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4-17 Bound

reviewed by Kevin Thomas Riley

Bound was an episode I was very much looking forward too and it didn't disappoint me. I thoroughly enjoyed it. While not the best episode of this season it was fun, very fun. It had a distinct original series feel, like one of the more humorous episodes they did back then. That's something that's been rather absent from much of modern Trek, especially Enterprise. While I wouldn't like every other episode to be like this it's nice to have one on occasion.

It starts with a nice nod to the original This Side of Paradise when T'Pol mentions the fire-breathing dragons of Berengaria VII that Spock talked to Leila Kalomi about, adding to the amused bridge crew that the report was somewhat unreliable. The NX-01 is en route there to chart a potential location for the first starbase, a story exec producer Manny Coto said he would do if given a fifth season, which makes the cancellation all the more sad. The episodes also namedrops Deltans and the Gorn, also nice touches in my book.

The episode centres around three Orion Slave Girls, given as a peace gift by an Orion privateer called Harrad-Sar to Archer. I was somewhat disappointed about the Orion appearance in Borderland, which I felt was cut short. The sexy and irresistible green women have been a staple of Star Trek episodes like The Cage and Whom Gods Destroy. Predictable enough, present day feminist prudes have lambasted the very idea as sexist and thusly also this episode. Well, you can't please everybody but this viewer certainly appreciates seeing the scantily clad Orion women and I'm definitely not about to apologize for that! And those three girls were sexy, especially when they did their dance routine in front of Archer and Reed onboard Harrad-Sar's ship. Too bad that the best looking of them (played by Menina Fortunado) was the one that was shown the least.

The plot was quite predictable but I didn't mind that. It was obvious that the Orions would wreck havoc onboard the Enterprise. I don't expect a deep and thought-provoking story when green gals are involved. Sometimes it's good to just relax and allow yourself to have some fun and this was it. The pacing dragged a bit at the beginning though, but it picked up speed after a while.

Anyway, the secret of the lure of the Orion women is their pheromones. They literally drive the men folk crazy to do their bidding. Another nice plot twist (which I didn't see coming) is that it is actually the women that control the Orion society. The Orion men may be the ones nominally in charge but they do the women's bidding. The "slave" aspect works in their culture since the Orion Syndicate obviously utilizes the allure of their women when they sell them to others. That way the Orion Slave Girls influences other worlds. This goes very much against so-called "fanon" and predictably enough this particular aspect has been torn to pieces by the fanonatics. Never been one for fanon I don't mind this new insight into Orion society. It adds to the alien-ness of the Orions. The episode title Bound takes on this meaning - the men are in essence bound to the women.

The title has, as it is many times in Trek, a double meaning because we find out that Trip and T'Pol are also bound to each other. They are the only ones immune to the Orion pheromones and that is because they have developed a Vulcan psychic bond, something that happens between Vulcan mates. In the previous arc we got to see that bond playing out when Trip daydreams into T'Pol's meditation. Now this bond prevents Trip from being affected by the Orions and he and T'Pol works together to thwart the Orions, whose plan is not a peace offering but one of revenge against what Archer did to the syndicate in Borderland. I really enjoyed seeing someone else than Archer saving the day.

So this episode finally resolved the long Trip and T'Pol relationship and it does so in a very nice manner. We've had lots and lots of angst from these two and I liked that they resolved it in a fun manner. Seeing them banter and bicker like they did makes me realize how much I've missed those moments. I like a certain amount of angst as much as the next bloke but it was growing wearisome, especially after the Vulcan arc. And I like the science fiction quality of their psychic bond. It also played very nicely with the Orion storyline.

T'Pol's little fishing expedition in the beginning, when she was trying to have Trip admit he's been having daydreams about her was a bit surprising in its sheer directness but it was cute. But you could tell she was worried about telling him about the bond, although in the end Trip certainly didn't seem to mind it at all. Quite the contrary in fact! The ending, where Trip tricks T'Pol into not only admitting that she wants him back on Enterprise but also in kissing him, was excellent, especially since he'd already put in for a transfer back to the Enterprise. The chemistry between those two just oozes from the screen. Sigh, this is why I'm a Trip/T'Pol 'shipper! Thank God they're finally together. And too bad that we, now since the show has been cancelled, won't get to see much of them dealing with being in the first Human/Vulcan relationship - harbingers of Spock's parents Sarek and Amanda.

It was good also that Archer got some nookie. He's been practically a monk in this series and I think he really deserved some release! Of course it made him go bonkers and he tried to destroy a defenceless vessel. I'm not one of Archer's biggest fans and his obnoxiousness was certainly magnified under the influence of the pheromones. I so enjoyed it when Trip shot him on the bridge when he and T'Pol saved the ship!

Trip's replacement as Chief Engineer, Kelby, did not compare favourably to Trip. And I'm not only talking about him blowing the engines under Orion influence. That was a teeny bit I didn't like. Kelby was shown as being less than fully competent in the Klingon arc too. I don't get it why the writers sometimes fell it's necessary to show other characters as week in order for others to look strong. At least Kelby is not a regular. "Super" Archer has a deplorable tendency to make even regulars look week, needy and/or incompetent.

Another problem is why they not used the female crewmembers more once it became apparent what effect the Orion women had on the male crew. Why didn't they have female MACOs guarding the Orion women? Why, for that matter, wasn't Archer temporarily relieved of command? We all know from Hatchery how destructive a possessed Archer can be.

But these are minor nitpicks. Overall it was a really good and fun episode. It wasn't epic, like many of the mini-arcs, but not every episode has to be. Another very original series feel from Bound was the scene in sickbay at the end, when Archer, Trip, T'Pol, Reed and Phlox were joking around amongst themselves in a manner really resembling the Kirk/Spock/McCoy banter we've all come to know and love. You really got the feel that these characters enjoy each other's company and friendship. T'Pol making subtle Vulcan jokes and Archer accusing her of picking up Trip's bad habits was hilarious. I loved it :-D. Too bad we haven't seen more scenes like these on Enterprise and won't either, since it's now cancelled!

So, for my grade I give this one a 9 out of 10. It wasn't perfect, hence the deduction, but I can't deny how much I enjoyed it. Great funny stuff!

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