Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Enterprise, Season 2: Singularity

Enterprise, Season 2
"Singularity"
Airdate: November 20, 2002
34 of 97 produced
34 of 97 aired

Introduction

Radiation from a black hole begins to affect the Enterprise crew's mental functioning.

"What does this monstrosity cost? $82,000? I'm ruined!"


Writing

Matthew: So this episode is a combination of two well-worn Trek tropes - the "everyone goes crazy" episode, and the "one crew member remains" episode (examples of the former include "TOS The Naked Time/TNG The Naked Now, TNG "Genesis"; while the latter includes VOY "One"). The point of any such episode needs to be learning about the characters and their peccadilloes, as well as testing the lone character. I think this episode succeeds pretty well at both. As far as the crew's peculiarities, I found each one pretty entertaining in its own right. Archer's preface develops his fixation on his father's struggles; Trip's obsession with the chair illustrated his technical bent as well as his desire to please his friend; Reed's tactical alert indicates his militarism and paranoia. Hoshi's scene was perhaps the weakest for character growth, but it was still funny. 

Kevin: Yeah, I ended up liking this one a fair bit, on the strength of the character work. It's not earth shattering, but it is well done. And save Hoshi, the manias do seem to actually spring from their established characters, which helped that middle part of the episode where everyone is acting a little strange but not strange enough to really signal a crisis.

Matthew: T'Pol being the sole unaffected person put her in an interesting position, and her scenes were good. Phlox's obsession turned into a genuinely creepy scene in which he was about to section Travis' brain, and this was one of the tests T'Pol underwent - and I loved that just while I was thinking "she needs to incapacitate him," she gave him a neck pinch. Her ultimate use of Archer to navigate the ship through the black hole region was good, and having the Reed Alert save their bacon was a funny button for the story.

Kevin: I particularly enjoyed that they managed to give everyone a weird compulsion and none were sexual. It's a small thing, but there were no gratuitous decon scenes here. I agree the Phlox stuff got actually scary, though I will admit in a darker moment I was wondering how it would look if he had seriously injured Travis and how Phlox would handle that. That's a different episode though, I acknowledge. The episode we got was paced well and a nice take on the trope.

Matthew: If they had spoofed decon by making someone have it as their unhealthy obsession, I might have bumped my rating up by one point simply for the demonstrated self awareness.

Acting

Matthew: This is a classic ensemble episode, and everyone got their scenes in. I especially liked John Billingsly's manic doctor, but Connor Trinneer put in a nice, understated but effective compulsive tinkerer. Linda Park's line readings when she was shooing the crewman out of the kitchen made me laugh. And Jolene Blalock did fine work as narrator/savior. 

Kevin: I kind of want to see Billingsley and Jeffrey Combs in some Reanimator sequel. I think watching them both play mad scientists off each other would be a real treat. And as random as it was, I enjoyed watching Hoshi care about something other than insecurities or language and, like you said, she was good at the delivery.

Production Values

Matthew: Outside of two sets of space shots, this was a total bottle show. The trinary black hole looked good from afar, matching the best science of the day. When they went through the asteroid field, things got a little video-gamey, but nothing looked "bad." 

Kevin: I agree again, there's nothing groundbreaking, but it was a good use of the bottle show format.

Conclusion

Matthew: I think this was solidly good, well-paced, and enjoyable. It didn't shoot for the moon or advance any big ideas, but it worked as both a funny and creepy focus on the main character ensemble. I can't really justify a 4, but it's an emphatic and pleasant 3 all around.

Kevin: I articulated my "default 3" concept a few episodes back, and happily this is not one of them. This is a nice, happy, earned 3. It moves briskly and the characters feel grounded, even in their mania. The end result feels familiar, but no less enjoyable because of that. That's a total of 6.

1 comment:

  1. This is my favourite comedy episode in ENT. I don't get why the music keeps trying to tell me I should be worried, because I'm always laughing.

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