Enterprise‘s “Civilization” in Review
In this review by Matt and Elaine Sweatman, Elaine’s comments are in italics.
At this point, the series has shown several interactions with alien civilizations. However, we’ve yet to encounter a thriving pre-warp society on their home planet. How will our crew react without established protocols guiding contact with such people? Will we see the crew learn lessons that help establish the famed “Prime Directive”? This episode begins to answer such questions.
“T’Pol’s sounding sexy again, isn’t she?”
In the teaser, our crew play a bit of a prank on Captain Archer. With somewhat sultry vocal delivery, T’Pol goes through a list of possible sights to explore closeby. But Tucker saves the best for last, casually mentioning an M-class planet with millions of lifesigns. Apparently, the other crewmembers present are in on the joke, including T’Pol.
“T’Pol’s learning… humor’s not quite the right word…. She’s learning something.”
Arriving at the inhabited world, scans show the humanoid population to be pre-industrial. T’Pol advises observing the planet from orbit, avoiding contact with the pre-warp society per Vulcan protocols. Of course, Archer and his crew didn’t come this far to take pictures from high above. A further scan shows an anachronistic antimatter signature. A landing party of Hoshi, Archer, Tucker, and T’Pol, are altered – by Doctor Phlox – to resemble the local species, the Akaali. They take a shuttlepod to the planet’s surface.
After landing, the team surveys the area. Hoshi and T’Pol, having separated from Trip and Archer, observe a couple of the locals with lesions on their faces. Meanwhile, Archer and Trip track the antimatter signature to a curio shop, which Trip starts breaking into.
“Leave it to Trip to get up to no good.”
In the shop, Archer and Trip are thwarted by a forcefield guarding part of the interior. An Akaali female follows them into the shop and holds them at bay with a crossbow. She accuses them of being responsible for the disease affecting the locals but is shot by the newly arrived T’Pol, stunning her. Archer retrieves an ID, from which Hoshi identifies her as an apothecary named “Riann”. As the rest of the team depart, Archer decides to stay and watch over her.
When Riann comes to, she asks Captain Archer if he’s working with the shop owner, “Garos”. Archer convinces her of his innocence and promises to investigate Garos, planning to return with his findings. A mutual attraction is evident.
“I’m sure you can help us, Mr. Smarmy!”
After other plans are discarded, Archer pays a visit to Garos. Both scan the other, learning that neither of them is native to this planet.
Garos spins a tale of being part of an exploration team left behind to observe the locals. He admits to having an antimatter reactor, which he claims to be using to replicate local food and clothing. However, he dismisses Riann’s accusations of being responsible for the ailment plaguing the locals. He asserts that these accusations are simply an example of people distrusting newcomers.
Archer and T’Pol return to question Riann further, in the apothecary she runs. She seems taken aback at the relationship between T’Pol – who the captain introduces as an Akaali scientist – and Archer. Is this jealousy we perceive? T’Pol discretely scans a sample of the disease that Riann has been studying. Before departing, T’Pol addresses Archer by the shortened version of his first name.
“’Jon’? That sounds weird coming from T’Pol!”
Under Archer’s orders, the Vulcan returns to Enterprise to have Phlox perform tests on the sample. He determines the precise contaminant.
Archer and Riann spy on Garos’ shop later that night, investigating his suspicious behavior. The captain’s translator starts to malfunction, creating an awkward and tense moment as Riann wonders about his sudden lack of understanding. Archer buys some time by kissing his confused co-conspirator. He explains that he was providing cover from a passing local, but we know what’s really happening here.
“I’d speak gibberish for that!”
They follow a man carrying crates from the shop to a clearing in a nearby forest. He, like Garos, is a Malurian (a species mentioned in TOS: “The Changeling”), and the crates are taken onboard one of their shuttles. It seems like more than observing the Akaali is going on here. After a brief fistfight, Archer subdues the Malurian, and his alien nature is revealed to Riann.
Using a device obtained from the unconscious “observer,” Archer finally gets past the forcefield in Garos’ shop. This reveals a large chamber, reminding us of a similarly hidden post in the episode “The Andorian Incident”.
Archer reports back to T’Pol, who is in temporary command of Enterprise. We learn that the Malurians are mining a local isotope which they use to manufacture explosives. This mining operation involves the reactor detected earlier and is the cause of the Akaali’s illness. Archer tries to lower a dampening field surrounding the reactor, but he fails, alerting Garos to the presence of Enterprise.
“Should’ve listened to the lady and hit the yellow button!”
Garos’ ship opens fire on the Starfleet vessel, and Garos communicates with Enterprise that Archer is dead. Very much alive, Archer manages to figure out how to deactivate the field. T’Pol intends to transport and detonate the reactor near the Malurian ship. As her plan goes into effect, Archer and Riann engage the planet-bound Malurians in a firefight. Reed disables the other ship’s shields and weapons array, while Archer and Riann subdue their adversaries on the planet’s surface. The Malurians are forced to leave, and the episode is capped off with some more PDA between Archer and Riann.
“She’s not even speaking gibberish this time!”
“Civilization” is a fun episode, and it’s good to see Archer play the heroic adventurer in the tradition of Captain Kirk. However, an opportunity to examine the ramifications of contact with a more primitive society is squandered. We’d nonetheless be happy to revisit the planet of the Akaali in the future.