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Enterprise: ‘Cogenitor’

Review by Sean Vickery

Today the only genre in which to write meaningful drama is popular science fiction. Cogenitor,* tonight’s episode of Paramount’s series Enterprise, is proof of this.

Cogenitor tells the story of humankind’s first contact with an alien race called Vissians and some problems arising out of the clash of two cultures.

While humans are of two genders—apologies to any transgender, hermaphrodite or androgenous readers out there—Vissians are of three. As Jerry Seinfeld might say, ‘Not that there’s anything wrong with that.’ The Enterprise’s Dr Phlox (John Billingsley) explains to engineer Trip Tucker (Connor Trinneer) that across the known galaxy are races with four, five, or even six different genders. In the case of Vissians, he informs Trip, a cogenitor Vissian must mate together with a male and a female Vissian. Cogenitors are the third Vissian gender. Largely female in appearance, the other Vissians treat them like low-caste pets. Cogenitors are nameless, are not taught to read and have few if any civil rights. However their neural anatomy is virtually indistinguishable from that of males or females. Trip Tucker, his interest stimulated by the apparently dumb and docile cogenitor (Becky Wahlstrom) on the Visician ship owned by a male- female couple (F.J. Rio & Larissa Laskin) that is planning to use it to have a child. With Trip’s facilitation the cogenitor learns to read to college level within 24-hours. Unfortunately its ‘owners’ do not take kindly to its newfound aspirations and drama ensues leading to much dampening of viewers’ eyes.

This excellent story by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga features strong performances by Scott Bakula, Becky Wahlstrom, Connor Trinneer—the cast of Enterprise demonstrates in this episode there’s no limit to its ability if it has a script to work from. Because I am unknowledgeable as to which Star Trek episodes Levar Burton has directed I was surprised how good his realisation is here. The closing scene is a clincher.

How many Australian viewers are au fait with gender issues? How many with the issues surrounding the millions of people seeking refuge overseas from oppressive conditions in their home countries? The answer in both cases should be several million than before Cogenitor’s airing this evening.

*Enterprise, episode 048 ‘Cogenitor’, originally broadcast 30 Apr 2003, written by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga, directed by Levar Burton, with Connor Trinneer as Becky Wahlstrom as the Cogenitor, Charles ‘Trip’ Tucker III, Scott Bakula as Captain Archer, Jolene Blalock as T’Pol and John Billingsley as Dr Phlox. See <>.

The original version of this review is available on the web at <>.