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Star Trek Ent - Season 2 - Episode 22

Star Trek Ent - 2x22 - Cogenitor

Originally Aired: 2003-4-30

Synopsis:
Enterprise encounters a race called the Vissians who feature a third sex of "cogenitors" who are treated as second-class citizens. [DVD]

My Rating - 9

Fan Rating Average - 6.15

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 15 3 4 5 6 6 7 22 15 20 15

Problems
None

Factoids
- At this time, Earth has only discovered 92 naturally occurring elements.

Remarkable Scenes
- Trip asking T'Pol her age again when she admitted that in another 100 years she'd probably still be around.
- Trip discussing the cogenitor with Phlox.
- Phlox: "I imagine the cogenitor provides an enzyme, which facilitates conception." Trip: "What do you mean by provides?" Phlox: "Well, first the female has to..." Trip: "No... no, no. Don't tell me. I don't think I wanna know." Phlox: "Oh well. Hmm. I have pictures!"
- Trip: "They treat her like a pet. Kept in her room, not taught to read or write, no name. Porthos has a name!"
- Reed's cheese scene.
- Trip teaching the cogenitor to read.
- Archer: "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 have done when I don't even know what I would have done!"
- Archer revealing to Trip that the cogenitor killed itself.

My Review
And Enterprise chalks up another winner. Multigender species is something Star Trek hasn't really covered, so the episode is refreshingly original. This episode was a joy to watch from start to finish. There are many quotable dialogs, more than I've marked. Nearly all the dialog was nicely pointed, showing intelligent writing. There were a few unnecessary details though. Similar to Ent: The Breach's climbing scenes, Archer's piloting extravaganza seemed to go on too long. We probably could have done without Reed's promiscuous behavior too. Finally, Trip seemed way too obsessed with the cogenitor. His constant changing of the subject in conversation got a bit tiresome. But these flaws are extremely minor. Archer's and Reed's more than positive first contact intensifies the magnitude of the effect Trip's actions had on relations. And while I probably wouldn't have been so hard on Trip if I were Archer, I can understand his reaction. Even if I don't agree with it. It's easier to understand Trip's position. The way the cogenitor was being treated most certainly looked like sexism. But then again, as the Vissian Engineer pointed out, and as T'Pol did in Ent: Broken Bow it's easy to incorrectly judge a culture which you don't understand. This makes the viewer come to his own conclusion. Were the Vissians practicing discrimination? Or were the humans making unfounded assumptions? These kinds of moral issues are exactly what make Star Trek so great.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Hkelukka on 2008-01-29 at 3:50pm:
    I think archers whole argument imploder the second the cogenitor asked for political asylum. It became obvious that the starfleet of the day was not in the business of being a humanitarian, it was in the business of doing what archer wants. It is okay to stop a species from hunting another if the hunted gives Archer a vision of the girl of his wet dreams. But its not okay to grant political sanctuary to a creature who is kept solely as a sexual object with no rights and no education and when that person asks to be protected against his/her abusers she gets turned away as a indifferent "its not our problem, we just want the technology" and when that person then proceeds to kill him/herself archer gets angry at the one person in his/her entire lifetime to show compassion to him/her.

    Personally i love this episode but archers charade about morality and all that made me see red. If i was Trip i would have decked archer by that speech even if i was to be cour martialed and shot.
  • From Bob on 2009-07-03 at 11:34am:
    Archer's decision was correct and followed the not yet constructed prime directive. The third gender makes up only 3% of the Vissian population. Imagine the effect on their population growth if this third gender did not spend all of its time aiding in reproduction. Human concepts of morality are not universal, and obviously a culture that obtained warp drive 1000 years prior to humans has carefully weighed its options, and humans have no right to judge and try to change their culture after meeting them for 3 days.
  • From carsonist on 2010-06-18 at 5:51pm:
    I'm rather amazed no one seems to agree with Trip on this one. The cogenitors are slaves, pure and simple. The fact that they're necessary to reproduce doesn't mean they should be enslaved. Surely if there were only two sexes, and there were only three percent women, we'd object to treating them as property?

    Just because it's a different culture doesn't mean they can't be wrong.
  • From Pete on 2010-08-05 at 9:45pm:
    The message that this episode seemed to promote was offensive to me. "Preserving culture is more important than basic human rights" seemed to be the gist of it.

    Star Trek, and science fiction in general, has always been about allegory. To me, this episode was a defense of American slavery, radical Islam, and any other "culture" that impinges on human rights.

    And to top it all off, Archer berates Tripp at the end to try and make him feel guilty for a suicide that could have been completely avoided had Archer saved the congenitor from a lifetime of slavery.

    This episode was not thoughtful. It was not a discussion of "moral issues". The only character who even wanted to have a discussion about any moral issues was Tripp--portrayed as the naive, impulsive, stereotypical southerner, whose white knighting was quickly scoffed at by every other character on the show. Not what I have come to expect from Star Trek, but indeed, everything that I have come to expect from Bermaga.
  • From Jadzia Guinan Smith on 2010-09-02 at 1:32am:
    I agree with the other commenters who found Archer's lecture troubling. It's fine to acknowledge the difficulties of navigating first contact situations and respecting alien cultures that present moral dilemmas, but why must he insist that those moral dilemmas shouldn't even exist? And to do it self-righteously, as though he had the moral high ground? It was painful.

    By the way, taking a stance against the enslavement of a sentient being is not a species-specific "human" cultural preference. It's one of those few moral issues that really are universal. It really pisses me off when the yahoos that write this stuff dispose of these "human rights" questions with the tautological response that the relevant person is "not human." That's a cop out. This is about the rights of SENTIENTS. It would be much more interesting if the characters had the minimal sophistication to engage the question at that level.

    It's true that a complex question developed with all its nuance intact can't be resolved in one episode. I think I speak for a lot of Tfans when I say that I would MUCH rather have an intellectually and morally satisfying LOOK into an issue and live with the lack of its resolution. I think Star Trek at its best does explore ideas that are too difficult to answer in an hour. To paraphrase what T'Pol once said to Hoshi: "if I hold you to a higher standard, Star Trek, it's because I think you're capable of achieving it."

    By the way, why did T'Pol keep referring to the cogenitor as "she" after noting the error on Trip's part? It seems out of character. I think she stick to "the cogenitor" if not "it." This is really sloppy writing.

    I would give this episode a 9 for addresing a very tantalizing topic but a 3 for executing it poorly. Final average = 6.
  • From siukong on 2011-01-31 at 4:06pm:
    I agree that the cogenitor was having its rights as a sentient violated, but I also think that granting it asylum was the less ethical choice.

    Sure, the Vissians are friendly to other species, but how do they treat each other? Have they had a past history of equality movements (between males and females, or between some other categorization)? How often do they reproduce, and what are the specifics of their reproductive cycle? If the cogenitors reproduced less often, would the population crash? Have the cogenitors always been such a minority, and have they always had such mental capabilities (maybe they had very small brains at one point)?

    My point is that knowing so little about their society, granting the cogenitor asylum could have had many unforeseen repercussions. Perhaps doing so would have led to a backlash, with the cogenitors becoming even more oppressed. Perhaps there was already an equality movement in its infancy and this would have quashed it for another few decades. Perhaps it would have led to civil war, and the deaths of millions or perhaps even extinction. Would the freedom of one individual be worth the suffering of many?

    I think by the time Archer had returned things had developed such that both alternatives were not particularly "moral" choices. If I had been in Trip's position I would have been much more gentle with the situation once it was apparent that the cogenitor's mental potential was the same as the other Vissians. Share the cognitive scans with them, and have an exchange on the relevant social history of both humans and Vissians (perhaps both could educate one another about gender politics). They seem like a enlightened, rational and compassionate species and would probably be open to a dialogue about it which could possibly nudge them towards change. Change rarely happens overnight (apart from revolutions, which are often chaotic and violent), so it would be necessary to overlook the inequality in the short-term in an effort to improve it in the long-term and on a broad scale.
  • From Tallifer on 2011-05-14 at 5:37pm:
    I could understand the cold cruelty of T'pol, but Archer's passionate (!) defense of chattel slavery was infuriating. The writers also completely failed when they portrayed Tucker meekly accepting responsibility for the suicide: it is clear to any of us viewers that Archer was the one who could have prevented the suicide.

    If the episode had portrayed the cogenitor in a more positive light, like a happy sentient puppy, it could have been argued that slavery was just another role in their society. But from the first scene in the dining room, it was clear that the cogenitor was dejected and hopeless. She was filled with joy and life once Trip intervened.
  • From -_Name_- on 2013-07-04 at 2:33pm:
    I have another factoid for your enjoyment:

    The Enterprise Motion Picture Library has "The Bride of Chaotica" in its Science Fiction database! Nice little throwback to Voyager. (pause frame at 29:03)

    - - -

    This was a rather stunning and unexpected episode... I'm not even sure what to add to the discussion. It *is* a little troubling that the episode seems to steer the viewer into cultural relativism... The message does seem to be: "don't do what compassion clearly tells you to do, b/c there may be things you don't understand and unforeseen consequences." On a gut level I have to disagree with this, but the interesting thing about this episode is that it is not entirely clear cut, at least not in this case...

    As others have pointed out, there may be an almost biological necessity to this morally iffy situation... I'm reminded a little of how the males of cats and some other species have barbed penises (to make sure the sexual act is completed once initiated) and basically have to force the female into submission (the sexual struggle being one means of selecting for stronger genes). It seems cruel and unnecessary but this is what evolutionary adaptation has arrived at in some cases - it's what's required for the perpetuation of some species.

    The analogy isn't by any means perfect, but nevertheless... That the cogenitors make up such a tiny percentage of the population and are necessary for the propagation of the species does make one pause, the biological issue does complicate the moral one.

    The one thing I would've liked was more uncertainty and inner conflict on Archer's part... This very complicated issue gets a a very simplistic and unambiguous last word. Trip obviously questions his assumptions by the end of the episode, and it would've been nice if Archer did the same, at least a little bit.
  • From OmicronthetaDeltaPhi on 2015-11-01 at 1:22am:
    It would have been a much better episode, easily worthy of a "10", if it somehow hinted at Vissian reproduction actually being dependent on cogenitor discrimination.

    For example, after Trip taught the cogenitor to read, the Vissians could have told him that stimulating the cogenitor's brain in this manner destroyed its reproductive abilities. Naturally neither Trip nor Archer would believe them, but then Phlox would come in and confirm it.

    Now *that* could have been a truly incredible episode. And it could serve as a nice "Prelude to the Prime Directive" background story, too.
  • From Zorak on 2016-10-04 at 7:36pm:
    Though it was a somewhat predictable episode (you could tell from the second they showed a side view of the progenitor sitting at the table that the entire episode would be about "it"), it didn't quite go in the ultimate direction I expected. I expected Archer to impose his will on these people like he always does.

    It seems lately that the writers have decided to keep the same theme of imposing Archers will on the galaxy, but injecting it into other characters. First Travis, then Phlox and Trip, and now entirely Trip.

    If anything this makes Archer look like even more of a twat as they've now turned him into a complete hypocrite. He basically chewed out Trip for acting exactly like Archer himself acts in every previous episode.

    I did not like this episode. By the end though, it wasn't as bad as I was expecting it to be. The writers simply shouldn't try tackling an issue they are completely unable to do any justice for, as they so often do.

    The only real saving grace for this episode is that it didn't end on the typical grandstanding "happy go lucky, we are Archer, savior of the universe and all knowing guiding hand of all things righteous and good, all hail the great and holy Archer and praise be his name, Amen" ending we often get with these ridiculous morality plays the writers insist on.

    Have I mentioned I don't like Archer?

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