Once more, Manny Coto has mined the mysteries of the original STAR TREK to create a top notch entry into the late prequel series. Borrowing elements from original series installments like "The Cage" and "Mudd's Women," Coto has crafted a script that evokes the ambience of the original while spinning a yarn that keeps even the most ensconced Trek aficionado in suspense. While surveying a possible location for Star Fleet's first starbase, Enterprise encounters an Orion trader who offers Captain Archer a deal with some rather shapely fringe benefits attached. Of course, the three Orion women given to the Captain turn out to be more than anyone has bargained for and complications ensue.
Like the new incarnation of DOCTOR WHO, Coto's ENTERPRISE knows how to keep the fans happy with trivial asides to those in the know while offering up a story that entertains the uninitiated and manages to surprise even the most knowledgeable fans. With an affinity for fleshing out the universe, Coto is an adept hand at using the lore of TREK against his audience and their expectations. He takes what viewers have long known, or thought they knew, and uses the vagaries of the original series to twist viewers' beliefs in dramatic ways. Here, the Orion culture seen in only two episodes of the original series is fleshed out as much more than a profiteering precursor to THE NEXT GENERATION's Ferengi. Like the show's pioneering exploration of Andorian and Tellarite society, this look inside the Orion culture casts a new light on the original series' employment of the characters. A look back at "The Cage" and "Whom Gods Destroy" illustrates the genius of this episode by remaining retroactively consistent with the portrayal in "Bound" while adding new depth to the characterization of the 60s characters. Perhaps the Keeper's choice of disguising Vina as an Orion slave girl had more behind it than Captain Pike's idle comment to Doctor Boyce early in the episode.
As to the Orions themselves, their performance is to be commended. The dance number performed aboard Harrad-Sar's vessel is a beautifully choreographed piece that ably stands up to the classic expression of Orion allure in the original pilot. The dance music composed by longtime stalwart Jay Chattaway adds to the performance, creating a hypnotic sequence that supports the events that follow. Speaking of Chattaway, his score for this episode is a remarkable piece of work that conveys the exotic charm of the Orions, yet underpins that attraction with a hint of strangeness and danger. Here's hoping GNP Crescendo sees fit to include the segments featuring the slave girls on a future compilation of TREK music. Director Allan Kroeker is in top form with his handling of the story. The camera work skillfully mimics the effect of the Orion pheromones, and Captain Archer's intoxicated visit to the bridge will leave the audience in sympathy for the Captain's condition. Tightening this episode to its 60s antecedent, the final scene echoes the traditional interplay of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy with Archer, T'Pol, and Tucker bantering with the best of their forbears. This episode, not to mention this season, is what ENTERPRISE should have been all along.