Overview – The Romulan drone uses its emitters to appear like Enterprise as it attacks and destroys a Rigellian vessel. On board the vessel, Trip and Reed do their best to stay alive and sabotage the ship. Meanwhile, aboard the real Enterprise, Archer must deal with the aftermath of the recent battle between the Andorians and the Tellarites, which has left Talas mortally wounded. Shran seeks revenge against the Tellarite ambassador, forcing Archer into a tough situation between allowing his ally to seek revenge or save the peace talks by fighting Shran in a duel to the death. Archer tries to find a way to unite the feuding peoples, save his crewmen on the drone ship, and thwart the Romulans in their attempt at disrupting the peace in the region.
Score: 9/10 – The second part of this exciting story arc continues the action and fun from the first part. Now that we know the Romulans are piloting the drone ship from Romulus, we are given some great insight into the Romulan home world. Malcolm and Tucker are given a real test of wits as they try to sabotage the drone ship while avoiding the Romulan attempts to kill them. We also see the aftermath of the Andorian attack on the Tellarites on Enterprise, which leads to the death of Talas and a duel to the death between Shran and Archer (who offers to substitute for the Tellarite ambassador in an effort to salvage the peace mission). It is a tense moment where the survival of our favorite blue-skinned character is questioned. A unique interpretation of the Code of the Ushan allows the captain to win the contest without killing his opponent (and in doing so, teaches us a little something about Andorian antennae physiology). The coming together of Vulcan, Andorian, and Tellarite vessels to assist Enterprise in stopping the Romulan drone ship is reminiscent of the TNG episode “Redemption, Part 2”, where another fleet is assembled to stop a Romulan plot to disrupt a region of space. It is also a fun foreshadowing of the United Federation of Planets that we will come to know and love. “United” serves as a great continuation of this important story and ends with yet another surprise that gets you ready for the next episode.
Relevance - 2 points. The death of Talas, the second most significant Andorian character, is important here, and will establish the motivation for the duel between Shran and Archer. I am also scoring a point here for the brief yet significant introduction of the Aenar, an albino sub-species of the Andorians. This species will take a more prominent place in the next episode, but it gives us a lot to anticipate.
Continuity - 3 points. There is nothing that contradicts any continuity in this episode. Story wise things proceed smoothly, as does the universe. The Romulans get a bit more screen time, and they seem to be up to their old tricks. Characters are acting as to be expected. Shran, while fiercely loyal to his people, seems to have really grown fond of Archer. Their mutual respect is growing into a solid friendship.
Character Development – 3 points. Archer truly gets some great moments here, which truly shows why he is going to become the President of the UFP in the future. He puts his own life on the line to salvage the alliance and learns enough about Andorian customs that he is able to find a way to honor their customs and not kill Shran. We also see more development between Reed and Tucker as they try to find a way off the Romulan drone ship. The Romulans have Tucker in a certain death situation, and Reed agrees to their demands to save his superior officer and friend.
Social Commentary – 2 points. Putting aside differences to work for a greater good is a common theme and speaks to the notion that we are stronger together in spite of our differences (and quite possibly because of them). There is also the idea that sometimes, for the greater good, we must stand against a friend or ally. The only way that Archer could salvage the alliance between adversaries was to put his own life on the line and fight his friend. It also helps to understand other cultures and traditions, as Archer was able to win the contest without killing Shran. He honored the Andorian way and was able to build a foundation that would eventually lead to the start of the United Federation of planets.
Cool Stuff – 2 points. The Ushan duel between Shran and Archer is definitely noteworthy here. The weapons and tradition are cool, and the fight is intense. The ending, where Archer delivers the final blow, leaves us wondering if Shran indeed dies. When it is revealed that Archer only incapacitated Shran, we breathe a selective sigh of relief. The ending also gives a cool surprise as we get our first glimpse of an Aenar, the blind, white Andorian species that appears to be working with the Romulans.
Rank – Admiral (21 points). Action, humor, suspense. This was a fun episode with a lot riding on it. When I watch this episode, I can’t help but feel for what might have been had Enterprise been given at least one more season, but at least we had an excellent story that gave us more Shran and the Andorians.
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