Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Enterprise, Season 1: Rogue Planet

 Enterprise, Season 1
"Rogue Planet"
Airdate: March 20, 2002
17 of 97 produced
17 of 97 aired


Enterprise comes across a dark planet that has escaped its originating solar system, but also finds a surprising ecosystem and a group of hunters who are alien to this strange world.


A group of PlayStation 9 users discovers that their accessories don't look nearly as cool as they thought.


Kevin: I'm going to be honest. I really struggled to pay attention to this one. I kind of had to stitch watching it together from several viewings. I think it's because it's the pinnacle of both knowing exactly how the episode would go from minute one, and the episode artificially delaying that moment. Archer sees the blond woman and is dismissed by the hunters for having a dream. The hunters who are here specifically to hunt creatures that can literally create literal hallucinations. Which they then told them about a scene later. The problem is if the crew knew from jump what was going on, then the episode takes 10 minutes. We've also looked at episodes of the ethics of hunting sentient species, so it just felt like well tread ground with no real tension. Even T'Pol's perfected cultural relativism would balk at hunting sentient beings for sport, so there's no real ethical conflict.

Matthew: Yeah, it took me longer than 45 minutes to watch this episode, for similar reasons. The pacing was off, and they emphasized the wrong parts of the story. It's obvious that there is a lot here for a science fiction story - I wished the episode would have spent time really debating what intelligence and sentience really mean (I hate the way Star Trek uses that term, btw - my cats are sentient, despite what Data's poem says - I think the franchise has been mistaking sentience for sapience for decades, now). Anyway, a fascinating topic for a debate is at what level of sentience an animal becomes worthy of moral care. Does a fish? A chicken? A squid? A humpback whale? And why? This episode flirted with these questions when the hunters disputed whether the wraith creatures were sentient (argh). But the question was never really in the mind of the viewer - the creature could clearly hold a conversation with Archer, and wasn't simply mimicking his verbal output. And so much of the episode was spent with people shining flashlights around a jungle soundstage that there just wasn't time for more interesting questions to be asked or answered.

Kevin: The sci-fi idea is fun enough. A planet with no light still having enough energy for life because of geo-thermal vents is fun. But again, they didn't really do anything with it. It was just a regular dark jungle. I don't really have much more to add. There wasn't really a lot to this episode. T'Pol's retort about Archer's motivations and wondering if he would be so motivated if the vision were a scantily clad man did get a chuckle out of me.

Matthew: I was annoyed by how little the crew believed their captain's experience initially. At least Trip should be on his side, you know?  As far as the ecosystem of the planet, I don't think geothermal vents would be able to support such a diverse mammalian or plant food chain. I could see how the wraiths might evolve in response to this environment, but of course that would take several thousand years. This was an opportunity for a truly alien world (akin to the life in our oceans that surrounds thermal vents). But none of these issues really had time for development, as so much of the plot was taken up by people in doofy googles sneaking around a jungle sound stage.


Kevin: Everyone was fine. Not that this episode asked much of them, but none of the acting was bad. There just wasn't much of it to do.

Matthew: I liked Scott Bakula's performance here. I believed his confusion and inquisitiveness, and then when he revealed the memory behind his vision, I believed his wistfulness.  It's a nice step up from his regular "annoyed/indignant captain" shtick. I would say the other standout in this episode is probably Dominic Keating's Malcolm Reed. His interplay with Archer over their Eagle Scout badges was amusing.

Production Values

Kevin: The idea of having an episode take place in the dark is fun, and the night vision goggles were neat for a few minutes, but overall, the whole episode was just indecipherable. Even in HD, there just wasn't much to look at. One thing that kept nagging me was a couple of times someone shone a light source on someone wearing the night vision Google Glass, and that should have blown out their vision. It's those little details that make an episode work or not.

Matthew: Every single Star Trek episode set in a dark place has been a failure. Indeed, probably every single episode of any television show set thusly has failed (see also: Game of Thrones "The Long Night"). So, of what I could see, the scenery was fine-ish. The goggles for both parties were pretty stupid-looking, and must have been a real pain to wear - also, they would make it very difficult to see in the dark, by dilating the eyes of their wearers. It's the sort of concept that sounds really cool on the page but just doesn't work on TV. Sorry, creatives, you need to light your episodes adequately. 


Kevin: I was so bored by this I was considering a 1, but honestly, a 1 requires some affirmative feat of being bad. This was just bland. The action on the screen was largely invisible, and so was the story. This is a 2. Well, a 2 and heavy sigh, but mathematically that's still a 2.

Matthew: There was a much better episode trapped in this script, yearning to break free. Unfortunately, dark scenery and moribund pacing didn't leave the time for it to do so.  I sadly must agree with the 2 for our second 4 in a row. But I want to make a distinction here - 4 was our standard rating for much of Discovery and Picard, and this is better than those, of only because the people here have a disdain for killing and violence, unlike the "Starfleet officers" of those shows. When Enterprise is boring and underbaked, it is still being peopled by recognizable residents of the Star Trek universe.

1 comment:

  1. There is no light, yet the plants are green and look like ours? Disbelief Suspension Systems Failing!