Second Union

Second Union

STAR TREK REWIND: “Desert Crossing”

“I wouldn’t be a very good host if I allowed you to get killed!”

Remember your Davy Crockett? “Killed him a bar when he was only three?” Joshua and his warriors shouting at the top of their lungs until the walls of Jericho fell? These might be considered apocryphal, exaggerated stories, legends even … hype, jive but they help to get the message across. The message of a bad-ass. Archer’s no stranger to this kind of hyperbole. Stories are told of Archer’s courageous rescue of imprisoned Suliban. He saved a thousand Suliban with only a broken phaser and some chewing gum. Except he didn’t. Clancy Brown’s Zobral believes those stories.

After the crew repairs his ship, he invites Archer and Trip down to his encampment for food and a laser-ball lacrosse game called Geskana. The food is good and the conversation is stimulating, but Zobral’s enemies rudely interrupt dinner with bombardment. Clancy hides Archer and Trip in a concealed cellar while he tends to the battle. On the ship, T’Pol is informed by the planet’s government that Zobral is a terrorist and that, whether they know it or not, Archer and Trip are aiding and abetting these terrorists.

After a missile takes out Zobral’s home, Archer and Trip flee into the open desert. Trip is physically depleted from injuries he sustained during the game. They raid their shuttlepod for some quick supplies. They run out of drinking water fairly quickly and Trip is showing signs of heat exhaustion. They’re forced to hide under the sand from enemy craft patrolling the outlying areas. The planet’s shield grid makes scans impossible. Clancy asks to be taken aboard where the crew (specifically Reed and T’Pol) tell him the stories he has heard of the great Jonathan Archer were embellished.

If Archer does have talent, it would be in his bravery and his strength. Stories of his stamina would have to be true, as we see Trip practically at death’s door while Archer displays hardly any fatigue. A captain must convey strength even if he is dying, and he must be optimistic even when he feels his time is running out. He engages Trip in conversation and games to keep him talking. He promises Trip can sleep and eat all he wants when they return to the ship.

This is that rare episode of Enterprise that speaks to social and political comment. Strangely, Enterprise kept stories strictly in the 22nd century, or maybe there was a way to distinguish those adventures from anything that was happening in our current political or social climate. You meet a nice guy, gregarious and magnanimous, but he’s viewed as a terrorist on his homeworld. What do you do? He was nice to you, but then he later tells you he was the downtrodden, the subjugated. What do you do?

I like Archer’s approach here. He’s like, “Well, you seem nice.” But then Trip wonders why you would ever help that person, considering the years of war. Maybe it’s best to back off. I like when those questions come up. Star Trek: The Next Generation’s “The High Ground” episode about terrorism bandied about the same themes, and we came to the same conclusion in both scenarios. We may have idealistic reasons to stay out of the way, but ultimately the weak pave the roads for the elite.

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!

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