Enterprise‘s “Unexpected” in Review
In this review by Elaine and Matt Sweatman, Elaine’s comments will be in italics.
Here’s an episode that lives up to its title. It offers an opportunity to have a successful, and shall we say fruitful, first contact with a new species. We also get another encounter with Klingons, and we see early examples of technologies that feature heavily in other Trek series. The show explores an interesting science fiction idea, which provides opportunities for some very humorous interactions between our crew. Even T’Pol gets to join in the banter this time, as it seems our regulars are starting to become comfortable with each other, and us with them.
“Now this is what a shower scene should look like! No, I’m not trying to peer behind the shower doors!”
A brief disruption to Enterprise’s artificial gravity comes at an inopportune time for Captain Archer. Other system disruptions indicate that something is interfering with the ship’s power systems. A distortion in the warp field is shown to be caused by an alien ship using a stealth technology. This seems like the earliest example of a cloaking device, used extensively by the Federation’s foes throughout the franchise’s history.
In this case, however, the cloaked vessel proves to be friendly, as we are introduced to the Xyrillians. Their warp engines are damaged, and they were using Enterprise’s plasma exhaust to recharge their teraphasic coils. Commander Tucker is tasked with helping repair their engines and learning about our newfound friends.
“Trip is bothered by air he can see? He’s already experienced sensual decontamination and been tripping on space pollen. This should be child’s play!”
Commander Tucker must spend three hours in an airlock to acclimate to the Xyrillians’ living environment. Effective use of an unsteady camera and uneven focus help to convey the disorientation being experienced by Trip on the alien ship. We are introduced to some key Xyrillian crew members – mainly the captain, Trena’l, and an engineer, Ah’len. Refusing a chance to rest, Trip is anxious to proceed with the repairs and is escorted to the engine room by Ah’len. However, Trip begins to panic and is ordered by Archer to take the recommended rest.
With Trip feeling better after doing so, Ah’len shows him some of the amenities they have aboard ship, including snacks growing from the ship’s walls and some small electric water cubes she gives him. Trip and Ah’len then make progress in the warp drive repairs. She next takes him to a holographic chamber, very similar to the holodeck we see in The Next Generation and other Trek series. They engage in a “game” where they stick their hands in a box of crystals that establishes a telepathic connection. Both of them are clearly enjoying this exercise.
“She’s attracted to Trip, and he needed a psychic connection to tell him that?! And he likes her being attracted to him? I could’ve told you that!”
Back on Enterprise, strange things start happening to Commander Tucker. He reports to Phlox in sickbay, concerned about an apparent rash that is forming on his wrist. The doctor drops a bombshell bit of news when revealing that the “rash” is a nipple forming on his body. Ah’len has impregnated Trip!
“What do you expect when you play handsies in a box of pebbles?!”
After being admonished for his presumed lack of decorum by T’Pol, it’s surmised that the genetic material must have been transferred during the connection via the “pebbles.” Archer orders an effort to relocate the Xyrillians, to safely return the fetus to their care. For now, he agrees to keep news of the pregnancy between those present in the sickbay.
During a meal in the captain’s quarters, Archer, Tucker, and Phlox discuss possible scenarios if they fail to find the Xyrillian ship. During this conversation, a confused ship’s steward overhears the discussion of putting Trip’s newly forming nipples to use. Afterwards, they receive news that Tucker is relieved and delighted to hear: the ship has been found. But the Xyrillian vessel is now draining plasma from a Klingon battlecruiser.
“T’Pol is capable of stretching the truth, isn’t she?”
Unsurprisingly, the Klingons interpret the Xyrillians’ actions as an attack. We see some creative diplomacy by T’Pol, referring to Archer’s actions in “Broken Bow”, to help diffuse the tensions. Tucker reluctantly shows off his baby bump, causing astonishment amongst the bridge crew and raucous laughter amongst the Klingons.
Aboard the Xyrillian vessel, Ah’len endeavors to extract the embryo from Trip’s body. Meanwhile, the Klingons, enticed by the prospect of new technologies, are provided access to the Xyrillian holodeck.
This begs the question of whether Klingon Captain Vorok – having observed the Xyrillian ship decloak – will be more tempted by the vessel’s cloaking technology, which is something these Klingons could put to more militaristic use. Matt finds it hard to believe that Vorok would be satisfied with holodeck technology and didn’t demand the Xyrillians hand over their cloaking technology as well.
Matt rated this episode 2 out of 5, whereas Elaine rated it 4 out of 5, bringing its overall score to 3. Elaine and Matt are split on whether the humor and absurdity of Trip’s situation works in this installment. Matt watched the episode with dawning apprehension, as twenty-year-old memories resurfaced about what’s happening with Trip. Elaine thought the awkwardness of his condition worked with Tucker’s personality. While the episode could have presented an interesting idea of how an alien race procreates and how this might affect a human male, this is undercut by the way the episode plays the male pregnancy for humor. We agree that, at least, we finally get a first contact story where, unlike in “Broken Bow” and “Fight or Flight”, the crew is able to use diplomacy without being under the gun from hostile forces.