Singapore? Singapore??? The A4T Cogenitor Review
In honor of this episode, I have added another smiley that it so richly deserves. For Trip's actions: :jawdrop: For Archer's response: :jawdrop: For TPTB doing this ep the way they did: :jawdrop:
1) The B/C plots. While others felt they worked as a positive (lighter) counterpoint and emphasized what was lost (I agree wholeheartedly), I thought they were boring (Archer's) and silly (Reed's) ways to depict that great potential sharing, but that's just me. Counterpoint sure, but not as effective (mature/sophisiticated/thoughtful) as it could have been.
2) The pacing. These quick eps give the writers no time to develop a story. Imagine Cogenitor as a two-hour ep. Here, Trip dives into action, the action climaxes, the ax falls, all a blur of 40 minutes. Rewatching the video w/o commercials makes it even more obvious. Nor does it feel like a "compression" of three days; it felt like just glimpses.
3) The utterly misleading trailer. Both promo and text descriptions made this out to be a romp. If they intended to tease and hit us with a "serious story", then they need to respect the audience more. Bad UPN.
4) The sadly unteasing teaser. This was longer, but not better. It did begin to show promise, but no real hook was laid out to make you WANT to return. They have a long road.
On with the show:
The opening is (dare I say) classic. Archer sees a ship, T'Pol gets zinged by Trip. (repeat as needed). T'Pol's "speak for yourself" was hilariously human in its casual delivery. Trip obviously enjoys bugging her, and I can even hear him saying "she started it!" Honestly, Archer must feel like the parent of teens sometimes.
Props to the S.O.: Like many other viewers, I fear, he left after 15 minutes of silliness and third-gender giggles, missing a great ep, yet he was able to correctly identify the guest star in just under 20 seconds, without a visual. "That's G'Kar!" he exclaimed. I'm so proud.
The opener also gave us an alien who sounded like an Archer clone, almost too good to be true (even Archer couldn't believe he found his soulmate). Friendly, willing to trade, willing to meet, looking for new life. Of course (esp. on second viewing) Trip's comment of "finally a nice first contact" is an eerie and tragic misguided prophecy.
FOOD APPEARANCE #1: Trip opens the next segment sitting at a table of food (ice cream sundaes), which ultimately seem more interesting to him than the ladies who are trying them. "This is vanilla, this is chocolate" he teaches them, obviously having learned that ice cream is a great aphrodisiac (Oasis). He even gets one of them to eat the cherry. "Why?" "You just do." "A human tradition?" "Exactly." Gawd. I bet B&B rewrote that scene a few times. (B: "No, we can't have her tie it in a knot with her tongue." B: "But ...") Still, Trip's just playing. He hands over his catch to Malcom (eternally grateful that he has a cute friend to reel them in) when talk turns to Warp Engines, his first love.
Trip explores the idea of a 3rd gender with Dr. Phlox, but drops it when Phlox's usual directness (and one of the funniest lines) leads to pictures of the mating ritual. Is Trip prudish? Gentlemanly? Closed-minded? Or simply more interested in the status of the 3rd gender, not its behavior? Of course, Trip is interested in aliens, including sexual behavior (as someone reminded me - asking Kov about Vulcan sex). Does this mean that he was "just curious" about T'Pol but not really interested in sex? What exactly was it that kept him from even listening to the information? If he had listened, would that make him prurient or curious?
WHY OH WHY
#1 YOY did Trip say "I don't mean to pry, but..." when he did?
#2 YOY did he ask about 'school'? And so soon?
#3 YOY did he lie about his motivations so easily? "Humans are very curious," he says twice. Cuz he knew they'd be upset and suspicious?
#4 YOY did he lie about going to the mess hall?
Although the majority of the scenes involving Archer were not to my liking, I must credit the writers for using that time to make some good contrasts and show what was about to be lost, i.e., Archer's comments about how 'fascinating' the Vissians are, how they have "a lot to offer us" and "This could be the beginning of a beautiful relationship." On first viewing, it's counterpoint and set up. On second viewing, it's ironic and ominous foreshadowing. Other than that, I found the "Stratopod" scenes less than inspiring, with an overly peppy Archer acting half his age and a great actor like Katsoulas left to say "steer around it" and quote random Shakespeare. Missed opportunities.
Trip's first conversation with T'Pol will probably leave her wondering if she didn't do enough to steer him from his course. His arguments were passionate (esp. "*Porthos* has a *name*.") but she may have missed that, in the general buzz of emotions coming from Trip. Her only real advice, "keep your opinions to yourself," didn't seem to work, and when she leaves, Trip is about to say something, but she's unaware (or presumes it is more of the same). T/T'P
Trip turns to Phlox, who has a less judgmental approach: "Why would you *want* to do that?" Trip, to my surprise, lies (evades, if you will): "Just curious." Since when is he so into 'human' rights? Is this what he learned from watching Archer? Has his advice to Archer in Desert Crossing been forgotten ("You want your Chief Engineer's advice? Walk away from it.") or overwhelmed by Archer's long history of interfering?
Then there is poor Malcom, who seems to have inherited Trip's mantle of bumbling chick magnet as Trip ascends to serious-plot levels. Malcom "Is that a pineapple on your cheese plate or are you just happy to see me?" Reed is now stuck in Risa mode. Gone is the trigger-happy, security-obsessed tactical officer, replaced by a bum-watching, T'Pol chasing libido. Guess he isn't the gay one, Metallo's BBS thread notwithstanding. "I'll show you mine, if..." ? HUH? Later, Reed uses the second oldest ploy for ass-watching, "After you." He then has to shake himself out of his transfixed state as the Vissian chickie (Baby Got BACK!) climbs through the hatch. Funny, but sad. I never thought of "pathetic" as a character direction. It doesn't serve him well, and I'd be happy to hear other interpretations that put him in a better light - this isn't a criticism of the character but of how he's being written. T/M
Trip decides to teach the Cogenitor to read, an odd choice, when *just talking* might be enough to open her mind. I've speculated on his motivation elsewhere, but he seemed oddly set not on liberating its gender (as his "human rights" comment suggested) but on liberating IT, specifically by giving it the power to read (although what it would read I'm not sure). He is surprisingly warm and paternal here, leading me to wonder if he had a relative/friend or worked with someone who was oppressed because of a perceived or real mental lack. It's hard to believe that he'd jump into this particular solution to oppression (and on such an individual, personalized level) unless he had been unable to at some other time, or had at least seen the negative effects of oppression; did it still exist on earth in his childhood?
FOOD APPEARANCE #2: Trip uses his hunger as an excuse to take leave of the Vissian Engineer, and this despite having just eaten, or so the editing would have us believe. I told you this show was going too fast. He heads for the Mess Hall (a lie/deception) but visits the Cogenitor. Temporary food reprieve - they don't eat: they watch movies and play Go.
Trip's Continuing Errors:
Three great scenes highlight Trip's continuing blunder towards disaster, fueled by a moral certainty (Bucky: "moral arrogance" - I like that wording)
that he's right and no one "gets it".
Scene A: The Cogenitor knows that this isn't right and won't go well. Trip isn't listening.
Cogen: "You don't understand."
Trip: "Okay, maybe, but... <----Look at that! Amazing!
Scene B: Trip is in trouble and T'Pol gives him what for.
T'Pol: "Undermining the
Captain's wishes...etc etc etc.?
Trip: "You're not listen' to a word I'm sayin'." <---- Okay, he's blind.
Scene C: The Cogenitor realizes that she can have a new and better life and is very grateful.
Cogen: "I'd like my name to be Trip."
Trip: "Actually, my
Cogen: "Okay, the I want my name to be Charles."
Trip: "I'm flattered." (and he leaves) <--- I'm flattered, but NO, ???
**** in the Stratopod, Archer and the Vissian captain are close to the star's surface. A flare erupts. Archer can't avoid it. Taking a page from his surfer days (did I just say that?) he reasons, "If you can't go around the wave, you gotta go through it." and foolishly plunges in, risking both their lives. The little pod valiantly pops out the other side, as the music soars. Stock line: Where did you learn to do that (poor A.K.). Archer: North Shore of Oahu. Bodysurfing. < the mind wanders, picturing Archer, bodysurfing. Small trunks, bright sun, big waves, chest dripping wet. New icon for this occasion: :drool: >
Archer returns to Ent because of the "incident" - the Cogenitor has asked for asylum. Archer's first talk with Trip begins on a great note, as he storms in and asks Trip to explain the situation. Before it can go any further, he cuts Trip off and says with a remarkable yet restrained anger, "Would you excuse us, Subcommander?" T'Pol was clearly surprised at that level of anger and it showed on her face.
The rest of this ep is worth a post all of its own, coming soon. Archer/Trip material for days. I loved it.
Suffice to say that at one point, Archer comments: "You've always been impulsive. You thought you were doing the right thing. I might agree with you if this were Florida... or Singapore..." Singapore? Did Trip slap the foreign minister? Overturn the chewing-gum legislation and the stop the canings? WHAT HAPPENED IN SINGAPORE??