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On TV Today's Date:

The Forge
original airdate: 11-19-04

The Vulcans.

They’ve been a part of Star Trek since its primordial beginnings inside Roddenberry’s mind almost 40 years ago. And now they’re embedded deep in pop culture. “Live long and prosper” and “the Vulcan death grip,” are right up there with “may the force be with you” and “the Jedi Mind Trick”… and some other pop culture references that don’t have “star” in the title.

Continuing their experiment in three part stories, Enterprise jumps back into the Vulcan pool with “The Forge.” With the Vulcans splashing around for over 40 years is there really anything new we can learn? Let’s hope so. We’re going to be swimming with them for three weeks.

Commercials ramping up to this week’s episode promise Enterprise will “lose one of her own.” Meaning someone’s going to die. We held our breath all week to see if Mayweather was going to snuff it. But after the two minute teaser we can breathe, because it’s Admiral Forrest who bites it. Or rather is burned alive in a terrorist explosion.

Forrest isn’t a title character, but he has been on the show since episode one. And he’s more interesting and plays a more important role then Mayweather – so it’s actually sad to see him go.

Before the explosion Forrest talks with Ambassador Soval, the Vulcan representative on Earth, who has also been with Enterprise since her maiden voyage. To paraphrase, Soval tells Forrest the Vulcan high command resists sharing technology with Star Fleet because they don’t know how to deal with humans. To the green blooded aliens, humans can be both as aggressive as Andorians and as logical as Vulcans. Mankind’s shades of gray are considered unusual in a galaxy of black and white.

This conversation could be used as a thesis for the entire show. All other worlds have distinctive personalities and don’t trust each other. It will take the Federation to build the melting pot of the Alpha Quadrant.

To following the trend of mistrust, the Vulcan High Command pins the terrorist explosion on the Andorians. But it soon proves that a small sect of Vulcans, called the Syrranites, are to blame. So, wait a second… how can there be faction of Vulcans who think differently, if the High Command believes only humans have shades of gray...? I smell a moral coming.

So it would seem we DO have something to learn about the Vulcans. The Syrranite religious sect sort of resembles Islamic beliefs. Much like Muslims focus on the teachings and pilgrimage of Muhammed, the Syrranites focus on the teachings and pilgrimage of Surak. The Vulcan desert, though alien, also has the familiar feel of the Middle East.

Archer and T’Pol take the Vulcan desert to find the Syrranites and the terrorist. Of course by the time Archer and T’Pol are deep in the desert, Dr. Phlox and crew realize that the terrorist wasn’t a Syrranite. This smells like a government job. More on that plot line in act two.

Meanwhile on Vulcan, Archer and T’Pol hide from a wild desert dwelling monster, who lacks the ability to climb up a mountain. We’ve never seen these furry desert creatures before, but apparently, according to T’Pol, they make great pets. This seems like something more for the Klingons and therefore an out of place danger.

(Okay, so the pets may have existed on the animated series, but does that count? We haven't seen any of Lt. Arik's people outside of animation, either.)

The story will continue next week with part two: “The Awakening.” Already this three part clumped story is pacing itself better then the post-Eugenics war of last week. The first episode featured so many elements it was almost overwhelming and it ran out of gas by the third episode. This week is straightforward and compelling.

Till next week, may the force live long and prosper. Or something.

Kevin Miller

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