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Eeee's Baaack! O. Deus Says "Cogenitor" Spawns Healthy Debate, But Archer Out of Character


Posted: 07:05:17 on May 01 2003
By: Steve Krutzler
Dept: ENTERPRISE Reviews
Reviews Ex Deus

Written by O. Deus, edited by Steve Krutzler


Summary: A first contact goes awry when Trip teaches a slave to read

I've been saying for a while now that Rick Berman and Brannon Braga co-write far too many ENTERPRISE episodes and while that is still true, "Cogenitor" is nevertheless one of their better efforts, bringing to mind the classic NEXT GENERATION episode, "The Outcast." LeVar Burton does a superb job directing the episode and while TNG and B5's Andreas Katsulas has little to do in this episode beyond making small talk with Archer, he still puts across a strong on-screen presence. Despite some of the adolescent snickering that seems to be an inevitable part of any Braga-written episode that deals with sex, Dominic Keating keeps his dignity and manages to play Reed's romance with a fellow weapons officer as an understated attraction rather than broad comic relief.

But neither Archer's expedition or Reed's romance are the main story, instead Trip is the center of attention yet again seemingly ending up with more episodes centered around him than either Archer or T'Pol. Like "Dear Doctor," "Cogenitor" is centered around a moral dilemma and like "Dear Doctor," it suffers from an attempt to narrow the range of viewpoints to one instead of keeping the debate open. And like a lot of Berman and Braga episodes it suffers from random characterization in that it has Archer adopt a viewpoint because it fits the plot rather than arising naturally from the character's attitudes. When Trip claims that he did what Captain Archer would have done, he's right on the nose and Archer's outrage at the suggestion is comical.

Archer is certainly not Picard. He has had no trouble disrupting first contacts and interfering in alien societies. In "Detained" he sabotaged a first contact with potential allies against the Suliban in order to free the detained Suliban because he believed it was the right thing to do. In "A Night in Sickbay," he nearly sabotages a first contact because he blames the aliens for making his dog sick. In "Marauders" he taught the miners to fight back against the Klingons and in "Judgement" he helped colonists escape from the Klingon Empire. He interfered in the Vulcan\Andorian conflict in "The Andorian Incident" and took sides in a hunting expedition in "Rogue Planet." In "Stigma" he certainly didn't take the attitude that it might be perfectly acceptable for a different culture to discriminate against their own society and treats the matter as being just as outrageous and unacceptable as if it was happening in human society. In "Marauders," "Detained" and "Judgement," he didn't take the position that enslaved people should remain enslaved as he does in "Cogenitor" and that it's the people who are trying to free them who are to blame. After all, by that logic it was the civil rights workers who were responsible for the lynchings. And if Archer were to take that position, then those Suliban who died trying to escape in "Detained" and any colonists who could have been killed in "Marauders" would have been the fault of Archer for teaching them to resist slavery.

In "A Night In Sickbay," Captain Archer was outraged at the suggestion that he should have kept his dog on the ship to avoid damaging a first contact. Porthos has a right to fresh air, Archer insists. But apparently a sentient being who is treated as an object doesn't have the right to freedom if it interfers a first contact. Either in Archer's world, his dog is more important than the rights of a sentient being or "Cogenitor" misrepresents Archer's character. In "Stigma" Archer self-righteously demanded a hearing for T'Pol from the Vulcan doctors but if the "Cogenitor" ever gets a similar hearing and a chance to defend her asylum request, we never see it. Instead, the Cogenitor asks Archer to be treated equally and he replies that he can't impose his notion of rights on her. That's a ridiculous response even by the standards of moral relativism. While the Cogenitor may not have asked to learn how to read, she did ask for asylum and she was clearly being mistreated. Archer gives no real grounds for denying her application except that he's worried about ruining a first contact and yet he's had no problem ruining first contacts in the past over a moral issue. Instead Archer uses her off-screen suicide to argue that Trip did the wrong thing though it could just as well prove that Archer did the wrong thing, especially since her suicide was a direct result of his denial of her request. Instead, in another out of character move, the episode has Trip suddenly admitting that he was wrong. It's an ending that feels odd and abrupt as if material was missing and as with "Dear Doctor," you have to wonder if the original ending wasn't cut out and replaced by a new final scene at the last minute.

Archer argues that Trip should have foreseen the consequences of teaching the Cogenitor to read but that assumes the consequences were inevitable. But were they really? Other possibilities included the Cogenitor returning home to spread literacy and the idea of natural rights to other Cogenitors resulting in a gender rights movement or the entire species being forced to confront their prejudices and their society improving as a result. So if the consequences weren't inevitable, then did Trip do the right thing? The enslaved status of the Cogenitor is part of the alien culture but that's not a justification for it. After all, witch burning and slavery were part of our culture. Genital mutilation and stoning heretics is part of other cultures today yet that doesn't stop us from granting their victims asylum because there are basic principles of natural rights that transcend cultural differences. Archer himself has stood up for those principles time and time again so he can't credibly argue otherwise since Trip has as much right to apply natural rights to the alien society as Archer does to Vulcan society. With those arguments dismantled, all that's left is Archer's unstated desire to get his hands on the alien technology. It's not a minor point since the human race is in danger from a variety of enemies and in this and numerous other episodes, Enterprise encounters superior ships for which it is no match. And it might have made for a credible argument, as Archer has to weigh the safety of his ship and the security of humanity against the freedom of one alien. But beyond T'Pol's hints and Archer's final scene in which he seems more tormented than angry, the issue is never openly broached.

Mike Resnick's Hugo and Nebula Award nominated 1989 Science Fiction short story 'For I Have Touched The Sky', which also shares a name with an Original Series episode, addressed a similar situation. In a future society which attempts to simulate an authentic African culture, a girl named Kamari wants to learn how to read. In the Kikuyu culture, though, women are not allowed to read and in the resulting battle of wills between the shaman and the girl, the end result is the same as that of "Cogenitor," but the reason why is not a mystery. Instead it's in the title of the story. It's also a far superior treatment of the subject than "Cogenitor" and anyone who found the issues in this episode intriguing should read it either in book or e-book form.

Next week: The Borg assimilate Enterprise or is it the other way around?

ENTERPRISE "Cogenitor" Poll
Rate the episode in comparison to the best and the worst of all previous STAR TREK episodes:
10: Excellent 5: Average
9: Great 4: Below Average
8: Very Good 3: Mediocre
7: Good 2: Poor
6: Above Average 1: Bad
Current Results
About the Author
O. Deus has been a TrekWeb visitor since the site's 1996 inception. Along with being an ardent poster, he is a freelance journalist based in New York City. Deus has written reviews and columns for TrekWeb for over two years.

Past Reviews
  • "Cogenitor"
  • "The Breach" (Williams)
  • "Horizon" (Williams)
  • "Judgment"
  • "The Crossing"
  • "Canamar"
  • "Future Tense"
  • "Cease Fire"
  • "Stigma"
  • "Dawn"
  • "The Catwalk"
  • "Precious Cargo"
  • "Vanishing Point"
  • "Singularity"
  • "The Communicator"
  • "The Seventh"
  • "Marauders"
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    The enzyme
    By Captain Chris ( ) at 16:21:36 on May 06 2003
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    I've been reading a lot of the postings, and many of them seem to wonder about the enzyme that the cogenetor produces. If I recall, the doctor was only speculating on the role of the cogenetor in reproduction. Trip cut him off before he went into further details. We don't know for sure if this is correct.

    Now, if the enzyme theory is correct, it would have to be a very complex one to require a third gender to provide it. Reproducing such a significant biological function in the lab would be extremely difficult. Not to mention the ethics involved, because, regardless of the mechanism, this third gender is a necessary mating partner, and a "co"being with the rest of the species.

    Which brings me to this: if humans could artificially produce eggs or sperm in labs on earth, would that justify the elimination of one of our genders? By the same token, the cogenetor is not simply a cultural construct. It is a biological necessity for the species.

    Besides that, I agree with most of what else has been posted. Character deviations aside, the main reason this ep was good was that it was able to maintain tension throughout. I was glued to the screen for the whole 39 and 1/2 minutes.

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

    Trip was very annoying
    By Stabbey_TC ( ) at 13:55:06 on May 06 2003
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    I couldn't stand Trip's "I know better than everyone else because I'm a human and I know everything" attitude. He really annoyed me through the entire episode, so I was glad to see him get yelled at. He deserved it a lot, and I hope he's punished more for this after.

    And now a response to the review:

    In "Detained", Archer was thrown in jail without so much as a "Hailing frequencies open" from the other aliens and he was going to be kept there indefinitely. Now releasing the other Suiliban was not the brightest idea, granted, but he didn't mess up a first contact there.

    He was indeed a selfish idiot in "A night in sickbay", but got over him self at the end.

    In "Judgement", he rescued starving refugees.

    It's a real stretch to call his actions in "Marauders" an interference with an alien culture. A real stretch. There's no cultural signifigance with getting mugged in Central Park.

    I will grant you he interfered in "Rogue Planet", but it was subtle interference - he evend the odds out a little. He didn't take a drastic stand one way or the other.

    In "The Andorian Incident", Archer was again detained indefinitely agaisnt his will by thugs. He wanted the situation resolved without further violence.

    These situations are not the same as "Cogenitor".

    Deus suffers from "Trip Syndrome" - he seems to think that since he is human, he knows best. What does Deus know about the Visian culture? He compares human slaves to Visian cogenitors like they're the same thing - they're not.

    Deus goes on to judge the Visian culture as willful slavers of their own people and assumes that educating all the cogenitors would result in a cultural improvement. There's no way to predict those sorts of things.

    The cogenitor wants to climb mountains. Cogenitors make up 3% of the Visian population. that 3% is the only thing which allows the other 97% to exist at all. What if only 3% men and 3% of women were fertile? Would you want one of the "breeders" to take up mountian climbing and B.A.S.E. jumping?

    How many humans (in %) die worldwide in recreational accidents? Not a lot, probably, but what if the liberated cogenitors decide to experiment with their freedom to take risks?

    Deus, like Trip, doesn't seem to grasp the possible consequences, and fails to realize that sometimes aliens are ALIEN.

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

    Steve's Thoughts (for those who care)
    By Steve Krutzler ( s_krutzler@trekweb.com) at 09:14:44 on May 06 2003
    URL: http://trekweb.com/brittandsteve | User Info
    Well pretty much everything's been said about this episode. But I finally watched it and I agree with the various sentiments here that the episode was certainly a step up for ENTERPRISE as a series, even if the script still fell short.

    On the one hand, I think this was ENTERPRISE's best quasi-Prime Directive episode, although obviously it couldn't stand without the previous "Dear Doctor" or "Detained" or some of the others I can't even remember anymore. The subject matter was certainly meaningful and thought-provoking, which is what science fiction is all about. It also ties into the prequel notion of a crew without established rules of conduct and a captain guilt-stricken with his own past failures and how that has filtered down to his crew. The dialogue was also better than usual and I agree with others that for a solo Berman/Braga script, it is probably their best since "Broken Bow." Although definitely one of the best ENTERPRISE "message" episodes, the script certainly doesn't score all that high in the artistic department, unless you count the black/white game as symbolism for dilemma occuring in the episode, something that may have been added by Burton for all we know (although it would be unfair to assume in the absence of any evidence that the writers didn't intend this). This episode is also very good because it isn't just a standalone Prime Directive-type episode. It directly relates to the prequel-era characterization of a crew and captain making mistakes and so forth, so it actually ties in very well with the ongoing plotline of the series, even though it was a mostly isolated story.

    For me there were a few problems, some minor, some more fundamental. In the minor category are things like the fact that the Vissians get free reign of the Enterprise, even having Reed show and explain their weaponry mainly because he was thinking with his boner instead of his brain. Ironically, I thought the Reed plotline was actually very clever and definitely fit in with the prequel feeling of a crew that is rough around the edges and possesses a very 20th century sensibility. But I still sat there thinking "yeah right, they're showing an advanced species they just met exactly how their weapons and engines work." I liked the idea of a friendly species being interested in an information exchange, it's a nice change from the shoot-first mentality of most ENT aliens. But yet certainly there has to be some sort of security protocols, and frankly this could've been resolved with at least Reed voicing to Archer his concerns and Archer saying that he understands but trusts these people. At least then this issue wouldn't have been up in the air, making the script feel un-tight.

    I also agree with Deus and others that Archer was entirely hypocritical in this episode. However, I think it is obvious that Archer was yelling at Trip for his own past mistakes, however, I don't agree with the fact that they had Archer chew out Trip twice. The second time it seems to me that Archer should've taken responsibility for HIS action of not granting asylum, clearly the more direct action that led to the Cogenitor's death. I got the feeling that Archer certainly felt responsible somehow but then like a baby he chews out Trip instead of owning up to his own responsibility in the matter, a responsibility he hinted at plenty with references to the example he's set for Trip and the rest of the crew.

    All this aside, however, I think Archer's final line about how "this is deep space, and yadda yadda" pretty much summed up the prequel-era take on the Prime Directive and I think the episode definitely benefits from this sort of intellectuality. I also felt that the dialogue b/w Archer and the Vissian engineer in the conference room was very well done, when the engineer said "I'm sorry, but it's easy to misinterpret something when you don't understand another's culture." A very subtle and well-written way to get the point across without spoon-feeding it ala "Stigma." Other good dialogue was Phlox's "I have pictures!", again, another example of the type of dialogue that we would NEVER hear on TNG, DS9 or VOYAGER and something that clearly separates ENTERPRISE with its non-chalant, less "enlightened" attitude from its 23rd and 24th century counterparts.

    In the minor category also is the notion that these aliens are so advanced yet can't artificially create the enzyme the cogenitors produce. A minor quibble, I admit, but again, if it had been addressed with just one line of dialogue, it would've alleviated this omission and made the script tighter. As it stands, not addressing these little things breaks the illusion of the universe because common sense-isms should always be explained away otherwise the reality that the ep is trying to convey is interrupted for the audience.

    I'll echo others' comments regarding the cinematography this week and the VFX. ENTERPRISE is certainly setting new standards in television for visual effects and in STAR TREK. The orange lighting was also very welcome to not only lighten up the dismally gray sets and costumes but to add a tinge of reality to the notion that they were exploring some really interesting spatial phenomenon. A welcome respite from the always-white sterile lighting of TNG and VOYAGER.


    -Steve Krutzler
    ==V/-/== Rocks

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

    Cogenitor shows a different Archer
    By Admiral Brandon ( ) at 14:54:01 on May 04 2003
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    "Cogenitor" is one of the first episodes that challenges the notion of humanity liberating all oppressed individuals they encounter. I agree with Deus that Archer's reaction is clearly out of character for him. Only once before ("Dead Stop") have we seen Archer truly admonish (a) crew member(s) for their behavior. The issues in the episode foreshadow the need for a definitive protocol to interaction with alien species (The Primer Directive), but I think the value of "Cogenitor" is more profound. Archer has to come to terms with example he is setting for his crew. One of his best friends and his most senior officers has clearly become involved in matters that are not his business. Yet Archer continually involves himself in conflict after conflict to his own detrement and even imprisonment. The adage do as I say and not as I do is a lesson that Archer has been teaching his crew since early in their journey. Whether he tries to find some middle-ground between compassion and neutrality is going to have a major impact on the future of their mission. What kind of leader is Archer? How can he pave the way for the Federation when he seems to be telling his crew to apply human values ot every situation? These are some of sociological issues that face the founding of the Federation and whether the show's writers will have Archer address them is an important question to come.

    As for the episode as a whole, the story moved relatively swiftly, although the moronic Malcolm B-story seems to be for nothing but to have a "sexy" 30 second spoiler for UPN. The additonal banter between the captains in the 2-day superfriendship Archer makes also seems hard to swallow. Lastly, T'Pol gave Trip specific orders and trip went ahead and disobeyed. Will the issues of T'Pol's commander standing be handled? It's not surprise the crew is getting into trouble with all of the defiance towards authority. Perhaps Malcolm's suggestion that a commander who doesn't treat his crew like a bunch of drinking buddies might be a good idea. In TNG's "Chain of Command" a comparison of vastly different command styles is shown. Such a foil might be a worthwhile topic for an episode in the new and improved Season 3.

    As a side note, simply to register my disgust with the writers, the attempt to spice up Star Trek with sexy spoilers, gratuitously calling every new episode an "event" and bringing back hackneyed storylines (as Deus mentioned this episode was very similar to the original intent of TNG's "The Outcast") or overused aliens (next week with the Borg) is extremely disheartening to fans of the 5 series. Flashy ship battles and well-costumed Borg are not an excuse for poor writing or lack of imagination!

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

    Growing up
    By pesoup ( ) at 07:38:39 on May 04 2003
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    After having watched Cogenitor my immediate reaction was to go with my emotions and declare it an excellent episode. Then after reading the review by O.Deus I was re-thinking my thinkings. But one of the things I've learned over the years was to go with my original thoughts/choices/etc. So here they are. Cogenitor was an excellent episode that, in my mind is tying the whole series together. How? We've all read different one's thoughts on Archer's personality,(is he a wimp, is he stong minded, is he wishy-washy, and so on). But we have to remember the idea that when it comes to dealing with ANYTHING NEW our lives are a learning experience! We all like to think we can handle anything that's thrown at us. Yet it's very humbling when we realize we just don't know what to do in a certain situation. So we take that situation, regardless of it's outcome, and we now make it a part of our present lives as something to draw on when we need to. Archer is very much within character considering his situation. Kirk and Picard had it easy! They had an established Starfleet and all the mental and physical backing they needed at their disposal. Archer has really none of that. No real firepower to speak of,(practically everyone else's is better.) No fleet of backups to draw on. (seems the Vulcans at this time are not really sure about the "problem child" they've "unleashed") No Starfleet history archives to reference. Archer pretty much has to make things up as he goes along. And as with everything new, he is allowing that to reshape his thoughts and values as he grows, not stupidly taking a stand and never changing. This episode brought his efforts full circle in that he now has to deal with the repercussions of previous decisions and again reshape his values and perceptions, and also realize how they might shape the thought processes of the others on his ship and their decisions. (That, to me was the pain on Archerís face.) I now have a new reason to continue following Enterprises adventures even through the bad episodes. Watching Archer and gang grow up.

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

    Surprisingly Good
    By NAFF ( NATHANGSHARP@HOTMAIL.COM) at 23:31:56 on May 03 2003
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    A well crafted, nicely directed episode, that for once didn't feel rushed.

    Hey, maybe there is hope for this series...!

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

    Welcome back Deus!
    By Noxmagic ( ) at 23:11:16 on May 03 2003
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    And thanks for the right on review for Cogenitor. I really can't add too much to what you have already written, although I do differ from your review in that I felt either the editing, or maybe directing, was somewhat choppy. Storyline wise, while it was not out of character for Trip to behave the way that he did, I would have liked it if his motivation for acting the way he did was better explained. For him to take the risks that he did, I think it would have been nice if perhaps something in his past had of been exposed to help to flesh out why he helped the Cogenitor. Or, perhaps the Cogenitor should have signaled that it wanted help, and maybe Trip was the only one willing to provide such aid. In any event, my only big delima with this episode had to do with what you pointed out concerning Archer...he was acting way out of character, plus Bakula's acting seems to be becoming more and more distracting every week. I still think Bakula is a talented actor, but more and more I feel as if he is mis-cast as Archer. Can anyone say Captain Trip?

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

    By HpTholetho ( ) at 16:50:04 on May 02 2003
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    I'm a very big fan of Enterprise, and this was one of my favorite episodes, even towards enemies and in the face of death, Archer has never shown this much anger towards anyone, it put across feelings of dissapointment, and change in character.
    However, although many may disagree, overlooking the big difference, doesn't this episode remind us of a certain "Voyager" episode, in which there was a planet made mostly or all of water, they needed some machine and the government wouldn't give it to them. So Tom Paris planned on crashing or shooting the broken structure with the Delta Flyer so the government would have to reconstruct the thing?
    In there too, a respected officer with an attitude disobeyed so that he would do what he thought was right, and was punished in the end of the episode, after failing to right-ing the wrong. I don't know, maybe it's not similar enough, but I realized that some of the feeling I was getting in this episode were the same as the one on that episode.

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

    Archer's arc
    By dropdeadnelix ( ) at 07:53:27 on May 02 2003
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    I enjoyed this ep for the simple reason that exactly when I said to myself, "Okay, here comes the part when they free the Cogenitor and s/he becomes a model for reform on his/her planet," the ep took off in a new direction.

    My love of Trek comes from the all too rare moments when you're surprised...when the writing takes a story to a place you never, ever thought it would.

    This was one of those times and I loved it.

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

    "Out of Character"?
    By Avilos ( ) at 22:45:50 on May 01 2003
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    I am sure what I am going to say will mirror others, but what the heck. Archer "Out of Character"? I don't think so! Let me explain that usually I think that complaint is difficult to make in general of fictional characters. Real people act "out of character" every once and awhile, I know I do. Humans aren't machines, that will always react to a situation the same way everytime. Archer knew that when he said, he was not sure what he would of done in Trip's position.

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

    Archer out of character? Maybe not.
    By Nessus ( ) at 19:07:55 on May 01 2003
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    This is my first post here, but I'm a long time fan of Star Trek, so I think my opinion may have some interest, even though it is pretty harsh on Archer.

    I don't see "Cogenitor" as Archer acting contrary to his character. Quite the opposite, I think the duplicity and hypocrisy that he demonstrated in this episode might just be what his character is all about for the time being.

    Archer certainly isn't Picard. He might in fact be his complete opposite. Picard is first and foremost a sophisticated intellectual, a man of impeccable principle who always contemplates how his decisions relate to the bigger picture. Archer however is less sophisticated, more of a technician than an intellectual, less aware of principles or consistency of behavior.

    I think the character that resembles my view of Archer the most is Capt. Frank Ramsey, the missile sub skipper from "Crimson Tide", played by Gene Hackman. In a dialogue with his first officer, Capt. Ramsey says something like. "You, they want sophisticated, me they want simple. Give me a boat and a button to push."

    "Crimson Tide" portrayed the Navy as wanting their missile sub skippers to be fast acting and efficient, rather that sophisticated and hesitating. Starfleet (is that what its called in the Enterprise era?) might want starship captains to be exactly like that, and thus you get Archer. It takes many generations before Starfleet realizes that captains with the qualities of Archer do more harm than good. Accordingly, you get a switch in priorities, and captains with better intellectual abilities, like Picard.

    This goes to show that when Archer acts inconsistent, ambiguous, and maybe even spineless, it is because thatís how is character is. Although he does know every single detail about how his starship works, he simply lacks the intellectual capacity to contemplate that he in fact does act ambiguously and with ever-changing principles.

    Ambassador Soval's worries about Archer's suitability to command the Enterprise might be well founded indeed.

    However, I don't think these shortcomings in Archer's character harm the show. Does every Star Trek captain have to be perfect in every way, a super-human ideal? In my view, no. I think itís an interesting twist to Star Trek with a less than perfect captain. It gives the show an all new dimension of how-will-the-captain-mess-up-next?

    Moreover, it opens up an interesting arch of the captainís improvement. Perhaps in future seasons, we will see an experienced Archer that is less ambiguous and more aware of principles.


    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

    "The More They Overthink the Plumbing ..."
    By Edzo ( lordedzo@hotmail.com) at 17:24:11 on May 01 2003
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    "Ö the easier it is to stop up the drain."

    Heaven knows I'm no great supporter of Berman and Braga, but in this case, I think Deus and all other detractors are forgetting something:

    This is the period in Star Trek history when the first human explorers are supposed to be making mistakes. They're supposed to be exhibiting contradictory behavior. Theirs are the kind of missteps that resonate into the 23rd century, leaving Kirk's era to clean up the messes ("A Piece of the Action," "The Return of the Archons").

    Archer is supposed to be making an enemy of the Klingons. Don't forget, the first time we meet them in TOS, we're about to go to war with them. Archer and "Enterprise" are simply showing us how it all came down to war.

    I think Deus said something about Archer not recognizing his own, prior mistakes until Trip makes a big one in "Cogenitor." As soon as Archer sees this from outside, from a different perspective, he'll put two-and-two together. The examples will continue to mount. Eventually, a Prime Directive will come out of it.

    Could it be that Berman and Braga are actually right on the nose in this case? I'm willing to acknowledge that they might be.

    Place "Enterprise" in its proper historical context within the Star Trek universe. The 22nd century is the time for mistakes. Let Archer's people make them!


    Lord Edzo!

    "Have you been drinking?"

    -- T'Pol to Reed, "The Crossing"

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

    "The More They Overthink the Plumbing ..."
    By Edzo ( lordedzo@hotmail.com) at 14:40:16 on May 01 2003
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    " ... the easier it is to stop up the drain."

    Heaven knows I'm no great supporter of Berman and Braga, but in this case, I think Deus and all other detractors are forgetting something:

    This is the period in Star Trek history when the first human explorers are *supposed* to be making mistakes. They're *supposed* to be exhibiting contradictory behavior. Theirs are the kind of missteps that resonate into the 23rd century, leaving Kirk's era to clean up the messes (e.g., "A Piece of the Action," "The Return of the Archons").

    Archer is *supposed* to be making an enemy of the Klingons. Don't forget, the first time we meet them in TOS, we're about to go to war with them. Archer and "Enterprise" are simply showing us how it all came down to war.

    I think Deus said something about Archer not recognizing his own, prior mistakes until Trip makes a big one in "Cogenitor." As soon as Archer sees this from outside, from a different perspective, he'll put two-and-two together. The examples will continue to mount. Eventually, a Prime Directive will come out of it.

    Could it be that Berman and Braga are actually right on the nose in this case? I'm willing to acknowledge that they might be.

    Place "Enterprise" in its proper historical context within the Star Trek universe. The 22nd century is the time for mistakes. Let Archer's people make them!


    Lord Edzo!

    "Have you been drinking?"

    -- T'Pol to Reed, "The Crossing"

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

    Inconsistency IS Archer's character
    By luckybucky ( luckybucky@earthlink.net) at 14:26:07 on May 01 2003
    URL: http://www.saintgregorys.org/Community/Outreach/FoodPantry/index.html | User Info
    Nobody likes to have their faults thrown in their face.

    When Trip points out, correctly, that he did what Archer would have done, the captain's outrage was entirely believable. He was as mad at his own flaws as he was at Trip, and lashed out defensively and with embarassment.

    It was the first time the writers have actually made Acrher's inconsistency a conscious point of discussion between the characters. The crowd I watched with were stunned.


    Worf: Sir, the Federation DOES have enemies. We MUST seek them out!

    Picard: Oh yes. That's how it starts. But the road from legitimate suspicion to rampant paranoia is very much shorter than we think. Something is wrong here Mr. Worf.

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

    Archer hypocritical? Or in character?
    By Charlie ( ) at 13:23:02 on May 01 2003
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    I've been thinking about the whole "Archer being hypocritical and out of character" thing in terms of his tearing into Trip for what he did... and I'm not so sure it's as black and white as that. Trip points out to Archer, after all, that he was only doing what Archer would have done... thus indirectly referencing "Maruaders", "Detained", etc. Archer's response of, "If that's true, then I must be making a pretty poor example by being Captain" didn't come off to me as a statement towards Trip... but more something Archer was saying towards himself and Trip. I think there's the possibility that Archer DID recognize his own fault in all of this... and showing the same flaw he had in "Night in Sickbay", he was unable to accept that fault just yet. Everything he said to Trip could be directed right back at him... and I think that's why he was so upset with Trip. He couldn't yet take it out on himself. Is that the best quality for a captain? Not particularly... but I do like the continuation of the flaw from "Sickbay"... and it gives Archer a chance to better himself and improve. With luck, we'll see the fallout of the episode continue on into the future... maybe even with Archer admitting to someone... T'Pol for example... that he was wrong.


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    Faulty episode
    By gul_garak ( ) at 11:06:52 on May 01 2003
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    I agree in most of what you say. Sadly, in my opinion, what had the potential of being a great episode was managed poorly.
    The attitude of Archer in the end is really surprising, but in a bad way. He behaves like a complete brat. All the times that he interfered with other cultures were fine, but this time that he had made friends with them, he wouldn't admit that there was something wrong about them.
    Additionally it goes against all Star Trek series, even enterprise. Both Kirk and Picard would have told them that behind their technology there weren't more than common slavers. That while it's their culture, and they wouldn't interfere, they don't want a have anything to do with them either.
    Also, the asylum part was really really wrong. Star Trek captains have given asylum to people that would be oppressed if their went back with theirs in all the series if they ask for it. Yet, Archer acts like the problem is that of understanding their culture. I'm pretty sure Janeway didn't understand the Q's culture completely, yet she granted asylum to one, whose return to the continuum would have represented a miserable life. Picard granted asylum to a Borg for cry out loud!(although he choose to go back with them to save the Enterprise).
    Congenitor was obviously Berman's attempt to say something "profound", and explain that everything is not good and bad. But it fails to incorporate that premise with the Star Trek universe, the characters attitude and the script.
    Finally, the fact that in the script the third gender is needed for some kind of enzyme is faulty too. Such an advanced culture would have found the way to gather than enzyme and avoid the need of having the congenitor going around. Either for respect of the Congenitors, or just to keep the congenitors in some complex to obtain their enzymes and ease the process. Something else they didn't think about, in such an advanced and "good" culture, when someone has a baby, it could be a congenitor. If that is the case, is very probable that more than one family would get close to the baby and not want to give it away to the government causing an eventual recovery of the congenitors rights.
    A far more believe plot, and related to the same subject, would be if the congenitors had the same rights as everyone else, but their were forced to give their enzyme to anybody that needed it (this assuming they found how to gather, with doesn't seem difficult to a culture that discover warp travel 1000 years before Archer). Or that the cogenitor were inferior, and that they couldnít be thought more than simply concepts (that would be a good not everything is good or bad).
    This is really sad, because there are several episodes of Enteprise that have such Star Trek feeling. However, they then come with Episodes like Cogenitor, where it seems it's a Twlight Zone episode trying to leave you thinking, and not an Star Trek episode with more than 35 years of story to leave up to and respect.
    If you check my previous posts, they defend Enterprise, but my patience is coming to and end. If they continue with episodes like this, I'm going to go back to my TNG DVDs and my taped TOS episodes (I don't even know if I want to watch regeneration...).

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    Well done episode, well done review
    By Hbasm ( ) at 10:56:49 on May 01 2003
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    I just saw the episode and rate it 9 out of 10. Great work! I also think the reviews and people comments so far in this thread are very clever.

    My own thoughts are about the "cut" of the episode: I feel that something is missing near the end of the episode; maybe it was removed to fit the limit of 42 minutes on screen. The story would have been smoother if they used 50 minutes or so (and in the old days of TNG, we would have GOT that extra time.)

    Anyway, well I expected at least something, after Archer was told "give yourself time to make a decision". We didn't hear one word. That scene was probably cut, and T'Pol just says "don't feel guilty about making this decision, you did the right thing".

    Then again, a bit of dialogue may have been cut in the next scene were Trip and the Cogenitor gets to hear Archer's decision. We didn't hear a word! Or maybe it would have been unnecessary to repeat Archers thoughts, in case we just heard them.

    Lastly, the talk between Archer and the "captain" of the alien ship (or whatever he was) was missing. Not a fatal choice however. I just felt, like this was 3 rapid cuts and I could barely follow the story at that point.

    But nevertheless the story was interesting and DIDN'T have the usual fight, ship against ship. It didn't have action for the sake of making "nonsense" look "serious". The story was actually about something important for everyone, today and in the future.

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    The show would have sucked if Archer was the same.
    By egervari ( ) at 10:21:58 on May 01 2003
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    O. Deus,

    If any writer, either new blood or the current staff, were to integrate decisions from previous episodes (the ones you indicated), this show would never, ever get better.

    It's like this. Most people don't like how the show is going because a) the characters are bland and undisciplined; b) the plots are cliche, contain no mystery and lack drama and conflict; among a bunch of other things that really aren't that important for what I am about to say. Now, in order to improve this situation, they have to change this. The only way I know is that you have to a few episodes as 'transitions' to the ultimate goal: A well told drama with engaging stories and moving characters that feels like the Star Trek we used to love.

    However, if you achieve that goal, it'll be way too unbelievable. It would be like everyone on the show becoming a different character all at once because the current characters lack the necessary qualities to make these higher quality episodes (such as the captain cares more about his dog, etc.).

    Thus, we have to forgot this crap if we want to move on to better things. Namely, we have to forget Archer is a short-sighted man with poor leadership skills and poor judgement (and a really lucky I suppose). It's a double-edged sword - you have to decide what you want - mediocre characters and shows but perfect characterization or abrupt characterization with better quality drama? Take your pick. Personally, I pick #2 which gives episodes like Cogenitor above A Night In Sickbay or Precious Cargo anyday.

    Thanks for listening.

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    "Judgement" highlight's Enterprise's biggest flaw...
    By 1st Elder ( ) at 10:19:13 on May 01 2003
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    Anyone else feel that the writers are doing the same thing to Archer as was done to Janeway -- ie. wholly inconsistent characterizations, merely for the sake of the plot -- if we need Archer/Janeway to be a rouge, standing on his/her principles this week, no problem, next week, if we need him/her to be a stoic/wise adherent to the Prime Directive, no problem, we've got that covered too.

    All you have to do is ask yourself, what is the Archer character about? Does an obvious description roll off the tongue such as it would with Kirk or Picard? Or does the word, "disarray" come to mind.

    I also agree that it was out of character for Trip to give up the argument in the face of OBVIOUS hypocrisy from Archer, he should have argued that it was Archer who was to blame for the suicide, if anyone was. Or alternatively, there should have been a line where Archer admits he's been a bad example, but they need to start reining in their human sensibilities, but then, that would have prevented the self-righteous indictment, and removed the drama and somber spirit that the writers wanted to end it on. The problem is, all that drama and somberness, is all MANUFACTURED, tacked on, and phony, since it didn't arise naturally from the characters - it was "imposed from above" - literally.

    Then need to stop this practice now, before they ruin what little characterizations they've developed thus far. You can still tell the same stories, but merely re-work them to fit the characters you've created. If you don't respect that, you ultimatley are left with nothing but empty uniforms to carry out the demands of the plot, empty characters and empty drama.

    The viewers are noticing...

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    I agree, BUT..
    By MikeNinNH ( ) at 09:32:40 on May 01 2003
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    First off, I agree with the idea that Archer was, to use an old saying, "the pot calling the kettle black" when it came to lecturing Trip. I think the vast inconsistencies in Archers depiction have reached their climax in this episode and I no longer have any idea what the character is about. I think Archer's character is pretty much unrecoverable. It might not be so if there'd been a slowly evolving arc of stories from the "holier than thou" Archer to the more pragmatic one, but he's bounced back and forth like a ping pong ball on this.

    And now I'm going to step squarely into the line of fire.

    I have to say that there is a fundamental difference between slavery and other forms of subjugation by the human race and what was occuring in the alien culture on this episode. You need to remember that the cogenitors are vital to the survival of the species, and they only make up 3% of the total population. If they were a full third of the population, in other words on an equal footing with the other genders, then their biology would not stand in the way of having the same opportunities as the other genders in terms of education or opportunities. But because they are such a small sliver of the total population, their destiny is preordained, because they're so vital to the survival of the species. When this one cogenitor was given the knowledge of what she/he could not ever achieve, she/he killed him/herself. Perhaps the aliens of the other genders knew that this would be the result, due to their psychological makeup, and therefore this is why they keep the cogenitors the way they do. It's harsh - inhuman - by human standards, but then again, slavery and genital mutilation have not threatened the survival of the human race as a whole. In a dual gender species like ourselves, there's no excuse for slavery or subjugating a gender. But the aliens are not human. What's more cruel, not teaching the cogenitors, or tormenting them with the knowledge of a life they'll never have?

    By the way, I have to say, the suggestion by Phlox that perhaps the cogenitors produce an enzyme vital to reproduction just made me wonder during the episode why such an advanced culture couldn't synthetically produce this enzyme instead, thus removing the barrier to this third gender. Probably not the intended effect of the line. It was a line that should have been deleted from the script. Unless you're trying to tell me that such an enlightened and equitable culture has this one incredibly major character flaw that they'd make the parental pairs go through hoops and subjugate an entire third gender rather than do that. The way the aliens were portrayed, that'd be like having Darth Vader as a member of the Von Trapp family. I just couldn't see it.

    The episode is ultimately another "justify the Prime Directive" episode similar to those seen before, but I don't think it was written well enough to be obvious, or perhaps the point was masked by the lecturer at the end being the character most noted for making these kind of human-centric judges. If Archer had been the one influencing the cogenitor, and T'Pol making the lecture at the end, it would have made more sense from a character perspective. But of course that would have once again showed that Archer is an idiot who shouldn't be in command.


    "How did you get in here??"
    "I'm a locksmith, and... I'm a locksmith".
    - "Police Squad"

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    Pretty much right on target
    By Phaser1701 ( garavin@rochester.rr.com) at 09:30:23 on May 01 2003
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    Welcome back to the Reviews page, Deus. I completely agree that the "character backflip" performed by Archer diluted what was otherwise one of the better ENT eps thus far. Since we've seen Archer act in exactly the same way that Trip did, his protestations and righteous indignation are hypocritical at the very least, and point to a glaring oversight on the part of the writers.

    A continuing problem with ENT First Contact eps is the fact that the ENT crew (principally Archer, but now others, as well) make what can most charitably be called snap decisions regarding cultural differences that cause them to interfere where they shouldn't. Time and again as you pointed out, we see Archer and crew meddling in affairs they clearly know nothing about. It would easily take months or years to grasp just the cultural fundamentals of a civilization as advanced as the Visians, yet week after week Archer thinks he can step in after only a few hours or days and make broad-ranging moral and ethical judgements. In fact, I think he taught Trip very well, by his own poor example, oft repeated. This is a huge flaw in ENT's story structure.

    Unfortunately, months-long cultural surveys don't make for engaging TV. However, TPTB could resolve this problem quite simply. Just have Archer stop meddling in other people's affairs. He should spend more time observing than interfering. His job should be to establish First Contact, with his goal being simply to pave the way for further contact between Humans and other species, rather than trying to cement good relations right away. That job should be left to diplomats, cultural specialists, and others better suited to the job. This was done routinely on Star Trek, and I don't understand why Starfleet wouldn't do it here. As a television series goes, that would give us viewers the opportunity to experience other cultures, warts and all, and instead of forcing a point of view down our throats, just show it to us and let us draw our own conclusions.

    With the Visians, we know nothing about the life of the Cogenitors except what we're told. It sounds like their lives are pretty limited, and based on their biology that seems morally objectionable. But wouldn't it have been better to show Trip convincing the Visian engineer and his wife to treat the Cogenitor as an equal, rather than practicing cultural subversion? How much more satisfying would it have been to see the Visians convinced that there's a better way to live? Instead, we get the standard inter-species cultural conflict, with a dissatisfying (though mildly shocking) resolution, and the need to completely reverse or hypocritize (is that a word?) the actions of the main characters on the show in the process. It's too bad, really, because the show could be a lot more interesting if there were more moral ambiguity portrayed in it.

    Enough negativity, though. Like you, I appreciated the portrayal of the Reed B-story. It was done with appreciable subtlety (for which I credit Burton's direction), and yes, even sensuality (I loved the cheese-eating scene). It would have been nice to see the Visian's armory as well, though certainly that wasn't necessary to drive the story.

    The CGI was also top notch, especially the scenes with the stratopod moving through the sun's Photosphere. I have one question, though: What is a Hyper-giant? I don't think that's an astronomical term used today. If I'm wrong, hopefully someone will enlighten me.

    I ended up giving this ep an 8-- a ringing endorsement based on my usual rating of 4-5, because I liked the themes, direction, and the acting. I'd have rated it even higher, but for the poor use of Archer's character.


    Honi Soit qui Mal y Pense...

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    By Brian Langlois ( ) at 09:18:20 on May 01 2003
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    I liked how they didn't just have everything end all fine and dandy, no harm done. The suicide of the cogenitor caught me off guard. However, while I was glad to see Archer getting tough, I thought it was a bit hypocritical of him to berate Trip about a botched first contact. How many times has Archer just gone in with no regard for the alien culture to right what he perceives as wrong? Despite this, the acting in the final part was superb all around and it was overall a very good episode.

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