Star Trek: Enterprise

Season 2 Episode 22


Aired Wednesday 8:00 PM Apr 30, 2003 on UPN
out of 10
User Rating
168 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

The Enterprise crew makes first contact with the Vissians, a species with three genders. When Trip meets one of the species' third gender, known as Cogenitor, he is disturbed to learn that all cogenitors are treated extremely poorly.

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  • A complete lack of consistency

    Summed up, this episode asks the morality universal or are morals individual to each culture?".

    It's understandable that not everyone on the ship would have the same opinion on this issue. But there is where the problem lies. Not only do they have differing opinions, they each come to conclusions that are very different than what their character has advocated in the past.

    T'Pol basically says, 'Ignore it". This is in keeping with her philosophy that cultures are different and Humans aren't socially advanced enough to understand the complexities of interstellar relations. However, the Vulcans are a logic based culture. They believe in absolutes. Either something is A or it is B. So I don't see how they can say that slavery is wrong but justify it by saying, 'Other cultures are different'. Though in fairness, T'Pol never actually says it's acceptable, just none of their business.

    Tripp seems entirely true to his character.

    Throughout the whole episode, Phlox (and T'Pol to a lesser extent) react as though he doesn't understand the point Tripp's trying to make. He reacts each time as though Tripp said, '3 genders is weird', which was at no point what Tripp was saying. It wasn't until the brainscans were analyzed that Phlox gave any impression that he understood what Tripp was driving at. If you showed me the script to the episode without the names in it, I would have expected Phlox, based on actions in previous episodes, to be the one trying to help the Cogenitor.

    Archer is the worst of them all. He does something similar in practically every episode. Some of the more obvious examples are:

    Breaking Suliban prisoners out of a Tandaran prison in Detained

    Forcibly relocating the devolved Humans on Terra Nova in Terra Nova

    "Rescuing" Klingons on a damaged ship in Sleeping Dogs

    Interfering with the Hunters in Rogue Planet

    Destroying the repair station in Dead Stop

    Crusading against Vulcan bigotry in Stigma

    The only redeeming aspect on Archer's behalf is the subtle suggestion that he didn't really have a problem with Tripp's intent, but with his own failure to set a better (less interfering) example. At the same time, Archer disregards his own (and Starfleet's) ethical code when he denies the Cogenitor's request for asylum. To me, the only difference between this situation and every previous one where he took the opposite stance is that this alien culture was technologically superior. Perhaps he was so enthralled by the possibility of gaining that technology that he was willing to compromise his beliefs to get it. If so, that is quite a damning character flaw for a character built on honesty, trust, and a steadfast belief in right and wrong.moreless
  • lol at the moraiity warriors

    So you think that Archer should go around trying to impose his morality on people that he not only barely knows or understands but are also a completely different species?

    I would hope that you are also vehemently in favor of 'benevolent'/progressive imperialism aka a large part of the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.

    And that you are constantly advocating the "administration" of most of Africa, Middle East, Asia and S. America by more 'progressive' powers?

    And that you want to forcibly scrub the hate, intolerance and anti-science/intellectualism from all religions and hold parents/guardians criminally responsible for brainwashing children into believing fairy tales?

    And that you are in favor of forcing every country in the world to build nuclear power plants and start planting GM crops because it is both the moral/ethical and smart thing to do?

    And that you would have every astrologer, homeopath, chiropractor, acupuncturist, psychic, anti-fluoridation and anti-vaccination person thrown in prison?

    I could go on but your dumb and shallow way of 'thinking' is not worth anymore of my time.moreless
  • A clever episode about realpolitik

    Von Rochau in the 19th Century referred to a diplomatic principle called 'realpolitik' which was diplomacy based on realistic and practical considerations rather than moral or idealistic notions.

    The fact is you've got a species 1000 years ahead technologically and understandably annoyed at humans applying (in their eyes) absolute values and assuming they have the moral absolutes even though they are being highly hypocritical.

    In season 1 T'Pol notes humans consume animals and that this is repugnant to Vulcans to which Trip observes you shouldnt judge people based on their eating habits...

    If the Vulcans had taken a moral high ground claiming the killing and eating of animals (there is still a moral debate today about whether animals are sentient) was absolutely wrong and then forced humans to change their culture it would have been regarded with anger by humans. In fact it would have probably provoked accusations of imperialism and outright rebellion on Earth.

    The point being is that in the real world of diplomacy you have to accept that other nations, and in the context of Star Trek other species, have different rules and cultural norms and unless you can afford to make enemies of them its best to keep your mouth shut and mind your own business (unless there is mass public outrage at home forcing a political response) and in this episode Archer is smart enough to realise that making friends abroad means compromising moral absolutes at times. This does not mean you have to like them but if you can't afford to make enemies of them, which Earth could not, then its best to be somewhat flexible until you can speak softly AND carry the big stick.

    Archer stated "its not our place to tell you what rights you have" in a similar way in Afghanistan women cannot travel without a male guardian or mingle with strange men. In the West we find this objectionable however even if western diplomats were to insist exactly how would they enforce it? It would place western troops in danger of violent reprisals, thus a realpolitik solution had to be tolerated, however distasteful. Another example is that the West allied with Stalin to destroy Hitler even though Stalin was just as morally objectionable (and killed far more people in camps/gulags than Hitler) yet the Allies aided him throughout the war and refused to assist countries following the war such as Poland (google "Western betrayal") to fight against the Soviets, the Allies even gave Cossacks (who had fought for the Germans) back to Stalin and sent to certain death as there were suggestion that Allied POW's liberated by the Russians would not be returned until this, thus realpolitik.

    Perhaps all the people on this board crying about moral absolutes would have had American and allied troops continue marching to Moscow on a moral absolutist crusade costing more lives? The real world requires compromise and sometimes that includes your personal opinions and feelings and in this episode the characters portray just how difficult a clash of cultures truly can be and just how complex diplomacy in the real world is.moreless
  • So Slavery off Earth is OK??

    Most of the episode was actually great but the ending was maddening. I wish Trip yelled back at at least walked away defiantly. Harriet A. Jacobs is quoted as saying "death is better than slavery". I thought Charles lived more in those 2 days than she ever did before or would've there after. Trip did that for her.
  • Plenty of blame to go around

    To be frank, this was a disturbing episode, the kind that could give you bad dreams. That said, who's really to blame? At least four different parties.

    First, Trip did the right thing in discussing his concern with others--T'Pol and Phlox, in particular. I don't know what I'd have had them do differently, but they seemed all too willing to leave Trip with no options but to do nothing--"Hey, it's just one of those things, this is not our culture, they are not even

    But then, incredibly, Trip used deception to gain access to the Cogenitor's quarters, and stirred up doubts in the Cogenitor's mind--not just accidentally, but deliberately and persistently; in fact, he overcame considerable early resistance. The Cogenitor said, "You don't understand," but Trip didn't inquire on this point; he didn't want to hear about what he didn't understand. He just wanted to fix the problem he saw.

    Then there was Phlox. No one has said anything about this, but Phlox made the Cogenitor's specific medical data available to Trip, even stating the opinion that the Cogenitor had mental abilities on a par with the other Vissians. How sure could he be about this? IAC it was a major breach of ethics to divulge such information to Trip, even more so while knowing what Trip was likely to do with it. In the present-day US, this would be a serious HIPAA violation, for which Phlox could likely lose his job, not to mention lawsuits and possibly even criminal charges.

    Then there was Archer, who surely had the most difficult decision, about whether to grant asylum. We don't know what all his dialogue was with the Vissians, but granting asylum would at least amount to taking ownership of the problem, as opposed to just throwing it back over the wall. OTOH it could have had serious repercussions in the form of hostilities with a more technologically advanced race. We're back to: Do the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one?

    The focus of the wrong clearly must be on Trip, but miscommunication (too little of it sometimes, too much (Phlox, as well as Trip toward the Cogenitor) at others) greatly aggravated the whole situation.

    This really is an example of what the concept of tragedy is all about.moreless
Dominic Keating

Dominic Keating

Lt. Malcolm Reed

John Billingsley

John Billingsley

Dr. Phlox

Jolene Blalock

Jolene Blalock

Sub-Commander T'Pol

Connor Trinneer

Connor Trinneer

Commander Charles "Trip" Tucker III

Linda Park

Linda Park

Ensign Hoshi Sato

Anthony Montgomery

Anthony Montgomery

Ensign Travis Mayweather

Andreas Katsulas

Andreas Katsulas

Captain Drennig

Guest Star

F.J. Rio

F.J. Rio

Vissian Engineer

Guest Star

Larissa Laskin

Larissa Laskin


Guest Star

Mark Correy

Mark Correy

Engineer Alex (uncredited)

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (3)

    • Goof:
      Vissian Engineer:
      I read in your database that you've discovered only 92 [natural elements].

      Currently, there are 94 known natural elements out of 118 total known elements. Atomic numbers 95-118 are only known from artifical creation so far, while the others have all be found on Earth and in astronmical spectral analysis.

    • Goof: Captain Archer states that Shakespeare only wrote thirty-six plays, but Shakespeare is credited with writing thirty-seven plays over the course of his life, though some are disputed as to his authorship.

    • Nitpick: When Trip secretly goes to meet with the cogenitor, he tells the Vissian engineer that he's going to the mess hall. However, throughout the rest of the episode, everyone (including him) seems to think that he claimed to be going to Astrometrics.

  • QUOTES (3)

    • Archer: (to Trip) You knew you had no business interfering with those people, but you just couldn't let it alone. You thought you were doing the right thing. I might agree if this was Florida or Singapore, but it's not, is it? We're in deep space and a person is dead -- a person who'd still be alive if we hadn't made first contact.

    • Malcolm: There's an old Earth expression: I'll show you mine if... (cough) you show me yours.

    • Trip: I didn't think it would hurt to teach her how to read.
      Archer: Then you didn't think hard enough. We're out here to meet new species, not tell them what to do.

  • NOTES (2)


    • Trip's game:
      Though not named in the episode, the game that Trip and the Vissian were playing was Go. Go is an ancient board game that originated in eastern Asia over 2,000 years ago.