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4-14 The Aenar
reviewed by Kevin Thomas Riley
This arc is getting better and better. A bit of real alienness from The Aenar cranks this one up from a 10 to a 10+ on my patented 10-grading scale. I absolutely loved it! I can't begin to express my disappointment and outright anger that this excellent show is going to get cancelled. It has been many years since I've seen any Trek with this level of quality. I love the settings, I love the characters… Aaaaaargh!
What science fiction in general and Star Trek many times lack is a distinct alien feel in regards to different species. The Andorian subspecies called the Aenar, in essence blind albino Andorians with extreme telepathic abilities, truly invoke the alienness, both in appearance and in customs. It's really hard to tell that they're in fact Andorians even if they do have the antennae. It's really too bad the show has been cancelled. I would've loved to see more of the Aenar in upcoming seasons. What is their relationship towards the rest of Andorians? How do they feel about the blue-skins and vice versa?
The Aenar girl, Jhamel, was played very well and she had a lot of chemistry with Shran. As much as I liked the ill-fated Talas, there wasn't that much chemistry between her and Shran (she had much better chemistry with Malcolm in Proving Ground), but I saw ice-melting sparks between Jhamel and Shran. This could've been another interesting storyline to revisit had there been more seasons. And I don't know if I'm weird or anything but I thought that Jhemel was kinda cute!
It was nice to finally see something of the Andorian homeworld, or rather the isolated underground ice-dwellings of the Aenar. Combined with the ghost-like appearances of the Aenar it had a spooky feel to it. And I guess that Andoria is really a moon, since we saw that planetary body orbiting a ringed gas giant (another very nice image). Sigh, this was just a teaser that will remain unfulfilled! I want more of the Andorians!
The interactions between Archer and Shran were very good too. That's a pair that also has some great chemistry. They've come a long way since The Andorian Incident, haven't they? They're actually friends, even if they might not admit it to themselves or each other. Note how Shran decides to stay onboard and help Archer even after the other members of the alliance from United left. Wonder how much Archer now "owes" Shran, but between friends there's no such thing as "owing". But they still keep up the bickering. I loved the scene when the Aenar leader said about Archer's mind "Some of those facets are in conflict" and Shran retorted "That explains a lot"! I really liked Archer in this episode. I could see no hint of either Obnoxious Archer or Super Archer. This is how Archer should be portrayed all the time. Let us hope that he stays this way for the reminder of the series.
I thought the telepresence unit was a nice touch and how the Romulans used it to telepathically control the Drone ships, and that the Enterprise, with the help of Jhamel, used it against the Romulans in the end. One thing bugged me a little bit though. It was never really explained how the Romulans where able to force the captured Aenar, Jhamel's brother Gareb, to remote pilot the Drones for destructive purposes. The Aenar are pacifists after all. A little more exposition into that would've been nice. And once again I wonder why Valdore in the future is revered as a hero since he obviously failed here and probably made many enemies in the Romulan senate, including senator Vrax.
This episode was also Tri/T'Pol heavy, loaded with angst, and the final revelation that Trip, who can't take T'Pol distancing herself from him anymore, decides to transfer to the Columbia. He thinks he can't keep his mind straight when she's around and he worries about her too much, especially when she puts herself in danger, as when she tried out the telepresence unit. They had this little banter going on in the beginning (echoes of previous seasons) but she's in denial and won't tell him what she feels. He thinks she no longer cares for him in that way. Poor Trip, one can easily see that it's eating him up inside. Interestingly enough it is Phlox of all people he confides his unrequited (or so he believes) love of T'Pol to. And since he now thinks T'Pol no longer loves him he pro-actively tells her that his feelings are now "purely professional". One can't help but wonder how T'Pol would've reacted if she had known that her keeping the distance between them would result in his transfer. As much as I want them together I'm a sucker for good angst (provided it doesn't go on too long) and this episode was good in that regard.
When Trip asks Archer for the transfer in the end, the Captain acts a bit strange, asking him about what the reasons are. But I don't think Archer is clueless. He knows it is because of T'Pol. He just wants his old friend to confide in him and probably feels a bit bummed that Trip isn't forthcoming. Still, I think the scene played out nicely and Archer wasn't the obnoxious self we've seen before. But maybe now he understands that his previous acts have made them grow apart. Trip can tell Phlox about it, but not Archer. Too sad really, but Archer had it coming. Hopefully he'll learn a thing or two from it.
I don't want to spoil anyone (I know some of what will happen), but does anyone really believe that Trip's transfer will be permanent? Has that ever happened before on a Trek series? On the other hand, since this is the final season, you never know! I can't wait to see how this is played out in the last, all too few, remaining episodes.
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Two folks have made comments
I loved this episode and particularly liked Shran and how he interacted with the Aenar Jhamel. It was also good to see a firm Archer though my heart goes out to Trip. Ali D :~)
Babel one - united and the aenar : the very best of S. ENTERPRISE !!!
so good !!!
the aenar is a jewels !! I could see it again and again...