Saturday, September 24, 2022

Enterprise, Season 2: Canamar

Enterprise, Season 2
Airdate: February 26, 2003
42 of 97 produced
42 of 97 aired


Archer and Tucker are abducted by an alien police force and shipped to a prison facility for crimes they did not commit.


We feel ya, buddy, we feel ya.



Matthew: So the episode is called Canamar, and we never get to see it. Does that bother me? A little, honestly. Look - I can take a straight up action show if it does something to illuminate the human condition, or grow the characters significantly. Shipping someone to a prison planet without just cause can certainly do that. I am put in the mind of an episode like VOY "The Chute," which provided a significant test to the Harry/Tom bro-mance, and was reasonably compelling as a result. Do Trip and Archer really grow here? Nah. So then I would want episodes along the lines of VOY "Repentance" (among others), which raise serious issues with law enforcement. Do we get that here? Verrrry slightly with the Kuroda character's back story. But I think we need to learn a lot more about Kuroda to humanize the issues of being raised as a criminal in an oppressive justice system. So I guess what I'm getting at is that from an idea standpoint I found this episode to be lacking.

Kevin: The episodes you cite certainly do add something to the prison story to tell us something about the characters or a bigger idea, and that does elevate them. My problem here is that in a season and a half, Archer (and usually but not always Trip) have been arrested falsely and imprisoned a half dozen times. Just once I want him to have done something actually wrong, and not just frivolously wrong in the eyes of the alien of the week. I want to see Archer and Trip knock over a convenience story just to spice things up, is what I'm saying. Absent that, it's something the franchise, and this series specifically has done several times before, usually with an attempt at reaching for a little more.

Matthew:  If the ideas aren't there in sufficient abundance, is the action satisfying and entertaining? I really can't say I found this to be the case, either. It wasn't enough of a heist/prison break story to engage me on that level (i.e. planning and executing a complex plan with multiple points of failure), nor was I ever really worried about the outcome. And as mentioned above, the personal stakes for the lead characters never really gelled for me. Archer was mad at the end. But he's always kind of mad, isn't he? Things just sort of devolved into what is becoming a typical Enterprise phaser fight/rescue scene.

Kevin: The sequence of going back to try to rescue the bad guy was almost there, but we just didn't care enough about him to find the story interesting. The action elements were fine, but it almost felt paint by number. Both inside and outside Trek, this story has been told countless times in numerous variations. This is the box mix version of a cake. Yes, it's a pretty solid cake. As long as you follow the instructions, it's designed to be. To belabor the metaphor, having saved yourself time with box mix, you can really show some personality with the icing, and that's just not here either. They never found a thing to make this version of the prison break interesting.

Matthew: The element of Trip being annoyed by his bench-mate's interminable conversation left me a bit perplexed. That sort of levity broke up what weren't even particularly tense scenes. Why didn't we learn why the seaweed-head alien had been arrested?

Kevin: I don't know what class it is in TV Writer's School where they teach writers that annoying people are inherently funny to watch. They are wrong. They are just annoying. It can be humorous or interesting to watch the straight guy be annoyed by the annoying character, but it requires a deft hand and some killer timing, and that was just not here. It was a one beat joke they kept leaning on. By the end, I would have left him on the sinking ship. 


Matthew:  I think Mark Rolston was capable of giving us more than the script allowed him to. When he was delivering his lines about his childhood, there was enough there for me to empathize with and to want to know how his story turned out.  Sean Whalen was also mildly amusing as Zoumas, and I would have liked to learn more about his character, as well.

Kevin: It should say something that even after watching it, I had to look up which character was which you were talking about there. They both gave me the vibes of being good character actors, but as you say, he material just isn't here.

Production Values

Matthew: The Enolian transport vessel was pretty neat to look at from the outside. The inside was pretty darned bland, though. The Enolians themselves were a very generic "fascist" alien, both in garb and Westmorehead. 

Kevin: I get that it was a prison ship, and maybe I'm overweighing my ongoing critique of Enterprise's visual blandness, but yeah....42 minutes of rusty beige-green is just not setting me on fire. My kingdom for the candy apple red turbolift door on the TOS bridge. Cardboard it may have been, but at least it was bright, eye-catching cardboard.


Matthew: I struggled to come up with commentary for this episode because there's just not a lot of there there. There was a modicum of setup, which unspooled as a phaser fight, for the most part. Nothing was offensive, but I was bored. I think this is a 2.

Kevin: This is pretty much the skeleton of a story with no meat on the bones. Like you say, "The Chute" took this and added putting a friendship through the ringer. "Repentance," an episode I didn't love love, still tried to add some social justice exploration. Even something like the last time Archer (or was it second to last, I forget) was imprisoned, we got some fun exploration of racial prejudice with the other guy from Quantum Leap. This is basically the setting for a story and they just forgot to stage a story here. I agree with the 2 for a total of 4.

1 comment:

  1. It's a very good point that Archer keeps getting accused of things he didn't do, or things we're not supposed to think were wrong. That is part of his Beleaguered American Dad vibe, isn't it?

    Given the historical context, it's hard not to see some parallels. US personnel heading into the world. Its more cautious, less energetic allies urging more restraint. Most of the rest of the world look on bemused. And Archer can't seem to understand why he is pretty much the only one who thinks he ought to be 'out here', as he crashes into poorly understood situations between alien cultures. You know, the whole Archer-as-Bush thing. I wonder how intentional that is. We're going to get much more War on Terror-ry next season, so it must have been on the writers' minds to some degree.