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reviewed by Kevin Thomas Riley
Well, this stand-alone was rather disappointing, especially after the magnificent Vulcan arc. Not that that was very surprising. From the spoilers it seemed to be quite lack-lustre. I would have liked to be pleasantly surprised though, but realize that once in a while you'll be treated to episodes that aren't in the top grades. I guess I have no choice but give this one a 5 or a 6 on my patented 10 grading scale. Nothing much to write home about. It could be worse I guess. It could have been about the ugly sphere ship Daedalus from Trekish fanon.
The story is pretty much a derivative from Voyager's Jetrel but while that one was poignant - actually one of Voyager's best - this one is rather forgettable. In Jetrel you had an obsessive Oppenheimer-esque scientist wanting to undo some of his genocidal work by trying to reanimate his victims with the help of a transporter. In Daedalus you only have an obsessive dad trying to get back his lost son, now a elusive ghost-like occurrence, using the transporter - and in the process letting an innocent be killed and endangering the entire ship. More selfish than honourable. I felt it very hard to empathize with Emory Erickson (odd spelling of this originally Scandinavian name, by the way, Ericsson or Eriksson would be more correct). I can't believe that Voyager (my least favourite Trek) holds up so much higher here than Enterprise.
To top it all of we're treated - again - to Obnoxious Archer. Angry, petulant, self-righteous and discourteous. *Sigh* Coming into season 4 I actually had great hopes for the character's redemption. The Xindi arc showed a darker and much improved Captain. Even if he wasn't all that likable, Dark Archer was way better than Weak Archer from the first two seasons. Then in Storm Front I saw signs that he had the potential to be a good Captain who really cared for and listened to his crew. That was brief because in the next episodes Archer became more and more irritating as his alleged "super" qualities were thrown in our faces. As much as I have liked and enjoyed the previous episodes it was more in spite of than because of Archer.
Her we have the hero Archer, saviour now of both Earth and Vulcan, letting his personal feelings for a childhood "second father" get in the way of his responsibilities. Even after Archer learns about Dr Erickson's betrayal and how the ship was endangered he still lets the obsessive scientist continue. Even the death of a redshirt doesn't sway him. Is this a Captain that should be commanding Starfleet's finest vessel?
Trip is so right in questioning what Archer is doing, especially if you compare his professional and competent performance as acting Captain in the Vulcan arc with Archer's. Insubordination, I think not. It is the duty of subordinates to point out risks and alternative actions even if a Captain has final say. But the problem with Archer is that he doesn't listen, doesn't feel the need for consultation. He's already made up his mind just as he always has. Are we supposed to take his word for it when he says: "I've made my decision and it's the right one"? I don't think so. It was not the right decision and having Archer say it is doesn't make it so. Quite the contrary. A great leader wouldn't have to say so. A great leader wouldn't have to yell at his subordinates and tell them to "go to your room"! OK, "go to your work" but it felt like he was saying the former. So Erickson was wrong when he initially said to his daughter that Archer's first duty was to his ship. It should be but here Archer acted as if it wasn't.
If you were an ordinary crewman, the proverbial Trek redshirt, serving on Enterprise, how would you feel if your Captain, even after the death of one of your crewmates, decided to recklessly keep on doing the dangerous stuff he originally got lured into doing? I don't know about you but I'd request a transfer ASAP. Great way of inspiring confidence there, Jon!
And for what it's worth, Starfleet should hold Archer responsible for his actions here. Erickson sure has to answer for what he did but he's a civilian. Archer went along with him, even after finding out he'd been duped and over the objections of his two most senior officers.
It's very odd that I like Enterprise as much as I do when the Captain, the supposed main character, doesn't measure up. But then again, for me, with the notable exception of Kirk, Trek Captains have mostly been disappointments. Picard turned out to be a terrible political correct bore and Janeway was mad an inconsistent. I guess I look for other things and other characters when I watch Star Trek. But I wonder about the ordinary viewer? For me Trek is always greater than its Captains but for others I gather that the supposed main character is more important. Something to ponder when reflecting the ratings maybe?
What saved this episode from a grade of 4-5 is Trip and T'Pol. That relationship is sweet and endearing even if a Relationship with a big R is out the porthole, at least for now. Spoilers indicated that she was going to brush him off with a comment about leaving "them" "in the past", but it turned out differently. If this was a dumping it was probably one of the nicest dumpings around.
Events on Vulcan are unfolding after the discovery of the Kir'Shara and they have also a profound impact on T'Pol. She's now learning for the first time what it truly means to be Vulcan (as supposedly many other Vulcans do) and she's intensely studying the original writings of Surak. It doesn't leave much room for anything else - that anything else being Trip. She's trying to find herself and Trip actually understands. He's almost too sweet in his acceptance and he still says he'll be around for her if she wants help or someone to talk to. You can tell that she's impressed by him for that. We definitely haven't seen the last of this pair.
T'Pol also exhibits the trademark Vulcan repression when she doesn't deal with the death of her mother, at least not openly. It's like she said in The Forgotten, when she consoled Trip about the loss of his sister, that Vulcans cannot allow themselves to grieve deeply because those feelings would overwhelm them.
Lastly a minor nit pick. I'm no astro-physicist but why are space in the so-called "barrence" completely black and not showing any stars. Sure it's a place devoid of stars for a hundred light-years across but stars further out should still show. It's not like we only see stars on our sky that within a hundred light-years from Earth.
After this disappointing instalment I hope the next episode turns out better. But even if the cast and crew have been saying positive things about it, from spoilers that one too seems to be a paint-by-numbers been-there-done-that-got-the-t-shirt variant. Can the new arcs begin soon, please!
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