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The Forge

Review

Series : Enterprise Rating : 4
Disc No : 4.2 Episode : 83
First Aired : 19 Nov 2004 Stardate : Unknown
Director : Michael Grossman Year : 2154
Writers : Garfield Reeves-Stevens, Judith Reeves-Stevens Season : 4
Guest Cast :
Gary Graham as Ambassador Soval
Larc Spies as Stel
Michael Nouri as Arev (Syrran)
Michael Reilly Burke as Koss
Robert Foxworth as V'Las
Vaughn Armstrong as Admiral Forrest
YATI : Why doesn't T'Pau talk anything like she did in TOS? Then she was all "art thou Human, Spock?" Now she talks perfectly normal English.

Soval says that Vulcans are worried about how fast Humans are advancing because it took his people 1,500 years to recover and travel to the stars after their wars. Later on they say Surak lived 1,800 years ago. So Vulcan made it into space about 300 years ago. So... how did they found the P'Jem monastery 3,000 years ago, as claimed in "The Andorian Incident"?

Great Moment : Manny Coto is fixing the Vulcans!
Body Count : 43 people died in the bombing - 12 Vulcans and 31 Humans, including Admiral Forrest. Syrran died as a result of the fire storm.
Factoid : Again a lot of nice continuity in this episode. Establishment of Katras and the use of mind melds to transfer them between people, as seen in Star Trek II/III - Syrran even uses the "remember" line when transferring Surak's Katra to Archer, just as Spock did when transferring his to McCoy, though he did it in Vulcan.

We see a Sehlat, and learn that T'Pol had one as a pet when she was young, just as Spock mentioned that he had in "Journey to Babel".

We get mention of the Vulcan inner eyelid which protects against high intensity light, as mentioned in "Operation : Annihilate".

We learn a new fact about Vulcans - they need only drink once every several days. Although this was not officially established in TOS, it was extremely rare to see Spock or any other Vulcan drink anything during that series.

Another nice inter-series link - the T'Karath Sanctuary where the Vulcan rebels are hiding is the same place where Picard and the mercenaries beamed down with the psionic resonator in TNG's "Gambit, Part 2". Incredibly, a line of dialogue in the TNG episode even states that the caves were used by one of the factions in the last civil war, centuries ago! A truly amazing bit of continuity there!

Both the questions Archer is asked are directly from the computer test Spock took in "Star Trek IV". The answers are "Logic is the cement of our civilization with which we ascend from chaos, using reason as our guide" was said by T'plana-Hath, Matron of Vulcan philosophy; and Kiri-kin-tha's First Law of Metaphysics is "Nothing unreal exists". And yes, I knew both of these without having to look them up.


Plotline

A terrorist bomb is detonated at the Human embassy on Vulcan, killing dozens of people - including Admiral Forrest. Investigating the scene, Enterprise discovers proof that the bomb was planted by T'Pau, a member of a Vulcan dissident movement known as the Syrrannites. T'Pol receives a gift from her mother which indicates that the Syrrannites are hiding out in an area known as "The Forge", a Vulcan desert in which little technology works. T'Pol and Archer set off to locate and capture T'Pau. Meanwhile Enterprise continues to investigate the bombing - and it begins to appear that the truth behind the crime is both more complex and far more sinister...

Analysis

I liked it! Another good solid episode, with much to recommend it. In my Enterprise-bashing article I said that the only way a prequel series had even a chance of working would be to pay very close attention to continuity, and lamented the fact that with Berman and Braga in charge this was not very probable - and so it proved. However, Mr Coto is clearly a different kettle of fish altogether. First, he is apparently making every effort to stack his episodes with little titbits of continuity - so we get mention of the inner eyelid which Vulcans have to protect against bright light, mention of the Sehlats which some Vulcans keep as pets, mention of locations such as Mount Seleya, details on Surak, etc. This is all very pleasing to the fans, and makes the episodes more fun to watch.

However, Coto is going further that this. Not only is he stacking fun facts into his episodes, he is actually going out of his way to re-write Enterprise's previous sins! One of the most irritating and even outright offensive features of Enterprise to date has been the "evil Vulcan syndrome" which I've mentioned a few times now and which culminated in the episode "Stigma". In that episode we learned that the Vulcan government was so obsessed with hating those who practiced mind melds that it was willing to allow them to die off from a disease which was being spread through the practice - essentially practicing a form of eugenics. It was a truly horrific thing to depict the Vulcans as doing, and although the episode was actually well intentioned (it was an analogy of the attitude that some people display towards HIV/AIDS today), it left a terrible taste in my mouth. You couldn't look at the peaceful, civilised species which valued "infinite diversity in infinite combinations" we saw in TOS and picture them as being the same people we saw in "Stigma".

Clearly, Coto thought along much the same lines. This arc seems to be dedicated in large part not only to explaining that discrepancy, but to actually showing us at least some of the transition from "evil" to "good" Vulcans. You can't imagine that Berman and Braga would ever have even thought of trying something like this; Coto is not only doing it, he's doing it well. It's a major achievement that deserves a lot of kudos.

So the episode has excellent intentions. How well does it fulfil them? Very well, I think. Everybody is acting in character and the plot hangs together well, with no obvious gaps in logic, or at least none that sprang out at me. It's not the most fast-paced or exciting of episodes, with what little action or danger there is having to be manufactured out of natural threats like the Sehlat and the fire storm, but it's none the worse for that - Vulcan has long been one of the more mysterious of Trek planets, and it's nice to learn a little more about it. Having Archer pick up Surak's katra is an interesting development, and I'm looking forward to seeing where they are planning to go with that.

All in all The Forge is an interesting episode which delivers a lot whilst promising even more for the future. I heartily enjoyed it.


Copyright Graham Kennedy Page views : 25,525 Last updated : 27 Apr 2005