STAR TREK REWIND: “Singularity”

“You’re lucky you’re a decent engineer because you obviously don’t know anything about writing.’”

The galaxy is a death-trap, filled with pockets of space, nebula, and gas giants that drive ordinary, well-mannered humans nuts. This being a large galaxy, there’s a whole variety of mental conditions to be derived from spacial events. In “The Tholian Web,” we had an area of space that drove men mad. In Deep Space Nine’s “Dramatis Personae,” all-out war is waged as a result of a telepathic matrix.

In this episode, a strange combination of obsession, compulsion, and hyperactivity all contribute to turn the crew of Enterprise into a bunch of self-absorbed whack-jobs. It only slowly dawns on T’Pol that something is wrong because the crew is engaged in activities with the usual vigor, but when the behavior becomes obsessive, she becomes alarmed. An example of this would be when Archer asks Trip to fix his chair because it’s uncomfortable, Trip throws himself into the project.

With the galley chef under the weather, Hoshi takes over the kitchen and spends days perfecting her family soup recipe. Reed works on new tactical alert protocols. Archer is immersed in writing a preface to a book about his father. Phlox tries to lobotomize Travis (not much to lose there) convinced his patient is suffering from a neurological disease instead of a simple headache.

When T’Pol presents her findings to Archer, she is intrigued to discover his indifference. He even throws her out of his quarters and threatens to contact the Vulcans. T’Pol puts it together that the black hole they’ve been monitoring on their way to a trinary system is causing these problems, in addition to knocking out the crew. T’Pol (like Spock or Data) serves as a guardian angel for the ship.

Sometimes it seems to me the characters of Enterprise are merely weak variations of previously established characters. Sexy Spock. Human Worf. Kirk with 25% more beef-cake. A redneck Scotty. Asian Uhura with an actual job. An even less interesting Harry Kim (if that was possible). The difference between Enterprise and the original Star Trek is that these characters have purpose beyond being window-dressing for Kirk and Spock’s antics.

At this point in the second season, the show was still suffering in the shadow of previous franchise shows. What intrigues me in “Singularity” is that even under the influence of radiation, the behaviors are only slightly altered. They may be more intense and irritating, but they are still the crew. T’Pol puts Archer in a cold shower and then dumps coffee down his throat. She’d be great to have around at a raucous rave. She gives Archer the proverbial smack to the face and reminds him of his duty, very much as McCoy, or Kira, or The Doctor would do.

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