“I’ve heard about your mating rituals… that Vulcan women force their men to fight to the death. Would you like me to kill someone for you?”
Ooh, the Andorians! Blue-skinned and belligerent. The Andorians were first seen in the original series episode, “Journey to Babel,” where an undercover operative posing as an Andorian murdered a Tellarite ambassador, tried to kill Kirk and sabotage the Enterprise. They were seen a couple more times and then they disappeared. We see an Andorian at the end of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, but it would take another 15 years before they would be re-introduced to the Star Trek franchise.
This is the episode that launched a series-long arc referencing the tumultuous relationship between Vulcans, Humans, and Andorians. My guess is when the Vulcans made first contact with Earth, and then “shepherded” (or stalled) Earth’s entrance into the Galaxy, the Andorians didn’t take too kindly to this union. They must have assumed the Earth was Vulcan’s pet, and from outward appearances, it does look that way. Andorians don’t trust Vulcans, much like Humans don’t trust them, but we’re not as violent or impulsive about it.
P’Jem is an ancient Vulcan monastery where the rites of Kohlinar are attained. Archer wants to visit, but T’Pol, (as she often does) discourages him. The Vulcans need their privacy. Archer ignores her. She gives him a litany of rules to follow in their dealings with the Vulcans. Do not speak unless spoken to. Do not touch them. Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball. They go down to the planet and, already, something is up. T’Pol notes that the Vulcans are “agitated.” Trip and Archer put it together that they’re being watched, and suddenly they are beset by vicious Andorians led by Shran (Jeffrey Combs).
The Andorians are holding the Vulcans hostage, because they are convinced P’Jem is being used as a listening post to monitor activities near the border, in violation of the treaty. The Vulcans are cagey about it, but they do deny any malfeasance. Archer is stuck between a rock and a hard place. He’d rather make friends than enemies, but the Andorians make it difficult for him, and Shran is not a people-person. What Archer does have going for him is his distrust where Vulcans are concerned. Vulcans are arrogant. They knowingly dissemble. Their devotion to logic makes it next to impossible to deal with them on any level that does not require bowing to their presumed superiority.
T’Pol exists in a vacuum where she believes Vulcans are incapable of lying, yet the Vulcans who lie dress up those lies in aphorisms. They call it subterfuge and exaggeration, but these are lies. Sometimes I wonder if Star Trek is not a grand scheme to show the superiority of humanity. Humans seem to have better coping mechanisms than any of these so-called advanced species, despite Spock’s mother, Amanda’s claim in “Journey to Babel” that Vulcans are superior. Amanda, you need to get out more. Perhaps take an introspective look at your own humanity? Because you’re worth it! As it happens, Shran was right, and it is embarrassing when revealed, but when Archer showed Shran he was not allied with the Vulcans, he got himself a friend.
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