Friday, October 7, 2022

Enterprise, Season 2: The Breach

Enterprise, Season 2
"The Breach"
April 23, 2003
46 of 97 produced
46 of 97 aired


A politically unstable world evicts all aliens from its surface, leading to an impromptu spelunking rescue mission and an uncomfortable confrontation for Doctor Phlox.

"Do we have to save the pony tail guy?"


Matthew: This episode feels like two stories that have been grafted together because neither could sustain 43 minutes. Both plots are probably worth about 30 minutes of development, but they receive more like 25 and 15 here.  Let's take them in turn. The A story of Phlox dealing with long standing prejudices regarding a Denobulan historical enemy is potentially rich. The parts that worked best were Phlox talking about his grandmother's bed-time stories. We all, I am sure, have a relative whose retrograde views on race or culture embarrass us now. I really related to Phlox in that moment. But I couldn't help but feel that emotional stakes could have been increased in this story. The Antaran alien was kind of snarky, but that was it. Phlox sort of always held the liberal, non-racist position. Would it have been better if he had been more of a full-on Anti-Antaran? I wanted more of a shouting match between them. The button of Phlox writing a letter to his (effectively) Neo-Nazi son was nice - maybe there could have been a video chat between them which would have sold the point more effectively.

Kevin: Yeah, we normally get this story in the reverse, where the patient is the horrible person or the member of the violent genocidal group and our character has to overcome that to uphold their own values about all life being sacred. I think the problem is that we just don't have enough of a sketch of the conflict to invest. It felt like they were being a little cagey with what the Denobulans were supposed to have done. At some points, it seems they were the Nazis and some points, it was just standard 'in war, everyone hates everyone' fare. Also the fact that the conflict was generations ago pulls some of the punch. The cumulative effect is a real 'show, don't tell' problem. At least when it was Worf, he could recount personal experiences with the Romulans to give some stakes to his position. I agree that this is a fertile idea, and it is premium unleaded Star Trek. It just doesn't quite connect to 'compelling drama' in the way they clearly wanted it to.

Matthew: The spelunking story was fine enough. It was entirely predictable that Travis would break a bone saving the others, so that wasn't very exciting. I think it might have been better if the Denobulans had put up more of a fight against being taken away, as this was when I was most engaged by the story line. Perhaps if the native soldiers had started exploring the caves to arrest people, that would have been  something.

Kevin: My major beef here is a recurring strain that the writers of this show, among many others both in and outside the franchise: thinking annoying people are funny by virtue of being annoying. They were shrill and unhelpful in a way that immediately had me not caring if they were caught by the soldiers.


Matthew: John Billingsley is an unsung hero of this show. His acting elevates material that might otherwise be a bit on the lackluster side. I don't think the antipathy between the two races was well developed enough, nor do I think the scenes were there to give us a conflict we could have sunk our own 21st century teeth into. But Billingsly gave Phlox an internal emotional response to the scenario, and that did a lot to sell things. Henry Stram as the Antaran Hudak was OK, but best at the end when he was given something other than snark to say.

Kevin: As you say, one of the best scenes was Phlox writing the letter to his son, and Billingsley just crushed the layered emotions of the scene. Plenty of movies and TV shows have tried and failed to make 'person writing letter' dramatically interesting, and on the back of Billingsley's acting, this one succeeds. 

Matthew: Of the rest of the cast, I would say Connor Trinneer was the best of the bunch. His annoyance with the Denobulans was organic and amusing. This was a pretty standard Scott Bakula performance, with Archer being annoyed that someone's values don't match his own.

Kevin: Yeah. This was a pretty solid outing for Bakula. On the scale of Annoyed Suburban Dad, he was comfortably at a 6, which is 'in the car with the engine running waiting for the rest of family to get in so they can leave.' For context, a 4 is 'when someone leaves the room (if only for a moment) and doesn't turn off the light.' A 10 is 'any time gas prices go above $5/gallon.' Thank for staying with me while I constructed that joke. I'm very proud of it.

What got me to a 10 on the annoyance scale was the Denobulan scientists themselves. I'm sure they're fine actors, but eesh, I redlined with them almost instantly.

Production Values

Matthew: For a cave episode, this wasn't too bad.Probably this was the best cave set since TNG "Final Mission." Things were lit well and I had a sense of the layout of the place that helped with dramatic immersion. The rest of the show was a bottle episode - I wish we had seen Mettus or Denobula, whether in a flashback or a communique.

Kevin: I was put in mind of the caves from Chain of Command, at least as far at it felt like a long array of different areas. The rappelling scenes were well realized, I will give them.


Matthew: I think this is a 3. I wasn't bored, and there was some pretty good acting, but I was left wanting more development and drama than I got. It all felt very average.

Kevin: I feel bad because if any episode was going to pull a four in this, the doldrums of season 2, it's this one. It has "classic Trek allegory" written all over it. The problem is that's where they stopped writing. Other versions of this story work because we can latch on to the stakes of the story itself and not just the lesson. Still, as Matt says, I was not bored. Billingsley alone keeps a 2 far away from this one. I agree with the 3, for a total of 6.


  1. IIRC, Billingsley was not satisfied with the script. On one hand, he felt it was very hard to reconcile Phlox as a war criminal(ish), but if that's where the story needed to go, have him be one. Instead it sits between those two chairs.

    I've bookmarked this page, in case I need to refresh my memory on the details of the Annoyed Suburban Dad scale.

    1. I will not lie, I kind of want to sketch out the whole scale.