The characters, and the story, are developing in a smart way on ''Enterprise,'' says Sunny Lee
Credit: Enterprise: Ron Tom/UPN

The Vulcan T’Pol shows her human side

As the first season continues, the ”Enterprise” writers are facing a difficult challenge for a new sci-fi series — they need to develop unknown characters without turning them into caricatures. In the latest episode, ”Breaking the Ice,” they seem to be succeeding. Turning their attention to the Vulcan Sub-Commander T’Pol, they’ve started to reveal her more human side. And, by developing her personality, they cleverly get beyond the difficulty of trying to make an emotionless Vulcan more interesting.

One of the plot twists that makes T’Pol seem more human is her engagement to another Vulcan. Her marriage, which was pre-arranged according to Vulcan custom, would ultimately obligate her to leave the Enterprise. That raises some emotional questions: Do her cultural responsibilities trump her professional commitments? Does she have a moral obligation to make one choice or the other? According to chief engineer Trip Tucker, this is a decision that T’Pol must make by following her own desires — a style of problem solving that does not compute with Vulcans, who are rational beings guided by logic. In other words, T’Pol is beginning to make very human choices. Need more evidence? After refusing Trip’s pecan pie at the episode’s opening (she insists that Vulcans don’t eat sugar), by episode’s end, she’s in her private quarters with her own pecan pie.

The ”Enterprise” writers are also beginning to address basic questions about the feasibility of the show’s backstory. For instance, doesn’t Enterprise need to return to Earth to replenish its food supplies? Apparently not. I wondered myself when the next return trip to Earth would be, but according to Captain Archer, food is synthesized as well as grown right on the ship. They recycle everything, including waste material. That’s right. They can turn feces to flashlights. Ingenious!

Did you see any other signs that the new ”Enterprise” is headed in the right direction?

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