Star Trek: Enterprise

"The Seventh"

3 stars

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."
"Tell who?"
"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

◄ Season Index

34 comments on this review

Thu, Jan 24, 2008, 3:11pm (UTC -5)
Too much of the plot was based upon the idea that T'Pol wasn't smart enough to use the stun-setting. That ruined it for me.
Thu, Feb 21, 2008, 4:08pm (UTC -5)
I had a notable problem with the clichéd "maybe he's telling the truth and he's really a good guy" routine, only to find out that he's really the bad guy in a scene of them finding the biotoxins which came about 5 or 10 minutes after I think everyone watching had already pretty much resigned to him being evil.

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.
Joe Menta
Wed, Nov 18, 2009, 3:32pm (UTC -5)
The couple of times Archer yelled at Travis occurred when he was preoccupied with intense conversations with T'Pol. Still, kind of rude, but it's not like he was being intentionally mean.
Fri, Sep 24, 2010, 4:24pm (UTC -5)
I think Archer kept Trip in the dark mostly out of respect for T'Pol's trust in him - it was her info to share, not his.

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)
I found T'Pol's guilt implausible.

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)
All these comments regarding plot implausability, and disbelief. Come on, we just had a Vulcan break down of a main character and one of the first major ones for T'pol. The acting was superb, and that alone made the show enjoyable.
Tue, Oct 18, 2011, 12:29pm (UTC -5)
Great episode. Regarding the comments of the implausability of T'Pol not using the stun setting, we should note what the story doesn't tell us. We don't whether Jossen was reaching for a deadly weapon or not, in fact we don't really know exactly how he was killed. And also note that T'Pol's memory is not completely reliable. All we know is that T'Pol was forced to do something that put her over the deep end. Whether that action was justified or not, smart or not, the episode does not answer. I'm fine with that level of ambiguity.
Thu, Aug 2, 2012, 2:05am (UTC -5)
This episode really did nothing for me. Definetely great acting all around except for the cipher known as Mayweather. I've liked every major crewmember on every series except for this one, though I think he could have been better had he been given the chance.

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)
T'Pol was chasing a couple guys in the woods, killed one in self defense, and instead of approaching it with cold logic - you know, since she's a VULCAN and that's one of the defining characteristics of Vulcans - she had a mental breakdown and had to have her memory repressed. So now the Vulcans send this mentally unstable T'Pol to capture the guy that got away. Because she did so well with that mission the first time. Wow, those guys are smart. And once again all her Vulcan emotion suppressing techniques go out the window and she becomes a basket case and starts acting dumber than normal.

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)
i know this is several years late, but why is a near-emotionless woman freaking out over killing someone? it was calataral of the mission.
Thu, Nov 15, 2012, 12:00pm (UTC -5)
T'Pol is actually a human female with makeup on and cosmetic Vulcan ears. Her character growth comes at the expense of over 25 years of Vulcan growth. That is unacceptable and should be considered right alongside her personal gains. Star Trek has its own history and a ;arge part of it is human/vulcan interaction. The writers of this show have set their sights on Vulcans for some unknown reason and this Trek geek does not appreciate anything that stems from this ridiculous writing choice.
John the younger
Tue, Dec 11, 2012, 9:15am (UTC -5)
I would also rate this as pretty ordinary. About 2 stars, max.

Berman/Braga trying to do Behr/Moore and failing miserably.
Wed, Feb 13, 2013, 8:39am (UTC -5)
Why would a trained Vulcan security agent feel such debilitating guilt over taking a life in the line of duty? Isn't that part of a security agent's job? And what about the fact that she was only firing in self-defense? And why didn't she use the stun setting? All of this renders the story's main point completely implausible, and sinks the episode for me. One star.

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)
I finally figured it out! I finally figured out what it is about Blalock's line delivery that annoys me so much! It's not just the monotone, it's that after every line, she deliberately presses her lips together! It's like some bizarre, beginner actor thing! It is simply not natural to do that. Sometimes, sure, but not 99% of the time; it's a hideously bad habit, and distracting as all hell.
Sat, Nov 8, 2014, 3:28am (UTC -5)
This was a very good character based drama. Hearing more about T'Pol's background deepens her character in the series. The writers depict her inner conflict with a straightforward sincerity and an organized intelligence. The development of her relationship to Archer also benefits the show.

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)
Last sentence should read: It's always fun to see the the main character solicit help or solve a mystery among goofy or intimidating aliens.

I wrote gibberish instead because I'm falling asleep. Ha!
Michael H
Fri, Jan 9, 2015, 3:58pm (UTC -5)
I felt like the ending did a huge disservice to the episode as a whole by trying to "have its cake and eat it too."

So, it turns out that Davison's character really is the bad guy that the Vulcan High Command made him out to be! 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)
This may have been covered above in the comments (I just skimmed them, sorry), but what happened to the acid? No one could go onto the platform for four hours without damaging their "pretty little feet" and then suddenly EVERYONE'S out and about running all over the place!

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)
Agree with Vylora's comments about the lack of "risk taking" by the Enterprise script writers. As many others have said - a few implausibility issues here, and I felt that the writers could have taken this into some more rewarding/interesting directions, but I found it overall to be a modest workmanlike episode that did what it set out to do, in a competent but not outstanding way.
Sat, Mar 28, 2015, 9:36pm (UTC -5)
Not sure how Montgomery was able to take being addressed like a dog on a leash. But then again Archer is a lot nicer to his damned dog. For that matter so are the producers seeing as how they practically gave him his own episode. And Archer complained about being condescended to by the Vulcans.
W Smith
Fri, Apr 10, 2015, 2:12am (UTC -5)
Not bad, but not very good either. Menos did not come across as Vulcan at all. I understand the point he's a renegade, but still he had absolutely no feel of being a Vulcan. The stun setting is amazing on a phaser for incapacitating a humanoid without doing any harm; it's lazy writing to ignore to not address why it's not being used when it obviously should be. It's one thing not to give Mayweather any lines, but it's uncomfortable to see him so talked down to by Archer. T'pol was good this episode and the plot premise was promising, but once again it feel apart in bits and pieces on execution.
Diamond Dave
Tue, Apr 12, 2016, 12:59pm (UTC -5)
A strong character based episode. Seeing T'Pol nearly lose her shit is actually a fairly decent performance on the part of Jolene Blalock, and the story toys with all of those moralistic TNG episodes that seek to subvert our expectations.

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)
This observation may not have made any impact on the episode but I do like to mention it. At the beginning of the episode when T'Pol is in Archer's quarters talking about the mission, you can see a stack of books on the shelf. Notice that they arranged in order descending by height which gave it a sense of order and symmetry. Maybe that speaks well for Archer as it demonstrates his capacity to appreciate beauty and is open and observant to everything around him. A part of his character trait that should be remembered.
Thu, Jul 21, 2016, 9:48am (UTC -5)
One of my favorites.

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)
HAHA!! 'Cease Fire' hasn't happened yet. :-)

Chalk this one up to trying to be funny I guess.
Sun, Jan 1, 2017, 3:35pm (UTC -5)
No William B?

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)
I liked this episode a lot. I did not have a problem with the idea of T'Pol not using the stun setting because I figured it was accidental on her part and hence her guilt.

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)
A decent episode - and the best acting we've seen from T'Pol although I'm skeptical of the whole reason for her emotional breakdown. So her mistake was not using the stun setting and she mistakenly kills a fugitive, has her emotions toyed with by another fugitive. It seems a bit of a contrived episode to make T'Pol show some emotion. I've never had any issue with her portrayal as a Vulcan overall.
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)
I'm not sure why T'Pol would feel guilt over shooting Jossen in self-defense. Also not sure why she didn't just use the stun setting. She never tells us that Jossen's death was an accident, so I don't see a reason to conclude that her weapon was accidentally set to kill. The entire crux of her guilt is baffling.

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)
The comment about Trip is a little unfair. Standing in for someone for a few days is not the same as being in charge, you are not making decisions, you are guesssing as to what their decision would be.
The Man
Sun, Jun 17, 2018, 5:18pm (UTC -5)
No disrespect Yanks but your opinion is kind of not needdc.
Mon, Jun 18, 2018, 6:08pm (UTC -5)
The Man,

What? From someone that didn't even comment on this episode?
Peter Swinkels
Sun, Jul 1, 2018, 7:04am (UTC -5)
Don’t have much to say about the plot. Nitpicks: how the hell can an icy moon where it snows ACID have a breathable atmosphere?! That acid was obviously so dangerous people could casually walk around while it fell onto their bare heads. Couldn’t the acid have worked to the story’s advantage if taken more seriously? Also, what do you dobwhen you have a station on a barren moon with acidic snow? Why you completely ignore fire safety of course! What else would a smart manager do?
Sun, Dec 30, 2018, 12:25pm (UTC -5)
Two small points to add to the above:

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.

Submit a comment

◄ Season Index

▲Top of Page | Menu | Copyright © 1994-2019 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. See site policies.