The Enterprise Docks at
Episode Air Date 10/10/01

"Strange New World"

Facing the finial frontier for the first time is really dangerous. You have to consider all these things. The hostility levels of alien races. The possibility of hazardous sectors in space. And the countless things on planets that could kill you dead. Luckily, we have a crew too stupid to care, and the result makes interesting stories.

Captain Archer, excited by the prospect of setting his space feet on an alien world, quickly makes arrangements to land a shuttle on the surface. But he is stopped by Mother Vulcan T'Pol who, once again, warns the overly enthusiastic humans about the necessary precautions. But the humans won't have it. After spending 100 years in repression by the Vulcans (a concept that has been beaten into the ground in only three episodes), humans are so desperate to walk on an M-class planet that they toss aside good science.

While the Vulcans' means for exploring space may seem boring with their automated probes and weeklong surveys, it's a much more realistic way of star trekking. But TV audiences don't want to watch pointed eared geeks poke at consoles for an hour. So instead we have moronic humans run to the surface of a totally alien world, only to be quickly wrapped up in danger.

To further hyper-extend believability the captain of the Enterprise is first to step out of the pod and onto the plush green world. Kirk preferred to do the exploring himself, too - but at least he never brought his dog. Would a Star Fleet captain really bring his puppy onto an uncharted planet, to take a whiz on an alien tree. Unfortunately, the tree did not turn around and eat the dog. Now that would have been interesting.

However, it is refreshing to see Star Fleet officers appreciate the miracle of walking on another planet. In the future of the future no one ever stops to smell the roses, or pee on a tree.

Eventually the away team sets up camp (compete with tents from Big Five Sporting Store) and crowds around the fire to listen to space ghost stories. But when a flash windstorm sneaks up they are forced to take cover in a near by cave.

It becomes apparent to the away team that aliens live on the planet, undetected by sensors. They walk around the abandoned campsite, and can be heard echoing from inside the caves. And after a crew man witnesses T'Pol talk with a group of rock-like-aliens deep inside the cave, Commander Trip is forced to hold her at phaser point. The away team doesn't trust T'Pol or her repressive Vulcan race, so they threaten to kill her unless she talks. And with the wind blowing so strongly, Captain Archer can't land a shuttle pod to rescue them.

Commercial break. And then things stop being interesting.

It seems there weren't any aliens on the planet after all. Instead, the windstorm brought in some psychotropic pollen, exposing everyone without benefit of a lava lamp and sitar music. Rock people, conspiring Vulcans, and half of Star Trek: The Motion Picture turn out to be hallucinations. After some clever trickery, Captain Archer inoculates all the away team. As the crew walks back to the shuttle, the credits roll.

One scene obviously got cut. Back on the bridge, as the Enterprise leaves the hashed planet in its space dust, with half the crew in rehab from the alien pollen, T'Pol leans into to Archer, and under her breath, in her most Vulcan tone, sultrily offers, "you know, probes aren't effected by pollen. Just a suggestion."

But then, Vulcans never say I told you so.

Kevin Miller

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