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Steve Perry Reviews "Strange New World": ENT Delivers with Strong Characterization and Re-invented Resolutions

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Posted: 07:22:20 on October 11 2001
By: Steve Krutzler
Dept: ENTERPRISE Reviews |

Trek in Review
Written by Steve Perry, edited by Steve Krutzler

"Strange New World"

"Enterprise" continues to surpass expectations. At this rate, it might need a dud, so we won't be expecting too much too fast.

Perhaps the key is crafting straightforward, seemingly derivative plots; at the outset, an episode about crewmen having hallucinations on an idyllic planet seems hardly given to mindbending plots, and a rehash of "The Galileo Seven" given the tensions with the one Vulcan leading the mission seems inevitable.

When the episode turns out to be much better than this, of course we're all pleased. In this case, "Strange New World" was a tense and gripping hour that kept you guessing, even if you realized that of course they wouldn't kill the Vulcan or the Chief Engineer.

It was tense because the plot was fairly simple, free of technobabble and technobabble solutions. Indeed, the lack of technology was its strength. When shuttles and transporters don't work, you're left to fend for yourself. That gave the episode a sense of helplessness, a trapped feeling that made it compelling viewing. It was up to the crew to get out of it themselves, making their own decisions instead of relying on technological quick fixes.

My one quibble would be that they should have seen the storm coming. Or should they have? There's always... human error. Or alien error, as with Phlox. His apology scene was surprisingly touching, and subtly well acted. Gosh, someone making a mistake? Could it be? This show really does have potential.

Best of all, the story allowed us to see the "true" natures of T'Pol and Trip. I liked T'Pol's brief shows of emotion, and her return to Vulcan as she began to lose control. Trip in particular had a lot of good stuff to work with. The paranoia, connecting everyone else's visions together, came together seemlessly with his own prejudices. You could understand what he was thinking and why. That's good writing. T'Pol used real evidence to counter what he was thinking. Maybe this is an odd thought, but all to often, Trek episodes seem put together one act at a time, without reference to previous acts. Basic little things, like T'Pol pointing out that the original mission was not even suppose to have Trip or Mayweather made the episode *connect* better.

Of course, what we saw was their "real" nature, not their real nature. They don't act that way normally, but it did show latent prejudices. So, despite a built in reset button, it was interesting to watch, because it showed the deep resentment some humans have for Vulcans. My real quibble with this is that we really learned much but there was very little fallout. Trip had a Vulcan teacher, but then what? This is a good foundation for I hope much more. All in all, though, it made for good viewing.

Either way, we did learn quite a bit about Captain Archer. I find his command of the potentially disastrous situation to be extremely effective (and his line about hallucinagenic materials in college to be amusing...) It was quick thinking, but not too quick - I like how he paused to sort matters out, and used Hoshi's language skills effectively. I liked his attempt to remind Trip of his training. It seemed like real thinking on his feet - something that we don't get from Trek that often, since there's always a Geordi around to suggest "Why don't we try a nadion pulse..."

One note of concern on the characterization front: Ensign Mayweather. So far he has been played ethusiastically, but has not been given much to work with. In this episode, he spent much of it unconscious. His one good speech was a ghost story that almost worked - until it got to the end, about how even today Webb might be heard over subspace. A little too much. I like his line about how he considered home to be between two nacelles, but up to this point, the only info we have gotten from him is that he's a boomer. I'd hate for him to become Harry Kim.

All in all, a surprisingly good episode. The narrative and characterization was strong, so what else can you ask for? I have to confess, I was cynical about "Enterprise." But I am right now pleasantly, pleasantly surprised.

Some quick takes:

  • What's with the scorpion? Last week a banana slug, now another Earth creature masquerading as an alien. It did give rise to a funny scene, though.
  • Anyone catch the origin of "M" in the M class planet?
  • It was terrific seeing everyone so *excited* to see this world. Porthos was so excited he had to, well, find the bushes, and fast.

Grade: 9.2

About the Authors

Steve Perry is not the former lead singer of Journey. He is, however, a long time fan of all Trek, yes, even Voyager. He is currently in law school.

O. Deus has been a TrekWeb visitor since the site's 1996 inception. Along with being an ardent poster, he is a freelance journalist based in New York City. Deus has written reviews for TrekWeb for over a year and shares the duties with Steve Perry.

TrekWeb Reviews

  • "Shockwave" (Deus)
  • "Two Days and Two Nights"
  • "Fallen Hero" & "Desert Crossing" (Deus)
  • "Vox Sola" (Deus)
  • "Detained" (Deus)
  • "Oasis" (Krutzler)
  • "Acquisition" (Williams)
  • "Rogue Planet" (Deus)
  • "Fusion" (Deus)
  • "Shuttlepod One" (Deus)
  • "Shadows of P'Jem" (Deus)
  • "Sleeping Dogs" (Deus)
  • "Dear Doctor" (Deus)
  • "Silent Enemy" (Deus)
  • Mid-season 1 (Deus)
  • "Cold Front" (Krutzler)
  • "Fortunate Son" (Perry)
  • "Civilization" (Perry)
  • "Breaking The Ice" (Perry)
  • "The Andorian Incident" (Perry)
  • "The Andorian Incident" (Deus)
  • "Terra Nova" (Deus)
  • "Unexpected" (Perry)
  • "Unexpected" (Deus)
  • "Strange New World" (Perry)
  • "Fight or Flight" (Perry) Mission Logs

    Season Two (2002-2003)
    Prod #Title
    128 Shockwave, Part II
    127 Carbon Creek
    129 Minefield
    Season One (2001-2002)

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