Reviews Ex Deus
Summary: Archer's morals are tested as he enters a dog-eat-dog section of
Merging material from great STAR TREK episodes like DS9's "In The Pale
Moonlight" and VOYAGER's "The Void," "Anomaly" is the first episode of the third
season that actually begins to deliver on its premise. And while "Anomaly" is
not the equal of either of those episodes, it is a strong story that
demonstrates a notable improvement over last week's "The Xindi." While
ENTERPRISE has been billed as a series about Earth's first Starship that
would recreate the Original Series's sense of isolation in deep space,
it has rarely done so. Instead Archer and Co. have often come off as
casual and carefree adventurers guided by a belief that no problem was ever
any more than just a temporary inconvenience. "Anomaly" is one of the few
ENTERPRISE episodes (though really the only one since season 2's "Minefield"
arc) that actually shows Enterprise alone and vulnerable in deep space while
struggling to survive.
Like in "The Void," this area of the Expanse turns out to be a trap
for ships that they can enter but can't escape, leaving them with the choice
of becoming either predator or prey. Unlike Janeway, however, Archer doesn't
have plenty of time to befriend every other alien and win their friendship
and trust. He's running against a deadline tied to the destruction of Earth
and as in "Pale Moonlight," this forces him to test his morals against the
consequences of failure. In doing so, Archer finally seems to grow up, moving
past his petty displays of self-righteous nobility and towards
becoming the pragmatic commander his crew and his world need. And he does this without ever losing sight of the personal price he's paying to do
so. His Osaarian captive, a capable performance in a small role, plays both
a killer and a fallen man taunting Archer to prove that he is really no
better than him. His apathy and his contempt for his victims is
driven by the self-knowledge of his own ruin.
The Expanse, too, is also beginning to come into its own as a place with
cloaking fields, anomalies and mysterious giant spheres, all of which helps create a dog-eat-dog environment
of trapped ships that can't get out and can't go any further. This comes closer to fulfilling the promise of the Expanse as a
mysterious place full of strange things, rather than just another train stop
on the Alien-of-the-Week express. Mike Sussman'ss script is generally solid
and workman-like with no weak spots aside from Phlox and Trip's awkward
referencing of last week's topless grief counseling session. This really
isn't his fault so much as it is Berman and Braga's, who wrote it and now
seem to insist on tainting other episodes by having them reference it.
While a lot of the cast really doesn't have much to do in "Anomaly," with
Porthos getting more lines than some of them, including surprisingly T'Pol, Reed seems to be finding a new voice playing the rational, constrained Spock
to Archer's impulsive driven Kirk, particularly during the airlock scene. And of course there's a gratuitous action scene for Trip in which by some
miracle of restraint he doesn't find any reason to take his shirt off. Hoshi
is given something useful to do in hacking the Osaarian's computers, which
helps broaden her specialties on the ship as well as making for a better
battle scene in which the conflict works on multiple levels. Still, "Anomaly"
is very much an Archer episode, just as "Pale Moonlight" was very centered around Sisko, and Sussman might have even considered including that episode's framing device of Sisko's narration with Archer's starlog.
Of course as with season 2's "Minefield" arc, it will be up to future
episodes to carry the ball and we'll see if it manages to hit as high a note
as "Dead Stop" did during last year. "Anomaly" has already raised the
stakes by killing a crewmember who will be rather difficult to replace this
far from Earth and showing the impact this had on the crew including Archer,
Reed and Trip. The MACO's themselves are of course here because unlike the
cast members, who have long-term contracts, they can die tragic deaths.
Archer has shown that he's willing to use desperate measures and write his
own rules to get results. Enterprise itself is alone, vulnerable and far
from any help or repairs. This has the potential to create some intense and
dramatic situations. We'll see if the series manages to make use of them as the season goes on.
Next week: Starfleet Werewolf .
How do you rate the episode on a scale of 1 to 10?
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.
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