Early ENT with Archer as the antagonist (and T'Pol as the protagonist)

Discussion in 'Star Trek: Enterprise' started by eschaton, Oct 2, 2018.

  1. eschaton

    eschaton Commodore Commodore

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    So, I'm rewatching some of Season 1 of DIS right now. It strikes me that in many of the episodes, things almost make more sense if you view the show from the POV of T'Pol. Basically she's always the one who suggests a cautious, sensible course of action, and then Archer says "hellz no, we're humans, we do it the human way" and then the crew gets into trouble.

    For example:

    In Flight or Fight, T'Pol tells Archer to leave the ship full of corpses alone. He ignores her, and almost gets them all killed, with Hoshi's language ability the only thing saving their bacon.

    In Strange New World, the away mission almost dies because Archer wouldn't listen to T'Pol and do a full scan of the apparently habitable planet for a week before landing.

    I find the bad episodes are much more watchable if you identify with T'Pol. Basically T'Pol is doing everything she can to ensure the mission goes smoothly, but Archer keeps fucking things up, and she has to make the best of it.

    Thoughts?
     
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  2. gornsky

    gornsky Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Interesting perspective. As I think I mentioned in another thread, for me, Archer exemplifies humanity romping out into space like an eager Labrador puppy. He knows very little, wants to lick everyone he meets, wants to lift his leg on every tree and sniff every blade of grass, and poor T'Pol is hanging onto the leash being pulled every which way. Any of you who have owned a happy puppy will know the feeling. As the seasoned Star Trek viewer shares much of T'Pol's knowledge about the characteristics of other races, the wisdom of the non-interference directive, the many dangers Archer is unknowingly confronting and the need for caution -- T'Pol and the viewer have the same POV. You're right!

    If you take the 'Archer as a happy puppy' metaphor to its logical conclusion, the puppy eventually gets kicked enough times to become a distrustful, wary, growling, dangerous and single-minded animal. Trip never really loses that innocence and belief in others, but Archer loses his inner compass a few times. T'Pol goes on her own journey, and rather than remain the assured, seasoned Vulcan who relies on the certainty of the amassed knowledge of her race, she has her every truth challenged, turned inside out and left raw and bleeding. But she and Archer are a great balance for each other. Mostly when one is questioning and re-evaluating their core beliefs, the other is there to remind them what it is they admire and respect about the other. A great Trek partnership, I thought.
     
  3. Farscape One

    Farscape One Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I have to say, in all these years, I never thought of using T'Pol as the primary perspective. But it DOES make sense. I do wonder if this was one of the character conversations Berman and Braga had with Jolene when the series started, and maybe the first year or so.

    Nice call.
     
  4. ALF

    ALF Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It's a great observation. T'Pol / Archer relationship changes so much. He goes from wanting to beat her ass in Broken Bow: "You have no idea how much I'm restraining myself from knocking you on your ass right now," - to being T'Pol's best buddy by the time the series ends.

    When he gives T'Pol the compass in S04E04 Borderland on her first shift as a starfleet officer, that's one of the most touching scenes in all of ENT.

    Occasionally they make the POV about T'Pol and Phlox. Those two sometimes have conversations throughout the series in which they are clearly bonding over their collective reaction to being on a ship full of 'Earth people.'
     
  5. suarezguy

    suarezguy Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I think that episode was kind of trying to say they were both wrong (Archer not cautious, at least not prepared enough and T'Pol too cautious), but still side more with Archer-while definitely risky it ended with forming a friend/ally with a new species.

    I've long thought that was a pretty good episode but it pretty clearly portrays Archer as having been in the wrong, quite badly, his attitude understandable but not fitting (but it should be compromised rather than totally abandoned).
     
  6. eschaton

    eschaton Commodore Commodore

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    I mean, it seems like B&B wanted to do with Archer on ENT what DS9 did with many of its characters (most notably Bashir) - make him start out deeply flawed to build to be a greater character later on. Basically give Archer a real multi-season arc.

    The problem is they decided to make him "flawed" in such a way as to make him not so much unlikable as borderline incompetent. Such that much of the drama of the early episodes revolved around his making the wrong decisions repeatedly. It's really, really hard to believe he was the best and brightest Starfleet had to offer.
     
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  7. HolidayRomantic

    HolidayRomantic hyperpolypyroferricist Moderator

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    This is really a great thread. :)

    Good point about Archer having an imbalance of flaws. Sure it's good story sense to create a character who needs to learn and grow - but too many times the creators load up the character with flaws but don't give him/her enough admirable qualities to get us to root for him/her during that sometimes painful growth process.

    I found enough in Archer to root for him, but man, the writers did him no favors with the inconsistent writing.

    Plus, in retrospect, I think viewers weren't really clued in that Archer was a "happy puppy" (I adore this analogy) who was gonna learn by goofing up a lot, and a lot of expectations were dashed.

    I think the Archer/T'Pol partnership really helped them both. As they grew to respect and value each other, they became stronger characters. I loved the dynamic between them, already beautifully laid out above by y'all.
     
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  8. Ringing Sleigh Bells of Qo'noS

    Ringing Sleigh Bells of Qo'noS Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    This is my overall complaint about the show (I'm on my first viewing now, halfway through s3 at this point) and ENT is a series of doing all the best things previous shows have done, but very poorly. Granted, there are a few gems, but overall, the series is just a long sequence of remixes. It has been a nice contrast to DSC, in all honesty, by being too ST rather than almost ST enough.

    On paper, Archer's series arc from being a backyard pilot to birth of the Federation icon is great on paper! He set out in the ship of his father's design and learned that life in space is hard and that peace and friendship takes time! But for whatever reason, Bakula plays the character not green, but rather, dumb. Archer is dumb most of the time. You hear it in his voice, you see it in his face, and you definitely see it in his actions. Enough that makes it distracting and hard to swallow that this fool brings about the foundation of the Federation.

    It was startling to me how little they trusted T'pol and how frequently they dismiss her suggestions, even when they don't seem suspicious but just because they're, 'naaaaaah let's just wing it.' It paints a tale of a very stupid, and extremely lucky crew. I'm all for watching the first steps in space with our heroes making mistakes, but I'd like them to be logical mistakes that aren't complete lapses in common sense. I absolutely identify with T'pol as a character before Archer, because she is the only person with common sense.

    B&B may have intended Archer to be the every-man that we as regular every-person viewers would relate to, but instead T'pol became our lens character because we are Star Trek fans that get how Star Trek works. We know you should probably scan a planet before going down there. It was as if they were creating this show for an imaginary fan base that loves Star Trek, but has not seen any of it.

    But as a disclaimer, I've got to say that I love that Archer is a bumbling fool, because I don't take the series (which is fun to watch) as seriously as any of the other shows. Episodes where he is 'serious' or 'tough' are much harder to enjoy because he looks constipated and it doesn't fit with the character he's already established. I'll take his dumb dog face any time.
     
  9. Phoenix219

    Phoenix219 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I think the character makes a lot more sense if you view it under the lens of "this is Dr. Beckett winging it on a quantum leap to ensure the foundation of the federation."

    All the dumb mistakes become so much clearer.

    Its just such a loss that we never see any of the off screen interactions with Al during this 4 year plotline.

    And I wonder what Archer's real face looks like? Or was this just another in-the-bloodline leap where thats what he actually looks like? Haha.
     
  10. HolidayRomantic

    HolidayRomantic hyperpolypyroferricist Moderator

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    I think you've stumbled onto the surprise reveal-- that this is the finale fix for QL! Where Sam's task is to help Archer and the Federation save the whole universe, and we finally find out the truth when Porthos accidentally sees Al pop in to check on Sam in Season 5 and...

    oh wait. :angryrazz:

    But hey, you've given me a decent reason for those Dopey!Archer moments plus Sam got out of that damn Bar Of Purgatory YAY thank you. Now I can imagine he did make it back home. :biggrin:
     
  11. Phoenix219

    Phoenix219 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    So.... Temporal Cold War..... Is actually the evil leapers trying to stop Sam? Heh.
     
  12. Phoenix219

    Phoenix219 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Listening to Al and Sam have a conversation about T'Pol would be classic and hilarious.... the dog yapping with Al making a sarcastic comment of some type.... yeah, interspersed QL background bits with Ziggy and Al, and Archer breaking character, would have fixed everything. Not even joking. :D

    A throwaway line about Ziggy having access to future records could even give them dialouge teasing future TOS happenings while the two of them talk about the missions and what he has to do to leap out....
     
  13. HolidayRomantic

    HolidayRomantic hyperpolypyroferricist Moderator

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    Quantum Leap: Enterprise.

    It would have been EPIC.

    Quick somebody, make this happen, not joking! It fixes bleeping everything.
     
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  14. Sakonna

    Sakonna Captain Captain

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    I really want to write a longer response to this, but this is exactly where I'm at in the series! Really going thru for the first time, just finished "Carpenter Street" in season 3.

    I saw the headline of this thread and thought "is that not what they were doing?" Early ENT almost feels like one of our modern anti-hero prestige shows. Our lead is a complete asshole who's wrong about nearly everything -- anti-hero. And, as in most such shows, there is a sensible, put-upon supporting character who is always trying to move our lead onto the right path, but her efforts mostly end in failure.
     
  15. Ringing Sleigh Bells of Qo'noS

    Ringing Sleigh Bells of Qo'noS Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I wouldn't exactly say ENT was way ahead of its time or anything, but that comparison is quite apt!