Written by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga and Fred Dekker
Directed by Roxann Dawson
Season 1, Episode 22
Production episode 022
Original air date: May 1, 2002
Captain’s star log. Enterprise’s first contact with the Kreetassans goes very poorly. Sato is having trouble with their language, and she thinks they said they eat like they mate, which confuses the crew. The Kreetassans leave in a huff. As the umbilical separates their ship from Enterprise, a lifeform makes its way onto Enterprise undetected.
Archer is bummed out about the blown first contact. Tucker cheers him up with a video of the water polo match between Stanford and Texas, which cheers him right up, Tucker gamely trying to follow along, as he’s no kind of water polo fan…
Sato is also bummed, and T’Pol’s urging for her to work harder so her next first contact is more successful doesn’t really make her feel any better.
It’s movie night and they’re showing The Wages of Fear. Mayweather talks Reed into attending by telling him there are explosions.
In engineering, Rostov and Kelly are finishing up some stuff before going to see the movie. However, there’s a power failure in a cargo bay, and Kelly sends Rostov to check it out. Rostov arrives to a darkened cargo bay, and contacts Kelly—but then he’s grabbed by the alien before he can say anything. Kelly, confused by the silent communication, goes to investigate herself.
Instead of The Wages of Fear, the folks attending movie night are treated to security footage from various parts of the ship. Reed tells the bridge that they should fix it. Meantime, Kelly contacts Archer, and as she’s reporting about what happened in the cargo bay, she too is snagged by the alien.
Archer and Tucker immediately contact Reed, and they meet with him and Zabel, one of the security guards, at the cargo bay. Phase pistols prove ineffective against the alien, and Archer, Tucker, and Zabel are also snagged, but Reed manages to escape. He closes the cargo bay door on one of the creature’s tendrils, which is broken off.
Phlox studies the tendril, and he comes up with a solution: the creature seems to be sensitive to EM radiation. T’Pol orders an EM burst, which proves ineffective, as the harm it does to the creature is transmitted to its prisoners, and after several seconds of Archer and the rest screaming their lungs out, they disengage.
Sato has another idea: the creature’s emissions seem to be mathematical—maybe it’s a language. She gets to work on trying to decipher it. Meanwhile, Mayweather is charged with tracking the Kreetassans down—perhaps they’re familiar with this alien.
In the cargo bay, Kelly and Zabel are unconscious. Archer tries to buck Rostov up. After a time, Tucker, Archer, and Rostov start to feel their thoughts commingling with each other.
Reed has been working on a prototype force field, and T’Pol authorizes him to get it ready. Sato continues to work on the language, but is frustrated—eventually, she swallows her pride and asks T’Pol for help.
Mayweather finally tracks down the Kreetassans. In the interim, they have studied the database Enterprise provided, and now can speak perfect English. Sure. They explain why they were offended: humans (and Vulcans and Denobulans) eat in public. To a Kreetassan, that’s just gross. Mayweather very humbly apologizes on behalf of the crew. The Kreetassan captain accepts the apology and provides Mayweather with the coordinates for the alien’s homeworld.
Phlox is concerned by the lifesign readings he’s getting from the cargo bay. He believes that, if things keep going as they are, there will be only one lifeform in the cargo bay instead of the six currently there, as Archer and the rest will be wholly absorbed into the alien being.
Sato and T’Pol have managed to work out what they think is the alien’s language. Reed sets up his force field, and Sato attempts to tell them that they need their crewmates free. The alien responds with coordinates—latitude and longitude. Sato says that they are already proceeding to their homeworld, using the coordinates the Kreetassans provided.
The alien lets Archer, Tucker, Zabel, Kelly, and Rostov go. They arrive at the alien’s planet and take a shuttlepod down, releasing the alien into an area that is filled with the alien—which Phlox says is a single lifeform, with which this bit of the alien is reunited, and which covers pretty much the entire planet.
Can’t we just reverse the polarity? The alien is allergic to EM radiation, which is odd, since that stuff’s everywhere. Then again, maybe that’s why it’s trying to get home so desperately…
The gazelle speech. Archer is a big honking fangoober of water polo, just in case we forgot he was a white guy…
I’ve been trained to tolerate offensive situations. T’Pol is in charge for most of the episode while Archer is captured, and she comports herself quite well, exploring multiple options and working with Sato on the most compassionate of those options.
Florida Man. Florida Man Sucks Up To His Captain With Water Polo Recording.
Optimism, Captain! Phlox gets Reed to slow his roll when it comes to testing his force field on the alien sample in sickbay, as he’s unwilling to torture what might be a sentient being. Reed tries to pull rank, but Phlox pulls it right back, as it’s his sickbay, and only the captain—who’s indisposed—can counter the doctor’s authority there.
Good boy, Porthos! Porthos is the first to detect the alien, but being a dog, is unable to communicate this to the rest of the crew.
More on this later… Reed says that Earth scientists have been working on a force field (or, rather, a “stable EM barrier”), and Reed himself has a working prototype he’s been working on. These force fields are commonplace by the twenty-third century, as seen in the original series and all the other spinoffs so far.
I’ve got faith…
“You don’t think I belong on Enterprise, do you?”
“On the contrary—it would be a great loss to Starfleet if you were not a part of this crew. If you feel I’ve been unfair to you, I apologize. But I hold you to a high standard, Ensign, because I know you’re capable of achieving it.”
–Sato thinking that T’Pol is being mean to her and T’Pol showing that it’s the exact opposite.
Welcome aboard. Vaughn Armstrong shows up again as the Kreetassan captain, having already played a Klingon in “Sleeping Dogs” and having the recurring role of Forrest, not to mention his eight previous roles on TNG, DS9, and Voyager. He’ll be back as a Kreetassan in “A Night in Sickbay,” though it’s not at all clear if that’s the same Kreetassan as in this episode.
Joseph Will and Renee E. Goldsberry play Rostov and Kelly, respectively. Will previously appeared in Voyager’s “Muse” and “Workforce, Part II,” and was a finalist for the role of Tucker. Rostov will return, played by Will, in “Two Days and Two Nights.”
Trivial matters: This episode is the first time that T’Pol is explicitly stated to be the first officer of the ship—she’s always only been referred to as the science officer, though she has also clearly been second-in-command since “Broken Bow.”
The original title of this episode was “The Needs of the One,” before they decided to go all Latin on us.
While this is Kelly’s only appearance onscreen, she also appears in regular rewatch commenter Christopher L. Bennett’s Rise of the Federation novels. Bennett also retroactively established that Onna Karapledeez, mentioned as a prominent Starfleet officer who died under mysterious circumstances in TNG’s “Conspiracy,” was Kreetassan in his Lost Era novel The Buried Age.
It’s been a long road… “As soon as you give up, the game’s lost.” This is a good, solid science fiction story, and also does a very nice job with the characters.
We start with Tucker cheering Archer up with footage of a water polo match, with some fun west-coast-vs.-the-south friendly rivalry between Archer (rooting for Stanford) and Tucker (rooting for Texas). I particularly like how hard Archer and Sato in particular take the failed first contact with the Kreetassans.
It’s also a successful first contact with the alien creature, for all that it takes five kidnappings and some weapons fire to get there. I like that T’Pol keeps her options open, letting Reed try to find some way to combat the alien while Sato tries diplomacy. And I especially like getting to know more of the crew. The friendly banter between Kelly and Rostov is fun, and I wish we got to see more of Kelly, though at least Rostov comes back. But this is the sort of thing we should’ve seen more of, especially since this is the only Earth ship out here, and everyone’s on this important mission.
Plus all the main characters get something to do. While Archer and Tucker are indisposed for most of the episode, they still get some fun bonding moments, both over the water polo game and while captured. T’Pol does brilliantly in charge, as expected, and Sato gets to realize how much she’s actually appreciated by the taciturn Vulcan who gives her a hard time, not because she’s a hardass, but because Sato has proven that expecting greatness from her is not unreasonable.
Plus Reed gets to be all violent and stuff, Phlox gets to remind Reed that it’s his sickbay, thank you very much, and Mayweather gets to sincerely apologize on behalf of the entire crew for their eating in public. And Porthos is the first to detect the aliens, because dogs are awesome.
In general, what’s particularly strong about this episode is that it gives us two genuinely alien aliens. The Kreetassans are the more typical Trek aliens—humans slathered in latex and with one or two weird traits to make them stand out and cause problems—while the alien invaders to the ship are genuinely other. But the crew is still devoted to the still-very-nascent-at-this-point future-Federation ideal of compassion over violence, diplomacy over warfare, talking over fighting. And in the end, everyone lives and the aliens get to go home.
Warp factor rating: 8
Keith R.A. DeCandido is celebrating his 53rd birthday today. Please wish him a happy birthday in the comments and let him know that people actually read the bio…