64: Strategem – Star Trek Enterprise Season 3, Episode 14

Matt and Sean talk about lies, lies, lies yeah… Mission Impossible done Trek-style. The show is clearly building to a climax for the season finale. 

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In today’s episode of Trek in time, we’re gonna be talking about lies, lies, lies. Yeah, that’s right. Talking about enterprise season three, episode 14 strategy. Welcome everybody to track in time where we’re talking about every episode of star Trek in chronological order. And we’re also taking a look at its context in history at the time of its original broadcast.

Right now, we’re still looking at early days. We’re still in enterprise, but we’re at season three. So we’re past the halfway point. Woo whoa. Only 17 years of programming to go through. And who are we? Well, I’m Sean Ferrell. I’m a writer. I write some sci-fi. I write some stuff for kids and with me as my brother, Matt, Matt is the big brain behind the show undecided with Matt Ferrell, which takes a look at emerging tech and its impact on our lives.

How you doing today? Big brain.

I would never call myself that, but okay.

I’m good. How about you? I’m okay. Enjoying the weekend, enjoying what feels at times like the beginning of fall. It’s nice to get some cooler air Matt as usual. We like to start each episode with some feedback from our previous show.

So Matt, why don’t you jump into the comments and let us know what people are thinking? All right.

Well, from the last episode, which was proven ground, which you and I both liked a lot, which had the Endor coming in to help and then betray us. There’s a comment from the dude. The dude it says, I can’t believe you guys are already halfway through season three, been watching since episode four and haven’t missed a single one since please continue.

And can’t wait for season four. Thank you very much the dude. Yes. Thank you. Um, yeah, I, I, I like Sean just said at the beginning of this, I can’t believe we this far in already but yet we still have, as you joked, 17 years of content

ahead of us. That’s right. It’s gonna we’ll a while. We’ll be fine. It’s gonna December do in our retirement.

Yeah. There

you go. there was a comment from pale go 69. Always comments always leaves for very insightful comments. He said on that episode, I started episode being giddy. We have Andorian support in the expanse. I ended up with this episode with my antenna slumped. Aw. Yeah. But he also talked about, he brought up in the episode at 17 minutes and 40 seconds.

On our podcast. He said, imagine he was talking about how we were talking about what the expanse is and what it’s doing. Mm-hmm he, he mentioned, imagine a still pond imagine drops of water, falling onto that pond in the exact same spots, creating ripples that expand throughout the pond, eventually intersecting with other ripples.

When many of them meet, it creates a highly disturbed space that is constantly shifting and Cantor. Or the anomalies in the real world when multiple ripples intersect, there’s almost always a ton of really foamy algae with its own ecosystem, which is similar in principle to the kind of space the sphere aliens wanna create.

Hm. I love that description. That analogy of what the

anomaly is. Ghosts. Why weren’t you a writer on the show back? back in two. That’s my question. Because somebody like T’Pol, just turning and saying, well, imagine it’s still pond it. Would’ve been very helpful for everybody, everybody on the crew would’ve been like, uh now I see.

Yeah. Now I get it. Yeah. . Yeah, thank you for that. We love getting comments. It’s it’s part of what feeds this program. So keep jumping into the comments and letting us know what you’re thinking and in the background, I’m sure you all hear it. It’s the read alert, but it’s doing something weird. It’s is it faster or louder than it usually is?

I think the reason for that is because today’s synopsis from Wikipedia is the most Wikipedia synopsis imagin. Matt, take it away.

the way you set that up is throw me off. Stratum is the 66th episode of star Trek enterprise. The 14th episode from the third season, the science fiction show is set in the 22nd century of the star Trek universe. Captain Archer is trying to deal with aliens that attack the earth.

That’s it? That’s the end.

It says nothing. It says nothing about the episode. Yeah. Stratum is a show from this series. Oh my God. And then if somebody to say, well, what is the episode about? Well, it’s about. Archer Archer trying

to deal with some

alien stuff. Aliens. What are you gonna do? Yada, yada yada yada yada yada star Trek. So as Matt mentioned, season three, episode 14, this episode is directed by Mike VJA.

This is his third of the season story is by Terry Mattis. Teleplay by Michael Sussman. It’s his third of the season. And the episode originally aired on February 4th, 2004. And guest appearances include Randy Osby as DRA Josh Drek as Stalin and Douglas Biman as D’s assistant of course, D. We all know by now is the scientist for the Xindi, who is developing the weapon.

And this episode aired, as I mentioned on February 4th, 2004, but what was going on at that time? Well, we were still enjoying, Hey. Yeah, by outcast the number one song, it had spent several weeks at the number one spot already at the beginning of this year. And spoiler, it will be replaced soon. Also why outcast.

So one of those times where an artist replaces themselves in the number one spot and at the movies you got served was the number one movie. It’s the 2004 American dance drama, filmed and written and directed by Chris Stokes. It made 16 million in its opening weekend. It is considered in the dance drama genre.

It’s considered one of the better, and it is still available for streaming. If you’re interested in watching it it’s available on paramount Showtime and on television, February 4th, 2004. What was everybody watching? People were watching junior sell his. On my wife and kids, they were also watching the bachelorette that was on ABC on 60 minutes.

Well, 60 minutes too, was looking at Saddam Husain’s brutality and police raids in a high school on Fox that 70 show and American idol were the leading shows. And on NBC, the apprentice was earning 7 million viewers up against enterprise, which was getting 4 million. And over on WB, well, Smallville that earned 5 million viewers.

So once again, star Trek enterprise is last in place. Just keeps bubbling at 4 million, just keeps going along with the same 4 million people. And I felt like I was 3 million of those people. You do the math and what was going on in current events? What was in the news? Well, anthrax had been discovered in Senate offices shutting down the work of the Senate.

We’ve talked about the anthrax attacks previously. So I wanted to focus in on something that felt a little more tied into what this episode is about. The episode, dealing with weapons, design, a massive weapon being develop. They know it’s going to be used against earth. That’s the entire reason for this story?

What was going on in the real world? Well, you may remember there was a little thing called the Iraq war and the us after quickly dismantling Iraqi resistance and taking down the government and declaring that the war was a success. Began looking around for all those weapons of mass destruction, that it was certain were there.

And when they didn’t find them well, Donald Rumsfeld was called to speak before Congress. So from the New York times on February 4th, Rumsfeld defends us intelligence, operations. Written by David Stout who writes defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld encountered sharp questions on Capitol hill today as Senate committee session that deepened an already bitter fight about the campaign in Iraq and president Bush’s proposed budget for 2005 appearing before the Senate armed services committee, Mr.

Rumsfeld rebutted criticism of pre-war intelligence by asserting that weapons of mass destruction might yet be found in. He also weathered criticism over the white house’s refusal to include the costs of the Iraq campaign in the budget and about a tanker leasing deal that has come under scrutiny. The secretary summed up his basic stance on the Iraq intelligence in his opening statement to the panel, headed by Senator John Warner, Republican of Virginia.

As Dr. K has testified. What we have learned thus far has not proven Saddam Hussain had what intelligence indicated. What we believed and what we believed he had Mr. Rumsfeld said referring to the former chief weapons inspector, David K, but he said it also has not proven the opposite. So okay. Using the old, well, we, haven’t not found what we’re looking for yet.

Argument, uh, a little bit of a, of a shell game at the time, because spoiler alert, no weapons of master destruction, whatever be found, Mr. Rumsfeld would continue in his testimony to make the argument that one of the key pieces of intelligence leading to the intelligence community to believe that weapons of mass destruction would be found was the attitude and actions of Mr.

Husain. So. Stop acting so guilty if you don’t have things, is the argument that, that boils down to, which I think is an interesting tie into this episode, because this episode is demonstrating a, we’ve talked about, you know, white hats and black hats, the sort of old west methodology of identifying good guys and bad guys.

This episode is absolutely using a white hat. Mode of interrogation we have in the United States, we have the Iraq war. We had Abu grave as a major point of, of an issue in the us with prisoners in the Abu grave, prison being tortured. We have enhanced interrogation techniques, so called, uh, version of torture.

Happening in Guantanamo bay, post nine 11. So here we have a story that revolves around how do we interrogate somebody to get information we need in order to stop this weapon of mass destruction. But we do it in a way that is ethically and morally. Unquestionable. That is the mm-hmm entire gist of this story.

And it is interesting because it follows this, this story. This has been used so many different times and it’s a classic of. Subterfuge of just like you trick a person thinking they’re in a different time. They’ve used it in enterprise. We’ve seen it in a number of different times. Mm-hmm , we’ve seen it on star Trek in general, and it’s a classic of mission.

Impossible. The best example of this would be a mission, impossible story, where a man, it wakes up he’s in prison and they spend an episode convincing him that he has spent 10 years in prison. There is even. My personal favorite of the genre is an episode of the old GI Joe cartoon in which Cobra gets a hold of one of the Joe’s and convinces him.

He’s living 25 years in his future so that he will reveal secrets that he doesn’t wanna divulge. So, yeah, we’ve seen this before, Matt, I’m looking for like big picture. Did it work for you or did it not? It, uh, it

kind of worked mm-hmm , uh, like the end of the episode, I felt I enjoyed it. Mm-hmm I enjoyed the episode by the end.

Some of it, it felt like it was rehashing things I’ve seen before, but it was still enjoyable to see the end result of how they, how they extracted the information they were trying to get, how they were kind of the cat and mouse game between de and the captain over the, of course of the episode. So in general, I, I

liked it.

I thought it was pretty. Yeah, I think that it’s an interesting place for them to land because it feels like there’s a couple of things going on in the real world. It almost felt to me, like there was a response to the real world and questions around like, what’s going on in Iraq. What’s going on in grave.

What’s going on. Mm-hmm in Guantanamo and we’ve seen episodes in the past where Archer was willing to use torture. Yep. He’s not doing that at all. At this point, they’ve stepped away from that. And it felt a little bit like maybe there was in constructing a show in which they use subterfuge to get information.

Oh yes. There may have been a writerly response of, well, so a torture is not in this story at all because. They’re using subterfuge. What I would’ve appreciated as a viewer, would’ve been a little bit of a discussion from Archer as to how his feelings have evolved and how maybe he has a sense of guilt or shame over previous actions.

Maybe he’s learned a lesson somewhere along the line to say, like, we’re not gonna do that again. I’ve got a different idea. Well, that to me,

I didn’t miss that because they’ve already kind

of done that

in several other episodes of the season, because at the beginning of the season, He was ready to throttle people and toss people into airlocks.

And he’s been called on at numerous times on different episodes. And that’s come back again and again, and each time it’s brought up, it’s clear. He. It’s not that he has regrets necessarily it’s that he realizes that isn’t the best path. And so for me, it didn’t feel out of place that they never discussed it because at this point it’s clear to me that trip has evolved going from vengeance.

Like he had that conversation with sh yeah, about how I can’t be out for blood, kind of a thing they’ve already shown that trip and Archer have. Change their thinking. And they’ve gone back to what the Federation ultimately is supposed to stand for what star fleet’s supposed to stand for. And they’re not gonna fall down that trap that they’ve seen other alien species in this region fall into, which is just everybody’s out for themselves to do whatever they have to do to do their, their thing.

Right. So it’s like, I feel like they’ve already, they’ve already answered that numerous times. So to bring it up again, would’ve, to me felt like they might have been hammering it. Overdoing it just hitting me over the head with the message, but it could have been literally like a two sentence conversation.

Yeah. You know, just like a. It would’ve been very easy to have like a little throwaway conversation that just reminds us as to why.

Yeah. I, I, that’s all I was looking for, not a heavy focus of the episode, but something along the lines of this episode also does something. And I’ve complained about this before.

I do not like a structure. That’s like babababa and then, oh, here’s three weeks earlier. Like I do not like that as a structure. So it’s, you can see it coming in this one, you can see it coming. It’s like it’s as the episode starts and it’s like, you know, we just escape from a prison. It’s like, no, you didn’t.

I’m like, part of me is just like, I don’t like that as a story technique of jumping back in time. But when we do jump back in time and you have that moment of. They inadvertently run into DRA and his, and his people when they run into DRA and his crew, they run to do each other in the debris field from the weapons testing from proving ground and yep.

Which is a nice, you know, this is, this is one of those episodes where it follows so closely on the previous one, that if you’re gonna watch proving ground, just keep watching straight through stratum. It makes it makes perfect sense to do that. They’re all there looking at for evidence of how the weapon works, you know, like, and obviously enterprise is there to be like, can we find any clues about where they might have gone here comes.

and his crew to figure out what went wrong. And obviously what nobody knows on the Xindi side, which Archer believes he understands, which is the Xindi mining colony that they had found themselves on. Previously the lead researcher, there was tainting some of the elements so that they would not work properly in this.

A couple of things happen that lead to the skirmish, which then they are, the enterprise is able to disable de ship. They’re able to capture them. DE’s crew is wiping their computer. So now we’re all on board, the enterprise and they’ve got these prisoners and then trying to figure out like, what do we do?

They know more Xindi are gonna be coming on their way. They have these prisoners, what do we do with these people? Are we gonna hold them permanently? There could have been a moment right then where Archer says, yeah, I’ve used techniques in the past that I don’t wanna touch again because I don’t like carrying that.

So let’s figure something else out. It could have been something as simple as that, that would’ve made me feel like, okay, that shows growth because in isolation, my, my issue with this is in isolation, it gives the idea that there’s no character growth. It’s just we’re the good guys. We don’t do that. I would’ve appreciated a reminder of like I’ve made mistakes in the past.

I’m learning from those mistakes. So I’m trying to avoid them. Can I just interject? Sure, absolutely. The,

the, the, you are not liking storylines that do that three days earlier. Technique I’m generally with you, but on this one, it didn’t bother me at all. And I think part of the reason I, I liked the way they structured, this was the first third of the show.

It wasn’t just. Usually it’s the stinger, the opening. Yeah. The cold open is the, what the hell’s going on. And then they come back from the credits and it’s like two days earlier. It’s like that kind of stuff. I don’t like, but this was like the first, third of the show. We as viewers have no clue that this is a ruse in.

In, in an obvious way, we, we start to have our suspicions that something’s off, but like as a viewer, it’s like, is this actually happening in the future? Is this something that’s gonna be undone by something that’s time traveling. Mm-hmm , it’s like, we don’t know what’s going on as a viewer. We don’t discover that until probably act two.

When they act do that three days earlier, or like six hours earlier, they found ARA. I, I, I kind of appreciated that, but what I do agree with you is they didn’t need to. They could have just stuck in that timeline, the entire episode. That’s my issue with

it gone back. That’s my issue issue with it is usually it’s to me, it’s like narration.

If you’re watching a TV show or a movie, and there’s a narrator telling you things, my response to that is if you needed that narrator to convey something to the audience, you should have figured out a better way to get that information to the audience. It may not be, you may be not trusting your audience enough, or you may be overthinking it.

And I felt like if you took the entire. Flashback portion out of the show, you don’t lose anything. And then you actually enter interesting terrain where for the writer and for the director and the actors to figure out how do you have that moment where degra is suspicious enough and you show that moment, how much more gripping would it have been when he looks out the window and sees the staticy screen for a moment?

Yeah. How much more would it have been interesting for you to know? Archer and the crew are pulling a fast one. Yep. You don’t know what’s going on outside that little ship that they’re in, but it might have been more interesting for the viewer to say like, aha, this is a ruse. And then have that moment of he’s got the knife.

How’s he gonna get out of this? He subdues him. and then a door opens up and he gets out and he’s on the enterprise and he is just like, what happened? How did he know? And they don’t know how he saw through the Rouse, but like what happened there? We had him and then you go through the whole thing of the doctor could reveal, oh yeah.

I’m able to, I’ve been wiping their minds. Like all of the same stuff could have happened. That’s my big thing. It’s like, but that is ultimately for me, a nitpick. Because I think on a whole, the story does hold together really well. I like the back and forth on the ship. I like the cat and mouse and Hoshi feeding information into the earpiece of his kids’ names.

Are this they’re low they’re this ages like trying to like keep one step ahead of the questioning that is testing, testing, testing. I found myself frustrated. And Matt, maybe you can guess there’s one element of Archer questioning that he never, he never raises this question and it left me so bothered because this is really one of the first and really only times in the show where they’ve had somebody who could answer this question.

Can you guess what question Archer didn’t ask? Why they’re doing this in the first place. Like, it doesn’t make any sense that Archer in that moment, doesn’t say, cause dere even brings it up. He’s like once we learned about the threats of the humans, Archer could have said. I’ve never understood that. I, I dunno why Archer, didn’t say you and I have spent a long time in that prison together.

And that’s one thing I’ve never understood. You’ve never clearly presented me with evidence as to why you thought we were a threat. We’d never even heard of you. Yeah. Like that conversation. Should have been a huge part of this. I understand that they wanted to tease out the whole thing of like, where might the weapon be?

Where like that’s the, that’s the chess piece that is hidden somewhere on the board. Yeah. That makes it’s very compelling also how they, how they manage to get that information out. But ultimately, like, while you finally had a moment where somebody who would be able to answer that question was in the room with arch.

And Archer doesn’t even ask that question. And as an audience member, I was left with like, come on it, like, it really felt like somebody behind me tugging on the back of my shirt, like pulling me back out the episode, like, oh, that’s not, well, there was gimme,

there was actually a question. There was actually a question that Archer did ask that made me go, wait, why would he say that?

Yeah. Which was when DEO was talking about the council and Archer went the council and I was like, wait, you two are supposed to be in prison for this long. Yeah. And you’ve never heard of the council before. It was like, that seemed like a, a, a stupid comment from Archer, but it got completely glossed over.

Yeah. Uh, that kind of bothered me a little bit. Um, there is one thing I wanted to kind of bring up near the end of the episode. They’re doing the Rouse again, right. Because der figured it out. Right. And then they basically do like an inception ruse. It’s like, , it’s like how far in habitable can we go?

Which I thought was really clever. They basically created the world’s best, you know, Walt Disney world ride of, uh, an experiential experiential, like, uh, thing that they did to him faking that the enterprise was trying to use their tech to, uh, warp across the, the galaxy to try to find the, the. The red giant with everything exploding.

And somebody offhandedly says, basically Travis saved the day he got us out of the warp field. He, he inverted the warp field. Yeah. And got us out of this. I, I loved the fact that it’s like, I want more with Hoshi. I want more with Travis and they never really did good stuff with them. And they’re supposed to be like the cream of the crop of the, of star fleet.

I love the fact that it’s not even on camera. Yeah. It, somebody just offhandedly says it’s

not even real of Travis. It’s it’s not on camera or real, but they’re just like, correct. Well, who would be the hero in this moment? It’s gonna be him. Yeah, that’s gonna be Travis. That’s

gonna be Travis. I just, I just love that little, like tip of the hat of, yeah, he’s really good at his job.

And he probably would do something like this. Um, I thought that was a nice tip of the hat that they, they made it Travis saving the day and getting them out of the work field instead of trips, you know, the engineers always doing it. It’s like, it was nice to give Travis a little something. Yeah.

So the episode at the end, as Matt just pointed out, Deger understands what’s been going on.

They know they, they actually propose at one point, should we re wipe his mind and then redo the whole thing again, but there’s Xindi rescue vessels on their way. Like there’s somebody showing up wondering probably where der has been there’s constant chatter amongst the crew. Like we don’t know when they’ll see us.

They might show up and already know we’re here. We need to get outta here as quickly as possible. So they’re going to set up this final attempt to fake that the enterprise has used misused, the tech of the Xindi vessel and. Ask for help. I agree, Matt. That was a very nice moment of like, we’ve tried to use this now.

We need your help in fixing it. And when they’re like, no, we’re not gonna do it. Like putting all this stuff into motion so that it’s setting up the opportunity for decorat to think, okay. They found it, but he then says, Our ships will blow you out of space. The defense perimeters could be too strong.

You’ll never get through revealing. Yes. This is in fact the right location. Yeah, very nicely done. And then it, yada yada Yadas itself when it’s the whole like, and now we’ll just mind wipe them again entirely. Yeah. So that none of them will remember. We were even here. I would’ve appreciated a little bit more in the vein of they do all that stuff on the Xindi ship.

And it’s one of those things where it’s very star Trek can be frustrating when in one episode they’re like they use a scanner and they’re like, Hmm, I’m picking up traces of Xindi DNA. And then in another episode, they literally have multiple crew members aboard the Xindi ship and they just. It’s like, all right.

Decide whether or not your team is going to leave stuff behind. How could you adequately clean the ship? Give us one line to say like, yeah, yeah, we’re gonna scrubbed it. We’re gonna scrub it with alpha particles or whatever. Make up some gobble to go to say, like, we’ve done this to their computers. We’ve blown this thing up.

Like stage it. I would’ve appreciated if they had staged it a little bit better. Like we’ve done this thing to make it look like they were attacked by us because our phaser fire is clearly on the back of their ship. I would’ve appreciated somebody saying everybody’s gonna know this ship was attacked.

We’re gonna make it look like there was a cascading failure in their computer system and that we took out their engines and then we fled. We’re making it look like that. Give me that much information, not just like solos, anybody. Uh, let’s get outta here. Like don’t gimme that like casual, like make it look like it’s a little bit more effort than it was.

Well, I understand it’s not a, a key detail of the episode, but I did find myself thinking like you’re leaving DNA everywhere and fingerprints even. And it was.

But can, the captain actually does make a comment that kind of addresses that he basically is like, let’s leave them with a mystery to figure out it doesn’t matter because they’ve got the information they need.

Right. And the, the mind wipe of them means that it’ll take them a long time to figure out what the hell happened. And by that point they will be at the weapon. So Archer is like, he’s not trying to make this a permanent fix. It’s just, we’re buying time. We’re getting outta here today. Won’t figure it out in time.

Let’s this go? Right. So its like he kinda made that.

You could still, I think it would be nice if it had been like to Paul or trip saying like, so we did this, this, this, and this to remove all trace of our existence. Like it would’ve been nice to know, like we’ve wiped, you know, like we’re gonna release, we’re gonna release a gas.

That’s gonna break down our DNA. We’re gonna do all these things so that nobody will know where we were here. However, there will still be question marks. Then you could have Archer. Let’s leave him a mystery to solve. I don’t care. Like, yeah. I think you could still have, you could have both is what I’m trying to say.

Mm-hmm but at the end, as I mentioned, that’s me being very nitpicky. I understand that it’s not critical for the episode to end as well as it does. I felt like this is a really good follow on the proving ground. It’s a continuation of those story elements. I like the fact that it’s the enterprise feels like we’re halfway through the season.

They feel tantalizingly close to getting where they wanna be. Yes. But we’re still quite a distance storytelling wise. So it makes me as a viewer feel like, oh, there’s, there’s a lot more good stuff to come. And I’m looking forward to that. How about yourself?

Well, we, we now know like the turning point for act three.

Of the season. If you’re looking at the season as a story arc, it’s like, we’re still in near the end of act two. But, but because they now know where the weapon is, they know where the central location is that red giant, we know what the destination is, which means as viewers, we now feel like, okay, we’re about to hit the climax of the season.

It does feel tangible. It does feel real. Um, I loved it as far as continuing that storyline and I agree it’s almost. required viewing to watch those two episodes as almost one like little mini movie. Yeah. They kind of belong together.

Yeah. So let us know what you think. Do you agree with that? This episode is a good follow on to proving grounds.

And are you looking forward to what’s coming up next considering it feels like we’re entering the third course of a large meal. Let us know in the comments and Matt, before we sign off, we have the next episode coming up is harbinger. . So do you have any ideas around what that might be about, uh, something bad’s gonna happen?

Mm I don’t know. We’ll find out. And I hope you’ll all tune in to find out with us next week when we talk about harbinger. But before we go, just a reminder, if you wanna check out any of my work, you can go to Sean Ferrell dot com. You can also just go to your local bookstore, Amazon Barnes, and noble, wherever it is that you buy books, you should be able to get a hold of copies of my work there.

And that also includes your public library and I’m a big fan of libraries. So support them when you can. Matt, what do you have coming up on your. well, by the time this

is out, I’ll have an episode out about wireless EV charging, the current state of where wireless EV charging is. And then coming up immediately after this, I have a video coming out about my building, a net zero home.

Talking about some of the details about what I’m doing for my new house.

That’s right. Net zero. That means he’s gonna have no internet in his home. Just think about that folks. Don’t forget

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