Note: This review contains significant spoilers.
In brief: A step in the right direction, although it still has some obvious
Plot description: The Enterprise returns home for refit while its crew takes
shore leave and finds that being a part of Starfleet has new meaning on
Star Trek: Enterprise - "Home"
Airdate: 10/22/2004 (USA)
Written by Mike Sussman
Directed by Allan Kroeker
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
Rating out of 4: ***
"Seen any good movies while I was gone?"
"Another World War III epic. Swept all the awards."
-- Archer and Hernandez
In what could end up being one of the most necessary and yet overlooked
episodes of the season, "Home" takes a crack at supplying the coda for
season three by showing us the Enterprise's homecoming after its grueling
mission in the Delphic Expanse. In the parlance of our time: If "Zero Hour"
was season three blowing its wad, then "Home" is the pillow talk that
follows. (Don't ask me where that leaves "Storm Front" in terms of that
metaphor. You probably don't want to know.)
The results of "Home" are good but not wonderful. I'm glad the writers did
this episode rather than launching straight into a new plot line. But I also
think they could've pulled this episode off better than they did. "Home"
supplies some welcome things I was happy to see, but it doesn't go about it
in the best ways. Some ideas are ham-handed in execution.
It starts with a heroes' welcome in San Francisco, where Archer acknowledges
the dedication of his crew and especially the 27 crew members who did not
return from the mission alive. It's good to see this moment on-screen rather
than to hear about it in throwaway dialog. Similarly, it's also good to see
the continuing construction of the Columbia, the Enterprise's new sister
ship, which is nearly ready to launch. It even has a newly appointed
captain, Erika Hernandez (Ada Maris), an old friend of Archer's.
In an episode that has a number of good ideas, the best is the introduction
of Hernandez and the Columbia; I hope we see them again and that they become
an actual part of this series' fabric. The notion that Starfleet is
expanding its warp-5 fleet beyond the Enterprise is crucial to conveying the
continuing growth and development of Starfleet.
Another idea I liked was Archer's mission debriefing. Honestly, the
debriefing itself could've been an entire episode, possibly a fascinating
one. We get a taste of the debriefing here: Soval, in his typically
skeptical tone, begins asking Archer about the events of "Impulse," which
ultimately ended in the destruction of the Vulcan ship Seleya and its crew.
Archer tries to explain, but he doesn't like the implications of Soval's
questions, and eventually Archer launches into a dramatically charged tirade
against Soval that I must admit had me nodding in agreement: "I got more
help from the Andorians than I ever got from the High Command! This planet
would be a cloud of dust right now if we'd listened to you!"
What's interesting about Archer's admittedly unprofessional outburst is that
we, as witnesses to Archer's ordeal over the past year, can understand the
feelings and logic behind it. He's right that Soval has always been an
obstinately uncooperative skeptic -- and now Soval has the nerve to question
Archer about the loss of the Seleya?
The debriefing is suspended and Admiral Forrest tells Archer he is out of
line and orders him to take a few days to cool off. Archer decides to go
mountain climbing in seclusion so he can clear his head. He unexpectedly
runs into Captain Hernandez, who has followed him out here, no doubt sensing
Archer could use an ear to rend. Is there some rule somewhere that says
starship captains must inevitably turn out to be rock climbers?
Archer vents his doubts about space exploration in light of the vast amount
of conflict and battle he's experienced. He suggests that Starfleet will now
be more about defending Earth than exploring space. Hernandez thinks Archer
is overreacting. "That's not the mission either one of us signed up for,"
she says. "Maybe you'll feel differently after you've delivered a few dozen
eulogies," he responds.
Some of this works well, like when Archer talks about how his initial
objections to weapons on the Enterprise were ultimately wrong, or when he
confesses that during the mission in the expanse, "I lost something out
there, and I don't know how to get it back."
Some of this is simply overstated, as when Archer says, "Maybe the Vulcans
were right; maybe we weren't ready," and suggests that 7 million people
might still be alive if the Enterprise hadn't been out "stirring up
trouble." I simply don't buy that Archer honestly believes those words, even
for a minute. He talks here almost like he's buying into the role of devil's
advocate despite the actual truth. I can understand his doubts, particularly
those about the ethical corners he cut (he specifically mentions the
incident of torture as well as having marooned an innocent crew), but I
think the writers, in putting forward the argument through Archer, vocalize
more doubts than are actually believable given all the facts.
Still, it's good to see Archer questioning himself, and Hernandez turns out
to be a loyal friend who offers her support in Archer's time of need.
Indeed, it turns out that these two once had a relationship where they were
more than just friends, and the episode indicates that they still have some
more-than-friends feelings (although whether it will go anywhere is
unlikely, since both are, as Hernandez puts it, "already married to
But it's not just Archer who has changed. Earth is also going through its
own post-trauma, although this area of the story isn't as appealing. The
whole situation with the barroom bigot and the ensuing brawl is handled with
all the subtlety of a nine-iron to the temple. The setup comes when Reed
warns Phlox to be careful while on Earth, because the Xindi attack has left
people a bit jittery and xenophobic. Perhaps not an awful concept (I suppose
it will do as an echo of some similar feelings in the U.S. following 9/11),
but you'd think that 22nd-century sensibilities would draw the distinction
between Xindi attackers and other aliens who are obviously non-hostile.
But, sure enough, while Reed, Mayweather, and Phlox are minding their own
business in a bar, a patron (Joe Chrest) comes up and starts suggesting that
Phlox should find somewhere else to drink. This is handled with such lazy,
superficial contempt that it feels forced. Something more subtle would've
been better. Reed and Mayweather end up in a bar brawl coming to their
crewmate's defense. The scene ends with Phlox puffing up like a blowfish,
which is so odd and unexpected that it's almost effective.
The idea that the Xindi attack has shaken Earth is fine, but I think there
are better ways to demonstrate it than with witless bar fights.
That leaves the last strand of the story involving T'Pol and Trip, which is
less interesting than what's happening on Earth but actually proves to be
the most complicated from a character point of view. Of course, leave it to
UPN to promote "Home" as if it was going to be a fun-n-festive Vulcan
wedding show (which, thankfully, it isn't). The trailer couldn't be more
misleading. The wedding itself doesn't happen until the very last minute of
the show, and even then it's barely seen. And it's certainly more solemn
than it is festive.
But this is not really about a wedding at all. It's about fulfilling family
obligations and following old traditions -- values that may seem as baffling
to many Enterprise viewers as it does here to Trip. While modern American
society tends to emphasize the individual over tradition, there are
societies that still commonly practice arranged marriages (India in
particular comes to mind), and what we have here is a human-Vulcan culture
shock (right down to the fact that the *guests* are expected to make
breakfast). What complicates things is that T'Pol finds that she has
ventured recently toward human thinking and away from Vulcan traditions.
T'Pol returns to Vulcan to visit her mother (Joanna Cassidy). Trip, who has
no hometown or family anymore (destroyed in the Xindi attack) tags along. We
can see that T'Pol's relationship with her mother is somewhat strained, with
T'Pol leaning toward individuality where her mother leans toward tradition.
The tension between them is played fairly well, especially by Cassidy, who
understands that Vulcans need not sound like robots to sound like Vulcans.
When T'Pol starts to show cracks in her emotion-controlled facade, her
mother asks, "What's happened to you?" in a tone that is just about perfect.
Things don't get any better when T'Pol's former fiance, Koss (Michael Reilly
Burke), comes calling. He wants to resume the marriage plans. T'Pol doesn't.
From here, the family negotiations begin, as it turns out that T'Pol's
mother, who lost her teaching position because of the political fallout of
T'Pol resigning from the High Command, can regain her job with the help of
influence from Koss' family -- if T'Pol agrees to marry him.
I'm not sure what to make of all this back-room maneuvering. Indeed, I can't
claim to understand the terms of the marriage at all. What's the point of
Koss marrying T'Pol if she's obviously just doing it out of obligation and
to help her mother? I can wrap my brain around the concept of an arranged
marriage, and even T'Pol's selflessness, but I don't understand where Koss
sees himself in this. I guess he's willing to wait for T'Pol to maybe come
This, of course, leaves Trip sidelined. Trip realizes here that he's
actually in love with her, although the sentiment doesn't really work,
mainly because the way these two ostensibly got together was presented as so
meaningless (see "Harbinger"). This is really the first real look we've had
at the relationship. I would guess this represents a turning point in their
relationship, which is kind of strange considering T'Pol marries someone
"Home" has its flawed rough edges. But what I appreciate about it,
especially after the largely concocted and irrelevant "Storm Front," is that
it puts us back in the legitimate Star Trek universe, where things are
happening on Earth and the story services the characters. That's a step in
the right direction for season four.
Next week: Brent Spiner, Klingons, Orion slave girls, eugenic soldiers. Does
this signal the beginning of the Coto era?
Copyright 2004 Jamahl Epsicokhan. All rights reserved.
Unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this article is prohibited.
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