Synopsis: Archer gets in touch with his inner Surak, T’Pol gets out of tune with her mother and the evil Vulcan High Command gets their evil groove on.
Review: If there wasn’t a lot to say about “The Forge”, there is in many ways even less to say about “Awakening”. There is enough continuity in the episode to be pleasant. The attempt to repair Vulcan continuity albeit in some limited way is also nice. But ultimately like “Forge,” “Awakening” is an episode with little plot that drags it out for forty minutes in order to satisfy the requirements of a three-part arc. “Awakening” indeed has a good deal less to fill its time than “Forge” did.
And so we have the incredibly weak and pointless suspense over the transfer of the Katra from Archer’s brain, which comes to nothing ultimately. We have T’Pau a character about as interesting and compelling as wet gravy, and who has little function except to maneuver absolutely nothing of importance and makes little impression. Much of this, particularly the time in the compound, with the exception of Surak’s scenes comes down to wasted time that adds up to rather little. T’Pol’s reunion with her mother is somewhat more interesting but lacks any real feeling and the death of T’Les complete with a “ï¿½deathbed’ reconciliation is painfully predictable and cliched.
Lacking the energy and sense of wonder of “The Forge”‘s explorations of the Vulcan desert, the caves by contrast have little to offer us but particularly uninteresting characters arguing with each other over not particularly uninteresting things. And the strongest material in the episode, namely the debate over the nature of Vulcan beliefs and the scenes with Surak, seems to get the least amount of screen time. These are things, after all, more important than T’Pol’s mother — or so one would imagine.
But it turns out that these Syrannite Vulcans, who are closer to Surak’s beliefs, are also corrupted as T’Pol points out to her mother. This returns back to ENTERPRISE’s dictum about all Vulcans except the really good-looking females being evil. Of course there is still one good Vulcan left, dead and inside Archer’s head, which makes Archer the last good Vulcan left as Surak tells Archer when he says that Syrran too was corrupted and only he can save his people. One can’t help but groan at this point in disbelief.
On Enterprise things don’t fare much better. Trip wanders around trying to defy the Vulcan High Command and generally being ignored for it. He threatens the Vulcans and is predictably enough ignored. His only interesting scenes come via Ambassador Soval who manages to lend dignity and depth to all his scenes. By contrast the Vulcan High Command has degenerated into every villain cliche. Replace the Vulcans with any race and you could have the same exact scenes just by changing a few place names. Really even Dr. Evil might not have been out of place here towards the end. It’s one thing to portray the Vulcan High Command as having strayed from Surak’s teachings but V’Las simply appears to be a cliched two-dimensional villain ranting and scheming in predictably evil fashion. When he commands his minions to comb the desert, you can’t help but imagine the scene from SPACEBALLS in which the stormtroopers drag a giant comb along the sands.
The third and final part of the Vulcan arc may turn out to be a wonderful episode that redeems these two. Like the Augments arc, this story lacks material for three episodes. As a two-part episode we could have had two strong and gripping episodes without a lot of the dead weight and dead air used to stretch the episodes out to hit the magic number three.
Next week: Vulcans, Andorians, Terrans and Syrannites…Oh My.