The Andorian Incident
Overall Ep :
First Aired :
31 Oct 2001
Season Ep :
Why did Archer take a beating from the Andorians in order to throw the little statue through the mask? It seemed like the idea was to see if it really led to the passage Trip found, but if so then why not just climb up from below and look through the holes?
Great Moment :
It's nice to see that everybody is still scared of the transporter. And it was nice to see the crew thinking of all the things that should be standard procedure to avoid situations like this.
Body Count :
The pride of a few Vulcan monks, a few Andorians get stunned, one Enterprise crewman is wounded, and Archer gets beaten up repeatedly.
The boss Andorian was played by Jeffrey Combs, best known as Weyoun on DS9. Although no log date is given, T'Pol claims that she has been on Enterprise for nine weeks and four days. Adding this to the date given in Broken Bow would put this episode on 27th June 2151.
Discussing their next destination, Archer notes that they are near to a remote Vulcan outpost and suggests that they pay a visit. T'Pol notes that the outpost is in fact a P'Jem, Vulcan monastery, a spiritual retreat for peaceful meditation. She thinks the monks may object to the Enterprise dropping by, but Archer overrules her and orders the ship to the planet.
later, T'Pol admits to Phlox that it will be awkward for other Vulcans to see her serving alongside Humans. Phlox points out that the Vulcans are supposed to be big supporters of "infinite diversity in infinite combinations", which should make them support her assignment.
As the ship arrives, T'Pol fills everyone in on the required protocols for viisting. She, Tucker and Archer head down in a shuttle. The visit seems to go well enough, though there are some strange signs - the door looks damaged, and there are signs of disarray inside - slight, but standing out to T'Pol since precise arrangement of ornaments and such is an important aspect of life on P'Jem. The monks also seem to want them to leave as soon as possible, arousing their suspicions - suspicions confirmed when Archer spots a blue-skinned alien hiding behind a wooden frame.
Trip and Archer grab the alien, but he is not alone - P'Jem has been occupied by a small contingent of Andorians. The landing party are quickly captured as well. The captors are Andorians, led by Commander Shran. Shran is deeply suspicious of Vulcans, as his people have a long and unfriendly history with them. Shran believes that P'Jem is more than it seems to be, and claims that the arrival of the Humans proves that something is going on. The Vulcan monks claim that they are wholly innocent - the Andorians are a suspicious and illogical people, and although there is peace between the two powers some Andorians do everything they can to keep tensions high. Shran claims that P'Jem is simply a cover for a long range sensor array used to spy on the Andorians, an idea the Vulcans deny.
Meanwhile Enterprise has noticed the Andorian ship on the surface, prompting some worry. Their inability to contact the landing party is more of a concern, though Hoshi and Mayweather suggest that their people might just be taking a tour or involved in some ritual that is preventing them from responding. Lieutenant Reed notes that even simple precautions like scanning the surface before sending a landing party down or arranging a schedule for regular check ins could have avoided all the uncertainty, and vows to make such things standard practice in future.
On the surface, Shran interrogates Archer. He refuses to believe that the Captain knows nothing about the alleged sensor array, and beats him for not answering. Shran uses Archer's communicator to call the ship and inform them that he has their people prisoner and will kill them if the ship attempts to intervene. Afterward he destroys all of the communicators.
Sent back to sit with the others, Archer learns that there is an emergency communicator in the catacombs beneath P'Jem. The captives sneak down there to find it and bring it back up. Although it's not working, Trip is sure he can jury rid something given a little time.
When he does get it working they notify the ship about what has happened, but order them to hold off on taking any direct action against the Andorians for now. Reed and two of his security personnel use the transporter to beam down, a procedure which makes them all nervous but which works successfully. The Andorians detect the energy surge and come looking, but find nothing amiss. Reed plants charges on the wall of the sanctuary and as one of the Andorians makes advances on T'Pol, he blows his way in and attack. However two of the Andorians get away and a firefight ensues. The Vulcan elder is distressed that Archer has turned the sanctuary into a "war zone", but there is nothing else to do now but shoot it out.
Down beneath the sanctuary, Archer locates a mysterious doorway and opens it - only to reveal a huge high tech facility manned by Vulcans beneath P'Jem. Shran's suspicions were correct, the monastery is indeed just a cover for a secret surveillance outpost. Archer has T'Pol make detailed scans of the installation, which he hands over to the Andorians. With the crisis resolved, the Andorians head off to their ship and Archer and his people go back to Enterprise.
Before leaving, Shran notes that he is in Archer's debt.
A good episode for the most part, this. The Andorians are brash and arrogant sorts, but not really "evil for the sake of being evil" bad guys - they have a little depth to them, helped by our finding out that they are actually right in what they are accusing the Vulcans of. It's also nice to see Reed lamenting how even basic commonsense measures would have helped enormously here - this is the kind of mistake we do expect from the NX-01 crew, mistakes resulting from being too confident rather than too cautious.
The big failure here is how the Vulcans are made out to be bad guys for what they are doing. There seems to be an unconscious assumption in the episode that spying is inherently bad and immoral, and so anybody who engages in it is acting badly and should be exposed regardless of the consequences.
Is that really the case, though? One can certainly say that some forms of spying are pretty shady... but all the Vulcans are doing here is running a sensor outpost. They're not blackmailing Andorians into giving up secrets, they're not running James Bond style missions where they assassinate people to steal secrets. They're just running sensors, from systems located within their own space at that. It's about the "cleanest" form of intelligence gathering there is, morally speaking.
But even if we take it as read that spying like this is something that is a bit of a no-no, is Archer really in a position to out them to the Andorians this way? Let's bear in mind that at this point Earth is more or less helpless against any significant interstellar power. They are almost wholly dependent on the Vulcans for protection - and here Captain Archer just arbitrarily decides to issue a massive F-U to our closest allies and protectors, purely because he thinks it's the right thing to do? Could he really not just pass on the information to his own command back on Earth and let them decide what to do about it? After all, if he was able to drive the Andorians away from P'Jem whilst concealing the existence of the sensor array, it would be the first time that the Vulcans had gained a real piece of genuine payback from their relationship with Earth. Wouldn't you think that would be worth something for us?
And really, I'm not even saying that this is the right thing to do. The complaint is more that nobody ever even suggests that this is an option. Archer blindly assumes that what he does is the one and only course of action that anybody would want to engage on and it's never once so much as questioned, even by T'Pol.