Sunday, November 6, 2022

Enterprise, Season 3: Extinction

Enterprise, Season 2
Airdate: September 24, 2003
54 of 97 produced
54 of 97 aired


An Enterprise away team encounters an alien virus that rewrites their DNA and makes them act like simpletons.

  Allamaraine, bitchezzz!!!!



Matthew: This episode has a lot going against it. It features two of my least favorite things - jabbery alien language in excess, and actors capering around like insects or primates or something. Alien jabber is just unnecessary - unless it is the product of months or years of expert linguistic development (e.g. Klingon, Elvish), it always sounds fake - and it violates a central conceit of the show, that we can just understand stuff as viewers. As far as the walking, is this how every member of this species behaves? They weren't doing it in Archer's vision of the Urquat city... Anyway, another demerit is the very obvious similarity to two (if not more) prior Trek episodes - VOY "Ashes to Ashes" and TNG "Identity Crisis." Ashes to Ashes did a better job of portraying the humanity of such a method of reproduction, giving us the difficulty of saying goodbye to a past life.

Kevin: Aside from the deeply annoying alien chittering, I think it didn't make sense to have the transformation happen so totally so quickly. Identity Crisis wasn't a 'great' episode, but it built some drama of the homing instinct playing inside the established personality of the character. And Ashses built the episode out of that clash. Instead of a really annoying scene of watching T'Pol figure out the translator but still not learn much, we could have gotten an actual sense of what was happening from the characters acting at least partially in character. 

Matthew: With all that said, heaven help me, I actually sort of started to enjoy this episode by the final act. For one thing, they had dispensed with the alien jabbering. I actually sort of cared that Archer and Hoshi were not finding the great lost city they were searching for, and I wanted to know more about the aliens whose civilization had been destroyed. Maybe it's because I've been playing The Talos Principle for the past few weeks, or maybe it's because of, well, our world, but dying civilizations are evocative for me right now. This is not to say that the episode paid off the premise. I think a scene in which they found a Loque'eque artifact would have really done this - perhaps a recording, something akin to TNG "The Inner Light." I liked Archer's ultimate landing point - he doesn't do the obviously correct thing and destroy the pathogen - because he has felt the feelings of this dying race himself.

Kevin: They got close, not all the way mind you, but close to making me care when we got to the city for the reasons you cite, but there wasn't enough connective tissue to make it land. Other episodes, like the Vidiian phage, did a better job of portraying great civilizations felled by disease taking desperate actions. I'm also going to softly renew my theory/objection to a tonal problem. On several occasions we watched people literally burned alive while shrieking. I understand the moral clash we're drawing and that is fertile, but it's not entertaining to watch people be burned alive. We did not see the actual burn victims, but again, I'm really starting to think that's the limits of the format, not the quality of the writers. On a related note, why does it matter once they make it to the planet? Why not just put up quarantine markers and leave it alone? These people aren't getting spaceflight anytime soon. So it added to the sense that it was gratuitous. And Archer's decision at the end was absurd. I get that he cares about these people, but they also committed a galactic war crime, and even the urge to reproduce doesn't excuse that, and it's just too dangerous. There's a whole city full of relics down there. Take one of those.


Matthew: Well, Scott Bakula wasn't angry and stubbly and shoving crates around.... but I didn't love any of the "alien" acting by any of the away team, not one bit. It looked like they might have been having fun exploring the space, but I wasn't having fun watching them. Being possessed is a sci-fi/fantasy trope that many Trek actors eventually deal with, and this was one of the worst instances (the best probably being TOS "Return To Tomorrow"). With that said, I liked Bakula's final scene quite a bit. He sold me on his emotional journey, now that he wasn't capering around and affecting a weird accent.

Kevin: In isolation, that scene was good, but it came after I was so bored for so long I didn't care. I don't anyone could have made that material work, so it all kind of lands with a thud for me. 

Matthew: Connor Trinneer was great in command. He does a really terrific job justifying that he is a Commander in this organization, while still seeming uncomfortable enough to indicate that he really wishes he could get back to Engineering. I liked Roger Cross as Tret, the alien captain seeking to eradicate the virus. He played it as someone who is entirely rational, and not a mustache-twirling villain - which is exactly what I like in a Trek antagonist. 

Kevin: I liked the performance too, the writing just didn't serve him since a lot of the decisions didn't make sense, but yes, the actor did a good job making this look like the grim but correct position.

Production Values

Matthew: The planet was clearly a soundstage, but it wasn't half bad. The Loque'eque makeup was pretty good, too. The CGI Gumby People appeared again in the Urquat dream sequence, and the city looked a little too Aztec/Mayan for my liking. I get that pyramids and ziggurats are a natural evolutionary step in architecture, but would they still be for a civilization advanced enough to create this virus? Pyramids, especially masonry ones, are a colossal waste of space and resources.

Kevin: I only minded the architecture since it looked so literally Mayan. I don't mind mismatched architecture/technology per se. Maybe this was their Vatican City nestled in the heart of a bustling modern Rome. Anyway, the gumby people are the ones that need to be incinerated. It just always pulls me out.


Matthew: Going in, when they were alien-jabbering, I thought this might be somewhere in the 1-2 range. But it evened out by the end. I still think it's a 2 because it didn't quite gel. But I don't hate it, not by a long shot.

Kevin: I flirted with a 1, but the episode's heart is in the right place and actors gave it their best. The writers once again let them down, but it still lands at a 2 for a total of 4.


  1. Again, not an episode I've watched for quite some time. IIRC, we pretty much lose Hoshi and Archer for the duration of their transformation. Better than being wrongfully imprisoned, I guess. Doesn't Reed get it too at some point?

    Anyway, not a particularly drawing outing. It could have been a temporary step away from Star Trek as 24 Hours, but we do still get some pretty [expletives deleted], as you point out with the incineration. Not that a gruesome demise should never be on the cards in Star Trek, but build properly to it and let it have the full meaning.

    1. I didn't find the immolations nearly as bad as you or Kevin did, and I am usually very sensitive to gore and violence in my Trek.