Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch

Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “Impulse”

Written by Jonathan Fernandez & Terry Matalas
Directed by David Livingston
Season 3, Episode 5
Production episode 0567
Original air date: October 8, 2003
Date: unknown

Captain’s star log. We open with T’Pol going batshit on one of Phlox’s biobeds. It takes both Archer and Phlox to restrain her enough to sedate her.

Then we jump back a day. Archer and Tucker are going over the Xindi database during the overnight shift, as neither can sleep. T’Pol joins them, surprised that they didn’t invite her to the party, but they thought it would be rude to wake her.

Sato—who is also awake for no reason the script bothers to explain—reports a distress call from a Vulcan ship, the Seleya. According to T’Pol—who served on the Seleya before being assigned to the consulate on Earth—the ship was investigating the border of the Expanse before they were sucked in. The Vaankara, the ship whose crew went binky bonkers that Soval showed them the footage of to try to convince Archer and Forrest not to go in there, was sent in to find them, and obviously failed.

They change course. Seleya is in the midst of an unusually dense asteroid field. The local anomalies are causing them to gad about and crash into each other. No way Enterprise can safely navigate it, but a shuttle can. The asteroids are also made out of trellium, so this is a chance to mine some. Archer charges Tucker and Mayweather with gathering up some trellium while the captain leads a boarding party that includes T’Pol, Reed, and Hawkins.

The boarding party investigates the ship, noting that they lined a good portion of their forward hull with trellium. They soon come across the crew, but the Vulcans they encounter are completely feral, and also covered in icky sores. It also takes more than one shot on a phase pistol on stun to take them down. Yes, they’ve come across VULCAN SPACE ZOMBIES! Archer and Hawkins are both wounded, the latter pretty badly, and they’ve been cut off from the docking port. They can’t contact Enterprise on their communicators for no reason that the script bothers to provide, so they need to find a comm terminal on the ship.

Screenshot: CBS

But their first priority is sickbay to treat Hawkins. They head there, with T’Pol warning Archer that she is losing her own emotional control—whatever turned the Seleya crew into Vulcan Space Zombies seems to be affecting her, too.

On Enterprise, Tucker and Mayweather try to beam some trellium on board, but the anomalies that are making the asteroids act weird also affect the transporter. Instead, they take the other shuttlepod into the field to mine some trellium, which they do, albeit not without the shuttlepod taking damage.

On Seleya, the bridge is too far away for the boarding party to reach it, but they can reach auxiliary control. After downloading bioscan data on the crew from sickbay computers, they head there, and have to effect repairs. This is a difficult process, made more complicated by T’Pol’s shortened temper. She accuses Archer and Tucker of deliberately leaving her out of the examination of the Xindi database, and throws Archer’s history of Vulcan bigotry in his face.

They eventually make contact with Enterprise, transferring the medical data. Unfortunately, the shuttlepod needs to be repaired, so an immediate rescue ain’t gonna happen.

Phlox scans the biodata, and regretfully reports that the refined trellium gives off a neurotoxin that badly affects Vulcans. Tucker is shocked, since he and T’Pol have been working with trellium for ages, but they haven’t succeeded in refining it, which is the problem. T’Pol can still be treated if they get her back soon, but it’s been months for the Seleya crew, and Phlox declares that they’re beyond help.

T’Pol is seriously losing it, and she pulls a phase pistol on the others. A distraction by the Vulcan Space Zombies trying to get into auxiliary control allows Archer to disarm her. The Vulcan Space Zombies start to flood auxiliary control with gas, a level of control over their actions that they hadn’t demonstrated prior to this, and won’t demonstrate after this. Reed figures out a way to overload the ship’s systems so everything shuts down, which will release the bulkheads that are cutting them off from the docking port.

Screenshot: CBS

They move through crawlspaces and try to find their way to the docking port, at one point needing to cross a massive chasm. T’Pol’s paranoid lunacy gets to the point where Archer has to stun her. He only didn’t do it sooner because now he has to carry her…

They make it to the port, but the docking clamps won’t release. Tucker and Mayweather show up in the nick of time to blast the clamps and allow them to be free. The Seleya goes boom and the two shuttlepods make it back to Enterprise.

T’Pol, however, is still not in the best of shape. She has a nightmare about still being attacked by the Vulcan Space Zombies…

Can’t we just reverse the polarity? Reed fails his first saving throw vs. technobabble, causing T’Pol to scream and throw things at him. But his second idea works just fine…

The gazelle speech. When queried by Tucker about the possibility of reviving Movie Night, Archer completely rejects the notion, saying there’ll be time for movies after they stop the Xindi. Tucker has to remind him that the crew are not automatons, and that even he—who has more gung in his ho about the Xindi than anyone—recognizes that they need some R&R, stat.

Archer also refuses to leave T’Pol behind, saying that there’s no point in fighting for humanity if he stops being human, which is a level of self-awareness I wish he had when he was going around torturing prisoners

I’ve been trained to tolerate offensive situations. At one point, Hawkins expresses confusion as to how the Vulcan Space Zombies can be all binky bonkers when Vulcans don’t have emotions. T’Pol patiently corrects the misapprehension, that in fact Vulcans have massively turbulent emotions that they keep in check. As T’Pol herself demonstrates over the rest of the episode…

Florida Man. Florida Man Revives Movie Night Despite PTSD Concerns.

Screenshot: CBS

Optimism, Captain! Phlox learns that trellium is fatal to the ship’s science officer, which is kind of a problem…

Better get MACO. Hawkins accompanies the mission and comes well armed and with water and supplies and stuff, and generally does what he’s supposed to do, and does it well, which is a first for the MACOs so far…

I’ve got faith…

“Listen to me! This is a rescue mission—we’re here to save these people.”

“You’re lying! You want to kill them!”

“If that’s true, then why would I keep our weapons on stun? It’s not logical.”

–Archer trying to talk T’Pol down.

Welcome aboard. The only guest is recurring regular Sean Nelson, returning as Hawkins from “Anomaly.” He’ll be back in “Hatchery.”

Trivial matters: The story for this episode was by story editor Jonathan Fernandez and production associate Terry Matalas. Matalas, who primarily served as Brannon Braga’s assistant, will go on to work with Braga on both Threshold and Terra Nova, work on the remakes of Nikita and MacGyver, co-develop the TV spinoff of 12 Monkeys, and most recently took over as the show-runner of Picard for its second and third seasons.

Soval showed footage of the Vaankara crew to Archer and Forrest in “The Expanse.” This episode reveals what that ship’s mission to the Expanse was.

Seleya is, presumably, named after the mountain on Vulcan, seen in The Search for Spock as the location of the Hall of Ancient Thought.

The teaser in this episode is only eighteen seconds, which is the shortest in Trek history, supplanting the twenty-one-second teaser for Voyager’s “Scorpion.” 

Screenshot: CBS

It’s been a long road… “I can’t try to save humanity without holding onto what makes me human.” Star Trek and horror have rarely been a good mix. From the original series’ “Catspaw” to TNG’s “Conspiracy” and “Sub Rosa” to DS9’s “Empok Nor” to Voyager’s “The Haunting of Deck Twelve” to Enterprise’s “Strange New World” to SNW’s “All Those Who Wander,” Trek’s attempts at horror have mostly failed.

So it’s rather a pleasant surprise to find that the Vulcan Space Zombies episode is better than most.

Hiring David Livingston was very much the right move, as he’s one of the stronger action directors in the Trek stable of the era. And the episode looks great, from the very effective visual of the asteroids crashing into each other to the spiffy-looking Seleya to Mayweather’s less-than-perfect landing on one of the asteroids to Livingston’s effective use of lighting, camera angles, and the icky makeup on the Vulcan Space Zombies.

And the story more or less holds together. It’s nice to see a reason why the Vaankara was in the Expanse in the first place, and now we have a good reason why they went all cluck-cluck-gibber-gibber-my-old-man’s-a-mushroom, etc. Having said that, the episode does have one major flaw. Throughout, we see the Vulcan Space Zombies screaming and shouting and attacking and generally acting like, well, zombies. There’s no sign of intelligence or rationality. Yet somehow, they can manipulate the equipment to set up the infusion of gas into auxiliary control. I was just staring at the screen wondering how they managed that when they showed no signs of that level of reasoning otherwise.

To my great relief, we’re seeing signs of the crew coming back to themselves. The farther they move away from the tragedy of the Xindi attack, the more they start to remember what they stand for. From Tucker wanting to revive Movie Night to Archer’s refusal to abandon T’Pol. It’s a pleasure to see, though Archer’s initial rejection of reviving Movie Night is yet another piece of evidence (of which there’s been way too much in the first two seasons) that Archer isn’t entirely qualified to be captain of this ship. It’s also telling that a lot of T’Pol’s accusations against Archer while she’s all binky-bonkers actually have some evidence to back them up…

Warp factor rating: 7

Keith R.A. DeCandido is also reviewing the new episodes of Star Trek: Picard as they are released on Paramount+, and in anticipation of that, he also rewatched the movies Star Trek: Insurrection and Star Trek: Nemesis on this here site, right before his review of Picard’s “The Next Generation.” His review of Picard’s “Disengage” will go up on Thursday.


Back to the top of the page


Subscribe to this thread

Post a Comment

All comments must meet the community standards outlined in's Moderation Policy or be subject to moderation. Thank you for keeping the discussion, and our community, civil and respectful.

Hate the CAPTCHA? members can edit comments, skip the preview, and never have to prove they're not robots. Join now!

Our Privacy Notice has been updated to explain how we use cookies, which you accept by continuing to use this website. To withdraw your consent, see Your Choices.