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Cold Station 12

4-05 Cold Station 12

reviewed by Kevin Thomas Riley

The promised excellence of season 4 continues with Cold Station 12 . On my patented 1-10 scale I give it the same grade as the first instalment of this arc, a 9-. It is held together better than the last episode, which had a long Orion distraction (that nevertheless was good enough to make up for said distraction).

Brent Spiner was even better this time. He showed a more nuanced and softer character in Arik Soong. You could really tell that he wasn't the quintessential evil mad scientist. He has morals and don't like killing people. Alas, his augment children don't have those moral qualms. I was wondering when they'd eventually turn on him since even though he created them, he isn't a superhuman himself.

Dr Soong really loves his "children" and gets quite upset when he learns that they've turned on each other - the killing of Raakin and the banishment of Smike. While the introduction of Smike might seem superfluous it really isn't. Soong doesn't care if Smike isn't perfect because Smike is his "child" as much as the others. But he's blind to what they've become in his absence and are in for a rough wake-up call.

Malik's rebellious kid was well played. I guess you could call his character rather one-dimensional but lets face it, so were Khan. Anyway, it shows that, as Archer said "whenever a group of people start believing they're better than everyone else, the results are always the same". It doesn't matter if they're "superior" in strength and intelligence if they lack in compassion. At least we saw some squeamish faces among the other augments, if only for how Malik mistreated their "father". Malik's attitude will most certainly become his and the augments undoing. The cold-blooded killing of Smike underlines his nietzschean persona more than his torturing of the staff at CS-12.

As in the last episode I became rather caught up with the augments and their plight. It could be said that in this arc they've taken over the centre stage, reducing the original cast to guest spots on their own show, and you'd be right. But I really didn't mind it that much. The augments and Soong kept my interest nonetheless. Persis seems the more balanced of the augments and she would've been a much better leader for them. I loved the way she kicked ass (what can I say, I love girls that can do that). And if I thought she looked hot in Borderland I thought she was pretty smokin' now, with her clothes torn in all the right Bill Theissian places. For another shallow observation, let us not forget that bedroom scene between her and Malik. It was actually done in a pretty adult fashion and I didn't find it "incestuous". Sure, they called Soong their "father" but they're not blood related. Besides, if the augments have a healthy sex-drive and are going to procreate, there's no other way. I'd be a tad miffed if Persis gets killed in the end. While I want psycho Malik dead I've somewhat grown a fondness for her.

The plot itself is rather predictable, even with some glaring holes and nit-picks (more on them later) but then again that's no real surprise. Sure it might come of as a rip-off of The Wrath of Khan - superhumans escaping from exile and taking over first a ship (Reliant/Klingon B-o-P) and then a science station (Regula 1/Cold Station 12) but I didn't mind. What matters is the execution and that was great. The torture of Phlox's friend Dr Lucas (good nod to previous continuity, by the way) was powerful as well as graphic. Even more so with his pathogen infected fellow scientist. We have rarely, if ever, been treated to that in Trek before and that is refreshing. It also felt necessary for the plot to show this non-sanitised version, and like the Malik/Persis bedroom scene it didn't feel gratuitous at all. Sure the torturing was gruesome but that was the point. I like this "darker" direction the show is taking. Violence isn't clean and shouldn't be shown as if it was.

We also had a mature scene with Phlox and Archer discussing the merits, and lack thereof, of genetic engineering without hitting us over the head with it. "Human intellect and human instinct where out of sync" - a great line from Phlox there!

But no episode is perfect and this one wasn't either. First of all you got to wonder about the security of Cold Station 12 if it was that easy for the augments to overtake it. Them being superhuman aren't just enough to explain it, especially since the station was warned in advance. There should be a hundred safety mechanisms in place that wasn't. And why didn't Archer order the Enterprise there immediately but opted instead for going to the augments by now deserted previous home? It should be pretty obvious to anyone that CS-12 was going to be the next target for the augments. Another gaffe was when Archer for some inexplicable reason mentions to Soong that he ordered T'Pol to initiate the station's self-destruct mechanism, thus allowing them to counteract that order.

The use of the Transporter - sigh! I know this is a staple of Trek but this is supposed to be a prequel. The technology is new and should only be used sparingly but by now they seem to resort to it every other week. I liked the idea of mostly using shuttlepods instead, and I have never been that fond of the Transporters anyway. They're just too damn convenient and has taken away much of the suspense from other Treks. At least they dispensed with the silly "away team" from other Treks and used the classic "landing party", even though in this case the correct term should've been "boarding party".

The special effects were good. The Klingon Bird-of-Prey rising behind the Denobulan vessel looked great and the visuals of Cold Station 12 located on an asteroid were awesome, as were the space fight among the asteroids. Only the embryo vault scene was a bit poor and bluescreen-ish.

Nothing much on the 'shipper front I'm afraid. Trip and T'Pol interacted in a professional capacity and nothing more. They did seem calmer around each other as if the really knew one another. In season one Trip would've screamed bloody murder if T'Pol had wanted to execute the station's self-destruct but not now. It may have seemed callous but they were both resigned to the fact that the threat from the augments had to be contained no matter what.

All in all, a great Trekkian action-adventure, even if the regular crew characterisations took a back seat. The conclusion of this arc in the next episode should be at least equally great.

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