"Strange New World"
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Story by: Rick Berman and Brannon Braga
Teleplay by: Mike Sussman and Phyllis Strong
Directed by: David Livingston
Trip, Mayweather and T'Pol go on a survey mission to a seemingly uninhabited Earth-like planet where a mysterious alien presence sends them into a state of paranoid overdrive. When a violent storm strands them on the planet, Archer must find a way to save his crewmembers before they turn dangerously upon one another. ~ StarTrek.com
Captain Archer is certainly not your typical Starfleet Captain as we have come to know them these past 30+ odd years. He and his crew, being space happy as they are, decide to explore a new planet that just happens to be Earth-like. It has no "humanoid" life-forms to intrude upon so it must be safe to land on and survey? Despite T'Pol's suggestion that "logical" protocols be followed, the Captain and the crew can't wait the six or seven days it would take to assess the planet; they're eager to explore "now." Predictably, it's not as safe as it looks and again we have Archer being somewhat reckless in his zeal to go where no man has gone before. He stops T'Pol from scanning the planet as they arrive. He is late to rendezvous with the landing party dismissing T'Pol's concerns. He takes it all as a walk in the park, even bringing Porthos along. I guess we will see "him" grow (and for once not growing-up) throughout this show and I like it.
This is your old-fashioned sci-fi/horror plot: daring but foolhardy heroes balk at possible danger, heroes get in trouble, heroes are saved. A spooky, eerie atmosphere is maintained throughout including a not too convincing ghost story told around the campfire and the old standby, the thunderstorm. We get to see some rather pedestrian aliens, sort of. We get our first freaky transporter accident with Ensign Novakovich having leaves and twigs embedded in his body, ouch. Surprisingly, this isn't life threatening but the psychotropic spores he inhaled while smelling some of the planet's flowers, break down in his blood stream and become toxic. Naturally, the others get infected by the spores because of the big, bad, windy storm.
Still, mixed in with this predictable story is an interesting and revealing interaction between the characters. Connor Trinneer (Trip) does an excellent job at portraying hallucinogenically induced paranoia and in perfect contrast, Jolene Blalock (T'Pol) remains cool, enough. She is affected by the "mind-altering" spores nonetheless reverting to her native Vulcan language and reacting quite emotionally if only for one moment but throughout retains her Vulcan logic. Connor believes that T'Pol is in league with some mysterious rock-creatures and manages to convince Mayweather and Cutler. Of course, it helped that all of them, save T'Pol, saw some imaginary aliens. T'Pol's life is in danger as Trip becomes more and more dangerous and violent.