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Monday, May 09, 2005

Enterpise Season Four - The War Is Over, But There's Another Master Race To Fight

I'll be doing some Trek bloggage over the next few days, starting with a string of reviews of Season Four. My post on the season opener is here.'s Season Four episode list is here.

After the Xindi War and unexpected participation in the Temporal Cold War, the Enterprise finally gets back home. The episode "Home" gives a hint of the (not surprising) undercurrent of xenophonia, a topic which will return with a vengeance in the three-part finale. A lot of Earthlings are understandably worried about the genuine military threats that come hand-in-hand with interstellar exploration. I'll delve into that topic at a later date.

It also introduces two of the major characters in ab upcoming storyline set on Vulcan - T'Pol's mom T'Les (no explanation as to why her dad is deceased) and old "flame" Koss. T'Les had been fired from her scientific post for political reasons, in retaliation for T'Pol's involvement in the destruction of the P'Jem monastery. Koss says he can pull strings to have T'Les reinstated, but demands her hand in marriage in return. After much consternation, T'Pol relinquishes.

Archer is grilled over his more controversial decisions during the war. In the end, the captain faces no criminal charges, and manages to earn some increased respect from Soval, one of the best-developed characters in all of Trek. There's also some filler time with Archer camping out with Erika Hernandez, old flame and new captain of the NX-02 Columbia. We'll be seeing her again.

Adventure time starts once again, with one of the series' best storylines. At the conclusion of the Eugenics Wars of the early 21st century, the victors got hold of a cache of Augment embryos. To avoid an obvious ethical dilemma, the embryos remained in cryogenic storage and were eventually housed in a remote facility. A scientist named Arik Soong (ancestor of Data's creator, Noonian Soong) had stolen 19 of them and raised them in the Trialas System. The authorities eventually caught Soong, but not the Augments. These "children" have now captured a Klingon vessel, and Archer is ordered to track them down, with Soong furloughed from prison to assist.

Soong engineers an elaborate escape attempt involving an Orion slave market, but fails. Orion ships hevaily damage the Enterprise but are driven off by the Augment-captured Bird of Prey, which docks with Enterprise after the battle. Malik, the leader, catches Archer in a potentially lethal headlock by surprise and demands Soong's release.

Soong takes the ship to Cold Station 12 to retrieve 19 more embryos (Soong has only the original incubators he used the first time), and plans to build an Augment civilization somewhere out there. If there were 19 Augments to begin with, why only 17 on board? Their original leader Raakin was killed by Malik; Malik tells Soong that it was an accident during a scuffle instigated by Raakin, but the entire Augment crew knows Malik murdered him out of a belief that Raakin was "leading them astray" - that is, for not leading them directly into settling vendettas against inferior humans. The other, Smike, is discovered by the Enterprise crew at Trialas; he was left behind because he was "inferior" - he didn't have any of the Augmentations except for the heightened hearing.

Soong had long blinded himself to the emotional instability inherent in the Augments, and is horrified when confronted with the awful truth. Malik needlessly kills a scientist and Smike during the showdown at Cold Station 12, and has set the station to release a lethal pathogen after the Augments escape with the 19 embryos. Soong decides to work on the embryos to weed out the instability, and Malik sees this as a betrayal. He also objects to Soong's plans to colonize a world in the Briar Patch, an inhospitable region where starfaring races will not bother them. (During the argument, the name of Khan Noonian Singh comes up; Soong dismisses the rumors of the Botany Bay and her Augment crew as a fable.)

Malik has different plans. Along with the embryos, he had taken from Cold Station 12 a pathogen that he plans to release on a Klingon world in order to start a war between Klingons and humans, "which would keep Klingons and Starfleet embittered and embattled as the Augments rise to power" (source). Persis tells Soong the truth of Raakin's death and arranges for his escape from the BoP via escape pod. Malik discovers her role and kills her. Enterprise picks him up, and Soong eventually convinces Archer of Malik's plan.

In the final confrontation, Enterprise stops the pathogen-armed torpedo and cripples the BoP. Malik sets the ship to self-destruct and manages to get aboard Enterprise somehow, where he tries to kill Soong but is shot dead by Archer. The Klingons are satisfied (despite Enterprise's tresspassing), and Soong is on his way back to prison, wher he decides to research artificial lifeforms.

Seeing Brent Spiner again was enjoyable. The man can truly act; his four Trek characters (Arik and Noonian Soong, Data, Lore) are truly separate individuals and not personality clones of one another. His agony over Malik's atrocities is riveting. Another noteworthy performances is Dr. Phlox's battle of wills with Malik at Cold Sorage 12. Malik gives the viewer a glimpse into the mindset that got the Eugenics Wars started. Would like to have seen a bit more of the other Augments besides Persis and Smike, though. Best comic relief is when Archer bluffs his way past a Klingon patrol; Scott Bakula can ham it up pretty good.

Update: I forgot about Spiner's other android character: B-4 from Star Trek: Nemesis.

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