“The Andorian Incident” is the first woman-directed episode of Enterprise (shout-out to Roxann Dawson!) and also I think the first to try to re-create an alien species we hadn’t really seen since TOS.
Before the credits, we see a bunch of armed Andorians burst in on a group of Vulcan monks. On the down-side, this wrecks the suspense a bit for us when the Enterprise gets there, but the visuals and lighting are great. The first re-introduction to the Andorians immediately establishes them as less campy and more menacing than the TOS-era Andorians.
After the credits we’re taken to Enterprise, where Trip and Archer are poring over star charts. They ask T’Pol if they can stop at an ancient Vulcan monastery, P’Jem. She doesn’t think it’s a good idea – the sanctuary is a place where Vulcans go for Kolinahr (ritual purging of emotions) , but people only listen to anything T’Pol says about 25% of the time, so they go anyway.
T’Pol is still not feeling great about it in the mess hall, but Phlox helps her see Enterprise’s drive to explore as complementary to the Vulcan motto “Infinite diversity in infinite combinations”.
Arriving at the monastery, T’Pol, Archer and Trip take a shuttle down. Immediately upon entering the building T’Pol notices something’s not right. Some things are knocked over and the lone Vulcan in the foyer is “agitated”.
They’re abducted by a group of ambushing Andorians, led by the angry, obsessive Shran (Jeffrey Combs!). The Andorians are paranoid – they believe the Vulcans are surveilling Andorian space from the monastery. The monks say there is no technology but now the Enterprise has shown up, the Andorians will be even more suspicious and therefore dangerous. As the Andorians leave to keep up their search, one of them turns to T’Pol and says:
“I’ll enjoy having you…as a prisoner.”
God, seriously? Of course they have to put in that creepy line to make it clear she’s – in some ways – more in danger than the guys. It doesn’t quite get into damsel-in-distress territory but it’s pushing it.
Meanwhile, on Enterprise, Reed and Hoshi are wondering what’s going on but don’t appear overly concerned because “you can’t expect them to check in every 10 minutes” – even though that actually seems like it might be a good idea for away missions. This scene also raises the question of why you wouldn’t have taken Hoshi on a mission where you’re coming into contact with ancient Vulcan language and culture.
Back on P’Jem the Andorians come back and haul off Archer for “questioning”.
Meanwhile, because the Andorians are paranoid but apparently not paranoid enough to leave someone with them, the Vulcan elder shows Trip the catacombs beneath them, where their old transmission equipment is. The plan is to use the equipment to hail Enterprise. He refuses to let Trip into an area where their most sacred artifacts are kept, though. The exploration is nice to watch, but long and a bit boring.
Archer gets thrown back into the room and learns about the plan to hail the ship. The Andorians do their head count at midnight and find everyone in the room where they should be. Then we get a totally unnecessary, gratuitous, and very eye-roll-worthy scene where Archer urges her to share his blanket.
Archer: (offering a share of the blanket) There’s room in here.
T’Pol: I’m fine.
Archer: You’re freezing.
T’Pol: It’s been twenty four hours since I took my nasal numbing agent. The cold is preferable to the odour.
Archer: Come on.
It makes T’Pol seem weak and slightly irritating (this is not the first time she’s brought up the smell of humans this episode). I’d also like to point out that if she had a layered uniform with jackets like everyone else (which, after all, is just logical), we would’ve avoided this situation.
Also in this scene Archer starts to question her loyalty. Her reply is decent: “I have never disobeyed your orders,” she says firmly, rolling over and taking the blanket with her.
In the morning, Archer and Trip figure out there is a passage behind a statue on the main floor into the catacombs below. Archer puts on a distraction for the Andorians while Reed and two crew members are beamed into the catacombs. Some of the Vulcans are upset because they don’t believe in resorting to violence, but Archer doesn’t see another way.
Next, more of the same Andorian creeping on T’Pol, because we didn’t get enough of that the first time and it totally furthers the plot!
First he says, “Most Vulcans smell of dust but you’re different.”
Tucker mumbles, “Something sure smells.”
A moment later, it’s Archer who intervenes to protect T’Pol’s honour. She never once speaks up in her own defense.
Andorian (Tholos): I’ve heard about your mating rituals. That Vulcan women force their men to fight each other to the death. Would you like me to kill someone for you?
Archer: Leave her alone.
Tholos: Would you like me to kill him?
Luckily, this uncoolness is interrupted by Reed and the other crew busting out of the statue and taking on the Andorians. This part is actually pretty exciting and you’ve got an almost twist ending (you might have seen it coming but it’s still fun to see how the characters react): in the skirmishing they find the monastery is home to a giant sensor system.
Yup, the Vulcans were lying. You don’t see that everyday. A younger Vulcan who had taken their side and argued for a violent confrontation with the Andorians then tries to kill Archer to protect the secret. But T’Pol punches the Vulcan dude, which is a total yay moment after some of the other shit she’s gone through this episode.
It’s a delicious, slightly dark ending as Archer orders T’Pol to give information to the Andorians to prove the Vulcans violated their treaty. And we’re all left wondering what the fall-out would be.
What we learned this episode:
- Cold out? Catsuit might not be your most logial choice of attire.
- You’re going to have to forget a lot of what you knew about Vulcans
- You can’t have a woman hostage without at least one of the captors sexualizing her
Bechdel-Wallace Test: Fail