“The Andorian Incident”
Summary: Enterprise does Hogan’s Heroes and Archer channels the spirit of Janeway.
Quite a few Star Trek fans became excited at the news that Enterprise was going to bring back the Andorians, but they might as well have not bothered since their appearance contained little more material and depth than the average Voyager alien of the week. The entire plotline pitting Vulcan non-violence and logic against Andorian arrogance and paranoia and human pragmatism and ruthlessness might have made for an interesting exploration of three races and three cultures; but instead we are given a Hogan’s Heroes plot in which Trip sneaks around looking for hidden radios under the noses of his captors. The Andorian culture is not explored, nor is their identity expanded on in any way. In fact, eliminate the Trek pre-history and the Andorians would just be another weird-looking Voyager alien of the week. Their only function in Andorian Incident is to play Colonel Klink to Archer’s Hogan, be violent and threatening and then suddenly passive. They have no depth or complexity, they simply exist and act to move the plot along.
We learn little about the Vulcans either, except for more awful ‘smell’ jokes. Considering that Vulcans have the discipline to suppress emotion, it’s doubtful that they would really be bothered by smells. Nor is this particular joke actually amusing in the first place. The final revelation is not expanded on in any way and the scene of the Vulcan monk being punched out is dubious at best, especially after we see an Andorian beat Archer and Trip at the same time, and we know that Vulcans are stronger than humans. This episode’s entire appeal is to the knowledge of Trek history but seems to be completely uniformed by it.
Produced from the pen of Fred Dekker, formerly the director of Robocop 3 and a veteran of Tales from the Crypt, Andorian Incident is a long journey to nowhere, of which every minute feels as agonizing as Scott Bakula’s torture at the hands of Jeffrey Combs, who seems to have become Star Trek’s filler alien actor. And Combs is allowed to do nothing to make his character stand out in any way, which essentially makes his role that of Andorian #2. This essentially disposes of the Andorian aspect of the Andorian Incident, which might as well not be there.
This leaves us with what is essentially a story about a hostage situation, that has been done a very nearly infinite amount of times on virtually every action series on television. The only thing original about this take on the material, is Archer’s transformation into Janeway as he fumbles for something to do, most of which consists of being beaten into a bloody pulp. His final decision to hand over the information to the Andorians smacks of Janeway’s arrogant and mindless interventionism in other people’s affairs and is downright bizarre in a universe where the humans are outgunned by superior races and their only putative allies are those same Vulcans Archer dislikes so much.
Archer’s first problem begins with the fact that he had no real role in intervening in the situation in the first place, especially if the monks did not want him to. His second problem is that his intervention was disastrous at best. As in Terra Nova, he seems borderline ignorant of elementary military tactics. For example, it is mind boggling to see Archer and Trip realize that the monks are being held hostage and so direct all their attention to one attacker, never even taking into account the possibility of other attackers or bothering to retrieve the downed Andorian’s weapon; almost as mind boggling as Archer leaving Reed behind in the tunnels on Terra Nova. The exact same organization we see on the part of Malcolm Reed, when dealing with the crisis, is the same kind of organization so thoroughly and bafflingly lacking in Archer’s actions. At times it seems as if the wrong man is in command here.
Archer’s final problem is the notion that he has any right to tell either side what to do. It’s not clear why he thinks this, but it seems a legacy of Janeway’s Voyager-era rampages in which she ordered around people on alien worlds, e.g. Natural Law. Except that Janeway at least had a powerful starship while Archer’s is vastly out-of-date. Nevertheless, Archer has insisted on involving himself in situations where he’s vastly outgunned. In Broken Bow and Fight or Flight, he at least took the right side and had some justification for his actions. In Unexpected however, he unnecessarily annoys the Klingons and squanders their debt to him and in Andorian Incident, he intervenes in the conflict of two races, either of whom could crush Earth without barely trying.
Indeed, Andorian Incident could easily have been a Voyager episode. It offers no insight into the races it depicts; its plot and the actions of its characters make little sense and the only joy in it comes from seeing Reed take command and nearly take care of business. Not only has Enterprise’s take on the Vulcans grown tiresome after a handful of episodes, but the series really needs to inject a certain amount of competence into the portrayal of its Captain and look for episodes based on material more original, than Hogan’s heroes.
Next week: Revenge is a dish best served cold and it’s very cold on an ice comet.