When I hit “The Crossing,” I thought I had hit gold. Finally, I thought, an Enterprise episode that is both done well and truly, truly captures the spirit and philosophy of Star Trek.
And then, somehow an episode about the spirit of exploration became an episode whose main message was: “Beings that are different are not only scary, but probably out to get you.”
So to start, a big ass ship swallows Enterprise. No life signs are detected on said ship, so you do what you do when there is a big ass scientific mystery: you leave your Science Officer on the ship and send your Captain, Security Officer and Chief Engineer to investigate.
Little floating balls of light are all around and then one goes in Trip’s head! They’re clearly alive, even though they’re non-corporeal.
So when they get back to the ship, everyone gets to stare at him half-naked in the decon chamber. He seems ok except he claims he was briefly back in Florida with his girlfriend, and except we are pretty sure he’s not okay because otherwise what would be the point of this episode?
Archer is ready to punch something because the aliens are “holding my ship hostage” and #masculinitysofragile. T’Pol points out they can’t discern the aliens’ motives yet. Archer gets even more defensive.
Archer: Look out there. Do you see any stars? Our engines are offline, our weapons. Seems kind of hostile to me.
T’Pol: I suppose it depends on how you look at it.
Not long after, Archer is further challenged when Tucker starts acting weird again and it becomes clear his body has been inhabited by one of the aliens.
Archer, T’Pol and Reed find him in the mess hall, raving about how amazing bread is.
If you could isolate this scene from everything that comes after, it’s maybe my favourite scene of Enterprise to date. Alien-Trip tells Archer how his people view the corporeal Enterprise crew.
You’re very interesting. Trapped in bodies that need maintenance. You have…gender. You require mates to reproduce. You eat food. We were like you once, but we evolved. Now we can learn how our ancestors lived.
The way he says, with awe: “You have gender” is the best thing ever, making it clear that our gender constructs are not a universe-wide thing and in fact would seem really strange to some outsiders.
Archer demands Trip back and his ship released. The alien ship releases Enterprise and Alien-Trip chides:
“You claim to be an explorer, Captain. Open your mind to new possibilities.”
And I want to hug him because it is something Archer needs to hear SO BADLY SO OFTEN. And because this is the message of Star Trek: infinite diversity in infinite combinations. Star Trek is about the need for us to examine our own prejudices and unlearn them, opening our minds to other ways of being, and ultimately delighting in that difference.
Just to be clear, invading Trip’s body without his consent is not cool, although at this point for all we know, the aliens don’t know any other way to communicate. And when Trip’s returned into his body, he tells Archer that it was amazing and everyone should try what he’s experienced.
In Archer’s next Captain’s Log he begins to contemplate that maybe he was wrong and T’Pol was right: “Maybe I don’t trust them because they’re so different. I’d hate to think that was the case.”
Oh wait, it’s not over. In fact, “The Crossing” does a total 180 at this point as we learn that Archer’s distrust was way the hell right.
It starts with an alien inhabiting Reed and making him super, super creepy (not a stretch).
First, Alien-Reed creeps on a woman in the turbolift, asking if she’s “a female,” pointing out “I’m a male” and then looking her up and down examining her “anatomical differences.” The only small mercy to this scene is the camera doesn’t duplicate his male gaze and instead focuses on his super creepy face and her grossed out reaction.
Then he goes to T’Pol, who’s reading in her pyjamas in her quarters, and asks her to take her clothes off so they can mate.
He asks if she’s afraid of him when she backs away. And it is a terrifying scene, even though T’Pol tells him she can defend herself.
If I were her I would’ve kicked his ass before it got to this point:
Luckily Archer comes in at that point and yells:
“Enough! Humans don’t like doing things without their consent!”
So yay, I guess.
Side note, I know it’s not really Reed but Alien-Reed totally broke the Reed-o-Meter I designed for my “Shuttlepod One” review. So I have designed an update. Without further ado:
A bunch of people are possessed by aliens now, and Archer orders them confined to quarters, which seems…dumb considering the aliens can leave bodies and move through bulkheads.
And now Hoshi is one of them. She insists they are just trying to offer the humans a new experience, but we can tell at this point the aliens are no good, even beyond their continued body snatching without consent.
A few more notable things about this episode before the ending, in which Phlox goes through a highly silly, complicated process to flood the ship with poison gas long enough to drive the aliens out of the crew’s bodies.
1. Mayweather gets some minor stuff to do that is nevertheless more notable and useful than usual, like consoling freaked out crewmen.
2. T’Pol is badass. She tells Archer she thinks she can repel the aliens because of her Vulcan mental strength, and she basically does, after letting them in just enough to learn the truth. Turns out the aliens are lying and not interested in exploration. Their ship is falling apart and they want to take over the crew’s bodies in order to survive.
3. Alien-Hoshi attacks Phlox. That makes this one of Hoshi’s biggest episodes to date, and it’s not even really her!
So then, as I mentioned, Phlox succeeds in driving the aliens out of the crew, resulting in my new favourite screen-cap, after Reed’s earlier behaviour:
And then, instead of just running away, or erecting a force field and trying to talk to the aliens about if it’s possible to help repair their ship, they blow up the entire thing:
Wait, if you look really closely at that fiery blast you can almost make out the ideals of Star Trek going up in flames.
Or maybe my eyes are just playing tricks on me.
Bechdel-Wallace Test: Fail