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ENT Makes "The Crossing" Into New Episodes, But Returns With Weak and Derivative Effort, Says Deus

PROMENADE





Posted: 06:25:38 on April 03 2003
By: Steve Krutzler
Dept: ENTERPRISE Reviews
Reviews Ex Deus

Written by O. Deus, edited by Steve Krutzler

"The Crossing"

Summary: Spectral aliens try to take over the Enterprise crew when their own spaceship breaks down.

STAR TREK has done many alien possession episodes and "The Crossing" is another one of them. It's not the worst of them but it's certainly not the best of them either. Based on yet another story by Berman and Braga it rehashes TREK formulas without adding anything to them. Over a decade ago, TNG aired "Lonely Among Us" in its first season. Like "The Crossing," the Enterprise runs into a spectral alien that takes possession of members of the crew and Picard to further its goals. Somewhat later TNG aired "Power Play," in which more spectral aliens take over members of the Enterprise crew also as a means of transport. Unlike "The Crossing," "Lonely Among Us" and "Power Play" both used the theme of possession as a means of exploring how the familiar Enterprise crew could become both alien and menacing. "The Crossing," though, focuses on gags about Trip stuffing his face and Reed trying to mate with any available female with only Hoshi displaying any sense of unnatural menace. Nor does the episode offer anything as memorable as a possessed O'Brien trying to silence his child or a possessed Picard contemplating exploring the universe in non-corporeal form.

And for an Invasion of the Body Snatchers storyline, "Crossing" can't even manage to generate much suspense, which should be a snap. Instead, aside from some bad behavior by Hoshi and Trip, all the possessed crewmembers allow themselves to be locked up without any trouble. Rather than trying to take over the ship they seem to be a lot more interested in having some fun in their new bodies in between brief lectures to Archer on how much he'll enjoy being non-corporeal, a state of being Archer would obviously have little interest in unless the aliens also offered to make Porthos non-corporeal too. Despite the fact that the Enterprise crew has no thought out plan for containing the threat, the aliens are themselves in no hurry to take over the Enterprise crew and don't bother to do anything as simple as taking over the command crew or security first or hopping from the bodies of locked up crewmembers to ones that aren't locked up. Even the funny hatted aliens in Voyager's "Displaced" had a better plan and a better twist to their plot.

The aliens' reason for trying to take over the Enterprise crew is rather mundane. Apparently it's easier for them to take possession of some human bodies than repair their own starship. That's the trouble with all those spectral aliens who've evolved to a higher plane of being. They're not willing to pull up their non-existent shirtsleeves and do the dirty work of maintaining their own starship. Apparently spectral aliens residing on a higher plane of being don't just evolve beyond corporeal bodies but also evolve beyond the timeless values of hard work and self-discipline. Unfortunately many spectral aliens would rather just take the easy way out and take possession of any available humanoid without thinking the consequences through and it always ends in tears.

"The Crossing" does, however, do a better job of using the ensemble cast with Hoshi, Phlox and Mayweather getting something to do, instead of the entire episode focusing on just Archer, T'Pol and Trip as far too many have. Indeed John Billingsley's ability to make even Phlox's most routine tasks and dialogue seem extraordinary and entertaining is really the only thing that makes this story watchable. There's no other actor or character on the cast that could make pulling open a panel seem more interesting than half the rest of the cast being possessed by aliens put together. Even with Phlox playing a crucial role in saving the ship, the final act still isn't particularly gripping but it is watchable.

David Livingston returns yet again to ENTERPRISE and does his usual good work directing the episode, though he has little enough to work with. The script by Berman, Braga and Andre Bormanis based on a story by Berman and Braga serves as yet another demonstration of why the exec producers should leave the writing to the writers they've hired instead of coming up with original stories any random viewer could also come up with by watching STAR TREK reruns. Only the use of the catwalk is a nice touch of continuity that seems to suggest that we'll be seeing the nacelle catwalks used as a kind of makeshift auxiliary bridge on Enterprise in the future.

Next week: Captain Archer faces the Klingon justice of STAR TREK VI.

ENTERPRISE "Judgment" Poll
How do you rate the latest episode in comparison to the best and the worst of all previous STAR TREK episodes?
10: Excellent 5: Average
9: Great 4: Below Average
8: Very Good 3: Mediocre
7: Good 2: Poor
6: Above Average 1: Bad
Current Results
About the Author
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.

Past Reviews
  • "Judgment"
  • "The Crossing"
  • "Canamar"
  • "Future Tense"
  • "Cease Fire"
  • "Stigma"
  • "Dawn"
  • "The Catwalk"
  • "Precious Cargo"
  • "Vanishing Point"
  • "Singularity"
  • "The Communicator"
  • "The Seventh"
  • "Marauders"
  • "A Night In Sickbay"
  • "Dead Stop"
  • "Minefield"
  • "Carbon Creek"
  • React to this story below and see what others are saying at the STAR TREK BBS.
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    TREKWEB TALKBACK
    (32 comments)
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    THIS is Star Trek?
    By BWilliams ( BWillNCC1701E@webtv.net) at 08:51:38 on April 11 2003
    URL: http:// | User Info
    I finally got around to watching "The Crossing" last night because I had some free time on my hands (haven't seen "Judgment" yet), and I could not believe how incredibly dull this episode was!

    The visual FX were excellent, yet somehow the climax reminded me of "Independence Day" for some reason, I can't put my finger on it, but it was a weak "ID4" rip. And the denouement with Trip and Phlox - you've got to be kidding me!

    THIS is the so-called "bold new adventure" that we were promised from B&B? Where's the risk and the taking of chances that is deserved? No wonder this episode got horribly low ratings - anything this badly written deserves the low ratings! This episode makes "Spock's Brain" seem like Shakespeare!

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

    Thanks, Deus
    By B'Jem ( ) at 03:11:20 on April 08 2003
    URL: | User Info
    Thanks, Deus! Your review has just saved me from enduring 42 minutes of frustration and boredom. I'm never watching Ent again until I've read your review -- that way, I'll spare myself untold hours of disappointment. I've always enjoyed Trekweb and will continue to log on regularly, but I'm giving up on Ent, unless you happen to recommend the ep.
    How sad for Trek. How sad for the fans.

    ---

    Make it so.

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

    Surveys
    By NAFF ( NATHANGSHARP@HOTMAIL.COM) at 17:55:53 on April 05 2003
    URL: | User Info
    The Surveys of Enterprise episodes on Trekweb make me laugh. Nearly half say The Crossing was good or better! Sure.

    If you look at how people vote early on, they vote the episodes are Excellent. I bet they didn't even see the show!

    How on God's green earth can The Crossing compare as Excellent to other episodes in Star Trek's past?

    Enterprise is badly acted, badly directed and is an extremely badly written show.

    Let's hope it gets cancelled and we can have a new Trek show that has a point to it.

    I'm sorry, Enterprise just isn't getting any better.

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

    Sigh...
    By Noxmagic ( ) at 00:49:08 on April 05 2003
    URL: | User Info
    You're right on with you review Deus. I agree totally (by the way, funny line on what it would take to convince Archer to join the aliens). What I want to know, however, is just what are the people at Paramount thinking? Are they trying to kill Ent., one of their signature shows, along with their network? I just can't believe that so many, I assume to be, top notch people in the entertainment industry are so clueless. After having put together its best run of quality episodes to date, the people at Paramount decide to run 4 straight reruns. With this action, I'm sure they chased away whatever new or returning viewership they would have gained from their run of quality episodes. Then, after a month of reruns, they give us The Crossing, a been there done that episode that bored me to tears. I don't think anyone above the age of 12 felt any real suspense while watching this episode, although I probably shouldn't put preteens down so ruthlessly. I can only hope that next week's episode returns Ent. to the high quality episodes it had been churning out before its month off.
    P.S.
    I know this is off topic, but if a weak (compared to NBC, CBS, ABC, and even FOX) network like the WB can manage to produce the best show on t.v., Angel, then what's UPN's excuse? Maybe since Buffy is done, TPTB should snatch up a few of their people to breath some new life into Ent.

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

    willing to lose Read
    By scottysgreat grandpa ( ) at 00:03:16 on April 05 2003
    URL: http:// | User Info
    I agree with 90% of your review... but keep in mind that Archer was willing to sacrifice Read to save the ship while his warp drive worked... it was only when the aliens took over 21 crewmembers that he decided to wait it out.

    That's a big change from what we saw in the Romulan minefield. For all the 'Archer is a weak commander' camp, I hope you noticed in this otherwise 'could have been great' episode.

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

    hahahahaha
    By Bucky ( ) at 18:16:57 on April 03 2003
    URL: | User Info
    "That's the trouble with all those spectral aliens who've evolved to a higher plane of being. They're not willing to pull up their non-existent shirtsleeves and do the dirty work of maintaining their own starship."

    that was a geunine real LOL at that line, not a fake internet LOL.

    I'm gonna go easier on this one, mainly for the Phlox and Hoshi stuff. I have to disagree, though, cuz I thought Trip's scene where he was eating food wasn't really played for laughs, but Trinner played it very cold and unsettling. which moved the scene from the "ah, you humans and your wonderful 'food'!" scene we've seen a dozen times before and moved it into a more creepier area. Livingston's direction managed to get more tension out of the episode than the script really deserved.

    Derivate, sure, but it was done with a nice sense of style to help it along.

    ---

    An elephant never forgets . . .TO KILL!

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

    What happened?
    By CaptainO ( ) at 17:12:09 on April 03 2003
    URL: | User Info
    As I typed that message header, I just realized a factor that's missing in these episodes -- too much plot, not enough character development. It's a symptom that plagued Voyager (what do we know about Harry Kim?).

    Enterprise is suffering. Because of that, Star Trek is suffering. It is suffering from a lack of creativity, and an unwillingness to explore the human condition. It has given us characters that are going nowhere, and "The Crossing" is yet another example of that.

    In this episode, many will agree that the best part of it was how Dr. Phlox was removing a bulkhead panel. Think about that. Phlox removing a bulkhead panel was the best part of the show. Why? Because of John Billingsley's performance. In an episode that could have shown (or at least tried to show) what it was like for Trip's "wisp" to be taken away and having him at a barbecue or banging Lisa or whatever, all we are left with is a by-the-numbers script, 5 minutes of which is dedicated to be a manual on how to disperse CO2 throughout the starship.

    There is nothing new in Star Trek anymore. They're not even trying.

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

    Held My Attention
    By Edzo ( lordedzo@hotmail.com) at 12:13:19 on April 03 2003
    URL: | User Info
    As Deus said, "The Crossing" wasn't spectacular, but it also wasn't as abysmal as, for example, "Vanishing Point" or the even-worse "Precious Cargo."

    I agree with Deus that Phlox is one of the most interesting characters. John Billingsley's performance is always so unpredictable that your attention on Phlox is rapt. You never know exactly "how" he's going to say something. Sometimes it's even difficult to predict his moods. He's truly alien, and I like it.

    However, I disagree with Deus about the excitement factor of "The Crossing." No, it wasn't at "Future Tense" or "Dead Stop" or "Fight or Flight" levels of tension, but it certainly held my attention. "Possessed Trip" standing immobile in the background was truly spooky, and while you "expected" him to show up just as Phlox was ready to release the gas, his ferocity was unusually gripping.

    Also worthy of mention was Linda Park's performance as "Possessed Hoshi." She, too, was pretty spooky.

    One thing's for sure about Archer he doesn't seem too interested anymore in the "spirit" of exploration and its inherent unknowns. Even Kirk was willing to allow members of his crew the "choice" to be possessed in "Return to Tomorrow" -- preceded, of course, by his memorably grand speech, "Risk is our business."

    And while Jolene Blalock is certainly attractive and voluptuous, I really can't see any Vulcan female lounging around off-duty in anything other than a stoic, shapeless robe. T'Pol's on- and off-duty apparel is irreverent when compared to Star Trek's legacy of the proudly logical Vulcan people.

    When you have to use T&A to grab and hold viewers' attention, then your source material really can't be coming from a truly "dedicated" source.

    ---

    Lord Edzo!

    "Have you been drinking?"

    -- T'Pol to Reed, "The Crossing"

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

    Just dreadful
    By Michaelj ( ) at 11:24:53 on April 03 2003
    URL: | User Info
    Deus is correct: "The Crossing" probably isn't the worst Star Trek episode ever made. But it's difficult to think of any others that were so tedious and pointless. The only suspense the show provided was in seeing how the producers could fill out forty minutes of airtime with a non-story devoid of the most basic elements of dramatic conflict and plotting; endless shots of the crew walking along catwalks and opening hatches abounded.

    My only sympathy was for the actress who played the crewman that Reed comes on to in the turbolift. Probably the biggest break of her career thus far, and the three "writers" responsible for this effort couldn't even come up with the convincing dialogue you'd expect for someone who's just been propositioned by a superior officer.

    Oh, well--since these highly-paid "artists" obviously can't be bothered to write for human beings, maybe they'll do better with Klingons. We can hope.

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

    Deus nails it.
    By Akita1999 ( ) at 08:29:43 on April 03 2003
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    Deus, great review. I agree with your analysis. Although I didn't hate the show, it didn't have anything new or interesting to say. The best parts were Connor and Keating, particularly when Reid was in T'Pol's quarters. Bakula was flat -- again. Blalock was flat. Other than that, I can't remember anything noteworthy.

    [ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]