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Saturday, May 14, 2005

Enterprise Season Four - Mad Scientists And Non-Corporeal Aliens

(Season Four episode list here)

In "Daedalus" the Enterprise takes a break from space combat and takes Emory Erickson, the inventor of the transporter, out to a region known as The Barrens to test an experimental transporter technology that theoretically has a range of light-years. An apparition is sighted on the ship. In one instance it comes in contact with a crewman, who dies later in sick bay. Later, Archer sees it in the shuttlepod bay, and it touches a power coupling or something and causes some relatively minor damage. T'Pol comes into slight contact and manages to get some tricorder scans.

Archer learns that Erickson lied, that he's really out to undo the damage of an earlier experiment of some years back. The apparition is Erickson's son Quinn, who was sent into sub-quantum limbo as a result of that earlier experiment. Erickson has figured out how to (hopefully) bring him back, but he needs a lot of power to pull it off. Tucker is enraged over the recklessness that cost a life and threatens the ship's very existence - frying a minor power system is one thing, the warp engine is another. Archer okays the attempt to bring back Quinn. Tucker hot-wires the warp engines to give the transporters the extra power, but it's not enough for Erickson to fully materialize Quinn and keep his cellular integrity intact at the same time. As it becomes obvious that the attempt will fail, Erickson materializes his son anyway to bring closure to the situation.

It's off to another strange new world to seek out new life - and become infected by it. "Observer Effect" has Sato and Tucker shuttlepoding down to a planet to examine some wreckage and coming down with a silicon-based virus, and Phlox must boldly cure what no man has cured before. But the microbes aren't the only extraterrestrials on board - Reed and Mayweather are possessed by non-corporeal beings.

The aliens have been doing this gig for a long time. Every time a ship comes by, they observe crew response to the inevitable infection. Sometimes the entire crew perishes, sometimes a select few. A Klingon vessel, for instance, had shot down its own away team's shuttle rather than take the infected crewmembers aboard. (Does that count as dying honorably in battle?)

Sato goes delirious and temporarily breaks out of decon, but Tucker retrieves her and the rest of the ship is saved from infection. Phlox sedates them, but shortly he looks at his video monitor of decon and sees the two talking. The aliens had picked a private place to talk, but quickly realize they're under surveillance. They confront Phlox while inhabiting T'Pol and Archer, and reveal not only their mission but the fact that they have the power to cure the infection - which they will not do because of their people's own version of the Prime Directive. Phlox the hypocrite is shocked, shocked that they would refuse to treat Sato and Tucker because of some non-interference philosophy - not too far removed from what Phlox did in the first-season episode "Dear Doctor". The aliens also have the power to rewire short-term memory in corporeal species; they do so to Phlox as they'd done to their various hosts.

Archer and Phlox don environmental suits and bring the two to sickbay for an experimental radiation treatment. (I assume all Phlox's animals are in a separate room.) Sato soon goes into cardiac arrest. Enviro suit gloves being too bulky for operating defibrilators, Archer does the heroic thing and takes his off to try to save Sato, but to no avail. Tucker is given the radiation treatment, but it doesn't work. Archer places T'Pol in command, and Phlox leaves sickbay while the captain stays behind. Tucker dies, but is immediately inhabited by one of the aliens. The one inhabiting Mayweather had been having second thoughts about their non-interference directive. The other shortly inhabits Sato. They identify themselves as Organians (they appear in the TOS episode "Errand of Mercy") and state the nature of their observer mission. Archer resents that they didn't consider face-to-face contact, and lectures them on the compassion that Phlox talked him out of in "Dear Doctor".

Soon the crew finds that the virus is inexplicably cured, and no one has memory of the Organians, who now face the prospect of having to deal with the humans up front in as little as 500 years. It'll be sooner than that - and another Enterprise will be involved.

Trek Nation is annoyed with these two episodes for recycling old plots from several past shows. See the reviews here and here. I can live with plot recycling if the same plot isn't recycled too often. That was a problem I had with Star Trek: Nemesis. They had Picard setting out to destroy a superweapon in three out of the four movies he appears in. If Archer's Enterprise ever hits the big screen, I hope the Roddenberrians come up with a little more plot variety.

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