Sunday, May 5, 2013

Political Intrigue And Somewhat Emotional Vulcans Make For An Intriguing “Fallen Hero.”

The Good: Decent plot, Good character development
The Bad: Erratic acting from the main cast overshadowed by a wonderful guest star (who performs wonderf.
The Basics: “Fallen Hero” continues the idea that Vulcans are involved with sophisticated political intrigue with an interesting Ambassador who is hardly Vulcan!

It is easy to see why so many fans of the Star Trek franchise are split on Enterprise. After all, Enterprise has a number of inconsistencies – not minutiae, but entirely different characterizations of major Star Trek races, not the least of which were the Vulcans. Vulcans in Enterprise are a whole lot more emotional than in other incarnations of Star Trek and that is troubling to the die-hard Trekkers. In fact, the stories that focus most on political intrigue – at least up until the episode “Fallen Hero” – have the Vulcans as political schemers who cannot be trusted. In fact, there are a number of similarities between the Enterprise Vulcans and the Minbari from Babylon 5 (reviewed here!). On Babylon 5, the consistent refrain about the Minbari is that they never tell you the whole truth. Despite how illogical that approach often is, that is how the Vulcans on Enterprise act.

“Fallen Hero” almost makes that re-characterization of Vulcans worthwhile. The straightforward mission, which finds the Enterprise ferrying a disgraced Vulcan ambassador out of enemy space, is well-plotted and has a dramatic tension that almost excuses how emotional some of the Vulcans in the episode are. While guest actress Fionnula Flanagan is a surprisingly good Vulcan, presenting a façade of emotionlessness, series regular Jolene Blalock once again falls down on presenting T’Pol in an emotionless and truly Vulcan way.

Shortly after T’Pol recommends that Enterprise divert course to the nearby planet, Risa, for much-needed shore leave (given that there has been a 3% loss of efficiency in the crew’s performance), Admiral Forrest hails Archer and requests the Enterprise head to Mazar. The Mazarite government is expelling the Vulcan ambassador, V’Lar, and picking her up is a top priority. While Tucker prepares to head off to Risa, the Enterprise diverts to Mazar where they pick up the ambassador (who has already left the planet). Archer quickly learns that V’Lar is not the typical Vulcan and he is shocked when T’Pol insinuates that the charges which have forced her to flee Mazar are charges the older Vulcan is guilty of!

When Enterprise is attacked by a Mazarite ship, V’Lar’s position seems especially precarious. When V’Lar refuses to tell Archer why she was forced off Mazar, Archer decides not to risk the ship and turns Enterprise around to return the ambassador to Mazar. Though T’Pol feels she has been betrayed by her hero, V’Lar, she talks with the ambassador and becomes convinced that V’Lar’s desire not to be returned to Mazar is legitimate and important. After she convinces Archer to not return V’Lar, the Enterprise is besieged by Mazarite ships.

Once again, Enterprise introduces a new Star Trek race and it seems like one of the big purposes of “Fallen Hero” is to expose the crew to an alien race that has traditional shields, like the ones seen in future incarnations of the franchise. Outside the energy shields the Mazarites utilize, there is little lasting consequence (in the franchise) for “Fallen Hero.”

On the character front, “Fallen Hero” again puts the Enterprise in a position where they have good reason not to trust the Vulcans. T’Pol, however, for the first time makes an impassioned plea for Archer to trust her and that shows development that would be significant had Jolene Blalock not been smirking her way through much of her performance of the Vulcan science officer throughout Enterprise thus far. Poor John Rubinstein, who seems to be typecast frequently as a villain, is stuck in “Fallen Hero” as yet another adversary, this time as the Mazarite Captain pursuing Enterprise. He is fine in the role, but it is not a particularly distinctive role for the performer, who usually is able to add more subtlety and menace to his brief parts.

The whole idea that T’Pol has a form of hero worship for V’Lar is drastically underdeveloped in the episode, though T’Pol works hard to convince V’Lar to help the crew. Her attachment to V’Lar is very understated and completely neglected in the episode’s resolution.

“Fallen Hero” begins well with the discussion of the importance of sex for humans and the musings that Enterprise’s ten months in space means the crew is either violating regulations or really needs to get laid. Beyond that, the episode is largely significant for the first reference to Risa and the new recurring quest in subsequent episodes to get there. And while the performances by Scott Bakula (who plays Archer as slowly developing a trust with T’Pol) and Fionnula Flanagan are good, they are not enough to make the episode into more than a pretty simple chase episode, which is what “Fallen Hero” ultimately is.

The three biggest gaffes in “Fallen Hero:”
3. Archer and Trip seem shocked to learn that V’Lar is old and T’Pol is much older than she appears. After 100 years of knowing Vulcans, no human has figured out they have significantly longer lifespans?! Where is the logic in the Vulcans withholding that information?
2. T’Pol casually mentions the terms of pon farr in the episode. Dr. McCoy had no idea about pon farr in “Amok Time” (reviewed here!) and the EMH on Star Trek: Voyager was similarly ignorant of pon farr. How that was kept secret for a hundred years makes no real sense if T’Pol casually talks about it in Enterprise.
1. Risa is a fairly new planet to the Federation in “Captain’s Holiday” (reviewed here!). Risa is close enough to Deep Space Nine, such that it does not take significant time to travel there and when fundamentalists take over the planet, they reference it as a far less important world than the core worlds of the Federation, like Earth, Vulcan, etc. Those things insinuate that Risa is actually a significant distance from Earth and early Federation space. That the Vulcans have been to Risa and it is close enough for the Enterprise to visit makes no real sense. It should be far, far, beyond the realm of the NX-01 Enterprise. In the first aired episode of Star Trek, Wrigley’s Pleasure Planet is referenced; why wasn’t that used?!

[Knowing that single episodes are an inefficient way to get episodes, it's worth looking into Star Trek: Enterprise - The Complete First Season on DVD or Blu-Ray, which is also a better economical choice than buying individual episodes. Read my review of the premiere season here!

For other works with Fionnula Flanagan, please check out my reviews of:
A Christmas Carol
The Invention Of Lying
Yes Man
Four Brothers
“Inheritance” - Star Trek: The Next Generation
“Dax” – Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
The Ewok Adventure


For other Star Trek episode and movie reviews, please visit my Star Trek Review Index Page!

© 2013 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
| | |

No comments:

Post a Comment