Star Trek: Enterprise -- Oh Yeah!
Oh hell yeah. Tonight's episode, "Babel One," is just the kind of Star Trek I've been hoping for. Gruff, bluff, in your face Tellarites. Paranoid, scheming Andorians. Even Romulans! This is the kind of action-packed stuff Star Trek can do well. If this is Manny Coto finally settling into his production/show style, I'm happy.
The same moving camera and snappy editing I mentioned in the Enterprise post down below was evident here. I didn't check the credits, so I don't know if this was the same director or the new Trek style. There were fish-eye lenses in the alien ship and even long-focus lenses used up close in a chase scene in the Enterprise's corridors. Sometimes the always-moving camera gets a little old, but it's a good style.
The episode opens with a great Hoshi/Archer scene that Linda Park shines in. Fans have been saying for years that Linda's every bit as hot as Jolene Blalock, so it's good to see her being used a bit more. The happy smile she flashes at Archer at the end of their scene is completely winning.
The Tellarites were introduced in TOS (The Original Series) episode "Journey to Babel," and seen only in that episode until a season two ENT where the episode was built around two Tellarites. Those two were a letdown, as they didn't behave like the "argumentative" species in TOS. No problem with "Babel One." These guys are just what you'd hope for. It was hugely fun to see them again.
The Andorian captain, Shran, Archer's sometime friend and sometime enemy, was back with another Andorian we'd seen before, his HOTT officer Tovar (sp?). Best of all, we get to see Tovar in a swimsuit -- lots of shapely blue skin kicking the crap out of some Starfleet Marines. Bring on the (green skinned) Orion slave girls!
All the scenes with the Andorians, Tellarites and humans arguing rang so true, just like a fan would want. There was the expected talk about trying to for alliances for cooperation, setting up the meetings next season (we hope) that lead to the United Federation of Planets.
One thing I was pleased to see was that the main story -- ferrying Tellarites and Andorians across space -- was the focus, but they didn't forget to work in small bits of character business around that. The interplay -- Archer serving tea and the way T'Pol drinks it -- around the dialogue in an Archer/T'Pol dinner scene tells us nearly as much as their words, especially T'Pol's expressions. When Trip and Reed go over to an alien ship, they find time to talk about Trip's now-ended relationship with T'Pol. They even reference a season one remark by Reed about T'Pol's "bum." Nice bit for the fans there.
And then there's the Romulans! Oh yeah. All through the episode we see them in a ship's bridge (two of them), doing something with another being trapped in a chair with its fingers attached to controls and its head fully encased in a metal helmet. As Tucker and Reed work through the ship we keep wondering if they'll catch the Romulans; but we also know that no human has seen a Romulan in their time and won't ever until the time of TOS.
They solve this problem so neatly, so unexpectedly and so smartly, I'm seriously impressed by the writers and the director. When Tucker and Reed burst into the alien bridge, it's empty! They cut to the identical bridge where we still see the two Romulans and their captive. The camera pulls back through what we first think is a porthole, showing what turns into a wall, to slowly continue to pull back and reveal a building in the heart of a Romulan city! The alien ship was remote controlled. It's so carefully set up that the reveal is a surprise.
Some people will likely moan that this episode is yet another recycled plot. They aren't completely wrong, but the most important thing is that they stamp it with Enterprise's particular style.
I'd like to think that some of the flat episodes from earlier this season were just down to Manny Coto getting his hands around his show. I'm really hoping that the most recent episodes are what we can expect from the show from here on out. Star Trek is exciting again.
Next week: challenge death fight with slashing blades!