The Good: Tucker’s character, Moments of character development, John Rubinstein and Gary Graham’s performances
The Bad: T’Pol’s lack of character, Huge plot problems, Stupid reversal, Uninspired space battle scene.
The Basics: Were it not for the Andorian plot in “Kir’Shara,” the final episode in the “Vulcans get logic” arc would be utterly unwatchable.
Fixing the Vulcan problem in Star Trek: Enterprise was a pretty heavy task. Establishing the Vulcans as a conflicted and much more emotional race in Enterprise was a huge problem for the series and in the fourth season, rectifying that was the task of the second major three-episode arc. Following immediately on the heels of “The Forge” (reviewed here!) and “Awakening” (reviewed here!), “Kir’Shara” completes the arc. Unfortunately, for as engaging as the episode is, “Kir’Shara” is based on an essentially flawed premise.
“Kir’Shara” deals substantially with the results of a conspiracy at the highest level of Vulcan government. Vulcan warmongers have planned an invasion of Andoria and as a result, as the conspiracy comes to a head, the Vulcans are characterized as fundamentally emotional liars. The fractured and underhanded characterization of Vulcans makes it impossible for the Star Trek Vulcans to be characterized as monolithic and unified . . . much less entirely emotionless.
The Vulcan High Council, under V’Las, are convinced that the Andorians are preparing to use Xindi technology to launch an attack on Vulcan. As a result, V’Las prepares to launch a military assault on Andoria itself. Back in the Forge, Archer, T’Pau, and T’Pol recover the Kir’Shara – the book of Surak’s most important writings – and begin a journey to return it to the Vulcan High Council. While V’Las orders a military strike on the Forge, Tucker takes the Enterprise and Ambassador Soval to a nebula where they rendezvous with Shran to warn him about the impending invasion of Andoria. Shran captures Soval and tortures him using a device that reduces his ability to inhibit his emotions.
When Soval confirms that the Vulcans are staging their attack from Regulus, Tucker and the Andorians prepare to mount a defense. As Vulcan operatives attack the team in the Forge, T’Pol allies herself with the Syrannites. As Archer and T’Pau bring the Kir’Shara to the Vulcan High Council, the Enterprise joins the defense of the Andorian fleet against the Vulcans.
“Kir’Shara” is littered with problems, most of which are painfully obvious. On the basic continuity front, how T’Pol and Archer (inhabited by the mind of a pacifist) could hold their own against Vulcan security agents trained in personal combat is ludicrous. That T’Pol references her violation from “Stigma” (reviewed here!), but does not mention her medically-based inability to raise her emotional defenses that the entire third season was developing makes little sense (or becomes a serious character defect for T’Pol). The violent escalation between the Vulcans and Andorians makes it much less likely that the Federation could have been reasonably formed.
While developing Tucker in a productive way – he is willing to carry on Archer’s mission and ally himself with both Soval and Shran – “Kir’Shara” uses T’Pol in an unfortunate and underwhelming way. T’Pol suffers from a reduced ability to regulate her emotions. For a change, that justifies Jolene Blalock performing the character in an emotional way. However, Jolene Blalock plays T’Pol with far less emotional trouble than in prior episodes. In fact, outside the passing reference to the death of her mother, one might not see any emotional effect on T’Pol of her mother being killed in the prior episode. It’s a ridiculous character choice. It is only in the climax of the episode where Blalock plays T’Pol with a
Unfortunately, the usually wonderful Robert Foxworth is given a ridiculous character to play. V’Las is an emotional and angry Vulcan leader who connives and pushes the Vulcans to the edge of a potentially costly and utterly illogical war. He lives in utter denial of the facts. Foxworth’s performance would be amazing . . . if he was playing any race other than a Vulcan. In fact, the twist at the end makes less sense overall; if V’Las was who he is revealed to be, none of the other Vulcans should have been willing to follow him. As Spock notes in “Mirror, Mirror” (reviewed here!), it is far easier for a civilized person to act as a barbarian than a barbarian to act like a civilized person. V’Las should not have been able to “pass” for decades.
At the other end of the spectrum is John Rubinstein as Minister Kuvak. Rubinstein, save one facial expression of exertion and stress while launching a counterassault and a slight smirk in his final scene, plays a perfect Vulcan. This is a huge departure from his usual portrayal of creepy or conniving character and Rubinstein plays the role amazingly well.
“Kir’Shara” sets up another arc . . . poorly with a reversal in the end. The space battle is unimpressive and the twists are silly and obvious, as opposed to being at all clever. Ultimately, “Kir’Shara” ends a three-part arc which could be subtitled “How Archer Brought Logic To Vulcan” and it would be about as ridiculous as it sounds.
The five biggest gaffes in “Kir’Shara:”
5. If Surak’s teachings were so fractured and the “true teachings” were lost, there was no practical way for Vulcan society to be built upon them,
4. Vulcans have a death penalty in this episode, which flies in the face of previously-established Vulcan tenants – both present and historical,
3. The Romulan in “Kir’Shara” is wearing a Star Trek: Nemesis (reviewed here!) uniform . . . despite the fact that that fashion would not exist for two hundred years,
2. T’Pau refers to the need to get Archer to an experienced priest. In Star Trek III: The Search For Spock (reviewed here!), restoring katras was treated as an anomaly that was so rare it had not been done in hundreds of years. As a result, there would be no “experienced” priests in this time period,
1. T’Pau is essentially a radical in “Kir’Shara.” Given that, there is no reason she would develop into the ultra-conservative, stoic character seen in “Amok Time” (reviewed here!).
[Knowing that single episodes are an inefficient way to get episodes, it's worth looking into Star Trek: Enterprise - The Complete Fourth Season on DVD or Blu-Ray, which is also a better economical choice than buying individual episodes. Read my review of the final season here!
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“Home” - Star Trek: Enterprise
“The Enterprise Incident” - Star Trek
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© 2014 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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