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257
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140
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503
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102
1033
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2354
1461
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1800
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466
964
2615
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277
2389
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336
1402
103
1557
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1071
2868
179
1105
107
1169
1581
2938
1027
2712
280
573
401
2225
104
1117
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1198
1509
1076
2653
839
2168
733
2382
898
436
2195
984
105
898
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174
2520
1602
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239
2459
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1467
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1113
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1864
2474
106
496
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741
2515
2731
1090
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343
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780
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295
558
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206
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202
1753
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877
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1460
1532
1770
2326
84
331
925
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1227
108
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2022
1438
1757
312
2778
1347
1632
1597
56
586
1290
2426
2489
2437
2127
03-111968
04-041969
05-1701D
06-071984
07-081940
08-47148
09-081966

North Star

Synopsis

Ahh an old west lynch mob, what a way to tease an episode of futuristic sci-fi, yes that’s right, this week is the episode we’ve heard about involving Enterprise finding a world that follows 'Hodgkin's Law of Parallel Planet Development'.

As Trip and T’Pol rent a horse to go check out a nearby alien settlement after determining that the people of the town they are in are indeed human, Archer checks out the local saloon.  In the saloon, a deputy is torturing a Skagaran (a non-human, presumably similar to the people of the settlement that Trip and T’Pol were going to see, also the lynch mob from the opening teaser was also Skagaran, Skag for short).  Archer stops the Skag from shooting the Deputy, thus avoiding a possibly sticky situation.  T’Pol and Trip arrive at the settlement and T’Pol goes to look around, meanwhile, Archer asks a local school teacher to tell him more about the Skags.

After the break, we find out that it is not exactly a "Hodgkins" situation as it was presented; it turns out that a few hundred years ago the Skagarans took the humans from Earth to use them as slaves, well, of course, the humans didn’t like that very much and somebody named cooper slaughtered the skags and turned the tables so that they could enforce laws like "Skags are not allowed to go to school, or get married."

Well, Archer was with the school teacher in the Skag settlement where she was illegally teaching them multiplication (and next time, long division!  Exciting), and the Sheriff and Deputy came and captured them.  In jail Bethany (the school teacher) tells Archer the rest of the story before he is taken to the Sheriff who tells him that he has one hour to get out of town.  Bethany however is sentenced to 10 years.  Archer breaks her out of jail and while making their escape the deputy shoots her, Archer contacts Enterprise and has him and Bethany beamed up so that Phlox could see to her wounds.

Phlox determines that Bethany is one-quarter Skagaran.  Meanwhile, back on the planet, the deputy is nervous, he just saw 2 people vanish in a flurry of blue sparkles after all.  He resigns as deputy and starts forming an angry mob.  The sheriff on the other hand is a lot more open-minded.  When Archer, Reed, T’Pol, and a couple of MACOs fly a shuttlecraft down into the middle of town the sheriff meets with Archer who tells them that they are from Earth and that after they complete their mission, they would be glad to come back for the people of this world and bring them home.  Unfortunately, after they head back to the shuttle (to give the sheriff a ride to Enterprise for an overhead view) the deputy attacks.

The Sheriff is shot and after several minutes of battle in which the MACOs again show that they’ve gotten the standard "Starfleet Hazard Team" training by playing hour after hour of Elite Force (there’s even a shot where one of the MACOs uses his rifle’s zoom function to snipe out one of the enemies) the situation is resolved.  There were a couple of interesting points about this battle worth noting, first of all, one of the cowboys pulled a classic move and grabbed T’Pol and says "Drop your weapon or I’ll kill her" at which point Reed does something humorous, knowing his phaser is set to stun he takes his opponent off guard by shooting T’Pol.  While the member of the posse has a stunned look on his face Reed shoots him too.

The other interesting thing to note is that like last week, the Invincible Archer has come out once again!  Last week Archer was shot twice with phasers and still managed to throw switches to blow the ship to kingdom come, this week, Super Archer gets shot in the shoulder with what I can only assume was a shotgun and still manages to chase down the deputy and resort to a fist fight to finish him off.

The episode ends with first a discussion between Archer and Bethany on Enterprise where he explains that the Sheriff agrees that if they are going to hope to rejoin humanity one day some things, like the anti-skag laws, are going to have to change, And the end of the episode features Bethany teaching skag schoolchildren (and the sheriff who is present) in an actual schoolhouse about events that happened on earth AFTER the skags first abducted the humans from Earth’s old west.

Episode Review

North Star was an interesting diversion, but really not much more than that.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that the plot was somewhat believable.  I was expecting Hodgkin’s as was insinuated previously where an entire alien species that looks, smells, and acts human speaks English and has the same name for everything that we do.

Instead, we got an episode that reminded me (and others as I've seen from reading other reviews so I hope you'll don't think I'm copying you) of Voyager's The 37s.

I also thought the overall premise of the moral conflict to be somewhat brave.  We are given an interesting moral dilemma with North Star... Humans were kidnapped from Earth in the mid to late 19th century and brought to a planet to work as slaves.  Somehow the humans manage to turn the tables and overpower their alien captors, no easy task considering the Skaggs have superior technology.  By the time Archer and Co find the humans, you find the humans have oppressed the Skagarans, again given their fear of the Skaggs, an understandable if regrettable action.

Other than a select few humans, such as Bethany’s grandparents and Bethany herself, nobody seems to want to change that fact.  The moral dilemma I mentioned is that these people shouldn’t be oppressing others, that much is a given, but can’t you understand why they are the way they are?  The Skagarans robbed the humans of their freedom using technology the humans couldn’t understand to frighten and control them.  Most humans in this world live in fear that one day the Skaggs might try to turn the tables back on the humans by fixing their broken weapons.

This is indeed an interesting dilemma and I’m glad to see Archer take the side of tolerance and forgiveness, considering the vendetta he is carrying against the Xindi, and the previous bursts of anger against aliens such as Vulcans, Suliban, Andorians, Tandarans, and any other alien race that has ever gotten on the bad side of him or his crew.

As I mentioned in the plot synopsis, there was one big nitpick I had, for 2 weeks in a row we’ve seen Archer show inhuman abilities, and I don’t really like that.  Last week he was shot multiple times with disruptors and still managed to blow up the ship even though both T’Pol and Phlox were dropped in one shot each.  This week, Super Captain gets a nasty shot in the shoulder, it looks like a shotgun-style shot considering it is a rather large area of his shoulder that is suddenly exposed and bleeding, yet he still manages to chase down and get into a fist fight with his attacker, I mean come on!

Other parts of the firefight proved to be an interesting diversion, I mean come on, how often do you get to see Phase pistols and the nifty energy rifle thingies the MACOs use in conjunction with shotguns and magnums, yes I know we’ve seen it before, but it was still fun to watch, and Reed shooting T’Pol to confuse someone who was trying to use her as a prisoner was absolutely hilarious.

I pointed out that this episode bared some resemblance to The 37s but I thought I should point out another piece of trek lore I was reminded of, TNG’s Up the Long Ladder, This is one of those weird instances where I’m caught between a nit and a praise.  Up the Long Ladder involved the Enterprise crew finding 2 colonies of humans that had departed from Earth in the 21st century.  One of which had held to some very old ways, being farmers of an Irish decent, the other advancing in technology and using cloning to keep their civilization going.

The Humans in North Star have had a couple of hundred years to advance as well, granted I wouldn’t expect them to come as far as the people on Earth, considering they had inferior resources, education, and there were only 6000 of them, yet time seems to have stood still on this alien world.  Has their fear and loathing of the Skagarans and everything they represent inhibited their ability to adapt and innovate?  Is the lack of enough initial educators enough to make it impossible for people to learn enough?  I’m sure you see my quandary, on the one hand, it seems that they should have progressed SOME in 300 years, on the other perhaps it is better that they did not.

Overall I rate this episode B+