“Bound” – ENT 4X17

I need backup for this one . Like, remember “The Perfect Mate”? How it’s got serious issues, but at least Crusher is there to call out Jean-Luc and raise important questions about power, choice and consent?

“Bound” doesn’t have that! T’Pol is the closest thing we get to a voice of reason and ethics and it’s so muted that it barely counts.

I’m watching this episode and I’m like…

Picard says "Where the Fuck is Beverly?"

So I’m calling on my imaginary feminist sidekick, Doctor Crusher, to help me with the response to this episode.

Crusher says "I'm all over this"

All right, Bev. Here’s what’s going on. Enterprise runs into some Orions and Archer, Reed and two other guys go over to the ship for some reluctant diplomacy. Or so they think. 

After a meal, the Captain (Harrad) brings in three scantily-clad, green-skinned dancing slave girls, with the line, “If the food didn’t arouse your hunger, this should.”

Like the crew of the TOS Enterprise at times, the men become essentially useless in the presence of these beautiful women.

Harrad: What do you think? 
Reed: I can’t think. 
Harrad: Captain? 
Archer: I’d have to agree with my tactical officer. 
Harrad: I think she likes you.

Harrad tells the guys the women are sisters he purchased at a trading post, then adds:

They can make you forget most of your troubles. Of course, creatures such as these come with troubles of their own. But women are the same throughout the galaxy, aren’t they? 

Doctor Crusher says "Ugh, seriously?"

I know, right? Gentlemen, beware women’s sexuality! You never know when they’re going to use their feminine, seductive wiles for evil! (Anita Sarkeesian has a whole video on this “evil demon seductress” trope if you want to learn more about how common it is and why it’s problematic.)

So anyway, despite Harrad’s skeeziness and Federation ethics, Archer happily agrees to accept the women as a gift.

Reed in the corridor with the Orion women

We have to remember at this point, for all Archer knows, these women are victims of sexual slavery. They might appear empowered, but like Picard does of Kamala in “The Perfect Mate,” Archer should question how much real choice these women have. 

But instead of anyone even asking if they’re ok, offering them clothing options, or really taking the situation seriously at all, everyone acts like this is Risa.

So it’s at this point that we get the closest to someone saying, “WTF people?!” Only its T’Pol passive-aggressively reminding Archer that the Federation doesn’t condone slavery as far as she knows. Later we find out dealing with this sex slavery situation is less of a priority for her as making sure Trip’s still into her.

T'Pol talks to Archer

So Bev, you’re a doctor. What do you tell a heterosexual man (which apparently all the men on Enterprise are) who can’t get his mind off a trio of green-skinned space babes?

Crusher says "Masturbation?"

Instead, Travis and Reed decide to lift weights past the point where it’s probably going to injure you, because that’s so manly it’ll start to make up for the fact that you aren’t banging these women. Or something.

Travis lifts weights in the gym while Reed runs on the treadmill

But Travis and Reed aren’t the only ones getting distracted – one of the Orions come to Engineering and, to a one, every single man turns their head to ogle her, and every woman (apparently also heterosexual) glares jealously at their competition.

Next Hoshi comes to sickbay with a headache. Phlox chastises her for being “the jealous type” when she complains about the Orions, instead of acknowledging shit is seriously messed up and people are literally not doing their jobs because they are so busy leering.

Archer sits on the edge of a bed with Navaar

Anyway, Archer goes to see Navaar to remind her gently that she’s not his property. But heck! She responds that even if he doesn’t wish to own her, “I still wish to please you.”

Crusher says: "Sorry, was that supposed to count as grappling with the issues?"

Well, for Archer, that’s actually not so bad.

Anyway, then they make out.

At this point we get to see some more serious consequences, and realize this isn’t just a simple case of infatuation for the men on the ship. Archer gets called to the bridge and orders the destruction of another vessel for no good reason. And Kelby is being seduced by one of the sisters into trying to sabotage the ship and take over Engineering.

Phlox figures out the Orions are giving off pheromones that are making the conveniently stereotypical and heterosexual men aggressive and the women headachy and listless “as a defence against competition.”

Orion women locked in the decon chamber

Before they can do anything with the Orions, one of Kelby’s sabotages works and the ship is damaged. Even in his lust-addled state, Archer puts two and two together and locks the women in the decontamination chamber with a guard. That said, when he goes to interrogate them the influence of the pheromones almost makes him let them out.

Crusher asks: "Wait, why didn't he step down and give to T'Pol as his (still rational) First Officer?"

Good question. I have no answer.

So now we’re coming up to the dramatic conclusion, in which the women seduce the guard into letting them escape, and the Orion ship shows up to capture Enterprise.

And with that comes the surprise twist! It turns out….the women are in charge of the Orion men too! 

Harrad: I can see you’re upset, and I sympathize, but it’s truly out of my hands. We are both slaves to the situation.

Archer: They control you?

Harrad: You finally realize that. Yes, Captain, you’ve been operating under a misconception. It is the men who are the slaves, not the women.

Crusher says: "Oh good, so the Orion women aren't victims; they're evil women who corrupt men with their sexuality. Much less offensive."

Thank god this is almost over. Basically Tucker, who is unaffected by the pheromones because he got it on with T’Pol and that psychically bonded them, shoots Reed, Mayweather and Archer on the bridge to restore order, and returns the women to the Orions. 

Crusher fires a phaser: "Oh good, I thought I was going to have to do it myself"

In Sickbay, T’Pol tries to make a joke about how the women being in charge show the Orions have some positive attributes. Which is hilarious, because women being in charge would be terrible in any circumstance! Ha ha ha!

Yup, just like “Angel One,” the only thing this episode does is say women in power are a threat to men.

Oh, Archer also suggests T’Pol is only able to make jokes because she’s picked it up from Trip. 

Tucker and T'Pol talk in the corridor

To end off the episode, Trip manipulates T’Pol into letting him have the upper hand in their relationship, by making her admit she wants him to come back to Enterprise, and getting her to kiss him, and then saying he already planned to come back, but she should know “this thing between us isn’t that big of a deal.”

I guess Reed never changes in wanting T’Pol to be the one to change.

Anyway, thanks, Dr. Crusher!

Crusher smiles and says: "Anytime"

Bechdel-Wallace Test: Fail. None of the Orion women talk to each other or other named women characters.


Add Yours →

“Enterprise” had lost me long before this episode was broadcast and dear God am I glad for that. Even the original series which had the same “stunningly attractive women come on board, men lose the run of themselves” episode (a) was made in the 60s so what is the excuse for “Bound” (b) was a Harry Mudd episode so was meant to be at least semi-comic (c) had the men question what was up because “these women are beautiful but come on, the most beautiful women we’ve ever seen? The effect is too great, something else must be going on”. Compare this extract from the script:

[Kirk’s quarters]

EVE: Captain? I hope you don’t mind.
KIRK: As a matter of fact, Miss McHuron, I do.
EVE: I was trying to take a walk, and I just, I just had to run in someplace. You see, all your men were looking at me, following me with their eyes.
KIRK: Yes. I’ll have to talk to them about that. They, er, they don’t do that ordinarily, Miss McHuron, but somehow, in your case, and the ladies with you, its, er
EVE: They’re probably just lonely. I can understand loneliness.
KIRK: Yes. Yes, er, now, Miss McHuron
EVE: I, I suppose you understand it even more, having to run a huge ship like this with so much responsibility every minute and having to be so careful with all your men looking up to you.
KIRK: Well, it probably appears more difficult than it is.
EVE: Hmm! I read once that a commander has to act like a paragon of virtue. I never met a paragon.
KIRK: Neither have I.
EVE: Well, of course not. No one is. But some people try to pretend. Do you, Captain?
KIRK: Miss McHuron, I don’t
EVE: Oh, no! Oh, I just can’t do it. I don’t care what Harry Mudd says. I do like you, but I just can’t go through with it. I hate this whole thing!

Things have really gone backwards when an episode made almost forty years earlier treats the women better; this is how “we’re going to deal honestly with adult themes like sexuality that earlier prudish TV censorship wouldn’t let a show touch” really means “this is going to be an excuse to show tits’n’ass, or at least as much as we can get away with”.

Manny Coto did tons of good things for Enterprise but this isn’t one of them. Even the best writers have their duds and I can’t believe some fans still worship him despite the fact that he wrote this episode. There’s tons of other great things about seasons 3 and 4 and I hate to think some people like the previous commenter will never know that because they think Bound represents the show as a whole. Aside from the problematic messages, it has Swiss cheese plotholes that rival the infamous “These Are the Voyages.” They can’t find any female MACO’s to guard the women?

It’s unclear how fast the pheromones work so I don’t know how much blame should be put on Archer. Can he (and the other men) consent when the Orions are spewing chemicals to manipulate them? No. So that makes Bound an unintentional warning of what can happen in a matriarchy: more female-on-male rape. What bothers me the most about the story is that none of the characters seem concerned that the men were essentially assaulted by green female versions of Bill Cosby. Oh well, rape of men is OK as long as the woman is hot, amirite? FYI, whenever I read an article about a female teacher raping an underage boy, I see some idiots saying they would let her smash him. That explains why I still see men defend this episode when they should be offended.

There’s a scientific explanation for why T’Pol is more focused on Trip: it’s called the scarcity effect in psychology. When you lack food, time, relationships, etc, it’s literally impossible to think about anything else. There’s an excellent podcast on that and it also has some great episodes that deal with gender bias. Some people are going to think Vulcans are too logical for that but tunneling in the face of scarcity happens to all animals. https://www.npr.org/2018/10/04/651468312/too-little-too-much-how-poverty-and-wealth-affect-our-minds

While I don’t have a problem with Trip making T’Pol sweat (you have to remember she did her share of manipulating too), I found him wiping away the kiss to be OOC. Like Michelle Erica Green said, he’s not Han Solo. Plus it cheapens their reunion to have Hernandez (unwittingly) be a quick fix for them. I find it hard to believe Trip would want to come back so fast when he was so distraught about the relationship in the Babel arc.

Leave a Reply