Written by Mike Sussman & Phyllis Strong
Directed by Roxann Dawson
Season 2, Episode 4
Production episode 031
Original air date: October 9, 2002
Captain’s star log. Tucker and Archer survey the damage done by the Romulans last episode. They don’t have the parts to do a proper repair on the outer hull of the saucer. As it stands, Tucker doesn’t think they can do more than warp two or so, which means it would take the better part of a decade to get back home to Jupiter Station.
Archer has Sato send out a general distress call, on the theory that they’ve answered enough of them over the last year. A Tellarite ship answers, saying they can’t help, but there’s a fantastic repair station not far away. They can get there in a few days at warp two, so Archer sets a course.
They arrive to find an unoccupied station with an atmosphere inimical to human life. But after the ship is scanned by a high-powered scanning beam, the station reconfigures itself to fit Enterprise and now reads as having an oxygen/nitrogen atmosphere.
The ship docks and then Archer, T’Pol, and Tucker enter the station. They see a holographic display that shows all the damage to Enterprise, as well as the “damage” to Reed from the mine that ripped into his leg. A computerized voice says that they’ve diagnosed the problems, and they must choose their compensation: either three warp coils, five deuterium injectors, or two hundred liters of warp plasma. Of the three, the plasma is what they can spare the most.
The station provides a repair schedule, which Archer tells T’Pol to have Sato distribute to the crew. The crew is also welcome to use the station’s recreational facilities.
Tucker tests the rec facilities, which create a glass of cold water for T’Pol and a delicious catfish for Tucker. Archer has a bad feeling that this is all too good to be true, as they’re providing a lot for just some warp plasma.
A medical drone completely heals Reed’s leg, while other automated systems work on the saucer and the other damage.
Tucker and Reed talk about the computer power that must be necessary to make this station work. It’s several times powerful than Enterprise’s computer, yet the only space on the station available for it is tiny. Tucker wants very much to see what kind of computer they must have, and he somehow convinces Reed to go along with him. However, once they get past a certain point, they’re beamed back to Enterprise’s bridge.
Archer tears them a new one, particularly throwing Reed’s complaint about lax discipline on the ship from last week back in his face. He confines them to quarters.
Mayweather is summoned by Archer to Launch Bay 1. Mayweather had thought that area to be off-limits, but Archer says the repairs are done. The pilot arrives to see damage to a console, then he’s ambushed.
Phlox summons Archer to Launch Bay 1 soon thereafter, as Mayweather’s corpse is on the deck. The damaged console bit caused an isolytic shock that killed him instantly. Archer has no idea why Mayweather would’ve been in that area, nor why he would’ve messed with a console.
While doing the autopsy, Phlox discovers that the antibodies from the vaccine the doctor gave to the crew a while back are also dead in Mayweather’s bloodstream. That doesn’t track: an isolytic shock would stimulate the antibodies and they’d be swimming pretty. He realizes that this is a duplicate of Mayweather’s entire body, down to the single-celled organisms, but it’s all dead, including the things that shouldn’t be.
Archer hatches a cunning plan to get Mayweather back once the repairs are complete. Tucker brings the warp plasma payment, but immediately starts complaining to the computer—which only gives stock answers and is not at all equipped to handle complaints.
While Tucker distracts the computer with nonsense, Reed, Archer, and T’Pol use Tucker and Reed’s previous attempt as a guide. Reed triggers the transporter again, but this gives Archer and T’Pol (hanging back) what they need to get through. They find a whole mess of aliens in a comatose state, and also Mayweather. They free him from the thingie he’s hooked up to. Tucker sets an explosive on the warp plasma, and once they’ve rescued Mayweather, they blow up the station. Phlox claims the bodies of the aliens left behind are too brain-damaged to be salvageable, which is apparently enough reason to condemn them to death and blow them up.
After Enterprise, fully repaired and having welshed on their payment, depart, the station starts to reconstruct itself.
Can’t we just reverse the polarity? The station can do all manner of repairs both mechanical and biological, and can also replicate matter, but only dead matter, not living matter (so it can do catfish as food, but probably not a catfish that can swim).
The gazelle speech. Archer is suspicious of the station from jump, and his fears are justified by the kidnapping of Mayweather.
I’ve been trained to tolerate offensive situations. T’Pol does her usual thing of explaining the rest of the galaxy to Archer, particularly saying that Tellarites are not always agreeable but generally trustworthy. She also gets to be Archer’s sounding board, just like a good XO should.
Florida Man. Florida Man Complains To The Manager After Getting Yummy Catfish.
Optimism, Captain! Phlox wishes he could get his hands on the medical repair drone, but it’s apparently not for sale. He also figures out that the Mayweather corpse is fake. Because he’s just that awesome.
Good boy, Porthos! We see Porthos for, like, a second, sitting in Archer’s quarters with him and being all cute.
More on this later… The repair station has matter replicators similar to those seen in the twenty-fourth century and beyond.
I’ve got faith…
“It can’t be ethical to cause a patient this much pain.”
“It’s unethical to harm a patient. I can inflict as much pain as I like.”
–Reed and Phlox discussing medical ethics.
Welcome aboard. For the second week in a row, there are no listed guest stars. However, director Roxann Dawson also does an uncredited turn as the voice of the facility computer.
Trivial matters: The repair station is never seen again onscreen. Its owners are identified as the mysterious Ware by regular rewatch commenter Christopher L. Bennett in his post-finale Enterprise novel series Rise of the Federation.
This episode was filmed after the following episode, “A Night in Sickbay,” but was aired first because it took place immediately following “Minefield,” as Enterprise is searching for a means to repair the damage they took at the hands of the Romulans in that episode.
This is the first encounter between humans and Tellarites, introduced in the original series’ “Journey to Babel,” though they are not seen. They were also mentioned in “Carbon Creek” as the ones who picked up T’Mir’s distress signal.
Sato makes reference to having seen dead bodies on the Axanar ship they encountered in “Fight or Flight.”
One piece of damage the station diagnoses is from a minor collision that happened way back in “Broken Bow.” Tucker abashedly says that he hasn’t gotten around to fixing it yet.
It’s been a long road… “Your inquiry was not recognized.” I almost liked this episode. After seven years of Voyager being unconvincingly in perfect shape the next week no matter how much of a beating it took despite having no repair facilities available, I practically cheered when this episode opened with Archer facing the consequences of all the damage they took at the Romulans’ hands.
You can tell that writers Mike Sussman and Phyllis Strong are familiar with how computers work (not always a given on far too many SF shows over the decades), as the station computer reacts exactly like a machine: canned responses, only able to provide services it’s explicitly programmed for, completely unable to deal with anything outside its programmed parameters.
In addition, Phlox’s method of figuring out that Mayweather’s corpse is a fake is brilliant, a subtle but believable bit of detective work on the part of the good doctor. And Tucker bitching at the computer like a stereotypical pissed-off customer is hilarious.
But then we get to the ending.
Not the very ending, to wit, the coda when we see the station calmly putting itself back together, which is magnificently creepy. I mean the end of the main storyline.
First off, it’s incredibly convenient that they’re able to get all their repair work done. Yes, it’s too good to be true, but Enterprise suffers no consequences of significance for taking the too-good-to-be-true offer, and they even get Mayweather back.
And then they blow up the station, taking all their prisoners with them.
To be clear, Archer orders the murder of a dozen or more aliens because Phlox thinks they’re too brain-damaged to be saved. First off, who the fuck is he to determine that? We’re talking multiple species here, not all of whom are ones that Earth, Vulcan, and Denobula are necessarily even familiar with—certainly not familiar enough to know everything about their brain chemistry and what constitutes “too brain-damaged.”
They should’ve found a way to rescue everyone. Or done something other than completely blow up the damn station. Archer’s actions were murderous, were deplorable, and showed a depraved indifference to sentient life that’s at odds with, y’know, Star Trek.
Ruined an otherwise good episode, too…
Warp factor rating: 3
Rewatcher’s note: We’ll be taking next Monday off for Independence Day. We’ll be back on the 11th of July with “A Night in Sickbay.”
Keith R.A. DeCandido will be the Author Guest of Honor at InConJunction 41 in Indianapolis, Indiana this coming weekend. He’ll be signing and selling his books, and also doing a ton of programming (his full schedule to be found here).