“Fight or Flight” is really an episode about Hoshi and I was looking forward to learning more about her character.
The episode begins with her trying to get Phlox to help her sick pet slug. I really loved this scene because as a kid my mom used to teach a class on slugs at our local ecology centre and I knew everything about them. I thought it was really neat to show Hoshi as someone who has compassion for even the tiniest, ickiest creatures.
Soon, though, it becomes clear that the slug’s not the only one feeling under the weather. Hoshi goes to Archer and complains that she’s having trouble sleeping because her quarters are on the wrong side of the ship, so “the stars are going the wrong way” (is this actually physically possible, and if so, wouldn’t it be correctable by turning one’s bed around?).
Everyone else is itching to make first contact with aliens and soon enough, they get their wish. Scans of the newly-encountered alien vessel show life signs but they don’t respond to hails. T’Pol, very logically, suggests maybe the aliens don’t want to make contact and they should conduct more scans and follow more protocols.
But Archer is trigger-happy and he decides to take a team over to the ship. As hey’s getting ready he records a log entry. Despite his realization at the end of the last episode that he needs to be less prejudiced about Vulcans, he starts out with:
When I used to dream about this mission, the last thing I envisioned was having a Vulcan on board who continuously sucked the air out of the room.
As he’s recording, Hoshi comes to try to beg out of going to the ship, saying the environmental suits make her claustrophobic. Archer tells her she’s going to have to “bite her lip” and get through it
On the ship they find a truly gruesome sight: all the aliens are dead and hanging upside-down from hooks, their bodies washed out by some kind of fluid.
Hoshi does not react well:
Back on the ship Phlox tries to make Hoshi feel better, saying her reaction was understandable, but she’s embarrassed that she “screamed like a twelve-year-old.” Phlox asks whether she wants to go back to Earth to teach but she says Archer needs her skill as an exolinguist and this is what she trained for.
Meanwhile, T’Pol has convinced Archer to get away from the ship before whatever killed the aliens comes back, but he’s not happy about it. Over dinner he lashes out at T’Pol and even though she and Tucker are on the same side, Archer decides they need to go back instead of just leaving the dead aliens there.
I’ve pinpointed another reason I don’t love Archer yet: he doesn’t like having his assumptions challenged. Janeway says she likes her crew to challenge her assumptions. If Sisko doesn’t agree with someone on his crew he either jokes it off or says so calmly and firmly. Archer, however, seems to take it personally.
So anyway, they go back to investigate further. Archer and Phlox find out the aliens were drained for a substance similar to humans’ lymph. Also on the alien vessel, Sato and Tucker try to figure out the aliens’ computer systems and language. She’s having a hard time and tells Tucker she’s going to ask the Captain to take her back to Earth.
Hoshi: I should have never left the university. I’m not suited for this.
Tucker: Give it a try. You’ll be fine.
Hoshi: You weren’t here yesterday. I saw those bodies and fell apart. The Captain needs a translator he can count on. Someone who shows a little grace under pressure. That isn’t me.
Tucker: You can’t be sure of that.
Hoshi: Oh yes I can
Soon the other aliens who are coming for their lymph return. As they start to fight, another ship comes out of warp, similar to the first aliens’ ship.
Hoshi has to communicate with the aliens without her translator and she’s practically crying. After T’Pol and Archer both basically beg her she pulls through and the new ship attacks the lymph-stealer aliens’ ship, realizing Enterprise is a friend.
At the end of the episode Hoshi relocates Sluggo to a new planet, saying (obvious metaphor alert!):
This isn’t exactly like the place you came from, but it’s close enough. It’s not that hard to adapt. You’re going to do just fine here.
Overall, I really disliked this episode. It’s not so much that Hoshi is struggling and vulnerable here – I don’t think every woman character has to be strong – but the way she struggles with trivial things at the beginning (her quarters, the space suits) makes her seem a bit whiny before we’ve really had a chance to see her use her talents.
Also, as I said in my recap of the premiere, they’ve written both the main women characters as the ones who don’t really fit in. At this point we have Hoshi, who the rest of the crew likes but who’s requiring quite a bit of hand-holding, and T’Pol, who’s intelligent and tough but disliked by the crew. None of the male crew members are written on the margins like this, (except debatably Doctor Phlox, but there’s no similar tension around his character).
What we learned from this episode:
- Archer is not great at listening to advice
- Ships counsellors should really have been a thing sooner
- Slugs are cool
Bechdel-Wallace Test: Pass – T’Pol orders Hoshi to try to communicate with the aliens and she replies briefly.