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ENTERPRISE 04/30/'03: "Cogenitor"


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#1 of 50 Rex Bachmann

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Posted April 29 2003 - 04:37 PM

title: "Cogenitor"
episode: #48
original airdate: April 30, 2003
writers: Rick Berman & Brannon Braga
director: LeVar Burton
synopsis: "The Enterprise crew encounters the Vissians during a study of a star going into supernova."

The trailer makes this look to be a silly ménage à trois episode. (A "sweep(s) delight"?) Funny what American broadcast network executives think will pay off at the peek ratings times of the year.
"Delenda est . . . . "

 


#2 of 50 Jason Seaver

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Posted April 29 2003 - 11:31 PM

Quote:
writers: Rick Berman & Brannon Braga
Enjoy, suckers.

Okay, the preview was mildly amusing with one good Phlox line. But it looks like they're trying to use a species's third sex to do a "hey, we shouldn't treat women like they're good for nothing but making babies" parable. Except that that message is sort of, well, in the "duh" category for most of this show's audience.
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#3 of 50 Patrick Sun

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Posted April 30 2003 - 12:38 AM

Hmm...so, no decontamination gel rubdowns in this episode?
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#4 of 50 Tony Whalen

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Posted April 30 2003 - 02:48 AM

Well, when the episode first started, I had vauge visions of Riker and the Janai (sp), the androgenous race that he got involved with.

However, that didn't last. THAT TNG episode was attempting to address homosexuality, whereas this was dealing with a totally different subject.

I really REALLY wanted to kick Trip in the nuts... I was cringing whenever he started thinking about the Cogenitor, much less interfering. My wife and I were almost shouting at the screen "Trip! Don't do it man!"

I *DID* get a very pleasant surprise out of this episode. Well.. two...

1. Always enjoy seeing Andreas Katsulas (sp). Being a B5 fan, it's nice to see him outta the Narn makeup. Posted Image

2. Archer. I was fully expecting a little lecture from him, and a pat on the back for Trip. Because he HAS set a bad example for first contact situations. (Hello? Meeting people with Porthos anyone?) But the lecture that Trip DID get... WOW. Now THAT was more like a Starfleet captain, in my mind.

When Archer told Trip about the Cogenitor commiting suicide... and Trip goes "It's my fault", I expected Archer to be semi-sympathetic. I did NOT expect "You're DAMN RIGHT it is!" Good job Captain!


Personally, I woulda thrown Trip in the brig for a couple of weeks... probably with some of Phlox's leeches. Posted Image

DESPITE it being a B&B episode... I enjoyed this one. Posted Image

#5 of 50 PhilipG

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Posted April 30 2003 - 04:52 AM

Not a bad episode. Phlox's line "I have pictures" was said with hilarious relish by the actor - it was worth watching just for that.

And Tony, Andreas Katsulas was in Trek years before B5 (as the Romulan Tomalak in TNG). Terrific actor.

At the end, I was a little disappointed in Trip's reaction. It was Archer who was wrong not to grant asylum. Of course Trip got him into the mess in the first place, but Archer was the one who just swept the problem under the carpet. He could have given the "it'll take time" speech to the cogenitor, but instead he just sent her packing without a single encouraging word.

#6 of 50 Terry St

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Posted April 30 2003 - 06:11 AM

This is the first Enterprise episode I've bothered to tune in since they lost me during that long stretch of reruns. I probably should have waited another week to fall off the TA wagon.

The thing that irks me about Enterprise is that these primitive proto-federation humans are always superior in some aspect to every single bloody race they meet. In this case, the aliens have some pretty nice technology but are in many areas very close to humans in terms of sophistication. However, it is revealed that they have been warp capable for about a thousand years, so obviously they can't be as smart as humans. (Although one of them memorizes the collected works of Shakespeare overnight!)

The plot is a by-the-book human crusade against alien stupidity. This alien race has a third gender, called cogenitors. They're every bit as intelligent as the other genders, but aren't allowed to read, pursue a career, or do anything but be passed from couple to couple producing an enzyme to help the females get impregnated. They aren't even permitted names. They just sit in their assigned couple's room like dogs, staring off into space in utter boredom. Tucker takes it upon himself to covertly educate this particular cogenitor. It learns to read in a day! He then smuggles it back to Enterprise for a tour and a movie. (They watched "The Day the Earth Stood Still." Blatant promo tie-in for a recent release?)

The aliens, naturally, get pissed off at Tucker. The cogenitor applies for asylum. Archer then has to make an "ethical decision" about whether relations with the aliens or the cogenitor's rights are more important. He does this off-screen, thus sparing us from the messy logic of english majors. Everybody is sad. The cogenitor goes back to it's ship and the aliens depart. The alien ship reports that the cogenitor killed itself shortly afterwards. Archer then delivers a particularly hypocritical lecture on not interfering with other cultures to Tucker.

Oh, and there were also sideplots with Archer going on a male-bonding shuttle trip with the Shakespeare quoting alien captain and Malcolm being seduced by an alien female. Both are totally irrelevant, but the latter lets us watch tight alien booty crammed into spandex and the former provides the excuse for using up this episodes special effects budget. The aliens, uncharacteristically, don't resort to violence like uncivilized savages.


The key moral in this episode is not "Respect other cultures" so much as it is "Yes, we're superior, but meddling can piss people off." It's obviously a comment on recent american foreign policy, but not a particularly perceptive or original one. It would be nice if the occasional superior race showed up, as in TOS and TNG. Heck, it'd be nice if they stopped raking the poor Vulcans over the coals. T'Pol gets two scenes this episode. In the first she practically whines about an assignment and then lies in order to offload it on Tucker. In the second she merrily congratulates Archer on making the right decision. Sullen, lazy, dishonest, and smug.

Even if he never looked good in a thong, I miss Spock.

P.S. I was also happy to see Katsulas on screen again. The guy is a great actor even if he's so odd looking the only parts he can get are monsters and aliens.

#7 of 50 Mark C.

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Posted April 30 2003 - 04:04 PM

Good episode. But Horrors! Did anyone see the preview for next week. The Borg!!!! Noooooooo!!! This is Voyager all over: If it's Sweeps month, it's time to roll out the Borg.

So much for any hope for this series.

#8 of 50 doug zdanivsky

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Posted April 30 2003 - 05:42 PM

Yeah, I enjoyed that one, too.

It also reminded me of that TNG episode with Riker..

Next week's might be good.. Finger's crossed! Posted Image

#9 of 50 Rex Bachmann

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Posted April 30 2003 - 05:56 PM

Well, at least the title's a clever wordplay (on progenitor, of course). (Alternate title: "And Baby Makes Four.")

Terry St wrote (post #6):

Quote:
. . . when the episode first started, I had vauge visions of Riker and the Janai (sp), the androgenous race that he got involved with . . . . THAT TNG episode was attempting to address homosexuality, whereas this was dealing with a totally different subject.

Not quite. They both deal with gender identity. Read on.

Quote:
The key moral in this episode is not "Respect other cultures" so much as it is "Yes, we're superior, but meddling can piss people off." It's obviously a comment on recent american foreign policy, but not a particularly perceptive or original one.

I'm not so sure about its being a "commentary on recent american foreign policy". The Vissian engineer (played by F.J. Rio, who also played the doomed assistant engineer "Kiki" (? or "Quique"?) Muniz in DS 9 episode #500, "The Ship") stands up at the meeting with Archer over the asylum issue and speechifies in the same old ST manner: "It's hard to know a man without knowing his culture . . ." (or some such). I've heard this before in more than one form on TNG (especially from good ol' Jean-Luc) and elsewhere (Voyager). ST has had a history of preaching one thing through the characters' dialog, and sending other, inconsonant messages by way of their actions, things that often bring into question the producers and writers' "tolerance" of otherness. Enterprise is not novel in this regard (or almost any other, for that matter).

But, inevitably, the sense of "superiority" that you detect emanates from the writers and producers themselves of ST. Here it manifests itself in the dialog, as the gendering of the nameless "cogenitor" creeps into the "good guys'" reference to her/it:
Phlox: ". . . . her . . . mental capacity . . . ." (looking at images developped from Tripp's cryptoscans). Both Tripp and Archer refer to "it" as "her", though the (semi-)"bad guys" of the piece, the Vissians, consistently refer to the "cogenitor" as "it" (i.e., an object rather than a person).

Jason Seaver wrote (post #2):

Quote:
. . . it looks like they're trying to use a species's third sex to do a "hey, we shouldn't treat women like they're good for nothing but making babies" parable. Except that that message is sort of, well, in the "duh" category for most of this show's audience.

No doubt that's part of the message here, but I think the episode also demonstrates Hollywood's utter inability to really deal with "otherness", as well. Tripp, like the writers and producers, and much of the audience, can't wrap his mind around there being something beyond the ken of his cultural perceptions of the "natural order". Ever notice how the so-called third sex or androgynous/hermaphroditic beings are generally rendered as females? Phlox---and even T'Pol independently---tries to convince Tripp that poly-gendered species are part of nature elsewhere in the galaxy: "Rigelians have 4 sexes---or is it 5?" Why fight it? But, "no go". This inability to deal with (sexual) gender-identity issues almost always comes up in science-fiction movies and tv when the topic of pregnancy and childbearing, the consummate markers of femaleness, (which presuppose sexual activity of some kind in our minds) comes to the fore. Here, as always, the audience is lead to identify such beings as females---despite, in this instance, the "cogenitor's" naming her/itself "Charles", after Tripp---or freaks (check out, for instance, the phony dynamics in Enemy Mine (1986)).

Quote:
Archer then delivers a particularly hypocritical lecture on not interfering with other cultures to Tucker.

Despite his own lapses, Archer's speech at the end of the story is obviously a build-up to establishing the Federation's Prime Directive. (Or maybe Earth and Starfleet adopt it before the Federation is formed?)

Another peeve of mine is that this whole episode seems to neglect language issues. First off, the Vissians communicate smoothly with the humans from the start (the Universal Translator seems to go unmentioned (and unused?)). Then, when Tripp comes to the "cogenitor", I was waiting for her/it to ask him: "What's that in your pocket? Are you that glad to see me?" Instead, Tripp offers the her/it an electronic pad and says: "I'll teach you how to read." I wanted to know right then which language she/it would be learning to read, especially since the synthetic voice from the pad seemed to be speaking English. Later we see her/it reading aloud from a book printed in what is clearly an alien script. (The Vissian captain has already told us (and Archer) that Vissians remember exactly what they read. Hence, his ability to understand and quote Shakespeare after only a day or two(?) of "first contact".) Did the creature learn to read in both English and "Vissianese", or only the latter? Learning to read a script is quite another skill from learning to speak the language represented by that script. This episode is severely confused on how language acquisition works and leaves me confused on the handling of the issue here.

And, finally, some common sense: you could see the asylum request coming from long distance. Why wouldn't/couldn't Tripp?

"Non-starters" for me:

---The Vissian engineer's wife at dinner: "For us the aroma [of food] is far more important than the taste." Both odd and counterintuitive, since the two are linked sensorially.
---I don't buy ships flying into the atmospheres of stars. At least one of the big three: massive gravity, searing heat, or radiation would finish them off.


Quote:
(They watched "The Day the Earth Stood Still." Blatant promo tie-in for a recent release?)

Not likely. Wrong media megaconglomerate. From the movie list: One bunch is labelled SCIENCE FICTION, from which Tripp chooses this film. It still beats me that 22nd-century people have nothing better to do than indulge in mid-20th-century entertainment forms. (And yet they supposedly have no contemporary tv-entertainment of their own.)

Quote:
Even if he never looked good in a thong, I miss Spock.

How do you know? Have you ever seen Spock in a thong?
"Delenda est . . . . "

 


#10 of 50 Tony Whalen

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Posted May 01 2003 - 02:26 AM

Quote:
Not a bad episode. Phlox's line "I have pictures" was said with hilarious relish by the actor - it was worth watching just for that.


I was on the floor with that one. Great line. Posted Image

Quote:
And Tony, Andreas Katsulas was in Trek years before B5 (as the Romulan Tomalak in TNG). Terrific actor.


Oh I remember that. I loved Commander Tomalak. But G'Kar, of course, was such a memorable character.... Posted Image

Quote:
Archer's speech at the end of the story is obviously a build-up to establishing the Federation's Prime Directive.

And at this rate, I don't think that Starfleet can get that regulation crafted quickly enough. Posted Image

Quote:
How do you know? Have you ever seen Spock in a thong?


Posted Image

THERE is an image I didn't require.

Ah...ahahah... bitter dregs! *shudder*

Quote:
Did anyone see the preview for next week. The Borg!!!! Noooooooo!!! This is Voyager all over: If it's Sweeps month, it's time to roll out the Borg.


Whoa! Slow down. Easy there big fella. Posted Image I've seen a lot of folks talkin' negative about the upcoming Borg-ish episode. (On one or two trips to a Trek-based forum... boy was THAT an error!) A couple of things about that....

...if I recall correctly from a synopsis,

The borg that are encountered were the frozen "survivors" of the Borg sphere that Enterprise-E shot down over Earth in First Contact. They were then "thawed" (in John Carpenter's THING-style) and came around. Now, seein' as these Borg date from the events of First Contact, I don't have a problem with that.


Now, there is also this issue.

First contact with the Borg occured during the run of TNG, right? So how could Starfleet encounter the Borg now? Well, two possibilities. One, they classify the hell out of whatever happens next week, which seems pretty implausible to me, or TWO... due to the Enterprise-E travelling back in time in First Contact, it's possible that the original time-line has been messed up.


Even though I totally agree that Voyager completely castrated one of the best villains created for Trek....I'm going to keep an open mind about the upcoming ENT episode.

#11 of 50 KerryK

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Posted May 01 2003 - 03:38 AM

Was anyone else reminded of the Atwood novel "A Handmaid's Tale"? It almost seemed like that sort of arrangement, not that they gave us any details on how the whole situation worked, beyond some sort of vague enzyme stuff. I hate it when they introduce an interesting concept like this and then don't really explain how it works.

And I hope poor Malcolm got laid - it might loosen him up a little.

#12 of 50 Doug Smith

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Posted May 01 2003 - 04:12 AM

A really great episode - one that will keep me watching the series because it truly explored the science fiction genre again. It doesn't really matter what you think of the argument - whether pro or con. The show was about what if we met a race of beings like this? What if?

#13 of 50 Jack Briggs

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Posted May 01 2003 - 04:25 AM

Doug, I was thinking just the opposite, and how so non-SF it was.

First, the good: As mentioned in last week's thread, the broadcast picture quality seems to be improving. Instead of the usual washed-out, smeary images, last night's picture popped off the screen. Good chroma saturation and contrast.

Now, for the bad: Oh ... dear ... god. Even though we had human "aliens" in The Original Series, one thing that TOS did do was attempt occasionally to create really alien aliens. Has Enterprise ever given us something on the caliber of a Tholian? Newp. So here, in the TNG tradition, we have "aliens" whose distinguishing physical characteristics are mild ridges to the sides of their eyes. Otherwise, these "aliens" would look pretty much at home at any outdoor bistro in West Hollywood. And their social concerns are so ... human. So Western. So 21st century. (Their English was really good, too. Where'd they learn it? Sorry, but me don't buy no "universal translator.")

There was nothing truly "science fiction" about this. It was just another B&B-concocted morality play that lifted elements from any number of post-TOS spinoff series episodes.

Jason Seaver called us suckers, buddy. He was right.

#14 of 50 CharlesD

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Posted May 01 2003 - 05:14 AM

Lame lame lame. The only good bit was the Doctor's "alien porn" line. I'm sorry I watched.

#15 of 50 Jack Briggs

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Posted May 01 2003 - 05:33 AM

B&B are just marking time, collecting paychecks. This franchise is dying before our eyes. We were saying it during Voyager, now we're living it. I don't think Star Trek is going to survive Rick Berman and his little pal Brannon.

#16 of 50 Ray Gutnick

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Posted May 01 2003 - 06:01 AM

In the angel thread someone generally posts the daily ratings...anyone know how enterprise is doing?

#17 of 50 Terry St

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Posted May 01 2003 - 06:12 AM

Quote:
I'm not so sure about its being a "commentary on recent american foreign policy". The Vissian engineer (played by F.J. Rio, who also played the doomed assistant engineer "Kiki" (? or "Quique"?) Muniz in DS 9 episode #500, "The Ship") stands up at the meeting with Archer over the asylum issue and speechifies in the same old ST manner: "It's hard to know a man without knowing his culture . . ." (or some such). I've heard this before in more than one form on TNG (especially from good ol' Jean-Luc) and elsewhere (Voyager). ST has had a history of preaching one thing through the characters' dialog, and sending other, inconsonant messages by way of their actions, things that often bring into question the producers and writers' "tolerance" of otherness. Enterprise is not novel in this regard (or almost any other, for that matter).

If the writers were really trying to tackle "otherness" by itself then they might have made the cogenitor's plight a little more ambiguous, or alien. Instead they chose to make it thoroughly human-like in its intellegence and curiosity, and desperately unhappy in it's circumstances, just as a human would be. It was clearly in the cogenitor's own interests to be freed from bondage. If instead it had been happy in its role despite its apparant mistreatment by human standards, then I would conceed the point. Anyways, sci-fi is far enough removed from real life events that you can interpret it in a lot of ways, and mine is not necessarily the only one. However, if this was a shot at "otherness" it was badly botched.

Quote:
But, inevitably, the sense of "superiority" that you detect emanates from the writers and producers themselves of ST. Here it manifests itself in the dialog, as the gendering of the nameless "cogenitor" creeps into the "good guys'" reference to her/it...

For me it wasn't the pronouns, but two other things intead. First, there was the clear-cut mistreatment of the cogenitor. There was never any question about whether or not the cogenitor might be happier fulfilling its prescribed role in its own society. Instead, we were beaten over the head with the idea that it was being horribly mistreated. Second was the fact that the aliens, despite having a thousand year head-start on humans, were barely any more technologically advanced. In the ST universe humans will advance as far in just a couple of centuries.

I actually got something completely different out of the pronoun play. Tucker seemed to be strongly attracted to the cogenitor at first, and struggled with the concept that what he thought of as a "she" was not female at all. He was clearly unnerved and embarrased by his attraction and this surfaced in his conversation with Dr.Phlox. Of course, Tucker's apparant wish to avoid discussion or photo's of the third gender's sexual role might also just have been prudishness. ("I have pictures" was a funny line. Highlight of the episode!) Still, I'd like to think North Americans, even from Kentucky, will become at least a little bit comfortable with discussing sexuality by the time we're flying to distant stars.

The other idea that it seemed the writers were trying to push was that the human language, or English at least, is not well equipped for dealing with alien concepts. (Here's your "otherness") "It" is not a gendered pronoun, but is instead used in reference to genderless, or dual-gendered objects and persons. We default to using "it" for this third gender simply because we don't have a suitable pronoun. (I'd be interested to see how this episode translates to french since even objects have gender in their language.) While humans might get by with just "he", "she", and "it" when dealing with a race with three sexes, what about the Rigelians that have 4 or 5 sexes? Clearly "it" is not going to cover 2-3 sexes. We'd need more pronouns. Non-male/female genders might be offended by being referred to with a genderless pronoun anyways, similar to how you wouldn't want your significant other to refer to you as "it" when talking to your drinking buddies.

Contrary to what the writers think, most human languages are pretty good at incorporating new ideas and concepts. There are a lot of words in the english language that were adopted from foreign languages when no suitable English word previously existed. Upon encountering a race with three or more genders, humans would probably just adopt the alien pronouns for new genders. This is one aspect of language that hasn't really been addressed that well in any ST series. Even with a universal translator there are going to be words and concepts in alien languages which have no analogue in human languages. New words will need to be added to our own lexicon in order to express them.

Quote:
Not likely. Wrong media megaconglomerate. From the movie list: One bunch is labelled SCIENCE FICTION, from which Tripp chooses this film.

A paramount show picking a non-paramount property to push does seem a little odd, but I'm sure there could have been a little backstage dealing going on. A little, "you mention our films and we'll mention yours so nobody looks overtly self-hypeing."

Quote:
"Even if he never looked good in a thong (as Ms. Blalock does), I miss Spock."

How do you know? Have you ever seen Spock in a thong?


You got me there, but there are some things you don't have to experience first hand to know you won't like. (e.g. Would you prefer licking an ice cream cone or a live sea urchin?) Posted Image

#18 of 50 Mike Broadman

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Posted May 01 2003 - 07:06 AM

I thought this was the best episode this season, and I'm a pretty harsh critic of the show. Dramatically, it worked really well, which allows me to forgive its flaws.

I liked the fact that Archer was so wrapped up in the positive first contact that he didn't dwell too much on the cogenitor issue. We all knew which decision he would make.


I assumed the cogenitor was learning to read her native language which is translated for the us, like when aliens in any movie or TV show speak to each other in what sounds like English.

And, of course, Katsulas is the man!

#19 of 50 Jeff Kleist

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Posted May 01 2003 - 07:22 AM

Quote:
And, of course, Katsulas is the man!


Yes he is, THE ONE ARMED MAN! Posted Image

#20 of 50 phil-w

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Posted May 01 2003 - 07:39 AM

I just watched "Cogenitor" and I enjoyed it. I was following along and started to get wrapped up in what was going on. I thought that they were going to end it in the usual happy last minute wrap up with everything is ok. I was pleasantly surprised with the somewhat dark ending.

Oh, and thanks Jack, for confirming what I noticed last week about the picture quality Posted Image


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