The Cynics Corner



by David E. Sluss

20 October 2001

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: Points for giving us a rare Star Trek look at an alien society that is actually somewhat alien, but this episode was "expected" to be pretty lame, and it delivered.


ADDICTS OF THE WEEK: Attention, Berman and Braga: There are plenty of effective treatments for holodeck addiction. Many are covered at least in part by medical insurance. You don't have to go on living this way.

WEIRD TECHNOLOGY OF THE WEEK: The advanced gadgetry of the Xyrillians definitely had some gaps in it. Their "stealth" technology didn't seem to be terribly stealthy, for example. During Enterprise's initial contact with them, T'Pol's sensors were able to determine that the alien vessel's warp drive was offline even before they shut down the cloak. Later, the Xyrillian ship is found because T'Pol was able to track its "stealth telemetry" - now there's a contradiction in terms. Their advanced somethin-or-other engine breaks down twice in one week for no apparent reason, and they have to rely on an engineer from another, less advanced vessel to fix it. My personal favorite: the Xyrillians are able to "synthesize protein and carbohydrates" according to T'Pol, but they can't make water? Good old H20? A real simple compound easily produced from common ingredients? I mean, Jell-O shots are fine, but the Kazon hangover the next day is a bitch...

RESOURCE HOG OF THE WEEK: On the other hand, as easy as water (and resequenced protein disguised as chicken tetrazini, I suppose) would be to produce, I'd have to say that Archer's shower seemed to use water rather extravagantly. Still, you have to give an "equal opportunity exploitation" credit to Berman and Braga for putting Archer rather than T'Pol in the shower...

NEW LINGUISTICS OF THE WEEK: The Xyrillian Captain broadcasts a six-word message to Enterprise. Hoshi's computer plays it back over and over, as it gradually picks out English words from that single sentence of alien speech. The translation Hoshi did in "Fight or Flight" was questionable, but this is outrageous. The episode then seems to say, "To hell with translation" after that; so far as I could tell, Trip didn't have any translation gizmo with him while he was grab-assing on the Xyrillian ship. Realistically, Hoshi should have accompanied Trip on this mission. Then we could have had a threesome in the holodeck. Wouldn't that have been hot? And good for ratings, to boot...

FORGOTTEN TECHNOLOGY OF THE WEEK: Wow, an alien ship with an unbreathable atmosphere. Don't we have space suits for that?

VOYAGER CLICHE OF THE WEEK: Surly Forehead Aliens Attack the Ship for No Apparent Reason in a Gratuitous Space Battle sequence; Janeway doesn't bother to shoot back. Oops, wrong series. Or is it?

KLINGON KLAPTRAP OF THE WEEK: So we shoehorn the Klingons in as the Surly Forehead Aliens. There doesn't seem to be a good reason for them to be in this episode, and, damn it, aren't we all sick of Klingons? There's a jaw-dropping display of continuity with "Broken Bow" here, and T'Pol has a pretty good scene in her exchange with the Klingon Kaptain, but still, what was the point? We're still not seeing any evidence of Picard's claim that first contact with the Klingons caused a war. Sure, they're surly - generally that's all they are - but any war that breaks out can certainly not be directly attributed to the first contact, from what we've seen in this series to date. More Klaptrap: the Klingon Kaptain threatens to kill the Xyrillians and send them to Sto'Vo'Kor. I thought that was just for warriors -- or does this series take place before Sto'Vo'Kor instituted the controversial "Warriors Only" policy? Still more Klaptrap: The Klingons want the Xyrillians' holodreck technology, but aren't interested in the imperfect but militarily useful cloaking system, something they won't have for another century?

CONTRIVANCES OF THE WEEK: Well the pregnancy was handled with all the delicacy we expect from Star Trek, with sitcom situations (Look, Trip's hormonal. Ha, ha! Look, he wants to keep it a secret, but then blabs about it in front of the waiter. Ha Ha) and plot-convenient properties (The embryo is young enough to transfer to a new host. Hooray!). Phlox's knowledge base about the situation seemed off-kilter as well. He knows that the male acts only as a host in Xyrillian pregnancies, but doesn't know how Xyrillian males become pregnant. He can predict the gestation period of the embryo, but not the physiological side effects on Trip. It's actually nice to see a Star Trek doctor who isn't a know-it-all, but his knowledge here seemed to be strictly arbitrary.

CHARACTER ASSASSINATION OF THE WEEK: Trip turns paranoid under an "alien influence" for the second week in a row. How'd he ever pass the psych test?

CONTINUITY MAINTENANCE OF THE WEEK: For those wondering why the Xyrillians never appeared in previous/future series, Berman and Braga have a subtle answer: After exposing the Xyrillians to the Klingons, Enterprise left, and the Klingons cruised over to the Xyrillian homeworld, a month away at impulse power, and probably only hours or days at warp, and wiped them out. The Enterprise crew lives for these Last Contact situations...

Previous: "Strange New World"
Next: "Terra Nova"
NEXT WEEK: Sometimes a sinkhole is just a sinkhole; sometimes it's a metaphor for where the series might be going...



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This review is copyright 2001 David E. Sluss
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