Enterprise encounters the Vissians, a race that includes a third gender of "cogenitors" who are treated as second-class citizens.
The Enterprise NX-01 is studying a hypergiant star when it makes contact with a scout ship from another species, the Vissians. Vissian Captain Drennik offers Jonathan Archer the use of one of their stratopods to explore the inner workings of the star, an opportunity Archer gladly accepts, looking forward to improving the already friendly relations with the Vissians.
On Enterprise, Malcolm Reed makes friends with the Vissian tactical officer while Trip Tucker has a conversation with the chief engineer and his wife. Tucker then learns that the Vissians have three sexes: male, female and cogenitor. Cogenitors, who make up about 3% of the Vissian population, are treated in a very pragmatic way, being shipped from one couple to another to keep the population growing. A side effect is that they are treated like objects, not deserving names nor education.
Feeling that they are less than slaves, Tucker makes friends with the Vissian engineer's cogenitor after he learned from Phlox' analysis that they have the same intellectual potential as the two other sexes. He teaches it how to read and tries to make it understand that it has the same rights as the rest of its species. He then shows it the Enterprise and is amazed when it beats him at a game of Go, since the engineer has been undefeated for the last two years.
From there on, events chain up fast. T'Pol makes a speech to Tucker about the touchy nature of first contacts when she learns that he is not welcomed on the Vissian ship after the time he spent with the cogenitor. Then, the cogenitor asks Captain Archer for asylum, understanding that it will never be able to have a decent life among its own people. In order to not offend the Vissians, Archer refuses.
Even though the two ships depart with the best wishes and their captains hoping that the incident will not interfere with the relation between Earth and Vissia, the situation gets a lot less bright when Archer learns that the cogenitor committed suicide, an evident result of the independence it developed out of Tucker's teachings. Calling Tucker to his ready room, Archer severely reprimands him for his interference, as it has not only resulted in the cogenitor's death, but now the Vissian couple will not be able to have a child for a long period of time. Tucker is deeply shocked, as Archer reminds him that despite all his time on Enterprise, he still compares other cultures to Earth standards and interferes without thinking first. Archer is upset that first contact with the Vissians led to this conclusion, and Tucker begins to realize the consequences his actions can cause.
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"Pretty nice to make first contact without anyone thinkin' about charging weapons."
- - Trip Tucker
"Don't tell me. I don't think I want to know."
"Oh, well... I have pictures!"
"Uh, I think I'll pass."
- - Tucker and Phlox, discussing multi-gender mating techniques
"They treat her like a pet. Kept in a room, not taught to read or write, no name. Porthos has a name!"
"It's not our place to judge the customs of other cultures."
"We're not talking about taking your shoes off when you walk into someone's house. This cogenitor's treated like one of Phlox's leeches. You pull it out of its tank when you need it, then you throw it back in."
"Tri-gender reproduction is not uncommon."
"That's not what I'm talking about. This is a question of... Human rights."
"They're not Human."
- - Tucker and T'Pol
"Can we visit the armory later? I'm anxious to see your tactical array."
"There's an old Earth expression: I'll show you mine if... you show me yours."
- - Veylo and Malcolm Reed
"We're out here to meet new species, not tell them what to do!"
- - Archer, to Tucker
"I might have expected something like this from a first year recruit, but not you. You did exactly what I'd do? If that's true then I've done a pretty lousy job setting an example around here. You're a senior officer on this ship, you're privy to the moral challenges I've had to face. You know I've wrestled with the fine line between doing what I think is right and interfering with other species. So don't tell me you know what I would've done when I don't even know what I would've done."
- - Archer, to Tucker
- F.J. Rio previously played Enrique Muñiz in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episodes "Starship Down", "Hard Time" and "The Ship".
- Andreas Katsulas played Tomalak in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes "The Enemy", "The Defector", "Future Imperfect" and "All Good Things...". This episode marks his last appearance on Star Trek; he died in 2006.
- "Cogenitor" was highly criticized as its trailer portrayed it as a light-hearted comedic episode while it ended up being a very dark episode. (citation needed • edit)
- Laura Interval previously played Erin Hansen in the Voyager two-part episode "Dark Frontier", credited in that episode as Laura Stepp.
- The Vissian stratopod interior was a reuse of the Starfleet inspection pod, which was in turn a reuse of the Phoenix cockpit from Star Trek: First Contact.
- This episode contains the second mention of photonic weapons (the first being in "Sleeping Dogs" ), a technology employed by the Vissians. Enterprise was equipped with photonic torpedoes only a few episodes later, in "The Expanse", suggesting that the Vissians shared the technology with the Enterprise crew.
- The piano music played in his quarters by Tucker for the Cogenitor is an excerpt from the first movement of Mozart's Sonata in C, K.545.
- When Tucker chooses a film to show to the Cogenitor, the computer shows among the available science fiction films The Bride of Chaotica, the B-movie that inspires Tom Paris (from USS Voyager) for his holonovel The Adventures of Captain Proton, especially for the chapter "Bride of Chaotica!".
- Other films in the list include Dixon Hill and the Black Orchid, a reference to Captain Picard's favorite gumshoe.
- The stratopod's ability would be later seen in a Klingon Bird-of-Prey, which was seen withstanding the outer edge of a star's corona (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home; TNG: "Redemption"; DS9: "Once More Unto the Breach").
- Several items from this episode were sold off on the It's A Wrap! sale and auction on eBay, including two ice cream glasses. 
- A Federation/Starfleet built stratopod as Captain Drennik would have suggested to Captain Archer would not be developed until 2369 when Dr. Beverly Crusher used the Ferengi invented metaphasic shielding technology on a Starfleet Shuttlecraft to enter the corona of a star (TNG: "Suspicions").
- The book Star Trek 101, by Terry J. Erdmann and Paula M. Block, lists this episode as one of the "Ten Essential Episodes" from Star Trek: Enterprise.
Links and references
- Scott Bakula as Jonathan Archer
- John Billingsley as Phlox
- Jolene Blalock as T'Pol
- Dominic Keating as Malcolm Reed
- Anthony Montgomery as Travis Mayweather
- Linda Park as Hoshi Sato
- Connor Trinneer as Charles "Trip" Tucker III
- Andreas Katsulas as Vissian Captain Drennik
- F.J. Rio as the Vissian chief engineer
- Becky Wahlstrom as the cogenitor
- Laura Interval as Tactical Officer Veylo
- Larissa Laskin as Calla
- Adam Anello as an operations division crewman
- Jef Ayres as Crewman Haynem
- Joshua Brown as a Vissian crewman
- Solomon Burke, Jr. as Billy
- Donna Burns as a Vissian crewman
- Mark Correy as Alex
- Nikki Flux as a command division crewman
- Hilde Garcia as Crewman Rossi
- Glen Hambly as a operations division ensign
- Scott Hill as Ensign Hutchison
- Aldric Horton as an operations division crewman
- Yoshi Jenkins as a Vissian crewman
- John Jurgens as a command division crewman
- Aouri Makhlouf as a medical crewman
- Marnie Martin as an operations division crewman
- Michael McAdam as a command division crewman
- Marlene Mogavero as an operations division crewman
- Bobby Pappas as an operations division crewman
- Nelson Rose as a Vissian crewman
- Jan Shiva as a science division crewman
- Jeff Welsh as a Vissian crewman
Alsatian muenster cheese; Ballantyne, Robery Michael; body-surfing; cheese; cogenitor; Didiron mountain range; Gorilla Hunters, The; Great Continent; Gulliver's Travels; Hamlet; hypergiant; Klaatu; Macbeth; multiphasic emitter; nucleosynthesis; Oahu; La Farge, Oliver; omicron radiation; phase cannon; photosphere; Pictorial History of the American Indians, A; Mozart Piano Sonata Number 16; Porthos; quantum inverter; sarium; sex; Shakespeare, William; Sophocles; Stilton cheese; Swift, Jonathan; trinesium; Vissia; Vissia system; Vissian; Vissian starship; Vissian stratopod; warp drive
Animal Control, Apache Serenade, Attack of the Martians, Banned in Phoenix, Beyond the Rocky Mountains, The Bride of Chaotica, Canyon of the Rustler, Curse of the Buccaneer, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Death in Arizona, Escape from Dodge City, Celestial Navigation, Frontier Maverick of the West, Jailhouse Promise, Love's Lovely Love, Montana Ambush, Sheriff's Revenge, The Stagecoach of Flame, Fear Planet, It Came From Beneath the Refrigerator, The Man From San Francisco, Mister Willis of Ohio, The Planet of the Undead, Strange Case of Mr. Cigars, Pirates From Hell, Supernova Dawn, Dixon Hill and the Black Orchid, The Underworld Aliens, World Beyond Zero
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