(written from a Production point of view)
Archer has visions of a mysterious humanoid woman on a rogue planet where it is eternally nighttime.
Captain Jonathan Archer is uncomfortable posing for pictures for Starfleet Headquarters, when the Enterprise discovers a rogue planet that has broken out of its orbit. They decide to lay in a course to take a closer look.
Scanning the planet, T'Pol discovers that this planet supports a diverse animal population despite being a rogue, because of hot gases venting from its interior, forming oases where most lifeforms are concentrated. Even though there is no evidence of humanoid life, they are nonetheless able to pick up a power signature from the equator indicating a starship landed on the surface. When attempts to hail go unanswered, they decide to send a landing party consisting of Archer, T'Pol, Malcolm Reed, and Hoshi Sato.
Making their way through the thick, dense, and dark jungle, Archer points out that this place reminds him of the rain forest in New Zealand where he earned his Wilderness merit badge as an Eagle Scout. Reed mentions that he was also an Eagle Scout, with twenty-eight badges, two more than Archer earned. As they put on their night vision sensors and penetrate deeper into the jungle, they locate evidence of alien passage and a campsite, which appears to be deserted. As they split up to investigate, T'Pol and Reed are attacked and struck down by a group of aliens. However, when the aliens realize that the two are not a threat, they release them and bring them back to the campsite, where Archer has already met their leader, Damrus.
The Eska, as their species is called, explain that there are dangerous animals in the forest and that they have never seen humanoids on the rogue planet before. They explain that even though this planet, which they call Dakala, is no one's territory, it is special for them. It turns out that their people have come to this planet for nine generations to kill the indigenous species in a ritual hunt. They use sensing cloaks, which prevents the wildlife from spotting them. Hunting wild animals is part of their tradition. Noticing T'Pol's apparent disgust with the hunting practices of the Eska, Archer diplomatically comments that even though hunting living things went out of style on Earth over a hundred years ago, they nonetheless appreciate the hospitality of the Eska.
Reed points out that the gear they carry seems quite elaborate for taking down a few game animals. But one of the Eska warns to not underestimate the game on this planet. Curious about their endeavor, Reed is begrudgingly allowed to join them on their hunt to observe the powerful alien camouflage and sensing technology at work.
- "Captain's starlog, supplemental. Trip and Malcolm are bringing Hoshi back to Enterprise and putting together some camping gear to bring back to the surface."
Down on the planet, Reed and Tucker decide to turn in earlier to be ready for the hunt, while Archer decides to sit up for a while to enjoy the natural beauty of the alien oasis, sleeping by the campfire. A few hours later, he awakes to a woman's voice calling his name from the foliage outside the camp. He cannot make out where it is coming from, but he is drawn to it, and goes to investigate. He wanders through the night jungle with a flashlight, looking for the voice that was calling him, wondering whether he just imagined it. At first he cannot find anything, but suddenly he sees a woman from afar, standing in the woods, surrounded by some kind of a ethereal light. He is barely able to make out her shape when she vanishes again.
Confused, Archer tells the rest of the hunting party what happened, explaining that the woman he saw was young, had long blonde hair, and was wearing some kind of a nightgown. She knew his name and who he was and, what's more, he thinks that he actually knows her and has seen her before, but he cannot recall specifically. The Eska point out that on this planet it's always night and that one is surrounded by things one cannot see; he wouldn't be the first person who looked into the jungle and thought they saw something that wasn't there. Archer insists that she was real, but Damrus mocks him, asking him what the chances are that he'd encounter a half-naked woman who he knows dozens of light years from his homeworld. He jokes that if he is lucky, maybe she'll visit him in his dreams. Even the Enterprise crew thinks that what he saw was nothing but a figment of his imagination.
The next "day", while Reed gets ready to join the hunt, Archer, T'Pol, and Tucker gear up to explore some of the nearby steam vents and mineral springs. The hunters ask Archer if he slept well, joking again about the beautiful woman (Archer never actually said she was beautiful; the hunters merely assumed) he claims to have seen yesterday.
Archer's team is exploring one of the steam vents Damrus talked about, but Archer is still distracted thinking about the woman he saw last night. Tucker notices Archer's disquiet and asks him about the woman again. Archer insists that he wasn't hallucinating, yet he is also doubting himself for having walked into an alien jungle, chasing a woman who couldn't possibly have been there. He is frustrated that he cannot explain what happened to him when he heard her voice. While continuing with their exploration of the steam vents, Archer spots the mysterious woman again, following her deep into the jungle. This time she talks to him, telling him that she needs him to understand, for he is different. He says that he knows her and wonders how that is possible. The woman replies that if he didn't know her, he wouldn't have come. Archer asks why she needs him but she appears frightened, shaking and before she can explain, she is scared away by T'Pol and Tucker, who have come to look for Archer. She mumbles something about being harmed and disappears again. This time, however, Archer does not tell them what he saw.
During the hunt, Damrus and one of his men, Burzaan, split up to pursue what they call a "Wraith", while Reed and one of the other hunters take another path into the jungle. However, during the hunt, Burzaan is badly injured, requiring medical assistance.
Archer offers to take Burzaan to the ship so he can be treated by Doctor Phlox. Somewhat reluctantly, Damrus agrees, suggesting that they all leave because it is just too dangerous. However, Archer is not ready to leave yet and decides to stay on the planet with Tucker and T'Pol. While Burzaan is being treated on the ship by Phlox, Archer tells T'Pol about his second encounter with the woman and how she asked for his help. T'Pol is still not convinced that there is a woman, yet offers to accompany him to find her. She further suggests it would not be safe for Archer to wander around alone, especially in view of the fact that an experienced hunter had just been seriously injured. But Archer insists on going alone, believing the mystery woman would not reveal herself if someone else was around.
Back on the ship, after having treated Burzaan, Dr. Phlox explains that the cellular residues he found in Burzaan's wound are in a state of chromosomal flux and thus mutating – almost as if they are trying to change into something else but can't quite figure out what.
Hoping to see the mysterious woman again, Archer starts wandering off into the jungle by himself. She finally appears and Archer learns that she is a telepathic shapeshifter, and that she and her kind are in fact the "animals" being hunted by the Eska for sport. When Archer asks why he feels that he knows her, the woman replies that he in fact does know her and that her kind chose to contact him because he is different.
Archer returns to the camp where everyone is toasting to the hunt tomorrow. While they are sitting around the campfire, Archer asks why the Eska come to this planet to hunt if they also hunt on their own planet. He points out that it seems like an awfully long trip to make just to hunt typical game. Damrus explains that the prey here is different because it is something that gets inside their minds and senses their thoughts. He explains that the Wraiths are shapeshifters who can look like anything – even people one knows. T'Pol points out that they sound like intelligent, sentient beings, but Damrus denies that, claiming that their shapeshifting is not a sign of intelligence or sentience but a mere instinctual response. Archer wonders how they catch them, and Damrus explains that when the beings are afraid, they emit a chemical signature which their modified sensors can detect, especially the younger creatures.
Outraged, Archer (now on board the Enterprise) informs the crew that the Wraiths have requested his help to survive. Reed points out that the Eska are well armed and know the terrain well. T'Pol states that she finds this as distasteful as Archer, but that she is not sure how to stop them. Moreover, she believes that they have no right to stop them from doing what they have been doing for generations anyway. Archer, however, refuses to accept this, believing that hunting wild boar is one thing, but killing a sentient being is quite another. T'Pol goes on to point out yet another, more pressing dilemma: even if they manage to stop them this time, the Eska species will simply return later and continue to hunt as they have been doing for generations. However, Dr. Phlox believes he can find a way to mask the chemical signature that the Wraiths emit when frightened, protecting them from the hunters' scans. They might not be able to stop the Eska from hunting there, but they can level the playing field at least.
When discussing the matter with Tucker, Archer tells him about a Yeats poem called "The Song of the Wandering Aengus" that his mother used to read to him, about a man who catches a fish that turns into a beautiful woman with "apple blossoms in her hair". She calls his name and then vanishes and the man spends the rest of his life searching for her; for this "glimmering girl" was his vision of perfection that he could never quite find. Archer realizes the woman he saw down on the planet is her: the way he always pictured the woman in Yeats' poem when it was read to him as a child. She isn't someone that he ever knew, she is someone he imagined as a child; the elusive woman from the poem. Tucker wonders why the shapeshifter slipped into his mind and picked an image he had almost forgotten, pointing out that maybe that poem is on his mind more than he realizes.
On the planet, the hunters are chasing a Wraith who takes the form of a tree when it is cornered. The hunters catch up but are unable to detect it with their equipment. Hoping to evoke fear in the Wraith, resulting in its giving itself away, the hunters begin randomly firing their weapons. Then suddenly the Wraith attacks one of the hunters but only knocks him down. When they think that their equipment must be malfunctioning because they were unable to detect a frightened Wraith so close, they return to camp, where Archer and Tucker, noticing their rattled state, approach them to offer assistance. Damrus finds it strange that they never failed in a hunt before Enterprise arrived, to which Archer smugly admits to being "bad luck" – but doesn't explain the issue further.
Archer has a final encounter with the thankful Wraith woman, who was given the masking agent. He says that he knows who she is and thanks her for reminding him. She tells him to never stop seeking what seems unattainable, and to never forget her, that woman in the poem. Then she takes on her true, somewhat snake-like form, and vanishes into the darkness of the rogue planet.
"Captain Archer in command."
"Give it a rest, Trip."
- - Tucker, while trying to take a picture of Archer for a portrait to be hung at Starfleet Command
"Maybe they wanna be left alone. A single ship on a dark planet. Maybe they're on their honeymoon."
- - Tucker, on a ship located on the surface of Dakala refusing to answer hails
"I used to say I could land a shuttlepod with my eyes closed."
"Well, the proof's in the pudding, captain."
- - Archer, while trying to find a break in the canopy to land in the dark with Reed's response
"Why don't you let me play captain for a while, Malcolm."
- - Archer, on Reed's readiness to lead the landing party
"How many merit badges?"
"Oh. That's not bad, sir."
- - Archer and Reed, after they discover they were both Eagle Scouts
"We spot any more creatures like that and we'll earn our exobiology badges."
"Actually… I already have that one."
- - Archer and Reed
"I promise I won't kill anything, sir."
- - Reed, to Archer prior to joining the Eska on a hunt
"I wonder if you would be so determined to find this apparition if it were a scantily-clad man."
- - T'Pol, on Archer's behavior
"What are the chances you'd encounter a half-naked woman, who you think you know, dozens of light years from your home world?"
- - Damrus, to Archer
"She may just be something I envisioned a long time ago but I'll be damned if I'm gonna let anyone shoot her."
- - Archer
"Strange… but we never failed in the hunt before you arrived."
"I guess we must be bad luck."
- - Damrus and Archer, after then failed hunt of a "masked" Wraith
"Never stop seeking what seems unobtainable. Goodbye, Jonathan. Don't forget me."
- - Wraith bids Archer farewell and transforms back into its true appearance (last lines)
Story and script
- Though he went uncredited for his work on this episode, it was Enterprise Story Editor André Bormanis who provided the genesis for this installment. He did so by pitching a story regarding a sunless, orphaned planet which is nevertheless "Class M" due to having extreme geo-thermal vents. Added to this concept was the notion of doing some kind of a "safari show" and the idea of the Yeats poem Archer quotes, having him somehow emotionally touched by some form of alien creature. The use of the poem was suggested by Executive Producer Rick Berman, after which the episode continued to develop into its final form. The plot, especially the inclusion of alien hunters, allowed writer Chris Black an opportunity to focus on the enigmatic character of Reed. (Star Trek: Communicator issue 143, pp. 29-30)
- This episode was not meant to be an anti-hunting story, as Chris Black pointed out, his father having hunted for years and the issue not being one that the younger Black felt particularly strongly about. He recalled, "We didn't want it to be a preachy episode […] It's only when it's revealed that they're hunting intelligent species that it becomes an issue." Black also planned for Reed's assurance to Archer that he would not kill anything to be a genuinely intended guarantee. (Star Trek: Communicator issue 143, p. 30)
- The first draft of this episode's script was submitted on 6 December 2001. Thereafter, blue and pink change pages were issued on 10 December and 13 December respectively. The final draft of the script was issued on 14 December 2001.
Cast and characters
- Much like his character in this installment, Reed actor Dominic Keating appreciated the presence of the group of male visitors to the series. During the making of this episode, Keating reported, "We have three guest stars on this week who are playing hunters, and they are hysterical! So sometimes it's really work, but in amongst that we're just laughing like hyenas." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 138, p. 63)
- Dominic Keating put a spin on Reed's promise that he wouldn't kill anything. "Dominic actually delivered that line a little more slyly than I intended; you're not entirely sure he means it!" exclaimed Chris Black. "Which was something that Dominic did […] It wasn't really in the script, but his take on the character was 'Well, he might like to take a shot – you never know.'" (Star Trek: Communicator issue 143, p. 30)
- Conor O'Farrell previously played Jeff Carlson in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Little Green Men" and later played D'Jamat in the Enterprise third season episode "Chosen Realm". Eric Pierpoint also guest-starred in DS9, as Captain Sanders in "For the Uniform", and appeared as Section 31 agent Harris in fourth season Star Trek: Enterprise installments "Affliction", "Divergence", "Demons", and "Terra Prime".
- Keith Szarabajka previously played Teero Anaydis in the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Repression".
- Stephanie Niznik previously played Lt. Perim, the Trill helmsman of the USS Enterprise-E, in Star Trek: Insurrection.
- Dominic Keating found the set for this episode's planetary environment to be unpleasant. During the installment's production, Keating reported, "We're standing in a smoky dusty set on Stage 9 at the moment. It's dark, it's dank, we're in some forest – this planet has no light and we're in some dark, dingy, blue-lit infested forest. You turn the torch on, and all you can see are particles in the air, and we're breathing it in 15 hours a day." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 138, p. 63)
- The bottles of liquid the Eska possess appear to be re-used from Deep Space Nine, where they were used for bottles of bloodwine. (citation needed • edit)
- The sounds made by the Dakalan changelings are the same sounds made by a dying Founder in Deep Space Nine. (citation needed • edit)
- This is the only time the crew of Enterprise use their green-glowing night vision gear.
- In Act One, Archer is mistaken in his captain’s starlog when he says Tucker and Reed are bringing Sato back to Enterprise, because Tucker was not a member of the first landing party to Dakala. Only Reed ferries Sato back to Enterprise, but then Tucker returns with him to the surface.
- Chris Black thought that Dominic Keating's delivery of Reed's promise not to kill anything improved that line. "I told him later I thought [it] was wonderful," noted Black. (Star Trek: Communicator issue 143, p. 30)
- On the first broadcast of this installment, the episode achieved a Nielsen rating of 3.3 and was watched by a total of 4.69 million viewers. 
- Star Trek Magazine's "Ultimate Guide" rated this episode 2 out of 5 arrowhead insignias. (Star Trek Magazine issue 164, p. 79)
- The unofficial reference book Beyond the Final Frontier (p. 366) comments about this outing, "Probably the weakest episode of the season, it's not bad so much as anti-climactic." The book goes on to suggest that the episode should not even have been commissioned because it seems too much like an installment of Star Trek: Voyager, opining, "This has 'unused Chakotay story' written all over it."
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, Paramount Home Entertainment): Volume 1.9, 2 September 2002
- As part of the ENT Season 1 DVD collection
- As part of the ENT Season 1 Blu-ray collection
Links and references
- Scott Bakula as Captain Jonathan Archer
- John Billingsley as Doctor Phlox
- Jolene Blalock as Sub-Commander T'Pol
- Dominic Keating as Lieutenant Malcolm Reed
- Anthony Montgomery as Ensign Travis Mayweather
- Linda Park as Ensign Hoshi Sato
- Connor Trinneer as Commander Charles "Trip" Tucker III
- Stephanie Niznik as the Wraith
- Conor O'Farrell as Burzaan
- Eric Pierpoint as Shiraht
- Keith Szarabajka as Damrus
- Solomon Burke, Jr. as Billy
- Amy Kate Connolly as a science division crewman
- Hilde Garcia as Rossi (deleted scene)
- Lindly Gardner as an operations division crewman
- John Jurgens as a command division crewman
- Mark Watson as an operations division crewman
Amazon; apple blossom; artist; bioscience; bioluminescence; blood; blood type; blonde; bore worm; Boy Scout; bunk; camera; captain's chair; cell; chin; chromosome; chromosomal flux; Dakala; Dakala bug; Deneva Prime; drayjin; dream; drink dispenser; Eagle Scout; Earth; English language; entomologist; Eska; exobiology; file photo; fire wolf; game animal; generation; geothermal energy; geothermal shaft; ghost; grotto; honeymoon; hunting; hunting party; infrared; indigenous species; Ipswich; Jupiter Station; kilometer; light year; logic; man; masking agent; merit badge; meter; migration; mineral spring; mutation; mutative ability; nest; New Zealand; nightgown; Oakland; Oakland portrait artist; oases; painting; photography; pig; poetry; poker; portrait; primate; psychotropic compound; pudding; rain forest; recruit; reptile; right; rogue planet; Safari; science officer; sensing cloaks; sensor ghost; sentient species; shapeshifter; situation room; Song of the Wandering Aengus, The; stanchion; status display; Starfleet Command; steam vent; telepathy; tent; thermal vent; toast; tradition; trespassing; volcanic vent; Vulcan High Command; wild boar; wildlife; Yeats, William Butler; wolf; wraith; Yellowstone National Park
- "Rogue Planet" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Rogue Planet" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Rogue Planet" at Wikipedia
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