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This is a BIG change for the character. Who will she be answering to other than Archer? Will she become a Starfleet officer or get a field commission? What will be her rank? Will she still be Archer's second in command? Well, most likely. I suspect however that the events in the Expanse will overshadow most of the exploration of the character changes in favor of more action. I sincerely hope that this doesn't mean that we'll be getting another "Andromeda" with action galore but with one-dimensional characters.
In a very heartfelt conversation with Archer, T'Pol says: "You need me, Captain" and after much debate he finally agrees. At first I thought this is so predictable, as if one of the main characters would leave the ship. The scene however does add a measure of depth to the relationship between T'Pol and Archer. She's giving up something important for him and as we find out thanks to Soval's dire description of the Delphic Expanse, this is going to be a very dangerous mission and as such Archer is going to need someone he can depend on.
We also see how Dr. Phlox has grown attached to the ship and crew. He tells T'Pol: "It's interesting. You and I are the only aliens on board this vessel. To go or to stay. For me, it was a simple question of loyalty toward the Captain, and the sad realization that he'll need me more than ever on such a crucial mission. But for you, it's a more difficult decision. Does your allegiance lie with the High Command, or with Captain Archer?" Both decide that their loyalty lies with Archer which comes as no surprise. Still, this scene re-establishes Phlox' commitment.
Trip Tucker has changed from a relatively happy-go-lucky engineer to one who is angry and wants revenge. He tells Reed: "While we're at it, I don't need you to remind me that Elizabeth was killed, so just let it alone. Maybe you should pay more attention to upgrading your weapons, so we can blow the hell out of these bastards when we find 'em." When talking to Archer he says: "Tell me we aren't going to be tip-toeing around. None of that non-interference crap T'Pol's always shoving down our throats. Maybe it's a good thing she's leaving." How will his attitude affect the mission? Will he be at odds with Archer or even more T'Pol? As we saw in "Cogenitor" and "Broken Bow", Trip doesn't stand back when he considers something to be unjust or wrong. Now he has revenge to add to his impulsiveness.
The dialogue between the above is believable as are their relationships. We feel Trip's anger and inner turmoil; we see the crew's awed disbelief as they witness the devastation on Earth; we identify with the Captain's anguish and the decision he makes in trusting the Suliban leader and finally we see a crew that has a mission, one to save Earth and I think this is an interesting new direction.
All of the series had the captain and crew on some mission of sorts. TOS had Kirk and the five year mission to explore new worlds and civilizations but he also got orders from Starfleet and the Federation from time to time; TNG's Picard can be seen the same way; DS9's Captain Sisko had the war with the Dominion to deal with. Only Voyager's Janeway was left on her own in the Delta Quadrant and the crew's main goal was to get home. It made for some rather repetitive stories such as the new anomaly or alien of the week or the new attempt at finding