the story: "Vulcans without logic" visit the ship, bringing with them an ancient, abandoned custom: the mind meld.
what it's all about: "Fusion," as my brief summary above suggests, features one more significant deviation Enterprise chose to feature from classic depictions of Vulcans. In fact, it may be considered the most important of them. Vulcans who don't mind meld? Whoa!
That the series depicted Vulcans in a less than flattering light was always a bone of contention among fans. They also didn't like the thought that Vulcans and mind melds were not somehow intrinsically synonymous, that this too would be added to the things Enterprise sought to establish about the familiar Star Trek mythos. "Fusion" posits that mind melds had been abandoned, ending up practiced only by fringe members of society. T'Pol actively shuns the ship's visitors because of it, initially, until Archer insists. Then her experience ends up with a metaphorical rape. Aside from Shinzon and Troi in Star Trek Nemesis, this is a topic that's never really been explored in the franchise, and that alone makes the episode noteworthy.
That the whole incident is followed up next season with "Stigma" also makes it a part of the show's informal serialization, besides the fact that it of course begins to reconcile the differences between the classic depiction of Vulcans and how they appear in Enterprise; these are things that further develop in the fourth season.
- franchise - Exploring the famous Vulcan mind meld, and how it wasn't always practiced openly.
- series - Crucial development in the overall Enterprise arc.
- character - T'Pol reaches a critical moment in that arc.
- essential - A massive chipping away at the mythology surrounding the Vulcans, and therefore making them more believable.
Vaughn Armstrong (Forrest)