Second Union

Second Union

STAR TREK REWIND: “Civilization”

“This must be why aliens are always landing in cornfields.”

As with “Strange New World,” the Enterprise crew gets a crash-course lesson in blending with an alien community. This is a culture in a pre-industrialization stage of development wearing threads that are elegantly sophisticated, reminiscent of our own age of Renaissance. Hoshi is in, what I can only assume, seventh heaven, disseminating the various languages and cultural peculiarities of the Akaali. I like this little detail here, as Hoshi explains there are many languages being spoken on the planet. Up to now, it had been a conceit of the franchise that each alien species had but one language, but we know from our own planet, this cannot possibly be true. The Enterprise sensors pick up traces of what can only be a massive power source on the planet. Phlox surgically alters the landing party to appear as Akaali. I must say Hoshi and T’Pol make for fetching aliens, even if T’Pol has to cover her ears to pass for an Akaali. Once down on the planet, it becomes apparent a section of the population is suffering from a mysterious outbreak.

Archer and Trip trace the power source to a quaint “Curiosity Shoppe” (with the extra ‘p’ for panache!) Archer and Trip schedule a break-in for later in the night. They pick the lock. Interesting to note Starfleet jumped on the lock-picking technology when they first set sail for the stars. They identify a force-field in front of a door, but just as they’re about to pick that lock, a woman named Riaan enters the store and holds them at bay with a crossbow. T’Pol stuns her, and they take her home. Archer tries to explain away what happened by identifying himself as an investigator. She doesn’t really seem to believe him, but she goes along with it anyway. She’s been doing her own investigating. A skilled apothecary, she started studying the disease that has been infecting the population since her brother died. Her work impresses Phlox, who laments she would make for a brilliant scientist.

Archer and Trip visit the “Shoppe.” The slimy, sleazy proprietor sports a shit-eating grin and his own tricorder at the ready when they bust him for not being an Akaali. He claims to be an honest businessman, but you know with that grin, he ain’t on the up-and-up. He confesses to possessing a reactor, but he claims it is harmless. Archer does a little undercover work with Riaan. They connect the reactor run-off with the radioactive contamination that is causing the Akaali to become sick. There’s a cute little moment here as Archer’s universal translator goes off-line in mid-conversation with Riaan and he must kiss her to distract from fixing it. This is the classic “Kirk maneuver.” Archer’s got style to spare. The translator is built into his communicator. I had always assumed translators were surgically implanted in aliens, as with Quark, Nog, and Rom in the Deep Space Nine episode, “Little Green Men.” “Civilization” was the first episode of Enterprise to remind me of the Original Series.

I’m back, and I’m in quarantine with my family, so I had nothing better to do than bring back my Star Trek reviews. I hope you enjoy reading them. Let’s all be cool during this time.

Twice a week, Star Trek Rewind explores the Star Trek universe. From Archer to Janeway, Kirk to Picard, and Georgiou to Sisko — boldly read what no one has read before!

Related Articles