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4-12 Babel One
reviewed by Kevin Thomas Riley
Oh my, what a great episode! Andorians, Tellarites and Romulans, I mean what's not to like? As much as I liked Observer Effect this seems to be what ENT does best, doing arcs, or in the case of season 4, mini-arcs. And this Andorian arc looks as promising as the Vulcan arc, and that was one of the best, if not the best thing ENT has ever done.
We get nice nods to the original series Journey to Babel just by the title - Babel One. That episode introduced the Tellarites and although we've seen them on ENT before we didn't really know much about them. I absolutely loved that they needed to be insulted, otherwise they'd feel insulted. "You're as ugly as I remembered you!" Great lines there and deep down I think Archer actually enjoyed himself doing that. I know I would :devil: And those Tellarites are butt ugly. I'm hesitant to picture what a female Tellarite would look like :eek:!
As Manny Coto seems intent to put as many original series references into the show (a bit too many actually, but that's another discussion) I'm not at all surprised to see this precursor to the eventual forming of the Federation. This conference on Babel One between the antagonistic Tellarites and Andorians brokered by the humans screams UFP to the Trek audience and I think it's a nice touch. One can definitely see why the Romulans wouldn't want that. They're already pissed off because we came in between Vulcan-Romulan reunification. It was a rather clever way to present the Romulans too, with no one actually seeing them since we're not supposed to for another 112 years (TOS Balance of Terror). Though I worry about how much creative restraint can be put in if we're going to get many more Romulan stories, up to and including the Earth/Romulan War.
The Romulan Drone Ship was a sufficiently creepy and it must have felt quite claustrophobic for poor Trip and Malcolm when they got trapped in their EV suits there. Although I knew from spoilers beforehand that it was remote piloted (with the help of some guy wearing a virtual reality helmet) I was surprised by the ending. I didn't think the Romulans were on Romulus and was expecting to see them on a cloaked Bird-of-Prey, much like in Minefield, even if the cloaking thing was one of the few continuity "violations" ENT has done. However, my biggest gripe with that episode was more with the name Romulans. It has been quite evident that the humans named the twin-system after the twins Romulus and Remus in Roman mythology. What the Romulans call themselves is anybody's guess, but "those that walked beneath the Raptor's wings" sounds nice ;-). So when Minefield spelled out the name Romulans before their home system had even been discovered I cringed a bit. It wasn't even necessary because we - the audience - can recognize them for what they are anyway. The Minefield incident was even brought up by T'Pol and the name used again. Sigh, but I guess it was out there already!
I was thrilled to see Shran again and this time he brought the fabulous looking Lt Talas (from Proving Ground) with him. I really like that blue-skinned lady. Yummy! And seeing her in her underwear trying to seduce a MACO, and failing that kicking his butt, was great. Too bad that she had hooked up with Shran though. As much as I like Shran and wouldn't deny him having a fine woman I thought that Talas and Malcolm had great chemistry when they last met. It would have been nice to see them go down that road. If anything Trip and Mal could compare notes on inter-species dating! Still, that leaves Mal free for Hoshi, which would be my second choice for the stuffy Brit.
Hoshi was great here too. I was actually surprised with that scene in the beginning when she and Archer started throwing insults to each other. The thought that they were just practicing Tellarite first contact protocols didn't enter my mind. And in some ways I think that no matter how fond of Archer Hoshi is, that there were some truths about what she said to him. Kind of a subordinates dream to yell at an obnoxious C.O. Obnoxious being a quality Archer really has displayed now and again.
In this episode Archer was actually quite good. I definitely didn't like him in Daedalus but he was great in Observer Effect. I'm crossing fingers that he keeps this behaviour up. He actually listened to and sought T'Pol's advice here. *Gasp* His lobbing insults at the Tellarites was funny and his righteous anger later on was spot on. Even his teasing of Trip at the reception in the Mess Hall was good, even if Trip might have been confused. Archer has a mean streak in him sometimes but I honestly think that all he meant was to joke around with an old friend. That Trip in that scene had a more serious intent with his little jab, clearly directed at T'Pol, about the Tellarites' "refreshing honesty" I think went by him. Archer was at that moment to much in Tellarite-speak mode to notice. But T'Pol sure picked up on it. That was quite visible by her initial reaction seconds before Archer interrupted.
Poor Trip is so troubled by T'Pol's decision to keep her distance from him. As "understanding" as he was of her wanting to concentrate on rediscovering her Vulcan heritage in Daedalus he's not happy about it. He loves her and T'Pol is in denial. A large part of him must think that she's never going to come back, hence his little talk with nosey Malcolm while they're onboard the Drone Ship. Trip was acting way to casual here to be convincing and Malcolm sure picked up on that. I can sense more angst coming for Trip and T'Pol in future episodes. Poor TnT!
All in all, I give this episode a grade of 9 on my patented 10 grading scale, if only to leave the 10 open for upcoming episodes in this arc. Great stuff!
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