Saturday, August 6, 2022

Enterprise, Season 1: Vox Sola

 Enterprise, Season 1
"Vox Sola"
Airdate: May 1, 2002
21 of 97 produced
21 of 97 aired


The Enterprise receives an unexpected visitor after a failed diplomatic meeting, one which will test the crew's ability to communicate with a truly alien being.

The slash fiction writes itself...


Kevin: The basic sketch of the episode is sound, and pure Star Trek. We meet an alien who threatens the crew but we can't presume its intentions are hostile, so the moral thing to do is attempt to bridge the gap rather than respond with violence. The story is also some character development for Hoshi, since resolving the crisis falls solely on her shoulders. As far as the character development goes, I think it works pretty well. She is understandably nervous and frustrated, especially following the failure in the teaser. She grows in confidence, and the scenes with T'Pol are great and pass the Bechdel Test with flying colors. I like when she stood up for herself with T'Pol, who was being a little condescending honestly. I also liked the nice reinforcement of the ethical debate with Phlox and Reed.

Matthew: Yep, this is an exemplar of Star Trek values and storytelling. Strange new alien? Check. Tension between desire for safety and desire for non-violent discovery? Check. I loved how Malcolm's desire to be aggressive in intervening with the creature was not pitched as villainy or violence, but concern for his crewmates. I also thought this was a great showcase for Hoshi. It was really gratifying to see her work on and succeed at figuring out such a challenging means of communication, as well as learning how to deal with T'Pol, whose management style is, shall we say, a bit different than most humans. Even Travis got a nice little scene apologizing to the Kreetassans.

Kevin: I think if I had a critique of the episode is that I wish the tempo was about a few beats per minute faster than it was. Once Trip and Archer are inside the alien, nothing really changes until the resolution and the grind of solving the problem didn't quite crackle enough. I appreciate that it's hard to dramatize "decode calculus problems." The character work was fine, but the energy was a little low. Maybe the crew trapped in the alien having their own attempt to communicate with the alien could have added something.

Matthew: I was thinking the same thing. If the captured crew and the alien were sharing thoughts, perhaps they could have communicated something to the rest of the Enterprise personnel. Or, in the alternative, there could have been more personal character exchange between Archer and Trip (a la TNG "Attached"). So yeah, the pacing was a little pokey in the middle third. Another way to pad things out and keep them brisker would have been to learn more from the alien entity on the planet.

Kevin: The joke with aliens who view eating as a private act like sex just didn't come off. And they didn't do anything with it. I kept waiting for some button on that joke, especially since it exonerates Hoshi. This was straight up cultural misunderstanding and one that would have happened if they spoke English. 

Matthew: Yeah, it was sort of a minor Piller Filler bit that didn't hit very well.


Kevin: This was a Hoshi episode, and I think Park did a good job with it. I think the series has given her a bit of a one note in terms of character, but she is doing what she can with it. I liked the scenes with T'Pol and, as much as I like seeing friends do stuff on Star Trek, I kind of like watching two professionals who are just colleagues to each other just do their job. Beyond that, there's not a ton of acting to be done here. "Stuck in goo" isn't exactly a semester at Julliard. 

Matthew: But yeah, Linda Park really nailed Hoshi this episode. Her facial acting was what stuck out for me. The way she furrows her brow really communicates her frustration and effort in a relatable way. I was rejoicing with her as she successfully communicated with the entity. Her line deliveries were also free of any whininess, which has been an issue in some previous episodes.

Kevin: I hate to rag on him, but there was something really annoying about Montgomery's line readings in the conversation with the alien captain. It just felt really stilted. Also, random guest star alert. Crewman Kelly was played by a pre-Hamilton Renee Elise Goldsberry, who originated the role of Angelica Schuyler. Even aside from me just wanting her to break out into song, I did think it was weird she had no lines in the alien. Her scenes in Engineering were grade-A normal person in Star Trek.

Matthew: I thought Montgomery's earnestness worked for the apology scene. As far as the Kreetassan captain.... it's just come to the point that they can't use Vaughn Armstrong in alternate guest star roles. His voice, which we've gotten to hear frequently with Admiral Forrest, is just too distinctive. 

Production Values

Kevin: The physical effects of the alien were pretty good. Really good work on making a big, mucousy web. The CGI alien was....terrible. There. I said it. I guess whatever James Cameron used in The Abyss was too pricey. This is less a production note per se, but I really liked that shirt Trip was wearing while watching the game. Really flattering. He's a handsome man. I'll stop now.

Matthew:  The alien entity looked.... how to put this on a family website... like a gonadal excretion. I think they should have chosen a different color. But look, alien effects don't make or break an episode. If the Gorn in "Arena" or the Horta in "Devil in the Dark" can work, so can this. The CGI was indeed rudimentary, but I really liked the design idea of the creature's habitat on its planet.


Kevin: This is a nice workhorse episode. It displays some classic trek values while doing some solid character work for someone outside the main triad of Archer, Trip, and T'Pol. It moves a little slowly, but the overall episode is really nice. This is a nice, respectable 3 for me.

Matthew: I'm with you on the 3 for a total of 6. Snappier pacing, more debate about how to treat the creature, or slightly more idea content with respect tot he alien's psychology could have gotten this into a 4 or higher very easily. In some ways this episode reminds me of the tardigrade story from Discovery. Even the cursory ethical examination here far outstripped the 2 minutes we got in that episode.

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