Thursday, November 3, 2022

Enterprise, Season 3: Anomaly

Enterprise, Season 3
Airdate: September 17, 2003
53 of 97 produced
53 of 97 aired


Enterprise comes to a halt when pirates seize their supply of antimatter, which leads them on a chase to recover their goods and brings them in contact with a mysterious, giant sphere.


We also learned very important details about MACO underwear.



Kevin: This episode is a bit of a mixed bag for me. There are really good things about it, but some decisions grab my attention and not in a good way. I think this episode feels most like Voyager's "The Void." We have the reluctantly hardened pirates stealing our hero's stuff because they need it to survive. Our captain is then faced with the decision whether to stick to their ideals or abandon them in the name of efficiency. It's a good story idea, since it stresses our main characters to see how their values really work in action. While I do find that core story a little repetitive, I think those elements were largely well executed. The theft scenes had a good energy and rhythm. It's another action episode on the heels of the premiere's action episode, but I can't deny that it has some verve and focus sometimes lacking from Enterprise, and Archer wasn't wrongly imprisoned once. 

Matthew:  The similarity to the Void was not lost upon me, either. I think that's a better episode overall because it focused on those sorts of ethical issues. Here, I think the stakes could have been raised beyond mildly torturing one guy. Maybe if the dilemma had been whether to destroy the pirate ship in order to obtain its database, or whether to steal all of their loot, there was some way in which the ethical stresses could have been increased.

Kevin: I think the episode lets Archer off the hook too easily. It's one thing for us to wonder if Archer will cross a line. It's another to watch him cross it with no consequences. This wasn't just threatening harm. This was harm. I've mentioned before that I don't think this version of Archer is different enough to really make 'Dark Archer' work, and it hurts this thread a little. This doesn't feel like a man pushed to the edge, just an already angry man acting at least mostly in character. I think at least T'Pol had to read him the riot act for this one.

Matthew: Absolutely, 100%, they could have chopped five minutes of "pew pew" action and spent those minutes on wrestling with the darker moral territory that this crisis is pushing our crew into. I actually think it would be more interesting if T'Pol is fine with torture (needs of the many, etc.) and someone like Malcom is not because of his military training and general British stuffiness. We almost got that scene here, as Malcom seemed nonplussed by Archer's actions.

Kevin: Trying to fit this into the larger arc is where I think this episode falters a little. For someone uninterested in helping the captain, their captive was quite talkative. Why inform them how to protect themselves from the anomalies? Because they want to foreshadow the role 'Trellium-D' will play later in the season. And maybe it's just my preemptive uneasiness for season long plots, but this is the second episode where we don't really learn much about the Xindi. We just keep teasing out the reveal without adding much. I want to end on a high note, and I enjoyed the scenes on the ersatz Dyson sphere. That really felt like adding texture to the mystery in an interesting way.

Matthew: Yeah, the Sphere was the highlight of the episode for me. It's the best kind of mystery - really cool to look at, making you question other aspects of the story, and offering indications that it will in fact be solved. As far as advancing the larger plot goes, I think maybe you're getting used to the ten episode season, when we have 24 to work with here. So I don't mind this as just an introduction to the realm and a tease of one of the larger mysteries (who built the spheres) at work. The real criticism of this episode is its aforementioned similarity to "The Void" and its lack of story development along those lines. But the basic plot beats of finding out that the pirates had the Xindi database and that Enterprise needed to get close enough to download it worked on an entertainment level for me.


Kevin: Bakula is good, not great here. I'm just not on board with him supposedly being on the edge. It's just not landing. No one else really got that much to do, but overall everyone was certainly fine. Robert Rusler as captive Orgoth was fine, and I think he did a good line reading about how he got the scars, but overall, he was a bit of null entity for me. Fine, but not really memorable.

Matthew: Personally, I think Bakula was kind of not good here. When he was knocking over crates, he reminded me of Riker when he was turning into an ape because of Barclay's Protomorphosis Syndrome. I liked Robert Rusler's energy - he was giving me The Rock as pirate, and I was digging it. Really, when it comes down to it, there wasn't a lot of actual acting here. It was a lot of moving people from point A to Point B.

Production Values

Kevin: Like I said, I really liked the sphere, at least on the outside. There was something about the external texture that really worked for me, and really gave a sense of its size and age. The inside gets the standard CGI of the era treatment and that is less successful. The electric arcs around the warp core also weren't the best work in the series. 

Matthew: The makeup on Orgoth was very good. It gave more interest than the standard Westmorehead. I agree that the electricity looked superimposed onto an already shot image. As far as CGI goes, the ship shots were a mixed bag. Someone clearly downloaded a new texture pack between seasons. With that said, the first alien ship was pretty bland as a design. The Sphere looked great, the pirates looked sufficiently villainous. There was one bad effect, which was the explosion of the door. It looked very cut and paste.


Kevin: I think this is a solid 3. I've identified some issues with the story, but I think this is one of those stories that is more than the sum of its parts. It has flaws, and familiar ones at that, but everything moves with some focus and energy and I can't be too mad at that. They haven't quite threaded the needle on making the episodes individually contribute to a credibly built mystery, but this episode has some real energy and focus on the action story that I have to admit, it largely succeeds. I'm going to want a talky episode soon, but the basic work here is good and entertaining.

Matthew: I agree with the 3 for a total of 6. I thought it advanced the overall Xindi plot enough to justify its existence, and still gave us a self contained story that basically worked (pirates bad!). The Sphere was tantalizing, if this episode had delved further into it as a sci-fi mystery, I probably could see a 4. Either that, or delving further into the ethical morass of trying to "find the terrorists," as it were.


  1. I haven't seen this episode in years, so my memory is hazy. No small part of the reason for that is that I absolutely detest the framing of torture used here. The implication is that simple torture is quite effective, but that 'civilized' people are too nice, and therefore don't use it. Let's not even get into how not nice at all civilizations can be.

    Star Trek, much more than most shows, knows better. I suppose it's a sign of the dark times this episode was made in, of terror, invasion, and indeed torture. But to have it not merely work effortlessly, but also have no negative repercussions of any kind - not even a debate? It saddens and angers me.

    1. I always think about Picard's quote from Chain of Command. "Torture has never been a reliable means of extracting information. It is ultimately self-defeating as a means of control. One wonders that it's still practiced."

      Miss the days when that was the show's thesis.