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  #21  
Old 11-15-2013, 12:14 PM
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I always thought there was problem was the polar opposite, that they didn't change things up enough. It often felt like Voyager era Trek to me.

The ship was essentially no different, they just change the terms. Polarize hull plating instead of raise shields, phase cannons instead of phasers, but in essence it was all the same thing.

They had a good premise, but like Voyager they squandered it too much. Add the temporal cold war stuff on top of that and it just didn't quite work.

I liked the show, but I see it as largely a wasted opportunity to do something interesting. Much like Voyager in that respect.

I did like their take on the Vulcans, that was a plus.
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Old 11-19-2013, 10:26 AM
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Found myself nodding at a lot of these comments, fans didn't exactly embrace a lot of the changes they tried to make, couple this with an unadventurous studio and it's not a surprise that it had a very similar atmosphere as previous Trek's, especially in the beginning.

If you think about Star Trek over the years has created it's own sub genres of story types and character relationships which it returns to time and time again, you see the same themes with different main characters and differently named aliens all the time, my DS9-ENT example fitting this well. It seems that every character needs a difficult relationship with a parent/child which then has to be resolved by the end of the episode, TNG did a lot of this, DS9 with Jake and Sisko was a refreshing change and one that worked, Torres and Paris in Voyager both had this element and then Mayweather did in Ent. I know it's hard to build these things up over an episode but it would have been really nice to have seen family ties built up a bit more and actually have some depth, with Ents continuity and later serialised arcing there's no reason why this couldn't have been done.

I like that they were enthusiastic, it made for some nice moments and I don't mean moments like "look we've made the first TNG era forcefield and first proper use of a transporter for people" but things we can relate to like seeing a new planet for the first time and being in awe of it, I wish they'd never used transporters in Ent! There should have been more about their isolation and space actually seeming big like in early TNG. Would have been nice to emphasise that it is a small ship, perhaps through the eyes of a lower crewman with little personal space looking back at the "pale blue dot" of Earth of something to get across that these aren't seasoned space vets who have been doing it for hundreds of years.

I'm probably being a bit unfair, Detained, Fallen Hero and Desert Crossing were all quite good episodes that put something new into the mix and like any first season you will have the shaky eps. Like has been previously said though, fans don't want new they want old, Stargate Universe tried something completely new and look where that got them :/.
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  #23  
Old 11-19-2013, 12:07 PM
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I think the problem, and this is basically the only era in which I agree with the folks who think that VOY/ENT is totally bad, is the texture of the shows. Even when there was a "space is disease and danger" moment, be it B'Elanna and Tom floating in space respectively Trip and Malcolm floating in space (after a movie like Gravity this stuff seems retroactively very bad) or Archer being shortly exposed to the vacuum of space it nonetheless feels like we are still in Kansas although it should feel like we are in mortal danger.
But apart from these textural problems and some repetitive scripts (anybody forgot that TNG started with "The Naked Now"?) the show is like any other Trek show, most of the times OK and sometimes even good.

I do not think that you can avoid repetitions, similar patterns or a general feeling of familiarity. Take the new movies, while they feel totally different to anything that came before and pretend marketing-wise that they are semi-revolutionary they are script-wise the most extreme examples of repetition or reusage.
It's a dilemma familiar from music, you want the band you like to repeat one of their first albums that you liked so much and hate their new stuff ... but when you actually encounter musicians who do not innovate and do the same stuff they did ten years ago you hate it as well. In the case of Trek these means that we fans constantly whine about continuity obsession and all that repetitive stuff ... but our own rough ideas about a story or the hypothetically best future direction of Trek are total fanwank.
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  #24  
Old 11-19-2013, 02:13 PM
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Can't disagree with much of that. A newcomer watching the shows from the first time now may enjoy a lot of Ent, like you say good eps and bad eps like any other show, they may then go on to watch TNG or another show and find it repetitive. I guess that's the curse of having the same people churning out the stuff for over 15 years more or less solidly, full credit to them for such a colossus effort, I can't really imagine how difficult that is, but at the same time a few fresh ideas or a bit of fresh blood thrown into the mix surely can't hurt.

Though coming back back to my original comments regarding Oasis. Repetition and rehashes aside, it is simply just a bit boring. You had a ship of new characters, a new ship in general, almost a new universe to do with as you please and the result is something that adds nothing to the characters, nothing to the ongoing story and has a weak message about overprotective parents that falls flat, and all this only 15 or so episodes in. If it was a bottle show to recoup money then fair enough, but TNG proved through Drumhead that this doesn't have to mean that you can't do a compelling story.

Suppose it's only fair that I put what I'd do had it been me writing the ep (which may be complete rubbish of course). Keeping the basic premise I wouldn't have pushed the horror element, I think it makes for quite a nice opener but I would have dropped the mystery and had the fact the crew were holograms out straight away. They wanted to make it a cute Trip love story, fair enough we'll keep that and expand on it all, have Trip have heart-to-hearts with people as to why he feels so strongly about it, maybe delve into his character a bit more and create some back story. Also go further into the father's reasoning rather than his shaky excuse about being the cause of the crash.

I accept that this may have been a bit risky, as Trek episodes oh so often put in a last minute bit of jeopardy when they feel the main story is a bit risky. I'd rather move away from that, maybe at a push put in a small B-story, but again something that expands the characters with maybe a little comedy rather than just irrelevancies.

I'm not a writer so I might not know what I'm talking about but I think I'd rather watch something akin to that than what we got.
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  #25  
Old 11-19-2013, 10:42 PM
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I just finished S1 a few days ago, and while I think I have a new appreciation for some of the things they tried to do (the new BluRay interviews are rather enlightening) I am overall not that much more impressed with the series than I was watching it in 2001.

I don't think they changed enough with this series. I could tell they were obviously trying to change things up, however the things they seemed to feel constituted major change I never felt constituted major change. Too many of the episodes could just as easily have worked on any prior ST series (as I think Braga himself humbly admits in one of the commentaries) and too often the conversations seem like recycled ST dialogue. It makes little difference whether the technology was shields or polarized hull plating, since to me the terms are interchangeable (I'm sure anyone who has studied the Technical Manuals could prove me wrong, however I'm afraid I've never been that type of fan. I'm more the type who collects soundtracks, and DS9/VOY/ENT have never been among them).

And yes, I do dislike what they did with the Vulcans, but not because I am resistant to change. Hearing B&B talk about what they did, I even agree with it in theory. But in the first place, I've never felt like Second Generation Trek from TNG on ever had a real handle on how Vulcans were supposed to act (though I think they actually got it right with the ambassador in 'Fallen Hero', refreshingly enough). And coming out of the pilot, their bigotry still feels excessively forced and could be dialed back a couple notches. Is vegetarianism really a prerequisite criteria for a civilized culture in their eyes? Seems more than a little narrow-minded. Why not veganism? Topping it off, their lead spokesperson with her disdainful, condescendingly over-articulated nuances ("Space, is, very, big. Captain.") still recalls Seven of Nine more closely than I would like even after all these years.

There are plenty of enjoyable episodes; I dare say most of the season is 'enjoyable' to some extent, assuming enjoyable is really good enough after fourteen consecutive years. To say that it has good and bad episodes like any other series I think misses the point. Even in Fall of 2001, I didn't believe we really needed a fourth Second Generation ST series. A good episode of ENT could never be as 'fresh' (there, I've finally given up and used that word for lack of any other) as a good episode of TNG. Anyone who had never seen ST could sit down and watch both episodes, and automatically know which one came first even if you took out all the fx. And looking back over the past three months, there are two eps (maybe three) that I think are unconditionally good: the aforementioned 'Fallen Hero', 'Breaking the Ice', and (maybe) 'Cold Front'. Everything else had something in it that felt tired or recycled, no matter how good it otherwise was.
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  #26  
Old 11-20-2013, 03:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roysten View Post
Can't disagree with much of that. A newcomer watching the shows from the first time now may enjoy a lot of Ent, like you say good eps and bad eps like any other show, they may then go on to watch TNG or another show and find it repetitive. I guess that's the curse of having the same people churning out the stuff for over 15 years more or less solidly, full credit to them for such a colossus effort, I can't really imagine how difficult that is, but at the same time a few fresh ideas or a bit of fresh blood thrown into the mix surely can't hurt.

Though coming back back to my original comments regarding Oasis. Repetition and rehashes aside, it is simply just a bit boring. You had a ship of new characters, a new ship in general, almost a new universe to do with as you please and the result is something that adds nothing to the characters, nothing to the ongoing story and has a weak message about overprotective parents that falls flat, and all this only 15 or so episodes in. If it was a bottle show to recoup money then fair enough, but TNG proved through Drumhead that this doesn't have to mean that you can't do a compelling story.

Suppose it's only fair that I put what I'd do had it been me writing the ep (which may be complete rubbish of course). Keeping the basic premise I wouldn't have pushed the horror element, I think it makes for quite a nice opener but I would have dropped the mystery and had the fact the crew were holograms out straight away. They wanted to make it a cute Trip love story, fair enough we'll keep that and expand on it all, have Trip have heart-to-hearts with people as to why he feels so strongly about it, maybe delve into his character a bit more and create some back story. Also go further into the father's reasoning rather than his shaky excuse about being the cause of the crash.

I accept that this may have been a bit risky, as Trek episodes oh so often put in a last minute bit of jeopardy when they feel the main story is a bit risky. I'd rather move away from that, maybe at a push put in a small B-story, but again something that expands the characters with maybe a little comedy rather than just irrelevancies.

I'm not a writer so I might not know what I'm talking about but I think I'd rather watch something akin to that than what we got.
About Oasis, I think it is plain bad and after quickly glancing over the episode list I'd say it is the worst episode of the first season.
But the rest of the season if fairly good. The first four episodes are about encountering a friendly species, a hostile species, exploring a Minshara class planet and getting into politicas with the Andorians and Vulcans. Sure, two of these episodes are medicore and one suffers, like the pilot, from badly done Klingons but Andorian Incident is great. There is a follow-up to the Andorian-Vulcan story, so we get some mild serialization, there is the best ever episode about the Prime Directive and a more mundane PD episode (Desert Crossing). Furthermore we get a fun Risa and Ferengi episode plus two great character pieces involving Malcolm, Shuttle Pod one and Silent Enemy. The rest of the season is the usual amount of fairly forgetable stuff.
While rewatching TNG, probably the best Trek series ever, it strikes me that from the very beginning on the show had ample of stinkers. And it is not like the "let's go down on a planet and show how enlightened the TNG crew is via telling a one-dimensional allegorical story" pattern ever stops.

I am totally agreeing that Enterprise should have been far more 22nd century-ish, instead of crap like Oasis I would have wanted to see more Andorian Incident. But since the very beginning of Trek we had a Spock's Brain for every City on the Edge of Forever.



Quote:
Originally Posted by samwiseb View Post
And yes, I do dislike what they did with the Vulcans, but not because I am resistant to change. Hearing B&B talk about what they did, I even agree with it in theory. But in the first place, I've never felt like Second Generation Trek from TNG on ever had a real handle on how Vulcans were supposed to act (though I think they actually got it right with the ambassador in 'Fallen Hero', refreshingly enough). And coming out of the pilot, their bigotry still feels excessively forced and could be dialed back a couple notches. Is vegetarianism really a prerequisite criteria for a civilized culture in their eyes? Seems more than a little narrow-minded. Why not veganism? Topping it off, their lead spokesperson with her disdainful, condescendingly over-articulated nuances ("Space, is, very, big. Captain.") still recalls Seven of Nine more closely than I would like even after all these years.
ENT did not make Vulcans veggies, Spock was a vegetarian from the very beginning. Given that meat eating is inefficient, involves the killing of mammals who are probably sentient and leads to avoidable emissions of greenhouse gases it is illogical and unethical. Narrow-minded? Dogmas and principles are better than postmodern permissiveness.
Of course there are Vulcan dogmas which seem excessively rigid, like arranged marriages, having priestesses and so on and we could now start the old debate of whether Vulcans have to be so rigid lest they become savages or whether they could relax a bit an just suppress nasty impulses (basically how our human culture deals with this issue), episode-wise discussed in Fusion and Fallen Hero, but alas, it is truly an old debate.

I do not recall any Vulcan bigotry in Broken Bow. There was ample of paternalistic behaviour and dire attempts to stop humankind from exploring deep space prematurely but there is no bigotry like e.g. by the elder Vulcan fellow in ST09 who directly says that Vulcans are a superior species.
Let's also not forget that the Vulcans are absolutely right, humankind did go out there before they were ready. The catch is of course that there is no right moment for starting deep space exploration, it is always too early, humankind is always unprepared, we have to make the mistakes out there and learn from them. So concerning this issue Vulcans and humans are both right (or wrong).

How species who do not get along at all initially (and even fight each other) slowly become friends was THE big theme of Enterprise. It was an utterly fresh and counter intuitive epic about the slow formation of the Federation and the unfriendly Vulcans are a piece of that story; if they had been as friendly and enlightened as their 23rd and 24th century counterparts this very epic would have been impossible to tell.
Given that ENT was more indirectly, thematically serialized than DS9 it is not surprising that many fans missed these underlying themes (which, to be honest, become more evident if one watches the show in its entirety).

Let's also not forget that there are several reasons for why the Vulcans behave as they do. First, they are influenced by Romulus, second, they lost their Surakian ways, third, their Andorian neighbours truly are unfriendly, fourth, wanting humankind to not go into deep space is rationally justified by Prime Directive logic and emotionally impacted by envy and fear (The Forge).

In short, 22nd Vulcans and the stories involving them are complex, interesting and intelligent. After four Trek series we finally got one which truly focused on Vulcan culture (instead of just one Vulcan like TOS and VOY).
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  #27  
Old 11-20-2013, 07:08 AM
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About Oasis, I think it is plain bad and after quickly glancing over the episode list I'd say it is the worst episode of the first season.
But the rest of the season if fairly good. The first four episodes are about encountering a friendly species, a hostile species, exploring a Minshara class planet and getting into politicas with the Andorians and Vulcans. Sure, two of these episodes are medicore and one suffers, like the pilot, from badly done Klingons but Andorian Incident is great. There is a follow-up to the Andorian-Vulcan story, so we get some mild serialization, there is the best ever episode about the Prime Directive and a more mundane PD episode (Desert Crossing). Furthermore we get a fun Risa and Ferengi episode plus two great character pieces involving Malcolm, Shuttle Pod one and Silent Enemy. The rest of the season is the usual amount of fairly forgetable stuff.
While rewatching TNG, probably the best Trek series ever, it strikes me that from the very beginning on the show had ample of stinkers. And it is not like the "let's go down on a planet and show how enlightened the TNG crew is via telling a one-dimensional allegorical story" pattern ever stops.

I am totally agreeing that Enterprise should have been far more 22nd century-ish, instead of crap like Oasis I would have wanted to see more Andorian Incident. But since the very beginning of Trek we had a Spock's Brain for every City on the Edge of Forever.

ENT did not make Vulcans veggies, Spock was a vegetarian from the very beginning. Given that meat eating is inefficient, involves the killing of mammals who are probably sentient and leads to avoidable emissions of greenhouse gases it is illogical and unethical. Narrow-minded? Dogmas and principles are better than postmodern permissiveness.
Of course there are Vulcan dogmas which seem excessively rigid, like arranged marriages, having priestesses and so on and we could now start the old debate of whether Vulcans have to be so rigid lest they become savages or whether they could relax a bit an just suppress nasty impulses (basically how our human culture deals with this issue), episode-wise discussed in Fusion and Fallen Hero, but alas, it is truly an old debate.

I do not recall any Vulcan bigotry in Broken Bow. There was ample of paternalistic behaviour and dire attempts to stop humankind from exploring deep space prematurely but there is no bigotry like e.g. by the elder Vulcan fellow in ST09 who directly says that Vulcans are a superior species.
Let's also not forget that the Vulcans are absolutely right, humankind did go out there before they were ready. The catch is of course that there is no right moment for starting deep space exploration, it is always too early, humankind is always unprepared, we have to make the mistakes out there and learn from them. So concerning this issue Vulcans and humans are both right (or wrong).

How species who do not get along at all initially (and even fight each other) slowly become friends was THE big theme of Enterprise. It was an utterly fresh and counter intuitive epic about the slow formation of the Federation and the unfriendly Vulcans are a piece of that story; if they had been as friendly and enlightened as their 23rd and 24th century counterparts this very epic would have been impossible to tell.
Given that ENT was more indirectly, thematically serialized than DS9 it is not surprising that many fans missed these underlying themes (which, to be honest, become more evident if one watches the show in its entirety).

Let's also not forget that there are several reasons for why the Vulcans behave as they do. First, they are influenced by Romulus, second, they lost their Surakian ways, third, their Andorian neighbours truly are unfriendly, fourth, wanting humankind to not go into deep space is rationally justified by Prime Directive logic and emotionally impacted by envy and fear (The Forge).

In short, 22nd Vulcans and the stories involving them are complex, interesting and intelligent. After four Trek series we finally got one which truly focused on Vulcan culture (instead of just one Vulcan like TOS and VOY).
Surely you're not assuming I wouldn't know Spock was vegetarian. Spock was never openly critical about other people's dietary habits. And while I would expect that many Vulcans probably were (and maybe still are) openly critical, equating vegetarianism with enlightenment seems like a stretch. I don't disagree with the reasons for deciding to portray 22nd century Vulcans as high-browed or prejudice, however their conflict throughout most of S1 still seems unnaturally forced. And Archer's character is equally accountable for that. I don't currently speak for the other seasons, except maybe S4. I am curious to see 'Carbon Creek' again, even though I don't have really fond memories of that one. I also generally liked what they did with Vulcans in 'The Forge', but I also thought the final act of that three-parter was rather contrived and the ending too tidy and convenient.

Most of the episodes you cited in reply to Roysten I didn't think were that strong either. 'Shuttlepod One' was reasonably good, but you could have thrown Bashire and O'Brien without changing too much of the dialogue. And 'The Andorian Incident' relies on the revelation of its final moments to elevate the rest of the episode is retrospect. Unfortunately I'm at work, so I'm not going to have time to go into this further.
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  #28  
Old 11-20-2013, 10:15 AM
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Sorry, I misunderstood you there. T'Pol was indeed quite arrogant about the whole veggie thing and personally I don't like it. I am a veggie myself and proselytizing-wise the worst I do is the stuff I just did, lay out the general reasons for it. But I would never approach the topic on a personal level ("you evil, evil carnivore").
Back to ENT, I can see where you are coming from about how the human-Vulcan conflicts felt forced and I couldn't stand Archer for a long time, he just appeared to be a total idiot to me.

But when you see First Flight you can empathize with guys like Archer. It is not a playful thing like with McCoy and Spock, it is serious, the life work of Archer's father is delayed by these guys.
And while talking about parental stuff, is the role of the Vulcans not similar to that of parents? Humankind got its sh*t together because they were embarrassed by the alien gaze. Yet when humankind has evolved culturally as quickly as never before and wants to continue to do so in deep space the very folks who have initially beena catalyst of this process now become an obstacle.
So they are like parents, they helped humans to mature but now the child has reached pubescence and the separation process will be a little bit ugly.

If we keep this entire fictional history between the two species in mind characters like Archer who seem to be over the top make more sense.
Despite being a big fan of ENT I believe that this very pattern, i.e. making only sense in hindsight and after some thought, is a key weakness of the series. Or is it, should characters be immediately transparent? I never got that McCoy and Spock are actually friends before I had seen Amok Time.

About Carbon Creek, it is kinda fun but we do not really learn anything new about Vulcans so it is not a must-have-seen episode. It starts off the whole character arc about T'Pol becoming more emotional/human but it is totally natural that being the only Vulcan who lives among humans changes you so I fail to see why this has to be rationalized via a stupid story about her grandmother or the drub abuse stuff in S3. Why force something which is natural anyway?
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  #29  
Old 11-20-2013, 11:23 PM
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You know, I believe I missed 'First Flight' the first time around. None of the snippets I've seen so far (There's an ad for S2 on the BluRay) seem familiar.

The ad also goes out of its way to mention 'Carbon Creek', which was why I was curious to see if that ep -like 'Fallen Hero'- broke the TNG/Berman Trek mold for how Vulcans behave (more than ENT already tries to, that is). I think I do remember being underwhelmed by it though, so between your recollection and mine I'll lower expectations accordingly. I expect I'll see it soon enough anyway, as I'm going through the whole series sequentially (BluRay providing the excuse to do so).

I actually am curious now about T'Pol's drug addiction and other S3 serialized developments, if only because this guy seems to favor it the highest of ENT's seasons. I find my opinions on ST 'generally' track with his, though with some notable exceptions (He ranks 'Dear Doctor' as his S1 favorite, as I believe you do, and of course everyone but me seems to rank 'Shuttlepod One' as being way up there too). At any rate, S3 is the last sizable chunk of ENT left unexplored for me at this point. I don't recall when I tuned out, but I believe it was early on in that season.

I think fans probably assumed prior to ENT that the Vulcans wouldn't have changed at all over just 100 years. This assumption would be supported by Vulcan culture's seemingly rigid emphasis on ritual and tradition (as you mentioned), and by the fact that they've been in space a very long time (long enough to forget their kinship with the Romulans, at least). They've always been portrayed as a very old culture rather than an evolving one. Deciding that they should appear younger or more stubborn because humans/Starfleet is younger, and that's going to be the theme of our series, is like deciding to build the Enterprise on Earth: in both cases you're exercising your creative license to favor a dramatic truth over a more probable one.

Where 'The Forge' three-parter disconnected for me, was where the resolution seemed to back-peddle with this decision. It's like they were saying no, it's just the conservative ruling minority that's made up of Vulcans who still need to enlighten themselves; the oppressed majority of individuals is already there waiting for Kirk's and Spock's 23rd Century to discover them. I guess the question is, as a writer do you come in and fix something the fans responded negatively to, or do you stay the course and figure you're committed to what you've started? I think finally someone actually says to Archer "You'll have a much better relationship with us from now on" and that's when I thought things were ending too neatly. I also thought the Vulcan high command went way too far when they admitted they were attacking both Andor and the underground Vulcan movement under intentionally false pretenses. When you go that far you not only lose motivation, but you leave only one possible ending which was the one we got.

I did like the Katra stuff though. It was nice to finally get an idea what Kirk and his friends hoped to achieve in recovering Spock if they couldn't know his body had been restored.
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Old 11-21-2013, 01:21 AM
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Season 3 is not bad but it suffers from structural problems. We already saw the Dominion War in DS9 and what was the Xindi conflict should have been the Romulan War, i.e. doing a season long arc about a lethal conflict makes little sense when you wanna do it all over again later. The Xindi are nice but also fairly one-dimensional, reasonable primates vs. hyperaggressive insectoids and reptilians (talking about primate speciesism).

Sure, on closer inspection the Vulcan three-parter makes little sense. It provided two reason for the aggressive behaviour of Vulcans and neither stands analysis. As you pointed out, it takes time for a text to actually influence a culture whereas the show pretended that it happened overnight. As the head of the Vulcan administration was a mole Romulan influence must have been and still continue to be massive so it can hardly vanish over night either.

But to be fair, few Trek stories stand analysis. Unification is a beautiful story yet the notion that it makes sense to invade Vulcan Trojan Horse style is ridiculous. You cannot conquer the Federation by taking one planet, it makes only sense as a large scale "take hostages, extort the UFP and leave" scheme. So if the Romulans have to leave in the end anyway they could take any planet, it does not have to be Vulcan.
On the other hand this assumes that Romulans behave rationally which might be true on an individual level but Vulcan and Romulan culture, the institutions that help them channel their strong feelings into imperialism respectively help them suppress their feelings via ridiculous rituals, are crazy. As taking back Vulcan is politically-wise the sublime object of passion for Romulans it makes sense that they do not calculate it as well as their other tricksy endeavours.

As you mentioned Fallen Hero I would like to add that characters are of course also important, after all the performances of Nimoy and Lenard influenced Vulcans more than any script writer. In this era ENT suffers as Blalock is not a great actor. She plays well but she is no Nimoy and among the other Vulcan characters I only found Soval convincing (take e.g. the torture scene with Shran in the Vulcan three-parter).
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