Thursday, August 4, 2022

Enterprise, Season 1: Oasis

Enterprise, Season 1
Airdate: April 3, 2022
19 of 97 produced
19 of 97 aired


The Enterprise seeks out a wrecked, derelict transport vessel for salvage, but finds a mysterious crew of survivors on board. 

Sadly, this image is probably the most interesting part of the episode.


Kevin: So this is a good episode. I know that because it was a good episode when they did it in "Shadowplay" on DS9. With Rene Auberjonois. But I'll look at this episode for itself before address the problems outside the four walls of the story. It's a solid enough story, though just about every development is telegraphed a light year away. The mysterious crew has a secret? Groundbreaking. After about the sixth magic appearance, it's pretty clear these are going to be holograms. I suppose the only question in my mind is whether the reveal would be that the dad or the daughter was the holo-master, but even that was pretty solidly telegraphed with Liana telling her 'mother' that dad wasn't like her and could do what he wanted. Outside of some genuinely nice scenes with Auberjonois, this episode was also pretty dull. I didn't really get invested in the community as a whole, as I did with Shadowplay. Maybe it was just the styling similarity, but Liana reminded me so hard of Kes that it was impossible to watch Trip try to have chemistry with her. "She's two!" my brain kept shouting. That all said, the basic emotional arc of the episode is there. This is quiet, straightforward Star Trek, and if it's overly familiar, at least they are repeating the parts and style of Star Trek I like.

Matthew: I think you're being a little bit hard on this episode. Was it similar in premise to "Shadowplay?" Sure. But it is different in key respects. Rurigan created the holograms in "Shadowplay" for himself after the Dominion destroyed his home, and then frequently forgot they were even artificial. Ezral and his daughter were on a ship that crashed, and Ezral blames himself for abandoning his post during the crash, He created the duplicates so she wouldn't grow up alone. Now, to be sure, this isn't explored as much as i would like (I allude to this below), but it is different. There is also the "haunted ship" framing story. Anyway, yes, it's very derivative, but the question is whether it is an entertaining episode. And I will say, I had almost no memory of this going into this rewatch, and it was mildly diverting for its run time. I think the Trip/Liana scenes had the most interest, both in discovering how aware of her situation she was and in seeing Trip not take advantage of her naivete. 

Kevin: I feel like I'm short-changing the review, but I really don't have much more to add. It's a paint-by-numbers grieving survivor story. It's a perfectly adequate restaging, but it certainly doesn't really add to it in any way, and coming as it is after three weeks of weak episodes, what little momentum Dear Doctor and Shuttlepod One were giving the season as a whole seems to have petered out.

Matthew: There were a lot of ways this episode could have been improved. Where "Shadowplay" whiffed on the question of the nature of morally worthy sapient life (probably because it had three stories crammed into its run time), this episode could have gone further with it. It seems like the theme that the writers wanted to develop was whether living with artificial beings could constitute a real, flourishing life for a biological person. But that was only given about three lines of argument - so many of the slow, sneaking scenes could have been spent instead on these questions, or developing a romance between Liana and Trip.  Does Liana have sex with holograms? Can she develop normal emotional attachments to any one, knowing that they are what they are? Is her father a creep, or what? A lot of questions, Number One. Damn few answers.


Kevin: In a weird way, Rene Auberjonois' presence helps and hurts the episode. Even a casual Trekkie will recognize Odo by his voice, and Odo literally did this episode in DS9, almost line for line. So it really drives home how warmed over some of this plotting is. That said, dear Lord, can that man act? Just effortless depth and warmth mixed with his survivor's guilt and protectiveness about his daughter. He carries the episode almost entirely on his shoulders and made it look effortless. I wish the story had taken better advantage of getting one of the varsity players for the week, but I can't say I'm mad to see him.

Matthew: Yeah, he should have been given more scenes. I would have liked to see him break down, explaining his demented reasoning for keeping them on the planet despite the obvious problems this would create for her development. 

Kevin: Annie Wersching was good as Liana. Maybe it's the wig that makes me thing of Kes more than anything, but I couldn't shake the notion we were in the neighborhood of the "Born Sexy Yesterday" trope. I know the character is in her twenties, but in terms of actual socialization, shouldn't she be pretty unprepared for random flirting, something more like a teenager? Both the styling and the acting were playing up her innocence and it was well executed as far as that goes, but I think it fizzled any real chemistry with Trip. Also, and Matt will love this, but I finally figured out why she looks familiar. She's the Borg Queen in Picard Season 2.

Matthew: Huh. She didn't look familiar to me at all. But then, I could hardly keep my eyes on the screen during Picard Season 2. Similarly to Auberjonois, I would have liked Wersching to have been given scenes with a bit more of a psychological bite. What is it like to spend ages 6-28 without any actual living beings one can be attracted to? She was fine in the scenes she was given.

Production Values

Kevin: This is like third episode in four weeks that takes place in the dark. It really needs to stop. It's not creepy. It's mushy. Even in most horror films, everything is cast in a blue light so that it feels dark, but is still visible to the audience. The sets are usually pretty solid and I'd like to see them. The make up was a perfectly cromulent Westmorehead, though it does look more like psoriasis than anything. That said, it freed up Auberjonois' face and that was great.

Matthew: I am annoyed by dark settings as well, but this episode didn't trip my "dark mush" sensors the way it did for you, it seems. I think their outlandishly bright flashlights mitigated this somewhat. Then, the lights came on and you could see. The ship was fine, but a little boring as a backdrop. The matte painting was pretty good, I would have liked to see some more of the planet's surface. And yeah, the aliens looked like they all had a bad rash on their temples. 


Kevin: The fact that this feels like a such literal retread is really dragging the episode down for me, and the fact that actor playing the central character literally the last time we did it is really aggravating that feeling. Like they either needed to change the actor or the story once both were in the same room. That said, I can't deny that the quiet moments of the episode, particularly those centering on Auberjoinois worked. On the strength of the acting, I want to give this a three, but I think it just falls short of that because the story is so derivative, and outside the scenes of Auberjonois meriting an Emmy nomination, the story itself wasn't that interesting. To compare it again to Shadowplay, we really got the sense that those holograms were a vibrant community with individuals with personalities, and here, it was just a lot of ominous glowering for foreshadowing purposes. Maybe I'm being a little harsh, but after three weeks of weak episodes, my goodwill is starting to run dry. This is, sadly, a 2 for me.

Matthew: I think this is squarely mediocre. I give it a 3 for a total of 5. It was two or three drafts away from sharpening the conflict and delving deeper into psychological issues. This is "comfort food" Trek at its most average. It's not horribly violent, it doesn't violate continuity, it's just derivative and unchallenging, sort of like a regular average bowl of macaroni and cheese. Do I want a crust or some Havarti or something? Sure. But it'll do.

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