Reviews Ex Deus
Written by O. Deus, edited by Steve Krutzler
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.
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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.