Episode 126: T’Pol Up In Your Business

cover image with T'Pol

Our crew is joined by Kerry to talk about one of Star Trek’s most prominent Vulcan women – a science officer, XO and important force in Vulcan society; a daughter, mother, friend, and lover; often the focus of Enterprise’s allegory episodes: T’Pol.

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Hosts: Sue, Jarrah and Grace

Guest: Kerry – @kerrbearlib

Editor: Jarrah

Notes and References:

  • Check out all of Anika’s T’Pol Fashion Project posts.
  • The exchange between Archer and T’Pol in “Broken Bow” referenced by Grace is this:

ARCHER: How much longer?
T’POL: Until you’ve proven you’re ready,
ARCHER: Ready to what?
T’POL: To look beyond your provincial attitudes and volatile nature.
ARCHER: Volatile? You have no idea how much I’m restraining myself from knocking you on your ass.

  5 comments for “Episode 126: T’Pol Up In Your Business

  1. Michael
    November 19, 2019 at 12:55 am

    A great episode and I agree with almost all your points, esp Trip and Archer’s early seasons picking on T’Pol, Archer’s violent threats in Broken Bow, the catsuits being out of character, and the general sexism of the later Berman/Braga era. Sue made a great point about the Vulcan three parter in Season 4 as a reaction to fan criticism of the Vulcans’ depiction in the show. But I also think it was probably an allegory for 9/11 and the War on Terror – then current events being transposed to Vulcan society. The change in human/Vulcan relations from that point parallels the positive changes in the relationships between T’Pol, Archer and Trip.

    I do feel I want to give credit to Archer’s character arc in his relationship with T’Pol. It’s a pretty dramatic arc! – starting out appallingly, of course. But after her mother’s death there’s a very touching scene in her quarters where he seems like a pretty good friend to me. And the final episode, for all its flaws, is notable for other touching scenes (I like Riker as chef!), especially just before Archer goes on stage and they hug. That’s beautiful and shows how very far Archer has moved away from his initial prejudice and racism.

    As for Demins/Terra Prime, it’s my favourite Enterprise episode. Paxton is so creepy and the story is uncannily prescient. And Jolene Blalock’s performance is incredibly moving, especially the scenes with the baby and her telling Paxton, “you’re not significant!” (I give a little cheer every time I hear that.) Her scenes with Trip in that episode are also pretty good, I think. I don’t have a problem with them finding out that Vulcan/human hybridization (sorry, I can’t think of a better term just at the moment!) is possible after all. We the audience know it already, but it’s nice for the characters that they know it too, and to have it acknowledged by the episode writers. Otherwise some fans would have been sure to complain that it was inconsistent with Canon – and also, it invalidates Paxton’s racist belief that such a child would be unnatural, and symbolises the coming together of two species rather than the xenophobic Earth Paxton tried to create.

    I agree that it’s a shame Enterprise was cancelled. It’s not my favourite Trek series, but it was getting a lot better and for all its faults there were many really good things about it too. It traverses quite an arc in four seasons, from the mutually distrustful human/Vulcan relationship in Broken Bow to the anti-racism and beginnings of the Federation that we see in the last three episodes.

    I listen to all of your podcasts, and it’s one of my two favourite Trek podcasts (the other being Primitive Culture). Sending warm wishes to all of you, and thanks so much for making me think about Star Trek – well, more thoughtfully!

    • Janet
      January 4, 2020 at 10:52 pm

      The problem with Trip and T’Pol finding out that hybridization is possible is they forgot about Lorian from E²(their kid from another timeline). It didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the story but it’s still a bit weird. And there were still people who complained it was inconsistent with canon. I argued with a guy on IMDB who said the episode made his stomach turn because Elizabeth bumped Spock out of being the first Vulcan/human hybrid. Sigh.

      • Michael
        January 5, 2020 at 10:48 pm

        Oh dear, that’s a bit sad! I suppose at least he could claim that there’s nothing in canon to contradict Spock being the first Vulcan/human hybrid to survive infancy – I’m not sure how soon after Elizabeth Spock was born.

        As for your point about Lorien, I’d completely forgotten about that. Possibly the writers had as well. There must be contradictions like that all over Star Trek – a list that’s surely growing as the number of episodes and series is growing so fast.

  2. Janet
    January 4, 2020 at 10:39 pm

    To his credit, Brannon Braga has walked backed his comment of Jolene Blalock overreacting and apologized for making TATV. On the other, he also talked about how hard it was to find a beautiful woman who could act in the Blu Ray cast reunion. Needless to say, he made all the actors in the room cringe. He said it so many times that Scott Bakula told him to drop it. So one step forward, two steps back?

    There are shippers who acknowledge that Trip doesn’t try hard enough to understand Vulcan culture. But we don’t frame things like his scheming in Bound as trying to change T’Pol. He doesn’t suffer pretentious fools lightly so it’s hard for me to imagine him not wanting someone to be who they are. But you’ll see plenty of shippers who call them immature teenagers for not being honest with each other. To add to Keri’s point, Trip never really told her how he felt. So letting his anger fester to the point of leaving the ship was passive-aggressive. It’s a shame the show got cancelled before these knuckleheads could have a heart-to-heart. We shippers have faith that Trip would have fully accepted T’Pol as she was if that conversation happened. Most of us agree that neuropressure and Amanda Cole didn’t create an organic setup. But the actors’ chemistry really transcends the questionable writing. It also helps that they were friends in the first 2 seasons.

    PS: What Hogwarts house do you think T’Pol belongs to?

  3. Michael
    January 5, 2020 at 10:55 pm

    Oh, Brannon Braga! I like a lot of his work on Star Trek, but the more I read about him…

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