The Cynics Corner


"Shadows of P'Jem"

by David E. Sluss

12 February 2002

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: A laudable exercise in continuity and follow-through which is hopelessly marred by silliness.


FILLER OF THE WEEK: Perhaps some fanpersons were enthralled by the endless scenes of Archer and T'Pol in bondage, but I for one was appalled. Berman and Braga seemed to go out of their way this time to humiliate their characters. Indeed, the mistreatment was so outrageous that it has sparked an international outcry, as reported by CyNN:

February 7, 2002 1:37PM

WASHINGTON, DC. (CyNN) France, Suriname, and other members of the international community have protested the treatment of characters imprisoned at the BermanBraga base in Guano Bay, Coridan. The characters, captured in Clicheistan during BermanBraga's war on neurons, have reportedly been subjected to inhumane conditions, including sexual tension, suffocation by mammary, and simulated humping without benefit of a post-coital cigarette. They have also reportedly been denied the right to dialog re-writes.

A senior French official also charged that BermanBraga soldiers have been forcing the characters to eat pabulum by "lapping it up like dogs." He continued, "No character -- and certainly no viewer -- deserves to be treated like this, regardless of the reasons for his or her incarceration."

The official BermanBraga position is that the prisoners are "contrivance combatants," not protected under the terms of the Generic and Conventional, which govern the way characters are to be treated in Star Trek scripts. A spokesperson, responding to the French accusations, said that the prisoners "might be getting a faceful of thrusting, heaving flesh now and then," but overall their treatment is "consistent with past Star Trek practices." He added, "By all rights, they should be spanked on the bare bottom, but we haven't done that."

STAR TREK CLICHE OF THE WEEK: The shuttle crashes, and in this case we don't even know whether it was recovered. I guess we'll find out whether Voyager's Shuttle Regeneration technology has time-warped its way back to Enterprise...

ANDROMEDA CLICHE OF THE WEEK: A badly lit and largely incoherent shoot-em-up at the climax of the episode, with Super-Slo-Mo, to boot.

ANDORIAN UNINTELLIGENCE OF THE WEEK: The Andorians aren't supposed to be subtle, of course, but you have to wonder about their escape plan for Archer, which involves smuggling a communications device into the cell -- a device which glows bright red and which activates without regard to whether Coridan goons might be in the room.

NEW TECHNOLOGY OF THE WEEK: Subspace communications, which operated with at least a continuity fig leaf of static just a couple of weeks ago in "Silent Enemy," now functions in perfect, real-time, high definition.

CULTURAL GENOCIDE OF THE WEEK: It's been clear since "Broken Bow" that these are not your father's Vulcans on Enterprise, but in this episode, only the pointy ears would suggest that these people are Vulcans at all. The Vulcan ambassador displays obvious anger in the teaser, and to a lesser extent the Vulcan captain does later in the episode as well. It seems to be a combination of bad writing and bad acting; in the case of the latter, someone needs to make sure that all "Vulcan actors," including Jolene Blalock, are subjected to tape loops of Tuvok and Spock. Both Tim Russ and Leonard Nimoy had a way of expressing "non-emotional irritation" that this week's guest stars failed at utterly, and which Blalock has only been able to do inconsistently.

There is also something unsettling about a Vulcan commando raid. The brute force used here seems to me to be beneath them. I would expect that their solution would be more cunning and covert, or that the Vulcans would at least use soldiers of their puppet Coridan government to do the actual dirty work. It also seems illogical (though necessary script-wise so that T'Pol's predicament could be reset) for the Vulcan captain, who according to Shran commands the Vulcan fleet in Coridan's sector, to participate personally in the raid.

NEW LINGUISTICS OF THE WEEK: The universal translator can translate the Coridan language perfectly. OK, I'll buy that, since Coridan is in the Vulcan database. But what are Archer, T'Pol, and their captors speaking in the cell, after the UTs were presumably confiscated? Even if the captors had their own UTs, their leader acknowledged that he had never heard of Archer's race before, which would suggest that English wouldn't be programmed into their devices. And how is Trip able to walk up to the guards and ply them with booze, without anyone noticing that he's speaking through a translator? Yes, yes, an old problem, I know...

Previous: "Sleeping Dogs"
Next: "Shuttlepod One"
NEXT WEEK: An "imaginary tale" of the Enterprise's destruction and T'Pol's seduction.



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This review is copyright 2002 David E. Sluss
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