Monday, December 19, 2022

Enterprise, Season 3: Hatchery

Enterprise, Season 3
Airdate: February 25, 2004
68 of 97 produced
68 of 97 aired


The Enterprise comes across a wrecked Xindi insectoid ship that contains viable eggs, and the Captain becomes strangely protective of the children.

You'd think, at some point, Starfleet would just write a regulation that says "keep your damned helmet on."


Matthew: There's a lot going on here, and I think it's kind of a mess, but there is also a fair amount of story that I like here. We have the ethical question of whether to save the Xindi babies, we have the sci-fi story of the Captain's mind being altered by Xindi neurochemicals, and we have the mutiny tale. I feel as though the first two story threads kind of worked at odds to one another. I love a good needs of the few/needs of the many conflict, and they had a good one here, with interesting undertones of the rights of unborn children, the rules of engagement in war, and species chauvinism against those who look different. Unfortunately, that was all circumvented by Archer being under the influence of alien chemicals. He makes solid arguments that the babies should be saved, and I wanted those arguments to come into conflict with the equally solid argument that the survival of a dozen beings can't supersede the survival of billions of already living beings. Alas, it wasn't to be.

Kevin: I think they needed to have Archer arrive at the decision before getting infected and then let that take him over deep end. I agree that the basic idea of saving the hatchery to demonstrate their good intentions is sound, and it's a good ethical dilemma to determine how much they risk to do it. As possession stories go, it was a fun one and a novel take, and it's even kind of plausible. There are plenty of parasitic insects on Earth that zombify their hosts, so I can buy this. 

Matthew: As mutiny stories go, this was a good one. The presence of the MACO troops is finally utilized in an interesting way - as a military cudgel against legitimate questions into Archer's decision making. I liked that the MACOs and Major Hayes never behaved stupidly, they instead behaved like professional troops who value the chain of command. The retaking of the ship by the mutineers was effective fun, and Hayes being convinced by Phlox's medical scans was a nice button to the story.

Kevin: I liked that the MACOs were largely portrayed as conflicted about the situation rather than mindless automatons. That was a good choice. They chose the action story over the philosophical one, again, but the action story they told was largely nicely achieved for itself.


Matthew: This was clearly an Archer episode, and Scott Bakula was pretty good. He didn't oversell his mind control right away, and he was convincing when arguing for the lives of the unhatched Xindi. I think though that I liked him best when he was recovering from his ordeal. Jolene Blalock also pitched her growing opposition to Archer's erratic behavior well. 

Kevin: Agreed, and I don't have too much to add here. He kept it from being shouty so while we, the sophisticated viewer might have clocked the possession angle very early, it never felt like the story was too dumb to enjoy, and a lot of that falls on the acting.

Matthew: This episode followed up on the Hayes/Reed contretemps, and I liked it better than some of their prior instances. This was the sort of grudging respect I wanted in the prior episodes that I felt was missing. Anyway, both actors played it well, and scenes like these leave me wanting more for Steven Culp to do.

Kevin: Again, I don't have much to add. It was solid, organic conflict over an actual disagreement and not merely a territorial pissing match.

Production Values

Matthew: There were a lot of nice CGI space and planet shots in this episode. Things are definitely more closely approaching the point of matching the quality of a model shot, and the planets are at this point a major upgrade over TNG-DS9-VOY. The damaged ship hull looked good, too. As far as the hatchery itself, it was mostly just OK. The little CGI babies were suitably gross/cute and didn't look that fake. 

Kevin: There was a lot of detail in the hatchery I liked even if it came off closer to Doctor Who than the high end of Trek. It was thoroughly realized and that mattered for me. And maybe it was all the slick, shiny surfaces, but I didn't even find the general darkness that annoying this time.


Matthew: I think this is roughly on a par in terms of storytelling with the previous episode "Doctor's Orders." But of course, it is not a huge retread of a prior episode. So it's "better" in that respect. But ultimately, it's a competent, entertaining 45 minutes that sheds a bit of light on several characters, while it teases but doesn't effectively reach for the big ideas that I want it to. So I think it's another 3.

Kevin: Yeah, they would have needed to make the ethical debate the center if this were going to score higher, but as is, the episode is solid, and not boring, something I haven't been able to say recently, so I agree fully with the 3 for a total of 6.


  1. I don't remember this one too well. When I first watched it, I was quite ready for the Xindi arc to be over, and this seemed more of a speed bump than moving forwards. So I haven't gone back to watch it for years.

    I do seem to recall liking that the insectoids saved the eggs at the expense of their own lives. I wondered if this was a hard decision for them, or a straightforward one. It made them more interesting.

    And yeah... Keep the helmet on, why don't you? But I guess that's like asking them to install safeties on bridge consoles so they don't explode on officers during a battle.

    1. How quickly we forget Starfleet General Order #2: All the ship's fireworks are to be stored inside the bridge consoles.