The Cynics Corner



by David E. Sluss

20 April 2002

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: The third member of Enterprise's mid-season Axis of Evil, along with "Rogue Planet" and "Acquisition."


RECYCLING OF THE WEEK: Maybe there really aren't any new stories left to be told in the Star Trek universe. At the very least, Enterprise's staff seems unable to come up with any, judging by the last couple of episodes and now this one, a hodge-podge of various Voyager "holograms of the galaxy unite!" episodes as well as Deep Space Nine's "Shadowplay" (which coincidentally(?) spotlighted Rene Auberjonois as well). A holographic crew? In-jokes about a "holographic doctor?" I think I'll pass. After watching fifteen years of New Trek, surely most viewers figured out about ten minutes into this episode that the crashed vessel's crew was holographic; if not, the script, in Star Trek's typical "two-by-four to the head" fashion, mentions the Xyrillian ship from "Unexpected" not once but twice.

The utter predictability of this situation renders the middle two acts, in which Our Heroes slooooowly figure it out, interminable. As a viewer, there's nothing to do during this half-hour or so but sit there and notice how sugary (like marshmallows) the scenes between Trip and Kes are, wonder why Our Heroes don't notice that the alien wreck still shows no biosigns when members of its crew are walking around in the undampened parts of the ship, and speculate about the puzzled, mildly retarded look on Archer's face throughout much of the episode. The well-acted and reasonably well-written closing act helps the cause, but not nearly enough to salvage this stale tale.

LAUGH LINE OF THE WEEK: It's the delivery rather than the line itself… At the beginning of the final act, Archer asks Ezral what happened to the vessel's crew. Ezral responds with a jag-off: "They're gone -- isn't it obvious?" Archer's reply, "Your real crew!" delivered the way a slightly stupid child who's just had one put over on him might say it, was worth a grin. I don't know -- there's something wrong with the way Bakula's been playing Archer lately, as if the Captain is a bit slow on the uptake (witness how confused he looks when he asks Trip about Kes and Trip misinterprets it as an inquisition about womanizing). I guess it's a way to explain away some of Archer's questionable choices to date, but it just seems wrong. Unlike Janeway, who did stupid things when she should have known better, Archer does stupid things and gives the impression that he can't help it. I'm genuinely unsure which is worse.

POSITIVE TRENDS OF THE WEEK: There are a couple of praiseworthy aspects of this episode. First, the references to "Unexpected," even if clumsily executed, continue a trend in Enterprise of "low-level continuity" between episodes that is appreciated. Second, the admission that Enterprise has taken significant damage requiring repair, following the acknowledgement in "Silent Enemy" that the vessel is woefully outclassed, is quite refreshing after seven years of magic in the Delta Quadrant. Of course the crew presumably didn't get any parts or materials from this little expedition, which leaves it an open issue. Third, the "New Linguistics" problem, which I've often harped about, was deflected well in this episode, for once, as the adaptation of the Universal Translator to the aliens' language took place "offscreen" between the first and second acts.

ILLOGIC OF THE WEEK: If you didn't believe me last week when I said that T'Pol's behavior in "Acquisition" proves she can't possibly be a Vulcan, what do you think now about the entirely gratuitous cattiness she showed toward Trip and Kes here? Where is the logic in that?

NEW TECHNOLOGY OF THE WEEK: Certainly not holotechnology, which has already appeared, however appallingly, in this series (though you have to wonder why a lone man with limited and damaged technology can create realistic holograms while Starfleet won't figure it out for a couple of centuries). Instead I'm going with T'Pol's tricorder, with the alien-door-opener feature. Too bad it was unable to detect the massive energy usage that would be necessary to display a crew of holograms...

Previous: "Acquisition"
Next: "Detained"
NEXT WEEK: More stunning originality in an "alien prison" episode.



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This review is copyright 2002 David E. Sluss
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