Somehow, I wasn’t too surprised that after an excellent buildup in the previous episode, the cliffhanger of “Azati Prime” would be resolved with an offhanded, arbitrary decision that conveniently avoids any real resolution. Aside from the fact that The Show Must Go On, was there really any valid reason for the Xindi to call off the attack on the Enterprise?
Nope, didn’t think so.
But while I may have expected some glib and simple resolution to the nail-biting conflict between the Enterprise and the Xindi, or the mind-blowing prospect of Archer being captured by the bad guys, I wasn’t expecting “Damage” to give us a complete lack of resolution instead! We could have seen Archer arguing with Degra and the other still-unnamed Xindi council members. We could have seen the Xindi debating among themselves about how much they really should trust Archer. We could have seen the crew mourning their lost comrades in the recent disaster. We could have seen an episode about real consequences and the need to deal with a changing situation.
Instead, we get Degra and his cohorts blustering with the incensed Xindi-Reptilian commander (also still unnamed), claiming that the Human ship no longer poses a threat and should be spared. What a line of bull! Maybe the director should have had the actors winking at the camera as they said those lines, as if to say, “Yes, we all know this is an impossible situation— it’s the only way we could think of to get them out of it.” We’re then left to sit through half an hour of mind-numbingly pointless scenes with Archer waking up in the Aquatics’ ship, with T’Pol and Reed examining the “Year of Hell”-scale damage to the ship, and T’Pol’s jaw-droppingly irrelevant and blatantly exploitative dream.
Which brings me to the god-awful subplot involving T’Pol and her (gasp!) addiction to Trellium-D. Is there really any point to all this aside from developing yet another excuse for T’Pol to exhibit emotions? It seems to me that the writers have little real idea of what to do with T’Pol’s character, and so instead they’re just coming up with ever-more-bizarre excuses for her to exhibit emotions. And the situation isn’t helped by the fact that Jolene Blalock is a pretty poor actress when it comes to playing a normal, unemotional Vulcan. So instead, we’re left to watch this awful dreck of a subplot.
With all of this criticism, I must at least point out that I enjoyed the main plot of “Damage.” Although the entire story was horribly paced and misplaced within the season’s arc, the question of just how far Archer is willing to go in order to successfully complete his mission is an important one— and a theme that has been appropriately addressed once already. But here, unlike in “Anomaly,” the stakes are truly astronomical— success is turning into an all-or-nothing prospect. And so, while I think we are meant to disagree with Archer’s choice of turning to piracy to ensure the survival of the mission (and by extension the survival of Earth), I also am glad to see that the writers are at least willing to push some boundaries on this show.