Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Enterprise, Season 2: Dawn

Enterprise, Season 2
Airdate: January 82002
38 of 97 produced
38 of 97 aired


Trip crash lands on an inhospitable alien moon and must deal with an aggressive enemy there.

It's so hot here I forgot what shade is!


Matthew: This episode invites comparisons to many different stories, such as TNG Darmok and "The Enemy," but for me the most apt comparison is an 80s movie called "Enemy Mine," starring Dennis Quaid and Louis Gosset Jr. (guess which one was the reptilian alien). In it, two space pilots from species who are hostile to each other crash land on a planet and must survive a hostile environment. I suppose there is also a minor comparison to be made to TNG "Darmok," with the communication difficulties, but it is not really the theme of this episode. This story is a physical survival tale, bookeneded by several fistfights. I don't say this to denigrate the episode, in fact I rather enjoyed the fights, and the overall ethos of the characters (helping each other despite their differences) is still within the fat part of Star Trek Proper.

Kevin: Darmok and The Enemy were the two episodes that sprang to mind for me as well. I agree that the episode overall was solidly entertaining, but I will proffer a slight critique in that the middle road serves neither idea as well as it could. Darmok focuses on the communication issues, and Enemy on the interpersonal ones. Without the common language, we don't really get the sizzle of Geordi and Bochra debating their viewpoints, and the fistfights, as well realized as they were, get in the in the way of the communication story we otherwise got. I still agree the episode basically works and is entertaining but I think more could have been done if they locked down which element the episode was going to focus on more. I liked smaller notes like not being able to drink each other's water. It was a nice way to reinforce being alien without laying it on too thickly, but I kind of wished they did find a way to communicate a little bit more. I'm usually the most interesting in relationships in a story, and this kind of plateaued once they weren't trying to kill each other. Still, like I said, it works overall.

Matthew: The "B story" was really just an extension of the A story, the Enterprise and the Arkonian ship searching for their pilots. I think this could have stood a bit more development. We learn that the Vulcans have failed to attain peaceful relations with them, but Archer seems to have better luck. Maybe we could have learned a bit more with respect to why this is. 

Kevin: Yeah, we really don't get a sense of why the Vulcans failed or why Archer succeeds. It's just the kind of story by fiat that allows the main plot to keep going. If they work together too soon, then they should be able to solve the problem faster. 

Matthew: I'm going to be a science nerd here, but it kind of bugged me that the searchers could not eliminate more of the 60-plus moons in the system out of hand, simply because of their environments. Look - there are probably oxygen atmospheres in every other star system. But they generally envelop planet-sized bodies, and even then they may exist on tidally locked worlds bathed in harsh radiation. Our atmosphere was the result of biological processes (cyanobacterial respiration, if you're interested). The notion that there would be so many moon-sized bodies compatible with life rubbed me the wrong way. This is certainly not the only episode to do it. It just stuck out here because it delayed the rescue mission to such a degree.

Kevin: This falls squarely under the penumbra of turbolift rides lasting the length of conversations and replicators that don't make the thing that would moot the plot. Sometimes searching for biosigns in basically holding a y-shaped stick and waving it around, and sometimes we can detect a Ferengi fart from a parsec away. I take your point, but it's basically part of a standard Trek plot, and one we enjoy nitpicking, so I'm not too mad.


Matthew: Obviously this is a Trip showcase, and Connor Trinneer turned in some good work. Much of it was workmanlike (which fits the character and the story), with some very good fighting that he clearly did the better part of. But his attempts to communicate had their charm, and he had a very nice monologue recounting his recent experiences and lack of regrets if this is the end of his road.

Kevin: I agree. I've critiqued episodes for relying on his charm to carry to a story that didn't support it, but I think it's earned here. His survival skills seemed much more credible here than in, oh say, Precious Cargo.

Matthew: Gregg Henry, who played the second in command Son'a in Insurrection, was really good here. He made his alien dialogue convincing, and put on some really nice physical mannerisms that underscored his "otherness." The punch line when he demands his alien drink at the end, delivered in English, was also fun.

Kevin: We're on record as not liking most fake alien languages, and while this is no Marc Orkand Klingon dictionary, I agree Henry delivered it well. I liked the scenes where they keep trying to steal each other's gear to fix their shuttles quite a bit. It had tension and a little levity with the back and forth and trying to get one up on the other.

Production Values

Matthew: The planet was a soundstage. There's no getting around this. It's kind of odd, really, when they are filming adjacent to a literal desert. I guess they wanted to control the lighting design to indicate a creeping dawn. There were some decidedly so-so digital mattes filling out the scenery. The thing that really nagged me was when they were near the end of their ordeal, they were laying in the damned sun. With so much rocky terrain, couldn't they have found some shade?

Kevin: To offer a mild defense, at least the soundstage had a color palette and not a washed out bone white. That said, I agree it was almost TOS levels of "an oval of gravel" staging, and as you say, you got to figure they could have found some shelter.


Matthew: This was a solid 3. It was executed well and entertained. It didn't contain much in the way of elevating any particular themes or ideas, in the way some of the episodes I mentioned above did. It was two aliens stranded on a planet, having to decide whether to fight or work together. Pretty average Trek fare, kind of reminiscent of some of the more sci-fi-light TOS episodes. That's not a bad place to be.

Kevin: Yeah, this is in the fat part of the bell curve for sure. Nothing extraordinary, but actually pretty nice in its ordinariness. I agree with the 3 for a total of 6.

1 comment:

  1. I guess we'll just have to agree to agree on this one, too. Enemy Mine also leapt to my mind, all the way down to 'get into the shade, numbnuts'.

    To say something, I liked the timing of Trip's recorded diversion message. First it makes you wonder what Trip is up to, then it begins to dawn on you it's probably a recording, and then he starts in on Mary Had a Little Lamb, and I'm giggling. Good bit of writing, there.

    See, writers? We can be nice, too. :)