Thursday, July 14, 2022

Enterprise, Season 1: Silent Enemy

Enterprise, Season 1
"Silent Enemy"
Airdate: January 16, 2002
11 of 97 produced
11 of 97 aired


When the Enterprise encounters a hostile alien, they find their weaponry insufficient to counter them.

Pictured: Nice people doing good things.


Kevin: So the main story is a solid enough idea, but I don't think it quite comes together like it needed to. The alien of the week exists only to compel the Enterprise to weapon up. I get the idea that having no contact at all with them first makes them scarier and something closer to a horror villain, but we're on record that the scariest Trek villains are the ones with the most interesting and credible motivations. Maybe I'm being a little overly sensitive right now given the state of...everything, but I think the idea where the rah rah moment is successfully installing phasers doesn't quite sit right with me. I'm not even saying it was gratuitous or crosses some tonal line, but it's also just not my favorite. Also, I think they overpowered the aliens a tad. It took a couple of clean shots to even make a dent. It was surprise more than anything that drove them off. It seems like if two of these ships show up, the Enterprise is toast regardless. Last thing I'll say on this point is Starfleet has a real affinity for launching Enterprises before they are done. They should look into that.
Matthew: Yeah, I think some other conceptual angle should have been added to the script. Like trying to communicate with the aliens, finding they had nothing in common, something. Making them simply a cipher renders them a non-entity in the story. As far as the phasers themselves, why didn't they just go back to base after the pilot? Or if they had the equipment, why weren't provisions made and orders given to install them before this? So the genesis of the problem seems a but iffy to me. And heck - it wouldn't even take two of these ships. If the same ship had just returned sooner, the Enterprise would be their trophy already.

Kevin: The B plot is more successful. The idea of coworkers trying to be nice to each is...nice. I like that. I endorse some light silliness in the name of a slice of life bonding episode. Hoshi gets the assignment and she handles it as best she can and that was largely fun to watch. My problem is that I think they turned the dials on Reed's standoffishness a little too high a little too quickly. The conversations of Hoshi trying to get information from relatives, friends, and colleagues were each cute enough on their own, but the picture that starts to emerge is the Reed is like literally a psychopath. He seems not to have formed a meaningful, intimate relationship with a single person in his whole life. The solution of inferring his tastes from which allergy he is treating is cute enough, even if my HIPAA senses are tingling. They made the hill so steep that it started to call into question why anyone is bothering to throw a birthday party for a person who has made literally no relationships, and it comes close to making Archer and Hoshi look like weirdos for forcing a party on someone you would pretty quickly conclude couldn't possibly want one. I get what they were going for, but this was half-hour sitcom stakes and humor in an hour long drama, and the mismatch nagged me. But stepping back from accidentally turning Reed into American Pyscho, Hoshi was charming and it was cute watching her puzzle it out. The accidental ask for a date was pretty funny all around.
Matthew: The only problem I had with the Reed story line was that it took place concurrently with the threat of alien attack. So the tonal shift was jarring. I didn't take Reed to be a psychopath (that honor is reserved for character like Elnor or Georgiou), but a very reserved guy. Growing up with a Dad like that, how could he be anything else? Clearly he palled around with some guy on Earth, had a thing for a waitress - all reasonably normal stuff.  All in all, it was an enjoyable B story with a nice payoff - it was easy to feel pleasure along with Hoshi at getting the favorite right.


Kevin: Linda Park gets a moment to shine and she handled it well. Her annoyance and commitment to the assignment were well done and she handled the humor quite well. I may not care that much about Reed at this point, but I did care about Hoshi caring, and that's on the back of her low-key, realistic performance.
Matthew: Park seems really well suited to comedy - and her scene with Dominic Keating as straight man was really funny. It's nice that she's getting to play things other than scared or nervous.

Kevin: The boys this week were...fine. Everyone is tense and trying to respond to the situation as best they can. I liked the frustration of having to return to Earth and stuff like Trip's pep talk and Reed and Trip debating acceptable risks was good, if not great. I also want to shout out Reed's parents who arrived her from a different century. That man was giving stern, disappointed father from a Dickens novel or a light comic opera. I can express my assessment mathematically:

Reed's parents : Gilbert and Sullivan :: Worf's parents : Fiddler on the Roof.
Matthew: Yeah, I think Trip and Reed displayed some nice chemistry, which is down to the actors playing the scene successfully. Their disagreement was understandable, it was enjoyable when they reached an understanding, and fun when they had a beer to celebrate.

Production Values

Kevin: The only real major effects work was the alien ship and it was fine. I think I spent most of episode wondering which episode of Voyager it was being cut and paste from. I didn't figure it out, but the ship design was detailed enough to pass muster. The glimpse of the aliens themselves were not great. It was under-baked gray aliens. Eh.
Matthew: I think the ship looked fine, if a bit generic. The aliens looked like rejects from Mars Attacks! Voyager did a better job with Species 8472 several years prior to this. The joints looked wonky, not alien, and the force field helmets were barely visible.


Kevin: Neither plot thread was really scintillating television, but neither were they failures. I've noted my slight disconnect with a plot that centers around arming the Enterprise, but it's a canonical cannon (heh) and it's not like they went nuts with it. The friendship plot got a little out of pocket, but on the strength of Park's charming, humane performance, I think this manages to be a somewhat bland but inoffensive 3 from me.
Matthew: Yeah, I would call this thoroughly mediocre, with all the positive and negative connotation this implies.  It was on the screen, it was reasonably entertaining, it wasn't offensive or off-putting, and it even made me smile once or twice. So I agree with the 3 for a total of 6.


  1. Being allergic to birthdays myself, the first time I watched this, I just did not like that whole thing. Leave the poor man alone, hasn't he suffered enough? (If not, he will... Oh, how he will.)
    But on later watchings I came to appreciate Park's work here. It also makes a lot of sense for Archer's character that he will try quite hard to pierce Reed's shell. The only thing about it is the one you mention - it is pretty whiplashy going from space horror to light sitcom and back again.

    Oh, and must be sure to mention Keating and Trinneer working together. I wonder if seeing this is what made them write Shuttlepod One? That one sinks or flies based entirely on these two actors creating the right sparks together.

    1. Another tonal problem I clocked was Archer calling for Phlox to help the wouned men. He's like "get down to C deck" or whatever. Umm, aren't the aliens still at large?