Star Trek: Enterprise


3.5 stars.

Air date: 9/17/2003
Written by Mike Sussman
Directed by David Straiton

"All I'm saying is that this mission, whether it succeeds or not, is looking like a one-way ticket all the time." — Tucker

Review Text

In brief: Thankfully, the F-key the writers used this time around was F5 — refresh.

Good heavens, why in the world didn't they make this the season premiere?

Last week's "Xindi," which mostly transplanted to the Delphic Expanse so many of the typical Enterprise clichés that are old and tired, ultimately arrived at a place where I mainly sensed a balloon (already) deflating. But with "Anomaly," Enterprise bounces back in a big way. This episode works for nearly every reason "The Xindi" did not.

Here's an hour that, unlike last week's "Xindi," actually feels like the NX-01 is in uncharted waters — physically, emotionally, environmentally, and morally. The crew makes some intriguing discoveries. Meanwhile, we discover just how determined Captain Archer has become to get answers.

This episode, for starters, is proof that action-centric Trek can indeed work, and work well. After the meaningless paint-by-numbers action scenes of "The Xindi," the action of "Anomaly" is tightly focused and staged with a legitimate purpose. This is clearly one of the best efforts on Enterprise from an action standpoint, and one of the better Enterprise installments so far overall.

"Anomaly" — a title that proves to be the weakest aspect of the episode — begins as, yes, a series of anomalies bombard the ship and play havoc with the laws of physics. The bulkheads bend, meal trays go crashing to the ceiling, and Archer's coffee goes floating in midair. The funkiness of the physical laws also has a more serious consequence: Warp speed is impossible, leaving the Enterprise stranded in the region until Trip can find a workaround.

About here is where the Enterprise happens upon a ship floating dead in space. The crew, along with members of the MACO team (who, in a goofy costuming choice, wear their backpacks even when running around their own ship), investigate the derelict and find its dead crew — killed in a violent raid. This investigation scene at first seems like a redundant replay of "Fight or Flight" from two years ago (darkened corridors, corpses, etc.); the scene is brief, however, and the story keeps us moving forward toward answers, which is among the episode's strengths.

Lest they be attacked by the perpetrators who raided the alien ship, Archer orders the Enterprise to get as far away from the derelict as limited speed will allow. But the Enterprise is quickly found and boarded by the alien assault team anyway, leading to a protracted action sequence that for once works, despite — and perhaps even because of — its drawn-out nature. The same sort of shootouts and fights that I complained about in "The Xindi" are effective here, because they are well-executed pieces in a puzzling situation, rather than well-executed pieces in a meaningless and obvious situation. Jay Chattaway unleashes an aggressive score of in-your-face drumbeats, which suggests that maybe the musical attitudes for TV Trek are being revised.

The alien raiders are actually of a race called the Osaarians, whom Phlox recognizes as not indigenous to the expanse. Before being repelled and escaping in their ship, the Osaarians steal a bevy of supplies from the Enterprise, including all the fuel reserves, which introduces a dire situation in need of a swift answer. Also, one of Trip's engineers is killed in the raid, which I believe is the first crew fatality since the series started.

One Osaarian raider (Robert Rusler) is captured and thrown in the brig. Archer wants information from this prisoner that may help the Enterprise find the Osaarian ship and recover the stolen supplies. The prisoner balks. Archer threatens. The prisoner looks Archer in the eye and tells him he is too "evolved" to resort to the kind of tactics he will need to in order to get answers — at least, for now. After some time trapped in the expanse, he says, the Enterprise crew will learn to become ruthless predators in order to survive. (According to him, the expanse lets you in, but it doesn't let you out. It's an interstellar Roach Motel.)

In some of its basic elements, this episode reminded me of Voyager's "The Void," in which Voyager became trapped in an area of space not unlike what is represented here by the Delphic Expanse, and was assaulted by supply thieves not unlike what is represented here by the Osaarians. If the basic premise of "Anomaly" reminds me of "The Void," where it goes from its starting point does not; "Anomaly" is sort of a "Void" in reverse. "Void" was about Janeway cooperating with others to find a mutual escape. There is no such hope of that notion here. If "Void" was the ultimate in idealism and optimism and unbending Trekkian values, then "Anomaly" is the ultimate in ruthless pragmatism and buying survival for whatever it might end up costing you.

Although there's plenty else going on, the primary conflict in "Anomaly" is the showdown between Archer and the uncooperative prisoner, and the question of the lengths Archer will go, or not go, to get crucial information out of him. What is perhaps most striking about this episode is its focused single-mindedness. Once the plot is in motion, it doesn't let up or become distracted with irrelevancies. It becomes a series of clues and follow-ups, punctuated by bigger mysteries, action sequences, and Archer showing a determination that edges into obsession.

Let's talk for a moment about Archer, a changed man compared to last season. Just like in "The Xindi," we have here an Archer who is utterly determined to complete his mission. He exhibits a steely resolve and an all-business demeanor, apparently born from the massive weight put upon him. He isn't unpleasant to his crew, but he isn't exactly friendly, either. He's got a darker and more decisive sensibility; he's terse, direct, serious. In his scenes with T'Pol, for example, he's quick to make up his mind and challenge anything that resembles inaction. In his mind, inaction will lead only to disaster.

I'm not sure yet whether or not I'm ultimately going to like this new version of Archer, or whether it should've grown more gradually over the course of the season, but dramatically I do find him interesting so far, and Scott Bakula's performances make it worth watching. There's a scene where Archer opens a channel to the Osaarians and tersely says: "This is Captain Archer. Remember us?" — a greeting that I found refreshing in its unwillingness to screw around and waste time with needless verbiage.

I'm also not sure if this new Archer will make for a weaker T'Pol, who has here the thankless role of being the quiet Voice of Reason in a situation that seemingly demands far more impulse and guts than reason. When Archer proposes a plan to go up against the Osaarians, T'Pol quietly says, "They are heavily armed. Are you sure it's wise to engage them?" The way she says it — virtually walking on eggshells — is almost child-like, which could be a major pitfall for this character.

The episode does its best to keep supporting characters alive. Trip offers a realist's voice that works because it doesn't venture too far into forced cynicism. In discussing with Reed the crewman who died in the Osaarian assault, Trip bleakly muses, "I doubt he'll be the last," and calls the Enterprise's mission a "one-way ticket." (I welcomed the weighty tone of this scene.) The episode also shows Trip as overworked and still unable to sleep, and I found myself interested in the idea that he could possibly become dependent on sedatives for sleeping, if Phlox were not barring them.

The chase plot turns out to have a surprising amount of enticing material. The Enterprise follows the Osaarians' ion trail into a cloaking field that hides a massive spherical space station 19 kilometers in diameter, more than 1,000 years old, and apparently capable of generating huge amounts of power. It might hold the key to some other Delphic Expanse mysteries, like the source of the strange anomalies that defy known physics.

Visually, I was impressed by the straightforward clarity with which the cloaking field and the sphere are envisioned. The crew ventures inside the sphere (some more wonderful visuals) and finds that the Osaarians are using it as a storage base for their piracy operation. Here the crew is able to retrieve their stolen supplies and find information in an Osaarian inventory database, which leads to Hoshi's subsequent discovery of Xindi words printed on a looted item.

That word, "Xindi," appears to be the word most likely to send Archer into Crazy Mofo mode. Archer Needs Answers Dammit and interrogates the Osaarian prisoner about what he knows about the Xindi. More balking prompts Archer to drag the prisoner into an airlock and vent the atmosphere. Archer makes demands while the prisoner begins to suffocate. This is a dramatically potent scene, made compelling by Archer's no-nonsense, bordering-on-obsessive single-mindedness; the moral questions; and the aggressive filming technique. Would Archer have actually let the guy die if he hadn't agreed to talk? I tend to doubt it, but the extent of the action speaks for itself — this is an edgier Archer who may end up doing some questionable things in the interests of getting the job done.

The final act provides a superb space battle that is an example of how action on this show should be done. For once, we get an action scene that employs an explicit goal (downloading a valuable Xindi database from the Osaarian ship's computer) while utilizing clever battle strategies with a logic we can follow.

"Anomaly" is, simply put, entertaining. It works as sci-fi, as action, as mystery, as setup. It provides lots of nice details that can be built upon down the road. It is not perfect. It doesn't scrutinize Archer's actions as much as it probably could. (When released, the prisoner tells Archer, "So, you have let your morality get in the way after all." Not sure I buy that line, since Archer already got the information he wanted and had no reason to continue holding him. Seems more like the writers are trying to let Archer off the hook for the earlier torture scene.) If there's a larger comment on Archer's growing obsession, it's done without words, in the final shot, where he loads the database onto the screen. As the Xindi information fills the room, Archer's ever-serious expression says all that needs to be said.

Next week: TNG's "Genesis" + DS9's "Children of Time" = ???

Previous episode: The Xindi
Next episode: Extinction

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Comment Section

62 comments on this post

    To me, this episode is the anti-Trek. And that's not a compliment. "Chain of Command" powerfully taught as that 'torture has never been a reliable means of acquiring information', something which has since been proved by scientific research. And fittingly, Gul Madred never manages to "break" Picard. But in this episode, with the torturer as the protagonist, somehow it works. I'm not buying it.
    I pretty much decided to stop watching the show after this, and sceing the first few acts of "Extinction" the following week only confirmed my feelings.
    I also like your comparison with "The Void." Obviously, this is television, so whatever choices (good or bad) our characters make, it always ends up being the right one. I would like to see an episode like "The Void" where the characters decide to stick to their values and it doesn't work. But they still stick to them, because if you aren't willing to die for what you believe in, you don't really believe in much, do you?

    While much of this episode reminded me of Star Trek: The Motion Picture upon entering the dyson sphere, going thru the cloud, there rest was sorta hit or miss. The grametricl distortions that would trear Enterprise B apart here, just sorta of ripple thru Enterprise and make sparks fly and coffee stick in the air. Agree totally about the torute scene being the opposite of what Mr. Roddenberry would have shown in Trek. On that subject MacOS in general just dont seem to belong on Trek, and are we every gonna learn why one day we dont need them anymore? No where do they come from anyway. Alabama? Ha.
    Back on track while entertaining the core of this episode has moral problems for me anyway. Jake T. #7 out.

    I think we have to remember that this show was writing for the times and not to be a timeless classic.

    Enterprise was trying to create some parallel's with the 9/11 attacks in the Season 2 cliffhanger, so it's not really surprising to see torture in these episodes.

    You also have to remember, 24 was a very popular show at the time and they constantly showed torture.

    Archer was commonly criticized at the time for being a "wussy". I think this episode was the writer's response to this criticism.

    I am not defending the show. It doesn't work in 2011. We know torture is not a reliable means of gathering information, and there's no reason to think the Osaarian would give the correct codes under duress. He's far more likely to give the wrong codes just to stop the torture.

    I think in 2011, this episode is maybe 2.5 or 3 stars. It doesn't resonate very well anymore at all, and it doesn't feel like Star Trek. It feels like a show trying to be something it's not.

    Season 4 was the first real season of Enterprise honestly. That should have been the first season of the series.

    I originally stopped watching the show around this point. I like it better now.

    I agree that the torture part made no sense. If that guy was so intent on withholding information, he could have just lied. It made sense he'd talk under threat of torture, but tt didn't make sense that he'd provide 100% accurate info.

    I agree with the above comment, that torture is "anti-Trek." The entire point of ST is that humanity has evolved from barbarism to enlightenment, past poverty, war, and presumably torture. But here we see Archer using torture and thus degrading himself and all of humanity in the process. Would it not have been easier to use a mind meld, as Spock did countless times, to extract information humanely? They have a Vulcan on board after all. I am really disappointed in this show, for its blatant sexploitation (T'Pol massages), for its species prejudice, and for portraying torture as acceptable. These are very poor messages -- the contrary of the ideals that ST usually stands for. Granted Star Fleet is in its infancy, but surely the writers of Enterprise can do better than this.

    Oh my god will you wimpy "Star Fleet ideals" nerd wackos shut up please. You have to remember they are in the Delphic expanse; not only is that messing with there mental stability, but the Earth attack is fresh on their minds. Star Trek doesn't always have to be like Batman, where they always let the bad guy go and that same bad guys ends up just killing more people. That's not how the real world works. That's how ideological idiots think. Some people only respond to violence, because it's all they know.

    And I love how everyone here has a Ph.D. in torture and psychology now because one guy read an article and the rest of you read his comment and thought "yea what that guy said". That's the one bad thing about the internet everyone thinks they know everything cause they can google/wikipedia it. *derp*

    Brock, it's not about being anti-Trek and "Star Fleet ideals" - it's about simple facts and logic. Torture doesn't give reliable, and there are far better methods to get that information without using torture. We know the truth today, so why don't humans know this hundreds of years later when they know how to build starships?

    As I said before, the episode was written for the times it was aired - back when lots of people had 9/11 on their minds, and torture was suddenly "Acceptable" in the minds most Americans, mostly because they were sad and pissed off at the time. It appealed to them. I don't think it appeals to many people anymore, mostly because of the re-education about torture - and the evidence of what has happened since 9/11.

    I liked the new, fiercer Archer. This reminded me of the DS9 episode where Sisko had to make a similar, ethics-bending decision. He, too, said he could live with it. I think leaders frequently have to do this. Mr. Rogers would never make a good president or starship captain.

    Yeowch. It's "good" in that it's powerfully bold, but unfortunately with the torture I feel that I've lost most of my respect for Archer at this point.

    Yes this was just after 9/11 when many Americans were pissed off and found torture acceptable. To me, this only goes serves to make the show and its writers look weaker: assuming it goes on like this, one event was enough to bring a 35 year old vision of an enlightened humanity down to its knees.

    As a show in general, 4 stars seems about right...

    As Star Trek, I'm sorry, 1 star. Roddenberry will have been turning in his grave.

    Maybe I'll get off my high horse and mellow out to it, remains to be seen..
    On a lighter note, wasn't that alien ship a repainted Voyager?

    Yay!!! Lack of Gravity!! Finally... I know it's in one of the movies, but Finally!

    Other than that... why am I watching this? Oh yeah, 'cause I'm out of things I want to watch and can't find Babylon 5.

    Not sure what was so good about this one. Other than it being a little better than the season opener and a little darker.

    I'm not sure how a human body would recover from the kind of bending and wrenching we see the ship take.



    "wasn't that alien ship a repainted Voyager?"

    I had the same thought.

    Yet another TV show decides that torture always works when used against the bad guy. All you have to do is take your Popeye "bad ass" spinach and scream a lot while straining your neck to get answers.

    Cripes. Can lazy writing get any worse?

    This episode was horrible.

    Does everyone really feel this was Gul Macet style torture/waterboarding/etc?

    I honestly felt Archer had decided to kill him if he didn't give up the codes and just did it slowly to give him a chance to change his mind.

    "ARCHER: Which species of Xindi were they? What did they look like?
    ORGOTH: I don't remember.
    ARCHER: (opens cell door and holds his phase pistol to Orgoth's head) Are you sure?
    ORGOTH: Your threats aren't very convincing. I told you, you're too civilised.
    ARCHER: We'll see about that. (marches him out of cell)
    GUARD: Sir!
    ARCHER: As you were. "

    He wasn't torturing him for information, he was going to kill him if he didn't provide it and he needed the man to believe him. If the man gave him false information he was going to die.

    Torture someone long enough and they'll admit to anything, tell you anything, it's unreliable. But make sure someone knows you'll kill them? Well if you value your life that's a good bargaining chip. It was cruel, but I hardly equate it to waterboarding. Maybe a SINGLE waterboarding.

    I think it doesn't do torture justice to call this torture.

    Really, not a single comment about the fact that we can't even get *5 minutes* into the episode without "F2 - Find flimsy excuse to get as many half-naked people onscreen as we can, because we're UPN, dammit!"?

    Here we are, minding our own business with the ship coming apart around our ears. "No life signs - and artificial gravity is down as well!" warns T'pol. CUE SUDDEN SCENE CHANGE: MACO's GONE WILD. Cut to Corporal NotasprettyasBermanthinks "I very clearly wanted to be on a different show but this is all I got" McDeadeyes, putting up her pony while in her skivvies and surrounded by not-more-convincing MACO dudes. Let's throw in Scott Bakula for good measure, heard he was jealous that Trip was getting all the nekkid time. But we need to tie it all together - I KNOW. Let's talk about gravity boots and magnetic variances. THAT'LL MAKE THINGS SEEM ORGANIC.

    I get that Trek has always been something that you might get embarrassed by if someone caught you watching it. But this just takes that to a new level of squick.

    A much more succesful outing for S3 that still holds up OK today, all the action works logically and looks great, very entertaining to watch and has genuine Sci Fi "Oh wow" moments such as the scene approaching the sphere.

    This was where I stopped watching Enterprise when it originally aired. The torture scene would have Roddenberry very upset. First, it was horrific that Archer would resort to torture. Second, it was lazy writing that the torture would work. The prisoner had no reason to tell the truth. Archer couldn't test right away if the codes would work. And by giving working codes, the prisoner signed his own death sentence upon return to his people. The prisoner seemed relatively rational in his conversations with Archer, therefore had no rational reason for him to tell the truth under torture, except the writers wanted torture to work. That made me puke and stop watching the show. It seemed so un-Trek, and is even worse in hindsight in 2015.
    And please stop with the undressing/dressing scenes and massage jokes/innuendo. Why so puerile? These are the reasons why they lost the Trek audience.

    I really don't get the outrage over threatening to kill one murdering pirate to help prevent the deaths of billions of innocent people and the destruction of their planet.

    I think this quote from DS9 about a similar situation sums it up quite well:

    Elim Garak: That's why you came to me, isn't it, Captain? Because you knew I could do those things that you weren't capable of doing? Well, it worked. And you'll get what you want: a war between the Romulans and the Dominion. And if your conscience is bothering you, you should soothe it with the knowledge that you may have just saved the entire Alpha Quadrant. And all it cost was the life of one Romulan senator, one criminal, and the self-respect of one Starfleet officer. I don't know about you, but I'd call that a bargain.

    Definitely seems that the tonal shift is here to stay. The Expanse seems to offer the anomaly of the week options of Voyager crossed with the darker, more gritty atmosphere seen on DS9. Will it work here? Well in terms of dramatic action, most definitely yes. In terms of character development? I wonder.

    To me, avenging angel Archer is just about credible. But I'd agree with all those who thought successful torture was unpalatable in the series - it is very much a child of its times and perhaps dated because of it. Perhaps more interesting is Trip's character shift - even the famously fatalistic Reed is trying to get him to see the bright side.

    Overall, I thought this looked stunning, was dramatic and entertaining, but left me feeling just a little queasy about the future direction of the show. Gritty and realistic can be good, but a series that takes Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo as its inspiration needs to play very carefully in that realm. 2.5 stars.

    This is an excellent episode and Brock is right to question the unrealistic squeamishness of those Trek canon moralists who wince and whine about the use of torture by a Federation captain less experienced in saintliness than the Divine Captain Picard. It is a refreshing if jarring bit of reality badly needed for dramatic enhancement in this series. The troubling thing about torture is not that it never works and is therefore illogical as well as immoral, but that it often does work (as with non-lethal waterboarding) to extract accurate information and probably has saved lives, possibly yours and mine, in recent years. Please don't think I'm being callous about the use of torture by supposedly advanced civilizations. The technique, whether lethal or not, should always raise serious moral questions, whether for our fictional hero models or our real world leaders. That's why as a dramatic device it works so well in this episode.

    I'm glad everyone jumped on the fact that if this whole story arc was, as a Jammer suggested, prompted by 9/11, then the torture theme becomes very relevant. a BTW I'm Australian, but I was in the US on 9/11 and for some time afterwards, and I never ever thought that torture was suddenly justified. Neither, as far as I know, did my American friends.

    Anyway you've all dealt with that, so on to other matters. The new bad-ass Archer is refreshing, but are the writers over-compensating? I get the feeling this will get very wearing if he's going to be perpetually bitchy to everyone all season. Balance is required.

    But all in all, finally the show feels like it has a sense of direction and something to look forward to. I felt that with this episode Enterprise finally staked out its ground and justified its existence. I just hope the rest of the season doesn't become Archer's monomaniacal shock and awe campaign.

    One thing I've decided: I like all the fresh faces on board. It's good to see the ship bustling as if it actually has more people on board than the bridge crew. Last season was getting reminiscent of season three of TOS, where three characters got all the dialog, and the ship seemed deserted.

    All these years, and all these comments, and I see that someone called out the re-used Voyager... but no one caught the refitted Dyson Sphere from "Relics" (ST:NG)?
    It's a re-used or very ripped off model....

    A better episode than the opener to S3 ENT and I agree with Jammer that the action scenes work better - they have more purpose and are more unpredictable.
    The biggest thing is Archer's character development - for me, torture is not Trek although we've seen the TOS Enterprise crew tortured a number of times but don't recall the Enterprise crew in whichever series torturing an alien.
    Here, I actually don't mind Archer trying torture on the Osaarian although the fact that perfect info is given is quite convenient. Archer is desperate and so gives it a shot - clearly he's a different captain from S1 and S2.
    Nevertheless, it's a good story encapsulated in 1 episode that the Enterprise is coming to grips with the Expanse - laws of physics not working, need to adapt the ship etc. - and more unfriendly aliens.
    The episode also had a decent ship battle scene which was well done and credible.
    I give it 3 stars out of 4.

    Okay, so far I've read about a dozen posts saying how "un-Trek" this episode was (a phrase that makes me vomit a little in my mouth). First, the Earth of Star Trek has spent years with no poverty, no war. But it's clear that the rest of the galaxy has not. If humans plan to deal with the rest of the imperfect races, it's more than reasonable to believe that we will have to get our hands dirty every once in a while.

    Second, let's look at the scenario of "Anomaly." Earth has just been brutally attacked. You learn that there is ANOTHER attack forthcoming that, if you don't stop it in time, will completely destroy Earth. This means you're in a race against time to stop this attack, and you've already spent two months looking for the perpetrators and have so far come up empty. You're in a region known to be dangerous and are facing down pirates who just finished robbing you and killing a crewman. You then find out that these pirates have the only - I repeat - ONLY lead to finding Earth's attackers and potentially stopping the extinction of humanity. And the one guy who can help you access that information is openly defying you by basically saying I know the information you're asking me about but I won't tell you and you don't have the balls to get it out of me. How SHOULD have Archer handled that situation? If his actions were "un-Trek," then what is the "Trek" way to solve this problem?


    Threatening one criminal pirate seems like not that big of a deal to me in that context.

    Don't forget that Janeway tortured a member of Starfleet to save her own ship in Equinox. That was much much worse that what Archer did.

    Good episode. 3 stars

    This is a step up. A much better episode than 'The Xindi', with a much more serious and consistent tone. The pirate raid is unexpected, but even more surprising is Archer & Co's response to it, which makes clear that the outlaws have bitten off way more than they can chew and that Archer will stop at nothing to learn about the Xindi.

    Of course that brings me to the airlock torture scene, which is far more shocking now than it would have been in the early 2000s and not very Star Trek-ish. But then the Enterprise series as a whole wasn't very Star Trek-ish, so it wasn't as jarring to me as it would've been on, say, TNG. Plus I've already made a commitment to watch the entire season and I'm not going to stop two episodes in, especially when the overall episode is as strong as this one. 'Anomaly' is a message to the viewer that ENT is committed to the Xindi storyline no matter what - and that there's no way back from it, just as Trip says.

    I think it is interesting how many torture fans are also into Star Trek.
    That's what so great about Star Trek. It brings people together.
    Star Trek... well... it's about family... ... no ahhh it is... ... ... about being nice and stuff... mostly... sometimes.
    And if your planet gets attacked and a shadow from the future who coincidentally is your enemy tells you who it was and that these "Xindi" are planning far worse then it is time kill and torture people maybe just because you are mad!.
    This episode taught us that the strong certainly laugh about these Starfleet weirdos and their "morality"!
    Star Trek boldly went where the USA already were.

    Pirates don't have rights. It's been the law of the sea for hundreds of years, and still is.

    Well, we are used to 'Trek vision', 'Trek moral' and 'Trek civilization' from a number of preceding series, but can you use the knowledge you have a about rules of conduct in the times of TOS and TNG and so forth? Not really, because this series here is put on the beginning of the development which will finally evolve as the TOS and TNG rulebook.
    Archer and starfleet may have the good will to act honorably when dealing with space and the races found out there, but up to now not too much appreciation was given to them in return - as someone says in this particular episode, everyone seemed to be keen on hurting them instead. So we have some sobering up here, a blow dealed by the Xindi demands determination. Archer has revised his previous behavior and came to the conclusion he was in deed too nice most of the time. We have to forgive his falling back into 'less civilized' human behavior such as torturing. Mankind is still just at the beginning of finding its future in the middle of other races and the Federation. Still some way to go. And it is like in real life; under stress and in exceptional situations the old 'barbarian' mindset comes popping up and pushes the 'civilized' cover aside for a glimpse of what we were thousands of years before. This is what Cpt Archer goes through, and it is understandable, given the circumstances - shock of the Xindi attack on Earth and the anomaly effect on ship and crew, which wonders as Trip does, if they are ever gonna make it back...

    Nice episode. Nitpick: how nice of those pirates to not secure their computer files. Never heard of access restrictions or encryption I guess. Why allow remote access through radio when it isn’t absolutely necessary anyway? Trek often happily assumes that all aliens will have compatible poorly secured computers. Yeah, I know artistic license and whatever.

    I see several people parroting the line that “torture is not a reliable means of gathering information” - an accurate statement - who nevertheless seem unable to understand that that is not the same as saying “torture is always ineffective”. The latter statement is patently absurd. Of course torture sometimes works.

    A thought experiment:

    You’re in bed late at night when suddenly your bedroom door gets smashed in by three blokes brandishing pliers and a pair of electrodes. They quickly overpower you, then strap the electrodes to your plums and hook them up to the mains, whilst getting to work on your fingernails with the pliers. A few minutes and some screaming later, they ask you for the keys to your car. Do you think you’re telling these bollock-burners a lie to stop the torture or are you going to tell them where the keys are? That’s a rhetorical question because any rational, sane person in this situation is absolutely terrified that a lie will simply result in further torture whilst giving away the information demanded might lead to a reprieve. So you hand over the bloody keys sharpish.

    The reason torture isn’t a reliable method of extracting information is because, much of the time, the poor sap being tortured doesn’t actually have the information being demanded. In that event a person will often make up a story in the hope of stopping the torture. Unlike the scenario presented above, they have nothing to lose by lying because the alternative is the guarantee of prolonged torture and/or execution.

    If you have the relevant information and assuming you aren’t a highly unusually resilient individual or specially trained to resist (e.g. special forces soldier) then any sufficiently unpleasant torture will make you squeal like Miss Piggy in Kermit’s bedroom. It isn’t in any way outlandish that in this episode the alien gave accurate information under duress. In reality it might’ve taken a bit more than a few seconds of hypoxia to make him spill his guts, but then again it is a family TV show.

    I’ve realized I have made it as far as I have through this series because I like most of the characters. Sure, Archer is no Kirk or Picard, but he’s okay. I actually like Trip, and T’Pol, Reed, and Plox are all enjoyable to watch.

    That said, the episodes through the first two seasons have been very uneven and above average at best. If it wasn’t for the characters, I’d have given up by now.

    This third season so far has been a big improvement. I agree that Archer’s theatening of the captive pirate is dark for Trek, but it is also clear that the stakes have never been this high. Archer said something, one or two episodes ago, that he no longer bears the responsibility for the lives of the crew, he now has the entire Earth depending on him and his mission. He wasn’t exactly pulling out the pirate’s finger nails but rather convincing him that he wasn’t just bluffing, as the pirate clearly believed.

    In any case, the whole look and feel of the shownjas gone through some sort of upgrade. I don’t know if the effects budget got a boost, or Berman and Bragga hired a better writer or what, but this very uneven show seems to have improved noticeably this season.

    Archer always seemed angry or annoyed to me, so this really isn't much of a change. Episode was nice, sphere was cool, torture bad. Thank God for the comments. Same as on DS9 there are people saying: yeah, but this time torture is okay. No, that's what ideals are for. You stick with them. Especially in aftermath of 9/11 Star Trek should have been the show to tell that story.

    I'm surprised it took so long for an episode to be called "Anomaly", given how often these things are encountered in Star Trek.

    Bunch of Roddenberry idealists that can't deal with moral shades of grey. I prefer this Archer to the Archer of the 1st two seasons. That Archer was an incompetent boob that almost got his crew killed several times because of his naïvety.
    Ask yourself this question: If you were serving aboard the Enterprise as a lower decks crewman or woman would you rather have this guy as your Captain or that 1st season dude as your Captain?
    Which one do you think has a better chance of getting you home in one piece?
    I like this guy. Shades of Benjamin Sisco!

    Really liked this episode. Fantastic action and effects. Much as I hate to say it, I'd probably torture the guy too. Stakes are way too high.

    I think people need to remember two things about the torture scene:
    1) These aren't 24th century evolved humans, these are humans a scant 100 years after their civilization nearly wiped itself out. Archer probably heard first-hand stories from people who lived in the pre-First Contact days. They still eat meat, they don't have any protocols whatsoever for First Contact or diplomacy or anything. Archer is way closer to viewers watching this in 2003 than he was to Picard in 2364.
    2) Malcolm seems horrified by the torture. Everyone seems nervous around Archer for the whole episode, even Trip. You aren't supposed to think his actions are righteous. Archer isn't the hero of the episode.

    Torture was unexpected, but with the tone of this season it is was a believable option. I finished DS9 for the first time and people seem to forget that Sisko did a lot of questionable shit, for someone that was a spiritual leader, a single dad, and a supposedly more evolved Starfleet.

    This is the first time viewing Enterprise, and it is not great, but not as terrible as I was expecting. I am tired of the theme song though, thank god for fast forward.

    We already had “everyone here is a pirate and you can’t get out” in Voyager’s The Void as mentioned (and the only things we’ve been told about the expanse are that you CAN get out!), we already had “the captain tortures someone” in Voyager’s Equinox, we already had “I can live with it” in DS9’s In The Pale Moonlight. And I don’t care about that. I like this stuff! What matters to me is that this is all those but a thousand times worse. Not more of the same, not an improvement - worse!

    This episode was frankly boring! The one we recently had where Trip commits the sin of teaching a slave to read and making her womb wander was equally if not more offensive, but at least it was engaging.

    Alex, good points.
    Jamahl Epsicokhan, that's not an "In brief".
    Generally, I found the problem with the prisoner to be that he was too helpful (even before the airlock). He was a device to set up future Expanse-verse plots, and it was all laid out in his thinly veiled exposition. As a plot device, he would have given the info for a good meal. So the airlock was just to let us know Archer means business. To bad he couldn't have demonstrated his determination in a more sophisticated manner (like ben sisko getting back into the heat box).

    You have a Vulcan on board, arguably the most interesting character on Star Trek and the second in command and they're reducing her character to giving stressed out Male commanders massages.

    The special effects and action sequences of this episode were surprisingly well done, but I wish Bakula's portrayal of Archer were a little more nuanced. He's either all GeeWhizIsn'tSpaceGreat?! or ANGRY!Archer. There seems to be nothing in between, and I wish the change had been more gradual and not so sudden. That would have made it more believable.

    This is a very different show from seasons 1 and 2.

    You know, I am not politically minded at all as I am neutral with politics, but you guys mentioned something that now makes sense to me. This idea of the protagonist using torture is a direct result of 9/11 makes a lot of sense. Archer used it here (which I agree is distasteful, shocking, and totally anti-Trek), but also around this time, the Star Wars novels (pre-Disney, the novels told the story of what happened after Return of the Jedi for a period of 45 years in the Star Wars timeline) were in the midst of the New Jedi Order series with the Yuuzhan Vong. This took place about 25-30 years after Episode IV-A New Hope. Anyway, about this time, Han and Leia tortured Nom Anor (a Yuuzhan Vong and a baddie) in exactly the same way (slowly depressurising an air lock). I didn't make the connection, but when everyone here mentioned 9/11, I realised that that book also was written at that time. I wonder if both the author of that book, and the writer here were thinking of this

    Yea, this really wasn't an episode I liked

    Great episode. Agree with Brock and Dustin - too many whiners complaining how Enterprise broke their Roddenberry template. Enjoy the ride for goodness sake! If these stories alarm you, wait till you see Picard and Discovery.

    The episode was decent, but I have to address some of the holier-than-thou comments and especially those that compare 'Anomaly' to TNG's 'Chain of Command', even if some of those comments are several years old by now. The simple fact is, they are mixing apples and oranges. The torture Madred imposed on Picard was, in its essence, not used to get information but rather to break him into submission. The defense plans for Minos Korva were just a pretence in a process where torture was a purpose in itself. Other than being a hommage to Orvel's 1984, that is the singular purpose of the four lights.

    In 'Anomaly', the 'torture' Archer imposed on the Ossarian is not even supposed be the primary focus of the story. Rather, what is at the core here, is the insanely difficult burden Archer carries on his shoulders and the toll it is taking on an otherwise friendly (sometimes to his own detriment) character of the first two seasons. The purpose of the air-lock scene is to show Archer's determination in carrying out the mission and finding the Xindi and obviously not to take pleasure in the act as was the case with Madred and Picard. The final shot of the episode with Archer examining the data in silence and cold determination speaks volumes about the whole endeavor - it is the only thing in the captain's mind. Finally, the prisoners is let go and reunited with his crew mates, which doesn't fit the narrative some of you are trying to push here.

    The situation the crew of the Enterprise is put in is nothing short of extreme, and I find some of the attitudes here ridiculous given that this show aired on the wings of Deep Space 9 which tackled the same subject matter (albeit, usually with a bit more nuance) with Section 31 and episodes such as ITPM or 'Inter Arma', among many others. Finally, I am fairly certain that no one was planning on dedicating a whole season of Enterprise to a doomsday plot when the show was originally conceived, so the fact that the Xindi-arc is the direct result of declining ratings is also something that shouldn't be ignored. I was never really a fan of the whole arc due to the simple fact that it doesn't really work well with the rest of the established canon so I always regarded Enterprise's S3 as a black sheep, but it still makes for an engaging story I always enjoy watching.

    As a final remark, I wonder what the commenters condemning this episode would say about the latest incarnations of Trek which proudly feature some very graphic and gratuitous gore, but that is a discussion for another time.

    Thank God they've dumped all that 'we're explorers' and understanding other cultures for some good old alien ass kicking! Phase pistols on F you!

    @Dustin - Jan 14, 2019 wrote:
    “Ask yourself this question: If you were serving aboard the Enterprise as a lower decks crewman or woman would you rather have this guy as your Captain or that 1st season dude as your Captain?”

    Neither, I would ask to be transferred, report all the infractions, and should there be no consequences I would resign from Starfleet.

    1st / 2nd season Archer: no idea what he will do next, completely erratic in his judgments and decisions. Immature judgemental jerk not fit to command a starship, and certainly not represent human kind for first contacts.
    “New Archer”: single-minded maniac on a heroic save the earth / revenge mission who doesn’t give a **** what his senior officers have to say. Prone to take reckless hasty decisions.

    As for the action-hungry idiots supporting Archer’s actions in this episode, here is how things would have developed in reality:
    - Archer threatens to kill the pirate / tortures him
    - Pirate gives him wrong co-ordinates (he will be killed anyway when he is returned to his ship if he gives the right ones)
    - At best this makes Enterprise loose the trail to find the enemy ship, at worse it gets Enterprise into trouble, like a nasty nebula or something

    Torture in this situation is not only unethical, but it is also plainly stupid and counter-productive. So yeah you can call people ‘whiners’ all you want to vent your personal life frustrations but it will not change the fact that this was a bad course of action under more realistic circumstances.

    So, if you're an interstellar cop in the 24th Century, and you're looking for some bad guys, you just need to find the males with long hair! I think I've seen this commented on before, but it amuses me that almost all the villains in space have pony tails or shoulder length hair.

    "Torture doesn't give reliable, and there are far better methods to get that information without using torture. "


    Well, this could be potentially confusing. I'm pretty sure the writers of new Star Trek just... don't watch this show, considering all the canon it managed to add that Discovery and other shows tend to just ignore or not be aware of.

    I for one love this episode. It's one of my favorites for the series. Action packed from beginning to end, but not in an over the top way. It is very entertaining.

    Now to address the controversy that has taken over this comment section. Gene Roddenberry had a great vision, and his universe has given me more enjoyment than any other television franchise ever created. If there is one thing I think he was a bit too optimistic about, it was the idea that one day humans would stop being human, they would become perfect. I like that, starting with DS9, we start to see humans aren't perfect. Humanity has still come a long way from where we are today, it is clearly a much improved version, but people still are capable of doing morally wrong things, because they are human. I also what to point out that, since the events of this series take place 100 years prior to the events of TOS it should stand to reason that humans would not be as far along in this process as Kirk and his crew.

    @Filip pointed out a few comments up that people are missing the point of the torture scene, and I think he is right. It's not supposed to be the main thing you take away from the episode, what you should take away from it is the change in Archer. He's gone from being a kind man, who's constant refrain was "we're explorers", to a man who resorted to torture in an act of desperation. It was morally deplorable, but it's the type of morally deplorable thing a human in these circumstances could easily make. I think people forget how much different the situation is for Archer than it was for Kirk or Picard. There is no other Warp 5 ship, Archer is the only chance. If he fails at his mission their is no back-up, Earth is destroyed. The fate of the entire human race is on his shoulders and now he's seen all of his fuel stolen from him, undercutting his mission. It is a truly desperate situation, couple with the fact he lost someone under his command for what I believe is the first time. He does something morally deplorable, because he isn't perfect.

    I know many of the perfect people in this comment section would never do that, they know they would let themselves and the entire human race die, before they ever abandoned their moral principles. I am assuming none of you have actually had to test that conviction before (if you have I apologize for the assumption). I can tell you I have never had to test my moral convictions in such a desperate situation. I can tell you my sincere hope is that I would never violate my moral convictions, and I certainly would never plan on it. I do know i'm not perfect, which means I could end up doing something I would regret for the rest of my life (yes I believe Archer would regret this action). Thinking about it scares me, I hope I never have to face that kind of situation.

    I appreciate ST showing us that all though their characters have come a long way from where we are at today, they are not perfect, they are still human and capable of making major mistakes.

    @Zakalwe : Yep, exactly. Just because torture isn't reliable doesn't make it 100% unreliable. It may *still* be your best option for obtaining the information.
    If you think it never works, go research torture by N. Korea on US POWs during the Korean war. (And who knows how effective it might be on non-humans.... some species may be incapable of resisting.)

    Is it "moral"? No. Neither is war. Is it defensible? Maybe.

    Civilizations get the morality they can afford. In TNG, the Federation was at it's apex -- there's no real threats and torture was never necessary nor justified. In DS9, the Dominion posed an existential threat to the entire Alpha Quadrant. One of my favorite quotes is Sloan: "I sacrifice my morality, Doctor [Bashir], so you don't have to". And then there ITPM -- one of my all-time favorites.

    In ENT, the Xindi pose an existential threat to Earth. Archer isn't their to negotiate, he isn't there to sing Kumbaya -- he's there to stop the Xindi. Torture is the least of the "questionable" things he'll do to save Earth.

    I am liking this darker, grittier turn in the show.
    Great ep, hope they keep it going!

    Julia Rose was great in this ep. as Cpl. McKenzie! She looked awesome, so cool!

    It makes me so sad to see Trek fans defending torture. Even if it worked 100% of the time it’s still wrong, just like incarceration is wrong even if the person you’re incarcerating is dangerous. Really sad, hopefully in the future someone like Jonathan Archer would be seen as a despicable fascist not the father of the federation.

    @Luc your point is well taken, but when, like Archer, you’re faced with an existential threat, and the clock is ticking, the solutions are limited. You can say “ incarceration is wrong, even if the person you’re incarcerating is dangerous”— ok, then what is the alternative? What do you do if an individual is capable of harm—perhaps to you—RIGHT NOW? Incarcerate them? Incapacitate them? Kill them? These are real situations humans have faced throughout their existence. It’s because they present difficult, oftentimes gut-wrenching choices that they make for good storytelling because, as humans, they are not just stories—we are actually faced with these challenges.

    You can be against torture, incarceration, and execution, but unless you come up with realistic alternatives, you have to be ok with realizing that holding fast to your moral principles & doing nothing could result in your demise & the demise of many others. Yeah, being human ain’t easy & we don’t have all the answers yet—it’s why this discussion board is so lively.

    The background music in this was a step up. Felt almost Mass Effect-like, with Archer taking a couple of renegade actions. To me, that's how Enterprise should've been from the start, with some of the better lighter episodes mixed in.

    Archer again doesn’t seem like a great captain. They board the sphere and he starts shoving things off in frustration. He’s the captain. Can’t he be a bit dignified?

    Please note that it was Space Beagle Porthos, not the ship's sensors, who first detected the anomalies.

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