Friday, August 5, 2022

Enterprise, Season 1: Detained

Enterprise, Season 1
Airdate: April 24, 2022
20 of 97 produced
20 of 97 aired


Archer and Travis wake up inside an internment camp filled with members of a race they have so far only known as enemies - the Suliban. 

Oh, boy!




Matthew: There are a lot of good ideas in this episode. Firstly, recasting the Suliban race as something other than a monolith is a worthy objective - this was done a tad in "Broken Bow" but is much more fleshed out, here. I wanted to know more about how their planet had been rendered uninhabitable and how its government fell, but what we did get about their diaspora and resettling in many other systems was really nice. The dialogue about Suliban living and growing up with the Tandarans was really good. The comparison to Japanese internment was very interesting, if perhaps underdeveloped. There was a theme of prejudice and judging people by their appearance that I would have liked a bit more of, but it was definitely there. With that said, I would have liked to see the prisoners here portrayed as more varied in sentiment and relative "guilt." Maybe some of them could be contemplating joining the "bad guys" because of their maltreatment? Colonel Grat's justifications, that they were in danger, or would be ripe for recruitment by the Suliban Cabal, could have stood more examination as well. I will never stop advocating for "both sides" of an particular debate receiving a charitable hearing, even when one of them is wrong.

Kevin: Yep, this is some solid Trek story telling. We have an allegory with a shoutout to the human historical parallel. I think the best work for me was with Danik. He did a great job of making the Suliban seem like a real people. It even has a backsplash effect for characters like Silik, who rather than just be a moustache twirling villain is now a member of a real people who made decisions in response to real situations. I also agree that the episode could have been elevated by the internment apparently radicalizing some of the Suliban. But still, there's enough here to make a fun episode.

Matthew: As prison plots go, this was on the OK side. I liked the basic elements of the breakout, but I would have liked more of the planning phases, as in any good heist/breakout movie. The story did not really give us resolutions for several Suliban characters - I guess we are just to assume that they got out and were not shot down in their various escape craft. The one criticism I have, really, is that Archer's unwillingness to share "intelligence" about the Cabal with Grat seemed counterproductive. He didn't cooperate early, when it seemed clear that it would help them escape, and he made their situation worse later on when Grat retaliated with a longer imprisonment - all for information that would do nothing to hurt the people in the internment camp, who were of course not implicated in that "intelligence." If anything, it seems like that would have helped their case (underscoring the differences between the groups of Suliban) or done nothing to it either way. Heck, even Vanik tells Archer to give up the information. So it just made Archer seem kind of pointlessly stubborn (which is admittedly in character as portrayed in the series thus far).

Kevin: I think this is where the bulk of my issues with the episode lie. It went so quickly into prison break story that it crowded out the interesting philosophical debate. As you say, we actually don't get any kind of wrap up with any of the Suliban we spent most of the episode getting to know. And I get what you're saying about Archer, but I could see him bristling at being taken in the first place and not willing to be cooperative as a result.


Matthew: This was a low key showcase for Anthony Montgomery, who is not being asked to portray a "boomer" in this episode. Instead, he deals with physical hardship, and with his character's own prejudice. I'm not saying it was Olivier, but it was a step up from the typically bland stuff we've gotten from his character. Scott Bakula was fine as Archer, but this sort of righteous anger is something we've seen from him many times, without any really different shades to it.

Kevin: This is definitely one of Montgomery's better outings, but it still leveled out at 'fine' for me. And I bought Bakula's indignation this time. I think it's more that it's been his response to many times elsewhere that makes it feel a little repetetive here. But still, I think he was good.

Matthew: Dennis Christopher, who previously played the Vorta Borath on DS9, did a nice job as the lead Suliban Vanik. I believed his chemistry with his daughter, and his weary indignation at having his life upended for reasons of fear and prejudice. Dean Stockwell was quite good as Colonel Grat - I believed that Grat believed in his own perspective, and that he wasn't just villainous. He had good chemistry with Bakula for some reason - it's like they've known each other for years. 

Kevin: Chrisopher Shea also played a Vorta, Keevan. Both were great at giving the Suliban depth and internal life, especially through all that make up. It's a real talent. Stockwell was great at walking a line of being the villain, but one who at least believed his own PR. It adds complexity in a really satisfying way.

Production Values

Matthew: The detention center was well lit. But it was kind of the same corrugated sheet metal set we've seen a lot in this series (the last time that springs to mind is "Shadows of P'Jem.") The Suliban makeup was good as usual. The CGI exterior of the camp and the firefight breakout were.... very early aughts.

Kevin: A lot of this season, even when well lit has been dusty gray, but I won't press that complaint here given the context. And yeah, the CGI was basically video game cutscenes of that era.


Matthew: This is somewhere in the average to above-average range. It's got a lot of good ideas. But I think ultimately it's a solidly decent 3. Entertaining, somewhat thought provoking, but maybe one rewrite away from tightening up the ethical questions and historical allusions present in the story.

Kevin: I think had they stayed with morality tale, this would be an easy 4, but switching to a prison break and not having any real closure for characters they made me care about hold this back. This is a good episode, certainly, and is even at the high end of the 3 I am giving it. That makes a total of 6.

1 comment:

  1. Agreed and agreed, as so often. :D But that makes for a boring comment, so...

    Re. Archer's hesitation, shall we say, in sharing his experiences about the Suliban. Most of the Suliban he has met up until now are quite dangerous and technologically capable. Maybe Archer does not want to play into Grat's version of the Suliban by confirming suspicions or raising new ones.
    Or maybe he's worried about the Temporal Cold War, which they are keeping pretty hush-hush.

    But yeah, he could have given Grat some chicken feed information that would have kept him happy. Archer probably got 'bad guy' vibes from Grat and decided to oppose him on principle. The suggestions I made sound more like T'Pol's or Reed's considerations than Archer's.