Sunday, November 13, 2022

Enterprise, Season 3: Exile

Enterprise, Season 3
"Exile"
Airdate: October 15, 2003
57 of 97 produced
57 of 97 aired

Introduction

Hoshi received telepathic transmissions from a being who claims to be able to help with Enterprise's quest to find the Xindi.


Hoshi, pictured in her best "don't find me attractive" outfit.


Writing

Kevin: I will disclaim that I am not the target audience for any story riffing on Beauty and the Beast or Phantom of the Opera. I will just never respond to the story of a man pining for and/or kidnapping a woman until she falls in love. I do believe these kinds of stories cause actual harm. They encourage women to accept the idea that the bad, selfish, and harmful behavior of men is excusable, even laudable, because they are sooooo in love and that a better man lurks beneath the surface that is somehow the woman's job to locate and coax out. Christine Daae was groomed by her stalker and Belle has Stockholm Syndrome. There. I said it. I think there is room for a relatable, viable drama about lonely, hurt people awkwardly reaching out for connection, but neither those stories, not this one, are it. If Tarquin is such a powerful telepath that he can read her memories from interstellar space, shouldn't he also have divined that Hoshi would be horrified by such an intimate violation of her privacy? 

Matthew: I agree on this as a criticism for Phantom and Beauty. I don't think it applies here. Tarquin is never represented as anything but insensitive (or indifferent) to Hoshi's actual desires, and consistently comes off as a manipulative creep. I think the weirdness of this story lies in Hoshi's insistence on staying, and Archer's acceptance of this. Yes, they played him as hesitant, but he eventually went along with it. What did they think was going to happen?

Kevin: Once on the planet and the deception is revealed, I suppose I don't buy any of the crew's actions. I just find it hard to believe that Archer would trust whatever this guy is selling, I suppose I appreciate that Hoshi would overcome her natural (and understandable) fear for the good of the mission, but this still seemed like the crew just shouldn't trust that this guy actually could get them this information or that they should trust whatever intel he gives them.

Matthew: I was pretty involved in the twists and turns of Hoshi's reactions and the mystery of Tarquin's past and motives.  Given his ability to simulate environments and personae, I wish the episode would have explored various things which were only hinted at in dialogue, such as Hoshi's reclusivity, her childhood, her relationship with her grandfather, and perhaps more of her hopes and fears, or even what her actual romantic desires (if any) entail. Or barring that, a deeper exploration of Tarquin's past. Maybe we could have met one of his former lovers.

Kevin: I will say the bright spot in the episode is that Hoshi never seems to go for this guy even a little. She is rightly skeptical and asks organic follow up questions about the (and I can't believe I have to write this) cemetery full of women. Hoshi kept her shit together and that was nice to watch.

Matthew: Alas, this episode was a number of years too early for the immortal phrase "binders full of women."

Acting

Kevin: It is beyond argument to the point of being axiomatic that Linda Park is underused, and that is very sad. We've dinged Anthony Montgomery for some wooden delivery (though of course, as always, the writing doesn't help), but Park has a pretty effortless 'normal' quality that I find quite charming when they give her something to do. She acts like a regular person trying to do a difficult and demanding job, and it helps sketch out the idea of the ship as a place where people live. That quality serves her, and the episode, well here. She reacts like a person would react to this escalating nonsense and she does so effectively.

Matthew: Yes indeed, she was underused even in a "Hoshi episode." Huh? I think the parts I liked her best in were the ones in which she was certain that she was hearing and seeing real things, while the crew was not. She really sold that feeling of certainty even while feeling the emotional pangs of distrust.

Kevin: Maury Sterling certainly did the job that was asked of him. He nailed a mix of brooding and self pity that defines the Phantom/Beast character. There was resonant quality to his voice that made me think he could actually do Phantom on stage if he wanted. It's not his fault that I hate Phantom of the Opera (and Andrew Lloyd Weber, not that that's strictly relevant here). He did the job he was hired to do and did it fully. With even a slightly better balanced story, I probably could have really felt for him, based on Sterling's acting.

Matthew: I really liked his performance in the alien makeup, which is pretty impressive. He did things with his body that complemented his voice really well. He felt much creepier in human guise for some reason.

Production Values

Kevin: Tarquin's castle was a pretty well done set. It was giving me a cross between Trelane's castle in Squire of Gothos and the set of the 80s Linda Hamilton Beauty and the Beast. Everything read very nighttime soap opera and I suppose that serves this particular tale. My only real objection is the casual clothes and sleepwear Hoshi was wearing. The dress that was barely a sufficient length for network really bothered me, particularly when she is standing outside on a windy crag in it. Especially since she already knew he deeply violated her privacy and super duper lied, I don't think she was packing for a romantic weekend in the mountains. If they wanted to give her something other than her uniform, literally anything else with pants would be fine. It's really getting ridiculous how they are dressing the women on this show. Maybe it's my affection for the candy colored mod vibes of the era, but somehow, when TOS put its female cast in miniskirts and go-go boots, it felt more fun. When they do it to T'Pol and Hoshi, it just feels cheap.

Matthew: Yuuuup. On the one hand, I don't want to shame a woman's fashion choices or blame them for creepy male behavior. But Hoshi, why would you wear a low cut jersey minidress and strapy sandals to your visit with creepy mind reading dude who wants to nail you? But of course, it wasn't Hoshi making these choices, but the wardrobe personnel, director, and writers.

Conclusion

Kevin: The story is a two at best, the acting is at least a three. It's a fairly rote retread of Phantom or Beauty and the Beast and they make their main dude so creepy that I can't even sympathize about his loneliness. What saves this episode from the dregs of a 1 is that Hoshi never for a moment seems tempted or even deceived, so that's good. A better story would have given her a reason to be possibly swayed and built some drama from it, but at least she wasn't taken in by the story we got. If only for finally giving Hoshi something to do, I want to give this a 3, but the story as so undercooked and the emotional notes so flat, that I am still giving the episode overall a 2.

Matthew: I enjoyed the change of pace this episode offered. I would have liked a deeper psychodrama which was more revealing of Hoshi's character. Maybe a Braga-style "Frame of Mind" sort of thing in which we don't know whether she has escaped or not. But I was never bored, the scenes were framed well, and the acting was pretty good all around. So I'm at a 3 for a total of 5.

3 comments:

  1. IIRC this is the last Hoshi-centered episode.

    It recalls the trap of lack of characterization that you outlined earlier. The writers don't seem to know what to do with the character, and so they can't write stories about her. Without stories about her, she never develops into a character who is more than her job description. And that's why the writers don't know what to do with her.

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    1. Right, like even this dude's deep dive into her psyche only reveals some insight that her job makes her different. There's literally nothing else in her mind but being good at languages?

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