made very little sense to me. And I don't think Menos did a good job of coming across as sympathetic upon capture. He launched into his "poor me, I have a family" act a bit too eagerly. At no point did I get the sense that this is a Vulcan who chose to abandon his culture. It would have been nice to see some remnants of Vulcan coolness.
I did enjoy the last scene with T'Pol and Archer-- I far prefer that dynamic to the "mutual attraction" drek from A Night in Sickbay.
Tue, Feb 27, 2018, 6:56pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Jun 17, 2018, 5:18pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Jun 18, 2018, 6:08pm (UTC -5)
What? From someone that didn't even comment on this episode?
Sun, Jul 1, 2018, 7:04am (UTC -5)
Sun, Dec 30, 2018, 12:25pm (UTC -5)
Archer asks why T'Pol is the one chosen to track down the fugitive, and she replies it's a matter of honour. Archer: "How very Vulcan". Umm... no? How absolutely un-Vulcan, in fact. The logical thing to do is use your assets without concern about such trivialities. At least, that's how pre-Enterprise Vulcans would have viewed it. Maybe Vulcans are hedging their bets and keeping the doors to Stovokor open?
And Mayweather: aside from stealing the actor's opportunity for a scene (suddenly he has the fugitive at gunpoint, couldn't we have seen three seconds of Travis action leading to that point?), the bit aboard the little freighter was the perfect time to call back to Travis' past. "Captain, there's something... odd about this hold. I've crawled all over old T-37s, and..." or something about knowing a little about smuggler's tricks - every Boomer surely knows one or two things about hiding things from inspection. His notice of the console oddity was nice, but not character-specific.
Though I agree, they're probably just minimizing the actor's front-and-centre time.
Thu, Aug 1, 2019, 6:16pm (UTC -5)
Vulcans aren't emotionless, they're probably the most intensely emotional humanoids around. They learn to suppress and control their emotions because they're essentially useless otherwise. Think, perhaps, of Picard's breakdown in Sarek - the vulcan emotions totally overwhelm a human who is usually in great control of himself. The kind of meditation, memory suppression, etc. seem exactly like vulcans as we've known then. Field of Fire also comes to mind on that front.
Sat, Apr 11, 2020, 1:01pm (UTC -5)
But I strongly agree with the comments regarding the awful treatment of Travis here. I really hate to say this, but it almost looked like a cop drama from the early 1960’s where the black characters are just there to be ordered around. I mean, Travis was the one who first brought Menos down - by himself - and not a moment of air showing how, nor a word of acknowledgement from Archer. Would it have killed Archer to say “Great Job Travis!” And when T’Pol first asked Archer to go along as backup, after it was already clear Travis would be with her, I kept noticing they seem to forgotten she already HAD backup, there already WAS someone going with her. Plus, just as Jammer mentions, the framing almost seems to deliberately minimize or altogether exclude Montgomery for much of the run time. I get it...it's about Archer bonding with T’Pol. But treating Mayweather like, at best, a disposable employee, felt uncomfortably like somebody wanted the “help put in their place”. Ung.
As for Menos not coming across as Vulcan, remember, he asks Archer (and Mayweather - at least SOMEONE noticed he was there) if they are human. Why? Maybe he was calculating a strategy. He’d probably be aware of human resentments and suspicions regarding Vulcans, and since subterfuge was, at that point, his best chance of escape, he read the circumstances and behaved in such a way as would be most likely to elicit human sympathy. Probably the smartest play he had at that point. If so, Davison pulls it off with typical skill.
Finally, though, the comments regarding T’Pol’s guilt around apparently killing Jossen being difficult to accept seem, for me, almost bizarre.
Gary and Brian had great points, which I second. I would add, though, that whether or not T’Pol acted in self-defense, her deep sense of guilt is PERFECTLY understandable. It’s almost irrelevant that she was a “trained security officer” as many comments said. Taking a life, in war, in self-defense, by accident...whatever....is among the most abhorrent, most consequential, most grotesque acts imaginable. It’s a damn shame we can do it at all. Certainly, it has - essentially always - enormous consequences. For one thing, you've just ended someone else's entire existence. That is, or damned well should be, something that turns your world up side down. And that's to say nothing of everyone else who cared about or depended on that person, all of whose lives you've just violently forced into what can be terrible pain, loss, grief, despair....etc. I don't get people who “don't buy” her guilt. I don't understand why anyone WOULDN'T feel that way. And, as Brian said, Vulcan emotions are even stronger than ours...it was actually a great idea to show how one Vulcan tried to cope with such a powerful emotional experience.
Sat, Apr 11, 2020, 1:54pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Nov 28, 2020, 7:58pm (UTC -5)
As far as everyone here, I wonder how callous people are! Everyone is questioning why T'Pol felt guilty-she KILLED someone! Do you guys think it is ok to kill someone and not feel anything?
Sat, Feb 27, 2021, 2:12pm (UTC -5)
When it is disclosed that these Vulcans aren't really Vulcans - seems the only possible explanation based on all their actions in this series.
Sat, Feb 27, 2021, 2:18pm (UTC -5)
Wed, May 12, 2021, 12:47pm (UTC -5)
Also worthy of note is the fact that her PTSD due to a single killing "flunked her out" of the secret service. This makes sense. I am sure training for it, and it actually happening would be very different, and there is no way to predict in advance which a person's psychology will go.
Now, why would they send a Vulcan with PTSD to face the same mission that gave her the PTSD? I think when they repressed her memory, they probably classified the reports as well, meaning two decades later the decision makers had no access to the information that would have prevented this from happening. I think the Vulcans were just being their efficient logical selves - who is the closest Vulcan trained to apprehend? T'Pol, ex-secret-service, is currently only 3 days away.
I liked this episode. These are the kinds of dilemmas that Star Trek is made for. It is odd, though, that Archer chooses to be a "good soldier following orders" here, whereas usually he plays truant gullible God. May be he suddenly grew up a lot after saying sorry a few times in the previous episode. :)
Wed, Jul 14, 2021, 8:54am (UTC -5)
The Trip, leadership incompetency was meant to be comical but came off as ridiculous and a waste of a good opportunity to give him an actual leadership crisis to overcome.
Water Polo, really. Way to go out of your way to find a sport that the least people in the world would find relatable.
Wed, Sep 15, 2021, 1:58pm (UTC -5)
No, the most problematic absence of stun setting in this episode is *at the present day*, the *entire time* that they had Menos in custody. They could have saved themselves *so* much hassle if they had just shot the bastard in the first place (stunning him).
- They could have stunned him while they were holding him at the bar, waiting for the landing pad to open. That way, he wouldn't have been able to start a fire
- They could have stunned him *before* removing his hand restraints in order to save him from the burning table
- They could have stunned him on his ship after he yelled "Stop!" and relinquished his weapon (because he was standing in front of the bio canisters and didn't want them punctured)
- They could have stunned him before he was able to pulled the lever that allowed him to drop through a hatch in the bottom of the ship
They could have stunned him on a boat, with a goat, et cetera, et cetera. Basically the last two acts of the episode were unwatchable and exasperating due to the unwillingness of the characters to use a basic feature of their weaponry. As with most Enterprise episodes in this season so far, the script is really sub-par.
Sat, Mar 5, 2022, 4:31pm (UTC -5)
There was a perfect opportunity for Archer to go full John Woo, double weilding pistols in slow motion as space pigeons flutter about.
Alas, it doesn't happen.
Tue, Dec 27, 2022, 3:43am (UTC -5)
The thought: I can see how Vulcans killing would be traumatic given how they nearly destroyed themselves with violence, which led to the embrace of logic which gives them an intense pacifism (sublimated into their being sneaky little SOBs) and pon farr. Seems to me the twin taboos of Vulcan are killing and Public Displays of Affection.
Now for the question: I keep reading comments asking why T'Pol didn't stun Jossen but the sound effect and the weapon design in the flashback indicate a projectile weapon.
Clearly that changes the dynamic of T'Pol's act.
Am I missing something or was the sound effect changed for the hone release?
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