Setting: my imagination
Rick Berman: So we need to talk about the characters for our new show, Enterprise.
Brannon Braga: Sounds great. So the captain…
Rick Berman: Well I think we’ve covered all our bases on the diversity front in the last couple of series, so I’m thinking a white guy.
Brannon Braga: Sure. Ok. So is he going to be more like a Kirk type or more intellectual like Picard? He has to stand out somehow…
Rick Berman: I’m thinking we should make him intolerant. Like he hates when people disagree with him, maybe he doesn’t even like aliens…that’ll really distinguish him from the other captains.
Brannon Braga: Okay, so we’ve already figured out the engineer and the tactical guy, the doctor and the pilot. We probably need a woman.
Rick Berman: I guess. We can make her a babe right?
Brannon Braga: Of course! In a catsuit, like Seven of Nine.
Rick Berman: Yeah, except how about she’s the first officer but no one really respects her because she’s…Klingon? Nah…wait! I’ve got it. She’s a Vulcan.
Brannon Braga: Totally! Who likes Vulcans anyway? And what about the communications officer?
Rick Berman: Oh yeah, that’s a woman too. And we aren’t going to stereotype.
Brannon Braga: Yeah. That’s an important job. She needs to do important things.
Rick Berman: Exactly. She’ll do a lot of important things, like getting cake for the men!
What I’m getting at is I was really not cool with Hoshi’s cake mission in this episode. But before I get to that I’ll give my very short response to the rest of the plot.
If you haven’t seen “Silent Enemy”, the basic premise is that a strange alien ship keeps coming back to attack Enterprise, at no time responding to even the most polite hails. The alien ship is unfortunately nothing more than a plot device there to motivate the action (unfortunately because I was actually curious about who the heck these hostile aliens were!).
The action consists partly of Trip and Reed and a team of crewmembers trying desperately to upgrade the ship’s apparently unfinished weapons systems without having to either: admit defeat and return to Jupiter Station, or get destroyed outright.
Oh, and it wouldn’t be Enterprise without the male characters making some kind of snide comment about T’Pol. This week’s moment of jerk comes early on as Archer chides Tucker for missing their officers’ dinner.
Archer: You missed T’Pol’s latest bout with chopsticks.
Tucker: Damn. Dinner and a show.
But back to the rest of the action. We’re almost half-way through the first season and Hoshi hasn’t done a heck of a lot to this point to show her as a competent officer – at least not compared to basically everyone else.
So what do the writers have Archer task her with, at a time when everyone else on Enterprise is trying to stop the ship from being destroyed?
Archer: I want you to find out what he [Reed] likes to eat.
Hoshi: Me, sir?
Archer: But don’t let Malcolm know.
Hoshi: Maybe this is more in Chef’s area.
Archer: We’re talking about a delicate assignment, Hoshi. It needs your finesse.
Hoshi: Sir, I’m running a diagnostic on our subspace transceiver array.
Archer: Get some help if you need it, but make this a top priority. That’s an order.
Her face says it all. She’s not super keen on this, because, you know, she’s a Starfleet Officer and because she actually has something important and work-related to do.
But even as the situation with the enemy ship gets more and more dire, Hoshi’s relegated to contacting all Reed’s practically-estranged relatives to try to figure out what kind of food he likes. At one point she tries to ask him by pretending she wants to cook him dinner, which leads him to think she wants to date him.
At the end of the episode, once Tucker and Reed’s teams have installed the phase cannons and they finally manage to disable the alien ship, and once we’ve spent a fair amount of time watching Hoshi do her investigation, what amazing character insights do we get about Reed that make it all worth it?
His favourite flavour is pineapple.
Also, he’s kind of a secretive guy and probably has some issues with his parents, but mostly it’s the pineapple thing.
(Thankfully, the next episode I’m going to review, “Sleeping Dogs”, is a huge improvement in the Hoshi character department)
Bechdel-Wallace Test: Fail. At one point T’Pol talks to Hoshi, but only to suggest she talk to Reed to try to figure out what his favourite flavour is.