I need backup for this one . Like, remember “The Perfect Mate”? How it’s got serious issues, but at least Crusher is there to call out Jean-Luc and raise important questions about power, choice and consent?
“Bound” doesn’t have that! T’Pol is the closest thing we get to a voice of reason and ethics and it’s so muted that it barely counts.
I’m watching this episode and I’m like…
So I’m calling on my imaginary feminist sidekick, Doctor Crusher, to help me with the response to this episode.
All right, Bev. Here’s what’s going on. Enterprise runs into some Orions and Archer, Reed and two other guys go over to the ship for some reluctant diplomacy. Or so they think.
After a meal, the Captain (Harrad) brings in three scantily-clad, green-skinned dancing slave girls, with the line, “If the food didn’t arouse your hunger, this should.”
Like the crew of the TOS Enterprise at times, the men become essentially useless in the presence of these beautiful women.
Harrad: What do you think?
Reed: I can’t think.
Archer: I’d have to agree with my tactical officer.
Harrad: I think she likes you.
Harrad tells the guys the women are sisters he purchased at a trading post, then adds:
They can make you forget most of your troubles. Of course, creatures such as these come with troubles of their own. But women are the same throughout the galaxy, aren’t they?
I know, right? Gentlemen, beware women’s sexuality! You never know when they’re going to use their feminine, seductive wiles for evil! (Anita Sarkeesian has a whole video on this “evil demon seductress” trope if you want to learn more about how common it is and why it’s problematic.)
So anyway, despite Harrad’s skeeziness and Federation ethics, Archer happily agrees to accept the women as a gift.
We have to remember at this point, for all Archer knows, these women are victims of sexual slavery. They might appear empowered, but like Picard does of Kamala in “The Perfect Mate,” Archer should question how much real choice these women have.
But instead of anyone even asking if they’re ok, offering them clothing options, or really taking the situation seriously at all, everyone acts like this is Risa.
So it’s at this point that we get the closest to someone saying, “WTF people?!” Only its T’Pol passive-aggressively reminding Archer that the Federation doesn’t condone slavery as far as she knows. Later we find out dealing with this sex slavery situation is less of a priority for her as making sure Trip’s still into her.
So Bev, you’re a doctor. What do you tell a heterosexual man (which apparently all the men on Enterprise are) who can’t get his mind off a trio of green-skinned space babes?
Instead, Travis and Reed decide to lift weights past the point where it’s probably going to injure you, because that’s so manly it’ll start to make up for the fact that you aren’t banging these women. Or something.
But Travis and Reed aren’t the only ones getting distracted – one of the Orions come to Engineering and, to a one, every single man turns their head to ogle her, and every woman (apparently also heterosexual) glares jealously at their competition.
Next Hoshi comes to sickbay with a headache. Phlox chastises her for being “the jealous type” when she complains about the Orions, instead of acknowledging shit is seriously messed up and people are literally not doing their jobs because they are so busy leering.
Anyway, Archer goes to see Navaar to remind her gently that she’s not his property. But heck! She responds that even if he doesn’t wish to own her, “I still wish to please you.”
Well, for Archer, that’s actually not so bad.
Anyway, then they make out.
At this point we get to see some more serious consequences, and realize this isn’t just a simple case of infatuation for the men on the ship. Archer gets called to the bridge and orders the destruction of another vessel for no good reason. And Kelby is being seduced by one of the sisters into trying to sabotage the ship and take over Engineering.
Phlox figures out the Orions are giving off pheromones that are making the conveniently stereotypical and heterosexual men aggressive and the women headachy and listless “as a defence against competition.”
Before they can do anything with the Orions, one of Kelby’s sabotages works and the ship is damaged. Even in his lust-addled state, Archer puts two and two together and locks the women in the decontamination chamber with a guard. That said, when he goes to interrogate them the influence of the pheromones almost makes him let them out.
Good question. I have no answer.
So now we’re coming up to the dramatic conclusion, in which the women seduce the guard into letting them escape, and the Orion ship shows up to capture Enterprise.
And with that comes the surprise twist! It turns out….the women are in charge of the Orion men too!
Harrad: I can see you’re upset, and I sympathize, but it’s truly out of my hands. We are both slaves to the situation.
Archer: They control you?
Harrad: You finally realize that. Yes, Captain, you’ve been operating under a misconception. It is the men who are the slaves, not the women.
Thank god this is almost over. Basically Tucker, who is unaffected by the pheromones because he got it on with T’Pol and that psychically bonded them, shoots Reed, Mayweather and Archer on the bridge to restore order, and returns the women to the Orions.
In Sickbay, T’Pol tries to make a joke about how the women being in charge show the Orions have some positive attributes. Which is hilarious, because women being in charge would be terrible in any circumstance! Ha ha ha!
Yup, just like “Angel One,” the only thing this episode does is say women in power are a threat to men.
Oh, Archer also suggests T’Pol is only able to make jokes because she’s picked it up from Trip.
To end off the episode, Trip manipulates T’Pol into letting him have the upper hand in their relationship, by making her admit she wants him to come back to Enterprise, and getting her to kiss him, and then saying he already planned to come back, but she should know “this thing between us isn’t that big of a deal.”
I guess Reed never changes in wanting T’Pol to be the one to change.
Anyway, thanks, Dr. Crusher!
Bechdel-Wallace Test: Fail. None of the Orion women talk to each other or other named women characters.