(written from a Production point of view)
|ENT, Episode 1x18|
Production number: 018
First aired: 20 March 2002
|←||17th of 97 produced in ENT||→|
|←||17th of 97 released in ENT||→|
|←||645th of 728 released in all||→|
| Teleplay By|
Rick Berman & Brannon Braga & Chris Black
- For the type of planet see Rogue planet.
Archer has visions of a mysterious humanoid woman on a rogue planet where it is eternally nighttime.
Captain Archer is uncomfortable posing for pictures for Starfleet Headquarters, when the Enterprise discovers a "rogue": a planet that has broken out of its orbit. They decide to lay in a course to take a closer look.
Scanning it, T'Pol points out that this planet supports a diverse animal population despite being a rogue, because of hot gases venting from its interior, forming oases where most lifeforms are concentrated. Even though there is no evidence of humanoid life, they are nonetheless able to pick up a power signature from the equator indicating a starship. When attempts to hail go unanswered, they decide to send a landing party consisting of Archer, T'Pol, Malcolm Reed and Hoshi Sato.
Making their way through the thick, dense and dark jungle, Archer points out that this place reminds him of the rainforest in New Zealand where he earned his Wilderness Merit badge as an Eagle Scout. Malcolm mentions that he is also an Eagle Scout, with 28 badges, two more than Archer. As they put on their night vision sensors and penetrate deeper into the forest, they locate evidence of alien passage and a campsite, which appears to be deserted. As they split up to investigate, T'Pol and Reed are attacked and struck down by a group of aliens. However, when the aliens realize that the two are not a threat, they release them and bring them back to the campsite, where Archer has already met their leader, Damrus.
The Eska, as they are called, explain that they there are dangerous animals in the forest and that they have never seen humanoids there before. They explain that even though this planet, which they call Dakala, is no one's territory, it is special for them. It turns out that they are hunters whose people have come to this planet for nine generations to kill the indigenous species. They use sensing cloaks which prevents the wildlife from spotting them. Hunting wild animals is part of their tradition. Noticing T'Pol's apparent disgust with the hunting practices of the Eska, Archer points out that even though hunting went out of style on Earth over a hundred years ago, they nonetheless appreciate the hospitality of the Eska.
Malcolm points out that the gear they carry seems quite elaborate for taking down a few game animals. But one of the Eska warns to not underestimate the game on the planet. Curious about their endeavor, Reed is grudgingly allowed to join them on their hunt to observe the powerful alien camouflage and sensing technology at work.
- "Captain's starlog, supplemental. Trip and Malcolm are bringing Hoshi back to Enterprise and putting together some camping gear to bring back to the surface."
Down on the planet, Reed and Trip decide to turn in earlier to be ready for the hunt, while Archer decides to sit up for a while to enjoy the natural beauty of the alien oasis, sleeping by the campfire. A few hours later, he awakes to a female voice calling his name from the foliage outside the camp. He cannot make out where it is coming from, but he is drawn to it, and goes to investigate. He wanders through the night jungle with a flashlight, looking for the voice that was calling him, wondering whether he just imagined it. At first he cannot find anything, but suddenly he sees a woman from afar, standing in the woods, surrounded by some kind of a ethereal light. He is barely able to make out her shape when she vanishes again.
Confused, Archer tells the rest of the hunting party what happened, explaining that the woman he saw was young, had long blonde hair and was wearing some kind of a nightgown. She knew his name and who he was and, what's more, he thinks that he actually knows her and has seen her before. The Eska point out that on this planet it's always night and that one is surrounded by things one cannot see; he wouldn't be the first person who looked into the jungle and thought they saw something that wasn't there. Archer insists that she was real, but Damrus mocks him, asking him what the chances are that he'd encounter a half naked woman who he thinks he knows dozens of light years from his home world. He jokes that if he is lucky, maybe she'll visit him in his dreams. Even the Enterprise crew thinks that what he saw was nothing but a figment of his imagination.
The next "day", while Malcolm gets ready to join the hunt, Archer, T'Pol and Trip gear up to explore some of the nearby steam vents and mineral springs. The hunters ask Archer if he slept well, joking again about the beautiful woman he allegedly saw yesterday.
Archer's team is exploring one of the steam vents Damrus talked about, but Archer is still distracted about the woman he saw last night. Trip notices Archer's disquiet and asks him about the woman again. Archer insists that he wasn't hallucinating, yet he is also doubting himself for having walked into an alien jungle, chasing a woman who couldn't possibly have been there. He is frustrated that he cannot explain what happened to him when he heard her voice. While continuing with their exploration of the steam vents, Archer spots the mysterious woman again, following her deep into the jungle. This time she talks to him, telling him that she needs him to understand, for he is different. He says that he knows her and wonders how that is possible. The woman replies that if he didn't know her, he wouldn't have come. Archer asks why she needs him but she appears frightened, shaking and before she can explain, she is scared away by T'Pol and Trip who have come to look for Archer. She mumbles something about being harmed and disappears again. This time, however, Archer does not tell them what he saw.
During the hunt, Damrus and one of his men, Burzaan, split up to pursue what they call a "wraith", while Malcolm and one of the other hunters take another path into the jungle. However, during the hunt, Burzaan gets injured requiring medical assistance.
Archer offers to take him to the ship so he can be treated by Doctor Phlox. Somewhat reluctantly, Damrus agrees, suggesting that they all leave because it is just too dangerous. However, Archer is not ready to leave yet and decides to stay on the planet with Trip and T'Pol. While Burzaan is being treated on the ship by Phlox, Archer tells T'Pol about his second encounter with the woman and how she asked for his help. T'Pol is still not convinced that there is a woman, yet offers to accompany him to find her. But Archer states that it is better if he went alone, believing that he doesn't think she'd reveal herself if someone else was around.
Back on the ship, after having treated Burzaan, Dr. Phlox explains that the cellular residues he found in Burzaan's wound are in a state of chromosomal flux and thus mutating – almost as if they are trying to change into something but can't quite figure out what.
Hoping to see the mysterious woman again, Archer starts wandering off into the jungle by himself. She finally appears and Archer learns that she is a telepathic shapeshifter, and that she and her kind are the ones being hunted by the Eska for sport. When Archer asks why he feels that he knows her, the woman replies that he in fact does know her and that her kind chose to contact him because he is different.
Archer returns back to the camp where everyone is toasting to the hunt tomorrow. While they are sitting around the campfire, Archer asks why the Eska come to this planet to hunt if they also hunt on their own planet. He points out that it seems like an awfully long trip to make to just hunt down your typical game. Damrus explains that the prey here is different because it is something that gets inside their minds and senses their thoughts. He explains that the wraiths are shapeshifters who can look like anything – even people one knows. T'Pol points out that they sound like intelligent, sentient beings, but Damrus denies that, arguing that their shape-shifting is not a sign of intelligence or sentience but a mere instinctual response. Archer wonders how they catch them, and Damrus explains that when the beings are afraid, they emit a chemical signature which their modified sensors can detect.
Outraged, Archer informs the crew that the wraiths have requested his help to survive. Malcolm points out that the Eska are well armed and know the terrain well. T'Pol states that she finds this as distasteful as Archer, but that she is not sure how to stop them. Moreover, she believes that they have no right to stop them from doing what they have been doing for generations anyway. Archer, however, refuses to accept this, believing that hunting wild boar is one thing, but killing a sentient species quite another. T'Pol goes on to point out yet another, more pressing dilemma: even if they manage to stop them this time, their people will come here and continue to hunt as they have been doing for generations. However, Dr. Phlox believes he can find a way to mask the chemical signature that the wraiths emit, protecting them from the hunters' scans. They might not be able to stop them from hunting there, but they can level the playing field at least.
When discussing the matter with Trip, Archer tells him about a Yeats poem called The Song of the Wandering Aengus that his mother used to read to him about a man who catches a fish that turns into a beautiful woman with "apple blossoms in her hair". She calls his name and then vanishes and the man spends the rest of his life searching for her; for his vision of perfection that he could never quite find. Archer realizes the woman he saw down on the planet, is her: the woman in Yeats' poem he always pictured when the poem was read to him as a child. She isn't someone that he ever knew, she is someone he imagined as a child; the elusive woman from the poem. Trip wonders why the shapeshifter slipped into his mind and picked an image he had almost forgotten, pointing out that maybe that poem is on his mind more than he realizes.
On the planet, the hunters are chasing a wraith who takes the form of a tree when it is cornered. The hunters catch up but are unable to detect it with their equipment. The wraith attacks one of the hunters but only knocks him down. When they think that their equipment must be malfunctioning because they were unable to detect a frightened wraith so close, they return to camp, where Archer and Tucker, noticing their rattled state, approach them to offer asistance. Damrus finds it strange that they never failed in a hunt before Enterprise arrived - to which Archer smugly admits to being "bad luck" - but don't pursue the issue further.
Archer has a final encounter with the thankful wraith woman, who was given the masking agent. He says that he knows who she is and thanks her for reminding him. She tells him to never stop seeking what seems unattainable and to never forget her - that woman in the poem. Then she takes on her true form and vanishes into the dark...
"Why don't you let me play captain for a while, Malcolm."
- - Archer on Malcolm's readiness to lead the landing party
"I wonder if you would be so determined to find this apparition if it were a scantily-clad man."
- - T'Pol on Archer's behavior
"What are the chances you'd encounter a half-naked woman, who you think you know, dozens of light years from your home world?"
- - Damrus to Archer
"Strange...but we never failed in the hunt before you arrived."
"I guess we must be bad luck."
- - Damrus and Archer, after then failed hunt of a "masked" Wraith
- Reed actor Dominic Keating found this episode's planetary environment to be unpleasant but, much like his character in this installment, he appreciated the presence of the group of male visitors to the series. During the installment's production, Keating reported, "We're standing in a smoky dusty set on Stage 9 at the moment. It's dark, it's dank, we're in some forest–this planet has no light and we're in some dark, dingy, blue-lit infested forest. You turn the torch on, and all you can see are particles in the air, and we're breathing it in 15 hours a day. But we have three guest stars on this week who are playing hunters, and they are hysterical! So sometimes it's really work, but in amongst that we're just laughing like hyenas." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 138, p. 63)
- Conor O'Farrell previously played Jeff Carlson in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Little Green Men" and would later play D'Jamat in the Enterprise third season episode "Chosen Realm". Eric Pierpoint also guest-starred in DS9 as Captain Sanders in "For the Uniform", as well as Section 31 agent Harris in fourth season Star Trek: Enterprise installments "Affliction", "Divergence", "Demons" and "Terra Prime".
- The bottles of liquid the Eska possess appear to be re-used from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, where they were used for bottles of bloodwine.
- Stephanie Niznik previously played Lt. Perim, the Trill helmsman of the USS Enterprise-E in Star Trek: Insurrection.
- This is the only time the crew of the Enterprise use their green-glowing night vision gear.
- The Eska species is similar to the Hirogen, previously seen on Star Trek: Voyager, in their desire for hunting challenging and elusive prey.
- Archer assures T'Pol that he was not hallucinating due to the lack of psychotropic compounds on the planet. This is a nod to an earlier episode, "Strange New World", where T'Pol, amongst others, was hallucinating from a psychotropic compound (tropolisine).
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, Paramount Home Entertainment): Volume 1.9, 2 September 2002.
- As part of the ENT Season 1 DVD collection.
- As part of the ENT Season 1 Blu-ray collection.
Links and references
- Scott Bakula as Captain Jonathan Archer
- John Billingsley as Doctor Phlox
- Jolene Blalock as Subcommander T'Pol
- Dominic Keating as Lieutenant Malcolm Reed
- Anthony Montgomery as Ensign Travis Mayweather
- Linda Park as Ensign Hoshi Sato
- Connor Trinneer as Commander Charles "Trip" Tucker III
- Stephanie Niznik as the Wraith
- Conor O'Farrell as Burzaan
- Eric Pierpoint as Shiraht
- Keith Szarabajka as Damrus
- Solomon Burke, Jr. as Billy
- Amy Kate Connolly as a science division crewman
- Hilde Garcia as Rossi (deleted scene)
- Lindly Gardner as an operations division crewman
- John Jurgens as a command division crewman
- Mark Watson as an operations division crewman
Amazon; artist; bioscience; Bioluminescence; bore worm; Boy Scout; camera; captain's chair; chromosome; Dakala; Deneva Prime; drayjin; drink dispenser; Eagle Scout; Earth; entomologist; Eska; exobiology; fire wolf; geothermal energy; honeymoon; hunting; Ipswich; Jupiter Station; kilometer; logic; masking agent; merit badge; New Zealand; Oakland; painting; poetry; poker; psychotropic; rain forest; recruit; reptile; rogue planet; sensing cloaks; shapeshifter; situation room; status display; The Song of the Wandering Aengus; Starfleet Command; telepathy; Vulcan High Command; wild boar; Yeats, William Butler; wolf; wraith; Yellowstone National Park
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