“Horizon” – ENT 2X20

When I reviewed “Fortunate Son” recently I said it made me want to see more of Travis. Now I’ve seen “Horizon” I’m pretty much good. 

Actually, the Travis-related A-plot is pretty good: his father has died and he goes back to the freighter he grew up on, the Horizon, but clashes with his brother (the new captain), who feels a bit like Travis betrayed them by leaving to join Starfleet.

Nora on Travis' bunk

On the Horizon we get to meet a couple decent new women characters. There’s Travis’ mom, Rianna, who’s more than pulling her weight as both the Horizon’s medic and the chief engineer. And there’s Travis’ childhood friend, Nora. In her short scene with Travis she reminisces with him and then warns him of her concerns about his brother, Paul. She seems pretty cool – it’s just unfortunate she’s not really in the other scenes so we don’t get to see what she does on the ship, just her relationship with Travis.

T'Pol looks really annoyed with Trip

The B-plot, though, had me yelling at the TV. Because I just can’t take any more Archer and Trip being total a**holes to T’Pol. I thought things were getting better in mid-Season 1 and then I find this episode near the end of Season 2 and it’s full of that same B.S.?

Yeah, T’Pol’s expression in that screencap above? That is how amused this makes me.

So the B-plot is basically this: Trip wants T’Pol to agree to come to movie night and see Frankenstein, but she’s looking for excuses not to go. Trip and Archer pressure her to go. She does go. She takes away a unique lesson from it and when she tries to convey that lesson, Trip and Archer just roll their eyes, because women and/or because Vulcans.

I think it’s supposed to be funny. And it starts out pretty harmless.

T'Pol tells Trip she doesn't want to go to the movie

T’Pol: I have no interest in horror movies.

Tucker: How do you know if you’ve never seen one? You don’t have to see all of them. Just come the first night. I promise you’ll like it. Reanimated life forms, science run amok, they’re right up your alley.

Ok, fine. Cut to the next time it comes up. 

T'Pol talks to Trip on the bridge

T’Pol: According to the database, Frankenstein is also a work of literature. Tucker: Mary Shelley wrote it; the wife of a famous poet.

I have to stop there. Are you f-ing kidding me? Yes, Mary Shelley was married to a famous poet; she also edited and promoted his work. But picking that out as the one interesting thing about her reads like Trip saying, “Sure, a woman wrote that. She must’ve picked something up from her famous poet husband.” It does not let her accomplishment with Frankenstein stand on its own and isn’t really relevant to T’Pol’s appreciation.

In addition to being married to Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Shelley was also the daughter of two important philosophers, Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin. But you don’t see Trip saying: “Mary Shelley wrote it; the daughter of the woman who wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Women.” 

This reminds me of last year when the New York Times came under fire for an obituary about a woman rocket scientist, who was remembered for her “mean beef stroganoff” before the fact that she invented a propulsion system for communications satellites.

Trip gives a tight smile in response to T'Pol's suggestion

T’Pol: Perhaps a dramatic reading would be more illuminating.

Tucker: You expect a Mess hall full of crewmen to sit still while someone reads to them?

T’Pol: They’d be more likely to appreciate the author’s true intent.

Tucker (sarcastically): You want to start a book club, go right ahead. 

T’Pol is obviously trying in this scene, but Trip seems like the popular kid in class willing to dismiss anything remotely nerdy.

Why would you not try to meet T’Pol halfway and say sure, how about you come to the movie and I’ll come to your dramatic reading?

Because she is the only one who is expected to change and learn new things.

Archer standing behind T'Pol

You know who could totally make this even worse? Captain Smarmy-pants.

Archer: Might be a good idea for you to go, too. It might be fun, and a little fraternizing couldn’t hurt.

T’Pol: I don’t understand how sitting silently in a darkened room constitutes fraternizing.

Archer: It’s a communal experience. Tell you what, let’s make a night of it. Dinner in the Captain’s Mess eighteen hundred, movie at nineteen thirty. You’ll be my date.

T’Pol: I beg your pardon?

(Me: I beg your pardon?)

Archer: I’ll be a perfect gentleman. And if you don’t like the movie, I’ll never ask you to sit through another one.

Dude, how is going as your date supposed to make the movie night more attractive? You sure have a high opinion of yourself.

Phlox and Trip sit behind T'Pol and Archer at the movie

So they go to the movie and T’Pol is somewhat rude by reading her PADD instead of paying attention, but Phlox is ruder by talking about really boring stuff, and she turns around to shut him up.

T'Pol telling the others what she thought of the movie

The next day T’Pol eats with Archer and Tucker and tells them what she got out of the movie, after they press her repeatedly.

T’Pol: From my perspective, this was the story of an individual persecuted by humans because he was different.

Tucker: That’s one way of looking at it.

T’Pol: In many ways, the film seemed quite prophetic. The reaction of the villagers, for example. It was similar to the reception Vulcans received after landing on Earth.

Archer: I don’t recall anyone greeting a Vulcan ambassador with torches and pitchforks.

T’Pol: Nevertheless, many humans reacted with fear and anger.

She suggests showing the film to Ambassador Soval because it might help Vulcans who’ve recently arrived on Earth understand humans. She’s probably at least partly trying to get at Archer and Trip. She’s got to know they’d be defensive about that. But it’s also a legitimate perspective and they did ask her repeatedly what she thought of the movie she really didn’t even want to see.

So their response?

Trip and Archer grumble at the breakfast table

Archer: “Maybe inviting her to movie night wasn’t such a great idea.”

Yeah, ’cause dismissing everything someone says and talking about them in the third person while they’re in the room with you is exactly the way to show you’re tolerant of differences!

Blerg. Can someone give me a heads-up if there are any episodes this bad to T’Pol in Season 3? 

Bechdel-Wallace Test: Fail. There are four named women characters (Rianna, Nora, Hoshi and T’Pol) but none of them talk to each other.

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