Star Trek: Enterprise


3 stars

Air date: 10/8/2003
Teleplay by Jonathan Fernandez
Story by Jonathan Fernandez & Terry Matalas
Directed by David Livingston

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Wait 'Til Next Year." — Chicago Cubs fan mantra

In brief: Effective as atmosphere. Just don't look for much else.

"Impulse" is a workable outing of style trumping substance, and of aggressive production design trumping sometimes-goofy action. Action shows like "The Xindi" or last week's "Rajiin" don't do a whole lot for me because they're mostly transparent exercises with no edge. "Impulse," it must be said, is also a transparent exercise, but at least it has an edge, with enough grit to be entertainingly disorienting. The story may be slight at best, but these sort of shows, if pulled off, don't necessarily require much story. Atmosphere — not insight — is the name of the game. If you're looking for more, you're going to be disappointed. You have been warned.

In the couple hours before and during the time that I watched the tape of "Impulse," I drank a bottle of wine. I'm not sure whether that was a good idea or a bad one, but it did make the experience somewhat more ... sensory-driven. Not that I'm recommending alcohol consumption (or abuse) in the face of "Impulse," because as it is this is an episode that doesn't need any sensory enhancements. Watch it with the lights turned off. That ought to do the trick. An e-mail correspondent wrote to me, "I think I am on the verge of a seizure," after watching this episode. In that case, turn the lights back on (or drink a bottle of wine).

The Enterprise receives a distress signal from the Vulcan ship Seleya (as in Mount Seleya?), which was pulled into the expanse some time ago. The last Vulcan ship to enter the expanse — the one that we learned in "The Expanse" was destroyed after its crew went mad — was the Vankaara, which was actually sent in to find the missing Seleya. The Enterprise discovers the Seleya adrift in an asteroid field that also happens to be rich with Trellium ore. The away team (Archer, T'Pol, Reed, and MACO Hawkins) boards the Seleya to rescue its crew, but instead they find a battered ship and a crew of Vulcans who have been infected in some manner that turns them into violent monsters. In a paranoid, zombie-like state, they attack the away team. It is not open to discussion.

This is, I must admit, a plot somwhat reminiscent of the Andromeda episode "Dance of the Mayflies," a horrendous hour of action camp that in retrospect was a clear warning sign that I would not be an Andromeda viewer for much longer. The difference between "Mayflies" and "Impulse" is that "Mayflies" offered unwatchable camp while "Impulse" steers in the direction of respectably intense atmosphere. The show is just this side of plausible: The Vulcans may be implacable monsters who do not have the power of reason (so why have they not slaughtered each other, and why do they gang up on the away team, etc.?), but at least they aren't cartoon players. The action uses them within a semi-plausible physical world, in a horror-movie setting with unfriendly mise-en-scene rather than colorful bubble-gum flavors.

The Vulcans seal off the corridors so the away team cannot get back to their shuttle, so they must now fight their way through another route. At stake here is T'Pol, who is afflicted by the same condition that has doomed the Seleya crew to terminal insanity. T'Pol begins her own slow descent into madness and paranoia, becoming more of a liability for the away team than an ally. There are some scenes that work reasonably as tension, like when T'Pol pulls a phaser on Archer, who must then try to appeal to T'Pol's rapidly fading sense of logic. Jolene Blalock is game for these scenes, although her loss of control feels a little too "acted" to be genuinely effective.

Thinking too hard about any of this will only reveal the silliness of the plot. My advice: Don't. Okay, I will point out that it strikes me as unlikely that Vulcans whose emotions are allowed to run rampant would simply become perfect movie monsters interested only in killing everyone. I also find it a bit convenient that the Enterprise happens upon the Seleya at just the right time to find that the crew has gone insane but hasn't died of the illness or by their own hands.

It turns out that poisoning from the Trellium in the asteroid field is the cause of the Vulcans' condition, because it breaks down the neural pathways that allow them to suppress their emotions (or something). This has an interesting implication, because the Trellium that Trip and Mayweather salvage from the asteroid field can't be used to protect the ship from anomalies because it would kill T'Pol. The episode's one iota of substance comes when T'Pol volunteers to leave the ship so Archer can install the Trellium, and Archer refuses because T'Pol is part of his crew. Moving, no. Palatable, yes.

I also liked the pseudo-twist ending, where movie night segues into T'Pol's distressing nightmare. Psychological terror can make for some interesting imagery.

About all I can say is that either you like the execution of all this or you don't. David Livingston has opted to shoot most of the scenes aboard the Seleya with a shortened film exposure that gives the motion a harsher look — a trendy technique that Enterprise has been using much more of lately, but one that fits the material here. There are also lots of nifty special-effects shots depicting a convincing asteroid field where big rocks are constantly slamming into and pulverizing one other. And inside the confines of the Seleya are strobe lights. Lots of strobe lights. Visually, this works; the cumulative effect manages to boost the show's intensity.

"Impulse" is sort of a guilty pleasure. It is entertaining solely for its superficial visual qualities — hard metallic surfaces, gritty debris, stylized lighting, a cramped setting that manages to close in on the characters, horror-movie-inspired images that are about style rather than content. I can't commend this show on the basis of its substance, because there isn't any. But this is an episode that looks really good and works on its basic chosen level, which this week seems like enough for a qualified endorsement.

Next week: Hoshi. An alien. A big choice. (Hey, the preview didn't give me much to work with.)

Previous episode: Rajiin
Next episode: Exile

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◄ Season Index

57 comments on this post

Sat, Sep 15, 2007, 10:36pm (UTC -6)
Not a bad zombie episode. But why does the commando side-character get more lines than Travis? Most of the other Trek series took the time to flesh out all of their characters-- even that Morn guy. This series only focuses on the 3 characters.
Mon, Oct 8, 2007, 10:42pm (UTC -6)
A few weeks ago, an illness featuring vulcan immunity.

This week, an illness featuring human immunity...

Nice how that works out. I am sure were the show not from a human point of view, there would be more illnesses that would affect the center species more.

I found it odd that once they found out they couldn't help them they kept with the stun setting 'sure, we could be killed by them, but god forbid we murder them before we have a chance to murder them in a family friendly manner!'

Still, the show seems to have a good deal of continuity going this season, which never hurts.
Sat, May 29, 2010, 9:28pm (UTC -6)
Jammer is spot on with this review. There is not a a whole lot of substance here, but it had good lighting, action, pace and atmosphere. I felt Impulse was entertaining enough to hold water. It was roughly the equivalent of a monster-of-the-week type episode, and such shows usually provide a good diversion from an ongoing story arc, in this case the Xindi.
Mon, Mar 21, 2011, 2:14pm (UTC -6)
Vulcan Zombies... only in the expanse. Great episode for watching late at night. I jumped quite a few times haha.
Mon, Apr 16, 2012, 12:51pm (UTC -6)
I like what the episode was going for...a zombie movie. Unfortunately, the episode just didn't hold my interest. Other than several chase scenes, there really wasn't much plot to focus on. I thought the reveal of T'Pol's delusions was actually a lame device and was another thing that put me off this episode. But, hey, what do I know?
Scott of Detroit
Mon, Aug 20, 2012, 8:21pm (UTC -6)
I did not find this episode very entertaining. My wife was having issues with the strobes, she has epilepsy.

Not much of a story at all. It was like one of those zombie-end-of-the-world movies you see.

I give it two-stars.

Watchable, but not much further than that.
Tue, Aug 28, 2012, 3:32am (UTC -6)
I wouldn't have rated this more than 2 stars. I didn't see the purpose of this as a zombie story. Vulcans who can't control their emotions are just called Romulans. There is no reason to believe they turn into killing machines that don't speak.

Also, there shouldn't have been any gravity on that small asteroid Trip landed on. It wasn't even large enough to hold a spherical shape, yet even small bodies like the moon or mercury have significantly reduced gravity. They should not have been able to land on that asteroid at all because there is nothing to hold them there.
Sat, Nov 24, 2012, 5:23pm (UTC -6)
"I can't save humanity without holding onto what makes us human" - THANK YOU Archer, that's more like it! That's what I wanted to hear a couple of episodes ago. That gave me the warm "Star Trek" glow that has been missing this season so far. There's hope for this guy yet.

I see we have the classic "little asteroid with enough mass to have the same gravity as Earth" thing again...

Not sure about what was basically zombies, but it worked well enough particularly to see some fear put into our Vulcan.

As for the lighting, I felt on the verge of a seizure too and I'm not even epileptic. The strobing in this episode was intense and there was one part where it was genuinely quite uncomfortable watching it. They really need (well, needED, I keep talking as if it's still airing) a new way to convey a battered ship than the classic "blinking lights".

Also I agree with Omega - given the criticisms a couple of episodes ago about Vulcans always being immune to things, it's nice seeing them weak to something for a change.

It was fine - I'd go so far as to say the best episode of the season so far, unfortunately that's not saying much :P
John the younger
Tue, Jan 1, 2013, 12:59am (UTC -6)
A Trek zombie movie is a bit like watching pornography that doesn't have any nudity in it.

Also, aren't Vulcans meant to have 3 times the strength of humans? Even a mildy 'sick' T'Pol is weak as piss.

Also, how has the Vulcan ship not been pulverised by asteroids by now?

Also, all the other criticisms people have made.

2 stars.
Lt. Yarko
Sun, May 19, 2013, 12:36pm (UTC -6)
Vulcan zombies! Sweet! The strobing lights were way too much tho. A little of that goes along way.
Fri, Dec 13, 2013, 4:37am (UTC -6)
I must step in to defend this episode from some of the bashing it's received. What is this elusive "substance" that the episode is lacking? What prior episodes provided a baseline to look for this "substance"? Enterprise is basically a Bermaga love-child, it was hardly going to be competitive against contemporary drama. The only Trek which consistently provided us with politics, consequences and character growth (I assume these qualify as substance) was DS9.

I purely love this episode. It creates a terrific atmosphere, intense, claustrophobic, with a genuinely dire situation. The action is intense with the shortened exposure actually making a Trek fight seem like it was made for a contemporary audience instead of people shooting down corridors while someone walks up behind them and blasts them.

I also love the fact that T'Pol berates the MACO for setting his gun to kill. The Vulcans might be homicidal zombies, but they're living beings and Star Trek's heroes does not condone the killing of living beings.

The long shot of Enterprise dwarfed by bizarrely clashing rocks is excellent. The B-plot seemed an unnecessary way to involve other characters but just added more peril.

As for Archer refusing to coat the NX-01 in trellium D for T'Pol's sake, I am actually shocked that Jammer disagrees with this decision. What is T'Pol going to do, take a shuttlepod and float around the expanse? Settle on some unknown world? Die of insanity? It seems like yet another excuse to bash Archer's decisions, something which has likely become a habit by this point in his reviews.

There are many points in the review I DO agree on but I think the criticism is way too nit-picky. Can't people just sit down and enjoy an action-oriented episode, especially when it's as well-presented as this? Can ENT ever win?
John G
Wed, May 21, 2014, 5:09am (UTC -6)
The highlight of the whole episode for me was the diss by T’Pol during the dream sequence at the movies, and Trip’s gaping well-i-never reaction. Yes, it was over the top and silly, but I *loved* it.

I didn’t care much for this one. Zombie Vulcans just seems way too formulaic for me, even more than usual in this series. I agree with NoPost that a lot of the criticisms here have been nit-picky and generally am happy to go along for the ride, but this one just seemed like some teenager thought it would be kewl to have zombie Vulcans because zombies are keel and Vulcans are kewl. Ice cream and porterhouse steak are great, too, but I wouldn’t want to mix them.

Meanwhile one thing that occurred to me, given all the comparisons to “Voyager”, is that I for one enjoy “Enterprise” far more than I did “Voyager”…in part because Phlox is far more interesting and entertaining a character (not to mention just plain better acted) than Neelix. If I were Janeway I would have put Neelix out the airlock first chance I got. Phlox, however, is possibly my favorite character on the show, with Trip a close second.
Sun, Jun 22, 2014, 2:15pm (UTC -6)
This episode provides an example of why, with no disrespect intended to Jammer, I am starting to feel that these reviews are plagued with several problems.

In continuity terms, "Impulse," is an important episode. We've known for a while that the Enterprise needs Trellium-D on the inside of her hull, to guard against the weird spatial anomalies in the Expanse. With this episode, however, we learn several things, which have implications later.

a} Trellium-D destroys Vulcan emotional control.

b} This is likely the reason why T'Pol displays an uncharacteristic lack of emotional control throughout the rest of the series; from memory, elsewhere we are actually told this.

c} This episode gives us resolution of, and a (decent, in my opinion) rational explanation for the Event Horizon-like footage which was sent back to the Vulcans from the Seleya.

d} Although it isn't explicitly mentioned, this will likely cause major problems for Vulcans wishing to travel in the Expanse in the future. Their government would probably need to come up with some sort of treatment to protect them from the effects of the Trellium.

In other words, contrary to what Jammer states, from my perspective there actually *is* insight to be found here, and a decent amount of it. The degree of chaos which Vulcans are depicted as experiencing once their emotional control is removed is exaggerated, (I think Tim Russ' portrayal of Tuvok in "Meld," was probably more realistic) but that was the only real problem I had with this episode.

The other reason why I point this out, is because a lot of the time, Jammer not only neglects to mention continuity which does exist, but he also complains that there is none, when very often that is not the case. I recently did another re-assessment of Voyager, and subsequently wrote an episode guide of my own on Reddit. As a result of that process, I discovered that Voyager actually did have quite a large amount of continuity in various ways. It generally wasn't strictly episode to episode, no; and it also wasn't always explicitly stated, but it was there. You'd often get foreshadowing of certain events which came later, as well as sequel episodes to various concepts, which sometimes came a year or so after the original episode.

Character development to me was often implicit, as well; I felt that Barge of the Dead built on earlier material in B'Elanna's character arc, to the point where she probably wouldn't have been developmentally ready for that experience, if it hadn't been for the other stuff she went through first in "Faces," or "Blood Fever," etc. Then of course there was her relationship with Tom; by the time "Day of Honour" rolled around, they'd already been circling each other for a while.

A third major problem with these reviews, which only becomes apparent after you read a number of them and re-watch the relevant episodes, is that I think Jammer really *did* suffer from an overwhelming degree of positive bias towards Deep Space Nine in particular. He tended to judge pretty much anything else here, on the basis of a comparison with DS9. There have been numerous times when I've seen bad reviews here for a given episode, and after watching it and discovering that it was at least decent, (if not stellar) have been left with the impression that the main reason why Jammer didn't like it, was simply because it wasn't DS9, or perhaps didn't have the focus on interpersonal drama that DS9 had.

The TNG episode "Justice," comes to mind as an example of this. Yes, a lot of the framing material was absolutely mediocre, but at the episode's core was what I considered to be an interesting and worthwhile dilemma, concerning the Prime Directive; and whether or not Starfleet were simply going to adhere to it when it was convenient, or uphold it consistently, even if that meant their own people dying as a result.

My advice to future readers, as a result, is that while these reviews *are* genuinely valuable, they should be taken with a certain amount of salt, and not necessarily regarded as the final word. Jammer is human, like the rest of us. If you're anything like me, you will often find yourself disagreeing with him, and you will likely also notice things that he has missed.
Mon, Jan 19, 2015, 2:35pm (UTC -6)
I missed the first episodes of series 3 first time around n years ago so it is nice to catch up with the DVDs.
I thought this was an 'OK' episode. The Vulcan Zombies were just Borg drones really-working in concert to defeat the Enterprise crew. If we think about how Spock behaves in Amok Time when the plak tow has got hold of him we can just about believe in the paranoia and aggression displayed in this episode.
Archer's little speech to T'Pol at the end is justifiable and I don't care a hoot for concepts of Star Trek heroes with their unshakeable moral superiority: much more credible that he shoves people in the airlock.However he would save T'Pol.
Mon, Feb 9, 2015, 5:45pm (UTC -6)
"Dawn Of The Dead" + "28 Days Later" + a smidge of "The Poseidon Adventure" = "Impulse"

I'm glad you listed the air date, I figured this one would have aired in October, although I thought it would have been closer to Halloween.

Not a bad episode, it did move the overall story arc ahead a bit, and answered some questions left over (like what actually happened to those Vulcans we saw on the video back on Earth), but really, it didn't do much for me.

I was surprised to see the MaCO not turn out to a TOS red shirt!
Tue, Mar 17, 2015, 12:13am (UTC -6)
For me, that Trellium D is a neurotoxin justifies the crazy excess beyond "they just lose control of their emotions". Nope. That's not all. Neurotoxins destroy the nervous system. I'm surprised these Vulcans could walk.

I was also disappointed with the ending which, in characteristically Trek fashion, allows the writers to commit unspeakable atrocities in service to the convenience of the plot despite all posturing to the opposite. Let's say, for the sake of argument that it WERE possible to medicate and restore to health the entirety of that Vulcan crew. Now what?

That's the point where Star Trek could really afford to shine, by fulfilling its stated mandate to ask the tough questions. But the writers always find the same excuses to allow themselves of the hook.

"Their synaptic pathways are too far degraded."

"They were doomed before we ever arrived."

Oh yeah? Too convenient. Because otherwise the Enterprise would have to deal with the fallout of what happens when you no have to house 140 potentially emotionally unstable Vulcans on a ship designed for nearly half that many humans. Do we have enough food to go around? Are we going to throw these refugees into our already tightly packed storage bays? Or should we share beds in three 8 hour rotations like on a Navy Submarine? What kind of stress would that put on the crewmen whose personal space has been violated? Would fights break out aboard ship over the new scarcity of vital resources?

Everyone wants to act like mankind has fundamentally evolved to become better. That's Gene's whole vision of the future. But I think that people are basically the same as we ever were or ever will be. And it's just that we all have such better access to resources that helps us get along so much better than our ancestors. Take all of that away and let's just see how much more evolved humans or even Vulcans are in just a few hundred years.

For my money, shrinking the action of Vulcan zombies down to half of the episode and having to deal with the consequences of altruism for the second half would've made for more satisfying TV. It's easy to tout the Vulcan mantra that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. But how many folks would invoke that same doctrine when Enterprise's mission to save the 7 something billion people is now in jeopardy because they stopped to save 140 Vulcans?

When T'Pol suggested marooning herself on a habitable planet for the duration of Enterprise's mission, I thought... great idea! But once again we get a Janeway style speech about how every single person is important even though their presence risks the entire crew. But don't worry Star Trek, because there are never any negative consequences for choosing the moral high road.

All of this antiquated optimism explains for me, why Enterprise and indeed Star Trek as television failed in the early Oh's, only to be replaced by a continuous cycle of series starring villain as protagonist. As a society, we're no longer under the misguided opinion that we're part of some noble species destined for greatness. We've finally matured to the realization that as individuals, as a society or even as a species, we're not the moral guardians of peace and justice that we once perceived ourselves to be. At best, we're morally conflicted anti-heroes, forced to make pragmatic compromises when confronted with the complexities of a cold and uncaring universe. At worst, we're a self-interested race of villains who won't be stopped in our quest to spread our particular genetic imprint throughout the entire galaxy. And we're becoming strangely comfortable with that. The older I get, the less interest I have in watching the outerspace equivalent of Prince Charming come swooping in on his big white space ship to play hero without ever messing up his hair. I'll take my Starfleet like Tyrion Lannister, please. Let's stop trying to out adventure the universe and start trying to out think it.
Mon, Apr 6, 2015, 1:09am (UTC -6)
urfrend they gave more screen time to the damned dog than they did Mayweather. For a series that allegedy prides itself on equality towards all they sure haven't given as much "equal" time to this guy.

And seeing more of these grunts is almost deterring me from wanting to see how this all pans out. Gene must be spinning in his grave.
Sat, May 30, 2015, 3:52am (UTC -6)
Another one of many I never caught during the show's first run.

As far as low concept action/sci-fi/zombie horror goes I thought it was a respectable outing. It's not nearly as nuanced as Farscape's zombie horror episode "Eat Me" from two years prior, but given I never had high expectations for Enterprise the emphasis on visual showmanship here proved entertaining enough.
W Smith
Sun, Jun 21, 2015, 2:25pm (UTC -6)
Vulcan zombies... how does these ideas make it out of the writers' room? I remember an interview with Michael Pillar where he pitched to Gene Roddenberry a story about Q taking the Enterprise crew and Picard on a crazy romp through the galaxy. And Gene responded, but what's it about? Meaning Star Trek stories should have greater meaning and value than just a fun romp. Pillar at that moment got that Trek was different and meant to have higher-minded storytelling. This episode had nice production values, but a hollow story with little resonance. Why didn't the Vulcans just kill each other if they all had paranoia? Making them into Romero zombies just made no sense. All those asteroids pounding the hull should have destroyed the ship in short order. Star Trek should be better than this trite and cliche storytelling.
Mon, Aug 3, 2015, 1:51am (UTC -6)
I liked the ending when I saw where it was going, but then I was surprised because I didn't know whether it was a fusion of real life and T'Pol's lingering mental condition or if all of it was just a dream from when she was first brought into sickbay.

But then I remembered that Trip and Archer were discussing movie night at the start of the episode before T'Pol entered. Trip recommended they watch a comedy to help "boost morale" and then T'Pol enters and Trip only mentions they're watching a movie, not specifying the genre.

So we see them watching a movie towards the end and it's some gritty 40's detective movie and not the comedy Trip had mentioned earlier to Archer. So suffice to say that T'Pol never left sickbay.

I would have liked it if at the end, when she's fighting Vulcan zombies, if she were actually fighting the crew. It would have made for a better ending and maybe given a little more insight into exactly what the Vulcans had suffered. But what do I know? Still a decent episode.
Tue, Nov 10, 2015, 9:20am (UTC -6)
The episode itself was okay, I guess.

What really bugged me, though, is the teaser. Why give a substantial part of the ending away in the first 30 seconds?
Tue, Nov 10, 2015, 11:08am (UTC -6)

I agree. That was a "thing" back in the early 2000's.
Diamond Dave
Tue, Apr 26, 2016, 1:58pm (UTC -6)
Zombie Vulcans - you could see that pitch a mile away. This indeed did create an interestingly claustrophobic atmosphere, and the strobe lighting (while probably a bit overdone) did add to the unusual effect. There were a few decent jumps, accepting this is Star Trek so the splatter is unlikely to be featured!

But really all this was was a long haunted house show and it didn't really transcend the genre - indeed a number of cliches were apparent, including the false ending. 2 stars.
David Pirtle
Thu, Sep 15, 2016, 11:10pm (UTC -6)
*pew pew pew pew

My review of the season thus far.
Tue, Dec 20, 2016, 4:14pm (UTC -6)
Agree entirely with Petrus.

These reviews are becoming so biased, and I'd even say agenda driven, that they are becoming largely unreadable. The show hasn't been given a fair chance by Jammer from the off in my view, and by now he sounds like somebody operating entirely on confirmation bias.

Excellent parts of the show (of which there are many) are mentioned briefly or ignored altogether, and minor issues or flaws are blown out of all proportion.

Without wishing to be too harsh or personal, I've lost all interest in reading the reviews because I can see the biases a mile away. I predominantly come here to glance at the comments for each episode now.
Peter G.
Tue, Dec 20, 2016, 4:27pm (UTC -6)
@ Bluedylan,

"These reviews are becoming so biased, and I'd even say agenda driven, that they are becoming largely unreadable. The show hasn't been given a fair chance by Jammer from the off in my view, and by now he sounds like somebody operating entirely on confirmation bias."

Someone here is indeed operating on confirmation bias, but I don't believe it's Jammer. His reviews are noteworthy in how fair they are and how they typically refrain from making extreme judgments. In case you think I'm in on his conspiracy to pretend that ENT is a weak show, the vast, vast majority of people I've heard speak of or review ENT seem to agree on a spectrum verging from mediocre down to plain bad. Unlike Voyager, which seems to spawn extreme diverging views (some people thinking it's the best Trek series, others thinking it's dreck), the jury seems to be nearly unanimous that ENT wasn't good and that it was the final nail in the coffin of Roddenberry Trek.

If you like it that's really good for you, no sarcasm intended. But taking a review that more or less falls right in the center of the majority and calling it biased and agenda driven is a bit much.
Sun, Apr 16, 2017, 2:38am (UTC -6)
This episode indeed conveys important information about Trellium-D and its interference in Vulcan emotional control, but did we really have to endure an episode as silly as this to learn that?

I thought Jammer was being kind to it. I'd have given it two stars. And I wrote an optimistic review of the season two finale, and a glowing review of Anomaly'. It's just that so far this season hasn't lived up to the promise and standards set by those episodes. Pointing this out isn't nescessarily bias. I certainly don't want ENT to bore me with schlocky episodes just so I can enjoy whinging about them; I don't know about Jammer. And to be honest, if Voyager or ENT suffer by comparison to DS9, I don't think it's the viewer's fault.
Wed, Jun 21, 2017, 4:44pm (UTC -6)
I hate zombie shows. How many more transformation episodes will we endure?
Tue, Sep 12, 2017, 7:14am (UTC -6)
For those saying that Jammer is biased towards DS9, that may or not be so, but that's his prerogative. He can like what he wants. But I will point out that he gave this episode 3 stars, which seems like it is higher than the general consensus of the commenters so far would give it, and that he didn't mention DS9 once in this review.

Personally I think DS9 was the second worst Star Trek show. My first run through I thought it was quite good, but after watching it through again, and also rewatching Voyager and Enterprise to boot, it doesn't hold up very well. I think Enterprise beats both of them easily. Of course all of the shows have some great episodes and some terrible episodes, but in general, Enterprise had more consistently good ones. And Voyager is mostly terrible, with some decent episodes and only a very few great ones. DS9 is mostly just average all the time.

I like this episode quite a bit. I thought it was spooky and fun. I enjoy how there are several episodes of Enterprise that are pretty much straight up horror movies.

3 stars from me
Wed, Oct 11, 2017, 4:47pm (UTC -6)
Another morally untenable episode. Let's not even attempt to save 140 of our allies because they're terminally ill? The Vulcans had been on the ship for at least 6 months and Archer requires several hours to evacuate after it becomes unstable. I think the Vulcan Science Directorate would have preferred a chance to attempt treating them rather than leaving them all to die.
Sat, Nov 4, 2017, 3:29pm (UTC -6)
I didn't like that they just killed all of those Vulcans.

First off, just because Phlox can't immediately miracle up a cure doesn't mean that a cure couldn't be found by someone else given years of study.

Second, even if they are truly uncurable, they belong in an insane asylum being made as comfortable as possible. They don't deserve to be summarily executed.

It all just feels very handwavey so they can make this a one-and-done episode when the issues involved aren't one-and-done at all.
Thu, Nov 9, 2017, 2:26am (UTC -6)
After skimming over that premise, I'm going to have to disregard Jammer's recommendation and proceed with alcohol consumption immediately.

Our prologue is basically T'Pol going insane. Going back one day, the story begins with the Enterprise investigating a Vulcan ship that was pulled into the expanse. The asteroid-dodging scenes are very good and lead nicely into the creepier part where they board the stranded vessel. And then ... bring on the zombies! I'm not buying the premise that Vulcans sans control would be like THIS. I think they just wanted an excuse to do a zombie movie in space. Granted, it's not a bad zombie movie, and it's helped by the best performance I've seen yet from Jolene Blalock. But beyond that, there's not really a whole lot to say about it.

So, what kind of drinking game can we play with this? Take a shot every time they blast a zombie? I'd be throwing up all over myself even before the final escape scene. I'm open to suggestions though. Trip and Phlox talking during the movie is pretty amusing, and T'Pol's hallucinations suggest this will be an ongoing issue. More continuity is always welcome. The downside is that the episode is underdeveloped, implausible and like other ENT outings it doesn't really feel like Star Trek to me; I know I keep harping on that. Yes, it's spooky and fun, but there are plenty of shows and movies that explore that territory. I watch Trek to see something that will make me think. 'Impulse' doesn't do that, and never really tries. In that sense, it's a disappointment. I'd give it two stars.
Fri, Jan 19, 2018, 3:06pm (UTC -6)
Fairly typical ENT episode here with plenty of action scenes and a minimal plot -- just to show the dangers of the expanse and the effect trellium can have on Vulcans -- turning them into violent zombies instead of unemotional intellectuals. I don't think there's anything more profound here than that, but not a total waste of an hour either.

Blalock gives a pretty good performance of a Vulcan losing control, gaining in paranoia and violent tendencies. Archer is also good in trying to reason with her and his steely determination.

One of the problems with ENT episodes is they're action sequence heavy but light on the intelligence. "Impulse" spends too much time with the away team wandering around the Vulcan ship fighting zombie Vulcans and trying to escape. The action scenes aren't bad in themselves -- just that they go on for quite a long time. Have to wonder why more Vulcan zombies didn't get phasers and try to use them on the Enterprise away team.

Some really well done visuals with the asteroid field moving in random ways and the shuttlepods trying to fly through them. The Vulcan ship getting destroyed was pretty cool too.

Barely 2.5 stars for "Impulse" -- not much needs to be said about this one. Good action scenes and visuals carry this episode and being part of a season-long arc, ENT can take an episode here and there just to focus on the effects of the environment of the expanse on the crew.
Tue, Jun 26, 2018, 1:33am (UTC -6)
While I generally dislike the zombie genre and think the film industry pushed the narrative about this Caribbean-African myth (voodoo) for entertainment purposes too much over decades since 'White Zombie', Vulcans turning into beasts under devastating influence of Trellium make sense to me storywise.
You just have to look into their distorted, mutated faces to understand the effect goes more far than just switching off logic and turning on paranoia. The Vulcan chief engineer interrogated by T'Pol isn't capable of recognizing her, a former ship mate, lest saying something. He was turned into a beast, we have to assume what's left of the Vulcan brain is an animal-like horde drive which makes them behave like they do. And other physical changes go along with it.
However, the issue why they haven't killed each other in the months of being stuck here in the asteroid field is a viable one. Also, how they survived such long,, what they are eating meantime or how they keep the remaining ship systems alive? Repairs, we learn, have been tried (like that sealing effort discovered by the away team) to little extent.
Commentators blame Archer for letting them die and not taking them on board the Enterprice for rescue. I don't think he had a choice. First, there is the mission to find the Xindi, which would be thwarted with 140 madmen on board. Second, how to bring them over and where to keep them in such way they don't turn against the crew? The only reason to rescue them would be to find a cure or study the effect on them by scientists later on Vulcan. But does that not turn the sick into guinea pigs/lab mice? Something questionable in itself?
As it is no contagious disease, you don't have to find necessarily an antidote for saving Vulcan civilization - just don't fly into the expanse if you are Vulcan, that is the only conclusion.
Atmosphere shown on the doomed vessel was excellently done and the exploration created tension. I was just wondering how that huge hole through the ship, evidently caused by a rock having shot through, did not cause a loss of air and what else comes deadly with no protection left from space.
Mon, Jan 14, 2019, 9:23pm (UTC -6)
I think the episode was pretty good as an action piece except for the implication that once emotional control is removed, Vulcans become paranoid homcidal maniacs who nevertheless cooperate with each other to fight outsiders. It would have been better to describe the effects of Trellium on Vulcans a bit differently.

I can think of three episodes of TOS where Spock had his emotional control removed. In Amok Time, he becomes violent, as he also does in All Out Yesterday’s. But in This Side of Paradise, he initially reacts very differently, becoming joyful and romantic. It’s a better illustration of unchained emotion. Vulcans on the Selaya could have been shown to have individualized responses: some violent, yes, others depressed, others jealous or silly or whatever. It would have been nice to see some sequence where a Vulcan (perhaps T’Pol) who hasn’t quite lost all control acts deeply ashamed for the unseemly outburst. The Bulcan control and reliance on logic is always something that appealed to me personally and endeared me so much to TOS. I can’t help but think that the writers on this show didn’t like Vulcans. They always seem to cast them as antagonists any chance they get.
Jason R.
Tue, Aug 13, 2019, 6:04pm (UTC -6)
"A Trek zombie movie is a bit like watching pornography that doesn't have any nudity in it."

This. What is it about Enterprise that's just so consistently mediocre? I feel like each episode is a solid 2 stars, maybe 2.5 stars, with a rare 3 sprinkled in. There are even pretty good characters like Hoshi and Flox. Heck even T'Pol is starting to grow on me. But nearly three and a half seasons in and it just never gels.

At this point I feel like I'm just doing nerd homework watching this series.
Peter G.
Tue, Aug 13, 2019, 7:06pm (UTC -6)
@ Jason R.,

AFAIK it was pretty well-understood, even while the series was still on the air, that the cast just had no chemistry with each other. I don't know how much of an explanation this can really be for the various problems ENT has, which in my opinion also includes the scripting and even the general [lack of] direction of the series. Personally I think the actual show concept is deeply flawed, and the casting of the Captain exemplifies it. How can a show rise above being mediocre when its entire premise is that average Joe American is as good as any other Captain and can win the day through honest-to-goodness simple values and common sense rather than book lernin'. I mean the dog really says it all. It sells the Captaincy the way George W Bush sold the Presidency - the guy next door who might just as soon be on a ranch as in the command seat. I guess this is like Cdr. Eddington's manifesto taken seriously by the showrunners.

As it happens I sympathize with the notion that being 'book-smart' isn't all there is to it, but I don't think portraying the Captain as a sort of bumpkin is the way to go about that kind of story. I may be going a bit far attributing this as the core of the show's lack of greatness, but it's my first instinct to think it is.
Jason R.
Tue, Aug 13, 2019, 8:50pm (UTC -6)
@Peter G. I actually don't even have a problem with Archer by season 3. He isn't even really a bumpkin anymore. That was more of a season 1 thing.

Part of the issue, apart from weak crew chemistry and mediocre story concepts, is overall "direction" as you put it. The whole show, from the very first episode, just immediately jumped the shark with this Temporal Cold War malarky. Halfway through season 3 with the Xindi arc and we are still down the same rabbit hole because even the poor Xindi can't stand alone without handlers from the future.

It just sucks that the story of the first human starship and the birth of the Federation has been hijacked, the players made into pawns in their own events. Did anyone in the 22nd century accomplish anything on their own?

They even have an encyclopedia of the future stashed in one of the ship's cabins on a data pad. God they should just open the little magic pad and look at the Memory Alpha entry on the Xindi. Problem solved, story over. God this is stupid!
Wed, Aug 14, 2019, 10:30am (UTC -6)
I don't think Scott Bakula is particularly good casting either. I watched Quantum Leap as a child and couldn't get that image of him being an Earth time jumper out of my head. Instead of trekking across the cosmos, the dude just looks like he should be out in Nebraska building a baseball field for dream players to play on while Ziggy tells him his time isn't up yet.
Rattrap Maximize!
Mon, Sep 2, 2019, 1:23pm (UTC -6)
I more or less agree with both Dave and NoPoet on this episode. Not much I can add to that.

Something brought up by kythe:

"I wouldn't have rated this more than 2 stars. I didn't see the purpose of this as a zombie story. Vulcans who can't control their emotions are just called Romulans. There is no reason to believe they turn into killing machines that don't speak."

This brings up a question that the show clearly (and unfortunately) had no interest in asking -- just *what if* Vulcans with no emotional control ARE, in fact, hyper-violent killing machines?

Following from that, what if their strict adherence to emotional suppression was merely the consensus best-available solution to a deep, fundamental flaw in the 'Vulcan Condition'?

Following further, what if the Romulans were simply a portion of the Vulcan populace who disagreed with the idea of emotional suppression, and simply developed different ways of managing the darker parts of the Vulco-Romulan psyche.

What if the 'fully matured' Vulcan and Romulan societies are the products of differing lines of thought, regarding the best ways to manage a hyper-violent Id? (a slightly re-worded version of the previous question).

From what I've learned over the years, emotional suppression is largely an unhealthy thing. What if the shared base tendencies are such that Romulan civilization

1) Allows for freer expression and management of emotions, thus...
2)... a given Romulan is --individually-- more emotionally/mentally/psychologically healthy than a given Vulcan, yet...
3) ... a civilization which allows such free psychological expression is susceptible to the darker elements of said psyche becoming a defining characteristic or guiding principle upon which the civilization as a whole is based.

WHEREAS Vulcan civilization:

1) Insists on --frankly oppressive-- emotional suppression of the individual, thus...
2) A given Vulcan is more psychologically unhealthy than a Romulan, despite their often calm outward demeanor, yet...
3) ... a civilization which works so hard at suppressing their emotions, and which ostracizes those who can't/don't, ends up out-thinking the hyper-violent tendencies which would otherwise make that civilization unsustainable in the long run. The unhealthy self-denial of the individual allows the civilization to flourish alongside many other worlds.

This could be seen as the Vulcans choosing a sort of conceptual dictatorship -- where logic is the dictator, and slavish subservience is ensured through strict social conditioning. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few... or the one.

The Romulans, on the other hand, choose a certain freedom of expression, which allows a toxic and fundamental aspect of their psyche to take hold on a civilizational level. This makes them less amenable to diplomatic relations with other worlds.


BUT, as I said earlier, this show isn't interested in asking these questions. The following quote from Cetric proves as much

"You just have to look into their distorted, mutated faces to understand the effect goes more far than just switching off logic and turning on paranoia. The Vulcan chief engineer interrogated by T'Pol isn't capable of recognizing her, a former ship mate, lest saying something. He was turned into a beast, we have to assume what's left of the Vulcan brain is an animal-like horde drive which makes them behave like they do. And other physical changes go along with it."

This condition goes FAR beyond simple inability to control emotion. This loss of all higher functions altogether. This isn't representative of a possible Vulcan psyche, but rather what's left of their reptilian brain (or equivalent) simply reacting violently in a violent situation.

And it's too bad. Dave pointed out the 'what if', with regards to the possibility of rescuing the Vulcans, and having to deal with the fallout of having 140+ new residents on your cramped vessel, all recovering from a severe psychological illness during a desperate mission to save your own world from annihilation. That's a story I want to watch. But Enterprise pulled its punches by making the Vulcans a lost cause, and blowing them up.

Similarly, exploring the possibility that Vulcans *are* in fact a fundamentally hyper-violent race, and what that implies about both how Vulcan AND Romulan society developed in response, offers a potentially fascinating and status-quo breaking insight into both civilizations. But again, Enterprise pulls its punches, by turning the Vulcans into straight-up zombies.

This is the major failing endemic to Berman/Braga era Trek. FAR too often, compelling problems are presented, but then completely worked in such a way that all the compelling aspects of said problems are ignored/evaded completely, in favor of some utterly toothless, unrealistically convenient, uninteresting, 'safe', status-quo-maintaining resolution.

I often get the sense that whoever was making the decisions in the B&B era, be it writers, producers, or network, didn't actually *see* how compelling the situations they came up with were. The situations were just a means to an already-scripted end.

Maybe it's the fault of the more episodic TV of the time. I don't know.

I haven't seen Discovery yet, but I hope it goes all-in on asking the compelling questions.

Having said that, I absolutely enjoyed the production value and presentation of the episode. I'll give it three stars for being utterly watchable, despite the shying away from the big questions, and despite the seizure-inducing visuals, Seriously. They should have put a warning in front of that episode.
Kevin Eanes
Fri, Oct 23, 2020, 8:02pm (UTC -6)
I found it odd that the deranged Vulcans were able to cooperate with each other, working together to set traps and so forth. If T'Pol's paranoia towards Archer is any example, they should have turned against each other.

Another seeming inconsistency is that in Act One we see several big asteroids unpredictably crashing into each other, yet in the B plot Mayweather and Trip land on a big asteroid just like the crashing ones we already saw and spend hours physically on the asteroid mining it, without any apparent concerns that it might crash into another one, likely killing both of them.

Nevertheless, if one suspends one's disbelief, this is basically a zombie horror movie in Star Trek form, and on that level it works well enough in terms of atmosphere and dramatic tension.
Sean J Hagins
Sat, Dec 5, 2020, 7:50am (UTC -6)
A really poorly executed episode. Zombie Vulcans!?!? What next?

Besides which, it isn't even consistent. If the Vulcans were mad, they would have been throwing Archer and company around with ease. Remember, Vulcans are so much stronger than humans. But in this, someone is attacked, and then the Vulcans are beaten off. Highly unlikely!
Wed, Jan 27, 2021, 2:06pm (UTC -6)
I suppose I'm enjoying this season so far well enough, but can't help thinking 'hang on, didn't we just have seven seasons of star trek about travelling somewhere no-one else has before'. I loved voyager a lot, so no dissing here, but I was hoping to lose the 'alien of the week' and 'here be dragons' tropes for at least a series, seems like enterprise is just continuing it with this season. Obviously the point of the series is about humans exploring like they never have before, but I was kinda hoping we'd see more of the species we've met before but haven't seen since at least ds9, their earlier days and first contacts with humans. Maybe I'm just too much of a history nerd but what's the point of a series set in the past if they're just gonna jet off somewhere new anyway, may as well be set in the 24th century again.
I Am Nomad
Sat, Jul 31, 2021, 5:03pm (UTC -6)
I thought this episode was so incredibly lame. It was like watching a video game. The player guides Archer through different stages of insane Vulcan zombies: the sickbay, the engine room, the docking port... endless, confusing spaces with decor apparently inspired by a Borg aesthetic and all illuminated with lights strobing at a variety of aggravating frequencies. The dialog was terrible (I'd love to subscribe to the idea that this is a commentary on what happens when Vulcans lose control, but none of the dialog supported that). There was no tension whatsoever since they started the episode a day after when they were already back on Enterprise.

I have a special ire for the way T'Pol was handled here. T'Pol's descent into madness came off floppy, wimpy, and weird. She's supposed to be incredibly strong and brilliant (right?), but whenever she has a scene where she has to lose control she comes off very feeble and pathetic. At one point, Archer literally slings her over his shoulder and carriers her out butt-first (oh wait... I get it now). She should be a real threat/challenge to all the other guys, kicking their asses and outsmarting them so they have to really work to contain her. Not cowering and goggling her eyes. [OK screed over] 1.5 stars at best.
Fri, Aug 13, 2021, 2:50pm (UTC -6)
The strobe lights were a disgrace and almost made me quit this.
Thu, Nov 4, 2021, 6:46pm (UTC -6)
Possible SPOILERS for Firefly/Serenity (but not really)...

I'd give this episode of Enterprise 1.5 stars at best, maybe only 1. This was a great video game level. All that was missing was the boss at the end. Such a faithful execution of tired sci-fi/horror tropes is almost impressive in its banality. The only trope they managed to avoid was killing off the MACO. How did Jammer find anything redeemable in this outing? 1) It didn't do anything to advance this season's story arc (beyond minor exposition about trellium). In fact I'd argue that this episode used this season's story arc as a backdrop/excuse for a zombie movie. Nothing more. 2) This episode also didn't examine the human condition or apply any sort of Trekkian ideals to a scenario. And 3) it did very little to develop any of the characters either. So what reason did this episode have for existing? My reaction to the ending was just "Ugghh, we're still in her mind...whyyyy?" A completely unnecessary "twist". One that was completely undermined by the fact that it required T'Pol's subconscious to somehow reproduce details of an old Earth black and white murder mystery that she has never seen...

And no, Jammer, I don't think the plot hole is that Vulcans devoid of emotional control turn into mindless zombies. That's easily explained away in this case by the fact that their neural pathways are *also* degrading. The actual plot hole is that Vulcans with neural pathways degraded to the point that they are barely sapient still somehow have the cooperation and planning skills to systematically cut off the away team's routes of escape (and that they would even bother trying). The "Reapers" in Firefly suffered from this problem to an extent as well, but at least they were scary and entertaining, and the story ultimately *went somewhere* with them (in the film, Serenity).
Sat, Feb 19, 2022, 5:14pm (UTC -6)
I'm sorry, but it's criminal that T'Pol waking up shellshocked in sick bay with the doctor telling her she's safe at the end didn't become a massive Internet meme. That $#!% was hilarious. It was almost as meme worthy as Kes's ridiculous scream after microwaving Tuvok's forehead on Voyager: (Can you like stop the useless screaming and call in a medical emergency? Thanks in advance!) Enterprise still remains the most miscast Star Trek franchise ever. And people give Discovery crap, while letting this mess stand?
Sun, Feb 20, 2022, 3:27am (UTC -6)
While it is a quite a bit harder to say which show had the best cast, Enterprise certainly had the weakest. I did not like any of the cast. The characters they played and the acting was a perfect representation of how Star Trek as a whole was creatively bankrupt.

Discovery's cast is ok. They main problem is Martin-Green. Many people here hate her with a vengeance but I always thought she was close to alright acting-wise. Her acting is only weak in comparison. Her character though is fairly annoying. Stewart and Mulgrew are great actors, Shatner and Brooks had some flaws but worked for their characters. Bakula on the other hand was miscast and badly written.

Then there is T'Pol who I wouldn't even call an actress. She is a woman squeezed into a body suit, saying lines in front of a camera.

Trip... is a guy and the only thing about him I remember is this
and the very boring T'Pol+Trip will they won't they story void.

The Dr. who is just comic relief character. In essence a more cheerful Voyager doctor. I remember that he had several wives which makes me wonder if he is a rich playboy or if there are far more women on his planet and if there are so much more women does that mean that his planet was a matriarchy. I guess he was the "best" character on that show.

also starring: M&M. The other white guy Malcolm/Matthew/Martin something and the token black guy Merryweather/Mayweather. Both competing for least memorable character and the weather guy probably wins.

Then there is Portus who gives consistently solid performances. Probably the best actor on the show.
Sun, May 1, 2022, 3:31am (UTC -6)
If you are ok with Zombies, this may be an episode for you.
I hate Zombies. One-trick ponies. And the trick is tedious.
Also, as soon as Phlox told Our Heroes that the Vulcan crew members were far beyond redemption, why did they not set their proto-pre-phasers to KILL.
As would have been ideal for this episode.
Atmospherics will not cut it if your brain rejects Zombies. 1.331 stars. Sorry.
Sat, Nov 12, 2022, 3:20pm (UTC -6)
This is not about the Vulcan Zombies. Come on.

As has been said by many above, Vulcans are significantly stronger than humans. They live longer. The one – and I mean one – good thing that ENT has done with the series is explore the volatility of Vulcans. They are hostile. Now their logic is gone, their capacity to restrain their rage is gone. How they've been eating is a mystery but it's not what the episode is about.

The writers could have played her as mad and difficult to restrain, but without her mental strength and emotional control, she's confronted with her future. If she doesn't get off the ship, she'll go mad. And without the control, that's what she'll become. It works for me. Just because she's Vulcan doesn't mean she's a martial artist and a warrior. There is no reason to assume every Vulcan is brave and powerful – logical and striving to not be violent, yes.
Thu, Mar 2, 2023, 7:44pm (UTC -6)
The Walking Dead meets The Poseidon Adventure meets The Night of the Iguana. Gad.
Mon, Apr 10, 2023, 10:24pm (UTC -6)
Great ep!
Reminded me of reading “Marvel Zombies” comic books.
Awesome performance by Jolene Blalok!
Vulcan zombies and Vulcan zombie ship explosion too, love it!
Thu, Aug 17, 2023, 8:46pm (UTC -6)
Whoever mentioned the strobes and their disconcerting effect on anyone watching was not wrong.

I am not epileptic but found the strobes in some scenes so uncomfortable I literally could not watch the television screen.
Sun, Aug 20, 2023, 7:17am (UTC -6)
Just terrible cinematography.

This idea that you just flash lights in front of your face for half an hour is really getting old. It used to be illegal actually. I think when they went to UPN it wasn't regulated like network broadcasts.
Trevor Trekker
Tue, Sep 12, 2023, 4:53am (UTC -6)
Does anyone know the movie that the crew is watching in T'Pol's dream sequence? Either the movie Flox and Trip are discussing, or the actual film clip used in the scene?
Thu, Oct 12, 2023, 6:42pm (UTC -6)
Not sure why they had the frame story- killed any suspense because u knew they get off ship and tpol is surviving. Only question left is if red shirt will survive.
Thu, Oct 12, 2023, 6:43pm (UTC -6)
Also why exactly did they blow up ship other than to create a ticking clock on themselves?

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