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    Season Two Blasts Off, But Does the Action Quotient Dilute Real Potential? O. Deus Weighs in on Premiere "Shockwave, Part II"!

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    Typhon Station is a very fastpaced PBeM RPG with skilled, experienced players and a warm sense of bonding and community. We play at the turn-of-the-century, 2400, and are located in the Typhon Expanses, bordering the Neutral Zone, proximate to the Romulan Empire, and near the Iconian Digs, and are on the first warning route of the original Borg Incursion.
    We have three stations to post from, SB 185, USS Odyssey, and USS Wraith. They all have general and particular storylines and all interact. This game is not for the faint of heart! The writing is superb and comes hot and heavy. We have some open spots and also we will consider character suggestions. So, longtime RPGers and novices, check us out. See if you want to make Typhon Station your home away from home.

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    Posted: 07:55:49 on September 19 2002
    By: Steve Krutzler
    Dept: ENTERPRISE Reviews |

    Reviews Ex Deus

    Written for TrekWeb by O. Deus, edited by Steve Krutzler

    "Shockwave, Part II"

    Summary: Enterprise's crew take back their ship, Daniels builds a temporal communicator out of a toothbrush and some loose buttons and Archer keeps appearing in T'Pol's quarters.

    The conclusions to two-parters, especially on Star Trek, have often had trouble living up to the expectations set by the preceding episode. Even the legendary Best of Both Worlds had fans complaining about its second half. In part this is because the two-parter on Star Trek has often been used as a cliffhanger in which the first episode sets up an impossible situation that is hurriedly resolved in the second half, rather than creating a story that plays across the extra time evenly. Shockwave 2 very clearly suffers from this problem.

    The first part was the cliffhanger that ended Enterprise's first season with Archer stranded a thousand years in the future and Enterprise surrounded by hostile Suliban vessels. But where S1's build-up featured an intriguing plot with visits to the future, the destruction of an entire colony and competing agendas in which it was difficult to determine the truth, S2 is primarily dedicated to the crew replaying the breakout from Acquisition with Suliban substituted for Ferengi and with Archer fumbling around a not particularly futuristic library as a sidebar. Indeed some of the more interesting material in Shockwave 2 actually involves the debate within Starfleet Command and Ambassador Soval over the fate of Enterprise. (Though Enterprise once again casts Soval as a predictable villain, rather than a character with his own point of view.)

    Shockwave 2's key dilemma is the capture of Enterprise and the crew taking it back, but it's not done in any particularly interesting or original way. Even with its comedic take, Acquisition did a better job with the same material by turning it into a chase scene through the ship's corridors. But even so there's only so much that can be done with a Hogan's Heroes premise and S2 seems to recognize this by throwing in Hoshi's predicament as comic relief. But it only manages to serve as a jarring note in an otherwise dark episode. Furthermore the entire dilemma occurs because T'Pol very readily surrenders the ship, instead of playing for time. Much of the rest of the episode only exists to try and undo that damage so that S2 actually spends most of its time resolving a mistake made in the same episode.

    And that is the problem. The entire plotline involving the capture of Enterprise's crew looks like a busywork plot, something to keep the crew busy and build suspense while filling time in an episode that has no story. It's telling that where Shockwave 1 told an engaging complex story and took us places we've never been before, Shockwave 2 does yet another version of "Take Back the Starship." In fact, the basic plot here is so old that the movie Galaxy Quest spoofed it long before Enterprise was on the air, complete with crew breakouts, pointless duct crawling that results in ripped shirts, an engine overload and the evacuation of the alien soldiers. Only the fight between two officers is left out, and it has already been featured in Acquisition. Since Galaxy Quest was spoofing antiquated SciFi TV plot elements, this kind of recognition suggests that Enterprise either needs new plot elements or to find a new spin on the old it's reusing.

    Shockwave 1 ended with the memorable image of a wrecked city, but Shockwave 2 never really expands on it in any way aside from a few brief allusions to the Federation and the Romulans. Archer's entire oddysey in the far future is indeed quite brief in terms of screen time, almost as if the producers thought that Hogan's Heroes on Enterprise made for a more compelling story than a character being catapulted into the future. It's a clear example of the series once again choosing throwaway action scenes over exploration and the sense of wonder of classic Trek. While executives may believe that action hooks viewers, action scenes are not what keeps Star Trek afloat. If Enterprise is going to do a better job of hanging on to its viewership than its older siblings, it is going to have to stay true to its premise in showing viewers something they haven't seen before.

    The shot of the ruined library is impressive and likely an allusion to a classic Twilight Zone episode (ironically appropriate considering the launch of a bastardized version of the Zone in a slot next to Enterprise) but really serves no point except as a means of dropping the continuity references, and of course to tell us what we already knew last season, that the future had gone to hell because Archer was removed from the timeline. Meanwhile Daniels producing a temporal communicator out of some copper wire and pieces of Archer's scanner and communicator borders on the seriously ridiculous. Though it's at least consistant since in 'A Fistfull of Datas' wherein Worf managed to build a personal shield out of his communicator and a telegraph machine. Starfleet Communicators: is there anything you can't build out of them?

    Daniels, too, has become a significantly less interesting character. In Cold Front he was an enigmatic figure with suggestions that he's not quite human in the conventional sense and that the Earth of the future is quite different and strange. In Shockwave he's a bumbling incompetent who prattles on about having a quantum communicator in every high school desk, eating breakfast by the window and whose future just seems slightly more technologically advanced, but culturally is still exactly the same. It's bad enough that the Federation is often just a futuristic America. But really now, suggesting that a thousand years of human civilization is just going to come down to the same society with slightly neater gadgets is a concept unworthy of Enterprise's premise.

    Shockwave 2 certainly has its moment of tension and spectacular battle scenes driven by increasingly advanced special effects. Blalock gives a strikingly good performance, though the collar she's tortured with looks unavoidably silly. Her closing scene with Archer in particular suggests that the series has succesfully achieved its version of the Captain \ Vulcan Science Officer relationship. Archer and T'Pol will never be Spock and Kirk, but if the producers don't tamper with the basic chemistry, the results will be a good deal better than the relationship between any Captain and First Officer since the original series.

    Silik never goes beyond the conventional villain, but delivers an enjoyable performance chewing the scenery. At once cunning, fearful and cruel in a performance reminiscent of Voyager's Dr. Chaotica, Fleck distills the essence of the melodramatic pulp villain into every scene. The makeup may not let him have the facial mobility to really perform, but he does his best to compensate for it with gestures and voice acting that drips with every vile emotion possible.

    Silik's come-uppance as he prays to his futuristic masters is also enjoyable, but it's one clever scene, an oasis in an episode with far too little imagination put into the story and far too many special effects. Shockwave 2 might have functioned better had the Starfleet material been shifted to another episode that might have had Enterprise return to Earth to stand trial for its actions thus providing time to wrap up the story and give the material the treatment it deserves. As it is the Starfleet section serves as a muddled postscript to a story that's big on unoriginal action scenes and short on plot.

    Archer's speech is a particularly a awful example of grandiose words being put into the mouth of a character with no actual point to it. The sum total of Archer's argument is that human beings make mistakes. But when stripped of the metaphor, it does nothing to defend Archer's actions. It's the classic lawyer's generalization and appeal to some overriding humanity that does nothing to address the specifics of the case. Humans may fail, but does this mean that any action Archer takes should be excused based on the general imperfection of humanity? In a hearing dedicated to questioning Archer's command decisions, it would be fair to ask which of those decisions he is admitting having stumbled on. Is he admitting that Enterprise's frequent fights, his actions at the monastery or the freeing of the Suliban were mistakes? Or is Archer merely rendering himself beyond criticism by pointing out that all men err? It would have been nice for Archer to have staked out a clear position on either side.

    With Archer's speech the Producers seem to be responding to some of the criticisms made against Archer and laying out the series format as being one where the crew and its Captain make mistakes and do uneven work because "it's their first day on the job." There's nothing wrong with that premise, it's an interesting premise. But it would work if Archer questioned himself, solicited and accepted advice from his first officer on a regular basis and went into a situation without the arrogance and sense of entitlement to settling other people's problems that has brought up all these issues in the first place.

    All in all, Shockwave 2 functions well enough as an action episode, but as a conclusion to the promising Shockwave 1, it's quite a letdown, spending most of its screen time entangling the crew in predictable action scenes without paying off on the more imaginative concepts of Shockwave 1.

    Next week: The cavalcade of laughs continues as Vulcans wander around 1950's Earth and refference Earth sitcoms.

    About the Authors

    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 and columns for TrekWeb for over two years.

    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 and contributes reviews when his busy schedule permits.

    TrekWeb Reviews

  • "The Catwalk"
  • "Precious Cargo"
  • "Vanishing Point"
  • "Singularity"
  • "The Communicator"
  • "The Seventh"
  • "Marauders"
  • "A Night In Sickbay"
  • "Dead Stop"
  • "Minefield"
  • "Carbon Creek"
  • "Shockwave, Part II"
  • Season One Re-cap (Deus)
  • "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) Mission Logs

    Season Two (2002-2003)
    Prod #Title Airdate
    128 Shockwave, Part II 9/18/02
    127 Carbon Creek9/25/02
    129 Minefield10/02/02
    131 Dead Stop10/09/02
    130 A Night In Sickbay10/16/02
    132 Marauders10/30/02
    133 The Seventh11/06/02
    134 The Communicator11/13/02
    135 Singularity11/20/02
    136 Vanishing Point11/27/02
    137 Precious Cargo12/11/02
    138 The Catwalk12/18/02
    139 Dawn1/08/03
    140 Stigma2/05/03
    141 Cease Fire2/12/03
    142 Crash Landing2/19/03
    143 Canamar3/??/03
    144 The Crossing3/??/03
    Season One (2001-2002)

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    Greenblooded sonuvabitch
    By Tribble () at 17:38:23 on September 25 2002
    URL: | User Info
    This ep illuminates something that's been bothering me about the new series, that is, the lack of memorable lines. Think TOS: "Beam me up", "I'm a doctor not a ...", "He's dead, Jim"; think STTNG: "Make it so", "Engage", "Number One"; think Enterprise: "Son of a bitch", "You ugly bastard" ... WAIT! ... the one memorable line so far: "I can see my house from here", though not exactly the sort of thing to enter the popular lexicon. What's going on?

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

    Timeline Screwup?
    By B'Jem () at 20:57:34 on September 22 2002
    URL: | User Info
    Something's bothering me, and maybe one of you can clear it up. In Shockwave I, right after the destruction of the mining colony, Daniels pulls Archer back 10 months into the past and tells him that "history does not record the destruction of the colony." In other words, in the correct timeline, the accident should not have happened.
    At the end of SII, however -- after the timeline has presumably been corrected -- why are the Vulcans still blaming Archer for the accident? It seems that the accident should not have happened. Would it have required going back prior to the accident and starting the "correct" timeline from there? Would anyone in the "correct" timeline remember what never should have happened in the first place?
    Some of the best Star Trek ever has involved time travel -- The Voyage Home, Yesterday's Enterprise, First Contact, Little Green Men -- and each has required some suspension of disbelief. But SII has created a contradiction too glaring to be ignored. Comments, anybody?



    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

    Shockwave II
    By Noxmagic () at 22:20:36 on September 20 2002
    URL: | User Info
    I just finished reading Deus' review for Shockwave II, along with several fellow Trekweb member's thoughts on this episode, so now I feel compelled to voice my own opinion. Overall, I found Shockwave II to be a competent, though unspectacular, episode. I agree with Deus that this sequel to last season's cliffhanger was not as interesting its predecessor. I agree with all of the problems Deus had with Shockwave II, though overall I did enjoy this episode more than he did. He does not seem to give much credit to the improved inter-play between the cast members. This seemed to be the first episode where all of the cast members were given more than a few token background scenes, and it came off well overall. Being in its second season, Enterprise is finally past the awkward new show stage where the pacing of each episode has to be slown down in order to inform the audience on who the characters are and what they are doing. Now, the writers can simply let loose and allow the characters to interact with eachother. As for Daniels and how the Enterprise writers handled Archer being in the future, I personally breathed a sigh of relief when the episode came to an end without the Star Trek timeline being horribly twisted. Sure, the writers gave themselves an easy out by having created a really very interesting problem for Archer, Daniels, and the entire Star Trek timeline in Shockwave, and then not really doing anything ambitious with this situation in Shockwave II, but at least they were smart enough not to screw up Star Trek's history. Admit it Trekkers, if they had really altered the Star Trek Universe's timelines, we would all be up in arms right now. I think the main problem with this decent episode reflects a small problem with Enterprise overall. The writers tend to promise a lot, then for whatever reason they seem to pull back from some really interesting storylines and fall back on safe, tried and true storylines. Perhaps there are too many writers on Enterprise's staff who have been around prior Star Trek shows for too long. Maybe the best thing for Enterprise would be to bring in several new writers who have never done Trek. Maybe writers from shows that were hailed as being truly inovative, like X-Files for example (a few of them must be looking for work). As long as the senior writers and producers make sure these new writers don't screw up Star Trek's history, I say go for it.
    On a totally different note, right now I don't feel very positive concerning the previews for next week's show. Once again, Trek's writers have to cheat and write an episode based off of something very familiar, in this case 1950's Earth. Didn't DS9 already have a "fish out of water," stuck on Earth in the past episode? And the original series as well? This is what I mean as far as Enterprise needing new writers who have no prior Trek experience. How about letting someone like Kevin Smith write a new story arc for the series? A proud "geek" like hime would probably love to have a chance at writing Trek. Just a random thought.

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

    Better than I thought
    By Steve Krutzler ( at 22:40:21 on September 19 2002
    URL: | User Info
    Well after reading a lot of negative (and some positive) reviews of Shockwave 2 around here I must say I think the episode was pretty good. I give it a 6/10. The worst part was Matt Winston, who was saddled with some questionable dialogue, an embarrassing costume and not very solid acting chops.

    Overall, the episode is mostly an action/adventure romp. Deus and others are right that perhaps the more salient issue of the mission's progress and weight of being in the future could've been developed more. But in my opinion, the first part had already jettisoned that mid-way through when we knew Archer et al weren't responsible and the rest became an action/adventure romp. So I wasn't disappointed here.

    One criticism has been an easy solution or technobabble. Frankly, I didn't see it. While that device from Daniels' quarters looked more like a lame children's toy from 1985 than anything from the 31st century, I thought it was made pretty clear that the device in concert with the equipment on the Helix made it possible for Archer to transport through time. It's really no more silly than the ability to transport people off the surface of planets with technology or transporter equipment only on one end.

    In retrospect the argument can be made that the episode didn't really "accomplish" anything and that the reset button was all too present. My take is that Shock 2 did accomplish several things:

    1. Archer seems to have learned to take charge. In this episode he was much more inquisitive and commanding than at all last season. If this continues, it means a positive change for the Archer character. Another thing I noticed was that in Archer's speech, admittedly lacking in substance, Bakula seems to be much more relaxed and natural in his delivery, a sure sign of improvement for his performance later in the year (I hope).

    2. Temporal Cold War development. Now this may not be so. At first I was thought that Silik was captured and so I figured, hey, that's valid development of the TCW plotline forward. But upon reflection, Archer's line about being far gone when he wakes up suggests more that he left Silik in the pod, thus making this point moot and just showing another missed opportunity for good development of this plotline.

    3. T'Pol/Archer relationship. I liked the ending and I liked T'Pol standing up for the Enterprise this time around. For once it didn't seem forced.

    Now the main problems I had were:

    -Further weakening of the Hoshi character with her claustrophobia. This character can quickly become the "squeamish of everything" crutch and really ruin her.

    -Soval. As others have mentioned, storming out of the room demonstrates annoyance. He should've been like "I find your reasoning illogical, but so be it, Sub-Commander."

    -Boiling down everything to the notion that mistakes will be made. For me the issue isn't that the crew is fallible but it's the notion that their incompetent. In the first season Archer et al were depicted more cavalier and incompetent than simply "making mistakes due to inexperience" and this needs to vanish.

    All in all, was Shock 2 any major bastion of science fiction or even dramatic creativity or power? No. Is it one of the best TREK episodes? No. Was it a good ENTERPRISE? Yes. Was it outstanding? No. Did it show some improvement in key areas? Yes.


    -Steve Krutzler
    ==V/-/== Rocks

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

    Why Apologize?
    By DiLune () at 19:51:52 on September 19 2002
    URL: | User Info
    "In a hearing dedicated to questioning Archer's command decisions, it would be fair to ask which of those decisions he is admitting having stumbled on. Is he admitting that Enterprise's frequent fights, his actions at the monastery or the freeing of the Suliban were mistakes? Or is Archer merely rendering himself beyond criticism by pointing out that all men err? It would have been nice for Archer to have staked out a clear position on either side."

    Why is he even admitting to making mistakes? Isn't he proud of how he handled the Vulcan Monastary? Didn't the fights end up making someone else's lives better, usually the weaker side? Why couldn't Archer make the case that it was about time someone marginally stronger stood up for the weaker species? He could even quote the failings of Human history, see WWII, as showing us that failure to stand up for the weak can lead to disastrous results. Why are the humans a pack of sycophantic apologists? They started out defying the Vulcans. Now they are tip-toeing around to avoid getting slapped on the wrist?

    Did anyone else notice how huffy the Vulcan ambassador was? I have been of the opinion that the Vulcans of the future have been just as affected by the humans as the humans are by them. Maybe humans show them that they weren't as logical as they thought. Look at their war with the Andorians. So I can see them being a little more "primitive" than the TOS Vulcans. But his huffy attitude was really a bit much.

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

    By dropdeadnelix () at 19:07:31 on September 19 2002
    URL: | User Info
    I throughly enjoyed and appreciated Deus' review of this ep. High quality crticism is the fans best chance to affect some change in this franchise. Because no matter what B&B think, this series does not belong to them. It belongs to us. Our viewership ultimately decide its fate.

    They can either listen to these well thought out and clearly delivered arguments, or they can plan on looking for new work. Our patience is not infinte.

    PS Nobody volunteers for an ass whopping like that. I think Reed is truly a little crazy, and I like it.

    PSS Not to undermine high quality criticism but I thought Hoshi looked kinda hot crawling through that conduit. Until that lowbrow shirt gag....BOO!

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

    • RE: Kudos by O. Deus @ 21:13:24 EDT on 19 Sep
    Trek is doomed....
    By sky () at 13:59:18 on September 19 2002
    URL: | User Info
    I second O'Deus's review. This ep was so trite yet so confusing and hard to follow. The cliffhanger was set up very well but this ep completely failed to capitalize. Plus, I'm sick to death of watching this crew play defense as the weak sister of the Alpha Quadrant. It seems like B&B are laughing at the fans, trying to see how much a show can suck and still have viewers. However, I and many other Trek fans will continue to watch this garbage since it's the only new Trek on the air. But if TPTB are counting on this show to deliver new viewers, then Trek really is doomed.


    "When I was your age, I didn't watch television! I LIVED! So... move out of your parent's basements!"

    -- William Shatner on SNL, 1986

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

    That wasn't good at all...
    By Tom M ( at 09:08:44 on September 19 2002
    URL: | User Info
    I've always thought of Braga being a particularly sloppy writer, constructing his stories with bits of celophane tape holding the plots together, but now it is obvious he is also a very lazy and undisciplined writer. Imagine... setting up an ambitious cliffhanger spanning an thousand years of time in one episode... then in the following episode virtually resolving it all offscreen! What a unique approach! Got yourself into problem with your story? Just cut to other characters running around in their underwear for a while and then come back and there is your lost character, back where he belongs and all is right with the world. If Braga is this creatively bankrupt at the beginning of the season, I am very afraid of will happen before this year is over with.


    " go with bold entreaty whither no man had gone before..."
    - HP Lovecraft; "The Dream-Quest of Unkown Kadath" (1926)

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

    I'm in general agreement
    By Phaser1701 ( at 08:55:15 on September 19 2002
    URL: | User Info
    with a couple of exceptions. I thought Silik's simpering appeal to an unavailable Future Guy totally emasculated the character who is supposed to embody all the expected vileness of the Suliban. He sounded like a pathetic jilted woman, begging for her feckless lover to show her a scrap of attention. I'm going to have trouble seeing him as anything more than a simple bully from here on out. It's clear he has no more spine than Archer, though I suppose in that way, they're perfect adversaries.

    Your analysis of the major action of the ep is right on target. Imagine if Star Trek's City on the Edge of Forever had divided its planetside/shipside time the way Shockwave II did. The ENT writers squandered an excellent opportunity to examine the nature of temporal paradoxes, and to find a clever solution to Archer and Daniel's predicament (a la Spock's mnemonic circuit board of Vacuum tubes and windings made with "stone knives and bearskins"). Instead, we get Archer pounding out 1mm strips of copper with a rock, and Daniels whining about the mistakes he made, and how complicated temporal displacements are (yet it's simple to build a temporal communicator-- if one has a quantum phase discriminator). Technobabble abounds, and the solution stretched credibility beyond the breaking point, even when suspension of disbelief is the order of the day.

    The trapped crew angle was executed with all the skill and apolmb I've come to expect from B&B (who wrote this ep; All it's problems can be laid squarely at their feet). I'll go back to Star Trek for comparison. In By Any Other Name the Enterprise and her crew are captured by Kelvans. Do we get topless women crawling through ducts? No (though Kirk does his part for intergalactic relations by bedding one of the hijackers). Rather, the Enterprise crew use the Kelvans' weaknesses (their lack of experience with human emotions, sensations, etc) to set them against each other, and so regain control of the ship. Reed's willingness to "take one for the team" and Tucker's comical line about being able to contact "any doorbell on B deck" aside, I'd like to have seen a more creative approach to solving a problem that, as you pointed out, they brought upon themselves.

    The final scene was definintely rushed, and out of place. As you sagely note, it should have been the subject of it's own episode. That would have given the writers an excellent opportunity to make the Vulcans' case intelligently, and to turn Soval into something more than a cardboard villain. After all, we know that in less than 100 years, Humans have established a Federation that will span 10,000 light years (in Kirk's time), and Vulcans are fully participating members. They may be skeptical now, but something happens to change their minds. T'Pol's analogy to the faults of Vulcan society aside, I find myself agreeing with Soval, that Humans in deep space (as exemplified by Archer and crew) are too dangerous and unpredictable. On the other hand, the whole history of human exploration and expansion has been characterized by conflict, and often, violence. I suppose in that way, Archer is living up to his heritage. I think the humans need to make a cogent case that despite our shortcomings, we've (nearly) always left a place better than we found it. I doubt we'll ever get such reasoning from B&B though. They have shown a particular facility for forgetting (or ignoring) the lessons of history.


    Honi Soit qui Mal y Pense...

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    How would you rate the latest ENT episode, THE CATWALK, on a scale from 1 (bad) to 10 (excellent) in comparison to the best and the worst episodes of all previous Star Trek episodes?
    10: Excellent
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    7: Good
    6: Solid
    5: Average
    4: Below Average
    3: Mediocre
    2: Poor
    1: Bad
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