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Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “The Aenar”


Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “The Aenar”

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Rereads/Rewatches Star Trek: Enterprise

Star Trek: Enterprise Rewatch: “The Aenar”


Published on November 6, 2023


“The Aenar”
Written by Manny Coto and André Bormanis
Directed by Mike Vejar
Season 4, Episode 14
Production episode 090
Original air date: February 11, 2005
Date: unknown

Captain’s star log. After getting the highlights of “Babel One” and “United,” we go to Romulus, where Vrax is tearing Valdore a new asshole for his mission achieving the exact opposite of the effect intended. Valdore is hilariously obtuse in this conversation, insisting that it’s just a setback, not a disaster, and all he has to do is have the drone ship destroy Enterprise and everything will be fine, and the alliance will fall apart and Vrax will become First Consul. Vrax thinks it’s far more likely that he’ll be executed…

Gral and his delegation have returned to Tellar Prime, but Shran has elected to stay on Enterprise to help Archer and the gang hunt the drone ship. (The disposition of Shran’s surviving crew is left as an exercise for the viewer.)

T’Pol has examined the readings Tucker and Reed took while on the drone ship, and determined that the drone is controlled via telepresence, and can be done from light-years away. They have a brainscan of the remote pilot, and Phlox doesn’t recognize the species, but says that it’s someone related to the Andorians, though not precisely Andorian. T’Pol and Tucker are tasked with constructing a telepresence device that can interfere with the control of the Romulan ship.

On Romulus, Valdore orders the damage done by Tucker and Reed to be repaired, and to prepare to send a second drone ship out with the first. Nijil expresses concern over the pilot’s well-being, as he’s mentally exhausted from his efforts and it’ll be even worse when he has to control two ships. Valdore ignores those concerns, ordering the stimulants to be increased regardless of the consequences. Given that those consequences include the pilot’s death, Valdore’s lack of concern is pretty short-sighted, but whatever.

Shran has had the brainscan examined by Andoria and they have confirmed that the pattern belongs to an Aenar. They’re a subspecies of Andorians, with pale skin rather than blue, and who are blind and telepathic. They were believed to be mythical until they were encountered fifty years earlier. They’re reclusive and pacifistic, and unlikely to have constructed the drone ship nor used it. However, Archer has Mayweather change course to Andoria.

T’Pol and Tucker are working on constructing the telepresence device, even though Tucker is fatigued as hell—he’s not completely recovered from his ordeal on the drone ship. But his engineering skills are needed. He talks about how he almost died and how it made him feel and tries to get T’Pol to discuss how she felt when she thought she was going to die. Her answer is—of course—clinical, disappointing him.

The Aenar live in an area protected by a dampening field. Archer and Shran beam down to find them. While searching, an ice floor gives out under Shran and he falls, an icicle impaling his leg. Conveniently, an Aenar finds them, and they are brought to a hospital.

Nijil informs Valdore that the pilot is resting and will be ready to pilot both drone ships. Valdore tells Nijil the story of how he used to be a senator—and Vrax was both a friend and colleague—but he was expelled after challenging the policy of unlimited expansion. (How he managed to become a flag officer in the military after being a disgraced politician is not explained.)

T’Pol and Tucker argue over who should test the telepresence device, with T’Pol winning the argument because (a) she’s telepathic and he isn’t and (b) she outranks him. Later, she tries to make up with him, saying she appreciates his concern, and also expressing worry that his concern is interfering with his duties. Tucker insists his concerns are purely professional. Neither T’Pol nor the viewers believe this bullshit for a nanosecond.

Screenshot: CBS

The Aenar have a very loose collective, and someone is designated Speaker when a leader is required. A woman named Lissan gets the job and she asks Archer and Shran why they’ve come to the Aenar’s home. Archer allows himself to be telepathically scanned by Lissan. An Aenar named Gareb disappeared a year before—he was assumed to have been killed, but his body was never found. It’s possible that he was kidnapped instead and is being used by the Romulans.

Later, a woman named Jhamel approaches Shran. She’s never seen a blue-skinned Andorian before. They talk, and she reveals that Gareb is her brother. She has been having recurring nightmares involving him.

T’Pol tests the device. She is able to use it for a brief time before it starts to do serious damage to her, at which point Phlox unplugs her from it. Still, it’s an encouraging first try.

Lissan refuses to assist Archer and Shran is any acts of destruction, but Jhamel volunteers to go to Enterprise. Lissan tries to stop her, but Jhamel allows Lissan to read her mind. When she sees that Jhamel is motivated purely by a desire to save her brother, Lissan relents and allows her to beam to Enterprise.

Gareb is plugged back into the telepresence unit on Romulus. Nijil apologizes to the Aenar as he does so. The two drone ships are launched by Gareb and fly out of Romulan space.

Enterprise receives a report that the cargo ship Ticonderoga is missing. As soon as Archer, Shran, and Jhamel are on board, they head there, Archer ordering Reed to upgrade the targeting scanners.

Jhamel tests the telepresence device, and while she lasts longer than T’Pol, she eventually suffers the same issues only worse. Phlox is forced to sedate her.

Screenshot: CBS

The Ticonderoga has been destroyed. Archer orders T’Pol to try to trace the drone ship’s warp signature. Phlox advises that Jhamel may not be able to use the telepresence device.

Enterprise finds a Tellarite freighter that refuses to identify itself. They exchange fire with Enterprise, and it soon loses its “skin” and is revealed to be one of the drone ships. Jhamel senses Gareb’s presence and insists on using the device despite the risks.

The beating Enterprise is taking gets worse when an Andorian battle cruiser shows up—which turns out to be the other drone. Jhamel plugs herself in and is able to make contact with Gareb. Gareb is gobsmacked—he was told by the Romulans that he was the last surviving Aenar and was forced to fly the drones. Emboldened by the news that his people still live, Gareb has the two drone ships turn on each other.

Furious, Valdore kills Gareb even as Enterprise finishes the job and blows up both ships.

Returning to Andoria, Shran and Jhamel prepare to beam down. Jhamel is grateful that she was able to be there for Gareb and not leave him to die alone—and also die knowing that his people weren’t wiped out. Shran also says to Archer that their paths may not cross any time soon, as he’s unlikely to be given another ship after losing the last one. Archer offers to help in any way he can.

Tucker requests a transfer, insisting that he’s been distracted. Despite Archer being his best friend, he refuses to spell out his reasons for wanting off the ship, only saying that he needs to transfer. Columbia has tried to poach him twice, and he’s turned them down, but now he’s willing to go over to the new ship. Archer reluctantly agrees only when Tucker asks as a friend to acquiesce.

Can’t we just reverse the polarity? Apparently, Tucker and Reed got enough data from the drone for T’Pol and Tucker to build a telepresence device that will partially interfere with the one on Romulus. Also, while T’Pol is good at theory, she needs Tucker’s mechanical smarts to put it together, which he proves by telling her that one component works better if you strip off the duranite caps. “Don’t ask me why—they just do.”

The gazelle speech. Lissan says that Archer’s mind has many facets and some of them are in conflict. Shran snidely says that that explains a lot, while my first response was a very skeptical, “Really?” Of course, it could be that there are still remnants of Surak and Syrran in there…

I’ve been trained to tolerate offensive situations. T’Pol is purely focused on duty and her job. If she’s got any residual feelings for Tucker, she gives absolutely no indication of it, which annoys the fuck out of Tucker.

Florida Man. Florida Man Can’t Get Alien Lover Off Mind.

Screenshot: CBS

Optimism, Captain! Tucker tries to blame Phlox for his issues, since he was the one who suggested neuropressure back in “The Xindi,” which is what got Tucker and T’Pol started on their emotional roller-coaster. Phlox refuses delivery of that blame, as he was just trying to get Tucker aid in sleeping. (Plus, of course, you could argue that it really got started when Tucker talked T’Pol into trying pecan pie way back in “Breaking the Ice.”)

Phlox is also very reluctant to allow Jhamel to use the telepresence device.

Better get MACO. Reed wants Archer and Shran to take a squadron of MACOs with them to find the Aenar, but they decline, as that would be too provocative.

Blue meanies. Andoria is an ice planet and Shran goes on at great length about how fabulous the cold is. Archer is less than impressed.

No sex, please, we’re Starfleet. Sparks fly between Shran and Jhamel, and we’ll find out in “These are the Voyages…” that they become a couple and have a daughter.

Meanwhile, Tucker is sufficiently distracted by his feelings for T’Pol, and her total lack of interest in responding in any way, shape, or form to those feelings, that he asks for a transfer.

I’ve got faith…

“What’s it like, your ship?”


–Jhamel asking a reasonable question and Archer giving an answer that’s colored by the fact that he’s in minus-28-degree weather.

Welcome aboard. Back from “United” are Jeffrey Combs as Shran, Brian Thompson as Valdore, J. Michael Flynn (who, bizarrely, is uncredited for this appearance, even though he was credited in his prior two appearances) as Nijil, Geno Silva as Vrax, and Scott Allen Rinker as Gareb. We’ve also got Alexandra Lydon as Jhamel and Alicia Adams as Lissan. Combs will return in “These are the Voyages…”

Screenshot: CBS

Trivial matters: The is the final part of Enterprise’s final three-parter, continuing from “Babel One” and “United.”

When asked by Tucker about a near-death experience that had a profound impact on T’Pol, she mentions the attack on the control sphere in the Delphic Expanse in “Zero Hour.”

A deleted scene—which can be found on the season 4 DVD of Enterprise—has Valdore and Vrax arrested and being taken into custody by Vrax’s two Reman bodyguards.

This is the first appearance of Andoria (referred to as Andor on DS9) on screen. It is established as being the moon of a gas giant.

While Jhamel won’t be seen onscreen again, her relationship with Shran is developed in the various post-finale Enterprise novels by Michael A. Martin, Andy Mangels, and Christopher L. Bennett.

Both Valdore and Nijil play major roles in the post-finale Enterprise novels The Good that Men Do and Kobayashi Maru by Mangels & Martin and in the Romulan War duology by Martin.

Vrax is established as eventually rising to the praetorship in the twenty-third century, and as the one who ordered the mission in the original series’ “Balance of Terror,” in the Vanguard series by David Mack, Dayton Ward, & Kevin Dilmore, as well as in the novella “The First Peer” by Ward & Dilmore in Seven Deadly Sins.

This episode is the last of thirty-one episodes of Trek directed by Mike Vejar, and the penultimate directorial endeavor of his career, at least according to IMDB. The only credit of his that postdates this one is directing an episode of JAG from April 2005.

The notion of Andoria as an ice planet comes from various Trek role-playing games from both FASA and Last Unicorn. Manny Coto, Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens, and André Bormanis in this and the previous episode mined a lot of the RPG material, particularly Last Unicorn’s Among the Clans, for the Andorian world-building.

In 2001, before Enterprise debuted (indeed, the books were planned before Enterprise was even announced), the Star Trek fiction, primarily in the post-finale DS9 novels, started its own world-building of the Andorians, including taking advantage of the line of dialogue in TNG’s “Data’s Day” that Andorians marry in groups of four to establish that the Andorians have four sexes. At the time, Rick Berman had been on the record more than once as saying that they wouldn’t be using the Andorians on Trek because aliens with antennae are silly (a position he obviously eventually reversed). The fiction continued to use a lot of the world-building they’d done even after Enterprise aired, mostly by trying to reconcile the two.

The existence of the Aenar retroactively provides a fix for a coloring mistake in the animated episode “Yesteryear,” as the Andorian Thelin had pale rather than blue skin. The short novel The Chimes at Midnight by Geoff Trowbridge in Myriad Universes: Echoes and Refractions (which told the story of the alternate timeline where Spock died as a seven-year-old) established that Thelin was half-Aenar.

Screenshot: CBS

It’s been a long road… “I didn’t see the sun until I was fifteen.” As a general rule, I’m fond of aftermath stories—the big things are cool, but I’m often more compelled by what happens next, about the recovery from the big thing.

But sometimes, the story ends at a certain point for a reason. “United” brought everything to a satisfying conclusion, with Andoria and Tellar Prime allies and with those two, humans, and Vulcans all working together against the Romulans.

This third part doesn’t really add a hell of a lot to the story. And what it does add is certainly some passable world-building. But we’re only just learning about Andorians, and this episode that takes us to Andoria doesn’t tell us hardly anything about mainstream Andorian society, focusing instead on the Aenar for whatever reason.

On top of that, the Romulans come across like total doofuses here. In the teaser, Vrax puts into words what was clear from “United”: the drone ship has had the opposite of the intended effect. Valdore’s imbecilic solution is to send out another drone ship, ’cause that’ll totally work! Then he expresses no concern for the health of the only pilot he has for these two drone ships, which makes even less sense.

For that matter, why is he going around kidnapping Aenar when it was established in Nemesis that Remans are telepathic? They’re slave labor anyhow, and they’re right there on the next planet over…

Putting Scott Bakula and Jeffrey Combs together always is fun, and despite the tiresome insistence of the unthinking morons in the writers room to continue to have him use the racist epithet “pinkskin,” Shran remains a delight, and one of Enterprise’s best contributions to the Trek pantheon. But ultimately, this episode feels like an awkwardly tacked on third part to something that would’ve been better off as a two-parter.

Warp factor rating: 6

Keith R.A. DeCandido’s latest work is The Four ???? of the Apocalypse, co-edited by him and Wrenn Simms, on sale now from Whysper Wude. It features alternate takes on the end-of-the-world quartet, such as the four PTA Moms of the apocalypse, the four cats of the apocalypse, the four Hollywood executives of the apocalypse, the four lawyers of the apocalypse, and so on. Among the contributors are Star Trek scribes David Gerrold, David Mack, Peter David, Derek Tyler Attico, Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore, Michael Jan Friedman, Robert Greenberger, and Aaron Rosenberg, as well as New York Times best-sellers Seanan McGuire, Jonathan Maberry, and Jody Lynn Nye, and tons more.

About the Author

Keith R.A. DeCandido


Keith R.A. DeCandido has been writing about popular culture for this site since 2011, primarily but not exclusively writing about Star Trek and screen adaptations of superhero comics. He is also the author of more than 60 novels, more than 100 short stories, and around 50 comic books, both in a variety of licensed universes from Alien to Zorro, as well as in worlds of his own creation. Read his blog, follow him on Facebook, The Site Formerly Known As Twitter, Instagram, Threads, and Blue Sky, and follow him on YouTube and Patreon.
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