REVIEW of “Vox Sola” by Archer4Trip
Season One, Episode 22, aired May 1st, 2002
* “I’m not sure you appreciate how alien this life form is.”*
Intro: First contact with the Kreetassans has gone very badly, but it isn’t clear why. Hoshi can’t translate their language. The Kreetassans storm off the ship and as they disengage the docking port, a strange amoeba-like life form oozes across and into the Enterprise’s airlock. (They don’t notice it.) Trip: “Well, this is one for the books – briefest first contact!
Part One: Back on the bridge, Hoshi notices interference on the com frequencies. She has a tense interaction with T’Pol, partly because she is blaming herself and partly because T’Pol is being unhelpfully blunt. T’Pol attempts to placate Hoshi by saying “For all we know it was Mr. Tucker’s table manners that offended them.”
Trip arrives on the bridge and heads for the captain’s ready room, but is sidetracked by Hoshi. He asks if the interference is a problem, but she says it’s mostly irritating. “I’ll track it down first thing in the morning,” he says, much as he tells Phlox and Reed that he’ll “get back to them” in The Communicator. Trip then goes to T’Pol’s station and asks “’s he in there?” (looks at captain’s door) T’Pol: “Yes.” Trip: “How’s his mood?” T’Pol: “Now might not be the best time.” Trip: “Well, I’ll take my chances.” Clearly, Trip has arrived to cheer up his Cap’n, and nothing is going to stop him. That he cares this much is a sign of their close friendship.
Archer is pissy. “It better be important!” he yells when the com beeps. Trip’s first tactic to cheer him up is (not surprisingly) food. Trip: “Prime rib tonight! With reallll horseradish!” Archer gives him a look. Archer is still pissy. He says he wants to visit some brown dwarf cluster. Trip: (cheery) “I can’t wait!” Not much reaction. Trip shifts to Plan B, games. “In the meantime, why don’t we shoot a little nineball? You can break.” Archer is still pissy, but he’s melting. “Maybe later,” he mumbles. Trip drops his head, but looks up at Archer. Time for Plan C, pulling out the big gun. “I was gonna save this for a rainy day,” as he unzips jumpsuit.. uh, let me clarify that. As he unzips a pocket on his jumpsuit and pulls out <ahem> a data disk, keeping his eyes on Archer. “Stanford vs. Texas, he says in his best coaxing voice. Archer is interested. Very! It’s a water polo finals match, just downloaded from subspace mail. Trip: “You’ve been threatening to teach me the finer points of the game. <dramatic pause> unless you’re too busy with yer brown dwarves...”
Cut to Porthos, in the Captain’s quarters, growling as the alien creature slithers along the passage overhead. Reed and Mayweather discuss the K’s. Reed: “They didn’t really lose their tempah until they arrived here in the mess hall.” Mayweather is trying to interest Reed in seeing a movie: “ ‘Wages of Fear’ is playing. Classic French film. You’ll like it. Things blow up.” Reed is interested. Nice mirror of the A/T conversation.
Rostov! His first appearance. He gets sent to fix a power problem on D deck, cargo bay two. Reed and Travis try to watch the movie but it’s all glitchy.
Archer and Trip are in Archer’s quarters, in off-duty clothes. Archer favors a simple brown tunic over a gray t-shirt, while Trip goes boldly with the two-tone rose/burgundy top, which is quite snug. They are watching the water polo game, drinking beer and eating pretzels. Trip asks charmingly naive questions about the game, as one might do when out on a first date, and Archer obligingly answers, as he loves to talk water polo. Trip: “And I thought it was just a bunch of guys screwin’ around in a pool.”
Cut to Rostov, who finds something unpleasant in cargo bay two, but only has time to open his communicator...
Trip gets into the game. Archer is already in a much better mood. He’s watching water polo, his team is winning, and Trip likes the game now too. Archer turns to Trip, raising his glass. He looks Trip directly in the eyes and says “Thanks for thinking of me.” <clink of glasses> Trip: “My pleasure.” Emboldened, Trip suggests that Texas will “trounce your sorry California butts.” Archer asks if Trip has watched the end of the game already. Trip: “Course not.” <evil grin>
[Is Trip lying? Did he mean to say “butts” and “screwin’” in the same evening? Was this a date? Many think it was. Even ‘Five-Minute Enterprise’ included a date reference. Many men said that isn’t how guys watch sports, so perhaps it was director Roxann Dawson’s oversight / blind spot /clever decision. It’s clear that Trip was determined to cheer up the Captain, and was the only who one who would, or could. His interest in the game seemed genuine and even grew, not coincidentally, as his Cap’n’s mood lifted.]
Rostov’s colleague Kelly goes looking for him. Cut to Polo. Trip gets really into the game, questioning the ref’s calls. Archer dreams of putting a pool on the ship. Trip seems surprised and says he wouldn’t want to be swimming when the gravity plating went off line. Crewman Kelly calls, saying a life form in cargo bay two has Rostov and he can’t gurgle goop glop.... Archer and Trip rush to investigate.
Part Two: Reed enters CB2 first, with Archer, Trip and another crewman. Lots of slithery noises, and a shot of the two crewmen in the slimy white clutches of the Goo Monster’s web. Rostov warns them to leave, but a tendril grabs Archer. Trip dives for Archer’s hand, grabbing it firmly as both of them are pulled along the floor. As Archer is pulled upward, Trip looks on in desperation, not seeing the tendrils around him. He struggles mightily, and orders Reed out of the bay, before being yanked up into the web along with the third crewman.
The others decide to find the Kreetassans, Phlox examines a severed tendril; T’Pol argues that it isn’t violent or aggressive for sure, but it seems clear it’s intelligent. They decide to attack with EM radiation, but that only causes the creature to tighten up. Trip and Archer
are entwined in the gooey strands that hold them immobilized. When Reed attacks, they all jolt in pain. They are being integrated into the alien. Again, Trip grimaces vigorously, leading to charges of overacting. Pooh on that. He’s in pain!
Part Three: Trip talks water polo strategy with Archer, something that he doesn’t know at all, and Archer asks, “How do you know that?” Rostov says, “I know it too!” The life form is linking them together as it invades their bodies and incorporates them further. [Rostov must get a mindful of the A/T conversation!!] Trip starts to panic about the takeover and his immobility.
Trip: “We’ve got to get out!” (writhe)
Archer: “Calm down!”
Trip: “This thing’s gotten inside our heads!” (grimace, groan, writhe)
**side thought: who makes goo look this good???**
Archer: “Do you know what I’m thinking about?”
Trip: “Now’s not the time to be thinking about the regionals.”
Trip recounts Archer’s thoughts, a memory of a water polo match he played in and won. Archer’s message: “As soon as you give up, the game’s lost.” Trip calms down, visibly. Trip “thinks” something silently, looking up at Archer. Shot of Rostov, looking from Trip to Archer. Archer, looking down, nods silently.
Non-slash: He was thinking “Thanks, Cap’n.”
Slash: He was thinking, “Thanks, Cap’n. I love you.”
Reed and Phlox argue. T’Pol and Hoshi argue. Mayweather saves the day, all by himself!, by contacting the K’s, discovering the offense, apologizing profusely and sincerely, and getting the coordinates of the alien life form’s home planet.
Trip: “Cap’n.... I feel you drifting away over there.” Rostov and the others are unconscious and nearly dead. Trip recalls Zephram Cochrane’s words with irony: “Is this what he meant by new worlds and new life forms?” Archer smiles weakly.
Part Four: Trip is almost
completely encased in gooey strands, but his nose is still visible. :D “Cap’n,” he whispers
weakly. No response.
The crew attempts to communicate with the alien being. Reed has created the first working force field (YEAH MALCOM!) and Hoshi has the language mostly figured out (YEAH HOSHI!) Eventually the life form responds to Hoshi in a high-pitched tone (like rubbing on a balloon). It works! They tell it they are taking it home, and it releases the crew. The gooey strands let loose and the bodies are lowered to the floor, slowly, gently. Hoshi looks at Trip but doesn’t touch him; T’Pol tenderly wipes her hand over the captain’s head. (!)
Last scene: They return the life form (and the severed tendril) to their home world, where they rejoin the unitary life form they came from. Very ‘awww’. Hoshi’s ‘Sluggo’ guilt is relieved. Trip? Who knows? I guess he’s in sickbay, lying next to Jon. The mind meld? Who knows?
FYI: Strong and Sussman script, Roxann Dawson directing. This is a powerful combo.
This was a great ep, and underrated. It is a fine ensemble piece, calling on all of the crew to work together to save their five colleagues. The big ideas, like in Silent Enemy, are about communication. They include:
1) not assuming hostility in aliens (as Reed does)
2) not harming intelligent life (as Phlox refuses to)
3) asking for help when you need it (as Hoshi does)
4) trying to find a way to communicate with aliens (as T’Pol suggests)
It is about Reed and Phlox learning how to communicate and cooperate, and about Hoshi and T’Pol learning the same thing, and about everyone learning how to communicate with the Kreetassans.
ENT EP RATER SCORE:
Trip with hair mussed +5
+5 for making slime look sexy
Trip eats and drinks (pretzels, beer) +10
Trip does something cute especially cute: cheering up scene +20
Trip gets major screen time +20
Special points for casual clothes +5
Total: 65 points.
Slash points: The Date, The Thank you, The Attempt to Save Archer, The Mind meld (+20 each.) Revised Total: 105!!