Archive for April, 2013

Trekathon 725: Observer Effect (ENT)

April 30th, 2013

Trip and Hoshi catch a really nasty alien virus.

An ambitious episode that ultimately falls short of its goals. It was interesting to see these observers inhabit different people, and assemble their views on humanity. But it’s not at all clear what they were trying to learn from this, or why this will tell them about which species will develop towards their ideals. Actually, the biggest flaw was their methodology – if this is supposed to be a scientific observation then they’re incredibly sloppy about it.

The framing of the story in terms of these aliens completely overwhelms most of the rest of the episode, but there are some nice moments between Trip and Hoshi as they’re suffering from the virus.

Callbacks: The second most famous of Star Trek’s ‘super powerful non-corporeal aliens’, the Organians. But the Cardassians also get a quick mention.

725 down, 12 to go.

Trekathon 724: Daedalus (ENT)

April 29th, 2013

The inventor of the transporter comes aboard for a mission.

The first entirely standalone episode Enterprise has done since Bounty, 35 episodes ago. Let’s just say they should stick to the bigger stories. For a large part of this episode it danced on the edge of ‘awful’, before plunging over the edge with a dreadful final sequence of trying to rescue the inventor’s son at the end.

Also one of my pet peeves, which Enterprise has been surprisingly good at avoiding, reappears: the Barrens has no star system within 100 light years? So that means it must be at least 100 light years from where Enterprise was at the start of the episode. But a year ago we were told it takes Enterprise 6 months to travel that distance. All I’m asking for here is a little internal consistency, please!

724 down, 13 to go.

Trekathon 723: Kir’Shara (3) (ENT)

April 28th, 2013

The Vulcan High Command launches an attack on Andoria.

With the exception of administrator V’Las, I thought this worked very well as the reconciliation between TOS and later Vulcans and the Vulcans of Enterprise. V’Las, though, just goes too far over the edge. Maybe that’s meant to be a hint to his affiliations, but he goes far enough that the complicity of the other Vulcans doesn’t make a lot of sense.

But that’s a minor flaw in an otherwise fantastic episode. There’s plenty of Vulcan philosophy on the way out of the desert. And there’s some good character building stuff involving Shran (Enterprise’s best recurring character) and the Andorians. The final fleet battle sequence was an exciting and tense moment of a time that Star Trek doesn’t often allow.

723 down, 14 to go. Just two weeks now.

Trekathon 722: Awakening (2) (ENT)

April 27th, 2013

Archer becomes the Vulcan Martin Luther.

Well, it’s a good thing this appears to be the ‘Vulcan reset button’ story. Because if it wasn’t, I’d be pretty annoyed by the portrayal of the high command. They simply are not acting like the Vulcans we know from later series. Apart from being plainly based on the 2003 US leadership, they’re quite emotional, and very duplicitous. This episode has pushed that beyond the breaking point, and I’m really just hanging in there by a thread.

But as with all three parters (OK, this is only the second ever, still) this is the middle of the story – let’s see how this can be resolved.

Callbacks: T’Pau, I believe the first crossover of an actual character between Enterprise and another series (TOS, in Amok Time).

722 down, 15 to go.

Trekathon 721: The Forge (1) (ENT)

April 26th, 2013

Vulcan terrorists blow up the Earth embassy.

The portrayal of Vulcans in Enterprise has been controversial. They are, with no question, not the Vulcans of later series – they don’t act the same, or have the same beliefs. Personally I’ve been happy to let that be, on the basis that the writers were going somewhere with it. And this episode finally starts to deliver. The previous ‘neocon lite’ aspect of the Vulcans is cranked into high gear, with a police state, Vulcan terrorists, and shadowy plots from the political leaders.

We also get the best explanation yet of the Vulcan/Human relationship in the opening scene – Vulcan’s fear Humans because they fear themselves. Fantastic. Wish we could have landed on that a bit earlier. We also get the explanation for ‘Vulcans do not lie’, which also makes sense.

Callbacks: The idic medallion that Spock would later wear. Vulcan’s Forge, site of Spock’s kahs-wan, and a sehlat (and T’Pol’s pet sehlat, just like Spock). Klingon Opera. Surak. The first Human-Vulcan mind meld. Katras being transported with Humans. This is pretty much straight continuity porn.

721 down, 16 to go.

Trekathon 720: The Augments (3) (ENT)

April 25th, 2013

Archer has to stop the augments before they destroy a Klingon world.

In the great debate of nature versus nurture, this episode comes down relatively solidly on the side of nature. We’re told that the augments are this aggressive and dangerous because of their genes, rather than their upbringing. I would have preferred a bit of grey in that judgment, because it seems the potential for Soong’s parentage to have messed these kids up is at least as great.

I think this entire trilogy is best understood as a homage to Wrath of Khan, and it’s not a bad one. It just goes on for too long, without enough story to sustain it.

Callbacks: We get the briar patch from Insurrection briefly, but the big call back is to everyone’s friend Khan, and the SS Botany Bay. And at the end, we get Soong starting the research that will someday lead to Data.

720 down, 17 to go.

Trekathon 719: Cold Station 12 (2) (ENT)

April 24th, 2013

The Augments raid a research station to retrieve their frozen embryo siblings.

The one thing harder to write about than a two-part episode: the dread three-parter. Most of what is interesting or good, or bad, or strange, was set up in the previous episode. And nothing is really resolved here. At this point I’m actually wondering if I’d even notice if I’d missed this part, because it leaves off substantially where the previous episode did, with only a marginal increase in the threat. They are aware that all those female augments can produce children cheaper and easier than these frozen embryos, right?

There are some nice parts: Phlox’s pen pal Dr Lucas is seen at last, But there’s also the fairly strange subplot involving the augment outcast, which ends in a fairly pointless death.

719 down, 18 to go.

Trekathon 718: Borderland (1) (ENT)

April 23rd, 2013

Enterprise has to track down a group of augmented humans who attacked a Klingon ship.

It’s comforting to be back into plots that feel a lot more like Star Trek. As annoying as the Klingons can be, you know where you stand with them. Plus it helps to have a great guest star, and Brent Spiner is honestly one of the more flexible actors around – he can play a very surprising range.

The Orion sequence got a bit tedious, as nice as it was to fill in a bit of Star Trek lore. This is offset by the ‘augmented humans’, in a very strong echo of both Space Seed and Wrath of Khan. The costumes look a lot like Wrath of Khan, actually.

Callbacks: Oh, so many callbacks. First there’s Brent Spiner as one of the ancestors of the Soong who would create Data. Then there’s Orion Slave Girls (a callback to the original TOS pilot). Archer says ‘Two to Beam Up’ for, I believe, the first time. Plus mentions of the eugenics war, augmented Humans and so on.

718 down, 19 to go.

Trekathon 717: Home (ENT)

April 22nd, 2013

Everyone goes home. Except Phlox.

Another of the ‘anthology’ episodes that Enterprise seems to enjoy so much. The best was Archer trying to deal with his actions – I like seeing the psychological consequences on the crew, it grounds the show in reality. It’s handled reasonably well, even with the gratuitous rock climbing sequence.

The other parts are weaker but still of some interest. T’Pol returns home, bringing a boy (Trip) home for the very first time. We learn a few little tidbits, but it seems more like this is setting up a broader plot later on. The final subplot, with Phlox being threatened for being an alien, is a bit disturbing for the Star Trek universe, but understandable given the circumstances.

Callbacks: The Vulcan wedding and the kal-if-fee most obviously, and a quick reference to World War 3.

717 down, 20 to go.

Trekathon 716: Storm Front (2) (ENT)

April 21st, 2013

Archer defeats the Space Nazis.

A bad plot that was resolved about as well as could be hoped. The plot runs all over the place for not much result, such as the Trip subplot – a lot of effort, no real storytelling. The most ambitious bit was the opening newsreel, but that fell pretty flat.

I’ll forgive this episode for being ultimately mediocre because of two main things. Firstly, the Temporal Cold War plot has been firmly jettisoned out of the airlock, along with Silik and Daniels. Given that Silik appears to only be in this episode in order to die, that suggests to me the writer was as sick of this plot as I was.

Secondly, I have to admit the scene of the Enterprise fighting off German fighters over New York City was cool. Stupid, yeah. And a real stretch. But cool.

716 down, 21 to go.